DR. QF MIRAVITE, THE MAN AND THE LEGEND
DR QF MIRAVITE, THE MAN AND THE LEGEND:
Dr. QF Miravite
A CLOSE PERSONAL ENCOUNTER
by: William R. Adan; January 12, 2010
I had a love-hate-love relationship with Dr. QF Miravite.
When I arrived in MSU (Mindanao State University) in 1966, Dr. QFM was already occupied with administrative functions as Vice President for Academic Affairs. He was no longer teaching but gave occasional lectures in civic and social training (CST).
One cold November at around 5 pm, the students in CST D, Current International Issues, were assembled in the gym waiting for their lecturer. It was a little dark in the gym because the busted light bulbs had not been replaced and the fog had also crept inside. Suddenly a dark smoking figure materialized in front of us and, after ascertaining that it was the gathering for CST D, started articulating on the conflict over Kashmir between India and Pakistan, the escalation of the Vietnam War, and the raging dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia over Sabah. The eternally smoking dark man in dark suit was no other than Dr. Quiterio. F. Miravite.
Dr. QFM cut quite an impression on me because of his nonchalant attitude and behavior expressed in the way he talked and bore himself. He wore a crooked smile, which came like a smirk, which put his listeners in quandary as to his seriousness of purpose. QFM was an eloquent speaker but came with a voice that was low and a little raspy probably because of the accretion of nicotine in his throat. He was puffing his cigarette with gusto while lecturing. After a while, the fog and his smoke mixed in what most likely was the first smog we knew that hovered around us for the duration of the one-hour CST session at the campus gym.
The Miravites were a legend. Reality and myth intertwined around them. Those ahead of us on campus told us that QFM finished his Ph.D. in esoteric studies in India at age 24 and was an expert in yoga and hypnotism. They said that Rozalina, his adorable wife, the first known political activist in Marawi campus, could not have married him if she were not hypnotized by him. The Miravite couple, accordingly, had at any time a case of beer and coca cola under their matrimonial bed: the beer for smoking QFM and the coke for sweet Rosalina. Ma'am Miravite, her students claimed, would always bring with her two or more bottles of coke to her workplace. Dr. QFM had, accordingly, also a stock of beer in some cabinet of his office. He was intellectually productive, like Edgar Alan Poe, when a little tipsy, said many. That he could think and type very fast, I can vouch for it. I watched him one time typed a special order in a zip. I thought the typewriter would break into pieces when he did it.
The Master Strategist
QFM was a master strategist. His game plan was way ahead of everyone's thought. The creation of MSU IIigan Institute of Technology (IIT) and MSU Sulu College of Technology and Ocenaography (SCTO), evidently with the blessing of President Antonio Isidro, was his branchild. He had probably foreseen that one day MSU Marawi would slowly lose its momentum for academic excellence because of the growing, pervasive and choking cultural atavism in the area that would eventually warp the vision, mission and goals of the University. At least another campus may rise from the fall, in case. The genius of QFM was manifested in the way he assured the development of the new MSU units by securing them special and reliable sources of funds. Under RA 5363, the MSU IIT was assured an annual allocation of 3 percent of the gross income from all sources of the City of Iligan for its operation and maintenance. On the other hand, MSU SCTO was to receive from the Bureau of Customs 5 percent ad valorem duty on processed imported marine products (RA 6060), collectible every end of each quarter. For whatever reason, either by new legal issuances or as a result of administrative mediocrity, MSU SCTO (now TCTO, where T stands for Tawi-tawi) stopped to receive its valorem funds after the declaration of Martial Law. And the revamp of the MSU Board of Regents after the EDSA I Revolution lost the Iliganon's representation in the policy making body of the University and, consequently, stopped the flow of the City's tax money to the coffer of MSU IIT.
At any rate, Dr. QFM managed to divert some funds from the ad valorem money of SCTO to finance the physical development and operational enhancement of a small marine research laboratory of the MSU College of Fisheries in Naawan, Misamis Oriental. The research lab which would be known later as the Institute of Fisheries Research and Development (IFRD), the forerunner of MSU Naawan, eventually became the birthplace of the Sugpo Revolution in the country. MSU Naawan developed the first technology in the mass production of the fry of the tiger shrimp, p. monodon, in hatcheries and their culture in brackish ponds early in the seventies. This feat of MSU Naawan was used by QFM to eventually corner and capture under MSU management the establishment of the Aquaculture Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC AQD) in Tigbauan, Iloilo. The first wave of research workers of SEAFDEC AQD came mostly from MSU Naawan and partly from Marawi campus. The first Japanese shrimp experts conducted their preliminary production experiments at the MSU Naawan hatcheries. In 1975 when the formal management structure for SEAFDEC AQD was formally approved by its member countries, MSU's supervision over the Aquaculture Department of SEAFDEC was ended.
Up Close and Personal
But let me backtrack a little. My first personal encounter with QFM occurred some three months after the student demonstration in August 1969 in MSU Marawi. My love for legends started to fade away.
The whole country then was wracked by student activism and the fever rubbed on us at MSU Marawi that gave birth to the Student Reform Movement (SRM). I found myself in the company of Jun Acut, Dan Lobitania, Dave Tauli, Willie Lazaro, and the late Rod Cadiente, Glenn Rosauro and Sammy Marohombsar, among others, in the frontline of the movement. The Marohombsar cousins, Rebecca and Myrna, were among our links to the Girls Dorm I can still remember. The Student Government headed by Abe Alonto joined forces with us.
The SRM led probably the longest campus demonstration and boycott of classes in the whole country at that time that lasted for 9 days, from August 6-15, 1969. It grappled on the issues and concerns that beset the scholars' paradise: security problems – the increasing frequency of physical assault of boys' dorm occupants, the slapping contests carried out by non-campus residents, and the thievery on campus; the inadequacy of learning materials, particularly textbooks, where in major courses only one textbook was available for some 15 students despite our textbook allowance; the invariant, almost nauseating meals in the cafeteria; the insufficient water supply whose share for the students flowed to the dorms at 12 midnight or 4 in the morning; and the low quality of health and other student services. Of course in the speeches of some student leaders, corruption in the University and the government were dished out along with the national outcry on American imperialism. I noticed along the way, however, that local campus politics took a ride on the student movement for change. The demand to oust President Isidro and QFM insidiously took the front seat of the struggle and put me in a moral dilemma because I was not personally sold to the idea. I did not believe it was necessary. Tension was mounting. The Board of Regents of the University had to hold a special meeting on campus to listen to the student' demands and break the stalemate on the negotiation between the University administration and the student leaders in ending the boycott of classes. The Board's chief negotiator with the students was alumni representative James Claude S. Mante. At the end of the day, President Isidro had to retire outside of schedule. QFM managed to hang on.
It was difficult to go back to study mode after about a month of freedom and disorder in one's immediate environment. Nonetheless, I managed to pass in all my subjects and maintain my scholarship. When it was time to enroll for the second semester, I got the shock of my life: the faculty in the political science department would no longer admit me. I was given no explanation but was advised to see Atty. Jose Agbayani, the University Registrar. I went to Atty. Agbayani and was told to see Dr. Quiterio F. Miravite, the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
QFM welcomed me in his office with a handshake and his patented smile and said:
"Congratulations William. We have examined your academic records and noticed that you have already met the minimum requirements for graduation. Thus, you don't have to enroll this semester. We have already considered your candidacy for graduation."
I was tongue-tied for a moment. I did not expect this development. I felt, however, that I was being robbed of something. I looked at him and said: "Sir, I was able to maintain my scholarship and am still entitled to enroll this semester. There are still a lot of things that I have to learn and I will not be happy to settle with minimums."
His reaction was immediate and furious. "Gago ka talaga. Kung hindi ka pa naman tanga, eh binibigyan na nga kita ng pabor, ayaw mo pa. Yong iba nga dyan, umiyak-iyak na, halos lumoluhod na para maka-graduate lang. At ikaw pa-ayaw-ayaw pa!"
"Sir," I tried to reason out, "we have this scholarship contract. You can't just dismiss it. I have the right to study and stay here for another semester."
"The contract is subject to certain policies of the University. We have made the decision. If you insist, you can go to court," he declared.
There was no way for me to go to court. I didn't even have fare money to go home. At the end of the enrolment period, I went back to the Registrar and asked for development in my favor. There was none. I could not stay on campus and eat free meals without an evidence of registration for that semester. So I went back to QFM and told him that I gave up and that I was going home. But because I did not have fare money, I wanted that my travel, book allowance, and the equivalent monthly stipends for the remaining semester provided for in the scholarship contract be given to me. He agreed and in less than two hours I got my money and went home to Butuan the following day. That was how I was "kicked out" from the University and enjoyed my vacation ahead of the flock courtesy of QFM. Given this free time, I gave no second thought when invited by the junior faculty of MSU led by Yesnoy (formerly Nonoy) Macasantos to join the Movement for Better MSU (MBM). But this is another story that I may tackle in some other time.
The Encounter in Bongao
Two years later (1971), I accepted the invitation of Fred Santiago, then Director of the Sulu College of Technology and Oceanography, to help him in launching the college program in Bongao, Sulu (now Tawi-Tawi). I came to Bongao in the company of Elvira Ynion (who in two years' time would become my wife), Corazon Uy, the late Gertrudes Licmoan, Alejandra Napil, Capistrano Tejano, Jr, Angelito Vizcara, and the late Artemio Bernardino (Dan and Helen Vicente, Manuel Lam, Ninpha Gayon, and Eldigario Gonzales followed us later). As the construction of the college buildings was still going on, we held classes temporarily at the Bongao MSU Preparatory High School and under the acacia trees. QFM was around in the first week of August 1971 to see the progress of the construction of the school buildings on campus and to serve as our guest speaker for the 2nd Founding Anniversary of SCTO on August 4, 1971. It was at this time that I heard the famous quote: "the center of gravity of MSU is everywhere and its periphery is nowhere."
He was not in any way surprised to see me in Bongao but asked me some questions.
QFM: What are the courses assigned to you here?
WRA: I am initially hired as Teacher II. I am assigned to teach English and history subjects in fourth year high school.
QFM: You are a political science major. How do you teach English?
WRA: I want to develop my students in writing and public speaking. I have required them to keep a daily journal and I am correcting their works (sentence construction, grammar, tenses, etc.) every weekend. I am planning to come out with a student publication both for high school and college, to start in mimeographed form. To improve their public speaking ability, I have devised a draw-lot method where a student would pick up at random his topic to develop and deliver extemporaneously in 3 minutes.
QFM: Well, that is something. What do you want me to buy to enhance your teaching strategy?
WRA: A new electric mimeo machine for the student publication and a portable tape recorder with a lot of blank tapes and batteries for my public speaking classes (Bongao did not have electricity at that time but we have a generator at the Guest House).
One month later, Dir. Santiago brought with him to Bongao a new Gestetner electric mimeo machine, a portable Sony tape recorder and a Pentax SL camera for me. I immediately organized the editorial staff of the first student publication in SCTO campus, "The Sambatau (for Samal-Badjao-Tausog) Echo" and came out with our first mimeographed maiden issue at no time at all. The tape recorder was still a novelty at that time. My students were amazed and fascinated to hear their voices for the first time and were laughing at their speeches. Their shyness and apprehension gone, they started jockeying thereafter for priority position to talk extemporaneously in class.
The Encounter in Naawan
A year after the declaration of Martial Law, the local talents in Bongao wanted to run SCTO themselves. Fred Santiago returned to MSU Marawi and helped QFM in working for the establishment of SEAFDEC under the wings of MSU. Because I was critical of the way the campus was managed and was strongly identified with Fred Santiago, the new SCTO administration tried to find ways to ease me out of Bongao. One night, the MNLF assaulted Bongao and found ourselves scampering for safety. Jun Tumanda and wife, Farida Alibasa, Dan and Helen Vicente, Letty and her hubby, the late Fruc Escudero and I took refuge in Zamboanga City. When we failed to return to Bongao after two weeks because of the turmoil, the SCTO administrators terminated our employment. With the intervention of Dean Domiciano Villaluz, Pres. Mauyag Tamano reversed the action of SCTO management and facilitated the transfer of Fruc and Letty to the MSU College of Fisheries in Marawi and our (the newly-wed couples, Jun and Faring Tumanda and Willy and Bing Adan) transfer to Naawan as research assistants in May 1973. Dan and Helen Vicente would follow us soon.
In Naawan, Dean DK Villaluz made me his public relations officer and the first head of Training and Extension Program of IFRD. When MSU was finally designated by Malacanang as the implementing arm of the Aquaculture Department of SEAFDEC, Dr. Miravite came over to Naawan and sat with me to discuss a massive technology dissemination program on the culture and production of sugpo in hatchery and fishponds. He suggested that we develop a 3-day fishpond cooperators training program in collaboration with SEAFDEC Iloilo and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The concept was to train fishpond operators with their caretakers, help them develop or prepare their ponds, and give them 10,000 sugpo fry each gratis to experiment the culture of the same in their respective pond conditions. MSU Naawan researchers would monitor the physical and chemical parameters of the production experiment.
I first balked at the idea because I was quite aware that the technology in sugpo production was still immature and was in fact still a hit-and-miss thing. But it was difficult to stop QFM. You either have to move with his traffic or be pushed aside. I decided to go with him. I personally convinced myself that it would take 5 years or more for the sugpo technology to mature in our laboratories. We took the unorthodox move of involving the users in improving the technology and have this same mature in their own hands. What we did short-circuited the paradigm of existing school of thoughts on technology generation, development, dissemination and adoption. It was a gamble that became the subject of my master's degree thesis three years later.
The fishpond cooperators program was duplicated later in SEAFDEC when it started operating its shrimp hatcheries. At the conclusion of the program, only about 5 percent of those given sugpo fry to culture in their ponds reported different levels of success. But these successful innovators would soon become the source of improved culture and production technology to the neighboring farmers. Parallel to the pond production effort, we also trained fish farmers and their technicians in the operations of shrimp hatcheries. As a result, shrimp culture became a "sunshine industry" in the country and Southeast for that matter in the late seventies to the nineties.
The Last Encounter
I suppose Dr. QF Miravite was already out of SEAFDEC but ran a consulting firm known as Bio-Resources International (BRI) which was quartered at Zeta Building in Ayala, Makati, when I paid him a visit for a personal purpose sometime in 1983. BRI's major project at that time was the Vitali Fishpond Estate of the Southern Philippines Development Administration (SPDA). Everyone was busy in the office when I arrived. Nevertheless, Nonoy (now Yesnoy) Macansantos, BRI's chief of staff, ushered me to the plush office of QFM. Apparently, QFM was in a foul mood that morning. When I requested him for a road-right-of-way through his lot which was adjacent to my lot in Naawan where we were constructing our house, he became unnecessarily abrasive.
QFM: Ano, hihingi ka ng road-right-of way sa akin? Kon di ka pa naman gago, bakit ka bumili ng lupa na walang madadaanan? Ang dunong-dunong mo tapos nagkaroon ka ng problemang ganyan at ipasa mo ngayon sa akin. Sayang ang dunong mo!
WRA: Hindi ko ho alam noong una, Doc, na kailangan yon pagmag-loan ka sa bangko. Akala ko noong araw pwede na yong trail or pathway para sa gawin naming bahay. Babayaran ko naman ho yong road-right-of-way. Hindi ko hinihinging libre.
QFM: Hindi ko problema yon. Nagpakatanga ka, problema mo yan.
WRA: Bakit ka naman galit sa akin? Hindi naman kita pinipilit. Kong ayaw mo di ayaw. Bibili na lang ako ng helicopter pagdating ng araw para makapasok sa lote namin.
I left him without saying goodbye. I bantered for a while with his staff some of whom were familiar to me. When I was about to leave Yesnoy came to me and asked me some details on my request. I showed him the sketch of the lot, the location and the total area of the road-right-of way, and informed him of the prevailing price of land in Naawan. We agreed that I pay double of the prevailing price. I needed 70 square meters and I was to pay P2, 800 in manager's check for the road-right-of-way. Two days later, I returned to BRI and handed to Yesnoy the manager's check. He handed to me the road-right-of-way instrument, which was already signed by QFM, together with the land title for annotation purposes.
In a trip to Manila sometime in the second quarter of 1987, or four years after the encounter in Makati, I learned from former SEAFDEC Chief (Jan 1983-April 1986) Dr. Fred Santiago that QFM was sick and was closeted in his condo (Sunset Condominium) in Roxas Blvd. Jun Tumanda was with me at that time and we decided to pay him a visit.
Our arrival in his condo was unannounced. When he opened the door he was so surprised and pleased to see us. He was unnaturally warm in welcoming us. He gave us a hug and immediately offered us a choice of drinks. We settled for orange juice. Apparently, QFM was sorting his papers when we arrived and these were scattered on the table and on the floor. Then he smiled and walked towards the table and pulled out a document and said: "Willy, look, I have still here your manager's check for the road-right-of-way." He giggled as he handed me the check stapled on the land title.
by: William R. Adan
President, MSU Alumni Association
Mindanao State University, Marawi
That was the last time I saw the real man and the legend I learned to love again.
President, MSU Alumni Association
Mindanao State University (MSU) Marawi