Viewing entries tagged
1919

Pensionado

The ever buoyant Romulo with his mother, Maria Cabrera Peña de Romulo; brothers Henry, 24, and Gilbert, 17; and sister, Choleng, 18. Having graduated from the University of the Philippines just weeks before, 21-year-old Carlos was preparing for his greatest adventure yet. He was about to attend Columbia University in New York City as a pensionado (government-sponsored scholar).

The ever buoyant Romulo with his mother, Maria Cabrera Peña de Romulo; brothers Henry, 24, and Gilbert, 17; and sister, Choleng, 18. Having graduated from the University of the Philippines just weeks before, 21-year-old Carlos was preparing for his greatest adventure yet. He was about to attend Columbia University in New York City as a pensionado (government-sponsored scholar).

On the morning of July 23, 1919, he boarded the Japanese ship S.S. Suwa Maru as a government-sponsored pensionado on his way to attend Columbia University. “You cannot fathom how difficult it is to leave one’s motherland,” he wrote to his older sister Lourdes and her husband. “I have had the experience this morning, and I have never suffered like this in my life. I spilled tears, but more than tears my heart felt like it was being pierced by a lance. And more profound was the pain of not being with Mama, Papa, Henry, Pepita, and Gilbert, both of you, and Choleng, to whom I was not able to give kisses of departure.” 

The forty-five day journey took him to several places, including Hong Kong, China, Japan, Seattle, and Chicago. When at last he arrived in New York City in September, he marveled at the skyscrapers and sights in a letter to his grandfather: “The street called Broadway that is in the middle of the city is as wide as the plaza of Camiling, and as long as the highway of Camiling to Bayambang, more or less.”