The Law of the Sea

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

His Last Term as Senator

After updating five volumes of Law Books during the period that he was not active in public office, he tried for one more term in the Senate and he was elected. He was by this time with physical age of 82 and he got four years term, until he was 86 years of age, but his mind was as sharp as when he was younger, if not more.

Arturo Tolentino At 91

Arturo M. Tolentino at 91

I could sense at that time, he was getting physically tired but was still going on. He told us many times that he would not like to see any of his children follow him in politic although he was happy that three of his children took up law. But politic…. he prefers not. He said politics has to be in your blood. There are too many ups and downs that one has to be able to take without letting them affect your health. He had done it with the kind of discipline in his early life which he was able to carry on until late age. He prepared for this as early as when he was a law student and after that, as a young lawyer.

Although he sincerely said he did not really intend to enter politic, from his Early Writings I can see that he was a very concerned citizen, he followed what was happening in his country from 1928. He was not afraid to say what he had in his mind as an ordinary citizen to a high public official, even to the first President of the Republic of the Philippines in 1939, particularly when it’s affecting the Constitution of the Philippines.

No wonder he was known as the “oppositionist!” He wanted national respect for the Constitution which is the fundamental law of the country. From the time of President Quezon to the time of President Marcos – that was what he has always been fighting for. Sometimes the issue was not clear to the people he was fighting it for – that was very unfortunate.

I personally tried to make him retire from politic much earlier but this was his reply; “for as long as the people needs my help and I am still strong enough to help my country in any way, I will not consider retirement.”

His official trips made him go to the same places year after year with some side stops. He told me, that when he retires, he would like to go to some places he had not seen yet. This was when he was already in his 80’s. I asked him, “when will that be? He replied, “in my old age.” I exclaimed, “Daddy, this is your old age already, you may not be aware of it but you should take advantage of your good health and travel where you wish to go now, not only where the government of the Philippines sends you for official business.”

Arturo Tolentino at 91

Arturo M. Tolentino at 91

My father never did go to those places he mentioned to me that he wanted to see before he leaves this world. After his last term as Senator of the Philippines, age caught up with him. Serving public office seems to be like a medicine to him, it keeps him younger physically and mentally very sharp. When he was no longer in politics after 1996 although he was still healthy for some years, some hearing problem started to bother him. It was not until year 2000 that he started to feel tired of public speaking engagements. I remember telling him that if he gets invitations to speak – to accept them because I know that he loves public speaking and it does him good. He was in his 90’s by that time. After a hip replacement surgery, and later a fracture, he was not able to completely come back to his normal activities.

Back in 1986, Arturo M. Tolentino was asked what he wanted the Filipino people to remember him for in years to come. He answered straight away, “The Law of the Sea. Yes, I hope the Filipino people will remember me for that and not for something political or some ordinary legislation.