LUZ MARTINEZ LATUS, GN’58, BSN
(February 8, 1934 – August 24, 2014)
A Legacy of Leadership
by Nelson Borrero
On a sunny July afternoon, prior to the momentous celebration in New York, Rudy and Lyvia Villegas, and Merle Borrero and I, visited Luz and Bernard (Bud) Latus at their San Diego home. This was an opportunity to present Luz the Coral Jubilee award which reads: "LUZ M. LATUS, President 1992 – 1993, in appreciation and as a testimony of her meaningful role in building a strong and united global University of the Philippines Nursing Alumni Association International (UPNAAI, Inc.) that is celebrating a significant milestone, 35 years of excellence." With Bud by her side, Luz held the crystal trophy with such manifest admiration. The profound joy at seeing the organization she helped fashion arrive at this milestone was all written in her countenance, forgetting at least for a moment the enormous physical pain brought about upon by her ailment.
Luz was an active and very committed UPNAAI member. The first meeting she presided as president of the University of the Philippines Nursing Alumni Association of California (UPNAAC, Inc.) in 1992 was spent listening to her team’s clamor to formally expand the association beyond the borders of California. She sought my assistance for recommendations to have a very dynamic group that could respond to a new healthcare environment and changing paradigm. It was during her presidency that the Constitution and By Laws were revamped, UPNAAC was changed to UPNAAI, and its scope from a statewide to a nationwide organization. It was after her term that the Secretary of State of California approved the new name and scope. The term "lifetime members" were changed to "life members," with the board’s unanimous consent that life members’ names will continue to be honored in the membership roll every year even after their life time. "Life membership" referred to the life of the association, not the life time of the individuals. Luz was loyal and devoted to the organization. She defended its integrity when UPNAAI was under unfounded scrutiny, and drove all the way from San Diego to Los Angeles to join a meeting with colleagues in an effort to strengthen the cohesion and bond of fellowship.
The Julita V. Sotejo Medallion of Honor award was established during Luz’ term with emphasis on service to country and humanity (Servitium Patriae et Humanitate). With the selection of extremely qualified awardees, it became an institution that it is today, the highest University of the Philippines nursing alumni award. Indeed, it is a great honor to be with and be amongst our select community of achievers.
The legacy of Luz is by no means limited to the accomplishments of her presidency. Her classmates, colleagues, and friends would certainly recall this U.P. nurse and husband Bernard with camera on hand taking photos of his lovely wife - a perfect picture of love and affection. For those who knew her well, she was a loving wife, caring mother, and a good friend. Her close friend, Blanca S. Paloma, expressed that "Luz was very sensitive to the needs of her friends; she was very compassionate to her patients and was well liked by them." She will surely be missed.
Unable to thwart her illness, Luz Latus answered the call of the Lord on August 24, 2014. UPNAAI and its members mourn her passing, but also celebrate her life. Indeed, it was her desire to remake the foundation which drove the subsequent leaders to build upon it and to mold today’s UPNAAI. Luz will always be remembered for her leadership, her values, and what she stood for. We will love you always, Luz. May you rest in peace.