Friday of the 22nd Week: Founder’s Day
UAJHS/UASHS@GYM. 02 September 2016

Today is the birthday of Archbishop Emilio Cinense, the founder of this our University. If he were still alive today, he would have been exactly 105 years old, having been born in 1911. He died in 1978 at the age of 66.

Who is a founder? How do we define a founder?

Yesterday, while I was reflecting on what to share to you today, our founder’s day, I googled some of the founders of popular companies. As I was reading their short biographies, I realized that most of them have something in common: that the companies they later founded began with a problem or an obstacle they faced at a particular time. So that instead of whining or complaining or giving up or not caring at all, they decided to take concrete steps and find ways to solve the problem or overcome the obstacle. Instead of cursing the darkness, so to speak, they decided to light a candle.

Just to give some examples:

Are you familiar with UNDER ARMOUR, a well-known sportswear brand? Its founder, Kevin Plank was a former football player. He got tired of constantly changing sweaty shirts he was wearing under his jerseys during games. So he invented a shirt using a synthetic fabric capable of “evaporating” moisture. And Under Armour was born and revolutionized the sportswear industry. Soon, all the other sports brands, Nike, Adidas, etc. followed suit.

What about DROPBOX, the cloud-based data storage facility? Drew Houston, its founder, claims that when he was a student, he kept on forgetting his USB. This led him to come up with cloud-based file sharing service.

I’m very sure you’ve heard about FEDEX, a delivery service company. As a graduating student, Frederick Smith, the founder, began with a feasibility study about overnight delivery service. The feasibility study seemingly did not sit well with his professor, but it served as a foundation for a successful worldwide company.

Have you heard about TUPPERWARE? Earl Tupper was the founder of this company, which he began around the Second World War period. The presumed problem: how to make it more convenient for soldiers engaged in war to store and carry their food in the battlefields. So he invented those plastic containers.

Coca-Cola. The Founder was John Pemberton. He was a civil war veteran. It seems that because of a painful wound he suffered from the war, he became addicted to morphine, a pain killer. To cure his addiction, he experimented on and used a medicinal tonic, which later on would evolve into what is for the longest time a popular soda.

These founders saw a need, and tried to find a way to respond to it. Which brings us to Bishop Cinense, the founder of UA. What need, or what problem led him to found a school?

I think one only needs to know what the early 1960s was like. It was the height of agrarian unrest in Pampanga, an unrest supported by a communist ideology – the root cause of which was poverty and social inequality. While the farmers and their families were starving, the landowners were indulging themselves in luxury, refusing to give the farmers their due.

The previous bishop, Bishop Guerrero, tried to solve the problem by appealing to the religious and moral sense of the Kapampangans. He started in the early 1950s a crusade that revolved around a devotion to the Virgen de los Remedios (whose 60 th canonical coronation anniversary we’ll celebrate this coming September 8)

However, Bishop Cinense, to my mind, took a more radical path in addressing a long-standing social problem. He founded a school. He probably thought that a good education was the biggest long-term solution that could break the cycle of poverty, transform the social landscape of Pampanga, and improve the quality of life of its people.

But I don’t think Bishop Cinense was only after a good education. Not only a good education, but a good CATHOLIC education. That is, good education informed by Catholic values. Excellence not only in learning, but excellence in virtue and communal responsibility as well. SCIENTIA, VIRTUS, COMMUNITAS. Only when informed by Catholic values can a good education be truly transformative.

In the gospel, Jesus said: ‘No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.’ Another way of putting this is (paraphrasing Einstein): One cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it in the first place. Bad processes cannot produce good results. If the root cause of war is poverty, then the only way to solve war is to eradicate poverty. Peace can never be achieved by using violent means.

Our founder, Bishop Cinense, must have been fully aware of this. And this is why he chose education as the means towards transforming society and hopefully mending the strained relationship between rich and poor. A kind of education that forms

  • men and women of learning
  • men and women of virtue,
  • men and women of community.

If that is so, what is the greatest tribute can we ever offer to our founder? What is the finest birthday gift we can give him? I believe the best tribute, the best gift is our fidelity to his vision: to live a lifestyle of SCIENTIA, VIRTUS, COMMUNITAS. To strive to be BIASA, MAGANACA, MAYAP.

As we remember and pray for our founder on his birthday, let us also remember and be guided by the ideals he himself lived by. Together with Bishop Cinense, let us continue to entrust this University into the hands of the Blessed Mother and pray that all UA graduates continue to make a difference wherever they find themselves in – just as our founder envisioned them to be.