Testimonial Dinner Held for Msgr. Gerry O. Santos


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Friends from the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations  (COCOPEA) and the Go-Genuine Program Partners of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), Microsoft Philippines and First Data Corporation paid tribute to Msgr. Gerardo O. Santos, the immediate past president of the CEAP last October 12, 2010 (Tuesday) at the Ilustrado Restaurant in Intramuros, Manila City.

Msgr. Gerry or ‘Monsi’ to his close ‘aides’ and friends was accorded a testimonial dinner to honor his significant contributions to the CEAP and COCOPEA under his stewardship, among of which is the ‘Go Genuine Program”, a partnership between CEAP, Microsoft Philippines, First Data Corporation.  The program helps member-schools avail of a special package of genuine licenses, services and trainings in support of quality education. The first three years of the partnership has brought to the CEAP an accumulated savings of at least P 20 Million.  In the thanksgiving dinner, CEAP officers expressed support for the continuation of the program and its expansion to benefit schools under the COCOPEA. 

The testimonial program formally started with a short welcome message by Mrs. Rhodora Ferrer, CEAP Executive Director.  In her introduction, Mrs. Ferrer extended her appreciation for those who came to the Thanksgiving and Partnership dinner.  She also explained the benefits of the Go Genuine Program to CEAP especially to the mission schools.

The testimonial dinner was made memorable by the sharing of ‘fond thoughts’ about Monsignor Gerry’s qualities as a leader, co-worker and friend and his dedication to his educational apostolate. The ‘sharers’ came from the member associations of the COCOPEA like the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU) and the Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAPSCU).

Dr. Amelou B. Reyes, the President of the Philippine Women’s University recalled the first COCOPEA strategic planning workshop which ‘Monsi’ chaired that led to revitalization of the COCOPEA.  She emphasized two most memorable values that Monsi has brought to the council and its Board members, and these are professionalism and spirituality.  She narrated how Monsi impressed her with his fortitude and dedication to the cause of education. She also believed that his deep spiritual core which ‘contaminates’ those around him is his greatest strength. 

The President of Emilio Aguinaldo College, Dr. Jose Paulo Campos also narrated the beautiful memories that made Monsi’s legacy in the academic circles positively enduring. He was impressed by the sense of mission evident in every action that Monsi stamped on the issues confronting private education during his short stint in COCOPEA. Dr. Campos will always remember Monsi as one that gave direction to the COCOPEA and one whose evident action always produced positive results. 

Fr. Antonio Moreno, SJ, President of the Ateneo de Zamboanga and CEAP’s Acting President poured out his admiration for the work ethics of Monsi and his dedication to strengthen both the COCOPEA and CEAP. Fr. Tony expressed his hope of having to continue working with Monsi in the years to come. He also explained to those who are wondering why the CEAP allowed him to step down after two years how the Constitution of the Association justifies the apparent short term of ‘Monsi’.

The hosts for the dinner, the president of First Data Corporation, Mr. Jorge Buenaventura and Microsoft’s Director for the Public Sector Mr. Arcy Bartolome encouraged the COCOPEA to pursue availment of the benefits of the Go Genuine program following the successful experience of CEAP. They also expressed appreciation for the active role played by Monsignor Gerry in continuously building the technology highway in the CEAP. 

In his message of response, Monsignor Santos expressed his initial reluctance to attend the short tribute for him organized by the CEAP Secretariat in cooperation with Microsoft and First Data. He hesitated because he was not used to being given testimonials since most of the time, it is him that organizes people to give testimonial ceremonies for luminaries like the late Cardinal Sin. But because of his desire to meet the people he has worked with productively for years, he decided to show up and said that he did not regret for having done so. He promised everyone that despite his health issues early this year, he is not slowing down and will still be very actively pursuing the issues in education which have always been part of his personal mission and apostolate.

The evening was made more special by a surprise intermission number from Mr. Arman Ferrer, one of the country’s leading theater actors, whose golden voice overwhelmed the assembled guests; He chose to sing a classical repertoire of three songs from Frank Sinatra, which according to him he carefully selected for Monsi and COCOPEA friends.  Mr. Arman Ferrer starred in the classical play ? “Walang Sugat” which was shown in Ateneo recently. He is also preparing to take the role of Basilio in the coming theater season. Arman is presently taking his Baccaleureat degree in Music major in voice.

The CEAP Secretariat presented a touching Audio-Visual tribute to the honoree. The program was organized by Engr. Ines Basaen, Programs and Research Unit Officer of the CEAP and was facilitated by Mr. Allan Arellano, also of the Secretariat.   

It was indeed a heart-warming evening to remember for those who came to honor a great man in the person of Monsignor Gerry; a thanksgiving for his loving and dedicated service and a prayer for him to continue serving the private education community.

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