[Left photo shows Jovy in a jovial mood during one of our Christmas parties in our law office; middle photo shows the eminent SC Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Jr. who administered Jovy’s oath; while the photo at right is a sample of the roll of attorneys where lawyers sign their name to register as a duly licensed lawyer after taking the oath]
I met Jovy for the first time in September 1998. I resigned from Allied Banking Corporation (“Allied Bank”, now merged with Philippine National Bank), in April 1998 as one of the legal officers of its Legal and Collection Department. My classmate at the University of the Philippines-College of Law, the Late Atty. Jaime “Jim” Nagrampa, was persistent in his request for me to join him in the law office which he put up and organized in October 1997.
While at Allied Bank, I was retained by a friend, Mr. Delfin T. Alcoriza, to serve as his company’s Legal Consultant, the DEALCO Incorporated (“DEALCO”). Thus, on Saturdays, as my working schedule at Allied Bank is from Mondays to Fridays only, I would report for half-a-day’s work at DEALCO’s Vitas, Tondo office.
It came to pass however that numerous collection complaints for and in behalf of DEALCO which was a company engaged in the distribution and marketing of livestock products (i.e. hogs and beef carcasses being delivered to wet markets as well as department stores in the metropolis) needed to be filed in court. For which reason, I felt the need to engage an assistant aside from the secretary that Jim earlier hired for the law office which was located at the third floor of the Crispina Building along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, Metro-Manila.
Following my resignation, and after the first lady-assistant whom I hired resigned to focus on her law education, one of my former colleagues at Allied Bank, a young, smart and statuesque lady lawyer, Atty. Carla Borromeo (“Carla”), called me up one day and asked if I needed an assistant at our newly-established Quezon City law office. I told her that her call was serendipitous as I actually needed one. She however asked me for a meeting as she felt that she needed to truthfully confide first to me personally, the lowdown about Jovy.
During our meeting, Carla confided that Jovy is a 1992 graduate of the College of Law of the Lyceum University of the Philippines. Carla added that Jovy was her classmate at the Lyceum Law School and that Jovy would at times top the examinations in their class.
Carla also confided that Jovy was a diligent and competent student but that there was some kind of a hitch. When I asked about the so-called hitch, Carla confessed that Jovy is an ex-convict. Carla however explained that Jovy has been granted absolute pardon by then Pres. Joseph Estrada.
When I first met Jovy in the flesh, no trace of being an ex-convict could be discerned from the way he acted and talked. Jovy was soft-spoken and so polite during our first meeting. Thereafter, I intuitively concluded that Jovy is a good person and would truly fit to a “T” the requirements I envisioned for my assistant.
Upon arriving home that night, I told my wife Dang about my proposed engagement of Jovy but that I also told him about Jovy’s past, particularly of him being an ex-convict.
Dang got so timorous and afraid and objected as she told me in the vernacular that: “HUWAG MONG KUNIN, BAKA PAG NAPAGALITAN MO YAN AY SAKSAKIN KA NA LANG AGAD.” [English translation: DON’T HIRE HIM! HE MIGHT STAB YOU IN CASE YOU WOULD BE WONT TO SCOLD HIM!]
As was thereafter agreed upon between me and Dang, Jovy was invited to dinner to our K-Ville home as I told Dang that Jovy looked polite and looked good during my first meeting with him.
I also talked to my kids then, namely: Shayna who was then only 12 years old; Tonton, who was about 10 years old and Cheska, who was then the youngest at 9 years old. I informed them too of Jovy’s past.
At the appointed dinner-date at our K-Ville home, when Jovy arrived, I introduced him to Dang and my 3 kids. The kids were surprisingly silent, so polite and so mum as we, myself, Dang and Jovy engaged in some kind of pleasantries. I eventually learned thereafter that the reason why my kids were then so silent, and mum and looking afraid was that they were fearful that Jovy might grab a knife and hold as all hostage. Eventually, after all of the members of my family gave their THUMBS UP, I hired Jovy to become my assistant.
I thereafter learned that Jovy kept secret from his parents and kin his incarceration at the New Bilibid Prison. I even learned from Jovy that he merely told his parents that he was being assigned by the manager of the office where he was working then, to far-off Cebu. But that as an upside to Jovy’s incarceration, he became the Vice-Governor at the prison facility. In the Philippine penal institutions, there are organizations too which allow inmates to wield power over their co-inmates and that these officers, as a whole, serve as the coordinating arm for the inmates, who would work hand-in-hand with the prison authorities. The highest post in these inmate organizations is the Governor.
Thus, after I engaged Jovy on October 1, 1998, as my assistant, we commenced the filing of a skein of petitions to allow Jovy to take the lawyer’s oath and to eventually be allowed to practice law in the country. Initially, while his petition(s) were pending, I tapped Jovy to appear at hearings before the Fiscal’s office and at the National Labor Relations Commission, where non-lawyers may appear as some kind of Paralegal Assistant. We filed a total of almost TEN (10) pleadings with the Supreme Court and the denials rained down like hailstones, painful and cold; and the last of which carried the warning that the denial was final and executor. What made matters worse was that the denial declared that no further pleadings will be entertained, if subsequently filed.
The denials were based on varied grounds but when an earlier denial talked about the supposed absence still, on the part of Jovy of any semblance that he has actually and truly reformed, I asked Jovy to enter the cursillo [i.e. cursillo, which literally means a “short course”, is some kind of a 3-day religious live-in seminar where speakers would endeavor to make the attendees become effective Christian leaders either by renewing or re-intensifying one’s faith in God]. Before graduating from the cursillo, there is some kind of ritual, actually an early dawn serenade where all of the cursillo attendees would be greeted by songs while they all watch atop the balcony portion of the dormitory where they are all billeted, looking down unto the serenaders who would be grouped together below the balcony complete with lighted candles and guitars. And I was the only one who attended the mañanita as Jovy also kept his attendance in the cursillo secret from his kin.
Eventually, after so many tries, Jovy was allowed to take the lawyer’s oath and is now actively practicing his lawyering profession. One time, when Jovy seemed to have lost all hope, after a series of denials to his petition to take the lawyer’s oath, he approached and told me: “ATTORNEY, MAG-RE-RESIGN NA LANG AKO AT MUKHANG HINDI TALAGA AKO SADYANG MAGIGING MAPALAD NA ABOGADO. MAG-TATAYO NA LANG AKO NG CAR REPAIR SHOP SA AMIN SA BATANGAS.” [English translation: “Attorney, I have decided to resign as I think that I am not really meant to be a practicing lawyer. I will just put up a car repair shop in our province in Batangas.]
When Jovy approached me and uttered those words, one morning in our law office, I told him: “HUWAG KANG MAWALAN NG PAG-ASA; MAG-FILE TAYONG MULI, AT AKO AY NANINIWALA NA SA BIYAYA NG DIYOS, ANG PANGARAP MONG MAGING ISANG TUNAY NA ABOGADO AY MATUTUPAD.” [English translation: “Don’t lose hope; let us file for one last time another petition to take the lawyer’s oath. I am sure that with the grace of God, your dream and aspiration to become a practicing lawyer will finally come true.] Indeed, HOPE truly springs ETERNAL.
On July 7, 2006, Jovy took his oath as a duly Supreme Court-licensed lawyer before the Honorable Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. of the Supreme Court. Jovy has been actively practicing his lawyering profession since then. Most significantly, Jovy has vigorously advocated the cause of environmental issues against giant enterprises while championing the rights of agrarian tenants in his hometown in the fight.