Indomitable Rene to new lawyers
May I felicitate the new lawyers who took their oaths yesterday in the MOA Arena, thusly:
Compañeros/as, I see that 3,747 of you, 2016 examinees, passed the 2016 bar examinations.
Now you feel like you are on top of the world, basking in the many-splendored afterglow of a well-earned achievement. There
will be many big nights on the town, but the mornings after will inevitably bring the cold light of day, so to say.
What else can one say to you after welcoming you to the guild and expressing the ritualistic good wishes? Where will you be years from now? Particularly the superior ones? Those to whom much was given? The driving dream that lifted most of you in your school days was that the law offers a good, if not the best, way of serving the poor, obscure, oppressed, and unwashed, to
attain a measure of justice. Too often, however, it takes only a few years of practice, plus a taste of the good life for this consuming passion to sink without a trace in the deep rugs of a well-appointed law office, amid the staccato clatter of top-of-the-line thingamajigs and the hum of multi-horse-powered air conditioners.
Cooptation was the word for it in the language of the street-wise radicals of past years.
Who among you, unpublicized and unadvertised, will advocate the causes of the poor or unpopular condemned by some lynch mob? Not for the experience either, but to be true to a promise to fight the manipulators and the oppressors in society. Mga naghaharing uri, we used to cry. The law has often represented the biases of the ruling class.
Some of you, feeling your word is your bond, will possibly stick it out for a while. But, probably, not many and not for long.
Somewhere down the road the thought of your children going around barefoot, of not going to expensive exclusive schools, and of you being labeled unsuccessful for not being affluent, will stare you in the face and bite deeply into your psyche. And then you will kiss a dream goodbye to join those who defend the rich and the powerful with ruthless efficiency.
In the process you will strengthen, willy-nilly, your clients’ near monopolistic stranglehold on the country’s finest talents, aggravating the imbalance in the power situation in society. Mediocrities can go far in our society, but it is the loss of the bright ones—who know the law, not the judge—that really hurts.
Holmes once said that happiness does not come from material rewards. “[H]appiness,” he wrote, “I am sure from having known many successful men, cannot be won simply by being counsel for great corporations and having an
income of fifty thousand dollars.”
“Oh, yeah?” may very well be the retort of the hired guns retained by the oligarchs, particularly those who had their positions buttressed and reinforced with the installation of today’s quasi-martial law apparatus in a seeming police state reinforced by militarization. How naive could Holmes get?
Still and all, we are delighted to welcome you, the new lawyers, to the fraternity (and sorority). Do achieve, and acquire what you will, but never, never forget the least of our brethren: Psychic income is something not all the money in the world can buy.
Stay as sweet as you are.
R.A.V. SAGUISAG, Palanan, Makati City
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