Sunday, June 03, 2012

[Biography] The Life and Times of Pating Fadrilan

Epifanio & Julia Fadrilan | Photo by author
They say that we only get to truly know and value a person once s/he is gone.

Before he died, I tried to get to know more about my grandfather, Epifanio F. Fadrilan Sr. Not just because he was my grandfather and namesake, but because I admire the way he raised such a big and successful family -- a feat which I would like to emulate and draw inspiration from. Researching the stuff which led to this post is a difficult task since my sources are scattered across Southern Luzon and abroad, but it’s a pretty comprehensive biography of our family patriarch, so here it is:

Born in Banton (then Jones), Romblon on January 23, 1927, Epifanio Sr was the only child of Rufino Fadrilan and Julia Flores, and the eldest grandson of Cornelio Fadrilan and Tomasa Fetalino. His father had died before he was born, and thus, was raised only by his mother. He took his early studies at Jones Elementary School (now Banton Elementary School). There was no public high school in Banton yet at that time, so his parents sent him to his uncles at Nicanor Padilla Street in Manila to study at Victorino Mapa High School. His high school studies were cut short when World War II broke out and destroyed much of the city.

He continued his high school studies after the war and took up additional courses in typing and stenography, skills which he used to work for the US forces in Manila. After finishing high school, he was assigned to work for the US forces in Olongapo City, but refused to accept due to the distance and unfamiliarity of the place. It was at this time that he met Filipino-Chinese businessman Zoilo Uy who offered him a job as hand help at his store in Odiongan, Romblon. Accepting the proposal, he relocated back to his home province. After sometime of working for Uy, he decided to pursue a better paying job as a clerk for Dean Filomeno Guerra at Romblon College (now Romblon State University). While working, he began pursuing a short course that would enable him to become an elementary teacher (Elementary Teacher Course).

In 1952, after acquiring his certification as an elementary teacher, Epifanio (known affectionately to his friends as Pating), returned to his hometown Banton and was accepted as a teacher at the Banton Elementary School. It was during this time that he met the beautiful, 18-year old, 2nd year student at Banton High School, Julia Fetalcorin. Immediately smitten by the tall, mestiza Julia, he courted her by sending fresh food at her house, which included ibis (anchovies) and sihi (sea snails) inside coconut shells. He also did chores for Julia’s father and even serenaded her once. Wooed by the small, yet dashing Pating, the two got married in 1955. The couple made a home at the land he inherited from his father along Generoso Fonte Street (beside the house of Visitacion “Vising” Fonte-Musico) in Barangay Poblacion. In a span of 17 years, the couple had 8 children: Bayani (b. 1956), Cynthia (b. 1958), Dante (b. 1961 died during his teens), Epifanio Jr. (called Jun/Boy, b. 1963), Adonis (b. 1965), Josephine (b. 1970) and the twins, Nicholas and Gloria (b. 1973, Gloria died after birth).

While raising his family, Pating continued to be a trailblazer at his work at the Banton Elementary School. Each summer, he would take up a semester of Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education at the National Teachers College in Manila which enabled him to become a regular faculty at BES. His wife Julie followed his footsteps at NTC, eventually taking up the same course in Elementary Education which she finished in 1969. The following year, Pating was transferred to nearby Simira Island to become teacher at Gobon Elementary School. Julie would follow her to Simira soon after, leaving the children to the care of Dionisia Fadriquela, Julie’s mother. The couple returned to Banton two years later, with Pating becoming head teacher at Nasunogan Elementary School. He facilitated the transfer of this school from the hills to the lowlands to make it more accessible to the village folk. After Nasunogan, he was assigned teacher-in-charge at the newly-created Tungonan Barangay High School (now Tungonan National High School). It was through his experience as teacher-in-charge that Pating realized he needed to pursue additional studies in order to be promoted principal and be able to provide more for his now large family.

In 1982, Pating took a sabbatical leave from teaching to pursue graduate studies in Non-Formal Education under a scholarship grant by the Philippine Normal College in Manila. He completed the course in a year and half. After his graduation, he was immediately appointed back to Simara to become assistant principal at the Mabini Barangay High School (now Mabini National High School). He fulfilled his duties in Simara until 1986, when the Division Superintendent for the Province of Romblon appointed him Division Supervisor in Non-Formal Education for the whole province. As Division Supervisor, he oversaw the organization of non-formal classes in various livelihood and trades, including agriculture, dressmaking, food processing, and cosmetology. These courses enabled young people in the province to acquire skills which became potential sources of livelihood for them. Pating Fadrilan performed such duty to his province until his retirement in 1991.

A political career welcomed Pating upon his return and retirement in Banton. He joined the Liberal Party and ran for Municipal Mayor in 1992 and Vice Mayor in 1995. While he lost in both attempts, Pating remained an active member of the Bantoanon community and grandfather to his grandchildren. He also saw the marriage of two of his youngest children, Josephine in 1996 and Nicholas in 2002. However, old age and sickness took a toll on Pating’s health. He succumbed to recurring asthma beginning in 1998, a disease he would battle with up to his death.

On June 3, 2007, while staying at the residence of his eldest son, Bayani, in Lipa, Batangas, the 80-year old Epifanio Fadrilan Sr. had a severe asthma attack (which led to a cardiac arrest) after hearing mass at the city cathedral with his wife Julia. He died while being rushed to the hospital. His wake in Lipa City and burial in Banton, Romblon was attended by his extended family, members of the Fadrilan clan, his former co-workers, and prominent members of Bantoanon society. He is survived by his wife, 6 children, and 15 grandchildren.

My grandfather died at the same time I began my teaching career. I felt it was good timing, as if he died passing his name and his duty as teacher to me. I want to remember him and the life he endured the best way possible (even suggesting that the Banton Elementary School library be named after him). But I guess no pedestal or edifice would suffice to describe how he served his family and hometown. So here I am writing this blog post for the future generations of Bantoanons to see and telling them that the best life to live is a life consecrated towards a purpose higher than man itself.

Pating Fadrilan: Noble Father, Celebrated Teacher, a Proud Bantoanon!

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