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angel on earth
























(photo credits: thank you so much, Atty. Lisle Wadingan)


I still vividly remember the euphoria, that indescribable joy when I learned, on the evening of my birthday no less, that I passed the 2000 Bar Examinations.  Little did I know that that joy and victory was only the beginning, nothing compared to the rest of the surprises and learning experiences I will have as time goes by.

The morning after the bar exam results came out, I received a phone call from Atty. Rene Rondez, one of the best professors I had in law school and among the nicest teachers I had in my academic life, offering me a spot in their very prestigious law firm, then still known as the Law Firm of Rondez Rondez and Gandeza.  I did not hesitate, and jumped right in.  It would be foolish to consider any other alternative.

It was unnerving, being in the company of these bigwigs in the field, and for the first few months of my law career it felt like I was more of a liability than an asset – being new and practically untrained in legal practice, and within the first year of my being an associate, pregnant with my second child. Nonetheless in my five years with the firm I never got the feeling of being unwelcomed, or being unwanted, or treated as a burden.  In fact, I was embraced and loved like a member of the family and to this day still get invited to its gatherings and functions.

It broke my heart to learn of Atty. Teofisto Rondez’s death early evening of Sunday, the 24th.  In the course of eulogies, write-ups, posts and conversations we would hear about his life lived fully and about all the achievements of a great man: an outstanding lawyer, a great public servant, a major participant in many activities and organizations, an excellent educator, among others.  I recognize him as such, but I actually know him as so much more.  Sir Teop was none of the stern, grim, hard-hearted senior partners we see in a lot of John Grisham novels, legal thriller movies or courtroom dramas.  He came to the office very early in the morning and often sat in the conference room poring over case files, but however busy he might seem, he would always look up, smile and ask how I was, and oftentimes make conversation about anything and everything, enough to make my day.  He had the sweetest grey eyes that were always smiling, and when he conversed with you it felt like everything you say was of great consequence to him.  He made you feel cared for that way.  Even after I had been appointed to my current post, there were times when he would drop by and check on some papers, although I knew he had staff to do that.  One time when I told him he could just call and I would gladly send over photocopies, he said he also wanted to visit and check out how I was doing.

In my five years with the firm, he always went out of his way to be nice.  He was very pleasant not only to us in the office but to all his clients and acquaintances.  I had never heard him get mad or upset, and whether he was talking to Baguio’s top businessmen or the simplest of laborers, his tone would always be nice, respectful, pleasant.  Even in the number of times he came to SEC he would greet the boys as though they were long lost friends.

They say you cross paths with people in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  My life with the firm may have been for a short period, but people like Sir Teop are meant to stay in my heart for a lifetime.  I had seen him with his wife, his kids, his grandkids, his clients, his friends, his acquaintances.  I had seen him with office staff, and with strangers from all walks of life.  He was one of the best people I had crossed paths with in my life.  More than anything, he had given me the lesson of kindness, of patience, of being a blessing to others, whether they be close to you, or strangers.  He never had an air of superiority, never insulted others, never shut his door.

The painful thing about his demise is that having gotten caught up with the busyness of life and affairs, it feels like I have not fully expressed my gratitude to him for having touched my life with the blessing of his friendship and genuine care, for which I am forever grateful.  Although he probably never knew that particularly, I know that his good heart and kindness had been rewarded with a blissful marriage, a loving wife, equally kindhearted and successful children, loving grandkids, and people who will always cherish his memory, and that he had been blessed with a life lived to the fullest.

Thank you, Sir Teof, heaven has gained an angel who needs no transition, as you had always been an angel on earth.


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