March 10, 1919 - September 15, 1999
of Quezon City
Bantayog ng mga Bayani Souvenir Program
born in Manila on March 10, 1919, was the eldest of three children
of Atty. Amador Constantino and Francisca Reyes.
strongest influences in his youth were his maternal grandmother
who told him stories about the abuses of Spanish friars and about
how her family suffered during the early American occupation;
and his father who was critical of politicians of his time for
their corruption and lack of sincerity in fighting for independence.
Renato's siblings remember that although their parents were strict
and expected unconditional obedience, their brother would sometimes
dare to argue with them when he did not agree with their opinions.
of the public school system, Renato emerged as a student leader
during his third and fourth years in Arellano High School when
he was elected class president and also won medals as an orator
and debater. In the University of the Philippines he became the
youngest editor of the Philippine Collegian and a star debater.
He won national attention with an editorial critical of President
Quezon which prompted the latter to go to UP to deliver a speech
explaining his position.
in Bataan and was later sent by G2 to Manila to join a group that
was monitoring Japanese military movements and sending reports
to Corregidor. The Japanese raided the meeting place of this group
and caught some of the members but Renato was able to escape through
a backroom window. Soon after his marriage to Letizia Roxas in
1943, Japanese soldiers raided the couple's home. Luckily, Renato
was not there. He and his family spent the rest of the Japanese
occupation hiding in different towns and barrios of Bulacan.
had several successful careers as a diplomat, a college professor,
a Museum director, a journalist and an author of many books. He
was the Executive Secretary of the Philippine Mission to the United
Nations from 1946 to 1949 and Counsellor of the Department of
Foreign Affairs from 1949 to 1951. He published a book on the
United Nations in 1950. His career in the academe spans more than
three decades during which time he taught in Far Eastern University,
Adamson University, Arellano University and University of the
Philippines, Manila and Diliman. He was also a visiting lecturer
in universities in London, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Malaysia and
Thailand, and Visiting Scholar in several other countries. As
a journalist between 1945 and 1998, he was a columnist of the
Evening Herald, Manila Chronicle, Malaya, Daily Globe, Manila
Bulletin, and Balita and contributed many articles to the Manila
Chronicle, Manila Times, Graphic, etc. He also served as Director
of the Lopez Memorial Museum from 1960 to 1972, was a member of
the Editorial Board of the Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Trustee
of Focus on the Global South in Bangkok.
was a prolific writer. He wrote around 30 books and numerous pamphlets
and monographs. Among his well-known books are A Past Revisited
and The Continuing Past (a two-volume history of the Philippines),
The Making of a Filipino (a biography of Claro M. Recto), Neo-colonial
Identity and Counter-Consciousness, and The Nationalist Alternative.
Several of his books have been translated into Japanese and The
Nationalist Alternative has a Malaysian translation.
invariably reflected his nationalist, democratic, anti-colonial
and anti-imperialist perspective whether he was writing historical
articles or articles on the economy, Philippine society and culture.
Because of what were then regarded as his radical views and his
criticisms of those in power, he was persecuted many times in
his life. He lost his position in the Department of Foreign Affairs
in 1951 and thereafter he was prevented from getting a job because
intelligence agents discouraged employers from hiring him on the
ground that he was a security risk. Off and on during his life,
his articles were refused by major papers which used to print
his works. In fact, his most widely read essay, The Miseducation
of the Filipino, had to wait five years before it saw print. A
few years before martial law, he was frequently criticizing Ferdinand
and Imelda Marcos in his columns. These columns were published
in a book, The Marcos Watch, just two weeks before Marcos declared
martial law. When martial law was declared, he was placed under
house arrest for seven months and not allowed to travel abroad
for several years.
of Constantino's work came in his later years, among them Nationalism
awards from Quezon City in 1987, Manila in 1988, The Civil Liberties
Union in 1988, and U.P. Manila in 1989. These were followed by
Manila's Diwa ng Lahi Award in 1989, a Doctor of Arts and Letters
(honoris causa) from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines
in 1989 and a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from the University
of the Philippines in
died on September 15, 1999. He left behind his wife and collaborator,
Letizia Roxas, his son Renato, Jr. and daughter-in-law Lourdes
Balderrama, his daughter Karina and her husband, Randy S. David,
eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.