A staunch Aglipayan believer, Anos Fonacier was, however, “in practice, a sincere Christian whose good works with the right hand, he did not let the left hand know. He was generous to all – regardless of religion, race or status.”
This was the assessment of Rev. Fr. Florante Camacho, chairman of the Tarsier Foundation, a non stock, non-profit organization that Fonacier helped organize with the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and the DOT (Department of Tourism) back in 1997. Also in that original group Board of Trustees were businessmen Richard Uy and Marlito Uy whoÂ still remain active to these days.
Through Fonacier’s own money, the foundation bought a 10 hectare property in Corella town which is now the official sanctuary of the tarsier, Bohol’s tourist mascot- long considered an endangered specie. The group also funds research into the tarsier preservation and life enhancement.
Fr. Camacho said that Fonacier was passionate about preserving the patrimony of the country that he often drove himself to isolated mountains and worked for the preservation of our many watersheds. “He loved the environment.”
His wife, Josefina Caluya, now 92, still actively plays the churchÂ organ for the Claret Chapel in the Teacher’s Village where their Manila residence is located.Â She is a devout CatholicÂ in that same breath that Anos was a steadfast Aglipayan, being the son of a former bishopÂ who co-founded the breakaway church of Gregory Aglipay.
Without fanfare, Fr. Camacho who was once president of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City was approached by Fonacier in the 1980’s that he wanted to donate seed money for the development of the mathematics faculty of the university. Well-schooled, his wife Josefina taught math for a long time at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Anos Fonacier, himself, is a lawyer.
The same advocacy was offered for the “math and science faculty” by Fonacier when Fr. Camacho was president of the Holy Name University here.Â This was never advertised.
“He often quietly helped the Catholic clergy in Bohol in terms of donations and discountedÂ rates of the Bohol Beach Club for their retreats and seminars.Â When the treasurer of the Immaculate Heart of Mary approached him, he filled baskets of prawns and fish for the seminarians duringÂ lean financial month of the school,” Fr. Camacho revealed.
Fonacier also helped many known and unknown Boholanos get medical attention without publicity. He isÂ also known to have built an altar for the Blessed Mother in a parish priest in Capitol Cebu.
Coming from a relatively large family, Anos allowed his siblings to Â first choose from the inherited properties they had near Camiling ,Tarlac (before him) Â so that Â he ended up getting the hilly land portions and surrendering the more expensive lowland titles to the siblings.
When Mt. Pinatubo erupted, much of the Tarlac lowlands were devastated, exempting his more elevated properties, Fr. Camacho recalled.
In the past, environmental activists hit Fonacier for allegedly uprooting mangroves en route to his setting up his prawn farm in Maribojoc. In reality, Fr. Camacho disclosed, he replanted many more mangrove trees than he uprooted.
“Such was his concern for the environment”, he concluded.
And his dream to find the link between academe and tourism finally found fruition with the establishment of the 19 year old Tarsier Foundation-using the tools of science to Â preserve a lovable, endangered specie that is now synonymous to Bohol tourism- the tarsier.