September 25, 2023

(Editors’ note: The Midland Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on July 27, 2008.)

That Regional Trial Court judge who embarrassed a legal practitioner appearing before him by claiming that they are not equal because the rather boastful magistrate is a graduate of the University of the Philippines while the lawyer was not, is not really an isolated case, but does in fact happen in everyday life.
UP graduates consider themselves a notch above the rest, a feeling you get to acquire if you study in the UP.
This is not personal to the UP graduate – it is what UP makes him feel, a kind of school pride that borders on the intellectual.

I therefore see no reason why the lawyer should be offended by the judge’s remarks if he truly is intelligent.
He could have just brushed off the alleged insult, and come to the conclusion that the judge can only be pathetic and should be pitied instead of cursed.
The trouble with graduates of other Law schools is that they refuse to acknowledge the fact that – strictly and factually speaking – the UP and the Ateneo are the two best Law schools in the country today.
Of course, just because a lawyer finishes his studies at the UP does not make him a better lawyer than a provincial graduate, as many lawyers not from the UP will claim.
But let’s face it, these guys are better than us, and even if I graduated cum laude from Law school, I will certainly be intimidated by a lawyer who graduated from UP, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stand up to him.
The trouble with most provincial lawyers, however, is that they will stand up to anybody with nothing but guts, and any judge who knows his business will see through the bluff.

But even within the UP itself, there is discrimination.
Diliman students and graduates look down on UP graduates from the UP branches – UP Iloilo, UP Baguio, UP Clark, UP Los Baños, and even graduates of UP Manila.
In so far as they are concerned the only UP is UP Diliman.
And unlike in elite schools, the rich will not survive a semester in UP if they look down upon the rest.
In all probability, these snobs will be driven off the campus.
In the UP, there is little respect for money or position, only brains.
In one University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) game for example, students from an elite school (there are only two in the UAAP, Ateneo and La Salle), jeered at the UP students, screaming, “yong tuition ninyo, allowance lang namin” and the UP students snapped back, “yong finals niyo, quiz lang namin.”
The only people UP students defer to are the scholars and their professors.
Even in the UP Law school there is also discrimination.
The UP evening Law students in UP Padre Faura – at least at the time I was there – considered by the Diliman Law students as not exactly UP Law.

And how do I know all these?
I hate to admit it, but I spent three semesters in Diliman, two in UP Manila, and another two semesters and two summers in UP Baguio, long enough to obtain a college degree.
Unfortunately, all I have to show for all the time I studied in UP is a measly 66 units, good enough for at least for an AA (Associate in Arts) certificate, but which were no longer being handed out by the university.
But get this – the UP, allowing inexcusable discrimination, cited Diosdado Macapagal, an AA certificate holder and not a UP graduate, as a UP most outstanding alumnus.
Why? Because Diosdado Macapagal was President of the Philippines at that time.

My UP record is as colorful as the rainbow. I had grades of 1.5 (under poetess Virgie Moreno, under “terror” Prof. Bonifacio, and under Prof. Mamon, who gave out 1.5s like giving away candies) also under Profs. Ruby and Tessie, single ladies, 2, 2.75, 3, 4 (low pass), and 5 (failure), dropped and exempted.
I was not kicked out, but I left the UP with an honorable dismissal (I would not have been accepted in Saint Louis University otherwise), but in so far as UP graduates are concerned, not finishing your studies at the UP is practically the same as being kicked out.
Can’t say I blame them. But in SLU, the school I transferred to, I only had grades in the high 80s and 90s, finishing my Law course with honors.
How does one explain that? As my wife, Minda, a retired Psychology professor and UP Diliman graduate herself asserts, I couldn’t mix my studies and good time, there being more good times than studies, and in the UP, it should be the other way ‘round. In fact, others shelve the good time for four years, especially in Law school.

But that is all water under the bridge, and no matter what my Alma Mater and other Law schools say, UP, and to an almost equal degree, the Ateneo, are the only best Law schools in the country.
Close all other Law schools (except the University of the Cordilleras maybe) and the passing rate in the Bar will jump to 80 or 90 percent, even 100 percent.
More important, the practice of Law will be more competitive and academic, and there will be no more nonsense arguments that oftentimes cause delay in the proceedings.
Maybe even the back court practice will be lessened – if not intensify, however.
One thing likely, the practice of Law will become a noble profession.
Today, there are too many lawyers and only a few good ones – both in mind and heart.
Alas, I also know of a UP lawyer and his partners practicing here who posture themselves as paragons of virtue, but are only too quick to swim in the mud when big money beckons.
I think it’s what the wigwag boys call the Bayanihan spirit.
When in Rome, do as the Romeros do.