By Severino C. Samonte

Three days after assuming this month his new post as the chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), Dr. Emmanuel Franco Calairo will be honored by his high school alma mater, the Novaliches-based Metro Manila College, as one of its Distinguished Alumni on March 4.

The giving of the award is among the highlights of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the MMC, formerly known as the Novaliches Academy (NA), the pioneer secondary and tertiary educational institution established in 1947 in the former town of Novaliches, now divided between Quezon City and Caloocan City.

The presentation of the award will be held at the Manila Hotel's Fiesta Pavilion. It coincides with the MMC-NA's Employees' Grand Ball and Presentation of the Alumni Awards.

Dr. Calairo, fondly called "Doc Manny" by his peers and friends, is a member of the MMC high school batch 1989.

He obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of the East in Manila and his Masteral and Doctorate Degrees in Political Science and History from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

His term as NHCP chairman began on March 1, 2023. He succeeded Dr. Rene R. Escalante.

He became a history professor at the University of De La Salle-Dasmariñas, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, director of the University Faculty Research Office, and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research.

Before becoming chairman of the NHCP, he was a commissioner of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and president of the Philippine Historical Association (PHA).

Dr. Calairo is a member of the Film Academy of the Philippines, president of the Association of Studies Centers in the Philippines, and former president of the Philippine Academic Consortium for Latin American Studies.

As a historian and promoter of local history, he has so far written 24 books, including "Ang Kasaysayan ng Novaliches" (History of Novaliches); Heritage Tourism: Cavite Historical Sites; Philippine Coast Guard: A Historical Account of a Maritime Enforcement Agency, 1901-2008; and Cavite in Focus: Essays on Local Historiography.

Doc Manny and I first met each other in 1996, when he saw me at the Philippine News Agency (PNA) editorial offices in Quezon City to ask some questions about Novaliches. He and his mother, Dr. Rosalina M. Franco Calairo, were then starting to write the book about Novaliches as a former town of the provinces of Bulacan, Manila and Rizal provinces.

Since then, he and I frequently had snack together at the canteen of the People's Television Channel 4 nearby. It only stopped after the book was published in 1997 and he began working at the De La Salle University in Dasmariñas.

I am very grateful to him for including me in the acknowledgement section of the book with this line in the Filipino language: "Kay Ginoong Severino Samonte, patnugot na taga-pagpaganap sa Philippine News Agency, sa patuloy niyang pangunguna upang mapalawak ang kaalaman ng mga taga-Novaliches ukol sa kanilang bayan."

Meanwhile, Dr. Calairo will be joined at the Manila Hotel rites on March 4 by 17 other Distinguished Alumni of the MMC-NA, including this writer. They are (in alphabetical order): Capt. Arthur O. Alviar, Aurora O. Alviar, Dr. Ernesto S. Domingo, former (Castillejos, Zambales) Mayor Jose Angelo M. Dominguez, Ismael F. Esber, Virginia E. Espadero, Perla R. Gerodias, Police Sr. Supt. Prudencio P. Legazpi (retired), Dr. Celso S. Miranda, Police Brig. Gen. Ronnie S. Montejo, Dr. Lyndon F. Quinitio, Brig. Gen. Baltazar V. Rivera, Fernando B. Reyes, Francino R. Salud, Severino C. Samonte, Reynaldo H. Umali, and Mary Grace D. Yousef.

Mrs. Natividad Miranda-Villano, chairperson of the Alumni Award Selection Committee, said the awardees were chosen through a Search for MMC Distinguished Alumni launched in July 2022.

She added that the "recognition is the highest honor bestowed by the Metro Manila College-Novaliches Academy to its alumni who distinguished themselves for outstanding display of high-level performance in their chosen field, went the extra mile to successfully and remarkably fulfill with extraordinary dedication their duties and responsibilities to serve others."

About the Columnist

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He began his journalistic career by contributing to the Liwayway and Bulaklak magazines in the 1960’s. He was the night editor of the Philippine News Service when Martial Law was declared in September 1972. When the Philippine News Agency was organized in March 1973, he was named national news editor because of his news wire service experience.

He retired as executive news editor in 2003. He also served as executive editor of the Malacanang-based Presidential News Desk from 1993 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2008.