Remembering A Good Man

Last Saturday I attended the memorial service of Mr. Joe Orosa. He was many things to many people, a banker, a builder, a statesman, a father, a husband, and a lot more, as he was always making himself available. To me, he was a mentor, someone who counseled and guided me, and helped me navigate my early years after university. We only really worked together for about 2 years, about as long as his battle with cancer, but my experience with him has benefited me so much and I would like to honor his memory.

Our interaction started when we worked together at the Real LIFE Foundation. Our founding board, Joe Orosa, Pastor Steve Murrell, Dr. Jun Escosar, Lynn Nawata (current executive director), and Joey Castro the founder of Real had just organized the foundation with Tito Joe (as he was known to us) serving as the first chairman, and I as executive director. I didn’t know anything about running a scholarship program, much less a foundation. Fortunately, I found a lot of resources, both published and human, and I had available to me a supportive board. As chairman, Tito Joe wanted to be actively involved and would ask to see the plans and discuss it before presenting to the other members. One thing he stressed over and over again was the sustainability of our programs. Everything we were planning had to endure. Today, Tito Joe’s contribution continues to live on through the Real LIFE Foundation. Only on its second fiscal year as a foundation, Real LIFE has assisted more than 150 scholars and is well positioned to continue to grow and help more people as it builds its first community center in Pasig and rolls out the LIFE Program. (LIFE stands for Leadership, Integrity, Faith, and Excellence).

The Philippine Tatler feature on the Real LIFE Foundation (Dr. Jun Escosar, me, Pastor Steve Murrell, Dr. Joey Castro, Lynn Nawata, and Joe Orosa)

Tito Joe was also in charge of the building program that built the Every Nation Building in Fort Bonifacio. Since they had upcoming projects that would also deal with donations, he would ask me to join meetings with donors, architectects, and contractors. Again, I knew I really would not be contributing much, if at all, but I understood my job was to learn and was grateful to him for opening the door.

The Every Nation Building in Fort Bonifacio

Tito Joe continued to meet with me even after Real LIFE. I had taken over what was once a very successful company that had been weighed down by the consequences of bad decisions. A complete restructuring was required, and I found myself in a familiar situation, again I found myself having to work on something I knew next to nothing about. I remember our first meeting, I was informing him that I would have to resign from Real LIFE to focus and needed advice regarding what to do with the banks. He quietly listened to the situation, digesting each fact, then proceeded to walk me through what had to be done. When he was satisfied that I had learned what he had to teach, he then talked to me about Real LIFE, the baby that had captured his heart. He talked about the career path public service offered someone like me, and he talked about the need to defeat poverty, and the need for people to rise up to serve. That’s a good description of who Joe Orosa was, someone who rose by the sharpness of his mind and the excellence of his work but also someone who stooped to serve with a purity of heart so rare for a man with so much reason to be jaded.

The amazing thing was, as he did all of this, work on the foundation and building, his work with
Studio 5, and even making time for me, Tito Joe had cancer. The cancer could not stop him though, it would only try to slow his body down. Even then, his mind was still running much faster than the rest.

He was an accountant so he understood the financial implication of everything, but he didn’t value life using a calculator. More than the businesses, buildings, and organizations, Tito Joe was a builder of people.  Mentoring is not a series of lessons but a time of impartation. I thank God for people like Tito Joe, along with many others, who not only gave me their opinions, but set aside time for me. Growing up, I was always interacting with people much older than I am, and I have seen the contrast between seniors who are quick to load the next in line with rules and expectations and men like Tito Joe who understand that a cultivated person will surpass all goals and targets.

Looking back I realize his not so secret keys to success: a love for God and an unshakable faith. His love for God led him to love life and love people. His faith gave him the strength to live life fully and to show this love in different ways to hundreds of people.

Some people live for money, and amass fortunes they’ll leave behind.
Some live for power, only to be swallowed whole.
Some live for fame, and rise simply to peak.
Some live for achievement, and wake up regretting the price they paid.
Some live to fall in love, over and over again, until they can no longer recognize what true love is.
Others live for adventure, which lasts only as long as the last thrill.
People live for a million things that mean temporary at best, for death ends all things.
But men like Tito Joe will live forever, in eternity and in our hearts, the people he’s touched.

About the Author

David Bonifacio Husband, Father, CEO of Bridge, Managing Director of New Leaf Ventures. #DB

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