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.