What I Learned at Far Eastern University

Manila Bulletin, April 14, 2002 | Go to article overview

What I Learned at Far Eastern University


Byline: Artemio V. Panganiban

(Conclusion)

IN brief, I learned from FEU that it was not enough to be an expert in one's profession; one should also have a more than passing understanding of the arts, history, literature, ethics and the humanities in general. Indeed, I was taught that excellence in liberal education and specialization in a career were the marks of the truly educated person.

Translated into legal lore, this educational philosophy means that it is no longer enough for judges and lawyers to be walking encyclopedias of the Constitution, the codes and judicial doctrines. It is essential that they must also have a working knowledge of the humanities, economics, biotechnology, accounting, medicine, world history, computers, telecommunications, digital sciences, mathematics and physics. Indeed, excellence in law is not enough; a lawyer must also have a good grasp of the arts and sciences.

Because of this realization early on, I have continued my search for knowledge and wisdom in all branches of human endeavor. This has given me, as a member of the Supreme Court, the confidence to discuss and decide litigations of all types, even those involving avant-garde sciences, new economic paradigms and ultramodern technology.

Fundamentals of Catholicism

The third important matter I learned from FEU was my Catholic faith. You see, I was a product of public elementary and high schools where religion was not taught. While I was baptized a Catholic, I did not really know my faith. In short, I had no catechetical background.

True, FEU prides itself at being non-sectarian. But during my FEU days, I met the brilliant and compassionate Fr. Michael Nolan, the then FEU chaplain, under whose watch the FEU chapel was built. He took a personal interest in me and in what I did, recruited me into the FEU Student Catholic Action and taught me the rudiments of Catholicism. In short, he introduced me to God.

In FEU, I encountered another engaging Columban priest, Fr. James Sheehy, who insisted that a good Catholic must not only be personally pure, but must lead others to purity; in short, a Christ for others. That was enough for me to make further efforts to learn and experience my faith. My initial contact with religion in FEU impelled me to search for God more deeply and passionately all my life.

Now I know and I believe. Just as there are human and physical laws, there are also spiritual laws. And just as there are consequences for the violations of human and physical laws, there are penalties for the violations of God's commands. For example, civil laws protect contracts, and a person who breaks them may be liable for damages. In the same manner, one who injures another violates criminal laws and is jailed as a consequence. So, too, a violation of physical rules impels consequences; hence, when one jumps out of a window, one falls in accordance with the law of gravity.

By the same token, spiritual laws operate in our spirits, whether we like it or not. When we transgress the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes proclaimed by our Lord Jesus Christ, our spirits suffer the inevitable consequences by being damned in eternity. Just as there are reparations for violations of human and physical laws, there is also salvation from our sins - by repentance, restitution and reformation.

Let me firmly assure you, fellow graduates, God is present with us today, here and now in this very plenary hall. He is amongst us to celebrate our graduation, above us to inspire us, before us to lead us, beside us to guide us, behind us to protect us, and within us - in our hearts and our spirits - to possess us and bring us to his everlasting kingdom.

Hunger for leadership

The fourth important thing I learned from FEU was a hunger for leadership, for activism. When I was a young boy, I used to be very shy and timid. I kept mostly to myself. …

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