Rafael M. Salas
Rafael M. Salas was the first head of the United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Population Fund
The United Nations Population Fund is a UN organization. The work of the UNFPA involves promotion of the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. This is done through major national and demographic surveys and with population censuses...

 from its inception in 1969 up to his death in 1987 (UNFPA). Salas is an alumnus of the University of the Philippines
University of the Philippines
The ' is the national university of the Philippines. Founded in 1908 through Act No...

. Prior to accepting the UN post, Salas was Executive Secretary to then President Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, Sr. was a Filipino leader and an authoritarian President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was a lawyer, member of the Philippine House of Representatives and a member of the Philippine Senate...

 before a falling-out on policies prompted him to leave the administration.


Rafael M. Salas was born in Bago City
Bago City
Bago City is a second class city in the province of Negros Occidental in the Philippines. According to the August 1, 2007 census, it has a population of 159,933 people. The city is located 21 kilometers south of the provincial capital, Bacolod City....

, Negros Occidental
Negros Occidental
Negros Occidental is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Its capital is Bacolod City and it occupies the northwestern half of Negros Island; Negros Oriental is at the southeastern half...

, Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 on August 7, 1928; one of three children of Ernesto Araneta Salas and Isabel Neri Montinola.

After the turmoil of World War II, Rafael Montinola Salas, went to Manila to continue his education and graduated with high honors in the University of the Philippines
University of the Philippines
The ' is the national university of the Philippines. Founded in 1908 through Act No...

 in 1950. He completed his B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) and LL.B (Cum Laude) from the U.P. College of Law both in 1953. He then attended Harvard University MPA in 1955. With his decision to stay in the academics and in the University of the Philippines, Manila, he became a lecturer in Economics until 1959 and transferred to the Far Eastern University
Far Eastern University
Far Eastern University in the University Belt area, West Sampaloc, City of Manila, is a nonsectarian, private university in the Philippines. Created by the merger of Far Eastern College and the Institute of Accounts, Business and Finance, FEU became a university in 1934 under the guidance of...

 as professorial lecturer until 1961. He succeeded to improve his status and became Assistant Vice-President back in the University of the Philippines
University of the Philippines
The ' is the national university of the Philippines. Founded in 1908 through Act No...

 in 1962-63 and as professorial lecturer of Law and a member of the Board of Regents in, 1963-66.

By 1966, Rafael M. Salas, also known affectionately as "Paeng," was called on to serve his country as Executive Secretary of the Republic of the Philippines under President Ferdinand E. Marcos. During his tenure as Executive Secretary, although he had previous governmental assignments, he was credited for having solved the yearly rice production problem of the country as action officer of the National Rice Sufficiency Program.

Due to irreconcilable differences with President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Rafael M. Salas stepped down as Executive Secretary and accepted to be the first Executive Director of the United Nations - Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) in 1969, now known as the United Nations Fund with the rank of Undersecretary General. A position Rafael engaged with efficiency and distinctiveness. (3)

Rafael M. Salas was well respected and beloved by many because he was a leader who was morally upright (3) and his dedication for the advancement for his fellowman with the use of population programs got him the name of "Mr. Population" by the International Community. A quote from "Knowing the Man and the Award" (Commission Population):

"He is widely known as "Mr. Population" in the international population community. He brought together more developed and less developed countries, helping them to become aware of the extent to which they share an interest in population and development." (1)

Through Rafael Montinola Salas' fruitful life, he earned many citations, titles and positions. "For his contribution to the global understanding of population, Salas received 30 honorary degrees, honorary professorships, and academic awards from higher academic institutions in 25 countries." (3)

Rafael M. Salas was not only a great leader, educator, government & international official and attorney, he was also a poet and author. He has also contributed in magazines and newspapers: Past editor of Philippine Law Journal and readings about him in the Chicago Tribune, March 6, 1987, New York Times, March 5, 1987, Times (London), March 6, 1987. (2)

Rafael Montinola Salas died on March 4, 1987, in Washington, DC. from an apparent heart attack. He had served as the first Executive Director the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from its inception from 1969 until his death in 1987.

Special Citations

In his honor, POPCOM (The Commission on Population of the Philippines) has a yearly prestigious award created under the Rafael M. Salas Foundation in 1990. "The Rafael M. Salas Population and Development Award (RMSPDA) which aims to perpetuate the legacies of "Paeng" by honoring and giving due recognition to local government units, individuals and/or institutions for their outstanding achievement and contributions in the field of population and development; and generate support and participation in the implementation of the population management program." (1) Furthermore, "the RMSPDA recognizes individuals and institutions who continuously pursue the ideals and visions of Rafael M. Salas to achieve a better world for the present and future generations." (1)

There is also the annual "Rafael M. Salas Memorial Speech/Lecture" at UN Headquarters since Rafael M. Salas was the first Executive Director of the UNFPA. The speech series began as a memorial and tribute to Rafael M. Salas. "Under his leadership, the UNFPA grew from a small trust fund to the world’s largest multilateral provider of population assistance." (4) Speakers of this annual memorial lecture have included the former President of the World Bank, Robert McNamara, the-then Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former President of the Philippines, Fidel Ramos, Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

The legacy of Rafael Montinola Salas lives on, "It is in time of national difficulties such as we are having now that I think of no other than the great Rafael M. Salas, probably the best President the Philippines never had." - Hern Zenarosa, At Issue (3)

Citations, Titles, Positions of Rafael M. Salas: (2)

  • Professorial Lecturer of Economics & Law, 1955–66
  • Asst. Vice President of University of Phil. 1962-63
  • Member of the Board of Regents, 1966–69
  • Executive Secretary of the Republic of the Phils. 1966-69
  • Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, 1969–87
  • Honorary professor at Universidad Nacional Experimental Simon Rodriguez, 1979
  • People's University of China, 1980
  • Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, 1981
  • Universidad Central del Ecuador, 1982
  • Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, 1982
  • Moscow State University
    Moscow State University
    Lomonosov Moscow State University , previously known as Lomonosov University or MSU , is the largest university in Russia. Founded in 1755, it also claims to be one of the oldest university in Russia and to have the tallest educational building in the world. Its current rector is Viktor Sadovnichiy...

    , 1982
  • United Nations, delegate to the General Assembly, 1968
  • Vice-President of International Conference on Human Rights, 1968
  • Senior Consultant to Administrator of Development Programme, 1969
  • Assistant Secretary General, 1971–72
  • Under Secretary General of the United Nations Fund, beginning in 1973
  • Coordinator of World Population Year, 1974
  • Secretary General of International Conference on Population, 1984.
  • Presidential Consultative Council of Students, 1954
  • Member of National Economic Council, 1955–61
  • Special Assist. to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources and to the President of the Republic, 1961
  • Acting Chair of National Economic Council, 1966 and 1968
  • National Coordinator and Action Officer in National Rice and Corn Sufficiency Programme (the "Green Revolution"), 1967–69.
  • Special assignments with the government included delegate to UNESCO Conference on media and youth, 1952
  • Executive Secretary of UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines, 1957
  • Assistant Secretary General of Second Asian Productivity Conference, 1960
  • Chair of Board of Trustees of Government Service Insurance System, 1966
  • Chair of Administrative Code Revision Committee, 1966
  • Member of Official Philippine state visit to Japan and Philippine delegation to Manila Summit Conference, both 1966
  • "Ambassador Extraordinary" to Indonesia, 1967
  • Chair of Presidential School Building Committee, 1967
  • Chair of International Tourist Year for the Philippines, 1967
  • Member of Board of Governors of Philippine National Red Cross, 1967–69
  • Chair of National Committee on Disaster Operations, 1966–69
  • Chair of Reorganization Commission, 1968–69
  • General manager of Manila Chronicle and assistant to the President of Meralco Securities Corp., both 1963-66.

Honorary degrees include: (2)

  • D.Humanities from Central Mindanao University
    Central Mindanao University
    Central Mindanao University is one of the two universities in the province of Bukidnon, Mindanao Island in the Philippines.-History:Central Mindanao University was transformed from a settlement of farm schools organized by the Americans. It started as the Mailag Industrial School in 1910 and...

    , 1969
  • Ph.D. from Far Eastern University
    Far Eastern University
    Far Eastern University in the University Belt area, West Sampaloc, City of Manila, is a nonsectarian, private university in the Philippines. Created by the merger of Far Eastern College and the Institute of Accounts, Business and Finance, FEU became a university in 1934 under the guidance of...

    , 1969
  • University of Sarajevo
    University of Sarajevo
    The University of Sarajevo is the first university in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was originally established in 1531 as a Madrasah or Islamic Law college, with a modern university being established and expanded on top of that in 1949. Today, with 23 faculties and around 55,000 enrolled students, it...

    , 1981
  • LL.D. from Sri Venkateswara University
    Sri Venkateswara University
    Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, is a state university, which was established in 1954, in the famous temple city of Tirupati, South India, under the auspices of Late Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, and with support of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams...

    , 1975
  • University of North Carolina
    University of North Carolina
    Chartered in 1789, the University of North Carolina was one of the first public universities in the United States and the only one to graduate students in the eighteenth century...

     at Chapel Hill, 1978
  • University of Malaya
    University of Malaya
    The University of Malaya is located on a campus near the centre of Kuala Lumpur, and is the oldest university in Malaysia. It was founded in 1905 as a public-funded tertiary institution...

     and University of Colombo
    University of Colombo
    The University of Colombo is a public research university located primarily in Colombo, Sri Lanka...

    , 1979
  • University of Wales
    University of Wales
    The University of Wales was a confederal university founded in 1893. It had accredited institutions throughout Wales, and formerly accredited courses in Britain and abroad, with over 100,000 students, but in October 2011, after a number of scandals, it withdrew all accreditation, and it was...

    , 1981
  • Islamabad Quaid-i-Azam University
    Quaid-i-Azam University
    The Quaid-i-Azam University is a public, research university in Islamabad Capital Territory of Pakistan. It was initially founded as the "University of Islamabad" in July 1967...

    , 1982
  • University of the Philippines
    University of the Philippines
    The ' is the national university of the Philippines. Founded in 1908 through Act No...

    , 1983
  • D.Soc.Sc. from University of Cairo, 1978
  • University of Indonesia
    University of Indonesia
    The Universitas Indonesia, is a state, comprehensive world class university located in Depok, West Java and Salemba, Jakarta, Indonesia. Universitas Indonesia is the oldest tertiary-level educational institution in Indonesia...

    , 1981
  • D.P.A. from Yonsei University
    Yonsei University
    Yonsei University is a Christian private research university, located in Seoul, South Korea. Established in 1885, it is one of the oldest universities in South Korea, the top private comprehensive universities in South Korea, and is widely regarded as one of the top three comprehensive...

    , 1978
  • D.Econ. from Nihon University
    Nihon University
    Nihon University is the largest university in Japan. Akiyoshi Yamada, the minister of justice, founded Nihon Law School in October 1889....

    , 1979
  • D.H.C. from Universidad Mayor de San Simon and Universidad Nacional Federico Villareal, both 1979
  • D.Pol.Sc. from Chulalongkorn University
    Chulalongkorn University
    Chulalongkorn University is the oldest university in Thailand and is the country's highest ranked university. It now has nineteen faculties and institutes. Regarded as the best and most selective university in Thailand, it consistently attracts top students from around the country...

    , 1980
  • D.Public Service from University of Maryland at College Park, 1980
  • George Washington University
    George Washington University
    The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

    , 1981
  • L.H.D. from American College of Switzerland
    American College of Switzerland
    The American College of Switzerland is a liberal arts college in Leysin, Switzerland in the canton of Vaud.The campus is housed in the modernized Victorian style Grand Hôtel de Leysin, built in 1892. A private train station on campus connects to all main lines and cities in Switzerland...

    , 1981

Other honours

  • Management Man of the Year Award from Management Association of the Philippines, 1966
  • named Outstanding Management Practitioner of the Year by Management Practitioners Association of the Philippines, 1967
  • named Man of the Year by Asia Weekly Examiner, 1967
  • Indonesian Order of Mahaputra, 1968
  • Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Order of the White Elephant
    Order of the White Elephant
    The Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant is the most awarded order of Thailand. It was established in 1861 by King Rama IV of the Kingdom of Siam.The Order consists of eight classes:...

     (Thailand), 1968
  • Order of the Panglima Mangku Negara of Malaysia, 1968
  • named Diplomat of the Year by editorial board of Diplomatic World Bulletin, 1976
  • Order of Scientific Merit, first class, from Romania's Academy of Social and Political Sciences, 1980

Books written by Rafael M. Salas

  • People: An International Choice; The Multilateral Approach to Population, Pergamon, 1976.
  • International Population Assistance: The First Decade; A Look at the Concepts and Policies Which
  • Have Guided the UNFPA in Its First Ten Years, Pergamon, 1979.
  • More Than the Grains: Participatory Management in the Philippines Rice Management Program, 1967–1969, Simul Press (Tokyo Press, Japan), 1985.
  • Population: Conflict to Census, United Nations Population Fund (New York, NY), 2000.
  • Reflections on Population, Pergamon, 1984, 2nd edition, 1985.
  • The Far East and Australasia: A Survey and Directory of Asia and the Pacific, Europa, 1981
  • The International Who' Who, 50th edition, Europa, 1986.

See also

  • Philippine Center
    Philippine Center
    The Philippine Center is a building that houses the Philippine Consulate General in New York City. It is located at 556 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, three blocks south of Rockefeller Plaza and north of the New York Public Library.-History:...

  1. Knowing the Man and the Award - Commission on Population (www.popcom.gov.ph)
  2. Biography - Salas, Rafael M(ontinola) Contemporary Authors
  3. At Issue by Hern Zenarosa "Paeng Salas remembered on 77th birth anniversary" - Manila Bulletin Online (www.mb.com.ph)
  4. United Nations Organization. (www.un.org)
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