Remarks of Retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN to welcome Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and his delegation who paid a courtesy visit to him at his home, 1203 Acacia, Dasmarinas Village, Makati City, on April 12, 2019.
- On behalf of my family and of ALA Philippines, I welcome and thank you Mr. Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, for visiting my home. I was so surprised and honored when I was told that you and your delegation wanted to pay a courtesy call on me and the ALA Philippine National Committee. I did not think that I, in particular, deserve it. After all, I have already retired from active service and have passed my prime while Your Honor is the distinguished head of the Singapore judiciary, the concurrent President of the Asean Law Association and the Chairman of the Council of Asean Chief Justices. Anyway, by visiting us, you and your delegation of 11 justices and lawyers from Singapore ennoble us beyond measure. My entire house is open to you and your delegation. If you have not done so, you can visit my den where the manuscripts of the 1,200 decisions I penned for the Supreme Court are, plus my 14 books. Also, you can, if you have not done so, visit also my memorabilia room near the swimming pool where souvenirs given to me, including the gowns I wore as a magistrate and as a humble recipient of honorary doctoral degrees are as well as the desk and furniture I used, which I purchased from the Supreme Court. They should really be in a museum. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court does not have one. Many of my retired colleagues are urging me to spearhead a private funding for such a museum, but that’s quite another story.
- We are especially delighted that you have brought two of your distinguished colleagues, Justice Chao Hick Tin and Justice Lee Seiu Kin, who are of course my personal friends of long standing.
- We are also pleased that among us today are three former ALA Presidents, Justice Chao, the Honorable T. P. Menon and our own Avelino V. Cruz, who had just been elected earlier this afternoon as Chairman of the Asean Law Institute, with Justice Lee as Vice Chairman. By the way, Ave Cruz had recently been named by President Rodrigo Duterte as the Special Envoy of the Philippines to the EU, with the rank of Ambassador. Let us give all of them a big round of applause.
- I, of course, fondly remember that when I was the incumbent Chief Justice of my country, Justice Chao was the incumbent ALA President and that he, together with several ALA VIPs from other Asean countries, flew to the Philippines to honor me with a big celebration at the nearby Dusit Thane Hotel. Thank you indeed, Justice Chao. I will never forget the honor you bestowed on me as long as I live.
- May I now introduce my household? First and foremost of course is my dear wife Leni, whom you may have met in previous ALA events. After 37 years of graduate school teaching at the Asian Institute of Management, she retired in 2009, to join me in enjoying our senior years. Since then, she learned Chinese painting, and all around this living room are some of her works. We have a limited number of smaller reprints of her paintings which we would like to give each of you later before you leave our home.
- We have five children, three of whom are not here. They live and work in the East Coast of the United States. Of the two living in the Philippines, our daughter, Tet Manalac, who took over her Mom’s teaching assignment at the Asian Institute of Management, is unfortunately unable to come because she and her husband Noy are now, as I speak, hosting a reception for their daughter. However, Len Yaptangco and her husband Alex, are with us. They have two sons: Rafa is at school in the Ateneo de Manila, while Miguel is finishing his Masters in Entrepreneurship at the Babson College in Boston.
- By the way, I told Miguel that to be a great entrepreneur, he did not have to go to that famous school in the United States. He should have just applied as an assistant or messenger of one of our special guests today, Ms Tessie Sy-Coson, the charming Chairman of BDO, the largest bank in the Philippines, and who, according to Forbes, is the richest woman in our country. She is a major supporter of ALA Philippines. Two years ago, she contributed to ALA Philippines over P6 million, from which we drew the $100,000 to jump-start the Asean Law Institute which will be inaugurated tomorrow. But closer to my heart, she was my student in commercial law about 10 years ago when she was still a teenager taking up her Bachelor of Commerce degree at the nearly Assumption College. She actually wanted to be a lawyer, but her father, Henry Sy, who – until his death earlier this year was the richest man in our country – stopped her and asked her to be an entrepreneur instead. Now, she can retain the world’s best and brightest lawyers – with her as the boss. And talking of ALA supporters, may I introduce my good friend James Go, the chairman of JG Summit, one of the largest conglomerates in the Philippines, which owns and operates Cebu Pacific Air, a huge food and beverage company, a petrochemical complex, a big real estate company, and the second largest chain of super malls, second only to the SM Super Malls operated by the family of our benefactor Tessie Sy-Coson. May I also acknowledge another ALA supporter, Manny Pangilinan, Chairman of PLDT, our telephone company, of Meralco, our electric power distributor, and of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, which is engaged in water distribution, tollways, power generation, 14 major hospitals (in partnership with the GIC of Singapore), logistics, railways, and other businesses. Another ALA supporter, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman of the Ayala Corporation, the oldest conglomerate in the Philippines which developed Makati into a world class city, sent his regrets for his absence today because he is abroad.
- Now let me introduce the ALA Philippines National Committee, whom Mr. Chief Justice Menon wanted specifically to meet. Representing the judiciary are: Justices Antonio T. Carpio and Andres B. Reyes, Jr. whom you have met in past ALA meetings. Our other member from the Supreme Court, Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe is abroad. Of course, we have our former ALA President, Ave Cruz, who still sits in our National Committee. Then, we have Alfredo C. Lim, President of Pagcor which regulates all gaming activities in our country and Danilo L. Conception, President of the University of the Philippines. The other members, Senator Franklin Drilon, Emilio B. Aquino (the Chairman of our Securities and Exchange Commission), former ALA Secretary General Gina Geraldez, and Jerry Parulan have prior commitments. Our honorary chairman, CJ Lucas P. Bersamin is out of town but will return tonight and will attend tomorrow’s functions.
- Finally, may I also introduce our officers, Grace Salonga, Andre Palacios, the newly-elected Director General of the Asean Law Institute, Rowena Flores, Maria Teresita Sison Go, Sol Hermosura, Mike Toledo, Gov. Boy Reyno, Dr. Sam Bernal, who holds three earned doctorates, Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy and is now finishing his Doctor of Chemistry, and lastly, my Executive Assistant, Marivic Romualdez.