[Part 2 of 5]
IT WAS during his high school days that he began composing Latin verses, epigrams, and epitaphs. Later he developed a passion for composing Spanish poems. This resulted in the confiscation of his anthology by the Jesuit rector, Rev. Fr. Joaquin Vilallonga, who, unfortunately, never returned it.
This passion culminated with his publication in 1969 of Peñola y Tinta de Mariano A. Henson, which consisted of epigrams, epitaphs, sonnets, odes, and anecdotes in Latin, Spanish, English and Kapampangan. (Sadly, no copy of this works exists today.)
He also indulged in his love for the stage, taking part in the performance of various classical works such as the Plautunian dialog Albricias; La Insula Barataria from Don Quijote de la Mancha; and the dramas, Telemachus and La Entrada en el Mundo. In one public performance he sang a baritone solo from the music of a Jesuit by the name of Fr. P.G. Acevedo.
Armed with an A.B. degree, the 19 year-old Mariano enrolled in a course in Chemistry at the University of the Philippines, also on Padre Faura St., while in high school, he had already discovered his true vocation to be chemistry, as evidenced by his participation in a public performance on chemistry where he took part in a dissertation on famous diamonds and in a dialog, The Examination of Chemistry; and by the awards he received in chemistry during the Literary-Scientific Contest promoted by the 1917 Ateneo Graduating Class. The following year, however, against his vocation and will, his father transferred him to the University of Santo Tomas in Intramuros, Manila, to study Pharmacy.
Nevertheless, when the university granted him the Licentiate in Pharmacy in 1921, his diploma was marked with "Meritus".
In 1925, after practicing pharmacy for a couple of years in Mabalacat and Magalang, he began concentrating on the cultivation of rice and sugarcane in more than 1,000 hectares of land in Angeles and Magalang. Among his many accomplishments as an agriculturist was a fertilization technique (which he dubbed "Hensonization") for lanzon trees that resulted in their fructification after only eight years instead of the usual 24 years. However, one Dr. Manuel Roxas of the Bureau of Plant Industry, Manila, after studying the technique, announced to prospective customers that it was "nothing new under the sun", thus spoiling Don Marino's business.
Ironically, after some years the bureau endorsed Hensonization and instructed its customers as to its proper application per Don Mariano's method. At the 1933 Pampanga Carnival in San Fernando, Don Mariano also was awarded first prize for his poultry and hog feeds and remedies. Because of these accomplishments he came to the [page 24] attention of the Pamintuan Development Company, which, in 1941, hired him as the superintendent of its abaca and ramie plantations in Davao and Cotabato.