Born in Lipa City, Batangas, he finished his elementary and high school education at De La Salle Lipa, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Letters at De La Salle University, Manila. In this same university, he earned his Master’s Degree in Religious Education and Values Education. His Doctor of Educational Management degree was completed at the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City. He was conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters (honoris causa) by La Salle University in Philadelphia, USA. A true-green La Salle boy, he has now pledged to see to the education concerns of every Filipino child of every school color and affiliation.
He began his steady but dynamic education career at De La Salle Lipa as a religion teacher. As is the way with gifted and dedicated teachers, he was eventually given more work and responsibilities as classroom adviser and campus minister. Alongside these jobs, he had already discerned that he would like to devote his energies to the education of youth and so joined the religious congregation of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, more commonly known as the De La Salle Brothers, whose raison d’etre is the education of the young.
This congregation also saw a lot of potential in this Brother so, as always happens with the gifted and the dedicated, he was assigned increasing responsibilities too –as sub-director of a community, to director, and finally to the post of Brother Provincial of the congregation. Meanwhile, the schools were not to be outdone in giving this man more work and he was appointed chancellor and president of not only the premier La Salle institution in the country, De La Salle University-Manila, but also made him head of the Lasallian network of educational institutions composed of 17 schools scattered all over the Philippines.
He has also served various other non-La Salle institutions as Board trustee or chairperson, as well as Lasallian institutions abroad. He has joined local and international fora, seminars, and conferences as speaker, facilitator, panelist, and participant.
If there is a single word to encapsulate this man, it is SERVICE. He is now the Secretary of the Department of Education not because of personal glorification but because he was called to serve his country and he obeyed the call. As head representative for education, he emphasizes selflessness and service in public administration: he makes it a point to visit far-flung schools himself, and he does so with as little fanfare as he can possibly underline with school officials and teachers who are always drawn to him because of his simplicity and humility, and who all the more desire to give him all the fanfare he so avoids.
Wishing to erase both the reality and the perception of corrupt government officials and practices, he has trimmed down the number of his department’s officials and focused on working to close resource gaps in our public schools by using department funds correctly and only for their specified purposes in our youth’s education.