THE THOMASIAN gavel of former Supreme Court associate justice Jose Feria would always echo both in courtroom and classroom, resounding passion and commitment. But it peacefully made its last strike in the morning of May 8 as Feria slumbered to eternal rest. He was 91.

“He is a very religious man and a very brilliant professor,” Faculty of Civil Law secretary Ricardo Magtibay said. “We certainly lost a caliber of law.”

In October 2007, Feria suffered a stroke and doctors at the Makati Medical Center found that his heart was becoming weak.

In February, despite his fragile condition, Feria opted to spend his remaining days at the Caryana Lay Monastic Community, where he had been a member since 1972, and to see his daughter, one of the lay monastics at the Pampanga monastery. He was again rushed to Makati Medical Center after two months because of recurring pneumonia.

“In May 7, his blood pressure became 70/40 and the doctors found no more hope,” Ma. Lucia Cuerva, Feria’s youngest daughter, told the Varsitarian.
Feria died the next morning, with loved ones at his bedside.

“He was very happy the night before he died because we promised to bring him back to the monastery the next day,” Cuerva said. “Unfortunately, (he already ‘went ahead’) and failed to visit the monastery and see my monk sister.”

Born in Pasay on January 11, 1917, Feria was the son of former Supreme Court Justice Felicisimo Feria and Vicenta Yusay.

Feria, who served as Civil Law dean from 1979 to 1985, was one of the first Supreme Court appointees of former president Corazon Aquino in 1986.

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He obtained his Commerce degree from De La Salle University in 1936 and graduated in Civil Law as valedictorian in 1940. He was admitted to the Bar on December 16, 1940.

Magtibay, who became one of Feria’s students, described his mentor’s dedication to his job as professor and dean as “remarkable.”

“Mr. Feria could harmonize procedural law with substantive law,” Magtibay said. “You will get the grade you deserve because he is fair, yet not strict.”

Feria is one of the few Civil Law graduates to graduate summa cum laude, like former president Diosdado Macapagal.

In necrological services at the high court last May 12, Chief Justice Reynaldo Puno acknowledged Feria’s passion in the academe and his commitment as the president of the Philippine Bar Association during the “dark years of Martial Law when it was difficult to become an apostle of law.”

“He honed the minds of many lawyers and will always be remembered for his authoritative commentaries on civil and criminal procedures,” Puno said.

A mass and vigil followed as a tribute to Feria on the same day.

Feria authored 18 books, mostly on procedural law and published articles in many periodicals.

He also taught law at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran from 1936 to 1940 before transferring to UST to serve as professor of Civil Law from 1940 to 1986. He also lectured at the Instituto de Derecho Processal, Colegio de Abogados in Madrid, Spain.

Because of his immense contribution to law, Feria received numerous citations like the UST Outstanding Alumnus award given by the Law Alumni Foundation in 1984 and UST’s most prestigious award for alumni, The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Award, in 1993, among others.

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At the age of 70, Feria retired from public service and practiced law privately.

At the time of his death, he was the chairman of the Foundation for Judicial Excellence and a consultant of the Philippine Judicial Academy.
His remains were laid to rest at the Caryana Monastic Community in Magalang, Pampanga.

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