Philippines President Interviewed at LMU

In this section

Interview: Benigno Aquino III, President of the Philippines

Michael Genovese, right, an LMU political science professor, sat down for a one-on-one interview with Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III before Aquino received an honorary degree from the university.

Philippines President Interviewed at LMU

President Benigno S. Aquino III
President Benigno S. Aquino III

Filipino students celebrated as Loyola Marymount University honored Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in an invitation-only ceremony in the Life Sciences Building Auditorium.

Aquino, the 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines, was recognized for his dedication to his country, his integrity and his embodiment of a Jesuit education.

The ceremony, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, included remarks by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Rep. Maxine Waters.

Aquino leads an archipelago nation of nearly 90 million people, including more than 70 million Catholics.  He was educated by the Jesuits at Ateneo de Manila University. 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, who served as the nation’s first woman president from 1986 to 1992. She had assumed leadership of the pro-democracy movement following her husband’s assassination.

“The LMU Filipino community – students, faculty and staff – are excited the university  honored President Aquino, who has, alongside his parents, dedicated his life to the betterment of the Filipino people,” said Edmundo Litton, professor and chair of the Department of Urban Education in LMU’s School of Education. “A majority of the Filipino students at LMU are also the children of Filipinos who recently immigrated to the United States and thus, they still have very strong ties to the Philippines.”  

Members of Isang Bansa, LMU’s Filipino student association, performed a dance number at the reception that followed the ceremony and presented President Aquino with a gift.

“Most of them are excited to tell their parents,” said Nell Reynoso, assistant director of student employment services and adviser to Isang Bansa, pointing out that the parents know Aquino’s family history and how it shaped the course of the Philippines.

But some said the event did more than celebrate a head of state.

“Honoring President Aquino is a visible sign that the university values the contributions of the Filipino community at LMU,” Litton said. “Filipino students make up the largest Asian group at LMU and California is the home of most of the Filipinos outside of the Philippines. By honoring President Aquino, LMU also honors the Filipino community.”

The conferral ceremony was co-sponsored by the School of Education’s Teach for the Philippines Program and the World Policy Institute at LMU.

Teach for the Philippines is a part of Teach For All, a global network of independent organizations that have adapted Teach For America’s model to expand educational opportunity in their own countries. Founded in 2007, Teach For All is a growing network of independent organizations in 32 countries around the world. In 2014, School of Education Dean Shane P. Martin, Litton and other administrators spent four days in Manila visiting schools and meeting with educational leaders, including Secretary of Education Brother Armin Luistro, FSC, beginning the collaboration.

The World Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles’ newest think tank, is an interdisciplinary institution that applies rigorous academic research to help solve global policy challenges. A partnership between the New York-based World Policy Institute and LMU, WPI@LMU and its Fellows are developing a scholarly policy network in Los Angeles to address emerging issues in global affairs.

Michael Genovese, president of WPI@LMU, professor of political science and holder of the Loyola Chair of Leadership Studies at LMU, told to LMU Magazine that LMU leg of the project will operate as a “think-tank idea incubator,” where they will apply “academic research to answer some of the vexing questions about everything from the Pacific Rim to global climate change, refugee policy, terrorism and economic dislocation.”