Lance Gokongwei Leads Honorees of First Outstanding Xavier School Alumni Awards
Last February 20, Xavier School held The Outstanding Xavier School Alumni Awards (TOXSA), a first-of-its-kind program that recognizes and celebrates the achievements of its distinguished alumni.
“Each of the five awardees demonstrates how a single individual has the power to create positive change in their world around them,” said Reginald Yu, president of the Alumni Association of Xavier School (AAXS). “Each of them, grounded on the cornerstones of the Xavier Mission, has illustrated passionate, creative, and innovative thinking—the same three hallmark elements which define the ideal Xavier man.”
For TOXSA Chairman Diosdado Ng, these awardees are meant to serve as inspirations to Xavier students, as they can be seen as the best of what Xaverian education can achieve.
“TOXSA opens up the lives of each awardee, and their stories are meant to be a source of guidance and encouragement to lead a life of excellence, generosity, and as true men for others,” he told Esquire Philippines.
For the inaugural awarding, AAXS awarded five successful men hailing from different industries. According to Ng, “The objective of TOXSA is to award and recognize alumni who have excelled in their chosen fields, thus there had to be categories to cater to all kinds of careers.”
The Xaverian Entrepreneur
Leading this year’s list of honorees is Lance Gokongwei, who was honored as an Outstanding Xavier School Alumnus for Business and Entrepreneurship. He is the president and CEO of JG Summit Holdings, one of the country’s largest conglomerates, which has interests in retail, food production, real estate, and various other industries (including media, as one of its subsidiaries is Esquire Philippines’ publisher).
But perhaps Gokongwei’s biggest success story is Cebu Air Inc., the company behind low-cost airline Cebu Pacific. Under his leadership, Cebu Pacific has become one of the most recognizable names in local air travel, having flown hundreds of millions of passengers since its first flight in 1996.
In a video presented in the awarding ceremony, Gokongwei highlighted Xavier’s holistic approach to developing its students as one of the most important takeaways from his time in the school. He also mentioned how the school’s blend of Filipino culture and Chinese heritage makes for “a good combination.”
“The objective of school is to build men for others. This whole spirit of Luceat Lux (Xavier’s motto, which translates to ‘Let your light shine’), I think, really sticks in the mind of every Xaverian,” said Gokongwei.
Aside from Gokongwei, TOXSA honored four other alumni in the awarding ceremony, all with their respective success stories in their chosen fields.
Classical music composer Jeffrey Ching is best known for Das Waisenkind (The Orphan), which was awarded the Theater Erfurt Audience Prize for the 2009-2010 opera season in Germany. More recently, he won the 2018 Fedora Platform Prize for Public Vote with his composition "The True Story of King Kong," and was recognized as an Outstanding Xavier School Alumnus in the field of Arts and Culture.
Hydrogeophysicist John Burtkenley Ong has combined his scientific background with his mission to serve others, as he has played a critical role in the development of the Mangyan community in Mindoro. For his work, he was given the Outstanding Young Men Award for community service in 2003 as well as the Outstanding Xavier School Alumni Award for Science and Technology.
Basketball player Chris Tiu has become one of the most recognizable names in the local basketball scene, having played for the Ateneo Blue Eagles and Rain or Shine in his career. While he had recently announced his retirement from basketball to focus on his businesses and other endeavors, he was recognized as an Outstanding Xavier School Alumnus in the field of Sports.
Dr. Edward Wang is an orthopedist whose research in musculoskeletal tumors has been recognized in the global medical community, having published dozens of award-winning studies and research papers on the subject. Due to his various achievements in orthopedic medicine, he was given the Outstanding Filipino Physician Award in 2008 as well as the Outstanding Xavier School Alumni Award for Medicine and Healthcare.