OUTSTANDING Far Eastern University alumnus Enrico G. Gilera, the university’s chief legal counsel, concedes that Bachelor of Science in Chemistry is an unconventional pre-law program.

            “The original plan was to take up medicine, but as fate would have it I became a lawyer instead,” said Atty. Gilera.

            For good reason, he would soon find out. He had suspected that it could be more difficult to earn a degree in chemistry than law, and he was up for the challenge.

            “The training is an excellent one, also the discipline. Now I apply scientific method in my work,” said Atty. Gilera. Presently he employs the habits he had developed over the years as chemistry major.

            After earning his science degree in FEU he studied law also at FEU, and in less than a year after passing the bar he joined the roster of faculty in the university’s Institute of Law.

            “Atty. Gilera struck me first as a very serious person.  At that time he was the institute secretary, the equivalent of associate dean,” said Ethel Dadulla, his student.

            “He seemed very strict. This was during the time he interviewed me for my admission in FEU Law,” said Johnelyn Tangpus, another student of his.

            Among the lessons, which Atty. Gilera learned from his own teachers are the same that he would want his students learning from him.

            “Respect and discipline are the first two values, which law students learn. These characterize the atmosphere in law school classrooms. Students focus, memorize legislation and jurisprudence, reason out, and obey authority. It’s all part of their training,” said Atty. Gilera, recalling his own experience.

            “He was very strict at first. Imagine him slamming both his ancient cellphone and attaché case on the teacher’s table on the first day.  He never shouted though.  However, having him as a professor in the succeeding semesters revealed his funny side,” said Ethel. 

Atty. Gilera with fellow awardees during the 65th FEU IL Grand Alumni Homecoming Tamaraw Awards 2023.

            Atty. Gilera eventually became a friend to his students, added Ethel. He even pranked some of them, Ethel and Johnelyn both remembered.

            “He will always be an excellent teacher for me. He will inspire you to always do your best. If you are having trouble in answering the questions, he will give you hints. He will not give you the answer, but he will lead you to find the correct answer,” said Johnelyn.

            Atty. Gilera is softhearted, said Johnelyn, adding that beyond the exterior of strictness is a very compassionate person.

            “Most of my closest and dearest friends are my former students. We have forged solid friendships,” he said.

            Having Atty. Gilera as a teacher has taught Ethel that seriousness, strictness, humor, and caring can co-exist in a class. From him Johnelyn said she learned to be kind and that no matter what position one is holding one always practices kindness.

            “Two weeks after taking my oath as member of the bar, I was offered to teach at FEU,” said Atty. Gilera.

            He was one of the few his age allowed to teach at the time because most of the teachers were legal luminaries and veterans.

            “I learned to manage myself, how to interact,” said Atty. Gilera. Two years after, he was appointed legal counsel in the office of the university president.

            Now on ordinary mornings Atty. Gilera answers and sends emails, drafts legal opinion, and does research. In the afternoon, he reviews documents, participates in meetings, and on rare occasions attends court hearings.

            “With the able assistance of the staff, we maintain a good internal legal mechanism. We observe commitment and dedication,” he said.

            Atty. Gilera’s office caters to student concerns from preschool to college. They also accommodate the interests of faculty and staff. Legal issues, if any, are handled diligently.

            “We ensure that solutions are beneficial to all,” he said, quickly adding that he finds his job exciting.

            Atty. Gilera and his “lean and mean” team have shepherded industrial peace for many years in the FEU Group of Schools. They comply with legal requirements expeditiously.

            “Everyone is cooperative. We exert effort to also adhere to institutional requirements,” he said.

            He is not at all overwhelmed by the demands of his role as counsel of FEU Alabang, FEU Cavite, FEU Diliman, FEU High School, FEU Institute of Technology, FEU Makati, FEU Roosevelt, and even FERN Realty Corp.

            “I do almost the same tasks for all the schools,” said Atty. Gilera.

            Indeed, his experience in the chemistry laboratory conducting experiment has prepared him well in the science of his law practice, from observing his clients to developing a theory of their case.