The epic of a man

The De Rossi epic treats of a great passion of one man, who accomplished things in a grand style and with such a great heart

It is beyond contention. Italy has produced some of the best men in the world has known - in the arts, sciences, literature, philosophy, architecture, religion, politics and of late - in engineering.

Born in Sicily and raised in Venice, Armando de Rossi has led engineering projects in Nigeria, New Zealand, Peru, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia before he was assigned to the Philippines. To him has been entrusted multi-million dollar projects in infrastructure, hydraulic engineering, residential, commercial and educational buildings, marine  works, water treatment plants, and yes, integrated agriculture and rural work.

Armando de Rossi first set foot on Philippines soil on May 19, 1976. He was, at that time, hired by the National Power Corp. (NPC) as a foreign consultant in the remote areas of the archipelago. Today, he is a naturalized Filipino Citizen, sings the Philippine National Anthem by heart, speaks fluent tagalog, Cebuano, Chabacano and Maranaw dialects, has been to over 50 provinces and has spent several years in the countryside. He has perhaps visited more places and speaks more local languages than most Filipinos.

A journey unfolds

Born to a poor family, De Rossi, from the time he was 14, worked as a deck crew in cargo vessels sailing in the Mediterranean during summer breaks. Reason- he had to earn money so he could send himself to school. He was cleaning toilets and ship decks, serving food and doing general ship work. it was because of this experience that he learned foreign languages, including French, English and Spanish. Traveling on the boat and seeing several countries around kindled in him a desire to become a construction engineer in a foreign land. It was a dream that he would pursue with such great position and enthusiasm. While on board, the young De Rossi learned what it meant to live in hardship and difficulties - something he would always look back to with a sense of humility and gratitude. Life has been good to him and yes, he wants to make life comfortable for those who have not been as privileged as himself. And in the Philippines, he would begin a new adventure.

Life in a foreign land

Armando de Rossi first resided in Pagsanjan as resident engineer of EIC Electroconsult, the company responsible for the hydro plant in Lumban, $250-million project started in 1977 and completed on schedule in 1980. Because he had manifested genuine interest towards the general welfare of the province- dedication, concern and service- De Rossi was adopted Son of Laguna in 1983, six years after he joined the Rotary Club of Laguna where he also served  as president (from 1980-81).

One interesting thing he did at the time (being a holder of a commercial pilot license) was to treat some 38 deaf-mute students from Cavinti and its neighboring town. His outstanding community and social service was looked upon with gratitude by the province folk and won their hearts.

Becoming a Mistah

 

Despite a lucrative offer in 1983 of annual pay of $120,000 excluding benefits if he supervises a multi-million dollar project in South America, de Rossi declined. He wanted to remain in the Philippines with the prospect of becoming a Filipino himself. " It was an offer that a was not easy to resist. But the Filipino spirit in me prevailed," he recalls in an exclusive interview with THE MANILA TIMES .

He was, not long after, adopted as Honorary Member of PMA "Matikas" Class of 1983 "Becoming a Mistah and wearing its ring," he says, " has not only brought honor to myself, but it has likewise given me the opportunity to prove once more my being a true Filipino at heart despite the color of the skin.

Adventure Continues

After the completion of the Laguna project, de Rossi met a greater challenge ,he was transferred to Mindanao to oversee the $500-million Agus Project in Lanao del Norte, harnessing the Agus river. It included the construction of tunnels and powerhouses for 225 and 55 megawatts capacity. He pushed for the employment of locals during the hydro-electric power plant.

Because he learned that there has been an unsteady that supply of electricity in Jolo, de Rossi made several trips to Jolo to study the hydro-electricity potentials of the place. He shoulders his own trip expenses to the southern islands and even donated P200,000 for five proposed mini-hydro projects for Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

"I can say," confesses de Rossi "that Jolo and Tawi-Tawi are the most beautiful places in the Philippines. I love their wealthy culture, beautiful islands, gracious people and their close family ties.