Friday, November 26, 2010

Remembering my grandfather for who he was...

Last night, we were invited to watch “100: Insular Life’s Musical Journey in C Major” - a  musical narrative of Insular’s rise from being the first Filipino owned life insurance company founded in 1910 to one of the biggest in the Philippines today.

As a non-commercial production for its employees, retirees, and special guests, we were invited on account of being a descendant of a man who helped insular grow to what it is now... that man was my grandfather...Emeterio Chavez Roa Sr.

I always knew that my grandfather was at one time the GM of Insular. As it turns out, he was the general manager of Insular when World War II broke out and was instrumental in seeing Insular through those tumultuous years.

Watching the musical brought me back to memory lane. I fondly remember my grandfather for who he was. He was a kind and patient man, a man with superior intellect and an outstanding sense of humour. My fondest memories of him was when he quipped  to me that “he doesn’t mind a liar, but a stupid one is something else ” – this was after he caught me delivering an obvious lie.

He had a PhD in Math and was the first Actuary in the Far East - a feat he accomplished in the 1920’s as one of the first American “pensionados” sent to the U.S. to study. As a scholar in the University of Michigan, he established a record of having a perfect grade of 1.0 in all his subjects.  In the 1950’s, he together with 3 other Roas (my father, an uncle, and a granduncle) and 3 other Actuaries founded the Actuarial Society of the Philippines.

My grandfather during his senior years (holding a cane)
with his siblings Tecla and Mickoy
The love of his life was of course my grandmother, Candida Capistrano. She was 6 years his junior and happened to be a high school student when they met – HIS high school student! He was a teacher (and a stalker?) who fell in love with his student and followed her home every day.  Prior to leaving for the U.S. as an American pensionado, he professed his love to her and promised to come home and marry her. .. the rest as they say is history.

Coming from a clannish family, I remember all the Sundays we had at their home at Bohol Avenue, Quezon City. Sunday was always a party at their house wherein my dad’s family would all gather for Sunday lunch. I always looked forward to those Sundays when we’d be among our cousins playing games like “agawang base” and “patintero.”  (Of course, there were the occasional squabbles but that’s another story).

During their latter years, he and my grandmother decided to move back to Cagayan De Oro which I think he really considered as home.  Though he passed away 29 years ago at the age of 85, I still have very fond memories of my grandfather.

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