Having standards
FIGHTING WORDS - Kay Malilong-Isberto (The Freeman) - February 6, 2013 - 12:00am

The news of her passing left me feeling melancholic the morning I found out. University of the Philippines College of Law Professor Araceli T. Baviera, 93 years old, died on February 1, 2013. I thought that her death marked the end of an era at the college. Some students would never get the chance to claim that their teacher taught at the college for over fifty years.

Prof. Baviera was my teacher in Civil Law Review, an optional subject I took on my last semester in law school. There were very few choices for electives at that time and signing up for her class meant getting a good schedule that allowed me to get home by mid-afternoon. I was warned to sit in front since she spoke softly and did not want to use a microphone. I did and spent the semester awed by how one person could know so much about the Civil Code (including side stories on who was responsible for certain provisions). I also wondered what it was about teaching that made her go on doing so way past her retirement age. At that time, she was in her late seventies and I marveled at how sharp she continued to be.

It came as a shock that two days later, another UP Law fixture would pass on. Professor Domingo P. Disini, who jokingly described himself as my competitor in the hunt for good second-hand books, was my block’s beloved Labor Law teacher for two semesters. To this day, I think of him on all holidays after our section spent one meeting futilely guessing the reason for extra pay for working on holidays. It was always like that in his class: he kept asking us why the law was crafted that way. Memorizing legal provisions seemed secondary, almost unimportant (except during exam time, of course).

Prof. Disini was also my model for kindness. Even when we disappointed him with our less than stellar scores in his exams, he was still very gentle when he spoke.  The only time I remember him looking flustered was when one of the staffers of a TV drama being shot outside our classroom knocked on our door and told him to keep it quiet since the camera would capture the noise.  Our class erupted in laughter after that interruption.

I think of Prof. Baviera and Prof. Disini and feel grateful that I was their student. They always knew what they were talking about and unlike with some teachers, I do not recall a single day when I thought they were just fibbing in class. More importantly, years after we left law school, we never forgot the lessons they taught us. Since they always emphasized the reason for the law, we always saw the bigger picture.

I imagine I will teach in law school someday. It will not be anytime soon because Prof. Baviera and Prof. Disini set my standards very high as to what a good law school teacher should be. I just know that when that time comes, my students will be assured that I did not read the assignment only a few hours before class, I will be reading their answers in their exams, and I will not let them pass if they do not understand the reason why a law is crafted a certain way.

***

Email: lkemalilong@yahoo.com

BAVIERA BAVIERA AND PROF CIVIL CODE CIVIL LAW REVIEW DISINI LABOR LAW LAW PROF PROFESSOR DOMINGO P UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW PROFESSOR ARACELI T
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