A Tribute: The Life & Times of Rev Col Bayani P Mendoza (June 7, 1934 – August 27, 2021)
| It is with deep sadness to know a man of valor, humility, and great camaraderie has left this earthly home to return to the author and finisher of our faith, who has prepared a mansion in the sky for such a wonderful brother in the Lord, our dearly beloved Rev. Col. Bayani Policarpio Mendoza of Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.
I knew Bayani as a teenager and as a young adult, growing up in Ozamiz City. I was a working student, living with the Mendoza family during my High School years. I worked to earn my keep and to be able to pay for my tuition and books. He was twelve years older than me, and I was in awe watching him diligently following his father’s footsteps. Through the years, Bayani and his siblings worked hard to maintain the legacy their father, Colonel and Dr. Aurelio Mendoza, left them to inherit.
They are a family of educators and entrepreneurs, leading the youth towards academic excellence in Ozamiz City, Oroquieta City, Pagadian City, and Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte. While other academies sprouted in various parts of neighboring provinces, these four schools thrive to this day. In fact, I was one of the recipients of the vision the patriarch Mendoza envisioned for the welfare and benefit of the Philippine citizenry.
Bayani, whose name means “hero” was a hero in the truest sense of the word. He was unassuming and treated students, rich or poor, fairly. Countless underprivileged students attained their goals because of grants, scholarships, and work opportunities offered to them in pursuit of a dream of a better life.
Not only did the Mendoza family deal with the material necessities of survival, but they also lead the way towards spiritual growth and maturity. Many a church sprang up to meet the spiritual growth and nourishment of a thriving people.
I would be remiss if I neglect to mention this incident that happened twenty-five years after I was married and living in Oceanside, California. A heavy knocking on our front door woke everybody up sometime after midnight. As I approached the door, I hear a familiar voice saying, “Miriam, It’s Bayani Mendoza. I am with my wife, Divina, our son Bong, and our daughter, Marmen. Sorry, we didn’t give you advanced notice. We’re here to surprise you.”
What a pleasant reconnection indeed after almost three decades of disconnect. They were on a cross-country tour from San Jose, Northern California to his brother in Maryland on the East Coast.
In March of 2009, he invited me to be the speaker for the Commencement Exercises for the Graduating Class of Southern Mindanao Colleges in Pagadian City and the Dr. Aurelio Mendoza Memorial Colleges in Ipil, Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur. I delivered “Follow Your Dreams” to inspire the new graduates to follow their dreams. I didn’t make it to Southern Capital Colleges Commencement Exercises in Oroquieta City (my Alma Mater) for lack of time. Our flight was delayed from LAX to Manila.
Our family affinity dates way back to the Second World War. That was long before I was a twinkle in my father and mother’s eyes. My father was a U.S. guerrilla volunteer under the command of then, Colonel Aurelio Mendoza. After the war, Dr. Mendoza encouraged my father to finish High School because, at that time, High School graduates were qualified to teach.
As I was approaching college, I wrote an application letter to the College President of Southern Capital Colleges in Oroquieta City, Dr. Mendoza, on a work scholarship grant. I did not mention my intentions to my father as I eagerly waited for positive feedback. Lo and behold, two weeks later, my father handed me a personal letter from Dr. Mendoza with the instruction to wait for Bayani to pick me up as he was driving back to Pagadian City, where his father assigned him as School Administrator. I spent the entire Summer with Bayani and his family while spending my days at the School Library, learning cataloging and library science. When Summer was over, Bayani drove me to Southern Capital Colleges where Dr. Mendoza appointed me as Assistant Librarian, overseeing the Graduate Studies Library.
Two years ago, in September 2019, Bayani, with his son, Bong, and daughter, Marmen, made it a point to attend my mother’s Memorial and Interment Services at Eternal Hills Memorial Park in Oceanside, California.
Today, it is only fitting that Bayani’s life and times be memorialized and etched in stone for the significance his life has brought to bear. Farewell but not goodbye, Bayani. You will forever live in the hearts of those you touched through your life’s journey. We are assured the guardian angels ushered you to that glorious mansion in heaven where there are no more tears nor sadness for eternity. What rejoicing it would be for you to be reunited with your dearly beloved wife, Divina, who went ahead of you.
See you in the by and by, Bayani. The love of God and the fellowship of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit bind us till morning comes.
This tribute was prepared and written by Miriam Undag Day as requested by the family.