Donato, Bernardo Unating (1932–2006)

By Nicoli R. Rivera, and Marilou Manatad Tornalejo

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Nicoli Rivera, B.A. in theology (Mountain View College, Valencia City, Bukidnon) is the youngest of the four children of Pastor Ultimino Rivera Jr and Rachel Rivera. In 2017 he worked as a youth pastor in Jimenez for one year. Currently, he is a student at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), studying for a Master of Religion degree with a major in New Testament, which he is expected to finish in 2021.

Marilou Manatad Tornalejo graduated in 1991 from Mountain View College with a Bachelor of Secondary Education, major in English. She finished her M. A. in Education from the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in 2013. She is currently working as a teacher and librarian at the AIIAS Academy. She is also pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Specialist. She is married to Remwil R. Tornalejo and they have four children.

First Published: January 10, 2021

Bernardo Unating Donato was an ordained minister, educator, youth leader, and department director.

Early Life

Bernardo Donato, fondly called Bernie, was born January 8, 1932, in Roxas City, Philippines, to Adventist parents Felipe G. Donato and Paciencia Unating. His father was a station agent of Roxas City, Philippine Railways Company, and his mother was a dressmaker and housewife. On June 22, 1946, at age 14, he was baptized into the Adventist Church at Roxas City by Pastor Victoriano M. Montalban. Bernardo was the third of seven siblings, namely, Lilia, Manuel, Bernardo, William, Rachel, Ebenezer, and Reynaldo. Manuel and William later also became ordained Adventist ministers.1 Bernardo had other elder siblings from his father's previous marriage, namely, Amparo, Gerardo and Jose.2

Bernardo spent his early life in Roxas City. He attended Baptist Home School as a first grader, then moved to Capiz Elementary School through grade six.3 

Education and Marriage

Donato graduated from high school as a valedictorian from Filamer Christian College (now Filamer Christian University), a Protestant school in Roxas City, Capiz, Philippines, in 1953.4 He enrolled in Central Philippines College in Iloilo (now Central Philippine University) as the initial year for his tertiary level. He then transferred to Philippine Union Junior College and studied there for one year. He then attended Mountain View College, at Valenica, Bukidnon, for two years. He eventually ended at Philippine Union College (now Adventist University of the Philippines) at, Baesa, Caloocan, where he spent another two years and completed a degree in Bachelor of Arts with a major in Philosophy and Religion and a minor in English on March 24, 1957.5 

Bernardo married Esther Bermudez on May 17, 1958.6 Esther Bermudez Donato had two years in Civil Engineering. 7 She was baptized September 13, 1953. 8 They were blessed with three children, daughter Sharon Rose (born in September 1959 in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon), and twin sons, Miven and Edsen.9

Ministry

Donato started denominational work as an office worker from September 1952 to March 1953 at Philippine Junior Union College.10 He continued as an office worker from April 1953 to March 1955 at Mountain View College.11 Moreover, he was a student security guard, registrar’s help, and one of the guidance office personnel from June 1955 to May 1957 at Philippine Union College. 12 From June 1957 to May 1961 he served as both a teacher and the boy’s dormitory dean of Mountain View College.13 From June 1961 to April 1962 he worked full-time as a teacher at the college. From May 1962 to December 1963 he served as Missionary Volunteer and Education Secretary of Northern Mindanao Mission (now North Central Mindanao Conference) at Cagayan de Oro City.14

From January 1964 to December 1965 Donato served as Missionary Volunteer as well as Education Secretary at South Philippine Union Mission (now South Philippine Union Conference). 15

Donato was ordained to the ministry in 1966.16 From January 1966 to December 1967 Donato served as the Education and Temperance Secretary of South Philippine Union Mission.17 From January 1968 to December 1969 the Agriculture, Vocation, and Home Industries Departmental Secretary posts were added to his responsibilities.18 From January 1970 to April 1971 he served as the Sabbath School Secretary. In June 1971 he received a call to join the South Asia Union Mission to serve its Public Relations, Youth, and National Service Organization director.19 From 1976 to 1978 the Communication Department was added to his responsibility, although the PR work was dropped from his work. 20 From 1979 to 1980 he served the same union as Sabbath School, Temperance, Youth, and National Service Organization director.21

In 1981 Donato was called to serve the Far Eastern Division as the Youth, Temperance and National Service Organization director. He held these posts until the end of 1992.22 He served full-time with the Youth and NSO departments from 1983 to 1985.23 From 1986 to 1988 he served as an associate of the Church Ministry Department of the division, at the same time serving the NSO department.24 The following year he served as the Trust and Services, Spirit of Prophecy, and NSO departments.25 He served in the division office until his retirement in 1990, holding the departments of the Trust and Services, Spirit of Prophecy, and the National Service Organization.26

Later Life

After his tenure at the Far Eastern Division, Donato was called to serve as pastor of the San Diego Philippine Church in San Diego, California. He was still active in the ministry when he died of heart disease on December 18, 2006, in San Diego.27 He was buried in Glen Abbey Memorial Park, Bonita Road, Bonita, San Diego, California.28 He is survived by his wife, Esther Donato; daughter, Sharon Suite; and siblings,

Legacy

Elder Bernardo “Bernie” Donato is remembered for his hard work and dedication in leading the youth of the church in the Far Eastern Division territory. He was a motivator and a dynamic speaker, and his charisma inspired the youth of the church. From the local mission until he was called to serve in the foreign mission field in Southeast Asia Union Mission, he demonstrated excellence in ministry to young people. Although he had officially retired from denominational service, he continued serving the ministry, until his last breath.

Sources

“Bernardo U. Donato.” Obituaries.com. Accessed September 2, 2021. https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/sandiegouniontribune/name/bernardo-donato-obituary?pid=20379058.

Donato, B. U. “New Method of Teaching Mathematics Introduced.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1965.

Information from Rachel Donato Jucaban, sister of Bernardo U. Donato. Through social media communication, June 27-28, 2021.

Martin, C. D. “MV Council in Korea.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1964.

No Author. The Messenger, March-April 1971.

Personal Service Record of Bernardo U. Donato. Southern Asia Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Notes

  1. Information from Rachel Donato Jucaban, sister of Bernardo U. Donato. Through social media communication June 27, 2021.

  2. Ibid.

  3. Personal Service Record of Bernardo U. Donato, Southern Asia Pacific Division Archives.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Ibid.

  9. Ibid.

  10. Ibid

  11. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1969), 335.

  12. Personal Service Record, Bernardo Unating Donato, Southern Asia Pacific Division Archives.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Ibid.

  15. Ibid. See also C. D. Martin, “MV Council in Korea,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1964, 3- 4.

  16. Personal Service Record of Bernardo U. Donato.

  17. See B. U. Donato, “New Method of Teaching Mathematics Introduced,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1965, 15, 16.

  18. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1969), 140.

  19. No Author, The Messenger, March-April 1971, 2. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1972), 172; (1973-1974), 177; (1975), 175.

  20. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1976), 189; (1977), 191; (1978), 195.

  21. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1979), 201.

  22. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1981), 19, 186; (1982), 17, 117.

  23. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1985), 17, 127.

  24. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1988), 107.

  25. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1989), 19, 103.

  26. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1990), 17, 105.

  27. Communication from Rachel Donato Jucaban, sister of Bernardo U. Donato, June 28, 2021.

  28. “Bernardo U. Donato,” Obituaries.com, https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/sandiegouniontribune/name/bernardo-donato-obituary?pid=20379058.

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Rivera, Nicoli R., Marilou Manatad Tornalejo. "Donato, Bernardo Unating (1932–2006)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9CIL.

Rivera, Nicoli R., Marilou Manatad Tornalejo. "Donato, Bernardo Unating (1932–2006)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9CIL.

Rivera, Nicoli R., Marilou Manatad Tornalejo (2021, January 10). Donato, Bernardo Unating (1932–2006). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9CIL.