Rufino “Pie” Goseco Roque


The impossible dream, almost…

Growing up in a remote barrio of Guagua, Pampanga, I dreamed of going to college and obtaining a degree – any degree. My parents never made it past elementary education so having at least one of their children graduate from college was also a dream for them. 

Being the ninth of twelve children and being raised in humble circumstances, going to college seemed a formidable task, if not nearly impossible. Even high school proved to be a major financial challenge for our family. Normally the only option for us was to leave home and become self-supporting. Except for two brothers younger than me, we all did just that.

My high school years…

My four years in high school was the period of character formation. As expected, I left home and lived with relatives in the Guagua town proper. The Goseco clan on my mother’s side, a tight-knit and disciplined family, had interests in the private institution called Guagua National Colleges and this was where I attended high school almost for free. However, I had to follow the strict regimen imposed by the relatives I lived with. My curfew from any outside activities was six pm, the time for Rosary and prayers. For four years, I led a hard life but found time to enjoy the simple pleasures of roller-skating on borrowed skates and shoes, and the very occasional movie outing. My teen years, I consider a very restrictive time in my life, but it was the period that gave me the discipline to focus, reflect, read and become patient. 

Except for being in the very last class-section (grade-wise bottom of the barrel) where I led in many subjects, high school was quite uneventful except for a few highlights. Two teachers in Physics and Math favored and trusted me… If I got 100% in the quizzes, at the end of the day they would let me bring all the class quizzes home and correct them. So my objective was to rush my answers to the instructors so that my quiz would be corrected first. I usually go home with a bundle to correct in the evening. For extra-curricular activities, scouting was my primary involvement. Girl friends? I totally missed my target.

The land and UP beloved…

For me, attending UP College of Agriculture was more a product of necessity than that of choice. As a youngster, my family lived off the land. With our limited means, UP Los Banos beckoned to be the most practical institution of higher learning to attend. Matriculation was peanuts by comparison to other colleges or universities. The only worry for a student was the room and board. To top it off, I do not recall even taking a college entrance exam.

Like most students who have to cut costs, I started as a cooking student. Unlike most however, I had to be a little bit more austere to make ends meet. Eventually, I transitioned from a cooking student to that of a student cook. That meant that I not only cooked for myself but for other students as well. I took on the task so that my food would be free and was even able to profit a little from cooking for my peers. To put icing on our meager resources my roommate and I were lucky enough to win every yearly inspection contest in our dormitory. We were awarded three months of free dormitory room each time we won.

Studying at UP Los Banos where the motto is “Nothing is impossible” was not easy. A combination of many difficult subjects (Agronomy, Soils, Animal Husbandry, Entomology, etc) and “terror” professors was the norm. The dropout rate of our freshman class was probably the highest of any school year. Half of my classmates were expelled, gave up college entirely, or voluntarily transferred to other Universities. Getting a “C” in some subjects could be as respectable as a B or an A in other subjects. It was that challenging. “C”s could earn a student a pass, or the option to not take the finals (a tremendous relief after semesters of arduous studies).

Though UP Los Banos was quite possibly the epicenter of Fraternity, Sorority and the Rally culture among UP campuses, I did not succumb to joining any of those organizations and activities. I had more serious priorities. The top of them was to overcome my financial predicament, and the second was to succeed in the academic rigors of studying at UP. I was also focused on graduating within four years without taking summer classes. I used summers off to join my Dad as a hired laborer, weeding and tilling in the sugarcane fields and harvesting rice. 

Studying at UP was pale in comparison to working the fields in terms of hardship. From then on, I became more motivated to pursue and to achieve. The third summer, I took the opportunity to volunteer at the Bukidnon province resettlement camps during the brief Magsaysay administration. Finally, in 1958, I graduated and became a fulpledge UP alumni. I am proud to have completed the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree curriculum with emphasis in agricultural engineering or mechanized farming. The years I spent at UP Los Banos still remains the height of my educational experience. Push on UP! 

The Sea in Submarines…

Armed with my Agriculture diploma, I was hired to manage Hacienda Puyat in Nueva Ecija. There I practiced and preached what I learned in college. Within a year, I was fortunate to enlist in the US Navy and see the world. Like all non-immigrant Filipinos, we were enlisted as Stewards – a rating or specialty relegated to Filipinos and black Americans. Boot camp, the Steward and Submarines Schools and eventual assignment in Submarines was my initial path. Six months through my first submarine duty and after completing the rigorous “qualification in submarines” program, I was given the opportunity to change specialty to that of Interior Communication Technician. 

As I went up in ranks in that field I had to be in-charge of the sub’s Inertial Navigation System. It was considered “top secret” technology then. Because of citizenship (I was denied on my first application for US citizenship) I had to change specialty again. The military’s reason was, “convenience of the government” because, I could not be issued a top-secret clearance. Inertial Navigation is the forerunner of today’s GPS which is a common driving – navigational gadget. Putting together my four assignments in submarines, I calculated that ten years of my life was spent plying the ocean – mostly underwater. I retired from the US Navy with the qualification of Chief of the Watch and Diving Officer and the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.

The Air with Aerospace companies…

After spending what appears to be a lifetime at sea, I did not want to spend my third career in and around ships. So, I opted to a different medium, which is air or the space above and around us. My first aerospace opportunity was with Hughes Helicopters helping to develop the AH-64 Apache Helicopter as a flight test technician. Before it went to production in 1981, I underwent triple bypass heart surgery. While recuperating, I decided to stay rooted in the San Diego region and not join the company’s move to Arizona. I was accepted at Solar Turbines Inc. as an Instructional Technologist/ Technical Instructor. 

From producing Industrial Turbines, our small engine division migrated into producing varied aerospace products such as Auxiliary Power Units (APU), On-board Inert Gas Generating Systems (OBBIGS), fans etc. In the acquisition arena, we were first sold to Caterpillar, then to Sundstrand and finally to United Technologies – a much bigger conglomerate. After twenty-three years supporting our company’s varied aerospace products from birth to grave, on various platforms such as airplanes, helicopters, the space shuttle, etc, I retired as a Senior Product Support Engineer.

Lastly, the budding entrepreneur and engaged citizen I am…

Weeks after my second retirement, I realized I could not see myself fully retired. “Use it or lose it” is a constant reminder. My wife Sol (also an early retiree) and I decided to engage in buying, improving and selling “fixer uppers”. Our third project, the El Primero Hotel, became the ultimate challenge. The renovation took nearly fifteen months. With the tremendous expense in time and effort, not to mention the financials and the very survival of our thirty nine year old marriage, we naturally, fell in love with the project. That is when we decided to keep the property and started a retirement career. And what an ongoing adventure it is. With our National and International Guests coming and going on a daily basis, we travel the world, so to speak, without ever having to leave the hotel. 

For our engagement as citizens/entrepreneurs, Sol and I were recognized as Preservationists of the Year in 2005 by the City of Chula Vista along with Congressional Recognition as Entrepreneurs of the Year. The same year, the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce presented to me the Businessman of the Year award. In 2006, I received the UPAA San Diego Chapter Presidential Award along with the Special Recognition Award in 2007 by UP Alumni Association in America (UPAAA) during the Convention and General Assembly attended by UP President Emerlinda Roman. I was also bestowed the Lifetime Award by the Presidents Council on Service and Civic Participation for lifetime of community service with different volunteer organizations. Recently completing the UCLA Anderson School of Management “MDE” program at 69 years young, I was invited to join the UCLA Alumni Association. I am now a UPian and a Bruin.

Quote: “Most people see things the way they are and ask why, I dreamed of things that never were and ask why not?” Robert Kennedy.

“I am convinced that the memories and experiences of four years of study at UP Los Banos and the Push on UP spirit tempers me to always think in terms of the above quote and therefore keeps me constantly rejuvenated to continue with life’s adventure .”