Wednesday, March 21, 2007

People: Sarikei St Anthony's Mr and Mrs Ignatius

Mrs and Mr Ignatius struck a pose (early 1960s)

n the early days in Cochin, India, boy was matchmade with girl. Boy and girl fell in love and that's the start of an incredible journey to Repok Road that eventually led both to be highly respected denizens of Sarikei. Bear in mind that Sarawak was and is not like West Malaysia where Indians were the third major race in a multi cultural environment.

Mrs Ignatius relaxing next to the family radio. 1960s.
Radio was king before TV came.

Just after Mr Titus has settled in Sarikei in 1962, another teacher who was supposed to start at St Anthony suddenly said he wasn't coming. Father Rottinghuis was in a bind and asked Mr Titus if he knew of more teachers who would be willing to come over. Mr Titus thought of his brother and his sister-in-law who were both teaching and gave them a good report of life in Sarikei. Mr and Mrs Ignatius took a chance and the rest is history. (source: Daphne Ignatius)

Mr Ignatius at Sarikei Lions Club. Late 1960s-early 1970s.

In the early days of education in Sarawak, students sat for Sarawak Junior certificate (Form 3), Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (Form 5) and Cambridge Overseas Higher School Certificate (Form 6). To pass the latter 2 exams, it was tough without qualified teachers guiding students. The exam papers were set in UK for overseas students in British East Africa, Malaya, singapore, British Borneo, and Hong Kong. The arrival of the Indian teachers in those days provided a very important cover to Sarawak's struggle in training qualified teachers. The Indian teachers gave Sarikei students a big boost in education. (source: reader kanga)

St Anthony's School, 1979: Tennis Club's humble beginnings.
Find Shirley Titus and Basil Ignatius.

Mr and Mrs Ignatius were popular teachers. Mr Ignatius taught English, Geography, etc while Mrs Ignatius was fantastic at Maths. Students would select tough questions from Additional Maths that they couldn't tackle at home for her to do in class. You would expect her to dig out her notes from yesteryears and just copy it on the blackboard but instead she would confidently tackle every question on the board from scratch without checking her notes.

St Anthony's School, 1984. Mrs Ignatius' farewell party

Mrs Ignatius retired in 1984 with a grand farewell party at St Anthony's School's Domestic Science Block. She went on to teach in Brunei in 1984 where the government rules permitted her to continue teaching. She had to leave behind a lot of her physical assets in Sarikei when moving to Brunei but she took with her the best memories of her life and that's her life in Sarikei. (source: Daphne Ignatius)

Mrs Elsie Ignatius with grandson Andrew. 2006

Mrs Elsie Ignatius is now still active in gardening as a hobby and giving Maths tuition to students of several schools, to avoid becoming bored with retired life. The students come to the house on weekday evenings for a couple of hours of "heavy-duty" Maths. Mr Ignatius is retired and loves taking walks. Mr Celestine is also retired in Cochin, India and lives close (around 3 miles) to Mr and Mrs Ignatius and Mr Titus. (source: Ivan Ignatius)

Mr Ignatius (left) and Mr Titus (right). 2005
Mr Titus recently had heart surgery.

You may wonder whether Mr Titus and Mr Ignatius are real brothers since their surnames appear to be different. Ta-da! Titus and Ignatius happen to be their first names! Both are acually K.A (K.A. Titus and K.A. Ignatius) which stands for their family name. 'Kocheekaranveetil', meaning from the house of 'Kochi' and the 'A' stands for Augustine which happens to be their late father's name and their actual surname. Now you know. (source: Shirley Titus)

How did I find them? It all started with Daphne Ignatius (3rd daughter of the Mr and Mrs Ignatius) finding this blog. The power of the internet indeed.

Update: Mr Ignatius passed away on 6 Feb 2013.


STLAU said...

It's great to know that our teachers and their children are doing well in India and abroad. Hope to get an update of Mr. Lopez and his children as well. Thanks, Daniel. I am also waiting for some readers to send us some pictures of Old Sarikei (70's and older).

STLAU said...

I recently bought a book on the history of Foochow settlement in Sibu/Binatang and beyond. The title is, "The Diffusion of Foochow Settlement in Sibu-Binatang Area." Check it out (you can buy from a Singapore website - select books??).

Daniel Yiek said...

Stay tuned on Mr Lopez. His present location has been found. ;-)

There are several other good books on Sarawak's history and usually Sarikei gets only a few liners. Binatang gets more mention than Sarikei.

However, after several hours of research in Kuching's and Sarikei's libraries, I unearthed some gems about Sarikei's history. I need time to consolidate my notes which are all over the place now and then blog in a readable flow.

Nelson said...

good job! =)

Lidasar said...

Mr. Ignatius will probably remember the class room he use to teach Geography, the one and only class room with ascending floor to the back of the room and also the blackboard with multiple panels.

Daniel Yiek said...

The lecture hall styled Demonstration Room and its row of classrooms have been replaced by a mega 4-storey block called St Daniel's Block. I wonder why it's called Demo Room.

Lidasar said...

Wow! Daniel you are lucky to have a whole block named after you.

fred said...

great job man...

Your blog really told the history of sarikei.

Hope you make a back up for this blog.. dont want it to be lost..


Stella D Bosco said...

May I know how can I get in touch with Daphne? We were classmates till 1982. We used to be bff. Mrs Elsie Ignatius used to invite us to her house on weekdays just to keep Daphne occupied. So we used to play at her house at Century Garden. I need to contact Daphne! We lost contact since they moved to Brunei in 1984.

Daniel Yiek said...

Daphne can be contacted at her facebook account

That's the easiest way to find people.

Daniel Yiek said...


Mr. K. A. Ignatius was born in Cochin in 1927 and went to missionary schools for most of his school days. He had his college education at the Maharajah’s College, Ernakulam, South India.
Before he came to St. Anthony's Secondary School, in 1962, he became Lecturer in the Department of Social Work at the Loyola College, Madras.

Mr. Ignatius was on the staff of St. Anthony’s Secondary School. He was a Form master of Form Five and taught Geography, English and History. He was interested in audio-visual aids and photography.

He passed away at age 85.

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