MAT Caparas, first and only Filipino to head Rotary International, dies

by Ben Rosario

Mateo Caparas

Lawyer Mateo Armando “M.A.T.” T.  Caparas, the first and only Filipino to become president of Rotary International, has died at the age of 97. 

Caparas served as RI president in 1986-87 with the Rotary theme, “Rotary Brings Hope.”

In a Viber post for Peace Presidents of District 3780, past Gov. Penny Policarpio cited the impact of Caparas’ outstanding performance as head of the international civic organizations during his one year-term.

Caparas launched the worldwide anti-polio drive aimed at eradicating the deadly disease that has killed and paralyzed tens of thousands of people.  The campaign has become a huge success and has drawn the strong support of Microsoft’s founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

Policarpio recalled that it was also during Caparas’ term that the RI board allowed membership of women in Rotary.

The Filipino socio-civic leader was instrumental in the acquisition of the One Rotary Center in Evanston, Illinois.  He led the two-year fund raising campaign for the project and was able to raise $130 million, surpassing the target by $70 million.

“PRIP MAT considered the start of the Rotary Year as a New Year, to be celebrated with children, whose welfare he deeply espoused,” said Policarpio.

Born on December 28, 1923 in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, Caparas graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law and received his Master of Laws from Harvard Law School in 1950. He specialized in labor and tax law.

He was a charter member of Rotary Club of Caloocan City that was organized in 1959.

When he transferred his law practice in Manila, Caparas joined the Rotary Club of Manila, known as the first Rotary Club in Asia for having been chartered in 1919. 

Source: Manila Bulletin