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The Cloma legacy

The Cloma legacy
Yashika F. Torib November 18, 2020

How does one carry on the legacy of a historical figure, to keep his torch burning, and have people remember his chronicles? Where do they begin and to what lengths would they uphold a name as legendary as Tomas Cloma?

For Sabino Czar Cloma-Manglicmot II, picking up the baton started at childhood when his passion for the sea was fueled by the lofty dreams and deeds of his grandfather — the sailor who discovered and conquered Spratly Islands (now known as Kalayaan Group of Islands) in 1947 and the Father of Philippine Maritime Education for establishing the country’s first private maritime school, the Philippine Maritime Institute (Pmi).

More than half a century has passed and Cloma’s island still stands, home to about 500 people and whose rights were won by the Philippines against China. His brainchild, Pmi, instigated a domino effect in the Philippine maritime education sector, leading others to uphold the world-class quality of Filipino seafarers so much so that the country was eventually tagged as the “manning capital of the world”.

Such legacy harkens back to his words, “we have done our part and duty. The rest now lies in your hands to bring about the realization of this beautiful dream,” — a statement that seems to speak directly to his grandson.

73 years since the discovery of Spratlys and Pmi a year later, Manglicmot continues to carry on his grandfather’s legacy — guided by his light but outside of his shadow. The affable man now heads another maritime school, Midway Colleges in Nueva Ecija, and sees to the survival of maritime education amidst a pandemic and a series of bitter storms.

“This pandemic has accelerated the educational system of our country to adopt to the new methodologies that have already been practiced globally. This situation is an exciting opportunity to be resourceful, collaborative, compassionate, and innovative,” Manglicmot said in a manner which reflects the audacity and ingenuity of his grandfather.

Manglicmot admitted that he originally dreamed of becoming a lawyer. This, however, was washed off by the realization spawned by a simple question from Cloma, “‘Do you still remember your elementary teachers?” he asked me once when I was a child and I replied ‘yes’. Then he continued, ‘Why do you remember them when there are times that you would not even recall your breakfast three days ago?’ It was then that I realized that being an educator is a sort of immortality, that it is good for your soul.

“You only do not touch the hearts and shape the minds of the students but more importantly, you influence progress in society. The school is a niche where there are endless possibilities — future leaders are made, lives are transformed, and dreams are turned into reality,” he explained.

Such realization held strong for Manglicmot – to carry on the legacy that has passed down through generations of Cloma – from his grandfather and down to his father Dr. Sabino Manglicmot, one of the pillars of maritime education who contributed in elevating its standards and once led the Philippine Association of Maritime Institutions (Pami).

Memories of a ‘rock star’ lolo

Behind the stern façade and an adventurous soul, Cloma was simply a cheerful grandfather who enjoyed barrio fiestas in Bohol with his grandson in tow.

“I have so many fond memories of my grandfather, being his squire for quite a long time, but one remains vivid up to this day. It was when we attended a fiesta in Bohol. You see, fiesta in Bohol lasts for the whole month of May. Any Boholano can tell you that it is the most important event for them. They will be able to skip Christmas, New Year, even birthdays and anniversaries, burial and funerals, but not a fiesta. To this end, a Boholano will keep all his/her savings, sacrificing personal pleasures just to save up all his/her income just to celebrate fiesta.

“In one fiesta which we went to, and after having lunch in one house, I was surprised to see a big crowd gathered by the door. When we stepped out of the house, the crowd started shouting “Anoy Tomas. Anoy Tomas”, inviting him to come to their place for another meal.

“My grandfather was like a rock star. Everyone wanted to touch him and pulled him towards their house.

“It is considered polite to visit each house during a fiesta in Bohol. My grandfather didn’t want to disappoint the villagers and so we went from one house to another until sun down.

The food and drinks are overflowing, and the famous tuba was passed around. My lolo and I went home satiated and exceptionally happy that day. Culturally, the experience was enriching. Personally, the memory was nostalgic and inspiring,” he recalled.

The Cloma legacy

The elder Cloma may have had accomplished so much and left a heritage too big for generations to carry on. It is his blood, however, that is considered his best legacy, this blood being his squire and spawn — Czar Manglicmot II.

Behind all his accomplishments and titles, the young man, much like his grandfather, enjoys the outdoors with hobbies tending mostly to adventure and physical sports.

“I like biking, swimming and there was a time that I joined the Ironman and most endurance sports. Now that my time does not permit me to join such races, I am content with biking, hiking or swimming during the weekends. These hobbies do not only build my stamina, they also build my endurance and shape my character; hence, I advocate the love for sports in my school as I believe in its power to instill leadership, patience, determination, discipline, and hard work among our employees and students,” he said.

While Manglicmot’s horizon is peppered with adventure and responsibilities, he also sees through the protection of the environment and promotion of humanitarian welfare through the Red Cross and their local DRRMO.

“I can proudly say that my involvement in these undertakings has also influenced my family to pick up the torch in transforming lives,” he concluded.