Bernardo M. Villegas
Articles  >> more topics
Building the Institution of CRC-UA&P (Part 1)

          A major thesis of the best seller “Why Nations Fail” by James Robinson and Daron Acemoglu is that the building of sustainable and inclusive institutions is key to success in attaining the goals of socio-economic development.  Institution building takes time and may require at least half a century as in the cases of at least four institutions celebrating their respective golden anniversaries in 2017 or 2018:  the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the Center for Research and Communication (CRC) that evolved into the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P).  Since I was privileged to be part of the foundation of CRC-UA&P on August 15, 1967, I would like to pay tribute to the four generations that were responsible for establishing slowly but surely this academic institution that is committed to the integral human development of all citizens of the Philippines as well as of the entire ASEAN Economic Community.

         All the present stakeholders of CRC-UA&P belong to four generations:  a) the “baby boomers” or those born between 1946 and 1964; b) Generation X (born between 1965 and 1982; c) Generation Y or the Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000); and Generation Z (those born after 2000).  To be more precise, those of us who were at the helm of CRC when it started in 1967 were pre-War babies and not strictly speaking baby boomers.  Since we were children after the Second World War, we could still be loosely considered as part of the generation of baby boomers.  The main Founder, Dr. Jesus Estanislao, and I were both born in 1939.  Other pre-War babies who formed part of the founding group were the late Col. Manuel Reyes, who served as Corporate Secretary for some twenty years; the late Dr. Mario Camacho, who served as President of UA&P in the late 1990s; the late Mr. Robert Paluszka, an American citizen who established the foundation of the data bank of CRC and UA&P; the late Mr. Manuel de Leon, a top marketing executive who infused the creative spirit into otherwise unimaginative economists; and the late Mr. Antonio Ozaeta, a prominent banker who contributed his financial genius to solving the problem of  budgetary deficits typical of start-ups, especially in the academic field.   I would also like to give tribute to two women executives who were instrumental in the establishment of the CRC College of Arts and Sciences in 1989. They were the late Ms. Corazon Aseniero and Ms. Virginia Olano, who form part of the Management Committee of the CRC-CAS during its first years of existence, giving unselfishly of their talents and time to the first handful of students who were fortunate to have had them as their mentors.

         Still part of the founding generation is Dr. Placido Mapa Jr., who continues to be Chairman of the Board of Trustees of UA&P.  Both as a seasoned banker and CEO, he has been very instrumental in the transformation of a think tank that started literally in a garage into a full-blown educational institution of higher learning.   Also contributing his management expertise as a CEO of large business enterprises is Dr. Enrique Esteban, who was President of CRC before its transformation into a university.  Dr. Ester Esteban, spouse of Dr. Enrique Esteban, has been very instrumental in making CRC-UA&P a pioneer in values education in the Philippine educational scene, having been the first institution to offer a masteral degree in values education.  Also considered a guru in values education among teachers in both the private and public schools is Dr. Antonio Torralba who served as Dean of the School of Education of UA&P for a number of years and now holds the professional chair for family and youth education of the same university. Dr. Torralba was a product of our first programs in education.

         Since CRC started in a rented facility on Jorge Bocobo St., I will refer to the other co-founders as belonging to the Bocobo generation,  all of them baby boomers.  In addition to those already mentioned above, there is Javier Calero, who headed J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency for a number of years and helped us economists to be more creative in delivering important economic messages to policy makers in both the private and public sectors.  Multi-talented Ambassador Jose Romero was a first link to the economic journalists of the 1960s and subsequently, as the Philippine Ambassador to Italy during the Administration of President Corazon Aquino, helped us develop our ongoing masteral programs in international relations.  During the Bocobo days, we launched our first executive education program in business economics that has produced thousands of top executives steeped in the science of economics and able to dialogue with public policy makers in the challenging task of crafting enlightened economic policies in the various branches of government.  Those who headed this pioneering program (the only one granting a Master in Business Economics in the country) were Dr. Celerino Tiongco, Dr. Thomas Aquino, Dr. Ramon Quesada and Dr. Victor Abola.  Dr. Aquino and Dr. Abola belong to the baby boomer generation from whom the first masteral graduates of CRC came.

         In my book, the most outstanding graduate of our Masteral Program in Industrial Economics was the late Dr. Emilio Antonio, who is unsurpassed as the most eloquent and effective economics educator ever produced by our institution.  As can be attested to by thousands who have listened to his presentations, Dr. Antonio had the extraordinary talent of making the most esoteric economic concepts understandable to the non-specialist.  He had the gift of gab in both English and Filipino (he was a poet in our national language) which he used to the hilt in educating all types of audiences in the intricacies of macroeconomics, microeconomics and the other branches of the so-called “dismal science.”   Dr. Antonio was among the first graduates of the Industrial Economics Program that is still the only masteral program in the Philippines in industrial economics that has provided the business sector over the last forty years with some of the top business economists.  Among the more prominent ones whose names have constantly appeared in the business pages for their economic forecasts and policy statements are Omar Cruz, Vaughn Montes, the late Francis Varela, Paul Joseph Garcia, Francisco Trinidad, Jr., Anton Periquet, Emilio Neri Jr., and Victor Abola.  For a while, it seemed that there was a “mafia” of CRC economists who monopolized the business of economic forecasting.  Those from the same generation of CRC graduates who are constantly hugging the headlines are Milvida Guevarra, former Undersecretary of Finance and now President of Synergia Foundation and Ceferino Rodolfo, who now heads the Board of Investment as Undersecretary of Trade and Industry.  Needless to say, a graduate from the same generation who has made the greatest contribution to institution building is the current President of UA&P, Dr. Winston Padojinog, a product of the masteral program in industrial economics of the old CRC.

         This paying of tribute would not be complete if I were to omit mention of the very generous financial help we obtained from some leading foundations at the outset of our educational programs.  To the Ford Foundation, we owe a debt of gratitude for helping us launch the Economics Education Program in the late 1960s through which we trained a good number of economics teachers, especially in the region of Mindanao with the cooperation of the Notre Dame Educational Foundation.  Also crucial to our financial viability in the first years of our operation was the help from a German Foundation called the Hanns Seidel Stiftung, the foundation of the Christian Social Union of Bavaria.  HSS helped not only our own educational programs but also one of the most successful tech-voc schools, Dualtech, which some of us at CRC helped to incubate in the early 1980s.   Finally, another German foundation called the Misereor of the German Catholic Hierarchy helped in the building of our first facilities in the Ortigas campus in the early 1980s.  (To be continued).