Andres Bonifacio College
The Great Plebeian, Andres Bonifacio, and the visionary educator, Amando Borja Amatong, had something in common: both were no strangers to poverty. Instead, this did not deter them from getting an education and serving their country well. Inspired by the life of the revolutionary hero and challenged by his own life conditions, Amatong founded the Andres Bonifacio Institute in 1940.
This son of a fisherman, farmer and tuba gatherer, Amatong worked hard to finish his elementary grades at a local school in Dalaguete, Cebu where he was born. He later finished his secondary education as a government pensionado at the Philippine Normal School where he obtained his Secondary Normal diploma at the age of 24.
As a condition for availing of a free education, Amatong became a classroom teacher in Carcar, Cebu and he later continued his teaching career in Manicahan, Zamboanga City. Determined to earn a degree, he went back to school at the Jose Rizal College in Manila, where he obtained his Bachelor of Commerce degree. After graduation, he went back to teaching and was appointed School Supervisor for the districts of Dipolog and Katipunan.
In 1927, he met Felicidad Mabanag Sybico, a pragmatic and industrious woman of Chinese heritage and among the most charming ladies of her time. Mrs. Amatong, fondly called “Manang Edad”, would later play a very crucial role in the growth and development of the Institution.
After the death of the founder on April 22, 1943, Manang Edad took it upon herself to raise her eight children and to pursue the founder’s vision of pioneering an institute of higher learning in Mindanao. She took up from where her husband had left off.
The citation awarded by the National Federation of Women’s Club of the Philippines to Felicidad Sybico vda. de Amatong as Outstanding Mother of 1986 reads:
“A mother deserving to be honored and extolled is Felicidad Veoda de Amatong, widow of Amando B. Amatong. Upon the death of her husband, she had surmounted financial difficulties alone, with her large brood of children. With loans from relatives, she managed to re-open Andres Bonifacio Institute, the only legacy left by her husband. With great sacrifice, self-denial, and self–discipline, she was able to send all her eight children to college despite her income. She practically devoted all her waking hours not only in bringing up her children, but also in making the institute grow. Her reputation for honesty and frugality, and her dedication to work have become almost a legend in the community.”
The pioneering spirit of developing leaders started in her home. She brought up her eight children to be leaders and exemplars in their chosen fields. From the Amatong household, the development of leaders cascaded to the school. The fruits of her labor are now perpetuated by her children.