Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Loyola Marymount University on Wednesday, Feb. 17, in an invitation-only ceremony in the Life Sciences Building Auditorium.
Aquino, the 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines, was honored in recognition of his dedication to his country, his integrity and his embodiment of a Jesuit education. He is a graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, which was founded in 1859 by the Society of Jesus.
“President Aquino represents precisely what we as educators mean about helping our students become women and men for and with others,” said LMU President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D. “His deep commitment to the Philippine people is a model from which each of us can learn.”
Aquino took the opportunity to speak about his own school days, remembering how the ethos of service to others was ingrained in his educational experiences.
“The be-all and end-all of our existence here is, how does it lead to the bettering of the condition of others?” he said. “We were taught not just that this was the right thing to do, but also that it is a moral imperative.”
Elected in 2010 to a six-year term, Aquino, a fourth-generation politician, is the only son of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and President Corazon Aquino.
He was welcomed to Los Angeles by Mayor Eric Garcetti, who noted the role of Filipinos among the city’s first settlers in 1789, and recalled that his grandfather’s Army service fighting in the Philippines during World War II is what earned him the right to become a U.S. citizen afterwards.
“Had it not been for that experience in the Philippines, I would not be here today,” Garcetti said. “This legacy of Filipinos, who have been here from the very beginning, who have enriched the city’s vibrant culture and have strengthened the politics and economy that we have here, has helped position Los Angeles as the creative crossroads of the world.”
The event was co-sponsored by the School of Education’s Teach for the Philippines Program and the World Policy Institute at LMU, an interdisciplinary research and academic center created as a partnership between the New York-based WPI and LMU.
A video of the event is available below.