Purita ‘Rita’ Buencamino Andrews


The Early Years (Nueva Ecija and Manila) – I was born in Lupao, Nueva Ecija on the island of Luzon, Philippines. My grandfather, Don Alejandro Buencamino, was originally from Gapan, Nueva Ecija but migrated to a more fertile “promised land” in the same province where the family acquired a vast tract of rice land tended by “kasama” in the field. When WWII broke out, my father, Emilio was elected as the Mayor of Lupao. During my last visit to Lupao several years ago, I’m very proud to see my father’s picture displayed on the walls of City Hall as one of the past mayors of our town. He left a legacy that his family will always be proud of. My father and my mother, Emiliana, both believed in giving their 11 children a good education. During the Japanese regime, they made a trip to Manila, bought a property close to the University of Santo Tomas, paid with bundles of “Japanese money” and moved our family to Manila immediately after WWII.

With several older siblings, my parents enrolled us at St. Mary’s College in Quezon City in the elementary grades and we spent high school years at Far Eastern University. I remember whenever a sibling graduated from high school, my father would advise them to continue their schooling in any college or university of their choice in Manila. My older siblings ended up graduating at different schools such as Centro Escolar University, University of the East and University of Santo Tomas. The family was expecting me to enroll at UST where my two older sisters were enrolled in the Colleges of Architecture and Education but it has always been my dream to go to the “tough one”, the University of the Philippines. During my senior year in high school, I challenged myself to study hard to get high marks in all my subjects so as not to take the entrance exam at UP. It was a breeze and I was accepted into the College of Liberal Arts majoring in Business Administration, without taking the entrance exam.

While about to complete my studies at UP, I befriended a lady by the name of Teresing Vargas Villavicencio, daughter of the late General Jorge Vargas who took me under her wing to work in the office of the Secretary of Commerce and Industry, Manuel Lim. I
learned a lot from Teresing and she eventually became my role model. Working in the office of a cabinet member has opened my eyes to the sophistication of the business and political worlds. Because of my major in college, I shared my dream with Teresing to work in the newly-formed semi-government bank, the Philippine National Cooperative Bank (PNCB) at Port Area. She immediately called up the President of the Bank and the next day, without an interview, I started working at the Loans & Discounts Department. After two years, the bank created the Foreign Department and I was immediately transferred to work in the newly-formed department. I worked at PNCB for six years until I decided to immigrate to the United States.

*Unfortunately, I became so engrossed in working that I neglected to complete the last six units to satisfy the requirements for my UP degree. Upon being settled in the US, however, I enrolled at National University and they accredited all my UP courses, allowing me to formally graduate in 1976 with a hybrid UP/NU bachelors degree of Business Administration after taking just six units at NU. (Subsequently, I enrolled in their Masters Program and in 1978 I was awarded the degree of Masters in Business Administration.)

Life in the United States (San Diego, CA) – I flew directly to San Francisco to join a cousin who was married to a GI in WWII. I immediately found a job as Statistician at Blue Cross/Blue Shield office in San Francisco. After several months, I planned to join my sister in New York to apply for a job at the United Nations. But fate intervened in the form of a dashing Filipino-American “mestizo” who was assigned at the Naval Base station in Alameda. He is the youngest son of Claude Edgar Andrews, a Thomasite Teacher who was born at Gentry County, Missouri. In 1902, Claude was among those sent by the US government to the Philippines to educate the Filipinos and establish the American school system and one of the schools that he established was the University of the Philippines in 1908. He met and married a pretty “Cagayana” and settled in the flourishing town of Tuguegarao, Cagayan. Their son, Edwin, was destined to be my husband and he and I were married on September 26, 1967 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in San Francisco.

San Diego was Edwin’s last tour of duty in the US Navy. We love it here because of the temperate climate so we decided to live permanently at Otay Ranch, Chula Vista. While working at a local bank in Chula Vista, a co-worker mentioned to me about the benefits of working in the civil service system so I immediately took a competitive exam in the County and the City of San Diego. As soon as I passed the entrance exam, the City of San Diego contacted me right away and I was hired to work in the City Clerk’s Department as a Legislative Recorder in 1974. I have always been fascinated in politics and loved working as support of the Mayor and Council by covering the weekly Council meetings and preparing the Council Docket and Minutes are very fulfilling to me.

I decided to devote my career in the City government by specializing in the areas of Archives and Records Management. In my capacity as Deputy City Clerk and Management Analyst in the City, I was accepted as a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, an organization of municipal clerks all over the world. After taking advanced courses in management required by IIMC, I was also awarded the prestigious title and distinction of Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC).

I love the excitement of traveling to different places in the world. While employed in the City, I take a long vacation once a year, join group tours and see exciting places in Europe, the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Greece, Egypt, Israel, China and cruises to Alaska and Mexico. I came back to my job refreshed and exhilarated and look forward to another exciting trip the next year. After almost 30 years of service in the San Diego City Clerk’s Department, it’s time to take it easy and smell the roses. I officially retired from the City of San Diego on December 31, 2004.

Community Involvements and Achievements – While employed in the City of San Diego, I have been actively involved in the Filipino American community by volunteering my services in the Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Inc. (COPAO). Immediately after my retirement, the call of serving the community became so strong that I decided to run as President of COPAO in December, 2004 and won. With the assistance of an excellent team of officers, we finished our term in 2006 and in 2007, the Executive Council overwhelmingly re-elected me to serve for another term until 2008. My other involvements and achievements are:

∙ Member, University of the Philippines Alumni Association
∙ Founder, City of San Diego Filipino American Employees’ Association, Inc.
∙ Past President, South Bay Filipino American Community Association, Inc.
∙ Maria Clara de Pilipinas Sorority, Lady of Elegance
∙ Woman of Distinction by the Scottish Rite Center of Free Masonry

Buencamino-Andrews Family Scholarship Foundation – To honor the memory of my parents, Emilio and Emiliana Buencamino, I have established a Scholarship Foundation to benefit the deserving nephews and nieces who are interested to pursue their studies in any college or university of their choice in the Philippines. This will give back to the younger generation of Buencaminos the opportunity to have a better chance in life to succeed in their chosen field of endeavor.

“Your true character is revealed by the clarity of your conviction, the choices you make, and the promises you keep.”