Last October 6, UA&P held a widely-attended Memorial Mass for alumnus, former faculty member and Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Francisco Varela at the Sancta Maria Stella Orientis Oratory. Coinciding with the anniversary of the canonization of St. Josemaria Escriva, the Mass took place one day before the 40th Day after Mr. Varela’s death last August 29. Members of the Varela family as well as several of Mr. Varela’s colleagues from the University and government were one with the UA&P community in celebrating his memory.
Mr. Varela was a student of the Industrial Economics Program when the University was still known as the Center for Research and Communication (CRC). There, he stayed on to start his career as an economist and faculty member of CRC’s Institute of Industrial Economics where he was later appointed Program Administrator for Academic Affairs. It was also at CRC where he developed a long-lasting friendship with fellow student and economist UA&P President Dr. Winston Conrad Padojinog. Mr. Varela had last visited the University to show support to Dr. Padojinog during the latter’s inauguration as Fourth University President last June 15.
“It was 26 years ago when I first met Francis at the Center for Research and Communication,” Dr. Padojinog recounted. “In addition to adjusting to my newfound urban life, alone and away from home, I encountered difficulty with the quantitative tools of the program, like advanced differential calculus, matrices, econometrics, and mathematical statistics, among others…. I thought Francis would have been too busy to help me with my predicament with numbers, so I was surprised when he agreed to spend time tutoring me and some of my batch mates who, like me, were also trying to make sense of the numbers before us. Later on, he would volunteer his own time to guide us, and give us tips on how to jump the hurdles of the program. It was second nature for Francis to serve, especially those who were in need.
“I would continue to see this time and again as we both started to build our careers as economists working as faculty members at CRC.…Francis could always be relied upon to accomplish well the tasks given to him. He was a dutiful teacher and uncompromising yet encouraging to all his students, inspiring them to learn much in the same way he did for me so many years before.”
Celebrating the alumnus’ life and legacy, Mr. Perry Reyes of the UA&P School of Economics, Mr. Varela’s eldest daughter Bea Varela, and Former Finance Secretary Ramon del Rosario, Jr. also shared a few words during the gathering at UA&P. Mr. del Rosario, who met Mr. Varela while serving at the Department of Finance, reiterated some thoughts from his recent column for The Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled “The Honorable Francisco M. Varela”.
“During this period, I came to know Francis well, not just as a man of great intelligence but of wisdom beyond his years,” he wrote. “He was an absolutely honest man, whose integrity was constant, consistent and uncompromising. And his wisdom and integrity, he matched with natural leadership and a great amount of charm…. Some may think that Francis was lucky that someone like me was able to help him in his career. On the contrary, it is I who am immensely blessed for having had the privilege of having a truly outstanding and unforgettable person a part of my life for all of 23 years.”