*Remarks delivered by retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN during the online Organizational Meeting of the FLP Scholars Society on July 11, 2020.
Let me congratulate you for organizing the FLP Scholars Society. I am honored and pleased to deliver these Opening Remarks during your first formal meeting via Zoom. Obvious to all of us, of course, is the fact that we are not meeting face-to-face, similar to the last Awarding Ceremonies for your new fellow scholars on June 12, our Independence Day. The immediate cause of this online venture may have been the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s strict regulations to contain the virus. However, I see it as a blessing because it ushers us to what is commonly referred to as the “new normal” that to my octogenarian mind is really the precursor of the normal things in the DiGi Age.
Vision, Mission Statements
As your elder, or Lolo, I would like to suggest a few things to assure the success of the Society. Foremost, I suggest that, before anything else, please craft your Vision and Mission Statements, your Set of Basic Principles and Core Values, and a Program of Action or Activities to fulfill them in the short term and in the long term, and whenever possible, with appropriate timelines.
In this regard, please remember that your membership is very exclusive. Only those who have passed the screening of FLP’s strict requirements and the personal interview by our respected Boards of Judges – which were or are headed by the chief justices and senior justices of our country – are qualified to be members of this Society. In addition, only those who personify, believe in, and are committed to promote the philosophy of liberty and prosperity under the rule of law could apply for the FLP scholarship and dissertation writing programs, and could be selected by the strict FLP Screening Committee. And please note also that the selection is vetted from among the best law schools in the country. I do not know of any education program of any organization that exceeds, or even equals, these selection requirements and processes. For these reasons, I dared say in my remarks during the Awarding Ceremonies on June 12, 2020 that, in the next 10 to 20 years, you would be the leaders of our country. To repeat, you will be the chief justices, justices, judges, super law practitioners, Cabinet members, solons and even Presidents of the Philippines. I may no longer be around by that time, but I will be smiling joyfully in the Great Beyond because my modest legacy and humble philosophy of liberty and prosperity still thrives vibrantly in, and within, the persons and works of the members of the FLP Scholars Society.
May I also say that the enduring bond that will keep you together despite your distances in geography and differences in career paths, gender, religion and other similar circumstances would be this philosophy and this Society? You may belong to different towns and cities, to different social strata, to different financial situations, and even to different political parties but it is my fervent hope that you will still be united in your belief in, and in the promotion of, the philosophy of liberty and prosperity which got you together in the first place. And those differences will not cause you to set aside your membership in this Society. Thus, to forge and preserve the unity, the Society should envision and promote only this philosophy. It should be neutral in the political, commercial, social, religious, economic and other undertakings the members may pursue on their own.
So, please craft this Vision and Mission Statements carefully and thoughtfully for they will be your guiding lights as you navigate the Society in the turbulent oceans of our country and our earth.
There are many causes in the world that compete for our attention – scholarships for the poor (as contra-distinguished from scholarships for the excellent regardless of their socio-economic standing), poverty alleviation, climate change, health improvement, especially during these COVID-19 times, disaster assistance, etc. I do not mean to demean such laudable efforts which you may in fact be involved in, either personally or through your memberships in other organizations, but please do not divert the attention and resources of the Society and your membership therein to these side endeavors. Yes, if they are truly worthy, there would be enough people, enough organizations, and enough groups that would take them up. We do not claim a monopoly of genius and philosophy. But the FSS should focus its attention, effort and resources in fulfilling its own Vision-Mission.
The Vision is a short but comprehensive statement of what the Society stands for in general. Its Mission should be more specific and expressed in more concrete terms, like (1) To strengthen the bond of friendship and unity among the members. To accomplish this, you can prepare an easy-to-update directory (like Wikipedia) showing the members’ personal circumstances, residences, telephones, email addresses and his or her employment or career, etc.; (2) To “give back” to the FLP by encouraging your qualified school mates to apply for the scholarships or to submit dissertations; and by donating or getting donations to create more scholarships, more dissertation prizes, and more educational contests. (And speaking of giving back, you may want to fix minimum membership fees, of say, free for undergraduates and P2,000 a year for graduates, without prejudice but with thanks for donations from the more generous and more well-to-do members), and (3) To help the FLP create, administer and fund other programs to promote liberty and prosperity under the rule of law. These are no in way exhaustive but submitted only as examples.
Fundamental Principle and Values
Aside from the Vision and Mission Statements, you may want to spell out the Fundamental Principles and Core Values of the Society and its members. This could include a commitment to democracy, to freedom, to integrity, to ethics, to free enterprise, to hard work, to patriotism, to excellence, to innovation, to creativity, and other virtues that are fit for the DiGi Age.
Incidentally, attending this meeting aside from me are FLP Executive Director Susan Gavino and FLP Corporate Secretary Joel Emerson Gregorio. We cannot be members because, unlike you, we do not possess the qualifications and did not pass the stringent screening requirements for membership. I suppose I am just your ancient lolo, alalay or assistant, a title I would gladly have. But if you want to be high falutin, you can promote me as your Adviser. Susan and Joel can be your FLP Coordinators to keep you always in touch with the functions and activities of the FLP, particularly in the screening and even in the judging of our new scholars and winners. Also, I invite your President who, presumably will be elected today, to be an observer in the online FLP Annual Membership Meeting and Board of Trustees Meeting on July 16, Thursday. In the future, I trust that one of you, and later on, several of you will be elected Board Members and/or Officers of the FLP because we, of the older generation, will pass away someday and will be glad to turn over gradually to you the leadership of the Foundation.
I have spoken too long already. So, I will end my talk with the hope that your Society will unite you in mind, spirit and effort to fulfill our common goal to safeguard liberty and nurture prosperity under the rule of law.
Maraming salamat po.