Each year, Colegio de San Juan de Letran graduates hundreds of students tasked with, among others, proclaiming the name of the school by living extraordinary lives, making a mark in their field and leaving an indelible legacy in their professions. Many of them are never heard again. But, some of them do and this gives us reason to honor them.
The Letran Awards, in the various categories, is a way of expressing our appreciation and thanks to the men and women who lead and live as examples for others. The honorees and recipients of the awards are individuals who believe that education is a shared value and that the Colegio’s ideals- DEUS, PATRIA, LETRAN- are a shared commitment. They are recognized for giving us, who are and who work in the educational endeavor and apostolate, the encouragement to go on, in spite of obstacles and difficulties. They remind us that our vision and mission are still relevant today. They are leaders and credible witnesses- good models and examples for others, especially to our students- in living up to the ideals of DEUS, PATRIA, LETRAN, which tell us who we are and more so, who we are for others. Their accomplishments show to us the realization of our common dreams and reveal to us our common bond that we share with the rest of humanity. Their achievements are their, as well as our contributions to the improvement and upliftment of other peoples’ lives, making our nation, the Philippines and the world a better place to live in.
Following the Colegio’s motto of “Deus, Patria, Letran” the following award categories are conferred:
San Vicente Liem de la Paz Award - Most Distinguished Alumnus Award
Vicente Liem was born in the village of Tra-Lu, Tonkin (now Vietnam) to Antonio Daeon and Monica de la Cruz. Placed by his parents at the care of a mission center where the children were taught the basics of faith, good manners, Chinese language and even Latin, Vicente came under the tutelage of Dominican Fr. Luis Espinosa known by his Tonkinese name Fr. Huoy.
Fr. Huoy, recognizing the talent and potentials of Vicente Liem, made arrangements with Fr. Juan Candela, then Rector of Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Manila, for Vicente to be granted a scholarship given by King Philip V of Spain. While pursuing further studies at UST, Vicente Liem also served as instructor to younger students. Upon graduation, he joined the Dominican Order on September 9, 1754. He was ordained priest in 1758, and soon after, returned home in Tonkin on January 20, 1759.
Vicente Liem then took active part in the work of evangelization of native Tonkinese, ministering to their needs and dispensing the sacraments from one town to another for next fourteen years. On October 3, 1773, he was arrested for preaching the outlawed religion. He was about to be set free by order of the king, but he preferred to stay imprisoned with the Spanish Dominican Juan Castañeda and two other Christian natives. On November 7, 1773, all four of them were sentenced to death and decapitated.
Vicente Liem was beatified on May 20, 1906 by Pope Piux X and canonized, June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II. His feast has been set on November 24 every year.
The Colegio named the Most Distinguished Alumni Award after its foremost alumnus and saint, Vicente Liem de la Paz, whose dedication to his profession is beyond compare. This award is given to an alumnus whose selfless dedication to his or her profession or vocation has resulted in significant contributions for the welfare of others. The awardee has sufficiently received national or international recognition from prestigious award giving bodies, made significant contributions in his or her chosen field that uplifted the life of the Filipino, achieved a high level of peer recognition here and abroad, exhibited a passionate commitment to social development, and demonstrated leadership and pioneering zeal.
Fray Diego de Santa Maria Award- Public Service Award
A saintly Dominican lay brother named Fray Diego de Santa Maria arrived in the Philippines in 1630. He was first assigned to the Priory of Sto. Domingo where he served selflessly as its porter. Like Don Juan Gerronimo Guerrero, he took pity on the poor and abandoned boys of Manila and gave them shelter in a room adjacent to his office and taught them the rudiments of human knowledge and religion. From there, he founded the Colegio de Niños Huerfanos de San Pedro y San Pablo, before it was merged with Colegio de Niños Huerfanos de San Juan de Letran in 1640. Being one of the founders of the Colegio, Fray Diego is a testament for the noble goals of Letran’s great grandfathers in caring and giving education to the youth.
Driven by this selfless dedication of Fray Diego to the abandoned boys in the Metro, the Colegio is naming after him the Public Service Award. Open not only to alumni but also to non-alumni, this award gives recognition to individuals or group of individuals whose leadership flows from moral rectitude, innovativeness and a pioneering spirit and who has substantial experience in community service or development-related activities, shown total commitment in the advancement of the welfare of others, alleviated humanitarian problems, defended human rights or engaged in philanthropic activities nationwide as well as worldwide, shown exceptional service, done outstanding work to improve the community and addressed problems of poverty, malnutrition, disease, violence and environmental disaster.
President Manuel Quezon Award- Government Service Award
President Manuel L. Quezon graduated from Letran High School in 1889 before proceeding to the University of Santo Tomas for his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude (1894) and Bachelor of Laws. He placed 4th in the 1903 Bar Examinations. His biography is a story of service to the government and the people. He held the positions of Fiscal, Municipal Councilor, Governor, Congressman and Majority Floor Leader, Resident Commissioner to the US Congress, Senator, Senate President and President of the Commonwealth Government. His most significant contribution to Philippine History is the passage of the Jones Act and the Tydings-McDuffie Independence Act that paved the way for the grant of Philippine Independence.
He was not only a public servant, but a humanitarian as well. His grandson, Manuel III, recalls Quezon’s decision to accept Jewish refugees fleeing Europe at the height of the Nazi occupation. He wrote, “At a time when the League of Nations had shut its doors to Jewish immigration and even the United States would not permit the entry of Jewish refugees, one country, not even independent, opened its arms in welcome to the Jews. There are surely political considerations in my grandfather’s decision to admit Jewish refugees in the Philippines, but at the point when he lent some of his own land to give some of them a home, I believe the only consideration could have been his own sense of humanity”. Quezon stands out as an example that “not all politicians are bereft of humanity.”
The award that bears his name is given to those individuals in government who render exemplary, honest, efficient and dedicated service. Like the medieval knight, he has a personal crusade to free the government from an image tarnished by graft and corruption, a government our people can be proud of. The Government Service Award recognizes the individual who has served the government with distinction, ensured the rule of law, maintained the dignity of civil servants, assisted in the prompt delivery of services and supported the efficiency of the bureaucracy. The awardee is an example of integrity and honesty and has, in the fulfillment of duties, rendered exemplary service, firmly committed to protect the dignity of his or her work, maintained a personal crusade to free government from graft and corruption and understood the many facets of corporate governance, applying these for the improvement of the conduct of work in government.
Knights of Letran - Outstanding Professional Awards
The knights in medieval literature started as simple warriors on horseback and flourished in Europe between the 11th to 14th centuries. They provided protection for women, children and property. An aspiring knight starts as a page when he reaches seven years of age. He becomes a squire at sixteen and receives serious training from a knight who is also his master. As a knight’s personal valet, he also rode into battle alongside his master. After about five more years, he becomes eligible for knighthood.
During the Crusades, the ideals of Christianity became closely linked with that of knighthood. Before a squire was knighted, he kept vigil in Church the night before, fasted, prayed and swore to use his weapons only for sacred purposes and ideals. A knight’s behavior is guided by a code of chivalry. He is one who had faith and a deep love for the Christian religion. He also loved the land of his birth, gave generously to all in need and protected the weak. He championed the cause of right against injustice, unwavering in the face of danger and death. He encompasses all that is good from the idealistic Don Quijote to the legendary King Arthur.
By the 12th and 13th centuries, some knights have established groups called “Orders”. The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem aided the pilgrims going to the Holy Land. The Knights Hospitallers, more popularly known as the Knights of Malta, cared for the pilgrims and the sick. It survives to this day and uses as its herald, an eight-point cross known as the Maltese Cross. This symbol was later adopted in the official seal of the Colegio. Don Juan Geronimo Guerrero, one of the founding founders of the Colegio, must have been a Knight of Malta.
Letran has chosen to call its graduates knights because it expects them to lead the exemplary lives and because their paths to success closely resemble the efforts of knights to perfect their craft.
The Knights of Letran are honored for their outstanding professional achievements in the various fields : business, government and military service, medicine and jurisprudence to name a few. As in the past, honorees in this category of the Letran Awards are recognized because, like the medieval knight, have shown selfless dedication to their profession, made significant contributions to their field, and used their knowledge and profession to improve the lives of others.
This award is given to an alumnus who is an active and concerned participant in professional associations, and who has done excellent work in his or her chosen field, made a major contribution to the advancement of his or her profession, significantly contributed to the cultural heritage of the country, and gained national recognition in his or her expertise.
The Knights of Letran, the Outstanding Professional Awards, are in the following fields of endeavor:
Don Juan Geronimo Guerrero Award- Letranism Award
Near the end of 1620, Don Juan Geronimo Guerrero, a retired officer, transformed his home into an orphanage for children. The children were not only cared for, but were also taught of the basics of religion. Don Juan resorted to selling all his other properties, begging from door to door and finally seeking aid of the Governor General to support his wards. When he became too old to run the orphanage, he requested the Dominican Friars to take over and to merge it with the school of a lay Dominican brother, Diego de Santa Maria. Such were the humble beginnings of Colegio de San Juan de Letran, arising from the gallantry of spirit of its founders.
Inspired by this magnanimity, the Letranism award is named after Don Juan Geronimo Guerrero as a personification of his generosity and charitable spirit. Through it, the memory of Don Juan Geronimo Guerrero is perpetuated by people, who, like him are heedless of the costs and who give their all so that others may benefit. This award is conferred to individuals who have selflessly dedicated themselves to the service of the Colegio, received critical acclaim or review of their works, consistently shown sincere concern and strong support for the Colegio, manifested a strong spirit through active and direct involvement in the alumni and school affairs, extended gratuitous support, financial or otherwise, to the Colegio and its alumni, and performed outstanding service to the Colegio beyond the level expected in the execution of the persons’ duties.
The President Jose P. Laurel Sr. Award- Meritorious Service Award
Someone has to do it. That someone was Letranite Jose P. Laurel – Law professor, Majority Floor Leader, Secretary of Justice, Acting Chief Justice and President of the National Assembly during the Japanese Occupation. The “it” was the most difficult decision no other leader in the history of the Philippines ever faced – to stay behind and represent the departing government of President (and Letranite) Manuel L. Quezon. The departing instructions of Quezon were clear: “Defend the people, and do not swear allegiance to the Japanese”.
As President of the National Assembly, and later on of the Second Philippine Republic, he did just that. Philippine history books gloss over the role of Laurel as the willing collaborationist President of the Japanese Sponsored Republic. Senator Jovito Salonga, who knew Laurel differently, paints another picture. Laurel was asked by the Emperor of Japan to declare war on the US and Great Britain. He said no! Upon his assumption as President, he removed all Japanese advisers and guards from Malacanang Palace. He took custody of Manuel Roxas and prevented his arrest by the Japanese Imperial Army. Roxas later on became the first President of the Third Republic. He saved lives, prevented extensive damage, without bowing before a vastly superior enemy. For doing all these, he was arrested after the Fall of Japan and jailed in Muntinlupa like a common criminal until the general pardon granted by President Roxas in 1947.
It is easy to talk about freedom, love of country and heroism these days when there are little threats to our existence. President Jose P. Laurel accepted the task knowing fully well how it would destroy him. True to his being a Letranite, he did it with conviction, determination, clarity of conscience, bravery and courage. Perhaps in recognition of his nationalism, despite the efforts of many to bring him down with the collaboration issue, Dr. Jose P. Laurel was elected Senator to the Second and Third Congress. No political act has been recorded that is more meritorious than this.
In this spirit, the Meritorious Service Award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution or a singular feat or act that deserves recognition.
The nomination covers accomplishments only up to December 31 of the year preceding the conferment of the Award. Nomination should be made using the prescribed Letran Awards nomination form, available at the Letran’s Alumni and Public Relations Department.
Nominees should be nominated under only one category.
The accomplished nomination form and all supporting documents must be submitted on or before March 1 of the year of the awarding to:
The Search Committee Letran Awards c/o Alumni and Public Relations Department St. Dominic Building, Colegio de San Juan de Letran
Mailed entries must be postmarked not later than the aforementioned date.
The selection process starts from an extensive preliminary screening of nominees by the Search, composed of two (2) members from the Letran Alumni Association, two (2) representatives from the school, and a former recipient of any of the Letran Award (or that of the Letran Alumni Awards).
If the committee deems it necessary, it may call upon the nominee for an interview, or may require the nominator to present in person the nominee’s qualifications for the Letran Award.
The final selection of the nominees will be made by a board of judges (Selection Committee) composed of two (2) senior representatives from the Letran Alumni Association, two (2) vice presidents of the school (Letran Admin), and the Rector of Letran. The decision of the Selection Committee shall be final and unappealable.
Incumbent officers of the Letran Alumni Association are disqualified from being nominated.
The awardees shall be informed as to the date of the awarding ceremonies jointly by the Office of the Rector and the Letran Alumni Association at least four (4) weeks prior to the date of the awarding. The awardee shall be required to attend the awarding ceremonies unless he presents justifiable reason for not being able to do so.
Colegio de San Juan de Letran and the Letran Alumni Association shall announce the call for nominations through the internet, letters, posters, newspaper advertisements and/or other media which will be coordinated by Letran’s Alumni and Public Relations Department.
The following may nominate for the Letran Awards: Letran alumni, administrators and faculty members , Alumni and Public Relations Department - Nominations may be submitted to the Alumni and Public Relations Department. Complete documentation of all nominees must be in by March 1. - The entire screening and selection process must be finished at least four (4) weeks prior to the date of the awards, after which the awardees will be immediately informed through the issuance of congratulatory letters to be issued by the Rector of Letran and the President of the Letran Alumni Association.Download Nomination Form
Greetings of peace!
For almost four hundred years, the Colegio has been a shining example of academic excellence, setting standards and reaping recognition from various parts of the country and the globe.
It has ensured that its stakeholders get the quality service that they deserve, with the hopes of guiding them to the path they are destined to take.
It is this tradition of excellence, this legacy that has allowed the institution to withstand the trials of time – this is the ideal that the Alumni and Public Relations Department is sharing to those within the school and especially to those outside.
It is our duty to preach out the message that Colegio de San Juan de Letran is more than the name, more than the elaborate descriptions – Letran is a school that is excellent both in perception and in fact.
History has borne witness to the achievements of Letran and the alumni that it has produced. And it will continue to do so because Letranites live out the unselfish ideals of DEUS, PATRIA, LETRAN.
Siempre Arriba, Siempre Letran!
Alumni and Public Relations Department
5250398/ 5277693 loc 641/ 5279730
JHENNIE C. VILLAR
CARLO CAESAR VALENCERINA
CLARENCE JOPHIEL SAMPANG
ANTON VINCENZ TANTOCO
Public Relations Staff