Beloved. That is how to best describe Prof. Ruben Figueroa Balane of the UP College of Law (CL) who passed away on Oct. 11. He was 80.
In preparing this piece and scouring through posts online, this writer saw how well respected and how well loved Balane was by his colleagues and former students. Not only was he loved by UP but even by other academic institutions, among them the Ateneo Law School (AL) and the University of Santo Tomas.
There was a 2011 blog post of his birthday party. Reading through it, setting up his birthday party seemed to be a tradition for them.
And his passing came as one of the saddest days for most lawyers across the land.
CL Dean Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II and Associate Dean Solomon F. Lumba, in their article “Remembering our dear Professor Balane,” wrote, “He was a renaissance of a man—a polyglot with seven languages under his belt, a keen linguist, an award-winning legal scholar and writer of English prose, a proud product of the Jesuit system, mentored by the great civilist J. B. L. Reyes, and widely regarded as the foremost living exponent of the civil law tradition in the country.”
Vistan and Lumba wrote that among Balane’s legacies was his role in building “a continuing exchange between Filipino and European legal scholars and institutions. This exchange has resulted in cooperative efforts, the results of which are already being felt in the country’s legal education system.”
Balane was not only a legal legend, a scholar, and a mentor to them, he was their dear friend who had a penchant “for becoming a larger part of our lives because of his zeal for growing and enjoying friendships,” according to Vistan and Lumba.
Balane’s words to them on what it meant to be a great lawyer were, “to live honestly; to injure no one; to give every man his due.”
In his honor, both mentees pledged, “El Maestro, wherever we may go, whatever we may be, true to your legacy we will always be.”
Balane was a regular faculty of CL from 1970 until his retirement in 2006. At the time of his tenure in 1970, he became the College’s secretary from 1970 to 1973. Holder of the J. B. L. Reyes professorial chair in civil law from 1977 to 1984, Balane continued serving the University as a professorial lecturer after his retirement in 2006 and up until this year.
A product of Ateneo de Manila University from elementary to college, Balane was an honor student. He graduated salutatorian in grade school and high school. In college, he finished Bachelor of Arts in humanities. He then entered UP and studied law. He graduated salutatorian and cum laude in 1966 and passed the 1966 Philippine Bar Examination, ranking top 2.
The Ateneo Law Student Council Facebook page shared a memo of his passing, describing Balane as “one of the greatest civil law experts.”
The UST Civil Law Student Council also paid tribute, saying Balane to them was “one of our great professors, legal luminary, mentor and author.”
On his Oct. 12 tweet, Sen. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara Jr. said, “When I was studying at the UP Law in the mid/ late 90s among the most respected and revered professors were two civil law experts—the late Araceli Baviera, and Ruben Balane who passed away recently. Why he/ she never made it to the SC IRDK (Supreme Court, I really don’t know) RIP (rest in peace).”
Ending this piece, it is safe to say Balane had touched lives whom he helped prepare for higher things and not just passing the Bar.
Lives like those of Vistan’s and Lumba’s who, like a badge of honor, ended their tribute with the words, “With love.”
In his memory, UP Law will host an online memorial service for Balane on Oct. 14, 5 p.m., via Zoom.
According to the UP CL communications team, “Everyone is invited to join by following this link: http://bit.ly/In-Honor-of-Professor-Balane. You can also view the service via the IPD YouTube channel
For more information on the memorial service, visit https://www.facebook.com/uplawofficial/photos/a.744012548950116/6658669010817744/?type=3&theater.