A day in the life of Pedro San Jose:

ONE would think he has found the Fountain of Youth, the elixir of life which was spoken  with great reverence since the time of Herodotus until the time of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon in the 16th century. 

“No such thing,” he chuckles.

Pedro San Jose, who turned 90 last January 18, divulges his secret: avoid stress, walk, be close to the Lord all the time, eat simple food, as much as possible don’t get angry, and keep on smiling. These are simple facts but difficult to do for many of us.

Mang Pete, as he is called by close associates, continues to work as the second in command of the University of Mindanao. In many instances when the university president is not around, he is the one who holds the reins of this mighty institution.

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On his birthday held at Chippens in the Garden at Cabantian, UM President Willie Torres wrote on his facebook page: “ATM. Celebrating Dr. Pete San Jose’s 90th birthday. At 90 Mang Pete, still works at UM as its Chief Academic Officer and Corporate Treasurer. His mind is still sharp and (he) goes to work every day. He presides at all Deans, Branch Directors and academic meetings. He joined Mindanao Colleges (now UM) in 1956. He is credited for the growth of UM Tagum and has helped in the development of Tagum City. He belongs to a rare breed of men. They don’t make them anymore. More birthdays to come, Mang Pete.”Mr. Torres also requested Mang Pete, to retire only when he reaches 100.

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It would be no wonder if he truly retires when he turns a century old. He does not seem to have ailments that afflict people his age, he has a quick mind and good recall, and he moves like a man decades younger than 90.

Growing with UM

“I retired in 1998 when I turned 65 years old. But this was only for a day,” he muses.

The second day of his retirement, he was elected as a member of the UM board of trustees.And on Sept. 16, 2002, he took the position of Chief Academic Officer, one that he still holds, 14 years hence.

Mr. San Jose joined the then Mindanao Colleges in 1956 as principal of UM Tagum. Previous to this, he was dean of the College of Arts and Education of the Harvardian Colleges. He started in this institution as a young teacher in 1952 and worked his way up the ranks.

He was AVP External Affairs of the university from 1991 to 1998 and Director of UM Tagum.

He has numerous civic involvements through the years and his exemplary contribution to the community earned for him distinctions and awards, His family became a role model as well, cited as the 1999 Huwarang Pamilya Pilipino by the Department of Social Work and Development and the Family of the Year by the Knights of Columbus, on the same year.

Coming to Davao

San Jose was born in a small farming community at the foot of Mt. Arayat, in Brgy Lakwit, Pampanga. This is the place where the Hukbalahap, the revolutionary forces fighting the Japanese occupation, settled.

Fate and the help of good friends, has enabled him, the second in the family of 7, to study in Manila. Having finished college by the sweat of his brow, earning his keep and tuition shortly after the war, the prospect of building a life in a new place was enticing.

As a fresh graduate from Far Eastern University in Manila in the 1950s, he decided to explore Mindanao after a friend, who had a lucrative job, invited him.

He found a place to stay in Davao City, first working side by side with his landlord at the Bankerohan market before finding a job at the Harvardian Colleges where he was able to use his degree as teacher.

This was also the time when he met the love of his life, Angelina de leon.

His humility shines through on the many anecdotes he recalls when he first started. One of this is finding a tie to go to work, as teachers then were formally attired. His friends would wonder why he needs to borrow a tie when he was anyway working in the market.

His love flourished as did his professional life.

He married Angelina and had seven children, all successful in the field they have chosen. The couple has 20 grandchildren and 5 great granchildren.

Turning 90

The huge ballroom of Chippens was almost Standing Room Only last January 18. Family, friends and colleagues were all there to wish him more fruitful years ahead.

Instead of giving him gifts, he asked guests to donate to his favorite charities, the children and the home for the elderly.

It was difficult to end the interview. There were so many things that we wanted to ask, wisdom we needed to hear. But then he had another appointment, busy man that he is, so we had to leave.

Pedro San Jose at 90 defies our concept of age and aging. Truly, he is one very special man.

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