The Good, The Bad, and the Baliw: In the College Life of Professor Aguas

Written by Lucas Po     &     Edited by Nathan Cotoco

In Celadon’s most sabaw interview yet, Sales Law professor & Attorney Joseph Aguas talks of love, kalokohan, Ateneo’s neverending parking problem, and the professors and orgmates that shaped him to be the teacher he is today.

My name is Joseph…John…Gerald M. Aguas. I graduated from the Ateneo in 1988 with a degree in BS Management, minor in Legal Management, then went on to the Ateneo School of Law right after graduating….where I pursued and finished my doctorate degree in 1992. Then I took and passed the bar that same year.

What was my college self like? BORING! I was the typical bahay-school kind of guy. For the first two years of my college life, that was pretty much it.  College life back then was very different.  There was no internet, so you had to talk to people! And that wasn’t really my strongest suit that time.

I chose the Ateneo because of the environment. Sabi ko, ang ganda nga ng puno. Open space, sarap mag-aral dito. I don’t know, something about the trees, the long walks, that just aid in the college experience.

Problema lang, lahat ng tao, English speaking. Kaya sabi ko, “My God! Patay tayo diyan (laughs). Paano ako makikipag-usap? Lahat nag-iingles!”

On my College Mentors:

It was in the Tanghalang Ateneo that I really developed my communication skills. They were my first group of friends.  We would meet for rehearsals and in the dressing room, that’s where we hung out. It was a CR actually (laughs). Tapos naging tambayan namin. What I remember was  hanging out with the most fluent, most communicative, most eloquent people I have ever met at that time. People who could talk in English and express ideas very well, so just listening to them inspired me to talk better and to communicate.

I could say that the teacher in Ateneo who inspired me to teach was my Philosophy professors Manny Dy and Angeli Tugade. There’s just something about their willingness to choose such a complicated subject in our native language that showed devotion, intelligence on their part.  I mean, being able to explain these deep concepts in Tagalog is really something.

One time Professor Dy said, “Punta kayo sa bahay ko.” I think he lived nearby that time, and he played Basil Valdez who was a great pop singer at that time. That was a nice memory I had of him.

I guess I can consider them my mentors in college.

That’s why siguro, when I became a teacher, I realized na it’s not my job to merely read the book and explain, but to impart my own experience. Because of how long I’ve been as a lawyer, I must’ve picked up something along the way na hindi mo makukuha sa libro. That’s what I try to include when I teach.

Most Unforgettable Memory in College:

My most unforgettable memory in college was calling my Law professor “g*go.” He was telling the class something like, “Kasi kayo mga lalaki, talaga namang maging torpe sa mga babae.”  Tapos sabi ko, G*GO!Tawanan ang buong class, pati yung teacher but later, the following day, I came up to him and said, “Sir, I’d really like to apologize.”

Sa awa ng diyos, hindi naman siya nagalit.  Sabi niya, “ Don’t worry, I don’t take it personally.” But that was stupid!  Sabi ko, “What the hell?” Obviously nagbibiro lang talaga yung teacher, and it wasn’t to put me down. Kaya sabi ko, “Shucks, buti hindi ako pinag-initan.”


On Ateneo in the Eighties:

Even back then, parking was already a huge problem. Back then, there was only two parking spaces: doon sa may Gonzaga na may bayad and the back of Covered Courts, which was called the Chinese parking lot. Kasi yung parking space na iyon, walang bayad. Kasi ano, field lang siya. Kaya kung kuripot ka, and I don’t mean to be offensive, diyan ka nalang. Kaya siya “Chinese.”

My advice for college students:

Socialize, school is not just the lessons. School is the people around you. School is a simulation of the real world. There are good people, there are bad people so you must learn  how to deal with that. Everyone has intelligence, but it’s the social skills that will really help you with your career.

So socialize, talk to girls, talk to a lot of girls. Sa lahat ng mga torpe, I’m telling you: don’t think, “Dapat muna ako mayaman or pogi para manligaw.” In this age, the girls are just as desperate for love as you are.  Kausapin mo lang, baka malay mo may isa diyan na mauto-uto mo.

Take advantage of the fact that you are in the best school in the Philippines. I mean, kaya kayo pinadala dito ng magulang niyo. To have the best education and the best environment. You have a safe and secure environment, you have teachers who are dedicated. Think of the thousands of people who applied, yung mga nag-patest at nagpaawa.  Kaya get out there and make your four years last.

One last reminder: Teachers’ Appreciation Week starts tomorrow, from September 25, 2017! Catch us at Kostka Extension & JSEC, where Ateneans can write special heartfelt letters and give special lanyards to their favorite professors. For more information, follow the official TAW page on Facebook!