In praise of Ka Nitoy

The afternoon weather was warm and the heat index was high. At the UP Diliman College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD) Bulwagang Tandang Sora, the atmosphere was full of warmth because the college was celebrating a friend who supported the college for many years.

Among those who came were former college deans, professors emeriti, retired faculty members, and University and government officials.

“Espesyal ang hapon na ito para sa ating lahat. Narito tayo upang ating ipadama ang ating pagkilala at taos-pusong pasasalamant sa isang mabuting kaibigan at kasangga ng CSWCD. The person we are honoring today, [is] Cayetano de Leon Santiago Jr. or simply, Ka Nitoy. He’s truly one of our own,” CSWCD Dean Lenore Polotan-dela Cruz said.

Ka Nitoy. Photo by Jerald DJ. Caranza, UPDIO   

According to Polotan-dela Cruz, Ka Nitoy is a UP alumnus who earned his AB in arts and law in 1951 and his Master of Sociology and Social Welfare in 1953. That same year, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and a UP fellowship, “and he enrolled at the George Wharton School of Social Work in Washington University. In 1955, he received [his] Master of Social Work. He returned to UP as a faculty member of the Department of Sociology and Social Welfare thereafter.”

Among his students were former CSWCD Dean Evelina A. Pangalangan and social worker and former professor, Thelma Lee-Mendoza.

Ka Nitoy and his family migrated to the United States in 1958, but his support for UP never waned.

In 2002, Ka Nitoy established the Cayetano and Amanda de Leon Santiago Endowment Fund in the CSWCD.

“He named the fund in honor of his parents. For almost two decades, the trust endowment provided support to some 200 deserving social work and community development students enrolled in the field instruction program (FIP) as well as research funding support to social work faculty members,” Polotan-dela Cruz said.

Polotan-dela Cruz. Photo by Jerald DJ. Caranza, UPDIO   

The celebration for Ka Nitoy last May 27 was also the launch of the endowment fund in his name, the Cayetano L. Santiago Jr. Endowment Fund.

“Your generous support will provide immense opportunities for students to pursue their dreams as future social workers and community development professionals,” Polotan-dela Cruz said.

She explained that the current endowment fund will have four components: student support, student academic achievement award, support for community projects, and seed fund for alumni matching.

In terms of student support, the endowment fund will extend financial support to CSWCD students during their FIP.

For student academic achievements, the endowment fund will be the source of cash awards for outstanding knowledge products like the best FIP student papers.

The endowment fund will also provide small grants to selected project initiatives in poverty alleviation and local capacity building.

Fifty percent of the endowment fund or PHP500,000 will be designated as a seed fund for alumni matching.

“The seed fund will be held in trust by the UP Social Action and Research for Development Foundation, Inc. (UPSARDF), and all additional funds generated from the interest earnings and donations raised by alumni matching will be utilized to support the other components in the succeeding years,” Polotan-dela Cruz said.

She explained further that the seed money will be proportionally distributed to the three college departments, and each of them will conduct their respective fundraising campaigns to increase their share of the seed money.

Meanwhile Angelito G. Manalili, PhD, professor emeritus at the Department of Community Development and former CSWCD dean, shared that through Ka Nitoy’s direction on how he wanted Torres High School to use the funds he endowed them, the school now has a system in place on how to help students who have learning difficulties.

Manalili. Photo by Jerald DJ. Caranza, UPDIO   

Manalili shared that Ka Nitoy told him, “‘Sabihan mo sila na gusto ko i-invest nila iyong pera at iyong magiging tubo ay gamiting kaloob na parangal at pasasalamat sa mga guro na nagtitiyagang magturo sa mga naiiwang estudyante nang makahabol sila…. Hindi ba dapat ang inaalagaan ay ang mga naiiwan upang makahabol sila?’”

Manalili added Ka Nitoy focused his endowment on the college’s FIP because, “Nais niyang bawat gawin natin ay sumasagip sa buhay ng mga naiiwan at napagkakaitan.”

In his message to the CSWCD, Ka Nitoy said, “What we should keep in mind is what we should be doing more to help others. As far as community development is concerned, we always looked at the problem first. Why don’t we find out what their dreams are and how we can help turn their dreams into reality? When we want to know their dreams, then we can help realize their dreams.”

Also present at the event were UPD Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jerwin F. Agpaoa representing UPD Chancellor Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II, UPSARDF Chief Executive Jocelyn T. Caragay, and CSWCD College Secretary Paul Edward N. Muego.

Event participants. Photo by Jerald DJ. Caranza, UPDIO