December 31, 2005

Gratitude for a love far, far greater than any

Behold, I make all things new.”  (Revelation 21:5, RSV)

Such great love by the King, whose birth we celebrated at Christmas, and such great joy by us, who have been called His children.

At the end of a blessed year, 2005, I raise my hands and my heart to the source of all blessing, the fount of all joy, the wellspring of all hope:  my Lord, my King, my God.

Father, I thank You for the way You have blessed me this year;  for the way You have touched my life with each new day;  for the way Your blessings have overflowed and your grace has been in abundance;  for the way You continue to love me, despite my unloveableness and my unloving nature.

Lord, I thank You for the many ways You have made all things new to me this year, for the many times You have surprised me;  for the many joys that sustained me and the many challenges that made me strong;  for the many times I have asked You to reign in my life and for the many times You actually did; for the many times You allowed my passions to meet my dreams; and for the many times that You taught me the virtue of waiting on and for You.

Father, I lift up each day of my new year to You—the source of my joy, the essence of my life, the reason for my passion, the one who loved me first (Isaiah 43:4) and my first love. (Rev 2:4).  I pray for the grace to rise each new day, to pray, “I will love today” and to live out that prayer each day.

Lord, thank You for loving me with a love far, far greater than any other.  I pray that I might, in pale imitation of You, love with a love far, far greater than I can hope to be loved.  

That in all that I do and say, Your Name may be glorified—I pray in Christ’s Holy Name.  

A hunch played out excellently

A fresh take on formula by an intelligent director with an enthusiastic supporting cast and an excellent portrayal by a comebacking actor.

That is how I would describe Joey Reyes’s  Kutob (literally, “hunch”).

Casting my biases against Rica Peralejo (watch the execrable Tatarin from another year’s filmfest and you will understand why)  aside, I went to watch Kutob on the last day of the year and I came out quite satisfied and pleased.  Sure, the plot is quite familiar, formulaic even.  It’s lifted almost purely from Hitchcock’s Psycho with a smattering of the teen slasher flicks like I know what you did last summer, Halloween and Urban Legend but the direction is so crisp and the characterization so good that you forget about the dubious pedigree of the plot soon enough.

Marvin Agustin, as Lemuel, displays great acting chops as well as a revamped body as Rica Peralejo’s stalker.  His characterization is very deep and his essaying of the role of the stalker is so rich;  even as early on, you know its going to be him, you still continue to watch—transfixed not only by how he registers on screen (quite good) but also by how he carries the role (excellently).  Largely because of him. the formula becomes fresh and Joey Reyes is to be credited with this.

Liza Lorena as the aunt is so good!  The role could have become hammy but she does so well without any irritating acting tics that you forget any comparisons with Psycho.  

The supporting cast is first-rate.  Alessandra De Rossi is always excellent and she does not disappoint here;  she is the 2k Suzanne Gonzales and Cherry Pie Picache, i.e., actors who portray the proverbial “best friend”, and is the perfect foil for Peralejo.  Even the normally bland James Blanco is good.  Ryan Agoncillo, who is “introduced” in this film, appears not to do much acting simply because the image of the character he plays is so similar to his television image but he acquits himself quite well.  Others in the cast are the ever-reliable Anna Capri and the two very striking “victims”, Andrea Del Rosario and Pamela Nieva—both of whom not only project well on screen (particularly Nieva;  where’d she come from?) but also display very understated acting.

Significantly, it is Peralejo who doesn’t do much.  She enjoys top billing and the film does revolve around her but somehow you get the impression that her role could have been played by just anyone and you would get the same performance.  

Reyes’s direction is tight and the pacing quite good.  My only technical complaint is that Jaime Fabregas’s otherwise excellent score tends to get too obvious, particularly in the “scary” parts.  It might have been better to have absolute silence before the gory parts, the better to elicit screams.  

But these are small flies in the otherwise excellent ointment that is Kutob.  

Don’t waste time on fantasy this MMFF, the reality portrayed so excellently in Kutob is time and money better spent.

Clipped wings

I’m sorry. . . but Mulawin The Movie just doesn’t do it for me.

I had a choice of Kutob, Enteng Kabisote 2 or Mulawin and I chose the only “Rated A” film—which shows just how much I know about movies (because in my book, it’s worth at least a D).

My expectations weren’t that high—after all, the lead male actor is from the same genepool as Ruffa Gutierrez and the lead  female actor’s most famous line (“Darna”) had to be dubbed (by Regine Velasquez) as she just couldn’t cut it—but I expected, at least, entertainment.  Well, maybe, . . . That’s Entertainment from the 80’s. . . as in the German Moreno type of entertainment.

Just to get it out of the way, the script and story are both unoriginal—a bad mix and match of every sword and sorcery epic as well as obvious rip-offs from Tolkien—and the acting. . . well, let’s just say that the Gutierrez genepool is gorgeous but that’s it.

Richard Gutierrez is good-looking but he just does not have the gravitas to be the sugo or the Aragorn-type (and for that matter, neither does Ding Dong Dantes, who is atrociously miscast here);  he does not have the poise, he does not have the air, he does not have the voice, he does not have the built, he does not have. . .it.  Perhaps if they had given the role to someone like Jong Hilario (whatever happened to him?) except he’s not white, meztizo and doesn’t have straight hair.

Angel Locsin is gorgeous but she is absolutely wooden;  the fatigue from doing several series one after the other is showing.  She goes through her lines, stiff and . . . wooden;  it is as if she was doing a really bad Amy Austria impersonation (Amy Austria is one of those actors who can say her lines with a minimum of expression and still manage to get the point across—as my late classmate and seatmate for 4 years in law school Gail would say, binabato ang mga linya)..  Interestingly, Amy Austria is cast as Angel Locsin’s mother.

The Encantadia ladies are also there but only Iza Calzado and Sunshine Dizon are given much to do.  Iza Calzado is one of the most beautiful faces around but she still has to put her finger on acting;  her turn as the Galadriel-figure in this film is flat, again she does not have the gravitas for it.  Sunshine Dizon is a pleasant revelation;  she realizes that her role is hammy and she overacts like anything—in this way, she’s the only great performer in this movie because she doesn’t take it seriously (of course, I’m presuming here that she did this on purpose and that her school of method acting isn’t really from the Christmas ham school).  And by the way, what happened to Diana Zubiri?

The editing is bad and very choppy;  midway through the film, I got a headache from the editing.

And don’t get me started on the use of the South Border song.  It’s a good song but it doesn’t fit the scenes where it is played.  It’s jarring, obtrusive and doesn’t add to the atmosphere of the film.  We really haven’t gotten it yet, do we?  You can have a great song for a theme and not have it played throughout the film—take The Lord of the Rings for example;  Annie Lennox won an Oscar for her song but you hardly recognized it or heard it because it was played so unobtrusively.  

Even the effects and the sets aren’t “Rated A” stuff.  The sets are cramped and the use of the camera shots emphasize this—consider the wedding scene between Gutierrez and Locsin.  No grandeur, no pomp, no long shots of fantastic locales. . . it’s like an extended skit from the 80’s That’s Entertainment.  

I will stop here because I’m getting a headache writing about this movie.  The long and short of it, Mulawin never takes off, let alone soar.

December 28, 2005

Reflections on a Sheaffer

Thanks to Butch Dalisay, I finally found my broad nib fountain pen. He very kindly responded to my email asking him for fountain pen information by informing me of a store in Escolta called Luis Store. Fountain pens are a passion I share with him, though I don’t have the number and the rare pens he does, I do love writing with a fountain pen (a passion he shares as well).

Now, Escolta is a place I had not been to in a very long time; I remember when I was a kid vacationing in Manila, my father, who was then assigned to a bank in Binondo, would take us around Escolta and Binondo--primarily for the food in the many hole-in-the wall stalls. I also remember, as a law student, frequenting a building in Escolta because that was where a paralegal training center was. All these, almost a lifetime ago.

Butch’s tip gave me the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with Escolta and also to indulge my passion for fountain pens.

I managed to find Luis Store and it was a wonderful experience looking at the various pens on display.

Those who know me know I'm not much of a shopper--I don't have the patience for it. I call myself a strategic shopper--plan ahead, go in and get what I need and get out. That was what I had intended to do at Luis Store--just look and, if fortunate, buy a broad nib pen and leave. At Luis Store, I surprised myself. Very much like a kid before a display of toys, I found myself pointing at various pens and asking, can I see that?, and enjoying myself tremendously.

The Chinese family that owns the store was wonderful; not only did they know their pens, they had so many wonderful stories of people who had walked through the portals of their store to buy fountain pens or have their pens repaired. It was a virtual tag team, the 70 plus mother and her two daughters plied me with hot tea and stories, in between my asking to try on various pens. They knew many people and they knew when to name drop, e.g., “you know, Congressman (Teddyboy) Locsin was just here yesterday; he wanted one of the medium Montblancs and ended up buying the top of the line one (my note: one pen cost PHP38Th).” Instead of spending a few minutes, I ended up spending close to two hours with tea, conversation and pens.

I finally settled on a Sheaffer Targa broad nib with a sterling silver body which was a steal for the price they gave me and which was also within my budget. One of the daughters was quite unsubtly nudging me towards the Montblanc Congressman Locsin had bought which was, however, too far off--way, way off--my budget.

As I took my leave of them, with my new pen in my shirt pocket, the mother asked if I would stay for lunch. Surprised, as I had known them for only two hours, I demurred because I had a meeting in Quezon City at 1:00 and it was already 12:30; not wishing to take “no” for an answer, she took out one of those Styrofoam containers and ladled a heaping serving of pancit bihon into it, pressed the container into my hands and told me to eat it in the car on my way to Quezon City.

I know that I will be going back to Escolta more often, not only for the the pancit bihon, which was very, very good, thank you very much, but also for the many other pens they have. The Sheaffer writes exquisitely too, by the way, thank you very much as well.


The reason I love writing with ink using a fountain pen is that it leaves a distinct impression. Unlike a ballpoint pen, writing with a fountain pen penetrates the several layers in paper and, quite literally, leaves its mark; writing with a ballpoint pen only scratches the surface, as it were. There is also nothing like the smooth glide of the nib and the rush of ink onto the paper—the feeling has to be experienced. It’s like having your passions meet your dreams—magic!

Of course, it’s almost impossible to cleanly correct anything that has been written with a fountain pen. The impression it leaves is indelible. The caveat I always give myself when using a pen is that I have to think long, hard and many times over before I use it because the imprint is indelible and permanent.

Living one’s life is very much like knowing how to use a fountain pen in writing. Very frequently, we live our lives without making an impression—merely existing and surviving, instead of creating an indelible imprint of our living. Many times, we do not think long, hard and many times over and the impact we make on others is indelible and permanent—tragically and unfortunately, many times over, this impact is negative or adverse.

We are called to live, not merely survive or exist. Standing up for one’s principles, beliefs or faith is living. Proclaiming proudly one’s principles, beliefs or faith is living. Encouraging others to stand up for and proclaim proudly one’s principles, beliefs or faith is living.


All these, from one trip to Escolta and two hours in a fountain pen shop. Thanks again, Butch.

December 27, 2005

It's Christmas time

A song that moved me a lot during the 80’s was a song that was played only during Christmas but ought to have been played all year long.

Do they know it’s Christmas?
(Bob Geldoff)

1. It’s Christmas time,
There’s no need to be afraid.
At Christmas time,
We let in light and we banish shade.
And in our world of plenty
We can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time

2. But say a prayer,
Pray for the “other ones”
At Christmas time, it’s hard
but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Tonight, thank God it’s them
Instead of you.

3. And there won’t be snow in Africa
This Christmas time
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Here’s to you: raise a glass to everyone
Here’s to them: underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Feed the world!
Let them know it’s Christmas time!

This was done in November of 1984 by a super collection of superstars from the eurorock industry: Sting, Bono, U2, Bob Geldoff, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Phil Collins, Midge Ure and Ultravox, Duran Duran, Boy George and Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Style Council, Eurythmics, George Michael and Andrew Ridgley, Bananarama and others. They called themselves Band Aid and they set out to make a difference and bring about change. It debuted at number 1 in the charts and raised a ton of money for aid to Africa. It also spawned copycats like the mediocre "USA for Africa" with the quasi-imperialistic sounding We are the World.

This Christmas, I heard this song again; and, as in the 80s and every year it has been played, it moved me, again--to think, to reflect, to question, to pray, to take action.

There’s only one mention of God in the entire song—“tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you—but reflecting on the song's message--eloquently written by a rock star--God’s hand and Spirit permeate the song. It speaks eloquently of love, it speaks courageously of giving, it speaks sincerely of making a stand and wanting to make a difference. All of these speak of God; all of these speak of God’s truth: that God, who loved us first, wants us to be able to love others back.

Almost twenty years after that song was written and first played, that line still haunts, do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

We still find ourselves in a land of indifference, apathy, hate and intolerance. We still find ourselves in a world that prizes getting ahead at all costs rather than loving with all your heart, your mind, your soul, your strength.

We may not be able to feed the hungry in Africa; we may not be able to write songs as eloquent or poetic as this. But we can certainly do something: give of ourselves in the best way we know how; share of ourselves generously; speak from our hearts of the love that God has shown us; proclaim from our experience the many blessings that God has showered us with; and bring many others to the one inescapable truth: Christmas is about love, the love of God for His people; a love so concrete and so personally and intimately manifested in Jesus’s choice to be born to and of man and to die as and for man—for each and every one of us.

Do they know it’s Christmas?
Do you know it’s Christmas?

"And in our world of plenty, we can share a smile of joy;
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time."

Happy Christmas! Share. Give. Act. Love.

December 26, 2005

Going ape. . . not

I loved Naomi Watts in King Kong but, unfortunately, that was all that I loved about the movie.

I was old enough to watch the remake in the 70’s—that one featured Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange and had a totally irrelevant scene where the big age nudged off Jessica Lange’s top—and that one sucked big time.  This new remake did not suck big time but it was no great shakes either.  And like the first remake, there were a lot of irrelevant scenes as well (all the dinosaur scenes, for instance).

Obviously, Peter Jackson put in a lot of work on this movie, particularly the special effects but that was about it.  I did not see why it took 3 hours to tell this story;  it could have been told in much, much less.  This reminds me of Titanic;  and I say this with a heavy heart because, after all, Peter Jackson brought us the glorious The Lord of the Rings and, until King Kong, it would have been almost sacrilegious to mention Peter Jackson in the same sentence as Titanic.  But halfway through the film, that was what I felt and, when Kong finally got to New York and on top of the Empire State Building, it was all I could do to keep from yawning.

All the passion that Jackson obviously had for Kong is evident but this film shows passion will bring you only so far;  the material is thin and the premise hokey.  Also, while a good film is an invitation to suspend disbelief, the invitation must also be reasonable and logical.  Kong’s invitation to suspend disbelief is not reasonable nor logical.  There is no attempt to explain how Jack Black’s character is able to obtain the map, how dinosaurs managed to survive—and only on that island, how all the insects and animals there are large and how a shipload of male sailors could survive the trip without killing each other over a particularly luminous Naomi Watts (as the only female on board a veeery long trip).  There is so much that Peter Jackson does not bother to explain about Kong;  all he does is invite us to suspend disbelief—and because of this, it borders on hubris.

The one bright—luminous—spot in the film is Naomi Watts.  She is perfect for the role and makes it totally logical why Kong would go ape over her.  Not only does she inhabit the role of a talented vaudeville player with nowhere to go because of the depression but she also essays the part of a starstruck ingénue—to Adrian Brody’s character and also to Kong--to perfection.  Not only is she beautiful to look at, but she does so much with a very limited role.

Too bad that Peter Jackson had to follow-up The Return of the King with King Kong (even if this was really the movie he wanted to make and managed to make it only on the strength of the 11 Oscars of LOTR:ROTK).  It remains to be seen if he manages to recapture the excitement he generated with the The Lord of the Rings trilogy with his next film after Kong.  I hope he does, because he has shown that he is a director not only wit talent but with vision and that’s very rare these days.

December 25, 2005

Why we rejoice and celebrate

We rejoice at Christmas because without the nativity, there would be no resurrection; and without the resurrection, there would be no sense to our faith.

Nativity and Resurrection—necessary bookends to a full Christian life.  

We must, like Christ, be born anew every Christmas so that we may, like Christ, be resurrected every Easter.

REJOICE AND BE GLAD!  For the King has come!

Merry Christmas to all!

December 22, 2005

A Class Act


The President has exercised her exclusive constitutional power of appointment. Let us all respect her judgment. The Almighty has a plan for all of us and I agree that the All-Seeing Eye does not play dice with our destinies. Indeed, even pain has a purpose.

I dispel all rumors that I will opt for early retirement. Those who desire to reduce me to posthumous significance will not experience any ecstasy.

I will continue to work as a humble member of the court and as always I pledge to be an independent minded jurist regardless of consequences, to fight for the civil liberties of the people against abuses coming from any and all sources, to do battle with vested interests especially those who believe they have a divine right to selfishness and to protect the institutional independence of the High Court against threats of tampering from within and without its portals.

I wish Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban all the best.

Justice Reynato S. Puno

December 22, 2005
Now, that's what you call a class act.

December 21, 2005

Brave Filipina, Faithful Servant of God

(Photo taken from PDI;

Sr. Mariani Dimaranan, SFIC, 81
Brave Filipina, Faithful Servant of God

Deeply offended

I blogged about this a few weeks back—the supposed three-way race for Chief Justice. Now, it has come to pass. The race really was a rout. The front-runner had no chance—none at all because Gloria Arroyo is starting to show her true colors: Marcosian.

I have also said this before, she is worse than Marcos and this shows it.

This might get me into a lot of trouble because: 1. I am a lawyer with cases pending before the Supreme Court and I am blogging about Gloria Arroyo’s choice for Chief Justice of the Philippines; 2. I am subject to the discipline of the Supreme Court; and 3. I have friends on Justice Panganiban’s chambers, who might feel bad about my blogging about their boss in this way.

Because lawyering is the only way I know how to put butter on my bread, I will say this: this is not about Justice Panganiban, this is about Gloria Arroyo and the damage she has inflicted on the court and the judicial system because of her senseless and totally trapo (shorthand for “traditional politician” but also very aptly vernacular for “dirty rag”, good only for throwing away) “revolving door” policy. But because lawyering is also the only way I know how to serve, I will say this: this is also about the Court and the way it’s independence will be determined in the future.

I write about this not because I do not like Justice Panganiban (I have no basis to “not like him” as I do not know him that well personally; I have some of his books as apparently I am on his mailing list) or because I do not like Gloria Arroyo but because I am a member of the Bar, an officer of the Court, and a Filipino. And I am offended, deeply offended, that Gloria Arroyo would insult everyone by foisting this appointment on us.

I stated before that I am not a rabid fan of Mr. Justice Puno but I do admire his judicial philosophy. We are, if I may be so bold to claim, kindred spirits in espousing greater protection for civil rights and human freedoms. Often, his pen--wielded mightily and consistently--and wit-- manifesting itself very often acerbically--have cut through layers of government-sponsored balderdash to expose and lay bare to the people what is most important to them: the truth. I often do not agree with his decisions but I have yet to find occasion to disrespect him. Of the three who were in the “race”, he was, in my opinion, the best qualified—coincidentally also, the most senior.

What offends me about Gloria Arroyo’s appointment of Justice Panganiban as Chief Justice of the Philippines is that she cheapens the Judiciary by making the highest post open to the simple expediency of accommodation. What offends me about Gloria Arroyo’s appointment of Justice Panganiban as Chief Justice of the Philippines is that she would choose not the best qualified and also the most senior but that she would choose based on a policy of appeasement. What offends me about this appointment is not that Justice Panganiban was chosen over Justice Puno but that Gloria Arroyo thinks that the rule of law should be made subject to a simplistic and “simpletonic” (my own word; don’t bother looking it up) policy of “giving everyone a chance.”

The direction of the Supreme Court and the Judicial Branch should be determined by a vision, not by political accommodation and expediency. It should be charted by someone who has a clear grasp of where the Court should go and how it should get there; it should be led by one who has a firm and long view of how law may help change and shape society.

It should not be charted by one who is, effective from the date of his appointment, a lame duck. Regardless of his qualifications and track record, this, unfortunately, is the situation that Gloria Arroyo has placed Justice Panganiban in. By not putting a premium on seniority as well as vision but instead stressing accommodation and by highlighting that Justice Puno would still have another chance to be Chief Justice when Justice Panganiban retires in 2006, Gloria Arroyo has put a lame duck in the Supreme Court. Starting today, everyone knows the clock is ticking and that Justice Panganiban is a seat warmer for a year. This is an insult Justice Panganiban does not deserve, this is an insult the Court does not deserve, this is another offense by Gloria Arroyo against the Filipino people for which she should not be forgiven.

I have been a lawyer for 15 years and a law professor for almost 10 and I love the law and the rule of law. Thus, Gloria Arroyo’s insult, I take personally. She is singlehandedly destroying all the democratic institutions that generations of martyrs like Ka Pepe Diokno, Lorenzo Tanada, Lean Alejandro had shed blood and given their lives for. There are no two ways about it: she must go.

I end this blog entry with my Congratulations to Mr. Justice, now Chief Justice, Panganiban. May his one year as Chief Justice be fruitful and may he strive mightily, with God’s help, to do what is right, not only what is popular or what is expected of him by Gloria Arroyo. May he, in his one year as Chief Justice, rise above the unfair label that Gloria Arroyo has pinned on him and prove me—and all the others who believe Justice Puno should have gotten the appointment—wrong. I would be the happiest Filipino in one year’s time should this happen.

In the meantime, sic Gloria transit mundi; this too, will pass. So will Gloria Arroyo.

December 20, 2005

Deck the halls. . . with work

No shopping yet.  Yup, that’s the operative phrase for me, thus far.

I’ve always been a last-minute shopper;  as a result, I end up spending more because I end up buying certain things because I have to. . . simply because there’s no more time.

Because Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2005 are on a Saturday and Sunday, the week leading to them (this week) has been an ordinary week (read: working week) .  Thus, things are hectic as deadlines are being met and all the things I put off for later are now catching up.

So, no shopping yet.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to do some before Christmas hits.

December 16, 2005


In the past weeks, there is so much to be grateful for, despite the hectic schedule.

I’m starting to really get into the groove of things at OLA, depending on how you view it—that may be good news or bad news.  I see so many things I want to change;  I also see many things that need to be changed.  At the same time, I want to be realistic and not get frustrated.  I’ve set a 365-day vision (that’s how long my term is—365 days);  hope half of what I’ve targeted gets done.

I’m also really getting into the groove of writing this book on criminal law (it’s a four-volume work on various heinous crimes;  I got the short stick and was assigned the volume on rape—very depressing).  I’m very fortunate to have a research assistant who is extremely diligent, very committed, very organized and very intelligent—I don’t have major problems with the research and even the outline has been enhanced by her input.  It makes writing the book a lot easier.

I just ended the 14th week of the Retreat in Daily Life (RDL) as well this week.  And it has been a tremendous experience!!!  I went into it with the expectation simply to sharpen discernment and discover new ways of praying but ended up with a ton of insights as well as a renewed and fresh relationship with the Lord;  the very personal encounters that repetition, contemplation, fantasy, colloquy allow you makes the various readings and contemplation points very fresh and very pointed.  My last set of readings allowed me to focus on His Kingship, the coming of His Kingdom (perfect for advent), Jesus’s Incarnation and His Birth (perfect for Christmas)—and it has allowed me to see Christmas through new eyes.  The RDL has not only made my blessing cup, but also my prayer journal, run over.

I’m excited to see our new office.  Hopefully, by early next year, we will be able to move in.  My partners, Alex and Arno, have really done a great job of looking after the day-to-day needs of the carpenters.

Throughout it all, God’s provision has been manifest and constant.  Many unexpected blessings have poured in.

Lord, I thank You for the way You continue to outpour Your great love in the many different ways You have chosen.  I pray for the grace to be able to recognize Your many channels of love for me and for the added grace to be able to respond in kind for those whom You ask me to love as well.

December 12, 2005

Bird flu hits the Magic Kingdom

I found this funny. I doubt if the HK Tourism Board would though, as well as the Disney people. I hope the duck didn't get fired for this stunt.

December 07, 2005

Mercy, mercy on us

Just a thought.

Instead of the three-ring circus that is the House and Senate (apologies to circuses everywhere and the very few members of both houses who actually work and make sense) investigating Mr. Garcillano, why doesn't the new Ombudsperson Merdeditas "Mercy" Gutierrez throw her hat into the ring and use her considerable powers to investigate Garci?

Certainly, she has the mandate.
Certainly, she has the powers.
Certainly, she has the budget.
Certainly, she has the people's support.

Perhaps, her reticence, despite her rhetoric, is because --
[1] She doesn't have a hat;
[2] She doesn't know where the ring is;
[3] She can't throw, for squat;
[4] She's part of the circus;
[5] She doesn't have the nerve.

Oh Mercy. Mercy, indeed for us--who will need it.

Great Goblet

It’s a movie that you’ll love or not love. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire invites that kind of a reaction. A mere 2 hours plus, coming from the thickest book of the series so far—it might come as a let down for those who expected everything in the book to be on screen.

I must admit, after Prisoner of Azkaban (which, for me, is still the best of all the films thus far), I was ready to be greatly disappointed especially after I discovered that it would be Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) who would be directing and not Alfonso Cuaron (Y tu mama tambien). But, surprisingly, I was not disappointed. . . I even liked Goblet.

It’s a coming of age film—and all the characters (especially the trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) age nicely. Daniel Radcliffe inhabits the Harry Potter role quite well and Emma Watson will break many hearts.

More than a children’s book and story now, Steve Kloves manages to make this installment darker and quite exciting, even if you already know what’s supposed to happen (having read the book). The “re-incarnation” of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is quite startling and courageous—because the scene is very dark and would definitely scare away some of the younger viewers who are the natural readers of the books. But Newell and Kloves manage to balance the scene quite well (although I didn’t particularly like the short speech by Voldermort about ‘love’ being the ultimate weapon and “old magic”—it sounded like a rip-off of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, particularly when Aslan resurrects; but I digress).

I must admit I was more interested in how Newell would handle the developing relationship between Ron and Hermione and Harry and Cho Chang (newbie Katie Leung); this is where Newell excels. And he shows his deft touch here with these teeners—there is chemistry, there is sexual tension and there is that mystery as well as excitement as you realize that Hermione and Harry will always just be “buddies” even if they do look good together and that Ron and Hermione will be “it.” A scene that is in the film but not in the book tips it off—Hermione venting her frustration at Ron’s inability to express himself after her exciting date with Victor Krum at the Yule ball. George Lucas can learn a few things from Newell about sexual tension and keeping things subtle (compare Lucas’s sledgehammer treatment of the relationship between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala).

The effects are, of course, very good but what I liked about it is that there were no gratuitous effects. After four movies, the franchise has finally found its niche; despite different directors, Harry Potter has managed to not only remain consistent but also produce exciting installments. After Cuaron and Newell (forget Columbus), Harry Potter has finally gotten off to cruising speed. Hopefully, with Order of the Phoenix, it can soar higher.

I liked Goblet of Fire, despite Newell. Hopefully Cuaron can come back to direct Order of the Phoenix; now that would be a blast.

December 06, 2005

A totally different writing experience

Writing a book is an experience, really. How do they do it? I don’t think I’ll ever knock another commentator again (ask all my students in criminal law and you’ll know what I think of commentaries and commentators; it’s poetic—or even divine—irony that I’m now doing what I’ve been deriding all these years).

I’ve been reading so many cases just to keep up and this is a subject I’ve been teaching for several years now. It’s also a very depressing subject—rape (I know of a few women who have experienced it and it is not something you would wish on your worst enemy—regardless of gender). I asked one of my former students—currently in first year—to help me out and she’s been churning out stuff like there’s no tomorrow (turns out she graduated summa cum laude—no wonder) and so I’m up to my neck in digests. He he, serves me right.

It started as a legal reference—a primer of sorts. So I thought, okay, just a few pages. So I started with general instructions to her—a few digests here and there--and she gives me several pages of digests a few days after. After I get the information that it’s going to be upgraded into a book, I come up with an outline—and discover that she also has made some sort of outline—and I end up with more cases. So, I’m reading cases on rape like anything.

Sometime soon, I’m going to finish this book; I hope it’s soon. This topic is depressing.

December 05, 2005


My blog got a facelift, hence the title. Thanks to Marlon, this old blog got a new face. Very timely, as it is advent after all.

Hopefully, it won't just be my blog that gets a facelift. That is the grace I pray for everyday.

December 04, 2005


I’m flattered people read my blog.  It’s not that attractive;  it doesn’t have hi-tech thingamagigs.  It just has words, ideas, thoughts, reflections, opinions—all of which have one thing in common, they are all MINE.

You’re free to disagree with me;  I find that I invite that, anyway, without asking for it.  I can take disagreement in the same way I can dish it out.  

I am a big fan of integrity.  I mean what I say, I say what I mean. I do not take kindly to people calling me a hypocrite—especially people who hide behind anonymity, post comments to MY blog and refuse to even put their names to identify themselves.  I also do not take kindly to people who pretend to lecture me on how I should live my life and live out my principles and do not have the basic decency, courtesy and cojones to sign their name.

To “anonymous” who called me a hypocrite in my comments section—get some cojones (apologies to the female of the species) and sign your name to any posts you want to make.  You want to write to me, identify yourself first so we can have an intelligent exchange of ideas;  I refuse to converse with a nobody and that’s what you are because you don’t have the decency, the courtesy, the cojones to sign your name.  Why, are you so ashamed of your opinion that you wouldn’t want to be identified with it?  Tsk. Tsk.  Whoever you are, I pray you have a good life ahead because from your tone, it doesn’t seem like you’ve had one thus far;  and, unless, you manage to get some integrity (start with cojones), you probably won’t.

December 02, 2005

A great decade. . . of cheese

On the other hand, the 80s were also known for some of the cheesiest and tackiest things ever dreamt up:

  1. That’s Entertainment -  all editions.  (No other comment required.)

  2. That’s Entertainment -  all members (This is one black spot that Lea Salonga would probably want to expunge from her resume.).

  3. German Moreno’s lunchtime extravaganzas -  “Germspesyal” (read:  “Germs-spayshal”, if by German Moreno but “Germs-spayshul” if by Ruffa—who even then was already sounding like a trying hard valley girl) later to morph into “GMA Supershow”.  (Again, no other comment required.)

  4. Hair spray and industrial grade cement-like hair gel. (Not only did this result in some of the cheesiest do’s around but it probably accounted for that great big hole in the skies and for the climate change problems we’ve been having.)

  5. Menudo (with a really young Ricky Martin and those falsettos going, “gotta catch a plane at 730” which caused no end of sonic distress to dogs everywhere.)

  6. Netting substituting as clothes (look up Duran Duran’s old videos and you’ll know what I mean.) and while we’re on the topic . . .

  7. Duran Duran (Their songs are catchy but what do they mean?  I think the break-up did them a lot of good.)

  8. Shoulder pads (esp on Gary V.;  hey, I’m a great fan of Gary V but he had shoulder pads on his clothes for the longest time—and that’s reaching to the 90’s.)

  9. Martin and Pops singing duets plus one (because one of them couldn’t really sing, guess which among them?  That was really tacky, one holding a dead mic with the other singing above pre-taped audio.)

  10. Knots Landing, Falcon Crest and an aging Dallas (the precursors of all the telenovelas now.)

  11. The A-Team;

  12. That awful song written by Tito Sotto and sung by Virna Lisi (yes, that’s her name) after EDSA 1, Magkaiiiiisaaaaa!

  13. That awful anthem by Jim Paredes set as music video in a really bad but obvious rip-off of USA for Africa’s We are the world Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo -  also during the days after EDSA 1;  (postcript to both songs:  if Ninoy Aquino had known that his death would spark such awful music, he might have decided against coming back.)

December 01, 2005

The One?

It’s a 3-way race for Chief Justice.  Or is it?

Puno. Panganiban. Quisumbing.  The three Senior Associate Justices, in that order, have declared their availability to be considered for Chief Justice.  Of the three, Justice Puno enjoys the edge in seniority, intellect and vision;  however, of the three, it appears that Panganiban enjoys the edge where it counts:  the appointing power’s graces.

The Supreme Court is the third branch of government;  the Chief Justice of the Philippines is the head of that branch.  He should not be beholden—nor perceived to be beholden—to the appointing power.  Nor should the appointing power be perceived to be making the Chief Justice beholden to it.

But, hello?  Reality check.  This is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s government we’re talking about. In a word:  shameless.  In another word: corrupt.  In yet another word:  Unprincipled.   I can go on but to make it easier for you, look up all adjectives for “rotten”, “evil”, “corrupt”, “unprincipled”, “shameless”, “brazen” and “illegitimate”, and you have words to describe Gloria’s government.  Don’t get me started on Bunyi, Gonzales and Gonzalez;  and please let’s not even go to De Venecia and Ramos.  But I digress.

I am not a rabid fan of Justice Puno.  I didn’t agree with his ruling in the Gloria Arroyo legitimacy issue.  However, he is the best alternative of the three.  His intellect cannot be disputed.  His writing style is elegant and magisterial.  His positions on (some) progressive issues ahead of his time.  His elevation to Chief Justice is also the best way to show that, despite Gloria, some things still can be counted on, as a matter of principle.

However, with the recent appointment of Mercy Gutierrez, Mike Arroyo’s law school classmate and personal counsel to Gloria Arroyo, as Ombudsman, it doesn’t look too good for principled stands, progressive legal advocacies and intelligent discourses on the rule and role of law.  

Suddenly, that 3-way race is starting to look like a rout.

364 days more

364 days to go till the end of my term as OLA director.

I started as OLA Director today at 8 am with a meeting and several administrative chores.  Still need to get oriented with the way everything works—it’s been a while since I was part of the OLA decision-making processes;  certainly, there are changes that need to be made, some of them ASAP, the others yesterday.

What I want for OLA is a return to basics. It is, essentially and first, a teaching clinic.  It is part of the law school.  It is not a center for cheap or free labor.  It is also not supposed to be a substitute for the public prosecutor or the public attorney’s office.  

OLA should not be handling cases that have little or no pedagogical value where, in doing so, we relieve the public prosecutor or the PAO of their duties;  they are, after all, paid to do these duties.  Instead, OLA should fill a niche—the same niche it created twenty plus years ago—a revolutionary way of looking at legal education where students are encouraged to look at law practice as pedagogy in itself.    

OLA should also be fun. I had fun exploring the many ways law could work and the many ways law could not work when I was an intern a lifetime ago.  But it ceases to be fun when the intern is snowed down by soooo many administrative requirements that the pedagogical value of case handling is overshadowed or weighted down by these requirements.  Yes, OLA is 2000 units, but it can be 2000 units of fun.

Let’s see what happens in the next 364 days.

November 27, 2005

A great decade

Saw the “Madness” signs all around Malcom Hall; it seems that the theme this year is the 80’s. Now, that was a great decade—as in, a GREAT DECADE!

Ten things I remember about the 80’s:

1. Marcos’s butt being kicked all the way to Hawaii;

2. Tears for Fears ! (a great band; even if they were said to be looney tunes, they sounded great, especially on "Everybody wants to rule the world")

3. U2, Live at Red Rocks (not the one at Scout Tobias)!!!

4. Watching live bands at Red Rocks, Scout Tobias (the precursor of Club Dredd; where bands like Deans December--featuring a then already howling Binky Lampano--Razorback, E-heads would play and where, occasionally, a very single, very young, very pretty Dawn Zulueta would show up to watch the bands play)

5. Gold! Always believe in your soul . . .

6. Bagets! (Great movie; original, inventive, and hip at that time)

7. Rallies at Mendiola

8. Lining up veeeery early to enroll at UP

9. Watching APO hiking society concerts at Ateneo and waiting for "American Junk" so we could raise our clenched fists and thumb our noses at american imperialism;

10. Michael Jackson, when he was both black and bad! (Now, he’s just weird.)
10. Listening to Lean Alejandro address a rally;

10. Major Tom (the song);

10. Parties at Corinthian;

10. Our House . . . in the middle of the street;

10. Marx for Beginners, Lenin for Beginners, Nicaragua for Beginners, etc

The list can go on. . . .That was a great decade.

November 25, 2005

Grace 24 x 7

Back in the bad old days of my past life, I’d have called this week “hell week.”  Somehow, I could relate with Kiefer Sutherland on “24” except that I didn’t face any mortal peril—except the occasional cliff-hanging deadline-beating submissions that almost stopped my heart a few times, literally.

It’s been a week of full-packed, non-stop meetings, hearings, work, service—almost all of them interlocking and overlapping with each other.  From Monday to Friday, my work day started at 630 am with breakfast meetings almost every day and ended past midnight after either work or service.  

And the week’s not over yet.  Tomorrow brings new challenges.  I play marriage counselor to two dear friends on the verge, bringing with me the only thing that qualifies me for the role:  both of them trust me. After this initial tryst into marriage counseling, a meeting with Gay for pre-planning and then a session with my Spiritual Director and then preparing presentations for the planning session on Sunday.

Sunday brings with it a men’s conference that starts at 8 and ends at 5; after which, we go to Good Shepherd Convent for a branch council planning at 7pm that ends the next day (a holiday) at 6 pm; and continues with a talk on Financial Stewardship at 7:30.  And then, its Tuesday.

Strangely enough, I don’t feel tired even though I know I am.  Others would call this nervous energy or adrenalin;  I call it grace—God’s.  It truly is sufficient.

“In my weakness, You are my strength” never became more real to me.  

Lord, keep me company even as I struggle to keep pace with You on the way to Heaven.

November 10, 2005

Not just yet. . .

“Just when I thought I was out . . . they pull me back in.”  Al Pacino, one of my favorite short actors (together with Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Danny De Vito and Robert Downey Jr.), said this memorable line.

It describes how I felt when Dean Carlota asked me, at the start of this current semester and at the start of his term as Dean of Law, to take over as Director of the U.P. Office of Legal Aid (OLA), the legal clinic of the College of Law.  I had plans (which I had been praying for over the last two years) of leaving the College of Law simply because I felt that it was no longer worth fighting for as Dean Carlota’s predecessor was simply too much of a politician and a salesman for my tastes (note the number of “shortcuts” he allowed in enlistment procedure, which a lot of students are now “paying” for when Dean Carlota quoted chapter and verse of the rules to justify a “stricter” policy;  note also the number of rooms forming the College’s patrimony and history that have been “sold” to those who have the millions to fund the renovation and name the rooms after them).  I felt that law had been so “commercialized” such  that the sheer joy I felt teaching law had evaporated;  of course, it did not help that the former office holder was not one who believed in letting bygones be bygones.

I had been planning to finish the second semester, out of deference to Dean Carlota, and then ride off into the sunset as far as my teaching career was concerned.  But then, Dean Carlota had other plans.

I prayed about accepting the OLA directorship.  Having served at OLA, first as a law intern, and then for several years as Supervising Lawyer, I know just how difficult it is to serve there.  Also, as a lawyer who has served  indigent clients from the get-go, I know how challenging it is to serve such a clientele.  But one thing that really prevented me from accepting it immediately was because of my current service as Branch Leader of Lingkod QC (a singles community of young professionals);  my commitment to them was clear, definite and unwavering and I knew that taking on OLA would mean a slice of the 24/7 pie that was already small enough considering all the things I’m handling.

Yet,  the Lord just assured me of one thing:  abounding grace.   The excitement I felt, similar to what I felt when I first became Supervising Lawyer at OLA, was an indication of blessing and, yes, grace;  there was not only peace that I felt but also excitement and some joy at the prospect of serving again at OLA.  I  put my burdens upon Him and He assured me of the ease of His yoke and the lightness of  His burden.

So, I accepted the Directorship of OLA and that means that I won’t be riding off into the sunset, just yet.  The Directorship carries with it an academic credit of 6 units and an automatic load of 8 units or a total of 14 units—2 units in excess of the 12 units I’m required every semester to teach;  so that means I won’t need to teach any subjects, unless I want to.  Right now, I’m still discerning whether I should teach again or just simply devote my time to OLA. Offhand, I may handle one subject a semester just to keep my hand in but things may change with time.

Change does not come easy for a lot of people.  My new post may mean changes, for many people, myself included.  But abounding grace to take on this new service means also abounding grace to accept change—I pray for grace to be able to see clearly what needs to be done but also the grace to accept whatever change brings in my life.

October 14, 2005

I have two hands

I’ve been taking guitar lessons from Alan, a brother from my singles community, and I must say, I’m learning a lot.  I now know why my left hand and my right hand are important in playing the guitar—no kidding!    Thanks bro, you’re cut-out for this—you have the patience, the passion, the skill of course, and the heart for teaching people.

I’m still a long way off, though, from playing. . . still, the excitement of being able to produce melody, not noise, and finally conquering Bm and, to some extent, F is tremendous.

Now, if only I could get my left hand to shift chords while my right hand is strumming . . .

October 13, 2005

My rant for the day

This will be a rant.  You want to stop reading, be my guest.  

You’re still there. . . tough.  Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

There’s a really bad pick-up line that goes:

“Man (to woman he wants to impress):  ‘Opportunity knocks but once. Hi, I’m Mr. Opportunity.’”

I hate opportunists.  For me, they are life forms lower than spineless jellyfish.  But more than opportunists, I hate opportunists who are not even open about being opportunists.  Give me “Mr. Opportunity” anytime—at least he’s honest.

I recently came across a write-up in Newsbreak about a certain law firm’s supposed intervention in the selection of the new Dean of Law at U.P.  It leaves a really bad taste in the mouth because I know everyone mentioned in that write-up.  I also know—and respect—Dean Carlota.  I also know the law firm and what it is capable of.

Is this what it has come down to?  Opportunity knocking and opportunists taking advantage?  Principle?  Is that now a dirty word?   I’d like to think not.

I think it is a signal dishonor to Dean Carlota for his name to be raked across the mud like this.  He is portrayed, unfairly, as an opportunist.  Worse than false accusation is malicious innuendo. Worse than malicious innuendo, however, is bad company.  Once and for all, Dean Carlota should squelch these rumors—if they are not true—and put that  law firm and all its lieutenants in their place.  To be fair to that firm as well, it should also say its piece (but also practice what it would preach as well).

Once and for all also, that firm and other similarly-minded, “well-meaning” alumni (making up various shades of “The Firm”) should just leave us in the UP College of Law alone—isn’t it enough that I have to be reminded of all of you and what you are once I  step into the Lobby of Malcolm Hall (should be renamed after that firm) and once I step into designated classrooms bought by and named for entities like Accra, Sycip, Binay etc.?    

U.P. Law is a public law school---the only one of its kind.  It shouldn’t be subject to sale like some political favor or some private property.  You want to be grateful alumni? Do some good by not foisting and keeping people like Gloria Arroyo on the people.  You want to be grateful alumni and do some good?  Stop representing big oil companies that keep the prices of oil up if only to maintain their “margin of profit.”   You want to be grateful alumni and do some good for U.P. Law?  Get the Senate and the House, and all the U.P. Alumni there, to stop sitting on their behinds and pass a realistic and reasonable appropriations act for U.P.  You want to live up to U.P.’s name?  Be a good witness to just how much the law can become a genuine force for change and for good.  Show to MY students just how much U.P.’s supposed grand manner has made you great lawyers—not just great businessmen and businesswomen.

If you can’t do that—please stay out of U.P. Law and let others who want to do that run the law school.  For us who have made a commitment to the Law School, this is our life and life’s work.  For me, a large part of  MY LIFE is invested in U.P. Law so do me a favor, all you “well-meaning and grateful alumni”, if you can’t help me and the country (see above,  in bold)—STAY OUT OF MY LIFE!

Did I tell you I really hate opportunists?  Ok, I’ll stop now.

October 11, 2005

So much more. . . in the name of love

More on love and loving .  . .

Heard this again over the radio this morning and it brought me back, way back.

PRIDE (In the Name of Love)
[Words: Bono; Music: U2]

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed up on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

Early morning April four
A shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last
They took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

In the name of love

This is one of those anthems that strike directly at the heart and moves you in many, many ways.  Sheer poetry but also unmitigated truth.

“What more in the name of love?,” Bono wails.  

So much more .  . .

Lord, I ask for the grace to ask myself, “what more in the name of love” so many more times than I ask myself  “why me or why now” and for the additional grace to be perfectly honest with myself.

October 10, 2005

I'm not lost, I just don't know where I am

Men don’t ask directions; that’s an urban legend. In my case, it’s not entirely true. I do ask directions when I get lost. Now admitting that I’m lost—that’s another thing altogether.

That’s what I discovered last Friday when I, together with two lay missionary brothers Jopeng and Jobaqs from the Servants of the Word, had to navigate through the flooded streets of Manila on our way back to Quezon City. I had a vague idea of where I was going when I turned right to Morayta from Espana but after that, I knew zilch. My navigator was Jopeng (Jobaqs fell asleep midway through the journey) who always looks very confident and in whom I personally have great trust. Throughout the entire trip, we asked directions only twice and both times we had already committed to a certain route before asking directions—so it wasn’t entirely asking directions so much as confirming that we were on the right path. We never admitted we were lost—even if I readily admitted I had no idea where I was but that doesn’t mean I was lost—at least not out loud.

I didn’t feel anxious or nervous; I never felt lost although I really had no idea where I was at particular stretches. After about two hours or so of driving around flooded side streets of Manila, we got to Quezon City.

It was a fun adventure—even if I was so hungry (I’m sure Jopeng was hungrier as he fasts on Friday). I got home at 2:15 or so and plopped down on the sofa to rest my feet and promptly fell asleep; I woke up at 6:00 to finish my powerpoint slides for my talk at 9:00. Another day, another adventure.

God, thank you for adventures that allow me to see another side of You, and another side of me as well.

October 06, 2005

Lessons in Loving: Reality Bites

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” -  Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

Yesterday’s rally against Gloria was one of the most violent yet.  Most of those who were injured, arrested and/or detained were our clients (or quickly became our clients).  Video footage of the dispersal showed indiscriminate violence by the police who were armed with metal shields which they used not to push away but to stab and bludgeon.  Video footage also showed plain clothes policemen punching, hitting, smacking men and women already in custody.

This is Calibrated Pre-emptive Response (CPR).  Welcome to Gloria’s Philippines.

Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, tells us that the peacemakers shall be called children of God.  I found it really difficult to reconcile the images I saw of the supposed peacemakers with those that God would call His children.  But that’s why I am human, fallible, weak and definitely not God and that’s why God is God.  His ways are not mine and His thoughts are not my thoughts.

The most important commandment is to love God above all else;  the second most important commandment is to love others as you would yourself.  That’s the clincher:  love others as you would yourself.  

I  found myself very angry at what I saw on video yesterday but then I found myself reflecting on loving others as I would myself.  How would I want myself to be loved? I would want to be forgiven for my wrongs and transgressions;  I would want to be treated with humaneness, with dignity.  Definitely not like how the police treated the rallyists yesterday.  

Love others as you would yourself—easy to say, extremely difficult to do.  Lord, following you is truly difficult sometimes.  Loving others is difficult, especially when they are difficult to love.  

I pray for the grace to recognize the lovability of others, transcending the façade of unlovability, and for the grace to love others, despite their seeming unlovability.  I pray as well for the grace to be able to love without first looking for lovability in others and to surrender to this grace wholeheartedly, singlemindedly and relentlessly.

October 05, 2005

Retroactive 5.0 for Miriam in Evidence

As one who has been teaching Evidence for some time, I am ashamed of myself.  

I must apologize to all my students, present and past, for failing to tell them that triple hearsay is not only admissible but is also impressed with high probative weight.  I must confess that since I never had the “brilliant” Miriam Defensor-Santiago as my professor for Evidence, I really missed that particular legal principle.  I feel that I must commit the academic equivalent of hara kiri by turning in my teaching license, as it were, and make a public apology to all my students, present and past, for misleading them.

Hah, she wishes.

Miriam is the one who is a monumental embarrassment to the name of U.P. and particularly the College of Law.   She’s not even funny anymore—even when she goes from her “lucid intervals” to her “normal state”—she’s tiresome and tiring a total waste of taxpayer’s money.  

She should be given a retroactive 5.0 for Evidence and her diploma as a UP graduate should be withdrawn.

October 04, 2005

A gag order by any other name . . .





WHEREAS, the Constitution guarantees the separation of powers of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the government;

WHEREAS, Article VI, Section 22 of the Constitution provides that heads of departments may, with the prior consent of the President, appear before and be heard by either House of Congress on any matter pertaining to their departments and, when the security of the State or the public interest so requires and the president so states in writing, such appearance shall be conducted in executive session;

WHEREAS, pursuant to the rule of executive privilege, the President and those who assist her must be free to explore alternatives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions since this is fundamental to the operation of the government and is rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution;

WHEREAS, Article VI, Section 21 of the Constitution mandates that the rights of persons appearing in or affected by inquiries in aid of legislation by the Senate or House of Representatives shall be respected;

WHEREAS, recent events, particularly with respect to the invitation of a member of the Cabinet by the Senate as well as various heads of offices, civilian and military, have highlighted the need to ensure the observance of the principle of separation of powers, adherence to the rule on executive privilege and respect for the rights of persons appearing in such inquiries in aid of legislation and due regard to constitutional mandate;

WHEREAS, there is a need to prevent such inquiries in aid of legislation from being used for partisan political purposes, disrupting diplomatic relations with foreign governments, and weakening the stability of the State, thereby impeding the efforts of the government to generate and attract foreign investments;

WHEREAS, Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees provides that public officials and employees shall not use or divulge confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public to prejudice the public interest;

WHEREAS, Article 229 of the Revised Penal Code prohibits any public officer from revealing any secret known to him by reason of his official capacity or wrongfully delivering papers or copies thereof which he may have charge and which should not be published;

WHEREAS, the 1987 Constitution and the Administrative Code of 1987 provide that the President shall have control of all government departments, bureaus and offices and shall ensure that all the laws be faithfully executed.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by the powers vested I me by law, do hereby order:

Section 1. Appearance by Heads of Departments Before Congress. – In accordance with Article VI, Section 22 of the Constitution and to implement the Constitutional provisions o separation of powers between co-equal branches of the government, all heads of departments of the Executive Branch of the government shall secure the consent of the President prior to appearing before either House of Congress.

When the security of the State or the public interest so requires and the President so states in writing, the appearance shall only be conducted in executive session.

Section 2. Nature, Scope and Coverage of Executive Privilege. –

(a) Nature and Scope. – The rule of confidentiality based on executive privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and rooted in the separations of powers under the Constitution (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995). Further, Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees provides that public officials and employees shall not use or divulge confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public to prejudice the public interest.

Executive privilege covers all confidential or classified information between the President and the public officers covered by this executive order, including:
  1. Conversations and correspondence between the President and the public officials covered by this executive order (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez vs. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002);
  2. Military, diplomatic and other national security matters which in the interest of national security should not be divulged (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998);
  3. Information between inter-government agencies prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements (Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998);
  4. Matters affecting national security and public order (Chavez vs. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002).

(b) Who are covered. - The following are covered by this executive order:
  1. Senior officials of executive departments who in the judgment of the department heads are covered by the executive privilege;
  2. Generals ad flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and such other officers who in the judgment of the Chief of Staff are covered by the executive privilege;
  3. Philippine National Police (PNP) officers with rank of chief superintendent or higher and such other officers who in the judgment of the Chief of the PNP are covered by the executive privilege;
  4. Senior national security officials who in the judgment of the National Security Adviser are covered by the executive privilege; and
  5. Such other officers as may be determined by the President.
Section 3. Appearance of Other Public Officials Before Congress. – All public officials enumerated in Section 2 (b) hereof shall secure prior consent of the President prior to appearing before either House of Congress to ensure the observance of the principle of separation of powers, adherence to the rule on executive privilege and respect for the rights of public officials appearing in inquiries in aid of legislation.

Section 4. Repealing Clause. – All executive issuances, orders, rules and regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Executive Order are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

Section 5. Separability Clause. – If any section or provision of this executive order shall be declared unconstitutional or invalid, the other sections or provisions not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect.

Section 6. Effectivity. – This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

DONE in the City of Manila, this 28th day of September in the Year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Five.


By the President:

Executive Secretary


You may be asking yourself, why should I care about this? I'm not a member of Congress. You may not be a member of C0ngress but you are a particle of sovereignty in this beautiful but benighted land of ours--and, for this reason alone, you should care what the great pretender is doing. For those old enough to remember Martial Law, this was how it all started.

Conrad de Quiros once wrote of people no longer caring that much--in psychology, the technical term is desensitization, in plain language, numbing. I agree with him that that would be the greatest challenge that faces us now--that we might not care enough anymore to form an opinion, express it and stand by it.

God gifted all of us with free will and a capacity to think. It's a waste of gifts if we don't use both, particularly when we can do so without peril to ourselves and particularly when we put our country at peril when we don't.

October 03, 2005

Changing of the Guard

A new Dean formally took over this morning at the law school: Professor Salvador Carlota, “Buddy” to his friends, “sir”, to us his former students (even those who are now teaching in law school).

His was the first oathtaking for a dean I attended since I started teaching in law school in 1995 because the previous officeholder and I never saw eye to eye and I didn’t bother to show up at his two oathtakings. He (the previous officeholder) didn’t show up at the oathtaking, something I expected from him (perhaps he’s now in Italy, licking his wounds to a magnificent view). His wife (also a law professor) did though (I thought that was big of her), albeit she came in late and after Dean Carlota took his oath already—she was warmly welcomed by everyone there, though I wasn’t sure if there was reciprocity but, well,. . .you can’t have everything.

I was gratified though to see a large number of faculty members who showed up this morning for his oathtaking, even those who ran against him were there. I was even more gratified to see Dean Carlota pulling faculty members who were “estranged” or “not speaking to each other” towards each other and asking them to publicly shake hands with each other and telling them, “hey, X, say hi to to Y. O, ayos na tayo ha?” It set a good tone for his tenure; when I commented on his doing that, he just said, “this may be a new item in my job description. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Children of God.”

I didn’t support his candidacy because I supported someone else; I never opposed his candidacy though, even as I opposed the previous officeholder’s bid for a prohibited third term. Dean Carlota has always been someone people respect, even if his views may be somewhat uber-conservative and his lectures (in and out of the classroom) long. Dean Carlota has always had my respect because he is conscientious, diligent, dedicated and very honest; his integrity is intact. He’s not flashy and his lifestyle shows it; his car, for the longest time, was a broken down Opel which had more rust than paint. When that broke down, he borrowed back his daughter’s car—a hand me down from him—an orange late 80’s Lancer which is also showing its age.

I hope Dean Carlota’s good witnessing in this aspect pervades the law school. I also hope the atmosphere this morning continues during his tenure as Dean and that some much-needed changes may finally happen.

God bless you, Dean Carlota (and your family, Professor Daisy, Pebbles and Rocky); Godspeed ahead.

September 29, 2005

A knockout!

Anyone entertaining doubts about how good Russell Crowe is as an actor should watch Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man. In it, Crowe shows that the Oscar he got for Gladiator wasn’t a fluke. He is totally captivating as Jim Braddock, a boxer with integrity.

The characterization is excellent. The triumvirate of Crowe, Renee Zellweger and Paul Giamatti is excellent and each of them was able to flesh out the roles of Braddock, his wife Mae and his manager and promoter, respectively. Giamatti is particularly impressive as Braddock’s manager/promoter. It is no exaggeration that Giamatti’s character provided the impetus that kept the film moving and made Braddock’s character so sympathetic. I particularly liked how Giamatti’s character would give Crowe’s character insight into how to beat particular boxers.

I’ve never particularly liked boxing movies (with the exception of Rocky I , Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby) as they tend to be formulaic—good man down in the dumps and overcomes adversity, happy ending. But even if Cinderella Man does hew to this formula, Ron Howard’s direction, Akiva Goldman’s script and the triumvirate’s acting is just so excellent that the entire film transcends the formula and becomes the shot in the arm that we so desperately need today: an opportunity to feel good about ourselves and about humanity and an opportunity to be hopeful.

No glass slippers involved here but there is a "happy ever after" and something that's truly something magical about this movie. Go watch it.

Worse than Marcos

I never thought I would say this, but there is someone worse than Marcos. Her name is GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO and she is pretending to be President of the Philippines. (I refuse to call her Ms., Mrs., Madame as it would be an insult to women everywhere; I most certainly refuse to call her President.) Marcos, at least, put some semblance of legitimacy to his rule (and, in the process, gave legal scholars a lot of grist for their mills); Gloria doesn't even pretend anymore. She will just do what she pleases.

The latest incarnation of Marcos's Arrest Search Seizure Order (ASSO), Presidential Commitment Order (PCO), Preventive Detention Action (PDA) is Gloria's new rule on mass actions--Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR). Not only is it draconian, it is even ungrammatical as well as oxymoronic; where else can you find "pre-emptive" and "response" in the same phrase?

Her latest Executive Order gagging all executive branch officials , including the military and police, from attending congressional inquiries, is just another instance of just how much worse she is. At least Marcos didn't pretend, he just shut Congress down. The net effect of EO 464 is to prevent Congress from exercising oversight powers over the executive and, thus, prevent it from imposing a check on executive abuses (not that the Congress is itself a paragon of virtue but I'm speaking as a matter of principle, Constitutional principle).

I wish Gloria would be like a bad dream that you can wake up from, but I'm afraid that reality, upon waking up, might also make you want to just go back to sleep-- Mr. Pomade himself as President? Unfortunately, change has to start somewhere and, for me, that means, Gloria must go. First, she goes, then we worry about Noli.

September 14, 2005

Goodbye, Ma'am Haydee

Haydee Yorac has passed from this life back into God's firm embrace.

Goodbye, Ma'am Haydee. You are missed.

August 08, 2005


it's been awhile since i last wrote anything here--not because i don't have anything to write about (there's been quite a lot happening) but somehow i just never got around to doing it. will see what happens in the next few days.

June 17, 2005

Ready to be surprised

In my old age, I realized that I had lost (to some extent at least) one of the traits I thought had always been among my essentials in a person and in myself: spontaneity. I valued that in myself and I value that in friends. Through the years, however, I noticed that, more and more, I was becoming straight-jacketed and more and more formulaic.

Yesterday, the Lord surprised me with news about a case that I had forgotten; it was affirming and came at just the right time as I was struggling with a bad case of the runs on an empty stomach (go figure) while teaching four consecutive classes from 11-6. I had left my phone in my faculty room and just got to see my texts after classes. The news surprised me and also led me to do something I hadn't done in a long time: let out a whoop of YES!!!!! with fist pumping to boot. Before I realized it, I had done it; before I realized it, the whoop was louder than I thought. But no matter, it felt good.

Spontaneity and the blessing of being able to still be surprised. That's what the Lord showed me yesterday.

Today, of all days, I'm ready to be surprised.

June 15, 2005

An Amazing Absence of Grace and Humor

Raul Gonzalez's dour reaction to ring tones with "Hello Garci" set to music displays an amazing absence of grace and humor: he says those who download or sell those ring tones can be prosecuted.

One reason why the GMA ship will sink in this crisis is this crabby (apologies to crabs everywhere), humorless, and utterly brown-nosed old man (apologies to senior citizens everywhere).

Get a life, man. Better yet, get a sense of humor.


Let's get real. Would GMA be this quiet, given her famous temper and her imperial impetuousness,if her voice didn't appear on that tape?

Did she steal the election? It sure sounds like it.

Let's get real. Are we willing to let crooks get off simply because we don't like the messengers peddling the message? I'm no big fan of Alan Paguia, Linggoy Alcuaz and the rest of those characters but I am not willing to ignore what appears to be a clear case of large-scale larceny of votes by no less than the President herself.

There's a joke going around-bakit tahimik si GMA tungkol sa tapes? baka mabosesan. It's funny but it's also true.

Time to get real. Joker Arroyo, in his memorable opening speech during Erap's impeachment trial, said that "we cannot have a country ruled by a crook." It is poetic justice and the greatest irony that the beneficiary of Erap's impeachment trial might just end being the subject of another such speech by Joker Arroyo.

May 30, 2005

Leaving home (Tobias Journal, no. 10)

{A brief note to start: I had intended to write a more regular account of my life in the Tobias Summer Household but somehow my experiences, which are recorded in a more conventional--read: pen and paper--journal are just too personal, even for this blog. Maybe someday, after I edit myself--which is a bloody process--I can post something. Don't mind the journal number, the numbers in between may someday see the light of print, so to speak.}

That was how I felt last Saturday as I cleaned, waxed and scrubbed the room I occupied for three weeks; as I packed my clothes and looked at my roommates do the same, I felt like I was leaving--and not returning--home.

The Tobias Brothers' Summer Household was an experience I was not prepared for. Going into it, I expected a very bloody adjustment because I am a creature of habit and my body, mind and soul do not take kindly to changes; yet, I am thankful that after my first night in Tobias (see previous post on this; journal no. 1), I found myself quite comfortable in that house (actually two adjoining houses but re-crafted as one). It was apparently a feeling that all the brothers shared.

During the first week, I could hear brothers referring to Tobias as "bahay" (house) and the act of going to Tobias as "uwi" (returning home); questions like, "bro, uwi ka ba ngayong gabi?", which ordinarily would mean the opposite slowly and surely took on the meaning, "are you sleeping at Tobias?"

I found myself referring to Tobias as home and started experiencing that excitement of returning home at the end of the working day, looking forward to quiet moments of being able to play the guitar in prayer time before chores (either cooking, setting the table or cleaning) or those moments of unforgettable bonding that only brothers living together can have--playing half-court basketball, table tennis, or just plain alaskahan and kumustahan. Apart from Morning and Night Prayers, Breakfast and Dinner were the times when the brothers were complete and these occasions would be the forge where the bonds of brotherhood of this household was tested; significantly, from the very first dinner, it was clear that this particular bunch of brothers had been handpicked by a power greater than any Branch Leader could divine--there was a chemistry, there was a bond that immediately formed. It was as if long-lost brothers had come home and picked up a conversation started but not ended and the times of breakfast and dinner were the moments when these strands were picked up again and woven into a tapestry of vignettes, anecdotes and life stories being shared.

I found myself adjusting not to sleeping on the floor (because I had spent two summers sleeping on stone floors and even soil during my activist days), but to distractions that arose at work because I was at work and would wonder what was going on at Tobias.

I found myself enjoying the simplicity of the life the brothers of the Servants of the Word led; I found myself inspired by the differences but also the similarities of the four brothers from SOW that we were with (Jobaqs, our household head; Byong, our household steward, Mark, our security steward, and John Yocum, our resident theologian and fanatical Pistons fan). These were brothers who were ordinary joes in all respects except that they had committed their whole lives--body, mind, heart, soul and spirit--to the God who had created them and called them; and that was the difference in these imperfect men because the perfect God whom they heeded was using their imperfections for His glory. And because of this, you saw their wisdom, their passion, their love, their service and even their imperfections in a very different light--that God uses ordinary men (and women) to bring His Kingdom here on earth and it is not a matter of our worthiness, it is a matter of God's worthiness.

The brothers I shared three weeks with was a rambunctious, loud, funny, fun group but they were also, to a man, passionately and deeply in love with the Lord and were each, to a man, figuring out what God had planned for us. And it was that process of discovery and discovering that each brother embarked on that made the household unforgettable; each brother entered Tobias with his own expectations and emerged with perhaps more questions than answers but definitely with a very different experience of God in their lives and that, I am sure, made an impact.

I personally felt the Lord speaking to me very clearly--not only through the sharings with the brothers in my Action Group but also through the talks and even the senses that the brothers and sisters would send me.

And so three weeks passed--just like that. To a man, each exclaimed that it was too short a period--such was the intensity of the experience that each of us felt that we would have wanted to continue living like this. Yet, it was now time to go into the real world--to be men in the world but not men of the world. To live out our calling to be men of God in a world where God's name is not proclaimed or, if at all, in embarrassed whispers or desperate screams of recrimination.

Yes, the three weeks of sheltered and protected existence had ended; it was now time to leave home and go out into the world. I can only pray that His grace be with me as I move on towards fulfilling His call for me. I also pray that the Lord will continue to protect and strengthen Tony, Dante, Polly, Ramil, Jason, Rice, Nandy, JC, Felix, Joseph, Red, Mike, Nick, Marlon, Luis, James, Mark, Byong, John and Jobaqs.

With joy in my heart, I left home last Saturday because I knew that home is where my heart is and, deep in my heart, I knew I could always go back home.

May 20, 2005

ROTS: Proven Wrong (well, not totally)

Star of "Return of the Sith" he is Posted by Hello

The best things about SW3:ROTS are Yoda, Ewan McGregor, Ian McDairmid and . . . Hayden Christensen (surprisingly). I was prepared to hate the movie after George Lucas described it as a galactic "Titanic" but somehow I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong although not totally--the scenes between Anakin (Christensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) SUCK!!!!!-- but otherwise, the movie is quite good. I would even say its the best of the prequel trilogy (although nothing can be worse than SW: Chapter 2-"send in the clowns"); it's not in the same league (light years away) as SW5:The Empire Strikes Back or even SW6:Return of the Jedi (which was totally destroyed by those %#@*@> ewoks but was, otherwise, a very good movie) but certainly ROTS holds its own.

The atmosphere, as predicted and pitched, is dark. The tension, for once, is sustained all throughout--which makes the scenes between Padme and Anakin stand out even more for their inspidity--and this sets the tone for the betrayal by Anakin of the Jedi and the Jedi way. This is where Christensen more than holds his own. The combination of angst, idealism and confusion is essayed very convincingly by Christensen and it becomes utterly believable that he would be swayed by the dark side. Ian McDairmid is brilliant as Palpatine; using his voice as his greatest asset, he totally makes the dark side and the siths attractive (if you could imagine the voice of the serpent in the garden of eden, it would probably be McDairmid's).

The fight scenes do not disappoint. The first scene, reminiscent of an intergalactic "Saving Private Ryan", is a long whooooaaahhhh moment as Obi Wan and Anakin go after General Grievous. The last scene, set in a lake of lava, is awesome as Obi Wan and Anakin square off.

But what I totally liked about ROTS was the pace--it does not let up. I also liked the manner Lucas managed to seamlessly tie in events and answer FAQs from "Brave New Hope" (Ch. 4), "The Empire Strikes Back" (Ch. 5) and "Return of the Jedi" (Ch. 6) without managing to make them stick out. A personal FAQ that ran through Chs. 4, 5 and 6 was answered by Lucas in ROTS--if Obi Wan was killed by Darth Vader in Ch. 4, how come Luke hears him still and how come he, together with Anakin and Yoda, show up in Ch. 6; this was explained in a classic Yoda moment not to be missed--but its so subtle that you might miss it (look for it near the end of the film; if this is your personal FAQ, you'll go--'aaahhh ok'). Also,the early edition of the TIE fighter that Darth Vader favors is seen in the film. Not to be missed is the return of the Grand Moff Tarkin (played in Ch. 4 by Peter Cushing) although played by another actor who is Cushinge's spitting image (Trivia: Lucas manages to get together two actors who, in the same generation, played Dracula--Peter Cushing [Tarkin, Ch. 4] and Christopher Lee [Count Dooku, Chs. 2, 3]).

I enjoyed the film though I'm not raving about it; and I'm glad to have been proven wrong, even if not totally. I still maintain that Lucas can't write a decent script but he directs a mean yarn and, in the end, that's what Star Wars is--a 6 chapter (thus far) yarn that spans several generations.

May 09, 2005

Something more serious than a bath(Tobias Journal, no. 1)

I spent my first night at 27-B Scout Tobias last Saturday. It was the start of the 2005 Brothers Summer Household at Tobias (one of two households of the Servants of the Word) and I, together with 20 other brothers from different Lingkod branches had come together to participate in this experience.

We (the QC brothers: James, Marlon, Luis and Nick) went early to the house (7 am) for morning prayers and to drop off our things because there was a Way of Life course that morning. It was the first time for all of us to attend morning prayers at Tobias and, speaking for myself, it was a tremendous experience—coming from a veeerrry late night and a tiring week, it was a refreshing experience to start the Saturday chanting the psalms and worshipping with other brothers.

We then went our separate ways-James had classes, Luis had work, Marlon, Nick and I went to the WOL course.

After a loooong day, Marlon and I rushed back to Tobias for Lord’s Day and when we got there, Byong (our House Steward) was giving the other brothers the tour; since I had already taken the tour last year (during Rommel’s and Ryan’s household), I was listening with one ear while digesting what was going on around me. That’s when Byong told us about the rule from which the title of this post comes from.

Byong explained that since there will be 24 brothers and only a few bathrooms (4, I think), we would need to maximize the use of the bathrooms. So, rule # 1, according to Byong, when taking a bath, don’t lock the door so that the other brothers can use the sink or the urinal; rule # 2, it is only when you’re doing something more serious than a bath that you can lock the door. I couldn’t help myself, I just had to smile at that. At this, Felix (from Makati) whispered soto voce, “bro, what if you’re already taking a shower and another bro enters to do something more serious, is he allowed to lock the door—with you in it, taking a shower? Can’t you complain, bro, nauna ako.” At this, I just had to laugh.

I was no longer in Kansas, or BF Homes in my case.

Lord’s Day at Tobias is a big deal. They had this really quaint and beautiful gas lamp—not a candle—and wooden cups to drink from. Great atmosphere.

Afterwards, we had a sumptuous dinner—grilled porkchops, fresh vegetable salad, spaghetti with tomato and mushroom sauce, beer, softdrinks and fruits (peaches and almonds)—which led most of the brothers to ask, “will the food be like this everyday?” To which Jobaqs, the Household Head, smiled and said, “no, it’s only for tonight.” I suddenly had visions of the fattened calf and the condemned man and his last meal; when I voiced this out, Jobaqs laughed and said, “same result. You got the idea.” I don’t think the other brothers appreciated Jobaqs’ brand of humor; I did, and I laughed heartily.

After cleaning up, we lazed around on the comfortable sofas and swapped small talk. The QC brothers were waiting for night prayers—which we assumed was at 10—until John Yocum passed by and said, “have a good night brothers, magandang gabi.” No night prayers? When we asked Jobaqs, he smilingly replied, “yun ba inaantay nyo? Wala ngayong gabi.” At that, Marlon and I jumped up and headed for the showers to wash off the grime of the day and to prepare to sleep.

Feeling more human after a shower, I went to my assigned room (Jake Yap’s, as it turns out; I could see from all the pictures in the room featuring Oxford and Belfast and with Jake prominent in most of the pictures) and since I had no roommates yet, I had the pick of the room. Laying down my banig in the corner, with my electric fan at full, I said a short prayer to thank the Lord for what remained of the day; shortly after I said, “amen”, I know I dozed off.