November 30, 2023

Finally, the wait is over.
The vacancies in several of the salas of Baguio and Benguet courts were filled with able and competent judges who took their respective oaths sometime last week. Prominent among those is the new judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 8 of La Trinidad, Benguet who took his oath before Judge Jennifer Humiding. His name is Isagani Calderon, or should I say Judge Isagani Calderon.
Unlike other judges who built their careers with the judicial department and rose from the ranks to become magistrates, Judge Calderon is relatively new to the judiciary as this is his first assignment as a judge. This, though, does not make him less qualified. I think that he is very ripe for the position, and if there is one lawyer who deserves to be there, it is him. I know from whence I talk because I have personally seen and witnessed the meteoric rise of this humble man. Truth to tell, he was my student in much the same way that he is my friend.
Gani, as I call him, is an unassuming individual with quite a distinctive character. He has an inquisitive mind that is matched by his wit and humor. His jokes are as corny as those of the joker yet are undeniably entertaining. He may be unreasonably assertive at times but is brilliant in many respects. To say he is intelligent is an understatement. He is a born winner. The biggest joke is: the only reason why he did not graduate in the College of Law as a cum laude is because he got low grades under me. I hope he will not take it against me when I appear before him to try a case. Maybe, the opening statement I shall make when I see him in his robe is: “Your Honor, let us put the past behind us and see the future that lies ahead.” Ha, ha, ha.
I always knew that Gani was destined for greatness. The path he took and the accolades he garnered lead to no other conclusion. He completed his pre-Law at the University of the Philippines with the degree in Psychology. He took up Law at the University of the Cordilleras and after he graduated, aced the Bar.
He joined the law office of Atty. Franklin Calpito as a private practitioner until he put up his own law office. On the side, he was employed as a professor with the same university where he graduated. Currently, he is among the most loved faculty members because of his astute way of teaching. His motivational as well as his convincing skills are beyond compare. He has endeared himself to his students that they lavishly and tenderly call him “Jose,” an obvious reference to the great Malay hero Jose Rizal, a compliment to his intelligence, dedication, and brilliance.
Aside from being an attorney-at-law, Gani has a Masters degree in Law, conferred upon him by the San Beda College in Manila. I, too, was once enrolled in that course but had to drop owing to time constraints and the inability to cope up with rigors of an additional task. Yet, I can attest that during the short time that Gani and I were classmates, he stood out among the best.
Though Judge Calderon still calls me sir, the parity between us had long been overtaken. He has reached a pinnacle that even in my dreams I am incapable of attaining. Still, I am very happy for him, not only because he was my student but because I will no longer have to contend against him in several of my pending and future cases. You see, he and I had some skirmishes in court. Guess who always comes out smoking?
Nevertheless, Gani and I remain good friends in and out of the courts. Part of what I have achieved was due to his unselfish contributions. To cite an example, when I was president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet Chapter, he was my press relations officer. I credit him for singlehandedly convincing me and the Board of the necessity of continuing and completing the IBP People’s Building that was started by past officers of the IBP. Thus, was erected the edifice of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter.
Atty. Isagani Calderon is now a judge. It is well deserved; surely, a welcome development in the legal field; a judicial gain that is borne by necessity. I can only pray that once Gani dons the black robe, he remains the good natured, funny, and entertaining Gani that I know.
Of course, I do not expect any favors from him. I will understand if he will crucify me in his sala for not updating myself of the 2019 Rules on Civil Procedure. Neither do I expect any inhibitions from him because of what I revealed. After all, he is a fair man, one of the most decent human beings I am proud of. Only this time, I have to start calling him “Your Honor.”