Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Memorial to Dr. Henry F. Funtecha (1947-2009) By: James U. Sy Jr.

Educator, historian, and writer Dr. Henry Florida Funtecha passed away last October 15, 2009, 12:30 A.M., at Mission Hospital, Jaro, Iloilo City after suffering a stroke and falling into a coma on October 11, 2009 in his home. He was 62.

His body was laid at the Chapel of the Celin Ancheta and Pagsuberon Hall at the Central Philippine University (CPU) before he was buried on October 22, 2009 at Green Garden Memorial, Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Henry Florida Funtecha was born as the fourth child of Felimon Funtecha and Bernardita Dumalag, both of Dumalag, Province of Capiz on March 17, 1947. His siblings, according to their seniority, are Gilbert, Felix, Aida Ampatin, and Edwin.

He graduated valedictorian at the Duran Elementary School in Dumalag. He continued his high school and college education at the Central Philippine University (CPU), where he earned a Bachelor in Science in Arts and Sciences with a Major in History. He obtained his doctorate at the University of San Agustin (USA).

His first teaching stint was at Dansalan College in the Islamic city of Marawi (formerly Dansalan) in Mindanao in 1967-1968. His next employer was his alma mater, Central Philippine University (CPU), and finally the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UP-V), where he served for 33 years.

While in UP-V, he served as full professor of History at the College of Arts and Sciences, Miagao campus, Chairperson of the Division of Social Sciences, and Coordinator of the Research and Extension Program of the college. From 1988 to 1996, he served as Director of the Center for West Visayan Studies, the unit of UP-V mandated to preserve and propagate the historical and cultural legacies of Region 6 (Western Visayas). He was also Chairperson of the UPV Centennial Program and Coordinator of the Visayan Studies Program.

Dr. Funtecha was UPV’s Most Outstanding Faculty for the period 1991-1996 and was awarded by the College of Arts & Sciences of Central Philippine University as one of its outstanding alumni for 2005. He was also a semi-finalist in Metro Bank Foundation’s Ten Outstanding Teachers of the Philippines in 1997.

In 1973, Dr. Funtecha received a grant on local history in the Philippines from the Asia Foundation, Inc. In 1988, he was a British Council fellow on Local Studies in Great Britain. In 2004, he went to Japan on an exchange program as a special scientist.

Dr. Funtecha was a prolific researcher and writer, having published ten books and written about 48 articles in journals, almanacs, and conference. He had his own column “Bridging the Gap” with The News Today (TNT) since 2001, which dealt with a wide spectrum of topics with historical and cultural significance to the West Visayans. He authored the cover story of the 2007 TNT Iloilo Yearbook “Calle Real.”

Among his published works were The American Military Occupation of the Lake Lanao Region, 1901-1913 (1979), Historical Landmarks and Monuments of Iloilo (1999) with Prof. Melanie Padilla, Iloilo in the 20th Century: An Economic History (1997),
Popular Festivals in West Visayas (1995), The UP-V Centennial Committee publication The Struggle Against the Spaniards and the Americans in West Visayas (1998) as co-editor with Prof. Padilla, and A Study Guide in Philippine History (1999) with Prof. Padilla.

In 1973, he was married to Nelly Sulay of Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental, and they were blessed with three children, now all of whom are professionals themselves - Ree Lee Lloyd, Hennel Rhee, and Henry Agafel.

His sister, Aida, describes Dr. Funtecha as a loving brother, husband, and father, a good provider, and very supportive of his children. He is a lover of poetry and had himself written several pieces which he had compiled.

Maria Milagros Geremia-Lachica, formerly University Research Associate at the UP-V Center for West Visayan Studies, described Dr. Funtecha as a very supportive boss, very approachable and always ready to give a helping hand.

I have personally met Dr. Funtecha only a few times, during those times I was in Iloilo to consult him about certain facts about my book on the historical roots of the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) of Arnis/Eskrima. When I informed him I was doing research on this topic, the first thing he asked was my conclusion. We have talked about the historicity of the Ten Bornean Datus as well as other historical figures of Western Visayas. His knowledge of these events is awesome and very authoritative, much based on scholastic research rather than on unfounded claims. He had agreed to write the foreword for my book before his untimely passing.

Many will surely miss Dr. Funtecha, a loving husband and father, very supportive boss, and historian/scholar/writer extraordinaire.

NOTE: Thank you very much to the Funtecha Family for providing me with most of the personal information about Dr. Funtecha and to Mr. Eliod Dimzon of UP-V forproviding the pictures.

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