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October 11, 2008

Universidad de Manila, Philippines, Confers Honorary Doctorate

Universidad de Manila (UDM) Regents Chair Lim (2nd from left) presents the honorary degree to Mr. Ikeda (left), as UDM President Palattao (2nd from right) and UDM Vice President Ocampo (right) look on

On October 11, 2008, Universidad de Manila (UDM), Philippines, conferred a doctorate of humanities, honoris causa, upon Daisaku Ikeda, Soka University founder, in recognition of his promotion of humanistic education and his tireless commitment to peace. UDM Board of Regents Chair Alfredo S. Lim, also the mayor of Manila, presented the certificate to Mr. Ikeda at the Soka University central auditorium in Hachioji, Tokyo, following a combined student festival for the university and Soka Women's College. Guests included Universidad de Manila President, Justice Rodolfo G. Palattao, UDM Vice President for Academic Affairs Ambeth Ocampo, Knights of Rizal Supreme Commander Sir Virgilio Esguerra, and past Supreme Commander Sir Rogelio M. Quiambao, all of the Philippines; and CEOs of leading Japanese corporations who had earlier been recognized by Soka University.

Founded in 1995 as an initiative of Mayor Lim, UDM's primary goal is to provide quality tertiary education to economically disadvantaged but academically deserving graduates from Manila's public secondary schools. UDM currently enrolls 14,000 students in programs such as political science, criminology, social welfare, mass communication, education and nursing.

In his conferral speech, Dr. Lim shared that his dream of providing free higher education has been realized in Universidad de Manila, which, despite its critics, is now producing top performing students, whose examination scores surpass the national average. Indicating that UDM reflects his administration's commitment to education as a means for peace and progress, Dr. Lim stated that Mr. Ikeda is being honored for having the same commitment to education and for representing UDM's vision of "becoming a first-class university of globally competitive professionals and educational leaders." He commended Mr. Ikeda for founding 15 educational institutions worldwide, beginning with Soka Schools and Soka University in Japan, and succeeding in creating "a flourishing educational system that has the happiness of children as its core objective." He stated his agreement with Mr. Ikeda's view that concern for the growth and happiness of others is the essential spirit of education.

Expressing his gratitude and sense of responsibility upon receiving the honorary degree, Mr. Ikeda named his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda (1900-58), and British historian Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975) as the two individuals with whom he would like to share the distinction. Mr. Ikeda said Dr. Toynbee, who had visited Manila in 1956 and witnessed the still unhealed wounds from the atrocities committed by the Japanese military regime, had been inspired by the dauntless spirit of the Filipino people who had thrown themselves into reconstructing their nation. Observing their passion for education, Dr. Toynbee was fully convinced of a hopeful future for the Philippine nation.

Referring to the people-powered revolution of the Philippines in 1986 when ordinary citizens stood up in solidarity against an authoritarian government and accomplished a bloodless revolution, Mr. Ikeda identified Dr. Lim as the Police Major General who refused the dictator's orders to use force to disperse crowds and stood firmly on the side of the people. This people's movement, he said, ushered in a tide of global democratization and triggered the toppling of authoritarian states that followed in Eastern Europe.

Commenting that Manila was able to rise up and respond to the challenges stemming from the ravages of war and conflict and emerge victorious, Mr. Ikeda stated that the ability to win over adversities is the very source of development, advance, and creativity, whether for an individual, a society or a civilization. He quoted José Rizal (1861-96), Philippine's national hero, who asserted amidst persecution, "The school of suffering tempers the spirit." In closing, Mr. Ikeda asked the students gathered to remember to always cherish their parents, leaving them with the words of Rizal, "Only those of intellect and courage can lead lives of value and fulfillment."

[Adapted from an article in the October 12, 2008, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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