Yes, newly-appointed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno is not only the first female chief justice in the country's history, she is also the first to come from a native of poor and violence-rocked province of Sulu. Her father is a native of Siasi, the municipality of my Muslim wife Annora Sahi Nocum.
More than this, CJ Sereno rose from humble and provincial beginning through her love for reading, aided by her parents' efforts to buy her second hand books, which were the only kind of books her family can afford that time.
Here is her story as at the Manila Bulletin as written by media colleague Rey Panaligan yesterday:
Early Passion For Reading Gave New CJ Decided Edge
August 24, 2012, 8:19pm MANILA, Philippines --- At an early age, Maria Lourdes Punzalan Aranal Sereno developed a passion for reading.
According to the Supreme Court website, Sereno’s father, a native of Siasi, Sulu, and her mother, a public school teacher, nurtured the passion by buying her second-hand books.
Being an avid reader gave Sereno a decided advantage in school. She graduated with honors from the Kamuning Elementary School and Quezon City High School.
Scholarships enabled her to earn an Economics degree at the Ateneo de Manila University, and a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of the Philippines.
After graduating valedictorian from the UP College of Law in 1984, Sereno joined the largest law firm in the country. She quit the firm in 1986 to spend more time with her two young children and husband.
She taught Civil and Commercial law at the UP College of Law. She eventually headed the UP Law Center’s Institute of International Legal Studies and the Information and Publication Division.
She became deputy commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and was partly responsible for writing the organizational plans for the commission.
In 1992, Sereno earned a De Witte Fellowship and a Ford-Rockefeller Scholarship to pursue her Masters of Laws at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
On her return from her studies, she was appointed as legal counsellor at the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body Secretariat in Geneva. She was only 38.
“Her international experience and her pioneering achievements in the legal profession were recognized when she was selected as one of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) for law,” according to the website.
A year later, she was chosen as the only female member of the 1999 Preparatory Commission on Constitutional Reform, heading the commission’s Steering Committee.
Together with Justice Jose Campos, Commissioner Haydee Yorac, and other professors from the UP College of Law, Serena co-founded Accesslaw, a corporation that provided the first annotated electronic research system in Philippine law. (Rey Panaligan)
We are so happy to know about this interesting fact about our new Chief Justice who is destined to serve the longest -- 18 years -- in the controversial branch of government which can do much to either to bring progress or destruction to the country and its 100 million people.
This fact emboldens us at Kris Library to continue on with our mission to collect and donate more books (we have given away more than 50,000 since 2001); build more libraries in conflict areas in Mindanao and all over the country (we have six); send scholars to school (we have educated 233); give more free reading lessons and free computer use to poor children in Kris Libraries; and rehabilitate and fill up with books and old computers public school libraries in the Philippines.
Please help us in this advocacy and help us produce the next President, business mogul, educator, IT expert, respected architect, life-giving doctor or the next Sec. Jesse Robredo through second hand books and computers.
Please go to link (http://www.krislibrary.com/what-you-can-do.html) to see how you can help by donating books, old computers and make financial donations. Sharing, e-mailing and posting CJ Sereno's inspiring rags-to-power story -- or old-books-to-Supreme Court story -- to friends who can help will really give our cause a big boost.
Donate your old books now and help awaken bright Filipino minds like Chief Justice Sereno!