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Dr. Arsenio S. Camacho: In memoriam

“He had a deep love for UP Visayas.” 

Of all the fine things that were said of former UP Visayas Chancellor, Dr. Arsenio S. Camacho during a tribute that was held in his honor, this was the one that probably best captured the reason why he had given the best of himself not only as a faculty member of UPV but also as one of its administrator. 

Prof. Ma. Joji Tan, faculty member of the UP High School in Iloilo and former Director of the Information and Publications Office who served during his term, said these words and was one of those who spoke during the tribute held on November 20, 2015, at the GCEB Training Room, UP Visayas, Iloilo City campus. The late Dr. Arsenio S. Camacho, 5th Chancellor of UP Visayas passed away on October 22, 2015. The tribute was attended by top current UPV officials led by Chancellor Rommel A. Espinosa, former UPV officials, and faculty and staff, some of whom have already retired from the university.

A visionary leader, a bold and brilliant administrator who has a compassionate, generous heart, and who looked after the well-being of his people. This was the common thread expressed in the words that were said by those who spoke during the tribute. 

Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Prof Encarnacion Emilia Yap gave an extensive background on Camacho, who, although born in Baliwag, Bulacan, spent a great part of his childhood in Tondo. By her reckoning, he was one of the fastest faculty member of UP to have been promoted from Instructor I in 1966 to full professorship in 1982. When he left UPV in 2001, he was Professor 12 at the Institute of Aquaculture of the then College of Fisheries, (now College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences), the highest rank among UP faculty.

“He was the kind of person who held no grudges. There is no meanness in him. He was always looking after the well-being of others. But he was no pushover,” said former UPV Chancellor, Dr. Ida M. Siason, who served as Vice-Chancellor for Academic affairs during his term (November 1, 1993 – August 16, 1998). Siason also said that Camacho was pleasant and joyful to work with and made people feel good about themselves. 

“He is one tough act to follow, says current CFOS Dean, Dr. Crispino Saclauso who also described Camacho as an aggressive, strong and a passionate leader. Saclauso said that although Camacho admits that he has temper, the latter said that “age and experience has tempered his temper.”

A message from UPV’s 1st Chancellor, Dr. Dionisia Rola, was read by retired professor Lorenza Padojinog who herself was Camacho’s Vice-Chancellor for Administration and likewise shared her own memories of him. Padojinog said that she started working with him when he was still the head of the Brackiswater Aquaculture Center (BAC) of the College of Fisheries in Leganes, Iloilo.

“At that time there were no paved roads yet leading to BAC. We waded in the mud to get there,” she recalled, revealing Camacho to be a hands-on leader as well. 

“When he believed in an idea and that when he was right, he will fight for it,” she added. “But what I love most about him is his brilliance, his boldness. He said that that ‘unless you learn to dare, you will never grow up in courage,’” she pointed out.

Others who also gave messages were former Chancellor Dr. Minda Formacion who was a classmate of Camacho in several undergraduate classes in UP Diliman, and Drs. Romeo Fortes and Arnold Naldoza, Vice-Chancellors for Planning and Development, now both retired. 

“He never raised his voice. He is a kind, cheerful and, compassionate man,” said former Executive Assistant to the Chancellor Mrs. Fely Mendoza (retired) of her former boss. 

“You gave me the good years of my life, said former administrative officer of the Office of the Chancellor, Ms. Teresita Arcones who also gave a message which was read by Ms. Lea Papilota. “He was considerate and kind, and always asked how we were,” she added. 

Mr. Rudy Lasquite, who served as Camacho’s driver during his term remembered him as a relaxed, laid back boss.

Mr. Eugene Solutin, a retired administrative officer of BAC remembers Camacho as one who “loves the people of BAC.” “He called us on a first-name basis. He went abroad and when he returned he had a gift for all of us including even me who was a newcomer at that time,” he recalled. He also said that Camacho was his mentor.

UPV is indeed fortunate to have this visionary leader whose deep love for the University has left indelible marks not only to UPV but also to its people. 

Dr. Saclauso said it best. He is a tough act to follow.

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