Words of Acceptance:
The Hon. Jejomar Binay, Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines, the Directors and Officers of the Insular Life Assurance Corporation, the Senators of the Jaycees International, and our relatives and friends here present:
A Jesuit is formed to give little heed to the honors and glories of the world, preferring to dedicate all *ad majorem Dei gloriam – to the greater glory of God,* as my nominators know.
But I accept this singular honor this evening, with its special designation, “for Education,” in the name of those who have made me an education man: in the name of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines which has entrusted me with the mission of educational leadership, and in the name especially of the Ateneo de Naga University, its faculty, studentry, and staff, which empowered me to exercise the critical educational leadership for which I am being cited.
This is a leadership, nurtured in Jesuit houses of formation, in the silence of their chapels, and in the lives of our urban and rural poor. It has come to special fruition in Bikol.
I have been privileged to exercise it on local, regional, national and international planes, insisting that public educational governance must be at least rational, and that education itself must train not only the competent human professional, but form the competent human person, able to learn, able to love, able to discern the difference between right and wrong, and willing to live lives responsive to those who suffer – also because of the wrongly educated.
So, thank you Insular Life Assurance Corporation and the Jaycee International Senate for this award. It is bestowed and accepted – ad majorem Dei gloriam! – as a sign of heroism and hope: that with critical, heroic engagement our educational system and its administration, public and private, can be improved, that the time for that improvement is not tomorrow but today, and that this improvement against all odds and against all cynics – called forth by the heroism of dedicated Filipino educators everywhere, and the urgency of the plight of our poor – shall be hope for millions of Filipinos and Filipinas in our challenging global world.
In their names, I also thank Insular Life and the JCI Senate for the recognition of hope and heroism in the lives of: Dr. Ray L. Catague for Medicine, Dr. Esperanza Cabral for Government Service, Dr. Isagani Cruz for Literature, Dr. Shirley Halili-Cruz for Arts and Culture and Dr. Anthony Leachon for Medicine. May their heroic lives be hope for our youth and a source of enduring inspiration. May the recognition accorded them be a warrant for God’s blessings on us all.
Postscript One: During our joint reception at Zong, Dr. Isagani Cruz said that these rewards are meaningless without the relatives and friends around us.
I thank the Lord, that my 91-year old father, Jose, and my stepmother, Esther, could grace this ocassion with their presence. But also my “Maria-sisters,” Maria Cristina, Maria Elena and Ana Maria, as well as my brother, Raul and his lovely wife, Lyssia, to represent the rest of the Tabora Family! From Naga, Mother Joan Clare Chin-Loy, CFSOP, my nominator, Atty. Miles Raquid-Arroyo, my co-nominator, and Mrs. Fr Olin, our good friend and mother of Fr. Xave Olin, S.J. From the Ateneo de Naga University came Dr. Becky Torres, AVP; Dr. Fred Fabay, Dean, Graduate School; Dr. Lyd Goingo, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Popoy Reganit, Dean, College of Education; Dr. Marlyn Regandola, Dean, College of Engineering; Dr. Allan Sioson, Dean, College of Computer Science; Dr. Debbie Adriano, Dean, College of Business and Accountancy; Dr. Mary Clare Rubino, Dean, College of Nursing; Ms. Janet Badilla, Deputy AVP for Formation; Mr. Ramon Nonito Ayo, AdNU Treasurer; and from the Office of the President: Messrs. Marlon Razon, Bernie Jereza, Vinci Bueza and Atty. Rose Sergio.
Representing the Society of Jesus in the Philippines was Fr. Jun Viray, S.J., current rector of Loyola House of Studies and my successor as AdNU President beginning SY 2011-12, and representing my Naga Jesuit Community was Fr. Ritche Elot, S.J.
Particularly thrilling was the surprise appearance of Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC, my Christian Brother friend from De La Salle University, who now shoulders the burdens of educational reform as the Secretary of Education of the Philippines under our Education President, Noynoy Aquino.
Postscript Two: Just a needed correction in the write-up accorded myself in the evening’s handout, “Of Hopes and Heroes,” that goes beyond literary license even for laudatory citations such as these. It says that when I was sent to Naga in 1999, “The Ateneo de Naga was on the brink of collapse. Its coffers were dry, enrolment was low, and morale was shaken with Fr. Bonoan’s untimely demise. Physically, it already painted an image of extinction…” (pg. 16). This needs gentle correction. What is being described is possibly the Ateneo de Naga when it was taken over by Fr. Raul “Rolly” Bonoan a decade earlier. When I took over, thanks to the dedication and leadership of Fr. Bonoan, the Ateneo de Naga was not only well on its way to recovery, but had just that year achieved university status. Among its proud new buildings then were already the Phelan Hall and the new University Library. So apologies to Fr. Rolly if I have been given credit for some of his courageous achievements with the AdNU community and its alumni and alumnae, who rallied then worldwide to the rescue of their alma mater. I took over the AdNU when Fr. Rolly, before his untimely demise, had already quite heroically provided it much hope. If I have been responsible for any heroic achievement at the Ateneo de Naga, it is because I stand on the shoulders of such giants as Fr. Rolly, Fr. Jack Phelan, S.J., Fr. Jim O’Brien, S.J., Bro. Serge Adriatico, S.J., Fr. James Reuter, S.J., and Fr. Francis Burns, S.J., our founder.