Brave, Courageous Acts

Bishop Emeritus John S. Cummins of the Oakland Diocese, an honored guest at the Academic Convocation, shared a laugh with Brother Armin, right.Brother Armin Altamirano Luistro, FSC, secretary of education in the Philippines, influenced a fundamental change in Philippine education and also played a brave part in the politics of that nation. He delivered the Convocation address and was awarded an honorary doctorate in educational leadership at this year’s De La Salle Week, the College’s annual celebration of our Lasallian mission and the life of the Christian Brothers’ founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle.

Brother Armin and his fellow Christian Brothers were brave, vocal opponents of the corruption and poverty that thrived under the governance of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines for 20 years. Brother Armin was a close confidant of Corazon (Cory) Aquino, who challenged Marcos in an election, defeating him and becoming the first woman president of the Philippines. The Christian Brothers sheltered Aquino and, with other followers, protected her from assassination with their own bodies when she appeared in public. Meanwhile, the Brothers’ Green Hills campus in Manila became the home of the central body for polling and tabulating election results.

“These are some of the brave, courageous acts of the Philippine Christian Brothers,” said Brother Dominic Berardelli, who served for a number of years in the Brothers’ schools there.

Brother Armin had the honor of delivering Aquino’s eulogy at her national funeral some years later. Her son, Benigno Aquino III, appointed him his secretary of education.

In this role, Brother Armin refuses any kind of protection or bulletproof car, unlike everyone else in the president’s cabinet. He drives his own simple car and reports a modest net worth, just over $2,000. “He is above corruption,” said Brother Dominic, adding that Brother Armin is known for taking off by himself to visit schools throughout the Philippines, arriving unannounced to see how they are doing and to visit with the students.

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