Tribute to Emmett Brown Asuncion, UB Science High Director

UPDATE: 2 May 2016. I have just come from this year’s alumni homecoming of our school. Our special guest was Dr. Reynaldo C. Bautista, who told of the beginnings of the Sci Hi. The original concept was for a Star Science Section, a cream-of-the-crop class of elementary graduates from different Baguio schools (preferably public schools.) Dr. Bautista wanted the class to excel in Science and Maths, so he took the brightest college instructors to teach the Star Section. He also eventually took in Emmett, who was then a seminarian who taught at the Ateneo Grade School, to teach Latin and Logic. I found it necessary to update this post, to give due honor to the one who envisioned this school and turned it into a reality – Dr. Rey Bautista Sr. Thank you, sir!


Every time I tell my children stories of my Science High school days  – how fun it was, while, at the same time, unusual – they can’t help asking if they could study in that school too.

It was fun because we had so many activities – camping, cultural plays, Christmas Cantatas, the grandest and most unique (at least in the old days) cheering competition in Baguio.

It was an unusual school too.  We had no permanent building – in all my four years there, the school moved four times. The students stood out wherever we went because of how we addressed each other  – the customary Ilocano way of showing respect: manong, manang and ading. Of course, young kids wearing neckties will always stick out, anyway.

All students were scholars, paying only a minimal miscellaneous fee. I remember at one time, my yearly fee was only about Php575.00.

Oh yeah, we were taught Latin and  that “English is the official language.” Anyone caught not speaking in English would be punished by writing the phrase until the blackboard was full. (Though I don’t think anyone was unfortunate enough to be punished so during my time.)

This unusual school – a prototype for all science high schools to come in the Philippines – calls one man its father: Emmett Brown Asuncion.

“Am I speaking sense?”

That is the question he often asked after a long discourse.

Of course, he always spoke sense. After all, Emmett is probably the best teacher I’ve ever had.

It was Emmett who taught me little things that I now find myself passing on to my kids –

Looking at the person in the eye means you’re truly listening.

One word is enough for the wise. (“Verbum sat sapienti!”)

Sing the National Anthem with dignity and pride.

Rehearse like it’s the finale.

Keep small trash in your pocket.


Long before the theory of multiple intelligences was introduced, Emmett was already using this approach in our school. That’s the reason why all of us played sports every Friday, sang Handel during Christmas Cantata, and defended a scientific research at year-end.

Every morning, the students gathered with him at the auditorium for morning devotion. He led us in songs and exhorted us to excel, to love our nation, to respect one another. If there was some mischievous deed in the recent days, it was sure to come out during his talk. He was, often, like a father castigating his children.

I remember his long talks on the issue of the US Bases, and why they should leave. I remember his talks about saving the trees of Baguio.

I remember the songs he taught – Spanish Christmas carols, Latin chants, Handel’s Hallelujah, Bayan Ko, a most beautiful version of Lupang Hinirang.

The last time I saw Emmett was in December 2006, when my classmates and I visited him while organizing the alumni homecoming. He was already sick then, with difficulty moving around. He looked frail and old – far from the tough Emmett we knew in school.

Emmett Asuncion Science High

But his mind was still sharp as ever.

We reminisced together our days with him – how mischievous we were, how he cried worried-sick while our class remained trapped in a building during the 1990 quake. Because our class survived the earthquake, Emmett baptised us “Invictus” – unconquered.

Emmett is a fine example of how profound and deep a teacher’s effect on his students can be. He unselfishly gave of himself, tirelessly inspired his students, dedicated all his life to the school. The school was his home, the students his family.

Much of who I am now is a result of the ideals and values he taught – respect, unity, tough love, being your brother’s keeper.

For as long as I keep his spirit alive by passing on to my children what he taught, Emmett’s legacy will live on forever.

Emmett, you will always be lovingly remembered by the thousands of lives you have touched.


Emmett Brown Asuncion, UB Science High director
Emmett Brown Asuncion

Founding Director, University of Baguio Science High School (1963 – ? )

3 March 1939 – 2 September 2009

Forever cherished and loved

Emmett Brown Asuncion, message to class 91 Science High

Emmett’s message for our class



Thanks to Karah, my classmate, for the first photo; to ading Jeffrey Binwag for the B&W image of Emmett; and to Lygz, another classmate, for uploading the scanned yearbook page on Facebook.

14 thoughts on “Tribute to Emmett Brown Asuncion, UB Science High Director

  1. Hi manang ^^
    I was browsing the internet just now and couldn’t help but stumble upon your site. [=

    I read your post and all I can say is that our batch has never really met Sir Emmett personally [and we find ourselves very unfortunate for that], but we all believe that he’s a great man. [=

    From the songs, to our practices… The latin terms to our traditions– All from Sir Emmett and I bet we’re all glad that all these live up to this day.

    His legacy shall live on. ^^

  2. hi manang, i was browsing the net for sir emmett, and i laugh and am continually amazed (though not surprised) then eventually break down in tears at how many people loved, appreciated and were so radically shaped and changed by sir emmett. he didn’t change, i was laughing so hard because everything that you have written above i have experienced years later…he was still just as deeply old fashioned yet unbelievably ahead of our time. How blessed we are…

  3. Hello ading! just typed Daddy Emmette’s name and I came across this. I just got to know of his death in the papers last Sunday night. I felt so baaaad. I saw him 4 days before he passed away but I never got the news of his passing away til Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. I really felt bad not having been able to be in his wake/funeral. What is making it light for me is the thought that his suffering is already over and he is with the Lord.

  4. hello manang.
    thank you very much for posting this. it’s nice to know more about the man who founded the school i’m about to graduate from…
    is it possible to ask for more details or do you know where i can find more information?
    thank you.

  5. hello manangs, manongs and adings,

    i cant help but to google emmett’s name and i found this site. Familiar activities (cantata, cheering, classroom hunting) and names appeared (seaboldt, shelly) and i felt a little bit nostalgic.

    Emmett is such a great man, He is the science high, everytime i hear our loyalty song ket i still feel the proudness of our breed.

  6. Hi manong! I am from class ’91. And I was under manang Bits’ Algebra class. (She is now my FB friend, hehe)

    I guess with such a close-knit school like ours that was like family, we cannot really help but feel proud and nostalgic every time we think of our dear alma mater.

  7. hi manongs and manangs I’m still a sophomore in ubshs even though i didn’t see sir emmett but he did a super duper great work in the school. manangs and manongs i have a simple question(it might not be related to it)but i heard that ub prep and ub shs are fighting??? ty po

  8. hi manang. 🙂
    I just came across this website and I couldn’t stop myself from reading its contents.
    Even before I came into science high, my other siblings kept talking about how great this school was. And when I entered as a freshman, I heard of Sir Emmett. It wasnt until last year that I found out he was such a great man. I have always wanted to meet him in person, see how a great teacher he is. He did a good job in making this school to what it is now, and I am grateful for that.
    The science high shall keep living on this legacy.

  9. Thanks for finding time to read my small tribute to Emmett, ading Hanna. Emmett truly lives on in each of us. Though you have never met him, he has touched your life already. And this is one lesson I always try to remind myself: what we do in the now will impact others. Whether in a good or bad way, it’s up to each of us.

  10. Manang Chats!

    I couldn’t help but shed a tear when I read your blog… our life in UB Sci High is truly one unique experience no one will ever forget… Indeed Emmett will always be alive in our hearts and in our minds as he managed to impart wisdom no just learning to each and every one of us. We are blessed we had the ultimate Emmett experience, that is to be in Sci High while Emmett is still there as Director! hays… sandali, i need to catch my breath.. heehe cheers!

  11. Class 77 at university of baguio…..”desiderata”… the legacy of emett to me…..and i will never forget him….

  12. Hi manang. I just searched Sir Emmett’s name on a whim and this was the second site on the list of results.

    Unless I’m remembering things incorrectly, the last year that he taught was the year before I entered Sci High. But while our batch never got to have him as a teacher, we were able to learn from him as he would visit the school now and then and ask to speak with a class or two. He came during my batch’s SD and explained to us what it meant and what it stood for, and even handled the Cantata practices once all of us were practicing as a whole.

    While we never fully experienced a Science High with Sir Emmett as a full-time teacher, we were all glad to have met him, and to have been taught by him.

    Hopefully we can keep his legacy and his teaching alive, even outside of Science High.

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