It was at a small campus print shop, among the bleating of machines and smell of fresh prints, that 63-year-old Ignacio “Iggy” Santeco first met the love of his life and learned the trade that would help sustain him through a lifetime of sacrifice and dedication, said his family.
And now, after more than 30 years of working for BYU–Hawaii Print Services, Iggy Santeco said he is retiring from his job as print shop supervisor.
“His work ethic and his dedication to take care of his family—I think I hold that closest to my heart, knowing he really put our family before himself,” said Iggy Santeco’s daughter Marisa Santeco, a BYUH alumna who currently works as the university brand manager.
“It makes sense why he did what he did working at Print Services for [as long as he did],” said Marisa Santeco. “He didn’t really care about progressing in his career. His main goal was to help us all obtain an education.”
Getting an education
According to Marisa Santeco, an education was what brought Iggy to Hawaii. “I look at him as a pioneer of coming to America and getting an education.” She explained Iggy was the only one of his five older brothers who came to America from the Philippines and stayed.
“As a parent, he really hopes the best for us, even more than what he has done.”
Iggy Santeco began work as a cook on campus when he started as a student in 1980, but said after receiving too many burns, he said he decided to look for something different.
In those days, he explained, BYUH Print Services, then called Press Services, was located at the library.
“I rode my bike right up to the window, and asked if there were any jobs for me,” said Iggy Santeco, who was hired right away. “That’s the trade I wanted to do because I’m good with my hands.”
He worked there for the rest of his time as a student at BYUH, and after graduation was given the opportunity to go to Samoa for work. He said he felt very welcomed in Samoa from the moment he stepped off the plane.
He began as a service station worker at a gas station during the week and a part-time printer and photographer for a newspaper company on the weekends. During his time in Samoa, Iggy Santeco said he grew to deeply love the people and experiences he had there.
An office relationship
Iggy Santeco’s wife, Didi Santeco, was a young student from Thailand and not a member of the Church, when she began working as a copy operator at BYUH Print Services in 1988. When Iggy Santeco returned to BYUH Print Services from Samoa, the two met and eventually married.
“We met at work, and he was the type of person who likes to entertain other people. I thought he was funny. He always made me smile,” said Didi Santeco who now works as a BYUH systems analyst.
According to Didi Santeco, she made the first move “by asking Iggy to a school ball on a cruise ship.”
She was failing her Book of Mormon class, and Iggy, a returned missionary and lifelong member, was soon enlisted to help. Despite his tutoring, Didi Santeco explained with a laugh, that was the only class she failed.
Iggy Santeco said he was a little reluctant when he met his wife because of past failed relationships, and tried to keep it casual, but Didi Santeco said she wanted none of that.
“I told her, ‘I just want to make sure I find the right person,’” said Iggy Santeco, smiling as he remembered. “And she said, ‘I know I’m the right person. You need to figure out if you are.’”
They kept their relationship private, and it was not until he began printing and handing out wedding invitations at work their co-workers and boss first found out the two were dating, while both worked for the Print Services.
Raising a family
Because BYUH offered half tuition for students with parents who worked fulltime at the school, Marisa Santeco said she and her siblings each had the opportunity to obtain an education here.
“They are very hard workers together. My dad is the provider, but my mom is also a supporter in providing for all of my siblings and me,” said Marisa Santeco.
“They have the same goal in mind. They love working for BYUH because it’s where they graduated and because of its mission. They knew it was a place where my siblings and I could learn and grow.”
When Didi Santeco got sick, Marisa Santeco said she witnessed her father care for his wife and family, undeterred by the stresses of a diminished income.
“My dad became one of the main sources of income, but it didn’t discourage him,” said Marisa Santeco. “We were faithful as a family that it would be fine. Luckily, it was just the beginning stages of the cancer. My dad was very good at being emotionally strong for our whole family, still working, and providing enough for our family.”
Marisa Santeco added, “He just loved my mom and always hugged her, especially during the times when it was really hard and painful for her.”
His impact on students
Over the course of his life, Iggy Santeco said he worked many different jobs—from a service station worker in Samoa to a nursery maintenance worker to the owner of a local print shop in Kahuku and many more—all of which he said gave him a greater appreciation for all people, no matter the trade.
Iggy said he was shocked to discover how some people treated or spoke about groundskeepers and other blue collar workers, and said he learned “anything that you can do good, the Lord appreciates so much.”
“It didn’t really matter to him,” said Marisa Santeco in regards to her father’s decision to not advance to another job. “He just found joy in meeting [and] working with student workers from different countries and helping our community too.”
One such student worker is Alger Aranda, a senior from the Philippines studying information systems, who first met Iggy Santeco when his bike got a flat tire and Iggy stepped in to help out.
Aranda, who worked with Iggy Santeco at Print Services, said he enjoyed the atmosphere Iggy created with the students. “He loves listening to music while working. Sometimes he pretends that he knows the entire lyrics of a modern song he really likes, and he would sing it using his right hand as his microphone just to [help us] de-stress.”
Iggy Santeco said the thing he will miss the most, in addition to the people, are his machines. “He treated the equipment with respect,” said Anela Naluai, a junior graphic design major from Draper, Utah, who used to work with Iggy. “His saying was– ‘If you treat it well, it works.’”
Didi Santeco said her husband has always been a handyman and seemed to have a natural knack for printing. She explained with no service man on the island who could repair the machines, Iggy was frequently figuring out how to fix the machines himself when they broke down.
“He knows what he does,” said Didi Santeco. “He’s very precise about the quality of his work. Little things most people don’t see on a blank piece of paper, he can see them.”
Iggy Santeco’s student workers, Aranda and Naluai, both said Iggy always shared life experiences and tips, and said they are grateful for the opportunity to learn from him.
“Uncle Iggy taught me to hold on to the gospel when life gets difficult,” said Aranda. “He has shared with me some personal and sensitive experiences in his life, and he allowed himself to be vulnerable to me. He said that if it wasn’t for the gospel of Jesus Christ, he would not have met his eternal companion who he loves, and he would not have enjoyed [the] family he has right now.”