Jan 29, 2012

UPAA IN AMERICA - General Assembly & Convention


17th Biennial General Assembly & Convention August 30 -September 1, 2013
at Las Vegas, Nevada

For more information-

Mar 16, 2008



A Gallery of UP Alumni in San Diego, CA, USA

A Commemorative Project for the UP Centennial 2008

An Introduction


Beatrice Burgos-Bael, UPAASD Member, ’83 Masters in Public Admin.

Profiles In Excellence Website Project Coordinator

A Centennial Gift For A Milestone Year. The 2008 year-long activities celebrating 100 years of U.P. excellence have given us, the University of the Philippines alumni residing in this part of the world, reasons to pause from our busy lives and think of how we have metamorphosed over the years after our U.P. experience. Thus, was born the “Profiles in Excellence” Project, featuring the autobiographies of San Diego U.P. alumni – our centennial gift to our beloved Alma Mater. This project consists of two parts: (1) this website posting and (2) a printed version that will be published later this year.

Profiles in Excellence. As Ralph Marston wrote, “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” You might find it interesting to note that the many stories below share a common thread, that is, the attitude of excellence and a sense of mission. Whether this is exemplified through outstanding achievements in one’s chosen profession or field, or living a simple life, there is the unspoken quality of excellence, as well as the pleasure of living a purposeful life.

A Sentimental Journey. The intimate stories of this series were mostly written for the first time. It is a personal and sentimental journey through time, with bits of introspection and self-analysis, reminiscences, memoirs, confessions, including rummaging through “faded photographs, which are now covered with lines and traces”.

A Torch. These stories, we hope, would prove to be a meaningful journey of the past and a celebration of accomplishments of the present to share with our families, friends, classmates, schoolmates, and perhaps an inspiration to future generations. We end this note believing that “we cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without somehow brightening our own.” (Ben Sweetland)

The autobiographies and other entries

featured in this project are edited


Philip Pinpin, UPAASD Member, '61 B.S. in Petr. Geology

Profiles In Excellence Project Editor



Florfina Santiago-Arce, UPAASD President 2007-2008

The UPAASD is considered one of the most prestigious organizations in San Diego County, California. To be its president is certainly not just an honor but more of a big challenge and I happen to take on that challenge last year. Having led many other organizations gave me the head start in looking into what this organization needs. When asked what my vision was for UPAASD, it was rather difficult to answer at first.

What I saw was the current needs to have effective meetings, how to create and motivate our members to become more actively involved in the group. There is a need to bring in new members and to revitalize dormant ones. My main focus was to initiate new projects that will benefit our group as well as the community we live in.

Last year, I was happy to see good attendance and fun meetings. I followed my own likes and dislikes about meetings. I like short, productive and fun meetings. I called inactive members and personally invited them to come to the meetings. I made sure everyone gets to know each other, assuring members that we want to achieve fellowship and camaraderie each time we meet. Like everyone, I want to go to a meeting to be informed and afterwards go home feeling that we had a great time as well.
Here are some highlights of 2007 activities and plans for 2008:

· The UP Mindanao Book Drive – 21 balikbayan boxes of books gathered and donated were sent to UP Mindanao Project; was led by Secretary Susan Chrismen, Bus. Mgr. Zeny Ply & Vice Pres. Jimmie Sober.

· A dialogue with our young Muslim leaders organized by Dr. Estela Matriano and Dr. Aurora Cudal.

· Participation through booths with the 2007 Philippine Faire in National City, Samahan Philippine Cultural Festival in Balboa Park and the Filipino Heritage Festival in San Diego.

· Support of the FADI annual gala event with one table of UP alumni.

· Represented UPAASD at the UPAAA National Convention in San Francisco.

· A very successful fundraiser “Fabulous 50’s Event” brought a lot of raves and a fun-filled great night of dancing and entertainment; chaired by Betty Bael.

· The directory project was conceived sometime in midyear and is now tied up with the website project both named “Profiles in Excellence”. But instead of a simple directory, the project has blossomed into a small book showcasing a collection of autobiographies of all UPAASD members.

· These twin projects will take off in January 2008. Pres. Boodgie Arce and Betty Bael are the Project Coordinators and Philip Pinpin is the Editor. Both projects are our contribution to the observance of the UP Centennial this year 2008.

· A series of seminars is lined up for 2008 in collaboration with San Diego's leading Fil-Am community organizations, such as the Kalusugan Community Services. The Distinguished Speakers Seminar Series is coordinated by the Organizing Committee, composed of Dr. Aurora Cudal, Dina Ellorin, Jimmie Sober and Carlos Dequina.

Because this year we celebrate University of the Philippines Centennial year, we look forward to a homecoming trip to our alma mater. We welcome suggestions for other worthy projects and new activities for UPAASD. Its future is going to depend on the visions of its leaders and members and what direction they want for this fine association.

The other industrious and enthusiastic officers of the UPAASD for 2007-2008 who are serving with me are: Vice President – Jimmie Sober; Secretary – Aurora Cudal; Treasurer – Ann Napolitano; Asst. Treasurer – Dina Barros Ellorin; Auditor - Carole Caparros; Business Manager - Zeny Ply; PRO – Rudy Liporada; Ex-Officio Board Member – Juanita Santos Nacu (IPP).



Juanita Francisco Caccam, Ph.D., Founding President, 1983-1988

My family relocated to San Diego, California in the early part of 1966 when this city was still a sleepy Navy town. The civilian population including native Filipinos was rather small at the time. The existence of a visible Fil-Am community was almost nowhere to be found. My husband, Ronn, started a small business and he came to meet only a handful of Filipinos but most of them were from good old U.P.

I really give a lot of credit to my husband who urged and nudged and frequently reminded me of the need to found a “Club” or “Society” of young Filipinos from the old country. A UP Alumni Association San Diego (UPAASD) was the logical starting point because of its two large institutions in the Philippines, Diliman and Los Banos. The new day for Filipino population expansion sprouted like miracle rice when U.S. immigration laws were relaxed for professionals in 1967 onwards.

“New” Filipinos were coming in droves by land, by air, and of course by boat. FOB’s (fresh off the boat) have arrived. Hot dog, apple pie, and Chevrolet was the fun cry of these “early” new Filipinos. FOB’s they may have been (no offense or derogatory connotation meant here) but most of them were college graduates with a good number from UP. Hot dog and apple pie were okay with them, but the first challenge for them was a job and a car (Chevrolet?).

The community began to really grow significantly from the late sixties and unto the seventies. These new Fil-Ams, mostly professionals considered the “third wave” of Filipino migration to the US (aptly termed “brain drain” in the Philippines), have found their cherished home here and were now more receptive toward being counted “in”, in a new “Society”, their “Club” or an “Alumni Association” they can identify with. They wanted to go up and find their place in the community and this inspired me to found the UPAASD in 1983.

Today, UPAASD is the largest and most active UP Alumni Association in Southern California. It is in the forefront of very active community involvements; civic duty, cultural arts, political and education and City/County affairs. Southern California will see more and more of UPAASD stalwarts. The SD Council of Philippine-American Organizations (COPAO) and the Samahan Filipino-American Performing Arts and Education Center are headed by UPAASD mainstays.

Our UPAASD has hosted the current UP President, Dr. Emerlinda Roman, who was our distinguished guest speaker at our UP Alumni Association in America (UPAAA) General Assembly and Convention held here in October 2005. To appreciate her presence, our Association and UPAAA, through her, gifted our Alma Mater in the amount of $10,000. That should be a huge credit for her – earning P500,000 for our University.

Our Association has over the years been very active and generous in many laudable endeavors: scholarships; improvements of campus facilities, e.g., some of the original dormitories where a few of our current members spent some of their earlier years on campus needed repairs/enhancements. The “Adopt-a-Dorm” program conceived by Dr. Juanita Santos-Nacu had the Molave Dorm a recipient.

The UP Foundation in the Philippines, professorial chairs, the UP Library for new books and new office equipment, among others, have been generously funded with several thousand dollars from us.

In the more recent years, many very active members and leaders with big hearts and willing spirits have come forward to take the helm and answer the Clarion Call:

UP Beloved! Up with the People!

May the guiding spirit and indelible footprints of our former Presidents/Leaders live with the UPAASD Forever. Those who have served with distinction before:

1. Juanita Francisco Caccam, Ph.D., Founding President, 1983-1988

2. Edith Collado Galvan, 1989-1990

3. Conrad Bautista, 1991-1992

4. Susan Delos Santos, 1993-1994

5. Dina Barros Ellorin, 1995-1996

6. Estela Mercado Garcia, 1997-1998

7. Maria Cristina Torres Colmenar, 1999-2000

8. Dr. Aurora Soriano Cudal, 2001-2002

9. Dr. Juanita Santos Nacu, 2003-2006

10. Florfina Santiago Arce, 2007-2008

Our Vision is clear; our Future is bright.

Our Hearts are stout; our Members are strong and capable.

UPAA Alumni are leaders and visionaries.


Let’s rally around the UP Flag and Spirit!



A Gallery of UP Alumni in San Diego, CA, USA

  • Juanita Francisco Caccam
  • Editha Collado Galvan
  • Conrado Biason Bautista
  • Emiliana Torrado Bautista
  • Susan A. Delos Santos
  • Dina Barros Ellorin
  • Maria Cristina Torres Colmenar
  • Aurora Soriano Cudal
  • Winlove A. Cudal
  • Juanita Santos Nacu
  • Florfina Santiago Arce
  • Lolita Dinoso Carter
  • Gregory P. Alabado
  • Purificacion Cruz Maceda
  • Veronico Somera
  • Rufino G. Roque
  • Edith Navarro Donaldson
  • Zenaida Garcia Oades
  • Moonlight Acierto Brizuela
  • Ofelia Villa Dirige
  • Mario Bayuga Ines
  • Diane Santiago Ines
  • Purita Buencamino Andrews
  • Felipe D. Pinpin
  • Jimmie Sober
  • Merly Maderazo Ferrer
  • Priscilla Francisco Garrovillas
  • Flora Felipe Maristela
  • Zenaida Estoque Ply
  • Susan Serrano Chrismen
  • Rodolfo Delima Liporada
  • Aurora Olosan Liporada
  • Noemi Paguia Lopez
  • Beatrice Burgos Bael
  • Edwin Doremon Bael




1983-1988 Founding President, UPAASD

My freshman year at UP Diliman was rather overwhelming. Very quickly I began to feel like I was the big teen-ager on campus. Enrolling as a Math major and a college scholar, I developed enough of a new “teenage crush”, a fantasy of sort, on my General Chemistry professor that led me to change my major to Chemistry in the second semester.

I joined the UP Chemical Society, UP Women’s Club, UP Mathematics Club, and the Chemical Society of the Philippines. For my thesis, I analyzed the amino acid composition of fish acid hydrolyzates or “patis” by paper chromatography.

In December 1956, armed with a B.S. Chemistry degree, I hopped on the Bicol Express train to UP Los Banos, Laguna, where I had been appointed as a research assistant instructor in the Chemistry Department. In November 1957, the Big News came out! I garnered number 3 in the Philippine Board of Examination for Chemists in the entire country.

August 1960 was a historical event in my hometown of Mandaluyong, Rizal, when I left for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA to pursue graduate studies at Duquesne University, a Catholic university run by the Jesuits. The entire town practically saw me off at the airport!

A Teaching Assistantship and subsequent fellowships from the U. S. Public Health Service and National Institute of Health made it possible for me to finish a doctorate degree majoring in biochemistry in four years, bypassing the masteral program.

My major professor was amazed (shocked even) by my ability to sacrifice a pigeon (the way my stepmother taught me how to do it in chicken-style) to extract an enzyme from its liver for my thesis (mea culpa to the ASPCA).

I had saved enough to send for my father who came over on the SS President Cleveland. It took him 21 days from Manila to San Francisco! He willingly type-wrote my thesis “On the Mechanism of Action of Succinic Dehydrogenase” in quadruplicate (word processing was unheard of, let alone a computer, in those days). He was extremely proud to see me walk up the stage as his daughter was called “Dr. Juanita Francisco” for the first time.

Accepting a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California at Los Angeles, I flew into Long Beach where I did my research at the VA Hospital Medical Research Programs. Thereafter, a research associate-ship at the University of Southern California School of Medicine followed.

Subsequently, I accepted a research fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and this precipitated the fortuitous relocation of my family to La Jolla, California.

My years at Salk Institute were very memorable. At one of Dr. Salk’s many gatherings at his home, my husband and I met Drs. Francis Crick and James Watson of London and Harvard, respectively, of the DNA Double Helix fame.

Our focus was identifying the active site of the basic protein associated with the experimental model disease for multiple sclerosis (MS). In the scientific research period of my career, I am co-author of several scientific papers; one that stands out in my memory was presented at the Seventh International Congress of Biochemistry held in Tokyo, Japan. When the research team relocated to New Jersey to join Merck, I chose to remain in San Diego (aptly called America’s Finest City because of its excellent temperate climate) mainly because the harsh winters in the East were no longer appealing to me.

An internship in Clinical Chemistry at Sharp Memorial Hospital opened up an entirely new field for me. Leaving the research field, this new venture in Laboratory Medicine led me to the San Diego Institute of Pathology and Maas Diagnostic Laboratory where I served as Clinical Chemist and also a lecturer at the School of Medical Technology at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

I developed a laboratory screening method for neonatal hypothyroidism, one of the causes of mental retardation in newborns. The Presidents’ Council of Women’s Business, Professional and Service Organizations of San Diego presented me with a second “Woman of Achievement” award for this work.

In the same year, the Maria Clara de Pilipinas Sorority founded and headed by Lucy Gonzales honored me for my achievement with its “Lady of Elegance” in Medicine award. Employment at National Health Laboratories, later to become Laboratory Corporation of America, capped my professional career in Laboratory Medicine.

In addition to my having been the founding president of the UP Alumni Association of San Diego in 1983, my passion for the arts and a deep desire towards preserving my rich Filipino cultural heritage gave me the impetus to get involved with the Samahan Philippine-American Performing Arts and Education Center since its inception in 1974. I am one of the charter members, serving as its President in 1989-1990. I am still a very active member of the board. Our “Rondalla”, a stringed musical ensemble, became my focus, as a “banduria” player, teacher and its Musical Coordinator.

The UPAA of Seattle, Washington hosted the Samahan Performing Arts during the Pacific Northwest Folklife Festival in 1996 which drew over 100,000 visitors from across the globe. With much pride, our performance at the Seattle Opera House was the only one given a standing ovation. Other musical ensembles I take part in are the “Kulintang” (gongs) and “Anklung” (bamboo percussion).

Since voice is my second passion, I have joined the Pacificaires Choral Group in North Pacific Beach, which hosted the L’Esterelenco Choir from Saint Raphael, France in July 2007. A reciprocal tour to Nice, France is scheduled for joint performances with the French choir in April 2008.

In my spare time during my retirement now, I help in the family-owned travel business. My travels have taken me to several countries, including a skiing trip to Mt. Arosa, Switzerland. Another memorable trip took me to Grenoble, France, where my daughter spent a semester at the University of Grenoble, a study-abroad program of Swarthmore College.

My family includes my husband, Romeo (Ronn) Alcantara Caccam from Baguio City. Being both true-blooded Filipinos, it is interesting to note here that when I first met Ronn I mistook him for a Malaysian “mestizo” and he mistook me for a Chinese!

We have two children Stephen (married to Ann Bainbridge Clarke of New Jersey, a direct descendant of John Alden who came on the Mayflower in 1621 at Plymouth Rock) and their three children: Emily Michele, Blair Thomas and Paige Caroline (born in London); Melissa (married to Craig Robin, Esq., of Manhattan, New York) and their two sons, Shawn Michael and Nathaniel Francisco.





1989-1990 President, UPAASD

I was born on August 30, 1943 in Janiuay, Iloilo. My parents were both hard-working and very dedicated school teachers who believed that children should always surpass their parents in education and their accomplishments in life.

After a series of family relocations, hence school changes for me, I graduated from Duenas High School in Iloilo in 1959. I was admitted as an entrance scholar to the University of the Philippines (Iloilo). During that time UP Iloilo was offering only general education classes and I had to transfer to UP Diliman after two years.

I graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Education majoring in Physical Sciences (Math/Physics Emphasis) in 1964. After my graduation, I was selected as one of the first ten awardees of a scholarship at UP and co-sponsored by the US AID (US Agency for International Development).

The purpose of the program was to train physics teachers in a teaching method geared to the top 10% of United States high school seniors. All the courses we took were credited toward a degree in Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT-Physics). I taught in Novaliches High School, Quezon City as a requirement of the scholarship. Later on, I accepted a position as Instructor in Math & Physics at UP Iloilo.

In 1967, I married my husband, Magdaleno “Ditoy” D. Galvan, Jr., a fellow Ilonggo and a mechanical engineering graduate who enlisted in the U.S. Navy. I joined him in San Diego in 1968. His military assignments took us to San Diego, San Francisco, Illinois, Mississippi and Hawaii (six years) where our two sons were born. Darryl, who graduated from San Diego State University, now works as a mechanical engineer. Lydell, a graduate of the University of California San Diego (Revelle College), is an underwriter for a mortgage company..

As soon as I arrived in the U.S., I was issued a clear California teaching credential to teach math and physics. However, because of Ditoy’s job movements, I decided to put my professional career on hold as I moved with him wherever he was assigned. I was pretty contented with my role as a wife and a mother until when one day I saw a UP graduate (I cannot remember who she was) on television challenging all UP graduates who were watching to step up to the plate and ‘to lead just as what UP alumni were trained to do’.

Ditoy felt guilty that he was holding me back professionally and encouraged me to pursue graduate courses, Master in Computer Science, maybe. I gave it a try but it took so much of my time from my children. I decided to settle for something quick and easy and not too time-consuming as I had to juggle my schedule with my County job, school and family. In 1984, after a year or so of evening classes, I graduated with a degree in Masters in Business Administration from National University, San Diego.

My new degree opened a lot of doors for me at the San Diego County government. Promotions came easily and I became the first Filipino administrative analyst in the San Diego District Attorney’s Office and one of the very few in the county. I handled budget and monitored all revenues of the office including grants in Auto Insurance Fraud, Gang Prosecution, Narcotics Prosecution, Workers’ Compensation Fraud, Victim/Witness, Family Support, etc.

I had established excellent working relationships with DA staff, other County departments, Federal and State agencies. I felt very proud and privileged to be the only Filipino at statewide DA administration conferences. To top it all, I always had a window office on the same floor as the DA himself.

I became active in the County of San Diego Filipino Employees Association (CSDFEA) serving as a member of the Board of Directors for four years. Since one of the goals of the association was to put a Filipino in top county position, we, the officers, met with department heads and high level officials to make them aware that there are Filipinos who are capable and more than qualified to take on the task. We also held after- work review sessions to prepare our members for qualifying exams so they can move up the ranks. We made ourselves available for them to call when they needed assistance.

It was in the mid-80’s when I first became involved with the UP Alumni Association in San Diego. I voluntarily offered my services as secretary-treasurer assisting Dr. Juanita Caccam for several years until I became UPAASD’s first elected president and served in 1989 to 1990. We had a very memorable and well-attended installation of officers at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. I was much honored that Judge Lillian Lim accepted my invitation to be our installing officer.

During my term, UPAASD sponsored for the first time a UP Diliman Concert Chorus presentation in San Diego held at UCSD Mandeville auditorium. It was a tremendous success and tickets were sold out way before the event. I negotiated for the group to perform at Sea World and they in turn were allowed free entrance to the park for the whole day.

UPAA San Diego also raised funds to sponsor scholarships to financially-deficient students in UP campuses in the Philippines and participated in community events such as having floats and booths for the Philippine Independence Day celebration. Though few in number then, every member in our group was enthusiastically involved and up to this day I can not thank them enough for their support when I was president.

Ditoy and I love orchids and we maintain a sizable nursery. We exhibit and sell plants during the orchid show held at the Mission Valley Scottish Rite Center in spring of every year. We have been very active members of the San Diego County Orchid Society (SDCOS) since 1991. He had served for three years as Board of Director and I was elected as treasurer for five years (1996-2000), becoming the first Filipino to be entrusted the coffers of one of the biggest orchid societies in the U.S. We also attended the World Orchid Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2002.

I retired from the San Diego County District Attorney in 1998 at age 55 and Ditoy retired from active military service in 1984 and Federal civil service in 1999. We live a quiet, country life in Crest (El Cajon) and babysit our only grandson, Romeo, whenever we can.





1991-1992 President, UPAASD




U.P. and the Bautista Family

After graduating from U.P. Prep in 1965, my father, Conrado G. Bautista, Sr. (B.S.E.E. & B.S.M.E.), ordered me, “You have to go to U.P. and at the College of Engineering, otherwise I will not support your college education.” I could understand where my dad was coming from, he simply wanted to continue the family tradition that he and all his three elder brothers started by getting a U.P. education, one of whom was ambitious and successful enough to found the University of Baguio from practically scratch.

I am the eldest of 10 siblings and seven of us heeded our father’s demand to study in U.P. The three younger ones graduated from schools of their own choosing as my father no longer cared and was already happy that majority of us followed his dream.

I did not exactly fulfill what my father wanted because in my senior year I switched to business ad. I saw my dad’s expectant jubilation turn into resigned acceptance that his junior did not become an engineer but this major decision in my life, a directional change in my future career, will make my father proud. Of some consolation to him was that three of his children became engineers, all UP graduates.

Formative and College Years

I was born on Manila October 9, 1948 and my father named me his junior hoping that in the future, I succeed him in his professional engineering private practice. My mother, Celedonia F. Biason, was a homemaker, and until now I can't imagine and marvel at how she managed to raise such a big family. I remember my father telling us that the best legacy he and my mother could give us is our education more than anything else. We picked up from our parents the value of hard work, honesty and integrity, and above all the love and service of God. These are the same qualities we passed on to our children.

Graduating from U.P. Prep high school in 1965, I got automatic acceptance to UP, and hoping to get a mechanical engineering degree. I followed my father’s advice, inspite of the fact that the social sciences, not math and science, were my strength and favorite subjects. On my 4th year, I told my mother that I was shifting to the college of Business Administration, and pleaded that she do not tell my father.

I was afraid of how my father will take it, but I have the inner confidence that I was doing the right choice. This is my first major decision in life, and I would like to justify to my father that while it hurt him that I did not pursue his dreams, I would make good in my field of choice.

I got my degree in 1971 and was consistently on the college dean’s list. I had a good start having selected by IBM Phils. among the 10 graduates that can apply with preference, having been chosen to participate in IBMs very selective summer training program. With computers still in the infant stage at that time, I elected to pursue a marketing research job with the pioneering petrochem plant Mabuhay Vinyl, thru the invitation of an alumni Beta Epsilon frat. brod. It was during about this time (1972) that I enrolled at the UP MBA evening program in Diliman. I was able to complete all the academic subjects but was not able to finish my masters thesis because of career demands.

My Career in the Philippines

I then got my feet wet in finance and financial marketing after joining investment bank Filcapital where from credit analyst, moved up to be a Senior Projects Manager in charge of real estate financing deals, mining, and the growing banana industry in Mindanao. It was here where I started my exposure to real estate and real estate financing for multi-unit residential housing. It was here where I learned about stocks (pricing and underwriting), municipal bonds, and other investment banking packages.

My next career stop was joining a venture capital company- Venture Development and Management Corporation owned by the Villafuerte, Virata, Zamora group and the Chinese textile conglomerate Utex and Solid Mills. The company took equity positions on new ventures, secure financing, and take a management and board participation. I was assigned as Treasurer, and Executive committee member in a garment export joint venture company between Australian entreprenuers and our company. Concurrently, I was project manager for the newly built Hyatt Apartelle in Baguio City.

In 1979, one of our partners in the company, Florencio Orendain, was invited by the then Human Settlements Department, under the leadership of then First Lady Imelda Marcos, to set up a mutual fund which would be the primary source of home financing for the department shelter program. Mr. Orendain invited me to join his core group, and form what is now the PAG-IBIG Mutual Fund, and the National Home Mortgage and Finance Corp (NHMFC ). It was here where I got my complete experience in real estate financing from site development, insurance guarantee, projects and take-out financing, and the secondary market system.

I headed the Mortgage Banking Group of the NHMFC, charged with generating funds for the Pag-Ibig Program. My other major responsibility was to sell to the financial sector the housing finance system, organize and mobilize the financial institutions to participate in the housing finance program of the government, rising in position from Vice-President to Senior Vice President.

I was newly married then to my loving wife of 30 years, and she was not too happy with my frequent trips, and happy nightlife, which goes with the job. Coupled with these reasons, being in a position of granting financing to builder/developers, exposes you to so many attempts to your integrity and honesty. In 1983, I decided to resign my position with NHMFC, and joined a small Savings and Loan Bank, Solid Savings based in Greenhills, as President.

My Family Life: the Torrado-Bautista Match-up

The best thing that ever happened in my life was getting married to a U.P. alumna who is sweet, smart, charming, a loving wife, and a U.P. cum laude graduate at that. Molded by the Belgian sisters of St. Theresa’s, QC, from kinder to high school, she finished 3rd in her high school class. She is the former Emiliana Torrado.

After graduation, she worked two years with the Green Revolution Project of Imelda Marcos that required her to travel all over Luzon teaching the forsaken communities self-help in food-raising and backyard farming to help alleviate chronic malnutrition among the masses.

We tied the knot on January 22, 1978. I was then 29 years old, and had fun-filled, pleasures of a bachelor’s life. I was so busy working, and having fun that it was far from my mind to get into a permanent relationship. This perspective changed, when my cousin, her best friend, introduced Emi to me. I found her very charming, pretty, well-mannered and educated, and with a load of wit and humor. It was not a normal courtship since at the start, I disclosed to her my intentions. I told her that I'm not looking for a girlfriend but a WIFE.

That started my new life as a family man and this marriage is now 30 years and still going strong. We are blessed with love and four awesome gems: Jay now almost 30 years old, Jereille our angel is 27, Jeremiah is 21, and the only girl Jemianne Grace who is 19. Jay is a product of UC Irvine, and is now taking up Nursing. Jereille, is our smiling angel born with cerebral palsy but the life of love of the family. Jeremiah will be senior at UCI taking up Computer Science major in Informatics, and minor in Digital Arts and Management. Jemianne is a freshman at Stanford University, and the valedictorian of Eastlake High Class 2007. She is aspiring to take up medicine.

We wanted Jereille to have a better life given his physical challenges. He is non-verbal and barely walks, unable to care for himself, but has a normal mind. Because of his condition, and for Emi to have a productive undertaking while taking care of Jereille, we decided to establish a Montessori School for Nursery and Kindergarten. Emi was able to start the school from scratch, and was able to operate it as Administrator and teacher. When we opened in 1983, we had more than a hundred pupils, and four teachers.

We had to sell the school when we decided to move to the U.S. It was our belief that Jereille not only will have better chances of getting better medical care here, and treated as special person. I regret that our motherland is not only lacking in facilities and organized activities for the handicapped, but do not have enough respect and dignity for the physically challenged persons.

Life in the U.S.A.

We immigrated to the U.S. in December, 1984 with Jay (6), and Jereille (4), and with God’s providence with Tita, our cousin. Tita is a great help for all of us in the family. I was then 36 years old.

After visiting the major theme parks and San Francisco, an uncle convinced us to stay in San Diego instead of New Jersey or LA, where all our relatives are residing. I was able to get a job as a loan officer in a mortgage bank, where I had the privilege and experience of working in the same field before. Emi got her real estate license, and together, we complemented our team.

It was a big adjustment for me since I was used to working with secretaries, had a driver, several maids, and high profile positions. Now, I was begging for business from realtors who many times abuse the patience and understanding of loan officers. It was a hard start for us since we barely knew anybody in San Diego. Emi, and Jay with Tita and me passing out real estate flyers door-to-door, attending orientation/seminars to network, etc., to get clients and get known in the local communities.

Having gotten enough experience, after four years we decided to put up a real estate office named ERA Dynamic Realty with two other partners and at one time had as many as 30 full and part-time agents. We sold our shares in the company, after a year and a half, and established our own Realty Edge, Inc. in August, 1989, with office at Plaza Blvd., National City. The office produced several agents who were able to put up their own shop after getting sufficient training from our leadership. The office was the 1st awardee by the Fil-Am Chamber of Commerce as the best real estate office in 1991. I was able to serve for two years as the one and only (so far) male president of the UPAASD and Emi served for three terms as treasurer in the nineties. After witnessing three economic cycles, we felt it was time to take it easy, and live life to the full. We closed the office in November, 2007 after 18 blessed years.

Emi and I are now in our comfort zone, where we consider ourselves semi-retired, and finding happiness together without the rigors, stress, busy schedules which were our lifestyles of the past.
We now find joy in knowing more and serving our Lord Jesus Christ in various ministries in the Catholic Church. We take traveling as our serious part-time endeavor. More than these, we got peace and contentment being husband/wife, and father/mother to our children. Jereille is now our focus of attention, making sure he is living life God wants for him. The sweetness of a simple living is enjoyed minute-to-minute. We have our health pills to take consistently, and our physical health our concern.





1993-1994 President, UPAASD

Susan was born and raised in Olongapo City, Philippines. She immigrated to San Diego in 1983 and has lived here ever since. She has worked with various mortgage banking companies until 1991 when she ventured into the publishing business as a partner in charge of marketing with a newspaper called The Filipino Press.

She also held the position of co-publisher with the newspaper’s late founder and editor, Ernie Flores Jr. She assumed the company’s leadership after Ernie’s untimely demise in January 2005, taking care of not only the business and marketing but also the editorial operations of the paper that started being a monthly but has grown to be a weekly, in order to ensure the continuous service of a reliable news source to the Filipino community. Although her forte is marketing, she also has dabbled into writing a column in The Filipino Press, entitled “The Publisher’s Desk”.

Since 1991, Susan has networked successfully to enhance her business connections with numerous groups, having been a member and officer of various business and community organizations including but not limited to the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Asian Business Association, National City Chamber of Commerce and many more.

She is the first lady president of the El Toyon Tennis Club based in National City. She formed and managed the mixed doubles team, and led it to win the San Diego City 2006 Mixed Doubles championship. In 2007, she became one of the members of the board of directors for San Diego District Tennis Association, a position she is to serve until 2010.

She has garnered several awards notably Inner Strength Award in September 2006, awarded by Women, Inc. and a nominee to the Asian Heritage Awards in 2006 – Media category as sponsored by AsiaMedia, Inc.

Her past achievements include: Former president of University of the Philippines Alumni Association of San Diego, recipient of the Maria Clara Sorority Woman of Elegance in Business award, Fil-Am Chamber of Commerce and other leadership awards from various Filipino community organizations.

For over 10 years now, she has been producing one of the most popular events for the San Diego Fil-Am community called Filipino Family Day every July at Knott’s Soak City in Chula Vista, the largest water park in San Diego County. Because of her extensive promotional efforts, the event draws crowds in the thousands from all over Southern California.

To her credit, too, she has also produced some local talent shows like the Seafood City’s Annual Karaoke Competition, and at least three major concerts in San Diego that featured artists from Los Angeles and the Philippines.

In her spare time, Susan loves to read, play scrabble, do karaoke singing, spend time with her family and of course play tennis, go to swap meets or farmer’s markets.





1995-1996 President, UPAASD

We have learned early in life from our parents that the formula to success entails dedication, hard work and commitment in attaining an education at the University of the Philippines. Indeed, I acknowledge that my experiences, training, especially as an athlete, and, foremost, an education at UP have given me the competence to deal with life’s challenges over the years, whether in my job, with my family and the community I serve. To me, success is achieving a meaningful life, one in which I can make a difference in the environment I come in contact with.

I was born in Bangued, Abra, a year after the end of WWII; the eldest of seven children of Santos Biares Barros and the former Nicolasa Alejandre Purugganan. A couple of years after, my twin sisters, Carmelita and Carmencita, were born. Then our family moved to Manila to be with our father. A U.P. mechanical engineering graduate, he was hired as one of the pioneer engineers of the newly established National Shipyard and Steel Corporation (NASSCO). The shipbuilding facilities were constructed in Mariveles, Bataan with war reparations from Japan and the U.S. When the employees’ housing units were completed in 1954, our family with now five daughters relocated into the new NASSCO community in Mariveles. Although, our mother had a Law degree and could have pursued a legal career, she made the decision to devote her full time raising her seven children in the fledgling community of NASSCO. When my sisters and I started to attend the two-classroom school, our mother got involved with the community to campaign for the school’s expansion. In five years, when I graduated from sixth grade from the NASSCO Elementary School, the school building had expanded into more than six classrooms with a home economics practice house. Even with two more babies added to the brood of five, our mother continued to be involved with the community group that spearheaded the building of the parish church and eventually in establishing the NASSCO Barrio High School in the late 60’s. Our mother’s devotion to her family, as well as commitment to community service, had become my inspiration.

Years in UP with Academics and Athletics

Because there was still no high school in the NASSCO community, I was enrolled by my parents at UP High School after I passed the entrance examination. I was weaned from my family at a young age to get a good UP education. I stayed in Area 14, UP Campus with my aunt who was married to history professor, Honesto Villanueva, of the UP Arts and Sciences. Although lacking in constant parental tutoring, I was able to keep up rather well with UP High’s rigorous academic program. I gained self-discipline and resolve to survive in the hard line environment of UP academics and even managed to get involved in extra-curricular activities, like UPSCA and UPHS Glee Club.

In 1963, I graduated from UP High School, transitioning into college life smoothly. My dilemma, though, was deciding the degree to pursue. Early on, I begged off from my parents’ desire that I study to be a doctor, persuading them, instead, to have my younger sister, Carmelita, be the one to take-up medicine. To appease my father, I decided to pursue engineering. But in the first semester of my junior year, I learned about the new bachelor’s degree in food technology offered at the UP College of Home Economics. Since I loved to bake, I readily shifted to the five-year course, enrolling at the UPCHE the following semester. I felt rapt with the food technology coursework, which focused heavily on food safety, preservation and product development. The student researches in product development were the forerunners of exportable products like dried mangoes, mango juice, canned mango scoops, langka in syrup and ube powder. Because our father had misgivings about my degree’s worthiness, I had to convince him that I would be landing a very good job as a food technologist in the food industry with the exceptional training at UPCHE.

Pursuing a degree in food technology was not my only “focus” during college. I managed to be a member of a champion Varsity team. On my second year in college, I was asked to join the swimming team by the swimming coach, Miss Violanda. I had initial reservations with the training, which entailed swimming miles every afternoon at the women’s pool. However, I was enticed to join because of the cordiality and warmth shown by the team, most of who were swimmers since high school. Regimented, intensive training and tactical coaching of a number of strong swimmers made the Varsity Women’s Swimming Team maintain the UAAP championship from 1964 to 1967. Ultimately though, most of the senior swimmers had to drop-out from the team because we had to give full attention to our studies to graduate. I realize that the times I spent with the swimming team, training and competing, was the most memorable period of my UP college life. The team became my second family; developing lasting friendship with teammates. As an athlete, I gained confidence, strength, tenacity and perseverance to push on and race to the finish, no matter what. I learned to value teamwork; to appreciate every member’s contribution, regardless of its magnitude.

Career in Food Technology

After graduating in 1968 with a BS in Food Technology, I got employed with Milmore Corporation as a food technologist in product development. The company pioneered in packaging enriched rice in 5 to 10 kilos sealed bags with brand name, SUNRICE, sold in groceries. I was to develop the snacks made with the byproducts of rice milling. Nonetheless, I did not stay with the company long enough to be able to execute the manufacturing of the products I developed. I received an attractive job offer from a fellow food technologist, Libia deLima, to work with her in the research and product development project of Aguinaldo Development Corporation (ADECOR) in Davao. As a former swimmer, I could not resist the added perk of spending weekends at the Aguinaldo Pearl Farm. As I prepared to move to Mindanao, I filed my application for the third preference (EB-3) immigration visa to the US at the embassy. This was again to appease our father, who had apprehensions about my move to the south, away from my siblings. By then, my sisters and our only brother were attending UP and we were all staying in the UP Village apartment rented by my parents.

Leap to Married Life

My move in 1971 to Davao ushered in the major “leap” in my life. In ADECOR farms, I got to know closely one of the company’s agriculturists, Abe Ellorin. In due course, we fell in love and got married the following year at his parents’ adopted hometown in Davao del Norte. Abe’s family immigrated to Mindanao from Pangasinan in the early ‘50’s. Our eldest son Abram Nicolai was born the next year and then our daughter, Nichi Renea, less than year after, in ADECOR farms. ADECOR closed its livestock operation in Davao in 1975 and we were retrenched from employment. Abe went on to fulfill his plan to develop a portion of his family’s property into a citrus plantation. He then got employed as a farm manager in a couple of commercial livestock farms through the six years that we remained in Davao. After our third child, Max, was born, I got employed as a food technologist in the South Davao Company (SODACO) owned by the Consunji’s. We stayed in the SODACO dairy farm while I worked in quality control and meat/dairy products development. As the company was to launch the new dairy product I developed, the farm workers staged a strike with the support of “rebels” and closed the farm. We had to leave the farm, eventually relocating to Manila because we were concerned with the safety and future of our three children.

Immigration to the US

After our youngest child, Bernard, was born, our family immigrated to the US in 1982 and settled in San Diego. I got employed with the County of San Diego, initially with the Air Pollution Control District and then with the Environmental Health Services as Assistant Sanitarian, as soon as my food technology credentials from UP was approved by the State board. I subsequently passed the state registration examination, becoming a Registered Sanitarian (later renamed Registered Environmental Health Specialist). I have been serving the county as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist of the Department of Environmental Health for more than twenty years. As the Epidemiology Liaison with the primary task of conducting food-borne illness surveillance, response and investigations, I have a significant role in the achievement one of our department’s primary goals, that of reducing food-borne illness in the county.

My husband and I have managed to raise well our four children in San Diego, despite the daunting schedule of work, family activities and household chores. I give credit to my mother, who lived with us after our father passed away, and helped us take care of our children. Our daughter obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Masters in Education from UCSD and is currently a science teacher with La Mesa-Spring Valley Unified School District. Our son, Max, graduated from SDSU with a degree in Information Technology and worked with Solar Turbines for about six years. He is presently enrolled in pre-medicine courses at SDSU. Our youngest son, Bernard, graduated cum laude from UCLA with a degree in Ethnomusicology. He is now working on his thesis for his MA in Ethnomusicology at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Sadly, though, our eldest son Abram, a Graphic Artist, passed on at the age of 27.

Community Involvement

Upon arriving in San Diego, I tried to seek for connections to the Filipino community. In 1984, during my inspections in National City, I met a restaurant owner, Delia Ramos, also a graduate from the UP College of Home Economics. She invited me to the upcoming meeting at her restaurant of the newly formed UP Alumni Association. There I first met Dr. Juanita Caccam and Edith Galvan, also a county employee. I became active with the association because of the UP “vibes” I have been missing. I held different positions in the organization, becoming the president in 1995 to 1996. During my presidency, I introduced the scholarship awards program to recognize the members’ outstanding children and to entice the UP alumni in San Diego to join.

I became involved also with the Samahan Philippine Dance Company, as well as my children. Nichi performed as one of Samahan’s principal dancers until graduating from college in 1997. While in the Philippines for an after-college adventure, she auditioned with the Bayanihan Dance Company. Because of her Samahan dance experience, she was accepted to perform with their centennial touring group that performed overseas and in several areas in the Philippines. One summer, I brought my six-year old son, Bernard, to a rondalla rehearsal to learn how to play the bandurria with Dr. Caccam. At the end of summer, he had mastered playing several Philippine music, thus becoming a rondalla musician. His involvement with the rondalla and kulintang ensemble inspired him to pursue a career in Ethnomusicology with emphasis in Philippine music.

As a delegate of the UPAA-SD, I got involved with the Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO). I held positions from assistant treasurer up to vice-chairperson with Dr. Aurora Cudal as the chair. When I co-chaired the centennial celebration of the Philippine Independence day during the Philippine Faire in 1998, I proposed that COPAO sponsor the Outstanding High School Senior Awards. For the first time, five outstanding students were honored and received their awards during the Philippine Faire ceremonies commemorating the centennial of Philippine Independence. Henceforth, the recognition of outstanding students during the Philippine Faire has become a tradition.





1999-2000 President, UPAASD

Being a “Paulinian” (St. Paul’s College, Manila) from kindergarten to high school (salutatorian), my grandparents were very aghast as to why I wanted to go from a Catholic school to secular and “subversive-minded” UP. I loved math but they wanted me to pursue nursing which just didn’t appeal to me. Deciding for myself, I was accepted to the University of the Philippines in Diliman batch 1975 under the Engineering/Math block with Statistics as my stated major because Mathematics was impacted.

My sister, who is a year older, lamented how come I was accepted in Diliman when she was accepted only in Los Banos (second best UP destination)? Batch 1975 was the first group who stayed at Kalayaan (Freedom), UP’s first freshman coed residence hall. My initial circle of friends in Kalayaan were from the same subject block consisting of three girls (Nora Del Rosario, Zeny, and myself) and three guys (Nilo Farrofo, Art Ibrado and Ador Colmenar). Yes, this is the same Ador, who was destined to become my husband. Because of our block schedule, we did a lot of activities together like eat in the hall dining room, walk to our classes, study for exams/homework in the common living areas and hang out together after class. College friendships last so, after 32 years, we’ve all kept in touch.

Having gone to an exclusive all girls’ school all my life, I was not into boys. I had an ardent admirer from an all boys’ high school who suddenly visited me in Kalayaan. I was totally surprised but I had no interest in him. He followed me for days and out of exasperation I told him, “I’m not interested in you and I already have a boyfriend”. When pressed to give the name of my boyfriend, and not knowing any other guy, I mentioned Ador’s name. Lo and behold, Ador walked in and sat very close to me. I introduced them to each other with Ador unaware of his sudden “boyfriend status”.

As to Ador, I recall during one of our block discussions on NCEE scores, my 99% score was higher than those of the other four. I felt proud until I found out that Ador had 99+% score. I was impressed. A few months later, Kalayaan sponsored a competition similar to Jeopardy where students sign up as pairs. Ador’s team won the final round. Some students who graduated from Ateneo, LaSalle, UP High, etc, challenged the results, so Kalayaan held a new but similar competition. I recall the questions were harder, there were more able competitors, and the mood was more intense. In the end, Ador’s team won again. This win occurred after months of doing things together with Ador. I can honestly say I finally “saw” Ador after watching him overwhelmingly win both competitions. On Valentine’s Day of 1976, we are officially dating. Every Valentine’s Day thereafter, Ador wishes me Happy Anniversary!

I graduated in 1979 and was offered a teaching job at UP Statistical Center. I declined the offer since I was hired as Statistical Research Assistant by the prestigious International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna around December 1979. They filled two positions out of a pool of hundreds of applicants. Around April 1981, I moved to Makati, Metro Manila when I was hired as Systems Analyst at Atrium, investment arm of the Herdis Group of Corporations.

Ador, who left in October 1980 for his boot camp after enlisting in the US Navy, came back in August 1981. I married my one and only sweetheart and block mate from college. We recently celebrated our 25th anniversary at the Double Tree Hotel and Country Club in Rancho Penasquitos and renewed our vows in front of around 100 relatives and very close friends. It was a very touching ceremony presided by my brother in law, Father Manny. He had been a part of our singles and married life and had been aware of our mutual life challenges from the very start.

Ador’s first Navy station took him to Guam where I initially refused to go to. I was happy and comfortable in my current situation and saw no need to relocate. Ador can continue to send me his monthly allowance and with my job, I felt set for life. My grandmother’s wisdom, however, sent me packing to follow my husband. I can still recall her words, “What’s the use of all your money, if your family is separated?” On April 1982, I moved to Guam with my one year old daughter Cristina Rossetti. In January 1983, I gave birth to my son, Al Joby, at the Naval Hospital in Guam.

There was a very active UP alumni association in Guam where I met Teresita Marcos, UP alumna who introduced me around. She told me of an opening for a statistician in her office. Around February 1983, I was hired as Statistical Assistant by Family Health Plan, aka PacifiCare Health Systems, which was recently purchased by United HealthCare Systems. I was the first power user of Lotus 1,2,3 in the company and was immediately involved in systems and statistical/process redesign, automation of the budgeting process and staff training. I was promoted to Systems/Administrative Assistant around August 1983 and reported to the Director of Finance, Frank St. Gelais. With Guam only 3 hours away by plane, and military fare of $10, my whole family had regular visits to the Philippines. It was a good life.

The call of the military came around November 1986 when my husband had to change stations. We relocated to San Diego and lived in Imperial Beach. People I met had so many good things to say about employment at the County of San Diego that I took their test for Account Clerk. I was hired February 1987 by the San Diego Probation Office, with two positions filled out of a pool of hundreds of applicants. After my stint with systems, I found the clerical job not challenging enough. The Filipino Sr. Accountant gave me additional, higher level accounting work but I left after three months.

Around May 1987, I was hired as Financial Analyst in Power Development Company, a multi-million dollar management, design, construction and consulting company primarily in hydroelectric power generation. It was great working with professional engineers, designers and staff. After a few months, I noticed that this company has higher than normal turnover rate. Since continued employment depended so much on funding sources, some employees leave and some are let go depending on projects’ status. I was their “favorite” employee so there was no problem but, after over a year, I decided to move on.

In October 1987, Ador and I purchased our first home in South San Diego. We later bought our first investment property, a duplex in City Heights San Diego in the latter part of 1989. We sold our original house and purchased a larger house in Poway in May 1991.

In August 1988, I was hired as Financial Analyst at San Diego Foundation for Medical Care, a Preferred Provider Organization serving over 300,000 patients in San Diego County. I reported to the Controller of the company, Bernard Minton. It was a very challenging job and I implemented process improvements after months of studying processes and financial results. After a year, I was promoted to Accounting Manager. It’s about that time that the Foundation took over management of the Los Angeles FMC, serving over 400,000 lives in Los Angeles, and UltraCare Corp, a seven county PPO/EPO. I recall attending multiple meetings in multiple counties and multiple times representing the SDFMC Finance office. After seven contented years, the company merged with Health Plan of the Redwoods in Santa Rosa California. I was offered my job in Santa Rosa but I refused to move to what I feel was a retirement community at my young age. The San Diego office was downsized and the Finance operations were moved to Santa Rosa on February 1996.

During my spare time (I didn’t know I had some), and after passing a series of tests, I became a State Certified Instructor for the State of California Regional Occupational Program or ROP. Starting around January 1989, I taught the Computerized Accounting classes at Chula Vista High School twice a week from 6:30-9:30 pm. The hands-on training consisted of performing the whole accounting cycle including analysis of business transactions, opening chart of accounts, journalizing, posting, preparing financial statements, closing entries and reconciliation of accounts. I used Houghton Mifflin’s Automated Accounting software with General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Payroll modules. I found that after a very stressful day at the office, the night classes helped me unwind. The students were adults who are there because they want to learn. I had a former student, Riza Velasco, who has now worked with me for longer than 10 years.

In February 1995, after some encouragement from James McKenna, SDFMC controller, and the pending changes in the company, I decided to pursue my Master in Business Administration at National University. Since the MBA classes were held at night, it took me a while to make this decision to give up my “stress release” teaching. In May 1997, I attended my MBA graduation ceremony at the San Diego Convention Center with Sally Ride as speaker. After two years, I was the only female left in the group of about 10 with specialization in Finance management. It was a very stressful two years but had been very rewarding indeed.

In January 1996, while I was taking my MBA classes, and after I turned down the Santa Rosa job, I was hired as a Controller at San Ysidro Health Center. This is a multi-specialty outpatient facility licensed as a community clinic serving over 53,000 Medi-Cal beneficiaries enrolled in the Community Health Group’s Prepaid Health Plan covering fourteen strategic sites throughout San Diego County. The company provided medical care and preventive health services in coordination with numerous County, State and Federal Department of Health Sciences funded programs and grants. I reported to the Chief Financial Officer, Michael Calhau, who during my interview told me that I reminded him of a college classmate whom he had a crush on. I wondered if this resemblance helped me secure the job. My stint in this company was challenging but uneventful. However, I am very grateful to my CFO who allowed me to continue to attend my MBA evening classes and take hours off to do some of my school work.

A few months after my graduation ceremony, I applied at the University of California San Diego. After grueling interviews with multiple business officers, senior management staff, clinicians, administrators, etc, enough to fill two sheets of paper, I was ready to back out. I was taking too much time off and I heard that UCSD promotes from within and that I may not have a chance. Out of a nationwide search, I was one of the top three and the only female finalist. One was from the east coast and the other was an internal candidate. In September 1997, thankfully, I was hired as the Finance Director for the UCSD Medical Group.

I was in charge of all finance functions related to running around 10 UCSD clinics all over San Diego. Last February 2007, I was asked to apply for a newly created position of Controller at the UCSD School of Medicine Dean’s Office for all missions of the Health Sciences: Clinical, Teaching and Research. After a nationwide search and the usual multiple interviews, I was offered the job and I gladly accepted in July 2007. I am now currently developing a transition plan to merge most of my functions into the new position at the Dean’s Office. Overall, it’s a great job with great opportunities for learning and networking with other senior leaderships in UC campuses as well as academic schools across the country. I am looking forward to more years of productive service in this university system.



AURORA “AURING” G. SORIANO-CUDAL, Ph.D. (honoris causa)



2001-2002 President, UPAASD





The Challenge

I was a gangling 14-year-old, innocent in the ways of the world, fresh from my hometown of San Carlos, Pangasinan, when I entered the portals of the University of the Philippines in Padre Faura, Manila. I stood for a moment in front of a gigantic statue of a man with outstretch arms and with only a leaf to cover his private part. I was shocked. It was the first time I saw a naked man glorified in stone. I was intrigued. I didn’t know anything about symbolisms. I was too ignorant to even reflect on what the naked man stands for. I went around it and read the inscription. It was “The Oblation” a symbol of man’s yearning for knowledge. I remember a line to this day, “delve into the wisdom of the ages”, for that was what I did in the next four years.

I studied hard, conscious of the misgivings hurled at me by a relative. When I left home, she said, “You can’t make it. You are too young. Wolves will eat you. You can’t finish your studies and you will end up an ordinary housewife. It will be a waste of money to send you to school in Manila at saka U.P., pa!” I was sizzling inside. I said to myself, “I will prove to her and to the world, I have what it takes to study in the University of the Philippines”. I was at the top ten percentile of my class. I was not an honor student but deep in my heart I know I can do it.

“Kaya ko ang U.P.” ( I can tackle U.P.)

I enrolled at the College of Arts and Sciences, imbued with ambition to learn more about “history”. I had good grades in Philippine History and World History during my high school days. I also started to take courses in library science. I thought it was a formidable combination. I will be a learned person.

However, after the first semester, U.P. was transferred to Diliman, Quezon City. I was part of the caravan of giggling girls on a yellow Halili Bus singing “U.P. Beloved”. We were all excited to see the new campus but sad to leave behind the war-scarred buildings in Padre Faura. I can remember my sentiments then. I believed that a person can learn wherever she is, for learning is in the heart and in the mind of those who aspire for it. I became a more serious student in Diliman. I was growing up into a young woman motivated to excel and to prove to my doubting relative that I really have what it takes to study in U.P. I remember telling myself, “kaya ko ang U.P.”

I remember most my classes in Euthenics taught by Prof. Uichangco whom students called “Kolynos girl” because she was always smiling even if she chastises us when we arrive late in her class, “Girls, it is not courteous to be late”. But we answer back with a line we also learned from her, “M’am but it is not charming to hurry”.

As I joined my Physical Education class I was attracted by the folk dancing and the prancing of physical education majors. I thought it was a fun course. Dancing, Calisthenics, Games, Sports, Recreation, Anatomy and Physiology, etc. I like the idea of being a Physical Education teacher. I shifted to the College of Education and took up two majors as required: physical education and health education.

What is in a name?

My destiny was cut out for me in the noisy gymnasium where handsome U.P. athletes abound. It was here where I met the man who will be my lifetime partner. I was not looking for a man but someone came along in unusual circumstances. This is my story: I was in my gym suit as I sauntered to the mini-library of the Physical Education Department. I saw a notice on the bulletin board, “Calling all Track and Field Athletes, Report for practice. I read the list and check out those whom I knew. Then I saw a unique and beautiful name “Winlove”. I swooned, Winlove, Winlove, how beautiful is your name. I would like to meet you. Is your face as beautiful as your name?”

A man with a curly hair and a well-groomed mustache emerged from the shadows and with twinkling eyes and a broad smile as he said, “I am Winlove Cudal, how do you do.” I was very embarrassed. He was the man I had a crush on. He was the man who paid my bus fare on my way home a week earlier! I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me. I turned around and ran to the nearest exit.

From then on, I avoided meeting him for the rest of the semester, until one of my classmates started asking me personal questions. This classmate borrowed my book on “Games” with the promise that he will return it to me in a day or two. I was so naïve. I gave him my address and said, “Come Saturday at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon. I’ll be home.” And who comes knocking at my door? Winlove Cudal. Thus began a long term courtship and an idyllic campus romance.

I continued to study hard, now inspired by Winlove who was a campus figure in his own right – a varsity track athlete and a college football player; a Vanguard fraternity man and Beta Sigman; an ROTC battalion commander; and a regular worshipper at the Church of the Risen Lord. He was enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and was pursuing a BA degree in Sociology and Psychology. I found out five years later that he had failing grades before he met me. A close scrutiny of his school records will show that his grades in all his subjects zoomed up after he met me. Was this inspiration, or not? You can go ask Win!

Graduation from U.P. at age 18

I did not attend summer courses to offset some of my deficiencies; hence, I ended up with full academic load during my senior year. I devoted my time in completing all the requirements for graduation, including a 25-laps swimming test for physical education majors. Finally I was able to obtain my B.S. E. major in health and physical education in 1952, at the age of 18, ready to face any challenge that will come my way. I was very confident that my U.P. education will open doors for me without the help of others. I felt the world is my oyster. After four years, the U.P. brand of excellence was deeply etched in my mind. .

The Rewards of our U.P. Education

There is no doubt that our U.P. education gave us the confidence to perform assigned tasks, to face challenges, to blaze new trails, to make the best out of any situation and to leave a place better than we first found it. Winlove made his mark as Training Officer of Kodak Philippines and as professor of political science and sociology at the Polytechnic University and Arellano University. While I occupied senior positions related to public health education in the Department of Health (for 25 years), Dangerous Drugs Board (for eight years) and ending my career in the academe.

We retired hoping that we will live a tranquil and fulfilling life in Malaybalay, Bukidnon but fate brought us supposedly to retire while taking care of our grandchildren in San Diego, CA. However, Winlove and I got deeply involved in the Filipino American community. We became volunteers in our local church and in the community. After his quadruple coronary bypass in 1994, Winlove became a member of the Mended Hearts Club, with the motto, “It’s a good to be alive and to serve others.” He regained his health and soon Winlove delved into issues affecting seniors. He became a member of the California Senior Legislature (the first Filipino from San Diego) where he helped formulate legislations to improve the quality of life of the older adults. He is also the only Filipino in the Advisory Council of Aging and Independence Services of the County of San Diego. He is the current President of the United Filipino American Seniors Association, Inc.

On the other hand, I seem to be all over the place – inspiring and helping Filipinos with problems. My visibility in the community was enhanced by my election as Chairperson/President of the Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Inc. and by being a columnist and associate editor of the Filipino Press. Currently, I serve as Resource Development Specialist at Kalusugan Community Services, a new challenge and a new beginning of my third career in the field of public health. .

Positions, Awards, and Rewards

Through the years, I met the challenges of the following positions I occupied, with flying colors and I left an indelible mark in all the programs I initiated:

· Classroom teacher, Pangasinan School of Arts and Trades

· Public Health Educator, Department of Health

· Regional Health Educator, Regional Health Training Center, RHO I.

· Regional Health Educator, Regional Health Office III

· Health Education Adviser, Bureau of Disease Control, DOH

· Senior Health Education Adviser, Bureau of Disease Control, DOH

· Chief, Prevention Education and Community Information, Dangerous Drugs Board, Philippines

· Health Education Consultant, WHO, UNESCO and the COLOMBO PLAN BUREAU

· Executive Director, Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled

· Chairperson, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, MCU

· College Secretary, College of Medicine, PLM.

· Director, Center for University Extension Service, PLM

· Director, PLM Concern Foundation

I was also elected or appointed to prestigious national and international positions, such as:

· President, Organization of Public Health Educators in the Philippines

· Secretary-Treasurer, Philippine Public Health Association

· Vice President, Health Education Association of the Philippines

· Secretary General, UNESCO Regional Conference On Problems Related to the Use of Drugs

· President, Board of Women’s Work, United Methodist Church

· World Secretary, World Federation of Methodist Women

· President, U.P. Alumni Association of San Diego County

· President, San Diego Scripps Lions Club

·Chairperson/President, Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Inc. (1997-98/2003-04)

I reaped so many awards and recognition for excellence and for leadership. But the awards I value most are:

· Outstanding Educator in Public Health from the U.P. Institute of Public Health Alumni Association (1985);

· Woman of the Year by the State of California Legislature (1999)

· Community Service Award by the University of the Philippines Alumni Association in America. (2003)

· Aurora Cudal Day Proclamation by the mayor of the City of San Diego (2003)

· Community Leadership Award by the Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Inc.

· Woman of Distinction by the Scottish Rite Center of Free Masonry

· Community Leadership Award by the Kalusugan Community Services.

· And above all – Doctor of Humanities (honoris causa) Pamantasan Ng Lungsod Ng Maynila, the tenth best university in the Philippines.

· Given all these honors and awards, nothing can compare with the award bestowed by our peers in the Filipino American Cultural Group of North County: Outstanding Parents of the Year 2007.

But our true and lasting rewards are our seven wonderful children – Mary Ann, Aurora Gia, Winlove II, Arwin, BenHur, Carlo and Sharon – all married with families of their own. We are blessed with 21 lovable grandchildren. They gave us an honor we never dreamt of: a grand celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary in 2005. They honored our U.P. legacy by choosing maroon as the color scheme and by a re-enactment of how we met in U.P. fifty five years ago (then).

You might call it love at first sight but to me it was more a lasting first impression I got from Winlove (what a perfect name) when he started his very first love letter to me with this quatrain by the 11th century Persian poet, Omar Khayyam: "The moving finger writes and having writ, Moves on: not all your piety nor wit, Can lure it back to cancel half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it." I felt from the quotation that he meant we were predestined for each other and, indeed, it was the start of our idyllic existence together for 57 years and counting, and I wouldn’t erase or change a minute of it!





2003-2006 President, UPAASD

The Roots

1971: When I came as an adult, immigrant professional to the United States, I left behind my family, people, and everything I grew up with. However, I took with me the roots of who I have become. These roots will forever be a part of me.

Growing up, I was always conscious of who, what, when, where and how I represented my family, my school, and – when I immigrated to the United States – my Filipino heritage. My mental makeup was enhanced by my mother Flora Mendoza Toledo’s religiosity and by witnessing my father Dr. Isidoro Dino Santos’ service to the poor as a medical doctor and a civic leader in our hometown of Dinalupihan, Bataan. My personal credo of “Identity, Service and Faith” grew out of observing them and serves as the foundation of my becoming fully human as I continuously evolve into who I am up to now.

At the young and tender age of eight, I realized I was gifted with athletic skill when I started traveling to nearby towns with our volleyball team. In high school, we represented the Central Luzon private schools for four years taking us to Baguio, Bicol, and even to the Visayas in Cebu and Iloilo. Sports taught me early to give my best and to work with the team regardless of the odds against us.

Varsity Memories

1962 UAAP Champion Women’s Volleyball Team – As a freshman in a new environment, for my Physical Education, I decided to take the Volleyball class where I felt at home. In that class, I was recruited for the Women’s Volleyball Varsity Team. It turned out to be “The Team” that would win for UP its first Women’s Volleyball UAAP Championship. (I wonder if it’s been done again because UP is known for academics, not athletics.)

The final game was held right before the basketball game at Rizal Memorial Coliseum. Usually we did not have an audience. But, the game took so long with the overtime that the UP band and the audience that came for the basketball game ended up playing and cheering for us!

Our team players were small and more feminine as compared to our opponents. In the end, it wasn’t with strength that we beat them but with my quick thinking of simply tapping the ball gently to empty spaces between the players of the opposing team. In the next day’s newspaper, our championship photo showed me kneeling down in front with my coach behind who handed the trophy for me to hold. And, I was not the Captain Ball.

UP has never been strong in sports but our UP Women’s Volleyball Team that no one expected to win finally won a UAAP Championship! I stayed with the team until I graduated and went to Silliman University twice for the annual tradition of UP-Silliman U athletic meet.

Student Nurse Days

At UP PGH School of Nursing, I was an active UPSCA member. Our UPSCA representative from the College of Medicine strongly suggested that an UPSCA member run for representative of the School of Nursing to UP Diliman. It so happened that I was the only UPSCA member among the officers responsible to nominate the candidates. So, there was no alternative but to nominate myself. Of course, I did not get the nomination because the rest voted for their sorority member. But, I tried. This and other student life experiences at the University of the Philippines further strengthened the mold of who I was to become in my adult years.

The Journey Away From Home

I immigrated to the US in 1971. I worked at Queen of Angels Hospital Emergency Department in Los Angeles. Here, I met my future husband Florentino Vitug Nacu, a Mapua Instittute of Technology Mechanical Engineer graduate. In 1978, Florentino was hired by General Dynamics in San Diego where happily we’ll find our home away from home in America’s Finest City. I worked at Mercy Hospital Emergency Department and trained with the first group of Mobile Intensive Care Nurses in San Diego County to work with the Paramedics.

Our children John Joseph, Hannah, and Paul Nathan were born in our first five years stay in San Diego. In 1984, I decided to give up my nursing career and stayed home for ten years to take care of our three growing children.

In kindergarten, without our knowledge, my son John Joseph was placed in the English as a Second Language/ESL classes because Filipino was spoken at home. This started my new “career” as a parent volunteer and an advocate for the Filipinos. I started the first Multicultural Festival for an elementary school in our district. This event eventually became an all K-8 schools annual event. For my work, I received the 1991 California PTA “Honorary Service Award for Service to the Children of our Community” Poway Unified School District, San Diego, California

As an advocate, I applied for several grants and obtained a total of $14,000 grant money to support the different projects including the founding of the Filipino Parents-Student Group for PUSD and its Project Bayanihan for the Filipino parents and their children to meet their school principals.

I co-founded the Filipino American Institute of America/FAMILIA under the Diocese of San Diego at the same period. I designed and coordinated the annual Filipino Catholic Conferences and Youth Retreats. Also, I finished my certification as a California Master Catechist.

Graduate Studies

In 1992, I enrolled at the University of San Diego for personal enrichment and obtained my MA in Pastoral Care and Counseling from the Institute of Christian Ministries. My advisor tried to convince me to proceed for a doctorate degree in education. But, it was a professor who discouraged me from pursuing it. For him to underestimate what I could do became the deciding factor for me to disregard my fear of failing and to prove that I could do it just like anyone else. The 1993-1998 Fellowship from the University of San Diego School of Education helped me obtain my degree in Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies.

While at the University of San Diego, I founded the Project Heart to Heart and co-founded the USD Filipino Ugnayan Student Organization for the purpose of providing a field trip to USD for my children, John Joseph and Hannah, and their classmates in middle school. Project Heart to Heart eventually became a non-profit as a community-based gathering of different generations for sharing life experiences stories to bridge generational and cultural gap.
Advocate and Educator

In 1997, I ended up teaching the first elective Filipino language class in the presence of a credentialed teacher at Mt. Carmel High School after several years of lobbying, due to lack of Filipino language teachers. It took five more years before the Poway Unified School District approved it as one of foreign languages that meet the college requirement. After that, our lobbying resulted to two more high schools starting the program in their campuses.

My advocacy led to a teaching career in Filipino language, starting and developing curriculum and program in different schools: University of California in San Diego, San Diego Mesa College and Palomar College District. One of my several training was through the 2002 Fulbright-Hayes Grant / University of Hawaii Teachers’ Training Abroad in the Philippines.

This advocacy also led to collaboration with students, educators, educational institutions, the government, and the community locally, state, and nationwide and recognition. Here are two examples of our collaborative work and significant recognitions:

2004: Principal Investigator for a $5,000 Grant University of California Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching “Developing Assessment Guidelines and Instructional Materials for Filipino Students and Heritage Learners.”
2005: Co-Investigator for a $20,000 Grant University of California Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching “Filipino Language Curriculum for Heritage Learners.”

Community & Professional Awards

2004: Asian Heritage Award for Excellence in Education (1st annual award)
2006: University of San Diego Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award for School of Leadership and Education Science

UPAA San Diego President 2003-2006

During my four-year term, our chapter accomplished the following projects:
• Hosted 2005 UPAAA General Assembly and Convention
• UPAA SD sent delegates for the 1st time to the 2003 UPAAA General Assembly and Convention held in Houston, Texas
• Kapatid Project: Filipino American professionals shared their experiences as professionals with the University of California in San Diego Filipino American students
• Adopt-A Dorm/ADD: provided funding for repair and equipment for UP Diliman Molave dorm
• Books for UP in Mindanao
• Hosted the UP Concert Chorus & UP Staff Chorale
• Donated copying machine to the UP Alumni office
• College Scholarships awarded

Other Current and Past Service

Speaker, Motivational, and Cultural: International
Association of Christian Therapists/ACT, Regional Coordinator
UPAAA, Western Regional Coordinator
FILAMEDA, Board Member
UPNAAI, Lifetime
Consortium for Filipino Advancement/CAF


Author: Santos Nacu, J. (2002). Storytelling in Project Heart to Heart: A Means to Bridge Generational Gap in Post-1965 Filipino Immigrant Families. Manila. Self-Publication.

Contributor: Santos Nacu, J. (2003). Voice of the heart: Storytelling and the journey of advocacy. In J. Romo, P. Bradford, & R. Serra. (Eds). Reclaiming democracy: multicultural educators’ journey toward transformative teaching (pp.7-21). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.


When God gifted me with motherhood (after seven years of praying for a family), my children’s good became the foremost motivating factor in everything that I did. Usually that Vision becomes a Shared Vision with others who see the common good it brings to everyone. Our three San Diego-born-and-bred children are now all professionals. John Joseph is a graduate of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from California Institute of the Arts. Hannah obtained her BA in Public Policy and Management from University of Southern California. Paul Nathan our youngest graduated in 2007 with BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of California in Irvine. I thank God for my children’s successes.

There are so much more stories to share. Yet, for me, the most significant is the Transformation that I go through as I reach out and take risks, as I stand alone most of the time, as I take on the voices that are silenced by those in power, as I decide to enter the “court of competition” knowing my chance of winning is almost zero, as I cross the lines of divergences, as I create enemies, as well as allies. And, the challenge goes on and on.

2008 and Beyond: Looking back, I have religiously relied on the foundation built in my childhood: Identity, Service and Faith to lead my life and I will always continue to do so with God’s help.

Psalm 31:2-6
In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me,
make haste to deliver me!
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
For your name’s sake you will lead
and guide me.
You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
You will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God.

(A psalm of David for the leader, a prayer in distress and a thanksgiving for escape.)





2007-2008 President, UPAASD

My parents’ dream was to have all their six children graduate from the University of the Philippines. I happened to be child number five, born during the Japanese occupation. My father, Domingo Pena Santiago, and my mother, Filipina Francisco, chose Olongapo, a small fishing village, to settle in and raise their family. The US Naval base turned this small town into a bustling city that is now known as Olongapo City where the former base has now become Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Both my parents worked in the US Naval base at Subic and it is that bay they both chose to be the final resting place for their ashes when they passed away. They gave me the name Florfina which at first my dad claimed came from a book he read. Funny how later I found out it was a tobacco brand. The nickname Boodgie was derived from “Butsi” because of my fat cheeks as a chubby child. All my siblings’ names came from books perused by my wide reader father. My brothers are named Dante, Disraeli and my sisters Divinia, Diane and Sylvia, all graduates of UP Diliman.

I grew up and studied in the public schools of Olongapo. It meant following the footsteps of all four brothers and sisters ahead of me and I was always being compared to their accomplishments, who were valedictorians and honor students. I was only 15 when I graduated from Jackson High School and enrolled at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. It meant being away from home and a whole new experience in my young formative life.

I thought I was pushed into the university where the cream of the crop gathered and at first I felt lost. Homesick and frustrated, I was often sickly and was sent home to grow up before going back and finally finish my degree in Business Administration in 1965. It was in UP that I learned how to fend for myself living in a dorm, to follow or break the rules, to be humbled or fight back in a sorority, to win or lose through sports and competitions. I saw myself being groomed to become a leader and skilled in whatever I chose to do.

At first I thought I was in UP to fulfill my parents dream but it turned out that their dream for me was something I will forever be grateful for. It was also in UP that I was taught how to make good friends that will last a lifetime. It was the boy next door that caught my eyes as a young girl and married Juan Arce III in 1967. We have three children, John , Florianne and Jennyn, all married and have blessed me with nine grandchildren going on ten.

Because my husband’s career was the US Navy, I chose to stay home and raised my children before going back to the work force in 1976. I worked for different banks like Bank of America and San Diego Trust and Savings Bank until 1983. My family and I chose San Diego to be our home away from home. I had these yearning to do something I dreamt of since I was a child. I dabbled in drawing and designing and it was then I decided to quit my job at the bank and go back to school. I studied at Southwestern University and finished my course in Fashion Design and Fashion Show Production. I have never been happier in my life than I was in my new chosen field. I opened my first store called Boodgie’s Designs in 1984. I had three different stores throughout my career as a fashion designer. I am semi-retired from my business and have chosen to serve our community through volunteer work.

I now look back at our alma mater as the great university that made us what we are today. UP gave me the skills and confidence I needed to make it in the real world. I would humbly mention the different organizations that elected me as their leader. I was President of Olongapo Association, USA, followed by being the first woman president of the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce, then the Philippine Tourism Advisory Council. I am also the charter president of the San Diego Majestic Lions Club.

I am the current president of the UP Alumni Association of San Diego County. Born to lead I was not, but taught by UP to make a difference wherever I may be and whatever I do, I always followed my dream and my destiny. The trophies, medals, plaques and honors I now have are mementos of my achievements.

I have been granted the following awards from all the organizations I have served. I have a distinguished citizen award from Mayor Gordon for my role in the Mt Pinatubo disaster in 1992. I have two distinguished awards from the office of Congressman Bob Filner, a key to the city of National City from Mayor George Waters for my humanitarian involvement in the city.

I have also received a recognition award from Kalusugan Community Services, a citation from MCPS as Lady of Elegance International, trophies as Best Dressed Woman of San Diego, Handog award as Business Woman of the Year, Dr. Jose Rizal Award from Philippine-American Humanitarian Foundation, several medals and plaques from the different Lions clubs for all my medical missions to the Philippines, and a medal from Gov. Alice Tana from the District Lions club as Zone Chair last in 2006.

As a wife, mother and grandmother I will look back at my life with so much gratitude to my alma mater. But foremost, I owe my success to my parents who raised me to be a leader and a true humanitarian by setting a fine example in their own lives.

This is my story and hope that it will be an inspiration to many. During my term as president, I hope to help make the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of San Diego County be best organization by leading them this year to accomplish the great projects and contributions to our beloved country, the Philippines, and our community here in San Diego.


('Then' picture coming soon)



1442 Hillsmont Dr., El Cajon, CA 92020

Finishing high school in a few months and graduating valedictorian in a class of 10 in a rural high school right after the Japanese occupation was not the best preparation for the University of the Philippines in 1947. However, there I was with another sister taking classes in battered buildings of the UP in Padre Faura. It was exciting though with classmates from different parts of the Philippines.

In my third year, UP moved to Diliman that at that time felt like hundreds of miles away from the Manila campus. However, the abundance of buildings including Quonset huts for dormitories made up for many of the shortcomings of the old UP. Having to walk endlessly to different buildings for classes put an end to high-heeled shoes and nice clothes. Diliman was bare of trees, grassy lawns, movie houses and shopping.

In 1950, I graduated from UP with a B.S.E. Major in Physical Education. Wanting to be close to my home and my parents, I landed a job as a physical education teacher, a first in Jackson High School, Olongapo, Zambales. Teaching physical education at that time meant softball, volleyball, marching tactics, calisthenics and whatever you thought was good for the body. I hardly remember how I managed teaching out in the open especially during the rainy season.

At the end of my first year, the school gave me a whole Quonset hut and a piano for my classes in folk dance. My students were mostly girls but there we were – “Philippine Folk Dance” – with me playing the piano for dance accompaniment. The occasional chance to put on a few dances during a school program and provincial dance competitions gave me an introduction to the need for discipline to produce a polished performance. One major accomplishment I remember with great pride was putting on a demonstration of the “Tinikling” with at least 50 pairs of bamboo poles with so many dancers in a big open playground.

A chance meeting with one of my former professors at a UP alumni reunion who had just returned from a year’s study in the US inspired me to apply to different universities in the United States. I decided to go to the Woman’s College, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, as recommended by the UP professor. The College’s dance program directed by Virginia Moomaw had a very good reputation and offered an MFA in dance.

After a seemingly endless flight on a Pan American prop plane across the Pacific and a stop to visit relatives in Honolulu, I landed in Los Angeles. I was met and hosted by relatives of one of my students at Jackson. A Greyhound bus from LA to Greensboro took three long and boring days. At the school, I was the only non-white student except for one from Hong Kong who came later. Black students were not accepted! I was learning things I never knew in the Philippines about race relations. My classmates in dance were mostly dance professors from different colleges or universities in the US. The curriculum emphasis was creative dance, choreography, and dance production.

During school breaks, I was invited to spend the holidays with a classmate from Mississippi, another from North Carolina and a friend of my mother in Washington D.C. Two summers were spent working in a Girl Scout camp in upstate New York and in western Massachusetts. These were all paying jobs and interesting experiences.

The jobs helped me finish my M.S. Ed. with Emphasis in Dance. My Master’s thesis which was written in Labanotation “Philippine Dances Adapted to the Theater” is microcarded, University of Oregon. [Labanotation is graphic method of describing dances.] I owe a lot to different professors at Woman’s College, especially Virginia Moomaw, who spent many hours teaching me “Labanotation” and classmates who choreographed dances in which I experienced theater performance. In 1957, I spent the summer at the American Dance Festival, New London, Connecticut, taking classes with modern dance greats Jose Limon, David Wood, Betty Jones, Lucas Hoving and Jennifer Muller.

With the help of my professors at the University of North Carolina, I was accepted to work on my Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, which at that time was one of the top universities for graduate work in Physical Education. Iowa City was a very small city in the middle of miles of corn fields. It was a perfect place to study because there wasn’t much to do or see outside the University. It was also the place where I met the man who became my husband, Lindsay Carter, a Fulbright scholar on leave from Otago University, New Zealand. I graduated with my Ph.D. in Physical Education in 1958. During those years, I supported myself with a teaching assistantship, and working at a beautiful camp for privileged girls in a place called Hillaway-on-Ten-Mile Lake in upstate Minnesota during summers. The owners who were impressed by a dance concert I presented at the school cafeteria one summer, built me a stunning outdoor amphitheater which I used the following summer! My husband got his Ph.D. in 1959.

Our wedding in June 1958, was a small one attended by two sisters (who were now studying in the US), classmates, professors and Filipino graduate students was held at the University Chapel. My wedding gown of “jusi” was air-mailed by my parents. It was made by Rolando Tinio, who later became famous directing plays in theaters in Manila. My Filipino friends and the International House hosts totally funded the reception. My main expense was $32 for a wedding cake. In 1958-59, I taught modern dance at Cornell College, Iowa, about 10 miles from Iowa City.

In 1960, my husband and I moved to the far reaches of the South Pacific to the southernmost New Zealand city of Dunedin where my husband resumed his teaching job at Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand where he taught kinesiology. Two things I had to adjust to quickly in Dunedin was the lack of sunshine, cold winters without central indoor heating, and eating New Zealand lamb or “hogget”, both of which I later learned to love. I was the only Filipino in the whole country! Physical Education teaching jobs were few or not available. I obtained a job at the Medical School Hospital as an occupational therapist. Later on, I took a more interesting job at the Health Department presenting lectures in Health Education in small towns in South Otago. The thing I enjoyed most about the job was traveling throughout the beautiful countryside with its scenic landscape of neat farms and grazing sheep. To satisfy my need for creativity and dance performance, I joined the Orchesis Group based at the University of Otago as co-director, choreographer and dancer. Our group of highly motivated modern dancers produced dances with such diverse themes as Hiroshima and Carmina Burana. I did this for three years before my husband and I decided to go back to the U.S. for better opportunities. He was offered a job as professor at San Diego State University.

A few months later, I joined him in San Diego, taught for a year at Kearny High School, and in 1964 was offered a job to build a dance program at Grossmont College, El Cajon. The College, which was brand new, had a dance studio which allowed me to develop a program based on my years of working creatively in dance. As the sole dance teacher there for 15 years, it was pure heaven as my main assignment was teaching creative dance and putting on annual dance productions. The student Center became my arena for presenting modern dance shows. I also started the San Diego Dance theater as founder, choreographer and dancer with George Willis of SDSU and Johanna Weikel of Patrick Henry High School and later Southwestern College. In 1974, the Group broke up. I taught Creative Dance at Grossmont College for 23 years and was fortunate because I spent the last 15 years of my career producing programs at the East County Performing Arts Center. I retired in 1987.

In 1974, the Council of Philippine Americans of San Diego County (COPAO) invited me to teach Philippine Folk Dance in their Youth Program. I decided to volunteer part-time as a community service. The Samahan Philippine Dance Company was the result of a few years working and teaching students from San Diego State and neighboring schools in National City. Samahan was the name selected by my students who were in the Youth Program of COPAO. When Ruby Chiong arrived in San Diego in 1975, she was invited to join Samahan as a dancer, teacher and choreographer.

A few years later, Samahan separated from COPAO and Ruby Chiong and I started training a small group of skilled dancers. We started producing shows for theater performance. In 1978, we obtained our non-profit status and started applying for grants to help support the Dance Company. We received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that same year which was matched by the Pacific Scene, the biggest developer at that time. It was also at this time that Bayani Mendoza de Leon, a member of the well-known family of musicians in the Philippines arrived in San Diego to take graduate work in creative composition at the University of California San Diego. He helped us train musicians to play Rondalla music and Kulintang for the Dance Company. A few years later, Danny Kalanduyan, a Muslim guru based in San Francisco helped train Samahan’s musicians with authentic Maguindanao and Maranao music.

At present, Samahan operates the whole year round presenting programs of Philippine Folk Dance in schools, libraries, festivals, senior centers, community events and outreach programs. The Philippine Cultural Arts Festival which is one of the earliest festivals in San Diego is a showcase of Philippine culture. Samahan started presenting it in 1978 at the Scottish Rite Center, Mission Valley, San Diego. It will celebrate its 24th year in Balboa Park the first weekend of August 2008. Samahan has presented an annual Gala performance, a concert of dance and music in major theaters in San Diego County for 34 years. For the past four years, it has presented its annual concert at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre, San Diego. Samahan has worked hard and has earned its respected position as a member of San Diego’s Performing Arts Community

Some of my notable awards include: Scholarship Chairman, Valentin Gasparil Scholarships funded by Pacific Scene 1978-86; Most Outstanding Woman, Philippine American Association of Professional and Business Women, 1979; Community Service Awards, Council of Filipino American Organizations of San Diego County, 1982; Professor Emerita, Grossmont College, 1988; selected as one of San Diego’s Most Powerful Women, Women’s Times, 1993; Outstanding Filipino Artist, Filipino American Lawyers, 1995; Recognition Award-Artistic Leadership, Women Together, 1998; Lifetime Achievement Award, San Diego Dance Alliance, 2000; and Meritorious Community Service Award, University of the Philippine Alumni Association in America, 2005.






Youth and Student Days at UP

Greg Alabado was born in Tondo’s Mary Johnston Hospital from a family of modest means. They lived in the Bangkusay neighborhood of this rough-and-tumble district of Manila. Following graduation from Manila’s Jose Abad Santos High School in 1950, Greg, at age 15, was accepted at the University of the Philippines, College of Engineering.

The Diliman campus then had hundreds of hectares of barren land with the exception of a few concrete structures housing the university administration, library, and classrooms besides the dozens of quonset huts in its central section. Most of the military style quonset huts were used as living quarters for faculty, employees, and their families.

There were only very few trees. Yes, there was a lot of elbow room and breathing room then that just outside the campus perimeter was like being in San Diego’s backcountry. On two Arbor Days in a row, Greg remembered answering the call for volunteers to plant acacia trees. It was hard work but they had a lot of fun doing it.

A few of Greg’s classmates had their own vehicles, mostly jeeps configured like little versions of the Hummers now. On occasions, a classmate would pile on as many riders as could be accommodated on a jeep for their own version of ‘happy hour’ in Ma Mon Luk in Quiapo. On the way back to campus after sundown, the driver would often times drive straight through, up and over the curb, instead of negotiating the rotunda circle around the Quezon Memorial and they would all be shaking and rattling, and yelling and giggling, as the jeep drove off the curb and back onto the road again.

Greg lived at home and commuted to and from Diliman. Hanging around with his classmates, he used to get a kick out of carrying on serious conversations, say, with an Ilocano and/or a Visayan. For us to be able to fully understand each other, we sometimes spoke in English with our own typical accents because the Tagalog national language wasn’t common knowledge then.

In his 3½ years in Diliman, there was never a dull moment for Greg. He didn’t stand out as any kind of an Engineering wizard but he confessed that his social activities and campus life took up more of his time than his academic subjects warranted. Two areas that kept him pretty occupied were his Tau Alpha fraternity and advanced ROTC activities. Yet, by the nature of the beasts, each was about as different and divergent as one could imagine.

Looking back, he now begins to wonder how he was able to reconcile the lollygagging fraternity life which was the exact opposite of the stiff, regimented character of the ROTC. The Tau Alpha kept its members busy during initiations, Christmas Lantern Parade, the Engineering Smoker, and the Engineering-Pharmacy playday party. Advanced ROTC required its members to attend military science classes after regular academic hours in addition to marching at weekly parades on the campus parade ground and at the Luneta on special occasions.

When the Department of Military Science & Tactics built a Cadet Officers Quarters, Greg was one of the dozen or so selected to live there. Although living there didn’t cost them anything, nonetheless, they had to observe strict compliance with the military way of life like observing reveille in the morning and taps in the evening, standing ready for inspection of the quarters that they themselves cleaned, and the berthing spaces where they slept. But these quarters also served Greg’s needs in a roundabout way.

Recruitment into the US Navy

After first learning in 1953 of the recruiting of Filipinos by the U.S. Navy at the Naval Station Sangley Point, Cavite, Greg promptly corresponded with the Recruiting Office, using the Cadet quarters as his return address. The Recruiting office scheduled him to take the written test one day and the physical exam on another day. He took both exams without his family’s knowledge.

He later received notification in the mail that he passed both exams making him qualified to enlist but under one condition. He couldn’t be sworn in until he obtained a written permission from his father because he was only 19 years old. Greg’s father was disappointed and livid when he learned of his intention but in the end he gave him his blessings. Greg was sworn in as a Navy recruit on December 14, 1953.

Joining the U.S. Navy could be looked at as a cop-out for him. At Diliman, Greg’s best subjects were English, Philosophy, and other general education subjects but he was weak in Math. He repeated two Math subjects during his time in U.P. Not receiving a passing grade on two or three subjects wasn’t outside of the ordinary. However, he became self-conscious about the matter fearing he could get booted out of the university. There wasn’t really a real threat that he would be forced out of U.P. but when the opportunity to make a graceful exit by joining the Navy came, Greg jumped at the opportunity.

To his knowledge, he was the first U.P. student to leave U.P. Diliman to join the U.S. Navy in 1953. The following year, varsity basketball player William Anderson and an advanced ROTC student by the name of Diomampo also enlisted in the Navy. When he visited U.P. a few years after joining the Navy, the secretary in the ROTC admin office informed him that ROTC Commandant, Colonel Joaquin Hidalgo, had submitted his name as among the graduates of Class 1954 and that Lt. Constante Quiaoit had his diploma. Unfortunately, Greg never got to see Lt. Quiaoit to get his diploma. He was on Army active duty as an aide to a general when the helicopter they were riding in crashed and there were no survivors.

The schooling and training he received at U.P. had helped Greg during his early years in the Navy. During recruit training at the Naval Training Center, San Diego, he was selected as a Recruit Company Commander and was subsequently promoted to Recruit Battalion Commander, the first Filipino to hold the rank during recruit training.

After boot camp he joined other Filipinos at Steward School also in San Diego. Greg’s first duty station following Steward School was the USS Wasp (CVS-18), an anti-submarine aircraft carrier. Overall, he served a tour of duty on six ships and three shore stations. Because non-citizen Filipinos were recruited under the Navy’s Direct Procurement program, they could work only as stewards serving food to officers and cleaning their living quarters.

The Wasp was homeported in North Island in San Diego. During local sea operations, Greg was up early to serve in the wardroom but at 6:30 a.m. he would serve at the daily Catholic mass celebrated by Father Kelley, a Navy chaplain, in one of the ship’s Squadron Ready Rooms. There were not many qualified to serve mass then because the mass and responses were in Latin.

Before Father Kelley left for another duty station, he was able to expedite having Greg’s job rating changed from steward to electrician’s mate by prodding the Admin officer to forward Greg’s request for a change in rating instead of sitting on it. He was one of the first Filipinos to have his job rating changed to an engineering specialty.

The electrical division had about 120 personnel with only one Black. So Greg found himself the only Filipino in “E” Division. He was apprehensive at first because he felt like an odd ball in the bunch. Somehow, he later led a sheltered life even as he found himself at the bottom of the totem pole in the division. Three senior petty officers had planned going back to college when their enlistment was up and Greg wound up helping them in their college algebra correspondence courses after hours, two nights a week. Greg noticed that being closely associated to these petty officers made others shy away from him and no one gave him a hard time which new sailors in a division usually had to put up with.

Greg spent one enlistment on the Wasp. But it was also on the Wasp that he advanced from an apprentice rank to First Class Petty Officer in three and a half years, a record that was published in the “Navy Times”, and also among one of the youngest at age 22½ at the time of his promotion in 1957.

When he was stationed at the Naval Station Subic Bay in 1960, he learned that his childhood sweetheart in Tondo was still single. Under the circumstances, he thought there was no use wasting time so in the same year he married Fely Villanueva Ramos. Upon completion of his tour of duty in Subic, they sailed together on a transport ship to Fort Mason in San Francisco to begin a new life and raise a family in the U.S. mainland.

Greg’s Navy career spanned 21 years, 7 months. He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer in 1962 and was appointed to Chief Warrant Officer in 1967, ending his naval career in 1975. Some aspects of his Navy service while on active duty may be found in the Navy Log section of the Navy Memorial web site at www.lonesailor.org.

Transition into Civilian Life and Community Work

Greg’s line of work in the Navy was in the electrical field. After obtaining his Associate degree in Public Administration from the University of Guam when he was stationed in Guam, he seriously thought of finding a job in the public sector after leaving the Navy. So when he retired from the Navy in 1975 he continued taking college courses in San Diego under the GI Bill and earned, in succession, a Business Administration degree, an MBA, and a JD degree.

Greg first worked as a Technical Writer for a marine engineering firm for two years prior to moving to the San Diego County Housing Authority working as a Housing Specialist. He was later hired by the City of Chula Vista and worked as an Administrative Analyst beginning in 1979. He became a Transit Analyst and was later promoted to the position of Public Transit Administrator for the City. In the latter capacity, Greg managed the City’s public transportation system dealing with accelerated growth, from a population of 68,000 in 1981 to 160,000 in 1998, the year he retired from City service.

At various times Greg was involved with Filipino American groups, as president of the South Bay Filipino American Community Association in 1977 and as Speaker of the House of Delegates of the Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO) in 1999.

Following retirement from the City in 1998, Greg began his community volunteer work. He worked as an adult literacy tutor and served briefly as a Reserved Deputy Probation Officer. He was a member of San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy’s ‘Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Board’; ‘2001 Chula Vista Civilian Police Task Force’; ‘2002 Chula Vista Library Strategic Plan Committee’; ‘Chula Vista General Plan Update Steering Committee’; and the San Diego Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) ‘Regional Planning Stakeholders Working Group.’ He is currently a member of the Chula Vista Housing Advisory Commission.

Greg is a member of the Filipino American Military Officers Association, the Bonita Optimist Club, the Retired Public Employees Association, and the Military Officers Association of America, Sweetwater Chapter. He and his wife, Fely, have lived in Chula Vista since 1974 and raised two sons and two daughters.

During the Commissioners banquet at San Diego Country Club in 2004, the Chula Vista City Council recognized Greg’s various volunteer activities and to acknowledged his unselfish work in the community, the Council awarded Greg the City’s 2003 Annual Botterman Humanitarian Award.




(Major in History/Social Science)

I enrolled as an entrance scholar at UP Diliman in the second semester of 1950, missing the first semester due to illness. I majored in History and Social Sciences. In hindsight, I should have savored the collegiate experience more, however, my desire to graduate at the same time with my contemporaries led me to take up an extra load of classes. I finished my course in three and one-half years thereby graduating with the regular class of 1954. I toyed with the idea of pursuing further graduate studies but several offers of teaching jobs at private schools tempted me instead.

I also took the civil service exam (in order to be eligible to teach in the public school system) and garnered second place. I taught in the public school system in the mornings and at the San Juan, Rizal private school, Roosevelt Memorial High School, in the afternoons. I gave piano lessons to children in the San Juan neighborhood during weekends. I managed to pursue always my passion for music despite my heavy schedule.

I taught at Mapa High School in Manila. It was very challenging to teach the higher sections of this rigorous school. My training as a student teacher in UP stood my in good stead: it enabled me to lecture the experimental honors classes. My students were bright but “terrible” to the inexperienced teachers. The students tested the teachers often over their grasp of the subject matter. Armed with perseverance and preparation, I survived and flourished, much to the delight of my former teaching instructor, Professor Cruz.

My first encounter with the difficulties of teaching occurred when I taught in the slum area in Tondo, Manila. I landed a job as a substitute teacher at a high school in one of the poorest sections of Tondo. I met with the other teachers first who were very friendly and helpful but skeptical. I overheard them whispering, “Poor child, why did they give that section to this young teacher?” I wondered what was wrong with my section. Soon enough, I found out that I was going to be the seventh teacher to teach this particular class.

The latest one requested a transfer after an eraser was thrown back at her. I went to this class of second year high school students – there were forty boys and two girls. While writing my name on the blackboard, I overheard the largest boy say, “Kaya natin ito, bata pa.” (We can handle this one, she is still young). This boy was a second time repeater and close to my own age. Their appearance was pitiful yet scary and intimidating. I was reluctant to continue to teach, however, my father, who was an educator himself, advised me to stay so that I could prove myself to the school administrators.

These students were poor, not bad per se but with much bad behavior. I tried to maintain my calm demeanor in the face of things and even tried to show compassion. Most came to school hungry without any breakfast. Most of the time, I gave them money for food for their breaks. I finished the term without having to take any of my students of the principal’s office. However, I had one final lesson to learn. Nearly all the textbooks were unreturned.

I made a small attempt to collect the textbooks by going to some of their homes. I was so disheartened by the poverty that I gave up and paid for the “lost” books myself using three months’ worth of my salary. No doubt they were sold for extra money. I made a promise to myself to always share my blessings with children who are in need. From then on, I tried to volunteer whenever it was needed.

As the years passed, I continued to teach high school. I took private piano lesions from two UP music professors, Prof. Minda Azarcon and Prof. Balingit.

In March, 1963, I married my husband Dione before his return to the United States for his next tour of duty with the U.S. Navy. I joined him six months later for a new life in the United States. Life was indeed different in this new country. I had to adapt to an independent lifestyle and to learn how to take care of a growing family without the help of relatives. This required new customs and a new way of thinking as a Navy wife. For example, after an extended hospital stay, while trying to juggle the needs of my young son and daughter, I had an inspiration.

I saw President Lyndon Johnson speak on television and decided to write to him about my difficult situation. I thought that after serving nine straight years of sea duty, my husband deserved a tour of shore duty so that he could spend more time with his family. I didn’t expect a reply. Much to my surprise, I received a letter from Washington D.C. stating that President Johnson’s office had referred the matter to the Department of the Navy and that they were replying on his behalf. I was pleased to present this letter to my husband along with a shore billet in San Diego.

We started our married life in San Diego, the first of many relocations. We moved overseas to Taipei, Taiwan, Maryland and Washington State. I raised my children and continued to give piano lessons and worked as a substitute teacher or a music teacher. We constantly moved and so I was never able to complete my studies for a graduate degree. Eventually, my husband retired from the Navy and I began a new career working at the Kitsap County Regional library (Washington State) and then the National City (California) Public Library.

My son, Ulysses, followed in his father’s footsteps and sought a career in the U.S. Navy. He received a Presidential appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated in 1986. He is now a Commander stationed here in San Diego. My daughter Cynthia chose the civilian life and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1989. She also resides in Chula Vista, near my husband and I.

We made the thirteenth and the final move to sunny southern California in 1990. My husband Dione is now the owner of a janitorial company. We have been married for forty -five years. We have managed to see a lot of this world on our occasional cruise trips. It’s much more enjoyable than moving to a new place!

I am now retired but I still give piano lessons to young children as a hobby. I still love to teach. I now stand in front of eight and nine year olds as I teach them their Sunday school lessons. I still enjoy classical piano although my fingers are not as nimble as they used to be. I am looking forward to giving piano lessons soon to my nine year old grandson, Matthew.





Ron was born and raised in Valencia, Negros Oriental. After graduating from UP Los Banos, he briefly taught Vocational Agriculture to senior high school boys at Silliman University in Dumaguete City. He worked for the Bureau of Agricultural Extension in his province, then later as Roving Farm Manager of Country Farms, Inc., a subsidiary of the Araneta conglomerate of companies in Metro Manila.

Ron left the Philippines in 1961 to pursue graduate work in Agricultural Marketing at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK. He never came back home because right after finishing his M.S. in 1962, he was hired as a catalog copywriter of Suburban-Farm products at the Sears, Roebuck and Co. headquarters in Chicago, IL. He stayed 16 years with the company and was rotated to other departments such as Automotive, Sporting Goods, Home Improvement and Children’s Apparel. He was the first non-American born copywriter, from a country that speaks a language other than English, hired to write advertising copy for the Sears Catalogs.

Ron was active in the UP Alumni Club of Chicago, and was Social Chairman of the Fil-Am Council—the umbrella organization of the Filipino-American community. In this capacity, he welcomed Philippine entertainers and cultural groups visiting the city and produced cultural extravaganzas showcasing Filipino songs, dances and fashion. He also formed the first Filipino band in the city—“The Mahogany 5+1” which made a name for itself in the dance venues and on Channel 42, a local cable TV station. He also co-hosted the “Philippine Hour”—a Sunday variety television show on this channel for a year. While a resident of Chicago, Ron worked part time as the Cebuano language interpreter of the US Immigration Service.

Ron's family relocated to San Diego, California in 1978, where a job awaited him at the Sears Department store in La Jolla. Greener pastures beckoned in the northern suburb of Carlsbad, and Ron accepted a position as Catalog Manager of DynaMed, a mail order house specializing in emergency healthcare products. Downsized along with four other managers in a company belt-tightening move when interest rates hit 20% in the early 80's, he decided to go into business for himself.

Ron went into food manufacturing and set up the Empanada Factory in Poway, CA. It became a successful venture. But the labor intensive enterprise took most of his time away from family, forcing him to sell the business. An Optometrist friend convinced him to apprentice as an Optician. He went for it with determination and passion. He got licensed and operated his own optical store – the "Eyeglass Center" in Mira Mesa, until a Korean Optician offered to buy him out.

In 1982, Ron taught a Mail Order Merchandising course at the University of California San Diego Extension. To earn additional income, he put up Ronsom House International--a successful mail order company. In 1989, he co-founded Podee, Inc., a baby products manufacturing company that wholesales the unique "Hands-Free Baby Feeding Bottle" to retailers of juvenile products such as Toys R Us, Babies R Us and numerous independent Mom & Pop stores across the country, including importers from foreign countries. He retired as its President in 2002.

In December of 2006, a book co-authored by Ron“Buhay Pinoy Overseas”a humorous collection of cartoon illustrations (with captions) depicting Filipino customs and idiosyncrasies in a foreign setting (mostly in the U.S.A.), was published by the prestigious National Book Store in Manila and sold in the publisher’s chain stores throughout the Philippines. His latest book—“Brown American”—a personal narrative of a Filipino’s journey from humble beginnings in his idyllic hometown in the Philippines to the jungles of skyscrapers in America, will soon be printed and distributed by an American publisher in the U.S.A. It is a must-read for people who are passionate in their pursuit of the American Dream.

In his spare time and moments of solitude, Ron dabbles in music and plays Ukulele lead solos with the “Brown Pearls,” a Pinoy musical group in San Diego. He just came out with his first CD recording—Ukulele Sweet and Swing with Ron Somera and The Brown Pearls.” He says—“We play music not much for the money, but for our stress therapy.”

Ron is married to the former Millicent Ortiz Pasaporte, a Filipina nurse who grew up in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, he met in Chicago. They have two adult children—Kimberly, a dialysis nurse married to Robert Gavina (Pinoy rin)—a systems analyst, and son Ronald—a computer chips manufacturing specialist.

In retirement Ron keeps busy in Church ministries at his parish, the Our Lady of Mt Carmel Catholic Church. He is a lector, choir member, outreach volunteer for migrant workers, and a Little Rock Bible Study facilitator. He is a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Filipino Cursillo Movement in San Diego.

My Campus Memories

I lived in a cottage at the Grove outside the gates of the UP Los Banos campus with six other students. Each one of us was assigned one day of the week to buy groceries, prepare meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and clean house. I have never cooked a meal in my entire life before, except boil packets of chicken noodle soup while camping with my Boy Scout troop in my elementary years.

On my first assigned day, I bought bangus and attempted to cook sinigang. I followed every step of the recipe handed to me by my Batangueno roommate. With everybody seated at the lunch table, I served my steaming hot sinigang and—disaster! The soup was bitter as hell! (Pardon the expression.) What my friend forgot to tell me was to remove the bile of the milkfish prior to cooking it. This gave the dish an awfully bitter taste indeed. Needless to say, every one of my cottage mates was angry and hungry that day.

To play it safe on my next assigned day, I sautéed carne norte—breakfast, lunch and dinner—much to the displeasure of my co-renters. Until I mastered culinary art, this was my specialty dish which earned me the notorious alias of “Mr. Carne Norte.”

There were upper classmen sharing the cottage with us who were “masters” in their respective fraternities. I was appalled by the physical abuse inflicted by the masters on the “neophytes” I refused invitations to sign up, and joined the UPSCA instead. I cherish the memory of those Glee Club trips to UP Diliman to perform and attend general meetings there. I was a cast member of Eugene O’Neil’s stage play—“Oil” produced by UPSCA. I gave it my best shot (a la Marlon Brando) hoping to be discovered by LVN Productions or Sampaguita Pictures. But no agent approached. (Oh, well.)

I was proud as an Advanced ROTC Officer marching in the 1st Composite Regimental Staff headed by Jim Imlan—a tough Muslim from Mindanao, during parades. Before I was promoted, I was the Company “A” Commander of the Field Artillery Battalion—and my company was judged “Best Marching Unit” in the 1956 Loyalty Day celebration parade. As an Advanced ROTC grad, I automatically became a member of the Vanguard Fraternity and a “Brod” of Ferdinand Marcos—“a man with more military medals than Sgt. York and Audie Murphy combined,” that is according to former Senator Manglapus.

I’ll never forget an occasion in the office of our Spanish Instructor, Mr. Caballero, who was talking to a student from Paete, Laguna where lanzones grow in abundance. The student had an incomplete grade of 4, and to complete it, Mr Caballero said—“Which do you prefer, a ‘4’ without lanzones, or a ‘3’ with lanzones?” The student vaulted out of there faster than a speeding bullet to catch a bus bound for Paete.

Ah! Memories! I remember it well!





The impossible dream, almost…

Growing up in a remote barrio of Guagua, Pampanga, I dreamed of going to college and obtaining a degree - any degree. My parents never made it past elementary education so having at least one of their children graduate from college was also a dream for them.

Being the ninth of twelve children and being raised in humble circumstances, going to college seemed a formidable task, if not nearly impossible. Even high school proved to be a major financial challenge for our family. Normally the only option for us was to leave home and become self-supporting. Except for two brothers younger than me, we all did just that.

My high school years…

My four years in high school was the period of character formation. As expected, I left home and lived with relatives in the Guagua town proper. The Goseco clan on my mother’s side, a tight-knit and disciplined family, had interests in the private institution called Guagua National Colleges and this was where I attended high school almost for free. However, I had to follow the strict regimen imposed by the relatives I lived with. My curfew from any outside activities was six pm, the time for Rosary and prayers. For four years, I led a hard life but found time to enjoy the simple pleasures of roller-skating on borrowed skates and shoes, and the very occasional movie outing. My teen years, I consider a very restrictive time in my life, but it was the period that gave me the discipline to focus, reflect, read and become patient.

Except for being in the very last class-section (grade-wise bottom of the barrel) where I led in many subjects, high school was quite uneventful except for a few highlights. Two teachers in Physics and Math favored and trusted me… If I got 100% in the quizzes, at the end of the day they would let me bring all the class quizzes home and correct them. So my objective was to rush my answers to the instructors so that my quiz would be corrected first. I usually go home with a bundle to correct in the evening. For extra-curricular activities, scouting was my primary involvement. Girl friends? I totally missed my target.

The land and UP beloved…

For me, attending UP College of Agriculture was more a product of necessity than that of choice. As a youngster, my family lived off the land. With our limited means, UP Los Banos beckoned to be the most practical institution of higher learning to attend. Matriculation was peanuts by comparison to other colleges or universities. The only worry for a student was the room and board. To top it off, I do not recall even taking a college entrance exam.

Like most students who have to cut costs, I started as a cooking student. Unlike most however, I had to be a little bit more austere to make ends meet. Eventually, I transitioned from a cooking student to that of a student cook. That meant that I not only cooked for myself but for other students as well. I took on the task so that my food would be free and was even able to profit a little from cooking for my peers. To put icing on our meager resources my roommate and I were lucky enough to win every yearly inspection contest in our dormitory. We were awarded three months of free dormitory room each time we won.

Studying at UP Los Banos where the motto is “Nothing is impossible” was not easy. A combination of many difficult subjects (Agronomy, Soils, Animal Husbandry, Entomology, etc) and “terror” professors was the norm. The dropout rate of our freshman class was probably the highest of any school year. Half of my classmates were expelled, gave up college entirely, or voluntarily transferred to other Universities. Getting a “C” in some subjects could be as respectable as a B or an A in other subjects. It was that challenging. “C”s could earn a student a pass, or the option to not take the finals (a tremendous relief after semesters of arduous studies).

Though UP Los Banos was quite possibly the epicenter of Fraternity, Sorority and the Rally culture among UP campuses, I did not succumb to joining any of those organizations and activities. I had more serious priorities. The top of them was to overcome my financial predicament, and the second was to succeed in the academic rigors of studying at UP. I was also focused on graduating within four years without taking summer classes. I used summers off to join my Dad as a hired laborer, weeding and tilling in the sugarcane fields and harvesting rice.

Studying at UP was pale in comparison to working the fields in terms of hardship. From then on, I became more motivated to pursue and to achieve. The third summer, I took the opportunity to volunteer at the Bukidnon province resettlement camps during the brief Magsaysay administration. Finally, in 1958, I graduated and became a fulpledge UP alumni. I am proud to have completed the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree curriculum with emphasis in agricultural engineering or mechanized farming. The years I spent at UP Los Banos still remains the height of my educational experience. Push on UP!

The Sea in Submarines…

Armed with my Agriculture diploma, I was hired to manage Hacienda Puyat in Nueva Ecija. There I practiced and preached what I learned in college. Within a year, I was fortunate to enlist in the US Navy and see the world. Like all non-immigrant Filipinos, we were enlisted as Stewards – a rating or specialty relegated to Filipinos and black Americans. Boot camp, the Steward and Submarines Schools and eventual assignment in Submarines was my initial path. Six months through my first submarine duty and after completing the rigorous “qualification in submarines” program, I was given the opportunity to change specialty to that of Interior Communication Technician.

As I went up in ranks in that field I had to be in-charge of the sub’s Inertial Navigation System. It was considered “top secret” technology then. Because of citizenship (I was denied on my first application for US citizenship) I had to change specialty again. The military’s reason was, “convenience of the government” because, I could not be issued a top-secret clearance. Inertial Navigation is the forerunner of today’s GPS which is a common driving – navigational gadget. Putting together my four assignments in submarines, I calculated that ten years of my life was spent plying the ocean – mostly underwater. I retired from the US Navy with the qualification of Chief of the Watch and Diving Officer and the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.

The Air with Aerospace companies…

After spending what appears to be a lifetime at sea, I did not want to spend my third career in and around ships. So, I opted to a different medium, which is air or the space above and around us. My first aerospace opportunity was with Hughes Helicopters helping to develop the AH-64 Apache Helicopter as a flight test technician. Before it went to production in 1981, I underwent triple bypass heart surgery. While recuperating, I decided to stay rooted in the San Diego region and not join the company’s move to Arizona. I was accepted at Solar Turbines Inc. as an Instructional Technologist/ Technical Instructor.

From producing Industrial Turbines, our small engine division migrated into producing varied aerospace products such as Auxiliary Power Units (APU), On-board Inert Gas Generating Systems (OBBIGS), fans etc. In the acquisition arena, we were first sold to Caterpillar, then to Sundstrand and finally to United Technologies – a much bigger conglomerate. After twenty-three years supporting our company’s varied aerospace products from birth to grave, on various platforms such as airplanes, helicopters, the space shuttle, etc, I retired as a Senior Product Support Engineer.

Lastly, the budding entrepreneur and engaged citizen I am…

Weeks after my second retirement, I realized I could not see myself fully retired. “Use it or lose it” is a constant reminder. My wife Sol (also an early retiree) and I decided to engage in buying, improving and selling “fixer uppers”. Our third project, the El Primero Hotel, became the ultimate challenge. The renovation took nearly fifteen months. With the tremendous expense in time and effort, not to mention the financials and the very survival of our thirty nine year old marriage, we naturally, fell in love with the project. That is when we decided to keep the property and started a retirement career. And what an ongoing adventure it is. With our National and International Guests coming and going on a daily basis, we travel the world, so to speak, without ever having to leave the hotel.

For our engagement as citizens/entrepreneurs, Sol and I were recognized as Preservationists of the Year in 2005 by the City of Chula Vista along with Congressional Recognition as Entrepreneurs of the Year. The same year, the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce presented to me the Businessman of the Year award. In 2006, I received the UPAA San Diego Chapter Presidential Award along with the Special Recognition Award in 2007 by UP Alumni Association in America (UPAAA) during the Convention and General Assembly attended by UP President Emerlinda Roman. I was also bestowed the Lifetime Award by the Presidents Council on Service and Civic Participation for lifetime of community service with different volunteer organizations. Recently completing the UCLA Anderson School of Management “MDE” program at 69 years young, I was invited to join the UCLA Alumni Association. I am now a UPian and a Bruin.

Quote: “Most people see things the way they are and ask why, I dreamed of things that never were and ask why not?” Robert Kennedy.

“I am convinced that the memories and experiences of four years of study at UP Los Banos and the Push on UP spirit tempers me to always think in terms of the above quote and therefore keeps me constantly rejuvenated to continue with life’s adventure .”





I first roamed the UP Diliman campus in 1953 when I enrolled as a senior at the UP High School. I was awed by the physical beauty of the place – vast areas of green grass and tall trees, lagoons, the imposing buildings of the Administration Building, the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Education, Law and Engineering, tummy-filling cafeterias, and the most captivating structure of all for me, the Carillon tower, that played delightful music whenever I arrived in the morning for school. UP High School was a formidable institution for me – populated by brainy, fairly wealthy, and very trendy students. I came from Ilocos Sur High School, and though I belonged to the “elite” group in the school, I knew I would never penetrate the inner select circle of UP High. I would be, during the full year I spent there, an outsider looking in. I felt very intimidated by the intellectual, economic and social status of my classmates, and even more so, by the pop culture adopted by the UP High students at the time. The boys were James Dean look-alikes and the girls were Sandra Dee copies. Because I was not big on brains and academics, my focus was on the trendy – what was “cool” and what was not. Putting my social pains aside, I did acquire genuine friendship from the few that I was close to, notably my great friend MelyAnasco-Busch, the current secretary-coordinator of our UP High School 55th reunion in 2009. At this point, it is also worth noting that one of our precious UPAASD members, Zeny Garcia-Oades, was our Class ‘54 valedictorian. As inconspicuous as I made myself to be, I did not realize that a few noticed my talent in English writing and speaking, enough to mention in our annual that “Edith, though from the province, one will not know it by the way she speaks English”. My inadequate feelings notwithstanding, I enjoyed my days at the school and felt very proud when I finally received my diploma as a bonafide graduate of UP High School, Class of ’54.

Then came college. I enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts, pursuing my great love, English. Armed with my UP High School background, I flaunted it during my freshman and sophomore years. I was the darling of my professors, S.V. Epistola (fiction-writer) and Armando Malay (journalist). My best friend in college was Margot Baterina, who happened to be my close friend from Ilocos Sur High School, also pursuing the same course as me but specializing in journalism while I was specializing in speech. She did end up being a big name writer for the Manila Free Press and the Manila Bulletin in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. I sort of dropped off from the social scene at UP College in my junior and senior years, though I did join the Cadena de Amor and the UP Lantern Parade in both years of 1957 & 1958. I graduated in March of 1958 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, Major in English.

I married the same year and had my first-born son, ending up eventually being a mother to seven children – two boys and five girls. I married a talented architect, Elias Ruiz Jr, and he prevailed upon me to remain just a housemom for the next 22 years. Though I did not enter the professional world, my schooling at the UP served me in cultivating the love of English literature and speech to my seven children who picked up proficiency in the language. In Baguio City where we lived for 20 years, I had a two-year stint as English instructor at Baguio Colleges in 1965-67, then served as Baguio City YWCA Executive Director from 1970-75. As Executive Director of the YWCA, I spoke at local and international conferences held in the city, and later, in my position as president of the Protestant Women of Baguio, I addressed foreign audiences made up mostly of missionaries from the USA and Europe.

Fast forward to 1980. I came to the US with my seven children, divorced my first husband, and married Robert Donaldson, an electronics engineer at SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command), with whom I share a very fulfilling married life. My children have all married and moved away, keeping me busy traveling to visit them and a total of 13 grandchildren in various cities of the US and Manila, Philippines. Besides traveling within the US/Canada/Mexico, I have traveled or cruised to 10 countries in Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, Asia, and South America. I continue to work in Customer Service at HD Supply, a mail-order catalog company in the facilities maintenance industry. I have enjoyed my involvement with UPAA of San Diego since 1993 and look forward to many more years of friendship with the UP alumni in America’s Finest City.




’59 B.S. IN CHEMISTRY, Cum Laude


“The Other Oades”

A Sentimental Journey

All these years in San Diego, my close circle of friends calls me “The Other Oades” although, in my own right, they know I am also an accomplished achiever in the academe and the scientific research world. I have shied away from the limelight by choice and lived a sheltered and private life after finding serenity and comfort in the shadow of a SDSU professor, author and an indefatigable civic leader. But such is not without some hurts, pleasures and challenges.

This Is My Story:

The Formative Years

At the University of the Philippines (Diliman) I was a GARCIA. My other three siblings are also die-hard UPians. My parents firmly believed that UP provides the best education one can get in the homeland. And they saw to it that all four of us – Roberto, Renato, Rita and I -- finished our studies in Medicine, Engineering, Nutrition, and Chemistry without any interruption.

When it was time for us kids to go to high school, my parents decided to lease out our lucrative fish (bangus) farming business in Luzon; and made our education their full-time career with utmost parental supervision. From our Malabon, Rizal residence they prepared to relocate on or as close to the Diliman campus as possible.

Unfortunately, not just anybody could either buy a house or live on campus. One has to be a UP employee to occupy one of the University-owned WWII vintage quonset huts that surround the school buildings then.

Undeterred, my father gave up his dental practice, applied for the UP Campus Chief of Police position (using his Army officer WWII experience and distinguished record) and readily got hired. We then became members of a closely-knit UP community.

After a few years, my family was among the first few to build houses in a newly- opened housing subdivision called UP Village in Diliman. As in the main campus housing, the privilege of lot ownership was extended only to UP employees. My enterprising papa built a house for each one of us.

All four of us have long resided in the United States even after our parents’ death by auto accident, but none of us ever think of selling those properties at UP Village. Nostalgia? I often ask myself: “Is it because they serve as sentimental recollection of our self-sacrificing parents, the UP that helped prepare us for the real world, and the Garcia-Sioson family tradition of education and enterprise?”

I graduated in high school as a Valedictorian in 1954 and in college at the top of my class with a B.S. in Chemistry in 1959. Such academic excellence led to a teaching appointment in the Chemistry Department and, a year later, a promotion to the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) as a senior scientist. Unfortunately, the latter would not materialize.

The Philippine Nuclear reactor is located right at the entrance to the UP Diliman campus, a walking distance from our house. I can still vividly recall how I often dreamed of working at this facility when I finished school. But it was not meant to be.

Just before signing my appointment papers with PAEC, I received a Fulbright Fellowship from the U.S. State Department and a teaching job offer at the University Of Kansas Dept. of Chemistry – opportunities difficult to pass up.

American Dream

It was a long way from Diliman to Lawrence, Kansas, but this started my globe-trotting lifestyle and a family life filled with the usual challenges that build my inner strength and moral courage.

While at the University of Kansas, I spent many vacations in other states of the country and overseas (e.g., Japan), all funded by numerous National Science Foundation travel/study grants.

These trips broadened my horizon; and reduced the stress that comes with working for a Masters degree on a tight schedule while teaching two classes on campus.

After I finished my M.S. in Organic Chemistry I accepted a teaching job in Organic and Food Chemistry at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, one of the most scenic campuses I have ever seen and justifiably a member of the Ivy League.

It was on this campus where I met a versatile Fulbright/Smith-Mundt Scholar who impressed me very much and eventually became the father of my two wonderful sons – Kahuku and Krizpin. He was then a noted history professor at Far Eastern University (FEU) on leave for study abroad.

I could have stayed in Cornell University for the rest of my teaching career, but the U.S. State Department required us -- scholars and fellows -- to apply what we learned and trained for in the U.S. to our homeland for at least two years.

Both of us then returned to the Philippines to resume our teaching jobs at the American School and FEU in Metro Manila. Two years thereafter, I came back to the U.S. for a post-graduate study in Textile Chemistry at Clemson University in South Carolina; only to move to Honolulu, Hawaii where my future husband and I together pursued our Ph.D. degrees.

Although Hawaii is somewhat confining, we had a happy life there, surrounded by Filipino friends, many of whom were either university scholars or East-West Center fellows. We loved the place and vowed to retire there in time.


It was in 1970 when I came to California that I changed my surname to OADES.

Having traveled the country extensively, I found San Diego a racially diverse community, an ideal place to finally settle down and raise a family.

We rightly thought our kids would grow up there, keenly aware of their Filipino identity and rich history. Their Filipino ethnicity is important to us, and the expanding Filipino population in the County only reinforced our wish for them.

Developing parenting skills, however, became one of the difficult challenges for a working mother like me. One challenge was my other half, although a liberal, was a strict, demanding Tagalog father, who kept our kids closely supervised and occupied in their studies and extra-curricular activities. I tried to balance his stringency with the kids by being a nurturing and caring mother.

Looking back, I think we did okay. My two sons have had fine education and are very successful professionals in science and food industry. The eldest has given us a smart, handsome grandson Joaquin, who is a source of our joy.

In San Diego, I did not only change my name, but also shifted my career from teaching to medical research at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California. For more than 3 decades I found a comfortable niche working with top scientists from all over the world. This job gave me a more flexible work schedule, well suited for one raising a family.

Also, my work enabled me to take better care of my two sons who have had asthma since they were kids. Coincidentally (and not really by choice), my field of expertise and research specialization focused on lung diseases that included emphysema, asthma and respiratory distress syndrome for both infants and adults.

I have been a recipient of a number of outstanding academic and professional awards. But my exploits at Scripps had brought me greater fame and material comforts. My contributions to TSRI are published in prestigious scientific journals, many of them translated in a number of foreign languages. This kind of recognition, as well as grant funding from government and private sectors enabled me to attend numerous local and international scientific conferences as a presenter. (For those interested in my published works, a list is readily available via the Internet).

Out of the Shadow

A few years before my retirement, I concurrently served as a consultant for a drug development company that has exclusive manufacturing and marketing rights to the results of some of our work at Scripps. All the clinical trials were successfully done so now I look forward to the final approval of the drugs (e.g., Surfaxin) by the Food and Drug Administration with the relevant patents pending.

It was a difficult decision to retire from an exciting world of research and a very rewarding scientific enterprise. But retirement means simplifying one’s life and finding out who you really are. It also means spending more time with my grandson. And whenever possible, I travel around the world with a group of retired friends whose favorite question at almost every destination is, “where is the restroom?’ How much simpler can life get?

Upon retirement my immediate concern was to put my financial affairs in order. Thereafter I seriously considered volunteering in various community projects and activities now that I have time and desire. As I journey through the golden years of my life, I have also grown fonder of the UP that prepared us siblings for the real world -- along with the cherished memories of our parents and the legacy they unselfishly left behind. Such unraveling has been accompanied by the strong urge to come out of the shadow into the sunshine… perhaps with an umbrella over my head?





My parents were both Ilocanos who grew up in Manila. As newlyweds, they went to Cotabato with my mom’s older brother and his wife for good job offers. I was born there, and I was told, shortly after midnight with the full moon shining brightly so my Dad and Uncles made the decision my name will be Moonlight! My grandparents did not like us living so far away from them, so we moved to Zambales and also Ilocos Sur until we settled in Manila. From the1950’s, my family lived in San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City. My husband Rudy and I grew up in the same neighborhood.

I remember being torn between continuing college in FEU where I graduated both elementary and high school or transferring to UP. My mother’s brother, a father figure to me, who was a UP grad and a prominent physician, knew about my desire to be a nurse and told me that if I wanted the best education, UP was the only way to go. The best I wanted, so to UP I went.

My mother got very sick when I was a child and I had a memory of a nurse in white uniform taking very good care of her and I longed to be just like her. I also wanted to take care of patients in the hospital so I opted to take the School of Nursing program. I had been lucky to have good grades before with not much effort but during the first few weeks at Diliman, I experienced some difficulty so I was discouraged.

However, my Spanish instructor told us that the first semester was a time of adjustment, that we needed to focus, to study every night, be diligent but have fun doing it. Well, I had so much fun in her class, she asked me to be her student assistant for two semesters. My job was to correct all the bluebooks from her classes after she corrected mine. I was so proud each time I walked out to the bus ride home and back with all those bluebooks. With that experience, I gained confidence and learned responsibility as my teacher trusted me and I learned to trust myself. I realize now, I helped her out, yes, but what I learned from her, strengthened by my family’s support, has sustained me throughout my life and career.

After a year at the Diliman campus, I moved to the PGH Nurses Home in Manila. As student nurses, we were part of the hospital staff, expected to learn and do all nursing procedures, and rotating on all shifts. None of us liked the night shifts due to all the ghost stories, but we survived. We attended classes in the afternoon. If we happened to be on duty by class time, we had to get our job done then go to class, no excuses. We studied whenever and wherever we can. We had a very hectic, rigorous schedule. However, we managed to live an exciting life of comedy and sometimes got into trouble in a dorm with at least 300 young adults, all trying to make a difference.

I was a member of the UPSCA Glee Club, I remember the many escapades and adventures we had, all because we wanted to “shine”. To this day, I treasure the memories of shared experiences from that challenging interlude in our lives.

After graduation and while studying for the board, I was offered a job to take care of a little boy recovering from surgery. Anxious to earn my own money, I took it. It gave me my first experience of doing home care independently of school supervision. Everything went well, gave me a sense of accomplishment. After taking the board, passing it and getting my license, I worked at the Manila Doctors Hospital until I left for Chicago in February 1962 as an exchange student. Since then, I have stayed on and worked as a professional nurse in the US. I obtained my Bachelors Degree in Management at Pacific Christian College, Fullerton, CA in 1979.

With my husband, who was in the Navy, and son Paul, we were transferred to San Diego in 1965. Our second son, Michael, was born here in 1968. We lived in apartments at the Hillcrest area, and watch the Mission Valley and Fashion Valley area going north which used to be barely populated, grow so fast with residential and business developments. We moved to our new home built on leveled “mountains” in 1970. We used to see huge rats, and other animals running all over, we had to make sure all doors were always closed. They finally moved away, we stayed on, living in the same home and loving it.

When I started working at Mercy Hospital in 1965, they were moving to a newly built 12 story building with all new advanced technology. Per my preference, I was assigned to the major surgical floor. It was an exciting time as advances in surgical procedures and medical technology were proving to cure, prevent, improve quality of life in a lot of diseases we used to consider hopeless. We learned to use so many lifesaving machines that kept changing for the better. In the 1980’s, I transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, about the time that open heart surgeries on both adults and children were starting to be done at the hospital. This was the high point of my career. Every procedure, every decision was critical. We saw first hand the wonders of modern technology. We were constantly learning, at the same time teaching and training other nurses and medical staff. We worked with the best doctors. We called ourselves “high tech, high touch” nurses because with all the monitors, tubes and machines, we were taking care of a human being to be healthy again. I was ACLS, PALS certified. I was a member of the Advisory council, Quality Assurance, Ethic and Peer review committees.

In 1990, desiring more family time, I transferred to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit and worked some days with Mercy Home Health. I also found time to volunteer at San Diego Hospice, who then hired me as a weekend on call nurse, whenever I can. I found these experiences very rewarding. I went up the ranks as charge nurse and supervisor, however, I always preferred bedside nursing. I did receive recognition as Nurse of the year, Role Model, Employee of the year, the first on the Professional Profile at Mercy Hospital and several other citations. But most important of all, I have the personal satisfaction knowing that I gave my profession all that I’ve got.

Being both the eldest, we helped our two families in the Philippines raise our younger siblings, so we had to work full time, which meant our own boys were practically raised by “God-sent” wonderful babysitters. I can never recapture those lost moments while they were growing up, however, I feel I was given another chance in 1996 when I was able to go part time, to help care for our granddaughter Jasmine, the first born of Paul with wife Rowena.

In 2003, I went on early retirement, to spend more time to take care of my mother who had a stroke. Since Michael and then Paul and his family moved to Arizona, we are able to commute often, enjoying quality time with them. These are opportunities in our lives that with God’s grace I was privileged and grateful to have.

We are very much involved as parishioners of Holy Family Catholic Church. I am a member of the Third Order Carmelite, a Catechist, and a volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul Conference. I had been a neighborhood block captain, member of Nayong Pilipino, UPAASD, UPNAAI, PGHSNAA. I was a board member and continue to be a loyal supporter of the Samahan Philippine Dance Company, where our sons, as dancers and musicians, learned about Philippine arts and culture. We also met the most dedicated, generous and hardworking Filipinos, exemplified by the company’s founder and director who is a UP grad. We are blessed to have so many very special friends in our lives.

My husband and I love to travel, have gone as far as the Berlin Wall and, closer to home, around the neighboring states of California. What we enjoyed the best were our tours and pilgrimages to Fatima, Lourdes, Paris, Rome, Assisi, Lanciano, Medjugorje, Oberammaugau Passion Play, Israel/Egypt (following the footsteps of Jesus), Greece/Turkey (following the footsteps of St. Paul). In February 2007, we did a long-anticipated Philippine tour and visited several historical churches and convents. We also traced our parents’ footsteps in their migratory movements around Northern Luzon and Manila.






The early years of our lives are the foundation of what we are today. The decisions we made then are so important for they determines where we are going and what we are to be. I am so happy with the decisions I made when I was at UP Diliman from 1956 to 1960 for it provided direction to my future life. There were two events that happened to me that guided the pathway on where I should tread. One was related to my career and the second was on the values and attitudes I have acquired that guided me today in terms of myself and relationship with others.

UP Student Days

One of the most memorable days of my life was the years I spent at the UP Diliman campus. I was an honor student in high school from Philippine Women’s University so I did not have to take the entrance exams to get in. I did not have a major when I started so I was in the Liberal Arts Department for a year before I declared my major.

I had the intense desire to help others so I decided to be in the helping professions. My desire was to be a medical doctor but I knew it was expensive and therefore impossible for my parents to support me as I was the second child from a large family of seven. I thought about being a nurse as the next option but the College of Nursing’s minimum height requirement of being 5 feet tall disqualified me from entering the college. I missed it by one inch as I was only 4’11”. This was a big blow for me but didn’t deter my ambition to be something else.

My next alternative was to be a nutritionist/dietitian as I heard it was a wide open field and there was a big chance of coming to the United States for further training. I pursued the field of nutrition and dietetics for four years under the College of Education that subsequently became the College of Home Economics. My studies were quiet and uneventful. I studied hard to obtain college and university scholarships so my parents would not have to pay for my tuition.

Professional Life

After graduation, I interned at the Philippine General Hospital for six months so I can qualify to take the first board examination for dietitians. I came out with flying colors as I topped these board exams for dietitians!

My path to success was relatively easy after this. I worked at Far Eastern University Hospital as a clinical dietitian to get some experience. I also took some graduate courses at UP in preparation for studies abroad. I was accepted at the University of Hawaii (UH) to pursue a M.S. degree in Nutrition under an East-West grant. I left the Philippines for the US in 1966 and studied at the UH and, later, at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). This was the start of my lifetime career ladder as my fascination with public health led me to UCLA where I obtained a doctorate’s degree in public health in 1972.

I supported myself through teaching and research assistantships. I then worked as a nutrition supervisor for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and then spent more than 20 years in academia, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in nutrition, public health and Asian Studies in various US universities.

I was a research associate at the UH and UCLA, nutrition supervisor at Hubert Humphrey and Edward Roybal Comprehensive Health Centers in Los Angeles, and faculty at Pepperdine University, California State University in Long Beach and Los Angeles, UH and San Diego State University (SDSU). In 2004, I assisted in organizing a travel study program between SDSU Dept. of Asian Studies and UP Diliman that did not materialize due to terrorist threats.

Career Highlight

The highlight of my career was co-founding with Dr. Riz A. Oades, a fellow professor at SDSU, the Kalusugan Community Services (KCS) in 1994 and establishing the Filipino American Wellness Center (FWC) in 2002. The mission of the Center is to improve the health and wellbeing of Filipino Americans through positive changes in life style through community service, research, training and advocacy. From a coalition with a start-up budget of $50,000 it has grown to a multifaceted agency in 2008 with a total income of $3 million since its inception. It was during the last 10 years that KCS was born and I spent part of my career helping build the organization into what it is today.

The Center’s activities include dissemination of information, screening and referrals, health education and parent/youth workshops, nutrition and physical activities, and intergenerational cultural and social events. Its programs have been effective in improving the health and well-being of FilAms, i.e., increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables and increasing physical activity. The future goal of the organization is to be a financially stable and professionally managed institution so that it can be self-sustaining and continue to carry its mission in the next generations to come.

Values and Attitudes

It was also at UP that I started attending Bible studies sponsored by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) that was held “under the trees” in front of the Liberal Arts building. Seeing a group of students meeting under the trees fascinated me so when a friend invited me to attend I went to check it out. It was here that I heard about the “good news”, about being “born again” and “being saved”. I met students who already believed in the message and dedicated their lives to spreading the gospel. I also responded positively and this started my life on a path that gave a meaningful goal and purpose in life.

This experience guided me all through life such that I started reading the Bible, going to a church to hear inspirational messages, and meeting many Christian acquaintances that became lifetime friends. Before going to the US, I took a detour in my career and spent two years in Oriental Mindoro and Silang, Cavite as a missionary. These were one of the happiest days of my life! The people I ministered to were so nice and very receptive to the gospel message. I wish I could forever be a missionary. However, I missed the intellectual stimulation that I had at the university and was concerned about raising my own financial support, so I decided to go back and pursue my profession.

I am happy in the career where I am – a nutritionist, as I found a niche where my talents can be used and where I have influenced many people to become healthy. I have two sisters who are nurses and a brother in law who is a physician. I guess you can say that this has sublimated my desire to be a physician or nurse. A verse in the Bible states, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Sometimes we get frustrated in not getting what we want, but in the end we only have to be thankful that it was the best thing that happened to us.

Oftentimes, also, we take detours along the way, but eventually, God will get us back to where we should be. Thus, I am looking forward to a new vision of the future that will blend my career and noble calling for my life.

Influence of UP Training

I am thankful to UP for the training that I received during my undergraduate days. Without it I would not have started my career on a solid footing. I am also proud to win the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of America’s (UPAAA) Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award in 2005 given in San Diego, California.

Mostly, I am thankful that it was at UP that I experienced the most significant event in my life that changed me drastically and set the direction on where I should go and what I should be. I have trusted the Lord to guide me and I am still trusting that He will continue to do so in the many more years to come so I can be the person I was meant to be and continue to be of service to others.






Graduating from Mapa High School in Manila, I entered UP in 1955 with trepidation. The University’s reputation as the most difficult institution of higher education preceded itself. I was a happy-go-lucky guy who didn’t take his studies seriously. I played the field and enjoyed life outside academics. Finally, I graduated with a BS degree and at the strong urging of my family, I went on to medical school to become a doctor, graduating from UE from 1965. In 1966, I went to the U.S., with my new bride, Diane.

We settled down in Baltimore, where I completed my residency in OB-GYN both at Johns’ Hopkins and Greater Baltimore Medical Center. In 1972 I joined the US Navy’s Medical Corps as a Lieutenant Commander. During my 21-year career with the Navy, my family and I spent time in Naples, Italy as well as the Philippines before settling down in San Diego. I retired in 1993 as Captain and Chairman of the OB-GYN Department at Balboa Hospital in San Diego.

After retirement, one of my former residents invited me to join the staff at Portsmouth Naval Hospital as a civilian provider where I stayed for 13 years until I retired from medicine completely in 2006.

('Then' picture coming soon)



Olongapo City is the place where my parents made a home for their six children. I’m the fourth child, born in Cavite City. Graduating as Salutatorian from Olongapo High School, I entered UP as an Entrance Scholar. I wanted so much to be a lawyer, but got roped into the pre-med program. By my 3rd year, I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a doctor. I begged my parents to let me off the hook, and promised to marry a doctor instead. Graduating in 1960 with a B.S. major in Zoology, my professor in Parasitology, Dr. Carmen Velasquez got me my first job as assistant to the principal of UP High School.

I then went on to Bremerton, Washington as part of President Eisenhower’s People to People program. I attended Olympic College where I took a year of business courses.
After I moved back to the Philippines in 1965, Mario and I got married in the Church of the Risen Lord on the UP Diliman campus. I worked for the Bureau of Fisheries and then went on to teach Zoology courses and UE and CEU up until 1966. Mario and I then moved to the US, where I taught Biology in Baltimore and took graduate courses in Johns Hopkins University until 1971 when I retired from the workforce to care for my children.

Life Together

Mario and I met in one of our zoology courses. UP was the setting of the romance that bloomed between us. It is under those flaming orange fire trees that we fell in love, dated and made the commitment to be together. After graduation, he decided to go to medical school and I went on to pursue my own career. After he graduated from the University of the East, he taught Physiology for a year at his alma mater. We got married in 1965 and decided to come to America in 1966.

Our two children, Dimark and Marni were both born in Baltimore. Mario joined the US Navy after residency and was assigned to the Naval Academy Hospital in 1972. Life inside the academy sold us to Navy life. Other duty stations included Subic Hospital, Philippines, where our daughter, Deena, was born and delivered by her dad. We were also stationed in Naples, Italy where we were able to travel all over Europe. We soaked up the cultures of the different countries where we stayed weeks at a time. This was an education in itself. And we thank the Navy for such opportunities that expanded our horizons. Our favorite pastime was traveling. We were lucky enough to visit all the major cities in Europe and much, much more. We ended up back in San Diego once again, where Mario worked at Balboa Hospital, and finally retired from the Navy in 1993.

From there, we decided to go East one more time where Mario joined the OB-GYN Medical Staff at NMC, Portsmouth, Virginia. This afforded us to see the East coast up and down and stay in places where we could not afford when Mario was a resident. It also gave us a chance to enjoy east coast life where we lived in a beautiful home on the Chesapeake Bay. Here, we spent many days going fishing and crabbing and enjoying all the things Virginia had to offer.

Retirement in San Diego

In the winter of our years together, 42 as a married couple and 7 years before that, we are still together and are now residing in one of the most beautiful cities in America—San Diego, California.

We were blessed with three wonderful children, Dimark, 40, Marni, 36 and Deena, 30, who are all successful in their chosen careers. We also have three beautiful grandchildren: Aria, 5, Noah, 3 and Justin, 1 (and a grand-puppy, Wylie.).

Mario spends much of his time playing his guitar and singing. What more can one ask for? God has been good to us. We are very grateful and pray that He continues to shine His face on our family. We have fulfilled our goals and ambitions. No regrets here!





The Early Years (Nueva Ecija and Manila) – I was born in Lupao, Nueva Ecija on the island of Luzon, Philippines. My grandfather, Don Alejandro Buencamino, was originally from Gapan, Nueva Ecija but migrated to a more fertile “promised land” in the same province where the family acquired a vast tract of rice land tended by “kasama” in the field. When WWII broke out, my father, Emilio was elected as the Mayor of Lupao. During my last visit to Lupao several years ago, I’m very proud to see my father’s picture displayed on the walls of City Hall as one of the past mayors of our town. He left a legacy that his family will always be proud of. My father and my mother, Emiliana, both believed in giving their 11 children a good education. During the Japanese regime, they made a trip to Manila, bought a property close to the University of Santo Tomas, paid with bundles of “Japanese money” and moved our family to Manila immediately after WWII.

With several older siblings, my parents enrolled us at St. Mary’s College in Quezon City in the elementary grades and we spent high school years at Far Eastern University. I remember whenever a sibling graduated from high school, my father would advise them to continue their schooling in any college or university of their choice in Manila. My older siblings ended up graduating at different schools such as Centro Escolar University, University of the East and University of Santo Tomas. The family was expecting me to enroll at UST where my two older sisters were enrolled in the Colleges of Architecture and Education but it has always been my dream to go to the “tough one”, the University of the Philippines. During my senior year in high school, I challenged myself to study hard to get high marks in all my subjects so as not to take the entrance exam at UP. It was a breeze and I was accepted into the College of Liberal Arts majoring in Business Administration, without taking the entrance exam.

While about to complete my studies at UP, I befriended a lady by the name of Teresing Vargas Villavicencio, daughter of the late General Jorge Vargas who took me under her wing to work in the office of the Secretary of Commerce and Industry, Manuel Lim. I
learned a lot from Teresing and she eventually became my role model. Working in the office of a cabinet member has opened my eyes to the sophistication of the business and political worlds. Because of my major in college, I shared my dream with Teresing to work in the newly-formed semi-government bank, the Philippine National Cooperative Bank (PNCB) at Port Area. She immediately called up the President of the Bank and the next day, without an interview, I started working at the Loans & Discounts Department. After two years, the bank created the Foreign Department and I was immediately transferred to work in the newly-formed department. I worked at PNCB for six years until I decided to immigrate to the United States.

*Unfortunately, I became so engrossed in working that I neglected to complete the last six units to satisfy the requirements for my UP degree. Upon being settled in the US, however, I enrolled at National University and they accredited all my UP courses, allowing me to formally graduate in 1976 with a hybrid UP/NU bachelors degree of Business Administration after taking just six units at NU. (Subsequently, I enrolled in their Masters Program and in 1978 I was awarded the degree of Masters in Business Administration.)

Life in the United States (San Diego, CA) – I flew directly to San Francisco to join a cousin who was married to a GI in WWII. I immediately found a job as Statistician at Blue Cross/Blue Shield office in San Francisco. After several months, I planned to join my sister in New York to apply for a job at the United Nations. But fate intervened in the form of a dashing Filipino-American “mestizo” who was assigned at the Naval Base station in Alameda. He is the youngest son of Claude Edgar Andrews, a Thomasite Teacher who was born at Gentry County, Missouri. In 1902, Claude was among those sent by the US government to the Philippines to educate the Filipinos and establish the American school system and one of the schools that he established was the University of the Philippines in 1908. He met and married a pretty “Cagayana” and settled in the flourishing town of Tuguegarao, Cagayan. Their son, Edwin, was destined to be my husband and he and I were married on September 26, 1967 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in San Francisco.

San Diego was Edwin’s last tour of duty in the US Navy. We love it here because of the temperate climate so we decided to live permanently at Otay Ranch, Chula Vista. While working at a local bank in Chula Vista, a co-worker mentioned to me about the benefits of working in the civil service system so I immediately took a competitive exam in the County and the City of San Diego. As soon as I passed the entrance exam, the City of San Diego contacted me right away and I was hired to work in the City Clerk’s Department as a Legislative Recorder in 1974. I have always been fascinated in politics and loved working as support of the Mayor and Council by covering the weekly Council meetings and preparing the Council Docket and Minutes are very fulfilling to me.

I decided to devote my career in the City government by specializing in the areas of Archives and Records Management. In my capacity as Deputy City Clerk and Management Analyst in the City, I was accepted as a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, an organization of municipal clerks all over the world. After taking advanced courses in management required by IIMC, I was also awarded the prestigious title and distinction of Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC).

I love the excitement of traveling to different places in the world. While employed in the City, I take a long vacation once a year, join group tours and see exciting places in Europe, the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Greece, Egypt, Israel, China and cruises to Alaska and Mexico. I came back to my job refreshed and exhilarated and look forward to another exciting trip the next year. After almost 30 years of service in the San Diego City Clerk’s Department, it’s time to take it easy and smell the roses. I officially retired from the City of San Diego on December 31, 2004.

Community Involvements and Achievements – While employed in the City of San Diego, I have been actively involved in the Filipino American community by volunteering my services in the Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Inc. (COPAO). Immediately after my retirement, the call of serving the community became so strong that I decided to run as President of COPAO in December, 2004 and won. With the assistance of an excellent team of officers, we finished our term in 2006 and in 2007, the Executive Council overwhelmingly re-elected me to serve for another term until 2008. My other involvements and achievements are:

∙ Member, University of the Philippines Alumni Association
∙ Founder, City of San Diego Filipino American Employees’ Association, Inc.
∙ Past President, South Bay Filipino American Community Association, Inc.
∙ Maria Clara de Pilipinas Sorority, Lady of Elegance
∙ Woman of Distinction by the Scottish Rite Center of Free Masonry

Buencamino-Andrews Family Scholarship Foundation – To honor the memory of my parents, Emilio and Emiliana Buencamino, I have established a Scholarship Foundation to benefit the deserving nephews and nieces who are interested to pursue their studies in any college or university of their choice in the Philippines. This will give back to the younger generation of Buencaminos the opportunity to have a better chance in life to succeed in their chosen field of endeavor.

“Your true character is revealed by the clarity of your conviction, the choices you make, and the promises you keep.”





After finishing his elementary and secondary education in the Manila public school system, Philip entered UP in 1957 riding on a proverbial golden carpet. He won a P10,000-scholarship from the oil-rich Buckley (e.g., Senator James, Publisher William) family of New York after besting more than 50 other aspirants from all over the Philippines.

He graduated in 1961 and fulfilled his four-year commitment to work for a Buckley Philippine oil exploration company but in 1965, the Buckley group, not finding any oil after drilling a dozen dry wells, decided to shut down their Philippine operations. Philip was invited to work overseas (US and elsewhere) with them at a salary of $2,000 a month but he declined.

Instead, he negotiated for the purchase of their company’s office and field equipment at book value. This started him on a career as a businessman and an independent operator from age 27. After he realized a sizable windfall from selling the company surplus, he was emboldened to put up a geological consulting firm. He had Exxon, Mobil, Union Oil and the US government as his clients.

In 1969, oil exploration in the Philippines ground to a halt. All UP geology graduates migrated to the US and Canada except Philip and two other nationalists. One was a mestizo who had an American father and was a dual citizen until he chose Filipino at age 21 (what a man!).

With no geological consulting to do, in 1969 Philip tried an entirely different field. He went into door-to-door encyclopedia sales with a British company and was successful enough that after a year he was made head of the Manila branch. He quit in 1970 to supervise the building of their house in Sanville, Quezon City, while engaging in part-time geological consulting.

The year 1972 changed Philip’s life in more ways than one. That was the year when Marcos declared martial law, which initially proved to be a bonanza to Philip but eventually drove him and his family away from his beloved native land. But that is going too far ahead of the story.

As a UP freshman, Philip was chosen as the star reporter and assistant news editor of the Philippine Collegian by the only (until then) “barbarian” (that is, nonfrat) editor-in-chief, Homobono Adaza, after university-wide writing competitions. This barbarian editorial crew turned out to be a highly radical group and they, in tandem with UPSCA, organized the first ever student strike at UP when the Oblation was wrapped in black, remember? If you were a reader of the underground Collegian printed in red then, you were reading mostly Philip’s writings.

In his regular Collegian writings, he pointed out that the country was mired in poverty because of politics as usual, only the names and faces changed but the corruption and bad government remained constant. In one article, he mused, maybe what the government needed to get the Philippines out of the morass it was in was a strongman, a dictator—but one who will be patriotic and altruistic.

Philip’s idea turned out to be not just wishful thinking when two dictators burst on the world scene simultaneously in 1972. Unfortunately for the Philippines, the dictator that Philip had in mind emerged in a neighboring country, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. You all know how he has elevated the tiny island nation into a world class economic power and has eliminated lawlessness, homelessness and joblessness—things we cannot aspire for even in our wildest dreams for the Philippines.

In the Philippines, meanwhile, martial law burned like ningas kogon, our well-known national malady of short-lived enthusiasm. Philip, who espoused the idea way back in college, was an early believer and supporter. The slogan then was patriotic, “Sa ika-uunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan. (For the nation to progress, discipline is needed.) And for a while, the police smiled and there was courtesy at the four-way intersections. But national progress through clean and honest government? It was only an empty slogan to justify suppression of personal liberties and press freedom.

But in the midst of the chaos Philip saw an economic opportunity. With a friend who was one of the sons of the owners of Manila’s National Book Store, he cooked up an ambitious and unprecedented publishing venture that will enable him to make his first million.

It helped that one of his neighbors then (would you believe that Vilma Santos was one, too?) was a certain Francisco “Kit” Tatad, Marcos’ press secretary. Philip broached to him the idea of giving him the private sector publishing rights to everything about martial law that came out of Malacanang. Kit readily signed him the permit and to his credit never asked Philip for a centavo in return.

Thus was “Proclamation No. 1081 and Related Documents” born and the rest is history. If you were a student or an office worker in the Philippines in the first seven years of martial law, you used one of the books “Compiled and Edited by F.D. Pinpin” published by National Book Store. Because the name “Pinpin” was such an unknown and mysterious quantity in legal circles, people kept asking who’s he? They where told to answer, “He’s a judge” and if pressed further, whisper “of beauty contests!”

Outside of textbooks, Philip’s martial law series is considered the most successful private publishing venture in the Philippines. Millions of books were printed and were used by all including, presumably, the Supreme Court because, other than the original documents, there was no alternative. The National Media Production Center then was running a parallel project but they were told to stop by President Marcos himself, as Philip was told by a cabinet member who was also a neighbor at that time.

When the interest in the Marcos books waned as the country came to grips with the real style and motives of the conjugal dictatorship, Philip abandoned the publishing business and put up a corporation to engage in oil exploration project consulting. At this time, too, he and his wife put up a restaurant and a commercial orchid nursery.

His main achievement during this period was to bring British Petroleum to spend $6,000,000 for the drilling projects of one of their clients. Needless to say, Philip (the ex-encyclopedia salesman and future life insurance agent) made a six-figure dollar commission for this transaction.

Economically, Philip and his family were doing well but things were turning for the worse in the streets, highlighted by the twin killings in 1983 of Edgar Jopson, the Ateneo-UP student leader, and Ninoy Aquino, who needs no introduction. Jopson was the idol of all Ateneans and was touted by the Jesuits as the second coming of Jose Rizal. Imagine, he was Ateneo high school valedictorian and a UP summa cum laude while busy leading the anti-Marcos student barricades!

After graduation from UP, he was forced to take to the hills on Mindanao where he was tracked town. His murder by Marcos’ henchmen fired up the Jesuits that they agitated all Ateneans to continue the revolt in the streets. The Makati demonstrations in yellow were a daily occurrence and Philip’s son (then at UP from Ateneo) did not want to go to school anymore because, he reasoned, it only takes one bullet to take one’s life anyway (bakit pa ako mag-aaral, isang bala lang naman ako tulad ni Jopson).

The peace and order situation deteriorated so bad that Connie (nee Maria Conchita Pasion), Philip’s wife of 45 years, made a decision that will change their lives forever. The dire situation was compounded when their own security guard was stabbed to death in front of their restaurant. The killers scampered away when Philip approached, thank God, afraid that he was carrying his Browning 8mm issued to him for being an accredited Constabulary anti-narcotics secret agent under a “paid” memorandum order.

Connie decided that they will move to the US for no other reason than to continue their two children’s education. Son James (now married to Judy) graduated from UCSD with a degree in computer science and is now the vice president of a computer consulting firm. They have a talented daughter, Natalia, who is 4.0 at school and excels in piano and ballet. Daughter Ness finished banking and finance at NU and is now the administrator of their newly-setup home care business.

Their reluctant move to America in 1984 was not as easy as most other immigrants from the Philippines. They entered with an L-1 visa and were allowed to stay only by establishing a business, not by working for others. So they set up their own office and became involved in the money and gift remittance, travel and insurance businesses.

As a life insurance agent, Philip has attained the highest level of achievement bestowed by his company, recognition in their Hall of Fame in 1997. He is the 23rd agent in mainstream America to get the award for the last 60 years.

He considers himself lucky to have traveled the five continents represented by the Olympic rings with his wife. Connie and Philip’s love of travel has taken them to all the islands and major cities of the Philippines. In the US, they have traversed by car 43 states as well as the four major Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

For a while he was involved in Lionism but Philip considers himself retired and detached from the public scene in San Diego now. Earlier in 2000, he founded the Filipino Foundation, a 501(c)3 corporation that took him a year to establish, whose dedicated and ambitious objective was to put up a Filipino Center in San Diego similar to that one near Honolulu. But the idea received lukewarm public support and was swarmed by other competing projects that appeared to have gained no headway either. The project is now in mothballs under the new administration that succeeded him. The failure of this project to get off the ground greatly disillusioned Philip to the point that he shied away from further community involvement. (Maybe the UPAASD can come to the rescue of the project, after all).

An editor-in-chief of his elementary and high school newspapers in addition to his stint with the Philippine Collegian as a freshman, writing is in his blood but he remained an “amateur” all his life. He was discouraged by his high school paper adviser from pursuing a career in writing or journalism and instead was told to get into science or engineering. And that is how he became a geologist-encyclopedia salesman-orchid grower-restaurateur-insurance agent!

Philip may have studied geology but he considers he learned from UP far more than this. His UP experience taught him to be independent and resilient, thus he was able to live his life his way (with apologies to FS). In San Diego, he practiced his inborn talent by writing articles and columns for two San Diego Filipino newspapers. As a fitting culmination to his journalistic “career”, now he volunteered to come out of self-imposed retirement to be the Editor of the UPAASD Directory and Website projects.


("Then" Picture Coming Soon)



2007-2008 Vice President, UPAASD

I was born and raised a poor farmer's son in the American heartland, Shelton, Nebraska, one of eleven children. Drove a team of horses at seven years of age. First paying job at nine as a shaker working for a Mexican picker where I learned my first Spanish. Also did not start school until nine years, and assigned to the 5th grade because of my age. Did not read or write, multiply or divide at this point, flunked 5th grade, and passed to 6th anyway. Mother and Father said no way, complained to school system, and so I did the 5th grade over again. After skipping a couple of grades because I had to work, I eventually graduated, however, next to last in my high school class. While in high school, I was awarded an athletic scholarship to Kearny State Teachers College which I could not use because I failed in the entrance exam.

Father sent me to Oregon to work, where I was later admitted to Oregon State after passing their entrance exam. Started to play for Oregon State’s varsity basketball team, then was recruited by owner of Chelsea Cigarettes, a semi-pro team playing in the (misnamed) Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (PAAF) league in Manila. Made some non-basketball playing friends who were attending UP, and for something to do, and to spend more time with them I enrolled at Diliman in 1956. Stayed two years and left school to join the Navy. Assigned in 1961 to Cubi Point, at Subic Bay, registered at UP Extension in Olongapo. Endured heavy load, and completed in 1962, happy to have graduated, once again, next to last in my class.

After leaving the Navy in 1966, went to Buffalo, New York to work as a test engineer for Bell Aerosystems. By being in the right place at the right time, and through no plan of my own, I became a pioneer in advanced marine vehicles, most specifically air cushion vehicles, (called Hovercraft by the British in England). Because air cushion vehicles were a new technology I had ample opportunity to travel as project manager with the test craft and as the pilot-instructor.

Spent a lot of time in Canada, trained the Canadian Coast Guard, and in Alaska near Anchorage. In 1967 set a record in traveling from Seward to Anchorage, Alaska at an average over water speed of 60 knots which still stands for the distance of 360 nautical miles. In the United States in 1967 trained the Navy, and in 1968 the Army operations, and maintenance teams who operated in Vietnam, then assigned the Navy and Army technical advisor.

Recruited in 1969 by Aerojet General Corporation in El Monte, California, and transferred immediately to Sacramento to provide technical guidance in the design, testing, operation, and maintenance of air cushion vehicles and the training of crews. While with Aerojet General, became project manager of the American Coast Guard Air Cushion Vehicle Program. Created the training program, and with other assigned employees of Aerojet General trained and maintained the Coast Guard operation and maintenance crew. Lectured on Advanced Marine Vehicle technology at Sacramento State, School of Engineering.

Then back to Canada, the Northwest Territories (NWT), to receive by air from England, two air cushion vehicles (Hovercraft) at Yellowknife, NWT. It required 30 days to assemble the craft which were to be delivered to Prudhoe Bay Alaska via the McKenzie River into the Arctic Ocean. Another record set (remember I was a pioneer) the longest trip into the Arctic ever accomplished by an air cushion vehicle, more than 1500 miles, the last three hundred miles over the Arctic Ice Pack. Still stands, as far as I know.

Still at Aerojet General, returned to the Arctic for a Naval Scientific program using an ACV to find the North Pole which moves around quite a bit. Exciting adventure, but we did not locate the pole on that project. During my time in the Northern reaches of Alaska and in the Arctic had the pleasant experience to go from nearly 24 hours total light to nearly 24 hours total darkness. Saw grizzles, polar bears, fox, whales, seals and other animals in the wild. Saw the fox, and ptarmigan change from all white to brown and back to white as the season changed.

Returned to Sacramento, then reassigned by Aerojet General to Tacoma, Washington to develop the operation, maintenance, testing and training programs for the surface effect ship. Same principal as the air cushion vehicle (ACV), but unlike the ACV which could operate over any surface, the surface effect ship could only operate over water. Both technologies used the principle of reduced drag. At Tacoma, while testing the surface effect ship, set an over water speed record for a ship over a measured timed course at a speed of more than 100 knots. That record was broken approximately six months later by, guess who? Bell Aerospace. My first job after the Navy, and Bell was the pioneer in the America's - North and South.

While at Aerojet Tacoma, Washington, was an invited lecturer at the University of Washington in Seattle, and was also selected as a one-year Fellow in the Office of Senator John Stennis, who was Chairman of the Senate Appropriations and the Senate Armed Services Committees. I learned a lot about government during that period, and I believe I have retained that knowledge. After my Senate Fellowship, returned to Aerojet Tacoma for my last assignment as an employee of Aerojet General, training the Navy Team for the surface effect ship program.

Left Aerojet in 1974 to work in San Diego for Rohr Industries. Rohr saw the potential and wanted to get into the advanced marine vehicle business. Rohr had already hired several other engineers whom I knew at Bell and at Aerojet to begin the design. I was hired as a project planner, but shortly after arriving, the Navy sent out a request for proposals to Bell, Aerojet and Rohr to set up in Maryland a Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Facility on the Atlantic Coast. I was tasked to write the proposal for Rohr, and Rohr who had no experience at that time in advanced marine vehicles was declared the winner of a multi-million dollar program with, the Navy stipulation that I be assigned the RDT&E Program Manager and Facilities Director.

Not excited about being transferred to Maryland, I went nonetheless, and spent three years as Director of the Navy Program. The facility, test vehicles and test equipment were valued in excess of $300 million at that time. The Team I was privileged to lead included 108 Rohr persons, and between 24 and 50 subcontract maintenance personnel, depending upon the test schedules. While there, I earned an MBA at the University of Maryland, and lectured at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Rohr recalled me San Diego as Far East Marketing Manager in 1977. I was only at Rohr San Diego a few months before being transferred to Washington, D.C. as Manager of Washington Operations. The purpose of the transfer was to keep the advanced marine vehicle program alive at the Pentagon and the money in the budget at the House and Senate.

The advanced marine program now included the hydrofoil, a Boeing program, and Boeing was the American leaders in that hydrofoil technology. Their Washington Representative and I worked closely together and the Program was saved. After a year in Washington, D.C., I transferred back to San Diego. Two months later, I was back in Washington, D.C. as a Congressman Bob Wilson Fellow in the House of Representatives. After the one year Fellowship I returned to San Diego and made numerous trips to the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, and Taiwan as Far East Marketing Manager promoting advanced marine vehicles.

I developed a desire to stay in one place, as I had children who were growing to rapidly for me to keep up with. I then left the Aerospace field in 1982 and started a transportation company in San Diego which included taxicabs and vans for the transportation of handicapped and the elderly. Advanced from the survival mode to over $1million in sales. Sold the business and retired.

In the period after leaving the Aerospace Industry, and while working in my own business, I became heavily involved in Animal Rights Work, and still advocate for animals whenever I can. I am against killing a non-human animal to eat it, and myself, will eat no flesh.

Just prior to retiring from the business, and then while retired, entered into the study of law, first at UCSD completing a six month paralegal program, and then enrolling at Southern California University where I graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1995.

In 1994 I met the beautiful lady who was to become my second spouse, THE Eleanor Padua Quinto of Dagupan City, Pangasinan, Philippines. A double graduate in both accounting and business administration from St. Joseph in Manila. In the Philippines, Eleanor was at one time, Miss Pangasinan, and later Miss United Way Philippines.

In the United States for a visit, Eleanor entered Nursing School, worked as a nurse for 12 years before leaving the profession and taking a position with Miramar FCU. I returned to work with the State of California where I remain today. I enjoy my work, take nothing home from work, and some days have to think a few moments to remember where I work.





Becoming a Nurse has always been what I wanted to be. It seemed like the profession had the answers to most of my questions and desires. It was a calling of integrity and respect, service was synonymous with it, and it offered a lot of opportunities. I must admit that the white uniform (then) brought a kind of a bonus to the attraction for it.

My family traveled a lot when I was growing up, primarily because of need. At least that was how I saw it. Born in Tarlac, Tarlac, my mother’s hometown, we moved to Caibiran, Leyte where my father came from as soon as I was old enough to travel. After my fourth grade, we moved back to Luzon, this time to San Fernando, La Union where my mother was offered a job with the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. This was also necessary so all us kids can be close to better schools especially for my two older brothers who were ready for college. This also afforded my parents to be available for our “guidance and supervision”. I finished my schooling there up to Pre-Nursing at the La Union Christian College, on a partial scholarship.

An opportunity for a scholarship to UP-PGH, class of 1963, representing the province of La Union came up and I was fortunate to get it. I practiced Nursing the same year I graduated doing private duty cases at hospitals like UST Hospital, San Juan De Dios, Mary Johnston, Chinese General, Ramon Magsaysay, and the like, as it paid more than being a staff.

In 1965, as an exchange visitor nurse, I landed at the Albert Einstein Medical Center, in Philadelphia, PA. I was among the first wave of the sixties’ Nurse “migration” talked about in some of the historical Nursing books. I have always been proud of that. This is where I met my husband and got married.

San Diego, CA was our next destination and I practiced here up to and including the present, interrupted only by several moves out of state during my husband’s naval service. Somehow, we were very lucky to be granted our requests for transfer back to San Diego each time. In a span of almost four decades, I earned a Bachelors Degree in Nursing, worked at hospitals like Sharp Memorial, Paradise Valley, County (now UCSD) and Kaiser Permanente, from where I retired in 1999. But so as not to remain completely idle, I have worked as a visiting Nurse for a private agency on the side.

My professional clinical experience included most areas of expertise, from the Adult Intensive Care Unit, Recovery room, Medical-Surgical, Gynecology, Obstetrics (normal and complicated) and Well-baby nursery. I have been a Patient Educator, a Charge Nurse and a Nurse Manager.
I was involved in the advisory group for contract negotiations with the AFL-CIO Nurse union as a staff nurse. I participated and chaired hospital committees on Chart Audits, Quality Assurance, Nurse Practice, Joint Commission Hospital Survey prep teams etc.
I was awarded certifications in Basic Life Support (BLS), Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS) and Neonatal Advance Life Support (NALS).

Five years after my “official” retirement, I was persuaded to embark on a very part time job in a city clinic. I was told that it was hard to retain someone in the position due to the ongoing Nurse shortage. It was in the field of Behavioral Health. There was a need and it was a challenge. I took it. I have enjoyed it and after two years continue to do so.

I consider community as an extension of family….one advocates for both and hopes that in a small way it makes a difference. Looking back, at all those seemingly inconsequential “Gypsy” like lifestyle I had, I believe, is actually in preparation for this path. It taught me to speak Kapampangan, Ilocano and some Waray. Most importantly, it gave me a broad and differing aspects of life, how to come up with the possible solutions that benefits the whole.

My husband and I brought our families to this country which is certainly not unique in any way. In fact it is replicated many times over by many immigrants till this day.
I truly believe that my sense of community is just an extension of that. Being involved in outreaching the community, especially the underserved and underrepresented for any variety of reasons, still gives me a reason for waking up in the morning.

My involvement in civic activities includes being the Chair of the Community Health Committee for the last eight years, as an active member of the Philippine Nurses Association of San Diego (PNASD), the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurses Associations (NCEMNA), the South Bay Health Collaborative - Kalusugan Community Services (KCS), Samahan Clinic, Philippine Medical Association, Aging and Independence Services (AIS-County Health Services), collaborations with the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Arthritis Foundation, Lifesharing-organ donations, County of San Diego Health and Human Services.

I also devote some time to the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Red Cross-Disaster Preparedness, the San Diego Black Nurses Association, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) San Diego, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Healthcare, Scripps Health, Paradise Valley Hospital, and the UCSD Healthcare.

Educational outreach through community workshops and seminars in collaboration with our health partners at most of the cultural and community fairs in the county is another way that PNASD serves. We also include blood pressure screening, fat analysis, health referrals and sometimes just to listen.

As one who understands the importance of health, be it because of a lack of information or education, lack of or limited access, limited or lack of medical insurance, language/communication/cultural barriers, and for many other reasons, health is one that affects us all….eventually.

I served as past president of PNASD, currently a Board member, and chair several committees. I serve as a Board member of KCS and as Executive VP of the Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County.

I know we do not have to look very far in our community for some very qualified, charismatic and persuasive persons that can effect that big policy change and we’ll certainly do what we can to help make it so. I was requested to Chair PNASD’s Legislative Committee during this term of office and we hope to make some impact here as well.

The goal is to make sure that our membership and by extension, the community that we serve, are made aware of key legislative bills and proposals affecting them so they can make informed decisions. Conversely, it is also imperative that we establish a regular dialogue with our local political representatives and leadership to let them know our issues.





Orphaned by my mother at the age of 2-1/2, I grew up under the care of my brothers and sisters, assisted by an elderly relative of my mother. My father, a widower at age 38, had remarried and started a new family. I was fondly called Nene by my kin, and became the apple of their eyes, not only because I was the youngest, but also because I was a sickly little girl who needed special care and attention.

Atty. Crisanto L. Francisco, my eldest brother, a graduate of the U.P College of Law, insisted his other younger siblings, including me, be enrolled in the same university. Upon graduation from St. Mary’s College, Quezon City, I found the new UP environment quite a big change from the private school where I came from. The sudden change of school environment was quite a shock to me, a young “colegiala”!

Because I was a sickly child, I was not allowed to take up my chosen course of Nursing. Upon the insistence of my brother, I took up pre-Dentistry subjects in the College of Liberal Arts. I was warned never to join any sorority as it would take so much time from my studies. Growing up to be quite a rebel, I became a Delta Lambda Sigman in 1961. And, unknown to my family, I shifted my course to Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service. (BSFS). Joining the Sorority club and changing my course of study turned me into a sociable, friendly, and outgoing coed. In my junior year, I had also become a top member of the corps of sponsors. Being a corps sponsor, somehow made me quite popular not only on campus but in other universities. I was voted by members of the different university fraternities as their muse and was crowned Ms. Inter-University Fraternity at the Manila Hotel ballroom.

It was in the last semester of my junior year, when I met my future husband Julio V. Garrovillas, Jr., a Mapuan and a neighbor. Against all odds, Jun pursued me relentlessly not only at the U.P. campus but everywhere I went until he won my heart. And the rest is history.

*Because of the demands of my marriage and the duties of raising a family, I was forced to cut short my studies after my junior year. It was 20 years later when I finally obtained a college degree. First, dentistry; then, foreign service; finally, I found my niche in business management. Because of my three years stay at U.P., I qualified to be a full-fledged member of the UPAA, which requires a minimum of two years student residency for admission.

In 1983, my husband and I, along with our four young sons, immigrated to San Diego, California, where I continued my studies while working and caring for my family. Despite all odds, I managed to finish a Bachelors of Science degree in Business Management (BSBM) from the University of Phoenix, San Diego.

I have held several responsible jobs at private and government offices, from clerk, purchasing liaison, to legal secretary, then took an early retirement after 20 years with the City of San Diego. Soon after retirement from the City of San Diego, I became an active community volunteer worker. Some of my community organizations involvements are below:

1. Past Vice President, First Newsletter Editor & Lifetime Member – The City of San Diego Filipino-American Employees Association (CSDFAEA)
2. Lifetime Member - City of San Diego Retirement System
3. Past Secretary - Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Inc. (COPAO)
4. Past Board Member - San Diego Mini Concerts
5. Past Vice President - Fil-Am Toastmasters (FATC#9493)
6. Current Member - University of the Philippines Alumni Association-San Diego (UPAASD)
7. Current Member - Filipino-American Community Empowerment (FACE)
8. Current Member - Healthy Eating Advocate - Kalusugan Community Services (KCS)
9. Current Member - South Bay Fil-Ams (SBFA)
10. Current & 14th President - San Diego Majestic Lions Club (SDMLC).

Nowadays, I am preoccupied with my latest venture as one of the fast rising top-selling Realtor with Century 21 Award. I have also recently joined the Philippines real estate, selling Philippines properties to my clientele who are mostly coming from the United States. Besides doing civic work, I keep my mind and body refreshed and healthy by indulging my favorite pastimes – singing and dancing – and by engaging in regular light exercises like brisk walking or slow running.

My current occupation is a far cry from my college training at U.P. but then I consider that the U.P. education and experience teach all graduates to be complete persons ready and prepared to tackle whatever comes their way in life.





A young lady dressed in a white uniform with a white cap entered the school doors. She was the first nurse ever to be assigned to San Jacinto Elementary School in Masbate. Fresh from being an exchange student nurse from the US, she personified what I wanted to do in life. I dreamt of becoming a nurse and going to the US.

After graduating from high school as salutatorian, my plan was to enroll at UP School of Nursing. My plans did not, however, coincide with my parents’ plans for me which was to follow their footsteps to become a teacher. In 1957, my father enrolled me into Philippine Normal College for teachers. I finished college in three years. To my parents’ delight, I taught fifth grade for the next six years in my hometown, San Jacinto. In my heart, I was not happy with my career.

Thinking that I had fulfilled my duty to follow my parents’ desires, I decided that it was time for a career change. In 1967, I went back to Manila to follow my nursing dream. That dream was quickly shattered again when the UP School of Nursing wanted me to start as a freshman. The idea of going through another four years of undergraduate studies was not appealing to me. Instead, I took the UP Ikot jeep to the Education Department and enrolled in the Education Graduate Program.

In April 1969, I graduated with an MA in Education, majoring in General Education at the Diliman Campus. I was 26, married and with my first child on his way. My husband, Antonio Maristela, who was my elementary and high school classmate, joined the US Navy and was waiting for me to join him in the US. Meanwhile, I was teaching at the Araneta Foundation Grade School during the day and was also an instructor at the Araneta Department of Education in the evening. I served as a member of the Philippine Association of University Women. I also represented the university in the Association of University Audio-Visual Instructors at conferences, seminars and meetings. A feeling of accomplishment by working in a tough academic environment was a validation of my choice of a noble profession

By 1972, with my two sons, ages three and two, we moved to the US to join my husband in Groton, Connecticut. The Navy moved us from one duty station to another – Virginia, Illinois and finally, California. By the time we headed to San Diego in 1978, we were a family of five after the birth of my daughter in Illinois. My parental authoritarian upbringing would clash with the American permissive but nurturing environment. It was my Master’s thesis on the Effects of Different Patterns of Child Rearing Practices of Filipino Mothers on the Achievement of Their Elementary School Children that guided me and Tony in raising our children and meeting all the challenges in a culturally- diversified society like California.

California opened new horizons for me. I felt ready to find a job outside of the home. With my degree from UP, I was able to get a teaching credential and was hired to teach in the Chula Vista School District. In 1982, when our school was transferred to the San Diego County Office of Education, there were a few credentials in my reach.

Working full time, going to school at night and raising three kids at the same time was never easy. When Tony was on a six-month deployment I was a single mother but, my UP training, my determination and the support of my family helped me get pass the obstacles of a wife, full-time student and working mother. In 1983, I obtained my Severely and Profoundly Handicapped Specialist and Multiple-Subject credentials from the San Diego State University.

My three kids are also products of the California university system. Antonio, the eldest graduated from UCSD. He is serving as First Lieutenant in the USANG. Edward graduated from UCI and is an artist in the computer animation industry. Farah, who completed her MS degree from SDSU, is a social worker for the Department of Child Welfare Services where she works with medically fragile foster kids. I like to think that I may have influenced her career goal.

After eighteen years of service at the SDCOE, I finally retired. I still enjoy returning as a substitute teacher. I find my years working with developmentally disabled students an uplifting experience. It has been a humbling and meaningful endeavor. I seemed to have found a niche where I reconciled my early calling with my destiny in a distinctive place called Friendship School. Touching the lives of children with very special needs has fulfilled my original ambition to be a nurse while impacting their academic development as a teacher. I guess my parents were right all along. Apparently, the school agreed with them because in 1995 the SDCOE recognized my efforts with a Friendship School Teacher of the Year Award.





2007-2008 Business Manager, UPAASD
2007-2009 Assistant Secretary, UPAAA

Move to the City

I was born and raised in Inabaan, Rosario, La Union. In 1963 my parents, Florentino A. Estoque and Clarita Dacoco Estoque (1928-2004), decided to move our family to Pag-asa, Quezon City to give their seven children a chance for better life and education. Life in the city was tough with my father working as a mechanic at the Quezon City Fire Department. Both our parents worked hard and sacrificed a lot to raise us and give us the education that they did not have. They always told us that education is the only wealth that they can leave us. My eldest brother and I enrolled at San Francisco High School and my younger siblings attended Pag-asa Elementary School. Being a transfer from a provincial high school, they put me in Section 7 of the sophomore class, to my disappointment. I wanted to move up to section 1 the next year so I studied very hard. I did move up but to Section 2. I was told that I will not be able to be in Section 1 because the students in that section had advanced classes which I did not have. I thought I would never graduate with honors anymore. However, in my junior year, I met my mentor, Miss Ma. Melia Estipona who convinced me that I have a chance if I can prove that I am deserving. She was the Trigonometry and Algebra teacher for third year and fourth year students. With her guidance and tutelage during my later years in high school, I was selected as the Mathematician of the Year and I not only graduated, I graduated salutatorian. She had great influence in my career path and choice of school. My parents wanted me to become a nurse but I decided to pursue a degree in Mathematics, just like my mentor.

Schooldays at UP

In 1967, I was accepted as an entrance scholar at the University of the Philippines. It was then that I really appreciated my parents’ decision to move the whole family to Quezon City.
Attending U.P. was at times overwhelming and intimidating but these gave me more drive to survive. U.P. not only taught me to work hard to pursue my dreams but it also taught me discipline, determination, confidence, integrity and to be responsible. U.P. not only gave me the tools and foundation to join the work force and deal with people but it also helped financially challenged students like me thru the grants-in-aid program.

Start of Professional Career

After graduation from U.P. I took the Statisticians examination for the Bureau of Census and Statistics (now known as National Census and Statistics Office (NCSO)). I was one of the 20 who passed out of hundreds of exam takers and was part of the Statisticians Training class of 1971. After the training, I was hired as a Statistician. While at NCSO, I went back to U.P. to pursue a degree in Statistics. I graduated with a Diploma in 1975. I was then hired as a Social Welfare Specialist at the Planning Division of the Department of Social Services and Welfare. I had a chance to travel to the different provincial branches of DSSW to train staff on planning and reporting. I worked there until 1977 when I received my visa to migrate to USA to join my mother, sister and my brother who was in the US Navy.

I moved to San Jose, California on November 1977. I started working as assembler at computer manufacturing companies in Sunnyvale. After a year, I moved to West Covina and stayed at my sister’s place. She and I went job hunting together and got jobs as clerks at the Los Angeles County Tax Collectors office. Not satisfied with my clerical job, I went to look for a job which will utilize what I learned from U.P. Hence, I applied for programming jobs. I was hired as a Data Processing Assistant on April 1978 at California State University, Los Angeles Foundation by the Data Processing Manager, James Francis Ply.

Jim and I got married on January 1, 1983. A month later when Jim accepted the position of Management Information Systems Director at Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles, I took over the Data Processing Manager position for CSULA Foundation. While working at CSULA, I went back to school and received another degree in Mathematics with option in Computer Science in 1982. Wanting to have experience working with large IBM mainframe systems, I applied for a programming job at the Los Angeles Unified School District. I was hired in 1986 but I was assigned to work with a systems running on UNIVAC. After over a year I applied and was offered a programming job working with IBM mainframe systems at the Los Angeles County Internal Services Department. I worked there until it was time to move to the finest city, San Diego.

Boat Life

When I was young, it never occurred to me that one day I will ride or sail in one of the recreational sailboats or power boats like the ones I read about in books and magazines or saw in movies. Well, I did! And not only did I sail or ride in them, my husband and I actually owned 2 sailboats: Silhouette, a J-24 and Aquarius, a 27-foot NorSea. After we sold Aquarius, we bought Ruffian, a 41-foot Roughwater trawler. We used to race our sailboats in Long Beach, Danapoint, San Pedro, Chula Vista and we also participated in the races from Newport Beach, CA to Ensenada, Mexico.. We lost some and we also won some but the best one for me was when I got the trophy for winning the Ladies Skippers race in Chula Vista. We also lived on Aquarius at the Shoreline Village in Long Beach in front of the Queen Mary and then in Chula Vista. We have been members of several yacht clubs. Currently, we are members of Oakland Yacht Club and Chula Vista Yacht Club (CVYC). Jim is the CVYC 2007-2008 Rear Commodore and Membership Chairman while I am the historian.

Move to San Diego

Whenever we sailed back from Ensenada, we used to dock our boat at Point Loma and took public transportation to tour San Diego. It was then that we decided that if one of us gets a job in San Diego, we are moving. We got that chance when Jim accepted the position of Director for Computer Systems Services at the Southwestern College in Chula Vista in 1988. I followed him when I was hired as a Programmer at Rohr, Inc. (now known as Goodrich Aerostructures Group) where I worked for 9 years. I am now a Systems Specialist at Union Bank of California where I have been working for 10 years. My husband had been working as a Project Manager implementing computer systems for Colleges and Universities in US and Canada hence we had a corporation set up which we called Salty Dog, Inc.

Community Involvement

As to my community involvement, I am serving as the incumbent Business Manager for UPAASD, 2007-2008 and Assistant Secretary for UP Alumni Association in America (UPAAA), 2007-2009. Currently, I am a member of the Board Directors for the San Diego Executive Lions Club and the historian for the Chula Vista Yacht Club.





2007-2008 Secretary, UPAASD

I am the second to the eldest in a family of six children; four girls and two boys. My father always wanted to have a child who would be a U.P. graduate. Since I was always on the honor roll and was in the upper 10% of our high school graduating class, I got invited to take and passed the UPCAT.

I visited the University of the Philippines at Los Banos right after I found out I passed the UPCAT and fell in love with the campus. In 1974, at the age of 17, I entered UPLB and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts majored in Writing, and minored in Speech and Theater Arts. I joined the graduation march in 1979, after a year of working as a Public Relations Account Executive in Makati, Philippines.

Life at the UP campus was very different from my life at St. Bridget’s College in Batangas City, where I completed my high school. There the girls department was separated from the boys department. Needless to say, UP exposed me for the first time to boys and studying with them in the same classroom as a teenager.

While it was an interesting learning experience, I found myself with professors who were terrors, which made studying in U.P. very challenging. I had to wake up at 4:00 in the morning to study for the lessons for the day. It was better to be prepared to be asked and have some answers instead of not having any answers at all, which could end up to be very embarrassing.

My social life was made colorful by the fact that that there were three other girls from my high school who came to UPLB and another one, a classmate in elementary who went to Philippine Science High School, also entered UPLB. We were all of a sudden branded as the “brains and beauties” of the campus.

Since the girls I came with were very pretty, the focus was on us and we became among the most popular girls in school. One became Miss Freshman, the other the Rodeo Queen and I became a fraternity sweetheart, a muse of the U.P. Beta Sigma fraternity. When I agreed to become a fraternity sweetheart, I thought I was only going to be a muse, but instead I had gotten a lot of pressure to get married, which was not part of my plans.

I wanted to graduate and earn my bachelors degree like my father had wanted me to and I had always dreamt of coming to America, which I eventually did. As a result, I was able to help my parents put some younger brothers and sisters through college. I am proud to say that all of us finished college, one even earned a masters degree. We are all living accomplished lives being in positions that allow us to be of service to others.

I came to America in 1983, after a three-year stint flying for Alia, the Royal Jordanian Airlines as a flight attendant, where I got the chance to travel the world, mostly Europe, the Middle East and some countries in Asia. After three years of exhausting all of the airlines’ routes, I came to New York to visit my sister, who is a Registered Nurse and now a Director for a hospital in New York. I came with my mother and my youngest brother, who is now a Project Director for a web developing company in Vancouver, Canada. A visit to San Diego, California led me to meet my American husband, Steven Chrismen, and we are happily settled in this beautiful city.

The rest of my siblings are still back in the Philippines. My younger brother is now a Senior Manager of a bank there. Two of my sisters have opened up their own businesses and are very successful at it.

I have held many interesting jobs here in the States from the time I came here up until now. I worked for many years as a legal secretary for various prestigious law firms in Avenue of the Stars, Century City in Los Angeles and in Downtown San Diego, a medical secretary and a senior hospital medical transcriber for UCSD Medical Center and a Realtor for Century 21 Award, McMillin Realty and Coldwell Banker Royal Realty, including smaller Filipino realty companies like Aguinaldo Realty and Golden 1 Real Estate Services.

When AB 420 passed, it rekindled my desire for our second, third and fourth generation Filipinos to learn the language and the culture, I went into the teaching profession so I can become a teacher in Filipino. It is also my desire to teach English to Filipinos who have just arrived and are still adapting to their new environment here in California. I am currently on my way to becoming a Filipino and English teacher after completing a Single Subject Teaching Credential Program in English and Filipino at SDSU.

My background from the University of the Philippines at Los Banos definitely prepared me for all of these endeavors as well as achieving excellent marks at San Diego State University. The academic studies also help me excel in my capacity as a substitute teacher for the Sweetwater Union High School District and the San Diego Unified School District in the meantime.

It also helped prepare me for my academic studies at Southwestern College where I graduated with honors earning an Associate of Science degree in Real Estate in 2001. I can definitely say that that my educational background from the University of the Philippines has greatly enhanced the quality of my life and my service to others..

With humility, I would like to add that in 2008 I was one of the awardees of the prestigious Jim and Janet Sinegal Scholarships at San Diego State University, hopefully the first of other scholarship awards to help pave the way for my education at SDSU. Earlier at Southwestern College, I was admitted to the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, recognizing students with a consistent GPA of 3.3 to 4 (highest).

As to my civic involvement, for my continuous service of four years on the Executive Board of the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce, I was recognized with awards from both ex-Mayor Nick Inzunza of National City and Congressman Bob Filner.

Push on U.P.! Just remember, at the end of the rainbow, there is a pot of gold.





When you hear me blubbering about High-Health, High-Tech Cookware Systems, that’s me expressing my frustration not to have completed medical school which I started in the University of the Philippines – Baguio City. My parents simply could not afford the entire course. When you hear me discussing noxious molecular chemical reaction of heated ordinary pots and pans with food we are cooking, that’s my freshman and sophomore engineering physics and chemistry canned knowledge speaking. Again, I could not finish the course because my mother had a stroke.

In a near starvation state, working as a freelance journalist (Freshman English served me well), photographer, and managing editor of an advertising magazine, however, I managed to swing my graduation cap tassel from left to right with a double major in Economics and Sociology with a cognate in Political Science.

Even before I graduated, the Regional Executive Director of the National Economic Development Authority – I (NEDA-I) already hired me for the pilot Regional Project Monitoring System. Working with my staff, I monitored mostly government projects financed by United Nations entities such as the World Bank, UNICEF, WHO, etc. throughout Northern Luzon. While I did my job well to put the foreign funds to good use, this brought me into the cross-hairs of hardened political figures that siphoned money from these projects into their pockets. “We cannot rock the boat, Rudy,” my boss used to say. For the peace of my conscience, I opted to transfer to another government agency when the chance presented itself.

I became the Regional Administrative Manager for Philippine Cotton Corporation. My area covered. Pangasinan, Nueva, Ecija, Pampangga, Tarlac, Bulacan and Mindoro. I felt I had an empire for I oversaw the accounting, cash, personnel, general services, budget, and supplies component functions of the company through a much larger staff compared to NEDA. I felt more fulfilled, too, as I saw my contributions in every cotton ball that made a farmer smile.

Alas, income in the Philippines was never enough. Although my wife, Aurea, is a nurse who graduated from St. Paul’s College in Manila and later obtained a Masters in Education from the University of the Philippines, with a growing horde of four boys, we hardly made both ends meet. When a recruiting team came from Zambia, Africa, through the auspices of the Overseas Advisory Development Board, both my wife and I applied. She got accepted as a Nurse Instructor; I, as a Feature Writing/Photography Instructor.

From January 1983 to December 1986 will then be known as our African Sojourn. We imbibed and enjoyed the Zambia culture. On the negative side, we had to endure Zambian time which is far worse than Filipino time. We ate their food like the millie-meal or ground corn.

While in Lusaka, Zambia, I was designated by our Kababayans as “Honorary Consul” (as the nearest consular offices were in Nairobi, Kenya and in South Africa). I proudly represented the Filipino community in international functions. In one of these gatherings, the US consul commented that people with our qualifications should be in America. We explained that Aurea does have a petition pending at the US embassy in Manila. Through him, Aurea’s petition was transferred to Lusaka through diplomatic pouch and her petition was promptly processed in conjunction with the entire family.

In December 16, 1986, we found ourselves receiving the paperwork as residents of the USA and to fly to the mainland no later than April 1987. And so it was that in February 5, 1987 (after a brief visit to the Philippines), my entire family landed in Los Angeles, California as new immigrants.

In the USA, Aurea continued to practice her profession as a Registered Nurse. After a year in the psyche wards of Camarillo State Hospital, she became an operating room nurse in St. John’s Regional Medical Center.

After odd jobs, I became a claims adjuster for the State of California Workman Compensation Insurance Fund. While in Oxnard, Ventura County, I also served with the Oxnard’s Planning Commission and as Deputy Director of the Filipino American Council.

My eldest, Paul, would be a fulfillment of my engineering ambitions. He now works with SONY as an electrical engineer. I have two grandchildren with him. My second, Jose, is a Bio-Chemist and is a supervisor with AMGEN. With him, I have three grandchildren. My youngest boy, Rudy Julius is now in Okinawa serving as an electrician with the Navy. I also have three grandchildren with him. My third boy, Karl, died in a freak auto accident but not without leaving me a grandchild.

What has not yet been mentioned is that we have a miracle baby girl, Frances Marie who was born thirteen years after our youngest boy and when Aurea was 42.

Like most of us, health is our main concern for ourselves and our children. For this reason, when we heard of Saladmaster, we decided to enter into it, deep. So when Saladmaster assigned us to be the dealer here in San Diego, we had no qualms in transferring down here. Now, I feel fulfilled that my young dream to be in the forefront of medicine is being realized. I consider myself to be on the preventive side of medicine. I consider myself as a “Caldero-logist” doubling as a “POT-ologist”.




’79 B.S. IN STATISTICS, Cum Laude

I was born 4th of six siblings on August 19th, 1959. I was always proud and happy to share my birth date with former president, Manuel Luiz Quezon. Proud because my young, innocent mind always thought that being born on the same day as a smart president made me smart; happy because I never had to go to school on my ‘holiday’ birthday.

Growing up in a big family with very limited resources posed a huge obstacle for me in being able to give my best as a young student. My self-confidence took a big blow when, at the age of four, I first stepped into what I considered a dog-eat-dog kindergarten world out there without the benefit of my Mom’s support and attention. Having hand-me-down pairs of shoes and school uniforms squashed any hope of ‘fitting in’. The same story was true during my elementary days. The only saving grace was the genes that my parents passed on to me that landed me at the top of my 6th grade class.

It was a blessing that the Philippine school system did not have a middle school, or my misery would have been more prolonged. However, this ‘curse’ hit me even worse during High School. I went to University of Santo Tomas Education High School, a Catholic school where most students belonged to not-so-financially-challenged families. My lack of financial resources greatly contributed in my inability to garner either of the top two positions in my graduating class. Then, more than ever, did I feel how life could be so unfair.

When it was time to go to college, I decided that staying in the Catholic school would kill my passion for learning. Even though I know that my father would not be happy about it, I took the college entrance exam at the University of the Philippines. I was ecstatic beyond everything when I found out that of the numerous students from my high school who took the UP entrance exam, including our class valedictorian and class salutatorian, I was the only one who managed to pass the rigorous exam even if I chose a ‘quota’ course as my major (Chemistry). I felt vindicated; I believed that if there was an impartial judge of the situation, it would have to be the #1 university in the country. While in college, I had to switch to BS in Statistics for health reasons. I had never worked harder in my life to prove what I could do. And I did! I graduated Cum Laude in 1979. But more important than regaining my self-confidence was the knowledge that I grew and matured, ready for the adult world out there.

The UP standard was so high that it was not enough to be smart to survive it. One has to also learn to be extremely responsible, resourceful, and independent. It was these qualities that convinced Computer Information Systems (CIS), a subsidiary of Manila Electric Company, to invest in training me and hiring me as a computer programmer right out of college. A couple of years later, CIS must have seen some leadership skills in me so I was sent to management training program, after which, I worked my way up to becoming the manager of the whole Computer Operations department.

In 1985, I moved to Australia and became a programmer analyst at AMP Chase. Two years later, I migrated to San Diego, CA USA to join my parents, my brother, and my sisters. I continued to work in the computer applications development industry, moving from Security Pacific Finance, to Rohr Inc, to BankAmerica Housing, and finally to Union Bank of California (UBOC). The pattern in all of these jobs was similar - I would start as a programmer analyst, and I would end up in a lead position. In my current job at UBOC, I am a Vice President/Systems Manager responsible for the Online Banking web site for the bank’s consumer and small business customers.

Needless to say, it has been a very challenging, demanding, and stressful career and life in general. But, thanks to the training that I got from my UP college days, I acquired the necessary skills to turn all these challenges into some very fulfilling and successful experiences. And as I watch how my two beautiful daughters have grown, I am positive that the influence UP had on me did not stop at my career life. My 21-year old daughter, Jeanne, is graduating in June ’08 at UCLA. And my 15-year old daughter, Kelly, is an extremely talented artist.

Maraming salamat (Thank you) UP for everything you stand for and for everything that you’ve done for me and for the thousands of graduates you produce every year. With God’s grace and blessings, you have indeed turned my life around.






Robert Stauffer Awardee for Academic Excellence, No. 1 in the Dean's List

A Memoir Dedicated to U.P.

By Edwin and Betty Bael

“And now that we have returned to the desultory life of the plain, let us endeavor to import a little of that mountain grandeur into it. We will remember within what walls we lie, and understand that this level life too has its summit, and why from the mountain-top the deepest valleys have a tinge of blue; that there is elevation in every hour, as no part of the earth is so low that the heavens may not be seen from, and we have only to stand on the summit of our hour to command an uninterrupted horizon”. ~Henry David Thoreau

Part One

Prologue. A product of all-girls Catholic schools, Betty had learned all the finer things of a sheltered life but not much about what was beyond the four walls of those schools. It was only when she met Edwin that the real world and the bigger picture took some meaning. Edwin, a self-made man who had to burn his candles to stay on top of the class in all his academic life, had conquered self and the world. Their desire to hold everyone in high esteem and to uplift the image of the Filipino, is a passion that they learned and developed through their public service. This started when they were sweethearts at the University of the Philippines College of Public Administration where they first learned the value of true governance and of having a mission that goes beyond the self. After they both finished their courses at the graduate school, they got married. With that, their fate to serve the country and the Filipino was sealed forever and both have given their best and most productive 20 years of their life as a career diplomat couple. Today, as they start a new life beyond public service, they both become each other’s advocate, pillar, anchor, frontrunner, work horse – all rolled into one, to continue to promote and showcase the positive and the beauty of the Filipino.

The Self-Made Barrio Boy (Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte). "The charm, one might say, the genius of memory, is that it is choosy, chancy, and temperamental: it rejects the edifying cathedral and indelibly photographs the small boy outside, chewing a hunk of melon in the dust." ~Elizabeth Bowen. In a pensive mood, Edwin remembers how this serious, scholarly barrio boy practically grew up with books as his ‘barkada’ (company), spending many silent moments with them, hungrily devouring every bit of knowledge while sitting in that one quiet seaside corner of Mindanao - Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte, he dearly loved as his hometown. That was most of his childhood memory – a constant struggle to be always #1 in class to enjoy 100% tuition-free education from grade one till law and graduate schools. He can still vividly see all those first honors/valedictorian ribbons and plaques consistently hung on the walls of their humble abode year after year – the pride and joy of his family. As a political science student at the Mindanao State University in the 70’s, he became a crusading student leader (Supreme Student Council Member/ROTC Corps Commander) and was imprisoned (without charges!) for 22 days when Martial Law was declared. This thirst for knowledge, idealism of youth, coupled with leadership ability later on developed into a burning passion to serve the public, especially the underdog. This became the dominant force that influenced his future dreams and hopes. Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Andres Bonifacio U Law School in Dipolog City, he passed the 1978 Philippine Bar exams with an 87.15% rating, a surprise to many law graduates from well-known law schools in Manila. He joined Court of Appeals as attorney researcher and at the same time obtained full-time MPA scholarship from nearby UP College of Public Administration in Padre Faura, to pursue his dream of serving his province and somehow make a difference. But that fateful first day of school totally changed all that…

The Fairy Tale Girl (San Carlos City, Negros Occidental). “Happy is she who still loves something in the nursery: She has not been broken in two by time; she is not two women, but one, and she has saved not only her soul but her life.” ~G.K. Chesterton. Dreamlike, she recalls the innocent, scared, and shy provincial girl lost in the pages of her fairy tale books, who hails from the once prosperous Sugarlandia in the Visayas – San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. Still with the pungent molasses smell stuck in her nostrils, she dreamt her day away tiptoeing on green verdant plains and valleys carpeted with sugarcane fields. Always alone with her fairy tale fantasies and only awakened by the simple joys and warmth of family love, it was the only life she knew or ever cared to know which sheltered her from the big wide strange world. Catholic values from home and school dominated most of her childhood and young adulthood. With simple dreams of obtaining a college education, then returning home and marry a local lad, she finished Bachelor of Arts in a Catholic all-girls school, St. Theresa’s College in Cebu City where she developed her penchant for arts and culture, enhanced her social graces and awakened her social consciousness. Immediately after graduation, she applied for local jobs but was turned down because of her inexperience and shyness. However, one day Dr. Ramon Valmayor, a family friend offered her sister a job in Los Banos which the latter declined. As a new graduate with a shy personality, she was the second best choice. With much gratitude to Dr. Valmayor, an internationally well-known banana scientist and an executive of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) located at that time inside the UP Los Banos campus, she anxiously accepted her first job. This was her very first step to the big wide ‘scary’ world! Little did she know that after 2 years working with the Council, her fate would start to unfold. She received a full-time two-year MS scholarship sponsored by USAID through the Council, and did not even realize that she sat beside Edwin on the first day of graduate school in UP-Padre Faura.

Destiny At The U.P. Padre Faura. “The world is so empty if one thinks only of the mountains, rivers, and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, who is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. All of a sudden, there he was striding inside the classroom with an aura of confidence looking for an empty seat at the back. The noisy ladies hush-hushed a bit as they curiously turned their heads to check who just came in. Unaware of what was happening, Betty who was seated at the back was somehow captivated with the whole aura of the classroom. With a ‘spic and span’ orientation of an exclusive Catholic girls school’s classroom environment, she was somehow disappointed to see the old draperies hanging on the windows which had seen better days. She had to remind herself that this is a 1908 building, the very first University of the Philippines. Consoled with the thought that she was now part of a great institutional history, she felt gratified.

After class that first day, they were both standing together waiting for the green light to cross the street. Just before the light was on, they got to know that they are in the same class, both Cebuano-speaking and newly arrived in Manila. From that day on, they started crossing the same street together in the evenings after school, for the next two years, each time, an opportunity to appreciate the depth of each other’s spirit until they have became kindred souls…They both remember a card from Betty to Edwin towards the end of their studies, which reads: “To the guy who lays down the law from the gal who makes all the amendments” which had some bearing on some things to come. Edwin’s plan of returning home after their studies to serve his province took a different turn…

Growing Roots (Los Banos, Laguna & Manila). “Preparing the soil for the unexpected good to sprout in.” ~JRR Tolkien. After completing their classroom requirements for their MPA course, they tied their knot on January 9, 1982. They settled in Los Banos, Laguna where Betty resumed work with PCARRD and served her scholarship contract. Edwin passed the foreign service exams (also known as the toughest national government exam with only 10% passing rate). During this time - the turbulent years of the Marcos era - he joined the Department of Foreign of Affairs, the most stable and respected government institution at that time. Immersed in his new job, he had to postpone completion of his masteral course requirements. Betty on the other hand, reviewed for her comprehensive exams while infanticipating with their first baby. She was lovingly assisted by the best tutor she could ever have (Edwin), passed it and graduated in 1983 with Masters in Public Administration major in Policy Analysis and Program Administration.

In the middle of 1983, Edwin left for Australia under the Colombo Plan to take up a Foreign Service Officer’s Course in Canberra, Australia. Almost at this same time, Betty was sent by her office to Washington DC to attend a course in Governmental Management at George Mason University. After their short-term courses abroad, Edwin prepared himself for foreign assignment. He completed the Basic Foreign Service Officers Course at the Foreign Service Institute in Manila as well as studied French and Spanish Language Courses. As a new officer, he worked with Visa & Passport Divisions and later became Head of the DFA Unit in the One-Stop Processing Center for Overseas Workers.

In 1986, he completed two graduate studies: from U.P., Master in Public Administration major in Policy Analysis and Program Administration, and received the Robert Stauffer Award for Academic Excellence, being No.1 in the Dean’s List; and from National Defense College of the Philippines, Masters in National Security Administration for which he was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel in the Philippine Marines reserves.

Part Two

The Burgeoning Years (Madrid, Spain - Honolulu, Hawaii - Los Angeles, California). “When the April wind wakes the call for the soil, I hold the plough as my only hold upon the earth, and, as I follow through the fresh and fragrant furrow, I am planted with every foot-step, growing, budding, blooming into a spirit of spring”. ~Dallas Sharp. After the EDSA Revolution of 1986, Edwin and Betty together with their four-year old son Tristan excitedly packed up their belongings to head for their first foreign assignment. As Third Secretary and Vice Consul in the Philippine Embassy in Madrid, Spain, he was the most junior officer in the Embassy. Edwin and Betty tried to learn what needed to be learned, to become the best representatives of their country in a foreign land. Edwin took up Advanced International Studies and Commercial Spanish in Madrid. They were very fortunate to be under the tutelage of Ambassador and Mrs. Juan Jose Rocha, a political appointee and a successful business executive in Manila whose wife, with her grace, fine and cultured taste, is the epitome of a diplomatic spouse. With all its old world glory, high culture and precious art, Madrid, was a perfect training ground for any young diplomat. Serving a small Filipino community composed mostly of domestic helpers, a handful of the rich mestizo class, and a few scholars and students from the Philippines, gave them a good grasp of community. For the first time after her 10-year job in the Philippines, Betty was juggling her life between a full-time wife and mother, and a diplomatic spouse. In 1988, they were blessed with another son, Bernard. After four good years, they packed up to head for Honolulu, Hawaii, for their next assignment.

Suit clad, Edwin and Betty together with their two sons in European-style knee-high socks and knee-length shorts set foot on this ‘hang loose’ paradise. True to form diplomats, they wasted no time for culture shock. They wore Hawaiian shirts and flowery clothes like any other locals, enjoyed the sea and mountain view every minute of it, while the boys learned English for the first time, including ‘Pidgin” English. They were surprised to note that Filipinos in that part of the world call themselves Ilocanos. Coming from tightly-knit families, the Filipino community in Hawaii is one of the most ‘cohesive’ Filam communities in the US. After 14 months as Consul and Administrative Officer, the 2nd ranked officer of the Philippine Consulate in Hawaii, Edwin and family were whisked off to the bigger mainland city in Los Angeles, California.

From the clean and green refreshing Honolulu, they were welcomed with brown landscapes, smog and traffic jams and the Rodney King riot as they touched down LAX airport. In spite of the environmental challenges of this city, Edwin as one of the Consuls of the Philippine Consulate General in LA felt fortunate to serve the biggest jurisdiction of Filipino community outside the country. The LA Filam community which is by far the most diverse with more than 400 organizations, proved to be very demanding and formidable. But the young couple took it as challenge and opportunity to harness their skills, and most importantly, to find the ‘true north’ of their mission in the midst of these challenges. Betty, for the first time after six years, had a great break from just being wife, mother and a support to Edwin. Working in a law office, having one’s own little world in an 8 to 5 job, was a welcome change and a boost to one’s self-esteem. During the last year of their assignment, Edwin was appointed Acting Head of Post, another opportunity to ‘sharpen the saw’. But everything always seemed to happen in the blink of an eye in LA. Their memorable and productive three-year assignment in this city of contrasts was concluded with a big bang – the 1994 Northridge earthquake! Soon after the countless farewell parties during those aftershocks period, they packed up their suitcases, marking the end of their first tour of duty in this city.

The Fertilizing Era (Manila, Philippines). “Nothing is more important than reconnecting with your bliss. Nothing is as rich. Nothing is more real”. ~Deepak Chopra. As part of their career cycle, foreign service officers go back to the country at the end of their tour of duty, to reconnect, reinvigorate and get the real pulse of the country and people before they are sent again to foreign missions. While in Manila, Edwin was appointed Director for Political Affairs, then Executive Director of the Office for U.N. and International Organizations at DFA. He represented the country in, or was part of the Philippine delegations to various U.N. conferences on nuclear non-proliferation, chemical and biological weapons, human rights, environmental programs, international law, regional security, refugees, migration, international humanitarian law, Asia-Africa Consultative Committee and the Non-Aligned Movement which brought him to all continents of the world. He also advised the Philippine Senate on the ratification of some of these treaties. At the first APEC Summit in Manila, he was appointed liaison officer for Pres. Clinton. During this period, he took up Advanced Foreign Service Officers’ course at the Foreign Service Institute in Manila, the UNEP Distance Study Course on International Environmental Law in Nairobi & Manila, and the Career Ministers’ Course, after which he passed the Career Ministers’ Exam, a requirement for career Ambassador’s position.

Betty, on the other hand was fortunate to work for her friend, former colleague in Los Banos and now CEO-President of the sole distributor of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in Makati, Philippines. Her first corporate four-year work in the HR Department of this IT company, had given her a new sense of fulfillment, a new sense of self. To be able to touch real people’s lives in the workplace was for her the greatest opportunity her CEO friend, Cynthia Mamon gave her…a treasure that she is forever grateful.

The Flowering Time (Canberra, Australia - Los Angeles, California). “We can hold back neither the coming of the flowers nor the downward rush of the stream; sooner or later, everything comes to its fruition.” ~Loy Ching-Yuen. In 1998, Edwin received his assignment order as Minister and Consul General of the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia. It was a dream come true. Canberra, a quiet garden city and capital of this young and vibrant country, was for them a paradise. It was a privilege to work for their indefatigable, seasoned lady Ambassador, Delia Domingo-Albert (later became the first lady Secretary of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs) who unselfishly shared her experience and wisdom, helping the Baels prepare for the ultimate in their career. As Minister and Consul General, Edwin with Betty had several opportunities to represent the Ambassador in official functions. For Betty, she was lucky to be hired soon after they arrived in Canberra, by the Visa Department of the British High Commission and through hard work, obtained a permanent position. As the only foreigner (other than the British nationals) in the workforce, she had to understand both Australian and British accent quickly. She not only learned the efficient British work system but gained wonderful friends there as well. After two short years, a surprise assignment order came. They were dragging their feet to leave Australia to assume post in LA as Consul General, Edwin’s first head of post assignment. The brief stint in paradise was for them “too beautiful to last”.

As a second timer in the LA post, the Baels somehow had a good feel of the challenges at hand. Arriving at LAX in 2000, they viewed the landscape with a new vision. At a time when the negative side of the Philippines was mostly highlighted, the Baels wasted no time and rolled up their sleeves. They also noted that the Filipino talents in the arts and culture arena provided positive impact all over the world. And LA as the gateway of visiting internationally recognized Filipino artists and professionals gave the Baels opportunity to showcase the best of the best Filipino talents. It was during this time that diplomats representing more than 80 countries in LA, the local officials, business and community leaders have frequented the Consul General’s residence who ‘wowed’ their performances and looked forward to the Bael's next invitation. At this time, Betty was a full-time support for Edwin. She was very active with international and local arts and culture organizations, always finding opportunities to be involved and showcase the Filipino artist. As a team, they successfully hosted many events which gained full support from the community. The community was mostly drawn by the classy way they showcased the jewels of their country, and which elicited pride from the community. During this period, the Philippine Consul General (Edwin) was counted with the Consuls General of Britain, France and Japan as the most influential diplomats who invariably got invited to select events and receptions involving the international community. With the dizzying pace of their 24-7 schedule attending to all their social and official functions, some things were brewing somewhere. Politics, intrigue and machinations crept in, especially after the change of administration of EDSA II. In one stroke of the pen, they decided to make a clean getaway and end their 20-year romance with the foreign service.

The Pruning Episode (San Diego, California). "One must be thrust out of a finished cycle in life, and that leap is the most difficult to make, when one would rather renew the faith and recreate the passion”. ~Anais Nin. Taking a six-month leave without pay, the Baels took a break from their heretofore hectic life in Orange County with loving friends who offered them shelter and solace. Taking the radical changes in stride and always trusting in the Great Almighty ("all things work together for the good of those who love Him"), their prayers were answered. Edwin was offered a job with an immigration law firm opening a new branch in San Diego. Following the cue to give closure to a chapter in life, Edwin decided to hand in his resignation/early retirement letter on the Philippine Independence Day of 2002, a symbolic way of saying goodbye to and declaring freedom from the institution he once loved and respected. Today, Edwin and Betty continue to showcase the beauty and the pride of the Filipino through their involvement with the New Americans Museum and Learning Center, Charles Hostler Institute on World Affairs of SDSU, Knights of Rizal, International Society of Cultural Ambassadors, Citizens Diplomacy Council of San Diego, Creative Communities Committee of the SD Commission of Arts and Culture, U.P. Alumni Association of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Diego Consular Corps, to name a few.

Epilogue. “Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.” ~Samuel Johnson. As we journey together to another chapter in our life, we look forward with joy to our “Autumn… a second spring, where every leaf is a flower” ~ Albert Camus


"We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been - a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us where we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free." ~ Starhawk