Born 10 August 193 in Batangas City, in the Philippines. He studied for the priesthood in Manila and was ordained on 23 March 1958.
He held various teaching and pastoral positions before being appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Manila by Pope Paul VI on 12 August 1974. He was consecrated on 28 October 1974 in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Batangas City. He was later transferred to be Coadjutor Bishop of Malaybalay on 9 June 1982 and succeeded to full governance of the diocese on 14 September 1984. He was then promoted to Archbishop of Lipa on 30 December 1992, and then Archbishop of Manila on 15 September 2003.
He was created Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 March 2006.