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Getting your three R’s in government straight
(Article published in the January 30, 2001 issue of TODAY, Opinion Today Section)

A person’s name (as in name, not alias) though not part of his estate is nevertheless a valuable legacy. The law requires that a person’s name be not taken lightly and the right to a good name is the only right that survives a person’s death.

This piece is to keep you from being confused with the Romulos you have recently been reading about. Bert Romulo is not Roberto R. Romulo. Bert Romulo is Alberto G. Romulo. Roberto R. Romulo is Bobby Romulo. Neither Bert Romulo nor Bobby Romulo is the chairman of the Makati Business Club. That Romulo is Ricardo J. Romulo or, simply, Dick Romulo.

All three of them are related to Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, most likely the most well-known Filipino abroad since he was the first President of the United Nations General Assembly. It is his statue that presently sits at the corner of U.N. Avenue and Roxas Boulevard. Alberto G. Romulo is the son of CPR’s youngest

Roberto R. Romulo and Ricardo J. Romulo are CPR’s sons. Although using different middle initials, they have the same mother, Virginia Llamas, who was CPR’s first wife. Their middle initials, following an American practice, stand for their second given names: Bobby’s "R" is for "Rey" and Dick’s "J" is for the "Jose" of Jose Yulo, known to the generations now dead as one whom President Manuel L. Quezon declared "is one of the greatest men the Philippines ever produced".

Though all three went to school both here and abroad, Bert Romulo had the heaviest local content. He finished high school at the Ateneo de Manila in 1950 and then received the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Commerce from De La Salle College and Bachelor of Laws from the Manuel L. Quezon University. Foreign education for Bert Romulo came from Universidad de Madrid, Spain, which conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws.

Bobby Romulo, on the other hand, completed his primary, secondary and college education in the United States. After graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University, he went to the Ateneo College of Law which granted him his Bachelor of Laws in 1964.

Dick Romulo is the most peripatetic. He started grade school at De La Salle but, unlike Erap who at least was able to finish grade school at the Ateneo, he did not finish primary education at De La Salle. Dick was brought by his father to the United States where he went on to Georgetown University which gave him the degree of Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, and later to Harvard Law School where he got his Juris Doctor. He prepared himself for the bar examinations by joining the senior graduating class of 1959 at the Ateneo College of Law. On 02 June 1990, De La Salle University made up for its failure to give him a diploma by conferring on him the Degree of Doctor of Education, honoris causa.

All three of them are lawyers but Bert Romulo is better known as a public official. During the presidency of Cory Aquino, he was secretary of budget and management, chairman of the development budget coordinating committee and member of the Monetary Board. He later became a senator, serving for five (5) years as majority floor leader, and was sponsor of many economic bills which are now laws, such as the new Central Bank Act, the Joint Legislative-Executive Development Council Law, the Rural Bank Act, and Social Security System Act. He is responsible for the tax exemption of your Christmas bonus as well as the law increasing the penalty for tax evasion.

He is the Romulo who is the Secretary of Finance of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Bobby Romulo, on the other hand, had a very short stint in government. For about six years, he was a diplomat like his father CPR. Under Cory Aquino, he was ambassador to Belgium, Luxemburg and the European Communities. From July 1992 to May 1995, he held again in the footsteps of this father, during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos, the position of Secretary of Foreign Affairs. But most of his career, he was in technology. He had a 25 year career at the IBM Corporation, holding CEO positions in the Philippines and Thailand, Burma and Bangladesh.

In November 1999, he was appointed Chairman of the e-Asian Task Force – a public/private sector advisory council created by the ASEAN heads of government. He is a member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Digital Bridges Task Force of the Global Business Dialogue for e-Commerce and is the Asia Commissioner of the Global Information Infrastructure Commission headquartered in Washington, D.C.

He is the Romulo who is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Senior Adviser on International Competitiveness.

One way of telling Bobby Romulo from his brother Dick Romulo is how the e-mail they send is generated. Bobby sends his e-mail with his hands on the computer keyboard. Dick Romulo’s system is voice-activated: he orders his secretary to boot his computer and dictates the message he wants sent. Dick Romulo epitomizes the Makati Business Club and everything that Erap hates it for.

He is the Romulo in the law firm, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles and he is responsible for the low salary being received by Jazmin Banal and the rest of us working with him.