December 29, 2006


One thing I got for myself for Christmas: a Moleskine planner.

Something I’d really been looking for here but which only became available recently.

Really cool, functional and handy (now, I have to get used to writing entries again with a pen instead of using graffiti with a stylus); it fits comfortably in a suit jacket pocket or even in the back pocket of your favorite jeans.

December 28, 2006

Strategic Shopping

More than ever, this year’s Christmas season really affirmed the need for strategic shopping.  I’ve always been a strategic shopper:  plan what to get for whom and where to get it and then plan  on when to get it;  all preferably within a non-extendible window of two hours (to include looking for parking and paying at the counter plus gift-wrapping).

Because I had virtually no free weekends left for December, had to do extreme strategic shopping for family members, friends and assorted inaanak.   I’m thankful for places like Fully Booked and Powerbooks (nerd ba?  I do my Christmas shopping at bookstores) where you can actually get a lot of stuff with half the hassle of going to the regular stores at the mall.  Managed to get half of my Christmas shopping done at these two places (one hour at Fully Booked Greenhills;  one hour at Powerbooks Mega) on December 24.  

Now, for the more difficult part:  the kids.  Of course, that has to be Toy Kingdom.

After a relatively painless  hour and a half of filling up a Christmas list of Power Rangers, Lisa Frank and other assorted whatnots, managed to get it done after my one hour at Powerbooks.  Had enough time to drop off some of the stuff with the intended recipients within the day.

And all had a great time with their gifts (or so I’d like to think, he he he).

Merry Christmas everyone!

December 21, 2006

Pounding on the table

I am an activist—not “was, “am.”  Even though many of my activist friends might think and say (often not to my face) that I have mellowed in my old age, I still consider myself an activist and a nationalist.  I am fiercely loyal to comrades and deeply committed to many issues.  I love this country and its people and I love the University of the Philippines, which developed in me my love for country and people.

One of the first issues I found myself identifying with as a student  was the increase in tuition at U.P.—this was way back in 82;  I would probably say that this issue got me started on the road to activism and advocacy.  I had good role models; for instance,  the Tolkien-spouting and totally charismatic Lean Alejandro [+] was still stalking the halls of Palma Hall then.  He was someone who was totally credible because he knew the issues and respected  even his opponents;  as far as I knew, he did not stoop to ad hominem argumentation but stuck to issues and on issues, there was very little his opponents could do; Lean was that good.

This is why I found myself greatly dismayed at the news that a group of anti-tuition fee increase protesters had barged into Malcolm Hall and started acting like hooligans, in the process, disrupting the traditional year-end closer of Malcolm Hall—Malcolm Madness.  

That U.P. students would resort to hooliganism is a sad indictment of activism;  that they would resort to ad hominem and character attacks is a deplorable state of affairs.  Throwing eggs at the AFP Chief of Staff and damaging the Chancellor’s car simply because they find themselves unable to “win” an argument is simply scraping the bottom of the barrel.

A few years back, a former U.P. President (supposedly Dodong Nemenzo, though I’m not sure) was supposedly asked what he thought of  the problem of student activism in U.P. and he supposedly replied, “so what’s the problem?”  I’m not too sure this would ring true now.

A few years back, the USC Chairperson would be a national figure;  Lean Alejandro was speaking on national issues even when he was in the USC and people listened—they may have disagreed with his views but very few people found him disagreeable.  Now, I am not too sure this would ring true.  

To the “activists” of today, I am one with you in many advocacies but there is no excuse for boorishness or ill-breeding.  You must realize that the medium is very often also the message.  A hooligan with a legitimate gripe will be looked at first as a hooligan and never as one with a legitimate concern.

There are many compelling arguments against the TFI even as there are many compelling arguments for it;  as advocates, we should not be afraid to have our ideas and arguments tested in the crucible of debate.  But intimidation of people with dissenting views, such as what you did at Malcolm Hall, reflects a weakness of argument and an almost-dictatorial insistence on “getting what you want.”  

I would be the first to defend your right to speak freely on pressing issues such as the tuition free increase but I would also be the first to speak out against destructive, ill-bred, uncouth and boorish behavior such as that you displayed at Malcolm Hall on December 15, 2006.  As I do now.

We have a saying among trial lawyers: if you are weak on the facts, pound on the law;  if you are weak on the law, pound on the facts;  if you are weak on the law and the facts, pound on the table.  

So far, you’ve been pounding only on the table.

December 15, 2006

Cha Cha Pop Quiz #3

JDV says con ass is dead;  Gloria says cha cha is too.  How come people are still planning  to conduct and join massive prayer rallies?

[a]  Because they can;
[b]  Because they don’t believe Gloria and JDV;
[c]  Because Gloria said “I am sorry” but really wasn’t;
[d]  Because they love El Shaddai;
[e]  Because they were told to join;
[f]  Because of the artistas;
[g]  [a], [b], [c] and [f];
[h]  [a], [b], [c] only but not [f];
[i]   None of the above;
[j]  All of the above;
[k]  Others:  (feel free to post comments).

December 14, 2006

Cha Cha Pop Quiz #2

Why are Gloria and JDV moving heaven and earth to change the charter before May 2007?

[a]  Because Chris DV is too young to run for speaker;
[b]  Because JDV is too old to go into acting;
[c]  Because Luli isn’t interested in any elective office;
[d]  Because Gina DV already runs the House of JDV;
[e]  Because none of the children of those in the majority are old enough to run for con con or congress;
[f]  Because they can;
[g]  [a], [b] and [f];
[h]  All of the above;
[i]  Others:  (feel free to post a comment)

December 13, 2006

Cha Cha Pop Quiz #1

Answering myself (see below), Gloria and JDV don’t get it because:

[a]  They refuse to;
[b]  They cannot afford to;
[c]  They are conditioned to not get it;
[d]  They cannot hear the voice of the people;
[e]  They refuse to hear the voice of the people;
[f]  Personal interests are more deafening than the voice of the people;
[g]  It is the last chance for both to remain relevant and in power;
[h]  They will be sued once they step down from power’
[i] All of the above;
[j]  Some of the above, depending on the consideration;
[k]  Others: (feel free to post comments)

They get it, why don't Gloria and JDV?

My students get it; Gloria and JDV don't.

The statement of the Law Student Government (LSG) of the College of Law (lifted from Lorybeth's friendster blog) --


It is an obvious and grave abuse of power and discretion.

The Majority in the House of Representatives have amended our system of government by using a technicality. They have effectively destroyed the safeguard afforded by the Constitution to all Filipino people.

After several attempts to amend the Constitution have failed (i.e. Concon and Pirma) last Tuesday and Wednesday evening, December 5 and 6, the Lower House amended House Rule 105 Rule XV (Proposals to Amend or Revise the Constitution), removing the sentence
“The adoption of resolutions proposing amendments to or revision of the constitution shall follow the procedure for the enactment of bills.” The Lower House then passed House Resolution 1450: Calling for the Convening of Congress to Propose Amendments to, or Revision of, the Constitution Upon a Vote of Three-Fourths of All its Members, Pursuant to Section 1, Article XVII of the Constitution. The House Majority, through Cong. Villafuerte, admits that they will be proposing to postpone the May elections to November 2007. They want term limits to be removed too. Recently, in response to pressure from various sectors , they are now singing a different tune. They have set a 72-hour deadline for Senate to respond to an invitation for Constitutional Convention.

The Law Student Government of the University of the Philippines College of Law, is not against the idea of charter change per se. However, we are strongly against the timing, and motivations behind the present attempts to change our Constitution. We believe that now is not the time to amend the constitution. The fundamental law of our country should be amended in a deliberate manner, in an atmosphere of sobriety.

When the House Majority resorted to the brash and brazen manner of the amendment of Rule 105 of the House Rules and the passing of House Resolution 1450, it left the minority lost and confused. They construed Article XVII Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution to say that House of Representatives by itself can amend the Constitution – a forced interpretation which bastardizes the intent of the very Constitution they swore to uphold. The intent of the Constitutional framers have been made clear in both jurisprudence and practice – that ours is a bicameral system of government. The records show that the framers intended for both Houses “to vote separately”. Ratio legis et anima.

With the shift from Con-Ass to Con-con, however, the pressure exerted by the House Majority to amend the Constitution remains. Now, they are even calling on the CBCP to urge the Senate to join them in supporting Con-con. From a first Concon to Pirma to Con-Ass then to another Con-con, they are pursuing all means and methods available to amend the fundamental law of our land. Their desperation to amend the Constitution before the May 2007 elections has become even more apparent.

The timing of these maneuvers seriously casts doubt as to the intent of the proponents. With the May 2007 elections in sight, and with a great number of Congressmen nearing their term limits, this is obviously a ploy to perpetuate themselves in power. The process of amending the Constitution should be done with the interest of the Filipino people in mind – not with the interests of a few self-serving Congressmen. Furthermore, if the Charter Change were to push through, there would be an inevitable need for government funds. At this point in time, the government’s budget has already been allocated for the May 2007 elections. Re-allocation of such budget for the plebiscite as proposed by some Congressmen would amount to malversation of government funds. We condemn this clear intent to violate the law.

The LSG believes that the “Majority” in the House of Representatives is not the Majority of the Philippine Nation. We believe that there is a majority of critical-minded people able to recognize such despicable political maneuvers but who have just remained silent, and still another mass which has resorted to apathy.

We call on this majority to speak out. Together let us raise our voices in indignation & protest against the Chacha tactics of the House Majority. Let us not fall prey to the manipulations of the Administration congressmen.

We call on the minority Congressmen and the Senate to stand on their ground. We want to let them know that we are rallying behind them in their efforts to thwart the actions of other legislative leaders to perpetuate themselves into power.

We call on the Supreme Court to properly rule on the petitions asking for the proper interpretation of the Constitution. We beseech them to have in mind the intent of the framers to have a bicameral system of government in accordance with the system of checks and balances espoused by the Constitution. We implore the Supreme Court not to hide behind the political question doctrine or the doctrine of acquiescence as captured in Javellana v. Executive Secretary. We are against all this and we making our voices heard and let no one say otherwise.

We call on the students of the College of Law to study and inform ourselves about the present issue vis-à-vis the law as we have been taught, and the possible consequences of having ill-motivated Charter Change. Let us use our privileged position to discuss and share our knowledge with others. We can also help in the initiatives of our professors, who, as of the moment, are in the process of preparing petitions to the Supreme Court. And for those who wish to do so, we can let our voices be heard and participate in protest actions against the present move to amend our Constitution. Let us be at the forefront of these events which could shape the course of our Nation’s history.

Let us not get caught in the tragedy of being a law student who studies the law in a vacuum and remains in the dark in the midst of surrounding political turmoil. Let us grab this chance to learn the law not just inside Malcolm Hall but to learn it inspite of Malcolm Hall. This IS learning the law in the “Grand Manner”.

Christina Faye M. Condez

Lorybeth R. Baldrias

Faustina Victoria E. Ochoa

Hardy B. Aquende

Elgene Lawrence C. Feliciano
Public Relations Officer

Leandro Angelo Y. Aguirre
College Representative

December 12, 2006

Best Bond in a long, long time

I’ve always liked James Bond movies; they are a particular guilty pleasure. Sure, they’re politically incorrect (women are celebrated more as playthings and with the insolent and cheeky humor that has characterized the Bond films, they are also given very unfortunate names). Sure, they’re violent (007 means a “license to kill” after all) and they’re racy (each Bond film generally involves him getting involved with more than one woman in an extramarital situation); and they usually involve pretty impossible situations (Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist named Christmas Jones; Denise Richards and physics can not exist in the same sentence.).

But whatever they are, the Bond films are always great fun.

Casino Royale is not, however, only great fun; it is the best of the Bonds I’ve seen in a very, very long time. The last great Bond film I watched was Thunderball with a great Sean Connery (forget Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby and please do not get me started on Roger Moore).

Daniel Craig is a great Bond; he has screen presence comparable to Sean Connery in his first few Bonds. He is the most physical and the most violent Bond but, as the 007 implies, he is after all a “blunt weapon” (a phrase that is commonly employed in the Bond books). His face is an impenetrable mask that fits perfectly the pre-Sean Connery Bond (this, after all, is a prequel).

The action scenes are not Bond-ish in that there are no gadgets at all (Major Boothroyd, or Q, does not appear at all and fans of Q must wait until a later film perhaps for the character to be resurrected). Craig’s Bond relies on his skills—something that is a throwback to the early Connery Bonds and which the later slightly effeminate Bonds like Moore and Brosnan have rejected (particularly Moore). The first real action scene on top a building crane is absolutely superb because Craig’s Bond has absolutely nothing to support him but his wits, his skills, his physique and his determination.

His is also the first Bond to really get himself dirty and bloody. None of the other Bonds, Connery included, have managed to get a scratch on him but Craig’s Bond revels in it; more than once, you see his already slightly disarranged face bloodied and even more disarranged.

Craig is a great actor as well. He is able to capture quite well the point of the movie—that Bond started as an aspiring 00; his first “kill” shows his raw skill without the finesse that the later 007 would display; he gets better at killing later on. He also manages to display an initial raw and unrefined wit and skill at repartee that would hint at a later sardonic and oftentimes cruel turn of phrase—and he does this with his “unsmiling” smirk, which makes his wit even more unexpected but truly funny. Craig also manages to show just how Bond becomes human as his heart is later captured by the Treasury agent Vesper Lynd and he, finally, displays his human side, only to lose it later.

The final scene where he now uses the now-famous “Bond; James Bond” introduction brings him full circle as Bond—no longer an aspiring, inept, unwise 00 but a more suave , confident and quite effective 007.

Judi Dench’s M is a great revelation; she is a fantastic actor but this time, she lets it rip with tongue in cheek humor—unlike the dour and humorless M that she introduced in the Brosnan Bonds. In character, Dench’s M is the closest to Ian Fleming’s M who was written as a “father figure” to Bond; while M chews out Craig’s Bond so often in this film that you have to wonder how he managed to get the promotion, we also see in Dench’s characterization of M how close the two really are; in M’s carefully subtle oversight of Bond (from installing a transponder to discreetly asking about him in person), the hint of Admiral Miles Messervy (the M in Fleming’s books) is quite clearly conveyed and the film is all the better for it.

The plot isn’t much nor is the villain but the star of Casino Royale, after all, is deservedly Daniel Craig and HIS Bond. The producers of this film may have taken a risk in replacing a charismatic and popular Brosnan as Bond by taking on a grittier, less known and “blonde” Bond but, from the looks of it, Casino Royale and Craig appear to have broken the bank.

FLAG's Charter Change Statement

Government has run amuck in its desire to change the Constitution. Recent events clearly demonstrate that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her allies in Congress will employ any means, mostly foul, to achieve their objective. They must be stopped, and stopped now, or they will destroy the law itself and tear our country apart.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s announcement yesterday shelving the constituent assembly does not mean she has abandoned her plans of changing the Constitution. Words are easy and cheap. Until the mechanisms for charter change have actually been dismantled—such as House Resolution No. 197—moves to change the Constitution by constituent assembly can be pursued at any time.

The FREE LEGAL ASSISTANCE GROUP (FLAG) calls upon the Filipino people to unite in forceful opposition against charter change, and demand that all current mechanisms put in place for changing the Constitution be immediately dismantled.

Quezon City, Philippines, 10 December 2006.


December 08, 2006


You’ve got to hand it to the man.

He’s one of the most effective marketers of the products that he hawks—from travel to newspapers to himself to the Supreme Court.  Artemio Panganiban is a very good salesman.  This much, you get from just a few minutes with the man;  don’t get him started on a speech because he’s going to give it all he’s got—with a powerpoint presentation to boot.

Yet, he has completely befuddled those who marketed him to be the Chief Justice to succeed Hilario Davide Jr.  Instead of being this supposedly political appointee, he displayed a degree of independence not expected from someone who, if rumors are to be believed, owed his appointment to political patronage.  In the one year he has been in office as Chief Justice, Panganiban struck down almost every major component of the Gloria dictatorship thrown at the Court—EO 464, Proclamation 1017, CPR and People’s Initiative.  

I wasn’t a big fan of his when he was appointed Chief Justice;  I’m still not a big fan of his  ponencias which are an acquired taste that I haven’t warmed up to yet.  But I have to give him all the credit for asserting the independence that stamped the Panganiban Court with an identity all its own.  If not for that independence, the Gloria dictatorship would be in full bloom.  For that alone:  Bravo, Mr. Chief Justice!

The Chief, Finally

They got it right, this time.

Reynato Puno Jr. became the 22d Chief Justice of the Philippines a few hours before his predecessor, Artemio Panganiban, ended his birthday.

It is one year late for the most Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, after having been bypassed for what many considered, at that time, to be a political appointment in Panganiban (who, to the surprise of many, including Gloria Arroyo, turned out to be not as malleable as Gloria’s courtiers may have marketed him to be).   Even now, he is already being painted as Gloria’s new puppet.

Chief Justice Puno must show, with his very first act, that he is no one’s puppet and that, as he promised, he is beholden only to a “constituency of one”, Lady Justice.;  Perhaps, he may do that by simply stopping De Venecia and his kennel dead in their tracks by issuing a restraining order;  better yet, perhaps he might put De Venecia and his kennel where they rightly belong—outside the house where all the poop lie.

No other act will suffice, Mr. Chief Justice.  Otherwise, people will truly start to believe that the blindfolded lady does peek—once in awhile.

Bastusan Na!

The Filipino language has a beautiful and appropriate word for what happened at the House of De Venecia (I refuse to call it the House of Representatives anymore as they no longer represent me in any way) the past two days BASTUSAN.

Resolution No. 1450 passed by De Venecia’s kennel can be best described in that one single word: BASTUSAN.

The nearest approximation that would do justice to the flavor and meaning of this one word is an abject lack of respect.

Turn about is fair play, (none of you are worthy of the appellation “Mr”, which I proudly claim, so henceforth you are simply) De Venecia, Nograles, Defensor, Lagman, Salapudin, Del Mar and everyone else, male or female, in the House of De Venecia who refused to stand on principle and give the sovereign Filipino people the respect they deserve. Bastusan na ba? E di, bastusan na nga!

The latest issuance from the House of De Venecia in full (without annotation, as words fail to capture the venality of this piece of [fill in your own expletive])

Republic of the Philippines
Congress of the Philippines
Quezon City, Metro Manila

Thirteenth Congress
Third Regular Session



WHEREAS, there is a growing clamor from various sectors of oursociety to amend or revise the Constitution;

WHEREAS, it is imperative that any proposal to amend or revise anyprovision of the Constitution shall adhere to the express provision ofthe Constitution as provided by Section 1, Article 17 of the Constitution;

WHEREAS, Section 1, Sub-paragraph 1 of Article 17 of theConstitution provides that: "Any amendment to, or revision of, thisConstitution may be proposed by: the Congress upon a vote ofthree-fourths of all its members.”

WHEREAS, while there are alternate modes of effecting charterchange, adopting the afore-cited Constitutional provision quoted inthe immediately preceding paragraph hereof is the mode recommended byan overwhelming majority of the Members of Congress;

WHEREAS, in order to ensure that proposals to amend or revise theConstitution could be considered by Congress in an orderly andpractical manner, a call for ALL THE MEMBERS of Congress to propose amendments to, or revision of, the Constitution shall be made, as thisresolution proposes.