IF PASSION were a crime, Retired Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, would be guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Before she entered law school, Gutierrez, the first UST alumna to earn a seat in the Supreme Court, was immensely passionate about the euphony that transpires when she interprets notes and plays the keys.

“Initially, I did not want to become a lawyer. My dream was to finish my Bachelor of Music in piano at St. Bridget’s College and to give a recital accompanied by a full orchestra,” she said.

But she was forced to change her career path when her father told her to enroll in law school. That started her humble years in the Faculty of Civil Law.

“During our time, children were obedient. Being a good daughter that I am, I obeyed my father, took up law and left my music so that I could study in UST,” said Gutierrez, who graduated and passed the bar exam in 1960.

Now 76 years old, Gutierrez continues to add more achievements on her growing list of accomplishments as she was recently appointed as the newest member of the Judicial Bar and Council (JBC), where she represents the retired Justices of the Supreme Court.

“Originally my plan was to retire at the age of 70 but as per advice of my sons, I should continue on working so as I would not deteriorate physically and mentally,” she said. “I accepted this position in the JBC as my second mission to serve our country.”

Building a solid career

At a young age, Gutierrez had already shown promising scholastic remarks as she graduated batch salutatorian at Alitagtag Elementary School and finished with high honors in high school at St. Bridget’s College, Batangas.

Parangal-pampanitikan ng Unibersidad

At UST, Gutierrez learned the value of moral education, integrity and prayer—tools that she used in order to survive law school.

“I did not like my first semester in law school but as the years rolled on, I fell in love with law,” she said.

Prior to her appointment on the bench, she held a two-year position as a legal aide at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), a legal researcher for the Department of Justice and was promoted as a Judicial Supervisor in 1968 at the same department.

Gutierrez first stepped in the Supreme Court in 1973 as an attorney. She was later appointed judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila’s Branch 19 then moved to the Regional Trial Court of Manila (RTC)’s Branch 37 in 1986.

Already an accomplished RTC judge, Gutierrez still pursued post-graduate studies abroad.

She enrolled to various Harvard Law School Courses such as Constitutional Law, Advanced Constitutional Law, Legal Medicine, Family Law and Federal Courts.

She also studied American and International Law at the Academy of the American and International Law, University of Texas in Dallas, attended a course on trial techniques at the University of Nevada and took up management and delinquency control at the University of Southern California Delinquency Control Institute, Los Angeles.

“Because of my stay in abroad, I came to know various laws of different countries due to the exchange of ideas I had with my classmates who happen to be judges from different countries around the globe,” said Gutierrez, who won a number of awards for her contributions to the legal profession.

Senior Dominicans feted

In 1991, Gutierrez became the first recipient of the prestigious Cayetano Arellano Award as an outstanding RTC judge.

“Because of this award, I established a good name as a jurist which probably may also be one of the reasons why I was granted a seat at the Supreme Court,” she said.

Former President Corazon Aquino took notice of Gutierrez and promoted her as an associate justice of the Court of Appeals. She served the appellate court until her appointment to the Supreme Court in 2000 by former President Joseph Estrada. She would hold the position for eight years. For this, she received the Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Award.

“I am so grateful to UST, especially to the Faculty of Civil Law. I wouldn’t have been successful with my career if not for the University, which did not only teach me law but also integrity and moral courage,” she said.

Loving mother

Balancing family and her position as an associate justice tested Sandoval-Gutierrez’s character as a mother because she often had to render extra hours at work.

“The moment I got home, my first concern was always my children. Especially when they were in elementary school, they had no tutor but myself,” she recalled. “I would not sleep unless I had seen their assignment done.”

Gutierrez also taught her children how to play the piano and read them stories.

“I think the working mothers are more successful compared to those who are stay-at-home because sometimes they take the moments with their children for granted whereas the working mothers consider these moments as gold.”

No tears for Lola

She was married to the late NBI Assistant Director Deigo H. Gutierrez, who succumbed to lung cancer in 2002.

One of the major challenges that Gutierrez had to go through as a mother was to be separated to her two sons. Both went to abroad to study at the age of 12.

“In the first place, my husband and I did not want them to leave because even under law, they should be under our custody,” she said.

After consulting a priest about this problem, Gutierrez eventually granted permission to her two sons to leave the country.

“I talked to a priest and what he said to me was to let them go and if it is God’s will, they will come back to me,” she said.

Aileen Marie, their eldest, is now a city prosecutor in Muntinlupa City while Francis Joseph is a policy advisor at Washington USA and their youngest, James Gerard, is an associate attorney at a law firm in New York City.

“My children are my greatest achievement in my life, not being a Justice of the Supreme Court.”

Among the many awards she received, the one maybe closest to her heart, is the “Ulirang Ina Award” by the National Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Foundation in 2000.


  1. I was browsing the internet and out of the many articles for Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez, this is my favorite. I have recently interviewed Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez and I must that your article would help me a lot. Well-written.

    • please allow me to post this. maybe someone might know how to reach the family of mam Angelina sandoval-gutierrez.

      I’m Leonard claro. a multimedia artist. I’ve been on and off the street for a long time now. Iife isn’t played as I planned it. because someone derailed it. its hard thinking how to survive for another day. i started living on the street begging people some change to at least buy some water. for months Ive been sleeping on the street while protecting my bag containing what’s left of my possessions. 3 shirts 2 shorts 2 pants and an envelope. days passed without nothing to eat, my body started to tremble since then. I started walking trying to find some place to stay or to pass the night. it’s been too long. I met people who shares some food some coins. they’ve been a big help why I’m still alive. it’s hard really hard living this way where you have nothing left. all those that I’ve gain through perseverance and dedication to the craft that I love most. those opportunities that should bring me to a new life has been lost. it’s hard accepting all of what happened till now. it’s miserable being like this.

      I’ve lost a lot on this ordeal. a place to stay, my belongings, my business plans, projects time, life. I bet everything on that tools, and yet I lost everything.

      its all started when he took all my tools for my profession that bought from u.s. for him to sustain his gambling addiction. I haven’t even know him haven’t seen his face no connection at all. don’t even know his full name. he supposedly to just deliver my box but we never met him. weeks passed and I received a news a hint of what happened to my tools and to the fortuner of his Tita that he used to meet me supposedly. it was pawned. mine? he sold it .just to support his gambling addiction.what I know is hes name is ‘jay’.

      he’s a son of a law practitioner and his grandmother is a former chief justice.

      we have talks with his family at first they sent me some to survive the week but it is short lived. nothing after that. weeks turns to months and add 4 months more and it’s been year.

      for all this sufferings, disappointments, hate, hunger, pain, lack of sleep I turned to the most coward thing, suicide. I tried commiting twice but maybe there still some force that won’t let me. I can’t carry this misery anymore.

      I contain myself for so long not to go public with this because I respect their names. and we have talks about their plans but till now there’s none. no replies to my last email no direct calls was made. nothing. they knew how much I need my life back. I need my tools right now more than ever. for my family’s sake. 650,000 worth of tools that’s all I have and it’s been taken away. brand new MSI Titan, camera set, pro drone, apple desktop, and other paraphernalia for photography and video editing along with business opportunities, time, life. just to finance his gambling addiction in exchange of my time and life.

      I want my tools back. I’m appealing to the family of sandoval lopez-gutierrez. to mam angelina sandoval-gutierrez i hate doing this but at least I must find ways, for my familys sake. it’s all talks mam eversince. no solution has been done. I don’t want to drag you into this but there’s no other option that I can thinks of. your son hasnt replied to my emails. and everyone seems that they don’t give a damn about this. zeny, Michaela, Therese, jay not bothered to solve my ordeal i waited for a long time, months. and still nothing. please help me get those tools back. I tried containing myself not to do this, it’s been too long and I need those tools.

      please kung sino man nakakaalam kung pano PO sila makokontak pasabi nalang sakin o kung sino makakapagsabi man Lang sa kanila.

      kung di PO matawagan send nalang po Ng text pinapahiram lang po kasi ako.


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