Photo: Vic Gendrano
Hector Santos is a history buff who admits to having had a late start because he hated the subject when he enrolled as a freshman at the University of the Philippines at the age of fourteen. He went on to graduate with a degree in engineering but history became a serious interest only much later in life.
After moving to Los Angeles, Santos entered Art Center College where he studied photography under the late Look Magazine photographer Earl Theisen. He also attended UCLA Extension where he took courses in computer programming and record production. He has a special interest in fine wines and is proud of the wine certificates he has received from the State of California, the Italian Wine Center, and Le Comité National des Vins de France.
Santos has worked as a market research analyst, an industrial engineer, and a computer systems specialist among other things. He holds various certifications in the many fields that he has worked in. However, he is most proud of his work in researching Philippine history prior to the advent of the Spaniards. In particular, he is very interested in writing systems that were used in the Philippines during ancient times. As an independent scholar, he sometimes found it hard at the start to gain access to research material in libraries where they were kept. But as he gained credibility, he got help from many sympathetic people in academia.
Santos's interest in unrelated fields led him to develop computer font software featuring the extinct Tagalog script as well as Mangyan and Tagbanwan scripts which are still used today. He is writing a book which he says is coming along very slowly because of time constraints but promises that it will be the most complete, all-encompassing, and authoritative volume on Philippine writing systems.
He has completed work on material that will come out (if it ever does) in the Paleography Project Report to be published by the University of the Philippines and another in Philippine Studies of Ateneo de Manila University. He recently annotated a chapter on the Laguna Copperplate Inscription for a book on Philippine pre-Hispanic history that will appear as an appendix.
Santos is Contributing Editor for Heritage Magazine, a Carson, California-based quarterly publication on Philippine arts and culture, where he writes book reviews and feature articles pertaining to Philippine history. He also writes occasional articles for Filipinas Magazine, a nationally distributed monthly published in San Francisco.
Santos edits and publishes Sulat sa Tansô, a newsletter devoted to ancient Philippines. It has a limited circulation that reaches selected people in six countries. He also runs Sushi Dog Graphics, a microcompany that writes and sells software, does computer graphics and desktop publishing, and offers consulting work to businesses and organizations. When business is slow, he works on contract for various companies in the Los Angeles area.