Subscribe to [One News PH](https://www.youtube.com/c/OneNewsPH) for the latest news and updates from the Philippines. In this video, Cathy Yang interviews former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban as he reflects on his life before entering the world of law. Chief Justice Panganiban shares his point of view on amending the Philippine Constitution.
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On his retirement as Chief Justice of the Philippines, all 14 incumbent associate justices unanimously presented him a unique plaque of acclamation declaring him the Renaissance juror of the 21st century. After retirement, he was invited to sit as a director, advisor, and officer of 15 publicly listed corporations, several other large non-publicly listed companies, as well as numerous local and foreign foundations, associations, and religious groups. He continues to be relevant in the public space by writing and discussing opinions carried by media.
Joining us now for Thought Leaders to speak about liberty, prosperity, as well as his life and legacy, retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban. Chief Justice Art, it’s so good to see you, sir. Thank you so much for joining us.
Very happy and honored to be here with you, Cathy. I want to thank you for being here, Chief Justice, because I know that Lenny had just passed on two weeks ago. And when I learned about that, I thought you might have wanted some time away, but you’re here. And I’d like to thank you for being here.
Thank you. I made a commitment to you, and I always fulfill my commitments.
So, how are you holding up? Trying to cope with loss, longings, and loneliness. But I hope to be able to overcome.
And where would you draw that strength to overcome what you’re going through right now? With the kind of eulogy that you had written, and it was really a beautiful eulogy where you actually anchored it all in the Christian faith that Lenny had nurtured in you. And come to think of it, you’ve celebrated your 62nd wedding anniversary on the day that she passed.
Well, she is my spiritual anchor. She’s quiet, she’s reserved, she’s private. I’m open and transparent. I like to socialize, but not when I was in the Supreme Court, of course. We have different upbringings, different beginnings, but we have surpassed all that because we have dedicated ourselves to the Lord. And it is our offering to the Lord, whatever we are, whatever we will be, we dedicate to Him. Because we know, the two of us and our children, that this is not the life. The life is the life after this life. With that consolation, I try to adjust, I try to pray, and I think I would like to be straight with us to console us, give us words of comfort. It’s very important for people like us who have had terrible losses to have words of comfort to buoy us up when we’re down and to help us overcome.
It’s amazing that you speak the words you have, considering that you have described yourself as pretty pedestrian when it comes to the Catholic faith.
Yes, it was a Catholic ignorance because I’ve had no catechismal background. I studied in public schools, elementary school, high school, even college. I was in FEU, which is a non-sectarian school. There’s a little incident about that, you know. As a high school honor student at Mapa High School, I was granted a scholarship by UP and I wanted to study in UP because my classmates were going to UP. So, in fact, even before we graduated, we would go to the campus in Diliman and we would swear among ourselves before the oblation that we would be in the University of the Philippines. But I couldn’t enroll there, even if I was granted a full scholarship, because my father couldn’t afford the 15-centavo fare then at that time from Sao Paulo to Katipunan Street in UP. So my father said, “Why don’t you just enroll nearby?” We were in Katipunan, and we were in the middle, so I went to FEU. And I was interviewed by a Dominican priest. He said, “Oh, you’re an honor student. You want a scholarship here?” “Yes, Father.” “Well, let’s see,” he says, “how you understand our faith. You can answer three questions. I’m going to grant you a scholarship.” First question is, “How many gods are there?” And you won. Very good. “How many persons in one God?” Three. “I came to the critical question. Name them.” I didn’t know. So I failed the test. So I was not enrolled at FEU. So I went to FEU, and I was granted the scholarship without being asked any question, without any question. So I offer you that I’m still a pedestrian, of course.
But it was a priest in FEU that actually taught you the religion.
Yes, it was my first contact really with religion, Father Michael Nolan. He was a chaplain of FEU. Although FEU is a non-sectarian university, the administration during my time as a student allowed Father Michael Nolan, as his name is, he was a Columban priest. Columban priests are from Ireland. Irish priests, blue eyes, you know, icepons of the priests. He built the chapel, and he hid me because I was a student leader. I was, you know, at that time, the politics in FEU was really at the rise because we had to campaign from room to room to be elected. No, I became the course president of the central student government, two terms as a sophomore. But Father Nolan eyed me, and when I was still a freshman, I was already elected to the central government. He talked with me, he said, “You know, you’re a good man. I checked you. Why don’t you join me in rebuilding the chapel, building this chapel?” So I said, “Maybe there’s nothing wrong with that.” I contributed very little, but gradually, gradually, we were able to gain each other’s confidence. And then he told me, “I’ll teach you four prayers. The first is the Our Father, the second is the Hail Mary, the third is the Glory Be, and the fourth was the FEU prayer. There is a non-denominational prayer of FEU.” So he taught me all that. So we became good friends, and the Student Catholic Action, which he formed in FEU, also engaged in local politics. And they supported me. So that was a big thing because as a poor student, I nearly became a communist, yes, because I liked, at that time, the motto of the communists. Karl Marx’s motto is, “To each according to his need, and from each according to his ability.” Meaning, a person gets paid according only to what he needs, not more. But he must work according to his ability to contribute to society. But he cannot be paid according to his ability, otherwise he’ll have excess. Because there will be no economic equality. So it was very inviting for me that there will be equality in terms of economic situation. But Father Nolan veered me out of that, paid me out of that, and helped me, in fact, form the National Union of Students of the Philippines. We got the Catholic schools to join the National Union of Students. At that time, maybe you don’t know, you were not just born, the Catholic schools, particularly the women’s girls’ schools, were called the cloistered schools. Because the students, we called them at that time, they were not allowed to go out. They were confined in the walls of the schools. Since scholastics exams are some points, they did not participate. So Father Nolan and I were talking, “We should get them out to support our program.” And became I became anti-communist partly because of him, but partly because later on, I… [continue watching the video on One News PH’s YouTube channel]
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Cathy Yang joins Former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban as he reminisce his life before entering the world of law. What is his point of view in amending the Philippine Constitution?
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