A SCHOLAR since during her high school days, Ria Lidia Espina went to the University of San Carlos (USC) planning to take up Mass Communication or Psychology.
But she found Accounting to be more interesting, so she took that up instead, eventually graduating magna cum laude. As an accountant, she taught Accountancy subjects in USC, and moved up the corporate ladder becoming assistant vice president in a group of companies engaged in real estate, import, export and processing.
But always “passionate about advocating a cause” she believes in, she decided to take up Law at the University of Cebu (UC), graduating as class valedictorian, also magna cum laude. As a lawyer, Espina said she would be further equipped “with the skills to protect the interests of those who may not be able to do so because of their circumstances—’those who have less in life should have more in law.’” She has been a lawyer for only 12 years. But because of her advocacy, she has become president of the IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) Cebu Chapter, succeeding its first woman president, lawyer Mundlyn Misal Martin, under whom she was vice president. As president, she explained, she has three goals for the chapter: service, sustainability and solidarity.
For service, she said, IBP Cebu has a pilot project: The Trial Academy, a first-of-its-kind in the Philippines. It is designed to teach lawyers what cannot be learned in the classroom (egs. how to act in court). On the Trial Academy board are former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., lawyer Democrito Barcenas, Retired Judge Meinrado Paredes, former Deputy Ombudsman Virginia Santiago, lawyer Alice Morada and
Espina as IBP Cebu Chapter president. Executive director is lawyer Paul Labrado. Espina hopes to enhance the Trial Academy further and improve or enhance its curriculum.
Existing projects of IBP Cebu include anti-bullying campaigns in schools—with modules from kindergarten to high school—and a drug lecture series/seminar, especially for barangays whose council members might ask for such seminars. Espina is also looking for the chapter to have a group hospital insurance, as it has already a group life insurance. IBP Cebu also has partnerships with certain establishments for discounts like Cherry Blossom Hotel, which is near the Supreme Court and Heart Hub (cardiology doctors). Her plan, she said, is “a dream of some members of IBP Cebu: the formation of a cooperative for members who may be interested; the underlying purpose of which, is to tell society that lawyers can also be credit worthy.”
For sustainability, Espina wants to increase the involvement and participation of lawyers in the activities of the chapter, and so will plan more activities to encourage their participation in the group’s activities and advocacy. For solidarity, Espina plans to further foster the unity among chapter members and also between the bench (the court) and the bar (the lawyers). Aside from her involvement with “the law,” Espina is also an active member of Picpa (Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants), of which she is currently national vice president for the commerce and industry sector, and senior regional director for the Eastern Visayas Region.
She is also incumbent president of the University of the Philippines Cebu chapter alumni association (2017 to 2019) and presently a member of the board of the USC School of Business and Economics alumni association. She is a professor of the UC School of Law and is an assistant vice president at Aboitiz Construction Inc., where she heads the legal and contract management services team. Espina works with passion, so it is expected that she will succeed not only in her professional life but will also succeed in her programs for service, sustainability and solidarity with the members of IBP Cebu Chapter.