Flying home

October 28, 2018

ATENEO Law School graduates -- mainly from 60, 50, 40 and 25 years ago -- flew home the other week to get together, to reminisce and to re-dedicate themselves.

They also came to pay  tribute to outstanding fellow alumni for significant contributions to the judiciary, private practice and the academe.

It was a happy and proud moment for me. I  got to meet again my fellow Ateneo Law School golden jubilarians (Class of ’68), many of whom I have not seen in ages.  

My daughter, Patricia, had an equally happy reunion with her fellow silver jubilarians (Class of ’93) which included, among others,  CA Associate Justice Walter Ong and Muntinlupa City Deputy Administrator RJ Patdu Smith.

The Ateneo Law Alumni Association, Inc. (ALAAI) -- headed by Chair Teodoro B. Cruz, Jr. (’72), Vice Chair Aleli Angela G. Quirino (’84) and President Ma. Filomena Legaspi-Rosales (’94) -- recognized these outstanding alumni in their respective fields:

Supreme Court Associate Estela Perlas-Bernabe  (’76) -- Judiciary; Atty. Benjamin Bernardino (’55) -- Private Practice and Atty. Victor N. Alimurung (’68) -- Academe. Special citations were also presented to former Vice President Teofisto Guingona (’53), Atty. Reynald Maclang (’60), Atty. Ricardo “Dong” Puno, Jr. (’69) and Retired Justice Hector L. Hofileña (’54).

Also recognized was Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra -- the honoree among the Class of 1994, which hosted this year’s homecoming. The host class came with exceptional bragging rights of having produced  11 top 13 bar finishers during their time.

The 2018 Ateneo Law Grand Alumni Homecoming was glittering success having been skillfully chaired by Maria Milagros N. Fernan-Cayosa (’94) with full support from Jose Maria G. Hofileña,  the Dean of the Ateneo Law School.

The ballroom at Makati Shangrila was jampacked but I managed to pick out  among the crowd former  Congressman Sergio Antonio F. Apostol and Atty. Jose S. Alejandro, both Diamond Jubilarians,  and  Rody Romero, a Ruby Jubilarian.   Also seen rubbing elbows with fellow alumni were ALAAI Honorary Chair Santiago J. Ranada, Jr.,  SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo and lawyer Ramon Torralba (’69).

Our Golden Jubilarian group (Class of ’68) had a better-than-expected attendance. Thanks to the persistent efforts of our Class President Vic Alimurung.  19 out of the 51 graduates who walked up the stage 50 years ago managed to show up during the  homecoming. 

Among them were: Retired SC Associate Justice Robert Abad, retired practitioner and current Ateneo law professor Vic Alimurung (Bar 11th placer); retired practitioner Rogel Atienza; former BIR Commissioner Jose Mario Buñag (Bar 2nd placer); this writer; former Budget Secretary Guillermo “Gem” Carague; former Ambassador Alberto “Dodo” Encomienda; former Transportation Secretary Jesus “Sonny” Garcia, Jr.;  retired corporate lawyer and now a gentleman farmer Manny Gonzales;

Ateneo law school professor and author/publisher Jacinto “Jack” Jimenez (Bar 3rd placer); retired practitioner and now agri-businessman Manuel “Manny” Jimenez; practitioner Rafael “Paeng” Lim; former immigration officer and Assistant City Prosecutor Edgardo “Gary” Mendoza; former NLRC arbiter Salmathar “Sali” Nambi;  former Commissioner of Central Board of Assessments Appeals Angel “Angie” Palomares; Francisco “Paco” Pangilinan (who has immigrated to Canada); former EVP of National Resources Development Corporation and professor at the Ateneo School of Business Administration Manuel “Manny” Solomon (Bar 8th placer); former Assistant City Prosecutor Roberto “Bobby” Tobia; and lawyer-evangelist Jose “Joe” Villanueva.

We fondly remembered our departed mentors:  Dean Pompeyo Diaz, Dean Jeremias Montemayor, BSP Governor Gabby Singson, Justice Ricardo Puno, Justice Conrado Sanchez, Justice  Arsenio Solidum, Judge Ruperto Kapunan, Justice Edgardo Paras, Commissioner Joe Ong, among others.

About half the class of ’68 had gone ahead to meet our Creator. Among them is Evelio B. Javier.

Three years out of law school, Javier ran for governor of Antique and won in 1971. He did so  by one of the largest margins in Antique history despite the lack of a traditional political machinery. At 28, he became the youngest governor ever in the Philippines.

As Antique Governor, Javier initiated the Upland Development Program which was supported by the Ford Foundation, USAID, UPLB and PBSP as a model for the development of poor countries.

He did not run  for election in 1980.  Instead he went on a scholarship  to the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University where he obtained a Master in Public Administration degree. 

In 1984, he ran for the Batasang Pambansa. On the eve of the election, several Javier supporters turned up dead. Javier “lost” but he  timely filed an election protest.

Undeterred, Javier continued to be  an outspoken critic of the excesses of martial law. In the 1986 snap presidential election,  Javier actively supported candidate Cory Aquino. four days after the snap election, Javier was gunned down by persons identified with his political opponents.

Five years after his murder, the Supreme Court reversed the Comelec and declared Javier the winner in the Batasan election.

In his ponencia, SC Justice Isagani Cruz paid tribute to Javier “who dared to speak against tyranny.  Where many kept a meekly silence… he chose to fight. He was not afraid. Money did not tempt him. Power did not awe him. His was a singular and all exacting obsession: the return of freedom to his country.”

That was Evelio Javier, a legend among the  Class of ’68, a shining example of one who dedicated his life Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

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