The Law of the Sea

Arturo M. Tolentino: I wish people will remember me for The Law of the Sea

Early Beginnings and Family (1910 - 1928)

Tatang and Nanang (father and mother)

Tatang and Nanag (father and mother)

Salvador Tolentino, my grandfather was originally from Angono, Rizal where his parents owned thriving rice growing and homestead businesses and substantial property. It was not a wealthy family by any stretch of imagination but they were comfortably well off and in a position to help my grandfather in his studies to become an engineer at the University of the Philippines (U.P.).

Unfortunately Salvador’s financially assisted passage through the university was to be short lived for his father - Mariano was so unimpressed by his son’s choice of wife, whom he considered to be poorly educated and her father - Venancio had the reputation of overly fond of gambling and women. that he cut off his son’s support when he married my grandmother.

Luckily for my grandfather, he was by this time past his second year at U.P. and thus a qualified surveyor. He was able to put this newly acquired skill to immediate use both for continuing his degree course, feeding his own family and for achieving his life long ambition of becoming a property owner.

Here was no shortage of work for my grandfather. The first graduating class from U.P.’s engineering college was not until 1915. As a result, there was at that time a chronic shortage of surveyors: an economic fact that he was able to capitalize on.

Many of my grand father’s clients were severely stretched financially. Most of their money had been invested in land he was surveying for them. So it must have given them considerable relief when he accepted their offer of paying partly in cash and partly in property.

By 1917 when he finally graduated with his engineering degree, Salvador Tolentino, my grandfather was fairly independent young man. My grandfather was a very meticulous man. Whenever Nanang was pregnant he set aside two names, one for a boy and one for a girl, each has six letters. Not only that, but he named his ten children alphabetically. Arturo, Benita, Camilo, Donato, Elisia, Felino, Gerino, Heleno, Irenea and Julita.

My grandfather was a good father and husband who believed that all of his children should enter university and obtain a degree. “You can lose property and money but a degree is something no one can ever take away from you”. I know that my father, Arturo M. Tolentino, feels the same way about his children.

I remember Nanang mentioning that sometimes Tatang, after saying good night to all to all his children, before he leaves the room he would count them in alphabetical order.