Frank Chavez, 66

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

Frank Ibrado Chavez, one of the country’s colorful litigation lawyers, passed away Saturday from a stroke.

Frank, a nattily dressed practitioner,  is well remembered not only by his well-to-do clients, but also by struggling journalists whom he defended for free, journalists who were besieged with libel suits during the Marcos regime. I was one of those journalists.

Frank was born in Bateria, Sagay, Negros Occidental on Feb. 6, 1947. Frank obtained a bachelor of laws, cum laude, from the University of the Philippines in 1971. He was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines for law and human rights. He served as the youngest Solicitor General from 1987 to 1992 during the term of President Corazon Aquino. He was a founding partner of the Chavez Miranda Aseoche Law Offices, and  founder of Operation Clean Hands, Inc., an anti-corruption association of lawyers. Records show him as a master in the art of litigation, contributing 70 cases to Philippine jurisprudence through decisions promulgated by the Supreme Court.

Among Attorney  Chavez’s numerous distinctions is the “Tribune of the People,” a lifetime achievement award given by the National Union of People’s Lawyers and the Senate minority bloc led by Senators  Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., Manuel B. Villar and Francis Pangilinan. The conferment was in recognition of his unwavering fight for nearly 40  years for freedom, justice, human rights, honesty in government service and constitutional advocacy — espousing public interest cases and the cause of the poor, the needy and the oppressed.

Among the prominent personalities who wrote about Frank when he was wowing attendees with his dramatic style and mastery of facts at  court hearings was the late Telecommunication Undersecretary Josie Lichauco. She wrote, “There are other fascinating facets to the Chavez persona, but I am certain one phase of his life from which he has drawn great strength were those days when, as a student, due to lack of finances, he was unable to purchase a single law textbook but still managed to graduate cum laude; when, as a self-supporting student he worked as a printing press proofreader; and before this, in 1967, as a student demonstrator, with fortunately an avocado tree nearby. While in hiding with his compatriots, he survived on avocados for a couple of days.”

Frank wrote a novel, Blighted, a searing social commentary on the state of the nation. A good friend of Frank, newspaper editor Letty J. Magsanoc, wrote a comment on the book’s back cover.  She said:

“It is at a blighted hotel that we are introduced to the book’s first blighted characters, a judge and a lawyer who transact their corrupt deal in the toilet. The author Frank Chavez sure gets right to where the dirt is. And he digs up dirt again and again to chronicle the pervasive culture of corruption in all departments of the national and local governments, the corporate world down to the grassroots and the family.

“Chavez minces no words to denounce scandal after scandal under the Arroyo administration. This is a monumental reference book for a detailed summary of alleged massive corruption under the present dispensation.

Only in the Philippines!

“Using story-telling tools and Socratic, didactic devices, the narrative is as timely as today’s headlines and as timeless as the values of clean, disciplined honest government for, by and of the people.”

 My own comment in the same book was this:

“Frank Chavez has assumed another role — from that of fiery trial lawyer defending journalists beleaguered with libel suits during the martial law years, to that of controversial Solicitor General, and then, to sensitive novelist. In Blighted, he makes his searing commentary on the present state of affairs in his hapless country that he loves so well, damning corruption and abuse of the poor by the rich and powerful, law enforcers, and members of the judicial courts. It is a travelogue, courtroom drama, a series of lectures on the political-social condition and on convoluted minds and temperaments rolled into one. The novel does not bank on sexual undertones but on harsh realities to draw readers’ attention. That Frank Chavez would turn to the novel as his genre for truth-telling makes us the better for it.”

Frank is survived by his wife Jean and three daughters, Katrina, a dentist, a graduate of UCLA in the US; Stephanie, a lawyer from UP, and Ingrid, a graduate in fashion merchandising and brand management in Milan, Italy.

 Farewell, dear Frank. Many will remember your kind deeds.

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The last week of August has been traditionally celebrated by Soroptimist International of the Philippines Region (SIPr) as Soroptimist Week. This is held to  honor the pioneering efforts of its founder, Mariquita S. Castelo. Last month, the Mariquita S. Castelo Centennial Leadership Award was given to three Soroptimists “whose life work  exemplifies  the virtues and commitments of Ms. Castelo: volunteerism, concern for the situation of disadvantaged women, and outstanding leadership.”

From among 36 nominees and 15 semi-finalists, three were judged outstanding Soroptimists  for 2013. They are Belen Lim-Cecilio, charter president of SI Cabanatuan, first place ;  Linda Villaluz Luciano   of SI Sta. Maria, Bulacan, second place, and Isabel Suiza Diquiaco, a member of SI Caloocan City, third place.

Under the leadership of Belen Lim-Cecilio, SI Cabanatuan received a total of 22 awards from SIPR. She herself garnered more than 43 awards from the Wheel Clubs of the Philppines, the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, and the Mother Butler Guild.

Linda Villaluz Luciano,  was a teacher for 14 years, but she found time to guide her club in its various projects. Her impressive performance brought prestige and distinction to SI Sta. Maria, which recently joined the Hall of Fame of the Region as Most Outstanding Club for three consecutive terms.

Isabel Suiza Diquiaco , a Soroptimist for nearly 25 years, is a science teacher who pioneered in teaching functional literacy with a livelihood approach as strategy. Her landmark achievement is the Supplemental Feeding and Mother Approach Project, which fed 200 malnourished children for ten months while the mothers were taught how to cook and feed their children with nutritious food. The project was awarded first place by SIA in its Celebrating Success Program.

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My email:[email protected] 
















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