Dedicated Missionary and Champion of the Farmers
Fr. Pio was born in Polo, (now Valenzuela City) Bulacan on May 5, 1932. He is the 7th of the 9 children in the family. After finishing his elementary grades, he entered the San Carlos Seminary, a diocesan seminary in 1950. A year latter, he entered Christ the King Seminary. He was ordained as an SVD priest in 1965.
His first assignment was to the Maria Assumpta Seminary in Nueva Ecija as the Administrator. After 5 years, he was sent to the newly opened missions in Agusan.
He hesitated to take the task, knowing his limitations in learning languages. By virtue of his vow of obedience, he conceded and went to the pioneering mission work in Agusan del Sur in 1972. This was to be his mission station for the next 35 years. (1972-2007).
During his early years in Agusan, many of the towns were isolated due to the big Agusan river traversing many towns of Agusan Sur and Norte. Roads were mostly the rugged logging roads in the mountains. Travel was difficult, and missionaries had to walk extensively to reach the far flung barangays.
This was the case with Fr. Pio in his first years in Agusan. His first mission work was in his beloved Sta. Josefa town, a sleepy town where once a day, a fully loaded jeep would travel the 15 kilometer unpaved stretch to the town of Trento, the mission base. He stayed here for six years. (1972-78)
His next station was Veruela, more isolated than Sta. Josefa, as one has to take a motor banca for a two hour ride along the river to reach the town. The parish covered an area stretching to about 20 kilometers, with rugged roads, and barrios in the interiors populated to a great extent by migrants from Luzon and the Visayas, attracted by the promise of land and livelihood. Travels were mostly by foot. He stayed here for another six years. (1979-85).
The next station was better, at the mission center town of Trento, along the Butuan-Davao hiway. (1986-92)
The next 15 years were spent in agri productivity mission work, based in Trento, Agusan, propagating his pet project, the production of the Masipag Rice. It is an organic product (no chemicals, using only natural animal waste and agri products. He started it experimentally in a 4 hectare farm in Angas, Sta. Josefa. It was so successful that he needed to expand. He travelled extensively the whole country, propagating the project. He had about 250 outreach farms from the north in Aparri, Cagayan to Abra, down to Basilan in the south. Seedbanks were established in Plaridel and Malolos, Bulacan. (1993-2008)
Age caught up with Fr Pio, and he had a heart attack in 2007 which necessitated that he slows down and rest. Since 2008, he retired at the Villa Cristo Rey in Christ the King Seminary. Bound in a wheelchair, he regularly and faithfully concelebrates in the Mass, and grateful that he can still move around. He is hoping that the Parousia will find him still alive.
By his dedication, hard work, commitment and love for the farmers, Fr. Pio has inspired many vocations, as evidenced by the many young priests coming from the Agusan missions.