The $10,000 Car Ride
Good relations with strangers sometimes pay off
By Alex Pal –Dumaguete City
Founder’s day was one of those busy times at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City in August last year when law professor Mikhail Lee L. Maxino and his wife Inday saw visiting alumnus Rolando V. del Carmen. A distinguished professor of criminal justice at the Sam Houston University in Texas, Del Carmen was about to board a tricycle back to his hotel. Maxino called out to him, introduced himself and offered to drive him to his place. That was the last time they saw or heard each other. Or was it?
Maxino , former Dean of the SU College of Law, was soon named first director of the newly created Dr. Jovito R. Salonga Center for Law and Development on campus. Part of his job was to look for funds to sustain the center’s operation.
Money was needed to construct a building at an estimated cost of P5 million, as well as a P10million endowment fund for operating expenses. After sending out e-mails to lawyers, friends and alumni, Maxino received a reply one day from the stranger he had driven for. Del Carmen and his wife Josie were offering to donate $10,000. While explaining that he was making the donation because of his emotional ties to Senator Salonga, who like him, is a son of Protestant minister, Del Carmen said Maxino’s gesture of giving him a ride touched him deeply. “I must honestly tell you that without your personal participation, this donation would not have been possible at all. I salute you and want you to know good relations with strangers sometimes do pay off. Please share that to your wife because she was just as gracious,” Del Carmen told Maxino.
“I could hardly believe it. I never thought that a small act of kindness, which I had even forgotten about, would one day come back with blessings for the Salonga Law Center and for Silliman University. It was the single biggest donation we have received so far,” Maxino said. While Del Carmen gives scholarships and other forms of financial support to Silliman, this was his largest donation, “as an expression of our loud applause for those who have already given.” “We also hope it will spur others to give to such a worthy cause in honor of a truly remarkable individual,” the benefactor said. “To me and thousands of others, Senator Salonga exemplifies the quintessential model of an ideal public servant. I am glad Silliman and the College of Law have deemed it proper to bestow upon him this honor which he so highly deserves,” he continued. The Salonga Law Center operates under the College of Law, with the dean as convenor.
Maxino said that since it was created in August 2006, the center had already made significant contributions to legal development. It has three programs-environmental law, social justice and human rights, and labor law. It has sponsored a lecture of then Supreme Court Justice Artemio Panganiban, discussing the overall directions of the Philippine Supreme Court. The center wrote a paper on the legal implications of the Guimaras oil spill last year. Another activity involved free lectures and trainings sessions to barangay officials and tanod (village watchmen) on legal arrests, search and seizure, duties and responsibilities of the guards, neighborhood watch, Katarungang Pambarangay, and mediation skills.
Maxino said the center will also serve as a database facility, providing independent statistics on topics such as population, health, economic growth, and political participation. Researches will also be used to critically analyze and critique Philippine and international law. Opinion and analyses will be incorporated in a publication, to be made available to government offices, academic institutions, and NGOs. Maxino said some of the specific research interests of the Salonga Center are:
* Creation of special courts to handle violations of traffic rules, ordinances and other small claims.
* Revisit the developmental programs of the government, such as agrarian reform, Filipinization program, etc., to determine if these have promoted economic and social development.
* “Shepardize” Philippine law and jurisprudence. This is a system introduced by Frank Shepard in the early 1970s tracking the discussion of principles of law in court opinions to speed up the entire legal and judicial system and processes.