BROTHER ANDREW GONZALEZ[1]

(1940 – 2003)

 

“Rarely does one find a person who combines remarkable intellect and practicality.  Much more extraordinary is when the same person combines these attributes with the gift of visionary leadership.  As if these traits were not enough, a person who has also been endowed by the Almighty with unquestionable integrity and an unfaltering commitment to serve others definitely shines like a gem.”

 –          In reference to Bro. Andrew, Manila Bulletin, 01 February 2006.

Brother Andrew was born in Manila on February 29, 1940, and was given the name Macario at baptism.  He is descended from a family that has been involved in education for three generations.  His grandfather, Joaquin Gonzalez, of Baliuag, Bulacan, was a member of the Malolos Constitutional Assembly and was the founding Rector of the Universidad Literaria de Filipinas under the Aguinaldo Government.  Joaquin’s son, Bienvenido Ma. Gonzalez, was Dean of the Agricultural College at Los Baños when he was named President of the University of the Philippines, from 1939 to 1943, and then from 1945 to 1951. It was under his administration that the University of the Philippines moved to its present Diliman campus.  Gonzalo W. Gonzalez served as Regent of the University of the Philippines and Professorial Lecturer at its College of Law, and Eva Beatriz Gonzalez was Dean of the College of Home Economics; both were children of Bienvenido.  Andrew Gonzalez is the nephew of Bienvenido Ma. Gonzalez, the son of Bienvenido’s older brother, Augusto Gonzalez y Sioco, and Rosario Arnedo, the daughter of Macario Arnedo, the first elected Governor of the Province of Pampanga during the first decade of the American regime, from 1902 to 1911, and in acting capacity, 1919.

Macario Gonzalez entered De La Salle College in Manila in 1946, thus beginning a lifelong association with the De La Salle Brothers.  He was a brilliant pupil and his classmates in grade school remember him being accelerated and collapsing two grades in one year (prep and Grade 1, Grade 2 and 3) and completing elementary and high school in nine years and graduating as salutatorian.

While in high school, he realized that he had a vocation for teaching and that he could make his best contribution as a Christian educator by being a Brother of the Christian Schools.  He did his postulancy and novitiate in Baguio in 1955 and received the Brothers’ habit on November 20, 1955. He made his first vows on November 21, 1956, and entered the scholasticate of the Brothers in Winona, Minnesota, on December 10, 1956.

He attended college at St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minnesota, one of the tertiary institutions run by the La Salle Brothers in the U.S., and obtained his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in 1959, when he was only 19 years old. Just one year after obtaining his B.A. he graduated, at age 20, with a Master of Arts in English Literature from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., writing his thesis on D.H. Lawrence’s The Woman Who Rode Away.

 He returned to the Philippines in 1960 to teach English language and literature at the high school department of La Salle College (now University of Saint La Salle) in Bacolod, Negros Occidental.  He served in various mid-level administrative positions at De La Salle College in Manila from 1964 to 1967: Coordinator of the English Language Arts Department in the elementary school, Chair of the Letters Department, Dean of Student Affairs, Director of Admissions.  He made his final vows as a De La Salle Brother on May 30, 1965.

When he was assigned to Manila in 1964, he developed an interest in linguistics as a way of improving the teaching of languages in the Philippines and enrolled for graduate courses in linguistics at the Philippine Normal College as well as the Ateneo de Manila University.  In 1967, he entered the doctoral program in linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley as a Regents’ Fellow in Linguistics and as a Stanley Tasheira Scholar, finishing his degree in 1970.  For his dissertation, he wrote a generative semantic description of Kapampangan (his native language). While waiting to defend his dissertation, he attended a summer seminar on University Management and Organization at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1970.

Back again in the Philippines, Br. Andrew was Chair of the Humanities Department of De La Salle College, Manila, in 1971, and he then became Academic Vice-President of De La Salle University from 1971 to 1978. In 1978, he garnered first place among 100,000 examinees in the first Philippine Board Examinations for Teachers, scoring 86.12%. He was Acting President of the University in 1978 and President for four terms from 1979 to 1991. In 1980, as a grantee of the Philippine-American Educational Foundation, he attended the Management Development Program for College Administrators jointly organized by the Harvard School of Education and the Harvard School of Business. As part of his renewal as a De La Salle Brother, he attended Special Studies in Spirituality and Education at the Centro International Lasalliano in Rome, Italy, in 1982.

After his first stint as President of De La Salle University, he became President of the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation from 1991 to 1994. He was elected President of De La Salle University once more in 1994 and he held that position until 1998.  He was appointed Secretary of Education, Culture and Sports of the Republic of the Philippines in July 1998 and served in that capacity until January 2001. Returning to De La Salle University, he was appointed Vice-President for Academics and Research (2001-2003) and Presidential Adviser for Academics and Research of the De La Salle University System (2003-2005). He has been serving as President of the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation from October 2001 to the President.

There have been two strands in Br. Andrew’s lifework:  his being a linguist and his being an educational leader.  He has been a very prolific scholar in linguistics from 1970, and his works have been wide-ranging, covering descriptive linguistics, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics (especially language planning), and applied linguistics (especially language education).  Only recently, his work on stylistic shifts in Philippine English as well as his attempts to grapple with the problem of legitimation of local features in new varieties of English in the world and his proposition that the sociolectal varieties of English in the Philippines are very much a function not so much of social class but of extent and quality of education have given rise to seminal ideas in the field, among both local and foreign scholars.

As an educational leader, Br. Andrew aggressively pursued his vision of making De La Salle University not only a center of teaching excellence but also a research university.  He actively recruited first-rate scholars and creative writers, and he obtained local and foreign scholarships and grants for them.  He built a new library and dramatically expanded its holdings.  He instituted the trimestral system primarily to attract and retain faculty by being able to match the salaries of industry.  He doubled the student population to keep pace with the growing population of the country and its need for a bigger base of well-trained engineers, computer scientists, entrepreneurs, scientists, writers, teachers, and researchers.  He promoted graduate education, instituting new master’s and doctoral degree programs and developing consortia arrangements to sustain them.  He built up the endowments of the University. He founded the College of St. Benilde as a center for innovative teaching and acquired a College of Medicine to meet the demand for trained doctors and De La Salle University-Dasmariñas to serve a sector of the rural population.

He became President again in 1994, and his mission this time around was to make the De La Salle University System a functioning multiversity that could be a viable model for other university systems in the Philippines.  For De La Salle University Manila, his dream was that it would become a world-class university well known for its teaching and research excellence.  Two modest projects established during his second stint as President have had far-reaching effects.  One is the Summer Institute of Graduate Studies, a program that enables high school and college teachers from all over the country to come to De La Salle University Manila to finish a non-thesis Master’s degree in four summers at highly subsidized rates. The other is the Pre-School established at the College of Education, which provides day care for three to five-year olds from the depressed Leveriza area and exposes them to a rich environment of language and play activities.

Br. Andrew’s stint as Education Secretary was short but crucial to the history of education in the country.  He proposed that the number of subjects in the curriculum be reduced, leading to the revised Basic Education Curriculum now used in all public schools. He instituted a corruption-free procurement process commended even by the World Ban, successfully bringing the prices of textbooks down by 54.5%. He built 22,200 new schoolrooms and ordered schools to hold double, even triple sessions to handle the growing student population.  He started the computerization of schools.  He streamlined the administration of the NEAT and NSAT and ensured that the test results would be used by DECS to improve the delivery of instruction.  He reformed the grievance procedures of the Department. He established a transparent way of choosing DECS officials.  He initiated a massive equivalency program for non-formal education.  He institutionalized pre-school education.  He started an in-service program that allowed numerous teachers to gain graduate degrees.  He started to change the language of instruction to the regional lingua franca for the first three grades.  Many of the programs implemented by later Department Secretaries have come from his imaginative but practical, and always well-informed, mind.

Bo. Andrew has been the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions:  The National Research Council of the Philippines Achievement Award (for outstanding achievement in the field of social sciences and humanities, 1981; Officer de l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques from the Government of France, 1986; Recognition from the Center for the Development of Languages in the Philippines (for supporting the use of Filipino as a national language), 1988; Outstanding Kapampangan Award (in Education) from the Province of Pampanga, 1988; Fortieth Anniversary Fulbright Award (in education) from the Philippine Fulbright Scholars Association, 1988; University Fellow, De La Salle University, 1989; Gawad Panitik award awarded by the Panitik ng Kababaihan with the Municipality of Manila and the National Press Club (for contributions in linguistics, education, and social science), 1990; St. Vincent de Paul Medal of Academic Excellence from Adamson University, 1991; Gawad Gantimpalang Quezon sa Panitikan, 1993; Member, National Academy of Science and Technology and Academician, 1986; Outstanding Manilan Award from the City of Manila, 1996; the Fourth Degree of the Order by the Knight Grand Officer of Rizal, 1998; Saint Bede Award from San Beda College, Manila, 2003; Ex Corde Ecclesiae from the International Federation of Catholic Universities, Paris, 2005. He has received honorary doctorates from Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan (1989); Soka University, Hachioji, Japan (1998); St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada (1999); and St. Mary’s College of California, Moraga, California (2000).

As if such achievements were not enough, there is another distinction that appears unobtrusively at the end of his curriculum vitae.  His total number of publications in linguistics, education, and religious education currently stands at 2800.

Greatness often does not come from a single book, a single invention, or a single discovery.  Frequently, accomplishment is the result of hard work over a whole lifetime.  In Br. Andrew’s case, it is as if two lifetime achievements have been accomplished in one lifetime – with the achievements done seemingly effortlessly.

In granting him the title of President Emeritus, De La Salle University-Manila reaffirms the gratitude to Br. Andrew. As the title Emeritus implies, Br. Andrew has retired from actively leading the University, but he is not and will never be inactive.  He will always be called upon to share his wisdom with the University.  Truly, Br. Andrew is the man God gave the University, the country, and the world to lead and inspire us at this crucial moment in history.

[1] “Biography of Br. Andrew Gonzalez, FSC”, by Dr. Ma. Lourdes Bautista, published for the Conferment of the title President Emeritus on Br. Andrew on September 28, 2005 at the De La Salle University-Manila, Philippines.