established in

November 10, 1918

On 10 November 1918, the Honorable Ignacio Villamor presented the proposed constitution of the Letran College Alumni Association to the alumni body attending the Dia de Letran mid-day alumni homecoming banquet at the school’s Salon de Actos. The proposed constitution was unanimously approved and the first board of directors was elected: Manuel L. Quezon as President, Primitivo San Agustin as Vice President, Manuel Nieto as Secretary, and Justo Lukban, and Miguel Unson as Directors. Thus, officially commenced a long proud history of one of the first associations of its kind in the Philippines.

The regular alumni gathering started long before then. It was customary for Letran alumni to get together to reminisce and to catch up on the latest developments affecting each other’s lives. They informally called themselves the Asociacion de Ex-alumnos de San Juan de Letran. Meetings were held at various alumni homes until a bigger venue was needed to accommodate all those who were interested in joining the meetings.

The first recorded reunion, hosted by then-Iloilo Congressman Jose Ma. Arroyo, was held at the school’s Salon de Actos on November 11, 1917. During the Dia de Letran mid-day banquet, Arroyo, the president of the Comite de los Exalumnos, created a committee to study the proposal of then-Senate President Manuel L. Quezon to formalize the association’s status by drafting its constitution. Besides convening alumni reunions, the proposal aimed to provide additional educational benefits to the students and to compile a perpetual alumni directory that would serve as a memorial of past generations and as an inspiration for the future. Arroyo appointed Ignacio Villamor, the first Filipino president of the University of the Philippines, as Chairman of the committee together with fellow alumni Francisco Ortigas as Treasurer, Angel Ansaldo as Secretary, and the following as Vocales: Gabriel Lao and Honorio Ventura. The committee’s report was completed on September 5, 1918 and presented to and adopted by the alumni body on November 10, 1918.

The week-long homecoming reunions were held around November 8, the Feast of the Commemoration of the Basilica of St. John Lateran at the Salon de Actos. Adding to the festive air was the participation of a large number of alumni, including the country’s leaders from various fields. Highlighting the event was the grand banquet where the alumni president would request some illustrious members (ilustrados) to share their school day recollections. Students also attended these gatherings, with the luckier ones (interos) granted the privilege of sitting in the gallery of the Salon. These after-meal speeches were eagerly awaited, not only for the naughty boyhood stories, but more so for the speakers” memorable lessons and insights into a Letranense’s way of life.

These gatherings came to a halt when the Pacific War broke out. Letran, along with other homes and edifices in Intramuros, were badly damaged. Despite this, some alumni continued to organize and hold monthly meetings elsewhere, electing officers, and perpetuating the existence of the association. By tradition, whoever was the president had to shoulder the bill.

Two Dominican priests are credited with fostering and preserving the link between the school and the alumni. From the 1920s to the mid-30s, Fr. Evergisto Bazaco (OP) was the key link. From the mid-30s to the late 60s, it was Fr. Francisco

Muñoz (OP) who guided the alumni with his deep appriciation of history. As the school’s Publication Director and Alumni Moderator, Fr. Muñoz kept meticulous records, and archived historical documents, and thousands of file photographs. Without a doubt, he rightfully deserves to be called the Father of the Letran Alumni Association.

The presidency of Antonio R. Garcia Sr. marked the Letran Alumni Association’s 50th Golden Anniversary. During the homecoming celebrations at the Letran Gymnasium on November 17, 1968, the LAA Board proclaimed Manuel Quezon, Ignacio Villamor, Francisco Ortigas, Angel Ansaldo, Gabriel Lao, and Honorio Ventura as Founding Fathers of the Association. They were awarded posthumously together with the members of Class 1917 and 1918. Fr. Francisco Muñoz (OP) was given a special citation for devoted service to the Association. Gualberto V. Picache was elected president in 1975 and served for six consecutive terms until 1980. He is the longest serving president of the LAA. During his presidency, the alumni began to actively support Letran’s athletes and the school’s competitive sports activities. A short-lived alumni bulletin called Alumni News and Information Monitor (ANIMO) edited by Francisco R. Liongson IV and Bernardo Atienza was published.

The Association conducted its business largely through informal gatherings since its official inception in 1918. By 1981, Jaime A. Cura articulated the need to update the LAA’s constitution and register its articles and by-laws with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Together with the efforts of Captain Antonio Gomez, a comprehensive set of articles and by-laws were promulgated after a series of consultations and meetings with the alumni body to transform the LAA into a legal entity, smoothen operations, and ensure growth. On September 30, 1981, the Association was registered with the SEC and was henceforth known as the LETRAN ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, INC. (LAA). Historic incorporators included Laurentino V. Albano, Benjamin L. Atienza, Eduardo D. Baluyut, Jaime A. Cura, Patricio B. Ga, Arturo C. Gloria, Antonio C. Gomez, Ramon M. Lopez, Cirilo S. Martinez, Joaquin Rodriguez, Ramon R. Rodriguez, Basilio D. Valdes, Genaro C. De Vera Jr., Allan J. Villar, and Cesar C. Zalamea.

Cura was elected President of the new corporation which underwent organizational changes in order to become an effective vehicle in ensuring regular contact among the alumni and sustaining the burning inspiration of DEUS PATRIA-LETRAN. The Rector of Letran became the Ex-Officio Adviser of the LAA in recognition of Fr. Pompeyo de Mesa’s role in the Association during his term as Rector of Letran. A formal accounting system, election procedures, and awards criteria and procedures were likewise adopted. Among the other innovations in the incorporated LAA was the honor accorded to the High School Silver and Golden Jubilarians during the Annual Grand Alumni Homecoming with the Silver Jubilarians as the designated host and organizer.

During the 1986 presidency of Francisco R Liongson IV, the LAA marked three milestones: the adoption of the Hall of Great Knights, the establishment of an alumni scholarship foundation, the Letran Alumni Foundation Inc. (LAFI) and the birth of Knightline, the official LAA organ.

Joaquin Rodriguez of High School Class 1957 turned over The Hall of Great Knights to the LAA and donated the busts of the awardees in February 1986. The project was conceived by the High School Class of 1957 to continuously expose Letran’s student body to the noble ideals of distinguished alumni and to help mold the character of the students along the great trilogy Deus-Patria-Letran. The LAA was expected to perpetuate the vision of the class. Since then, 23 honorees received this distinction.