POSTSCRIPT / March 15, 2009 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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MVP: Change is the call of the times

ANGELES CITY — A proud province embraced last Friday one of its favorite sons in a homecoming that saw him — Manuel V. Pangilinan — being conferred a Doctor of Humanities degree, honoris causa, by the Holy Angel University here.

The corporate genius and philanthropist was awarded the honorary doctorate — the first ever to be given by HAU — “for reinventing and innovating the telecommunications industry, thus improving the lives of millions of Filipinos and redefining culture itself.”

Pangilinan, 62, was also cited “for upgrading corporate standards in the Philippines and Asia and for proving that providing service and value to the clientele can go hand in hand with profitability,” as well as “for his personal work ethic and discipline, which he acquired from traditional Filipino and Kapampangan upbringing and from his Catholic education and training.”

The chairman and CEO of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Smart Communications and a host of other giant firms did not grow up in Pampanga, but his father and grandparents hailed from Apalit town.

He graduated cum laude from the Ateneo de Manila University with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He earned his MBA in 1968 from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Now everybody watches as his star continues to rise in the corporate firmament.

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HIS ROOTS: Listen to Pangilinan reminisce and talk about his Capampangan roots in his conferment address:

“My grandfather Benito came from Apalit. He did not finish college. Despite this, he was hired by the American colonial provincial government to teach students the new American curriculum. He was a hard worker — rising from the ranks of a teacher in Pampanga and Tarlac, to become the national superintendent of public schools, and eventually Secretary of Education under President Elpidio Quirino — the first Education secretary who lacked formal education.

“My lola Florencia also came from Apalit. She had the great Pampangueña traits of being generously hospitable, a great cook, a loving but strong housewife. Because Benito and Florencia had 13 children and lived on government salary, my lola had to manage the family purse so that everyone had an education.

“I was close to Apung Esyang — having enjoyed the hot tsocolate made frothy by the Pampanga batirol, some pamangan calulu like sabo talulung, tulud balubad, pacsing dimonyus. Thirty eight years ago, I gave my lola my first monthly salary of 1,000 pesos from my first job.”

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MEMORIES: And so on… in his remarks at the Holy Angel rites:

“My father Doming was also an Apaliteño. He started as a messenger at the Philippine National Bank, and retired as senior Vice President after 35 years of service. After his retirement, he became President of Traders Royal Bank.

“I will always remember him as a fastidious dresser, as being very particular about his food. Even if our family meals were modest, soup as a starter was always a must. And dessert had to be served to end every meal — even if dessert were as simple as a banana or a bottle of Coke.

“So I represent the third generation, cut from the same Pampangueño fabric.

“My boyhood memories of Pampanga relate particularly to Apalit, especially the libad fluvial procession on Pampanga River on the feast of Apu Iro; the kuraldal of Sasmuan, Macabebe, Lubao and Betis; theMal a Aldo and Biyernis Santu when Catholic rituals contrasted with the raw, bloody folk practices in the streets; the lubenas lantern festival of San Fernando.”

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EDUCATION: Segueing from the past, Pangilinan talked to and about the present:

“History has brought us now to a point where change is essential. We are summoned not just to manage our times, but to transform them. We must build the Pampanga of tomorrow, today.

“To the faculty: Your service is two-fold. First, you have the obligation to serve your discipline. Second, you have the duty to serve your calling, both as a teacher to the ends of erudition, and as a steward unlocking the human mind. Our young people come to Holy Angel and have their minds as their principal resource to rely upon. Your duty as faculty is to dive off the cliff with them, catch them, and gently lower them to the ground so that they will one day be able to take the plunge themselves. It is a risky work, but it is stewardship in the truest sense of the word.

“To the students: With your education, you are being given something in trust — to care for, to use in a beneficial way, and to give back to your University in as good or better condition than when it was first presented. The entrustment bestowed upon you in this place is knowledge — a knowledge that will deepen to understanding and wisdom over time. Your education must therefore be taken seriously.

“To our cabalen, the men and women of Pampanga: This province turns to us in a way that it turns to no one else — for this is a family matter. Pampanga is part of us, and we are part of it. But if we who are attached to its life, and part of its spirit, do not realize the growth of this province is critical to our lives, if we do not value education such as what Holy Angel provides — an education which teaches that the development of a whole person is not merely an academic process but a duty demanded by Christian charity and social justice, a goal enshrined in the mission of this University — then, Pampanga has built its house on sand, and its work is the work of time, not eternity.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 15, 2009)

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