Bernardo M. Villegas
Articles  >> more topics
The Adventure of Institution Building (Part II)

           It was not difficult to always keep in mind the vision of evolving into a university, despite the fact that we started out as a think tank, because we were fortunate that at that time, the Secretary of Education was a fellow alumnus from Harvard University and who was very sympathetic to the innovative approach we were taking to the training of future industrial economists.  Secretary Onofre (O.D.) Corpuz exempted CRC from the strict requirement of the Department of Education at that time that no institution could offer a masteral program unless it had an undergraduate program (in some instances even a high school was required).  We were the only institution at that time that was allowed to offer a Master of Science in Industrial Economics without having to offer an undergraduate program.  We got our students from the leading undergraduate schools in Metro Manila and the provinces.  The masteral program in industrial economics was formally launched in 1969 with ten outstanding graduates from U.P., Ateneo de Manila, De La Salle University and Xavier University of Cagayan de Oro, among others.  These were no ordinary students.  Through a work-study program, they were already employed from day one as “Graduate Staff” (GS) performing research and communication work for diverse agencies and enterprises as they were receiving theoretical instruction in the morning.  CRC offered the first work-study program at the graduate level.

          Because of the very useful economic data that Jess Estanislao and the young graduate staff were churning out week in and week out, we soon attracted hundreds of business enterprises to subscribe to our regular publications.  Even more, a good number of them asked our senior economists to be more directly involved in their strategic and corporate planning processes.  I was asked to head this corporate planning services unit of CRC and soon we had an impressive list of some of the top Philippines business corporations as our clients: San Miguel Corporation, Meralco, United Laboratories, Smith Bell, Victorias Milling, Bank of Asia, Warner Barnes, William Lines, DM Consunji, Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank (PCIB), Sarmiento Enterprises, Manila Banking Corporation, Dole Philippines, Nestle, Alaska Milk Corporation and many others.  Among those in the CRC staff who assisted me more directly in these corporate planning engagements were Pastor Lorenzo, Leonardo Mendoza and Jose Antonio Buencamino.  These three reached high levels of management and entrepreneurship, the last one capping his professional career with a top position in an international trade organization in Geneva, Switzerland.  The products of our industrial economics program found their way to top positions in local corporations as well as multinational enterprises in Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

          Because of the high value assigned to education by our spiritual mentor, St. Josemaria Escriva, we never limited our research and communication activities to the field of business and politics.  From the very start, we were in close touch with educators from all over the Philippines.  In fact, our Master of Arts in Economic Education started almost at the same time as the master’s program in industrial economics.  The two were synergistic.  We employed the graduate staff of the MS in industrial economics program as teaching and research assistants to tutor economics educators who were enrolled in our program in economics education.  Here, I would especially cite the critical role of the late Father Rolando Sto. Domingo in the launching of the economics education program that trained teachers from all over the island of Mindanao in partnership with the Notre Dame Educational Association.  With a grant that we received from Ford Foundation we upgraded the ability of over 30 teachers from Mindanao to teach the basic courses in economics at the high school level and in the introductory course in college.  I was very happy devoting a great deal of time in those early years of the 1970s writing textbooks for the basic courses in economics in both public and private schools.  I am gratified to meet so many professional men and women now in their forties and fifties who tell me that they used my books in economics either in high school or college, not only in Metro Manila, but all over the Philippines.   My Guide to Economics for Filipinos is now in its ninth edition and must have been read by more than a million students over the last forty years spanning two generations.  I hope to be able to write a tenth edition that will incorporate a better balance between free market economics and the necessary state regulation to take into account the negative pecuniary externalities that are not reflected in market prices and which usually prejudice the poorer segments of society.  These imperfections of the market economy were not fully discussed in earlier editions of my books. (To be continued)