Aquinas University

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Aquinas University of Legazpi
Pamantasang Aquino ng Legazpi
File:Aquinas seal.jpg
Former names
Legazpi Junior Colleges (1948-1952)
Legazpi College (1952-1968)
Motto Vita Veritatis Et Amoris Ex Gratitudine
Motto in English
In a Life of Truth and of Love out of Gratitude
Established June 8, 1948
Type Private, Roman Catholic, Dominican University
Affiliation Roman Catholic, Dominican
President Rev. Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P.
Location Rawis, Legazpi City, Albay, Philippines
Campus Rawis, Legazpi City (Main campus)
Hymn AUL Hymn
Colors Yellow, White and Black             
Nickname AQ, AUL
Mascot Tiger

Aquinas University of Legazpi (AUL), the Dominican University of Bicol, is a private Catholic University in Legazpi City, Philippines run and owned by the Dominican fathers/Order of Preachers (OP). It was founded by Don Buenaventura de Erquiaga in 1948 as Legazpi Junior Colleges; the name subsequently changed to Legazpi College, and it became a university in 1968.[1]



Legazpi Junior Colleges, the forerunner of Aquinas University of Legazpi, was founded on June 8, 1948. Its founder, a Basque, Don Buenaventura de Erquiaga (April 24, 1896 – October 22, 1959), established the institution as an expression of his gratitude to the place and the people who generously “built” him up. From the onset till 1965, the Don Buenaventura was assisted by a succession of Presidents: Ramon C. Fernandez (1948–1957) and Bienvenido N. Santos (1957–1958); then after his death, by Margarito M. Delgado (ca. 1961-1963), and Dr. Manuel Lacuesta (ca. 1963-1965).[1]

In 1952, its name was changed to Legazpi College. The educational institution had grown by leaps and bounds, and offered elementary, secondary, vocational, tertiary and graduate curricula. Its science laboratory was considered as one of the best in the entire Bicol Region. An Institute of Research was founded to conduct experiments on local plants’ problems and the possibilities of developing local resources particularly the coconut and abaca products for industrial use. In the decades to come, these pioneering research efforts would move into production.[1]


Metamorphosis, though without an equivalent term in Bicol, best described this period of change. On July 1, 1965, the administration of Legazpi College was passed on to the Dominican Fathers. Rev. Fr. Ramon C. Salinas, O.P., became the College’s first Rector. Classrooms and library space were increased to meet the needs of a growing population: enrollment in the College of Business Administration increased by 20 percent; College of Education by 27 percent; and College of Engineering by 18 percent. In 1967, the College of Nursing was opened. The increase in enrollment could be attributed to the Bicolanos’ clamor for a Dominican brand of education. On March 7, 1966, the College Administrators, local and regional luminaries and guests witnessed the laying of the cornerstone of Legazpi College’s first building in an expansive 32 hectare site in Rawis, some two kilometers from the old campus at the Legazpi Port District. By 1968 three new buildings were completed.[1]


This is the period of rapid increase in the number of enrollees, new course offerings, sprouting of new buildings in a new expansive campus, capped by the elevation of status of the college to full-fledged University, the first Catholic educational institution to earn the status in this part of Luzon. On March 8, 1968, the Secretary of Education, Hon. Carlos P. Romulo, elevated the College to the status of a University. On August 30, 1968, Hon. Onofre D. Corpus, acting Secretary of Education, signed the University Charter. Legazpi College became known as Aquinas University of Legazpi. The investiture of the first Rector and President of the new University, Father Salinas, was held on February 3, 1969, amidst pageantry and color, attended by local, national, and foreign dignitaries. Father Salinas was Rector of Legazpi College from 1965 until the college was elevated to University status. Six Rectors and Presidents succeeded him: Rev. Fr. Dr. Manuel T. Piñon, O.P. (1978–1984); Rev. Fr. Dr. Pedro V. Salgado, O.P. (1985–1988); Rev. Fr. Dr. Patricio A. Apa, O.P. (1988–1992); Rev. Fr. Dr. Orlando C. Aceron, O.P. (1992–1995); Rev. Fr. Dr. Virgilio A. Ojoy, O.P. (1995–1999); and Rev. Fr. Dr. Ramonclaro G. Mendez, O.P. (1999–2011, three terms).[1]

The University soon earned the recognition as the center of learning in Southern Luzon, chosen as one of the five Regional Science Teaching Centers in the Philippines by the Science Education Program of the Philippines with the assistance of the National Science Development Board, the UNICEF, and the Science Education Center of the University of the Philippines.[1]

The Aquinas University Bureau of Small Scale Industries opened in 1973 the short-term, non-degree ladder-type course on Abacacraft Technology and Management. The course is offered to train selected out-of-school youth the necessary skills for the handicraft industry in the Bicol Region. The Bureau reopened on February 5, 1977at the Plaza Arcade building in Peñaranda St., Legazpi City. The objectives of the new office are the following: to offer short-term non-degree – ladder type courses on abacacraft management and technology and also mini courses on general management with emphasis on small-scale industries; to engage in the manufacture, purchase and marketing of fiber-craft products; to provide advisory services to those interested in putting up a small-scale handicraft business; and to conduct continuing research studies for small-scale handicraft owners in order to assist them minimize their problems on the operational activities of their business.[1]

In 1975, Aquinas University acquired Legazpi Medical Center. With this acquisition, the Legazpi Medical Center became an integral part of the Aquinas University system. The name of the medical center was changed to Aquinas University Hospital.[1]

Aquinas University became admitted to numerous national and international federations of colleges and universities such as the Philippine Association of Graduate Education, Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines (ACUP), Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), and the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU). The University is also a member of the International Council of the Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas (ICUSTA); the Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASEACCU).[1]

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) named the University as one of the country’s Center of Excellence in Teacher Education in 1996.[1]


Building on the foundations of his competent predecessors, Fr. Mendez has brought the University on an even more solid footing, able to sustain its development in the most challenging and in the best of times. Aquinians, like the people of Albay and Bicol, are tempered by the climate and the environment. Natural calamities are common occurrences in this part of the Philippines. The University’s students, teachers, employees, and administrators extended help as volunteers during emergencies wrought by the periodic eruption of Mt. Mayon (1968, 1978, 1984, 1993, 1999–2001, and 2006), and recurrent typhoons, the most destructive of which occurred in 1952 (Trix), 1970 (Sening or Joan), 1987 (Sisang or Nina), and 2006 (Reming or Durian). When their help are needed, Aquinian volunteers rise up to reach out and provide first aid, distribute relief goods, provide comfort, and light up hope especially to the unserved and the underserved in far flung areas of the province. This advocacy for the marginalized has brought the University to the very doorsteps of those that need the most—Aquinians built typhoon-proof public school classrooms, surveyed water resources, fabricated low-cost water filters, immersed in rural villages, and conceptualized a community college to help youth who cannot afford private education acquire livelihood skills.[1]

While the administration of Fr. Salinas saw the laying of cornerstones of the three main buildings in the Rawis Campus, the term of Fr. Mendez witnessed the decades-old dreams fulfilled: a permanent convent for the St. Raymund of Peñafort, the imposing AQ Chapel, and the cavernous AQ Dome. The Daragang Magayon Hall was transferred to a more spacious, this time air-conditioned, venue. Classrooms were added and laboratories were upgraded. Engineering, Architecture, and Fine Arts classes are now held in a new building, the two-storey Fra Angelico. Since its acquisition in 1975, the Aquinas University Hospital has served as the base hospital of the University’s college of Nursing, the recent vertical expansion of which altered the skyline of the Albay District and provided the most up-to-date holistic care to its patients. With a tastefully designed and executed facelift, the façade of the Professional Schools building along Peñaranda Street now provides a welcome addition to the revitalization of the City’s downtown area.[1]

Despite severe damage Reming wrought to its physical plant facilities, the University, like the Phoenix, rose from the ruins. The former Science High School main building has never been as presentable as it is today. The three main buildings, St. Thomas, St. Dominic, and St. Albert the Great now boast a fresh coat of paint. Renovations and upgrading of other buildings, e.g., the former COCOFED buildings, are gradually carried out. Now, the campuses once again epitomize the cool, neat home that is Aquinas University of Legazpi. As a dynamic center of learning, the University continuously endeavors and proactively adapts measures to meet the growing challenges of the globalization of education. Aquinas University Integrated Schools or AQUI (secondary level) has two curricula, one for Science High School (SHS), and the other for the Special Program in the Arts (SPA). The University’s Professional Schools comprise the College of Law, Graduate School, and the Center for Continuing Education. The College of Business Administration; College of Arts, Sciences and Education; College of Engineering, Architecture and Fine Arts; and College of Nursing and Health Sciences comprise the University’s tertiary level.[1]

The University considers its human resources its most important asset. At the forefront are highly motivated teachers and instructors, many of whom pursue graduate and postgraduate education prompted by an aggressive faculty development program. The AQ Labor Management Council has been a national finalist in the 2005 Search for Outstanding LMC for Industrial Peace, reflecting the harmonious labor-management relations in the University.[1]

The humble objectives of the Institute of Research during the Legazpi College years have been surpassed many times over by its successors. Established in 2002, the Aquinas University Foundation, Inc. (AQFI) has incubated various sustainable enterprises growing and producing indigenous and environment-friendly products, in the process helping reach out and bring employment to otherwise idle hands used to years of seasonal jobs in the rural areas. The AQFI now has about 300 hectares devoted to reestablishing abaca as a top grosser for Albay and Bikol. The AQFI has also invested in coconut coir production and a system of deriving income from initiated and supported cooperative projects.[1]

Aquinas University of Legazpi is now not merely confined to the boundaries of its campuses in Rawis and Legazpi Port District and environs. During the term of the incumbent Rector and President, the University has acquired properties to serve its institutional, educational, and development thrusts. “Bahay ni Kuya” in Albay District is now a Life Coaching and Wellness Center which is a timely response to the periodic calamities that visit the Region. The Kyama Building near the downtown district now houses the AQ Pharmacy, a ‘botika ng bayan’ that dispenses low cost medicine. The Kyama Building also hosts the AQFI. The Holy Trinity Convent in Sunrise Subdivision houses the Dominican Sisters. The “Bahay ni Julius” in Tagontong, Taysan is being developed for future use. Estates in Banquerohan and Anislag are in the acquisition stage. The AQFI has earmarked these estates as relocation sites for some 800 to 900 families displaced by super typhoon Reming. The University has even reached the southern shores of Mindanao, with a farm in Tagum City and a house in Bajada, Davao City.[1]

With the student and faculty exchange program now in the offing, the University is now on the verge of breaching international boundaries.[1]

Culture and the arts are cultivated since the inception of the University; in fact, one of Legazpi College’s presidents was a writer of national and international renown. Of late, the promotion of the rich culture of Albay has found new impetus. Rokyaw as an annual cultural event has been recognized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Home-grown stage production Kantada ni Daragang Magayon has toured the country.[1]

The University’s roster of alumni include respectable caretakers of positions and responsibilities in different disciplines—Accountancy, Architecture, Culture and the Arts, Economics, Education, Engineering, Public Administration, Law, and Nursing—many have traveled across the seas to affirm their self-worth. Youth from as far as Mindanao and the Visayas, and as it were, as near as Masbate, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, and the Camarines provinces others nearby, come to Aquinas University of Legazpi for their secondary, tertiary, graduate, and postgraduate education. Some became writers and artists, university presidents, captains of commerce and industry, and government officials. For 60 years now, Aquinas University of Legazpi has helped the youth and the young professionals of Bikol realize their full potential to soar high and soar beyond. It has been 60 years of grateful passion and devotion to a true and loving life.[1]

Patron saints

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of Aquinas University of Legazpi, and to whom the university was named after.

St. Dominic de Guzman

St. Dominic, founder of the Friars Preachers, popularly called the Dominicans or Order of Preachers (OP), a Catholic religious order that runs, among others, Aquinas University, University of Santo Tomas, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, was born of wealthy Spanish nobility. He is the son of Blessed Joan of Aza; Joan had difficulty conceiving, and prayed at the shrine of Saint Dominic of Silos who had a tradition of patronage of that problem; when she became pregnant she named the child Dominic in honour of the Saint. While pregnant, Blessed Joan had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth; a dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol for the Order which he founded, the Dominicans. At Dominic’s baptism, Blessed Joan saw a star shining from his chest, which became another of his symbols in art, and led to his patronage of astronomy.

St. Dominic studied philosophy and theology at the University of Palencia- Canon of the cathedral of Osma, Spain. He worked for clerical reform and had a lifelong apostolate among heretics, especially Albigensians, and especially in France. He also worked with Blessed Peter of Castelnau. He founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215, a group who live a simple, austere life, and an order of nuns dedicated to the care of young girls.

At one point Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission; no matter how much he worked, the heresies remained. But he received a vision from Our Lady who showed him a wreath of roses, representing the rosary. She told him to say the rosary daily, teach it to all who would listen, and eventually the true faith would win out. Dominic is often credited with the invention of the rosary; it actually pre-dates him, but he certainly spread devotion to it, and used it to strengthen his own spiritual life.

Consequently, reported as miracle worker who brought four people back from the dead. Legend says that Dominic received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, “You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.” The beggar was Saint Francis of Assisi.

Notable alumni

Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. is the 95th rector of the University of Santo Tomas, the oldest university in the Philippines. Fr. de la Rosa completed his basic education courses at Aquinas University.

During his first two terms as UST rector, he became president of the Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines and the International Association of Universities of St, Thomas. He was the founding president of the Network of Dominican Schools/ Colleges and Universities in the Philippines in 1995, more popularly known as DOMNET which now has a total membership of more than 100 schools. He was chair of the Organizing Committee of the International Youth Forum for the World Youth Day in January 1995 hosted by UST.

In 2004, he was personally chosen by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to chair the Commission on Higher Education which cut short his stint as rector of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Calamba.

When he returned to the academe, he went back to serve UST as Assistant to the Rector for Research and Development and later as Vice Rector for Finance. In September 2007, he accepted the assignment of the Acting Rector of the University, until his formal installation in June 2008.[2]

  • Fr. Tamerlane R. Lana, O.P. is the president of Colegio de San Juan de Letran. Fr. Lana has served as rector and president of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, Manila
  • Dr. Fay Patria M. Lauraya is the youngest president of Bicol University. Lauraya majored in Economics and graduated magna cum laude from Aquinas University.
  • Dr. Susana Carretas-Cabredo is the immediate past president of Bicol University. Cabredo obtained the degree Bachelor of Arts in English, cum laude, from the University in 1963. Currently, she is the executive director of external affairs of Aquinas University.
  • Hon. Noel E. Rosal is the incumbent mayor of Legazpi City, Albay. Rosal obtained his master's degree in business administration from Aquinas University.
  • Lilian Hefti - immediate past commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. She took her secondary education from Aquinas University and later pursued accountancy and law at San Beda College. Commissioner Hefti topped the CPA and Bar Exams respectively.
  • Atty. Hardy B. Aquende, CPA, Esq. - currently the Chief Legislation Officer of the Office of Sen. Sonny Angara. He is a CPA-lawyer, licensed to practice law in the Philippines and New York, USA. He has distinguished himself as noted professional, a writer, a public servant and an educator, who is recognized as among the outstanding alumni of Aquinas Science Oriented High School. He has pursued post-graduate studies in the New York University School of Law and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is an advocate of the youth, education and community development.
He graduated Valedictorian of the Aquinas Science Oriented High School Class of 2000. Among the awards he received during his high school graduation are the Gerry Roxas Leadership Award, Villar Excellence Award, Don Buenaventura de Erquiaga (Rector and President’s Award), Rotary Club Gold Medal, Leadership Award, Service Award, and PMT Honor and Loyalty Medals. During his three-year stay in Aquinas, he brought honor to Aquinas for having the following achievements:
  • He was a member of the SOHS team that won the CMLI National Debate Championship in 1999;
  • He served as the Treasurer and the Vice President of the SOHS Student Council;
  • He was also the President and the Vice President of the Philippine Society of Youth Science Clubs and Mathematics Circle, respectively;
  • He was the Battalion Commander of the SOHS Preparatory Military Training;
  • He was Satuatorian and Corps Commander of the Cadet Officers’ Leadership Training for the entire City of Legazpi;
  • He was also elected to the Junior Council National Executive Board as NCR Councilor of CMLI;
and he won numerous science and math competitions on local and national levels for the school.
  • Merlinda Bobis is a contemporary Philippine-Australian writer and academic. Among her awards are Australian Classical Music Award for Best Vocal/Choral Work of the Year for Daragang Magayon Cantata, 2007; Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas (National Balagtas Award: a lifetime award for author’s poetry and prose in English, Pilipino, Bikol) from the Unyon ng Manunulat ng Pilipinas (Union of Philippine Writers), 2006; Gintong Aklat Award (Golden Book Award: Philippine publishers' award) for Banana Heart Summer (novel), 2006; Australian Literature Society Gold Medal for Banana Heart Summer, 2006; Nomination: Best in Foreign Language in Fiction from the Manila Critics’ Circle for Banana Heart Summer, 2006; Judges’ Choice Award, Bumbershoot Bookfair, Seattle Arts Festival for The Kissing (collection of short stories published as White Turtle in Australia and the Philippines), 2001; Arts Queensland Steele Rudd Australian Short Story Award (for the Best Published Collection of Australian Short Stories, joint winner) for White Turtle, 2000; Philippine National Book Award for Fiction (Joint winner) from the Manila Critics’ Circle for White Turtle, 2000; NSW Ministry for the Arts Writers’ Fellowship for novel in progress, Fish-Hair Woman, 2000; Canberra Writing Fellowship jointly from the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, and the Australian Defence Force Academy, 2000; Prix Italia (international award) for Rita's Lullaby (radio play), 1998; Australian Writers' Guild Award (AWGIE) for Rita’s Lullaby, 1998; Pamana Philippine Presidential Award for achievement in the arts (for Filipino expatriates), 1998; Shortlist: The Age Poetry Book of the Year Award for Summer Was A Fast Train Without Terminals (collection of poems), 1998; winner, Out of the Ashes Trans-Tasman Short Story Competition for White Turtle (short story), 1998; commended: National Short Story Competition, Society of Women Writers for The Sadness Collector (short story), 1998; joint winner, ABC Radio National's 'Books & Writing Short Story Competition' for The Tongue (also known as The Parable of Illawarra Street), 1997; Ian Reed Foundation Prize for Radio Drama for Rita's Lullaby, 1995; Carlos Palanca Memorial Award in Literature (Philippine national award), Honourable Mention for Ms. Serena Serenata (one-act play), 1995; Gawad Cultural Centre of the Philippines (national award for poetry in Filipino) for Mula Dulo Hanggang Kanto (‘From End to Corner’, collection of poems), 1990; Likhaan Award for Daragang Magayon and other poems, University of the Philippines Writers' Workshop, 1990; Carlos Palanca Memorial Award in Literature, Second Prize for Lupang di Hinirang: Kuwento at Sikreto (‘Land Not Dearest: Story and Secret’, collection of poems in Filipino), 1989; and Carlos Palanca Memorial Award in Literature, joint winner, First Prize for Peopleness (collection of poems in English), 1987.

Sister schools


External links