In Tanauan, Batangas, where economic progress formerly was stifled by usury,
PABLO TAPIA has shown that perceptive and patient use of credit can unlock
great potentialities. Today farmers raising bountiful and diversified crops
and merchants with thriving stalls all demonstrate the results that can be
achieved. This growing prosperity is not limited to the few but is shared by
an ever widening proportion of citizens.
Tanauan suffered cruelly during World War II and, amidst the chaos following
liberation and independence, the community's needs seemed limitless. To
rebuild their homes, replace their carabao or market wares many Filipinos
had nowhere to turn but to moneylenders whose interest rate on loans often
reached ten per cent per week. Yet, savings others accumulated in bamboo
tubes and tin cans were idle and frequently lost.
Arraying themselves in battle against these practices that were sapping the
town's vitality, PABLO TAPIA and a small group of like-minded citizens, in
1947, reestablished the Square Deal Savings and Loan Association. Founded in
1926 by a beloved Tanaueño, Juan V. Pagaspas, this institution had been
destroyed during the fighting that also cost the life of its champion. Now
TAPIA and his associates walked from house to house in the barrios and in
the poblacion, persuading farmers and townspeople to deposit five or ten
pesos each month. Basilisa Carandang, a fellow lawyer who later became his
wife, set up books and provided rent-free premises in her home.
Within three years, the Association had capital and deposits totalling
P300,000.00. An inveterate horticulturist by avocation, TAPIA used these
funds productively in loans for seed, fertilizer, water tanks and the like.
Local industries were financed, such as tailoring of remnants into
inexpensive clothing. Showing faith in the small farmer and merchant,
character loans often were given. In effect, TAPIA supervised the credit,
constantly visiting farms and markets to suggest ways of increasing income.
He started a monthly newspaper, Tinig ng Tanauan, to give depositors helpful
information on farming and community affairs.
In 1951, to cope with increasing demands for small credit, the Association
was converted to the Square Deal Banking Corporation with the help of the
late Senator Jose P. Laurel and Vicente Sabalvaro, who had been associated
with the pre-war institution. The farmers' cooperative, also reactivated by
TAPIA and his colleagues in 1948 as a sister organization of the
Association, was expanded to sell agricultural chemicals, fertilizer,
poultry feeds and hardware, as well as general merchandise. A warehouse,
rice mill, corn dryer and lumber mill were added. Specialists from the
College of Agriculture at Los Baños were encouraged to demonstrate new
techniques in Tanauan, and TAPIA took truckloads of farmers to the college
In 1957, with the volume of business exceeding two million pesos, the bank
was helped by the late Alfredo L. Yatco, Teodoro F. Valencia and again by
Senator Laurel to reorganize as the Philippine Banking Corporation with
headquarters in Manila to avail itself of greater capital resources. TAPIA,
who transferred to Manila in 1960 as Vice-President in charge of the branch
banking he knows so well, still commutes to meet his farmer and merchant
clients in Tanauan every Sunday, which is the heaviest banking day.
In electing PABLO TORRES TAPIA to receive the 1964 Ramon Magsaysay Award for
Community Leadership, the Board of Trustees recognizes his steadfast
determination in mobilizing the savings of his community to provide workable
credit facilities for its productive needs.