On June 8, 2021, Ruth Tiano Pañares, the only surviving sibling of the famous Tiano Brothers celebrated her 100th Birthday with family and friends.
It’s a pity Cagayan de Oro was under MECQ otherwise “Mommy Toots” as she fondly known by one and all, would have been accorded the honors due to her and her siblings as Heroes not only Cagayan, but of the Philippines as well.
Mommy Toots was born June 8, 1921 in Cagayan de Oro de Misamis to Emilia Bacarrisas and Leocadio Tiano.
She was the fourth of eight siblings: Ronaldo, Nestor, Apollo, Uriel, Fe, Jaime, and Millie. She finished her elementary course at City Central School, High School at the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS), and college at Ateneo de Cagayan with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education.
The Tiano family evacuated to Lapad, Laguindingan at the outbreak of World War II, where the elder siblings actively participated in the guerrilla war against Imperial Japan.
Perhaps the most remarkable Kagay-anon patriots, the Tiano siblings, for whom the Tiano Brothers street in Cagayan de Oro is named after, involved no less than six of the siblings, five males and one female, in the war versus the Japanese occupiers in World War II.
The eldest, Ronaldo, was a 1st Lt. with the 7th School Squadron of the nascent Philippine Army Air Force (PAAC) Class 41-B, based at Maniquis Airfield in Cabanatuan under Lt. Benito Ebuen. He survived the Bataan Death March, but was released by the Japanese from the POW Camp in Capas, Tarlac joined the 120th Infantry Regiment under Maj. Angeles Limena as one of his staff. After the war he joined the newly organized Philippine Air Force (PAF) but left after 18 months to join Philippine Airlines (PAL). He died in a plane crash on Jan. 24, 1950.
The second eldest sibling, Sgt. Nestor, was killed in action at the young age of 24 while repelling a Japanese attack at Aglaloma Point, Bataan on Jan. 23, 1942.
2d Lt. Apollo was a platoon leader of “C” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, 108th Division based in Initao, Misamis Oriental. Although he survived World War II, he died fighting with the 19th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) defending Hill 191 (also called Arsenal Hill) and Hill Eerie, comprising Combat Outpost No. 8 at the Chorwon-Siboni corridor in the west central sector of Korea on June 20,1952, while repelling a superior force of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. The Philippine Navy’s BRP Apollo Tiano (now decommissioned) was named in his honor.
Uriel was a sergeant of “A” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, 108th Division based at Pangayawan, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental, and ended the war in the Signal Corps.
The youngest brother Jaime was a private first class at only 15 years of age, and served as a medical aide of the 120th Regimental Hospital with his sister 1st Lt. Fe B. Tiano (RN), who was the unit’s sole regimental nurse at the regimental hospital at Talacogon, Lugait, Misamis Oriental.
As Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon relates in his unpublished manuscript, Memoirs of a Guerrilla: The Barefoot Army, “This is the story of the Tianos-brave and courageous, their battles are now part of history. While they went to war, their parents Emilia Bacarrisas and Leocadio Tiano and two sisters Ruth and Millie were left in Lapad (Alubijid, now part of Laguindingan), to stoke the home fires burning,”.
“While her brothers went to war, the family tended the farm and fed soldiers who sought shelter while passing through the area,” said Faith Wallace, Mommy Toot’s second daughter.
When the war broke out, Mommy Toots married Conrado Pañares, a visiting supervisor from Cebu, whom she met while teaching at City Central School. The couple were also members of the congregation of the Evangelical Church (now the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, UCCP).
The oldest of Mommy Toots’ Raul was born during the war, Cynthia during liberation time. Faith followed ten years later, and Earl was the youngest. Raul and Earl are now both deceased.
Two endeavors have defined Mommy Toots for most of her life: Her passion for Scouting, and her Protestant Faith as a lifetime member of the congregation of the UCCP Cagayan de Oro Church.
“She taught third grade at the City Central School,” Faith recalls. Upon her retirement from City Central, she accepted the offer to become the elementary school principal of the then new Cagayan Capitol College (CCC).
“At the same time, she busied herself with Boy Scouting, she was also a Worthy Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star in Cagayan de Oro, and led and sang with the UCCP Chancel Choir every Sunday until her 94th birthday.”
She would visit her family in the US and stay to assist in cooking for her grandchildren. While visiting, she wouldn’t miss singing by joining the choir in Faith’s church.
“My most significant memories of her was when she and my mother, Luneta ( Luning) Abellanosa (who were best of friends and distinguished Cub Scoutmasters of BSP Misamis Oriental Council) motivated me to the max to strive and excel in Boy Scouting in the 60s to the 70s,” mused Emmanuel “Bong” Abellanosa, a recently retired executive with the national transmission operator.
“So I became a patrol leader, then a Senior Patrol Leader, and many more leadership roles. I rose from the ranks under their tutelage, from Tenderfoot, 2nd class, First Class. Mommy Toots and my mom inspired me to work hard to get most coveted rank, that was the Jose Rizal Scout Rank, equivalent to the Eagle Scout in the US,” he recalled.
“With their inspiration, I was awarded in 1970, the rank of Jose Rizal Scout, the first in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental. I know she did the same to the succeeding Jose Rizal Rank holders after my time,” Bong shared. “Mommy Toots and my Mom were both recipients of the coveted Leadership Awards of the prestigious Wood Badge Course, and were awarded the prestigious Gilwell Pins, Woodbadge Neckerchief, beads and woggle.
Wood Badge courses aim to make Scouters better leaders by teaching advanced leadership skills, and by creating a bond and commitment to the Scout movement. Courses generally have a combined classroom and practical outdoors-based phase followed by a Wood Badge ticket, also known as the project phase.
By “working the ticket”, participants put their newly gained experience into practice to attain ticket goals aiding the Scouting movement. The first Wood Badge training was organized by Francis “Skipper” Gidney and lectured at by Robert Baden-Powelland others at Gilwell Park (United Kingdom) in September 1919. Wood Badge training has since spread across the world with international variations.
On completion of the course, participants are awarded the Wood Badge beads to recognize significant achievement in leadership and direct service to young people. The pair of small wooden beads, one on each end of a leather thong (string), is worn around the neck as part of the Scout uniform.
“Mommy Toots was awarded 4 Wood Beads — 2 for completing Wood Leadership Training, 1 for volunteering/assisting during a Training Evening, and #4 for serving as Leadership Team Member for planning and executing a National Wood Leadership Training Event,” noted Mike W. Wallace, Faith’s husband.
The beads are presented together with a taupe neckerchief bearing a tartan patch of the Maclaren clan, honoring William de Bois Maclaren, who donated the £7,000 to purchase Gilwell Park in 1919, plus an additional £3,000 for improvements to the house that was on the estate.
The neckerchief with the braided leather woggle (neckerchief slide) denotes the membership of the 1st Gilwell Scout Group or Gilwell Troop 1. Recipients of the Wood Badge are known as Wood Badgers or Gilwellians.
“Mommy Toots was known for her excellent role in the development of boys into good citizens. Mommy Toots attended many campings, camporals, Jamborettes, National and International Jamborees in her lifetime,” Bong noted. “She always assumed the role of a Camp Mother, whose loving and tender care to Cub and Boy Scouts has earned her the respect of thousands of Boy Scouts, whose lives were changed for the better, in organizational and spiritual leaderships.”
“Another of her beautiful attributes is her devotion and commitment to our Lord God, by consistently having actively participating in countless UCCP church activities, from her young age until her early 90s, stopping only when she had mobility issues,” he added.
Until now, at 100 years old, she is still smart, and alert. Her selfless commitment to the Lord is unbelievable, still singing in the Chancel Choir until the last few years. She always lives by the motto of the Boy Scout, “Be Prepared”, and slogan, “Do a good turn daily”. Once a Scouter, always a Scouter.