By J. Mar Del Castillo
I met Justice Ruben T. Reyes fairly recently when I was appointed to
the Court of Appeals – in August 2001. He was then a
chairman of a division and, as with all ambitious chairmen, the top
post of being the Presiding Justice then riveted his
gaze. But of course, he eyed every vacancy in the Supreme Court and
after several missed attempts, he settled for the CA Pjship in
In August this year, by one stroke of luck,
the heavens opened for him – and he has Justice Greg
Ong’s “natural-born” issue
to thank. In his case, the true-blue Bulakeño has
worked, for no one can ever question his being natural born Pinoy
despite his Sri Lankan looks. And as the saying goes, the
heavens look down and favor those who persevere. If I can
describe the totality of his virtues in one word: it is PERSEVERANCE.
I don’t know why I am invited to give this speech in his
honor. When we are together, our colleages would tease us as
“Lone Ranger and Tonto,” but I leave it to you to decide
which is which. I really do not know where to begin to
describe this tall and dark man, with salt and pepper hair that gives
him the ‘dignified’ but ‘rugged’ look ala
George Clooney, or as in the local version – maginoo ngunit
were together for some time in the CA. At one time, he was my
chairman, with Justice Dacudao as our senior member, and I was the
junior member. He would often brag that we were the best
division members he ever had because he never had any problems
with us notwithstanding J. Dacudao’s headstrongness and
bullheadedness. I’d tag along with RTR for work-related
activities. I was with him for the inspection and
familiarization in CA Cebu and CA Cagayan de Oro; went
with him to Congress to lobby for the passage of our budget; went
even to the Hague, Netherlands with him to attend a crash course on
International Criminal Law; and was with him seven times
in Congress attending all the SONAs of the President, if only
to remind her that our honoree was an aspirant to the Supreme
Court! As for the unofficial activities – well I’d
rather not go into that as I invoke my right to privacy or right
being with this man several times, I more or less already
have an insight into this man’s mindset and character.
Although misunderstood by others for his loudness and seemingly
crazy ideas and sayings at times, Ruben is engaging and funny, and,
for the record, he means well in the things that he does
nagpapakatotoo lang siya – and I saw the goodness and the
man of mettle in him. A year ago, I barged into his office
complaining of chest pains. Upon seeing me with a distorted
face, he stood up, dropped everything he was doing and he immediately
adjourned the meeting of the department heads in the CA and forthwith
rushed me to the hospital. Days later, I survived the
quintuple heart by-pass operation. I’m grateful for the
attention and care he gave.
I’m speaking in front of him, this time in front of the
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. His eyeing on the
ultimate prize has finally paid off, a reward for his years of hard
work and vigor and passion and firmness on matters, be they
significant or petty. I speak before him as his brother in the
profession and as his concerned friend who believes in him.
Albeit unsolicited, consider my advice.
your decisions significant and far-reaching, for they will become
part of the laws of the land that will have a great impact on the
nation and the people. Make the SC proud by building a good
reputation and a great legacy – just do things right and do the
right things, for what you do now will echo in eternity. Like
the narra tree which you have planted near the gate of the CA, the
good things you’ll do for the Highest Court of the land will
grow and will long be remembered. A huge amount of work awaits
you (I understand 1000 inherited cases and counting), and it is up to
you to prove your detractors, wrong. Time is not on your side.
You have a little over a year to go before you leave the service.
So buckle down to work and maybe cut down on attending testimonials
in your honor and MCLEs for these are just distractions that will
dissipate your time and energy.
you get overwhelmed by all the seemingly insurmountable difficulties
of your office, bear in mind that a journey of a thousand miles must
begin with a single step, so choose each step very carefully.
finally, but more importantly, when you get swell-headed because of
the awesome powers of your office, remember the saying Sic
Transit Gloria Mundi – The glory of the world is
begin now, the challenges beckon you in the Supreme Court and may God
bless you always as well as all of us here.