Claro Torres Llaguno, PhD, former UP Diliman (UPD) chancellor (1996-1999), passed away on Nov. 9.
During his chancellorship, Llaguno, a retired professor at the Institute of Chemistry (IC) of the UPD College of Science (CS), was known to mull over issues or activities needing his decision or approval, especially sensitive or “controversial” ones. It would take him some time before he acted on it. However, when he did act, like the Ents of the Lord of the Rings—wise, old tree-like beings known to think deeply before acting—he was firm on his decision, and he owned it.
The UPD that he captained had crucial challenges and very public incidents that rocked the campus to its core. There were the deaths of students Alexander Miguel Icasiano and Niño Calinao. Icasiano died because of fraternity-related violence, while Calinao died because he was mistakenly targeted by unknown assailants. In the investigation, the real target eerily looked like Calinao. And then there was the dismissal of two faculty colleagues who were former UPD administrators. These among others, according to an UPDate article, “tested his mettle as the top administrator.”
Through it all, he still saw the chancellorship as a reward.
“I was blessed in a sense because such an opportunity is not given to everybody, but only to a few,” Llaguno said in an exclusive UPDate interview in 1999.
Admittedly, it was not all gloom and dark during his chancellorship.
During his time, UP clinched the Season 60 over-all champion title of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP 1997-1998). Llaguno showed his appreciation for the athletes by spending time with them and by hosting dinners for them. He would not forget to pepper his speeches with his appreciation, speaking of how proud of them he was. But he would still insist on the importance of academics.
Llaguno was like a father figure who would hear the UPD community’s concerns one time, and join the fun and celebration the next.
He is known to be a crooner at some socials, and even managed some dance steps one Christmas celebration in UPD.
One memory this writer has of Llaguno was the time he hosted a dinner celebration for the athletes for their UAAP Season 60 over-all champion title.
This writer and a colleague photographer covered the event. Spotting the UPDIO staff, he approached, said his greetings, and as an invitation to partake of the food, said with a smile, “O, pumila na kayo sa pagkain (referring to the buffet spread) dahil baka maubusan kayo ng mga bata. Mga athletes iyan, alam niyo naman ang appetite nila.”
Llaguno obtained his PhD from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1971 and postdoctoral studies at Brock University in Ontario, Canada in 1972. He earned his AB chemistry at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1966.
Throughout his career in UP, Llaguno served the university in different capacities. As a UP administrator, Llaguno was the secretary of the University and of the Board of Regents (1995-1996) and UPD vice chancellor for community affairs (February-November 1993), as an academic head, he was the director of the IC (1989-1990), chair of the former Department of Chemistry (1986-1989), and assistant dean for academic affairs of CS (1984-1986).
Llaguno began his career in UP as an associate professor in chemistry in 1977.
Upon leaving his office as chancellor, Llaguno had a week-long despedida held by different offices on campus. A mark, one might say, of a man well-loved and respected.
In a related development, Llaguno’s family announced that his wake is at the Agoncillo Room in La Funeraria Paz inside the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque. Interment will be on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 3 p.m., preceded by a mass in the Agoncillo Room at 1 p.m.
Paalam. Maraming salamat po CCTL!