Atty. Filemon D. Tanchoco Sr , was born on November 20, 1887, in Malabon, Rizal. His parents were of mixed blood: Malayan, Spanish and Chinese. His father belonged to a clan known in Malabon as angkan ni Marunong (clan of him who is wise). It was said that his Chinese ancestor was a commandante (weatherman) in a native sugar warehouse in which weather forecasting spelled the costly difference between dry valuable sugar and wet unsaleable sugar. The commandante scanned the skies carefully from a small tower looking the yard where moist sugar was exposed to dry. There he issued warnings regarding the weather to those below in charge of drying the delicate lumps
of moist native sugar fresh from the pilon containers. There he issued warnings regarding the weather to those below in charge of drying the delicate lumps of moist native sugar fresh from the pylon containers. Apparently the commandante developed quite a reputation for his accurate forecasts because the townspeople appended to his name the respectable appellation marunog (wise).
President Tanchoco’s father, Adriano Tanchoco died when the former was only two years old. Consequently, Dionisia Dionisio, the widowed mother, sold dry goods lin the streets to support the family. Filemon as soon as he could walk and speak, accompanied his mother earn the livelihood for the family. In these trips, he often carried native and imported dry goods on his head and shoulders and trudged the dusty, hot streets of Malabon and especially Navotas, Rizal. Knowing that education was the only salvation of the poor, he went to school undaunted by the extreme difficulties that beset the family.
He earned the title of Perito Mercantil in 1907, the degree of Pharmaceutical Chemist in 1910 and the degree of Bachelor of Laws in 1917. He passed the Bar examinations and was admitted to the Philippine bar in the same year. His educational mission began when, as an elementary school teacher, he taught in Malabon, Rizal who was a branch of the former Colegio Filipino, Manila. Two years later, after acquiring the experience and learning the required prerequisite, he taught in two different colleges in Manila. The Colegio San Geronimo in 1908, Colegio San Pablo in 1914, later on Liceo de Manila in 1914 to1918. He rose to the professorial rank as professor in 1913 in the Escuela de Farmacia de Liceo de Manila and later became dean of the Escuela de Farmacia de Liceo de Manila and dean in 1946 of the Manila College of Pharmacy and Dentistry. This was followed by his appointment as the first president of the Manila Central University. During his professorial years, he wrote several textbooks among which were "Physical Chemistry", "Inorganic Chemistry", "Organic Chemistry", "Qualitative Analysis for Pharmacy Students" and a compilation, "Store and Drugstore Management". He also wrote "Pharmacy Law – Commented and Annotated" and "Toxicology for Pharmacy Students". During his lifetime President Tanchoco expressed his deep commitment to education. His plans for MCU included the future. In an article from the Gold and Purple year 1958, he had written the following: "Meanwhile that the undersigned is living and with sufficient strength to work, our institution will continue on her way of progress, and even after, I have full confidence that my heirs and collaborators in the preparation of our youth for professional life will continue in their patriotic and educational endeavors for the proper and better preparation of our actual and future students who have faith in us and in our ability to give them the best we can for the good of the youth of land." Dr.Tanchoco continued working for the institution he loved until his death in 1963.