Continuing legal journey


After retirement, many would rather take their time and shift to a lower gear. Brion, on the other hand, buckled up and continued his journey in law, but this time in a different mode.


Brion was an associate justice of the country’s highest court from March 17, 2008 until his retirement on Dec. 29, 2016. During his eight-year stint, Brion had handled and participated in various landmark cases.



In 2017, he began dedicating his time imparting his years of expertise and experience both to law students and every Filipino.

“Life, personal or professional, does not end at retirement; it goes on and can even transcend death through one’s continuing legacies like books and other published works,” the 1974 Bar Topnotcher shares.

“Writing is very similar to teaching as both involve sharing — sharing of knowledge and experiences of a lifetime with those who come after us. They differ only in their medium. writing and teaching are continuing obligations that i owe to the young,” he adds.

He is currently a Law faculty member at his alma mater, Ateneo de Manila Law School (ALS); University of Asia and the Pacific (UAP); and San Pablo College of Law. He was dean at San Sebastian College of Law from 2017 to 2018.

Brion has always aspired to be a writer. In 1974, he was the editor-in-chief of the Ateneo Law Journal. He also became an editor of the Ontario Ministry of Labor’s Legal Update in 1993. Now, he pens the column The Legal Front for a daily publication in the country.

As a tradition, retiring sc justices write a compilation of their most important decisions. Brion modified his path in following this tradition by compiling his notable concurrences and dissents, not his ponencias, in his book Judicial Journey. Concurrences and dissents are the justices’ agreements or disagreements with the decisions written by the other court justices.

“I resorted to this approach as I thought I could express my judicial philosophy best by focusing on the often-hidden official writings of justices — their concurrences and dissents. These are the expressions of my desired directions of the law, which the majority of the Court did not take,” he says.

Following the success of his first book, he will soon launch another one entitled Life at the Legal Front.



“These books are manifestations of my view that nobody retires — one continues to live life; he or she simply shifts from one activity to another. It is the focus that changes. My first book is about my life in the SC. The second Contains my reactions to events after my SC retirement, expressed through the prism of the law,” he shares.


“Thus, I live the law these days through my present activities — teaching, writing and, recently, by participating in business activities through corporate directorships. The commonality is the law for which I have received lifelong and continuing training,” he adds.


According to Brion, his present book deals not only with life but, specifically, with life in the law as he has seen it and continues to see it. It is a compilation of his weekly columns, weaved into a cohesive whole through a story-like narration that gives the pieces cohesiveness and total meaning.


The core message of The Legal Front is the advancement of the rule of law, respect for the law and, as may be necessary, fear of the law.


Flipping through the pages, readers would immerse themselves on topics dealing with the role and importance of the law in the community and the balancing of interests within society; balancing of powers within the government, and the sc’s role in our society. with the law as the take off point. It tackles our country’s biggest hurdles such as COVID-19, drugs and corruption, including demands of legal education and the necessity for legal ethics.


Several chapters of The Legal Front have been devoted to the question of governance, both of the courts and of our government. A series of articles expound on how the SC operates and is run. National governance is tackled through a focus on the ’s cited models; on our new leaders; and modes of governance.


The book raises thought-provoking questions such as: How should the government be structured so that its power will not be not abused and will not trample on the rights and interests of citizens? Are our constitutional policies still apt and appropriate to our society’s current weightiest problems?


“Our citizenry should internalize the value of the law as a mode of ordering our society.


Our ideal for our country has always been The attainment of a working and functional democracy. I hope that my books will somehow contribute to this ideal and help lead us to a functional, stable, prosperous, orderly and peaceful society through the common effort and cooperation of its major components — among them, our government, our citizens, business and the media,” he says.


“To achieve my aim of writing and encouraging non-lawyers to read what I have written, I have written in non-legal language and I have chosen topics in the law that touch the lives of the common man,” he adds.


To ensure that his books reach a broad range of readers, it has a reasonable length (a little over 600 pages) and is intended as a teaching book and virtual classroom material.


“I hope that these books will make a difference to the readers by making them involved and committed members of our society,” he hopes.


In between, readers would get a glimpse of the light moments in Brion’s life, like a grandfather sharing stories with his grandkids. In one part, he recalls the day his law Dean, FR. Joaquin Bernas, S.J. walked with him to the sc to confirm the 1975 bar results.


“I felt very light, almost weightless, during the walk in 1975; in fact, I was in a daze. I remember Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J. talking to me as we walked along Padre Faura to the Court, but his words did not fully register,” he recalls in the book.


“At the back of my mind was the persistent but unusual thought: ‘Walk carefully and watch your step; now is not the right time for a Bar topnotcher to stumble.’ For indeed, against all odds, I had topped the Bar exam after a lot of detours on the way to becoming a lawyer,” the book read.


Venturing to business


The former justice has taken many paths in life and in practicing his profession, leading to the learning, experiences and gained wisdom he now enjoys at age 74.


His career started in Caltex Philippines’ Quality Control Laboratory during his early college days at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST), which he calls his wilderness years. He then became a clerical assistant at the Court of Agrarian Relations while taking up Law at Ateneo in the early ‘70s.


Brion has identified himself with the law, from his earliest boyhood dreams until today, which explains the path he has taken. His law career took off in 1975 when he topped the Philippine Bar Examinations, one of the hardest law examinations in Asia.


From there, he had taken on private and public law practice here and in canada — initially, as an associate then a partner at the Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako Law Offices; Batasang Pambansa assemblyman; Deputy Minister of Labor (at the former Philippine Ministry of Labor); lawyer at the Ontario Ministry of Labor/Management Board Secretariat in Ontario, Canada; undersecretary of the DOLE and subsequently of the DFA in the Philippines; Court of Appeals Associate Justice; DOLE Secretary; and, and eventually as Associate Justice of the Philippine SC.


He now enters another field as he joins COCOLIFE as one of its board directors and COCOGEN as board chairperson.


“My participation in COCOLIFE and COCOGEN are unplanned detours in my life because these are my first active involvement in business. I was invited by a friend to sit down with COCOLIFE President and CEO Atty. Martin Loon because they were looking for a director with an extensive legal background. I accepted the offer — together with some former colleagues in the Judiciary, without realizing that my participation could be very exciting,” he shares.


“For one, insurance is a new field for me, although corporation law is not; I had seen my fair share of corporate experience and disputes while I was in law practice and while with the SC. Another novelty for me was the composition of the board and the senior officers. Our president is young and has a lot of new and fresh ideas. This is true for both Cocolife and Cocogen, and working with the young, and their ideas have energized me,” he adds.


He discloses that working with the younger generation is unique. He’s eager to impart his varying work experiences and extensive formal academic preparations and field experiences which he feels could be a value added to, and provide a good mix for, the newer and younger ideas of many from the COCOLIFE group of companies.


“My greatest desire now is to be able to make my past training and experiences available to the company and to our youthful leaders as they seize the future for the company with their fresh, imaginative and innovative ideas,” he caps.


Read the full story here.



  • Carrying the mark of leadership

    Monday, December 28, 2020

    Carrying the mark of leadership

    Much is expected of leaders, especially during times of crises. Cocolife President and CEO Atty. Jose Martin A. Loon had held his title for about a year before the pandemic hit, being the youngest to hold the position in the company’s history.


    He had done much to get this far, of course. He had graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law and passed the bar examinations in 2014. He earned his Master of Laws in National Security from Georgetown University the following year, and then accepted a slew of public and private leadership roles before becoming appointed as Cocolife’s chief.



    Martin during his 2015 graduation at Georgetown University


    When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Martin, along with all the other leaders of the world, had to bring all this skill and experience to bear. Dubbed as the biggest global challenge since World War II, COVID-19 has decimated parts of society all over the world, killing millions and putting so much more out of work. Many businesses crumbled under the weight of the pandemic, and being in the health and insurance sector did not help ease the pressure off of his shoulders.


    “From the very start, the priority has always been the safety, financial security, and peace of mind of our people in these uncertain times. We have made huge strides as a company to ensure that our clients and stakeholders will continue to have timely access to our services at a time when they need us the most,” Martin said in an interview.


    Fortunately, before the crisis, Cocolife had already begun the streamlining and digitalization of its internal processes to enable its entire workforce to continue working efficiently from 虚拟货币交home. In fact, in response to the call of government to reduce the processing time of all COVID-19 related claims, the company had successfully ensured that its hotlines remain accessible 24/7 to approve requests for medical procedures and hospital admissions.


    Additionally, working closely with the company’s established network of hospitals across the country, Cocolife has ensured that they would have enough financial resources for the procurement of new medical equipment, PPEs, and support their expanded operations.


    “Our various initiatives for our clients, employees, and the Filipino people through our donations to COVID relief efforts have enabled our company to live up to our ideals and to confidently claim that we have played our role well – that we have not shirked away from our commitment to our clients and to the Filipino people to be there for them in their time of need,” Martin said.


    “We continue to believe in the resiliency and ability of the Filipino to bounce back from seemingly insurmountable odds, in the same way we know that the choices we have made as a company has already set us on the path to recovery.”


    Even before this, Martin had been committed to enacting sweeping systemic changes to Cocolife. He spearheaded reforms within the company to institutionalize good corporate governance – emphasizing the importance of integrity, transparency, efficiency, and ethics to streamline internal processes and comply with external regulatory requirements. He also led efforts to transform the operations of the old and outdated company to be at par with global standards, recently receiving zero audit findings from its latest ISO Audit for the first time in its history.


    Martin shifted the paradigm of the employees from a day-to-day work mindset into a value system centered on service, sacrifice, and people’s welfare, aiming to inspire their workforce to believe in their capacity to serve the people and be aware of their role in nation-building as providers of life insurance.


    He had to conquer numerous challenges in his short time as Cocolife’s CEO, and this time he was facing his biggest challenge yet. Looking back, he recalls how he took inspiration from his mentors and from how his parents had raised seven children while juggling work “that made the country and its people part of their lives”.


    Martin in his early years with his mother Pong Azcarraga-Querubin


    “Being among the young CEOs in the corporate world, I find myself blessed to have mentors whose response to the pandemic has set a clear example of how the business and private sector can become a reliable partner of the government in crisis management and nation-building,” he said.


    The training he had gained from Georgetown University was also extremely valuable in that it guided him in his approach with the crisis.


    “I constantly found myself reverting to my training on ‘scenario building’ and led the management discussions to focus on analyzing and understanding the current trend in health and insurance claims, possible changes in direction of government policy, consumer behavior, and employee morale. This then enabled us to have a clear picture of possible future scenarios and to develop and identify possible pathways toward the direction and initiatives we wanted to take as a company,” he added.


    Doing so allowed Cocolife to establish and maintain well-paced operations that is poised to deliver within their expected output for 2020, overcoming the setbacks and challenges of the pandemic. All while ensuring the continued employment of all Cocolife employees with “no one left behind”. Cocolife will also provide free COVID-19 vaccine for all its employees and their families once vaccine is already available.



    The challenges are far from over. “I believe that in 2021 and perhaps even a few years after, we would feel the full impact of COVID-19 and eventually reap the consequences of the decisions that we have made to address the challenges brought about by the pandemic,” he said.


    “Life will definitely not get any easier and we need to be ready for more complex challenges that we have to face head on. This year has shown that the best-laid plans and strategies can easily be thrown out the window by black swan events – or those that no one could predict or could fully comprehend the impact. Complacency does not have a place in our time. In approaching 2021 and the coming years, it would be important for me to deal with problems immediately, while being continuing to be flexible, innovative, and daring but always remaining grounded by my core values.”


    Martin noted that he remains committed to transforming Cocolife for better in the years to come, intending to lead the company through whatever other crises looming on the horizon by sticking to their core values and helping more Filipinos.


    “Cocolife plans to further strengthen its digital servicing even better by establishing efficient customer portals for its policyholders and potential clients. We have already initiated and worked on the needed updates in our core system and we’re looking at going full speed with the technological improvements by 2021,” he shared.


    He added, “With our enhanced product development efforts, we also aim to launch more products and services that are responsive to the changing landscape and consumer needs.”


    Read the full feature on BusinessWorld here.


  • Cocolife releases “Tuloy Pa Rin Tayo” featuring Kiefer Ravena as tribute to the Filipino People

    Friday, December 18, 2020

    Cocolife releases “Tuloy Pa Rin Tayo” featuring Kiefer Ravena as tribute to the Filipino People

    Cocolife has released their latest music video, “Tuloy Pa Rin Tayo”, in time for the Christmas season. The inspirational song was composed as tribute to the hardships of the Filipino people this 2020. It features everyday Pinoys who were displaced by the recent Taal Volcano eruption, as well as those who were affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.



    In January, 2020, Taal Volcano erupted unexpectedly, leaving many Filipinos in the Calabarzon area under a state of calamity. Although casualties were low, many people were forced to evacuate from their 虚拟货币交homes. It also had a big impact on the economy.


    Amidst the panic from the natural calamity, people from all over the world started to focus on an emerging infectious disease. On January 31, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was officially recorded in the Philippines. Since then, the whole country has been acclimating to the new normal. The pandemic has affected every facet of Filipino life.


    Throughout these hardships, Cocolife continues to serve and inspire Filipinos. They started a donation drive and formed the Taal Relief Operation Team to help those who were displaced by the eruption. The company also donated an RT-PCR machine to make mass testing more available to the people. They also organized relief operations for those who were affected by the recent Supertyphoon Ulysses.


    Cocolife’s new music video, “Tuloy Pa Rin’ Tayo”, is another effort to inspire hope in the Filipinos during this trying time. It features real people who have overcome adversity – COVID-19 survivors, breadwinners, and families who were affected by calamities. It also shows current Cocolife President, Atty. Jose Martin Loon and PBA star Kiefer Ravena in action as they distribute much-needed relief goods to the needy.


    Watch the music video here: 



    Read the full feature here. 

  • 5 adulting tips Kiefer Ravena swears by to stay on top of his game

    Friday, December 18, 2020

    5 adulting tips Kiefer Ravena swears by to stay on top of his game

    There are millennials who take adulting in a breeze, while there are some still struggling to get a grip, especially in this time of pandemic. Whichever of these two you resonate with, here’s a tip: preparation is always key.


    Take a cue from PBA star Kiefer Ravena, who plays point guard for NLEX Road Warriors and was appointed team captain of Gilas Pilipinas earlier this year. That, aside from being the brand ambassador of financial services and insurance provider Cocolife.


    Ravena keeps a good balance between his responsibilities on and off the court by doing small practices today that would gear him up for the demands of tomorrow.


    To inspire you, the 27-year-old athlete lists down pointers that would help you win the real-life game of adulting at any point in your life.


    Tip #1: Prioritize your health both for yourself and the people around you.


    Keeping fit is vital not only for your health but also for the welfare of the people you live and work with. Ravena explains, “I continue to work out, eat healthily, and stay healthy. As a professional athlete, may responsibility kami to our professional team na ready kami, nasa kundisyon kami, just in case anything comes up.”


    His workout routine includes planks, bench press, and 10-kilometer stationary bike exercise, which he does every day even during the quarantine.


    Ravena continues, “Prioritize it (health) kasi we might be at the comfort of our 虚拟货币交homes, but sometimes we forget that our health is also important. So as much as possible, we must try to work out and sweat it out. Watch our eating habits.”



    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena15)


    Tip #2: Look after your mental health, too.


    Aside from keeping you in shape, Ravena recommends exercising regularly because it can also do wonders to your mental health and more so, turn us into capable adults.


    “Kaya sinasabi natin na kailangan ang healthy lifestyle kasi hindi lang physical health ‘yung natutulungan natin, pati mental health din,” he says. “Every time you workout and you stay healthy, your mental health comes with it, nae-excercise din ‘yan, we become mentally sharp, mentally ready, and mentally present.”


    The basketball player also recommends sticking with people who would “keep you sane,” especially amid the global crisis.


    “Talk to people, [as] it also exercises our brain. Kahit ‘yung mga random things na nare-realize natin, importante ‘yan na meron tayong mga taong natatakbuhan para maikwento ang mga bagay na ‘yan,” he notes.


    Tip #3: Find ways to grow money outside your day job.


    Chances are, you have probably spent most of your salary this quarantine in online sales and food deliveries. But who could blame you if there are just too many irresistible deals, right?


    Ravena, for one, admitted that he used to be guilty of hoarding rubber shoes. “Ang hirap pigilan kasi kapag may bagong [lumabas na] sapatos, parang mapapabili pa rin kahit binibigyan ka na ng libre. So doon ako nagi-guilty,” he reveals.


    While there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every once in a while, a responsible adult should also learn to do away with living paycheck to paycheck.


    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena15)


    One way of doing that is by finding ways to earn money besides your 9-to-5 job “kasi we don’t have to be stagnant, we have to evolve, and we have to do different things, hindi lang puro basketball,” Ravena says.


    To get started, the Gilas Captain suggests, “Look at the current news, talk to business people if you can. ‘Yung mga friends na may small businesses dyan, marami din tayong matutunan sa kanila. Nage-expand and nagiging wide ‘yung knowledge kung ano ‘yung mga do’s and don’t’s in terms of putting up a business. Swerte na tayo kasi everything is online, we can listen to people online, manood ng webinars para ma-increase din ‘yung network natin, marami din tayong makilalang iba’t-ibang tao.”


    Tip #4: Make small and smart investments.


    After you have beefed up your knowledge about finances, Ravena recommends making “small and smart investments.”

    “The return might not be that high initially but if you are consistent , sigurado kang may babalik sayo,” he says.


    And just like the PBA star, you don’t need to go farther than your own network in finding a good investment.


    He elaborates, “I’m involved with [sports] teams that are managed by my friends. We are trying to make an events group that could cater to different sports events. Kami ‘yung mag magma-manage. Naputol lang dahil sa pandemic so ngayon puro planning ang nangyayari.” 


    He adds, “I’m trying to be involved sa Women’s Basketball League kasi I am an avid fan of women’s basketball and I believe that it’s about time to put up a league for the women ballers para meron din silang nilu-look forward to after college, hindi lang nage-end ‘yung sports career nila sa college. We want to help, hopefully, it would work out in the future.”


    Aside from those, the PBA star would also like to pursue an investment in e-sports.




    Tip #5: Seek the advice of experts.


    Once you have decided to get into investments, Ravena recommends that you learn how to calculate your risks.


    “[Dapat] malakas din yung pigil mo kasi some investments might be enticing pero sa umpisa lang. ‘Pag dating sa dulo, mas malaki pa pala ‘yung talo mo,” he says.


    “Consult professionals and experts para matuto ka and maging sigurado talaga. Actually madali naman maglabas ng pera, wala naman problema ‘yan, pero dapat sigurado ka na may babalik sayo,” he concludes.


    To aid Ravena in achieving good returns, he consults with his trusted financial adviser Cocolife. 


    Cocolife offers FLEXI SERIES plans which are payable in five to 20 years that give you the freedom to design your plan based on your goals in life. Take your pick from various options: FLEXI-Investment helps you grow your money for major purchases, FLEXI-Education supports the education of your children, FLEXI-Retirement would take care of your funds in time for your retirement, and the FLEXI-Protection will provide you and your family with funds if you get sick or incapacitated.


    Find out which FLEXI SERIES plan suits your lifestyle here:






    Read the full feature here.