* Edited extemporaneous address delivered by retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN during the online Award Ceremony for the Fourth Year (AY 2020-2021) Law Scholars of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity held on February 6, 2021
Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. First, let me greet the members of our FLP Board of Trustees who are attending our Awards Ceremony today: Dr. Edilberto de Jesus, Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, Prof. Leni Panganiban (my dear wife), Ms. Marilen P. Yaptangco (well, Gov. Amando Tetangco sent his regrets due to a prior commitment), but we have our Treasurer, Mrs. Becky Felix and, of course, our Executive Director Susan Gavino, who is your “mother hen” looking after you most of the time.
Second, let me greet our generous partner, the Tan Yan Kee Foundation, represented by Ms Valerie Ann L. Tan, TYK’s Corporate Communication Officer, niece of Dr. Lucio Tan (Chairman-President of TYK), and daughter of Harry Tan (Vice Chairman of TYK). I thank Valerie for delivering the Opening Remarks earlier. I know her to be an active supporter of FLP because I have observed her in my capacity as a Trustee of TYK.
FLP deeply appreciates Dr. Lucio Tan who, despite the many business problems his conglomerate has faced and continues to face because of the ongoing pandemic, still gave the usual donation for our scholars for this academic year; not just for you but also for the third year batch who will still be selected by our Board of Judges to be headed, as usual, by the Chief Justice, or by a Senior Associate Justice, of the Supreme Court.
Third, let me congratulate our nine awardees who will get their checks, not anymore physically as we did in the past but online, meaning, to be deposited to their respective bank accounts on Monday which is the next business day from today, Saturday. You are the fourth batch of fourth year law scholars to graduate and to take the bar exams. Just to clarify, we have 20 law scholars every year, 10 fourth year and 10 third year students. The third year scholars may continue to enjoy their scholarships to their fourth year, provided they fulfill the requirements, the most important of which is their scholastic grades. For this school year, only nine of our 10 third year scholars were able to fulfill all the requirements. This is why, only nine will receive their checks on Monday, via, as I said, deposits to their bank accounts.
The Board of Judges will select the new third year scholars for this year and also select one more fourth year law scholar to complete your batch to 10. To repeat, the Chairman of the Board of Judges is always the incumbent Chief Justice or one of the Senior Associate Justices of the Court. Because the final interview is held in the inner sanctum of the Court, the candidates – including you when you were still applying as third year scholars – had the rare privilege of entering the places reserved only for the justices of the highest court of our country. For that experience alone, the application process is worth the while of every applicant who passes the Preliminary Selection Committee headed by our Trustee, Atty. Joel Emerson Gregorio.
Last year, our fourth year scholars were granted their first semester checks during our physical Awards Ceremony at the Far Eastern University. But the first one, as recalled by Carissa Guinto in her earlier talk, was held at our FLP Office at the PCCI Center, Salcedo Village, Makati.
As you know, the winners of our Dissertation Writing Contest are classified also as scholars and they become members also of the FLP Scholars Society. FLP’s other educational program is the Professorial Chair Program in which several of your deans and professors have been included as part of the 16, or I think 17, Professorial Chairs that we have opened up. As you all know also, the Dissertation Writing Contest is supported by the Ayala Group while the Professorial Chairs are partially funded by the Metrobank Foundation. We are glad that, inspite of the difficulties that the business community is encountering, they have continued to support FLP for which I am very happy and very grateful.
Fourth, let me thank the participants, the other speakers, during this Awards Ceremony: Maria Carissa Guinto for relating her experiences in the House of Representatives as well as her experience during the Mock Bar Exam that was held last month. As you know, last school year’s fourth year students had to postpone their bar exam because of the COVID pandemic. So now, we will have two groups of scholars who will take the examination this November which will be conducted in a very special new way, in the digital way. It will be held through laptops. I hope all of you are already experts in operating your laptops. Well, I’m trying my best to do that even as an oldster. I’m 84 years old already but still trying to operate my laptop, my iPad, my desktop, of course, my smart cell phone.
FLP has a special place in my heart and in the heart of my family because as they, my children know, I have been a little frustrated by the fact that none of them took up law. And even among my 10 grandchildren, nobody has expressed a desire to become a lawyer. And so for a while, I was worried that perhaps my legacy as a lawyer and as a jurist would come to an end, particularly my desire to spread my philosophy of liberty and prosperity under the rule of law. I thought of adopting young people who might become lawyers or even of donating to — what do you call that? — sperm banks.
But, I think, that organizing the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity is better because, now, I will have at least 10 scholars every year, — not only ordinary scholars but the cream of the crop of the best law schools in the Philippines – to be graduating, then taking the bar exam, and placing among the top 10.
Our first batch of scholars had two topnotchers: No. 1 Sean Borja and No. 5 Katrina Gaw The second batch also had bar placers: No. 6 Kenneth Manuel and No. 9 Dexter Rojas. As I said earlier, the 3rd and the 4th batches will be taking the bar exams together this November. I hope each batch will have bar topnotchers also. Let us clap our hands digitally for that!
So, my frustration about not having any heirs to continue my legacy is now over. I feel fulfilled with exhilaration and joy because I will have four batches of scholars, 40 already, 40 scholars who will be continuing my legacy even when I will already be in the other life, in the Great Beyond. My joy is also fulfilled by the Dissertation Writing Contest Winners and the professors, the holders of the Professorial Chairs, and of course the members of the Board of Trustees and officers of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity.
Let me also thank Laurence Obaob, for his sharing earlier. I hope that your parents, Laurence, who you said were afflicted with the COVID virus are now well and that they have completely recovered. You know, for us seniors, it’s especially tough to be COVID victims.
My special thanks likewise to Atty. Arvin Paolo Cortez and the FLP Scholars Society for continuing how to operationalize the philosophy into actual projects, into actual activities and undertakings which we at FLP are monitoring and are always supportive of.
With these remarks, I will not hold you any longer. May I end with my thanks again to our partner, the Tan Yan Kee Foundation, for its continuous support of our scholarship program. May we always be worthy of its attention and esteem as we plod along.
Oh, before I end, I think Arvin said earlier that this year will mark the 10th Anniversary of the FLP. Indeed, we have lined up a few projects for that. As he mentioned, we are producing a Coffee Table Book. It will be something that you’ll be proud of to put in your respective living rooms; we hope to compliment each of you with a free copy. This Coffee Table Book is being edited by Joel Gregorio with the help of some of the FSS members. It should be coming out in printed form before October 10, which is the 10th Anniversary of the Foundation. It will contain a lot of pictures with excerpts from the (1) lectures of our professorial lecturers, (2) dissertations of our winners, (3) essays of our scholars, (4) snippets from my decisions, speeches and columns. This project is supported by a grant of P3 million by the Metrobank Foundation. Apart from the Coffee Table Book, FLP will likewise produce a volume containing the full lectures of our professorial lecturers. Arvin also mentioned that the FLP Scholars Society will hold a separate program — 2 programs, one for college students, one for the judiciary.
I will be monitoring these FSS projects. While FLP will be supporting them, at the same time, we hope the FSS can produce them semi-autonomously as you grow in your society. So once again, thank you very much and good afternoon.