To be 70 but feel 17 again
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 19, 2020 - 12:00am

Today is the birthday of Archbishop Jose Palma. He is 70 years old. It also happens, by coincidence, to be my birthday. We were born on the same day, the same month, and in the same year. I was almost recruited to become a priest. I was called, like him, but only the archbishop was chosen.

Today is also the solemnity of the feast of Saint Joseph, the Good Husband, the foster father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He was the one who mentored Jesus in his carpentry shop. He was the one who surreptitiously left Israel in the dead of the night and brought the child to Egypt, walking thousands of miles across the desert in order to save the child from the rage of Herod.

The archbishop and I are supposed to be good fathers, like Saint Joseph, he, with the biggest archdiocese of in the Philippines, being his spiritual family, and me with a wife and five children as my small Christian community. We were born under the sign of Pisces, and we are supposed to be faithful and loyal to our loved ones and friends. But we are deeply hurt when we are betrayed. We are also born in the year of the metal tiger. We are destined to lead and to occupy positions of importance. Well, I was just a barefoot boy from Argao, Ronda and Dumanjug, a school janitor in SWU and a court interpreter, who was given the grace of serving our country and people as DOLE undersecretary and labor arbiter, labor attache and is now an ASEAN travelling lecturer and speaker on comparative Asian labor laws, a law professor, author and bar reviewer.

Today, I do not feel old at all. I have done all that has to be done. I have written 28 books and many of them are being used by law students, lawyers and HR managers. I am still writing six more this year, including bar reviewers for those who are preparing for the bar exams. I have traveled to more than 100 countries, from Asia to America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, for the last 69 years of my life. I have visited all the 50 states of the US except only two, which I will complete after the COVID scare. I have lectured in Geneva, San Francisco, Beijing, Tokyo, Kuwait, Taiwan and Malaysia, in Indonesia, Bangkok, and in Brunei. I have visited the United Nations, the Vatican, the Holy Land, and about 37 countries in Europe. I have traveled to all the Middle East countries, and I lived in Kuwait, Kuala Lumpur and Taichung, Taiwan for a total of nine years.

What matters most, next to my prayer life and personal relationship with God, and my service to the church as a lay minister and as a Knight of Columbus, is that I have a family who stays together in good times and in bad. I sent all my children to UP, Ateneo, La Salle, UST, Don Bosco, Assumption and Montesorri and Golden Values. I am married to the same woman for 42 years. I am not a rich man but my wealth is in my loved ones. I will die a pauper with nothing, the same way I was born into this world. I was just a barrio boy from Langin, Ronda and a squatter in B. Rodriguez. But I have done all that had to be done. I worked hard. I never cheated. I kept my faith despite all the pains and hardships.

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