Principal Lobo

by Mel D’Souza

The villagers of Saligao have always revered any of their sons and daughters who either excel academically or achieve success in their chosen careers – generally in the white collar field. And this remains a sure-shot way of obtaining “famous” status, at least in the eyes of the village.

In the early and middle twentieth century, an era when matriculating from high school was looked upon as a passport to a relatively secure career as a clerk, anyone with a college degree was deemed to be a noteworthy cut above the rest… and even more so if the individual held a prominent position in the then British Colonial Civil service.

Being of an impressionable age as a pre-teenager, I held these individuals in high esteem… until I graduated from high school, got myself a job, and began to quantify their achievements. And what I discovered was that most of them did very well for themselves and their families, but contributed very little to the village community at large. Among the few exceptions was Anacleto Lobo who was generally referred to as “Principal Lobo”

Anacleto Lobo did not have his roots in Saligao. He was born in the village of Tivim, but his family had originally settled in Poona, India, where they were known to have made significant contributions in the community.

Anacleto Lobo was a learned man and an educationist who wanted to impart the benefits of learning and the richness of diverse cultures to as many Goans as possible. So he built a co-ed school in Saligao in 1909 just inside the boundary line that separates Saligao from the village of Calangute, and he named it Mater Dei Institution. It catered to the children of Saligao and the surrounding villages of Calangute, Candolim, and Pilerne. In the ensuing years, its high standards gained it a reputation that began to attract students from all over Goa.

Principal Lobo had travelled to China, England and Europe, and he incorporated the best of these foreign cultures as part of the curriculum, albeit with subtlety. And I happened to be one of the fortunate beneficiaries of his life’s pursuit.

Principal Lobo. Sketch by Mel D'Souza. Saligao Serenade

Principal Lobo. Sketch by Mel D'Souza.

Principal Lobo was an impressive man. He was always impeccably dressed – polished shoes, razor-sharp creased trousers, a pressed ‘bush shirt’, a well-trimmed goatee, and not a hair out of place on his head. To add to his stature, he strode the halls of the school at a brisk pace and always had a cane in his right hand. The cane was used sparingly, but those that were on the receiving end were an exclusive group – of which I was one. I earned this distinction at the end of a typical school day when the class was being dismissed.

It all happened during a short prayer the class would recite after the final bell. As a monitor (a student appointed as a role model and keeper of the peace in the classroom), it was my duty to lead the prayer. That particular day, Principal Lobo was standing in for our regular teacher when I mumbled the last words of the prayer and started shuffling towards the door before crossing myself. Now, that was a sign of disrespect as far as Principal Lobo was concerned, and he reacted swiftly; a sharp whack across the back of my pants that froze me in my tracks just short of the door. “Don’t you ever leave before finishing your prayers!” he bellowed, leaving me so stunned that I uttered neither “Ouch!” nor “I’m sorry, Sir”. But it sure did teach me a lasting lesson in the importance of respecting authority.

This incident, however, was not a true reflection of Principal Lobo. He was a disciplinarian for sure, but under that stern appearance was a compassionate man who was not widely known for his charitable deeds because he performed them very discreetly. I only came to know about his acts of charity from my dad a few years after I had graduated from Mater Dei.

As an educationist with a mission to equip his students with the foundation for a better future, he waived the fees of many a poor student to enable them to graduate from high school so that they could get a job abroad and, in turn, support their other siblings in school, not to mention their financially strapped parents.

Anacleto Lobo was married to Inez Nazare a trained teacher educated in Bangalore and Secunderabad, and they had three children, Cleta, Edna and Yvette. Mrs. Lobo was very efficient, and she helped her husband in the administration of the school. Cleta is the current Principal, and Edna is Vice-Principal. And they have maintained Mater Dei’s proud tradition to this day.

Principal Lobo was rarely talked about as a prominent villager of Saligao, perhaps because he didn’t flaunt his academic credentials and didn’t get involved in petty politics. But he was, indeed, an impressive man who I have always regarded as the greatest benefactor of Saligao.

Edna Lobo: Pic by Mel D'Souza. Saligao Serenade

Edna Lobo. Vice-Principal of Mater Dei Institution. Tragically, Edna passed away suddenly on 21 April 2010

4 comments on Principal Lobo

  • FN

    We need to nurture our institutions, so that they can go even further. So many generations have gained from institutions such as these…

  • Wasy D'Cruz

    This is the first time I read this article about Principal Lobo. I, too, went to Mater Dei school and matriculated in 1950. Mr. Lobo was a great man, and you have done a great job of describing his various accomplishments.
    Wasy D’Cruz
    Scituate, MA, USA

  • Rudy Fernandes

    Dec 26, 2011

    Dear Fr. Nascimento,

    Thank you so much for providing a wealth of information on our beloved Saligao in the Saligao Serenade, which is a treasure trove of nostalgia for Saligaonkars.

    Like you, Mel D’Souza, Wasy D’Cruz and many other friends featured here, I too studied at Mater Dei Institution and have some very fond memories of our school and especially of Principal Anacleto Lobo. One can honestly say that Principal Lobo was a key contributor to the success attributable to Saligao and Saligaonkars for over a century! He was a visionary leader who had a big and generous heart, helping countless students to succeed/shine over many decades – thanks to his dedication to teaching and his focus on excellence.

    It is remarkable that he was able to attract to Mater Dei High School some superb teachers. One of the best of these had to be Miss D’Souza, an inspired and hugely dedicated English teacher who chose to come to Saligao to teach. She was my hero, who shaped my life as well as the future of many other students at Mater Dei, teaching with great love and affection.

    Yes, the villagers of Saligao have made very significant contributions globally in various fields. Many of these leaders’ fine contributions to society have been highlighted in the Saligao Serenade. We also know of many other sons and daughters of Saligao such as Dr Rudolf De Mello, Baptist de Souza and many others who have made this a better world through their pursuit of excellence, their fine example and philanthropic nature.

    Thank you and Val Souza for your labour of love in providing us with this fine window on Saligao.
    Viva Saligao!

    Rudy Fernandes
    Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

  • Villiers Stephen

    Dear Fr. Nascimento,
    Great reading your articles on Gama Pinto and now about Anacleto Lobo. I too with my brother Maurice who was your classmate studied at Mater Dei from 1947 to 1957. Yes, Miss Celestine D’Souza was one of those great teachers we had at this institution. My father Winfred Stephen was also a teacher here from ’47 to ’58.
    Wonderful memories of an Educational Institution of very high standards.
    Thanks to you.

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