Thursday, April 14, 2005


1980. Blame it on George Malcolm who gave us the wrong notion that anybody who passes thru the grinder that is the UP College of Law has some hint of greatness in him. It is true that many were called, but only a handful are chosen. But who can blame Dean Malcolm when excellence is institutionalized?

Remember Oliver Wendell Holmes' famous words etched on stone? The business of law school is not the creation of Frankenstein’s legal trolls but great lawyers lawyering in grand manner.

That is some kind of eerie reminder. Either you’re a failure or just a plain glorious fixer if you fall short of the expectation. Grand lawyers are big words. Just too heavy for a law school provenance that people just can’t believe none of us is the President yet. Ferdinand Marcos at 48 was already in Malacanang. Most of his classmates in their early 40s were already in the Supreme Court and the Cabinet. Again, either they were just too in a hurry to be remembered or just plain too eager to prove Malcolm correct. Talk about stress and pressure of going ahead.

No one gets excited anymore if a prospective client on a hunt asks an alumnus where he got his law degree, and we usually drop the bombshell, UP College of Law, any questions? As Woody Allen famously said, “I’ve never been an intellectual but I have this look.”

Thus the presumption of excellence precedes us. As Jerry Barican commented, “it’s only a little later when you realize that you’re talking to a turkey”, referring to a UP Law alumnus who didn’t exactly fall within the popular category and who unfortunately enjoyed the benefit of the presumption. The thought is simply excruciating. Comparisons abound and come reckoning time, what has each batch got to show? It’s the moment of shifting gear and time to eat some humble pie.

I subscribe more to Justice WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS estimation of the College of Law’s graduates by restating him that law school’s purpose should be to produce good lawyers for the people and not to place imaginary or fantastic barriers against anyone. Just plain good ol’lawyers, no pressure and no frills. Sorry for this off beam take, but perhaps Old Malcolm was simply carried away by the exuberance of a commencement atmosphere? The trouble was that some turkey picked it up and vandalized our walls.

Oh, well. When we find ourselves out there, no competition exists simply because we carry the Malcolmic brand of greatness unabashedly flaunted for the past 100 years while the other guys simply hate it because they still have to prove themselves. While we, Providence Chosen People just act it up and wherever we may be – clients, fans or plain folks blaze their paths towards us. “The sad truth,” as American writer Shana Alexander once remarked, “is that excellence makes people nervous.”

The members of Class 1980 are the products of a unique transition. They have no self-doubt. Their parents belonged to the greatest generation who fought in the Second World War as piously venerated by Tom Brokaw.

First off, they were witnesses to scientific and technological advancement when Neil Armstrong first landed on the moon and the birth of the computer. Music and the arts, they have gone full circle. Their kids are amazed by their mean boogie and the way they sing with incredible ease the revivals of James Taylor, the Beatles, Chicago, Jim Croce, Eric Clapton, and Paul McCartney and become misty eyed by the mere mention of Boy Camara and Heber Bartolome. They were the first hangers-on at the original Jollibee beside Coronet theatre in Cubao; soiréed all night with girls or boys from exclusive schools; watched 9 mm hardcores; and slipped the betamax past the dorm guards to enjoy the clear copies of Deep Throat and Vivian Velez’s papaya clip.

Subsequently, when they entered college, they saw the best and the worst of world leaders when Richard Nixon waged an unthinking war in Vietnam, was impeached for Watergate, and eventually driven out of office. They also learned the lesson that a once bad leader can be rehabilitated like what happened to Nixon when he transformed himself into an elder statesman. On the home front, they had their share of personal encounters with outstanding patriots like Pepe Diokno, Ninoy Aquino, Enchong Tañada, Melito Glor, Antonio Tagamolila, Eman Lacaba, Ditto Sarmiento and Edgar Jopson. In their memory banks, and as habitués of Plaza Miranda, they could recall with fondness the timbre of the voices and the quality of words dished out by those great men. Was it Ninoy Aquino who said, describing the treachery of corruption in his own rare discourses, “para kang bumabaril ng isang taong nagmumog sa madaling araw!” After that, they all silently or actively protested when the home-grown dictator Ferdinand Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus. They listened intently when Francisco Tatad read Proclamation 1081.

Next, they were in the thick of the first noise barrage. Afterwards, they cast their votes for the first time in 1978 when the Lakas ng Bayan slugged it out with Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan and silently grieved when the first dagdag-bawas was shamelessly employed by the KBL patron. When Ninoy Aquino was shot on August 21, 1983, most of them as young lawyers understood what injustice is all about. They saw with their own eyes the nascent revolution that erupted in 1986 when they kept vigil along Times St and when they lined the routes where the funeral of Ninoy passed. They shed tears inside some court rooms when Doy Laurel finally agreed to team-up with Cory Aquino in a unity ticket against the sick dictator in the February, 1986 snap election. They first felt the inexplicable revulsion when Cory & Doy were cheated. A number of them entertained the thought of going underground and hanging the gloves of inutile law practice. Some were warm bodies at EDSA when Marcos and his ilk fled to Hawaii.

These were the contours of their environment when Class 1980 entered and was moulded in the UP College of Law. Class 1980 was in the midst of turmoil and the exercise of freedom gone mad. No doubt, without apologies to the Chinese, they lived in interesting times. Paraphrasing German author and critic Thomas Mann, the members of this class live not only their personal lives, as individuals, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of their epoch and their contemporaries.

It is no fluke when the members of this class end up as great lawyers.

Five bar topnotchers including the No. 1 bar examinee. Forty-four high profile corporate and practicing lawyers. Six RTC judges. Eighteen government lawyers, including the Bureau of Immigration commissioner and the Government Corporate counsel. One congressman. Two law deans. Twelve elected local government executives.

The class has produced six Regional Trial Court judges: Felipe Philip G. Banzon (Bacolod City RTC), Jose Joey P. Caoibes, Jr. (Las Piñas City RTC), Ray Alan T. Drilon (Bacolod City RTC), Rafael Raffy R. Lagos (Lucena City RTC), Fernando Fern V. Pamintuan (Baguio City RTC), and Benjamin Benjie D. Turgano (Laoag City RTC); and 18 government lawyers serving the bureaucracy in various capacities. We are not talking here of ordinary nine to five government lawyers. We refer to decision makers in Malacañang, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, Ombudsman, POEA, DAR, PNOC, DBP, ad inifitum. Name it and this class has got it.

Some of the more famous members of the class are Judge Rafael Raffy R. Lagos, the class bar topnotcher, a former corporate secretary of the National Power Corporation, and who held a short stint as Executive Judge of the Quezon Province Regional Trial Court; Rufus B. Rodriguez, a one time commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration; Raoul Reggie R. Angangco, the class valedictorian, who became national president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and Arno V. Sanidad who has become a most sought after human rights lawyer; and Bayani Nonoy K. Tan, the corporate secretary of blue chips corporations holding fort at Tektite, Ortigas Center.

Rufus was a former dean of San Sebastian College of Law. He also served as vice governor of Misamis Occidental and has become a prolific author of law books. He is the good counsel of the Opposition in its well-publicized electoral protests. His partner is Jesus Jess P. Casila, a gentleman farmer too, co-author of Rufus in a number of legal tomes.

Raoul or Reggie is now a top corporate honcho in the law firm of Villaraza and Angangco. That he was the Law Student Government president in ’79-’80 presaged his becoming president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the mandated national organization of all lawyers in the country, in 1995-97. Then 41 years of age, he was the youngest president of the country’s association of lawyers. Reggie held and continues to hold various positions in the International Bar Association, LAWASIA, Inter-Pacific Bar Association, and World Jurist Association. In 1996, he was UPLAA’s Outstanding Alumnus in Bar Leadership. He helmed Class 1980 in all its undertakings for the past two decades and a half.

Who would not recognize the name of Arno The Bachelor V. Sanidad when it comes to human rights lawyering? He joins the likes of J.B.L. Reyes, Jose W. Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada. He finds more gratifying a celibate legal existence than being tied to some espousal liaison.

In the same Bureau of Immigration with Rufus was Linda L. Malenab-Hornilla who served as associate commissioner. Linda was the 1993 Judicial Excellence awardee as Outstanding Prosecutor. She is now the Commissioner of the National Police Commission and a much sought lecturer-resource person in MCLEs.

Luis Louie C. Liwanag II is a deputy executive secretary in Malacañang; Lorenzo Lawrence R. Reyes is assistant secretary at the Department of Agrarian Reform; Emmanuel Sonny M. Mariano is assistant secretary at DepEd; Rustum L. Pacardo is at the Bureau of Customs; Veneranda Breng C. Guerrero, Alex A. Lopez, and Geobel A. Bartolabac as senior labor arbiters at the NLRC.

Roque de las Alas is at the Laguna Lake Development Authority; Francis L. Dagnalan serves as commissioner in the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. Ma. Luisa Malou A. Ylagan Cortez served for a time as associate commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration before returning to active practice.

Procolo Nonong M. Olaivar is at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority; Luis Louie A. Maglaya the class whiz in partnership law, Philippine National Oil Co.; Cagliostro Cali M. Martinez, Land Bank of the Philippines; Romeo Romy L. Tan, the PR guru at the Ombudsman; Edmund Miguel GB O. Tangco, is the legal mind of the Manila Economic and Culture Office (MECO) in Taipei; and Godofredo Fred C. de Guzman serves as director of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

Manuel Manny U. de la Cruz is over at the GSIS Department of Investigation. Frumencio Sonny E. Pulgar became a provincial board member of Quezon. Sonny is likewise active in public law interest/law practice in Quezon Province having founded the Sentro ng Gabay Legal sa Quezon and Pundasyong Legal sa Quezon. Romualdo D. Menson, now a practicing lawyer, was a former mayor of Lapinig, Northern Samar. Antonio Tony M. Santos stayed on at UP to become the chief librarian of the U.P. College of Law. Tony Santos was the choice of the Professional Regulations Commission as the 1999 Outstanding Librarian awardee. Hector Hec D. Soliman is director of the U.P. Law Center Institute of Human Rights. Hec is the good husband of the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Dinky Juliano-Soliman.

Purisimo Sim S. Buyco was a bar topnotcher, just like Marilyn A. Victorio-Aquino. Both are senior partners of the prestigious Picazo Buyco Tan Fider & Santos, and Sycip Salazar Hernandez Gatmaitan, respectively. The other three topnotch members of the class are Judge Rafael Raffy R. Lagos (who was No. 1), Bayani Nonoy K. Tan, a practicing lawyer specializing in securities law and former Philippine Stock Exchange legal counsel, and Judge Jose Joey F. Caoibes, Jr.

Jose Perpetuo Juju M. Lotilla and Enrique Ric T. Manuel are likewise senior partners of Sycip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan.

Roberto Rafael Bobby V. Lucila was once presidential assistant for Legislative Affairs. He is now a name partner with Roberto Bobby O. Parel at the law firm of Belo, Gozon, Parel, Asuncion & Lucila, the legal counsel of GMA-Channel 7.

Following the footsteps of her lawyer-mom, Maria Teresita Maritess G. Sison-Go is now a partner at Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & Delos Angeles Law office. Maritess is president of IBP Manila IV Chapter and is the assistant national treasurer of the IBP National. She is also U.P. WILOCI’s vice president. Maritess is the better half of Commissioner Romy Go of the National Labor Ralations Commission.

While Maritess is into immigration law, you cannot beat Enrico Ricky B. Astudillo, with his own firm, in intellectual property law and international relations.

Mariano Jun F. Magsalin, Jr. practices as well as teaches law specializing in Public Law. In fact, he is the dean of the Arellano Law School. He is best remembered as the guy who crooned Burt Bacharach’s “A House is Not a Home” in Justice Flery’s Person’s class in his exposition of what a family home is all about. Jose Joey A. Parungo, aside from his lucrative law practice, is a senior professor in Arellano Law School and is a remedial law specialist. Joey chairs, appropriately, the Arellano Legal Aid Clinic (ALAC).

Mention bar discipline and the name of Julio July C. Elamparo, the class Richard Gere look-alike, because he is an IBP Bar Discipline commissioner investigating administrative charges against his peers, even as he continues his private practice.

The other members of the class into solo practice or in partnership with other lawyers are Renato Bobet T. Paguio, Cornelio Kune P. Aldon, Ma. Luz Malou S. Arzaga, Teresita Ditas R. Capacillo, Edwin S. dela Cruz, Anesio Ani R. Guades (who now has a lawyer for a son), Generoso Gene R. Jacinto, Jr., Antonio Tony B. Jingco, Josue Bebot L. Jorvina, Jr., Enrico Rico M. Lainez, Marlon B. Llauder, Ferdinand Ferdie D. Macaibay, Cesar F. Maravilla, Jr., Rolando Rollie P. Quimbo (he was the first class member who graced the pages of Time Magazine in his able defense of a computer techie), Pastor M. Reyes, Jr., Pedro Pete N. Tanchuling and Walter T. Young.

Those who did not or no longer care for some cushy position in government or to follow the footsteps of a Dakila Castro or an Estelito Mendoza have joined the lucrative milieu of in-house counseling.

Those serving as in-house counsels are Heraldo Gerry A. Dacayo, Jr., Crisostomo Tom J. Danguilan, Timothy Tim T. Dunque, Santiago SLUG L. Garcia, Jr., Marilyn Salamanca-Guzman, Nathaniel Nat Sauz and Ma. Lourdes Malou A. Sales.

The call of rustic ambience and not only pecuniary rewards must be irresistible to other members because Edwin R. Catacutan and Julito Julie E. Dizon are lording it over in Iloilo City, Josefino G. de Guzman in Pangasinan, Renecito Rene S. Novero and Elizabeth Beth A. Pascual-Ledesma in Bacolod City, Llewelyn C. Purisima in General Santos City, and Nestor B. Beltran in Naga City where they are either prime movers or shakers in the local IBP chapters.

And then there were those nine class members who are now in foreign lands. They are Beatriz Betty A. Agudo, now working as a foreign legal consultant in Cologne, Germany and is married to a German national; Beatriz Bip-Bip C. Alo, Emmanuel Manny B. Amon, Rodolfo Rudy T. Bunagan, Adonis P. Callanta, Marian V. David, Melvin G. Martin, Ramon Mon L. Ortega, Hermo Bowie T. Pagtakhan (now a famous Edmonton barrister), Gil M. Tabios, Ranel L. Trinidad, Florante Butch E. Tuy and Dante B. Valera. Ranel was the former city administrator of Angeles City, while Butch Tuy was a former Pasay City assistant prosecutor.

Not to be forgotten are four members of the class who have gone to the Great Beyond. They are former Government Corporate counsel Jun N. Valerio, former Lanao del Norte representative Mario E. Hisuler; Ray G. Leonidas and Nelson B. Malana.

The Class of 1980 is composed of very young adults not yet in the youth of old age. In a span of a little over two decades, the class has made its mark and has continued its traditions of excellence. It may be likened to wine that gets better and better as it ages. Nobody would interpose an objection if it were posited that for Class ’80, the best is yet to come. From where we sit, while most of them simply contend themselves to be good lawyers, inexorably most we can safely say are now great lawyers in their own right. None of them, I daresay, create an environment that relaxes morality.

Class 1980 has achieved, so far, the sole distinction of being good lawyers in peculiar and fascinating times. And as Charles Dickens observed, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

They are simply trying their darnest to be the best lawyers they can ever be, while enjoying their craft, their chosen fields, savouring the miracle of work.

Sonny E. Pulgar
March 31, 2005


joey parungo said...

Hello there Inos!
So you're into blogging! should've figured this out as early as when the ink had barely dried on the maiden edition of Times'80. Thanks for the honorable mention in your enumeration of the members of our class. By the way, was this in the order of achievement or progressing in the order of closeness to the author? I had great expectations (likewise Dickensenian) like pip but apparently, it was in the realm of the pip dimension. Looks like I'm the first to leave my comment on kataspulong. Hope I wouldn't be the first, the last and the everything! (may Barry White rest in peace for this). Will keep tabs on your bloggs. Regards to Cherry and the kids! (wag ka masyadong pakita kay paco- alam mo na kung bakit!)- Joey Parungo

alphalpha said...

the "grand manner" quote was not from Malcolm but from a speech delivered by US SC CJ Holmes during one of HLS' anniversaries. I totally agree that it's not just about being "grand lawyers" but should bemore about "lawyers for thepeople." The drive towards institutional excellence is just too much and is actually one of those baggages UP law students bear all throughout their stay in the college.
More power to you in your advocacies!