Our People

 
 
 

Partners

Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun

Senior Partner

Sig, as he is known to his friends, is a Founding Partner of the Firm. He is a proud product of the public school system, having graduated from University of the Philippines starting from secondary school until securing his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1983. Prior to establishing the Firm in June 1993, Sig worked as an associate in one of the biggest law firms in the Philippines for almost nine years, where he honed his skills as a trial lawyer.

Sig believes that lawyering is like a religion because it demands a lot of passion. And for the past 25 years as Senior Partner of the Firm, Sig has been constantly going the extra mile for each of his clients to ensure victory in their cases. His mark of excellence is known in almost all areas of law, from criminal and civil litigation, arbitration, environmental law, Presidential impeachment, intellectual property, environmental and historical site preservation actions, and corporate rehabilitation and insolvency work.

It is no surprise that in July 2018, Asia Business Law Journal recognized Sig as one of the Top-100 Lawyers in the Philippines. Chambers Asia Global also considered him as a Leading Lawyer for Dispute Resolution – Philippines from 2009 to 2018. Asia Pacific Legal 500 consistently ranked Sig as a Leading Lawyer for Dispute Resolution – Philippines from 2006 to 2018. BluPrint Magazine likewise acknowledged Sig as a “Heritage Hero” for Saving the Taal Basilica in 2013.

Outside the office, Sig assumes his role as Bureau of Fire Protection-trained volunteer fire fighter and a Philippine Red Cross first aider. He also tries to squeeze in some rounds of golf in his spare time with his UP Vanguard ‘brods’ and Philippine Military Academy Class ’82 ‘mistahs,’ usually in between disaster risk reduction management trainings for cadets of the UP Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

Gregorio Y. Narvasa II

Senior Partner

Ogie is a Founding Partner of the Firm. In everything he does, Ogie exemplifies the Mens sana in corpore sano maxim. During his college years at the Ateneo de Manila University, he was a consistent member of the basketball varsity team and was also awarded the Most Valuable Player during the 1975-1976 NCAA season. During this time, Ogie was a member of the Philippine National Basketball that competed in the ASEAN region. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Management, Honors Course, degree before graduating 8th in his College of Law Class at the University of the Philippines in 1985. Ogie established the Firm in June 1993 together with his former colleague, Sig Fortun.

While practicing law, Ogie continuously engages in improving the state of Philippine sports by becoming a Commissioner of the Philippine Basketball League from 1992 to 1994 and assuming the post of Commissioner of the Metroball Basketball Association from 2000 to 2001. Ogie is also a Trustee of the Ateneo Sports Hall of Fame, Inc. from 2004 and became its President in 2011 up to the present.

Ogie helps out in legal and judicial reforms by being part of the Makati Law Foundation, Inc. A President of the same Foundation from 1988 to 2000 and its Chairman from 2000 to 2002, Ogie still finds it a challenge to fight for what is true and just in the face of all the obstacles to truth and justice.

Ogie heads the Labor Law portfolio of the Firm and practices criminal, civil and commercial litigation. The Legal 500 Asia Pacific recognized Ogie as a Recommended Lawyer for 2016 to 2017.

Roderick R.C. Salazar III

Senior Partner

Dicky, a Senior Partner at FNS, was born in 1962 in Legazpi City. He was educated at St. Agnes Academy and Divine Word College High School, both in the same city, from childhood until 1979 before he moved to Manila to study at the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics where he graduated with an AB Economics degree in 1983 and at the UP College of Law where he earned his Bachelor of Laws in 1987.

With over 30 years’ experience in law, Dicky specializes in corporate and commercial law, mergers and acquisitions, real estate law, taxation, projects, mining, energy and natural resources law. He is a trained commercial arbitrator of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc.

Dicky advises corporate clients in all aspects of corporate law and acts as director and corporate secretary, and resident agent of various companies. He also counsels on incorporation and registration of corporate entities; corporate compliance and governance issues; corporate reorganization; and availment of incentives.

Dicky likewise represents foreign and Filipino mining companies involved in all aspects of mining from exploration, project financing, construction, development and processing. His existing foreign and domestic mining clients range from operating companies to exploration entities.

Dicky was recently included in the Asia Business Law Journal list of top 100 lawyers in the Philippines. He was also listed in the 2018 edition and in past editions of the International Who’s Who of Mining Lawyers for the Philippines. He was ranked as a leading lawyer in natural resources and mining by Chambers Global 2018 and prior years and is highly recommended as a leading lawyer in projects, energy and natural resources by Chambers Asia-Pacific 2018 and ranked a leading individual in projects and energy by the Asia Legal 500 2018 Edition and prior years.

Dicky is active in the Corporate Secretary of the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Mining Committee and heads its Resources Development Committee. He is an active member of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines Legal Committee, a trustee of the Philippine Mineral Exploration Association and Co-Chairman of the Mining Committee of the Philippine Bar Association. He is a Director of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Makati City Chapter. He lectures on corporate law, partnership, agency and trust and property law, negotiable instruments law and sales at the UP College of Law and the San Beda Alabang College of Law.

Mylene T. Marcia-Creencia

Partner

Myls made a big jump and joined FNS in 1995 as one of its pioneer associates. She was there during the Firm’s early years, and saw the triumphs, challenges, milestones and strides that molded the FNS that we see today. Since then, she has not looked back and has been part of the FNS Team for 22 years… out of her 23 years as a lawyer. She has therefore spent, in her words, “more than 95% of my legal career” with the Firm.

It has always been her dream to be a lawyer. She shares: “As early as high school, I have been fascinated with the idea of being able to help defend the rights of a person, and obtain justice for people in need. I also imagined myself having a fancy job working in a law firm and rendering legal advisory work for clients.” Myls continues, “I have always thought that there will be more exciting opportunities for me if I become a lawyer. Being a private practitioner and being part of a dynamic team of legal eagles is actually just one of them. Other opportunities await a member of the bar. She could also be a prosecutor or member of the judiciary as a judge or even a justice. There is also the option of being an in-house counsel of a private corporation, or a government lawyer. Indeed, I saw a wide array of opportunities and career options to choose from once I fulfill my dream to become a lawyer. Today, I am exactly where I wanted to be, that is, working in a law firm that helped my professional growth and finding fulfillment in the work that I do.”

Myls feels truly proud that she rose from the ranks. She was one of the first associate of FNS, after previously serving as one of the first junior associates of Atty. Ogie Narvasa in his former law firm. She happily shares, “I became partner of the Firm by my own merit and through sheer hard work. I am grateful to my partners who became not only my mentors but family. They have self-effacingly taught me the ropes of the practice, to value my work and my responsibility as a lawyer.” She continues, “I am able to apply the things I have learned from my partners in the cases I handle for the Firm. Most of these are annulment of marriage, adoption, custody, support of children, estate planning, immigration and corporate law. Luckily, all my annulment petitions have been granted by the courts. This is because of my hands-own and assiduous approach in all the cases that I handle. Although I am already a partner of the Firm, I do not just leave the work to a junior associate. I make it a point to impart to the junior lawyers the things I learned from the senior partners so they too will be able to hone their own litigation skills. I do not just monitor the junior lawyers’ work; more importantly, I mentor them in doing their work.”

Myls heads the Family Law and Estate Practice Group of the Firm. She took her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Pontifical University, cum laude, and graduated from the San Beda University (College of Law) – Mendiola in 1993. Mylene is a member of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association and a Legal 500 Asia Pacific Recommended Lawyer in 2017.

Bayani B. Loste

Partner

Bay came onboard FNS in May 1999, right after he and his wife Amy passed the Bar Exams that year. His law school classmate and fraternity brother informed him that there was an opening in the Firm so he sent his application letter, sat for an interview with all of the partners, and received the call to become an associate from Senior Partner Sig Fortun himself.

Bay has worked with several litigation teams of Firm before carving out his own intellectual property practice in 2006 after he was invited to join the Partnership. Aside from handling IP cases, Bay also actively prosecutes patents as he is one of the few Philippine lawyers who passed the IPOPHL’s Patent Agent Qualifying Examinations. He is now actively involved in professionalizing the patent practice in the country and in training future patent practitioners through the Association of PAQE Professionals, a non-profit composed of certified patent attorneys and agents in the Philippines. He also teaches IP fundamentals and patent drafting at a technical institute and in numerous trainings and seminars sponsored by the IPOPHL and the Department of Science and Technology. When he’s not drafting patent specifications, Bay reads about the latest legal cases and trends and regularly attends professional conferences to keep himself abreast on the developments in the IP world.

Bay heads the IP practice group of the Firm and finds it gratifying whenever he completes a disclosure of an invention application: “I am practically creating something out of nothing.”

Outside work, Bay spends most of his time with Amy and his four kids. He relishes being a witness to their scholastic and extra-curricular achievements.

Ma. Carmen D. Babista-Lazaro

Partner

Maricar joined the Firm in 2001, right about the time when FNSLAW was handling the Kuratong Baleleng case and the impeachment of former President Estrada, among other controversial cases. Maricar recalls, “The Firm was already known in the legal field at the time that I entered as a junior associate. I found the Firm to be prominent and prestigious.”

After four years from joining, Maricar was promoted as Senior Associate and was accepted as a junior partner shortly thereafter. Maricar shares that she took up law because she probably had the lawyer’s blood in her genes since her grandfather (on her mother’s side) was a lawyer as well as an aunt and an uncle. She adds, ‘I have always been fascinated with the legal profession since I was a little girl. I used to watch legal dramas shown in the movies and in television a lot. Most of the lawyers in the movies and television I watched always appeared confident, composed, and knowledgeable as they argue their points. For me, to become a successful yet humble lawyer with a well-balanced life is the ultimate ‘goal’.

Maricar believes that ‘Justice should be given to the deserving.’ She is happiest when she is with her family and, in relation to her profession, whenever she wins cases for her clients and when they refer her to their friends as it means they are satisfied with her legal services. She is proud to share that she contributes to the success and growth of the Firm by being a good role model to the younger partners, associates and staff of the Firm not just in legal practice but in other aspects of life. “I also render legal work and services to our clients in accordance with the qualities and standards set by the Firm and by making sure that justice is given to the deserving in the most competent and honest means possible.”

Maricar heads the Real Estate and Franchising Practice Areas of the Firm. She took her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Santo Tomas and completed her law degree from San Beda College-Mendiola in 1999. Admitted to the Philippine Bar in 2000, she is a member of Dispute Resolution Board Foundation and the Philippine Franchising Association. Maricar is a Legal 500 Asia Pacific Recommended Lawyer in 2017.

Karl Arian A. Castillo

Partner

Karl joined FNS in 2002. He was promoted to Senior Associate in 2004 and admitted to the Partnership in 2008. He has been in litigation since his early years with the Firm but he also involves himself in energy law, arbitration, and environmental cases. The practice of law, according to Karl, ‘is a jealous lover that demands so much from a person. It can shatter you to pieces if you allow it. Assiduous preparation and trying to predict all possible ramifications of my decisions help me become a better lawyer because fear and stress are both rooted in the unknown.’ He states, 'striving for perfection even if it seems unreachable makes one a better person, which ultimately redounds to the benefit and success of FNS.'

Karl considers having a wonderful and loving family as his greatest blessing. ‘My family is the center of my universe and the fountain of my happiness. Joyce, Kim, Gab, and Edj are my raison d’ etre.’

Walter Robin C. Go

Partner

Walter joined the Firm in January 2006, right after he passed the Bar exams. Each case of the cases that he has handled has its own peculiarities. Walter recalls that the first case assigned to him was a murder and parricide case. He also vividly remembers his first injunction case, which happened to be against a local government unit. Not being pampered by the Partners during the handling of these cases allowed Walter to grow as a professional and, as a result, he learned the ropes of litigation quickly. Walter was invited to the Partnership in 2015.

For Walter, the challenges in his work as a lawyer are numerous but what comes to mind is, as he shares, “the greatest probably involves dealing with people in different situations, from diverse backgrounds and varying attitudes. For example, there is no formula for serving the needs of clients. Each has its own needs and expectations. Each and every lawyer will always believe that the legal advice he doles out is correct, but without first understanding the client, the issue at hand, the personalities of the people listening, it will not be effective. All clients are different. Some want their hands to be held, while others simply want to hear their options, or weigh their risks.”

Walter grew up playing team sports from which he first learned about hard work and the importance of fair play. “This is a principle that I apply in my daily practice of law,” Walter notes. A genuine Blue Eagle, Walter graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Legal Management and a Juris Doctor from the Ateneo de Manila University before he was accepted to the Philippine Bar in 2006. Walter principally practices Arbitration and is a certified arbitrator of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc.

Princess Ann T. De Jesus-Viray

Partner

Ann clerked for Justices Leonardo A. Quisumbing and Martin S. Villarama of the Supreme Court right after passing the Bar Exams in 2007 before joining the Firm in June 2013. She credits her clerkship with the two Justices for giving her the necessary skills in argumentation and legal writing, which, when coupled with hands-on oral advocacy in litigation as an associate with the Firm, as primary reasons for her acceptance as the newest Partner of FNS in 2017.

Ann enjoys quiet time with her family and friends. Communing with nature is Ann’s favorite pass time as it recharges her for the challenges of her work.

A cum laude graduate in both Bachelor of Arts (Economics and Psychology) and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of the Philippines and the University of the Cordilleras, respectively, Ann principally handles the Labor Law and Immigration portfolios of the Firm.

Associates

Kristine R. Ferrer

Senior Associate

After a run of high-profile cases involving tax evasion charges, and graft and corruption allegations, Tine may well be called a celebrated litigation-lawyer. Her experience comprises corporate, litigation and mergers & acquisitions practice. Nonetheless, she remains to be the resident taxation law-guru – establishing her niche in the firm’s tax department.

This, however, is just her glowing professional profile. She remains to bring sunshine across unlit halls. She graces the office corners like a kind-hearted child – innocent, trusting; choosing happiness, always.

Sheila C. Sison

Senior Associate

A fierce litigator, Sheila is a Senior Associate who roars in the litigation arena; taking on battles no ordinary-caliber lawyer would dare handle. Her ability to turn tables around earns her trusting-clients. But it is her passion to deliver and commitment to excellence; to see that justice is done; to ensure that the right to life, liberty, and property are at all times protected that makes her one of the Firm’s toughest lawyers.

Prior to joining the Firm, she is a product of the country’s Science High School system and graduated from the Quezon City Science High School. She took her undergraduate degree from the University of the Philippines Los Baños with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, Major in Writing. While at UPLB, she founded and led several university organizations and headed the UP Sigma Alpha Nu Sorority as its Lady Chancellor. She also served in the Editorial Board of the University’s student paper as the Opinion Editor and won as Best Speaker and Best Campus Debater at the University of the Philippines Campus Debate for two consecutive years.

She earned her Bachelor of Laws from San Sebastian College of Law – Recoletos where she finished her law degree as a full Academic Scholar of the Recoletos Order. She was a consistent Dean’s Lister throughout her law school years and graduated as Class Valedictorian. She was also awarded and the first recipient of the Academic Excellence Medal of Honor by the Recoletos Educational Apostolate of the Philippines.

Sheila currently holds the record of having been chosen as the Firm’s Lawyer of the Year for four consecutive years now or from 2015 to 2018 – a historical feat that shows her dedication to excellence.

She specializes in criminal litigation and is the lead counsel of numerous Sandiganbayan cases. Aside from criminal litigation, she also has an extensive experience in civil litigation, family law, appellate practice, labor law, mining law, and corporate law.

In her spare time, Sheila loves to engage her creative side. In 2001, she was chosen as a Fellow in Poetry at the Ateneo de Manila University National Writers Workshop.

Gerille Hope E. Patagan

Senior Associate

Versatility is Hope’s gem. She has made her mark in both litigation and corporate practice areas. Her keenness for detail ensures that all corporate transactions are above-board, while her ability to stand on her feet in court is a recognized talent.

Initially inclined to pursue a career in the academe, Hope went to law school to challenge herself. Women's rights and environmental concerns are causes close to her heart. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Sociology (magna cum laude) and Juris Doctor from the University of the Philippines.

When not in the court room or assisting clients with their corporate concerns, Hope seeks the outdoors during weekends. Her idea of taking a break from pleading-writing is a day out on the beach. (Hash-)tagged the wandering lawyer, her photo-dump is a timely reminder to live and be in the moment.

Matthew Aaron D. Ong

Senior Associate

A must-watch story in major-league litigation. Odds might not always be in his favor. But, Matt knows when to fold, and when to play the hand he is dealt with. A true strategist. This innate talent reassures his clients that there is, and will always be, an end to any dark alley.

Matt is the go-to guy for sports, litigation, and sports. When he has learned to play the game, he will not back down from a challenge. But he will always play the cards right.

Diega D. Villanueva

Senior Associate

Diega D. Villanueva is a Senior Associate whose practice covers various fields of law, including civil and criminal litigation, intellectual property law, and corporate and regulatory law.

Her specialization in litigation involves cases before trial and appellate courts all over the country, the Sandiganbayan, Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), and the Intellectual Property Office (IPOPhil), among others. She handles retainers and special projects of corporate clients, has extensive experience in mining and real estate corporations, and has considerable practice in patent prosecution and trademark applications. Diega has also assisted foreign companies in incorporation of Philippine subsidiaries.

Diega earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) in 2008 and 2009 as part of a five-year invitational fast-track program. She obtained her law degree in 2014 from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law as a working law student, balancing law school and a full-time job as a researcher at the Ateneo School of Government, a professor at ADMU’s Department of Political Science, and a political and legislative affairs officer for AKO Bicol Party List at the House of Representatives.

In 2014, Diega was awarded the Dean’s Award for Service for her commitment to the UP Law Student Government and recognized as a Distinguished Intern by the UP Office of Legal Aid. She also headed the bar operations for evening students and was active in several causes, including collegiate political affairs and human rights, having been a member of UP Organization of Human Rights Advocates, UP ALYANSA, and the Paralegal Volunteers Organization.

Diega is a theatre enthusiast and has extensive experience in theatre acting, theatrical movement, and dance. She also has professional experience in acting for theatre and hosting events. She was voted by her UP Law batch as “Best in Comedy” and “Miss Congeniality.”

She was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 2015 and joined the Firm in the same year.

Criela dela Fuente Fragante

Senior Associate

Criela D.F. Fragante is a Senior Associate whose practice focuses on corporate and litigation matters across various fields of legal practice, including litigation, intellectual property, and general corporate law.

Criela appears before trial courts for civil and criminal cases, and has appeared before the Sandiganayan defending clients accused of graft and corrupt practices. She also drafts and reviews legal documents and handles cases. She also provides advice on regulations and transactions to corporate clients. Criela also handles intellectual property applications and cases for the firm ranging from trademarks to patent drafting and prosecution.

Prior to joining the firm, Criela received her bachelor’s degree, major in Humanities with a minor in Political Economics, from the University of Asia & the Pacific in 2010. She thereafter obtained her law degree from San Beda University - Mendiola in 2014. She was admitted to the Philippine bar in 2015 and joined the Firm in the same year.

Abraham Gerard G. Alzate

Associate

Abe joined the firm on January 2018 and currently specializes in the areas of criminal and civil litigation, family law, political law and labor law.

He holds a degree in Philosophy and Human Resource Development from the San Beda University and thereafter earned his law degree from the San Beda University – Alabang School of Law where he held the position of External Vice-President of its Legal Aid Center.

Abe entered law school as a working student employed in the Financial Sector of the Business Process Outsourcing Industry. Prior to law school, he worked for JP Morgan Chase and Co. and Thomson Reuters, Ltd. He was also a Migrations Specialist in Oracle Corporation when he entered law school but found his career with said company short-lived when he soon decided to go full-time in his academics.

Abe started his legal career with the Firm as an underbar associate until he hurdled the Philippine Bar Examinations in 2017. Even before he officially entered the legal profession, he was being trained to be consistently immersed in heavy litigation work, one that best harnesses his professional knowledge and skills until today.

Outside lawyering, Abe is a practicing Martial Artist and a fighter. For several times, he was a champion in the National and Pan Asia-Pacific International Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Federation Open from 2013-2017 until he finally graduated from law school and studied for the Bar Examinations. He also holds gold medals in the Wrestling Association of the Philippines National Championships and currently trains for a career in Mixed Martial Arts. He now teaches his own team in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and trains with Team Fist Gym, Sprawl and Badgers under the Kamphuis-Fabricio camp. He is also skilled in knife fighting and empty hand combat and trains under the Abenir-Kalis Defense System.

Robert Francis C. Fernandez

Associate

A homegrown talent. Robi is one of the first to survive the Firm’s apprenticeship program and become part of its league of associates. A young professional with a promising track deeply immersed in some of the Firm’s celebrated and high-profile cases. As he learns the ropes, he earns the trust and respect of corporate and litigation clients.

Robi daydreams of putting up a coffee shop or living-off in a remote island. But, for now, he spends most weekends on road trips.

Belinda Grace G. Gervasio

Associate

Happy-pill. Named as “Bel” by her colleagues and friends, she graces the Firm’s halls with glee. Her contagious laughter brightens the workplace. She shines through from buzzer-beater clutches to the most uneventful days.

In her practice, Bel excels in client-management. She not only counsels but becomes a friend. The nobility in her craft is seen as she puts her heart into cases and queries landing her desk.

Paolo Miguel C. Gonzales

Associate

Strong-arm. Paolo stands out at the negotiation table. More than crafting his own brand of persuasion techniques, he slowly learns the art of perfect timing. His keen eye for detail ensures that he lands exactly as he plots. Thus, Paolo’s fair share of commercial litigation.

Paolo also has his professional roots in the Firm. He has hurdled the Firm’s apprenticeship program and has earned his spot in both the Firm’s litigation and corporate divisions.

Monique Annabelle R. Lee

Associate

Monique’s soft voice and sweet persona will lead or mislead. She looks after a pile of litigation and corporate retainer clients. Her versatility in court-room argumentation and board-room negotiations has earned her a ticket to landing the Firm’s high-profile cases and clients.

Monique’s brand of professionalism is centered on tenacity. She never settles for anything less, more so, she ensures delivery above resolve.

John Matthew R. Medina

Associate

John commits to unwavering fortitude to ensure that his client’s cause is championed; voice is heard. His objective that the letter of the law is observed without its spirit being compromised is what he is known for.

Golf is a sport John finds himself challenged in – seemingly simple yet complicated all at the same time. His tested sportsmanship is echoed in his practice.

Carlo Joaquin T. Narvasa

Associate

Taking on waves in litigation practice, CJ is truly meant for first-chair. To stand firm with tenacity amid hounding argumentation is his talent. This assures his client that he will be protected.

Waves run through the weekend for CJ. Friday nights usually call for a quick weekend trip to the beach. He braves any route right in time for the next Monday.

Jai Jagannath S. Tamayo

Associate

Strength in one’s character is best personified by Jai. His diligence, prudence, and foresight make him the go-to-guy for novel cases. His ability ensure that ends meet indeed allows him to uncomplicate event the most complicated situations.

Jai’s first professional engagement was his baptism by fire. Rising like phoenix, Jai targets nothing short of legendary. Thus, his craft being honed by the Firm’s litigation division.

Joseph Daniel S. Tarraya

Associate

Organization, structure and planning. As the former CEO and President of their family-owned company, Dan now offers to the firm and its client a set of skills necessary for effective case management. He entered the legal profession with a vision of being reliable in managing complex legal processes. He’s passionate at becoming good in both litigation and deal-making. For corporate clients, Dan served not just a lawyer but a strategic advisor as well.

Dan has a rock star vibe, so there’s no surprise that he resorts to music in keeping his positivity. Playing tennis is also one way for him to relax and take care of his health.

Jorge Patrick A. Yasay

Associate

Pleader. Jorge believes that aside from wise preparation and effective trial techniques, a legal battle is won through well-written pleadings. His work reflects his proficiency and skills as a debater. His thoroughness shows his great promise in litigation and other areas of law practice.