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Sep 22nd
Home Sections A Tale of Two Ateneo Boys
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Wednesday, 14 January 2009 14:49

O ne October morning in 2005, a huge banner flapping at the flag pole invited passersby of a “HEROES’ WEEK” observance. The place was Loyola Heights in Quezon City’s Diliman District, where Ateneo de Manila University campus was located.


For a refresher, Ateneo de Manila is one name that--long before the word ‘University’ was added--continues to evoke respect as the bastion of “enlightened education” among religious institutions of higher learning. Run by the Jesuits, Ateneo de Manila University is the only institution in the country that honors its graduates who played heroic role all in the name of the patria (motherland) that was always in the mind of its most-revered alumnus, Dr. Jose Rizal, the foremost national hero of the Philippines.


The author is not a product of Ateneo de Manila but is an alumnus of the University of the Philippines. He is one of the more-respected Rizalist writers in the United States. He is based in Delray Beach, FL Any comments may be e-mailed to

Among the list of selected 2005 honorees is Ramon Pamintuan, AB’37. And why I singled him out is because of my fascination in the comparative interpretation of men and event, especially when they rose to the occasion in defense of national pride. This truly makes history interesting and entertaining. 


Rizal and Pamintuan lived generations apart. The first entered the classroom when the school was called Ateneo Municipal and originally located in Intramuros while Pamintuan started his grade school in 1925 when the school was already known as Ateneo de Manila. However, he witnessed the relocation and transfer of the school from Intramuros to Padre Faura Street where he finished high school in 1933. In short, Rizal’s time was Spanish while Pamintuan’s occurred during the American-Colonial period.


The short bio on Pamintuan in the brochure described him “reputed to be among the most-brilliant Ateneo students at that time” receiving his BA degree magna cum laude. Although Ramon was no match to Rizal’s overall academic achievement, he must have read all the major writings including the hero’s diaries and the articles that appeared in the La Solidaridad, such as “Filipinas A Cien Anos,” where Dr. Rizal predicted the emergence of America as a world power and the collapse of the Spanish Empire.


P amintuan must have also noted how sensitive and meticulous was Rizal in recording his keen observation while traveling the USA on his way to Europe. After he arrived in Europe, he was met at the railway station in Ghent, Belgium, by Jose Alejandrino, who asked him what were his impressions on America. Rizal replied, “If there is one country in the world where its citizens enjoy the best freedoms and rights, it is the United States”, after a long pause, Rizal continued, “ . . .  if you happen to be WHITE”.


Ramon Pamintuan’s story of valor, courage and character was chronicled by fellow Atenean, Philip Buencamino, a comrade and fellow survivor of the Battle of Bataan and its subsequent Death March. Mr. Buencamino’s “Memoirs and Diaries” book was cited the primary source and reference in support of the honoree’s inclusion in the coveted title HEROES OF 2005. Here are the excerpts: 


“Afternoon came…and we rested under a tree. Here, three Americans joined us. One of them, a major, told Ramon: ”Say you… move out of there . . . so I can get a shade.”


Ramon did not like the way the American said it. The major forgot that the war is over for us at least . . . and that we are now equal. Ramon got sore and shouted: “I take no orders from American cowards.”


The major reddened. “You talk of equality . . . but when I was in your country… despite my money, I could not dance with your girls.


The American said: “That’s what you give us after fighting for you!”


“Whatta hell!” said Tony. “Who is fighting for whom? Why you mutts never went to the front?”  # # #

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 15:01

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