Viray: Mel Mutuc: The lawyer who changed my life

In and Out of Court

I DETESTED Mal Mutuc. I referred to him as “sira buntuc”. I saw him from a distance campaigning for a seat in 1970 Constitutional Convention and I asked to myself – what has he done when he was in the seat of power as Executive Secretary of President Macapagal in the ‘60’s?

Then, from nowhere, as the President of the Integrated Bar Pampanga Chapter in 1989, I came face to face with Mutuc. Mel Mutuc came and sought me. He was in his late 70’s, not exactly in the pink of health. Obviously, he has lost his influence and finances. He rode a rag-tng Toyota vehicle with faulty air conditioning, to and from Manila.

First hand, I came to know his life story. Mel was born in the Huk infested area of Candating, Arayat, Pampanga, boardering Nueva Ecija. He was born to a modest family – Anselmo Mutuc and the former Ramona Ramirez. I came to know that Fr. Nicanor Mutuc Banzali, who was assigned in my home town Masantol, was his uncle-benefactor. He financed Mel’s education in the Arayat Institute as a class Valedictorian. He wanted to enroll at University of the Philippines, Padre Faura. Together with his father, they were made to wait for hours so the elder Mutuc took him to Ateneo which was across UP.

The Probinsyano finished his Associate in Arts as Salutatorian. His status turned from bad to worse when his father, Anselmo was kidnapped and presumably killed by the Huks.

His graduation coincided with the Japanese occupation so he returned to Arayat. After a short stint at the Araneta Law Office, in the company of lawyer Claudio Teehankee, he put his own law office. He got a break when Roman Santos (from Apalit) engaged his legal services. Santos, the founder of Prudential Bank was in fishing, insurance and banking.

In 1952, the good-looking Mel married a kabalen, Blanca Medina. On their honeymoon in the US, he visited Harvard. He decided to enroll there and finished his Master of Laws.

In 1957, the Poor Man from Lubao (Macapagal) and the Poor Boy from Arayat started the former’s plan to run for vice president. From then on, they were Batman and Robin. It came as no surprise that when Macapagal was elected President, the choice for Executive Secretary was Mel.

He was named as Ambassador to the United States from 1962-64 where he established connections with law schools like Southwestern Legal Foundation in Dallas, Texas.

Later, he fell out from the graces of Macapagal due to intrigues coursed thru the First Lady. With the election of Ferdinand Marcos, Mutuc and the Macapagal men left the government.

In 1989, “You will go to the United States”, Mel surprised me.

“But I don’t have a passport, much less a US visa”, I protested.

“You can get a passport in a week and I assure your admission to the United States with a Visitor’s Visa”, he said with a smile.

I got my passport in a week. In a hush, I got an acceptance letter from the Southwestern Legal Foundation (Dallas, Texas), courtesy of Mel.

It was my first trip outside the Philippines.

I love Mel Mutuc. He is a lawyer who changed the course of my life for better. Never be judgmental.


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