Prof. Cleonico Y. Fontelo
He is a steadfast figure in the University with more than half a century of service to Silliman. When asked if he has any regrets in life, Prof. Cleonico Y. Fontelo, the Vice President for Finance and Administration, smiles and responds: “I have none. I only have thankfulness to the Lord for what he has showered me and my family.”
Nic was born and raised in the town of Sibulan as the fourth child in a brood of nine. His love for crunching numbers may well be inherited from his father who was the Municipal Treasurer. While good with numbers, he describes himself as an average student who committed himself to completing his studies at the Sibulan Central Elementary School then at the Negros Oriental High School in 1955.
Wanting the best college education close to home, Nic enrolled in Silliman University and pursued the degree of Bachelor of Business Administration major in Accounting. Not one who wanted to be a burden to his parents, he worked as a student assistant at the Cafeteria to help pay for his college fees. He was assigned to handle bookkeeping but gamely obliged whenever he was stationed at the food counter to dish out orders.
In 1960, all his hard work paid off when he finally obtained his college diploma. He knew though that unlike his classmates, he did not have enough resources to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensure exam. He, instead, began work immediately to earn enough to sustain him throughout the review period and cover the necessary expenses for the licensure exam.
Things seemed to have fallen in the right place as there was an opening for the post of bookkeeper at the Cafeteria around the same time Nic was in search of a job. His four years with the Cafeteria and his familiarity with its operations as a student assistant doing bookkeeping secured his chances. He was offered the post and concurrently served as an assistant to the Director of Food Services.
It could have been his work ethic and demonstrated aptitude that in 1965, Nic was endorsed to handle a bigger responsibility. This time as the one in charge of faculty accounts at the Business and Finance Office.
A few months into his new function, Nic was able to save up enough money to finally pursue his goal of taking the CPA exam. He then decided to take a leave for six months to review for the exams. In 1967, he took the CPA exam and passed.
Now a CPA, Nic returned to Silliman and was promoted to the post of Accountant. Two years later, he was appointed Acting Business Manager of the Silliman University Medical Center, which operations were then managed by Silliman University. He would, however, find himself back to handling University operations two years after with much bigger shoes to fill – as University Treasurer.
It was also in 1972, when he assumed the critical post of University Treasurer, that he decided to tie the knot with his girlfriend whom he met while a supervisor at the Cafeteria. Nic married Carmen, a graduate of the University of the Philippines who later served as a professor and chairperson at the Nutrition and Dietetics Department in Silliman.
Nic and Carmen’s God-centered married life is blessed with three children: Cleomen, who is bank manager of Banco de Oro-North Road Dumaguete branch; Carclea, who works as a professional nurse at the Ronald Reagan University of California Los Angeles Medical Center in the United States; and Carlo, who is the manager of the Customer Services and Accounts Division at the Dumaguete City Water District. If their children’s blossoming careers are any indication of parenting, Nic and Carmen have fulfilled their roles as parents.
In search of more opportunities of professional development, Nic applied for – and was granted –a graduate scholarship at Harvard University in the United States in 1976. He found himself in a new environment, battling the demands of rigorous academic work and the longing to be with family. But Nic persevered; he did not give up. In a year’s time, he came home with the degree of Master in Education major in Administration, Planning and Social Policy obtained from one of the world’s best universities.
The completion of his graduate degree from Harvard opened more doors for Nic. In 1982, he was invited to handle Accountancy subjects at the College of Business Administration (CBA). He was later designated as Chairperson of the Accountancy Department and then as as Acting Dean of CBA in 1989. By 1991, he assumed in full the post of Dean.
But while still in his first year as Dean of CBA, Nic received an offer to serve as the new Vice President for Finance and Administration. He considered it a blessing that could have resulted from an earnest desire for professional development and a conscious commitment to outstanding performance. He took on the post of Vice President in 1992, and, until 1994, concurrently served Dean of CBA. He occupied the vice presidency position until 1999.
In March 2004, Nic turned 65 and retired from the University with the rank of Associate Professor in Accountancy.
But the University was not yet ready to let him go. In August of the same year, the Board of Trustees acted for him to be offered the position of Vice President for Finance then later, Vice President for Finance and Administration – the same post that he occupies until today.
Under Nic’s supervision as Vice President, Silliman has seen the tightening of cost control measures, increased revenues from auxiliary income and other non-tuition sources, and enhanced investment opportunities that translate to improved infrastructure, programs and services.
Nic spends most of his free time with his wife, Carmen, whose cooking makes him look forward to going home and with whom he travels regularly to the United States to visit their daughter, Carclea. He is also a loving and a supportive grandfather who always makes time for his three grandchildren: Mcleone (son of Clem), Don Nicolo (son of Carclea) and Karla Concepcion (daughter of Carlo).
Describe yourself in three words.
Committed. God-fearing. Blessed.
What is your motto in life?
“Do the best you can and always trust God in everything you do.”
What makes you laugh?
Funny stories from colleagues and friends.
What makes you cry?
I don’t recall ever crying over something, but I am affected emotionally when I see street children who seem to be wanting in food.
What’s your favorite time of the day and why?
After office hours because that’s when I get to be with family
What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
Weekends – for the same reason that I get to be with family.
What do you love doing when not working?
Stay at home, reading religious books or spy stories.
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
What makes you blush?
Whenever I commit mistakes
If you were an actor, who would you be?
I have no particular actor in mind; but if I were one, I would like to play the part of a father in a story.
Tell us a fact about yourself.
I have no regrets in my life, only thankfulness to the Lord.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
Hide and seek
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
Free from pressure of work
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
I like to collect old items, like vintage toy cars or traditional pottery.
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
I start preparing for work.
What’s your idea of a family?
Staying one and together.