“Salvador, you are a voice crying out in the wilderness…” his wife Victoria would say with resignation, every so often.
After World War II, his business holdings expanded exponentially, and one would think that a successful businessman would just want to make more, more, and more millions of pesos for himself.
Not Salvador Araneta. Not for the man who always thought of the common good of all Filipinos.
In 196_, risking the great displeasure of his wife Victoria and 5 daughters, he unilaterally decided to give Php 10 million pesos — an unthinkable sum in those days — to the Araneta foundation for the education of the Filipino youth. It was an awesome but not altogether unexpected gesture that was so characteristic of his consuming altruism and profound sense of “noblesse oblige.”
On hindsight, it may have been the incredible generosity that actually assured the fortunes of his family in the decades that followed.
Partial curriculum vitae of Salvador Araneta:
BORN: 31 January 1902, Manila, Philippines.
EDUCATION: A.B. Ateneo de Manila [ magna cum laude ]; M.Ll. University of Santo Tomas [ meritissimus ]; Special Student, Harvard Law School, 1921 – 22, on Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Roman Law, Corporations, Negotiable Instruments, and Insurance Laws. Received in 1946 from Fordham University the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
LAWYER: In the practice of law with his father from 1923 to 1930 when his father died. From 1930 to 1941, senior partner of the law firm Araneta, de Joya, Zaragoza, and Araneta. During the Japanese occupation he lost interest in the practice of law, and after a few months of law practice after the liberation of the Philippines in 1944, he entrusted the law firm to his brother Antonio to dedicate his time to education and business. He was also active in civic activities, church activities, and joined the government service when invited by the president to serve.
EDUCATOR: President, Catholic Educational Association, 1946; cofounder and first president, FEATI Institute of Technology 1946 to 1950 when he was appointed to the Cabinet. The Institute is now a university; cofounder with his brothers of Araneta Institute of Agriculture, named after their father, 1946. In 1947, he took over the responsibility of financing the institute and it was moved to a two hundred acre campus at the portals of three cities: Manila, Quezon, and Caloocan. He became its president in 1955 and served until his retirement in 1970. It became a university under his administration.
INDUSTRIALIST AND BUSINESSMAN: Cofounder and president of the family corporation, Gregorio Araneta, Inc., 1952 – 55; main organizer of the first wheat flour mill in the Philippines, the Republic Flour Mills, now known as RFM Corporation. Before his retirement from business, he was the chairman of the board of the FEATI Bank of which he was one of the founders.
PUBLIC SERVICE: Delegate to the 1934 and 1971 Constitutional Conventions; Secretary of Economic Coordination 1950 – 51, and of Agriculture and Natural Resources 1954 – 55.
CIVIC SERVICE: In 1935, he was a cofounder and today the only surviving founder of the NEPA National Economic Protectionism Association. In 1939 he was the main organizer, together with then Congressman Jose Romero and Congressman Narciso Ramos who later became Secretary of Foreign Affairs, of a civic league to support the reexamination movement of the Independence Act, initiated by High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt. The organization had the blessings of President Manuel Quezon provided it insisted on a dominion form of government like Canada. After the war in 1946, he was the main organizer of another civic league to fight against the Parity Amendment to the Constitution and the Bell Trade Agreement. In 1947, he was a cofounder and first president of the Philippine Constitutional Association. In 1971, he was again elected president of the association.
AUTHOR: “Economic Re-examination,” 1953; “Christian Democracy for the Philippines,” 1958; “Rizal and his Message,” 1962; “Economic Nationalism, Capitalism for All in a Directed Economy,” 1965; “Educational Philosophy of a University President,” 1971; “Annotations to the PHILCONSA Draft for a New Constitution,” 1971; “Democratic Bayanicracy through 64 Basic Constitutional Reforms,” 1971; “Bayanikasan: The Effective Democracy for All,” 1976; “America’s Double Cross of the Philippines,” 1978; and several others. Contributor to many studies on economics published by the Institute of Economic Studies and Social Action of Araneta University, and to the background studies for the delegates to the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
AWARDS: Economic Leader of the Year 1953 and Business Leader of the Year 1964, both awards from the Business Writers Association of the Philippines; Presidential Award in the Social Sciences 1965, and in Economics, 1970; Father of Filipinization Award by the Chamber of Filipino Retailers Association 1969; Special Testimonial Award for basic economic thinking by the Philippine Chamber of Industries 1968; PHILCONSA plaque of appreciation in connection with the Araneta-Tolentino debate on TV 1958 .
Acknowledgments: Regina Lopez Araneta-Teodoro; Carmen Lopez Araneta-Segovia; “VLA” ebook by Bettina Araneta Teodoro; “Molave of his Country,” Salvador Araneta; “Salvador Araneta: Reflections of a Filipino Exile,” Michael P. Onorato, The Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, 1979.