Bar exam topper: Gay and proud of it

First published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer / 09:10 AM May 12, 2019

Number one bar exam topnotcher Sean James Borja of Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) frankly admitted he is gay, but debunked “the myth that members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) are meant only for entertainment.”

He was bullied, discriminated against and deprived of opportunities just because he was thought to be “not good enough,” just because he “was different.”

Well, in the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity (FLP), we did not treat him differently. Like all the other legal scholarship applicants, we gave him the same opportunity without any discrimination as to gender, race, color, religious belief, economic status or political affiliation.

All we required from him were basically the same as from all others: (1) academic excellence plus leadership qualities, and (2) ability and willingness to internalize and espouse the philosophy of liberty and prosperity under the rule of law. Outstanding in these requirements, he was chosen along with 20 others when our scholarship program — funded by the Tan Yan Kee Foundation (TYKF) at P200,000 per scholar per year — began in 2016.

And we were proven right, because since then, he has excelled in everything expected of him, like topping his class at Ateneo, winning in moot courts here and abroad, and acing the bar exam. Indeed, he is excellent, diligent, dignified and gay, and we’re mighty proud of him!

For topping the Supreme Court tests, we are awarding him an additional cash of P200,000 plus another P25,000 for being the valedictorian at Ateneo.

Aside from him, every one in the first batch of FLP scholars who graduated in 2018 passed the exam. One of them, Katrina Monica Gaw, also of AdMU, copped fifth place and will receive an extra P100,000. Others in the batch are: Karina Mae Badua (UST), Ervin Fredrick Dy (UP, 17th place), Rexlyn Anne Evora (PUP), Summerson Macasarte (St. Thomas More), Nigel Carmelo Reago (La Salle), Jose Angelo Tiglao (La Salle), Althea Vergara (USC) and Vanessa Gloria Vergara (AdMU).

For topping their respective classes, Evora, Reago and Macasarte will also get P25,000 like Borja. Another FLP scholar during his junior year, Jose Noel Hilario (UST), will also get P25,000 for graduating cum laude during his senior year.

Currently, the FLP scholars (also at P200,000/year) are fourth year law students Leo Francis Abot (AdMU), John Anthony Almerino (USC), Micah Celine Carpio (La Salle), Alvin Paulo Cortez (AdMU), Mikael Gabrielle Ilao (U of Cordilleras), Alimar Mohammad Malabad (San Beda), Kenneth Glenn Manuel (UST), King Anthony Perez (U of Cebu), Jun Dexter Rojas (PUP) and Ma. Vida Malaya Villarico (PUP).

Our third year scholars are Banoar Abratique (U of Cordilleras), Pamela Camille Barredo (FEU), Angelette Bulacan (FEU), Stephanie Mae Domingo (U of Cordilleras), Maria Carissa Guinto (San Beda), Patrick Angelo Gutierrez (FEU), Mayumi Matsumura (AdMU), Juralyn Lilian Obra (U of Cordilleras) Carmella Gaye Perez (USC) and Edrea Jean Ramirez (UST).

The board of judges was composed of Justice Antonio T. Carpio (chair), Dr. Edilberto C. de Jesus, Dean Joan S. Largo, TYKF executive Elizabeth T. Alba and Prof. Tanya Karina A. Lat, members.

Aside from the scholarship program, FLP also sponsors a Dissertation Writing Contest funded by the Ayala Corp. Chosen winners a few days ago were: Josiah David Quising (FEU), first prize—P300,000; Diana Lou Boado (Lyceum), second prize— P200,000; and Charles De Belen (San Beda), Beverly Lumbera (Lumsa U, Rome, Italy) and Clarissa Mae Sawali (FEU), three third prizes at P100,000 each. Five finalists — Gwendolyn Ann Banaria (FEU), Jose Angelo Blay (La Salle, Lipa), Arvin Paolo Cortez (AdMU), Justin Ian Manjares (AdMU) and Marlouize Villanueva (USC) — will receive P20,000 each.

The dissertation board of judges was composed of Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe (chair), retired Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, Philippine Association of Law Schools president Joan S. Largo, Ayala Corp. general counsel Solomon M. Hermosura and lawyer Joel Emerson J. Gregorio, members.

All the prize recipients will be honored at an FLP convocation at the AdMU auditorium in Rockwell, Makati, 5 p.m., May 18, 2019.

Human rights, adoption and surrogacy

First published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer / 09:08 AM April 21, 2019

Riveting and comprehensive was the lecture on human rights, adoption and surrogacy of professor Elizabeth A. Pangalangan, one of the 15 holders of the Chief Justice Panganiban Professorial Chairs on Liberty and Prosperity, held recently at UP Diliman.

Her scholarly, eloquently delivered thesis focused on this: Adoption and surrogacy are, at the outset, parent-centric and are usually contracted by, and for the benefit of, the adopters and the commissioning parents to satisfy their craving for parenthood and family love. Eventually and doctrinally, however, courts lean in favor of the best interest and overarching human rights of the children.

Human rights and adoption have been dissected in many ways by scholars and jurisprudence. However, surrogacy is quite novel. Thus, in my limited space today, I will focus on surrogacy. (In a few days, Pangalangan’s extemporaneous and PowerPoint-assisted lecture will be posted in after she finishes transcribing and editing it.)

Surrogacy is an arrangement whereby a woman (called surrogate) agrees to bear a child whom she intends to transfer for custody and care to another or others (the commissioning couple or commissioning husband/wife) upon the child’s birth.

There are two general types: (1) traditional—the surrogate is inseminated by the commissioning father’s sperms, either naturally or via in vitro fertilization (or IVF). Here the surrogate, as the egg donor, has a genetic link to the child; and (2) gestational — the surrogate carries the embryo created by the union of the egg and the sperm of the commissioning couple. Example: “The delectable twins of Mar and Korina” (Opinion, 3/10/19).

With surrogacy, a child can have two fathers: (1) the biological and (2) the commissioning. But he/she can have three mothers: (1) the genetic or biological mother (the source of the egg), (2) the commissioning mother and (3) the surrogate who bears and gives birth to the child.

According to Article 164 of the Family Code, “Children conceived as a result of artificial insemination of the wife with the sperms of the husband or that of a donor or both are…  legitimate children of the husband and his wife, provided, that both of them authorized or ratified such insemination in a written instrument executed and signed by them before the birth of the child.” No other Philippine law governs artificial insemination or surrogacy.

That surrogacy services are now offered in several local hospitals and that many Filipinos have gone abroad to avail of it should be enough to impel Congress to legislate on it, consistent with our Constitution and family values.

Professor Pangalangan offers four possible legislative options: (1) prohibit all forms of surrogacy; (2) prohibit commercial surrogacy but allow altruistic ones, that is, prohibit payment to the surrogate because trading in human flesh is abhorrent but allow surrogacy when no financial reward is made; (3) allow but regulate commercial surrogacy; and (4) allow all kinds of surrogacy arrangements.

Our Supreme Court has not issued any decision involving surrogacy. But Pangalangan discussed many foreign decisions, the most interesting being Yamada vs Union of India (Sept. 29, 2008). Here, Baby Boy Manji was born in India from the egg of an Indian surrogate and the sperm of a Japanese husband.

Unfortunately, prior to his birth, the commissioning Japanese couple separated. Saying she had no genetic link to the child, the ex-wife refused to take him. Neither did the surrogate want to keep the baby, insisting she bore him only because of the surrogacy contract.

Mercifully, the Japanese husband claimed the child, but could not bring him to Japan because that country does not recognize surrogacy. Thus, it refused to give him a passport. The husband’s petition to adopt the child was denied, because India bans single-parent adoption.

On humanitarian grounds, the Supreme Court of India eventually allowed the child to leave India with a certification (not passport), and Japan issued him a tourist visa. I think this case illustrates the complications that legislation must anticipate to solve similar problems that could involve Filipinos.

Parents and Children: When Law and Technology Unbundle Traditional Identities

examining the intense aspiration of parents and children to attain both liberty and prosperity and how this affects traditional identities and rights within the family

Professor Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan, Holder of the Chief Justice Panganiban Professorial Chair on Liberty and Prosperity delivered her paper – Parents and Children: When Law and Technology Unbundle Traditional Identities – on March 28, 2019 at the 1st Floor Lecture Room, Bocobo Hall, UP Law Center, University of the Philippines – Diliman, Quezon City.

Professor Pangalangan’s paper explores how civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights impact on women and children in two particular legal situations: adoption and surrogacy. The paper discusses domestic and international laws on adoption and problems that still persist surrounding the adequacy of legal safeguards for the rights of the birth mother, the adopting parents and the child, especially in the context of intercountry adoption. In the subject of surrogacy, there is no Philippine law and international convention regulating it, but neither is there any explicit prohibition against it.

The paper argues that domestic laws did not contemplate the advent of technology that will make assisted reproductive technology possible nor the ease by which people can travel that makes cross border adoption and surrogacy accessible. It seeks to answer the following questions, among others: (1) do Philippine laws defining who are the mother and father of a child applicable in cases of adoption and surrogacy; (2) will a law that allows commercial surrogacy or encourage intercountry adoption not violate the political right to physical integrity of the birth or surrogate mother resulting in the commodification of her womb and her baby, or infringe on the right of every child to a name and nationality; (3) will a law that throws a blanket prohibition on intercountry adoption and international surrogacy agreements not disturb economic and social rights, such as the right to family life of the intending parents, the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to work of the surrogate, and freedom from discrimination of all parties especially the adopted child or the child born of a surrogate; and (4) what changes in the Philippine legal order are necessary to implement the best interest of the child standard, which has animated both legislation and jurisprudence?

The public lecture is the 19th of a series of lectures and debates under the Chief Justice Panganiban Professorial Chairs on Liberty and Prosperity Program. FLP is undertaking this program in partnership with the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. and in cooperation with the Philippine Association of Law Schools. The program aims to encourage educational institutions and law schools to research and propagate at the academe the philosophy of safeguarding the liberty and nurturing the prosperity of our people under the rule of law.

Distinguished guests include retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, Court of Appeals Justice Louis P. Acosta, Sandiganbayan Justice Efren N. De La Cruz, Metrobank Corporate Secretary Antonio V. Viray, Dean Fides C. Cordero-Tan of the UP College of Law, Dean Anna D. Abad of Adamson University, Metrobank Foundation Executive Director Nicanor Torres, and Atty. Jannica Robles-Santos of the Court of Tax Appeals Presiding Justice. Apart from the faculty, students from the UP College of Law and other colleges of UP Diliman, Far Eastern University Institute of Law, Ateneo Law School, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and Manila Tytana Colleges (former Manila Doctors College) attended the lecture.

Professor Pangalangan’s full lecture can be accessed at, the official website of the FLP.

Professor Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan and retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban

Opening remarks by Dean Fides Cordero-Tan of UP College of Law 

Professor Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan delivering her lecture

Retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban delivering his closing remarks


28 March 2019
Professor Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan
University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Law
“Parents and Children: When Law and Technology Unbundle Traditional Identities”
(downloadable PDF | presentation)


A Remarkable and Riveting Lecture

* Closing remarks of Retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN after the Lecture of UP Professor Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan, a holder of the CJ Panganiban Professorial Chairs on Liberty and Prosperity, held on March 28, 2019 at the First Floor Lecture Room, Bocobo Hall, UP Law Center, UP Diliman, Quezon City on “Parents and Children: When Law and Technology Unbundle Traditional Identities.”



Congratulations to Prof. Beth Pangalangan for her impressive, awesome and absorbing lecture. Scholarly prepared and eloquently delivered, it was indeed one of the best lectures I have ever heard in a long time. It makes me want to be a student again to listen again and again to Professor Beth. Ah, to be young again!

Well-research, Indeed!

Of course, her frequent citation of my decisions and separate opinions reminded me of my over 11 years in the Supreme Court. And what especially amazed me is her research into and many quotes from my books, columns and even my speeches. Wow, really heart-warming.

Let me, at this point, hand to her FLP’s check for P100,000 representing her honorarium, less 5 percent withholding tax imposed by the NIRC as amended by the TRAIN Law, and the Certificate attesting to her enrollment as a distinguished Holder of one of the 15 CJ Panganiban Professorial Chairs on Liberty and Prosperity.

May I also thank Dean Fides Cordero Tan for welcoming us to the UP College of Law. I do not remember having encountered her in the past, but her reputation for academic excellence and administrative expertise preceded her. In testimony thereof, the FLP Board of Trustees has unanimously resolved to invite her to join our corps of professorial chair holder. May I therefore have the honor of personally handing to our esteemed Dean Deng our official letter of invitation?

Ambition to Enroll at UP

My appearance here at the UP Lecture Hall reminds me of my life-long ambition to enroll at the UP. My classmates at Mapa High School in the early 1950s (when most of you in the audience were not yet born) and I used to visit the UP Campus in Diliman. Before the UP Oblation, we promised each other that we would study diligently to be able to obtain UP scholarships. And obtain the scholarships we were able to, except that in my case, my impoverished father – who was a simple government employee – could not afford the then 15-centavo bus ride from our small, rented apartment in Sampaloc, Manila to Diliman, Quezon City.

Even though I was not able to enter this school, I continued my association with the UP community, especially with activist student leaders like then UP Student Council President Fernando Lagua and then Philippine Collegian Editor Homobono Adaza with whom I cofounded the National Union of Students, the largest student organization in the country then and now. Because of their activism, Lagua was suspended for one year and Adaza expelled from the University. Looking back, I told myself, “Buti na lang hindi ako nakapasok sa UP, baka expelled din ako.”

My ambition to enjoy UP education was achieved by our only son and one of our four daughters. Our son, Archie, was only the 4th student to graduate Summa Cum Laude from the UP Conservatory of Music. While he proceeded to further piano studies in Munich, he eventually finished a PhD in engineering economic system at Stanford and is now a banker in New York City as an Executive Director of JP Morgan. But while banking is his profession, music remains his passion. Once in a while, he would come back home to give piano concerts in UP as well as in the Cultural Center and other familiar concert venues.

But my frustrated love for UP was requited by then UP President Edgardo Angara who gave me a small replica of the UP Oblation in the early 1980s to thank me for getting a donation of a fire truck from Japan. And my undying thirst for UP’s academic excellence was somehow quenched by my enrollment as an honorary member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

A Word About FLP

Before I close, let me say a few words about the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity, which as already explained by the previous speakers, was organized after I retired from the Supreme Court to promote and perpetuate my philosophy of “Liberty and Prosperity Under the Rule of Law.” FLP has three education programs:

First, the Professorial Chairs for Liberty and Prosperity in partnership with the Metrobank Foundation, with 15 holders now, three of them by UP academics, namely, Professor Pangalangan, Dean Tan and President Danilo Concepcion.

Second, the Law Scholarship Program, in partnership with the Tan Yan Kee Foundation, for junior and senior law students at P200,000 each, covering tuition, books and monthly stipend. We award 20 of them yearly since 2017. We also give additional cash rewards to our scholars who graduate as valedictorians and/or with Latin honors, as well as to bar topnotchers. Among them is UP’s Ervin Fredrick Dy who obtained an FLP scholarship starting in the Academic Year 2016-2017. He took the bar examinations last November. If he or any other FLP scholar cops the first place, FLP will reward him with P200,000 cash. If any of them lands in the second to the tenth places, he or she will receive P100,000 cash.

Third, the Dissertation Writing Contest, in partnership with the Ayala Group. The first place winner last year was former UP student Raphael Pangalangan, the illustrious son of the illustrious couple from UP and Harvard, who got the P300,000 prize and a gold plaque. By the way, the contest is still open for this year. The deadline for entries was postponed to April 30, 2019 at the request of Dean Tan.

May I end these Closing Remarks with my fervent hope for FLP’s closer link and cooperation with the academics and students of the UP College of Law, the best law school in the world…according to the UP Law Alumni Association. Maraming salamat po.