Year 1969: Philip D’Souza Made His Dream Come True


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By Valerian Alva, Dubai

Dubai, 14 December 2009: In the Golden Jubilee year of our Alma Mater, it is appropriate to remember the achievers from our beloved school. They have helped the school to achieve its present day glory. Among hundreds of students graduated through the years, a few make it to the Roll of Honours. Every student will not create history. Such occasions do not come every now and then.

 

Bellevision is pleased to present one of the highest achievers among the alumni of our Alma Mater, in its golden year of history. Yes, dear friends and readers of bellevison.com, we are referring to the ONLY FIRST rank holder of St. Lawrence High School. He not only inscribed his name on the hearts and minds of every Bellean and the neighboring villages, but through out the State of Karnataka as TOPPER of SSLC Board Examinations in the year 1969. And this extraordinary student is none other than Philip D’Souza.

 

Philip D’ Souza was on a business visit to Dubai recently. We grabbed this opportunity to meet him. When we were at school, our Principal always took his name in pride; so all Principals since ’69. Every teacher asked his students to adopt him as a role model. That is why we at Bellevision, UAE did not let go of the golden opportunity to meet our and the school’s hero. We met this highly disciplined, professional and a deep thinker. He always speaks from his heart. More than that, he is a simple, down to earth, and humble human being.

 

In his student years, Philip led a hand to mouth existence in our village. His is an impoverished rural background. Born to parents (late) Salvador and (late) Remeza, he is fifth among their six children. Agriculture was the breadwinner, like any other household in Moodubelle and Pamboor, at the time. As Philip recalls, they were a self sufficient family; there was just enough to eat; but could not afford anything else. He says, in those days, any child was one mouth to feed, but two hands to help parents in household chores and to work the farm. Before going to school and after coming home, he had to fulltime routines and no time for anything else. That is what survival on subsistence farming meant for the family.

 

Philip completed his primary education at Belle Church Aided Primary School, Pamboor. Teachers like Fakka-master, Abbi-master and Appi-master instilled discipline and good values in him at that tender age. He remembers one incident in Pamboor School when the Headmbaster asked every student to bring 25 paisa to the class next day for going to Kunjar hill. As Philip could not afford 25 paisa he skipped the school and reached the Kunjar hills on his own before any other of his classmates and teachers could reach there.

 

Philip joined the Moodubelle Higher Primary School for 6th standard when Boniface Barboza was the Headmaster. He fondly remembers Benny Master, Sadananda Master and Lily teacher of the Higher Primary school.

 

After completing 7th standard, Philip joined St. Lawrence High school, Moodubelle against the wishes of his parents. They could not afford the school fees and books. Philip is the only sibling from his family who has reached the portals of a High School. Due to his dedication and self discipline, Philip created history and brought laurels to the school in 1969 by bagging the First Rank in the Karnataka State Board Examinations.

 

 

Philip recalls that his rank did not come by chance or as an accident of history. When he was in the 9th standard, a teacher professed in the class that Philip is capable of getting the First Rank. (Note by Philip: he may be Prakash Sir, but I regret that my memory is jaded. I owe it to him for sowing the seed of ambition in my mind). On reaching home, he informed this prophesy of his teacher to his mother, set FIRST RANK as his goal and went about fulfilling it by preparations for the examinations in the earnest.

 

Being a disciplined student, Philip had studied for the examinations with one single goal in mind and to everyone’s surprise he achieved the First Rank in the Karnataka State in 1969.

 

The year 1969 is a special year in the life of Philip as well as in the history of St. Lawrence High School. Even today Philip remembers the grand reception ceremony which was arranged in the High School grounds along with the farewell ceremony for both Correspondent Fr. Abundius D’ Souza and the retiring popular Headmaster B.A. Samaga. The ceremony was for welcoming to the school, the new Correspondent and Headmaster, Fr. V.G.F. Rego. (It sure was a surprise and happy welcome to Fr. Rego, because he was the Headmaster at Kadri where 1968 First Ranker was his student!

 

According to Philip, this was the golden day in the history of Moodubelle: a record number of people from Belle and surrounding places turned up on the grounds of St. Lawrence High school to celebrate the occasion.

 

Today, Philip recalls his teachers who in a great way impacted his life. Teachers like Vasudev Bhat who taught him English, Social Studies and drama, Fr. Vas and Headmaster Samaga who encouraged him to participate in elocution and essay writing competitions. He also fondly remembers Physical Instructor, the late Ambrose D’ Souza popularly known as Ambu Master, who was an energetic teacher, who focused on physical fitness. His contribution to the High School was immense as for the first time he introduced modern sports and games in the village school such as Volley ball, hockey, cricket, athletics & track events, etc. instead of old games such as Frog race, sack race, etc.

 

For Philip, success has been a combination of several things. Most importantly it was the individual guts and dedication which were supported by the High School teachers who taught him well and created conducive atmosphere for getting the rank.

 

 

While returning from school he used to memorize all the lessons in his mind instead of going for conventional methods of studying. The goal was well internalized by Philip, which pushed him to achieve it. Even though there was no electricity in his house, he used to study as he did domestic chores such heating the water for evening bath for family and heating animal feed for the animals. Philip practically made a habit of going to church every day and beseeched the Lord to help him achieve his goal. Today, Philip is a God fearing person and he believes that if someone asks God for his help with dedication, God always keeps his word.

 

After completing the High School education, the Jesuit priests at St. Aloysius College, Mangalore, invited Philip to join the PUC and offered subsidized hostel facility. Fr. Sylvester Vaz S.J. paid for the tuition fees; Philip was paying Rs.45 per month for the hostel, out of Rs50 received monthly as merit scholarship from the state treasury. Following the completion of the PUC course, the Mysore University offered a scholarship to study Engineering at Mysore. However, Philip declined it because he did not want to let down Fr.Vaz. For Philip, that was an emotional decision rather than rational, (an obvious appeasement of his benefactor Fr. Vaz) and enrolled into B. Sc. with the college.

 

After the First Year B.Sc. in St. Aloysius College, he switched to MGM College, Udupi to cut expenses. The new administrators at the college withdrew the subsidies. Philip had no means to pay full fees. At MGM, the Principal supported with discounted tuition fees and subsidized lunch. He rented room near the college, cooked his own meals, as he could not afford travelling by bus from home.

 

Upon graduating with B. Sc. in 1973, scholarship offer for post-graduate studies (M.Sc.) had to be declined due to family compulsions. He put his family first and proceeded to Mumbai to give care to his ailing elder brother. Another elder brother had fallen victim to alcoholism and had gotten into business troubles. He handled the business for two years and successfully settled all the accumulated debts, simultaneously working a regular job as a management trainee at Mukand Iron & Steel and attending law courses at Siddharth College of Law. He earned his B.L degree in the year 1976. For a year after that, he taught Science and Mathematics as a part-time night high school teacher at a Convent High School in Byculla, working at Mukand and also supporting his brother’s business at the same time.

 

In November 1977, he moved to Qatar to work with Qatar Steel Company, a Japanese enterprise that was to be set up in the emirate. After the initial occupational training in the US, he returned to work for his employer, turning down tempting offers to settle in US by illegal immigration means. Over these years, he stayed loyal to the company and has grown from grass root plant operations to head the operations of iron-making business by hard work, commitment, self-discipline and loyalty. Philip is globally known in the industry for his expertise in the gas based Directly Reduced Iron (DRI) and Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI) processes. Today, he travels globally for seminars, conferences, workshops and business meetings. With him in Qatar is his wife, Juliet. Philip & Juliet are blessed with three children in their marriage for thirty years. Eldest among the sons, Joel, is a MS (CS) and the younger, Jean is a BS(Mech Engg) from US universities.

 

 

Both Joel and jean went to USA when they were 17 to pursue both undergraduate and graduate courses in highly ranked universities such as VTech and UNCC, even though, as a salaried person, he could not afford their expensive education. Besides, Philip had to support most among his close relatives for their livelihood and education. Therefore, the entire family sacrificed comforts, lived frugally and prudently for several years. Today, with sons employed in US and the youngest daughter, Pamela, in undergraduate college in Mumbai, life is stable. Philip feels that the education is the best investment and the best asset that he can pass on to his children.

 

Philip recalls career offers by Aditya Birla Group to return to India and other global offers which he had declined refused, demonstrating his ‘family first’ philosophy, something he followed consistently from his student days.

 

Philip as a thinker and practical person always believes in self discipline. He advocates strong parental role in upbringing their children. He advocates that parents should stop dictating “do’s” and “don’ts”. Instead he says that parents should be the first role models for their children. Otherwise the children will judge their parents to be hypocrites. Right, timely and proper advice for a child will help him/her to excel in any field. Currently, Philip is financing education of seven children, (not from the relatives) which he thinks will prepare them to face the challenges of the modern world.

 

Bellevision Global salutes this hero of St. Lawrence High School for what he has achieved in his life and setting a benchmark for every aspiring student. May St. Lawrence bless his family and give him a contented life.

 

 

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