When my late brother Joselito told me he was a member of Mensa after he graduated from high school I was not surprised. I knew that he was exceptional when he learned to read the English alphabet at the age of 3 without being taught.He learned how by looking at images and texts on periodicals brought home by our father. Those included the Philippines Free Press, Time, Newsweek, Readers Digest, Manila Bulletin, Dell and DC Comics, others. He attended his kindergarten class for only a day, saying: ” I already learned all those lessons.”
Lito was a consistent honor pupil and in grade 5 was named “most frequent library user.” After he completed his elementary education my parents asked what he wanted to be someday.Without blinking an eye he answered: ” I want to be a scientist.”My parents thought it was absurd. There were no schools anywhere then for future scientists. But he had made up his mind.
My brother completed his secondary education as a full scholar at the Philippine Science High School, an elite school for those with brilliant minds. There he perfected his quizzes and examinations. But he complained to us why he got 97 or 98 as his grades. He said mathematics is an exact science, therefore he should be given 100 percent as his grades. We consoled him by saying that the report card has only two columns or the space was enough only for two digits.
He entered the University of the Philippines as a full scholar of the National Science Development Board.. After he took the entrance exams he told us that his grade should be 101 percent. He not only perfected the answers but he made corrections on some data on the questionnaires. As a student he taught himself how to write fluently and his articles about the incompetence of the Marcos administration were published by Manila-based magazines and newspapers.
Do, as he was known on Diliman campus ,applied as editor of the Philippine Collegian. He was one of the four short-listed for the position. But was confident he would be eventually chosen. When he was about to take over the post martial law was declared in 1972.. He was arrested and incarcerated at the military stockade in Bicutan. He was released and graduated as chemist.
He joined the faculty of UP , then with the National Science Research Center and eventually with the Philippine National Oil Co.-Energy Development Corp. working with the geothermal exploration team.He took his masters and doctorate in geothermal technology in Wellington University in New Zealand and fellowships in Austria, Japan, United States, other countries where his papers and books were read and used as references.
When he joined the company during the 1980s, the Philippines was never heard of as a geothermal producer. At the time of his death at 59 last September, the country is No. 2 in the world as geothermal energy producer. His expertise had been availed of by Chile, Argentina, Austria, Colombia, Peru and recently Indonesia. He had decided to leave for Jakarta to accept the offer of the Indonesian government to head the exploration of the geothermal fields in their mountains but death overtook him.
During his wake in Antipolo recently I was shocked after his former classmates at PSHS and co-workers told me that Do was a genius. I knew that he was making ” due delligence ” studies on geothermal projects worldwide and making the final analyses of reserves. What I knew about him was that Do was a focused person. He excelled in any endeavor he put his mind into.
He was a good chess player that he could defeat the computer in the game at any level. Once he defeated a national master as club organizer. When he read a book he was so focused that he could not hear anything — even a loud explosion. He was a good guitarist. But when he was a fellow in Austria, he enrolled in classical guitar playing in Vienna.He wanted to excel as self-gratification.
Was he a genius? Nobody was able to understand him –not even his wife.