Toast written by retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN on the publication of the book “Leadership for Extraordinary Pursuits,” by Engineer Filemon T. Berba Jr.
Filemon T. Berba Jr., or Jun Berba to his friends, was my classmate during our four years at Mapa High School. We were about 2,000 during our first year but dwindled to about 1,200 graduates during our fourth year. But whether 2,000 or 1,200, he was our consistent and uncontested math topnotcher. Our batch mates and I vied only for second place. His phenomenal grasp of how numbers compute and the amazing speed and accuracy by which he figured them was enough inspiration for me to aspire to be a chemical engineer. Had it not been for my strong-willed father who decided that I should be a lawyer (but that’s quite another story altogether), I could have been an engineer, though only second to Jun in intellect, speed and accuracy.
While we had a parting of professional pursuits in different universities (I could not enrol in our common school of choice, UP, because my impoverished parents could not afford the then 15-centavo bus ride between our humble shack in Sampaloc, Manila to Diliman, Quezon City where UP was located), I quietly and enviously tracked Jun’s pursuits – magna cum laude in his basic electrical engineering degree, master in business administration at Wharton, innovative trainee at SGV, top executive at the Ayala and Lopez enterprises, a faithful husband, a loving father and grandfather, and a caring friend.
I am glad Jun has written his experiences in one volume. Surely, his complete life story could occupy several tomes. I have been privileged to get a glimpse of his manuscript prior to its publication. And I am most honored to say that he has made me proud to be his long-time admirer, classmate and friend. My admiration for him as my high school chum has been justified by my esteem and respect for him now that he has become an exemplar of a life worth living.
Indeed, he has transformed himself, as I had expected, into an engineer-manager-teacher-enabler with a social conscience and with a family of achievers in love with their patriarch’s patriotic pursuits.
In my own profession of law, I have tried to become not just a legal technician who tinkers with and repairs legal imperfections. Rather, I have tried to be a social engineer who helps build our social structures, with law as my basic tool. So, even in my own sunset years, I still strive to be the engineer that Jun Berba inspired me to be when we were just carving our lives in high school. As acclaimed by the testimonies and praises of his peers, he has rightfully become the top honcho – the “chief justice” as it were – of his engineering-management profession.
Thank you, Jun, for the inspiration and aspiration. Thank you for writing this book that I humbly think should have been titled “EXTRAORDINARY LEADERSHIP FOR EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS,” instead of “LEADERSHIP FOR EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS.” You have found the fulfilment of your dreams. And you rightly deserve the accolades of your kin, your peers, your friends and our people. Mabuhay!
Makati, August 2, 2015
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Retired Chief Justice of the Philippines