• Born in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines on March 11, 1939.
• Parents – public school teachers (now deceased), youngest of four.
• Elementary and Secondary Education in Laoag and in Marbel, South Cotabato.
• Seminary and Religious Formation: OMI Novitiate, Texas, 1957; Philosophy – San Jose Seminary, Quezon City; Theology – Washington, D.C., Oblate College / Catholic University of America.
• Ordained Priest in Washington, D.C. in 1964 by Jolo Bishop Francis McSorley, O.M.I.
• Worked in parish, seminary, and university ministries, 1964 – 1976.
• Assignments: Pastoral ministry (Cotabato City and Jolo); seminary formation; University work – 1st Filipino President of Notre Dame University, Cotabato City,1971-76 (chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men Of the Philippines in 1973).
• Further Studies: Educational Management, UST, 1968 – 1970;
Religious Life, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, 1976 – 1977.
• Missionary in Jolo, 1977-1979.
• Second Bishop of the Prelature of Kidapawan in 1980 – 1982; first Bishop of the Diocese of Kidapawan, 1982 – 1986. Archbishop of Nueva Segovia, Vigan, 1986 – 1998; 1st Filipino Archbishop, 3rd Archbishop of Cotabato, 1998 – to the present.
• Former President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), 1999-2003
Past Member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Rome, 1992 -1900.
Past Member of the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops’ General Secretariat, Rome, 1994 – 2000.
• Former Secretary General of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), 2005 – 2011;
• Chairman – Drafting Committee of the Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II), 1991; principal drafter of many CBCP pastoral letters and statements; several FABC Plenary Assembly Final Statements, including the 10th FABC Plenary Assembly, 2012.
• Appointed Cardinal by Pope Francis, January 12, 2014, the first in Mindanao;
• Created Cardinal in the Consistory of February 22, 2014, Rome.
o Appointed Member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2014.
o Appointed Member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, 2014.
• Conferences and talks at seminars and assemblies in Asia, Europe, and United States.
• Interests: Mission and Church Renewal in the Philippines and Asia (Personal and Structural Change towards a “new way of being Church” — for Priests, Religious and Lay Leaders), Issues of Justice and Peace (esp. peace in Mindanao),Climate Change, Building Basic Ecclesial Communities.