AN academic achiever who once worked as a nanny in Spain is now dean of the newly established UST Graduate School of Law.
When Liza Lopez-Rosario first received news that she was to head the law graduate school, she admitted having “mixed feelings” over the appointment.
“Masaya because of the prestige that is attached to the position. But in a way, a little bit bothered because of the responsibility that you are going to assume,” Lopez-Rosario told the Varsitarian.
Lopez-Rosario explained that the environment in UST’s new academic unit, where she is the inaugural dean, will be different because her students will be lawyers and judges.
Prior to being appointed dean, Lopez-Rosario taught at the UST Faculty of Civil Law and worked as a public attorney. She is also a partner at Romulo Mabanta, one of the top-caliber law firms in the country.
In 1984, Lopez-Rosario graduated magna cum laude in philosophy in the University. She received the same Latin honor in 1988 when she obtained her degrees in civil law and canon law, also in UST. In both years, she received the Rector’s Award for Academic Excellence.
Lopez-Rosario served the Roman Catholic Church for 15 years. She was legal counsel to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Archdiocese of Manila, Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, the Diocese of Pasig and the Diocese of Parañaque.
She said one of her most memorable cases as a lawyer was when she delivered an oral argument before the Supreme Court in defense of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin.
In 2003, Cardinal Sin was named in a petition to declare political statements by religious leaders as a violation of Philippine Constitution.
Lopez-Rosario admitted it was not easy to achieve success professionally and academically.
She recounted how she was bullied by peers when she was at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain, where she finished her doctorate degree in civil law. She had difficulty learning the Spanish language.
“My classmates were always joking about me… ang tagal ko [raw] mag-isip [ng conjugation],” she said.
But Lopez-Rosario persisted, even to a point where she took a job as a nanny in order to learn the language.
“Suffering talaga. Kapag hindi ka nag-total immersion, hindi mo matututuhan ang language,” she said.
But Lopez-Rosario never intended to pursue law. Her career options leaned toward teaching and architecture.
“Kapag teacher, madaming regalo … I wanted to be an architect but there were courses before which the elders would say, ‘No, that is only for men,’” she said.
Lopez-Rosario realized her law ambitions when she was in high school.
“That was the time I engaged myself in arguments and debates. Tumatayo pa nga ako sa table, nakikipag-debate ako,” she said.
Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina praised Lopez-Rosario for her work ethic, calling her a “very brilliant and thorough” lawyer.
“She graduated magna cum laude, the class valedictorian. So that is a testament to, I suppose, her study ethic and attitude towards studying,” Divina said in an interview.
“She is dedicated, she has enough drive to carry out the duties required of the dean,” he added.
At UST, Lopez-Rosario learned Thomistic philosophy, which she said she applies in her practice of law.
She recounted how she handled a pro bono case after her client, an employee, was accused of estafa.
“I was able to win the case for her and all she paid me was a framed cross-stitch work,” Lopez-Rosario said.
“There are things that cannot be compensated. What made it memorable was I was able to help a person who was being accused for a crime that she did not really commit,” she added.