Scientist as writer, poet and artist
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas () - August 12, 2003 - 12:00am
A book that should be must reading for all students – whether in the elementary or se-condary levels – is Silent Storms: Inspiring Lives of 101 Great Filipinos (published by ANVIL). It is a collection of brief biographies of great Filipino men and women, from the pre-19th century, and from various fields of endeavor whose contributions in their fields made an impact and whose stories inspire their generation and succeeding generations.

The author, Dr. Fernando A. Bernardo, himself a scientist of note, writes in the preface that much has been said about the Filipino-Spanish war and Filipino heroes and martyrs during the revolution. He thus spent 16 months in researching and writing about "unsung heroes, martyrs, and great men and women in times of peace," who had "raging storms that took place in (their) minds . . .who, through their noble thoughts, dreams, sacrifices, and actions, made some impact on the country and the Filipino people."
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Dr. Bernardo has made his biographies more fascinating by his making sketches of all his subjects, and writing a poem describing them and their evolution. If the poems and sketches fascinate, read his other work – POETRY: Life, Nature, and Science (published by PCARRD and UPLB), a book of poems written in 1997, months before he retired from his work at the International Rice Research Institute which was when he turned 65.

In Silent Storms, Dr. Bernardo classifies his subjects under several ca-tegories, that is, as pre-19th century Filipinos; poets, writers and journalist; educators; statesmen; nationalists, crusaders and revolutionists; medical doctors, nurses and social workers; artists; scientists; businessmen/entrepreneurs; religious leaders; dramatists and movie producers, and sportsmen.

Some of the subjects are widely known, but there are facets in their lives which indicated raging silent tempest in their minds, and these had to do with helping their countrymen and barangay folk, and Mother Country.

Two of the pre-19th century subjects were Muslims, whose stories as told by Dr. Bernardo, put the resistance movement of Muslims in Mindanao in heroic lights. These were Sultan Abubakar (Circa 1425-1495), founder of the Sultanate of Sulu, and Sultan Kudarat (Circa 1581-1671), the "greatest and strongest Mindanao sultan that ever lived," unyielding to the Spanish colonials, "a hero in defense of the Islam faith, the champion of liberty of Southern Philippines."

A third Muslim, falling under statesmen, was Hadji Butu Abdul Bagui of Sulu, who, writes Bernardo, "holds that distinction of having broken down our Muslim brothers‚ resistance to integration into the Filipino nation." He did all he could to pacify his Muslim brothers who resisted Spanish colonization. He once said: "Mindanao and Sulu are like a small vinta towed by the Philippine ship of state. Wherever the bigger ship goes, the vinta follows. We want to be side by side with our Christian brothers, laboring for the welfare of the Philippines, guided by one common ideal, and bound by one common tie."
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Francisco Dagohoy (circa 1715-1800) of Bohol led the longest revolt against the Spaniards. His followers, inspired by his leadership and "imbued with indomitable courage and fearless heroism", carried on the fight for independence. During those 85 years of Bohol’s independence, the Boholanos did not render forced labor nor pay taxes, suffering neither racial discrimination nor social humiliation in the hands of Spaniards. Dagohoy governed like the datus of the pre-Spanish era. His rule was firm and just, and he was obeyed and respected by the people.
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Francisco (Balagtas) Baltazar, the prince of Tagalog poets, leads the roster of Bernardo’s great poets, writers and journalists. The others are Fernando Ma. Guerrero, "a colossus in Philippine Spanish literature;" the fearless writer and pillar in Tagalog literature Amado V. Hernandez; the propagandist and prince of Filipino orators, Graciano Lopez Jaena; the lyric poet Jose Corazon de Jesus; the historian Teodoro M, Kalaw; the consummate propagandist Marcelo H. del Pilar, the fearless writer and founder of the Philippine Independent Church Isabelo de los Reyes, Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, Epifanio de los Santos, Lope K. Santos, and Jose Garcia Villa.

Three women are in Bernardo’s list of educators – Rosa Sevilla Alvero, Librada M. Avelino, and Francisca Tirona-Benitez. Geronima Pecson falls under the category of statesman, Pura Villanueva-Kalaw under nationalists, crusaders and revolutionists Josefa Llanes Escoda, Maria Paz Mendoza Guazon, Josefa Jara-Martinez, Anastacia Giron-Tupas, under medical doctors, nurses and social workers. Under artists are Francisca Reyes-Aquino and Jovita Fuentes, and scientists, Maria Y. Orosa and Carmen C. Velasquez. Margarita Roxas de Ayala is listed among the entrepreneurs.
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Two heroes make great reading: Bado Dang-wa, transportation magnate of Northern Luzon, and Laureano Guevara, father of the Marikina shoe industry. Bado studied to be a teacher, but he had a knack for taking apart junk machines and motor vehicles and then reassembling them. In time, his assemblage of junk and repaired motor vehicles became the core of his large transportation business. He also established the largest poultry farm in La Trinidad, providing employment to many highlanders. His reputation for efficiency, integrity and honesty led to his appointment as governor of the Mountain Province by two presidents belonging to different political parties – Presidents Elpidio Quirino and Ramon Magsaysay. The name Dangwa, writes Bernardo, "is now synonymous with all that is progressive and enterprising in the mountain-locked regions of Northern Luzon."

Guevara, on the other hand, had a shoemaker copy imported footwear, and by studying and implementing techniques in shoe production, developed Marikina’s shoe industry made up of industrious household factories. The Marikina Shoe Producers Association erected a mo-nument to his memory in 1954.
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