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Thelmo Y. Cunanan
"Ty"

Company A-2

14 Apr 1938 - 16 Jan 2011

Place of Death: Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Interment: Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

It is with sincere regret and sorrow that we must inform you that our Classmate, Ty Cunanan, Company A-2, passed away on January 16, 2011, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Ty is survived by his wife, Belinda, children Christine and Keiichi, Buddy and Ming, and Conrad and Myra, and grandchildren Tamako and Christopher.

Condolences may be sent to the family at 15 A. Luna Street, Phase V, AFPOVAI, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, Philippines.

Well done, Ty. Be thou at peace

Remembrances:

Class Memorial Pages\A-2 Ty Cunanan.pdf

Thelmo Cunanan

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

With a boyish grin and a twinkle in his eyes, he transported himself back to the late 50's as he narrated how he excitedly hopped from airbase to airbase, from one military transport plane to another, to get to Europe.

Thelmo delightfully told me his story of hitchhiking all over Europe before joining his class at West Point.  Prior to crossing the Atlantic and on his first plane rides (as his youngest son, Conrad, revealed to me today), this young man from Bacolod (Negros Oriental, Philippines) embarked on an adventure, thumbing his way around a strange land.  Just before that he was a plebe at the Philippine Military Academy.

Thelmo's adventures only stopped when he succumbed to cancer on January 16, 2011.

Thelmo was our ambassador in Phnom Penh when we first met during the parliamentary elections in Cambodia in 1998.  With him in Phnom Penh and I in Manila, we assisted Joecon (Concepcion) set up the 10-member National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) delegation, which alongside the Joint International Observer Group (JIOG) monitored the elections. With his usual efficiency, Thelmo had arranged meetings for Joecon with Cambodian leaders, including the ones with King Sihanouk, Prince Ranariddh, Sam Rainsy and Hun Sen.

We learned that Thelmo had secured information about which provinces we would be deployed and inspected each hotel where we were to be billeted.  He flew and traveled by land for the inspection to help ensure that we would be able do what we came out there to do.  I am sure that his plan included details on how we would be moved to safety in case the situation went south.  I observed in Battambang; the elections were orderly; and we came home pleased with our little contribution to strengthening democracy in Asia.

Namfrel again had the honor of being served by Thelmo in Indonesia in the 1999 presidential polls.  The 100-member Namfrel delegation of pemantau pemilu, largest of the observer groups, saw the  landmark election that handed power from Mr Suharto to Ms Sukarnoputri.  Exhibiting the same due diligence, attention to detail and professionalism, the observer mission under his watch went smoothly and was a success.  We went home inspired by the peaceful and orderly way the Indonesians had conducted their elections.

I will remember Thelmo by his fatherly care and attention.  He had his trademark of steadfast professionalism -- as a true soldier would, in all the things that he had done for us and with us, at all times.  I thank God for the privilege to have served alongside him and for his inspiration for adventure.

Godspeed, Thelmo.

Telibert Laoc - http://telibert.blogspot.com/

Changing of the Guards

My earliest recollection of Ty was a rectiation that he gave in Mathmatics class when we were plebes. He was good with the numbers. During a break in our summer training at Camp Buckner, I once challenged Ty to a friendly game of Chess, only to have my king forthwith set up and checkmated by a better player who knew how to use his pawns and could see well the big picture on the board. With his keen intelect and likeable manner, it is not surprising that Ty rose to the rank of general officer. I feel that I have lost an old friend.

Russell Cornelius '61

This is a YouTube link of the special tribute of the Global News Network to the late Lt. General Thelmo Y. Cunanan.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J719RhTDkJc

Since we were in the same weight class, I often found my assigned competitor in boxing and wrestling classes to be Ty Cunanan. Although a serious competitor, Ty was always gracious, kind, and sensitive to others. We also shared time in the same math classes where Ty's sharp intellect was apparent. I am blessed to have experienced, ever so briefly as a West Point Classmate, the friendship of a man who contributed greatly to the life of his native land.

Holland (Dutch) Coulter '61

This is a link to photos taken during Ty's funeral. 

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?
aid=100269&id=1044803612&l=b925bdbe4a

 

 

My dear friend,TY, I know you had met and encountered illogical,selfish,jealous.self-centered people who had tried to destroy what you built.But your success is testimony to your effort to build anyway, to give your best anyway, and to do good anyway, as God wanted you to.As Mother Teresa's admonition goes. . . "In the final analysis, it is between you and God;it was never between you and them.

Rest now my friend, after a job well done,Be Thou At Peace.

Roger Luis, USMA '62

 

Life Worth Living
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
BY BUDDY CUNANAN




Last Saturday, under overcast skies, with family, good friends, and relatives, and a phalanx of Philippine Army officers and honor guards, I laid to rest a truly remarkable person—a man who never wavered in service to the nation, who lived his life with honor, integrity, and courage. A brave soldier and patriot, diplomat, corporate executive, and loving father and husband. He was my Dad, Thelmo Y. Cunanan.

A veteran of many battles, Dad fought a long struggle against cancer. Yet, in the end, although he finally succumbed to the illness, it was still his victory, as he saw his dreams fulfilled and his spirit carried on in the good work he left behind and his contributions to society.

When Dad died, there was a massive outpouring of grief and support. We received condolences from thousands of people whose lives he touched. Employees at the Heritage Memorial Park, where he lay in state, said they had never seen so many flowers arrangements at one time—a testament to Dad’s character and person. In the days that followed, hundreds of people trooped to the funeral home to pay their final respects. Dad spent his entire life in government and had a very interesting career. From the time he graduated on the Plain at West Point, he would rise to become a Lieutenant General, Ambassador to Cambodia, President and CEO of the Philippine National Oil Company, and Chairman of the Social Security System.

Dad was one of those rare individuals blessed with the ability to excel at anything he put his heart and mind to, whether on the battlefield or corporate boardroom. With a front row seat to his life and career, I was amazed at his seeming effortless transition from combat commander to distinguished ambassador to shrewd business executive and chairman.  In all his positions, Dad brought the same principles of excellence and uprightness that governed his life. That was the secret of his success.

During the memorial services, officials from the military, PNOC, SSS, and the Department of Foreign Affairs extolled on Dad’s many achievements. However, Dad’s shining moment was in the Army, which he loved the most and where he did what he did best—leading men into battle. 

The late 1980’s were unsteady times, with numerous coup attempts by then Col. Gringo Honasan against President Cory Aquino. However, the most serious threat to Cory came in December 1989. In that coup attempt, her government found itself virtually defenseless as key military units chose to “fence sit” or had otherwise, already defected to the rebels. At that time, Dad was commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade in Laguna province, which was strategic as it was just outside Metro Manila. On November 30, he received orders to reinforce military headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo, after Marine Brig.

Gen. Rodolfo Biazon, who was then commander of the capital, discovered that all his troops—Marines mostly—had joined the mutineers.

Knowing that Honasan had been trying to recruit officers to participate in the putsch, my dad gathered all his officers and told them these exact words: “Gentlemen, we’ve been ordered to reinforce Camp Aguinaldo. We are going to do our Constitutional duty to defend the government. If there are those of you who don’t support this, let’s part now as friends. But if you join me and later waver in battle or try to defect, I’ll shoot you myself and I’ll shoot you face-to-face and not from behind.” There were a few moments of deafening silence as Dad waited for someone to speak. Not a word. Then he said: “Very well gentlemen. Let’s go. It’s time to save The Republic.”

Dad led a convoy of troops and armored vehicles 6-kilometers long that came to the defense of Camp Aguinaldo and risked his life, personally commanding his soldiers in the firefight. Active and retired military officers agree that without my father and his troops, Camp Aguinaldo and, consequently, Cory’s government would have fallen.

In his last days, Dad fought one final battle—to clear his good name. Allies of the current administration like Senator Franklin Drilon and columnist Jarius Bondoc openly branded Dad, who had brought honor to public service and saved Cory’s government, a thief and criminal. My mother even personally called Drilon, whom she had once considered a good friend. In tears, she asked why he was spreading malicious lies about Dad, who was terminally ill and dying. Drilon just hung up the phone. In my entire life, I never heard Dad speak ill of anyone—not even of Drilon and Bondoc. To the very end, he lived his life with the guiding principles of his alma mater: “Duty, Honor, Country”. This was the kind of gentleman Dad was and the kind of person I try everyday to become

  

Obituaries:

THELMO YLLANO CUNANAN (April 14, 1938 - January 16, 2011) 

THELMO YLLANO CUNANAN, Ambassador & Lieutenant General, Former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine National Oil Company, Former Chairman of the Social Security System. Brave soldier and loyal patriot to the end, passed away on January 16, 2011, after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was born on April 14, 1938 to Carlos and Marcela Cunanan, in Minglanilla, Cebu. He was one of six children. Thelmo was married to Belinda Olivares of San Pedro, Laguna. 

After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1961, “Ty”, as he was affectionately referred to by his classmates, joined the Philippine Army as an infantry officer and had a long and distinguished career in the military. Thelmo received many decorations for bravery and gallantry and held numerous important positions, eventually reaching the rank of Lieutenant General and chief of the Southern Command, the biggest area command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. 

In 1986, Thelmo nearly died during an encounter with communist guerillas in Cagayan Valley. In that firefight, he sustained 27 bullet and grenade wounds. Thelmo spent nearly three months in the hospital but, after fully recovering, headed back to the field and, as commander of the Second Infantry Brigade based in Laguna, was instrumental in the defense of the administration of then President Corazon Aquino against several coups d’etat. In the most serious threat to the Aquino administration in 1989, Thelmo led a convoy of troops and armored vehicles 6-kilometers long that reinforced Camp Aguinaldo, which was under siege by rebel forces. 

In 1993, under Thelmo’s watch as the military’s top commander in Mindanao, the Philippine South enjoyed relative calm and stability. But there were notable peace and order operations. In one highly publicized case, Thelmo worked closely with then Vice President Joseph Estrada for the successful release of American bible translator Charles Walton, who was being held hostage by Muslim extremists in Sulu. 

Thelmo’s work also involved coordinating closely with local governments on security matters as well as reviewing cross-border defense programs with his counterparts in Indonesia. 

After retiring from the Army in 1994, Thelmo was appointed Ambassador to the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, where he led regional efforts to end civil strife in that country, ensure clean and orderly elections, and usher Cambodia into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He represented the Philippines with honor and excellence until 1998 and fostered good relations with many Cambodian leaders—ties that exist till this day.

Upon his return from Cambodia, Thelmo got involved in cause-oriented endeavors. In the late 1990s, he headed a National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections election monitoring team in Indonesia and later, was chief operating officer of a humanitarian relief effort, sponsored by Jaime Cardinal Sin and Mrs. Aquino, to civil war-ravaged West and East Timor.

In 2001, Thelmo was again summoned back to government service. He was appointed president and chief executive officer of PNOC, where he actively promoted and championed the use and development of renewable energy. He also led the company and its subsidiaries to record levels of profitability. In 2004, he was appointed chairman of the SSS, a post he held with distinction until August 2010. Through wise and prudent fiscal management and policies, Thelmo and his fellow commissioners were credited with bringing back the SSS from near bankruptcy. 

In his many different positions and capacities, Thelmo will always be remembered by those who were fortunate to work with him as a man who was honest, kind, principled, a friend to all, and a brave soldier, brilliant field commander, and public servant who gave his best in service of the people.

Thelmo leaves behind his loving wife Belinda; children Keichi and Christine, Buddy and Ming, and Conrad and Myra; and grandchildren Tamako and Christopher.

There will be a wake at The Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City, Metro Manila, from Tuesday, January 18, to the morning of Friday, January 21, and a Mass by Father Tito Caluag on Thursday at 6 p.m. The burial will be on Saturday, January 22. For more updated information, call Rachel at 813-8400. To reach the family, call Christine at 0917-813-8400.

Taps Memorial Article:

Thelmo Y. Cunanan 1961

1961 Class Crest

Cullum No. 23429 • Jan 16, 2011 • Died in Quezon, Philippine

Interred in Heritage Memorial Park, Ft. Bonifacio, Taguig, Metro Manila, PI


Thelmo Yllano "Ty" Cunanan, Ambassador to Cambodia & Lieutenant General in the Philippine Army, former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine National Oil Company, and former Chairman of the Philippine Social Security System, was a brave soldier and loyal patriot to the end, passing away on Jan 16, 2011 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was born on Apr 14, 1938 to Carlos and Marcela Cunanan, in Minglanilla, Cebu, Philippines, and was one of six children. Thelmo was married to Belinda Olivares of San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines.

Thelmo joined the Class of 1961 in July 1957 as a member of 6th New Cadet Company. It was there, in the Old South Area at West Point, that the Class of 1961 began its journey. From the beginning, "Ty"—that is how most classmates knew him—received Beast Barracks awards, because he had already been a cadet for a year at the Philippine Military Academy, as a member of PMA ’60. He was always well prepared; could assemble weapons in a flash, and dress in a minute. In fact, from that time and forever, Ty always reminded his USMA classmates about the superiority of PMA over its U.S. counterpart. Company A-2 welcomed him as a member, and during four great years he excelled academically and as a fun-loving member of a wonderful band of brothers.

Following graduation in 1961, Ty joined the Philippine Army as an Infantry officer and had a long and distinguished career in the military. Thelmo received many decorations for bravery and gallantry and held numerous important positions, eventually reaching the rank of Lieutenant General and Chief of the Southern Command, the biggest area command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

In 1986, Thelmo nearly died during an encounter with communist guerrillas in Cagayan Valley. In that firefight, he sustained 27 bullet and grenade wounds. Thelmo spent nearly three months in the hospital but, after fully recovering, headed back to the field and, as commander of the Second Infantry Brigade based in Laguna, was instrumental in the defense of the administration of then President Corazon Aquino against several coups d’etat. In the most serious threat to the Aquino administration in 1989, Thelmo led a convoy of troops and armored vehicles that was six kilometers long to reinforce Camp Aguinaldo, which was under siege by rebel forces.

In 1993, during Thelmo’s watch as the top military commander in Mindanao, the Philippine South enjoyed relative calm and stability, but there were notable peace and order operations. In one highly publicized case, Thelmo worked closely with then-Vice President Joseph Estrada for the successful release of American bible translator Charles Walton, who was held hostage by Muslim extremists in Sulu.

Thelmo’s work in the Philippine South also involved coordinating closely with local governments on security matters, as well as reviewing cross-border defense programs with his counterparts in Indonesia.

After retiring from the Army in 1994, Thelmo was appointed Ambassador to the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, where he led regional efforts to end civil strife in that country, ensure clean and orderly elections, and usher Cambodia into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He represented the Philippines with honor and excellence until 1998 and fostered good relations with many Cambodian leaders—ties that exist till this day.

Upon his return from Cambodia, Thelmo became involved in cause-oriented endeavours. In the late 1990s, he headed a National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections by monitoring election teams in Indonesia, and later was chief operating officer of a humanitarian relief effort, sponsored by Jaime Cardinal Sin and Mrs. Aquino, to civil war-ravaged West and East Timor.

In 2001, Thelmo was summoned back to government service. Appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine National Oil Company, he actively promoted and championed the use and development of renewable energy. He also led the company and its subsidiaries to record levels of profitability. In 2004, he was appointed chairman of the Philippine Social Security System, a post he held with distinction until August 2010. Through wise and prudent fiscal management and policies, Thelmo and his fellow Commissioners were credited with bringing the Social Security System back from near bankruptcy to a position today of fiscal strength.

In his many different positions and capacities, Thelmo always will be remembered, by those who were fortunate to work with him, as a man who was honest, kind, principled, a friend to all, and a brave soldier, brilliant field commander, and public servant who gave his best in service of the people of the Philippines. Ty’s presence as a USMA Cadet continued the tradition begun with the Class of 1914 of quality Philippine citizens learning from their time at West Point and serving their country with distinction, and receiving much praise.

Thelmo leaves behind his loving wife Belinda; children Keichi and Christine, Buddy and Ming, Conrad and Myra; and grandchildren Tamako and Christopher.

At The Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City, Metro Manila, a Necrological Service was held the evening before Thelmo Cunanan’s internment, with acknowledgements in words from Senior Philippine military officials, and flowers from throughout the world, with special acknowledgement from Company A-2 and the Class of 1961. Both the PMA and USMA Alma Maters were sung to honor Ty Cunanan. Military burial was Jan 22, 2011.

—Son "Buddy" Cunanan and A-2 classmates from ’61