Knight's Tale by Gester Jeff Quilala
Photos from www.letran.edu
you ever wondered why the monicker of the almost 400-year-old Colegio
de San Juan de Letran is drawn from a knight? Does it have a connection
with her historic past or just a result of an extraordinary brainstorming
of school officials?
of St. John Lateran in Vatican City
find out, let me trace where Letran derived its name. In Rome stands a
Basilica named after St. John Lateran. The basilica got its name from
the powerful noble family of Plautius Lateranus, a member of the Laterani
family, who was later accused of conspiring against Nero, then emperor
of Rome. Lateranus was deprived of his property and was sentenced to death.
When the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine came into power, he
donated the palace of the Laterani family as the site for erecting a basilica,
and the plan of building a church for the See of Rome. Constantines
mother was a Laterani and this wealthy family lived in Rome during the
During the Crusades, the established church was renamed and dedicated
to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. The Laterani classification,
however, was retained, thus the naming of the basilica after St. John
The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the mother of all churches in Rome
and in the world. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. Its feast
is celebrated on November 9, but was originally observed only in Rome
since 354 A.D.
about the college seal of the Colegio? The college seal of Letran is a
Maltese cross that bears the inscription of Collegial de Letran
which dates back between 1896 and 1716. It is derived from the Lateran
and the Knights of Malta traditions.
The Maltese cross is an eight-point cross of Italys Amalfi town.
Its merchants established a hostel for pilgrims in St. John of Jerusalem.
The group became the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem who
moved to Malta in 1530. From then on they became known as the Knights
of Malta, honored by the church for their pious works.
One of the founding fathers of Letran was a Knight of Malta. Don Juan
Geronimo Guerrero, a retired Spanish officer, changed his home into an
orphanage and named it as the Co-legio de Niños Huerfanos de San
Juan de Letran. At that same time, Diego de Santa Maria, a Dominican brother,
also raised another institution called Huerfanos de San Pedro y San Pablo.
These two institutions shared a common concern for the children of Intramuros
to educate them and mold these orphans into good Christians.
Soon after the death of Don Guerrero, Brother Santa Maria was left to
continue the noble deed. The two institutions were merged into one and
later became known as the Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
The Colegio is the oldest secondary school in Asia and the sister school
of the oldest Catholic university in Asia. From then on, the institution
was seen as one of the finest, even until it entered the world of sports
in the 1900s.
In 1911, Letran Athletic Club was organized for the development of the
youth by introducing different kinds of sports that are associated with
moral values of the society. During this year, the first football team
of Letran became the field of terror all over the city of Manila. This
glorious team, headed by the two of the countrys greatest football
stars namely Manolo Nieto and Chacho Lopez, reigned in an undisputed leadership
that continued until 1917. The two Letranites also became members of the
famous Bohemian Team, an undefeated national champion for many years.
1917, the Liga Catolica, the immediate predecessor of the National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA) came to existence until 1920. It was composed
of teams not only from Catholic schools but also teams of unattached athletes.
Letran was a member of the league where football was the major sport while
basketball was occasionally played.
The year 1924 saw the birth of the NCAA. The formation of the NCAA revived
and restored the athletic spirit among the youth at that time. Letran
joined the NCAA four years later. It was also during that year when Letran
became the NCAA Junior Basketball Champion and retained the championship
in 1929 and 1930Letrans first grand slam.
In 1932, Letran won its first NCAA track and field championship, led by
Rafael de Leon. It was also in the year when Letran withdrew from the
NCAA to protest an apparently unjust decision of throwing out a Letran
player. However, four years later Letran rejoined the NCAA.
Two years after Letran rejoined NCAA, the Colegio gained its first NCAA
senior basketball championship. The team was coached by Jacinto Ciria
Cruz and skippered by Felicisimo Fajardo. The legendary Letran Murder
Inc. team brought home the second NCAA senior basketball trophy in 1950.
They won the first nine games but lost the last one. Angel de Leon was
the coach while Lauro Mumar was the captain.
1960, Bibiano Bing Ouano of Letran High School 1930, died
in the line of duty when he coached the NCAA selection in Japan. He gave
Letran its third senior championship with Clemente Bargas as the captain
ball. Bing died from a heart attack.
In 1973, Colonel Julian Malonso, physical director and professor of Letran,
assumed the presidency of the Philippine Olympic Committee. He was NCAA
president in 1958 and 1960.
In 1982, another Letran grand slam took place, as the senior basketball
team championed and retained their glory in 1983 and 1984. The team was
mentored by alumnus Laurentino Albano and bannered by Romeo Ang and Avelino
In 1991, Letran returned its NCAA junior basketball championship trophy
after the disqualification of one of its players. The school deemed as
moral renewal in the countrys sports sector.
In 1992, Letran captured another senior basketball crown, its twelfth
title since it won its first victory in 1938.
Letranites not only excelled in basketball. Aside from track and field
and football, the Knights also made their way to be remembered in tennis.
Though tennis had not been so popular among the Letranites due to lack
of suitable courts, this did not deprive them from being distinguished
in this event. Letrans Baldomero Limbaga was the NCAA singles-holder
in 1933 and 1934. While in doubles, the NCAA will remember the Limbaga
brothers who were seldom defeated during their time.
In boxing, the Padilla Brothers, Pepe and Carlos, were two Olympic amateurs
whose records would be impossible for others to challenge. These two Letranites
are kings of their respective weight. Pepe went to Berlin to represent
the country in the World Olympics. Pedro Ernesto and Emiliano de Guzman
participated in the 1932 Far Eastern Meet in Manila.
In cheering, who would ever forget the Jumping Beans that
led Letrans Bumalaka Battalion. Dick Tañedo, Narcy Dacuycuy,
and Bien Escoto were among the pioneers who raised the Letran Flag at
the Infantry Armory. Before them Letran already had cheering squads at
Nozaleda Park. Although these were less organized, they were undoubtedly
spirited and fiery under the leadership of Willie Tarbet, Tony Boquer,
and the Agabao brothers.
Did you know that Letran also pioneered the famous letter-cheer? On September
5, 1938, at a time when the Letran team was trailing by ten points, the
Letran cheering squadron executed its wonderful letter-cheer. People in
the stadium temporarily forgot that the team was losing.