Master Mariner Juan Bautista Lacson
The founder of the Iloilo Maritime Academy was born on May 9,1898 in the coastal town of Silay City, Negros Occidental. He was the third of eight children. As a boy, he showed the early characteristics of stoutheartedness that won the hearts of several people he met. He grew up in their hacienda in Manapla, Negros Occidental where the family owned a rowboat that transported sugar from Silay to Iloilo. He started his early education in Silay and Manapla and finished his education from the Siliman University in Dumaguete City. After High School, he wanted to take naval architecture but because of financial constraints decided to take up the then two-year course in Associate in Nautical Science after winning a scholarship at the Philippine Nautical School. He graduated in 1920 and was immediately accommodated as an apprenticemate onboard SS Venus of the Manila Steamship Company.
Two years after he got his third mate license. In 1937, he was employed as skipper of the new and luxurious yacht, the " Limbas" (Seahawk) owned by one of Manila's richest and successfull businessmen. In 1938, by way of the yacht's owner, he went to the United States. When he went home and armed with the experiences he had as ship officer, he joined the Philippine Coast Guard Patrol Service of the Light House Department of the Bureau of Customs until November 1941. He then was assigned as chiefmate of the motorship " Natsuko" bound for the United States.
Capt. Lacson was in the US when World War 2 broke out in December 1941. He joined the US Coastguard as Lieutenant Junior Grade in 1942 and was assigned at the coastal area of San Francisco. Lieutenant Lacson commanded the ship " Bataan" on a suicide war mission. It was this mission that earned him an award, a medal of honor.
In 1944, Capt. Lacson became a U.S. citizen and adopted the name John B. Lacson. He resided at San Juan, Puerto Rico, a US territory at that time. The US Coastguard, on World War II coastguard-manned US Army Freight and Supply Histories, recorded that Lieutenant Juan B. Lacson also took command of the coastguard-manned army vessel FS-273 in September, 1945.
When the war ended, Captain Lacson went home to the Philippines and committed himself into making young boys realize their dreams of following his footsteps and be at sea.He founded the Iloilo Maritime Academy (IMA) in 1948 . He is a determined man who always have the heart for the less fortunate. He also served as a harbor pilot for twelve years in Iloilo City.
Capt. Lacson is remembered for his intellectual prowess as a teacher, a master mariner, and a port pilot. He returned to our Creator on June 15, 1992 leaving a legacy that has changed the lives of thousands of Ilonggos. He paved the way for making Iloilo known as the Seafarers Capital of the Philippines. He gave them the privilege of travelling the seas, seeing the world and providing well for their families.