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 ingĂ©nue—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.