Dr. Ederlinda Fernandez recalled how, at one time in the past, she and Dr. Ofelio Mendoza vied for the Western Mindanao State University presidency. ‘This fact never strained our relationship’, Dr. Fernandez said, hinting on the degree of professionalism that both of them try to live up to.
She also remembered how, as her mentor then in Master in Public Administration at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Dr. Mendoza would spontaneously cite books and their authors in the course of his class discussions.
This and many other reminiscences of family, students and colleagues, colored the most memorable event of giving tribute to Dr. Mendoza who will retire in November, this year.
The occasion was also the socialization and induction of officers of the Public Administration Association, Inc. (PAAI) of WMSU-CPADS. It was held on October 1 at a local restaurant.
In a message read by PAAI president Mr. Christopher Balanay, Prof. Luzvimindo M. Rondael, a faculty member of CPADS, referred to Dr. Mendoza as ‘a born leader, brilliant communicator, gifted educator and team player who took charge of CPADS during a difficult time’. Prof. Rondael does not hide his admiration for Dr. Mendoza, who, after recovering from a back injury can still shoot a target dead center at 15 to 20 yards.
On the other hand, Dr. Socorro Rebecca Felonia, also a CPADS faculty member, waxed philosophical as she quoted Henry Adam’s words which aptly describe Sir Al, as Dr. Mendoza is fondly called. It said, ‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops’. She recalled Sir Al’s penchant for challenging students and at the same time teaching them the joy of learning. Sir Al ‘helped shape their (students’) careers and successes’, Dr. Felonia said.
In the midst of success, Dr. Mendoza has remained humble and approachable. Even rank-and-file employees of the university, including utility personnel, seek his advice and assistance. To them, he is simply Sir Al.
He is also one person who has lovingly nurtured his family while serving the public well – the mark of a truly balanced and successful individual.
CPADS students lovingly prepared a fitting video tribute to Sir Al. It was applauded no less than five times in the course of its presentation. It included a message from Dr. Joselito Madro�al, WMSU Director for Administration, a former master in public administration student and now a faculty member of CPADS. He recalled how he and fellow students used to refer to Sir Al as ‘walking management encyclopedia’.
Mr. Richard Hamja considers Sir Al, a public service icon. To him, the good professor is a mentor and a second father who was never wanting in good advice.
But the most touching messages came from family members. In a heart-warming message, youngest son ‘KK’ referred to himself as ‘a proud son’ to Dr. Al. Mrs. Rashina Mendoza, Sir Al’s better half, thanked him for the gift that he is to the family. Likewise, only daughter Sheila, who is married to an American with whom she has a huggable little girl, was all admiration and respect for Sir Al. She recalled how dad would work up to late at night to prepare for his classes and seminars. She, and husband Kevin, wish dad and mom would join them in the USA permanently after Sir Al’s retirement. Sir Al’s brothers also wished he would enjoy his retirement years.
When asked for a response, Sir Al found himself speechless. The outpouring of love, admiration and respect from family, students, friends and colleagues deeply touched him. But good communicator that he is, he easily recovered and rendered an inspiring message.
He, too, waxed philosophical saying that indeed there is one up there who ordains all things. He revealed how he has gone through a lot of difficult moments in his life and career, and yet he has been buoyed up by this unseen power. ‘We just have to trust Him’, he advised. He thanked his wife, who, for some years in the past, was forced by circumstances to be the family’s sole bread winner. He now looks back to his life and career with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
When Sir Al retires from the service in November, he will leave behind traces of excellence, professionalism, and dedication to duty worth emulating. A public service icon, indeed. (Ms. Evelyn C. Luceño, PAO-WMSU)