Dean Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan, II and Associate Dean Solomon F. Lumba
U.P. College of Law
How can you add gold to the sunset, said Justice Holmes. Sometimes, words just aren’t enough. But even though the deepest feelings often seem unremarkable when expressed in language, there are still those precious moments when we just have to take a chance and hazard to articulate what is best said unspoken in the hope that the words will echo on long after our voices have been silenced.
Yesterday, 11 October 2021, one of those times came to pass when the sun set on one of our guiding lights, Professor Ruben Figueroa Balane. He was a renaissance of a man – a polyglot with seven languages under his belt, a keen linguist, an award-winning legal scholar and writer of English prose, a proud product of the Jesuit system, mentored by the great civilist J.B.L. Reyes, and widely regarded as the foremost living exponent of the civil law tradition in the country. To learn at his feet is like playing pick-up with Michael Jordan. It never is just another game because the feel is totally different.
Professor Balane’s brilliant scholarship lives on through his written works and the numerous legal practitioners of today who were fortunate to have learned the foundations and nuances of civil law from him. Consulted and cited by no less than the Supreme Court, he was a towering figure in the legal academe as his work resonated even among those who did not get to know him as a teacher.
In his last few years, he helped build a continuing exchange between Filipino and European legal scholars and institutions. This exchange has resulted in cooperative efforts, the results of which are already being felt in the country’s legal education system.
For those who got to know him well, his scholarly legacy is equaled by the legacy of friendships he nurtured through the years. Professor Balane touched many lives because of his fervor for teaching and compassionate nature, but he also had a penchant for becoming a larger part of our lives because of his zeal for growing and enjoying friendships.
But while his seat at the table is now empty, his place in our hearts will always be full. For he touched our lives in a way that a candle lights another candle because neither light is diminished in any way. Now, it is our turn to pick up the torch and hold it aloft to honor his memory as he once did for those that came before him and paved the way.
Our dear Professor, once upon a time we asked, what does it mean to be a great lawyer? Quoting from the Institutes, you answered, “To live honestly; To injure no one; To give every man his due.” El Maestro, wherever we may go, whatever we may be, true to your legacy we will always be.