I HAVE always wanted to be a lawyer, despite what Dante Alighieri wrote in his book Divine Comedy that lawyers come first in the ring of fire. In a weekend column written by Attorney Atlee Viray, he made a roll call of the bar members who prominently became president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Many are still alive and still in active practice. Many already passed away, and I presume they are still debating why they went ahead. Some of them may be filing a motion to the Lord to reconsider if they can be back to earth.
Now let's get back why I wasn't able to attend law school. It was 1960 I went to the registrar office and I was informed that the pre-law course students overshot the number already. The next best thing for me was to enroll at the College of Philosophy and Letters and planned to finish the course and pursue the law degree later. In the class by virtue of seating arrangement I was seated beside Adelaido Rivera a fellow from Mabalacat. Rivera didn't stay long in the Philets class but shifted to the law degree and became one of Pampanga's top litigation attorney. He partnered with his nephew Willie Rivera and both became the most sought attorneys by both moneyed and non-paying clients. (Willie is the legal counsel of the Lazatins and businessman Delfin Lee). Me, I enjoyed being a writer and earning my keeps in Metro Manila by the payments I earned from my published articles. I deferred my childhood ambition.
In 1967, I was appointed public information officer of the late City Mayor Eugenio N. Suarez. It was during my stint at city hall where I became friends to several lawyers that will include lawyers Alfredo Pineda, Juanito Velasco, Celestine Ocampo, Conrado Del Rosario Jr., Rene Romero, Reynaldo Suarez, Jesus Arceo, Restituto Mercado and Alberto Suller. They formed the legal circle of Mayor Suarez.They are no longer around. But in their time they were regarded as top lawyers.
Before them the attorneys in Pampanga whom clients oftentimes saw on courtrooms were Filemon Cajator, Moises Sevilla Ocampo, Conrad Del Rosario Sr., Lorenzo Navarro and Salvador Lising among others. There were also lawyers who didn't do much practice but were successful anyway in some fields. Attorney Rogelio Z. Bangsil only attended to one client and after unsuccessful litigation he went into hotel and casino business. Atty. Ric Ma Ocampo was successful in trading, hotel and lending business. Lawyer Ner L.S. Biag Jr. and Ernesto JQ Quitalig dabbled in property development business, Severino Reyes of Porac joined the Department of Public Works and Highways as head of the agency's legal division.
There were also lawyers who became politicians. Lawyer Francisco Buan Jr. aka Arlene made an unsuccessful run against Tarzan Lazatin in the 1987 congressional race. However his older brother Attorney Lorenzito Buan was elected city councilor in 1988. Another lawyer, Charlie Sandico also was elected in the council in that same year. Before them there was the young lawyer Rafael Del Rosario who bested his uncle Manuel Abad Santos in the mayoral elections in the late fifties. And of course not to be forgotten were husband and wife Francisco G. Nepomuceno and Juanita Lumanlan who were in the political limelight for many years.