Every man, however simple and unassuming, has one beautiful story to tell – one shining moment of bravery or daring, one momentous instance of love, kindness, or compassion which is a joy to read about; it gives us a reassuring feeling of man’s worth to himself and to others, of the meaningfulness of human experience.

 

The whole life of Nanding is one beautiful story. It is a story often told of great men – how they overcame the poverty of their beginnings, how they fought against all odds, and rose above ordinary men. Nanding’s life story is a hardbound classic – the poor bootblack from Tondo who made good – but it has its own peculiar piquancy and humor and tenderness. The charm of it all is that it could be my story, your story, everyone’s story. It is easy to identify with Nanding, the boy who goes swimming dog-style in the rain-swollen canal, the father who likes children so much he fills his house with them, the enterprising breadwinner who breaks his back at any honest labor, and the teacher who wins the trust of his young students.

 

It is an ordinary life lived extraordinarily. He was not just a citizen; he became a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention. He was not just a teacher; he became a founder of a university. Being an educator myself, I have a high regard and respect for his mind and his principles and I admire his achievements. Dr. Fernando Bautista, Tatay to most everyone, is a sweet man, simple, even self-effacing, but when everything is said about him, he will be remembered most singularly for being a great educator.

 

 Dr. Amado C. Dizon

President

Manuel L. Quezon University

August 9, 1993

 


Sanpshots and collections gather on Tatay's desk, past and present blending, relationships and allegiances shifting and re-forming, with a robustness and serenity that mark the days of coffee and honeysuckle

 

The honeysuckle vine covering a whole wall of the courtyard at the back of the house in Baguio bloomed profusely in tangerine and lavender under the morning sun that cut through the chill air like a warm benediction. Our congenial host, the elderly Dr. Bautista, or Tatay as he was more famously known in Baguio, had trotted out a coffee table and our breakfast on a tray to where we could smell the jasmine-like scent of the honeysuckle. While we sipped our stemming coffee, he talked, in brief sketches, about his work in the University of Baguio and about some friends of his from the newspapers in Manila, especially the columnist Max Soliven who, deterred by martial law to do any writing for the dailies, would spend peaceful, unharried days in Tatay’s empty house when Tatay’s children were away in Manila. I was in Baguio with colleagues Thelma Sioson San Juan and Chuchay Molina Fernandez from Times Journal and Tatay had offered us his house to get a story on the PMA students by sneaking herself into their mess hall and dormitories. I told Tatay that I had met one of his sons, Bnn, the architect, while doing work for a magazine with modest overseas circulation that was published by his columnist-friend, and he looked quite elated by the coincidence. When we bade goodbye, Tatay presented me with cuttings of the honeysuckle vine and a gumamela plant with rose-colored flowers. A keepsake, he said.

 

In the swelter of urban clime, the honeysuckle grew a bit and then withered, no doubt stricken with homesickness for the warm sun in a chill air. But the gumamelas survived and bloomed pinkly and profusely for five years, until one day, out of fatigue or perhaps old age, it turned black in the stem and expired. Five more years later, I climbed the stairs – there was a darn brownout – to the eight floor of a building in Makati to meet Tatay for a magazine interview arranged by his granddaughter Yna Bautista. It must be the spell of the flowers, I thought; how miraculous. He must be some 80 years old now!

 

Tatay still looks every bit like the host on that Baguio summer’s day, slight and erect, with sprightly gestures and a voice that still lilts with child-like surprise. And, like the old crocodile, he remembers everything with vividness, although, true enough, he’s already 82 years old!

 

And right out of Gabriel Garcia Marquez he comes. Somewhere in his tale about the school he founded, he mentions that his dearly beloved wife of 49 years, Rosa, a respected educator like him, died three years ago, and that he married a year and a half later, in a grand ceremony in San Miguel church, “for companionship and also, of course, for love,” the very first girl he fancied as a youth in Tondo, Constancia Guevara, a 75-year-old widow, and a lady of considerable means.

 

 

tatay

 

It must be the smell of the flowers, indeed. He tells me the honeysuckle is still clinging to the wall and, like him, blooming. It must be part of the magic and wonder of this man whose rags-to-riches story has been told and retold until it has assumed legendary proportions, whose school which he first built with salvaged GI sheets grew to become one of the premier private educational institutions in the North. Two of his school buildings burned down shortly before school opening this year, but he’s not unduly despondent about it. Surely, he has seen worse times, greater setbacks. It’s not anything he could not overcome or survive (A month later after the fire, on that fateful day of July 16, 1990, the University was yet even more seriously hit by the big earthquake).

 

Tatay has not stopped counting his blessings. And if you ask him what keeps him going at his age, he will readily reply, “Moderation in all things – except work.”

 

Perhaps, too, what keeps him going is that ineffable sentimentalist in him that refuses to measure time by its relentless, grave passage, but by the joyful memories it brings him. Memories that he practically keeps in his pocket, as right away he finishes out of his wallet his wife Rosas’s last will and testament written on a small piece of scratch paper (she was, like him, a legendary pinch-penny) which instructed her husband Ding to use P100,000 for Holy Masses “to make up for the sins of my youth and latter sins of omission.” With the flushed eagerness of the new groom, he also takes out from his briefcase the pictures of his wedding to Constancia, the bride who has brought back the sweetness of his youth, who has swept away the solitude of the old and memory-landscaped house in Baguio. Suddenly, Dr. Fernando G. Bautista, educator, patriarch, and romanticist, it’s blooming honeysuckle and rose-coloreds gumamelas all over again.

– Abe Florendo, 1990

Canal de Reina

 

He remembers the Canal de la Reina very well, like a song he sings in his heart when he’s all alone. It flowed fast their house in Palumpong, Tondo, flowing regally in a straight line from Azcarraga to Pritil, unlike the many esteros that followed a serpentine course within the city, crisscrossing each other, drawn along tortuous paths and destinies that many years later led to their doom. So, alas, did the Canal de la Reina suffer the indignities of garbage and squalor, and is today nothing more than a strangulated mass of foul some water and centuries of accumulated silt, the cesspool of a shrewish district notorious for her explosive temper and prodigiously fecund womb.


tondo

 

When Fernando Bautista was a young boy growing up along the banks of the man-made Canal de la Reina, named grandiosely after Isabel II of Spain, the waterway was very much cleaner and cascoes glided softly and swiftly over its broad back. The cascoes transported wares of fruits and vegetables, flowers and fish, vessels of wine and vinegar and mounds of tribal handicrafts from Bulacan, Pampanga and the northern provinces to the great market in Divisoria. The cascoes, long and tapering like a leaf, were steered by brawny casqueros using long poles called tikin. When they passed, the women would call out from their kitchen windows or batalan that perched over the edge of the water and beg the casqueros to sell them a few centavos’ worth of their vinegar, vegetables or bananas. Then, hurriedly gathering the lower folds of their loose saya, they would scamper down to the banks to collect their goods.

 

Fernando was born on the banks of the great eponymous Canal, in a house standing on a swamp that could be reached by a bamboo footbridge half a meter high. During high tide the water engulfed the bridge. His parents met while they were working as zarzuelistas in the famous Compania Ilagan of Tondo; Placido Bautista was a comediante monickered Pachong and Benedicta (Bitang) Gonzaga was a korista. The compania played the big theaters in the city, the Zorilla at the corner of Evangelista and Azcarraga (now C.M. Recto) and the Azcarraga on that street near Ilaya, and toured the provinces where the troupe spent most of the year, singing their well-loved songs and acting out passions larger than life on rickety stages. The compania was founded by Hermogenes Ilagan some of whose descendants became illustrious names in stage and movies, among them Marcelino Ilagan who starred in the first Filipino film, Malayan Movies’ “Dalagang Bukid,” with the zarzuela diva from Tondo, Atang de la Rama before it was made into a movie, the play, also with Atang in the title role, had a long and popular run on stage. Bitang Gonzaga was in the chorus.

 
young-bautista

 

Fernando was born poor but he never knew what it was to be hungry. There was always food on the table. His mother made bibingkang malagkit, alfajol, pinipig and gabing sungsung which she carefully laid out on a bilao and carried on her head to sell around the neighborhood, crying in a voice with the drama and timber or the theater in it. Often when there was a pasugalan in their house – Fernando’s father liked to gamble – his mother would cook her bestselling dishes and serve them for a peseta a bowl to the menfolk at the card tables, their heads bent hypnotically over their games of panguingge or kuwaho. On special occasions she would serve succulent lechon, chopped into bite-size pieces and drenched in a delicious sauce. What was left unsold from the bilao or the kaldero, the four boys Amado, Fernando, Vicente and Conrado feasted on, but they would have also kept the best parts of the lechon or the biggest of the siniguelas peddled by the eldest, Amado. Fernando understood well enough even then that in business you save the best for yourself. At the time Fernando was born, at dawn of March 10, 1908, Tondo had heaved itself to a quiescent lull following the long seething years of Katipunan struggle against Spanish colonial rule. The Katipunan was founded in 1892 in Tondo by the poor orphan Andres Bonifacio, who rallied the oppressed masa, and Emilio Jacinto, who represented the elitist-reformists. They were both from Tondo and so were most of the original Katipuneros whose membership inexorably swelled from a few hundreds to tens of thousands with the publication of Ang Kalayaan, the firebrand journal of the Katipunan. Tondo remained the hotbed of rebellion until the American administration when the secret organization finally succumbed to the new invaders’ superior arms. But one man, Tondo’s General Macario Sakay, persisted in the insurrection. The “Bandido,” as he was branded by the furious Americans who were often outwitted by the slippery rebel, was captured in 1906 and hanged.

 

Life under the Americans was pretty much quiet and normal for the growing boy and his family. When they were big enough to face the world, he and his younger brother Vicente shined shoes. They stationed themselves at the gates of the North Harbor where American warships were berthed and where there was a constant stream of people coming and going. Ding had managed to put together a wooden box, a brush and shoe polish and learned to make the rhythmic sounds with the old drill or khaki cloth against the leather and the sharp knocks on the wooden box to indicate that you’re done with this one, the next shoe please. The white-suited dock clerks liked their shoes shined to a sparkle and if they threw at you two centavos you considered yourself a lucky fellow. The hulking American soldiers with boots as big as barges were less demanding and more generous, nonchalantly flicking at you an extra coin or two. He and Vicente also hawked newspapers and magazines, the Liwayway, the widely read magazine in the vernacular, on Thursdays, and the Sunday Tribune, the ilustrado periodical in English, on Sundays. They made more from selling Liwayway – a centavo and a half per copy. The two boys deliriously figured that if they sold 25 to 30 copies each, they could amass a small fortune.

 

 

My brother Vicente always beat me at selling Liwayway and Tribune. Maybe his route was better, maybe he walked faster. But I tried my best. The first copies of Liwayway would come out at 9:30 in the evening, sometimes 10 or 11 at night. If it comes out late, we sleep on the pavements of R. Hidalgo and Platerias along with all the other newsboys. Vicente and I work the same route for Liwayway, starting at Platerias all the way to Velasquez. Our ambition is to sell a copy of the magazine on every street we enter. However late the hour, our customers won’t go to bed until they had opened a copy of Liwayway. Our best customers were the maids of Miguel Cuaderno who lived in a big house on Ylaya.

 

The Sunday Tribune comes out on the night of Saturday and this time Vicente and I take different routes. He works the length of Juan Luna all the way to Maypajo, while I work Ylaya and Herbosa all the way to Velasquez. Vicente and I continued selling Liwayway and Tribune until we finished our elementary grades. I failed Grade I because I was frequently absent in the morning from working late the night before selling Liwayway and some mornings when I should be in school I was bootblacking.

 

 

My mother begged me to stop bootblacking and cut short my Liwayway route. She took pity on me although she knew very well that I needed the extra money to buy my pencils and paper and I liked snacking during recess. In school in those days you could have pan de sal with matamis na bao for one centavo. Or banana pie prepares with flour or a slice of biko. The biko was as big as a plate and cut up to six or seven pieces.

 

Mother was the eldest of three sisters and a brother from the second marriage of her father, who worked as an escribiente in Manila. She had a half-sister from her father’s first marriage and a half-brother from her mother’s first marriage. Mother was a beautiful woman, tall and striking with naturally curly hair. She liked to dress up and wear jewelry. She sold jewelry from Meycauayan (Bulacan) on installment, collecting fifty centavos or one peso every week from each of her customers. I like to think I inherited from my mother her industriousness and her great capacity for work.

 

colonial-medium

 

She was employed as cajista in La Grandeza (a cigarette factory in Meisic, now Abad Santos, at the corner of Azcarraga, renamed Claro M. Recto). Even when Vicente was already in pre-med school he helped mother at night in the factory, stuffing the cigarillos into packs. With Vicente helping her fill up more packs, she earned more money – one centavo for two packs, a peso for 200 packs. When she was at work, my brothers and I took our meals with our uncles and aunts. And it was our job to fetch water from the public faucets. My aunties would say “While you’re resting, why don’t you get us water from the well or chop wood for the stove?”

 

On Sundays and holidays my Uncle Pedro (San Felipe) and I would tidy up the orchard of a wealthy aunt who lived on Juan Luna. Her mother was the sister of my grandmother and her family owned 12 apartment units in Divisoria. She would pay us five centavos each for a day’s work, but we did not complain as we were allowed to eat the fruits of the trees that grew in her yard – guava, duhat, siniguelas, aratiles, macopa.

 

I even learned how to wash my mother’s baro’t saya. You wash with hugas bigas if the cloth is white; otherwise you wash with sabong luto. Then you prepare laundry starch. Then on a square wooden frame, a bastidor, you stretch the cloth and you press the starch upon it to give it sheen.

 

My father was not too lucky in business. He worked for a time as a clerk at the Manila Railroad Station. Then he went into a rent-a-carabao-and-cariton business. It didn’t work out well either. And then somebody wheedled him into becoming a partner in a jueteng operation. Father looked like he enjoyed the risks and the excitement. The operation extended from Canal de la Reina to Malibay in Pasay. He admitted he was conned once by his partners and he lost P500, a great deal of money then. In one stroke of luck, however, he was able to buy our house in Pingkian (that area in Palumpong was generally known as Dagupan, the main street).

 

Rosa Castillo when she was a baby on the lap of her mother Petra in a charming picture that has survived the years

 

We had been renting the house for P5. After the war my brothers and I also bought the lot from the man who owned it. Pingkian is now called Gregorio Perfecto, and intersects Rosauro Almario, which was named after a classmate of mine in the grade school who became a councilor. It’s where my eldest brother put up his printing press, now called Coloright and run by his sons.

 

I don’t remember much about my father. He was always touring with the zarzuela, or he was away in the provinces on a trading venture or other. He dealt in mangoes from Cebu but after two trips or so he was wiped out. In Mindoro where he was prospecting for gold, he fell down the mountain during a storm and broke his ankle. He came home with malaria and a gangrene in his leg. Since then we saw him in the house more often although he kept mostly to himself. I vaguely remember people saying he became a member of the Espiritistas who believed they could talk to spirits.

 

He gave us care, I guess, maybe love – he was so undemonstrative. When I became a parent myself, I knew I would be different from my father. I would want to be always with my children, to watch them grow, to become part of their lives.

 

One time I narrated my boyhood to Carlos P. Romulo and he said, “Naku, Nanding, I wish I could write your life story.” And I told him, “Never mind, just attend to the affairs of the country.” Romulo was a dear friend. He liked to say, “Nanding, I like talking to you. We can talk eye to eye.”

 

PALUMPONG plunged headlong into the same fate as its overpopulated neighbors. A dumpsite for scraps of steel and broken bulbs in time grew into a fly-infested mound of garbage filled with rotten vegetables and fruits and other refuse of the neighborhood. At first they sprayed a chemical on the mound to neutralize the smell, but when the spraying was too much a bother; the neighborhood was quick to tolerate the smell and the flies – and the deterioration that slowly seeped into the weave of the social fabric.

 

Fernando and his brothers never tired of playing patintero, luksong tinik, tumbang preso and buga. The frisky boy also ran around with the other kids in the neighborhood whose idea of fun was to steal up from behind the cascoes when the casquero was not looking, or would be occupied at the far end of his long and slim boat, and filch a watermelon or a coconut or, if they could unload it without making a splash in the water, a whole bundle of sugarcane. If the casquero caught sight of them, the filthy rats, he would run after them, threatening to impale them with his tikin dance.

 

In time even the cascoes simply vanished, unnoticed, unlamented, gliding away from the corroded landscape of Tondo and the fey memory of its residents, to be replaced by the raucous blares and deadly smoke of hideous machines on wheels.

 

 

samahan

 

It was Fernando and the neighborhood toughies who sang the song of the fading waterway. After a strong rain of the water of the Queen’s canal would rise, heaving on its brackish back the carcasses of pigs, cats, and rats. It did not deter the young kids from swimming, dog-style, in the overflowing canal. They would dive into the water and then emerge gasping; whoever came out with a dead animal or flotsam caught on the top of his head, like a prized trophy, was declared the king of the estero.

 

The sari-sari stores of the Intsik were often the victims of their mischiefs. Fernando once joined the neighborhood gang in a nighttime raid of a Chinese store, from which they carried away a boy’s booty of candies, mammon, cookies, sweet kundol and buchi. These they devoured behind a bamboo raft two blocks away from the store. What started as pranks became thievery. It reached the ears of Fernando’s father that the boy was part of the gang that conducted a commando raid of the hens and swiped all the eggs under the neighbor’s houses. For the first time in Fernando’s life, he got a belting in public from his father.

 

Fate favors some, damns others. The leader of Fernando’s gang was Adiong Reyes, who turned into a real gangster and achieved notoriety in the 50s as Public Enemy Number One. “Adiong’s house was right beside ours,” recalls Fernando. “It was so close we could touch hands across our windows. In our neighborhood in Palumpong, I knew of only two or three families who made good. One of them, I must say, is our family. The others are the Bernals, the Tionlocs and the Palmas. Rafael Palmas’ children always claimed we were related to each other.”

 

The frisky kid, nonetheless, remained his mother’s trusted aide. He did the laundering, the cooking, even the marketing. “My mother would give me 50 centavos for the market. Fifteen to 20 centavos paid for meat, ten to 15 centavos fish, two to 5 centavos vegetables, two centavos egg, white or red. May kupit pa akong two or three centavos. With that I’d buy myself softdrinks – soda, lemonade or sarsaparilla. If you buy it at the El Adelante, the factory on Juan Luna, it costs two and a half centavos, or three centavos with a bit of ice. If you buy it at the tindahan it costs three centavos.”

 

 

gypsy

 

He went to school at the Meisic Primary School (Grades I to II) in the vicinity of Divisoria in Binondo. Because he was spending more time in the streets selling newspapers than in the classroom, he failed Grade I; he repeated it under the stern eye of his aunt, the formidable Elisea Gonzaga. He took up Grades III and IV at the Rizal Primary School in Pritil which was closer to their house, and finished intermediate (Grades V to VII) at the Tondo Intermediate (now the Isabelo de los Reyes Elementary School) at the corner of Morga and Sande near the Tondo Cathedral. He went to the Manila North (now Arellano) for his first year high school, after which, as was the practice then, when it was necessary to speed up the education process of a nation that had languished under centuries of a colonial regime, he was allowed to transfer to the Philippine Normal School for four years of studies leading to an Elementary Teacher’s Certificate.

 

When he was at the Tondo Intermediate, he spent his hours after school, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, helping his Tiya Genia, the wife of Tiyo Jesus (Gonzaga, the brother of his mother), in her textile store in the Yangco market. When he sold 50 centavos worth of clothing material, he got a commission of one or two centavos. In those days you could get a material for a bestida for 50 centavos or less. A baro’t saya worn by teachers and elder women fetched two to three pesos. Custom – and fashion – demanded that once a girl reached her teens she had to wear the elegant baro’t saya. Young boys in the secondary schools were required by the Americans to wear long pants and suit, called americana.

 

On campus Fernando was the energetic captain of the basketball team, catcher in the junior baseball team and tosser in the volleyball team. As a middle-distance runner he participated in interscholastic games. Saturdays and Sundays practice games were held at the Mehan Gardens and at Plaza Lawton (now a bus terminal), which was then the playground of the city schools of Manila. Track and field players sweated it out on the race track of the Nozaleda Park (now part of the Rizal Park). “We played basketball and volleyball barefoot,” Fernando recalls. “The schools made no provisions for shoes for their athletes. Rubber shoes then cost fifty centavos, mostly Japanese made. The sando and short sleeves with two or three buttons, also Japanese made, cost ten centavos. If we had a new kamiseta, we were more than happy.”

 

benidicta-gonzaga

 

In those halcyon days, practically all the bazaars in Manila were owned by the Japanese, along with the photo stores and the ubiquitous stands selling the popular mongo con hielo creamed with Senorita evaporated or condensed milk. When the Pacific war broke out, the Japanese storeowners and vendors and even the lowly gardeners in the rich people’s houses showed their true colors: they turned out to be officers, many of them holding the lofty ranks of captains and colonels in the Emperor’s Army in the Land of the Red Sun.

 

Besides being athletic, the young boy also showed glimmers of an eloquent speaker. In school he participated in elocution and declamation contests as well as acted in short plays and operettas, notably, for him, the lead role in “The Windmills of Holland.” Fernando remembers how his father the zarzuelista would make him stand on a bench or the tapayan when he was smaller and teach him how to gesticulate and emote – in the few occasions of togetherness between father and son. But the father, who under the Spaniards learned only the fundamental cartilla when he was 16, had little understanding of the American schooling. Filipinos were teaching his son in the language of the dayuhan. His son was reading English literature from the Camilo Osias Readers and learning geography written by Mary A. Polley.

 

Fernando harbored the lofty aspiration of taking up law but his mother said they could not afford it, not anyway with her earnings as cajista at La Grandeza. When he graduated from Grade VII in 1923 he couldn’t even have a decent pair of shoes. The poor boy from the banks of the Canal de la Reina, the little rat of the cascoes, marched up the stage to receive his diploma in a white kamiseta, white cortos and well-worn slippers.

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principal1

 

When it was decided that Fernando was going to become a maestro, not an abogado, as it would be impossible for the family to afford law school, his benevolent aunt Elisea Gonzaga who would later become wife of Emilio Magsaysay, a pastor in the Seventh Day Adventist church, and his good uncle Jesus San Felipe Gonzaga who would later gift him with the first new suit in his life came forward and offered to pay for his matriculation of P4 a year for four years at the Philippine Normal School. Both his aunt and uncle had graduated from the teacher’s school, thanks to their sister, Fernando’s mother, who, being the eldest, had sacrificed her own ambitions to help send the younger siblings to school.

 

Fernando’s brothers were as eager as he was to obtain a good education. Amado was studying to be a tenedor de libro (bookkeeper) at the Philippine School of Commerce in Sta. Mesa (now the Polytechnic University of the Philippines) while working at night as a printer’s devil in a letterpress company. Later he went to the University of the Philippines for his accounting degree. The tall and good-looking Vicente, who attracted the eye of the girls in his school and in the neighborhood, was helping his mother, who doted on him, dreamed that he would become a doctor, but Vicente, fulfilling the romantic tragedy of the beloved and the beautiful, died ten days before his graduation, leaving behind three small children. The youngest Conrado was to take up mechanical and electrical engineering, working in the day as sweeper and librarian at the University Club of Manila in front of Aristocrat on Dewey Boulevard, a private club owned by American businessmen and professionals, and studying at night at the University of the Philippines.

 

The charm and inconveniences of those early days in Manila (photo courtesy of Lopez Museum)

 

All through my four years in the Philippine Normal School, I worked Saturdays as a plumber’s assistant to earn my allowance and pocket money. The master plumber was a neighbor, the old man Cruz. I went with him and his son Ponying – we were playmates when we were small – to his plumbing jobs in Sta. Cruz, Quiapo, Singalong and other places, and we fixed toilets, lavabos and ventiladors. The old man Cruz paid me fifty centavos a day. We took the tranvia to and from work. The major means of transportation in Manila under an American Governor General were the calesa, the caritela and the tranvia. A two-day ticket cost 17 centavos, one way was nine centavos.

 

he is the rakish looking fellow behind the girsl of the PNS Third Year Class on the Biology field Bataan

 

In all of my four years at the Philippine Normal School, I could count maybe only ten times that I rode the tranvia. I walked and partly ran to school, morning and afternoon. I’d leave at 6 or 6:30 in the morning and wend my way through Dagupan, Soler, Meisic, Rosario (now Quintin Paredes), Jones Bridge and Taft Avenue, where the school was located (it still is).  I wore tsinelas (slippers of calfskin or goatskin with gamosa). It was only in my third year, when I had my Observation and Participation classes, that I was enjoined, for propriety’s sake, to wear shoes, although I could ill afford them. So the slippers will last longer, on rainy days I put them in my back pocket or my bag and walk barefooted through the slush. Upon reaching the school I’d wash my muddied feet under the faucet before putting on my slippers.

 

With my plumber’s pay, I’d spend three centavos for rice, two centavos for a viand of dinuguan or higado or sinigang, and maybe three centavos for pancit luglog; the rest went to school materials. When there was no plumbing job the Saturday before, I contented myself with a baon of rice and tomatoes. Some generous classmates would share with me a piece of their tapa (jerky) and we’d have a picnic under the mango tree in the schoolyard.

 

That mango tree is still there. When it was in fruit, I was the one who was always showing off and climbing that tree. I remember during my second year I was up in that tree and the school’s registrar, the much dreaded Bertha Lincoln, saw me and she shouted, “Young man, come down from that tree!” Like a scared cat I scampered from one branch to another and then fled to the men’s room. She waited for me at the gate but I escaped through the window. If she had caught me, I would have been suspended and it would have affected my class standing. I was an honor student then – without really trying – and I knew that the Division Superintendent of the City Schools of Manila would invite (by letter) only those who were on the honors list.

 

In his first year at the Philippine Normal School, he studied Drawing under Mr. Herminio Ancheta. Since Ding was the shortest and the youngest-looking in class, Mr. Ancheta took a fancy on him and named him roll-caller, a designation that carried certain distinction in class. “Hoy, Bulilit,” Mr. Ancheta would holler at him, “call the roll!” Fernando sauntered through a whole semester in Drawing without touching brush and crayola.

 

lanceros

 

Mr. Ancheta was a talented artist. In school he would produce a painting in oil or watercolor in ten to fifteen minutes flat, using whatever was at hand – discarded paper or a board yanked out of a dilapidated aparador. He would instruct his favorite Bulilit to sell his instant masterpieces for 50 centavos or a peso and with some of the money Bulilit would be sent out to buy a pack of his teacher’s favorite cigarettes, La Insular or Katubusan. Bulilit knew who on campus had money on them: the pensionados from the provinces, some of whom were veteran schoolteachers. (In the provinces it was not unusual for Grade II graduates to start teaching in Primary.) For every peso he collected Fernando made three to five centavos. He spent the money on pancit or dinuguan.

 

Mr. Ancheta, by all indications a budding bohemian, gave Bulilit a grade of 91 in Drawing, the highest grade ever in this class. And this Fernando earned without doing a single drawing! Imagine his shock then when four years later the Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Florentino Cayco, would summon him to his office and tell him that his first teaching assignment was going to be: Drawing.


normal

 

From his first year in PNS  he became very active in campus politics, becoming vice president of the freshman organization, member of the Junior House of Representatives, and in his third year speaker pro tempore. It did not affect his popularity, neither was it ever an embarrassment to him, that he was so poor he could not afford more decent clothes – he only had camisa chino – much less the dentures to fill up his missing front teeth. He was not alone in his poverty, though. Many of his classmates also came from poor families like him.

 

The Library Reference Division. In those days without airconditioning, students wore a suit and tie to school. COuld one find such neatness and grooming among students these days?

 

In his second year he became friendly with a classmate of his – Dolores Bernardo, nicknamed Loleng, during an excursion to a botanical farm in Lamao, Bataan. Since he discovered that he was happy when he was with her. But he did not court her, not even in jest. “Owing to my poverty, I had vowed that I would not give a girl a second look until I was somebody,” he says.

 

She was a sweet girl. She shared with him her baon, she gave him one or two tickets on tranvia on stormy days (her scholar’s ticket was five centavos instead of nine and she had 50 tickets in a libreta). Once she was his dance partner in a school program; they danced the Carinosa and a modern number to the tune of “Happy Days Are Here Again.” They wore customes cut out of crepe paper.

 

Loleng went on to become principal and then supervisor in Cabanatuan. Since then he rarely saw her again; once she invited him to the Cabanatuan town fiesta; another time during a Palaro sports meet he went up her house unannounced and came upon her washing clothes in a batya. “I felt guilty. Perhaps if I had courted her, things would have been different?” One could only shake one’s head at the unfathomable. When his class celebrated their Golden Jubilee at the Philippine Normal School in 1978, he was so overjoyed to see her that he impulsively rushed forward to embrace her.

 

She died a spinster at 72 in 1980. He read about her death in a newspaper obituary. “I was very fond of her. I want to see her,” he told his wife. ‘That’s alright,” his wife said. “I’m coming with you.” At the wake he took his seat beside the three sisters of Loleng who were all severely dressed and veiled in black. One of them, Ising, wept upon seeing him and said, “Why did you come only now? She had been wishing to see you.”

 

In his junior year, he wore his first pair of shoes and long pants.

 

grad

 

He was sent to his first practice teaching assignment, Observation and Participation, at the Jefferson Elementary School’s Grade VII class, in Paco, near the Hike Shoe Factory, which was owned by an American. He was going to handle a Physical Education class. When he entered the classroom, in his shorts and slippers, there was a commotion among the students and then they started jumping out of the window.

 

The principal of the school, the spinsterish Miss Ruperto, caught one of the fleeing students and demanded to know, “Who’s your teacher?’ Miss Ruperto gave Fernando Bautista a dressing-down right there and then. “How could you explain to maintain discipline in your class when you’re wearing shorts? Some of your pupils are older than you and they’re wearing long pants. If you could not be properly dressed, better drop the subject,” she snapped.

 


The dreaded Miss Bertha Lincoln, the PNS registrar (top). She sent tremord down the spine of any student when she ordered, in her high-pitched voice, "Report to Room 7!" Miss Helen Blue (below) was the supervisor of the Training department who advised the young apprentice teacher to wear his first long pants.

 

Once outside Miss Ruperto’s office the novice teacher burst into tears. He was so ashamed of himself he was ready to renounce teaching altogether. It was then that Miss Blue, the supervisor in the Training Department of the Philippine Normal School, saw him and asked, “Why are you crying, young man?” He told her what happened. “What did you expect, with your outfit? Come back in long trousers and a coat. And look stern when you face your class,” Miss Blue said, not knowing whether to be mad at him or sorry for him.

 

On reaching home, he told his mother what happened and she forthwith produced a pair of long pants, tight-fitting in the Moro style popular at the time, that belonged to Amado and a white drill americana with a one and a half inch-high “clerical” collar that belonged to his father, and which did not require a necktie, as well as a beige-colored pair of bulldog Hike leather shoes that was either his father’s or Amado’s. He wore the same suit and shoes everyday for a whole semester of practice teaching.

 

It was a hectic year for him. He went to classes in the morning, did practice teaching in the afternoon, and then back to Normal for Drill and P.E. Just as his cortos and missing teeth did not hinder him from becoming a campus orator and politician, neither did his shortness and sparrow-like build stop him from being active in sports.

 

Everything was fine in the Bautista household. All the boys were working hard and studying hard and determined to pursue their own careers – Amado in accounting, Fernando in teaching, Vicente in Medicine, and Conrado in engineering. “They looked like a happy family,” remembers Atty. Jose Calingo, who was a classmate of Fernando’s at the Normal School and lived on Ricafort street, some distance from Dagupan. “All the brothers were my friends. They all looked well-behaved and disciplined. The mother was a kind woman who would give me a place at their table when it was time to eat and I was around in their house.” He and Fernando ware fervent devotees of the Nazareno of Quiapo during their schooldays. “On Fridays we walked together from school to Quiapo to hear Mass.” (He was surprised to learn that Fernando turned out to be a university founder and not a monsignor, but he did not find the former unlikely. “He had the highest IQ in the whole of Normal School during our time,” he says.) Calingo was also a close friend of Vicente’s, the fair and tragic boy.

 

Portraits of teachers from the Torch 1928: The line on Fernando bautista is descriptively precise:" A witty, jolly fellow and a favorite among the girls."

 

One evening, during supper, Vicente, bristling with youth and good health and on his second year of medicine proper, startled everyone with the sudden announcement that he was getting married. Neither the entreaties of his mother nor the remonstrations of Amado and Fernando could dissuade him from what they felt was a premature decision, much less diminish his ardor for Mapalad Hilario, a spirited girl who lived next door. They got married not much later and lived with Vicente’s mother until he died in 1936 of kidney poisoning. He was only 24. The tragedy was made more poignant by the fact that the young man and father was due to graduate from Medicine in ten days. He left behind three children (a fourth died at birth). Mapalad remarried a year later, as soon as she shed her mourning clothes.

 

pnu

 

It was Fernando who practically adopted all of Vicente’s children – Angelina, Vicente Jr., and Totoy – who in turn gifted their uncle with many other children, six from Vicente Jr. and five from Totoy, both of whom have passed away; a surviving sister, Angelina, is childless. The grandchildren of Vicente, form part of the large clan and family that Fernando Bautista today proudly calls his own.

 

On his fourth year in Normal School, Fernando’s father fell off the mountain. It was said that the elder Bautista was in Mindoro following, like a siren call, hot rumors of gold to be panned in the mountain streams. He was caught in a storm in the mountains and was carried downhill by the flash floods. He broke his ankle. Amado was then municipal treasurer of Naujan, Mindoro, but he was not informed about the accident. The father managed to make the trek back to Manila on his own.

 

The wound festered and became gangrenous. For a long time he could not move around much, and so it came to pass that when the grown boys had not much need for a father figure he was suddenly there at home, not all in one piece maybe but there. But when he felt better he began to journey out of the house once more and went back to playing monte. “When I was small I remember Tiyo Idong coming to our neighborhood in Penalosa after his lunch to play cards with the men,” says Gloria Gonzaga, now Antonio, whose father Jesus was the brother of Fernando’s mother. “He was a soft-spoken man and did not talk much. When I was already going to school he taught me how to properly enunciate in Tagalog by making me read from Liwayway.”

 

Nanding Bautista (opposite page) at his desk as principal of the Rizal Elementary School at a Red Cross fundraising dinner at the Singalong

 

Fernando’s recalls: We got used to seeing him around the house, but we wished he did not go back to gambling. I could not know if he was aware of our progress in school, but one time when I was already a teacher at the Sta. Ana Elementary School, I was surprised to see him among the audience at an operetta I was directing. He had apparently taken the tranvia to school, but he was wearing his pajama top and I was so embarrassed because I was dressed nattily in a white suit.

 

“Perhaps it wasn’t the first time he attended a school affair I was involved in, but he’d never let me know. He loved plays and operettas, being a thespian himself, and probably missed live theater, especially the zarzuela, which was then steadily losing out to the popularity of the silent movies. But if he cared at all about what we were doing, he would not let us know.”

 

“He died of cancer of the bone in 1930. He was 57. We buried him the morning after his death and in the afternoon I resumed my teaching, sad and wanting so much to let him know that we would miss him, nonetheless.”

 

The boys went about their own work. Fernando applied himself to his studies with more diligence, especially after learning that only those in the honor list were invited by the superintendent of schools for employment. He was still working Saturdays as a plumber and still getting fifty centavos per day, but it was great help for everyday expenses.

 

But when it came to graduation expenses, him plumber’s pay was certainly not enough. In November of 1927 when it was necessary to have his picture taken for the school annual, his Uncle Jesus gave him the suiting material and his brother Amado gave him the money to pay the tailor. (It cost P15-17 then to have a suit made, hecho derecho.) He got himself a butterfly necktie from a Japanese bazaar for ten centavos. Smart-looking and tentatively smiling in his new suit and tie, he had his picture taken at the Sun Studio, a Japanese studio near the Binondo Church.

 

Red Cross fund raising dinner at the Singalong Elementary Schools. Red Cross dinners were big social events in those days.

 

Four months later, in March of 1928, at the graduation ceremonies at the Philippine Normal School he had his mother with him; he was doubly happy because he finished 26th in a class of 520 graduates: it was safely within the five percent skimmed for the honors list from the total graduating population. After the ceremonies, his mother went back to her work in Grandeza and he wended his way home, tired and wanting only to hit the sack. There was no party among friends, there was no special dinner prepared at home. It was the same thing for Conrado when he finished his engineering course. Graduations are part of the ordinary day-to-day trudge and hardwork that one should be grateful enough to hurdle and survive, not special evens that signal the final climax, the end. For the Bautistas, it’s yet another day, and there’s tomorrow.

 

amang

 

Fernando woke up the next morning to a long and carefree summer and the exciting prospect of a teaching post upon the resumption of classes at the Sta. Ana Elementary School. He accepted invitations to dances and picnics. During the Holy Week he sang the pasyon at the bisitas, rendering the holy passages in a singing voice remembered from his father and mother who sang them beautifully. With his friends, he made the pilgrimage to the bisitas as far as Angono, Taguig and Marilao. In the merry month of May, he went carousing with his friends, flitting from one house to another, in the unending feast that marked the Flores de Mayo celebrations. In the evening the splendid santacruzan flowed like a river of light down the narrow and crowded streets of Tondo and Binondo. Fernando and his gallant friend were in great demand as torch bearers for the pretty damsels who positively sparkled underneath the fancy arches wearing the family jewels with their lavishly beaded gowns. Or they were drummers and buglers in the corps that provided the tune for the languorous march all down the streets, around the plaza, and into the church of the revered Santo Nino.

 

For Fernando Bautista, it was the summer of great contentment.

 

The best thing to happen to Fernando in that wonderful summer of 1928 was his summons to the office of Assistant Superintendent of Schools Florentino Cayco (later owner and president of Arellano University) for an interview. He was being assigned to the Sta. Ana Elementary School to take the place of a teacher who was being transferred to another school. He was going to handle all classes in Drawing in that school (thanks to Mr. Ancheta’s gratuitously high grades in his transcript of records, although it meant nothing in terms of actual skill).

 

When Fernando heard that, he almost sank in his chair and broke out in cold sweat. Soon after the interview, Fernando, not one to back out of a tight situation, took a “crash course” in drawing from his brother Amado and his uncle Jesus Gonzaga, who had taken Fine Arts courses in UP, an innate talent and flair took care of the rest. “When you’re pressed against the wall, you can do anything,” he says of his hilarious episode.

 

Trees and terpsichores: Ceremonial planting of the national tree (above) at the Rizal Elementary School to commemorate the third anniversary of the Commonwealth of the Philippines on November 15, 1938. Among the School's guests were Rep. Gregorio Perfecto (in white suit and tie), Teodoro Gener (with bowtie), president of the PTA Rizal Elementary School, and the beauteous Balmori sister (fourth and fifth from left)

 

He went on to teach free-hand drawing, finger and scissor cutting with colored paper and mechanical drawing and was so convincingly good that after one year he became a model teacher in Drawing, doing demonstrations for the benefit of teachers   at the Bonifacio Elementary School in Tayuman and the Mabini Elementary School in Sta. Cruz. The summer after his first stint as Drawing teacher he enrolled in the Drawing class of Dativa Cristobal Roque at the Normal School and he got the highest mark – not because he was Bulilit once more but because he deserved it.

 

Graceful young girls dance the Blue danube at the 1939 Graduation Exercises of the Rizal Elementary School (Note the beautiful backdrop)

 

His artistic flair might also explain why, at the opening of school at the Sta. Ana Elementary, he also found himself in Home Economics, the inviolable female bastion where no man dared to tread. But Fernando Bautista did not seem to be any threat to the female teachers.

 

His first principal was Miss Nieves Gomez who would later marry an Algonza, who would become chief of police of Manila. “Miss Gomez asked me to take care of decorating the model living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and office according to the season – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and so forth. There were three Home Economics teachers but I never knew why Miss Gomez had wanted me to do the decorating instead of them. As I had to do everything myself, I learned how to sew, embroider, do patchwork and stitch. I made table runners, bedspreads, pillow cases and antimacassars. You needed antimacassars then because men wore greasy pomades and they dirtied the chairs and sofas when they leaned back their heads. I learned color and print coordination. I took pains to paint the flower pots to coordinate with the color motif in the living room. I could do buttonholes. The only thing I didn’t learn was knitting.”

 

The young  Flerida Pineda says her piece at the same program

 

The readiness and flexibility of the drawing teacher and interior decorator, who was receiving P80 a month less pension, caught the attention of his supervisors. Public school teachers were not allowed to take up the advanced course leading to a Bachelor of Science in Education unless they showed satisfactory performance in their first year of teaching. Fernando proved himself more than qualified. From Drawing he had been “promoted” to handle the academic subjects, Good Manners and Right Conduct and Character Education (“These are very important subjects and I consider them necessary for a good student foundation. Unfortunately, they have been removed from the elementary curriculum”). Later he also became a model teacher in English.


Rosa Castillo in a regal pose in 1927

 

Fernando enrolled for evening classes at the University of the Philippines in Padre Faura. He took the tranvia from Sta. Ana to San Marcelino, near the Paco Cemetery, and then walked the rest of the way to Padre Faura. Little did he suspect it then but he was also walking into the arms of his future wife.

 

Rosa Castillo was his classmate in Botany I and they were assigned the same microscope. Although he was not that much taller than she, he always offered to take down the microscope from its perch on a high shelf at the start of the class. After school he saw her being fetched by her boyfriend who brought her home on the tranvia to the Manotoc Subdivision in Gagalangin, Tondo. Sometimes he came upon them boarding the tranvia at the Paco Station; they took their seats in first class while Fernando sat in second class.

 

“It was not love at first sight,” says Fernando Bautista. “Rather, it grew through the years.”

 

Rosa Castillo was born in Tondo of parents who came from Pateros, Rizal. When she and her sister Cayetana were still small, the father died in a cholera epidemic that decimated the town. To support the children, the mother tended a small sari-sari store. But love after the time of cholera came again for Rosa’s mother: She met Victoriano Yamson, who was one of the best lawyers during the time of Quezon (he also served the President) a distinguished orator and debater. They had three daughters and a son.

 

review

 

Rosa was a model teacher in Grade II at the Magdalena Elementary School in Sta. Cruz, which was also a model institution. It seems she was always a step ahead of Fernando. Rosa was six months older than he. In 1936 when he became the youngest masteral holder and the youngest principal, he was only duplicating the feat of Rosa who four years earlier, when still an undergraduate, became principal of the Intramuros Primary School. Even in the senior teachers examination in 1935, Rosa was number one, while he came in number two. That exam always exacted a high mortality rate: as much as three-fourths of the total examinees.

 

President Osmeña (third from left) and Mayor Amang Rodriguez (second from left) pose with Education officials

 

Rosa Castillo, although hard-driven in her career, was no killjoy, if not exactly a barrel of fun. She was rather outgoing and loved the company of her friends. It was she who drew Fernando into her gang consisting of fellow teachers from Magdalena, vivacious, close-knit and loyal to each other. There were the Roxas sisters, with names that sounded like heroic Iberian marches – Libertad, Estrella, Luz and Esmeralda. There was Crisanta Tangco, who later became assistant to the superintendent of Manila city schools. And Mariano Pascual who later became superintendent of Manila city schools. Domingo Tan who became principal of the Jose Abad Santos High School, and Luciano Tapia, who distinguished himself as a soloist of the Manila Teachers Chorale.

 


A wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal monument in Luneta on December 8, 1937. With Bautista are fellow teachers Florencio Salvador and Jorge Rebullida, who was nanding's teacher in Rizal Primary

 

Together they went to the movies, to the Ideal and Grand in Avenida, Lyric and Capitol in Escolta, Empire in Echague; you paid 20 centavos when you went in before noontime, 30 centavos when you went in after 12. They all loved Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy and “Love Boat,” and were enthralled by the epic “War and Peace.”

 

On weekends they would watch as many as three movies in a row. Afterward if there was not much money left among them for the panciteria, they sometimes headed for the house of the Roxas sisters in Sampaloc, raided the kitchen and gabbed some more until about ten in the evening when they would remember to go home.

 

Or sometimes on Sundays they would tale the bus to a small dam in Marilao where they swam and picnicked on sinigang of fish fresh from the fisherman’s salambao; or to the Dalahican beach in Cavite where they feasted on oysters (costing ten centavos a kerosene can); the coastal town did not yet grow tahong then. Rosa Castillo was up to anything – except dancing. This Fernando found out during the dinner-dance held to raise funds for the Red Cross. Fernando, the would-be Valentino, loved to dance. He learned the tango, the waltz, the Lambeth Walk and the pasa doble in his neighborhood where dances would be held at the sight of the Victrola. When the band slid into a slow waltz number, he walked up to Rosa and asked her for the dance but the lady demurely and embarrassedly said sorry. “I don’t know how to dance,” she confessed.

 

Love had not waltzed into their hearts as yet. The young man’s fancies were being diverted elsewhere. In 1933 there was the fair and fashionable Constancia Guevara from Gagalangin who was teaching Social Studies at the Sta. Ana Elementary School. She had graduated from Philippine Normal School the year before and after serving as substitute teacher in the Division of City Schools of Manila, she was permanently assigned to Sta. Ana.

 

Evenings of Saturday and Sunday, after the late movies or the supper at the Roxas sisters, it would fall upon him to take the other girls in the gang home by calesa. First to get down was Miss Tangco who lived on Bulacan street, then Rosing whose house was located at the back of the Gagalangin fire depot. Then he’d go visit Constancia who lived at nearby Solis street.

 

Then there was a girl named Annie, also a teacher, who lived on his street. She was a childhood friend and she was entirely devoted to him. Passing her house on his way home, however late the time, he would find her at her window patiently waiting for him. She’d call out to him and press into his hands balut or sweets or whatever it was that she had prepared for him.

 

But the young man had vowed to himself that he would not look at woman seriously until he was “established.” And so he kept himself diligently to his teaching, adept at handling English as well as Drawing and Industrial Arts classes, coaching volleyball and tennis for boys and girls, training declaimers, and directing operettas (he set up Finarliso in Sta. Ana., an idea he borrowed from Tondo Intermediate).

 

In the school year 1935-36, he was assigned to a professional team on special detail in the Department of Public Instruction which was then tasked to revise the courses in English for Grades I to VII. Chief of the team was Dr. Cecilio Putong, a well-known name in education at the time. The team’s significant contribution was the inclusion of Filipino writers in English in classroom textbooks, thereby boosting the reputation of budding literary luminaries then like Juan Laya and Lydia Arguilla, Frankie Sionil Jose, Estrella Alfon, Ligaya Fruto, and Edith and Edilberto Tiempo.

 

At the same time that he was working in the Department of Public Instruction, Fernando Bautista was also on loan to Dr. Manuel L. Carreon, who was then chief of the Department of Tests and Measurements. He assisted Carreon in framing the questions for the Civil Service examinations for junior and senior teachers and superintendents. He was actually asked to stay with this department but he felt that its system of promotion was too slow.

 

His burning ambition was to become superintendent that was why he took every chance to obtain higher education. (There were only three universities then – the University of the Philippines, the National University which was owned by Camilo Osias and the Jocson family, and Sto. Tomas University of the Dominican Fathers.) “Dean Francisco Benitez of the UP College of Education served as my model and inspiration in striving for higher education and more effective service in molding the character of the youth,” he has once said.

 

He spent seven long years in UP and saw three presidents – Dr. Palma, then Dr. Jorge Bocobo, and when he graduated, Dr. Bienvenido M. Gonzales. In all that time he was not able to attend a single convocation or social affair on campus, as he arrived for class at 5:30 and all convocations were held not later than 4:00 in the afternoon.  He failed first semester of ROTC because his captain, would-be General Macario Peralta, was affronted by the trainee’s miserably faded uniform; the captain was extremely fastidious. He almost failed Social Studies under Dr. Paterno Santos who, not caring a hoot whether one was a working student or not, marked Fernando absent every time he was tardy. (“When I taught at the UP College in Baguio, he was back to haunt me – he was my dean.”)

 

The long years – faded uniforms and tardiness notwithstanding – paid off for Fernando Bautista. As he is wont to say, “With hard work and determination, anything is possible.” In 1936, soon after finishing his masteral course from UP, he was appointed Assistant Principal of the Gregorio del Pilar Elementary School (now Jose Abad Santos High School) in Binondo. It was formerly the Meisic Elementary, where he studied Grade I and II. Some of his old teachers were still there and they were so very proud of him.

 

After a year he became principal of the Rizal Elementary School in Tayuman, achieving a record of sorts as the youngest principal in Manila with the highest degree. And the most eligible bachelor? Not for long. In the summer of 1938, on April 18 of a glorious Easter Monday, he got married to Rosa Castillo.

 

Because of the gang, I was with her almost everyday, including Saturdays and Sundays – for nine years. Love grew quietly, slowly, almost unsuspectingly. In December of 1935 when I was putting the finishing touches to my masteral thesis, and I came to the part of the dedication, I wrote “R” (for Rosing) all of a sudden. It seemed most natural.

 

Mother and I went to see Rosing’s mother (namanhikan) and a wonderful thing happened then. It turned out my mother and her mother were old chums in Tondo and even worked in the same pabrika. Naturally, they didn’t take long to agree to the wedding.

 

I had earlier proposed to Rosing in a letter, very vaguely, very indirectly. I was too timid to say “I love you.” In one of her last letters to me, Rosing told me all about her past suitors. I wrote back to her, finally in very clear and definite terms, “I love you for what you are.”

 

I thought we were both more than ready for marriage. We were both principals. I was already 30 years old and so was Rosa (she was six months older than Fernando, being born on September 4, 1907). I had an increase of P10 as principal. Although for many years I gave all my salary to my mother who in turn gave me only what I needed for allowance, I was still able to squirrel away P100 in the bank.


lr_oldpixweddingwedding-day

 

We were married by Fr. Jose Jovellanos at the Tondo church (now cathedral). We had for sponsors my English supervisor, Visitacion Gonzalez, and the Dean of the College of Education of U.P., Dr. Francisco Benitez. Of course we had two members from the gang, Luciano Tapia and Esmeralda Roxas, as best man and maid of honor. Nobody in my school knew about my wedding.

 

Rosa wore a silk gown made for her by her elder sister Cayetana, and carried a bouquet of calla lilies. I wore black pants and a white jacket, tuxedo-style that cost me P37, and black leather Ang Tibay shoes.

 

We had decided on 30 guests, 15 from my side and 15 from hers, consisting mainly of immediate members of our families. The reception was held at the Rooftop of the Cosmos Restaurant at Juan Luna in Binondo. We paid P3.50 per cover. We went to Baguio the next day for our honeymoon and stayed in the house of the Villongcos, the owners of the school building where Rosa was the principal. They let us stay in the basement of their summer house. I was in Baguio for the first time in December of 1928 in my first year of teaching. I was so engrossed in teaching and decorating the Home Economics rooms that I lose weight, from 105 to 95. The doctor advised me to take it easy. I joined a YMCA annual conference at the Vallejo Hotel in Baguio to get my mind off work. I was enamored with Baguio – Camp John Hay, the Mansion House, and the roses and geraniums were in bloom. I promised to myself that I won’t come back to this beautiful city unless I was with somebody I love.

 


 

After the honeymoon they went to live in the house in Dagupan, Tondo. Two months later they moved in with Rosa’s mother who was living alone in the house at the back of the firehouse in Gagalangin. Exactly nine months after the wedding, on January 18, 1939, their first child Fernando, also called Fer, was born; on December 20 of that same year, their second child Benjamin, better know as Bnn, was born.

 

The couple was working as hard as ever. Rosa was transferred to Zamora Elementary School in 1939 and, after the birth of her second child, to M. Hizon Elementary School. (In those days, if you went on maternity leave, you were replaced.) Fernando stayed on as principal of Rizal Elementary School.

 

“Because he was young,” recalls Maria G. Sanchez who was a Grade IV teacher under him, “he was very sociable and enjoyed the company of the teachers and parents.

 

A family man himself he had a soft spot for children. When he heard that my baby was very sick, he sent me home during recess. He even urged that I bring my baby to their family physician, Dr. Mamaril. It was Dr. Mamaril who prescribed Alpine evaporated milk instead of the powdered milk I was feeding my baby. And indeed my baby became healthier and more mataba.

 


At the 1993 Diamond Jubilee of th same class, the ladies  arestill as poised  and elegant as ever.  The smiling trio are  Lucinia C. Isidro, Jovita Tiongson Enrile and Fermina Gan

 

“He was very upright. At the start of his term as principal he made it clear to us that he was not going to accept any gift or token of any kind. ‘Don’t be disappointed if I don’t accept them,’ he told us. These gifts – a box of candied fruits maybe or a handicraft pasalubong from the province – are culturally correct but in a work situation these thoughtful niceties could assume, intended or not, the cajolery of little briberies.”

 


Sor Dominica Milagros Lacson shares Diamond Jubillee memories with Pitang Tiongson Enrile, Lucing Chaves Isidro, Laring Hilarion, Dado capino and Nanding Bautista

 

Mrs. Sanchez kept the example of Mr. Bautista in mind when she herself became supervisor at the La Consolacion College and further impressed the lesson upon her husband, a locomotive engineer at the railroads, who as supervisor was in charge of posting engineers in the provinces, some posts being more lucrative than the others. “You can never impose discipline if you receive gifts from your men,” she would tell him.

 

Such was the honesty and integrity of the good men and women of Tondo in those days. They labored in the docks and in the warehouses; they worked shifts in the Alhambra tobacco factory that was right across the Rizal Elementary School in Tayuman; owing to the proximity of the great markets of Divisoria and Pritil they prospered as traders and retailers of fresh produce and dry goods.

 

At the turn of the decade, in an era called Peacetime – a myth or a reality – life for Fernando and Rosa in Tondo seemed idyllic enough. During summers he took on a job as reviewer for the junior and senior teacher examinations in Manila, Dagupan and Pangasinan. (He got the assignment from Florentino Cayco who had relinquished his post in the city schools to become president of National University and the Arellano University after war.) He would hold classes in Dagupan and Sta. Barbara in the morning and in Urdaneta in the afternoon and then catch a ride back to Dagupan where he stayed in a rented room. On weekends he would come home on the Manila Railroad, his hands full with gifts of suha, panocha and matamis sa bumbong for his pretty bride.

 

The young principal nurtured his dream of becoming a superintendent someday, but youthful ambitions have a way of surpassing themselves. In June of 1940, Fernando accepted a teaching position at the UP College of Arts and Sciences in Baguio City, a move that unpredictably changed the course of his career and uprooted him forever from the ancient kingdom of Lakandula and the once grand waterway named Canal de la Reina.

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Session Road in Baguio before the war

 

The call was completely unexpected. One morning Dr. Francisco Benitez, Dean of the College of Education of U.P., who stood as godfather at Fernando’s and Rosa’s wedding, summoned Fernando to his office and very casually told him that there was an opening for a teaching position in U.P. Baguio. Would he be interested? Immediately, Fernando inquired, “How much is the salary?”

 

Dean Benitez said, P167.67.” He quoted it to the last precious centavo.

 

Fernando’s mind whirred. He silently calculated: It took him eight years to get a P10 increase in teacher’s pay and another four years to earn another P10 increase. So in 12 years he could reasonable hope to earn another P20 increase. How long would it take him to earn P160? Another 30 years?

 

“I accept!” the principal announced vigorously.

 

“Shouldn’t you first take it up with Rosing?” Dean Benitez asked solicitously.

 

“There’s no need to do that, she’ll agree.”

 

Fernando Bautista went up to Baguio ahead of Rosing as there was still no job available for her on the plantilla of the division of city schools of Baguio. But luck was on their side: a month after the opening of school, there came up a vacancy for a teacher in English and Literature in the Baguio City High School. With great joy, Rosing bundled up her two sons Fer ad Bnn and their belongings and headed for the city of their honeymoon and a place she would henceforth call home. Ding bade goodbye to his tearful mother in Palumpong, explaining to her the reason for the drastic move to a strange place in terms the old lady understood: “What Rosa and I earn as principals in Manila could hardly meet our social obligations, like contributions for baptisms, weddings, fiestas and so forth. I have more than 100 teachers under me – ilan sa kanila ang umaasa sa akin? Maybe in Baguio makakahinga kami ng konti. Besides, I want to raise my family in a better environment than Tondo.”

 

The family found a government cottage in the Military Cutoff, on a road leading to Camp John Hay, which they rented for P30 a month to include light and water. It was one of the cottages rented out by the Bureau of Public Works. With them were the children’s yayas, Kikang and Valeng (for Valentina), two faithful domestics who stayed with the family through the Japanese Occupation until Liberation when they left the Bautista household to get married and have children on their own. (Interesting to note here: Kikay’s and Valeng’s children were all graduates of the University of Baguio; Kikay has an engineer, a teacher, a radio technician and a Commerce graduate; Valeng has a teacher, a Commerce graduate and an engineer.) The third child of the Bautistas arrived on February 11, 1941. The boy was named Rhey.

 

The emigrants from Tondo readily and with a great sigh of relief embraced the balmy lifestyle of Baguio, where everything seemed unruffled and leisurely and there was the singular grace of a cool and invigorating climate – a world apart from the congestion, heat, and raucousness of the hapless urban district they had left behind. Rosa sometimes walked to her classes at the Baguio City High School, thankful for the nippy air and warm sun, more thankful still for the compensations of her job – P100 a month – and the respect of hers students who then included the would-be mayor and general, Ernesto Bueno, General Thomas Manlongat, Flutes Aquino and the Muller brothers. On campus, with the other U.P. professors, Fernando likewise led a simple and unharried life. Their idea of a Friday nightout was to visit each other on rotation and play mahjong or bridge while munching on cookies and peanuts.

 

The fine gentlemen on the campus included Dean Paterno Santos (who almost failed Fernando in Social Sciences back in U.P. Manila), Dr. Nemesio Toledo (who handled History and Political Science), Dr. Mansa (Botany and Zoology), Perfecto Sison (librarian and registrar), Joe Ferrer (assistant librarian). Fernando taught English and Education. Classes were held at the Liberal Arts building located at the present site of the Supreme Court. There was a tennis court where the Convention Center now stands.

 

In December of 1941 the idyll of peacetime was shattered to pieces and the romance of the Commonwealth ended with a horrible big bang. On the feast of the Immaculate Conception, on December 8, Japanese bombs fell on Camp John Hay and the Military Cutoff, specifically on the Health lumber and logging company which was owned by the Benguet Corporation. The explosions occurred only some 500 meters away from the house of Fernando Bautista who was conducting his classes that fateful morning.

 

The war with the Japanese stunned the people of Baguio who had considered them neighbors and friends and even family. The first construction crew of Kennon Road were Japanese. The early landscapers of the city were Japanese. Rich families took pride in their Japanese gardeners. The Japanese owned most of the bazaars and big stores along Session Road. Some owned large tracts of vegetable and flower farms. They made the toy that was a big hit among the children, the apa that yielded the surprise of a fanciful ring inside its cone.

 


Fr. Florimund Carlu, CICM builder of the Baguio Cathedral, in his younger days and in the time shortly before the war.

 

The irony of being at war with the gardeners and toymakers of the Japanese empire offered bitter reflection for a populace whose main preoccupation was to save life or limb from the ensuing atrocities. Schools shut down after the bombing of Camp John Hay. In the mad scramble, some of the teachers of U.P. fled to Manila, others to the lowland provinces seeking the security and safety of kith and kin. Fernando Bautista was left alone to man the campus, keeping guard over the school building and equipment, upon the instructions of U.P. President Bienvenido Gonzalez.

 

Fernando held back from joining the flight of many Baguio residents to the outlying areas of Longlong and Tubao, afraid the children might not be able to withstand the rigors of evacuation and the harsh elements. He brought his family instead to the house on Carino street of Ate Pilar de Leon, Rosing’s co-teacher at the Baguio City High.

 

In the last week of December the Japanese soldiers and their Korean mercenaries (who were said to be more ruthless and cruel) sequestered the strategically located campus and barred its lone guard from ever again entering the premises. A few days later, apprehensive about atrocities by an arrogant, victory-crazed army upon a defenseless people, he brought his family, the children’s yayas and provisions to Ambiong, northeast beyond Aurora Hill on the side of a mountain overlooking Trinidad Valley. When he was told, however, that the invading forces might requisition houses that were abandoned, the family went back to Military Cutoff. The situation was more volatile than he imagined it to be. The residents asked him to help guard the Military Cutoff cottages with a rifle, but it was no use; the gentle schoolteacher had never known how to handle a gun.

 

The Baguio Cathedral, in pen and ink, courtesy of Philippine Normal College President Bonifacio Sibayan (top). Bishop ernesto salgado, D.D. as Apostolic Vicar of Baguio since November, 1992, has instituted enlightened changes in church assignments and services, most especially the more active involvement and participation of the laity in liturgical services.

 

Later, the Villongcos asked the couple to stay in their house on Carino street, where Nanding and Rosa had their honeymoon, and keep watch over their belongings. Looters and thieves roamed the city in those unruly days. The Villongco house offered privacy and refuge. Two houses away lived Mr. and Mrs. Asperin (whose daughter Debb would dome day marry Fernando’s son Rhey). During the period of uneasy shelter, two more children were born: Leonides or Des, in 1942, and Herminio or Herr, in 1944.

 

The Japanese authorities had established the kempetai station at the place formerly owned by Marsman, now the Bayanihan Hotel. The kempetai, the military police with absolute power to kill, torture or jail, was feared by everyone, even by the Japanese themselves. All classes were suspended but teachers were ordered to attend Nippongo classes. Fernando begged off saying he needed to work to feed his family; Rosing, not armed with any pretext, took one or two lessons.

 

Fernando discovered a flair for buy-and-sell. He got a place in the city’s public market and sold canned goods and other basic foodstuff which were getting scarcer and were in great demand.  Before long one stall became three and he needed all hands – Rosing’s and the yaya’s – on deck. Fernando found himself venturing out to Manila for replenishments. To make the trip to Manila productive as well, he brought down with him Baguio vegetables and brooms. The brooms, made from the tiger grass which grows lushly on the mountainsides of Benguet, especially along the Naguilian Road, he bought from the broom makers themselves in Sablan. For the fresh vegetables he made the trek to Kilometer 82 in Sayangan where the farmers had converted sides of mountains near springs into vegetable gardens that flourished in the temperate clime.

 

Once in two weeks he would make the trip to Manila on an open freight truck which he hired with two or three other dealers. The tedious journey would take from one and a half days to two days, depending on the condition of the truck. When gas was in short supply, alcohol was used. If the truck broke down due to worn-out parts, it was just too bad. Spare parts were hard to come by. The vegetables and fruits spoiled from heat and the long journey. They were mashed and traumatized under the weight of the merchants sleeping atop the sacks and baskets. To make matters worse, Japanese sentries demanded to have some of the vegetables (the dreaded Japanese word was “sabes” which means “exchange” but implied “give”). And there were sentries exacting tributes at Kennon Road, in Pozorrubio, Tarlac, Calumpit and Balintawak.

 

The truck unloaded Fernando and his goods at his mother’s house in Dagupan, Tondo; during the latter part of the war, he brought his mother to live wit him in Baguio. Divisoria, Quiapo and Arranque on C.M. Recto were the usual unloading stations. Fernando brought his goods, in kaing, from one place to another, carrying the heavy weight on his head and shoulders, eschewing wholesalers, diligently doing the retailing himself for better profits. Tired as he was, he still valued friendship enough to make the effort of bringing each week vegetables and other foodstuff, even toilet paper, to the house of his U.P. president in Pasay. “At that time his son Gonzalo Gonzales was imprisoned in Capas where many prisoners were dying of cholera and dysentery. So I also bought sulfa, a popular drug at the time.” Evenings would find him sleeping, sound as a log, at his brother’s home in Dagupan.

 

On the trip back to Manila he would load the truck with groceries, from paper napkins to patis and bihon from Malabon and canned salmon and corned beef from the United States. He purchased these goods in Divisoria, Quiapo, or Bambang, then the mecca of buy-and-sell. And so it went, until he wisened up. He found out that while he was trifling with brooms and vegetables his fellow merchants were actually using his goods to camouflage the more expensive items they were transporting to Manila on the same truck. They hid under the vegetables such things as motor parts, spark plugs, chemicals, chain blocks and steel ropes left behind by the Americans in the mines. “I got into it. I even started to carry gold called ‘panocha’ the size of fifty and one peso coins. Rosing sewed them into a belt which I wore around my waist. I hit it big. I filled whole bayongs with Japanese money. I became a multimillionaire in inflated, finally worthless, Japanese currency,” he laughs.

 

Times were harsh and everyone scrounged for himself and his family. Disease, hunger or desperation goaded one to beg, steal or borrow. The chemicals were looted stuff: the mines in Benguet, mostly owned by Americans, were shut down and the warehouse man (bodegero), all too practical or just plains smart, sold off the stock in his care. The gold was likewise looted by panners inside the abandoned tunnels. They fired the ore in their backyards and fashioned them into ingots the size of pesetas.

 

Fernando engaged in buy-and-sell all throughout the long and dark years of the Japanese Occupation to feed a growing brood that included the two children of Vicente whom the couple had “adopted” and four yayas. Rosa, her hands always full with babies, helped out by cooking kamote and bibingka which she sold to the colony of evacuees living in the tunnels dug into the mountainsides in Carino and Constabulary Hill near the City Hall. There was spring water there and the couple planted sayote and kamote for whose tubers Fernando had to search far and wide, where they were plentiful and they were not all cooked for food. They had sought the safety of the tunnels shortly before Liberation when air raids and bombings became more frequent. Many people who fled to Tubao had been massacred by the desperate Japanese soldiers who were retreating to Kalinga through Tubao. The Villongco house had been hit by an incendiary bomb, killing Debb’s father and one of her brothers. Fernando’s hard-earned possessions from his buying and selling had been destroyed or gone up in flames.

 

He was still, after all, a schoolteacher. He had more artistic inclination than business savvy. It did not occur to him to buy houses or jewelries which could be had for a song; instead he bought volumes of books and elegant upright pianos (he had as many as three), and they all burned in the incendiary bombing. Shortly before Liberation rich families resorted to selling homes and jewels for food and medicine. Families from Pampanga and Negros, among them the Lopezes and the Oppens, had come to Baguio thinking it was safer in this mountain retreat and holed up in their summer homes. But it was not safer there than anywhere else. In the carpet bombings people fled to the church on top of a hill and no place was a more vulnerable sitting duck. Whole families were killed around the church.

 

The Bautistas were lucky. “In my family, in the group of families we moved around with, there was no casualty, except for cousin Socorro who was lost in the woods ins search of food and was never seen again. All my children were made to wear a vest made by Nanay (Rosing). In that vest they carried a liter of rice, one de lata, matches, candles, medicines, emergency provisions for in case the children drifted away or the group had to move out. They wore the vest at all hours of the day.

 

“We stayed put in the city. We were too scared of bandits and the Japanese to venture out of the city. We were afraid for the children being overtaken by night in the distant woods.”

 

“I had had no direct experience with Japanese torture but I did have a brush or two with Japanese soldiers. Once when I arrived from Manila at night and was passing through Malcolm Square, I did not notice a Japanese sentry walking in the dark on the sidewalk right across the square. He called me to him, slapped me in the face and ordered me to make the ritual bow.”

 

“A worse incident was when we were trucking goods to Manila and were crossing the Calumpit bridge. We did not notice a Japanese car behind us trying to pass us. This angered the arrogant soldiers. They ordered all of us in the truck to get down and made us squat facing the sun for half an hour.”

 

“One night, past midnight, a Japanese soldier knocked on our door and roused us from our sleep. General so-and-so was inviting me to the headquarters, he said. My wife and my mother froze with fear. It was not unusual for anyone to be called to the kempetai station; it was how they sometimes conducted the interrogation that made it a dreaded invitation. I had seen executions held right in the marketplace, two or three by musketry and two by beheadal with a saber. They wanted to show the people what would happen to them if they did not cooperate. When I arrived at the headquarters, I was offered tea. I relaxed a little. The general then inquired, “How do the Baguio people feel toward the Japanese?” I lied through my teeth. I said we were quite happy and the Japanese soldiers were kind and reasonable. I told him only what he wanted to hear. The general seemed pleased. He even gave me cakes to bring home to my children.

 

“I came to know later that I owed my good luck to Aida-san, a Japanese teacher who had befriended us and who spoke English. She said I was a tomadachi (friend) and they let me go.

 

It was as if the Three Kings arrived to warn the people of the coming destruction of Baguio. In the morning of January 6, 1945, Fernando emerged from the great doors of the Baguio Cathedral with Rosing, Fer, and Bnn to see people, many of them he knew by name or by face, huddled in shanties around the church. The next day Baguio experienced the first air raid since the Japanese marched into the city in 1941. Three days later the entire U.S. Sixth Army bolstered by the Seventh Fleet and a swarm of Air Corps fighters and bombers landed at the Lingayen Gulf. A contingent from La Union went up to Baguio through Naguilian and was met by the guerillas. The Japanese offered little resistance and beat a hasty retreat. They crouched toward Bontoc, to Lamot and Tabuk, but they were all caught in their flight by combined Liberation forces swooping on the enemy from all sides, from Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Cagayan and Ilocos.

 

Then on the night of March 15, the people watched the horrible bombing of their city. Because of its formidable natural defenses, Baguio was chosen by General Yamashita as his headquarters and the site as one of his two major supply depots. Yamashita himself had arrived in Baguio on the third of January. By then only his 14th Area Army had remained. The “ides of March” were unleased by squadrons of American “liberator” planes unloading their bombs, many of them thousand pounders, in patterns so dense they “carpeted” the city.

 

Their targets were supposedly troop concentrations and buildings occupied by the enemy troops but many years later it was not still clear why the US Army Air Force bombed so many civilian-occupied buildings in Baguio, including those on Session Road, the Notre Dame Hospital, St. Louis School, the City Camp and the Campo Filipino districts. Even the refugee huts around the cathedral were not spared. The unfortunate devastation was generally ascribed to faulty or erroneous intelligence reports.

 

Most people who experienced the horrors of the carpet bombings would vividly remember the roaring explosions, the pall of smoke and dust and their scurrying like frightened rats. In April when the city was finally captured, it was thoroughly destroyed and almost depopulated. Among the survivors were Fernando Bautista and his family who came out of their tunnel and stood at the entrance hugging each other. The reign of terror had faded into the night, the morning of recovery and rehabilitation had begun.

 


Photo of toddler Bnn at the Military Cut-off in 1939 is inscribed:"Lola Bitang, Tayo na maghardin. Bigatin din ako".

 

I brought my family to a deserted house on Abanao street, one of the few houses in the city that remained standing. It was a bungalow. We did not know who owned it. We saw that it was empty and we just moved in with our pots and pans and our meager belongings bundled in blankets. The bungalow was next door to a mansion owned by the Mullets which was turned into headquarters for the American officers. I was hired as janitor for P4 a day, while Rosing worked with the PCAU as clerk in the distribution of relief goods. The cook at the headquarters was a Pampangueno whom everyone called Mang Pedro. Since he was tired of eating American food, he would barter ham, corned beef, cheese, or, bread for a bowl of our pinakbet or sinigang. After years of deprivation, you can imagine our delight as we feasted on the goodies from the land of milk and honey.

 

One day while I was cleaning one of the rooms, an officer came up and asked, “Buddy, what were you before the war?” I told him I was a college professor. He said, “Did you know that I didn’t go to college and here you are, a college professor, cleaning my room? You’re relieved!” I remonstrated, “But I need the job, I have children to feed.” “Then you’re promoted,” he said and there and then gallantly gave me a 50-centavo increase.

 


bnn1Pic1

 

But my work in the headquarters was short-lived because the officers decided to move up to Halsema Road; their prey Yamashita was retreated to Kalinga with his men. Before he left with the officers, I convinced Mang Pedro to buy my Waltham watch for P90. With the P90 I went to Manila and bought patis, suka, bihon and resold them in Jungletown and Happy Glen, where the rich Visayans lived. They paid me with burned silver coins. Jungletown was so called because of the colony of shanties that sprouted there helter-skelter. It is adjacent to Happy Glen Loop off Session. It was rumored then that several treasures buried by the Japanese were dug up in Jungletown.

 


Angelic when in church with their mother

 

My P90 doubled and I went back to Manila and bought foodstuff and secondhand clothes in Bambang. I was back to my old trade. But then the owner of the house, Leopoldo Calixto, who turned out to be an old friend, came back to claim the bungalow. He actually wanted to sell it to us but we did not have the money.

 

I found a place on Session Road right across Pines Theater which had a frontage of six meters and measured 20 meters log in the back. I squatted there. I built a lean-to with materials hauled from the Demonstration mines and opened a store.

 


boxing

 

The mines, near the checkpoint overlooking Zigzag (Viewpoint), were abandoned after the war because the chemicals and the machineries had been looted. Somebody came to me and said that there were bunkhouses there of wood and GI sheet that could be had as is where is. You had to dismantle them yourselves. I asked how much. And the man said, “Only a thousand pesos!” There were supposed to be three of us buyers, but one offered to sell his share and I bought it, also for a thousand pesos. I went to dismantle two units – GI sheets, lumber, electrical wire, water pipes, soil pipes, everything. Immediately I was able to sell the soil pipes for P4, 000. With the rest of the materials I constructed my shanty fronting Pines Theater.

 

I divided the structure lengthwise in the middle. One portion I rented out to Mr. Jose Cornel for P100 a month. Cornel employed native weavers and carvers who turned out curios and other handicrafts that were popular with the Americans. In the other portion I put up a barbershop and a store. We lived at the back of the store, in cramped quarters that the boys took to calling their “little heaven”: when they stood on their double decks their heads hit the sky. Fer and Bnn went to school at the Baguio Central. It was badly destroyed during the war so classes were held under tents and the children sat on chairs salvaged from houses or converted from K ration boxes.

 

For my barbershop I retrieved five dilapidated barber’s chairs and I got the barbers whom I had hired to repair the chairs themselves. They were good guys. I even did barbering myself. You move your comb this way and that and make sharp clicking sounds with your scissors and the G.I. is already impressed. In the meantime, Fer and Ben would be shining his shoes. When the barber comes back from his break, he takes over and makes the necessary retouches on my work.

 

The store, whose sign said “Nanding’s Lil Store”, sold cigarettes, wine, chocolates, anything that the Americans could pass on. The soldiers, especially the blacks, sold anything, their K rations, or whatever they could pilfer from their quarters. I learned to smoke, Chesterfield and Camel, to the chagrin of Nanay.

 

I was barbering an American one day and there was this guy seated on the next chair. His name was Rosendo Donida. He said to me, “Padre, I heard you were a U.P. professor before the war.” I nodded and said yes. And then he asked, “Why don’t you put up your school?” I grinned and said I’d love to do that, if only to take me away from barbering. Problem is, I said, I don’t have the capital. And the man says, No problem, I provide you the classrooms and you get the permit and you teach.

 

I said, Call. Just like that.

 

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A message of peace to the world at July 4, 1946 Ceremonies at Burnham Park

 

A dream foretold: The University of baguio rises in the city's landscape and in the vision of Dr. Fernando Bautista

 

The straight-talking man on the barber’s chair, Mr. Rosendo Donida, was a realtor from Manila who had leased from the Baguio diocese the Antipolo building, a spectral survivor of the fight for Liberation like most of the other buildings left standing on Session Road, and ambitiously transformed it into a hotel of four storeys. But the tourist trade did not turn out as well as he expected. There was only a trickle of visitors from the United States aside from the GIs briefly stationed in town while waiting to be assigned to the interior. It was this structure that the professor-barber looked over with a rising excitement, there and then deciding it would more that suffice for a school. Knock down some of the partitions and you have the classrooms.

 

dream2

Donida further enlisted the help of a former classmate of his in Pre-Law at U.P., Atty. Benjamin Salvosa, from Unisan, Quezon, who in turn brought in Mrs. Andrea Tapia from Pampanga, who contributed some funds for laboratory equipment. Salvosa, a corporate lawyer and onetime chairman of Philcoa, turn out to have graduated from U.P. on the same year that Nanding marched out with his master’s diploma. With Salvosa as president, the four of them lost no time in organizing the Baguio Colleges that set out to offer Law, Engineering, Commerce, Liberal Arts, Normal, Education, High School and Elementary. It was agreed that Fernando Bautista would be executive dean and registrar aside from teaching Psychology and Education at a salary of P250 a month, while his wife Rosa Bautista (then heavy with her sixth son Gil, born on April 4, 1946) would be principal of the Elementary and High School and dean of the Normal Department at a salary of P200.

 

The original Baguio Tech along Session Road with its salvaged GI sheet walling and carburo paint

 

With some 400 enrollees, Baguio Colleges opened its doors in January of 1946, the first school to hold classes after the war besides St. Louis which had a little earlier scrounged up its High School for boys and girls. Bautista had at first recruited teachers in and around Baguio but after the first quarter of school applicants started pouring in from Manila and the northern lowland provinces. He had tried to look for his old colleagues at U.P. but it seemed he was the only one from the college left behind in Baguio after the exodus of the war.

 

A knack for the deal again came into play. As a concession to him, his partners had allowed him to procure with his own money the textbooks and reference materials and rent them out to the students. He scoured the secondhand bookstores in Manila, and initially using the money he earned from the barber shop, bought the Barnes and Noble textbooks very cheap, as low as P2 to P5 apiece (the rate of exchange in 1946 was two pesos to a dollar). Within a quarter or two of the schoolyear he was able to recover his expenses.

 

Baguio Colleges is seen in background of photos on this page showing the faculty members with President Salvosa on Bautista's right, and students of Rosa Bautista.

 

By its second year the enrollment in Baguio Colleges had jumped to 1,500, elating Salvosa and reassuring Nanding Bautista who had bounced back with even greater enthusiasm and energy to teaching - with no great loss to vegetable vending or barbering (although he certainly had done well at either).


Students of Rosa Bautista

 

In that same year, the Sisters of the St. Mary’s Primary School implored Bautista, who by then was known for his connections in the education bureau in Manila, to help them put up the papers for their primary school. A year later he also worked on the papers of the Baguio Chinese Patriotic School where he became English supervisor. Fr. Overbeckt, then a Philosophy professor at Baguio Colleges, likewise asked his help with the papers for the St. Louis College. “We were good friends and I was happy that he asked me to help him,” Bautista says. (St. Louis, now a university, “a rich institution” owing to its large foreign endowments, looms large and solid right across the University of Baguio whose unpretentious structures had obviously grown by a slow accretion. But being neighbors has never bothered Bautista. “There’s enough room in Baguio for all of us,” he says.)

 

As president of the PTA Federation of Baguio, a post he was elected to soon after Liberation, he tirelessly threw himself into the work of rehabilitating all the public elementary schools in the city. He was helped by the city government (then under Mayor Pedro Carino) which was then also still trying to prop itself up on its feet. Bautista organized PTAs in all elementary schools and enlisted them in fund-raising activities, like kitchen showers and bazaars (the guy who sewed the curtains and the tablecloths in Sta. Ana Elementary School was no stranger to such matronly enterprises) to raise money for desks, blackboards, and bookcases. One big event he spearheaded was the Liberation Festival Beauty Queen contest which raised a substantial amount of money for the school rehabilitation fund.

 

Nanding had enrolled his boys at the Baguio Central School to show his confidence in the public schools system. He served as president of the PTA Federation of Baguio for 12 years. His stint with Baguio Colleges was much, much shorter.

 

In January of 1948, two years after the founding of Baguio Colleges, Nanding and Rosa resigned their posts. They sincerely felt they would do better on their own as school administrators, fired by their own vision for a school. “Our idea was to produce young men and women who are technically trained to assist in the immediate rehabilitation of Baguio City and the country and who will complement the work of engineers and other professionals. What was urgently needed was a vocational school offering courses that required relatively short periods to complete,” Bautista explains.

 

Just about the time the Bautistas had made up their minds to leave Baguio Colleges, U.P. President Bienvenido Gonzales came with an offer of posting Bautista as registar in either Cebu or Iloilo (he must have sincerely thought Bautista, with a wife and a whole caboodle of kids, might be eager once more for the excitement and adventure of another faraway place). The good president tried to bait him with a salary of P500, but of course Bautista could only smile and politely decline: he was already making as much as P1,500 from his store and barbershop. And the radiant opportunity of founding his own school beckoned – a technical school which he and Nanay had decided to call Baguio Technical and Commercial Institute.

 

They had all the qualifications to set up their own school: they both had a Master of Arts in Education from U.P. and they both had been model teachers in Manila. It made things easier for them, too, that they had the convenient connections in Manila. The approving officials were former supervisors of theirs who would have no quarrel with their credentials. Dr. Manuel Carreon, the Director of the Bureau of Private Schools, was chief of the Tests and Measurements Division where Nanding was once placed on special detail. And Prudencio Langcauon, the Secretary of Education, was the superintendent of city schools when Nanding was principal of the Rizal Elementary School and Rosing was the principal of the M. Hizon Elementary School.

 

But the couple’s finances were a bit frayed. It was Rosa who volunteered to make the trek to Malabon and make a proposal to Dr. Florentino Cayco, who had trained Rosa to be a model teacher and, in that mortifying episode, interviewed Nanding for his post as Drawing instructor. Cayco was then president of Arellano University and they thought he might be interested in joining them as partner in their vocational school venture. Dr. Cayco was indeed enormously interested, so much so that he wanted a 51 percent share of the venture. But Nanding, quite rightly, wanted capital assist more than another boss.

 

That left him with raising the needed funds himself. Luckily, he had this 400-sq m property along Sampaloc Avenue in Quezon City which he had acquired before the war and fully paid for during the Occupation. He had no difficulty finding a buyer: Mr. Max Sanvictores who put up the popular Max’s Chicken Restaurant on the site.

 

For the school building itself, what could be a more convenient site, under the circumstances, than Nanding’s barber shop and li’l store on Session Road? No sooner had the brilliant idea hit him than he set about raising the roof, building a second floor to accommodate two classrooms, and not to forget, the living quarters for his unstoppably growing family, and converting the ground floor, including the narrow alley, into more classrooms. Such was his spunk and determination that it did not occur to him that the structure, viewed from the street, looked more like a barracks than a school, what with its walling of burnt GI sheets whitewashed with carburo.

 

Hearing about the Bautistas’ frenetic efforts to put up a vocational school, Mr. Victor Oteyza, who owned one, offered to sell his school to the Bautistas outright but Nanding was more interested in Oteyza’s decrepit typewriters. Most of them were worthy candidates for the junkyard but Nanding, the practiced tinkerer and practical genius, was sure they could be salvaged. He bought the whole lot and by cannibalizing two or three units for spare parts he was able to recondition some 14 machines. He got Mr. Pedro Orden and Mr. Canuto Mabalot to handle typing classes and Mr. Julian Reyes to teach steno.

 

For the automotive and diesel mechanics courses, he hired Mr. Sampang who owned an auto repair shop near Burnham Park, never mind that he could speak a word of English. A chemical engineer, Mr. Vivencio Villaruz, gave the lectures while Mr. Sampang, with his grease-stained mechanics, gave the demonstrations and hands-on training. For textbooks on auto mechanics as well as typing and bookkeeping he relied on the softcover EM editions (which also put out the popular novels and classic masterpieces selling for a dime apiece on the sidewalks of Azcarraga). Always one to keep an ear cocked for bargains, he got a weapons carrier for a song at an auction of old equipment on Clark Air Base. The vehicle was used for instruction and demo. Radio equipment, from the war supplies left behind, were easier to come by. He got Captain Serquina and Mr. Jorge Borja Sr. to handle radio courses.

 


The Drum and Bugle Corps with Fer and Bnn in drums

 

The flurry and excitement of organizing the new school was dampened by a family tragedy. While Rosa and Nanding were working on the papers for the school in Manila, their eight-month-old daughter Generosa fell sick of amoebic dysentery. Generosa was so named to acknowledge the generous blessings of God who had finally blessed them with a daughter after six sons in a row; born in June of 1946, she came between Virgilio, who was born in 1946 after Liberation, and the seventh boy and last child Joselito, who was born in 1949. Generosa was a frail baby and her death was all too sudden. They rushed back home upon getting word that the baby was ill, but it was too late to save her. Three days after they arrived, their one and only girl, the little angel, died of dehydration.

Radio Mechanics class with instructor Borja (extreme right in the back)

 

But there’s a happy footnote to this tragedy. Several years later, in January of 1956, Nanding and Rosa came upon another beautiful baby whom they adopted and named Rosalynn. The baby’s mother, who was from Benguet, and had had five other daughters, died while giving birth to Rosalynn. Rosalynn’s grief-stricken father, a Chinese named Santiago Chan, blamed the baby for the death of his wife. Dr. Dominador Narvaez, who delivered the baby, and who happened to be Nanding’s compadre, persuaded the father to entrust the three-day-old infant with the Bautistas until such time as he would be ready to take her back.

 

And so it came to pass that Rosalynn grew up with Nanding and Rosa and the seven rowdy boys who spoiled her. When she was six years old she was brought to the Baguio Chinese Patriotic School. It was here that she came to know of her sisters, whom she would join at play during recess, drawn to them by a brood instinct natural among little beasts and children. The older sisters grew fond of her, their little sister, and when Lynn turned 13 they pleaded with the Bautistas: “Can we have her with us?” The natural father had had a change of heart and had forgiven the child and himself. With a heavy heart, Rosa and Nanding surrendered the girl. But Rosalynn never really abandoned her foster parents. When she got married, to Hiber Damoco, a Chinese mestizo, her two fathers gave her away, one on each side of her as she marched down the aisle. Rosalynn finished Nursing but she has gladly abandoned her career for home and family, and now assists in the family’s growing rice dealership while raising her three boys. Baguio Technical and Commercial Institute, Baguio Tech for short, opened in schoolyear 1948-49, with 89 students and five fulltime teachers in the modest five-room (including alley) carburo-washed structure on a 200-sq m squatter lot on Session road midway between Mabini street and Malcolm Square. It was authorized to offer commercial and technical high school and courses in automotive Mechanics, Radio Mechanics, Radio Telegraphy, Horology, Stenography and Bookkeeping.

 

On the first year of operation, most of the enrollees in the vocational courses were US Veterans pensioners who qualified for their monthly stipends only if they were enrolled in a school, whether academic, vocational or technical. Most of them were previously enrolled in a vocational school in the lowlands which had been found out to be anomalously charging the US Veterans Administration for equipment and books. When these schools were declared off-limits to Veterans students, the pensioners transferred to Baguio Tech, many of them for the two-year courses in Radio and Auto Mechanics. Word of the courses in Baguio Tech spread like news of MacArthur’s “landing,” resulting in a continuous supply of US Veterans students from Pangasinan and the Mountain Provinces, not a few of whom were as old, if not older, than the founders of the school. On its first year, Baguio Tech graduated 14 high school students. “It was, by all accounts, a good start for any institution – in Baguio or anywhere else,” Bautista remarks. It helped that the school employed carefully chosen fulltime teachers as well as the best instructors from the Baguio City High School doing parttime. Rosa Bautista herself was proficient as a Mathematics teacher and a sharp one in English, Psychology and Social Sciences. The reputation of the Bautistas as excellent educators, and for would-be teachers, as exemplary public school principals, was furthered bolstered when on the second year of Baguio Tech, a two-year Normal course was added to accommodate transferees from the other schools. (U.B. would consistently top Competitive Teachers Tests.) To make room to the growing student population Baguio Tech leased an apartment at the back of Pines Theater.

 

In January of 1950 the city council passed an ordinance that decrees that only concrete structures would be allowed on Session Road, then and now the center of commerce and tourism in Baguio. But with or without the ordinance, the salvaged-wood-and-GI sheet labyrinth definitely had to go. Baguio Tech would have to move on from the rough-and-tumble entrepreneurship of the Liberation era to the technological challenges of the modernizing 50s. The problem, however, for the constantly cash-strapped couple was: where to get the resources to acquire a new and better location for the expanding school.

 

Nanding hied off to Dr. Teodoro C. Arvisu, a Baguio oldtimer and former director of the Baguio General Hospital, who owned the Session Road lot occupied by Baguio Tech, and pleaded with him to lease the place to him to P200 a month. The doctor, having other plans for it, declined. The heavens intervened.

 

From one of their instructors in Baguio Tech, Honorio Estepa, an Ilocano, Nanding and Rosa learned about a 1,000-sq m property costing P18,000 in the Holy Ghost Subdivision along General Luna road owned by the diocese of Nueva Segovia whose seat was in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Without much delay, Nanding and Rosa betook themselves to Vigan to pay a visit to bishop Sancho of the diocese, an elderly Castilian gentleman who spoke neither Ilocano nor Tagalog.

 

Providence was on the couple’s side. The bishop’s secretary, Fr. Daniel Cortez, who solved the communication problem, listened attentively to them and then made a convincing case in their behalf, the urgent point being that the Bautistas wanted to turn the idle property into a thriving center of education in the Cordillera. Bishop Sancho did not only see the brilliance of this vision, he also sympathized with the couple’s impecuniousness. It was a most extraordinary transaction, the art of the deal with a heart. “We told Father Cortez that we did not have the money to buy the lot but if he would lend us the title we could use it as a collateral to borrow money from the bank. Father Cortez laughed and said, ‘You have not given us a single centavo and you want us to give the title? How is that?’ I felt my heart sink a little but I replied, “Father, we are telling you the truth. We don’t have the money to buy the lot but we need to transfer our school and if we cannot get the lot we will have to close our school.”

 

The good bishop smiled and nodded. The title was transferred to the couple’s name without any downpayment. On the strength of the title they were able to get a loan of P10,000 from the PNB Baguio. Nine thousand went to pay for one-half of the cost of the property, one thousand to dismantle the building on Session Road. Then Nanding contracted architect Aida del Rosario and her husband the engineer Jose del Rosario to build the school for P32,000. “I don’t know how I was able to raise the money but God was very kind. Somehow I was able to pay for the building and at the same time to honor my commitment to Bishop Sancho.”

 

As agreed upon with the bishop, the balance of P9,000 was to be offset by providing the Retreat House of Nueva Segovia in Baguio with concrete hollow blocks and decorative cement tiles. To fulfill this obligation, immediately after the construction of the first phase of the building on General Luna the Bautistas offered the making of hollow clocks and decorative tiles as part of the vocational courses. In less than a year, the balance with Nueva Segovia was settled.

 

The first building on the General Luna property, whose cornerstone was laid in the summer of 1950, would be commonly referred to as the Main Building and became the nucleus of the institution whose growth surpassed the expectations of the modest couple. It began as eight-room affair, three floors high, with Nanding’s office located on the ground floor adjacent to the library. He moved to the building with his original teachers and the office staff – Mr. Mabalot, Mr. Alzate, Mr. Julian Reyes, and Apolonia Diaz-Academia, then a student assistant who worked in the office together with Jorge Borja and Bautista’s cousin and man Friday, Tiyo Tanching. (Tiyo Tanching (de la Cruz), the family oral history has it, was the storybook boy from Tondo, a wild orphan whom Nanding Bautista had taken under his wings and set on the right path. He was the son of Lola Bitang’s half-sister Pina. After the war he went to work at the Atok Big Wedge in the assay office of the chemist Mike Ampil. He later became a postman in Baguio.)

 

The Main Building was finished in time for the 1950-51 schoolyear when the Bautistas opened four-year courses in Commerce and Liberal Arts along with a Normal Training Department for prospective teachers in answer to the pressing need for trained elementary schoolteachers. With the inclusion of these courses the technical and commercial institute deemed it fit to rename itself a college and thus also became a corporation.

 

Educational institutions are traditionally not known to be money-making ventures. The new corporation attracted stockholders only from the Bautistas’ immediate relatives: Pablo and Luisa Sulit, an uncle and aunt, who came up with P2,000 each; Amado Bautista, Fernando’s older brother, who contributed P1,000; and Illuminada C. Boado, in later years the dean of the College of Education, who cautiously fished out P100, the only faculty member who responded to the invitation to become shareholders of P100 per share. Founders Fernando Bautista and Rosa Bautista remained president and secretary-treasurer, respectively, in the revered tradition of family corporations. (Being a proprietary institution; the University of Baguio also reserves the right of membership in the board of trustees exclusively to members of the family.) Rosa Bautista was the first principal of the High School, a position she relinquished to Ernesto C. Alcantara in 1957 when her cousins, Angeles and Rosario Castillo, also joined the school to teach Pilipino and Home Economics. Nanding and Rosa Bautista ran the school like family, giving it their utmost personal attention, dealing with problems of students and teachers directly, with sympathy and understanding, like a Tatay and Nanay, the names by which they would be known famously to everyone all over the mountainous provinces.

 

Rosa Bautista, obviously in the family way, assist her husband in a cadette ceremony

 

In the bustle of the eventful years that followed, Ding Bautista still found time to help organize in 1956 the Baguio Military Institute, located at Irisa Heights, eight kilometers from the city down Naguilian Road, an exclusive boys’ school especially meant (although they didn’t exactly say so then) for spoiled, wild scions of wealthy families. BMI had Benito H. Lopez, a shipping and sugar magnate from Iloilo, as president, and General Jesus Vargas, Commodore Francisco Andrada and General Basilio Valdes as board members. Ding Bautista was secretary and dean of studies.

 

It was Lopez and Bautista who hatched the idea of an institute for high school-age boys that instilled a military-style discipline and decorum. Bautista designed a curriculum patterned after the military schools in the United States. To the school were herded the young and frisky colts from old-rich families – the heirs of the Chiongbians, Antoninos, Zamoras, and the sugar barons in Negros, a son of Sen. Teodoro Evangelista, and two children  of the Pelaezes. For the privilege of entering BMI, they paid P12,000 to P15,000 a year (a stupendous sum in the 50s). The boys sported 12 sets of uniforms, one for drill, one for parade, one for the classroom, another one for excursions and so forth. No school then, in Baguio or elsewhere, could be more swanky and exclusive.

 

It was everything Baguio Tech was not, but Nanding Bautista of course would never have meant for his school to serve only a few. His commitment has always been education for the masses, especially for the people in the Cordillera.

 

BMI was an altogether different enterprise. It got on to a good start with books, laboratory and sports equipment from Baguio Tech. Nanding Bautista also recruited teachers from Baguio Tech to handle courses parttime, while he himself handled English for junior and senior classes. He even enrolled his two sons, Rhey and Des, there. But for four years later, in 1960, he resigned from BMI to devote his full time to Baguio Tech which was growing by leaps and bounds. (BMI eventually closed in 1964 after some serious problems with students and the teaching staff.)

 

Under the watchful eye of Nanding and Rosa Bautista, Baguio Tech had grown indeed, even beyond their expectations.

 

The expansion of the Main Building sparked off the rise of other structures around it, boldly shaping a skyline that has become, like the spires of the Baguio Cathedral, part of the familiar sights in the heart of the city. The Main Building grew an additional six rooms on its western side after its first year; on the third year it added another six rooms on its eastern flank, followed by another large annex the next year. In 1952 the Main Building was joined by the laboratory school for elementary students that also housed the auto-diesel department.

 

Other buildings and facilities sprouted through the years on the main campus grounds bounded by General Luna on the west, Assumption Road on the east and Kalantiao which is parallel to Assumption, as well as on the other proximate properties along Bonifacio and AnacletoDiaz streets. The 60s, particularly, saw a splurge of construction: the eight-storey High School building that also houses the U.B. Little Theater; the multipurpose Auditorium-Gymnasium; the high school building that was later converted into residences for U.B. administrative officials; the seven-storey Arts and Sciences building; the U.B. House which serves as home for the University President and other administrative officials; the Student Center which houses the canteen, a student lounge and a management conference room.

 

The 70s saw the construction of the Education building which houses the University Ladies Hall; the seven-storey Commerce building whose blessing coincided with the University’s Silver Anniversary; the Outdoor Theater and basketball court on a 1,000-sq m sloping terrain in front of the High School building; and the Student Services building. In 1980 the College of Engineering and Architecture building rose on the Gym extension adjacent to the Open Theater.

 

Physical expansion frantically tried to keep pace with academic progress, an activity described in great detail by Herminio Guanzon in his masteral thesis in 1980. In 1958 the College of Engineering was opened in response to the tremendous technological changes. Three years later, the Graduate School was established to ensure the University of Baguio’s leadership in the professional growth of teachers in Northern Luzon (Mrs. Victoria de los Reyes was the first to receive a masteral degree in 1965). At the same time it gave impetus to the training of leaders in the Mountain Provinces and Northern Luzon and the preservation of Cordillera cultural communities (“cultural minorities” is a term loathed by Bautistas as fallacious and a slur). The vision for the Cordillera is upheld by BIBAK, an organization of students from Benguet, Ifugao, Bontoc, Apayao and Kalinga. In 1962, Reinaldo Bautista, then the executive vice president, with the help of Emmett Brown Asuncion, founded the Science High School, a source of pride for the college. Possibly the first such school in the country, it started as part of the preparatory high school, in a selected honors class known as the Star Science Scholar Section, and is open to top elementary school graduates from Baguio and its suburbs.

 

In answer to a nationwide demand for improved police personnel services, Baguio Tech opened in July of 1967 a four-year course in Criminology, one of only two institutions in Northern Luzon offering such a course in the seventies. In that same year the course on Medical Technology was also introduced, again in answer to the demands of students wanting to qualify for work opportunities in this field in the United States and the Middle East.

 

The growing curriculum remained faithful to the original vision and mission of the school, which is to be relevant to the needs of the people, the community and society. This vision has been repeatedly articulated by Fernando Bautista in his many talks and in his writings.

 

The relevance of education to the country’s manpower needs is foremost among his education principles. “Enrolment figures and unemployment ratios show an imbalance between school graduates and manpower needs in agriculture, commerce, and industry,” said Dr. Bautista in his address to the Philippine Association of University Women in Bauang, La Union, in 1972. “It is high time we redirected, more that we have done before, the education of our people toward science and technology which have changed the face of the earth. Science and technology will generate wholesome changes in the Philippines, especially if we redouble our efforts at training our youth properly in these fields of study.”

 

He could not stress often enough the significant contribution of private technical education to the country’s economic progress. “The nation’s need for vocational and technical skills does not appear to be matched by the effort in training citizens along this field,” he told delegates to the Conference on Private Education in Cebu in June of 1972. “The nation’s school system is and has been oriented toward the lower and higher levels of the educational ladder. Our country over the years has produced a literate population and a large professional class, but not a strong middle class of trained manpower necessary to placing the Philippines at par with the technically advanced countries of the world.”

 

Champion of the cultural communities and the chrch: The University of Baguio has, more than any other educational institution, contributed to the training of leaders in the Cordillera and to the preservation of their ways of life. Members of BIBAK, an organization of students from Benguet, Ifugao, Bontoc, Apayao and kalinga, honor Dr. Bautista with a symbolic rite of leadership and fortune

 

Dr. Bautista spoke these words at a time when private schools were being beleaguered from all sides. Since the advent of the seventies, private education had been subject to one crisis after another resulting from radical student activism, intransigent teachers’ demands and emasculating departmental orders and legislative fiats. “Students and parents are clamoring for quality education but they are up against increasing tuition fees. Faculty members and non-teaching employees are demanding higher pay and more fringe benefits; at the same time the government is insisting on higher standards and first class facilities. Private education has been accused of failing to respond to the national needs, of colonialism, of profit-making and of miseducating.” He observed in cold and piercing tones in his keynote address at a convention of the Philippine Association of Private Schools and Colleges, held in Quezon City in 1972.

 

And then he roared: “These accusations may or may not be valid or justifiable. But should these be reason for us to close our ears and eyes to these indictments? Should we adopt an attitude of defiance or indifference? Must we close our doors and, in effect, abandon our strategic role in nation-building? Surely, the answer must be NO! We must welcome these criticisms. They are, at least to me, a challenge to excellence!”

 

In a lighter mood he was also heard to remark, quoting a colleague, that “it’s better, more peaceful, and more profitable to put up a funeral parlor or a memorial park than to operate a private school.” But Dr. Bautista, despite incessant bombardments against school administrators coming from all sides, was not about to give up his educator’s oath for the psalm for the dead.

 

As for serious charges that private schools were raking in huge profits and contributing to humanitarian projects allegedly to atone for their “sin” of profiteering, Dr. Bautista took the floor of the Constitutional Convention in 1971 “to set the record straight”: “Contrary to popular belief, our private schools are far from being the money-making establishments their critics depict them to be. In 1968-69, a survey was made of the 40 so-called big private universities and colleges in the country to determine their actual financial standing. Of those surveyed, 31 schools reported either outright losses or rate of profit below 12 percent of their net worth. The Bureau of Internal Revenue described their position as ‘precarious.’ Only nine schools reported rates of return which may be considered fair, meaning a return of 12 to 13 percent of their net worth. If a similar survey were to be held now, I am sure the results will show far worse conditions because of the tremendous increase in the cost of school operations.”

 

Dr. Bautista says today: “The financial situation of private schools, I believe, is still very much the same today. At least it is so for our school. Through the years the money we earn is plowed back into the improvement of school facilities.”

 

And he has stood four-square on the continuing importance of private institutions of learning to economic progress and “intellectual and social advancement of the nation,” and will eagerly go to bat for needed educational reforms, autonomy and academic freedom for all institutions of higher learning and not just for universities established by the State, the lifting of oppressive and unfair taxation of private schools, material assistance from the government, and for making private schools “the last bastion of religious freedom.”

 

Toward the end of the sixties, despite the crises and the difficulties, the higher calling of Baguio Tech as a University was even then emerging – steadily, clearly, and inevitably.

 

On its memorable 20th Triple Eight celebration on August 8, 1968 – marked by a street parade and merrymaking, intramural games and a dinner dance, and a torch parade that cheerfully wound its way in the rain – Baguio Tech was cited by then President Marcos as a viable school “which has contributed to the shaping of the Filipino youth and the nation’s future.” During the graduation ceremonies of the institution a year later, then Education Secretary Onofre Corpuz affirmed that “Baguio Tech has the makings of a university.”

 

Baguio Tech made good on these shining words when on August 7, 1969, after serving the country for 21 years, it officially became a university. On December 18, 1969, Fernando G. Bautista, after four decades of earnest involvement in the education of the young under eight Presidents of the Republic, was formally installed as the first president of the University of Baguio in an investiture ceremony attended by ranking officials of the Department of Education, prominent people of Baguio City, heads or their representatives of some 20 educational institutions in the United States and Great Britain, and presidents of more than 60 colleges and universities in the Philippines.

 

In his inaugural address at the U.B. Au-Gym, he proudly cited the advances made by the school through the years and reiterated its commitment to “the task of increasing and transmitting the body of knowledge which man now possesses.” In a touching tribute to the Igorots and Ibalois who have taken him to their hearts as one of them – son, father and teacher to them – he commended the establishment of the first Igorot Museum with the cooperation of alumni and students which has since stimulated more research work and writings on the Cordillera peoples. “To the end that the native culture be allowed to flourish unhampered among the Igorots, to the end that this culture be further enriched and given more impetus for wholesome growth, and to the end that positive ways be sought to galvanize worthy groups with high ideals and great potentialities, this university will exert more than casual efforts,” he vowed.

 

He declared once more the institution’s philosophy that man is the greatest asset of man, but “only if his potential is fully developed and harnessed for his welfare and that of society.” He added: “We have thus unceasingly directed our efforts and resources to unleashing that potential.” He owed to “continue to advocate and uphold academic freedom so that professors and students…will be afforded a wholesome climate where there is a free and uninhibited exchange of ideas in the search for truth,” as well as to provide for students, “a balanced program of academic, physical, social, cultural, and moral opportunities that will contribute toward the development of the whole man.”

 

Above all, he reminded everyone, “We should instill in the youths a wholesome fear of God, and a consciousness that unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I pray that we shall not falter in our service to our young people.”

 

The new president ended with the prayer:

Let Your hands guide mine in all the things I do, Let me see through Your Eyes all that I behold, Let me listen through Your Ears all that I should hear, Let me feel through Your Heart both joy and sorrow, Let me think through Your Mind what I dare say On this my Investiture Day. Body of Christ, I surrender my helpless self to Thee.

 

The investiture was a fitting recognition to distinguished educator as well as a touching tribute to the poor from Tondo who had carved out a respectable niche fro himself in society and in academe. The honor was further capped by an honorary degree, Doctor of Science in Education, conferred on him on April 3, 1971 by the Thomas Aquinas University of Legaspi City. He received the honor together with Dr. Jose Motomal of Sto.Tomas University. “This is a heaven-sent,” he said in his speech, at once awed and tickled. “Now I can proclaim as I am shouting now: My God, now I can afford to die, because I have realized a dream I have been cherishing all these many years. If on entering the gates, St. Peter will dare try to stop me, I will tell him this much: Hey, look here, Peter, remember you are only a saint. I am a doctor and a doctor of Science in Education at that. I’ll not even mention that it is honoris causa.”

 

The ticket to heaven also marked his leave from the halls of academe in order to run for the post of delegate in the 1971 Constitutional Convention, his first and last foray into politics. He deferred to his eldest son Fernando Jr., who became the second president of the University of Baguio, although the elder remained the chairman of the board of directors.

 

New programs were introduced with each new president. Under Fernando Bautista Jr.: the postgraduate Doctor of Education, the Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition, and the Bachelor of Science in Forestry. Under Reinaldo C. Bautista, the third president: the Doctor of Dentistry degree program, and the Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management. In June 1989 Atty. Wilfredo Wi became the fourth president of the University of Baguio, a term that was sadly marked by two catastrophes that hit the university in 1990: the conflagration on June 10 that gutted the College of Education building and the Administration building, the Graduate School library, the deans’ offices, and several dental laboratory equipment and supplies; and the killer earthquake on July 16 that destroyed the Commerce building, the Auditorium-Gymnasium and Engineering building and substantially damaged the Arts and Sciences, High School and Elementary School buildings.

 

Virgilio Bautista was installed as the fifth president on October 18, 1992, and soon after announced the opening of new programs in Computer Education, Optometry, Physical Therapy and Environmental Engineering.

 

But whoever it is at the helm of the University, the guiding philosophy set forth by Nanding and Rosa Bautista, in those first early days of the school when it was literally struggling out of the dark alley into the light, will always remain the same. That philosophy is the “pursuit of perfection,” spelled out as the development of (a student’s) total personality and his “competencies (that are) responsive to the demands of the nation and the needs of the times.” In his message on the University’s 20th anniversary, Fernando Bautista defined this perfection as “a state as unreachable as the stars,” but even so it still is a desirable goal. “The stars from their infinite heights,” he pointed out, “are able to guide lost seamen.”

 

This philosophy has been criticized by some quarters inside and outside the University as too lofty, too idealistic, and absolutely unattainable. Maybe so, but Nanding and Rosa Bautista had always believed that “either you do a thing perfectly right or you don’t do it at all.”

 

“If you don’t set you sights on the stars, you will bump your head against the low doorway,” says Dr. Fernando G. Bautista. And it’s the truth, whether he’s speaking from the school’s rostrum or the barber’s chair.

 

Top

On to the ConCon

 

Depending on one’s convictions about the Marcos regime, the 1971 Constitutional Convention was either a farce in the country’s history. But with his own good reasons, Fernando G. Bautista, innocent as a child, as he put it, when it comes to politics, who was neither anti-Marcos nor pro-Marcos, but only pro-country and pro-Filipino, strode valiantly into the maws of those tumultuous, violent and uncertain times.

 

Arguing in the need to rewrite the country’s Constitution when  he spoke before  public elementary school principals at the Teachers Camp in Baguio, he cited three main reasons: first, there was “just too much politics in the government,” a situation  brought about largely by the political system under the  existing Constitution; secondly, the Constitution was not sufficiently responsive to the promotion of social justice; and third, the structure of government was of colonial vintage, with most of the authority and powers of  government concentrated at the top.  More specifically, he felt he could contribute his knowledge and expertise in education and the “cultural communities” as well as his thinking on human rights and electoral process.

 

It was his very first— and last— foray into politics. Much  earlier, during the time of President  Elpidio Quirino, he received an emissary  from Congressman Ramon Mitra, formerly mayor of Baguio, who informed him that President Quirino was appointing him as acting vice mayor of Baguio as vice mayor Benito H. Lopez was being promoted to mayor. Bautista took no time to reply: “I’m not interested.” Just the same, Mitra sent his car to Bautista that would take him to the house of Speaker Eugenio Perez in San Carlos, Pangasinan. The Speaker, Mitra thought, might be more persuasive.

 

Ding Bautista went as a matter of courtesy. “Pagbigyan mo na rin,” Nanay had also said. Rosa had grown allergic to politics. Her stepfather, Atty. Victoriano Yamzon, ran twice for the vice mayoralty of Manila and lost each time. In their house in Gagalangin, there was a never ending stream of constituents going in and out, and they seemed always to be feeding people at all hours of the day. A vice mayor in her house would spell an end to her days of precious peace and privacy.

 

At the Speaker’s house, Tatay and Nanay in mind and his probity in place. “I must tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I’m a teacher and a teacher sees black as black and white as white,” he said. “Can’t you play ball?” the Speaker asked. “I don’t think so, I’m sorry,” he replied. “You’re a rare one,” the speaker said. He was impressed. He was amused at this ingenuous, uncomplicated man.

 

Being a delegate for Baguio-Benguet to the Constitutional Convention would be a different thing from being vice mayor of Baguio. He would be doing his work in Manila, not in Nanay’s kitchen. (Of course, it would not be exactly the case.) After Nanay had given her blessings to his candidacy, Ding Bautista consulted the school faculty and the many civic, religious and professional clubs he was affiliated with. They not only encouraged and endorsed his candidacy, they also promised to campaign for him in the remote barrios and barangays.

 

At that time, Tatay Bautista was not only known for “the company keeps” but also for “the company he leads.” In Baguio, he was president of the Baguio Educational Council, the U.P. Alumni Association, the Knights of Rizal, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, the Rotary Club, the Baguio General Hospital Advisory  Board, and the Federation  of Parent-Teacher Association. On the national level, he was, at one tome or another, president of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities, national chairman of the coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations, vice president of the Philippine Association for Graduate Education, and president of the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA).

 

Nonetheless, it was rough sailing from the time he threw his hat into political arena. The mild-mannered teacher had his face. Not too long into the campaign, rumor was spread that Bautista was spending millions for his bid. The 63-year-old candidate was aghast. Why, even the students in his school were volunteering to do the posters for lack of funds and Nanay coordinating the printing of campaign materials and sample ballots and transportation requirements from her kitchen for lack of an office. After the dust of the campaign had settled, the couple sat down and calculated their expenses and came up with a shocking 50,000, which went mainly to transportation and, Nanay has figured all along, food.

 

Tatay and Nanay Bautista pose for a souvenir photo on the convention's inauguration day

 

Also running for the post of delegate was Floro Bugnosen whose older brother Jaime was to become mayor of Baguio. Both of them are alumni of the University of Baguio; Jimmy, a full scholar of the University of Baguio with the assistance of Tatay Bautista, finished Commerce and passed the CPA exams. Bautista, a transplant in Benguet, had maintained an unwavering faith in the “potentialities of the Igorot,” which the natives, during the ConCon campaign, sought ton repay in kind. The Alumni of the University were my biggest capital in the election. They were the ones who spent. They butchered their pigs, they slaughtered their last chicken and offered their best tapuy. They insisted that we sleep in their houses and they felt insulted if we turned down their hospitality. Tatay, meron naman kami, they would say, this is the only time we can repay you.”

 

His seven sons also proved to be brilliant strategists and campaign managers. They divided Baguio and Benguet into seven areas of responsibilities and stumped energetically in each one of them. They could speak Ilocano with a sprinkling of Igorot and they won over the people with their warmth and humor and the strength of conviction in tatay. They could stay for any length of the interior and they were treated royally wherever they want. There were 19 candidates for the Baguio-Benguet region and it was stiff fight. Tatay Bautista didn’t sleep on the job. He went around the towns and barrios and the people came to listen to him, never mind that he was delivering his speeches in English. He was never able to pick up the guttural dialect of the mountains. In school and at home, he was always the maestro, speaking to everyone, including the domestics in his house, in the language of the classroom, English.

 

When the counting of the ballots was over, Tatay came out second, after Floro Bugnosen. Bugnosen won in Benguet, Bautista in Baguio and came in second in Benguet (the ConCon prescribed two delegates from each region). A Protest was filed against Bautista for alleged overspending, but it was a failure exercise. Nobody would believe he had that much money to spend, not those who knew why it took Tatay 20 years after marriage before he could build a house for his family, not those who knew Nanay, a legendary penny-pincher, who always chose to revert the meagre earnings of the school to improvements for the school.

 

WINNING the elections, however, was just the first hurdle in what would prove to be the most turbulent, threatening and dramatic period in Tatay Bautista’s life. After the elections, he made gruelling pre-convention sorties to the provinces, especially in his bailiwick which embraced Baguio-Benguet, the Mountain Province, Kaling-Apayao and Ifugao.  He consulted with the people about issues or proposals relevant to them. There was constant exchange of ideas as well with other delegates, so that he was ever on the road, going up north or down south, joining delegates chosen for their diverse expertise.

 

“It was most stimulating and interesting.  The trips to Tuguegarao, to Marawi, to all the other far-flung places brought the delegates to closer to each other, and I became friends with many of them, the big political names in Manila and Bohol and Cotabato.” It was an awesome crowd for the academician who was never known to be that much of a socializer even in the smalltown city of Baguio.

 

Come convention time, the camaraderie became more infrequent, even strained. On June 11, 1971, the 320 delegates convened at the session hall of the Manila Hotel, then practically the guesthouse of the Marcoses, and generally proceeded to rip the place up, along with the work they were elected to do.

 

Perhaps providing some kind of foreboding, former President of the Republic Carlos P. Garcia died shortly after he was elected president of the Constitutional Convention. The body then elected another former President, Diosdado Macapagal, who assumed the task after the customary nine days of mourning.

 

Outside of the august halls, people were grumbling about their miserable life, the skyrocketing prices of prime commodities and the violence in the streets. People were milling about looking for work, students and workers took to the streets demanding reforms and were met with truncheons and bullets.

 

“After ten months of working as a body, ConCon has yet to convince the people that it can do the job,” The criticism of some sectors of mass media and the rumors about us have spread like wildfire throughout the nation. Already, the delegates are being called a lot of names: womanizers, gamblers, bribe-takers, puppets. Our motives are being impugned. Our character has been assailed. Our sincerity is being doubted. Our competence is being questioned.”

 

He deeply felt the criticisms were undeserved as he knew very well, as insider, that most of the delegates were working hard, especially on the committee levels, where much of the substantive work was done. Initially, he was himself assigned membership in six organic committees: education, human resources and manpower development, arts and culture, national integration, health and national language.

 

On education he submitted a proposal calling for the creation of Commission  and Education and the establishment of a complete and integrated public system of free education  not only up to university level. The proposal also provided for the creation of a National Board of Education that would set the criteria on acceptance to the free public educational system on the basis of income, property holdings, and number of dependents in order to all income groups.

 

With his membership in the committee on health, he hoped to see a provision which would take care of the people, specifically the establishment of at least one clinic in every municipality. On arts and culture, he submitted the proposal creating a National Commission on culture to break down the barriers of regionalism and pave the way for the natural assimilation and integration of the varied cultures. In the plenary session he objected to a proposal that would replace the words “arts and culture” with “humanities” arguing that doing so would be allowing the “more definite, more understandable, more identifiable, and more beautiful” arts and culture to be swallowed by a monster called humanities, which oftentimes turns to be “inhumanities.”

 

Levity and irony often carried the day for Delegate Bautista who also found himself constructing his lofty visions on rickety resources. “I don’ know whether to call it funny or what, but we were compensated P100 a day if present at the sessions, and we were limited to P3,000 every month to pay for staff and suppliers. It wasn’t enough. Some of us had two or three researchers, besides those who help in hammering out the proposals and resolutions and speeches” Tatay Bautista was assigned a room cum office and he brought in three staff members, including Victoria Bernales Uvas, who was a gold research gold medalist in UP.

 

He could have made do with monthly stipend, but he did not reckon with the expenses¬— the principal ones — that had to do with constituents approaching him for money for anything from bus fare back to Baguio or to bury a grandmother. He also needed the wherewithal to be able to accept the many speaking engagements all over the country. He was then simultaneously president of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU) and the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), and their invitations kept him busy. But he would be invited to speak at something as unexpected as police conventions.

 

At the ConCon itself, however, he felt he wasn’t utilized well enough. He had hoped to get the chairmanship of, at least, the education committee, but he did not know that these things involved horse trading and pulling of strings. Instead, because he was observed to be always punctually on time for the assembly, whether there ten or 300, and was never absent, he was designated to lead the signing of the national anthem and to select the person to recite the morning invocation. “I become a little despot. Everyone came to me and begged to be the morning invocator.” He was having a taste of power and the ridiculousness of it all did not escape him. Leading the national anthem, using the pitch or the pianist (if he was around) to set the key, he prompted the delegates to sing, in the bravura finale line, “ang pumatay nang dahil sa iyo.” An affronted delegate, Edgardo Angara, reprimanded him. “Why did you change the words?” he inquired. And Nanding Bautista replied impishly, “Hindi naba kayo nagsasawa, palagi na lang tayo ang namamatay?”

 

It did not take him long to realize that the convention was not running as independently or as correctly as it should. “I got the distinct feeling that we were continually being watched or espied on. During the sessions there were picketings outside and bombings inside. There were rumors that some of the delegates had been ‘salvaged’. There were talks of scandals, as some delegates were said to be gambling or bringing women onto their hotel rooms in the evenings.”

 

Because of the constant threat of the activists and anti-Marcos protesters in front of the Manila Hotel where they had permanently pitched their tents, the ConCon was moved to the Quezon City Hall, where it wasn’t that much impregnable either to dissidents and saboteurs. The place was bombed once and on another instance the electric power was cut off.

 

Not sure how long before the ConCon could wind up, under circumstances, Ding Bautista called his gangmate from the old days, Esmeralda Roxas of the five sonorously named sisters, who lived in Teachers Village, a short distance from Quezon City Hall.She readily consented to Ding’s plan that he build a self-sufficient studio-type dwelling on the lot adjacent to her house. Ding Bautista spent some P15,000 for his temporary lodging, which solved for the ever-supportive and patient Nanay the inconvenience of communicating everyday to Quezon City from a house in Macaroni, Makati, off Buendia.

 

President Marcos imposed martial law all over the land in September of 1972 to perpetuate himself in power, an ambition that the ConCon was not inclined to pamper. The first elected president of the convention, former President Carlos P. Garcia, a democratic stalwart who would have opposed martial law, died even before the assembly could start. Another former President of the Republic, Diosdado Macapagal, who succeeded Garcia, was crippled by martial law and chose to keep his head low, often appointing his deputies to preside over the sessions. Other political leaders were either intimidated or swayed by Malacañang.” I was expecting Teroy Laurel, Ramon Tirol, and Abe Sarmiento, the very outspoken delegates, to assert themselves and speak up, but they did not.” Raul Manglapus and Salvador Araneta, apparently forewarned, fled the country; others went to the hills; others simply disappeared. A Quintero, a staunch opponent of the parliamentary from of government that Marcos wanted to install, who was forced into exile after fat envelopes containing wads of money were planted his pigeonhole and his house.

 

The impatient and imperious President Marcos had given the ConCon a deadline to come up with the new constitution: November 30, 1972, National Heroes Day. There was little heroic about the haste that ensued. In October no draft was ready as yet for submission to the people for ratification, so the ConCon body split up into two expedite the work and draft. On the first day of November not even half of the draft was done, so half of the body was selected and divided again into two works on the draft. After a week, still no go. Eighty members were chosen and split into two – still no success. Finally, 20 members, like the proverbial few good men, were selected, Ding Bautista among them. They divided themselves according to areas to work on. Ding was in education, human rights, territory and preamble. In one week’s time they were able to come up with the draft – just in time for the deadline.

 

Macapagal was president and Sotero Laurel was president pro tempore and there were four vice presidents.  But it was Abraham Sarmiento of Cavite, one of the vice presidents, who presided on almost all of the formal sessions of the ConCon for some 15 months until the final draft was approved. Changing his mind about him, and given the circumstances, Delegate Bautista thought Sarmiento was “the champion, the real hero, the true architect of the new constitution.”

 

There was a clause in the draft saying that the new Constitution would be tried by the same assembly (“Meaning that after the Constitution is confirmed in a plebiscite we would have to stay on as legislators”); but martial law had practically broken up and scattered the whole body. “It was then I understood why Gualberto Duavit [former executive secretary of Marcos] was in the ConCon. He was there to liaise between the body and the Malacañang.” The draft of the new Constitution was retified in January of 1973. It was summarily discarded when Cory Aquino was swept to power on the strength of the so-called EDSA revolution 13 years later. A new Constitution was written, but the 1988 Constitutional body practically copied the 1972 Constitution, the significant changes being mainly on the question of political parties. Bautista, then keeping his distance, was glad to note that provisions on education were adopted toto.

 

Ding Bautista went back home to Baguio foreswearing further associations with ConCon, or politics for that matter. But politicians knew, with a peculiar perspicacity, the extent of his potential clout and influence in the mountains he had chosen to call home. During a Rotary meeting in Baguio, Duavit and Antonio de Guzman, the congressman from Bauang, La Union, sidled up to him and said that Apo Marcos wanted to see him.  He could make you mayor of Baguio, they whispered into his ear, or an ambassador without portfolio. (“How’s that?” he asked, not understanding what ambassador without portfolio meant.) He would not tempted at all. “Why me”” he asked, disingenuously. “I’m getting on in years. Matanda na ako.: After his bout with political fame and the ambivalent prestige as a ConCon delegate, Ding Bautista hold hid illusions or disillusions. “I prefer quiet and peaceful life of a teacher,” he says. And he has never entertained the notion that he alone can do Baguio. “If I think I can do something for Baguio, then others can also do it.”

 

THE THOUGHTS OF CITIZEN, EDUCATOR AND DELEGATE FERNANDO G. BAUTISTA

ON GOVERNMENT

Do away with graft and corruption and with too much politics. Let us have fewer elections – one term only for the president. Let the President concentrate on his duties serving the nation. Let us have judiciary and remove our politics in our courts of justice. Let us have unicameral or one-house Congress. Let us have a greater autonomy for our city and municipality governments. Let us entirely do away with political dynasties. And let us not have one family controlling the powers of government.

 

The present government policy to adopt the same curricula and instructional materials throughout the length and breadth of the country disregards entirely differences in social environment and cultural heritage.  Under the present set-up there is little or no adaptation of some instructional materials to local conditions. For example, textbooks intended for the Christian Filipinos contain materials and practices, like pork-eating and wine-drinking, which are contrary to the beliefs of the Muslim Filipinos and other ethnic groups. Furthermore, textbooks glorify Christian heroes, like Jose Rizal, Lopez-Jaena, Mabini and Bonifacio, but there is no practically mention of Muslim and other tribal leaders who had also contributed to the struggle for the independence. If they are mentioned at all, it is usually in connection at all, it is usually in connection with banditry, piracy, headhunting, and smuggling, and these instructional materials tend to subordinate the cultural minorities to the Christian world. Hence, these textbooks only serve to deepen the rift between Christian Filipinos and their cultural minority brothers.

 

The very term “cultural minority” underlines the misconception that we Filipinos have for our non-Christian brothers. Although their folkways, sense of values, and patterns of thinking reflect a different cultural orientation, this does not mean that they are inferior or backward. The term is misnomer and connotes a condescending attitude toward these peoples, something contrary to the principle that we are all Filipinos and are equal before their eyes of the law. May I suggest that this subcommittee approve Resolution No. 3436 adopting the term “cultural communities” in the New Constitution to designate those groups of Filipinos who are culturally, socially, economically, and politically different from the Christian majority.

 

ON THE POLICE FORCE

The image of the police nowadays leaves much room for improvement. The common complaint of citizens, and even of members of the police themselves, is the ever-present political pressure upon members of the law enforcement agencies. Another glaring defect of the law enforcement system in the Philippines is the overlapping of jurisdictions and functions of the numerous agencies empowered to enforce the law, like the PC, NBI, ANCAR, and BSDU. Everyone of them is jealous of its own prerogatives and jurisdictions. Unless the present system is changed, the police force, initiate the the processes of change, the police force will continue to reap criticism and condemnation instead of praise and admiration from the public to serve.

 

ON COOPERATIVES

Cooperatives, by increasing agricultural productivity, will spearhead the attack on poverty. They will support progress in the industrial sector. By abolishing share-tenancy farming, cooperatives will correct the inequities in the distribution of wealth. For small farmers and workers this will mean better standards of living and more opportunities for social and economic advancement.

 

ON SCHOLARSHIPS

I am not against giving scholarships especially to the poor but deserving students. I rise because of the numerical figures given by the proponent – that two percent of the collegiate enrolment in private colleges and universities and five percent in state-supported colleges and universities shall be exempted from school fees…In my capacity as one involved in private education, I am willing to give scholarships; but let us not set the figure as two percent because time may come when I may be in a position to give more than two percent. Although the proposal says “at least two percent,” the moment it is fixed at two or five percent, the school administrators will simply stick by it. So even if they can afford to give 10 percent or 5 percent, they will not give that.

 

ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND INSTITUTIONAL AUTONOMY

The private universities and colleges are hindered by bureaucratic regulations, control, and dictation. They are bound by legislative curricular impositions like the impractical 24 units in Spanish, if the private schools were free to make the curricular offerings as per their appreciation of the vital needs of the people and the nation, why even now the language choices of students in private universities and colleges would be varied: some would have the Chinese, Japanese or Russian language as prerequisite for graduation. But considering that 82 percent of the students of the institutions higher learning in the Philippines study in privately owned schools which no academic freedom and administrative autonomy, the opportunities missed by this country are staggering. These institutions, which by nature should have freedom because only freedom can usher in the full development of the creative spirit, have been doomed to routine.

 

ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

When parents and students chose a non-sectarian private school they opted to have nothing to do with religious instruction. We know for a fact that if parents really wanted religious instruction, they could easily have taken their children to a sectarian school where religion is taught and these religion-oriented schools abound in population centers. Let these parents and students enjoy the fundamental right – religious freedom. Let us preserve the non-sectarian private schools as the last bastion of religious freedom.

 

ON SELECTIVE ADMISSION TO COLLEGE

If private educators want positive service to the county, they must correct the imbalance in the labor market brought about by an academic- oriented education system. Selective admission to colleges and universities, through a system of examinations, may be the answer to this imbalance. Some kind of screening and guidance should be devised whereby only those with necessary intellectual capabilities may go to college an others who some kind of skill or talent may be trained for our developing industries. This system of admission, will compel, in a democratic and subtle way, high schools all over the country to raise standards and open vocational-technical courses or close down, or give up any ambitions sending their graduates to college. This will also limit the number of students entering college to those qualified, thus insuring that professors will no longer have to dilute or sugarcoat what they teach.

 

ON THE ROLE OF SCHOOLS

What then should be the role of the Catholic schools – all schools, for that matter, public and private, sectarian and non-sectarian?

 

First, all schools, especially higher institutions of learning, should gear their circular offerings “to suit them to everyday life, to the needs of the individual, and to the development of the rural areas and the community for the attainment of the national goals. These goals should be directed toward: “Manpower development, food production, land reforms, reforestations, sports and physical fitness, and upholding moral and spiritual values.” One clear way is to offer courses essentially oriented to science and technology…

 

Second, universities and colleges should evolve a well-prepared program of job-placement for their graduates…. Third, universities and colleges should marshall all available human and material resources in the community in order to help the country in the program of manpower development.

 

ON THE LANGUAGE ISSUE

Many of us judge our national language as inadequate, inferior or not language but our capacity and ability to use the language that make us think it so. In so doing, we do not realize that it is language but our capacity and ability to use the language that make us think it so. In truth and in all honesty, how many of us have studied and used our languages in the same way that we have done with foreign languages?

 

I ask you then: When shall we become Filipinos? What language are we identified with? None. We as nation, therefore, are faceless. Or to the people of the world we are Amerianitos or Espanitos. What a tragedy! Merely because of the fact that we refuse to recognize the mandate of the 1934 Constitutional Convention and a decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines that Pilipino is the national language of the Philippines.

 

ON THE UNKNOWN TEACHER

Allow me to sing the praise to unknown teachers, among whom I belong. Famous educators plan new systems of education, but it is the unknown teacher who delivers the goods. He lives in abject anonymity and contends with hand-to-mouth existence. Patient in his daily lesson chores, he strives to conquer the evil power of injustice, prejudice, and laziness. He awakens the sleepy, prods the lazy, and steadies the wobbly. He lights many candles, which in later years, hopefully, will shine back to comfort him. This is his reward. Mine, too.

 

ON STUDENT DISSENT

A study of student dissent on campuses of colleges and universities her in abroad reveals that the causes of misunderstanding and resentment.

 

President Kingman Brewster of Yale who succeeded in maintaining a peaceful campus advocates the following pointers for university heads:

  1. Maintenance of the lines of communication to the functions involved;
  2. Close attention to attitudes with the academic community;
  3. Willingness to adopt to reasonable demands for change; and
  4. Determination to put the radicals politically off-balance.

 

The administration has always desired the setting-up of a more effective line of communication. We are aware that the smooth operation of the university depends, to a large measure, on this phase of institutional responsibility. This is a reliable way for the official leader to feel the pulse of the studentry and the faculty; to diagnose the ills that afflict gripes and grievances and to understand their reasonable demands. With the line of communication property established, the administrator can undertake immediate reforms.

 

ON PROTECTING FREEDOM AND JUSTICE

I plead to you as graduates of the University of Baguio tojoin me in reflecting on these ten points as probable solutions to some of the injustice and abuses of freedom:

  1. We must protect and assure the freedom of our mass media. We must see to it that never leaves the control of the people. For this our only vehicle of self-expression. Recently many of us have been witnessing new blackouts – when certain government officials and some powerful individuals attempting to control the mass and media.
  2. We must rid our courts of those who choose to corrupt the judiciary, those who make a mockery of our justice.
  3. We must improve the quality of education in our schools. We must make education relevant to our times and needs.
  4. We must support the legitimate students who go to barrios and holds teach-ins to explain issues and to educate our people. If possible, we as responsible citizens should join hands and hold these teach-ins with the students.
  5. As responsive and responsible citizens, we should be involved in the protection of the sanctity of our ballots, so that persons representing us are truly the voice of the gun.
  6. We should demand that the warlord withdraw. We should break up the political dynasties for their loyalty is not the people but to the perpetuation of their own power and privileges.
  7. We should organize a citizen army of physical, mental, and human strength to stand up together and unite to fight all forms of human abuses and greed.
  8. We should group together and demand that arms, especially in the hands of the irresponsible and unscrupulous citizen dog the country, be surrendered because guns are becoming a way of life to us.
  9. We should harness the potentials of our youths, who have been trying to protect us against the critical state of the nation. Let us support them in the uncovering of corruption which has seeped through many segments of our land and government.
  10. Let us protect our small farmers from land grabbling and from the pernicious practices of feudalistic landlords. The educated leaders should help them secure a place in the sun. Lawyers, especially, should not stand by watch them be defeated by a technically of the law.

 

ON LOVE

Some of you who are finishing high school may be counting on a few of your classmates as true friends today. This relationship usually lasts long, sometimes a whole lifetime. It is this kind of friendship that Byron must have meant when he said, “Friendship is love without wings.” Byron thus suggests that the relationship that flies out of the window on the vibration of a slight earthquake or on the warming brewing storm is no friendship at all.  True friendship, whether begun early or late in life, binds more tightly in the face of impending danger. It is built on faith and thrives on mutual trust. In essence, friendship is the end-all and be-all of the life can be called happy.

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The Durable Old Man of Sports

 

When Tatay Bautista heaved his bags and his small and wiry but strong 84-year-old frame into a hotel room in Barcelona, Spain, where he was attending the XXV Olympic Games, he could be setting an Olympic record of sorts. He has been to all the Olympic Games since 1960 when it was held in Rome, except the Olympics in Montreal in 1976 which he missed in order to help in the dollar-conservation drive of the Executive Secretary Jacobo Clave. Now, how many Olympics stalwarts or enthusiasts could lay claim such a record? Other than that, Tatay Bautista has been to all the Asian Games since 1954 when it was held in Manila (the first held in New Delhi in 1951), except the Asian Games in 1970 in Bangkok which he missed because of he ran for the ConCon elections.

 

Awarding medals to 4As winners in Kuala Lumpur in 1991 (top) with Lydia de Vega (bottom)

 

“The durable old man of sports,” sportswriters in Manila had named him. He had also attended all the Southeast Amateur Athletic championships from 1973 to 1993.

 

Sports also get champion treatment in his school. From its start, Baguio Tech had had a goon crop of athletes (track and field) and basketball players. It had produced stars in the PRISAA, UAAP, SEA Games and even the Olympics, among them Lydia de Vega Mercado, Elma Muros, Hector Begeo, Arsenia Sagaray, Tony de la Serna, Rowena Monton, Jesusa Jose and Jun Cabusora.

 

Tatay Bautista’s involvement in sports officialdom reads as long as second president the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA).In the same year he became a member of the board of Governors in the Philippines Amateur Athletic Federation (PAAF), whose president then was Jorge Vargas, the executive secretary of President Quezon. PAAF was the precursor of today’s Philippines Olympic Committee, formed by law 1964 to be the governing body of all the sports associations in the country. Tatay has remained an official in this body to this day.

 

Asian Games Federation two-time queen of sprints; and awarding athletes at Moscow Oympics in 1980

 

HE loves to boast that he has served under all the POC presidents, from Jorge Vargas, Antonio de las Alas, Ambrosio Padilla, Felipe Monserrat, Nereo Andolong, Julian Malonzo, Mike Keon, Jose Sering, and Rene Cruz. Some of them – Vargas, de las Alas – are gone; Bautista, the oldest and smallest, has endured. He was also onetime director of the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) and later vice president of Luzon of the same association. He’s been an active officer as well as in the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association; he was lone framer of the constitution and by-laws of the Asian  Amateur Athletic Association (AAAA), a continental track-and-field association. He has also distinguished himself as president or member of the Jury of Appeals in regional, national, sectoral of continental athletic meets. Appeal serves as final arbiter or mediator in cases of conflicts arising from violation of rules, governing the sport or, in sensational cases, questions of sex and doping.

 

When Tatay was at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles he made a trip to Kentucky to visit Mrs. Harriet Van Meter, who has generously donated books to the UB Library

Once such celebrated case involved Mona Sulayman, the country’s most famous sprinter before Lydia de Vega. Mona, big and hulking, was the heroin in the 1962 Asian Games were held in Bangkok, officials wanted to confirm rumors that the  heroin was in fact a hero. But Mona, enraged rather than bashful, refused to be examined.

 

IAAF President Adriaan Paulen (Netherlands) exchanges pleasantries with Maurice Nicholas (Singapore), Chang Keun Kim (Korea), Balwant Singh Kler (Malaysia), Abdullah bin Mohamed (Malaysia) and Fernando Bautista (Philippines) at the Asian Games in New Delhi, India, in 1982.

 

Mona’s star dimmed after the Bangkok meet and her field began to be dominated by athletes from Mainland China, Japan and India. Philippine athletes made a surprisingly good showing in the first meet of AAAA, the country’s performance started to decline in the succeeding meets (held every two years) until finaly the stupendous sprinters, Lydia de Vega, Isidro del Prado, Hector Begeo and Elma Muros, appeared in the scene.


After 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, posing for posterity are left to right, Park Jung Ki, Chang Keun Kim (Korea), Vegiyathumah (Malaysia), Solomon (Malaysia) Miss Li (China) and Fernando Bautista (Philippines)

 

It was Tatay Bautista who drafted the constitution of AAAA upon the instigation of General Azih Salih, the chairman of the organizing committee of athletics in the Asian Games in 1962 in Jakarta. With the help Tatay’s good friend, Teofilo C. Gallardo, former Bureau of Private Schools Superintendent, and using as model the constitution of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, Tatay produced the draft while closeted in the home of Azih Salih in Jakarta. The constitution was approved the little substantial changes and implemented in the first 4As meet in Manila in 1973. Tatay has since been chairman or member of the Jury of Appeals in the 4As and honorary life vice president.


At the 10th Asian Games in Seoul, Korea, Juror Fernando Bautista gives medals to the victors in the 800-meter run.

 

The exciting whirl of sports has brought Tatay Bautista to all parts of the Philippines and to many countries around the world. As many as four times a year he gets to travel, whether to PRISAA meet, an Asian or Southeast Asian game, The Olympics, or a Universiad (world competition of students in about all Olympic sports).

 

And after travels, he always comes back home to his aerie in Baguio much refreshed, much more robust, and richer for the new experience. And the same way that he arrives at his destinations with light heart and a light baggage, he comes back home with not much else besides the little things he picks up along the way. Commemorative coins, stamps (first-day cover), medals, souvenir, caps, pins, and t-shirts, maybe. But with a load of memories in snapshots.

 

standingflag The durable Tatay and a hulking photographer against the arched gates of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

Standing out from the crowd at the SEA Games in Singapore in 1993 with Mama Anching, Sen. Freddie Web, Rhey and Athletic  Commisioner Benjamin Silvanetto.

Rubbernecking at the Kremlin Square in Moscow with Mrs. Socorro Sering, wife of Jose Sering, president of the Philippine Amateur Track & Field Association

With Mama Anching touring the shops of Tokyo during the World Championships in 1991

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Fine young boys: from left, Leonides, Herminio, Virgilio and Joselito. Behind: Fernando, Jr., Benjamin and Reinaldo

 

Raising seven boys is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but Tatay and Nanay Rosa had done very well indeed with Fernando Jr., Benjamin, Reinaldo, Leonides, Herminio, Virgilio and Joselito. An only girl, Generosa, who came between Virgilio and Joselito, died when she was a baby, denying Rosa the little joys of braiding hair and tying ribbons. After Generosa’s death they adopted a girl, Rosalynn, but they gave her back to her father when she was 13.

 

But it was a whole rafter of energetic and boisterous boys that filled the life and hearth of the couple. Raising seven boys had its own extraordinary grace and robust blessings.

 

All the boys studied at the Baguio Central School, a public school where Tatay was the president of the PTA. Owing to his extraordinary work in rehabilitating the elementary schools in Baguio after the war, he stayed on as president of the PTA Federation for twelve years, leaving it only after the last of his sons had finished elementary at Baguio Central.

 

All of them, with the exception of Joselito (who wad given a scholarship in the Brent High school), studied in the U.B High School. In their senior year Rey and Des were transferred  by their father to the Baguio Military Institute in Baguio, the exclusive boys school that Tatay Bautista had set up with wealthy financiers from Manila and Visayas to shape up hyperactive and misbehaving rich kids. Not that Rey and Des needed a shake up; they were in fact exemplary students, champion orators in the Northern Luzon Voice of Democracy.

 

Des went on to become an American Field Scholar, lived in American family for one yearn and when he returned to the Philippines he chose to study in Silliman where he shone in interdepartment oratorical jousts. A year later he transferred to U.P. Diliman, where he got involved in fraternity brawls. Hauled to Baguio University, with strict instructions to his teachers that he be treated as anybody else, he finally finished an A.B. in Social Sciences. He served as Baguio City Councilor for eight years. He’s now a successful realtor and restaurateur, married to Aurora Tamayo, from Baguio, a B.S.E. major in English from St. Theresa’s College. Their ethnic restaurant, Bonuan, started out as a French restaurant in partnership with Robert Fox, a connoisseur of French cuisine. Des and Aurora have, so far, seven children.

 

Rhey, on the other hand, finished a B.S. from Ateneo and had wanted to take up medicine. But as he was being groomed to take over as president of U.B., he took up instead a masteral course in U.P. and Centro Escolar. But before he could defend his masteral thesis he was drafted into the university. He also become president of the PACU, the organization of private schools, board member of the PERAA (a retirement plan for teachers), and the Center for Educational Measurements. It was during his term, 1989, when PACU carried out an unprecedented lockout as stern warning to the subversive groups on campus as well as to force the hand of the government to impose sanctions on the destructive minority elements. Rhey is married to Divina “Debb” and well-know concert pianist. She has performed here and abroad and recorded two longplays  (“Bayan Ko” and Romance”); both with Redentor Romero on violin). She now takes care of four children, while running a travel agency in Baguio and occasionally organizing musical events on Baguio’s Campuses.

 

The first son to become the president of the University was Fernando Jr., the eldest, who took over from his father when he was elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1971. Fer finished  A.B. Economics in U.P and M.A. Economics in Fordham University. He died in 1988 of cancer of the lymph nodes. His widow, Milagros Nee Dauz, from Bacnotan, La Union, now sits in the board. Milagros lives with her four children in San Francisco, California, where she runs a deli shop. Her daughter Lala gave birth to Tatay’s great-grandchild.

 

The second son Bnn finished Architecture from the National University ; after passing the board he found work in Hong Kong and then in the States where he was joined by his wife , the former Ma. Lourdes Reyes, who eventually finished her M.A. in English at the University of New York in Albany. He now has a successful private practice in Manila and a growing family that now includes grandchildren by his son Abu and daughter Ynna. And there are three other children eager to get married and produce more grandchildren for the couple.

 

Herminio who finished Chemical Engineering from La Salle, was named city administrator of Baguio in January of 1993. His wife, the former Leonisa de Vera from Manila and graduate of St. Joseph’s College, is the treasurer of the University of Baguio. She and Herminio so far six children, everyone of them spitting images of their mother.

 

Virgilio, the fifth president of the university, has a B.S. in Business Administration from U.P. and a master of science in Management from Rensailler Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He worked in the states for nine years before settling in Baguio and raising with his wife, the former Lilia Ayson Ronquillo, a native of Pampanga, and an A.B. Humanities graduate of U.P. Baguio, 10 boys and one girl (so far what wonderful prodigiousness!) Although he was the last of the Bautista boys to get married, his brothers now have little chance of catching up with him.

 

Joselito, the youngest, studied interior design at the Philippine School Interior Design. His second wife, the pretty Ma. Luisa “Bubut” Romillo, of Aparri, Cagayan, an A.B. Public Relaions graduate of St. Paul’s Manila, is mother to five stepchildren and two of her own.

 

“Nanay and I never interfered with our son’s with our sons ‘choices for their mates,nor tried to exert any influence  on them,” says Tatay. Whoever they brought home or introduced to us, we accepted. My only request to my sons was, not to marry a rich girl, because she may turn out to be arrogant and domineering. Hindi naman tayo tunay na mayaman.” They gave him wealth of children instead 50 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, as of this writing.

 

Tatay and Nanay's Broud Circa 1980

 

Some days, as on reunions and birthday celebrations, the big big house on A. Bonifacio would ring the laughter of children and their boisterous playing, like in the days when seven Bautista were still boys. Since his sons had gone their separate ways to raise families of their own, Tatay has gotten used to the silence in the house, which Baguio creeps upon you with a stealthy melancholy embrace. But he – and the house – also remember rowdier times.

 

Tatay remembers when they were all cramped together in the upper floor in the lean-to on Session Road, sharing space with a tumble of boxes and things belonging to the school. When the Main Building on General Luna was constructed, they were all again cramped together in one of the classrooms below the library, sharing a 7x9-sq m space with two cousins of Nanay who were teachers. The children slept piled in double beds.

 

Five years later they moved to the Cardinal Apartment near the school to make room in 1958 that Tatay was able to construct the house on A. Bonifacio – a home of their own at last, 20 years after his wedding in 1938.

 

The house that took Tatay eight years to construct has grown with the boys and their families.

 

The house is perched in the side of a hill on a 1,000-sq m property that once belonged to Anido family. Tatay bought it for P20 per square meter and the alley beside it that made a convenient short-cut to General Luna for P25. He purchased the lot in 1954 and ever since then, whenever he had the money, he hoarded the construction of the house. One year, it was the wood for the floors and the walls. Another year, the GI sheets. The year after that, the bags of cement which he made into hollow blocks using the molds from the school. He bought the steelbars from secondhand dealers at  Poro Point in San Fernando.

 

At home in baguio and at the altar on their 40th wedding anniversary: Nanay had always kept silently by her husband's side, always  supportive of him, never questioning his decision, although she was his intellectual equal

 

On the fourth year he invited a master carpenter from Pampanga to see if he had stored enough materials to build a house. Yes, there’s enough, the carpenter said, for a shell – no partitions, no double walling. That’s alright, Tatay said. Go ahead and start the construction.    “I had to move the children out of the apartment. It was becoming so cramped some of them were squeezing themselves underneath the beds.”

 

home

Eleven months later, on December 18, 1958, the shell was ready, such as it was, for occupancy. “We had the place blessed and we carried into house a jar of salt and a jar of rice, for prosperity and the completion of the cycle of life.”

 

But there were no partitions yet, as the carpenter had projected and the bathrooms were flagrantly wide open. “Nagkikitakita kami lahat doon,” recalls Tatay amused. That first summer he raised enough money to put up the partitions. The nest summer, partitions of the double walling. The third summer, the closets and the rest of the double walling. The fourth summer, the house was painted. The fifth summer, work began on the basement and was finished in three summers. In effect, it took all of eight years to finish the house. It is a measure of the strength of their character and the indomitability of their spirit that in building their dream, whether school or home, Nanding and Rosing always had to work long and hard and patiently. It was the same thing when, after his stint with ConCon, and having relinquished his official duties in the school, and he went into business.

 

At first the little savings her had he invested in real estate and, very judiciously, in the money market. And then slowly through the years he put up the Ventureville Subdivision, a five hectare property in Campo Filipino north of the city; a leasing company; the FRB Hotel at the corner of General Luna and Assumption, which had 33 rooms and several restaurants, used also as practicum for Hotel and Restaurant Management students; and the Baguio Precision Corporation at the Baguio EPZA, ehich manufacturers copper and brass fittings airplanes and machineries.

 

With his son Reinaldo he also put up rural banks in Bokod, Kapangan, Lagawe, Itogon and Sagada. He had put up the capital, bought the equipment and furnishings, and then passed on the banks to his sons for management.

 

Naktaynay (for “Anak, Tatay,Nany”) was established as the umbrella organization for these enterprises, including the University of Baguio. In 1984 the FRB Foundation (for Fernando and Rosa Bautista) was set up to administer the FRB Trust Fund. Only the board of Directors of the University of Baguio can determine how the interest will be spent. As of 1992, 40 percent of the interest was used for the physical rehabilitation of the school, 25 percent for the replenishment of laboratory equipment and apparatuses, 10 percent for books, 10 percent for charity, and 10 percent to take care of inflation.

 

IN THE meantime, the matriarch Benedicta Gonzaga Bautista, lived a life worthy of her venerable years, in the warmth and comfort of home and family, although she might have occasionally missed the excitement of the pasugalan of Palumpong and the familiar, sweetishly pungent smells of the sweltering factory of La Grandeza. She basked in the doting attention of her son Ding and his wife Rosing until she died on August 7, 1976, at the age of 93, surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

 

Fernando’s brother in Manila had done well by themselves. Conrado Bautista prospered as a professional electrical and mechanical engineer. Unfortunately he met an untimely death in April 10, 1982. After drinking with some friends and relatives in his brother’s house in Baguio, he was, in a boisterous spirit, going down the stairs when he fell several steps below. He died on the spot. Amado, who died earlier in 1974, earned a reputation as a reliable and competent printer, a profession and enterprise he bequeathed to his sons.

 

All this time, Nanay, who had also retired from the board, plunged with greater ardour into her pious works. She joined the Mother Butler’s Guild and spent much of her time embroidering vestments for the priests and sewing altars covers. With the nuns she supported a mission among the children of fishermen in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, and Sto. Thomas, La Union.

 

She was also kept busy attending meetings of the Baguio Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Girl Scouts of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet Chapter, the Soroptimist, the Baguio Rotary Anns, all of which she was president of at one time or another. And always in a manner that marked her as a respected academician and the wife of University founder. “She was always quiet, very spare with her words,” says Mrs. Angela Abellera, who was with Mrs. Bautista for many years in the Rotary Anns. “But when she talks she talks sense. The members always deferred to her. When there’s a controversy of a divisive question, we seek her opinion. And she could always be depended upon to take the lead in raising funds for calamity victims. She organized bazaars and benefits shows saw to it that everybody contributed in one way or another. Of course, she was always gave the biggest contribution.”

 

Mrs. Abellera, meticulously made-up and looking grand and glorious in her octogenarian years, belonged to Baguio’s old society, which counted the Zarates and Lopezes , among others, an uppercrust distinguished for old money and illustrious bloodline – and in the case of Mrs. Abellera, an eccentric philanthropy. The family of Mrs. Abellera, a pharmacist married to a doctor, used to own a drugstore along Session road (where Mercury now stands). As an act of gratitude to the dispatcher who had worked for them for 15 years, they gave the drugstore to him, lock, stock, and barrel. Alas, the dispatcher was not match to the gift or the opportunity and he eventually sold the rights to Mercury.

 

Simplicity, and, especially, frugality ate the traits that Nanay is most remembered for. “They could afford the best restaurants and to live grandly but they are matipid, even in the food,” observes Mrs. Abellera. (Tatay admits he and Nanay had never really liked dining out, although their children are full-fledged bon vivants.) Mrs. Mercedes Filler, who was a constant friend of Nanay’s in her Bible-study years, remembers commuting on the bus with her in Manila (to listen to a preacher at the Ateneo Gym), although she could have a car at her disposal, and spending the night with her in  Spartan sleeping quarters when they were attending a conference in Pasig although she could have, again at her disposal, a room in her son’s house in Makati (“It was also then that I discovered that Rosing did exercises upon waking up in the morning,” says the ebullient Chedeng Filler).

 

Her wordless visibility was more persuasive than talk. Says her husband: “She hardly spoke even in board meetings. She’s not wasteful even in her words. But she always contributed the most thoroughly thought-out plan or course of action. Her frugality, practiced through the long years of hardship, came in handy in tight situations. As a treasurer of the University, she handled money so well that we were never delayed in the salaries of our teachers,”

 

A quit, wordless strictness had also served to whip the seven rowdy boys into line. In the early days when they ate and slept in one room, she enforced the strictest discipline. At the table, she’d get the ladle and distribute the food among the children so everyone got a fair share. If one did not like what was served, he was asked to leave the table, and quick as a flash the rest would be scrambling over his plate. She had always kept silently to his husband’s side, always supportive of him, never questioning his decision, although he was his intellectual equal. “In all of our 49 years of marriage, we never had a quarrel,” Tatay says. “People would say it’s a myth, but it’s true.”

 

Tatay could afford to indulge her every whim or fancy, but she remained austere in her tastes and thrifty to a fault. She never enjoyed shopping, even in abroad when she accompanied his husband in his travels. In fact she never did enjoy the travel – or the sports – at all. “I took her with me to many Olympic and Asian events but I practically I had to drag her along each time,” Tatay says.

 

She would rather have stayed home and embroider altar clothes. “She became more spiritual,” says Tatay, “and money became more and more unimportant to her. Although she was very good in handling the school’s money, she didn’t bother about her own money. She was very generous with it. She gave to the church. She gave to her sons. When she died, she had less than P11,000 in her personal bank account.”

 

Nanay Bautista was stricken with diabetes. “She religiously followed her diet and her doctor’s prescriptions. But she was getting on in years. She never complained about her illness.” Mornings she’d take a walk with her friend Epifania “Paning” Encarnacion, around Burnham Park after which they would rest their tired and ancient limbs on one of the benches in Malcom Square, among the women peddling peanuts and native cakes to early risers. “I knew there was something gravely the matter with her when one morning she did not get up to take her bath. She always took a bath in the morning,” recalls Tatay, sadly. During a Sunday lunch for the family her blood pressure rose and she suffered a stroke. She was rushed to the Notre Dame Hospital. On February 6, 1987, at age of 79, Rosa Castillo Bautista died, quietly and wordlessly, her head gently lying on Tatay’s chest.

 
Friends pay their last respects at Dap-ayan HallScenes from the wake: The whole family during the Mass at the Baguio Cathedral.

 

After a weeklong wake at the Dap-ayan Little Theater in U.B., she was buried in the school grounds, wearing the terno she had prepared for their Golden Wedding Anniversary. For that occasion, Tatay had also bought for himself a tuxedo in Korea, and as a gift to Rosa, a gold-plated silverware from a store in San Francisco and table linen with gold trimmings from a store in New York.

 

After her death, in the spirit of generosity that marked his and Rosa’s life, he gave away her clothes and shoes and her few jewelries to his daughter-in-law and granddaughters, so that all of them had something of the matriarch.

 

And what did Tatay keep of her? “Only the muffler she used every night. And her memories.”

 

friend and teacher Mrs. Bermudez with Rhey walk with a sad heart after the burial.

 

It was while Tatay was sorting out her things that he came upon a verse Rosa wrote on Easter Monday of 1978, their 4th wedding anniversary. They were married on April 18, a Monday; it takes 40 years before that same date occurs on the same day, an arcane knowledge that Rosa kept in her heart and charmingly celebrated in verse:

 

Dear,

40 Easter Mondays today

We both have lived and loved

Never a doubt of faithfulness

To each we both have shared May the years ahead we see

Be still filled with peace and serenity.

 

R Ding Bautista, the lovestruck young man once again, wrote back, winging words and sentiments beyond the grave:

R I love you so much more now

Than when I married you,

And I will love you more tomorrow

Than I do today.

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A second beginning, a second wedding at the San Miguel Church: Who would have foretold it? It was destined to be, nonetheless.

 

Most mornings Tatay Bautista wakes up when the sun begins to rise behind the hazy, grayish tops of the undulating hills, sending out flashes of light to dance among the branches of the pine trees, and then suffusing the dining room with a warm and yellow light streaming through the wide picture windows.

 

Sipping his coffee at the long dining table, while basking in the bright morning light, in the languid posture of a don who has retired from the cares of a work-a-day world, Tatay gets excited about the things he will be doing that day. Visit the construction work on the buildings destroyed by the big earthquake. Attend the meetings for the elaborate preparations for the solemn investiture of the new bishops in the Cordillera at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral. Some days it’s not much but it keeps him going. If it’s a Sunday, it’s usually lector work at the Mass at the Cathedral, a parish council meeting, and the family reunion lunch (it’s held round-robin at the houses of the Bautista sons and each family brings a dish or two for a rambunctious, fun-filled feast).

 

Some days, it may be an early morning trip to Manila, with Mama Anching beside him in the 12-year-old Renault driven by the loyal family driver Billy, to attend an important conference or meeting, or a party to celebrate a significant milestone given by a dear friend or a close relative, or to take the plane to, say, Zamboanga or Legaspi, to receive an honorary award or citation. On the occasions that they have to make the trek to Manila, they would take the opportunity to spend a day or two at Mama Anching’s house in Gagalangin, Tondo. In the Gagalangin house, which ahs two flights of steps that they continually climb to reach the bedrooms, Tatay and Mama Anching would do all the housekeeping themselves, not wanting, or needing, any servant.

 

Mornings in Baguio, in the warm glow of the sun filtering through the bog window, while Tatay plans his activities for the day, Mama Anching hovers around him, preparing the toast bread and the butter, and when he’s up to it, since he eats so meagerly, a platter of fried rice and eggs, sunny side up, like the bright morning. As bright as Mama Anching, who emerges from her room in the morning already fully made up, eyebrows, carefully drawn, lips touched up with her favorite shade of red, and cheeks flushed with rouge, all set to face the day and whatever it brings.

 

Mama Anching! She was 75 and Tatay was 80 when they got married one fine day at the venerable San Miguel church in Manila. She had been a widow for seven years, and had resigned herself to a life of solitariness in the ancestral house in Gagalangin, although she was not exactly all by herself, as she had the children of her only son to dote on; but what stars in heaven ordained that she should meet again the man she first laid eyes on 55 years ago, and fall, if not in a swoon, then in an act of faith and affection, into his arms?

 

A cross time and space: Dr. Fernando Bautista and Constancia Y. Guevara meet again and in their autumn years pledge undying I do's.

 

Time is not the enemy, it is an ally. Love, faith, devotion – the emotion endures. Like a new moment in time, it is always re-creating itself, always renewing and energizing itself. One only has to keep one’s heart open to tenderness and acceptance, and the daring and adventurousness of youth. That they were both widowed, and getting on in years, did not hinder the course of the stars, nor restrained the surge of their emotions, so that one day in August of 1988 Nanding and Anching tied the knot in the church.

 

Dressed in a lovely embroidered Filipina gown in a becoming share of ecru, her cheeks blushing prettily like a young girl’s, so her friends remarked in whispers to each other, at once delighted and envious, while they tottered in their silk pumps and perilously piled coiffures, Constancia Y. Guevarra was given away by her son the doctor.

 

The groom, Dr. Fernando G. Bautista Sr., handsomely attired in a pale dove-grey suit with purple tie, stood strong and spry and beaming beside his bestman, his son the architect. The San Miguel church, where the wedding was held with great solemnity, nevertheless bristled with an air of festivity, what with the bustle of big families from both sides reuniting or getting acquainted with each other, with great exclamations of joy and surprise, accentuated by the squeals and cries of a spritely passel of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the bride and groom, from among whom they drew the entourage of ushers and usherettes, bridesmaids, sponsors for candle, veil and cord, and ring bearer, coin bearer and flower girl for a ceremony the likes of which could only happen once in a lifetime.

 

The enchanting wedding was the culmination of a courtship that took less than a year, although the story began half a century ago – and near the start of this book – when Constancia was a Social Studies teacher, and Fernando was an English teacher, at the Sta. Ana Elementary School. She graduated from the Philippine Normal School in 1932, four years after Ding Bautista graduated from that same school. In his early years at the Philippine Normal, Ding was the toothless wonder who, despite four missing front teeth, was immensely popular on campus as a brilliant orator and elocutionist; but on account of his handicap, he was also a closet Valentino, shy around girls because he couldn’t put on his best smile without looking like a movie comedian whom no one takes seriously.

 

Constancia’s father, Dioscoro Guevara, a native of Gagalangin, was a man of considerable means who owned a fleet of calesas (the taxicabs in those days). Her mother was a Yamio, a family which produced chemists and lawyers. Her father’s sister was the wife of Dr. Florentino Ampil, a legendary name in Gagalangin who made his fortune in real estate; it is said the government rented schoolbuildings from him. Constancia was a true daughter of the ilustrado class whose career was figured out for her. In those days the daughters of well-to-do families aspired to study at the Conservatory and become sopranos or pianists, the highest form of feminine arts, or become maestros, the ideal of womanly calling. Constancia chose the latter, although she would spend much of her professional life in yet another stereotype role for women, that of cashier and disbursing officer of the House of Representatives (the domestic ideal of woman as protector of the purse).

 

She was a popular figure at the Sta. Ana Elementary School, attractive and de Buena familia. Among her more ardent suitors was a lawyer, Benigno Mariano, whose sister was Constancia’s best friend in high school. He wrote her long, desperate letters which she, after receiving several of them, imperiously returned unopened, scrawling “Return to Sender” on the envelopes in the red pen she used to correct her students’ themes. Another suitor was a teacher from Pasig who rented a room in an apartment on Antipolo street in Tondo, so he had good chances of being granted the rare privilege of accompanying Constancia home on the tranvia.

 

tatay and mama Anching are delighted by an aquarium restaurant in Singapore where they attended the 1993 Southeast Asian Games

 

But the man who swept her off her feet was the dashing Paulino Escueta, a law student at the Far Eastern University whose parents were wealthy landlords in Laguna. It so happened that Constancia was taking classes at the National Teachers College where Escueta was also enrolled in some courses, although his friends jested that he was there to study how to “fish for women.” “One afternoon,” Mama Anching recalls blithely, “it was my birthday, and he came across my path.” That was on September 1 of 1939; barely two months later, on October 29, after a whirlwind courtship, were they married.

 

A difficult pregnancy forced her to take a long leave from her teaching and when, due to her long absences, her principal, Mr. Pascual, was constrained to find her a substitute, she quit teaching altogether. Moreover, as she became more testy and hot-headed as her pregnancy progressed, the more it became evident that teaching would only worsen her condition, if not get her into undue trouble with the boisterous kids.

 

She spent the Occupation years looking after her child at home. After the war she took a job as payroll master in the Philippine Legislature. She had known Narciso Pimentel, the Secretary of the House of Representatives, from visits to her husband’s law office, but connections had not been necessary for her to get the job. At that time it was a breeze to find employment in Government as many civil service eligibles were more interested in buying and selling American goods which earned more than the chore of preparing documents and filing them in cabinets. Constancia Escueta, the former schoolteacher, was cut out for her job, and she came to know practically all the senators and congressmen from the time of President Roxas to President Marcos. She stayed on in her job until February 1973 when, coming under the iron hand of martial law, the two Houses were abolished. She had at least the good fortune of retiring as disbursing officer, at 59. Ten years later her son, Paulino Jr., who gave his mother a difficult period of gestation, became a full-fledged doctor; he was only 23. In 1987 her husband succumbed to cancer. Ding Bautista saw the obit of Escueta’s death in the papers while he was at the Rizal Stadium in Manila attending the Southeast Asian Games as technical delegate of the International Amateur Athletic Federation; the SEA Games was then being hosted for the first time in Manila. “I came across the line that said ‘his bereaved wife Constancia’ and it rang a bell.”

 

That same evening he went to the wake, and again the next day, but he and Constancia exchanged no more than a word of condolence and thanks. They could not have known what to say, not having seen each other for 41 years; besides Constancia was shrouded in her grief. From across time and the generations they were like two ships passing each other in the night.

 

A picture taken of Tatay shortly before his 86th year

 

There were almost close encounters. Ding’s kid brother Conrado was Anchie’s classmate all through high school at Manila West. Conrado once invited her on the phone to attend a class reunion, but she couldn’t make it because her husband was very sick at the time. When Conrado died, her best friend, the sister of her former suitor Marino, asked her to attend the wake at Claret in Quezon City. Conrado had died in Ding Bautista’s house in Baguio, the friend informed her. Anching was surprised to know that Ding Bautista was living in Baguio. Yes, he does, and he’s already a millionaire there, her best friend chirped.

 

After the polite meeting at the wake, they were not to see each other again until six years later. The widow Constancia went back to the house in Gagalangin, living there alone, although she was visited often by her grandchildren who lived nearby. In Baguio Tatay and Nanay Bautista were like two peas in a pod, quietly keeping each other company, never exchanging angry words with each other; toward Nanay’s last years they were lulled more and more into a deep placidity, unruffled like the billows of fog moving silently down the hills and treetops. “It was an idyllic marriage,” Tatay waxes soft and tender when he speaks of his marriage. “It was personally and professionally fulfilling for both of us. We worked hard and we raised our children the best we could. We were married for 49 years, only one year and two months short of golden when she died.”

 

Her death ended the idyll on golden pond. Wasting no time on his grief, wanting to dwell only on the happiness that 49 years of marriage had given him, Tatay picked himself up and before long found himself thrown in a whirl of dinners and dances in Baguio, many of them upon the invitation of merry widows. Tongues wagged in this small town and the University founder was gaining a reputation as a man-about-town and frisky Lothario – in his venerable age. “I felt I was becoming scandalous and I thought I had to put an end to it before something happened to my good name,” he quips, grimming.

 

But the widower needed a woman so badly it hurt. “I could never be happy without a woman beside me, especially at night, especially in Baguio,” he sighs. So he drew up a list of old girlfriends and new, and visited each one. On top of her list was the widow Constancia. One day while he was in Manila, he called her on the phone; he was beside himself with joy when she asked him over to her house. Mama Anching was more level-headed: “We happen to know each other once upon a time, that’s why I asked him to come over.”

 

‘She had five grandchildren, all college age, whom she had spoiled and who saw her often. Anching looked happy enough living alone,” was his immediate impression.

 

But it did not discourage him; it rather made him more determined to press his gentlemanly suit. He pursued her by phone, calling her long distance from Baguio, and like teenage “telebabad” they burned the wires. But he liked it much better sitting across her in her hushed living room and so made frequent trips to Manila, his fond thoughts dwelling on her as his car trundled down the zigzags of Kennon Road, raced across hot plains and interminable fields from the Ilocos to Bulacan, and picked its way through the traffic in the city. And when they were alone together, what did they talk about? “Time deposits,” Ding says. “I’m an expert on time deposits.”

 

And they dated, once to a Kuh Ledesma concert at the Manila Hotel, with a daughter and granddaughter as chaperones; on another occasion to the ballet, with a granddaughter in tow. They gave dinners on their birthdays, surrounded by their families. One time he attended the wedding of one of her nieces. In 1988 when his eldest son Fer died she made the trek to Baguio to condole with him.

 

But the trips were getting more and more tiring and the calls more and more expensive and they were not getting any younger. The passionate swain felt it was time to pop the question. He invoked his magic number 8.

 

He explains: “I have faith in the number 8. I was born in 1908. I graduated in 1928. Nanay and I were married on April 18, 1938. I have eight children. My first name and surname each have eight letters. Baguio Tech was founded in 1948. I was installed as president of the University on a December 8. So I told myself: I have to get married on August 8, 18, or 28, 1988. If not, huwag na lang. I was then 80.”

 

On a day in June of 1988, a quite propitious month, he proposed to her. Her reaction? “Ang feeling ko, usual pakipot ng babae, kunyari ayaw pa,” he grins. Beyond Ding’s macho swagger, however, was the sobering reality that Mama Anching was after all already a grown woman, not the young maiden of fairy tale illusion. “When he proposed I was taken aback, and then I told myself maybe he was only kidding. What’s this? I had no plans altogether of marrying again. I like it when he calls me up – I was so alone – but there was nothing between us really. When I told my son, he gave me little lecture, can you imagine that? He said if Ding was sincere and honest in his intentions there shouldn’t be any problem. He said he looked like the type who wouldn’t play around.” (You’d think they were talking of a young man of 30!) The doctor’s principal objection to Bautista’s marriage proposal to his 76-yer-old mother had more to do with social politesses. “What will they say?” he warned his mother. “That you married him for his money?”

 

Where upon Anching wrote Ding firmly saying she could not marry him and spelled out her reasons: one, he’s rich; two, he has many children and she has no inclination to be a madrasta to them; and three, he lives in Baguio and she can’t be uprooted from her house in Tondo. Ding refuted all her objections – in writing – and gave a copy of it to Anching’s son. The doctor capitulated and said to his mother, “It’s all up to you then, if you think you’ll be happy with him.” The son was also concerned that he could not look after his mother as much as he would want to as he was then residing in the United States. And yes, time is short for everyone.

 

Anching’s sisters, on the other hand, had no objections at all, being rather tickled and enchanter by the idea of two people, in their autumn years, marching down the aisle. Sige na, they egged her, he’s a fine gentleman and he doesn’t look like a fast guy. They would organize parties so they could invite Ding over. He actually became a very close friend of one of Anching’s brothers-in-law, Dr. Isabelo Fajardo.

 

The die, so to say, was cast. Moment after accepting Ding’s proposal, Anching placed a long distance call to his son in the States. “You better come home immediately, she told him. “Why, are you sick?” the son asked apprehensively. “No, I’m getting married.” The news spread like wildfire to relatives all throughout Los Angeles.

 

Two months after his marriage proposal, on August 28, 1988, reinforcing Ding’s faith in the number 8, he and Anching exchanged I do’s. Love being sweeter the second time, they spent their honeymoon at the Manila Hotel.

 

Anching went to live with Ding in Baguio, in the house on Bonifacio street in a room that Ding built especially for his new bride. But on the many travels they take together to the provinces or abroad, they always make it a point to drop by the house in Gagalangin that saw their second blooming, stay for a few days there while Mama Anching connects, in an inexplicable and ancient ritual, with her roots. “I’m glad to say that Ding and my son have become good friends,” she says. As for Ding, he’s like a young man all over again, realizing what other men, and lovers, could only fantasize in the realms of what-if and what-might-have-been. Tatay is nevertheless clear-eyed. “We married each other for love and companionship,” he is wont to say to anyone listening with rapt attention to his story of love at 80 summers.

 

And in the autumn of their lives they’re looking forward to more summers together.

 

On July 16 the killer earthquake struck.

 

The earthquake of July 16, 1990 knocked down seven buildings on the UB grounds;

 

In Baguio it registered 7.8 on the Richter scale, lower than other destructive earthquakes in the history of this natural killer in the country. But the widespread tragedy it brought was the most painful, the most heart-rending in living memory.

 

It struck Baguio at 4:30 in the afternoon. Tatay and Mama Anching were taking their customary cup of coffee, when the house started to tremble. They immediately dived under the dining table, while all around them things began to tumble. The cabinet containing Tatay’s collection of celadon bowls and plates lurched over and its precious contents went crashing across the floor. The refrigerator fell on its face. Plates, glasses, vases, toppled from their perches and broke into pieces on the floor.

 

ruin

 

When the temblors passed, Tatay and Mama Anching crawled from under the table to survey the worst devastation oldtimer Baguio residents could remember since war. The earthquake cut a swath of destruction across Central Luzon but whether in this mountain city or in La Union or Pangasinan, the terrible story was the same: schoolchildren squeezed or trapped between cement slabs of buildings folding like accordions, scores of people killed in collapsed buildings and houses to say nothing of the untold millions of damage to property and infrastructure. (In Baguio, the worst hit, the official tally was: 400 killed, 167 never found, P20 billion worth of properties lost.) In Baguio, stories will be told for years to come of how bravery and daring and the power of prayers saved the day for survivors and rescuers alike. The story will be told of Hyatt Hotel and Nevada Hotel, which toppled down like a house of cards.

 

The Bautistas were spared the personal tragedies that visited many distraught families in Baguio. They were unharmed except for Herr Bautista, whose foot was crushed when the factory of the Baguio Precision Corporation in EPZA, of which he was general manager at the time, was thrown pell-mell.

 

But the University suffered incalculable destruction. The FRB Hotel at the corner of General Luna and Assumption, all of 33 rooms and several restaurants, built at a cost of P8.8 million, not counting furnishings and facilities, and used by the UB students as practicum for hotel and restaurant management, was knocked down to the ground. Seven buildings on the U.B. grounds were severely damaged, not including the Administration and Education building which was gutted by fire a month earlier. “The greatest loss,” sighs Dr. Bautista, “was the library containing the masteral theses of our graduates.”

 

The losses from the earthquake were as heart-breaking: about 36,900 volumes were damaged in the library, equipment and apparatuses were rendered useless, and just to make things worse, the roof of the Auditorium-Gymnasium caved in. Typhoons, one of which brought unprecedented deaths and destruction in Leyte, that followed on the heels of the earthquake, poured through the fallen roof and flooded the lower levels, making ruins of the registrar’s and accounting offices, the laboratories of soil, hydraulics, sanitary and material testing, as well as the ROTC office.

 

Sadder to say, the earthquake resulted in several casualties in the University. (Fortunately for neighboring St. Louis University, there was a teachers’ and students’ strike on the day of the earthquake.) The cost of the physical destruction in U.B. was estimated at 11 to 12 million pesos, not including the loss of 30 percent in enrollment the next schoolyear. The University was able to collect only P1 million in fire insurance from the gutted Education building. The rest of the cost, the work of reconstruction and rehabilitation itself, fell upon the able shoulders of Dr. Fernando Bautista, who in his retirement and past his eightieth year finds himself bonding hand and spirit to the very foundations of the school once again, as when he was laying the cornerstone of the school back in 1950.

 

Most mornings, after breakfast with Mama Anching, he puts on his good walking shoes, pulls over a sweater when it’s cold, throws on his hat, and climbs the steps in the alley he had carved out of a portion of a private property he bought and donated to public domain, being a shortcut to the University compound, saunters past the St. Louis University building rising from a steep incline of a hill along General Luna, past the lot where the FRB Hotel used to stand before it crumbled during the earthquake, past gaggles of ladies who greet him good day, call him Tatay, and kiss him on the cheek, past fruit and vegetable vendors on the sidewalks who acknowledge him with a silent and respectful gaze.

 

He knows every nook and cranny of his University like the back of his hand. He knows where it needs repair; he knows where it needs to be expanded. He likes to keep the confines of the campus within the city itself. He has resisted tempting offers to expand to Naguilian and Trinidad for the simple reason, he says, that expansion will make things difficult for administration and supervision. Why so? Because the University of Baguio is Dr. Fernando Bautista and Dr. Fernando Bautista is the University of Baguio. With him it has attained respectability and venerability and a solidity that will last as long as his reputation. He recognizes that he cannot now extend the span of his personal supervision and influence without weakening it. For him the University, set in a prime location in the heart of Baguio City, is like a jewel, small and perfectible unto itself. Such as it is, it has realized, and will continue to rekindle, the dreams and ambitions the modest teacher from Tondo had shared with his wife Rosa Castillo Bautista, who had stood by hi, and the school like a pillar of strength. The saga of the University of Baguio continues. In its richness and vitality as an institution of learning for the young, it offers Tatay Bautista ever new challenges, ever new beginnings in his long and extraordinary life.

 

 

A silent strength: Nanay shared 49 years with Tatay Bautista, bore his children, took care of his home, helped build his dream, and had only words of solace and support for him.Nanay shared 49 years with Tatay Bautista, bore his children, took care of his home, helped build his dream,

and had only words of solace and support for him.

 

 

 
Grace and ebullence: Mama Anching has the ebullient style of a woman with robust pedigree, pampered by her own family and yet adhering to the traditional role of wife and mother with a readiness and grace. She brings love and companionship, in much the same way that she needs it, to Tatay BautistaGrace and ebullience: Mama Anching has the ebullient style of a woman with robust pedigree, pampered by her own family and yet adhering to the traditional role of wife and mother with a readiness and grace.

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The founders of the University of Baguio, Dr. Fernando Gonzaga Bautista and Rosa Castillo Bautista, were fondly called Tatay Nanding and Nanay Rosa. Tatay and Nanay participated actively in professional and civic organizations.  Tatay became the great Kaafuan of Benguet, the Baguio-Benguet delegate to the 1972 Constitutional Convention, President of organizations in the field of education and Philippine representative to many national, Asian and international sports events.  Nanay became president, treasurer and board member of many prestigious organizations. Both Tatay and Nanay were graduates of the Philippine Normal School, Manila known today as the Philippine Normal University and the University of the Philippines for their degrees in B.S.Ed. and M.A.Ed. Both of them served as teachers and principals in the Philippine public school system until 1946 when Tatay co-founded Baguio Colleges and Nanay served as the high school principal. Born in 1908, Tatay Nanding and his loving spouse, Nanay Rosa established Baguio Tech in 1948.

 

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Kind of Issue: Commemorative

Denomination & Quantity: P7.00; 35,000 copies

Date of Issue: December 8, 2008

Last Day of Sale: December 7, 2009

Sheet Composition: 40 (10 x 4)

Size of Stamps: 40mm x 30mm

Perforation: 14

Printing Process: Litho-Offset

Paper: Imported Unwatermarked

Printer: AMstar Company, Inc.

Graphic Designer: Corazon T. Loza

Project Coordinators: Fernando-Rosa Bautista Foundation (Board of Trustees), Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak

Design: Fernando G. Bautista and University of Baguio

 

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On August 7, 1969, Education Secretary O.D. Corpuz signed the University Charter, elevating Baguio Tech into the University of Baguio also called UB. Happily watching are from left, Superintendent Teofilo Gallarda, Assistant Director Pablo Mateo, Director Narciso Albarracin, UB President Fernando G. Bautista, PACU Secretary Amado Dizon and UB Vice-President Fer C. Bautista.

 

At his formal installation as first president of the University of Baguio, Dr. Fernando G. Bautista reminded everyone that, "unless the Lord built the house, they labor in vain that built it. I pray that we shall not falter in our service to the young people."

 

Slowly but surely the University of Baguio has grown to become one of the outstanding institutions in Northern Luzon with buildings rising one by one as shown on the graphic layout of the UB site.

 

The University of Baguio rose in the City landscape as the vision of Tatay Nanding with Nanay Rosa as the ever guiding spirit beside him.

 

Being true educators. Tatay and Nanay harnessed the talents of their sons, Bnn the architect, designed many UB buildings. Fer, Rhey, and Gil served as presidents of the school; Herr, Des and Jojo along with their parents and the four brothers mentioned served as members or officers of the board of trustees.

 

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In 2001, the mentor and guide of many, Lolo Tatay called his granchildren to learn and participate as members of the board. This 2008, Herr is UB president, and Des is chairman of the board with Lolo Tatay's grandchildren as members.

 

The vision, strength and perseverance of Tatay and Nanay served millons of stakeholders through the University of Baguio that stands today.

 

The Fernando-Rosa Bautista Foundation perpetuates the ideals, aspiration and human efforts of Tatay and Nanay. The foundation is likened to a steward for the welfare of the City of Baguio and the Province of Benguet. The FRB Foundation is geared toward moral, spiritual, intellectual and financial growth and development of deserving individuals, especially in the field of instruction and administration.  Continuing in the spirit of service, the FRB Foundation has Lolo Tatay's and Lola Nanay's grandchildren at its helm.

 

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