Brother Rafael S. Donato FSC (†) fondly referred to as "BRAFE"
Brafe finished grade school in 1952, high school in 1956, and a Bachelor of Science in Education, majoring in English literature with a minor in Philosophy in 1961 all at De La Salle College. In 1956, he decided to become a De La Salle Brother.
He then earned his Master's degree in English as a Second Language and Linguistics at Columbia University in 1965
as a Fulbright scholar. Another Fulbright grant allowed him to travel to Europe and Vietnam.
In the 1970s, Donato became the first Filipino Director of De La Salle Lipa and the first Filipino President of La Salle Green Hills. In 1974, he received a Certificate of Advanced Studies from Harvard and in 1976, he earned his Doctor
of Education degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy. Upon his return Philippines, he was then assigned
to La Salle College Bacolod in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental as its first Filipino president.
Brafe was appointed Brother Visitor and concurrent President of La Salle Green Hills in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila from 1983 to 1990. He then served as President of De La Salle University-Manila from 1991 to1994. In 1994, he
became a British Council Fellow for Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom. In 1995, he received another fellowship from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Truman Institute for Peace.
He was then appointed President of De La Salle Lipa in Lipa City, Batangas on May 15, 1995 and served in that
capacity until 2003, at which time he was named President Emeritus for his role in the expansion of the school.
Brafe was last the Auxiliary Visitor of the Philippine District as well as President of De La Salle Araneta University in Malabon City, Metro Manila effective SY 2006-2007. He was also a faculty member of the Educational Leadership and Management Department of De La Salle University Manila's College of Education On October 16, 2006, he celebrated
his 50th year as a De La Salle Brother in ceremonies held at La Salle Green Hills.
On November 2, 2006, Donato was reported missing after a few hours of swimming off the shores of Morong, Bataan. His body was found at 8:30 p.m., six hours after he was reported missing and one kilometer away from where he was last seen. His remains were subsequently driven back to Manila.
Now that’s a lot of firsts. And firsts means beginnings.
When we look at these institutions now, it’s almost like he’s had a Midas touch and that everything he wanted to do, he could. Well, the stories that he tells are more encouraging than fantastic. It wasn’t anything close to a fairy tale.
As a La Salle brother, with the vow of obedience, came a lot of heartaches and difficulties.
The three most ardous and personal of his victories, were all fought with great
It dawned on me that all these years, Brafe and I shared not just dreams, but It dawned on me that all these years,
Br. Rafe and I shared not just dreams, but visions. Yes, he dreamed big and I am glad I dreamed big with him. With members of Class ’56, we established the Foundation For Sharing Lasallian Education to give those who have less in life a chance for the best education there is – that of La Salle, of course.
Well, countless things have been said about Brafe’s being an educator, a mentor, a colleague, a friend, an associate, and a brother. But I most remember him as an unrelenting idealist who was always able to target a cause with a
battle plan to boot. When he envisioned that the underprivileged sons and daughters of society should be able to
walk shoulder to shoulder with those who have much in life, many thought it was quite hard to do. But he worked
right at it. And he did not stop until he saw his efforts bear fruit. He was a tireless campaigner and a charismatic one, too.
Among his legacies not only to La Salle, but also to Philippine education in general, is the La Salle Green Hills
Adult Night School and the Night College of De La Salle University. Indeed, many of those with less in life who
otherwise would not have had formal education have been gifted with Lasallian education.
With Brafe as classmate, we became movers and not just passive participants. We learned to take the bull by the
horns and put our stake in worthy causes. Under different circumstances, walking down memory lane with him would have been a more pleasant journey. But today, we remember not only the deeds of the man, but also the heart of the man. After all is said and done, Br. Rafe was truly a man who had a genuine concern for the poor. Through the years, we learned a lot from him and of him. He had often said that when someone leaves the world to meet his Creator, it manifests “the fragility of life.” Yes, Br. Rafe has gone back to our Creator and left us to this fragile life. But he left us stronger with his ideals as he continues to live in us and among us: through the poor young students to which he has given hope, through the adults who now know how to read and write, through the communities he helped to build, through the lives – yours and mine – that he touched, and expect to share and carry on with much life and much love.
Thank you, Brafe. You will be forever missed.
CLICK HERE TO SEE HIS CURRICULUM VITAE
LINKS TO BRAFE'S WEBSITE: