Ilonggo ex-CJ honored anew with plaza statue

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The late Ilonggo former chief justice Ramon Avanceña was given an “immovable” honor on Thursday, February 22, when a new statue at the heart of Arevalo district was unveiled to the public for the first time.

The 7-foot statue was designed and sculpted by Ilonggo artist Harry Mark Gonzales, who also made the Pura Villanueva-Kalaw at Molo Plaza.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod, other city officials, and family members of the late former chief magistrate led the unveiling of the statue.

In his message during the unveiling ceremony, Treñas said that the statue should serve as a symbol for today’s Ilonggos to strive for excellence.

“As we venture into our everyday lives as public servants and youth of our community, I hope this sculpture will inspire us to continue aiming for excellence. As a leader myself, my motivation and inspiration stems from our former leaders who laid down the path and standard for quality and selfless public service,” the mayor said.

“Let us always remember the vital role of our predecessors like Justice Ramon Avanceña in transforming our community into a better one. With the likes of Justice Avanceña and all other illustrious Ilonggos, we take immense pride in celebrating a culture of excellence. We can always say that we are proud to be Ilonggos,” he added.

Ben Avanceña, the former chief justice’s grandson, thanked the city government and the public for continuing to honor their grandfather.

He cited their family’s continued appearances during the foundation anniversary celebrations of the Ramon Avanceña National High School, also in Arevalo district.

“We believe, and we hope that something like this would enable the youth of today to emulate and aspire for bigger roles in nation-building,” Avanceña said.

“I think his most important legacy is justice, and his belief that justice is critical for every single Filipino. I think that if today, we are able to do significantly more about justice for the country, it’s important to reshape our society,” he added.

Ramon Avanceña, who hails from Arevalo district, was the 4th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, appointed by United States of America President Calvin Coolidge from April 1, 1925 to December 5, 1941, prior to the Japanese invasion of the country.

He was first appointed as Associate Justice of the high court by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1917, and prior to this, he was Attorney-General, Auxiliary Judge, Assistant Attorney at the Bureau of Justice. He was also a Legal Adviser for the provinces of Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo and negotiated with American forces during the short-lived Federal State of the Visayas.

He finished his Bachelor of Arts at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Santo Tomas, both in Manila.

Aside from the high school here, a public library under the city government is also currently in construction at the Arevalo plaza and is likewise the namesake of the Ramon Avanceña High School in Quiapo, Manila.