The Law of the Sea

Arturo M. Tolentino: I wish people will remember me for The Law of the Sea

Doctor of Law 1938

In 1937, Tolentino took his Master’s degree in the University of Santo Tomas and the next year he took his Doctorate in Civil Law.

The thesis for his Doctorate was subsequently published as a book on “Succession”, which for many was used as a text book when the old Civil Code was still in forced. The thesis that he wrote as an under graduate in the University of the Philippines on “Torts and Damages”, also became much earlier a text book.

Tolentino’s first attempt to publish his legal book in 1935 was frustrating. He took it to the Filipino Educational company, a Philippine corporation financed by the American capital, promptly turned it down. “I don’t believe they even read it”, he confided.

Fortunately his professor at U.P. college of law, Dr. Sinco, head of the publishing firm “The Community Publisher Inc.” on Herran Street had read it because he was chairman of the board of judges that had awarded it first prize. That “break” launched Tolentino as a prominent author of law books.

The world and life in general were beginning to smile on Arturo Tolentino. His reputation both as a professor and a lawyer was spreading and money was starting to come in. He was already a land owner having acquired from his mother the right to purchase a small plot in Quezon City payable in small installments. But by now, 1938 Salvador’s family had reached ten and the latest addition being Julita barely one month old.

It was then, as so often happens when things are going well, that tragedy struck the Tolentino family.

My father recalled:

At that time, I was in the process of getting my Doctorate degree, not because I wanted it but because I knew my father wanted to see me with it. The bitter ironies are that I never realized then how useful it would be in my later life as a law professor and that my father, who was the reason for my getting it, never knew that I had succeeded, for when my Doctorate was confirmed, he was lying in state in our house.

The man who beat up my father was subsequently charged and convicted of manslaughter and given a lengthy prison sentence which was of little consolation to any of us.