HE MARKED his last day giving a retreat at Caleruega to senior students of the College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD).

CFAD Regent Fr. Regino Cortes, O.P., the only Asian member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission of Rome (PBC), died peacefully in his room last Aug. 28 at the Father’s Residence. He was 64.

Olga Adalie, the regent’s best friend from Baguio, said that seminary janitors found Cortes’ body lifeless inside his room after she called them by phone to check on him after he failed to reply to her SMS text messages.

“It has been part of our routine to send each other text messages inquiring each other’s health. That morning, he was not replying to my messages anymore,” Adalie told the Varsitarian.

Dr. William Olalia, director of the UST Health Services, said he could only speculate the cause of death.

“It could be because he was so tired after the trip and retreat that his blood sugar went so low or it could be because of cardiac arrest.” Olalia said.

However, he said that the regent probably died while asleep since his body was found lying in bed.

Cortes’ remains were brought to Santissimo Rosario Parish last Aug. 29 before the internment last Aug. 30 at the Santo Cristo Parish Cemetery, San Juan.

“He was very dedicated and faithful to his work,” CFAD Dean Jaime delos Santos of Cortes told the Varsitarian.

Cortes’ last retreat focused on his reflections on his latest book, An Exegetical Review: the Da Vinci Code. He also wrote the book The Story of La Naval and contributed to the Philippiniana Sacra and Boletin Eclesiastico.

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Cortes is fondly remembered by people close to him as a true pastor with a smiling face.

“In his class, he would keep on lecturing that you would listen to him. He would teach and explain things clearly so they could easily be understood by the students,” Acting Rector Fr. Juan Ponce, OP, a former student of Cortes, said. “He was a real asset to the community. He was a great loss to the University.” Cortes was professor of Sacred Scriptures at the Faculty of Sacred Theology.

Bernarda Cortes, elder sister of Cortes, said her brother was very loving and supportive.

“He was a musician who would usually play the piano or the guitar. And every time we had a problem, whether financial or spiritual, he would be there to help,” the elder Cortes said.

Cortes earned his licentiate degrees in philosophy and theology in UST and was ordained priest in 1966. He was appointed by the late Pope John Paul II in 2001 as a member of the PBC, which had many years before awarded him the degree of licentiate in Sacred Scripture and candidate for the doctorate in Sacred Scriptures after passing the examen praevium and the lectio magistralis in 1970 cum mentione. Before that, he took up his biblical studies at the renowned Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Francais, the Dominican biblical institute in Jerusalem. Before Cortes became regent of CFAD in 2001, he was dean of the Institute of Religion from 1974 to 1978 and rector from 1980 to 1986 of the two colleges of Letran in Intramuros, Manila and Calamba, Laguna.

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