Discipline and determination | Inquirer Opinion

Discipline and determination

Last Saturday the nation celebrated the 123rd anniversary of Philippine independence. On the same day, our family marked the 121st birthdate of Modesto Farolan. In June 1900, the Philippine-American War was on its second year with President Emilio Aguinaldo in retreat to the north as rapidly moving US forces sought to capture him.

It was under these circumstances that my father Modesto Farolan was born on June 12, 1900. He was the youngest son of Marciano Farolan and Escolastica Racela, middle class landowners in the humble town of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. At an early age, he left home to finish high school in Manila. That was the end of his formal education, as he quickly decided he would create a life of his own relying solely on his inner strengths and skills.


With only a secondary school diploma, he applied for work in an American-owned newspaper, the Manila Daily Bulletin. Starting at the bottom of the heap as a copyboy (maybe, coffee boy was more like it), he rose to become a reporter eventually reaching the top of his profession as editor in chief and publisher of one of the leading dailies of his time, the Philippines Herald. How does a high school graduate make the giant leap from reporter to editor in chief? The only answer: Through hard work, a lot of self-study combined with much personal discipline and determination. He set his sights on the highest mountain in his world and conquered it without any degrees in journalism, mass communication, or English literature.

With the grant of independence in 1946, he was appointed press secretary of the Third Republic under President Manuel Roxas. Later, he moved to the infant Philippine Foreign Service as our first consul general to the Territory of Hawaii (not yet a state), home to thousands of overseas Filipinos who labored on pineapple and sugar cane plantations all over the islands. With its beaches and lovely natural attractions, Hawaii exposed him to the potential of tourism as a catalyzing factor in national development. Upon returning to the Philippines, he along with Salvador Peña, a close colleague from Honolulu days, and with others in the private sector, organized the Philippine Tourist and Travel Association (PTTA). The PTTA would be the font from which many initiative and programs in tourism would arise.


In the 1953 presidential election pitting the incumbent president Elpidio Quirino against the charismatic former defense secretary Ramon Magsaysay, my father was a strong supporter of the former. Quirino lost by a wide margin but after a few months, to the astonishment of many, Magsaysay appointed Farolan as the nation’s first commissioner of tourism. It was a recognition of his pioneering efforts in this relatively new field of activity. It was also a measure of Magsaysay’s magnanimous character in selecting a political opponent for government service.

After tourism, my father returned to the foreign service as President Diosdado Macapagal appointed him ambassador to South Vietnam and Cambodia, and later, to Switzerland. President Ferdinand Marcos named him ambassador to Indonesia where he closed out his diplomatic career as dean of the diplomatic corps in Jakarta. In 1990, the Department of Tourism under then Secretary Peter Garrucho, would acknowledge his role as “Father of Philippine Tourism” in a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.

* * *

For the first time in all my years of watching major golf tournaments on TV, I saw the Philippine flag beside the name of the player on the leader board. The best part and the most thrilling, sending goosebumps all over me, was to see our flag permanently in the No. 1 position. All these happened because a 19-year-old Filipino whose father is Japanese, had just won the US Women’s Open Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California, becoming the first woman of our country to win at one of the most prestigious women’s events in the golfing world.

Yuka Saso was born in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, the daughter of Masakazu and Fritzie Saso. At the age of eight, when she expressed a desire to pursue playing the game of golf, her father asked her to sign a pledge, “I will commit myself to rigorous training but I will not hate my parents for it. I will not dislike them. I will never forget to show a daughter’s smile.” Yuka signed the pledge and remained true to her commitment. Discipline and determination brought her family and her country much pride and prestige. Congratulations!

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TAGS: Modesto Farolan, Ramon J. Farolan, Reveille
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