Bro. Andrew Gonzalez is well remembered for his exceptional intelligence and love for education and teaching. As a young student, he was way ahead of his classmates, having been accelerated twice during his elementary years. He realized early in life that his vocation was not merely to teach, but to become a Christian educator; hence, he worked hard to become a De La Salle Christian Brother. He finished his Bachelor of Arts degree at the top of his class and continued to pursue a master’s degree in English literature at The Catholic University of America in Washington. He then returned to the country and taught English language and literature at La Salle College in Bacolod.
Soon Bro. Andrew developed an interest in linguistics as a tool for studying and teaching languages in the country. He went on to take graduate courses in linguistics, initially at the Philippine Normal College, then Ateneo de Manila University, and finally, at the University of California at Berkeley. His voluminous contribution to Philippine linguistics covers descriptive linguistics, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolingustics or language planning, and applied linguistics or language education, among others.
Bro. Andrew believed that the Filipino language is on its way “to becoming fully intellectualized.” As Secretary of the Department of Education, he championed and worked toward the development of the Filipino language. He did this by directing the use of the regional languages as medium of instruction for the first three grade levels and then the use of Filipino as the language of instruction for all subjects at all grade levels. He believed that Filipino should be used, not merely studied and that one can easily reach a higher order of critical thinking in one’s native language. During his stint in the education department, Bro. Andrew also initiated the revision of the Basic Education curriculum to streamline the subjects offered in the elementary and secondary levels. He likewise worked to rid the department of corruption in textbook procurement.
As a Christian educator, Bro. Andrew initiated the expansion of the range of La Sallian education in the Philippines. He conceptualized the De La Salle University System and envisioned not only a teaching university but a “multiversity” that can serve as model for other educational institutions in the country. He promoted excellence in research among the faculty, introduced new graduate programs, established a new center for innovative teaching, and acquired a medical college to further train medical doctors while serving the community around the medical school.