Sunday, March 18, 2007

People: Sarikei St Anthony's K.A. Titus

Sarikei St Anthony's School, Form 5, 1963.

Sarikei St Anthony's staff 1962. Find Mr Titus.

ather Rottinghuis had trouble finding teachers in the early '60s and used the parish priest network to see if he could find some Catholic teachers. He got hold of the name of a priest in Cochin, India and snail mailed him (no email then) for help. That Indian priest put him in contact with Mr K.A. Titus. Mr Titus has always been thrilled by the idea of travelling overseas and so he came over to join St Anthony's School in 1962. Little did Fr Rottinghuis know that he had recruited his successor. (source: Mr Ignatius, Mr Titus' brother)

Sarikei St Anthony's School, Form 5, 1963.
Front row (L-R): Yii Choo Tieng, Jacob Sebastian, Father Ahern, a Mill Hill Priest from England, Fr Rottinghuis, KA Titus, Manuel Lopez, Teng Pang Yii.
Dr. Yap was in the last row, 2nd from right.

When Mr Titus joined St Anthony's School in 1962, the primary school (the present St Anne's School) and the secondary school were combined. There were 340 students. The 30 boarders living in the school took their bath at a huge concrete water tank (now demolished). At the location of the new basketball court was an old house where the school mother lived and cooked meals for the boarders. The area behind the house and around the Domestic Science block were secondary jungle. The old basketball court at the front facing Repok Road was the only facility for playing games. The 3 old blocks and the staff block in front facing Repok Road were thatched with belian attap. In 1962, the first batch of Anthonian students sat for S.C. exam (Senior Cambridge?) and yielded future teachers in Mrs Lee (Maths) and Mrs Chung (Domestic Science).

Sarikei montage of KA Titus' pictures (late 1970s and 1980-81)
(source: 1981 Anthonian)

Mr Titus comes from an extended family of teachers and he has always wanted to teach. His father sent him to Law College but he quit after one year to pursue his first love as a teacher. When Fr Rottinghuis retired in 1973, Mr Titus took over the reins but he didn't know much about administration and procedures as Fr Rottinhuis' secretary had also resigned. He spent a lot of stressful time going through all the paperwork to understand how things worked. It took him a year to settle down. There were other problems like finding funding for the renovation of the 3 front old blocks. At night, trespassers used the school for gambing, smoking and dating. He fixed automatic night lights and padlocked the classrooms.

Sarikei's farewell to KA Titus. 1984.
(source: 1984 Anthonian)

Mr Titus was principal from 1973 to mid 1981. He had to step down as principal due to government regulations for foreigners (I think) and Mr Gerald Lee took over as principal. Mr Titus stayed on to teach till retirement in 1984. He is now retired in Cochin, India. Some grateful ex-students brought him back to Sarikei in the late 1990's with paid hotel stay, etc and a grand ex-students dinner (funded by the ex-students). His trip back to Sarikei was featured in the Borneo Post after the ex-students alerted a journalist.
When he was interviewed in 1981, he said he will write a book about his life but I don't think he has done that yet. Space in Sarikei library's Sarawak section should be reserved for this book. You bet a lot of Sarikei folks will be keen to read a foreigner's view of Sarikei and how it had evolved over 22 years that he has served there. Maybe Mr Titus can start his own blog.
(source: 1981 Anthonian interview with Mr Titus)

Mr Titus can be contacted at email


Kanga said...

1963 Form 5 photo; Father ???: was he Fr. Ahern?? Can anyone confirm? There are many familiar faces in this photo.
In those days the old basketball court was well used by the boarders and other students. At 7:00pm, all boarders would disappear into a classroom to do homework. The remaining non-boarders would all disappear at once when the light turned on in a room opposite the school (that was Fr Rottinghuis' residence).
This is a story about the boarders and it goes like this; some boarders sneaked out to attend the late night 9:45 pm show and on return were caught by Fr Rottinghuis. He checked with the boarders about the film stars they saw and pointed up the sky about the stars the saw overhead. And then! he wanted them to 'see' the third kind of stars for sneaking out!!!!

Daniel Yiek said...

Those are funny flashbacks.

I got an email from Mr Titus' youngest daughter (Shirley) that he has indeed not written his book yet.

LPPL said...

WOW. It's amazing that you actually dedicated your page to Sarikei. It's really interesting to see past history eventhough I do not know much coz I have never stay in Sarikei before. My dad will probably know a lot coz he comes from there. What I like about Sarikei is the peacefulness especially in the early morning. Food is relatively cheap and fresh. :)

Lidasar said...

Sarikei's St.Anthony folks are fortunate to have Mr.Titus teaching and later running the school. No doubt Sarikei did not flourish after he left and most of the students who benefited most from his guidance did not return to Sarikei but are now contributing to their adopted country all over the world. I am sure when we think of our homeland we won’t forget Mr.Titus, a giant in the history of our school.

Nelson said...

hi daniel,
again, i can't enlarge the 2nd photo about the form 5 class.
sorry to trouble you. =)

ront said...

see if you can find similar faces in the 1963 Form 5 photo and the 1961 Form 3 photo from the previous entry......there are a few.

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