Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chief Justice Paras

Feb 17 was my great-grandfather's birthday. I have no clear memory of him (I was just 4 years old when he passed away), but I got to know bits of him through stories Papang, my mom and other titos and titas shared through the years. And, in doing this blog entry, I googled his name, and what do you know, Lolo Ricardo has his own Wikipedia page. How cool is that! Such a rock star!

Lolo Cardo was the 8th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. He served for almost 10 years and swore into office Presidents Ramon Magsaysay and Carlos Garcia. He was widely credited at having a frugal approach during the post-war years. His advocacy was to rid the Supreme Court of case backlogs, and by the time he retired in 1961, he succeeded in doing so. 

Ramon Magsaysay was sworn into office by Chief Justice Ricardo Paras on December 30, 1953. After the inaugural ceremony, President Magsaysay led his adoring crowd to Malacañan Palace—where, among others, 10,000 sandwiches were waiting.
Source: http://tumblr.malacanang.gov.ph

Vice-President Carlos P. Garcia was inaugurated as the 8th President of the Philipines upon the death of President Ramon Magsaysay on March 23, 1957 at the Council of State Room, Executive Building, Malacañan Palace. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Ricardo Paras.
Source: http://filipinopresidency.multiply.com

President Carlos P. Garcia was inaugurated as the 8th President of the Philippines for a full term on December 30, 1957 at the Independence Grandstand (now Quirino Grandstand), Manila. The oath of office was administered by Ricardo Paras.
Source: http://filipinopresidency.multiply.com
It is an amazing feeling to have an ancestor who was part of Philippine history, to see his name, his photos, his accomplishments in history books and digital media like Wikipedia and official Philippine government websites. Even seeing Lolo Cardo's name in an excerpt from President Ferdinand Marcos' diary was quite thrilling! Lolo Cardo was such a big kahuna back then! He even has his own commemorative stamp! How totally awesome is that?

He was a member of the first Supreme Court of the Philippines (all Filipino) under Chief Justice Manuel Moran, whom he succeeded as chief justice
from the diary of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Jan 22, 1970, page 45
...We have organized the panel of lawyers to handle the defense in the protest filed by Osmeña. They are Ex-Chief Justice Paras, Ex-Justice Ozaeta, Don Quintin Paredes, Dean Vicente Abad Santos, Joe Africa and my classmate Ramon Aquino
Source: http://philippinediaryproject.wordpress.com
Date of issue: June 3, 1991
Source: http://vincemd.blogspot.com
A few other trivia I found out about him - he was an alumnus of UP (which makes me fourth generation UP student. Even if Papang did not study in UP,  my paternal lolo, Atty Manuel Macias, was also a graduate of UP. And since my mom is an alumna, it makes me the fourth generation, with just a slight mejo pilit twist). Lolo Cardo took the bar exam in 1913 and placed 2nd; bar topnotcher that year was Manuel Roxas (who later on became president) with a score of 92%.

My mom and titas all told me stories about riding Lolo's official car (a Cadillac) with license plate number 5. They used to be picked up from school on Lolo's birthday and brought to the celebration in Paco, where the ancestral home was. It was such a treat for them, and one they still have fond memories of until now. 

I wish I had met him and had known him at the height of his illustrious career (prior to his stint as CJ, he was an elected member of the House of Representatives, a judge, one of the pioneering justices of the Court of Appeals, and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court). It would have been so cool to say "that's my big lolo!" or watch him swear in a president or even just see him don the judicial black robe and enter the hall, like in the overused clip the tv networks use of the High Tribunal. I just have to contend myself with seeing his name in the archives, or, if I am ever in the Supreme Court building, view his bust there. Not quite as grand but still surreally cool.

But no matter how big of a deal in the political scene Lolo Cardo was back then, his greatest legacies were his family, his children and the values that he instilled in them and in us.We are still a tightly-knit clan, and some of the credit goes to him for this.

Happy 122nd birth anniversary, Lolo Cardo! You have given us, your descendants, so many, many reasons to be proud of you. May we live up to the Paras name with all the dignity and humility that befit it.

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