To be 71 and still feel like 17

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 19, 2021 - 12:00am

Today is the solemnity of the Feast of St. Joseph. It’s also the 71st birthday of Archbishop Jose Palma, the head of the biggest archdiocese in the Philippines. I have the honor of being born exactly on the same day, month, and year as him. If I had entered the religious life, as urged by our parish priest then, maybe I would now be a senior priest under his able leadership.

It wasn’t me who entered priesthood but my first cousin, Monsignor Rolando Jimenez, formerly the parish priest of Alcantara. His latest assignment was Carcar and Barili where his maternal roots are from. I previously wrote that Palma should have been cardinal by now because he deserves it and Cebu also deserves it especially this year, the 500th year of Philippine Christianity. The Cebu Archdiocese had always been headed by a cardinal, starting from Cardinal Julio Rosales, then Cardinal Ricardo Vidal. Cebu is the cradle of Philippine Christianity. This archdiocese is bigger than Metro Manila. As a layman, I don’t understand why the big congregation is denied representation in the College of Cardinals. Anyway, that’s the prerogative of the Pope and I don’t want to belabor that point again.

Today is our birthday and we thank God for all the blessings upon Palma and myself also, even as I am a sinner and an unworthy member of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I am blessed with a wife of 43 years, and we have five well-behaved children, also fine Catholics and faithful Christians. They are all college graduates and have been properly educated in good and reputable Catholic schools. Four of my children are married and all of them have their own homes and stable jobs. I have four healthy and vivacious grandchildren and one more coming this month. Thanks be to the Lord.

At 71, I am teaching in the college of law of four universities, 24 units every semester even during this pandemic, albeit online. I’m writing a daily column, without fail. From February to December last year, I completed and published 10 books on labor laws, HR text and reference books, and Bar reviewers. My eldest son, also a lawyer, is my co-author. I conduct a free Bar review every Friday for Law students of my alma mater, UV, who are taking the Bar come November. I’m also an arbitrator authorized by DOLE and NCMB to hear and decide labor disputes. And I have a hearing every day. I have many corporate and individual clients and also very active in the People Management Association of the Philippines, as well as my latest baby the Movement for Organizational Justice, with my partner Freddie Marquez. I’m a lay minister in our parish and a member of the Knights of Columbus. I’m also active in the marriage encounter movement under Ateneo's Magis Deo Community. My age is 71 but my work schedule is for a 17-year-old.

I feel young because I’m able to accomplish many things. I help my relatives and friends quite frequently in our hometown. I also gave seminars to LGU leaders in both Ronda, my mother’s hometown, and Dumanjug where my late father came from. I get in touch constantly with my siblings in Washington, and constantly communicate with my cousins in other US states. I’m always busy and have no time to be depressed or to fret over small matters. The year before COVID-19 I travelled my wife and daughter to many countries in Europe. Then we visited the USA, saw Broadway once more in New York, traveled to Las Vegas to see my cousins in the casinos, and visited my father before he left for good, in Federal Way, Washington. We stayed in San Francisco and had a side trip to Lake Tahoe, Silicon Valley, Stockton, Sacramento and LA. Life is beautiful.

I have retired from San Miguel, Pepsi, Petron, and UE where I taught for 35 years as Law professor. I retired from DOLE as Undersecretary after 20 years working as a public servant and labor diplomat to Malaysia, Kuwait, and Taiwan. I have retired many times over but I will never retire from life. Retired means re-tired, having been given new tires. I have miles and miles to travel, before I shall face my final journey back to the Father who waits for another prodigal son. I think I will meet Cardinal Jose Palma in the House of our Father, but not yet.

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