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With Due Respect

‘Fearless, intuitive and spiritual’

So I replied when asked about Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc. Recovering from shock, I added, “Self-effacing. She refuses any attention to herself. She would rather ascribe her success and accolades to her people and to Inquirer’s readers.” In that spirit, let me move on to the second of two columns I wrote two weeks ago in anticipation of the holidays (the first was printed last Sunday).

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Changing lifestyle. In the good old days, newspapers were sold only in printed form. As an impoverished young boy, I used to hawk them in the streets of Sampaloc, Manila. I would wake up early morning, walk 10 minutes to the nearby newspaper dealer, and wait for the delivery trucks.

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Then, I would race—in competition with other newsboys—shouting “Manila Times, Chronicle, Herald” (the Inquirer was not yet born) to waiting customers along the byways. The remainder, I would peddle to idled jeepney passengers as red lights stopped them momentarily along España Street.

How times have changed. News can now be captured live on TV and radio and in social media. Of course, many people still buy newspapers not just for the latest news but for more in-depth opinions, social events, business happenings and other features.

Yes, the world is changing fast. When digital cameras surfaced, negative films disappeared and along with them the iconic Kodak. Now, cameras are becoming passé with the “killer” apps of smartphones. Soon, smartphones may also replace movie houses, television, passports, credit cards, keys and even cash.

Two decades ago, land lines were so difficult to obtain. But now, they have been overtaken by mobile phones. Expensive long distance calls have been obliterated by Magic Jack, Viber and Skype. SMS or text is slowly being taken over by iMessaging. In fact, digital data is edging out legacy telecommunication.

Medicine and science. Since high school, I had been wearing eye glasses. But in 2008, thanks to cataract laser surgery, I regained my 20/20 vision and now move about without lenses. If I still sport eyeglasses once in a while, it is because my dear wife thinks it more becoming a retired chief justice to wear them. Painlessly, tissues of my prostate gland were surgically taken for biopsy in a few minutes without hospitalization. Stones in the kidney or gall bladder could be excised with only two small surgical holes.

In vitro fertilization enables barren couples to enjoy parenthood. Artificial limbs allow the handicapped to walk. Biotechnological breakthroughs presage the growing of body parts in laboratories to replace diseased or worn out organs and tissues to prolong life and wellbeing.

The recent Paris Agreement to battle global warming has united heretofore ideological incompatibles into a single voice to hold the rise of the earth’s temperature to a tolerable 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. This pact is undoubtedly ambitious and difficult to achieve, but a huge milestone nonetheless if only because it got the great powers of the world to honor the cap.

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The giant Hubble telescope that scientists hurtled into space years ago has provided unprecedented sight into the virtually infinite universe. We now know that our sun is just one of the billions of stars composing the Milky Way, which in turn is just one of the billions of galaxies in the incredibly humongous space beyond us.

If the universe were to be compared with the kilometric white beaches of Boracay, our sun would just be one solitary grain of sand. That is how unimaginably vast the universe is. Just a few weeks ago, European astroscientists were able to piggyback the spacecraft “Roseta” on a comet hurtling across space in a valiant effort to discover how the universe was born.

Globalization. Back on earth, the economic and legal scenario is also changing. Two decades ago, the era of globalization, liberalization, privatization and deregulation was ushered in by the birth of the World Trade Organization. And yet, up to this day, many Filipinos still pine for the “Filipino First” policy of yesteryears.

Whether we like it or not and whether ready or not, we have to face the reality of free trade and open competition. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations formally integrated three days ago in pursuit of globalization. Isolationism has no more place in the current world. To become the second largest economy on earth, China embraced capitalism and private entrepreneurship while maintaining its communist political system.

About the only country that has not accepted globalization is North Korea, thereby plunging its people to abject poverty, a stark opposite of its prosperous and globalized neighbor, South Korea.

Even the various professions like engineering, accounting, medicine and nursing have accepted globalization on a reciprocal basis. It is time too for our lawyers to allow their foreign counterparts to practice foreign law here, provided Philippine lawyers are reciprocally allowed to practice Philippine law in the corresponding foreign jurisdictions.

The world is changing fast and so must we. Otherwise, we would be left behind in ignorance, regression and destitution. Many businessmen and professionals have proven that Filipinos can hold their own against the best of the world. Let us continue competing freely. The Filipino can!

In facing the new year, let’s be like Letty: fearless, intuitive and spiritual.

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Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com

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TAGS: changing lifestyle, Globalization, Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, LJM, medicine, Memories of Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, New Year, Science
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