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Dudoy Ronquillo, the Engineer and Public Servant

No disrespect to athletes – and I am, to this day, very much one – but many of them cannot be bothered, when inside the classroom, to ponder with any real depth of interest the glory of Greece or the grandeur of Rome. That is just the way things are generally as explained by the theory of intelligences. The intelligence of athletes is best exhibited and observed, after all, where else but on the playing courts.

There were, during my teaching years however, a few who I observed to be exceptions that probably proved the rule. Nerio Ronquillo Jr. – Dudoy to everyone else – was one of those. He was from the high school class of 1986 and was in my History class.

The nickname Dudoy – or Dodoy, if you wish to spell it this way – is an anecdote in itself. As a young boy still coming to terms with the consonants and vowels of language, he could not quite manage to pronounce the generic Tagalog term of endearment for young boys – totoy or, in Batangas, tutoy.

On top of being the Governor’s engineering alter ego, he initiates the review of policies and objectives, plans and programs, techniques and procedures of infrastructure development in local government units; and makes recommendations where appropriate.
While it was not uncommon for student athletes to sit quietly invisible in one corner of the classroom, having probably been too tired from training to read up on Marcus Aurelius or Trajan, Dudoy was – in fact – quite the opposite.

First of all, it was impossible to miss him. Significantly taller than most of his classmates – he was a star basketball varsity player – Dudoy almost looked too big to fit into those hard wooden desks that the school had in every classroom.

More importantly, he was this bubbly character, the one who wore a perpetual smile on his face. Rather than make himself invisible, he listened to lectures intently and was always among the first to raise his hand when I posed questions to the class.

Not that a career in the Social Sciences was even a remote possibility for Dudoy even then. The son of Nerio Sr. – a contractor who did projects for the Air Force, among others – and the former Estelita Lalamunan, it seemed always a cinch that he would follow in his father’s footsteps.

“My father went to see a fortune teller and was told that we would be rich if I finished Civil Engineering,” Dudoy laughs. Needless to say, he considers his father the biggest influence on his decision to pursue a career in engineering.

After graduation from high school, Dudoy enrolled at the Mapua Institute of Technology in Intramuros in Manila. He was determined to avoid falling into the nerd trap despite Mapua’s academic reputation and joined the college’s varsity basketball team.

He was a member of the Cardinals team that won the NCAA basketball championship in season 1991-92. He was the captain that year and was also on an athletics grant given by the college. The Cardinals repeated the next season after Dudoy had graduated.

Although an athlete, Dudoy graduated from Mapua in 1992 with the dual degrees of BS Civil Engineering and BS Environmental and Sanitary Engineering.

Fresh from college, he worked for a year with Nestlé Philippines as Pest Controller. After a year, he was Project Engineer for ELR Everybody’s Construction and later opened up his own business, Riofer Enterprises.

It was in public service, however, that Dudoy would subsequently make his name and build a stable career. He was Department Head of the Lipa City Engineer’s Office from 1999-2007, coinciding with the incumbency as City Mayor of now-Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto.

Dudoy laughingly describes his main job responsibility while at the City Engineer’s Office as being the “alter ego of the City Mayor when it came to the implementation of infrastructure projects and other engineering services.”

He cites as his major accomplishments while with the City Engineer’s Office the improvement of Plaza Independencia in front of the Cathedral of San Sebastian; construction of a community park and state-of-the-art VSR type school buildings; paving to 98% completion with concrete barangay or rural village roads; construction of OB Montessori-type day care centres; construction of barangay and multi-purpose halls; and improvement and rehabilitation of drainage systems and slope protections around the city.

Presently, Dudoy is the Provincial Engineer working closely as he did in the past with Governor Vilma Santos-Recto. Asked how he got the post, Dudoy replies, “The trust and confidence that the Governor has in me is the greatest factor that made me the Provincial Engineer.”

As Provincial Engineer, Dudoy performs pretty much the same functions that he used to have when he was still with the City Engineer’s Office; but on a larger scale. “Still the alter ego of the Governor when it comes to the implementation of infrastructure projects and engineering services,” he says.

Comparing the provincial job to the city job, Dudoy says, “Enormous tasks and great responsibilities like Spiderman because Batangas Province has 1078 barangays with variable and different terrains including island municipalities and barangays; compared to 72 barangays in the City of Lipa as well as working with the 34 LGU’s and various Provincial and Regional Offices and counterparts.”

On top of being the Governor’s engineering alter ego, he initiates the review of policies and objectives, plans and programs, techniques and procedures of infrastructure development in local government units; and makes recommendations where appropriate.

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