Rafael M. Salas Library opened on his 84th birthday-A A +A
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
NEGROS province commemorate on Tuesday the 84th birthday of the late Rafael M. Salas, a Bago City native, who made his mark as a public servant with rare and sterling character.
Salas was the first head of the United Nations (UN) Population Fund from its inception in 1969 up to his death in 1987 (UNFPA). Salas is an alumnus of the University of the Philippines. Prior to accepting the UN post, Salas was Executive Secretary to then President Ferdinand Marcos before a falling-out on policies prompted him to leave the administration.
His wife Camelita "Menchu" Rodriguez, who preferred to be addressed as Mrs. Rafael M. Salas, came to the province all the way from the United States to visit her husband’s tomb and show her support to various endeavors organized here to keep his memory alive in the hearts and minds of Negrenses, especially Bagoeños.
Salas was a voracious reader who collected about 11,000 books from his college days at the University of the Philippines up to his death on March 3, 1987.
These books were passed on to the Asian Institute of Management and then to the RMS Library at the Negros Museum for its orderly upkeep. The books were organized by former Bacolod City Mayor Joy S. Valdez who is currently the Project Director of the RMS Library with the full supervision of Mrs. Lyn Gamboa, president of the Negros Cultural Foundation.
Mrs. Salas, with former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay and his wife Marilou, led the blessing and inauguration of the RMS Library.
She said she was happy they can now impart the knowledge of her husband to the younger generation.
"I remember my husband as an inspiration to the young. That is why these books are here. These are the books that he read and learned from,” disclosed Mrs. Salas.
“You must remember that this is a young boy who was born in Bago. His parents did not send him to an elite school in Manila but in Pacol, Bago, then went to Pulupandan for high school. And then his father sent him to the University of the Philippines where one of his classmates was Fidel V. Ramos,” she narrated.
But the war came and he came home and finished his high school at the University of Negros Occidental Recoletos. He finished there as Valedictorian. He went on to UP for his Law degree and eventually went to Harvard University where he finished his Master's Degree in Public Administration with distinction.
Salas was instrumental solving the 80-year-old problem of the country on rice importation.
In 1969, the Philippines always had a chronic rice shortage.
“As the Rice Action Officer, RMS succeeded in reversing the situation from the lack of rice supply to rice sufficiency," Mrs. Salas said.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 08, 2012.