RIP, Ding Wenceslao

Published September 20, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Ignacio R. Bunye

SPEAKING OUT

Ignacio R. Bunye

As I was about to write this piece, I was shocked and saddened to hear from our perpetual Ateneo alumni group president Jojo Buñag that one of our own – Delfin ‘Ding’ Wenceslao, Jr. – just passed on moments earlier. Heart failure, we were told. So let me take this opportunity to offer my sincerest condolence to his bereaved wife, Sylvia (Tap), their children and grandchildren and all those who have dearly loved him.

Among the Ateneo GS ‘56-HS ‘60-Coll ‘64 group, Ding Wenceslao stood out. When he pioneered in land reclamation in the Philippines more than four decades ago, Delfin J. Wenceslao, Jr. (alternatively Ding or DingW or DJW for short) dreamed of helping build the nucleus of a modern city center just off Manila Bay.

The dream is now a reality. D.M. Wenceslao and Associates, Inc. (DMWAI) – a company founded by his father Delfin, Sr. (Tatang) – has helped government in the reclamation of at least two million square meters from the sea. On these reclaimed lands now stands DMWAI’s flagship, Aseana City, which includes familiar landmarks like Solaire, Resorts World’s West Side City and City of Dreams.

Up to the last minute, Ding had shown no sign of slowing down. Although, he has relinquished the CEO position to his youngest son, Delfin Angelo or Buds, Ding was still very much on top of setting strategic directions for the company.

A few years back, DMWAI went public. Of the funds raised during the IPO, the company plowed back P11 to P12 billion to fund various real estate development projects, (both commercial and residential) within and outside Aseana City.

Ding’s company boasts an enviable record. As one of the very select AAAA general contractors in the country, DMWAI has already completed over a 100 construction and infrastructure projects throughout the country.

But Ding also had quite a few more items in his “dream list” aside from the company’s core business.

More immediate was the completion of a church within Aseana City, dedicated to the memory of St. John Paul II. The imposing edifice was completed in 2019 and the members of Ding’s class spent several meetings deciding on what to contribute to adorn the church. The class finally decided on a mural depicting Mama Mary, St. Ignatius (Ateneo’s patron saint), the Church of the Gesu and three generations of Ateneans in various postures of prayer and wearing their period uniforms. According to the family, the Church of St. John Paul II was a fulfillment of Ding’s promise in gratitude for answered prayers. Ding, however, was mum about the details.

In college, Ding and I served together as officers in the Ateneo Air Force ROTC. We even underwent summer cadre training together at the Philippine Air Force headquarters in Nichols (now Villamor) Air Base. However, another proposed project on Ding’s plate, had nothing to do at all with the air force. Rather, it was for the navy.

Ding had blue prints for a naval system which could be adopted not only for coastal defense but also for disaster relief. The system consists of a mother ship (‘Nanay’) which could carry several high speed and very maneuverable boats (‘kumpit”). “Nanay” would operate much like an aircraft carrier except that it will be carrying small hi-speed boats instead. The naval system can be fabricated right here in Cavite, Ding said. If he had not yet done so, perhaps Ding’s tocayo, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana may wish to take a look at the blue prints.

A personal advocacy to make many Filipinos feel “less poor” had prompted Ding to partner with like-minded friends to launch the Ninong project. Ninong operated under the auspices of Katipunan ng mga Mamamayan ng Bagong Pilipinas Foundation Inc. (KMBPFI), a service NGO duly accredited by the DSWD.

Very simple, affordable and easily duplicable, Ninong involves raising of donations (equivalent to the price of one kilo of rice) and distributing the rice to selected “poorest of the poor” families. Rice distribution was done every Saturday in Baclaran, Don Galo, La Huerta, San Dionisio, Sto. Nino, Tambo, Vitalez (all in Parañaque) and in Bulacan, Bulacan.

Farewell, dear classmate and friend. Rest well in the embrace of our Lord.

COVID-19 as a political issue

The recent California recall election has turned into a kind of referendum on pandemic management tactics. Political analysts were more or less unanimous that “it became a choice between a governor who follows the science and favors tight restrictions,” and one who would “loosen protocols that meant to prevent transmission and deaths.” The incumbent governor, Gavin Newson, easily trounced his anti-vax opponent.

But nationwide, President Joe Biden still has his hands full targeting more than 100 million Americans, who despite the availability of vaccines and several incentives, have refused to be vaccinated. Recently, President Joe Biden ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements in an all-out effort to curb the surging COVID-19 delta variant.

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