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With Due Respect

Make each day count!

During the recent Christmas party of the retired justices of the Supreme Court, I was asked to deliver a message, which I think may be relevant to all seniors. So, I will sum up my talk within my limited space. (Original at cjpanganiban.com, then click “Speeches”) As retirees, we love to reminisce about our happy days in the Court when we could disagree without being disagreeable and differ without being difficult. Lay people cannot believe that after exchanging strongly-worded opposing opinions, we remain the best of colleagues. Why? Because we disagree only with our views and thoughts, and not with our persons or with our comradeship.

We thank our Lord for gifting us with long lives, given that the average longevity in our country today is only 70; 69 for men and 71 for women. Our Good God has granted us bonus days and years. We wake up each morning with a prayer of thanksgiving, cherishing each additional bonus day granted by the Lord.A week ago, a friend sent me, via Viber, a cartoon of Charlie Brown. (Remember him?) It featured the young, smart-alecky Charlie Brown gazing at the night stars, talking to his dog, Snoopy. He said, “We only live once.” To which the smarter Snoopy replied, “Wrong! We only die once. We live every day.” Yes, dear fellow seniors, we live every day. Let us make each day count. Smile, laugh, sing, dance, help the poor, enjoy life, and pray for a few more years, till we reach 100 and beyond.

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As retirees, we also love to reminisce our school days. And because the 2019 bar exams were just over, we remember our own bar tests in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s when the rivalry was not only among UP, Ateneo and the University of San Carlos, but also among the venerable law schools in the old — now traffic-laden — university belt, like UST, San Beda, MLQ, UE and, of course, FEU.

Ah, them were the days when the bus fare on the Halili Transit and JD Bus was only 15 centavos; when four pesos could buy one US dollar; when we dated our girlfriends (who became our wives) at the Moonlit Terrace, Jai Alai Sky Room or Winter Garden; and when our favorite singers were Sylvia La Torre, Ruben Tagalog, Diomedes Maturan and Pilita Corrales. Question: Who are the newest singing sensations today? Derrick Monasterio, Moira de la Torre and Vanjoss Bayaban.

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In the near future, with the advent of the fifth generation (or 5G) technology, we can use our smartphones to buy from the department stores and the sidewalk talipapas, as they now do in China, and will be able to see instantly via monitored CCTV what is happening in our bedrooms, kitchens and backyards, even from abroad while we travel.

But beyond the internet and 5G will proliferate in the next five years the wonders of artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies and the Internet of Things. And beyond them, a revolution in health care that would easily make our grandchildren live 150 years, because they will have the advantage of growing their replacement body parts through the marvel of stem cell technology. Indeed, they can grow, exchange or even trade-in spare hearts, spare limbs and spare brains.

In fact, in 25 years, death from disease will be “optional” and aging will be reversed. Humans would no longer die from natural causes. Advance medical knowledge will be able to eliminate dead cells from the body, repair damaged tissues and regenerate new ones.

As you probably know, aging is caused by the shortening of the telomeres of the chromosomes with the passage of time. Even today, laboratory experiments have shown that it is possible not only to arrest their shortening but also to lengthen them.

All these ruminations lead me to an old favorite joke (see my original talk for more jokes). In the future, the brains of the dead would be sold to replace those of the living. Publicly to be auctioned would be the preserved brains of Albert Einstein and of a three-time bar flunker. The auction would start at $1,000 for Einstein’s brain and $100,000 for the flunker’s. Why would Einstein’s brain be much cheaper than the flunker’s? Answer: Because Einstein’s brain is already overused, while the bar flunker’s is almost new and underused.

As I close these impertinent remarks and corny jokes, let me wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Mabuhay!

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TAGS: aging, artemio v. panganiban, Old Age, retirement, Seniority, With Due Respect
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