* Extemporaneous remarks of Atty. Emmanuel C. Fernandez at the 80th birthday celebration of his younger brother, Atty. Filemon C. Fernandez held at Aliputos, Numancia, Aklan on 25 November 2011.
Our beloved Congressman Miraflores, Governor Marquez, Vice Governor Billie Calizo Quimpo ag mga Mahae Namong Kasimanwa,
The Bible teaches us that whenever two or more gather in His name there He is in their midst. We all know that we gather today essentially to give profound thanks for the many blessings and windows of opportunity, the Divine Providence gave our celebrant, Atty. Filemon C. Fernandez during his 80 years in this common world of ours.
As an older brother in Papa and Mama’s family of 10 children, I came to join you from my retirement home in Quezon City to also speak as best as I could on those blessings which probably formed our parallel preparation for the public life we shared in our country and abroad.
In the blooming years of our early manhood, we started as elementary school teachers in the Numancia Elementary School. Our pupils included our distinguished municipal mayor, Atty. Adolfo M. Iligan; Mr. Pedro Magalit, Jr.; Dr. Juan C. Fernandez; and Mrs. Anacleta F. Reyes among others.
Our fellow teachers in the 1950s were our own teachers earlier in the middle 1940s. May I recall Mrs. Consolacion M. Ilicito and Mrs. Felicidad S. Magnabijon.
So, we moved on and this time we became teachers at the prestigious Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros, Manila. Here we recall with pride that our pupils became Senators of our country (Dick Gordon and Tito Sotto III); National Food Authority administrator (Angelito Banayo); and Fr. Regino "Nonong" Cortes, O.P. (Rector of Letran).
Our Aklanon pupils in Letran included Dr. Rafaelito T. Legaspi, M.D.; Mr. Virgilio Patricio, Jr.; and Mr. Mauino T. Haresco, a career Trade Attache of the Department of Trade and Industry.
Teaching is blessing No. 1.
Athletics – I would like to remember because it taught Fily and I how to be sportsmanlike. Basketball and volleyball teams would be completed with the two of us as fellow athletes in Aklan and in Letran.
As athletes, we were taught sportsmanship and teamwork. While we tried our very best to win either in basketball or volleyball, we did not forget that life is not all winning; yes, it also includes losing in good spirit that helps build character and strength.
Our fellow Aklanons may recall how Fily and I played with them in the town plaza in Numancia, Kalibo, Makato, and Tangalan. In volleyball, we especially remember a good sportsman, the late Judge Pepe Taay of Cajilo, Makato.
Athletics is blessing No. 2.
Law – Our celebrant and I were working students in law at the Institute of Law of the Far Eastern University where we met very talented professors and hard-working classmates.
Dean Jovito R. Salonga at 39 was our professor of international law. It was so inspiring to have him; he was valedictorian at UP Law; co-topnotcher with Senator Jose W. Diokno in the Bar examinations of 1944. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile at his young age (middle 30s) taught us taxation and sales subjects.
Constitutional law expert, Atty. Jose Nolledo (member of two Constitutional Conventions – 1972 and Constitutional Commission of 1987 bodies) was a dear classmate.
The English poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) reminds us: He wrote, "The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night".
Law is our parallel blessings No. 3. It is another window of opportunity for Fily and me.
We always believe like our own parents on good education and good food.
Even now in our 80s, my brother-celebrant and I continue to study, continue to learn from many others in our world. As Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles, my beloved Aklanons were Melba Solidum from Ibajay as Consul; Cecilia Cortes of Balete as Administrative Officer; Mauino Tumbocon Haresco as trade Officer; and Atty. Orestes Reyes Ricaforte as Tourism Officer who later was Undersecretary of Tourism under former president Joseph E. Estrada.
May I say our fourth focus is education, our blessing No. 4 and we went through our formal education through hard work, determination and discipline.
Happy 80th Birthday Fily and good evening. /MP