Centenarian: Enrile celebrates 100th birthday on Valentine's Day

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile is celebrating his 100th year of existence in the world on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Enrile celebrates 100th birthday on Valentine's Day
Photo courtesy: Facebook/Juan Ponce Enrile

On social media, amusing memes surfaced related to his remarkably immortal life, such as images where he is seen alongside dinosaurs, Adam and Eve, or other historical figures and events that he supposedly witnessed.

A centenarian is an individual who has lived for a hundred years or more. Given that life expectancies globally typically fall below the century mark, being labeled as a centenarian is synonymous with exceptional longevity.

In the Philippines, a centenarian is considered fortunate due to the benefits they receive. Aside from having witnessed significant global events such as pandemics, wars, the evolution of music, and more, they are also entitled to receive Php 100,000 in accordance with Republic Act 10868, a law that honors Filipinos who reach the age of one hundred years.

But who really is Juan Ponce Enrile?

Enrile was born in Gonzaga, Cagayan on February 14, 1924. During that time, the Philippines was still under American rule and had not yet achieved full republic status. He was the son of Alfonso Ponce Enrile and Petra Furugganan.

In 1953, he completed his Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of the Philippines, graduating with honors as salutatorian and cum laude.

It's not surprising that the following year, he also took his oath as a member of the Philippine Bar. He positioned himself at the 11th spot among successful candidates with a rating of 91.72%.

He pursued his Master of Laws degree specializing in taxation and corporate reorganization at Harvard Law School in 1955.

In the following years, Enrile continued to practice law and even taught at Far Eastern University.

Due to his credibility, he ventured into politics and was trusted by former President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. as finance secretary from 1966 to 1968.

And when the former president won his second term, Enrile was appointed as justice secretary and defense minister.

He also played a significant role during Martial Law on September 21, 1972. Allegedly, a staged ambush against him in Wack Wack Subdivision, Mandaluyong, served as the pretext for Marcos, Sr. to implement Martial Law nationwide.

According to records from Amnesty International, a human rights group, over 50,000 people were arrested and detained from 1972 to 1975. More than 34,000 were tortured, and over 3,000 were killed.

However, in a vlog in 2018 with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., Enrile denied these claims.

"Name me one person that was arrested because of political or religious belief during that period. None… Name me one person that was arrested simply because he criticized President Marcos. None," he said.

Another highlight of Enrile's political career was when he served as Senate President twice under consecutive administrations. First, under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2008 to 2010, and secondly, under former President Benigno Aquino III from 2010 to 2013.

Today, after five decades, Enrile is still very much alive. He even witnessed the victory of the son of former President Marcos, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr.

In fact, he even took his oath as chief presidential legal counsel to President Marcos, Jr. on July 26, 2022.

Technically speaking, Enrile has simply outlived all the presidents of the Philippines, from Emilio Aguinaldo to the current president, PBBM. In an interview before, Enrile mentioned that the secret to his long life is eating vegetables, particularly "saluyot."

In his latest interview, Enrile reportedly mentioned that he's aware of the memes circulating about his age. He said that he simply laughs them off and doesn't get offended anymore, especially those memes and jokes implying that he took care of dinosaurs.

Amazing, right?

— Noel Ed Richards, The Summit Express

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