Maria Lourdes Sereno is the first female Chief justice in Philippine. She was born in the year 1960, on the 2nd of July. Maria is from a very humble background, her mother was a public school teacher who helped her daughter nurture a very beautiful attitude towards books.
Maria is a native of Siasi, Sulu in Philippine but she grew up in Manila the capital of Philippine. While growing up in Manila, Maria’s mother always bought her second hand books which she got with the money she had saved. At the sight of those books, Maria’s heart always leaped for joy and she read those books with all excitement in her. She had great insight and love for literature and reflection which built her capacity during her primary schooling and enabled her graduate excellently with flying colors from both primary and secondary school.
On this account, Maria was awarded a scholarship to study economics at the Ateneo de Manila. After she was done with studying economics she received another scholarship to study Laws degree at the University of the Philippines.
After she had attained a level of mastery in law, Maria got a job with as a junior associate of the Sycip Salazar Feliciano and Hernandez law firm, where she worked for some time. However, she was not able to cope with the work load and family requirement being a wife and a mother; the family had to come first. She realized that she had to spend more time with her family so she quit her job and decided to work as a lecture in the University of the Philippines’ law school, where she was for about two decades from 1996 to 2007.
Working at the university, she was able to impact the lives of young men and women through teaching the principles of Civil and Commercial law, she was admired by her students and fellow lectures because she had something special about her work ethics that could not be compared with others. Her drive and passion were unique and beautiful.
Meanwhile, she moved from being a lecturer to a professor in the university. On account of her dedicated service, while lecturing at the university, she was awarded a De Witte Fellowship and a Ford-Rockefeller Scholarship to pursue her Masters of Laws at the University of Michigan In 1992, Chief Justice Sereno. Doing her masters at the Michigan University built her proficiency in law and economics and international trade law and she became very outstanding from her male counterparts.
This became the beginning of greater heights for Maria. After she concluded her master’s degree and came back from Michigan, she was appointed as legal counselor at the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body Secretariat in Geneva.
That same year she co-founded Accesslaw, an organization that provided the first annotated electronic research system in Philippine law with some of her male counterparts from the university of Philippines college of law. This was very successful and a great achievement for Maria.
When she was 39, she was selected as a member of the 1999 Preparatory Commission on Constitutional Reform where she acted as Chairperson of the Commission’s Steering Committee and only female in the committee.
Prior to her teaching career at the University of Philippines College of law, she had been associated with many organizations where she worked and served well. She indeed started her journey from the bottom to the top. Maria had believed in herself from the beginning and when she finally got to the top she knew it was worth it.
Some of the positions which she occupied include; serving as a consultant for the United Nations, World Bank, and US Agency for International Development. She once served as a counsellor of the WTO Appellate Body. Maria served alongside with Justice Florentino Feliciano as a co-counsel on the Fraport case in Singapore. She also headed the Information and Public Division office of the UP Law Complex.
She served as Commissioner and Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Preparatory Commission on Constitutional Reform In 1999.
She also headed the Office of the President (OP) and Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) at the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI), and WTO-AFTA.
Maria was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines in August 2010, making her the 169th Member and the first to be appointed by President Benigno Aquino III. But that was not the end of the journey for Maria. On 24th August 2012, she was appointed by President Aquino as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
She is an inspiration and good example to many women in the Phillipines who aspire to achieve strides in the academia. She hopes to use her position to serve her country well and to bring honor to the women community of Pilipino.
Maria is happily married to Mario Jose E. Sereno of Davao City and they are blessed with two children, Maria Sophia and Jose Lorenzo.