[Dean Vicente Abad Santos’ photo is shown at extreme left; while that of Mon Maronilla is shown at right. At extreme right is a photo of the facade of the MALCOLM HALL which houses the UP College of Law.]
In 1962 Mon Maronilla fresh from graduating at the St. James High School in Malabon, enrolled at the University of the Philippines in pursuit of a college degree in Political Science. However, as Mon was not too keen and serious in his studies then, after 2 years at UP, he was kicked out. Mon then continued his studies at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he graduated with a degree in Political Science.
His dream to have a UP Law degree just like his Dad (the Maronillas of LIBON, ALBAY have a long history of lawyers in their clan starting from their famous patriarch, DON MANUEL MARONILLA CALLEJA) has not been lost as he eventually passed the UP Law Aptitude Test (“UP-LAE”). Thus, he enrolled at the UP College of Law. Mon narrated to me that his Dad just as to ensure that Mon would be able to take the UP-LAE even juggled and feigned his signature on the application. Thus, in the early morning of the scheduled UP-LAE, Mon’s Dad woke him up and said that they have a very important task to do. As Mon was still then dazed and muzzy after a night out with his friends boozing, he was unable to take a bath even. Mon’s Dad was frantically badgering him, to skip the morning shower (saying that they might be late) and the only hygienic thing that Mon did (amidst the badgering) was to wash off his mouth with a gargle of LISTERINE or was it, ASTRING-OSOL.
Upon his return to UP-Diliman (after getting KO’d), he was recruited and underwent a long and grueling initiation rites as neophyte of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity. On his first semester at UP Law, as he got hospitalized for almost a month due to the injuries he sustained as a fraternity neophyte, Mon was compelled to take a leave of absence. In his second semester at Malcolm Hall, out of FIVE (5) subjects, he got a grade of 3 in one and grading marks of “INCOMPLETE” in the other FOUR (4) subjects.
The incumbent dean then, the hard-nosed and disciplinarian Dean Vicente Abad Santos, was very much keen in upholding and maintaining the highest standards of excellence in the UP College of Law. And as he was been wont to do, Dean Abad Santos would regularly review the scholastic records of students of the College especially the freshmen students.
As Dean Abad Santos went into his usual checking, the scholastic record of Mon caught the Dean’s eye: “FIRST SEMESTER – LEAVE OF ABSENCE; SECOND SEMESTER – One subject with a Grade of “3” and FOUR other subjects – INCOMPLETE”. Dean Abad Santos has made up his mind, this student, Ramon M. Maronilla, has to go.
Thereupon, Dean Abad Santos called Mang Mac (i.e. Mang Mac is the virtual factotum in the Dean’s office then, doing almost all pertinent jobs as the Dean’s assistant cum utility man, and most importantly as the executioner of the Dean’s whims and decisions) and told him that Mon must not be allowed to enroll anymore for the next school year.
At that time, Mon was an avid JAI ALAI aficionado and would almost always be enjoying a winning streak in his choices among the Spanish-named Jai Alai players. One time, he saw Mang Mac at the Jai Alai fronton and he invited Mang Mac to a round of beer at the Keg Room atop the building housing the Jai Alai fronton. As he sympathized upon Mang Mac’s continuous losing streak, Mon took FIVE (5) crisp 100 peso bills and gave it as “BALATO”, actually a gift from winners in a game of chance, to Mang Mac. Mang Mac was so profuse with thanks. And perhaps, feeling sympathy too for Mon and to soften the impact of the eventual news of Mon’s being kicked out anew from UP, after Mon recounted his earlier dismissal from the University College (that was the term then used for the 2-year general course at the Palma Hall) of UP, Mang Mac broke the news to Mon.
Indeed, Mang Mac confided to Mon as follows: “Sorry Mon, at hindi kita matutulungan, gusto ni Dean, huwag ka nang pahintulutan na makapag-enroll pa sa susunod na semester”. [English translation: I am so sorry Mon, but I really cannot help you…the Dean wants that you should not be allowed anymore to enroll in the College of Law by next semester.”]
Mon was crest-fallen and he was not only worried about the ban imposed by Dean Abad Santos, but all the more, he was worried that his gracious girl-friend, Becky Fong, a sorority sister of the Sigma Delta Phi would turn her back on him. This was so, as Mon ardently vowed to Becky that he will be a lawyer and a graduate of the UP College of Law someday. Further, that year in 1966 was the heyday of the Upsilon, as there were about 47 Upsilonians enrolled as students of the UP College of Law. And Mon was wary that if kicked out anew, he will be the butt of jokes and taunting from among his fraternity brods.
Mon was so confused and so befuddled, as he always sported that harried look in his face. Until one day, after his glance caught an announcement posted at the UP Law’s bulletin board installed at the cream-colored wall beside the Dean’s Office, Mon sighed a sense of relief. Still however, he has to do something extraordinary. The announcement talked about the 10-day leave that will be taken by Dean Abad Santos as he was to attend a conference in the United States as guest speaker in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea popularly known by its acronym UNCLOS. Mon hurried to talk to Mang Mac and from Mang Mac, Mon learned that during Dean Abad Santos’ 10-day absence, Prof. Arturo Dadufalza will serve as Acting Dean. From Mang Mac, Mon learned more vital information most especially the fact that Dean Abad Santos and Prof. Dadufalza did not see eye to eye. And so, Mang Mac and Mon mapped out a plan. Mon must complete his INCOMPLETE grades for the FOUR (4) of the FIVE (5) subjects he took during the second semester with good grades to boot, and Mang Mac will present his case anew to the Acting Dean, Prof. Dadufalza.
This, Mang Mac has to do without however disclosing that Dean Abad Santos has reached a final decision on Mon’s case. Luckily, Mon got good grades in THREE (3) of the FOUR (4) subjects and the 4th with a mere passing grade. This, after Mon burned the midnight oil and studied hard for his completion tests in the FOUR (4) subjects. And Mon did it in just a span of less than TEN (10) days. At this juncture, Mon came into a realization that if he really would strive hard to study, he would have not much difficulty in passing the subjects. Consequently, Mang Mac became all the more emboldened to bring the matter up to the Acting Dean. And the dialogue between Mang Mac and the Acting Dean (as was relayed by Mang Mac to Mon thereafter) went this way:
Mang Mac: “Sir, may estudyante po na LOA nung 1st semester dahil nagkasakit at nung second semester po naman ay may isang TRES po at puro INCOMPLETE po yong apat na subjects niya Sir. Pero, na-complete na rin po naman niya, Sir at magaganda naman ang grading marks na nakuha Sir.”; Acting Dean: “Oh, eh anong problema?”; Mang Mac: “Papayagan po ba nating mag-enrol itong estudyante Sir?”; Acting Dean: “Okey lang, pumasa naman pala sa lahat ng subjects niya.” [English translation: Mang Mac: Sir, there is a freshman student who went on a leave of absence during the 1st semester as he got sick; and on his second semester, he got a grade of “3” in one subject; and INCOMPLETE marks in his FOUR (4) other subjects; but he recently completed the 4 subjects and even got good grades Sir.”; Acting Dean: So, what is the problem?”; Mang Mac: “Do we still allow him to enroll for the next school year Sir?”; Acting Dean: “It is okey, you allow him to enroll as he has eventually passed all his subjects.”]
Thus, Mon was able to enrol anew for the succeeding school year. It happened however that Dean Abad Santos saw him once inside one of the classrooms of the UP College of Law while the Dean was walking through the corridor of the College’s second floor. Thus, Dean Abad Santos summoned Mang Mac outright to his office and was set to castigate Mang Mac, as the Dean hollered:
“Mac! Lintik naman…hindi ba sinabi ko sa iyo na hindi mo na dapat pahintulutan pang maka-enrol yang si Ramon Maronilla, eh bakit estudyante pa rin yong lintik na yon?” [English translation: Mac! Did I not tell you that that rascal of a student, Ramon Maronilla must not be allowed anymore to enroll in this college, why is he enrolled still?]
And this is how Mang Mac answered, as was conveyed by him thereafter to Mon:
“Hindi po ako ang may gawa niyan Sir. Si Acting Dean Dadufalza po ang nagsabi sa akin na payagang mag-enrol muli si Mr. Ramon Maronilla Sir.” [English translation: It was not I who caused the enrolment Sir, it was Acting Dean Dadufalza who told me to allow Mr. Ramon Maronilla to enroll anew Sir.” ]
The following day, Mon was hailed to the office of the Dean. And Mon was told that he needs to pass a psychological examination to be conducted by the University psychologist. Mon was told that Dean Abad Santos has tasked the University psychologist to determine whether Mon was mentally, physically and psychologically prepared to go through the rigors of a UP College of Law education. From what Mon heard from Mang Mac, as the University psychologist was Dean Abad Santos’ protégée, Mang Mac forewarned Mon that, he might have to really go.
When Mon was called anew by Dean Abad Santos, Mon prepared himself for the worst. As was expected Dean Abad Santos told him:
“Bata, hindi ka pumasa sa psycho exam, kailangang ka na talagang lumipat.” English translation: “Boy, you did not pass the psycho test, you have to go, you need to transfer to another law school.”]
But Mon was prepared to kneel and cry before the authoritarian Dean, as Mon uttered:
“Dean, kaawaan naman po ninyo ako, gusto ko po talagang maka-gradweyt sa UP College of Law, hindi naman po siguro masyadong mababa ang nakuha kong iskor sa psycho exam…katulad po nung tanong na: “WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER…MONEY, POWER, FAME, GLORY or FRIENDS”, ang sagot ko po ay “FRIENDS”, hindi naman po siguro mali yon. At saka nakapag-enrol na po ako Dean…maawa naman po kayo sa akin!” [English translation: “Dean, have pity on me, I really want to graduate from the UP College of Law…I feel I did not get so low a score in the psycho exam Sir…there was one question which I distinctly remember, which says: “WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER…MONEY, POWER, FAME, GLORY or FRIENDS”, and my answer was “FRIENDS”, I do not think Sir that that answer of mine is wrong, Sir. I have actually enrolled already Sir. Have pity on me Sir.”]
Moved by pity perhaps, or that Dean Abad Santos just wanted Mon to be out of his sight, the Dean declared in stentorian tone: “OKEY, SIGE NA…HINDI KA NAMAN SIGURADONG MAGTATAGAL DITO SA UP COLLEGE OF LAW!”. [English translation: “Okey you may go now, you can continue attending your classes. But anyway, I am sure that you will not last the rigors of the UP College of Law!”]
It came to pass that Dean Abad Santos became one of Mon’s professors in Remedial Law, and that as it is usual at the Malcolm Hall, the daily grind was: RECITATION, RECITATION and RECITATION.
Dean Abad Santos seem so enamored on one legal principle known in LAW as ESTOPPEL, and that in most of his Remedial Law classes, Dean Abad Santos would almost always call for recitation, students to recite the provision on ESTOPPEL enshrined in the Rules of Court.
Unbeknownst to the Dean, Mon would make out a large reproduction of every provision that may be the subject of recitation in the Dean’s class, written by hand via BLACK pentel pen on a huge Manila paper, and Mon would tack it on the wall inside his bedroom .
One class day, Mon was called upon to recite it, to voice out word for word the provision on ESTOPPEL enshrined in the Rules of Court; and he recited it in the following manner:
“WHENEVER A PARTY HAS COMMA BY HIS OWN DECLARATION COMMA ACT COMMA OR OMISSION COMMA INTENTIONALLY AND DELIBERATELY LED ANOTHER TO BELIEVE A PARTICULAR THING IS TRUE COMMA AND TO ACT UPON SUCH BELIEF COMMA HE CANNOT COMMA IN ANY LITIGATION ARISING OUT OF SUCH DECLARATION COMMA ACT OR OMISSION COMMA BE PERMITTED TO FALSIFY IT PERIOD”
From then on, and eventually thereafter, Dean Abad Santos became Mon’s friendly professor. With the colorful episodes that adorned the trek of my friend Mon into clutching a UP Law diploma and having graduated therefrom, it can surely be flawlessly said that Mon graduated at the UP Law with “flying colors“. Atty. Ramon Matias Maronilla is currently the President of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association, Incorporated.