By Ace Alvarez
This post is dedicated to my lovely and loving niece, Pipay Baltazar Alvarez, who, from time to time, when I would be busy and away from the social media, do leave me private messages to say hello and that she misses “my thoughts on everyday life.” Pipay wrote, “Messages … that you share on the wall inspire my everyday life.”
The last time I saw Pipay was sometime back in the early 80s. She was very young then. She wrote to me once, “my respect to you is so high as my dad’s brother. I love you (and the rest of my uncles from my dad’s side), even if I did not regularly saw you as I was growing up, I know that you are part of my life.”
Friends, here is an anecdote that I am sharing with you for the lessons that you may derive from this narration:
When Manuel L. Quezon was the president of what was then the Commonwealth of the Philippines, he dropped by one day at the University of the Philippines, proceeded to the office of Claro M. Recto — described as one of the foremost statesmen of his generation and likewise considered as “the finest mind of the their generation”. Recto was said to ably mold the mind of his contemporaries and succeeding generations through his speeches and writings — a skill described by Filipino writer and television host, Manuel L. Quezon III, as “only excelled by Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Manuel L. Quezon III, is the grandson of the Commonwealth of the Philippines President.
At the time then President Quezon arrived at the university, Recto was teaching a class.
Quezon sent Recto’s secretary to fetch him.
Quezon waited until Recto came, a good one hour after.
When Recto showed up at the door of his office, Quezon said, “I have been waiting for you. You kept the President of the Philippines waiting for one hour? Does it not matter to you that you’re wasting the time of no less than the President of this country?”
Recto replied: “Those students have paid this institution to learn. They came today, expecting to learn something; and I was there, to give them what was due to them.”
Quezon abruptly said, “Do you know that I can fire you from your teaching job here?”
Recto replied, “Since you are now sitting on my chair behind my desk, there’s no more need for you to do that, Mr. President.
“Now, if you may just excuse me for a second. I just need to pull the drawer and get something.”
Recto pulled inside a piece of paper, put it on top of the table, drew out his pen, signed the document and placed it in front of the Philippine President.
“What is this?” Quezon asked.
“It’s my letter of resignation for my teaching job here, Mr. President,” at the same time turning his back away from Quezon and walked toward the door.
The Philippine President called, “Mr. Recto, you have forgotten one thing.”
“What is it, Mr. President?”
“You forgot that a resignation must be accepted in order to be effective. I have not accepted your resignation, Mr. Recto.”
Recto turned back and both of them shared a good laughter.
I do not even remember from among whom my university professors that I heard this anecdote from more than 30 years ago, but what were vivid to me were the lessons on pride, prudence, humility, usurpation of authority and other human values that I learned from such anecdote that, similarly, as described by my niece Pipay Baltazar Alvarez, guided me in my “everyday life”.
For example, I observed the lesson from the story on the human value of prudence in that during the last recent years from succession of presidents in one organization I was involved in and having served as their First Vice President, I never sat behind the desk of the organization President whenever I would drop by and pay a visit at the office. This was in respect to the authority vested legally on the person of whoever sat as the president of that organization. Madam Isa Tugadi could attest to this fact.
I share with you the same in my capacity as a journalist and writer, of what I believe is part of my moral obligation to pass this on to others if only to contribute to a better society.
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