by Myrna Aquitania
In our midst here in Los Angeles, lives this humble, 78-year old retired Navy man named Abelardo “Sir Abby” Estacion who graduated from Cavite National High School in his hometown of Cavite City, Philippines. As a teenager, Abby worked to help his poor parents raise a family of seven (5 sons and 2 daughters).
Estacion’s father “worked in the United States Navy at the old Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite City as a mechanic while his mother was a housekeeper.” Though Abby graduated high school from a public school, there was “no money for his college education, so he worked as a jeepney driver, servicing mostly Navy personnel in Sangley Point in Cavite City.”
As soon as he reached the age of 20, the young Abelardo Estacion joined the U.S. Navy, where he spent “years as a kitchen steward until he was honorably discharged.” As a grateful son, Abby “sent all of his monthly earnings to his mother, but kept $5.00 for his personal needs.”
Abby’s years of Naval employment gave him the privilege of acquiring a GI Bill. This financed his college education and he painstakingly pursued a four year course and in 1960, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration majoring in Accounting from Pepperdine College ( now known as the Pepperdine University).
After 20 years of working as an accountant at Rheems Manufacturing Company in Culver City, Estacion decided to take an early retirement with the company rather than move to their new location in New York. Due to his 20 years of service with the company in 1980, Abby received a separation pay of “$237,000 in benefits representing his share in profit sharing plan, savings plan and termination bonus.”
Upon consultation with his cousin Manuel Estacion who was based in the Philippines, on what to do with his earnings, his cousin advised him to open up an investment account with the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank where Manuel Estacion was then a vice president.
Abby’s unstoppable work ethic led him to work as a consultant to two more companies: Boyle Engineering and Pacific Lighting Sales, where he finally decided to “retire for good” in 2001.
The following year, in 2002, Abby made plans to “retire in Cavite and went home to explore his options.” He then visited his cousin Manuel Estacion who informed him that the money he invested “has grown at a minimum of 10% a year and the cumulative result was enormous.”
In 2004, Abby Estacion’s philanthropic vision “to give back to his country,” came into fruition by establishing the Estacion Foundation with his cousin, Manuel Estacion as the Executive Vice President. The purpose of his Foundation was to give college scholarships to worthy and needy students, particularly those who graduate from his alma mater, Cavite National High School. “Over the years, he has continued to send scholarship money to college scholars.”
‘Thirty-five of these scholars have graduated and are mostly gainfully employed in their respective lines of work, many of them teachers or nurses.”
The Estacion Foundation wasn’t only involved in scholarships but on the well-being of their scholars as well. Abby added on incentives such as: “ giving P1,000.00 for every grade A that the scholars would obtain, or giving their families cavans of rice when the price of rice soared, or even to the extent of helping a scholar when they needed financial help for an eye operation. “
Abby’s “acts of kindness never stop and the scholars and their families are forever grateful to him.” He attends his scholars’ graduation every year. This year, he attended the graduation of nine college scholars of the Estacion Foundation, bringing a “total of 44 scholar graduates since it started its scholarship program in 2004.”
“Leading the graduates were: Sarah May R. Sibug, who graduated magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines (Manila) with a degree in B. S. Biochemistry, Christian Ravino, magna cum laude, B. S. Education, St; Joseph’s College, Cavite City and Regin C. Hernandez, cum laude, B.S. Education, SJC, Cavite, City.”
The largest batch of graduates, as “in previous years come from St. Joseph’s College in Cavite City.” The seven graduates from SJC this year, “received their B.S. in Education degrees and were dean’s listers during their four-year college education.”
Finally, “Sir Abby” as he is fondly called, sums up his philanthropic legacy in this statement “I wish many more Filipinos who have found their dreams in America or any other place in the world would give back to their homeland, and help our poor people make something of their lives in whatever way they can. We owe it to our country and to our kababayans.”
More power to you, Sir Abby…may your great generosity of “giving back to our country” be emulated by our kababayans worldwide!