UST confers a posthumous honorary doctorate on the late Ricardo Po Sr., founder and chairman emeritus of Century Pacific Food, at the Dr. Robert C. Sy Grand Ballroom of the BGPOP building on Saturday, March 19. (Photo by Marvin John F. Uy/ The Varsitarian)

THE UNIVERSITY conferred a posthumous doctorate on the late Century Pacific Food Inc. founder Ricardo Po Sr. at the Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P., building on Saturday, March 19. 

Po took up chemistry at the old College of Liberal Arts (now College of Science) from 1952 to 1954 before dropping out to work as a journalist for a Chinese newspaper in Binondo. UST awarded him a masters in business administration in 2006.

“Ricardo Po Sr. did not become a full-fledged chemist in 1956, but he was a true-blooded Thomasian as he was a servant leader, effective communicator and collaborator, analytical and creative thinker and a life-long learner,” UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., said in his concession address. 

Graduate School Dean Prof. Michael Anthony Vasco delivered the address of the petition, while Science Dean Prof. Rey Donne Papa read the diploma during the solemn investiture. 

Po was nominated to become honoris causa recipient by the College of Science and was endorsed by the Graduate School before undergoing the screening process of UST’s Academic Senate, Council of Regents, and Board of Trustees.

The award was received by Ricardo’s wife, Angelita, and sons Ricardo Jr., Teodoro Alexander, Christopher, and Leonardo Arthur. 

After his journalism stint, Po started the Cathay Promotions Advertising Company, which designed the logo of the SM group. 

After losing money due to the 1973 stock market crash, Po started his canning factory in 1978. The factory later became the leading exporter of private-label tuna products in the country.

His company, Century Pacific, produces canned products under brands like Century Tuna, 555, Argentina, Birch Tree, Swift Premium, and Fresca Tuna.

Forbes magazine listed him as the 16th wealthiest man in the country in 2021, with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion (around P70 billion).

The billionaire died at age 90 on Oct. 11, 2021, due to complications that arose from surgery. 

Posthumous award

Po is the first recipient of a posthumous honorary degree from the University. 

UST Secretary General Fr. Louie Coronel, O.P., said UST was in the process of offering the honorary degree to Po before he died. 

“Actually, we are really intending to give him the award noong buhay pa siya. Kaya lang because of the process, the long process of this conferment, he passed away, unfortunately,” Coronel told the Varsitarian

Honorary degrees or honoris causa (for the sake of honor) are academic degrees awarded to prominent individuals for their involvement in the advancement of their fields that had led to the development of the community, society, and nation.

Other well-known honorary degree recipients from UST are General Douglas McArthur (1945) and former presidents Manuel Quezon (1936) and Corazon Aquino (1987).


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