Dear friends: The lack of fresh content on these pages is the consequence of my taking a new position as executive director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. I hope to be able to provide fresh, thought-provoking content again soon!
Nov 23rd, 2011 by Gideon Strauss
I have asked several guest bloggers to tell us what they love, and to briefly respond to the SIX big questions. Our fourth guest blogger, Romel Regalado Bagares, is the Executive Director for the Manila-based Center for International Law, a non-profit engaged in strategic human rights litigation. He also lectures in public and private international law at the Lyceum Philippines University College of Law. Romel’s personal blog is at http://sanpedrostreet.wordpress.com/ . This is the final of six contributions.
It’s a thought drilled from day one into the consciousness of students at the University of the Philippines that they’re the iskolar ng bayan – scholars of the people – and they ought to make the most out of their privileged education by being of service to the nation. My friends and I would often joke about this as our “historical burden” but we know at the back of our minds that so much of what we are was shaped by our public education. I feel the strong pull of this idea. Perhaps, it was this idea in the first place that led me take up journalism as a profession right after university and then eight years later, law.
I tried my very best to fulfill my obligations to my family as an eldest child while working in a profession that, as Pete Hamill said in his book News Is a Verb, does not pay well wherever you go. It was a wonder how I managed to do that while sending myself to evening classes in law school. I think of what I now do as a lawyer engaged in strategic public interest litigation for the Center for International Law as my way of paying it forward. For me, this somehow coincides with what I believe should be my response to God’s call to service, that the Christian faith must have a public expression that helps one’s neighbor. Of course I do recognize that at some other point of my life God may call me to a different expression of service to others. For now this is where I am. But this is something that my parents do not quite understand although I know they mean well. I’ve had arguments – and still have arguments – with my father about this.
[Note on the photograph: This photograph was taken on November 24, 2009, after oral arguments in a case where Romel and his colleagues represented residents of the Philippine island of Palawan, in their claim for a rightful share in the utilization of oil and gas resources found off the island's coast by the national government.]