If there is one thing that Carlito D. Acabal wishes to improve in his years as a work student at Foundation University, it would be his attitude toward his fellow work students and his supervisors.
“I did not establish good rapport among those around me. I was not close to anyone,” Acabal confessed not without some regret, adding that it was no one’s problem, but his alone. He was quick to make a rejoinder, though, that “I worked on changing this attitude right after graduation, realizing that we should be humble as we are not always right.”
No one has passed judgment toward him today, but we can only surmise that Acabal’s demeanor may have stemmed from his background as an adopted child when he was about 2 or 3 years old of the late Pablito and Agripina Acabal, who is actually the older sister of his biological mother.
Being the third child in the family with eight siblings, Acabal’s grandmother took pity on him as his real parents found it difficult to provide for their children’s needs. His biological father, the late Cirilo Faburada sold scrap bottles, while his mother, Eufricina, is a fish vendor. “We lived not too far from my real parents, though, just 100 meters away,” he clarified.
It did not take long for the young Acabal to apply for a work scholarship at Foundation University. He remembers Dr. Baldomero “Badong” Martinez who took charge of work students then.
His patience and determination was tested in his assigned task as caretaker of the livestock in the university farm, including broiler production, in all his college years.
“I would wake up at 4 a.m. to clean the pig pens before I go to my classes. I did all sorts of manual work, including assisting in pigs giving birth,” explained Acabal, saying that the procedure could take the entire evening, sometimes with 10 heads. At times when he had exams, he would have his books and notebooks nearby.
He still remembers with fondness his supervisors, then farm manager Dr. Nancy Olasiman, who was dean of the College of Agriculture and farm-in-charge Mr. Ampilo Dagoy. “They taught me many things that I am able to make use of in the practical side of life,” Acabal recalled.
It also helped that an older sister and a brother were likewise work students in the university, specifically in the cafeteria, thus, giving each other the needed moral support. Among their siblings, according to Acabal, only one was unable to finish school.
The closest to his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer is through the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering, which he finished in 1987. His college education became meaningful because of people who inspired him to dream big and pursue his studies. One of them was Dr. Willy Depositario, former university president, and another was Engr. Silman (whose first name skips Acabal) who was an instructor for one year in the Graduate School.
After graduation, he was offered a part-time teaching job by Dr. Depositario in the College of Agriculture and Industrial Technology for two years. In 1993, he obtained a Master of Statistics at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City and enrolled anew at Foundation University for a Master of Business Administration, graduating in 1996.
By this time, he joined the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics as Statistician I in Larena, Siquijor and became project manager of HO Development Instruction in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental.
His stint in the academe was revived when he joined the College of Business Administration of the Negros Oriental State University (NOrSU) Mabinay Campus in 2011 until at present where he is now dean of the College of Business Administration holding the rank of Associate Professor II.
Moreover, the young, homegrown lad who thought he could not attain his dream has further gone up the academic ladder by finishing Doctor in Business Administration at St. Paul University Dumaguete in 2020.
At this point in his life, Acabal confirms that among others, what he values most is a good relationship among his colleagues and co-workers, something that he may have been quite remiss as a work student, but which he tries hard to regain now in his years in government service.
His influence has rubbed on to his only daughter, Nouiea Bernardel, through his insatiable quest for learning as she graduated with a Bachelor in Secondary Education Major in Biological Science as a scholar of the Department of Science and Technology at NOrSU Mabinay Campus. Having finished her Master of Arts in Biological Science at the University of the Philippines Cebu, Acabal’s daughter now teaches at Ayungon National High School.
Indeed, Acabal’s life has come full circle, a long and arduous journey that started at Foundation University where he learned manual, practical skills which he uses today as he helps his wife, Evelyn, tend their sugar cane farm and other business ventures during his spare time.
As a fitting tribute to his determination and resilience, Acabal was honored as an Outstanding Alumni awardee in the field of government/public service at the Panaghiusa: FU Alumni Homecoming on December 9, 2023 as part of the annual Kasadyaan Festival. (Cecile M. Genove)