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American businessman and scholarship benefactor Henry Howard shares his experiences as an exchange student at Xavier University High School in 1974, during the 3rd Board of Trustees Speaker Series of Xavier Ateneo. Supplied photo

American philanthropist ‘with a Filipino heart’

“I have learned things in Puntod that helped me through my life.”

Henry Boland Howard, described as an American philanthropist “with a Filipino heart,” was the guest of honor at the 3rd Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan Board of Trustees Speaker Series held in an exclusive event at the Limketkai Luxe in Cagayan de Oro City.

Henry is an American businessman and philanthropist who established a scholarship program at Xavier Ateneo 18 years ago with seed money of one million dollars to provide financial assistance to students from “the poorest of the poor communities in Mindanao.”

“I was an AFS (American Field Service) student at Xavier University High School [in 1974],” Henry recounts. “Nobody knew that I was supposed to go to XUHS for one year as an exchange student and somebody asked me, ‘Who’s going to pay your tuition?’ Well, I didn’t have any money [at that time].”

He continues: “So some unknown priest at Xavier decided to give me a scholarship to Xavier University High School and that’s why I’m here today. I want to thank whoever that [priest] was for the scholarship.”

As a high school exchange student, Henry stayed with the Cabaraban family in Puntod and took the jeepney to XUHS every day.

“I must say, I got a very, very good education at Xavier University High School,” he says. “I want to say this objectively that the education I got from Xavier and the friendships I made here and the experiences I had here considerably toughened me up for dealing with investment bankers later in my life.”

He fondly recalls, “I have learned things in Puntod that helped me through my life.”

After the AFS program, Henry went to the University of Maryland where he graduated cum laude in economics and political science. His two papers were about the Philippines: one was about the Muslim insurgency and how to resolve it non-militarily, and the other was about economic development.

Years later, former XU president Fr Ernesto Javier SJ offered Henry a job as an economics instructor.

“I was able to teach a few courses here and it was a great experience,” Henry shares, adding that “I got paid seven hundred pesos a month.”

He continues: “Beyond that, I got to know the political personalities from Cagayan de Oro and from this region. I also got to meet most of the political personalities throughout the rest of Mindanao and the Philippines, including the rebels in Lanao del Sur, who are now part of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.”

Henry then went back to the United States and pursued a financial services career, working for various banks, and did a joint venture with a finance company in Miami. Eventually, he built his my own finance company.

“In 1996, I started making more money than I really needed to live. In 2001, I came here and I talked to Fr [Ting] Samson … and we established this scholarship program where it wasn’t supposed to be known by anybody that it was me. That was the case for about five years but it leaked out somehow five years after it was established.”

The scholarship program covers the tuition and school fees, dormitory, meals, books, shoes, uniforms, and expenses in taking one’s professional licensing exam.

“God willing and in Sha Allah for our Islamic brothers and sisters here, we should be able to continue this scholarship for another 18 years. I intend to continue it for as long as I can.” (xu comms)

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