I visited chemist Pio Andrade in Arellano University (Legarda) to ask him a few questions about his history growing up, as a chemist and as a historian. He’s a personal hero of mine. One of those guys that got me reading deep into Philippine history. He’s an iconoclast, a man whose obsession with methodical research in chemistry and history, challenged the established notions in both field of studies. Even with his accomplishments he remains humble and surprisingly approachable. I’ve met so many academics and so called experts, none could be more genuine and generous than Andrade.
One of these days his story must be told in detail. Even in writing history, he’s driven by this insatiable thirst to correct the manipulations in our text books. I find it interesting how he ended up writing that controversial book about Carlos Romulo, “The Fooling of America,” an investigative book exposing the true character of the former UN president. He was at that time a student in the University of Florida when he heard Romulo, then President Marcos’ foreign secretary, proclaim that the election that president had just bagged was the cleanest of all elections. “When I heard that, I told myself that I have to write about this man and expose him,” Andrade recalls. His writing against Marcos also landed him an audience with Americas Secret Service.
I first met this brilliant chemist in a seminar about Philippine history in Instituto Cervantes. Immediately, I was impressed with the data he presented. His lecture was about friar contributions. Not surprising that his topic aroused negative reactions among the audience. I remember F. Sionil Jose standing up and shouting at him when the latter discussed the issue of ‘Calamba estate”. Calm and collected, Andrade offered his folders to the national artist telling him “it’s all here.”
Presently, Andrade is writing research papers and articles. His upcoming book about the history of the gold town of Paracale will be publish this year. Another book which I can’t wait to get my hands on is his Rizal book. Unlike other works about the hero, Andrade intends to expose the lies and manipulation behind some of what we’ve accepted to be gospel truths about the man.
I remember a conversation I had with one of Andrade’s friend who I interviewed a couple of years ago, Ernie de Pedro, an English educated man who’s known for his work as film archivist and historian. He said that he often wonders why Andrade gravitates towards controversial subjects that ends up putting him in disadvantageous positions. “He’s driven by his principle and passion and emotion,” de Pedro said to me. Another common friend, Liz Medina, a Filipino writer based in Chile describes Andrade as “Bonifaci0-like” in his uncompromising writing.
I asked Andrade why he returned here in our corrupted country when he could have opted to get employed in the US where he could have made millions. He answered me with just one word, “patriotism”. I think that pretty much sums up the kind of man he is.
I would try to put the transcript of my interview with Andrade on this site. I just need to find time to do this. Also, he handed me some papers containing his lectures. I have to put these here too.
One thing that I need to learn from this man is his methodical research. He’s so organized when it comes to research. He’s a master at this, even Ambeth Ocampo (who vouched for Andrade to replace him in Inquirer when he joined the Benedectine) is a follower of Andrade’s work.
16 December 2013