My Super Dad
(Opening Remarks of Celine Panganiban Hannett, daughter of Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, during the staging of the musical, “Ageless Passion” on December 20, 2016 at the new Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.)
Thank you, Your Eminence, Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, for singing the “Prayer of St. Francis,” as our invocation this evening . We are so honored by your presence… how about another round of claps…
Your Eminence, distinguished guests, family, friends…Good evening. My name is Celine Panganiban Hannett. Thank you all very much for coming tonight. On behalf of my beautiful mother Leni, and my siblings Len, Archie, Tet and Mabel, I welcome you to the celebration of Dad’s 80 wonderful years.
Tonight, we present you a musicale about his life… the story of a boy who pulled himself out of poverty, and through sheer hard work, determination and the support of his wife, achieved what most lawyers can only dream of, the pinnacle of a law career, becoming the Chief among equals at the Supreme Court. And while Chief Justice Art mandatorily retired from the Supreme Court at the age of 70, the story of hard work and dedication continues as he defies retirement and journeys into the corporate world.
Before we watch the show, please allow me to tell you about another facet of this man, our Dad, Lolo to his grandkids, that only we know and hold dearly in our hearts… the man who is the focal point of our lives, loves and families.
He launched us, his children, to new careers and new horizons. He sent us all to the United States to complete our graduate education. I left Manila almost 30 years ago to pursue a master in business at the University of Chicago. My siblings all completed graduate degrees at schools of their choice… University of California, Stanford University, University of Michigan, Harvard University. This is perhaps one of the most significant reversals…successes… in his life – that he witnessed his children live the dream he had to let go. Dad had given up a full scholarship covering tuition and living expenses at the Yale Law School because, lacking in money and connections, he couldn’t raise funds to pay his airfare. He was able to facilitate for his children, what he himself couldn’t do—study in his dream school. But he didn’t let that setback stop him from achieving other dreams.
With new opportunities, come new choices and new challenges. Our family is now separated by distance and time…Dad, Mom, Len, Tet and their families live here in Manila, while Mabel, Archie and I live with our families in metro New York City. Thousands of miles of ocean and thirteen time zones are no match to the desire of this family to be together. With Dad as the chief, in the last 25 years through today, our family travels the world multiple times each year to be together.
For two weeks every December, all the Panganibans, 22 of us, meet up to celebrate Christmas and family somewhere. To encourage us all to come, like a real patriarch, Dad generously sponsors all land arrangements at our destinations, whether it’s visiting American landscapes like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley or Lake Tahoe; marveling the grand architecture of Rome, Florence or Venice; braving the Great Wall of China; admiring scenery all over Australia; or simply having the grandchildren enjoy magical moments and dance with Lolo and Mickey Mouse under the stars and fireworks in Orlando, Anaheim, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Dad not only gets us all together, but also ensures we have new joint experiences and delightful adventures. Our children, his grandchildren, are so lucky to see and experience so much, so young
More than the world, Dad makes sure that the Philippines ranks number one in our hearts. Dad has an open invitation for all of us to tour the Philippines together. Dad and Mom take time out and brave the elements, sometimes even rough travel in propeller planes in typhoons, so we could all celebrate family. His lucky grandchildren chased “butanding” in Sorsogon while Lolo stood on a small “banca” and watched them in the middle of pouring rain and rough seas. The children have ridden behind Lolo on an ATV along Mayon Volcano; marveled at and swam through the lagoons, caves, corrals and lakes in Coron, El Nido and Puerto Princesa. Lolo Art even patiently woos grandchildren out of deep sulks and petulant moments. Of course, it helps that Lolo has an unlimited supply of Toblerone in his back pocket… There have been so many destinations…. Cebu, Bohol, Boracay, Quezon….. dear Lolo making memories with his grandchildren, while giving them the gift of life and adventure, and love for the Philippines.
In describing our adventures, I may have given a glimpse of the limitless energy of this man, who it seems, has more zest than all 5 of his children combined. During trips and hectic itineraries with him, we take turns being entertained by Dad. Two years ago, we were scheduled to visit Padre Pio’s memorial in Italy. On the day of the tour, however, a serious snowstorm hit the place; more than half of our 20-person Panganiban contingent opted to rest and skip the tour. Not Dad. Dad, along with his sturdy son and sons-in-law, braved the snowfall, frigid temperature and icy roads, on foot, to tour Padre Pio’s grave and museum! Dad outlasted us, his four daughters, who are a few decades his junior.
Beneath all the energy and vitality, is a man of empathy and love for his wife, the strong woman behind this successful man. At restaurants, Dad checks the menu for Mom, mindful of her allergies. On our trips, he makes sure Mom has rest spots where she can opt to watch people or read. One Christmas day in California a few years ago, we had to rush Mom to the emergency room at 3 in the morning due to a hypertensive attack. Thankfully, Mom was observed and treated with no further issues. But I recount this story because it was the only time I had ever seen my Super Dad ashen and speechless with worry and powerlessness.
I can go on forever talking about Dad, but we are all here not to listen to me talk. Today, we celebrate 80 years of his life. You are about to watch the story of his successes and some failures too. I do hope I have also provided you glimpses of the story of his loves. And Dad, it is my big blessing to be your daughter.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you once again for joining us. Enjoy the show.