President Rodrigo Duterte hailed the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, one of the oldest academic institutions in the country, for its 400th founding anniversary this year.

Duterte signed a presidential proclamation recognizing Letran’s countless contributions to Philippine society.

“The State recognizes the Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s contributions to our history and nation-building, through the formation of individuals who have excelled in various fields, including national heroes, leaders and artists, as well as through community services to the poor and needy,” the President said in Proclamation 908 he signed on February 21.

Duterte’s proclamation declares 2020 as “Year for the Celebration of the Quadricentennial Anniversary of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran.”

Earlier this month, Letran also took a stand and expressed their support to broadcast giant, ABS-CBN, amidst the President’s threat not to renew the broadcast giant’s franchise.  It’s much older sister school, University of Santo Tomas, earlier came out with a statement of support for ABS-CBN.

“We offer you constant heartfelt prayers, pleading for God’s grace to stand fast and firm, to serve the cause of freedom and rights, to speak truth to power, to seek and secure a greater good,” Rev. Fr. Clarence Marquez, Letran Rector, said.

Letran was founded in 1620 by Don Juan Geronimo Guerrero, a retired Spanish officer and Diego Santa Maria, a Dominican lay brother in Intramuros, Manila. 

The Catholic school was also hailed as College of the First Class by royal decree of May 1865. 

Letran kicked off its quadricentennial celebration in November 2016 and has since been celebrating it with special events, homecomings, and tributes to alumni who have been part of weaving the school’s long and colorful history.

The celebrations are divided into four phases, which cover four important parts of Letran’s story.

The first phase is about the past, looking back in what has transpired, the Orgullosos De Tu Historia (Proud of your History).

The second year is about the present, which focuses on sharing the blessings or the Tantos Hombres y Mujeres Ilustres Formar (Forming Many Illustrious Men and Women).

The third phase dwells on the future, on looking forward to renewal or the Conquistar Nuevas Glorias (Conquering New Glories).

The last phase is about perpetuity or Como El Sol es tu Gloria Sin Fin (Like the Sun, Your Glory is Without End)

Since its founding in 1620, the college has survived wars and calamities.  It has produced stalwarts in the fields of medicine, sports, media and entertainment, business, and public service.

Letran’s notable alumni include Emilio Aguinaldo, Manuel Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo del Pilar, and the Dominican Vietnamese martyr St. Vicente Liem de la Paz. (RJ Espartinez)