It was Malaya reporter Jiji de Vera's status update on Facebook that got me to hunting for news about Judy Lardizabal the Philippine Bar topnotcher for 2008.
My first reaction was, why aren't we all agog about engineers, doctors, or nurses that top licensure exams? In a country that already has too many lawyers (bar passers and amateurs all together), why hail the feat of this particular topnotcher?
The rest of Jiji's status update said that Lardizabal, unlike other Bar topnotchers, had chosen to work for the government (particularly the Office of the Solicitor General).
Among government offices, perhaps, this is one where there is no pretension of what it is supposed to do and that is to represent the government in court. This is unlike the Department of Justice under Secretary Raul Gonzales and the Office of the Ombudsman under Merciditas Gutierrez. The DOJ and Ombudsman ought to be serving the interests of the people but are clearly there to serve the interests of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as road blocks to justice and stonewalls against corruption charges.
Anyway, in the on-line news reports I've read so far, it says that Lardizabal comes from a humble background too. Throughout her law studies, she worked for the National Irrigation Authority. Her father is a tricycle driver (not a padyak driver) and her mother is a sari-sari store operator.
It is certainly a great story to tell, not exactly "from the mud to the stars" but certainly proof that if you study hard enough, work hard enough, and pray hard enough you can fulfill your dreams. Perhaps, you could also say that Lardizabal's choosing to work in a government office may be a sign of patriotism -- at least, I'd like to see it this way -- because very few people can truly be called patriots these days.
Here's something for Better Philippines to pick at and I hope he reads this.
We normally hear our politicians exhort that they love the Philippines and some even cry because the feelings of love are apparently too much. But really?! Perhaps they love it so much because they steal so much from it. Would they say the same thing if they were dirt poor, hungry, dying of some undiagnosed malady, and living out what remains of their life under a bridge?
Anyway, I'll take my momentary gains and squeeze as much good feeling as I can from Lardizabal's story. We need stories like her to keep us going and keep us hoping that perhaps we can still change this country for the better.