HIGHLIGHTS

  • PABLO TAPIA and a small group of like-minded citizens, in 1947, reestablished the Square Deal Savings and Loan Association.
  • TAPIA and his associates walked from house to house in the barrios and in the poblacion, persuading farmers and townspeople to deposit five or ten pesos each month.
  • TAPIA supervised the credit, constantly visiting farms and markets to suggest ways of increasing income.
  • The RMAF Board of Trustees recognizes “his steadfast determination in mobilizing the savings of his community to provide workable credit facilities for its productive needs.”

 CITATION

In Tanauan, Batangas, where economic progress formerly was stifled by usury, PABLO TAPIA has shown that perceptive and patient use of credit can unlock great potentialities. Today farmers raising bountiful and diversified crops and merchants with thriving stalls all demonstrate the results that can be achieved. This growing prosperity is not limited to the few but is shared by an ever widening proportion of citizens.

Tanauan suffered cruelly during World War II and, amidst the chaos following liberation and independence, the community’s needs seemed limitless. To rebuild their homes, replace their carabao or market wares many Filipinos had nowhere to turn but to moneylenders whose interest rate on loans often reached ten per cent per week. Yet, savings others accumulated in bamboo tubes and tin cans were idle and frequently lost.

Arraying themselves in battle against these practices that were sapping the town’s vitality, PABLO TAPIA and a small group of like-minded citizens, in 1947, reestablished the Square Deal Savings and Loan Association. Founded in 1926 by a beloved Tanaueño, Juan V. Pagaspas, this institution had been destroyed during the fighting that also cost the life of its champion. Now TAPIA and his associates walked from house to house in the barrios and in the poblacion, persuading farmers and townspeople to deposit five or ten pesos each month. Basilisa Carandang, a fellow lawyer who later became his wife, set up books and provided rent-free premises in her home.

Within three years, the Association had capital and deposits totalling P300,000.00. An inveterate horticulturist by avocation, TAPIA used these funds productively in loans for seed, fertilizer, water tanks and the like. Local industries were financed, such as tailoring of remnants into inexpensive clothing. Showing faith in the small farmer and merchant, character loans often were given. In effect, TAPIA supervised the credit, constantly visiting farms and markets to suggest ways of increasing income. He started a monthly newspaper, Tinig ng Tanauan, to give depositors helpful information on farming and community affairs.

In 1951, to cope with increasing demands for small credit, the Association was converted to the Square Deal Banking Corporation with the help of the late Senator Jose P. Laurel and Vicente Sabalvaro, who had been associated with the pre-war institution. The farmers’ cooperative, also reactivated by TAPIA and his colleagues in 1948 as a sister organization of the Association, was expanded to sell agricultural chemicals, fertilizer, poultry feeds and hardware, as well as general merchandise. A warehouse, rice mill, corn dryer and lumber mill were added. Specialists from the College of Agriculture at Los Baños were encouraged to demonstrate new techniques in Tanauan, and TAPIA took truckloads of farmers to the college to learn.

In 1957, with the volume of business exceeding two million pesos, the bank was helped by the late Alfredo L. Yatco, Teodoro F. Valencia and again by Senator Laurel to reorganize as the Philippine Banking Corporation with headquarters in Manila to avail itself of greater capital resources. TAPIA, who transferred to Manila in 1960 as Vice-President in charge of the branch banking he knows so well, still commutes to meet his farmer and merchant clients in Tanauan every Sunday, which is the heaviest banking day.

In electing PABLO TORRES TAPIA to receive the 1964 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, the Board of Trustees recognizes his steadfast determination in mobilizing the savings of his community to provide workable credit facilities for its productive needs.

 RESPONSE

It is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude that I accept the honor you have just conferred upon me, an Award which is in recognition of a community movement of which I was only a part.

I accept the Award and the honor on behalf of our community—the people who shared our beliefs and our hopes, the people who worked with us, the people who bore with us the sacrifices and hardships that must be borne in the effort to improve themselves, their community and the country.

With this signal honor you have bestowed on me, please allow me to reaffirm and rededicate myself to the noble ideals and great deeds of a great man—our beloved Ramon Magsaysay—who did so much for so many in such a short span of time, a period of dedicated, enlightened and sincere public service, which, unfortunately for the country, was so abruptly cut short by his untimely death on a desolate mountain in Cebu.

Let me say that out of the cash award, a permanent scholarship shall be created at the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture for a deserving but poor student, a permanent endowment shall be given to support five high school scholars in our province, and a trust fund will be started to engage the services of a livestock technician to help our farmers. I am also making available to the Tanauan Facoma a sum necessary to purchase more modern printing facilities for our Tinig ng Tanauan.

I feel that with these the memory of our beloved Ramon Magsaysay, the principles he stood for, and his efforts to help our country and our people, shall, in a small way, be perpetuated for posterity.

Let me take this opportunity also, to express my deepest thanks to the Trustees of the Foundation for the distinction they have conferred upon me, our community, and our bank. My only regret is that there are many persons, living and dead, who shared in the labors of this civic undertaking but must remain anonymous, and that some of those who worked with us cannot now be here, and that they died little knowing that they had participated in a movement that could provide inspiration to the entire country and throughout Asia.

You have honored me in a way I never dreamed of.

This venerable Award shall not be my badge of retirement—as one’s work is never done. Rather, it shall serve as a fountain of inspiration and a reservoir of strength in my efforts to continue to contribute—to do my little bit—in everybody’s job of community development for our loved ones, for our future generations and for the country.

 BIOGRAPHY

It has been said of PABLO TORRES TAPIA that he belongs to a new breed of bankers. That he not only gives loans but “gives of himself to the borrower . . . . his time, his effort, his mind and his heart.”

TAPIA was born June 26, 1908 in the poblacion of Tanauan, Batangas. His father, a farmer, died when he was seven, and his mother, the former Maria Torres, carried on the burden of raising seven children—of whom TAPIA was the sixth—by selling clothes in the town market and managing the family farm in Barrio San Vicente of nearby Santo Tomas.

TAPIA attended primary school and high school in Tanauan, riding his horse back and forth from the farm each day as soon as he was old enough. Young PABLO loved the farm and farming. A relative of his mother’s, Juan Torres, had graduated from Cornell University in the early twenties, specializing in plant hybridization. “Kuya Juan” encouraged the boy’s interest in farming, serving as his mentor and consultant then and throughout much of his later life.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)