Mythic creatures: Salvador Araneta

“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.



  1. Dindo Enriquez said,

    October 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    How can we get in touch with Lina Araneta-Santiago, daughter of Salvador Araneta? Can anyone refer her to Many tnx.

  2. May 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm


    Please be reminded:

    From now on, comments with no real names, no email addresses that can be confirmed, and no reliable identity checks will no longer be allowed.

    Please upload your comment again with the pertinent information.

    Thank you.

    Toto Gonzalez

  3. January 4, 2011 at 12:44 am

    “Julio, Tiyo Badong’ a firm handshake as far removed from the crushing ones- now catalogued as ‘Firm’. And too he was Uncle- my father- Tiya Victorias’ first cousin. Sept. 1980, 2077 Nelson, Vancouver B.C. Its amusing that even a Hemisphere removed they all chose to luve amongst kin. We’d just landed as residents in Vancouver and in fact were billeted at Lola Lilia Jisons flat as my ninang Juliet was in residence. The Lopez-Araneta penthouse, gentility without pretense. It felt like a home not a museum. I then met Regina two nights later- at a dinner in Her residence. If memory serves me well it was at buildings two streets removed- same ‘vibe’ a home genteel- everything ‘as it should be’ the dinner reminiscent of Manila~Ilonggo fusion.
    Food was great the company even more so. That evening without hoohah or fanfare I sat and spent an evening soaking in the anecdotal, the nuggets of wisdom and Yes the Brilliance of a Great human being_ in one Word “Patriot”. My father and tiyo Badong both reminscing about the Concon- the 1973 Constitutional Convention. A document that excepting the controversial Transitory Provisions_the controversial Amendment 5 or 6- is indeed a much better crafted piece than the ’87 Constitution hands down. That they along with 18others voted
    against and thus became ‘Pariah’. I was like a sponge soaking all of this in. Our Jalandoni kin were also at Reggie’s. What an evening forever seared in my consciousness. Thank God for genetic heritage and Holographic memory.
    His Angst at having to be in exile; lamentations on What couldve been, and apt pulse on what was yet to come_ our Country at the rate its going is _ not sustainable. Hijo I hope when its your time & your turn Do not Let pass an opportunity to pay back_ what our Country has so generously given up- and allowed given us.
    The stories that were told and thefour or five hours immersed were enough to last a lifetime. Of Tiyo Badong my father Charlie put it succinctly- a man of Integrity and Love of Country above self, one would be hard put to broach let alone surpass. All this in an interaction almost solemn in his inimitable way. Told as matter of fact yet even then the sparkle in his yes and direct forthright posit of his point unequivocal. I knew i was in the presence of a great man. That was the first and last time I was blessed to have been so disposed as to have met & spend an evening with ‘tiyo Badong. It was politics and country that night. A latin descriptive comes to mind.. Docendo descimus..we learn even as we teach. Just sharing this is once more a REMEMBRANCE… Madamo guid na salamat Toto your portal if anything stirs one to remember and share… to my cousin Reggie I rremember now I believe she is a Lawyer herself- thank you for hosting us that eve- another ‘unforgetable’ Deo favante Tiyo Badong & Tiya Victoria. They had gravitas yet it was genteel, non-pareil. Musings , vignettes, memories. Ojala..

  4. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 21, 2010 at 2:43 am

    From the Book Araneta a Love Affair with God and Country By Maria Lina Araneta- Santiago

    The Araneta University underwent several transformation in name first it was Araneta University then it became Gregorio Araneta University foundation when Salvador Araneta endowed more than eight million pesos it created quite a stir Newspaper reported it as a Profit instead of a donation it made headlines the funds Salvador Araneta donated were taken from Paraphernal Property making his wife and children Co donors of the University Today it is named De La Salle Araneta University

  5. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 20, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Leonardo Tiongson Siguion-Reyna was from Malolos, Bulacan; he came from the prominent Tiongson family of Malolos.

  6. Mon Yadao said,

    December 19, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Dear Toto,

    Pardon the intrusion, and the off-topic segue, but would you care to write about Leonardo Siguion-Reyna (89), a most interesting man, who died yesterday (Dec. 19). I would appreciate any more insights into this man.

    Thanks in advance,
    Mon Y.

  7. Mike V. Jugo said,

    December 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Hi Toto!

    I’d like to share this article by Eduardo Saverin, one of the co-founders of Facebook:

    Here’s an excerpt:

    “But, unlike so many things in life, there are no boundaries as to who can be an entrepreneur. You can be a college student. True innovation is blind. As the web increasingly democratizes innovation and costs decrease, anyone can showcase a product – just look at Facebook or YouTube. In the digital world, the dependency on a large checkbook to start a business is diminishing. Instead, what has become increasingly more important is the help from others — the intellectual capital and know-how to succeed.”

    I agree with everything Saverin said. I also believe that we can emulate his success, even here in The Philippines. In fact, a fellow DLSU engineering alumnus, from ID 86, was able to do that (I don’t know him personally). He formed his own IT company and eventually sold it to IBM for around US$100 million.

  8. Regina Lopez Araneta-Teodoro said,

    December 9, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Father’s gifting of one third of his total assets to a Foundation in which NONE of the members of his family could participate in administering was his determination to prove that he lived for God and COUNTRY before family. This magnanimous gesture of his caused a permanent fissure in the marriage of my parents. It hurt my mother terribly and served to be an underlying cause in the subsequent family troubles. As the only one unmarried and at home, I was torn between two people I loved as I watched them tear at each other. They eventually learned to cope with each other in some form of harmony, specially during the lonely first years of exile in San Francisco, when for once they were in an apartment, alone without the intervention of a “neutral third party”, me. For all her hurt, Victoria still loved him to the end. This was truly evident in her diary postings which none of us were privy to until I managed to transcribe her thoughts, which were eloquent and beautifully written in that ever sustained Assumption script of hers.

    One of the reasons my father made this major altruistic move was because he did not want his children to live the life of dilettante heirs. He disapproved of what he considered the “profligate” lifestyles of many of his nephews and nieces. The unfortunate thing is that this exercise in generosity was way too ahead of its time for the Philippines. In the end the family had to come to the “rescue” of his Foundation for it not to suffer consignment to the grave. Did my Father’s desire to keep his heirs from leading wasteful lives come to fruition, only time will tell.

  9. Bettina Araneta Teodoro said,

    December 8, 2010 at 3:59 am

    Thank you for writing about my Lolo Salvador. It is one of the great blessings of my life that I was able to spend my first few years with him. He took such interest in me and was so patient with me. (How else could he have taught a child of two to read and write?) Naturally at the time I knew nothing about his life and the life of my Lola Vic. But now, I almost cannot believe it when I think my Lolo and Lola are the same people in those glamorous photos and daily news clippings. I am beyond proud of their accomplishments and all the good they tried to do. I often think about my Lolo, and I hope he knows I named my first son after him.
    Cheers, Bettina

  10. Regina Lopez Araneta-Teodoro said,

    December 8, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Bettina was Salvador’s “child”. My father made it the mission in his later life to devote his old age to bringing up and educating her.
    From the earliest days, when Mother and Father moved to Canada, he took her under his wing and kept her in his room. She slept with him at night and he had a small desk in his home office beside his. By the time she could say her first words, there was Salvador Araneta teaching her her “Phonics”. By two, she could read and soon after write her letters. Salvador himself said that Bettina was the light of his old age. When she went for her interview for her Kindergarten spot, the Head Mistress asked her, “Who taught you how to read?” and without batting an eyelash she said, “My Lolo!” She will always be grateful to him for her love of letters and the written word.

  11. Alexandra Laguda Sotto said,

    December 6, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Before multitasking became fashionable, rather part and parcel of business life, VLA was the ultimate multitasker. I admired how she could manage her businesses from her office in FEATI, talk sense, and at the same time sew.

  12. December 6, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    robert e.:

    Please be reminded:

    From now on, comments with no real names, no email addresses that can be confirmed, and no reliable identity checks will no longer be allowed.

    Please upload your comment again with the pertinent information.

    Thank you.

    Toto Gonzalez

  13. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 6, 2010 at 4:45 am

    SALVADOR ARANETA and His Impossible Dream
    by Maria Lina Araneta-Santiago

    One such dream was Republic Flour Mills. Dr, Araneta had been thinking of ways to save foreign exchange and create local jobs. The answer was a local flour mill. Someone heard about Dr. Araneta’s idea and wrote and article on how stupid the Filipinos were to think they would succeed despite the fact that wheat is not grown in the Philippines. Dr. Araneta took this as a challenge.

    He invited his friends Jose Concepcion, Sr., BJ Server, Peter Grimm, Albino Sycip, Zoilo Alberto, Leonardo Eugenio, Francisco Gamboa, Sr. as well as his wife, Victoria, to form RFM. With his son-in-law Joe Con, they made a formidable team.

    There were many obstacles in order to operate the mill. Amongst them was the heavy pressure from the Americans on the Central Bank of the Philippines not to grant RFM the required dollar allocation. Time has proven changes must occur and an American monopoly was broken!

    Dr. Araneta pioneered in other industries and in education. He advocated capitalism for all, a bold housing program, and participatory democracy.

    He envisioned a federal system of government, a Triumvirate form of leadership in government and a Bayanikasan constitution.

    Dr. Araneta was a man ahead of his time. His life was for God and country. He taught us that there is no such thing as — AN IMPOSSIBLE DREAM.

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