The View From Taft

JOSE “Boy” Kalaw, who served De La Salle University (DLSU) and the De La Salle Alumni Association (DLSAA) in various capacities over 25 years, passed away, at the age of 68, on Friday, Aug. 17. In keeping with his desire not to bother people or fuss over him, Boy valiantly but quietly fought the big “C” using a variety of traditional and nontraditional medicine.
After a long and heroic struggle, while on his hospital bed, Boy wrote a farewell letter authorizing family members and attending doctors not to perform any medical intervention to keep him alive. He said that he had thought hard about it, and yes, it was time to go and cease being a burden to the family.
Throughout his life, Boy always stayed in the background and did his work without fanfare, but effectively. Unknown to many, it was Boy who coined the term “Proudly Green,” the theme used in at least three huge alumni gatherings that promoted camaraderie and fellowship. He was secretary for many years of the DLSAA Grade School and High School chapters, and was a member of one of the last classes to graduate from De La Salle Taft High School in 1967. He served DLSAA alternatively as director and trustee as the DLSAA changed its organizational structure over the years.
Boy was a vital cog in attaining the vision and mission of the DLSAA regardless of its structure. As an outstanding student and alumnus, Boy was assigned tasks that would promote and encourage excellence in the Lasallian community. Thus, Boy was named a member of the low-key Exemplary Honors Committee, which, for obvious reasons, kept the details of its work far from public view. Only now can we say that Boy was one of those who screened nominees for various awards given by the DLSAA such as the Lasallian Achievement awards, Distinguished Lasallian Awards, and several other prestigious accolades.
A member of one of the first Liberal Arts (LIA) Honors class, which allowed an outstanding student to finish college in a shorter than usual time, Boy combined academic work with involvement in student and national affairs. Fond of sports, Boy and I were together in the sports section of the college paper, The Lasallian. After my stint as sports editor, Boy more than ably took over and used his literary genius to have his sports staff write stories with greater creativity and imagination.
Boy worked in different organizations throughout his professional career. As an economist, he joined the then Bancom and the Economic Development Foundation, and to be sure, found meaning in these two organizations in the company of equally smart and gifted men and women. But at the end of the day, Boy gravitated toward his original love and his main professional passion, DLSU.
Drafted back to the familiar surroundings of the DLSU Campus by the late Brother Andrew Gonzalez (himself a brilliant scholar and education leader and administrator), Boy agreed to take on the challenge of being Vice-President for Development and Alumni Affairs. Boy’s main mission was to raise resources to ensure that outstanding young men and women who were of modest or of no means could have access to and acquire a De La Salle education through well-deserved scholarships. Boy therefore played a crucial role in giving our many young men and women the chance to get a De La Salle education and perform their role as valuable assets for God, country, and their families. Boy’s target was, as mandated by the Christian Brothers, to have at least 20 percent of the DLSU student body as scholars. Truly, Boy’s job was to make the motto “a De La Salle education is accessible (not expensive)” come to life.
On the last night of the wake for Boy, his high school class 1967, joined by grade school 1963 and LIA 1970, honored him with, aside from the eulogies and tributes, the music of Boy’s time: the Beatles, Ventures, and the music of the 60’s and 70’s.
As I listened to anecdotes about Boy’s life, I could not help but conclude that, indeed, Boy was able to bring people with widely divergent views together, that he was an extremely reliable person (to which I can personally vouch), and that he had a great sense of humor. He never took advantage of a person’s kindness or generosity, and in fact was known to have given more than he took. He knew he was smart, but was quietly confident and never cocky. Boy was a loyal friend, a true Christian gentleman.
Philip Ella Juico was dean of the De La Salle Graduate School of Business from 2002 to 2008 while Mr. Kalaw was Vice-President for Development. He and Mr. Kalaw went to De La Salle grade school, high school and college a few years apart.