Rector Fr. Rolando de La Rosa, O.P. bestows lifetime achievement awards on Fathers Pedro Traqueña, O.P. and Pedro Gonzales Tejero, O.P. on stage. At right, Fr. Fidel Villarroel, O.P., another honoree, beams with his plaque and medal of recognition.

THREE Dominican old-timers got a long-overdue standing ovation from faculty members and administrators last Nov. 7, honored in a touching tribute for their years of service to the University and cited as models of selfless dedication.

In his usual unconventional style, Rector Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P. departed from the practice and started the yearly Rector’s Report with a moving tribute to his fellow friars, saying the three deserved to be honored while they were still around.

The Rector gave lifetime achievement awards to Fathers Fidel Villarroel, O.P., Pedro Gonzalez Tejero, O.P., and Pedro Traqueña, O.P., calling them exemplary Dominicans.

The moving tribute started with a video presentation which showed Villarroel as a young scholar in London, Tejero’s missionary work in the Binondo Chinese enclave, and Traqueña’s long missionary years in the Babuyan islands and later, his equally long work as UST Hospital chaplain.

The three priests humbly followed orders and embraced their tasks no matter how small, he said.

Villarroel, 79, historian and missionary, served as the University archivist for the longest time and reorganized and systematized the UST Archives for the modern times.

A highly respected and award-winning historian, Villarroel “single-handedly” conducted the research that led to the beatification and canonization of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, the first Filipino saint, along with other Dominican martyrs.

Meanwhile, Tejero, 89, labored in the Dominican mission among the Chinese in Manila from 1983 to 1990 and documented the Order’s work in his 1993 book, “Binondo: 400 years of Dominican Apostolate.” The only Filipino priest among the three honorees, Traqueña, 89, was cited for his missionary work in the Babuyan Islands. In UST, he continues to administer the spiritual needs of patients at the UST Hospital’s charity ward.

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“These are men whom we can take inspiration from because of their exemplary dedication to whatever work they were given in the University.” De la Rosa said.

The three priests received medallions and plaques. Only Tejero and Traqueña were able to go up the stage of the Medicine Auditorium, as Villarroel, who has Parkinson’s Disease, was too weak to do so. But he beamed radiantly among the audience and told well-wishers he was grateful for the award.

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