‘My V. Mapa HS classmate is the new BSP governor!’

Eli Remolona is appointed BSP governor for his ‘remarkable achievements in banking, international finance.’ Courtesy of BSP website

By Vicky Vitug

Eli Remolona was recently named the new governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. He was appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos for his “extensive experience and remarkable achievements in…banking, international finance.”

I was elated and pleasantly stunned on reading the news. Eli was my classmate at  Victorino Mapa High School in San Miguel, Manila. He was Valedictorian in our Class of 1968. The news was welcomed with cheers by us, his VMHS schoolmates.  

While our class has produced showbiz celebrities such as singer Esperanza Fabon, and important leaders like Congressman Benny Abante and Julie Esguerra who is president of Philippine School for the Deaf, Eli’s appointment appears to give him a pivotal  role in government.

In high school in the 1960s, he was known for his intelligence, good rapport with his classmates, and for being an eloquent speaker. One of our friends remarked that Eli  “can deliver his speech so well with sincerity in his voice and actions.”

After high school, he studied at Ateneo de Manila University where he received his bachelor’s degree in Economics with honors. He earned several advanced degrees including a Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University with distinction.

Remolona, standing at the back. With classmates, from left: Isagani Caratao, Eugene Ballesteros, Cresencio Micu, Antonio Gamboa. Photos courtesy of Class ’68.

He had a flourishing career in finance which established himself in the banking world. He joined the Bank of the Philippine Islands and became an independent director. He would later join the Monetary Board.

Throughout his career, he was also a member of the academe, having taught at the University of the Philippines’ School of Economics and later at Williams College at Columbia University and at New York University.

His bio says he had 14 years of experience at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and 19 years at the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland known  as the “bank of central banks.”

Low-income households

VMHS was a public school in Manila where most of the students belonged to the low- and middle-income households.  That’s where I met many of my life-long friends whom I consider dreamers,  intelligent and determined individuals. Perhaps it was their socioeconomic status that pushed them to strive harder and to succeed.  Eli’s appointment to the BSP is a personal milestone we all share in, a reflection that no matter where you went to school you can make a difference.

Eli was known for being a neat and well behaved student. He was serious in his studies, and as one of his friends noted, “His favorite hangout was the school library.”

VMHS’s Class of 1968
V. Mapa High School displays banner of Remolona’s appointment  as BSP governor.

“He was well-liked, polite,” said a classmate who preferred to remain anonymous. “He spoke fluent English, better than many of us.”

Eli may appear to be the most outstanding in our class, but there are many others like him whose professional successes may be low-key but just as remarkable.

-Julie Esguerra founder a president, of Sergia Esguerra Memorial Foundation Inc. (SEMFI),  a nonprofit educational institution in the Philippines teaching the deaf to speak.  

-Constantino Bombais, another banker who is chairman of the Board of Citizens Bank.

-Sally Sobrepena, former  assistant director of Operations at the State’s Attorney’s Office of Cook County in Chicago, Illinois where she worked for 15 years.

-Manila Congressman Bienvenido Abante who previously served as House Minority Leader (2018-2020)  and House Deputy Speaker (2019-2020).  

-Zenaida Ona Cruzada, an executive at the Metals Industry Research & Development Center under the Department of Science & Technology DOST) until her retirement in 1997. 

-Esperanza Fabon Victorino, a multi-awarded singer who became Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, now retired.

 © The FilAm 2023

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