Sunday, October 12, 2014

Initial Law Practice and Governor Jose Zulueta

From a personal account of the late Raul M. Gonzalez:

As a budding member of the Bar, I continued to refine my knowledge especially about the procedures and rules of court.  My time spent in the academe as a lecturer of law subjects gave me the opportunity to hone my knowledge of the craft, the many intricacies of Philippine jurisprudence, and the application and interpretation of various edicts.  As much as I loved teaching, there came a time when I had much less luxury to attend to its rudimentary demands.  The call for me to give priority to the practice of law had become clear in my mind. 

I first signed up with the law firm Syquia and Francisco, and after a few years, I had the confidence to go on my own.  My circle of friends in Manila comprised Ilonggos who encouraged me to go solo, and I tapped their enthusiastic support now and then.  My uncle, Feliciano Gonzalez, was chairman of the Board of Censors, a precursor of today’s Movie and Television Ratings and Classification Board (MTRCB), and he invited me to join him as his secretary.          

I also worked with Dr. Manuel Buenafe of the Bureau of Census who recruited me for an advisory position.  It was merely an honorary post but it looked good on my resume, a welcome break for a neophyte.  It was a door that opened other doors of opportunity, and before my Census job was finished, I received another offer, taking me to the next level.

Gov. Jose C. Zulueta (1889-1972) of Iloilo was already in his twilight years as a political leader.  An astute politician respected by his opponents, he was a pillar of strength and a guiding light for the Liberal Party.  During the Pacific War, he was a member of the Executive Committee under the supervision of the Japanese, and he was accused of collaboration with the enemy.  After being cleared of the stigma, he was elected again as Congressman of the 1st district of Iloilo, and was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1945.  He had served as a member of the national legislature since 1928.

At the invitation of President Manuel Roxas, Zulueta assumed in 1946 his former post as Secretary of the Department of the Interior, and promptly clashed with rebel groups known as the HUKBALAHAP.  Afterwards, he was elected to the Senate in 1951, and became Senate President in 1953.  After the end of his Senate term in 1957, he ran and won as governor of the province of Iloilo in 1959.

His name resounded in the halls of power since his youthful days not only in Iloilo but on a national level.  Zulueta was a political force to reckon with, and as governor he recruited me as his protégé.  It was a learning opportunity and a productive relationship.  Zulueta used to give me valuable tips and advice that helped me steer out of troublesome waters in the world of political intrigues.  Best of all, he drilled me in the art of statesmanship.  Our collaboration was short but well-spent, memorable and fulfilling. 

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