Josephine Cojuangco Reyes, Ed.D., chairman of the Far
Eastern University Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation (FEUNRMF),
died July 26, 2011. She was 83. Born on November 26, 1927,
Dr. Reyes was delivering a eulogy for her older brother,
Don Pedro Cojuangco, at the Santuario de San Antonio,
when she collapsed. She was pronounced at St. Luke’s
Medical Center Global City. Don Pedro, who was 13 months
her senior, was board chairman and president of the Hacienda
Luisita sugar estate in Tarlac. Dr. Reyes was the second
of six Cojuangco children, Pedro, Teresita Lopa, former
Philippine President Cory Aquino, Jose, Jr., and Maria
Paz Teopaco, the last two surviving her.
An educator, Dr. Reyes obtained her A.B. degree at Marymount
College in New York, her M.A. degree at Columbia University,
New York, and her Ed.D. at the Far Eastern University
in Manila. She was the seventh president of the Far Eastern
University from 1985 to 1989, and served as Chairman of
the Board of the FEUNRMF following the death of her husband,
Nicanor Reyes, Jr., who was president of the FEU. Dr.
Reyes chaired her last board meeting a couple of weeks
before her demise. She was also past Director and Vice-president
of the Centra Azucarera de Tarlac and the President of
the Luisita Realty Corporation.
Dr. Reyes is the elder sister of former Philippine President
Cory Aquino and Tarlac Representative Jose Cojuangco,
Jr. Their parents were Jose C. Cojuangco, Sr. of Tarlac
and Demetria Sumulong of Antipolo, Rizal. The incumbent
President of the Philippines, Bengina Aquino III is her
nephew, who was elected in 2010.
Dr. Reyes regularly flew to the United States to join
the FEU medical alumni at their annual reunion and convention.
Her last such trip was to the 32nd Annual Reunion and
Convention of the FEU-Dr. Nicanor Reyes School of Medicine
Alumni Foundation in Las Vegas on June 15-18, 2011, where
she officiated the medal award ceremonies for the Silver
(Class of ’86) and Golden (Class of ’61) Jubilarians.
Her remains were cremated and services were held at
the Don Bosco Church in Makati. The eulogies were delivered
by Dr. Reyes’s grand- and great-grandchildren, son
Butch Reyes, her most likely successor, and President
Benigno Aquino III. Her ashes were interred in the family
mausoleum where President Cory is.
A family friend and past president and chairman of the
medical alumni Foundation, Indiana cardiac surgeon Philip
S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, who was a Board Trustee of the
FEUNRMF from 1998 to 2008, who immediately flew to Manila
upon receiving the news to attend the services for Dr.
Reyes, had this to say:
“This is a tragic loss that will leave a great
void in all of us who knew her…we will all miss
her quiet, shy demeanor and her charming smile that belie
her deep intellect, purpose-driven life, great sense of
humor, friendliness, warmth, and compassion. In spite
of her age, she religiously attended our annual alumni
reunion-convention in the United States, flying across
the oceans, spending for her own airfare. She found joy
in being with the alumni. From per own personal funds,
and without fanfare, she would also pay the tuition fees
for poor deserving students to enable them to graduate.
She is such a lady. A lady we will never forget. My wife,
Farida, and I will remember her with fond memories. We
are all somewhat diminished by her passing. May she walk
with God and enjoy eternal joy and peace.”