A Salutary Life

Retirement ceremony honoring Court of Appeals Justice Santiago Javier Ranada, at the Court of Appeals New Session Hall, Centennial Building, Manila.

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat. Nagagalak po ako sa ating pagkikita ngayon upang parangalan ang isang magiting na kaibigan at masusing mahistrado. Indeed, I am happy to be with you today to mark the retirement of Justice Santiago Javier Ranada, a distinguished member of the Court of Appeals.

By now, you have already heard a lot of things about Justice Ranada. But there is actually a lot more about him that remains to be told—that which concerns him not only as a seasoned jurist, but also as an obedient son, a faithful husband and loving father, a genteel person, a gentleman boss, and an illustrious Laoagueño.

Obedient Son

There are many things that I have in common with our honoree. For one, I am also a “junior” because my father’s name is also Artemio. But I have refrained from using “Jr.” after my name so that every good thing that I do may be credited to my late father, who had practically commanded me, contrary to my wishes to become a chemical engineer, to pursue a career in law.

It was also his father’s wish that led Justice “Ago” or “Jun” Ranada to become not just a lawyer, but a judge as well. The late Santiago Ranada Sr.—a sagacious judge in Pasay City—had whispered at his death bed to Jun’s mother that he wanted his “junior” to be a judge, just like him. This request was to be relayed to then Supreme Court Justices Felix Antonio and Claudio Teehankee, who were married to two of the sisters of Justice Jun’s mother.

Justice Jun learned of this wish after his father had been buried in Laoag City. Having already established a successful law practice at the Ferrer, Ranada and Magno Law Office, he found the request difficult to accede to. He was torn between providing well for his young brood—he then had three small children—and honoring a father’s dying wish. But eventually he took the road his father had fated him to take. And so, he became a judge of the Court of First Instance in 1978. From there, he took the long climb up to becoming a justice of the Court of Appeals. And thus by his illustrious career, has he truly honored the memory and wish of his late father.

Meanwhile, he continues to shower his mother, Mary—now 89 years old—with love and care in her old age. As the eldest of 12 children and as their “Manong Junior,” he also continues to watch over his other siblings.

Faithful Husband and Loving Father

Consistency is one of Justice Jun’s principal virtues, relates Evelyn, his wife of 39 years. Evelyn recalls with fondness that for the past 42 years, he has had only two barbers: one from his college days in 1954 until his early years of law practice, and another from 1976 to the present. He has also used the same masahista for the past 20 years. Most important, he has had only his “one and only” love for the past 4 decades—Evelyn de Leon.

On the other hand, time has proven that his initial apprehensions about his children’s future when he joined the judiciary back in 1978 were unfounded, after all. All of his five children finished their studies. Three of them are now married and have gifted him and Evelyn with seven grandchildren. Thus, I am sure he has experienced the fulfillment any parent and grandparent would treasure.

Genteel Person

Like me, Justice Jun has one other love in his life: golf. He loves the sport so much that he has built a mini putting green in his own lawn, where he could practice his swing whenever he pleased. Knowing better than compete with his other passion, Evelyn has learned to play golf herself and looks forward to joining him in hitting those ubiquitous balls after his retirement.

Our honoree is also quite fond of chocolates. His refrigerator at home bears witness to his irresistible temptation of chocolates. Evelyn relates her husband’s love for chocolates thus:

(Please pause here for a short 25-second video footage of Mrs. Ranada. Her last lines are: one for you, two for me; one for you, two for me.)

Gentleman Boss

As a boss, Justice Jun is known to his staff as “a gentleman under any and all circumstances.” Everything else about his nature is consistent with this impression. According to his staff in the Court of Appeals, he is soft-spoken, patient, and very discreet. He does not take offense easily, neither does he give any.

During the nearly three decades he has served the judiciary, our honoree found the greatest enjoyment holding trials in his court. He would intently listen to lawyers as they argued their cases before him and then contemplated their strategies with amusement and sometimes amazement.

The esteemed justice is also known to share the lessons he has learned from his trips abroad, during his attendances of conferences, workshops or seminars. From one of those journeys, he would come home with a book on legal writing in plain and easy-to-comprehend English, which he would direct his staff to read and to apply. He himself writes in simple, correct and straightforward English.

Another endearing personal trait is his close friendship with some members of his former staff members. To his former branch sheriff in a Regional Trial Court, Justice Jun is like a brother. A former RTC employee has even joined him in the Court of Appeals, leaving only recently to take the latest bar examination.

Illustrious Laoagueño

Justice Jun is also deeply attached to his home town of Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Not only was he born there, he also attended school in Laoag City, at St. William High School, before enrolling at the Ateneo de Manila for his undergraduate and law degrees. He practiced law in Laoag with his father, served as a barangay captain for a time, and taught law at St. William College.

Paintings hanging in his bahay na bato in Pasig City are reminiscent of the quiet and happy days he must have spent in Laoag City as a child and young man. Old churches, boys wading in a stream, and giant trees all beacon to his past.

Perhaps, it is this strong sense of identity as a Laoagueño that feeds his soul. Of the various citations and plaques he has received, he is said to treasure the most his citation as the “Most Outstanding Laoagueño in the Judiciary.” The honor was bestowed upon him on February 12, 1992, by the City of Laoag and its Rotary Club. Fourteen years later, on February 12, 2006, he was also cited as one of “Ten Outstanding Laoagueños.” To a man who has given so much to his hometown, he truly deserves the distinction.

Hope and Fear

I am told that Justice Jun looks forward to retirement with mixed feelings of hope and fear—80 percent of hope and 20 percent of fear. Now that my own retirement is just weeks away, I can understand his jitters.

Like him, there are times when I feel the world has passed me by without my having done many of the things I wanted to do. However, my own list of “things to do” after retirement is not as exciting, certainly not as dangerously adventurous, as Justice Jun’s list, which includes piloting a plane, parachuting, and even singing O Sole Mio at the Lincoln Center in New York.

But like me, and all retiring jurists, Jun has a lot to thank for and look back to the years he has spent in the judiciary. On top of that “to-thank-for” list would be a salutary life, a decent job, the rare opportunity to serve the judiciary and to be remembered patriotically beyond this life.

Mabuhay ka, Justice Jun! Maraming salamat po.


Message delivered by Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban during the retirement ceremony honoring Court of Appeals Justice Santiago Javier Ranada, held on November 10, 2006, at the Court of Appeals New Session Hall, Centennial Building, Manila.


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