Down Memory Lane
FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE ARTEMIO PANGANIBAN WALKS CHIT LIJAUCO THROUGH ONE PHASE IN HIS LIFE VIA A ROOMFUL OF MEMORABILIA
IN 1992 WHEN ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN was invited by President Fidel V. Ramos to be the Justice Secretary, his response was, “Mr. President, I might be the wrong choice; I did not campaign for you.” To which Ramos answered, “ I know. You did not even vote for me!”
This was the thought that passed through Panganiban’s mind as he led us around a room filled with memorabilia of his 11 years in the Supreme Court, the second offer of Ramos after the Justice Secretary’s post was turned down. “It is a less political appointment,” he says. Clearly, it was a good choice as he spent his happiest as well as most productive years, ending in the highest judicial position in the country, Chief Justice.
The one-room structure behind the main house brims with memories. Nine togas on mannequins and one in a box; countless photographs, plaques, medals, trophies of recognition; precious souvenirs from heads of state; the seal, the gavel and the desk he used (this last one he bought); a corner dedicated to Rotary International, he being a Rotarian and past president of the Rotary Club of Manila; and so much more. “I still have so much more things to display,” says Panganiban, who has painstakingly organized and labelled the items with actuarial fastidiousness.
The unique display is a statement of a prolific career. In the time he spent at the Supreme Court, he wrote about 1,200 full-length decisions, 100 separate opinions, several thousand minute resolutions and 11 books. “One book a year and no cases left undecided,” said Justice Romeo J. Callejo Sr of what he calls Panganiban’s “unsurpassed record.”
Justice Callejo might as well have described the broader spectrum of his colleague’s career. For Panganiban has not just achieved an “unsurpassed record” in the Supreme Court; he has done so, and is still doing so, in the many facets of his life.
A lawyer, consultant, writer, businessman, professor, civic leader: these are some of the many hats he wears that summarize his numerous positions, past and present, in varied organizations from corporations to religious groups, from universities to his very own travel agency.
Baron travel, a leader in the industry, came about because of a personal promise. Early in life, he twice received a scholarship to study in the United States but failed to take either one, because he couldn’t afford the air fare. “It was then I told myself that my children will not suffer the same disadvantage and can travel anywhere in the world any time they want,” he says. Indeed, all his five children took their postgraduate studies abroad. “Well,” Panganiban quips, “if I had the money then, I would have bought an airline instead.”
The memories come back in a continuous current. One so dear is a carved signboard bearing his name. “It is a gift from the inmates of the Bilibid Prison [the national penitentiary],” he says. “They invited me once to be a guest speaker.” The invitation was a bit disconcerting. After all, he wrote the decision that convicted many of them. But he was unperturbed. “I gave them a message of hope,” he says. “I told them they are better off than others imprisoned by greed or by poor health; that after serving their sentence they will be free, but these people will never be free until, perhaps, death.”
Life after retirement from the Supreme Court is still active as he is now a sought-after adviser, consultant or independent director of several businesses as well as civic, non-government and religious groups. He also writes a daily column for a major newspaper and although he has decided not to go back to taking on cases, he does give legal advice to those who seek him out. He certainly would need a second house for these new memories.
Written by Chit Lijauco, Managing Editor, Philippine Tatler
Reproduced from the PHILIPPINE TATLER
May 2009 issue
Some Introductions of Chief Justice PanganibanAurelio Montinola III, President of the Bankers' Association of the Philippines and of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, on the launch by the Philippine Daily Inquirer of the book "With Due Respect" on Mar 29, 2012 at the Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4, Makati
In a recent television interview, IMF Chief Cristine Lagarde was asked if there was anything in her background that helped prepare her for the global role that she now has.Chief Justice (ret.) Hilario G. Davide, Jr. at the launch of Chief Justice Panganibans’s book titled "With Due Respect, selected columns in the Inquirer" held on March 29, 2012 at Powerbooks, Greenbelt, Makati City.
I thank the Philippine Daily Inquirer for inviting me to attend this launching of Chief Justice Panganiban’s book With Due Respect, a collection of selected columns written by him in the PDI, and to be requested to deliver a message at such event.Ms. Chit Lijauco, Managing Editor, Philippine Tatler Magazine, May 2009 issue.
IN 1992 WHEN ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN was invited by President Fidel V. Ramos to be the Justice Secretary, his response was, “Mr. President, I might be the wrong choice; I did not campaign for you.” To which Ramos answered, “ I know. You did not even vote for me!”Robert Kwan, Chairman of the Board, St. Luke’s Hospital, upon reading two of Chief Justice Panganiban’s books
“God has gifted you with prophetic words, which are great quotes. While reading them, I highlighted those quotes so hopefully my kids will also learn from them when they review the books I have read.”Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto G. Romulo during the Reception in Honor of H.E. Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams on February 11, 2008
“Cited by his colleagues in the Supreme Court as “the 21st Century’s Renaissance Jurist,” the former Chief Justice has had an enviable judicial record noteworthy for its independence, integrity and erudition.”H.E. Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams during the Reception on February 11, 2008
“When people speak of him, they do so in the superlative, and describe him as a “gifted jurist”, a man of “intelligence, competence, integrity and independence”.”Bishop Socrates Villegas during the Retirement of Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban on December 06, 2006
“...Chief Justice Art has shown us that loyalty to God and excellence in government service are not incompatible.”Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez during the Tribute entitled “Through the Years: Celebrating the Life and Achievements of Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban” on November 15, 2006
“Chief Justice Panganiban joined the Supreme Court in 1995, equipped with the excellent academic and professional record. Since then, he has strengthened the Supreme Court with his competence, integrity and independence – virtues that made him a strong pillar of our institution.”Rina Jimenez-David from Inquirer/Opinion (At Large) October 29, 2006
“How he rose from frustration and defeat, to achieving every lawyer’s greatest dream is indeed an inspirational story. But I will hazard a guess that his sense of “destiny,” and how he sought to fulfil this in his years in the Court, arose not just from past experience, but from an inner fire and conviction.”Hon. Jovito R. Salonga from his Foreword to “Liberty and Prosperity” – July 1, 2006
“Chief Justice Panganiban is not awed by all sorts of criticisms, whether from friends, well-wishers, skeptics, or cynics… In a deeper sense, Art is my mentor. For he is no longer the same person I used to know.”Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. during a Testimonial for Hon. Artemio V. Panganiban on April 22, 2006
“One book a year and no cases left undecided. This is Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban’s unsurpassed record and the best summation of judicial reform.”Hon. Chao Hick Tin, President of the Asean Law Association (ALA) during a Testimonial for Hon. Artemio V. Panganiban on April 22, 2006
“A brilliant and respected jurist, and a prolific writer, he is an acknowledged contributor to one of the world’s great revolutions – the revolution of knowledge. Anyone who knows Chief Justice Panganiban will testify that he stands for steadfastness, honesty, dedication and progress.”Atty. Avelino V. Cruz during a Testimonial for Hon. Artemio V. Panganiban on April 22, 2006
“ ...to Chief Justice Panganiban, one of the Philippines’ most brilliant and respected jurists, ...”Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez during a Testimonial Dinner of the Society for Judicial Excellence on January 19, 2006
“A summation of all his fine qualities mentioned this evening, shows that his is the finest standard of ethics, professional competence, integrity and independence…”Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez during the 10th Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. Distinguished Lecture last October 19, 2005
“... with his brilliance of mind, competence and independence, he has been adding lustre to that court.”