Dr. Blas F. Rayos was born of a farmer-fisher folk in a barrio of Lingayen, Pangasinan on February 3, 1895. As a grade school pupil, he had to study his lessons on the back of his father’s carabao; which he has to take to the pasture after school hours. While he had struggle to overcome poverty, he consistently finished his courses, from the primary grades to the university, at the top of his classes.
From grade school up to university, he was a working student, He obtained three degrees from the University of the Philippines: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Education, and a Master of Arts in Education. He obtained his Doctor of Education degree at the University of Manila where he was the dean of the College of Education.
In 1924, Dr. Blas F. Rayos together with other educators founded the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). Through the initiative of University of the Philippines Athletic Director, Dr. Regino R. Ylanan, they met and discussed the role of sports in the education of the youth.
Agreeing on the importance of the spirit of sports competition as part and parcel of education, the discussion-meeting spawned the birth of NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) to fill the lack of inter-collegiate athletic competition among the private schools and universities.
The original members of the NCAA were UP, UST, UM, Ateneo,La Salle, NU, and Institute of Account (forerunner of FEU). UP was represented by Dr. Regino R. Ylanan and Professor Candido Bartolome; UST by Very Rev. Fr. Silvestre Sancho O.P.; UM by Blas Rayos; Ateneo by Fr. Hurley and Father McCullough; San Beda by Fr. Bernardo Lopez, OSB; Institute of Accounts(now FEU) by Narchiso Mabanta; NU by Rafael Garcia and La Salle by Bro. C. John and Albert Morrow. JRC, Mapua and Letran joined later. Jose Rizal was represented by Mr. Hernandez and Jose Warren, Mapua by Ignacio Sevilla and Letran by Fr. Antonio Varona, O.P.
The University of Pangasinan
On October 21, 1925, Blas F. Rayos, together with Dr. Mariano delos Santos, Dean Francisco Benitez, Dr. Apolinario de los Santos, Dr. Silvestre Pascual, Andres Jacinto, Amado Ll. Ayson, and Miss Isabel Alisangco founded Dagupan Institute (now University of Pangasinan-Phinma). The Board of Trustees of the institution were Dr. Francisco Benitez (Dean of Education of the University of the Philippines) as chairman, Dean Blas F. Rayos as secretary-treasurer, and Dean Mariano V. de los Santos (Dean of Faculty of the University of Manila), Dr. Apolinario de los Santos (President of the University of Manila) and Dr. Silvestre Pascual as member. Blas F. Rayos became the President of the school and headed it for 45 years until 1975 when he passed away and was succeeded by his son, George O. Rayos, who sat as president of the institution until 1987. In the words of Blas F. Rayos, the University was founded on a trinity of ideals; Love for service to country, Devotion to the cause of truth and science and Love of God and adherence to the traits and virtues that make a nation or people great. Hence, the school motto: “Patria, Scientia et Virtus.” Further, the school was envisioned to be the agent through which the following core values of the “Old Man” was perpetuated: frugality and simplicity; integrity; unconditional assistance for the uplift of the plight of the poor; persistent pursuit of excellence in academics, sustainable development, and life based on sound principles; and deep reverence for one’s ancestors.
Dr. Blas F. Rayos, has also established or helped established schools in Mangatarem, San Carlos (San Carlos College), Basista, Mapandan (Mapandan Academy in 1948), Bonuan (Bonuan High School), San Jacinto, Anda (Anda Institute of Vocational Education in 1950) and Alaminos (Pangasinan School of Fisheries).
Dr. Rayos as a leader was deeply involved in the operations of the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association). He also became chairman of the Dagupan Beautification Committee which undertook the improvements in the Dagupan City Plaza, The Post Office and the Magsaysay Park.
In an effort to boost economic development in Western Pangasinan, he opened the Pangasinan School of Fisheries in Lucap, Alaminos. He is also engaged in livestock production in Anda, Bolinao and other towns in the west.
The World War II
During the World War II, Rayos was called to active duty in the USAFFE. He had the rank of Kapitan and was the executive officer for the central Luzon District of the USAFFE when his group was in Tarlac. The Pangasinan province was then in shambles when the governor, was in need of men to help him run the provincial government. Gov. Santiago Estrada found Rayos in Manila and convinced him to return to Pangasinan, to prevent anarchy and save democracy. Estrada appointed Rayos as secretary of the provincial board.
As provincial board secretary, Rayos was the workhorse of the provincial government. Gov. Estrada tried to play it safe and stayed in his residence in Calasiao most of the time as the condition then was dangerous. The burden of running the government then fell on the shoulders of Rayos. One week after the provincial government was organized, Rayos, in the company of a Japanese Kempetai officer, toured western Pangasinan to organize the municipal government there. The Guerillas, who were already active by then, almost killed him.
On April 9, 1942 Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. By then, Gov. MacArthur had escaped to Australia. The USAFFE were made to march from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac. This was where the Japanese built a concentration camp for their camp prisoners. This long march was known as history as the Bataan death march.
After sometime, The Japanese decided to release the war prisoners, but they would release only those where there was a responsible official of the province who would answer for their good conduct.
For the sake of the Pangasinan soldiers, Rayos stayed in Capas for four months. He served as a hostage for the Pangasinan soldiers who were released from the prison camp.
One day, the Guerillas burned the bridge near Alaminos. The Japanese got mad. They summoned Mayor Agapito Braganza, who was then acting mayor of Mabini, to the Kempetai Headquarters in Dagupan.
The Japanese Kempetai ordered Braganza to restore the bridge in three days. Should he fail to do so, they would execute him. Braganza was scared. He said , it was impossible for him to restore the bridge in three days. There were no lumber materials for him to use, and there were no nails.
The Japanese told him to tear down the big houses in Alaminos and use them to construct the bridge. To save Braganza from his predicament, Rayos advised him to promise to do as he was told and go into hiding afterwards. Thus Braganza was released.
While Secretary Rayos and then Mayor Ayson were at the nerve center of government operation in Dagupan, they were in close contact with the various guerilla units operating in Pangasinan.
One night, guerilla leader Ferdinand Marcos, in his reconnaissance of Pangasinan province, slept in Rayos' residence in Pantal.
In 1945, when the Americans arrested Rayos and incarcerated him in Muntinlupa, Marcos interceded for him. With the help of our influential Filipino leaders, Rayos was subsequently released.
The greater part of the service of Rayos and Ayson to our people was devoted to doing liaison work with the Japanese Kempetai to save the lives of people captured or arrested for guerilla activities.
As Dagupan served as the war time capitol of Pangasinan, life in the community was generally peaceful. Capitan Valdez, a guerilla leader in Mangatarem, several times threatened to enter Dagupan and raid the Japanese Kempetai headquarters. On the other hand, the Kempetai chief in Dagupan threatened to burn the town of Mangatarem on account of the gueriIlas.
It was Secretary Rayos who averted both camps from executing their threats. Thus Dagupan and Mangatarem were spared from bloody encounters between the two forces. Many Prominent Pangasinenses lived in Dagupan during the War years. They felt safer in the community. One of them was Speaker Eugenio Perez.
Basa, Restituto C. Story of Dagupan City.
Dagupan City. Manaois Press Company, 1972
Souvenir Program: Dagupan Colleges on Its
Silver Jubilee Celebration, March 1950.
Author's Note: The author is a great grandson of the late Dr. Blas F. Rayos, a man he would like to emulate and follow in the field of education, leadership, patriotism and service. Admittedly, a big shoe to fill in.