Sunday, February 03, 2013

Our unimaginable loss

The UP College of Law lost two of its pillars recently.  Professors Araceli Baviera and Domingo Disini, Jr. passed away.  Both were revered as mentors and colleagues who taught generations of law students.

They were both my Professors but they taught me the important lessons as their colleague in the faculty.  

Prof. Baviera would walk into the faculty reading room at the first floor of the library, with Giov the security guard by her side. 

He had been handed a small piece of paper with citations for the Supreme Court decisions.  Giov would proceed to pull the volumes of SCRA off the shelves and put them in a pile next to her.  It would be a pile of books so high it towered a few inches above our heads.  Sometimes there were two shorter piles of books. 

Prof. Baviera would then take each volume and read the decisions of the Supreme Court, taking down notes in her yellow pad.   

I had that rare privilege of sitting across Prof. Baviera and watch a lady who twice my age work twice as hard as I did.

I saw her go through this exercise many times, which she carried out quietly and rigorously. Even in her 90s she worked hard for her students, keeping herself updated on decisions and improving her craft.

Profs. Disini and Labitag share stories with the younger faculty over lunch. 
As for Professor Disini, I saw him only once since we learned of his illness.  He was back at the College of Law handling a class.  When he came up to me, it was obvious that he had lost weight, but he lost neither his stride nor that sparkle in his eyes.  When I complimented him on how well he looked, he said that he would rather work than sit at home and be sick.  We then proceeded to talk about my book (which delighted me because he obviously read it).  

In that short exchange I saw the same energy he had every time he engaged us in conversation along the corridors of Malcolm Hall.  There was no sadness about him, only grace.  But there was also something different about him.  He was defiant—unwilling to accept his fate without a fight. 

These are the most important lessons I learned in the College of Law.  They are lessons in the meaning of commitment to teaching and how it is cannot be set aside on account of advanced age or illness.  I am inspired by their example and hope they continue to inspire others even after they have moved on.

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