HIS long day starts as soon as morning breaks. Although weary from the previous day’s load, he manages to wake up with a bit of anticipation for the day ahead. He showers, gets dressed, gathers his things, and gets ready for court.
He is Francis Michael Abad, 29 years old, a lawyer.
The courtroom is not the kind of place where people would want to stay. For some, it has a daunting aura full of mischievous faces and mysterious stares from across the room. It is a place of silence, second to a church. But for attorney Abad, the courtroom is his sacred place.
“The presence of the judge would be enough for anyone to experience that special feeling of being in a place where you can actually wield real persuasive power to make some changes in the lives of our countrymen,” he said. But as soon as he steps into court, he lets go of whatever fear, faces his friends and enemies all together, without showing the slightest gesture of weakness.
After the hearing, he temporarily bids being a lawyer goodbye, rushes to school and welcomes the afternoon with another challenge, not facing prosecutors and “hizzonor”, but curious young minds with the hope of gaining knowledge from the person whom they consider their teacher. He teaches subjects like International Law, Political, Economic and Sociological Thought, History, and Philippine Constitution at the University of the Philippines Cebu. To his students, he is a teacher who raises the standards of learning.
“He is very serious in teaching us. He constantly gives us reading assignments because it is only through reading that we can survive the course,” Bernadeth Rosales, a 3rd year Mass Communication student, said. He admits that he is not afraid to fail students who are not performing well. “It is through failing them that they realize their lack of effort.” He is knowledgeable in the classroom as he is in court.
He teaches his craft with sheer understanding of the topic and attacks it with braveness and confidence. He does not need the book as his guide, for he knows what to preach and make it sound as if he’d been studying it for ages. He does not bore his students, in fact, he leaves them craving for more.
As if being a lawyer and a teacher were not enough for him, attorney Abad is also an advocate of Human Rights through the Free Legal Aid. Once, he handled a case involving someone who was detained in the hospital due to unpaid bills. His team then filed the Writ of Habeas Corpus to free the illegal detainee. There was also another instance when students were accused as rebels by the military. He then came to their assistance and defended them in the prosecutor’s office. All these he did without compensation, but service to his countrymen.
Being a lawyer was not something that suddenly “hit” him. He recalled engaging into a lot of arguments during his younger years. Once when he was in High School, he posited in his Christian Life Formation class that religious doctrines should be open to questioning. “Many of my classmates did not agree with me because they believed that to question on matters of religion was a sin. I wanted to let them know that the truth becomes more meaningful if it is actually found personally rather than handed down,” he said. Arguments like those were what he considers as “his early signs of pursuing the profession.”
Although he has already earned the repute and respect that every lawyer has, he still claims, “I do not look like a lawyer.” With, his spotless face, lean physique, and his simple yet youthful style (jeans paired with polo shirt), one would mistake him for a student.
But just this year, he was appointed as UP Cebu’s associate dean.
“I had doubts on accepting the position because I felt that I am too young, but the dean’s assurance of helping me boosted my confidence,” he said.
As the new associate dean, he wishes the school to be “a self sustaining constituent university that would claim its role as a bastion of excellence for it to be worthy to be called a premiere university in the Philippines.”
As a lawyer, a professor, and now, an associate dean, attorney Abad finds himself struggling with his schedule, but tries to manage his time wisely.
“I work double time on weekdays and I relax on weekends.” He doesn’t let an opportunity slip because he is a person “who wants to be challenged.”
He is attorney Francis Michael Abad and no challenge is too much for him to handle. (Rejzl Anne Awit)