Atty Alma Luna-Reyes: The Moon King Continues to Shine
PLACENTIA – Why did I become a lawyer? “Most likely it is because at a very young age, I often found myself in sticky situations and I had to learn how to extricate myself from it,” a beaming Atty Alma Luna-Reyes told this at her law office (located at 895-E Yorba Linda Blvd Suite 205, Placentia, CA 92870, tel. no. (714) 579-1270). “I learned how to think on my feet and reason out as far as I can remember with my parents and my grade school teachers.” That spunk and precocious reasoning have served her well. It came in handy especially for a litigator who often finds herself advocating for clients before the courts of law.
Atty. Reyes had been exposed early to the workings of jurisprudence when she was a tyke growing up in Baggao, in the northeast province of Cagayan in Luzon, Philippines. Atty Reyes was three-years-old when her mother and grandmother took her and a similarly aged cousin to attend the trial of a relative who had been killed in a homicide. She discovered that those frequent court attendance to watch the trial had germinated in her a dream to become a lawyer someday. Later, when she was in grade school, she also witnessed famous human rights lawyer Jose Diokno defend a farmer in Baggao who was a human rights victim of the Marcos dictatorial regime.That experience only strengthened her desire to be involved in human rights causes and, one day, emulate Diokno, who was working pro bono to defend the farmer.
Moving to California with her husband and two sons in the early 90s, she took every immigrant’ route, finding odd jobs and dabbling in her other love, writing, while all the while not losing track of her dream to become a lawyer. She took up law at the Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, and graduated with Juris Doctor (JD) degree. Talking with a community editor a few years ago, Atty Alma recalled, “Contrary to what others believe, not all college graduates from the Philippines are considered high school graduates or second year college students. I was acknowledged as a university graduate upon admission.” She had been armed with a Philosophy degree from one of the Philippines’ prestigious Ateneo de Manila University.
In addition to academic excellence, her Philippine education taught her and her classmates “not only to excel in classrooms but more importantly to lead a life that is humane in every way,” she told the writer. More importantly, Ateneo taught her to not only live for ourselves but to be “men for others”. She reminisced that “that although our growing years were spent in school dormitories, I was raised by a widow. My mother, Esmeralda Luna, was widowed at the age of 36. I was 14 when my father died.”
Her father, Victoriano Luna, was the grandson of General V. Luna in whom V. Luna Hospital is named. Her grandfather, Cesar Luna, a pilot, flew a fighter plane for the USAFFE during World War II. With ancestors like the foregoing, Atty Alma carries the mantel to propagate a tradition of greatness. “My family sacrificed a lot to get me where I am,” she tells the editor. Her mother and sisters would rush to send money (to California) from the Philippines for tuition fees. She revealed her husband and children “patiently and lovingly allowed me to study, rest and do my thing as they learned to take care of one another.”
She obtained her Doctor of Jurisprudence at Western State University College of Law, which led to her passing the California Bar right after.
“I have a whole gourmet of clients who have concerns about immigration, family law, credit and collection, debts, etc.,” she told PinoyWatchDog.com recently. “My plan was to do private practice for the next few years, then join an international human rights advocacy group as a volunteer.” That doesn’t mean that she will turn her back completely to the profession she originally excels in. She will continue to write, which was her first love. PWD has been already a beneficiary of that promise since she contributed a travel article to PWD a couple months ago. The readers at Philippines Post and Philippines Tribune (formerly Philippine Times), which published her ‘Moon King’ columns and those followers of Forum Asia Magazine where she served as an Executive Editor will be eagerly waiting for her articles. For those who love her, however, it doesn’t matter whether she decides to be a writer or a lawyer, Alma Luna Reyes or The Soul of the Moon King will continue to shine in their hearts.—Rene Villaroman