THE old man lived a quiet life. As a public servant he was not controversial, but he made the Manero brothers famous—perhaps infamous — when he sentenced them to life imprisonment for the killing of an Italian priest, Father Tullio Favali, who was doing missionary work in Mindanao.
He was successful as a father to his son and two daughters.
He and his wife Emeline sent them from their hometown in Mindanao to Manila to study. The son lives with his family in Canada while one of her two daughters is in the US. Only the youngest daughter chose to stay in the Philippines.
During retirement, he was a private person, preferring to spend most of his time with his family and enjoying the company of his three grandchildren.
While Google had no substantial information about him, it had one particularly interesting entry that carried his name. He was the trial judge in the Manero case.
Because Google did not lead to any information about his life as a judge, much less about him as a retired judge, you would have no choice but to rely on memory in recalling as much as possible what he used to talk about.
When asked what could have guided him to become an efficient public servant, he had a ready answer: honesty. This was one of his favorite topics when talking about public service. He would not attribute the virtue to himself, but those who had known him knew that he was honest all his life.
As the trial judge in the Favali case, he was the subject of one gossip, but not one about dishonesty. As the story goes, he was reported missing for a few days during the trial, triggering various speculations. The truth was that he was not missing and there was no basis whatsoever to the rumors that he had disappeared and would not return to conduct the trial of the Manero brothers.
It was only when he reappeared in the courtroom that his friends and acquaintances in a Mindanao town learned that he remained as the judge in the Manero trial. All the time he was out of his office, he was staying somewhere, writing the crucial decision that would send the Manero brothers to jail. Googled information shows that the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of the priest’s killers.
Judge Benjamin Manzanilla Estanol died on August 4, 2014, a week after his 91st birthday. He left behind his wife and their three children, a granddaughter and two grandsons, who all live in Canada. Only Michelle, his first grandchild, came home because her two brothers could not leave their respective jobs for the funeral.
As a footnote to this piece, Due Diligencer agreed with a priest who said the Holy Mass during the wake for Judge Estanol. Death, he said, is uncertain. So his advice is to be ready at all times by reconciling with God and with your neighbors. But, the priest added, you should also be financially prepared for death by buying a memorial plan.
The priest was right. If living is expensive, so is dying, the cost of which could be reduced by buying a memorial plan.
How about hospitalization when one gets seriously ill before dying?
While Judge Estanol was in the hospital, Due Diligencer conducted an impromptu survey of some families who had loved ones confined at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center.
The findings: a room at the Intensive Care Unit costs P8,000 a day, which a family could reduce by signing a waiver and choosing a less expensive room that could cost them much less at P3,500 a day. Then buy medical supplies from stores at Bambang in Manila where these would cost much less, say by 50 percent or even more.
Then, as the confinement lasts longer, you might even find the list of doctors on the room’s door. In the beginning, it could contain only one name, then two a week after and so on. The number of doctors could mean additional medical care cost that could have been avoided if the family had asked experts if such-and-such doctors from specific medical fields were needed by a patient who was only suffering from a particular illness?
In the first few days, there was only one doctor’s name posted in the door of Judge Estanol’s room. A few days after, there were three. By the time he left the hospital, there were six names on the list. Whether they only said hello to him or used their stethoscope on him and then googled medical prescriptions, they were paid when the final billing arrived.
By the way, at Asian Hospital, the billing section reminds the families of patients about their bills even on Sundays. Apparently, when it comes to collection, the hospital or any other hospital does not observe holidays.