A Farewell to Dr. Arsenio Talingdan, UP’s “Action Agad” Alumnus

Dr. Arsenio Talingdan

Dr. Arsenio P. Talingdan, former Assistant Professor in Political Science at UP Manila, former Administrator of the Philippine General Hospital, and founding president of the UP Alumni Association in America, Inc., passed away in his home in Teaneck, New Jersey, USA. last Friday, April 20, 2018, at the age of 88. With his passing, the University of the Philippines has lost a proud son and alumnus, and the UP Community a beloved former mentor, colleague, supporter, and friend.

From his childhood, Dr. Talingdan, known among his friends and fellow UP alumni as Dr. Arse or APT, was committed to living his life in accordance with his mottos of “Action agad” and the Boy Scouts’ “Be Prepared.” He was born on March 30, 1930 as the youngest of eight children of Mariano and Candida (nee Preza) Talingdan of Dolores, Abra. He was born with a physical handicap that people ascribed to being “conceived of the crab”. He overcame this handicap through a combination of industry, persistence, patience, and ambition, qualities that enabled him to achieve success throughout his life.

He earned three degrees from UP: Associate in Arts in 1951, Bachelor of Arts in 1953, and Master of Public Administration in 1955. He went on to earn four more degrees from various higher educational institutions, including a BSC in Accounting, an MA in Organization and Management, an MBA in Health Services, and a doctorate degree in Health Care Administration. By dint of hard work and forward-thinking, he completed these degrees while working full-time as a public administrator or business general manager, and while teaching part-time as a professional lecturer in economics, business and public administration.

In 1959, Dr. Talingdan became Management Consultant of Philippine President Carlos P. Garcia’s Presidential Committee on Performance Efficiency (PCAPE). In this role, he reorganized the Philippine Civil Service, developed and installed the national appointment system, and drafted the Civil Serve Law of l959. He also reorganized the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), establishing the first six BIR Regional Director offices, the Bureau of Printing and Department of General Services, and developed the National Rice and Corn Program.

The list of projects and systems that he developed for the Philippine government does not end there. Some of his projects also include designing and installing the first performance budgeting system in Philippine National Government; writing the Work Simplification Handbook that was distributed to all departments of the Philippine Government; and developing and installing the National Disbursement System and National Cash Flow System. He also became the first Director of Financing at the Philippine Virginia Tobacco Administration, granting loans to farmers cooperative marketing associations all over Northern Luzon.

In 1970, Dr. Talingdan returned UP to become Administrator of the Philippine General Hospital, where he made numerous changes to their established programs. He was also the Assistant Professor in Political Science and Chairman of the Social Sciences Department in UP Manila.

Then in May 1973, he and his family immigrated to the US. Once there, he worked in various administrative positions until on June 2, 1977, he was appointed Regional Medical Care Administrator to the New York State Department of Health. In 1978, he was promoted to Associate Medical Care Administrator of the New York State Department of Health. In 1978, he was promoted to Associate Medical Care Administrator, the highest administrative position achieved by a Filipino-American in the Department. In this role, he pioneered and installed the first Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) and served the people of New York.

In 1981, he became one of the founders and the first president of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association in America (UPAAA), whose primary aim is to unite different UP alumni associations in America and to work for the preservation of the University as the national center for academic excellence, freedom, and service. Through the years, the UPAAA has served as a venue for UP alumni in America to find fellowship and camaraderie and share their experiences of life in UP with their fellow alumni, to honor UP alumni achievers and loyal members, and to initiate projects, programs and fundraising drives that help support the University through scholarships and professorial chairs, and to strengthen the relationship between UP and its US-based alumni.

After 26 years of outstanding service, Dr. Talingdan retired on March 29, 2003. Retirement, however, did nothing to slow down this lifelong hard-worker. Instead, he committed himself to supporting several of his relatives in America and in the Philippines, offering his home, financial aid or simply his academic wisdom to any family member that asked. Dr. Talingdan was an avid storyteller, and often regaled party crowds with stories about his pet carabao, Kalangtangan, and his childhood in the rice fields of Abra. He enjoyed watching golf and basketball, and competed on bowling teams late into this retirement. He also continued to be active with the Filipino American Society of Teaneck (FAST), an organization that he led as the first president. He was also active in the Philippine American Community Center of Bergen County (PACBC, http://www.pacbc.org).

Dr. Talingdan also had a passion for gardening, and he loved to give the fruits of his labor away. A visionary, charming, thrifty and dynamic man, Dr. Arse will always be remembered for his wit, storytelling, intelligence, and smile.

His passing is preceded by his wife, Josefa Biason Talingdan. He is survived by his five children—Melda, Arsenio Jr. and wife Regina, Jocelyn and husband Patrick, Mariolindy and wife Luzel, and Abelardo and wife Hazel; and his nine grandchildren—Nathan, Aileen, Celine, Meghan, Christian, Francis, Khalista, Kathereina, and Lukas.

Written by Celeste Llaneta (UP MPRO)