Pedro Tamesis Orata, also known as the “Father of Barrio High Schools,” was a remarkable Filipino educator and the founder of the Urdaneta Community College (now Urdaneta City University). Throughout his life, he dedicated himself to improving the education system in the Philippines, particularly for rural students.
Born in Barrio Bactad, Urdaneta, Pangasinan in 1899, Orata was raised in a family of limited means but was driven to pursue a higher education. He worked hard to support his studies in the United States, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Illinois and his master’s and doctor’s degrees from Ohio State University.
Upon his return to the Philippines, Orata joined the Bureau of Public Schools and was appointed as Division Superintendent of schools in Isabela and Sorsogon. He also taught at Ohio State University and worked as a supervisor for the National Office of Education in Washington D.C.
During World War II, Orata served the Philippine National Council of Education and after the liberation of the Philippines, he was appointed as Director of Education in Urdaneta. He played a crucial role in reopening the schools and establishing the Pangasinan East Provincial High School, the first public high school outside a provincial capital.
In 1948, Orata was appointed as a staff member of the UNESCO in Paris and later became the first Dean of the Graduate School and director of curriculum development at the Philippine Normal College. After his retirement in 1964, he devoted himself to establishing barrio high schools and community colleges across the country.
Orata’s efforts were recognized by the Philippines and the international community, and in 1971, he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service for his 44 years of creative work in education. He will always be remembered as a visionary educator who dedicated his life to improving the education system for the rural youth of the Philippines.
The life and legacy of Pedro Orata serve as an inspiration to all educators and individuals who are passionate about making a positive impact in their communities. His dedication, hard work, and commitment to education will be remembered for generations to come.