[Professor Ruben Balane of the University of the Philippines-College of Law had a brilliant scholastic feat during his UP College of Law days. Prof. Balane graduated salutatorian and cum laude from the UP College of Law in 1966 and ranked second in the Bar examinations of the same year. Prof. Balane has been teaching in UP Law since 1970.]
Among the professors at the University of the Philippines- College of Law during my time, the one whom I admired most is no other than Professor Ruben Balane. Prof. Balane is an acknowledged expert in Civil Law especially in the subject of SUCCESSION, which involves rights to inheritance.
My first encounter with Prof. Balane was during my interview after passing the law entrance test. I actually cannot remember how we call the entrance test then. But now, the term used is L.A.E. which stands for LAW APTITUDE EXAMINATION.
During the interview, it was Prof. Balane who noticed that it took me too long to finish my undergraduate course, for which reason, Prof. Balane inquired, why. And when I answered that it involved a long story; Prof. Balane cut me short and told me to be brief about it. I remember that my UP Law classmates then had peculiar stories to tell about how their respective interviews went.
But that interview experience shared to me by my classmate and friend Procs Sarmen (UP Law 79) is really something for the books.
Procs narrated that the head of the panel when he was interviewed was Prof. Bartolome Carale, a Transportation Law professor and an Insurance Law expert. When Procs entered the interview room, Prof. Carale barked out at him: “YOU GET OUT AND RE-ENTER THE ROOM PROPERLY!”
And so Procs went out of the room, carefully closed the door behind him and after a couple of seconds, gingerly entered the room once more, almost tiptoeing just as not to create noise. But, Prof. Carale barked out all the louder: “YOU GET OUT OF THE ROOM AND YOU MUST RE-ENTER THE ROOM PROPERLY!”
That was Procs’ strike 2 and Procs could not understand where he went wrong, as he even greeted the professors “GOOD AFTERNOON!”, when he made his second entrance.
It was good that Procs did not lose his composure, Procs knocked on the door, and when he was asked to come in, Procs uttered out his greeting and said: “GOOD AFTERNOON SIRS! PERMISSION TO ENTER, SIRS!”, and Prof. Carale boomed and said: “AYAN,NAKUHA MO NA…SABI DITO SA BIO DATA MO, DATI KANG CORPS COMMANDER SA R.O.T.C.…DAPAT MARUNONG KANG KUMATOK.”[OH, THAT IS GOOD…WELL, IT SAYS HERE IN YOUR BIO DATA THAT YOU WERE A FORMER CORPS COMMANDER IN R.O.T.C., YOU OUGHT TO KNOW AS CORPS COMMANDER, HOW TO SHOW RESPECT BY FIRST KNOCKING ON THE DOOR.”]
All the while Procs thought that he failed the interview due to that foible, but he passed the interview and even became an acknowledged legal professional in the field of labor law.
Going back to Prof. Balane…Actually, the interview done on me was conducted by a panel of THREE (3) law professors. And it was Prof. Balane who was doing most of the questioning and talking. The other members of the panel were: Professors Salvador Carlota and Eduardo Labitag.
I first started to be amazed with Prof. Balane’s brilliancy during my first year in UP Law when he was our professor in PERSONS AND FAMILY RELATIONS. I cannot actually remember how it came about in a PERSONS class, but Prof. Balane delivered a very poignant explanation as to how the word “OBLIGATION” originated.
Prof. Balane narrated that during the days of the Roman Empire, if someone fails to pay his debt, the debt-defaulter will be seized by some kind of a Roman officer and that the debtor will be bound with some kind of a ligament. Thus, the debtor will literally be surrounded with a ligament, or some kind of a bond. And OBLIGARE is the Latin root word for the term OBLIGATION, which Latin root word means to be bound or tied all around. And this debtor will be sold just like a slave in the town center to pay off his debts from the proceeds of the sale; the debtor being the object of the sale.
I am some kind of student then who was easily impressed by the eloquence of a speaker. And I found Prof. Balane so eloquent in his speech and his voice would actually reverberate within the four walls of our classroom. He is so confident in the way he delivers his lectures and would enunciate his words with so much resonance in an upbeat tone as though he is a declaimer. After every class in PERSONS under Prof. Balane, his teachings will constantly reverberate in my mind and it proved to be some kind of inspiration on my part to continue pursuing my quest for a law degree.
Prof. Balane would even use some kind of drama and rhetoric approximating almost a theatrical flair. This, Prof. Balane would do as he would act out how the customary buyers of slaves in the town center would check the dentures of the object of the sale as though a buyer of a horse as he sees fit to check the horse’s dentures by manipulating the upper and the lower lips to reveal the teeth. And by using both hands to part the lips to reveal the whole set of teeth, the debtor-defaulter would look like an angry animal, just like how a dog would show its anger by showing its teeth to scare off a rival or a fiend.
Though Prof. Balane who could be classified as some kind of professor-terror also, he may have been terrorized too by two (2) of my UP Law Evening (Batch 79) classmates.
Yes, a story went around then that as two (2) of my UP Law Evening 79 classmates were unable to graduate, they sort of held Prof. Balane as responsible for that. It was because Prof. Balane gave them both failing grades in Civil Law Review. It was truly pitiful as with the failure, they were deprived of the opportunity to take the 1979 Bar exams. But, as has been the practice and considering that UP Law does not offer summer classes, they enrolled in separate law schools for the purpose solely of passing that failed subject, and to enable them to take the 1979 Bar.
Earlier though, they both sought audience to talk with Prof. Balane and asked for compassion coupled with a request to have their failing grades converted into a passing mark of “3”. As Prof. Balane stood pat on his decision and denied their request; both opted to go to nearby Katipunan Avenue and drunk much booze in one of the beer joints thereat.
After having become so besotted, the duo decided that perhaps with their inhibitions totally erased, they would be more capable of persuading Prof. Balane to give them the passing mark. Thus, off they left the beer joint and waited at the UP Law Center parking area by standing by, just beside Prof. Balane’s car.
When Prof. Balane spotted them on his way to his car, as the latter were standing near Prof. Balane’s car; and Prof. Balane descried that the duo appeared a bit angry. This, as both the duo purportedly showed off their teeth unto Prof. Balane, while they dreamily swooned, anticipating another serious talk with the professor, for having been too inebriated.
Well, Prof. Balane did the right thing as he went back to his office and after a while, police officers stationed at UP Diliman cordially requested the duo to go home and take their needed rest.
Anyhow, all’s well that ends well…But there is another story about UP Law students taking a subject or two in another law school just as to be able to take the Bar exams, despite not as yet a graduate of UP Law.
After the 1979 Bar exams, our witty and jocular classmate, the late Jaime G. Nagrampa (“Jim”) approached our genial and charming classmate Babes Navarro and told Babes that: “Babes, malaki ang problema ko! [English translation: “Babes, I have a very big problem!”].
And Babes asked Jim as to what his problem was, and Jim narrated: “Babes, paano na kung mag-top ako ng Bar Exams; eh halos 5 years ako sa UP Law, at isang summer lang ako sa UST; pero technically graduate ako sa UST at galit kasi ako sa UP Law dahil binagsak ako ni Balane eh! [Babes, what will I do if I should top the Bar Exams, which law school should I choose, though I have been with UP Law for almost 5 years and just took summer in UST, but I am considered a UST graduate…and I got irked with UP Law because Prof. Balane flunked me in Civil Law Review.”]
Indeed, Jim has always been some kind of the court jester in our evening class, as he would wittily crack jokes and make us all laugh. Well, I am sure that Jim has continued his penchant in heaven too.