In a solemn investiture held on September 9, 2015 (Wednesday) at the Medicine Auditorium, the University of Santo Tomas conferred the degree “Doctor of Humanities,” honoris causa, upon Mr. Mariano Que, founder of Mercury Drug Corporation.
In her petition for the granting of the degree, Graduate School dean Marilu R. Madrunio, PhD, emphasized that while corporations tended to focus on gaining more and more profit, Que became one of the few who early on decided to give back to society. As he made a name for himself by selling medicine tablets on retail at affordable prices, Que infused a social responsibility component to his enterprise by providing scholarships for those who wished to study pharmacy, thus helping provide an early model for present-day corporate social responsibility thrusts.
A survivor of the Second World War, Que came from humble beginnings and was orphaned early on, thus being deprived of the chance to study. Que would recall in his speech later on that he staked all the money he had then—P100—to buy 1000 tablets of medicine, which he peddled and later on served as his capital for what has now become almost 1,000 branches of Mercury Drug Store all over the country.
The Rector of the University, Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., paid tribute to Que in his Address of Concession and stressed that honorary doctorates are given to truly meritorious individuals who have not only succeeded in their chosen fields, but have served humanity. Que’s model of retail pharmacy, Dagohoy emphasized, saved many lives and helped people—specifically those who survived the war—get back on their feet and rebuild.
A visibly enthused Que, assisted by his daughter and Pharmacy alumna Vivian Que-Azcona, thanked the University for the honor bestowed upon him. He said that the corporation which began with a single store in Bambang, Sta. Cruz, now has a network of close to 1,000 and employs a workforce numbering to thousands of employees. Que said: “Most of these employees, I am proud to say, are graduates of the University of Santo Tomas.” Ever-passionate, the 95-year-old honoree said, “I hope I prove myself worthy of this honor” as he committed to continue serving.
Dr. Que was presented with the doctoral hood and cap, as well as the medallion by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Fr. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner III, O.P., as well as given a ring to symbolize his espousal of wisdom.
Dr. Que is the most recent recipient of UST’s honorary doctorate degrees, the first of which was given in 1927 to Rev. Eugene I. McGuinnes.