We shall miss Baltazar Endriga’s firebrand kind of leadership

The leader, the educator, was passionate to the end

Baltazar Endriga at the helm of CCP in the ‘90s

The Philippines lost a good leader, educator, culture worker with the passing of Dr. Baltazar Nacion Endriga on May 11, 2022. He was 82. Mr. Endriga was president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 1995-1999, and became a member of its board of trustees until death. He was president of the University of the East, where he graduated magna cum laude (1960) with a degree in Business Administration, and was also its chief academic officer. Later in his career, after his CCP stint, he founded the Meridian International College (MINT College). Earning his Masters in Business Administration at Harvard Business School, he was, early in his career, an alumni partner of SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co., and managing director and president of Andersen Consulting Philippines. He is survived by wife Tessie and children David, Frankie, and Therese.

Here are tributes by  CCP Artistic Director Chris Millado and Endriga’s son David (run from their Facebook, with permission), and the eulogy given by Nestor Jardin, former president of Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Nestor Jardin, former president, Cultural Center of the Philippines

I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Bal Endriga, particularly to Tessie, David, Frankie, Therese, and to his siblings. I was as sad as everyone else when I found out about his demise last Sunday.

Bal was a friend and mentor to me during my days at the CCP. I served as his vice president and artistic director from 1996 to 1998 when he was president of the CCP. After our relatively short but busy stint, we continued to work closely as members of the board “in exile” during the CCP leadership crisis. In 2001, we were reinstated at the CCP—this time with Bal as chairman and me as president. After Bal’s brief term as chairman, he was reappointed to the board on two occasions. After my two terms as CCP president in 2009, I was also appointed to the board twice, so Bal and I had the opportunity to work together again as board members.

Bal and I worked well together because we respected and valued each other. He supported all the artistic programs that I initiated and in turn, I backed him up in financial, organizational, administrative, and policy matters. It was a harmonious relationship that we both enjoyed. We were also lucky to have a truly supportive board led by Chinggay Lagdameo.

This was necessary because in all the years that I’ve worked in CCP from 1973 to 2021, the period of 1996 to 1998 was the busiest one for the institution. It was the period of the Centennial celebration and the CCP was designated to head the Committee on Centennial Events and Activities. We organized numerous art festivals, competitions, exhibitions, publications, commemorations, and Bal enjoyed working on these projects. He had an admirable affinity with the arts which to my mind made his stint at CCP the best work experience for him.

But not every activity we undertook was pleasant. One of the most challenging things that the CCP faced was the legal battle for the ownership of 35 hectares of land within the CCP Complex. Bal led the fight on behalf of CCP, and this was when I discovered the other side of Bal. He was persistent, tenacious, and determined to win against the illegal claimants who were represented by arrogant, devious, and fraudulent lawyers. Bal studied well the history of the 30-year-old case and was deep into the legal arguments and strategies with our private and government lawyers.  

We waged the fight on all fronts, including a well-orchestrated public relations and media campaign. One time, we solicited the support of the arts and culture sector for a signature campaign to be published in full-page ads in major newspapers. Hundreds of noted artists signed the petition, except one National Artist. Bal was so upset when he learned that the National Artist even said, “Wala namang mangyayari sa akin kung hindi ako mag-sign.” This was when his pagka-pilyo came out. “Wala palang mangyayari ha? Pwes.”

All National Artists are publicly acknowledged every time they attend a CCP event. During one gala concert at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, he saw the National Artist in the auditorium, so he instructed the Theater Operations Department to acknowledge all National Artists in attendance except her. She was so upset during the concert, but deep inside she knew why there was no acknowledgement.    

The following day, Bal chuckled mischievously as he secretly recounted the incident to me. He’d had his sweet revenge, and thereafter instructed the Theater Operations Department to resume acknowledging her in future events.    

Postscript to all this. Thanks to Bal, together with Chinggay, Lorna Kapunan, and the rest of the CCP board as well as the OSG and OGCC lawyers, the CCP won the landmark case in the Supreme Court.

Bal loved the CCP so much that he sometimes got frustrated and impatient if things were not accomplished as fast as he wanted. Coming from the private sector, he would often get upset with government red tape and bureaucratic procedures and would rant about bad politics that affected the CCP and the arts and culture sector. He would often tell me his frustrations about the government and certain politicians and the way things were done in the Philippines, but that was the patriot in him talking. He cared so much about the country that I sometimes jokingly told him to run for public office instead. But of course, we both knew that politics wasn’t for him. He was too straight and clean for that.

In the end, Bal had lived a full life. His contributions to arts, culture, and the country have been immense and deeply felt. The CCP rightfully expresses our profound, collective gratitude to him. Maraming salamat, Bal!    

Endriga (right) and Nestor Jardin together at CCP (photo taken in early 2000s)

Chris Millado, CCP artistic director

Passionate to the end.

His had a firebrand kind of leadership. Mr. Endriga, “Bal” in smaller circles, was impatient with what he considered bureaucratic red tape that would delay pertinent decisions and projects. He once led CCP employees to demolish illegal structures at the CCP complex. He fought long and hard for the CCP’s claim to the land, a case which stretched through several administrations and finally found resolution under his leadership.

Bal rarely missed a concert of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. He bewailed the lack of opera productions at the Center because they were too expensive to produce. He feigned shock and bewilderment after watching experimental theater. It became routine for him to drop in at my office every time he was at the Center—to rave about a music performance, to rant about an inefficient process or employee, to ask questions about what an artwork meant. But mostly to gossip. And chuckle.

When I heard he was admitted to the hospital last March, I called to find out how he was doing. After telling of his serious health condition, he immediately vented his frustration about recent goings-on at CCP and stopped only when I told him he was hyperventilating. “Gagaling din ako, Chris,” he said before parting. A few minutes after the call, he sent a text message, “Can’t get CCP off my mind. My attachment to the institution is extremely deep, strong, profound! Can’t blame me. The attachment is forged in blood, sweat, tears, and money!”

That was the last message I received from Bal.

Bal, on Saturday (May14, 2022), your friends, colleagues and artists from the CCP, will gather and perform your favorite hymns. Hymns that we hope will lift you higher and higher until you reach your heavenly loft. Continue to guide us from up there. Maraming salamat and Godspeed Bal!


David Endriga, son of Mr. Endriga

Dear Papa,

The coming days will be full of praise and plaudits, tributes and homages from those who love, respect and admire you for how much you have accomplished and for the unique way you have touched their lives. But only I, Frankie T. Endriga, and Therese T. Endriga Wigforss, can ever say we’ve had the privilege of having you for a father.

Instead of catering to our whims as children, you taught us to acquire the tastes of adults.

Instead of trying to entertain us, you taught us it was more important to be educated.

Instead of showering us with affection, you taught us to have compassion for those who have less.

Instead of doting on us, you taught us to be kind to those who needed it.

Instead of praising us, you taught us to be gracious.

Instead of being cunning, you taught us to be wise.

Instead of giving us trinkets and toys, you gave us life-changing opportunities that served us well.

Instead of teaching us to be popular, you taught us to be valuable.

Instead of making us follow in your footsteps, you let us make paths of our own.

Instead of sheltering us from the world, you taught us to take it head-on and experience all that life had to give.

For this and more, we shall always be grateful because only three of us were ever given the right to call you our father. Thank you for everything Papa, we will miss you.

Un abrazo fuerte, Papá. Vaya con Dios, porque las estrellas te esperan en el cielo.

Dr. Baltazar Endriga on a visit to his old dorm at Harvard, from the Facebook of his son David

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