MANILA, March 16, 2006 (STAR) C‘EST CEBU By Honey Jarque Loop - Hilario G. Davide Jr., the retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, was recently honored with a heartwarming testimonial dinner graciously hosted by Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and the Provincial Government of Cebu at the Grand Social Hall of the Capitol.

Davide, a Cebuano, is recognized and respected by many for his multiple roles and achievements through the years, starting as a private secretary to Cebu Governor Francisco Remotigue. He soon founded his own law office while serving as a law professor at Southwestern University. Active in professional organizations such as the Philippine Bar Association and Citizens Legal Aid Society, his rise to public stature began in November 1970 when he was elected delegate of the Fourth District of Cebu to the Constitutional Convention.

In 1988, President Corazon Aquino appointed him as chairman of the Commission of Election, and years later was chosen as chairman of the Presidential Fact-Finding Commission, which was created after the nation was rocked by a series of coup attempts.

In 1998, he was elevated as the 20th Chief Justice of the Philippines upon the retirement of then Chief Justice Andres Narvasa.

Having said all these, there is only one person who can truly describe Hilario Davide Jr. as a man. Her name is Virginia Perez Davide, a lady who has shared her life with him for 43 years, and bore him five diligent children. Originally from Surigao, she came to Cebu to study at the University of San Carlos, graduating with a bachelors degree and later working at the University of The Philippines College Cebu, where she earned a masters degree in public management. She briefly worked in the office of then Governor Remotigue where she met her Jun, as he is fondly called.

With her kind permission allow me to paraphrase the highlights from the foreword of her book, An Exemplary Life, which is a tribute to her loving husband, published on the occasion of his 70th birthday and retirement as Chief Justice of the Philippines on Dec. 20, 2005.

"The compass of the private world of Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. is simple and abiding.

"The family is most important to him. He derives so much joy at seeing the family together, whether eating at home or dining out, singing or just conversing, and watching the grandchildren show their talents and antics. It has always been clear to him that in all of life’s changes and adversities, it is a strong family that, united in faith in God, can be depended upon.

"The garden is a precious part of his personal world. He finds in his plants a source of solace and pride. Gardening is his way perhaps of shedding off accumulated and unwanted stress.

" As he sometimes says, ‘Plants are better than people, they bloom for you, adorn your surroundings and give you peace and quiet.’ Unlike plants, ‘people argue with you and sometimes make life miserable for you.’

"God is the center of his life. It is no secret that he finds strength in his daily morning Bible reading. He has been blessed by God and loved by Him. God has endowed him with gifts and virtues he has been able to share with his country and humanity. Faith continues to give him hope in the Filipino’s capacity to rise above the challenges of our national life. His optimism is inspiring. He believes that an optimistic person is empowered by faith, stimulated by hope and sustained by confidence.

"Long after Hilario G. Davide Jr. retires as the highest magistrate of the land on 20 December 2005, we will all remember him simply as Jun Davide, a man who found meaning in his life and, through dedicated work and a quiet courage, shared it with others. Our hope is that he may continue to touch more lives, especially the youth, and bring out the best in them in the service of God, country and fellowmen."

Yes, Virginia Perez Davide, as there is a Santa Claus, there is a man named Hilario G. Davide Jr. who most certainly will.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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