Lourdes Reynes Quisumbing(+), 1921-2017

The University of San Carlos joins with the entire nation in remembering the life of Ambassador Lourdes Reynes Quisumbing who passed away peacefully yesterday, October 14, 2017, at the age of 96.

The USC community wishes to extend our heartfelt sympathies to the Reynes-Quisumbing family. Her life was a blessing to many, while her accomplishments in the realm of education are numerous. Below is a brief tribute to Ambassador Quisumbing that was published by her family on social media (used with permission).

Ambassador Lourdes Reynes Quisumbing of Cebu City, Philippines, life-long Theresian and Chairperson Emerita, Board of Trustees and Professor Emerita, Miriam College, Quezon City, passed away peacefully on October 14, 2017 at the age of 96. She was the widow of Engineer Carlos C. Quisumbing Sr., with whom she had ten children, and through them, 27 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren. She was the matriarch of a family whose numbers almost matched her age.

Born in Compostela, Cebu on February 13, 1921, of parents Vicente Hizon Sevilla and Visitacion Mercado Reynes, Lourdes (Nena) was raised in San Nicolas, Cebu. She attended boarding school at St. Catherine’s, Carcar, Cebu when she was only 11, upon her mother’s untimely death.

Her association with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (ICM) continued at St. Theresa’s College (STC), Manila, where she graduated summa cum laude. It was also at this same school where she met Engineer Carlos C. Quisumbing (Pop to the family and close friends), who was supervising the construction of the school auditorium. The couple married in 1941 in Cebu and settled in Manila where three of their ten children were born during World War II. Carlos and Lourdes relocated to Cebu in 1946 where they had seven more children. A son Roberto preceded both of them in death.

The Cebu years were busy—parenting their nine children in a “school for life,” balancing family and career. Lourdes taught at STC, Cebu and obtained her Master’s degree in Education, summa cum laude, at the University of San Carlos (USC) and her Ph.D. in Education, benemeritus, at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. She also taught in the graduate schools of USC and the University of the Visayas. From 1966 to 1986, she served as Dean of College at STC, Chair of Graduate Education at USC, Dean of Graduate School of Education at De La Salle University, Manila, and President of Maryknoll College Foundation, Inc. in Quezon City. She was active in many national educational organizations, serving as President of the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (PAASCU), Vice President of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), and board member of several educational institutions.

In 1986, Lourdes joined the Cabinet of President Corazon C. Aquino as the first female Secretary of Education, Culture, and Sports. Her tenure marked the expansion of free public education to the secondary level, an increase in the share of education in the national budget, rationalization of higher education, and an emphasis on values education. In 1990, she was appointed to the position of Secretary-General of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines, with the rank of Ambassador in the Department of Foreign Affairs, which she held until her retirement from public service in 1998.

Lourdes remained professionally active after retirement, continuing as Chairperson of the Board of STC, Cebu, the first lay person to serve in that position, Chairperson of Miriam College’s Board of Trustees, Professor at Miriam College, and President of UNESCO-Asia Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education (APNIEVE) and APNIEVE Philippines, of which she was the Founding President.

Pop’s passing in 1996 ushered in a new era for Lourdes. As part of her healing process, she wrote her autobiography, An Instant Is This Life, which was followed by several autobiographical and reflective books, including The River Flows On, The Bluebird Sings, and Destiny, with corresponding music books. Upon turning 90 in 2011, Lourdes moved back to the family compound in Cebu City.

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