His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the San Beda Law Alumni Homecoming
[November 17, 2010, Kalayaan Hall, Club Filipino, San Juan]
First, allow me to thank the San Beda Law Alumni Association for inviting me to grace your gathering this evening. Let me also express my gratitude to the Benedictine fathers of San Beda College for producing such an excellent crop of intelligent, productive, outstanding Filipinos, among them the alumni gathered here tonight. Thank you for believing and investing in the Filipino. It is my fervent hope that the San Beda College of Law remains steadfast and true in producing highly principled lawyers who are mentally and spiritually equipped to become real apostles of justice.
Let me also congratulate San Beda College for making history by sweeping the elimination round and bringing home the championship of the 86th NCAA basketball season. Certainly, San Beda’s feat will be difficult to match for many years to come, and may perhaps lead to bringing back the old rivalry between this year’s NCAA Champion San Beda, and UAAP Champion Ateneo.
And by the way, noong araw po, si Chito Loyzaga ay player po sa kabilang team: parang pag lumabas siya sa korte talo kami. Ngayon po inappoint ko na po siya sa Philippine Sports Commission, talagang nagkakabuo na ho ang Pilipinas.
This dream match will surely find me and perhaps Dr. Manny Pangilinan in both sides, especially now that I am not only a Blue Eagle, but a Red Lion as well, as my father considered himself proud to be.
Allow me also to congratulate San Beda for garnering the top two places in the 2009 bar examinations, and yielding a 95.33 passing percentage in the bar exams. Indeed, this is a good season for San Beda College as you continue to break records and score several firsts.
As I entered this hallway, now renamed President Cory Cojuangco Aquino Hall, I felt very much welcome with your greetings and all the banners. During the time of martial law, the Bedan community sheltered our family and extended to us kindness, love, support and understanding. During my mother’s presidency, at the time of the very dangerous December 1989 coup attempts, I remember Fr. Bernardo Perez’s giving my mom and sisters a special blessing for our family’s safety in the presidential residence in Arlegui. It was to him also, if I remember correctly, that the diaries of both my parents were entrusted. It was also in your Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat chapel where mom and the rest of our family used to hear mass on a Sunday, and where my sister Viel Aquino-Dee got married. I also recall how happy mom was when the San Beda College Alumni Association elevated dad to the prestigious San Beda Hall of Fame in 2007, the last time my mother attended a Bedan gathering before she passed away two years later. In good times and in bad, San Beda College has become our family’s second home.
Through the years, I have been truly blessed and privileged to have been given an opportunity to meet and work with many brilliant and distinguished Bedan legal luminaries. San Beda never stops in molding the excellent and the brightest who are always brave enough to engage themselves in the fight for justice and fairness. Topping the list of your distinguished alumni are former Speaker Ramon V. Mitra, Jr., the late Senator Raul Roco, Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Tito Ed Nachura, Retired Justice Romeo Callejo, Sr., Justice Jose Mendoza, among others.
(And may I just make special mention also of Justice Bodgie Reyes, who if in case as what has been reported in the papers, I will be excommunicated, has still guaranteed me that he will officiate at my wedding sometime in the future. Of course, he has been waiting for something like 25 years to do so.)
Let me also congratulate Justice Florenz D. Regalado, Justice Bernardo P. Fernandez (another idol), Atty. Rene Saguisag and Atty. Dante Q. Barbosa, four great legal luminaries who were just enshrined to San Beda’s Hall of Fame.
Tonight, we also honor Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the recipient of San Beda’s Most Outstanding Bedan Law Alumna for 2010. I have full confidence in her integrity and desire to effect progressive change, evidenced by her strong will and determination in pursuing the cause of justice. Indeed, some of the past and present legal giants in this country hail from this institution, further cementing San Beda College’s legacy of being one of the best law schools in the country.
As daylight casts its warm and nourishing rays on our country, may San Beda Law Alumni remain to contribute in nation building by delivering complete and true justice for all: may we all stand as equals before God and the law, unfraid of dark times ever returning. With your commitment to the rule of law and your perseverance in perfecting the justice system, you have a major role to play in achieving and maintaining a transparent, accountable government.
In my State of the Nation Address I pointed out that we were well underway in apprehending suspects and filing charges in the first cases of extrajudicial killings under our watch. Since then, we have investigated and filed cases against suspects in five out of these six cases. We must do more to prove that crime leads to trial and conviction.
We have done so much in such a short time, but there are a lot more we need to do if we want to reach the full potential of our country. We have embarked on the road to success, but we must be mindful that there will always be those who wish to put their own interest above that of everyone else’s, and those who oppose our dreams of progress.
As lawyers who swore to defend the truth in the name of justice, when confronted with such uncertainty, instead of compromising to the detriment of your fellowmen, may you step up to the plate and remain steadfast in becoming an embodiment of the Benedictine ideals of faith, knowledge and virtue.
I count on all Bedan lawyers to make their paramount vocation the promotion and protection of the rights of every Filipino, without prejudice or discrimination, and to serve as a guide in your respective circles of influence towards our beloved nation continuing its current succesful path.
Before I end, I do remember my father talking about his years in San Beda. He did recount that it was the time that my grandfather unexpectedly died, and he didn’t want to burden my grandmother. So he took on odd jobs, amongst them as a shoe shine boy while undertaking his studies ‘cause he wanted to be a self-supporting student.
I guess San Beda was instrumental in teaching him humility. It was Ed Nachura, who I tease sometimes, who was our conscience when we were members of the House of Representatives, and who said, “hindi ba oras na para tumutol na tayo sa nangyari?” in the first impeachment battle that we fought together.
There are so many from San Beda, like Rene Saguisag, who always stood steadfast when they could have chosen the easy route. Manong Raul Roco is another case in point.
You truly have through the years come up with graduates that have lived up to the maxim that the Filipino is truly worth dying for.
May you continue to produce the same. And may we all really realize that our future is done today.
Thank you. Mabuhay po ang San Beda!