December 26, 2007

For T. Mena

On December 17, 2007, I lost someone very dear to me. She was the mother of a very good friend from law school; much later on, the entire family would become part of me, literally. On many occasions, she was literally like a mother to me (and to my classmates because many of us spent much time at her house) During her funeral mass, I had wanted to volunteer to say a few words but I knew that I would not be able to think or say anything.

For Susan (and Danny), Dada (and Charlie), Jing (and Fourdie), Frays, Cathy (and Dan) and of course Tito Noli and the next generation: China, (Joaquin+), Pat, Po, Nikki and JD -- there are very few words that will suffice to remember and celebrate the blessing that Tita Mena was to me. These words from the late (and much missed) Fr. Jim Donelan, S.J. (a priest whom Dada and I would find time to listen to when we were still both working in Makati) might put everything in perspective though:

Saying Goodbye
James F. Donelan, S.J.

Goodbyes have always been an inspiration to poets, and what has caught their poetic fancy most is the contradictory nature of the experience. Emily Dickinson says partings are all we know of Heaven, and all we need of Hell. Shakespeare's Romeo puts it simpler: Partings, he says, are such sweet sorrows. We smile through our tears and cry through our laughter.

But goodbyes are more than sentimental moments. They are one of nature's sacraments--sacraments in that they involve a mystery, an insight into the heart of things. there is a mystery involved in going away, in that simple experience of saying goodbye that touches each one of us, sometimes lightly, sometimes heavily.

Goodbyes reveal something about the meaning of our lives, the great tides that rise and fall, the joys and sorrows that inundate our hearts at different moments of our lives. We may hate goodbyes but we cannot avoid them because they put us in touch with something fundamental about ourselves--our rootedness in time and place.

Going away reminds us of our uniqueness, our identity, and how it depends on certain people. Our hearts have many anchors, but when the great tides call us to catch the wind and sail away, we will be missing life itself if we fail to go.

True, it is hard to say farewell, especially the milestone goodbyes of our life--leaving home, leaving country. But part of maturity lies in realizing that there is no genuine growth in life that doesn't gather us together and lead us to a point where we pull apart to find out who we are and what we must do with our lives. It is hard especially for parents to allow those we love their private places to be sad and to cry, to be lonely, to experience sorrow and defeat. Yet, going away is our daily spiritual bread. If we don't recognize that, then we haven't completely grown up.

The great secret, of course, that lies at the heart of the mystery is that saying goodbye or allowing others to be free to do so never truly separates us from what we have known and loved and shared. We can lose material things by separation, but absence only increases love.

The feeling we experience when we say goodbye adds to, rather than takes away from, our experience of life. And because we have had the courage to travel deep into love's mystery of going away, we can one day celebrate the joy of coming together again. And so life goes on, strengthened and encouraged by the hope and promise of reunion.

Tita Mena, thank you for your life and for the way you lived it. As China said, 20 years (which is how old she is) is too short; yet, I know and am reassured that you are in that blessed eternity already. . . waiting for us. And, somehow, that gives me much, much comfort. Until we see each other again, maraming salamat Tita.

December 24, 2007

A King has Come!

Isaiah 9:2b, 6: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined. .. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder and His Name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Luke 2:10-11: "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

The sweetest words that I have ever heard -- "for to you is born this day . . .a Savior."

Never has "Emmanuel" been so richly felt; indeed, God with us becomes a mere play of words had the incarnation never happened. But God with us becomes reality, becomes truth, becomes fact when we consider God's choice--to be born, live and die as flesh and blood.

After four weeks of expectant and hopeful waiting, Christmas is finally here--"for to you is born this day. . . a Savior."

Thank you, my King, for choosing to be born as one of us; for choosing to live as one of us; for choosing to know the pain, the struggles, the trials, the temptations, the frailties of humanity, of living as human and not simply as God.

Thank you, Jesus, for being God's light shining forth, piercing the darkness forever, renting the veil for all time.

Thank you, Light of God, Glory of God (Titus 2:13), that Moses' and our hearts' cry--"show me thy glory (Exodus 33:18)--has finally been revealed and we see Your glory face to face.

I come before your manger and see You , my God, in Your glory--amidst the squalor, the dirt, the grime, the stench, the disorder, the abject poverty, the simplicity and the neglect of man--and my heart sings Your praise--Emmanuel, what are we that we are loved so well? (Psalm 8:4) What kind of King are you, that you would be born and die for me?

The waiting has ended, the King has come! Come let us adore Him!

A Blessed Christmas!

December 12, 2007

Musings on Eternity, Waiting and Hope

In this very short season of Advent, amidst all the preparations for Christmas, some passages to help us keep things in perspective as we wait for the coming of the King:

Psalm 39
[1] I said, "I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will bridle my mouth,
so long as the wicked are in my presence."
[2] I was dumb and silent;
I held my peace to no avail;
my distress grew worse,
[3] my heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:

[4] "Lord, let me know my end,
and what is the measure f my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is!
[5] Behold, Thou hast made my days a few
and my lifetime is as nothing in Thy
Surely every man stands as a mere
[6] Surely man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nought are they in turmoil;
man heaps up, and knows not who
will gather!

[7] And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in Thee.
[8] Deliver me from all my transgressions.
Make me not the scorn of the fool!
[9] I am dumb, I do not open my mouth;
for it is Thou who hast done it.
[10] Remove Thy stroke from me;
I am spent by the blows of Thy Hand.
[11] When Thou dost chasten man
with rebukes for sin,
Thou dost consume like a moth what is
dear to him;
surely every man is a mere breath!

[12] "Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and give ear to my cry;
hold not Thy peace at my tears!
For I am Thy passing guest,
a sojourner, like all my fathers.
[13]Look away from me, that I may know
before I depart and be no more!"

Psalm 42
[1] As a hart longs
for flowing streams,
so longs my soul
for Thee, My God,
[2] My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
[3] My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me continually,
"Where is your God?"

[4] These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul;
how I went with the throng;
and led them in procession to the
house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of
a multitude keeping festival.
[5] Why are you cast down, O my souo,
and why are you disquieted
within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
My soul is cast down within me,
therefore I remember Thee
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
[7] Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of Thy cataracts;
all Thy waves and Thy billows
have gone over me.
[8] By day the Lord commands His
steadfast love; and at night His song
is within me, a prayer to the God of
my life.
[9] I say to God, my rock:
"Why hast Thou forgotten me?
Why go I mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?"
[10] As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me, while they say
to me continually, "Where is your God?"
[11] Why are you cast down, O my soul;
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise
him, my help and my God.

December 06, 2007

crossing the line

Much has been said about the pros and cons of the warrantless arrests made by the PNP NCRPO and SAF of the media members and support crew during the Pen caper.

The PNP has said that the warrantless arrests were justified because: 1. they could not determine whether the media members were indeed from media because some Magdalo members were posing as media (right, as if Sonny Trillanes could look like Pinky Webb or Ces Drilon) and 2. they had been warned off already and because they chose to stay, then they could be arrested.

One thing must be made clear: a line was crossed on November 29, 2007; and it was crossed by the police. That line was drawn by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press and until very recently (February 2006), that line had been held sacred--at least from 1986 onwards.

I unequivocally support my friends from the media who have condemned the arrests. Clearly, they were not only an overkill, they were also illegal and in violation of the constitution.

A difference must be struck between the refusal of some media members (particularly from ABS-CBN) to not obey the directive to leave the pen and the decision of the police to arrest (not process) the members of the media.

The only legal consequence of refusing to leave the pen is that the media who stayed waived their right to be protected from harm and cannot sue the police if they are injured or killed. That, I believe, the members of media who stayed knew very well and accepted fully.

Such refusal, however, cannot result in a valid warrantless arrest. Under the Rules of Court, a warrantless arrest may only be made on three (3) occasions and the pen caper did not fall under any of the three occasions. Moreover, refusal to leave did not justify the treatment accorded--handcuffed and paraded like ordinary criminals.

In doing so, the police crossed the line and considered, in blanket fashion, the media as combatant, as partisan, as enemy, By arresting media together with Trillanes, Lim et al, the police spoke loud and clear: the media are part of the rebellion.

True, often the media doth speak too much, complain too much but this is not one of those times. This time, they are in the right.

November 30, 2007

11 Ways to Make the Empress Smile (An allegory in real time and in real life)

(Note: This is intended to be ironic, not literal. If you cannot appreciate irony, look the word up first before reading any further)

1. Stage a walk-out during your own trial for taking over a posh condotel by kidnapping your own witness with the aid of your armed and unarmed escorts. Make sure to look heroic, in the best traditions of Gringo Honasan, while doing so.

2. After yay walk-out, march (actually walk) from the court room to the nearest (actually not really because Mandarin is nearer; perhaps they're not so fond of the Captain's Bar) posh hotel while gazing at the camera and saying "sumali na kayo." Remember not to smile, the better to look authoritative (never mind that it makes you look pretend-intimidating)

3. Ask Ces Drilon to be your personal walk-out/protest/faux people power ad nauseam commentator (what's with the headband, Ces? sorry to disappoint, the headband works with Juday or Jolens; guess what you don't have and the two have) while walking to yay not necessarily the nearest posh hotel.

4. At yay not necessarily the nearest posh hotel, go directly to the function room previously reserved for you, which happens to be at the 2nd floor and which requires passage through an imperious-looking stair case and balcony.

5. After closeting yourself in, oblige the media (let's not forget Ces Drilon) with occasional snippets of fiery (well, not really; more sparkly, if there is such a word) faux revolutionary language using such words as "abusive", "corrupt" and the like before retreating into yay closet, oh sorry, room.

6. Stroll authoritatively from time to time across yay imperious-looking balcony, the better to gaze imperiously at yay subjects below. Make sure to not say anything but to look absorbed in deep thought.

7. Give the occasional and obligatory firebrand rhetoric but only after ensuring that all the major networks are represented (let's not forget Ces Drilon) and that the camera angle captures your best side.

8. Closet yourself with the obligatory former Vice President (of the Philippines, of course), the running priest, the retired bishop, the retired and tired looking UP President, the bearded former Congressman-lawyer and the really noisy Argee Guevarra and of course, Ces Drilon-- the better to use as human shields (what? you didn't tell them they would be human shields? Oh no. Oh well, they'll find out soon; I hope they don't mind too much)

9. As the video cameras roll, nonchalantly disregard the 3 pm deadline set by the PNP special action force and equally nonchalantly ignore the police surrounding yay posh hotel and taking pot shots at God knows what while privately freaking out ("where are my crowds? where are the masses? Erap! Jojo! Where are you?")

10. After a few canisters of tear gas are lobbed inside and 3 simba tanks barge through the lobby of yay posh hotel, emerge from yay imperial balcony and proclaim that you are surrendering to avoid loss of life to innocent civilians (not minding that yay innocent civilians would not have been in harms way in the first place had not yay posh hotel been taken over--a minor fact that many people in yay faux revolution conveniently forget).

11. Surrender in full view of the cameras and make sure to look stoic (stoic=heroic, get it?) while being pushed around and herded while handcuffed into a prison bus.

In the meantime, the Empress-Dictator smiles as she imposes a five-hour curfew and her grumbling subjects scramble home to make it in time.

November 28, 2007

Perspective 5 (An Open Letter)

My God knows me too well; after all, He created me, He knows my heart and its ways. (Ps. 139)

Right after my last post, I left for a hearing. On the way there, I heard Him clearly and it was all I could do to not hit the car in front of me.

"The tongue is like a fire."

I had to pull over and pray.

In the past days, I've blogged about something that has been much debated, much discussed and much forwarded. It has generated heated exchanges and passionate opinions.

In my heart, I knew that I was speaking of things that were true and were right. Yet, even after I replied to the group's answer to me (see previous post), I did not feel at peace, in fact, I felt an even heavier burden.

My God spoke to me further while I prayed:

"Tame your tongue and do not let it control you. The purity of your heart's intention cannot justify the words you have spoken."

As the season of Advent approaches, one of the many things I had resolved to do was to be at peace with myself and with others; and it is ironic that as Advent approaches, I was not at peace and was, in fact, the source of discord. And all because of my tongue or, in this case, my "pen."

There is a right way to talk about the things that are wrong and a wrong way to talk about the things that are right. I realized that I may have chosen to talk about the things that are right in the wrong way and, in the process, have hurt and caused pain to people.

As I texted some of those concerned, there is no justification for disrespect even as there may be a basis for disagreement. And so, before I come before my God any further, I want to make things right with my brethren--for after all, all of us are children of God (yes, even you Florin).

To Harry, Florin, Barry, Ex Dean Bart, Ex Dean Merlin, Ex Dean Raul, Beth, JJ, Danny, Prof Ed, Prof Sison and Prof Doming,

I have used harsh words against some of you specifically and while there remains basis for disagreement among us, I realize there is no justification for disrespect. We still disagree on many things and you will still not be able to convince me to agree on many things (choice of the next dean, perhaps ) but that disagreement does not need to end in disagreeability. In the same way that I have spoken publicly against you, allow me to publicly apologize to you

It is your choice to accept and I cannot force you to accept. But I extend this apology sincerely, humbly and freely with the hope that we might be able to disagree about the Deanship and your choice for the next Dean under better circumstances (perhaps with Florin buying coffee) and perhaps with Dean Carlota around.

Holier than Thou (Their title, not mine)

This is the response to my post (see "Ingratitude. In Gratitude") from Harry, Florin, Barry, Prof. Pangalangan, Former Dean Pangalangan, Former Dean Magallona, Former Dean Carale, Danny Concepcion, Professor Labitag, Professor Sison (some of those mentioned as having signed the statement posted; the two Profs. Disini, JJ and Domingo, did not sign).

It is not my intention to reply point for point as I stand by my statement completely.

Let me simply say two things:

1. I am pleasantly surprised that Florin Hilbay, who teaches Atheism in place of legal theory in first year, would quote scripture to me, and
2. I am mildly disappointed that Dean Pangalangan would not appreciate the irony (as my post on ingratitude was intended to be ironic) of his lecturing to me on "patronage politics."
3. And of course, I am shocked that "farce" would not include a professor who, in place of teaching the Bill of Rights in Consti Law 2 would teach everything BUT the Bill of Rights and leave his students to figure out for themselves what the Bill of Rights is.
4. Finally, I do miss being called "Teddy", something that my REALLY GOOD FRIENDS call me.

I would want to say "I am sorry" to the two former Deans Carale and Magallona but I cannot. I look up to Dean Magallona but, on this one, I disagree totally with his signing the statement and I have given my reasons why. I will apologize, however, for using strong language--stronger perhaps than they are used to.

The statement condemns ME (they give me too much credit, really) for subverting the process. The last time I looked, everyone was free to send any letter, petition, request or what have you to the BOR; now, whether the BOR would grant it--that is another question. What was the group afraid of? Now had I RIGGED THE BOR to change the decision of the Chancellor, then that would have been subverting the process. I think they give me too much credit and the BOR too little.

Enough of me. Let's hear them:

27 November 2007

Dear Teddy,

OUR STATEMENT STOOD ON THE PRINCIPLE that the Search Process must not be subverted. Instead of answering us on the level of principle, you attacked us as persons, labeled us as ingrates, and viewed it all as the politics of patronage.

You have committed two basic mistakes.

FIRST, YOU GOT THE FACTS WRONG. You say that we “demand[ed] that Dean Carlota not be allowed any extension of his term beyond his birthday.”

THAT IS FALSE. We attach a copy of the Statement. About the agreement among the faculty members and the UP Diliman Chancellor on the Search Process for the new Dean, we expressly stated:

“The agreement reached last November 2 allows Dean Carlota to join the search as a nominee seeking extension of his term, provided he submit (just like any other nominee) to an open, transparent, and deliberative process.”

“We are not requesting the Board to reject outright Dean Carlota’s request for extension; we are simply appealing that the Board respect the university-sanctioned, agreed-upon selection process and make its decision after deliberative mechanisms within the community directly affected be first implemented to ensure that the selection process is participatory and meaningful for the stakeholders.”

All we asked was for Dean Carlota to let the official Search Process take its course. Instead, you preferred to subvert the official Search Process and to sneak into the Board of Regents a petition to extend him, by-passing the already on-going Search Process. Your attempt to take the moral high ground with dirty hands reeks of duplicity.

YOU GOT THE FACTS WRONG A SECOND TIME. Dean Carlota already got an extension of his teaching (i.e. his faculty appointment). The Academic Personnel Committee, with the vote of some of the signatories to our Statement, gave him the maximum extension. We are grateful to those who have long served the law school, which is why it has been the consistent policy to extend retiring faculty.

It was Dean Carlota who required senior faculty members to write him a letter requesting an extension. Yet when the Committee asked him to do likewise, he did not “request.” He merely “declared” his intention to teach beyond the mandatory retirement age. Despite the imperiousness, the Committee obliged him.

But that Committee doesn’t have the power to recommend the extension of his term as Law Dean (i.e. his administrative assignment), which is now the subject of the Search Process.

SECOND, DEAN CARLOTA FACES MANDATORY RETIREMENT BY OPERATION OF LAW. Teddy, if you wish to carve out exceptions to the law, it is YOUR burden to explain why, NOT OURS.

He became Dean in October 2005, aware that he would turn 65 in December 2007 and could not complete the usual 3-year term (in October 2008). He has categorically declared before several faculty members that he was not interested in being extended beyond December 2007. Why blame us that we acted upon his own declaration of disinterest? “Public office is not the private reserve of public officers.”

We are amazed that you will shame our senior colleagues, one “who practically begged for an extension so that he could hold on to his administrative post” and another who received an extension of his faculty appointment. We are sorry, Ted, but their votes were not for sale, sorrier still that you thought they were.

SADLY, YOU SEE COLLEGE GOVERNANCE AS NOTHING BUT A MATTER OF PATRONAGE POLITICS, of “utang na loob”, viewing everything in terms of “betrayal” or “gratitude”, and excluding the possibility of a principled stand on issues that go beyond personal loyalty. This is why you cast in moralizing terms the decision of your colleagues to allow for an open debate as to who should lead the law school. What is so morally abhorrent, Teddy, about inviting others to a conversation on policy options for the leadership of a law school?

Having blinded yourself to the tyranny of your own point of view, you label as ungrateful those who you think support other leaders and then demonize those who disagree with you.

YOU ASK: "WHY THE RUSH?". There was no rush; it was merely the straightforward application of the law. The Chancellor himself, during the meeting with the law faculty, stated that the search process is already late because it should have begun 3 months before the end of the incumbent’s term.

INDEED WE ASK YOU: “WHY THE RUSH, TEDDY?” Why agree to a Search Process when we were face to face at a faculty meeting – a Process that will start with the College constituents, then the Chancellor, then the UP President, and then the BOR – and then betray that process and go directly to the BOR?

You applaud when the law is applied “chapter and verse.” Now the law has caught up with you and Dean Carlota, and you wish to skip entire chapters and verses.

YOU USED THE WORDS “ONE BIG, CRUEL FARCE.” THE BIGGEST, CRUELEST FARCE is that you raise the issue of absenteeism when – as many of your students would attest – you are perennially absent from your classes in Criminal Law and Criminal Law Review, and you miss even your own makeup classes. Your present and past students, some of them now members of the faculty, say that they considered your course as one of “self-study.” Awkward as it is, but can you can assure us that you have not skipped classes to attend to your private practice of law?

You say: “One cannot become a great lawyer unless one is a good person first.” Teddy, please spare us the holier-than-thou platitudes. Guess what they call those who fail the injunction: “First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”

Sincerely yours,

Harry Roque
Florin Hilbay
Barry Gutierrez
Elizabeth Pangalangan
Raul Pangalangan
Merlin Magallona
Bartolome Carale
Danilo Concepcion
Carmelo V. Sison
Edgardo A. Labitag


November 25, 2007

Ingratitude. In Gratitude.

Note: Not for the faint of heart, this contains strong language.

After 30 or so years of service, many people retire with gold watches, a plaque, honor and acclaim of peers; the luckier ones retire with a hefty check.

Salvador T. Carlota, Dean of Malcolm Hall from 2005 and Professor of Law, will retire on his birthday this December not with a gold watch, not with a plaque, not with a hefty check but with a heart broken by betrayal and ingratitude.

A few days back, the following members of the Law Faculty posted publicly a statement demanding that Dean Carlota not be allowed any extension of his term beyond his birthday--

Harry Roque
Florin Hilbay
Elizabeth Pangalangan
Raul Pangalangan
Merlin Magallona
Bartolome Carale
Domingo Disini
JJ Disini
Barry Gutierrez
Danilo Concepcion

Never mind that two of these are retired former deans who should know how it is to cap one’s service to the University and the College enjoying the gratitude of peers and colleagues.

Never mind that one of them is a former Dean who, on the first day of Dean Carlota’s term in 2005, assured the Dean that he would not object to a full term of three years for him, even beyond his birthday (a statement that this former Dean has denied, of course).

Never mind that one of them is a recently retired professor who practically begged for an extension so that he could hold on to his administrative post, and which Dean Carlota graciously granted and even expedited—no questions asked.

Never mind that another is a recently retired professor who also had his term extended by Dean Carlota--no questions asked either.

Never mind that the others are absentee directors who spend more time outside the University and their institutes than inside.

Never mind that not one of them can give a perfectly reasonable, let alone compelling, explanation why Dean Carlota has to leave as soon as he turns 65 and not stay one day longer.

Never mind that not one of them can give a perfectly reasonable answer to the equally reasonable question--"why the rush?"

Never mind that after more than 30 years of service to the U.P. and the College of Law, Dean Carlota simply was asking, at the minimum, to for five (5) more months!

Mind only that they want him out the minute he turns 65.

Mind only that they wanted to make him a lame duck, as soon as possible, and to make him one in public, posting their signatures attached to huge statements—printed at college expense, at that.

After 30 plus years of faithful service, this man is met not in gratitude but with ingratitude.

Paraphrasing the Bard, surely now breaks a noble heart. A few days ago, I witnessed something totally uncharacteristic of Dean Carlota—he expressed, in no uncertain terms and tone, his disgust at his colleages. If there is one thing good that has come out of this,” he said, “it is that I now know the true character of some of my colleagues. All I want is five more months, and they cannot even give me that!

It is strong language coming from him, who is unfailingly civil, consistently cordial, deliberately inclusive, characteristically polite—yet, under the circumstances, I am not surprised; I am surprised only that he did not use stronger language, I would have—but that shows simply that he is a better man than I am.

After 30 plus years of continuous service, his colleagues, many of whom he taught, cannot give this man five more months!

Etched in granite at the lobby of Malcolm Hall, the U.P. College of Law proudly proclaims that we teach law in the grand manner.

I would like to think that I teach law in the grand manner because I teach law students, first, to become good persons. One cannot become a great lawyer unless one is a good person first.

Certainly, modeling ingratitude cannot be part of teaching law in the grand manner. Butif it is, then perhaps it really is time to really tear down that wall with those words etched in granite because then teaching law in the grand manner--in this way--would be one big, cruel farce.

November 20, 2007

The Legal Equivalent of the Kitchen Sink

In my line of work, I had to learn early on to take whatever victories I get and manage to learn to roll with the punches, learn from the losses and try not to get too embarrassed from my galactically stupid mistakes.

A friend of mine told me that I am the lawyer's equivalent of St. Jude; if you know what he is patron saint of, you might catch the analogy. I didn't know what to think then but later on, I felt complimented.

Early on also, I've had to learn many little things about the law that would help--in any way--secure those precious little victories. One provision of the Rules that I stumbled upon early on is Rule 135, section 6 (non-lawyers, feel free to tune out after this; you're welcome to read on though if you wish. ), an innocuous provision of the rules that no one (well, except I, he he he) in law school teaches. It is what I fondly call the legal equivalent of the kitchen sink (the figure of speech is "throwing everything at a problem, including the kitchen sink). It reads:

Sec. 6. Means to carry jurisdiction into effect. -- When by law, jurisdiction is conferred on a court or judicial officer, all auxiliary writs, processes and other means necessary to carry it into effect may be employed by such court or officer; and if the procedure to be followed in the exercise of such jurisdiction is not specifically pointed out by law or by these rules, any suitable process or mode of proceeding may be adopted which appears conformable to the spirit of said law or rules.

In short, what does it mean? It is license given to a court--any court-- to invent, to create, to magically conjure up remedies that the Rules or the Law did not even dream of, for so long as it is consistent with the law or the rules. Note that Article VIII, sec. 5(5) gives the power to promulgate rules on pleading, practice and procedure only to the Supreme Court but this one, Rule 135, sec. 6 gives to any court the power to adopt any process or mode of proceeding.

In my line of work, where clients generally don't have a defense, or a witness, or a witness who is credible, or cannot be bought, intimidated, frightened off or killed, that is the kitchen sink.

Recently in the very first case involving the writ of amparo (it is docketed by the CA as 00001 ), I cited this rule in our Position Paper for the petitioners; one of the justices commented, "I did not realize that rule existed. That is a very powerful rule. However did you discover that?" I just smiled.

My answer would have been, had I been minded to answer: "Sometimes, necessity, or utter and sheer desperation, is the mother of invention or resourcefulness."

That's how I discovered the legal equivalent of the kitchen sink.

November 10, 2007

Perspective 4

Here's something from my brother in Lingkod, Marlon, A compsci grad and IT professional who writes poetry, takes great pictures and is all out for God. It puts everything--well, many things--in perspective, really.


A 12-year-old girl, who became despondent over her family’s poverty, hanged herself inside their makeshift house a day after her father told her he could not give her the P100 she needed for a school project. [from]

Sabihin na nating isa itong kumpisal. Bumili ako ng Big Mac noong araw na namatay ka. Yun ang lunch ko. Madalas ko naman kasi iyong ginagawa. Noong lunes bumili ako ng tatlong libro na hindi ko pa nababasa hanggang ngayon. Sale kasi, 300 pesos lahat. Sa tabi ng kama ko parang may mini library na ng mga hindi ko pa nababasa. Bili lang ako ng bili. Nung December last year bumili ako ng violin sa halagang limang libong piso at wala pa rin akong natututuhang kanta dahil wala akong oras sa pag-aaral. Inaaagiw na ang lalagyan. Buti may nag-inspire sa aking huwag nang mag-Starbucks. May ilang libo akong savings. Yung bangko ang nakikinabang. Hindi ko alam kung ano na ang mangyayari sa iyo. Hindi ko alam kung paano ka huhusgahan. Hindi ko alam kung paano na ako tinitingnan ng langit. Wala akong ibang masabi kundi 'Sumalangit nawa ang kanyang kaluluwa' kasunod ang matagal na katahimikan.

Politics as Usual, in the Grand Manner

I have blogged about how I feel about the current Dean of the law school, Salvador Carlota. He is a conservative in many ways--his ideas, his ways of doing things, even his vision for law school. As a liberal in many ways, I seriously did not think that I would ever find life serving with and under him. To my surprise, I did.

While my vision of law school and legal education and even life and law are very different from his, I have enjoyed my service with him at the helm of the law school. Inevitably, I would find myself wishing that the Dean would have more progressive thoughts or ideas but I would always weigh that against what he has done for the law school during his term--to stabilize the law school and to try (operative word: try) to unite and integrate the law faculty. And he has succeeded in bringing stability to the law school simply because he has been present and he has been a hands-on dean. It is a good way of leading by example to see the Dean in his office when he should be in his office and in class, when he should be in class; save for a few official travels, the Dean has been in Malcolm Hall when he shoud be. That, and the fact that his record as administrator cannot be doubted, has brought some stability to Malcolm Hall.

Now, that stability is threatened again simply because of politics as usual. In the coming days, the spectacle of a divided faculty will once again be in full display--simply because some people just cannot wait.

The Dean retires on December 10, 2007 yet but, even as the usual and traditional courtesies have yet to be accorded him, the first salvo has already been fired by those who cannot wait to make him a lame duck.

I marvel really at human character and human nature; what is it about the lust for power that makes people do such things? I note that even vultures wait for the prey to die before swooping down.

I would have wanted to describe all these as "a great shame" but I guess "shameless" would be a better word.

November 05, 2007

Perspective 3

At the start of a new semester of law school (and for the underbars out there, the first day of work for many), let me give some space to Alan Dershowitz (Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard, also a litigator, columnist, lecturer and prolific author; he has been counsel for the accused in many high profile cases in the U.S.) who, in Letters to a Young Lawyer writes this interesting and certainly provocative piece.

Dont' Do What You're Best At
By: Alan Dershowitz

Some of the least happy people I know are those who figure out what they are best at and then tailor the job to their particular expertise. The problem is that what you're best at is not necessarily what gives you the most gratification or what is most important. Our educational system steers students towards courses and areas in which they excel. Grades are, after all, quite important to getting into college and law school. And it's ok to take courses in which you will excel. But courses last only a few months. Life is forever. So pick a career, or an area within your career, that balances excellence and gratification. It should challenge you every day and have you waking up eager to confront the day's challenges. Obviously you don't want to pick something you're not very good at, no matter how much you might enjoy it (for me, that would be basketball) [Ted's Note: It is uncanny that I would have the same notation as regards basketball, which I enjoy greatly but am not skilled at] Pick an area that you're quite good at but that gives you so much joy that you can't wait to get up in the morning and go to work.

Early in my career, when I was less controversial, I was offered law school deanships and university presidencies. I knew enough about myself to turn them down. In one instance, I wrote a "Groucho Marx" reply, saying that I would not want to join a club--or in this case, a school--that would have me as its dean. A dean or president must be able to bring people together. I drive them apart. I am a provocateur, not a pacifier. I would enjoy the prestige of being dean, a president or perhaps a judge, but I would hate the day-to-day aspects of the job.

I know too many people who have taken prestigious jobs--deanships, chairmanships, judgeships, professorships, partnerships--simply because they were flattered to be offered them. Understand the difference between being offered a job and accepting it. It is flattering, even career-enhancing, to be offered a prestigious job, but it is a terrible mistake to accept the job unless it is right for you--at the stage of life you are when it is offered.

Having said that, another word of caution: Don't love your work too much, especially if you're a lawyer. When I was a young lawyer, my elders would talk too about the law being a jealous mistress or loving the law. Don't love the law. It will inevitably disappoint you. Understand that the law is a tool, a mechanism, a construct. It is a false idol like so many others in life. In one respect, there is no such thing as "The Law." What we call the law is a process, a group of people, some ideas, precedents, books. Don't respect the law, unless it merits your respect. The law in Nazi Germany or in apartheid South Africa or in the Jim Crow South did not deserve respect. The Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore should be followed--that's what it means to live under the rule of law. But it should not be respected, any more than the robed cheaters who wrote it should be respected. American law today sometimes deserves respect, other times it deserves condemnation. It must always be obeyed, but it need not be admired. Honesty is more important than respect.

If you don't love the law, what should you love (aside from loved ones)? Love liberty. Love justice. Love the good that law can produce. Aspirations don't disappoint, so long as you realize that the struggle for liberty, justice and anything else worth pursuing never stays won.

November 03, 2007

Perspective 2

From one of my favorite psalms.

Psalm 94:18-19 -
"When I thought, 'my foot slips,'
Thy steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
Thy consolation cheers my soul."

Many times, it just takes the Word to give one real perspective.

October 31, 2007


I've been gone (from Manila) for about 1.5 weeks and things get exciting--explosions at the mall and a pardon for a plunderer. Wow, maybe I really should get out more.

Seriously, when the Erap pardon first came out, I was just about to prepare for a retreat and all of a sudden, I get this deluge of sms from irate friends cussing in all shades of blue (many of them female). Many asked me why, which is funny because I really don't know the answer (I have my speculations but, of course, your guess is as good as mine).

Let me hazard a guess though.

The Erap pardon is not an act of grace nor an act of forgiveness--it is purely political. Gloria is storing capital for 2010 because when she steps down--assuming she's not sooner removed before then--she is going to be sued for plunder, just like Erap. Right now, there is no one looking out for her because when she loses power in 2010, she will just be another ex-president facing a plunder charge. So the Erap pardon is clearly political security for her even as she anticipates the deluge of plunder suits she and Mike Arroyo will face.

As to why Erap accepted it--why shouldn't he? It is a golden opportunity to parlay into political capital once again his tarnished name and reputation. And if it means not calling for Gloria to step down sooner than 2010 and calling her "President", it is a cheap price to pay and a not too bitter pill to swallow.

In the meantime, we, the people, have just been had again.

Old dogs do learn new tricks--Erap and Gloria did. Whyever can't we, the people, learn?

October 08, 2007

UE, Gone!

It took just two games to erase 14.

The UE warriors won 14 straight games in a sweep of the two rounds of elimination in the just-concluded UAAP men's basketball tournament including a sweep of La Salle. But they lost the only two games that mattered--the last two in the only sweep that truly mattered, in the end.

And for all the ribbing I've been dishing out in this blog (and over texts to my La Salle friends) against La Salle, they must be given credit for stepping up when it counted. Also, experience counted for a lot, clearly. La Salle had players used to playing for all the marbles, UE had no championship experience.

The only thing that UE can really look forward to is the next season when they can only get better.

October 01, 2007

Go UE!

That was the reaction of one of my friends, diehard blue eagle that he is, last night after the Ateneo loss to La Salle. I had texted him to condole with him after the loss, knowing that he would be at the Araneta Coliseum screaming his head off and egging his beloved blue eagles on, and was afraid that he would take it badly (one time during a particularly bad loss to La Salle, he was disconsolate and could not be spoken to for a week). This time around, his only response was, "Go UE!"

I was not able to watch the game--whether on tv or at the venue--as I had a planning meeting that started at 12 and ended past 8 (but through persistent texts bugging my friends from both sides, blue and green, I managed to get an almost instant play by play; funny though, the color commentary differed depending on which friend I texted). I could have gotten a ticket though if I had wanted because one of the head coaches is my former client (I'm not telling which) but the thing was I would then be seated with the side I was not rooting for (and that can be hazardous to my health).

I claim no affinity to either school, though I am closer to one of them, having been trained in its ways. I can be objective though when it comes to UAAP Basketball because I don't belong to either school (though I cheer more for one of the two; hint: it is not the team that both my current RAs cheer for) and I can objectively say that yesterday, the better team won.

Now, before the blue eagles lynch me, I base this on the more consistent and more passionate play of La Salle. Ateneo had the advantage of having played competitively last season but squandered that advantage by their inconsistent play (I mean, how could they have lost to NU?); La Salle, on the other hand, having been suspended last year, managed to put together a competitive team despite lack of UAAP competition and managed to win when they had to.

The benches of either team are practically equal, same with the fan support.

The key point, I believe, turned on the coaching.

Norman Black is a PBA grandslam coach and an Asian Games coach (with San Miguel) and before that, he was a great player--Mr. 100% himself. But one key thing that he lacks when coaching which Franz Pumaren has is "out of the box" thinking--the oido thing that the Maestro himself Baby Dalupan (former Ateneo and Crispa, Purefoods, Great Taste coach) had. The ability to pull surprises and to react quickly.

Franz was Black's player at San Miguel and learned from Black. The irony of it is that he appears to be now the better coach (better even than Derrick, his elder brother and Black's former assistant Coach at San Miguel, when Black was a playing coach. The jury's still out as to who is better between Franz and Dindo).

Norman is a more pattern-type coach while Franz is better at reacting to what's going on at the moment. And very often, you can see that in how Black substitutes and reacts to what's going on; having been a big man, Norman is quite understandably biased towards having a big line up and coaches from the perspective of a big man. Franz, on the other hand, having been a point (and even a 2) guard with a great 3 point shot, coaches from the point of view of one who is used to moving the ball around and getting it to the open man.

In a game decided by passion and fueled by adrenaline, the coach who can think "out of the box" generally will have an advantage. And that's why I think La Salle had an advantage there.

Objectively, the better team and the hungrier team won. So congrats to La Salle (now, if we could only get their pep squad to spell correctly) but, "win or lose, its the school we choose" and so, "GO UE!"

September 24, 2007

Lives resume, never to be the same again

As the beating of the snare drums dies down, and the last barricade removed, Taft becomes normal again, signalling the end of the Bar Examinations of 2007.

Far from going back to normal, lives are resumed but are changed--never more to be the same again.

4 years of law school does not prepare you for the 5 months of review and the one month of last-minute preparation to take the 8 exams spread across 4 Sundays.

4 years of law school does not prepare you for the terrible bouts of confusion, despair, depression, anxiety, fatigue, illness, and surrender that dances across one's emotional spectrum every day.

4 years of law school also does not prepare you for the joy of newly-discovered relationships with others in the same journey; of bonds formed and forged forever in the crucible of shared anxieties, shared triumphs, shared joys and shared decisions; of unlikely friendships created out of perhaps a mutual need, truly serendipitous moments or perhaps even divine intervention.

4 years of law school will never prepare you for the epiphany that there is more to life than law school but that a life lived in the pursuit of the law may, after all, be one of life's nobler callings.

After 4 years of law school 5 months of review and 4 Sundays, lives resume but are never the same again.

To the U.P. bar examinees of 2007: may you truly live changed lives--seeking always for what is best in this profession that is often a picture of what is worst, striving always for the justice that is desired by many yet is elusive to they who need it most; speaking always the truth that sets people free but is often masked and hidden by the lies that chain and bind; standing always for freedom that is the greatest gift yet is often never received.

To the U.P. Bar examinees of 2007
: many of you have said, "we hope to make you proud." You honor me greatly by that, as I do not deserve that privilege. My answer to you has always been--and remains still--"you already have."

September 15, 2007

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness. . ." (Matthew 3:3)

Jovito R. Salonga, the Best President we never had, Senate President, Senator, Patriot, Nationalist, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, Political Detainee, War Veteran, U.P. Lawyer and Bar Topnotcher--moral force, man of God and Sigma Rhoan no more.

The newspapers today speak of a real man standing for his principles and standing by his word, even when it is unpopular, even when it goes against the grain, even when it is not expedient, for so long as it is the right thing to do: Jovito Salonga resigns from Sigma Rhoa "effective immediately."

I have had the happy honor of not only meeting the man personally many times over but to have worked with and for him. I first met him when he called me over the phone and introduced himself as "Professor Te, si Salonga ito." He asked to meet with me at his home in Valle Verde and there he broached to me the possibility of forming a student monitoring team to look into cases of delay in the courts as well as to be a watchdog for judicial appointments--this was to become Bantay Katarungan. I gave my two cents worth and he listened; he later offered me a job with Bantay Katarungan to be the coordinator; I was flattered no end but had to decline it because my schedule at that time would not allow it--it was still during the reign of the death penalty and my docket was, literally, clogged. I was greatly honored to even be considered and I told him that. And his answer was, "Professor, just continue doing what you are doing; you are doing good work." To this day, he calls me "Professor" or "Attorney", and to this day, it is impossible not to feel greatly honored that this man, Jovito Salonga, would address you with two titles that he, himself, has distinguished and brought great honor to.

Since that time, I have met him many times; I have represented him in two cases before the Supreme Court and have had the benefit of his legal acumen in the formulation of arguments and even the acerbic and dry wit that is rarely seen. Unforgettable for me is his response when we (Senator Bobby Tanada and I) were offering him the "first chair" as it were in arguing before the Supreme Court our petition to declare the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) unconstitutional; he said, with a hint of a smile, "huwag na ako, at baka masigawan ko pa ang Korte. . . (pause). . .alam mo naman ako'y bingi na."

Ka Jovy, as I call him, is a man who knows the right thing to do at the right time. His stand on many things is well-known. Yet, many people were surprised to hear him speak out on the Cris Mendez/Sigma Rho issue; not a few dismissed his "promise" that he would resign if Sigma Rho would be shown to have been involved in Mendez's death. His resignation from Sigma Rho is not surprising, it is simply Salonga.

Today, Jovito R. Salonga has once again shown what it truly means to have honor, to have courage, to have integrity. May he, like John the Baptist (Matthew 3:3) , be a voice crying out to proclaim the good news that is to come but may he, unlike John, not be simply the "voice of one crying in the wilderness" but the first voice in a cacophony and chorus that is to come.

September 13, 2007

A Primer (of sorts) on The Hazing Law (RA 8049)

For a more constructive debate and a clearer idea of what the Hazing Law can do or cannot do --

Q. How is hazing defined?

A. As used in the law, hazing is an initiation rite or practice used as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority, or organization. (sec. 1)

Q. How is it done?
A. Under RA 8049, the essence of hazing is "placing the recruit, neophyte, or applicant in some emarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him(her) to do menial, silly, foolish and similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury." (sec. 1) [My observation: the only difference apparently between hazing as defined and recitation in the UP Law School is that the law student is already in the college of law but the neophyte is still aspiring to enter.]

Q. Who are covered by the hazing law?
A. Any club, or the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Military Academy, or officer and cadet corps of the Citizen's Military Training or Citizen's Army Training except those "physical, mental and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine and ehance the physical and mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular members" of the AFP, PNP as approved by concerned government officials. (sec. 1)

Q. When is hazing allowed?
A. It is allowed only if there is a prior written notice to the scholl authorities or head of organization seven (7) days before the initiation; the notice shall indicate the period of the initiation which shall not exceed three (3) days, shall include the names of those to be subjected to the activities and shall "contain an undertaking that no physical violence be employed by anybody during such initiation rites."(sec. 2) [My observation: Yeah, right.] Additionally, under section 3, the head of the school or organization or their representative must assign at least two (2) representatives of the school or organization to be present. It is the duty of such representative to see to it that no physical harm of any kind shall be inflicted upon a recruit, neophyte or applicant. (My observation and query: now who was the representative during the hazing of Cris Mendez? Your guess. . . should be kept to yourself unless you want to be sued for libel. )

Q. What are the legal consequences of hazing? Who are liable for hazing?
A. It depends on what happens to the neophyte or applicant.

a) If he/she is physically injured or dies as a result of hazing (whether authorized or otherwise), the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals and shall suffer a range of penalties raning from prision correccional (six months and one day to six years) to reclusion perpetua (20 years and 1 day to 40 years), depending on the extent and nature of injuries inflicted (if death results, the penalty is automatically reclusion perpetua). The maximum of the penalty, in each case, will be imposed if: (a) the recruitment is attended by force, intimidation, violence or deceit; (b) the person who decides to quit is prevented from doing so; (c) the person, after being hazed, is prevented from reporting the incident to parents, police or other authorities; (d) the hazing is committed outside the school or institution; (e) the victim is below 12 years old at the time of hazing.

b) The owner of the place where the hazing is done is liable as an accomplice when he actually knew that hazing would be conducted but failed to prevent the same; if the hazing is held in the home of any of the officers or members, the parents are liable as principals when they have actual knowledge of the hazing and failed to prevent it.

c) The school authorities including faculty members who consent to the hazing or who have actual knowledge thereof, but failed to prevent the same are liable as accomplices.

d) The officers, former officers, alumni who actually planned the hazing although not present when the acts are committed are liable as principals. Officers or members who knowingly cooperate by inducing the victim to be present are liable as principals. The adviser who is present when the acts are committed and failed to take action is liable as principal.

e) The president, manager, director or other officer of a corporation engaged in hazing as a requirement for employment.

Q. What is the liability of a person who is merely present?
A. The presence of any person during a hazing is prima facie evidence of participation as a principal unless he prevented the hazing.

Q. Can the mitigating circumstance of "no intention to commit so grave a wrong" or praeter intentionem be allowed?
A. No, under sec. 4, this mitigating circumstance is expressly disallowed.

September 11, 2007

Frat Free

Someone asked me why I hate frats and fratmen so much? He speculated quite baldly that I may have been a quitter. Over my loud guffaws, I told him that I was never a neophyte and never intended to join a fraternity as I did not need it (that was way back in law school and events after law school have borne out that I am doing fine without frats, thank you very much).

I once asked a fratman who treated me out to lunch and was quite obviously recruiting me to just answer me one question to MY satisfaction and, if he did, I would join his frat--"my father never laid a hand on me my whole life, why should I allow you, perfect strangers, to hit me?" He had no answer and I enjoyed a sumptuous free lunch, frat free.

I don't hate fraternities nor frat men. I do hate the culture of omerta that they perpetuate, the violence and the hypocritical preening that they indulge in to recruit their next neophytes.

I have many friends from the frats; I look up to many people who are frat men; several of my very good friends for life are frat men.

I have always believed in "love the sinner, hate the sin." And that applies here squarely.

When I condemn frat violence and the culture of impunity that it brings about, I do it not because I want to abolish fraternities (I don't believe in this and I don't agree with Miriam; abolishing frats will only drive them underground and then they would really be out of reach and out of control) but because I want the frat men who killed men like Cris Mendez to be acountable for their actions. That's all.

I have always believed in accountability and responsibility. And, in the end, for fraternities who preach integrity, honor and brotherhood, shouldn't these be essential?

Do I wish that we were frat free? Yes. But that particular Genie is now out of the bottle and you can't put him back in. We don't have to tolerate the unlawful things they do though.

To those who are afraid of the fraternities, especially my students in law school, I say to you-- take courage, stand your ground and speak your mind. There is a freedom wall in the law school about this--write, express yourself, speak your mind. Do not be afraid.

September 10, 2007

The blood of brothers

I have written on this before and it gives no pleasure to write again on this. But another son, brother, person, human being has been killed by a fraternity: Chris Mendez by Sigma Rho. Never mind that there is no official acknowledgement by Sigma Rho; its silence on this matter speaks more eloquently than any official confession.

I have been reading many of my students' blogs on this latest episode of fraternity violence, this time inflicted on one it would call their own, and almost all have asked the question, "why?" There is no answer there that can be found other than to say that it is perhaps a mindless adherence to an outdated tradition of compelling loyalty by means of blood-letting and blood sharing.

Yet, we live in times that we would consider civilized, how then explain the almost morbid fascination of fraternities (and I generalize here to include ALL Fraternities; it is their burden to prove me wrong) with exacting loyalty and commitment by means of physical violence?

I am not a frat man and I am not a barbarian, they are the barbarians, for how else explain the ritualistic blood-letting that must accompany every entry into these greek-lettered societies?

I have never considered physical violence to be a measure of anything other than the shallowness of a person's capacity to reason and the absence of a person's capacity to inspire. Commitment and true brotherhood may be exacted by reason and inspiration, blind loyalty by beatings. That is the difference between humans and horses; you can inspire a person to follow you into the gates of hell but you will have to beat that into a horse.

Yet, these fraternities pride themselves to be the best that there is to offer; Sigma Rho, in its posters extolling alumni (some of whom have publicly distanced themselves from the violence but without resigning), call themselves "gentlemen warriors." If you truly are the best, gentlemen, you do not need to beat commitment into your neophytes; if the gospel you preach is truly the good news, then the ultimate act of hate has no place in it.

I am not a frat man but I am part of a brotherhood--a brotherhood that preaches the good news that, yes, everyone is entitled to respect. My brothers are committed to me and I, to them, not because we were beaten up but because we share the same principles, the same way of living, the same faith and the same experience of love and being loved. So, even if I am not a frat man, I do know of whence I speak when I speak of being a brother to another.

In Genesis 4:9, ". . .the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is Abel, your brother?' He said, 'I do not know, am I my brother's keeper?'"

Cris Mendez was hazed so that he could be a brother; ultimately, his blood was spilled by those who would call him, yet not keep him, as brother. The greater tragedy is not that he was killed in the name of brotherhood, but that the brotherhood to which he aspired would even wash his blood off their hands by simply asking, "am I (Cris's) keeper?"

To those who killed Cris Mendez, let me say this:

Yes, you are your brother's keeper and his blood is on your hands--not only by you who lifted your hand against him to beat him, to maul him, to spill his blood, but also by you who would stand mute and lift no voice of condemnation for those among your brothers who killed Cris.

Yes, you are your brother's keeper and, if you would cherish his memory, you would not stand mute in the face of the grief and bereavement of his family and his friends but rather break your silence to let the truth out.

Yes, you are your brother's keeper for, ultimately, as Donne puts it "any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

Ang mamatay nang dahil sa 'yo, ang pinatay nang dahil sa wala

Note to the faint of heart: I am angry; no, I am enraged. The words that will follow are angry words. If you are looking for nice, peaceful and sweet-sounding words, skip this one. But if you are as enraged as I am, read on and participate.

Note to those who will take the other side: I welcome constructive debate from people who are willing to put their names where their thoughts are. For masked thugs trolling the blogs of those who oppose you, you have no place in this debate. Go, make yourself scarce; if possible, for all time.

Ang mamatay nang dahil sa 'yo
(to die for you) -- the last line from the Lupang Hinirang, our national anthem, speaks of the nobility of a death that is achieved for a purpose bigger than one's self and one's life. It is--or should be--the ultimate goal of any person who loves--be it country, principle, faith, fellowmen or God.

Certainly not for a fraternity. And most certainly, not for a fraternity that holds itself out to be gentlemen warriors but does not have the integrity to own up to killing one of they would claim as their own nor the courage to name the ones responsible.

Ang pinatay nang dahil sa wala (to be killed for nothing) best describes Cris Mendez and other nameless, faceless victims of this system of barbarism that is the hallmark of fraternity initiations. Indeed, it is as if Cris Mendez's death was for nothing as even the very fraternity he aspired to join would not even come forward to offer a mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

There is a rule in Evidence that speaks of Character--which is who or what you are, when no one is looking. It is very easy to look noble when you are being watched; it is very easy to look dignified when you are on a stage. But when you can exercise that nobility and possess that dignity even when no one's watching, that is character.

To those who killed Cris Mendez, no one was watching as you beat him to a pulp; no one was watching as you reduced a life to nothing but a carcass; no one was watching when you inflicted blow upon blow in the name of a "brotherhood" that deserves no glory other than that which is associated with that other organization that practices omerta.

There is no nobility in beating up someone who cannot fight back, there is only cowardice. A warrior with honor never raises his fist or his sword against a defenseless foe, only a thug does. Sigma Rhoan Juan Ponce Enrile described you best: not gentlemen warriors but-a bunch of "thugs" with no character, with no honor, and as the Romulans would say, with no name.

Until the day when you surrender those among you who killed Cris Mendez, until the day when your current leaders have the honor, the character, the courage and, if you will pardon the sexist term, the balls to fall on your sword and come forward to be held accountable, you do not exist, in my contemplation.

And for those in law school, you had better pray that you never enroll in any of my classes, ever--and that includes the OLA program, which is mandatory for a UP degree--because I cannot give a grade to someone who does not exist.

And for the alumni of this collection of thugs that killed Cris Mendez, stop basking in romanticized glory and do the right thing--withdraw ALL support from these thugs and let the law take its course.

August 10, 2007

From the greatest book of all time ---

When you've given all that you feel you're capable of giving and you feel it's still not enough or not appreciated enough or the times you feel you're at the end of your rope and you need that extra push to put one foot in front of the other (and no amount of Red Bull or extra Joss can help), these lines from the greatest Book of all time help a great deal.

1 Timothy 6:11-16 (ESV)

"(11) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. (12) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (13) I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, (14) to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) which he will display at the proper time--he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, (16) who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen."

And when the words of the world get you down, these verses from Psalm 56 (ESV) lift you up:

"(3) When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
(4) In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
(5) All day long they injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me
for evil.
(6) They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life. . .
(8) You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
(9) Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
(10) In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise,
(11) in God I trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"

Indeed. What can man do to me?

Lord, thank you for the way you have kept me strong in the face of many things that would cause me weakness; for the way you have reminded me to just cling to Your Word, Your promise, Your truth. Thank You for the way you have kept my foot from slipping and made sure my steps (Ps. 37). Most of all, for the way you have shown your amazing love for me in the most concrete of ways.

July 24, 2007



After six books and practically allowing Harry Potter to grow up before readers' eyes, it almost became anti-climactic that the books would end; of course, everyone knew, from the start, that there would only be 7 books but knowing it and realizing that you were holding the last book in your hands were two different things altogether.

JK Rowling has grown immensely as a writer; the first three books were superior children's books but the fifth book (Phoenix) and sixth book (half-blood prince) were superior exercises in whetting people's appetites for the climax. And, the seventh book (Hallows) has not disappointed.

Off the bat, there is no quidditch--hooray for that! Off the bat also, as the blurbs have already announced, there is death all around--this won't be a spoiler for those who haven't read the book yet but I must say that Rowling handles the deaths (yes, several) very, very well indeed.

Rowling demonstrates a deft touch at tying up all the loose ends she purposedly put out in the fourth (goblet of fire), fifth and sixth books even as she dredges up our memories of the first three (sorcerer's stone, chamber of secrets, prisoner of azkaban) with characters and images from all the six books. At times, the connections are seamless, in others, however, there is a stretch;however, she may be forgiven that as there is a large backlog of memories to account for.

What Rowling does not do, and this she must be commended for, is to write the last book as if she were writing it for the inevitable screen adaptation. Unlike other franchise writers who, after having their books adapted for film, write with the lead actors in mind,. Rowling sticks to what she knows--writing about this boy's life;and bollocks to the film. It would have been easy in the final book to write cinematically, especially during the obligatory final fight scene (imagine Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort and Daniel Radcliffe as HP duelling in a large hall with hundreds of onlookers, with all the lush visuals that cgi can conjure up and you can appreciate the restraint that Rowling has put into the seventh book.); instead, what we have is a book written as a feast of the printed word.

The narrative is fueled and moved by the words, not by fancy images. And the pace is quick; while the chapters are moderately long, it is not fanciful to say that as you end one, you lose the struggle to resist continuing another. I am a fast reader and I consumed the seventh book in one hour and a half, the first time, and a more sedately 3 hours the second time; all in a span of one day and a half.

Finally, Rowling goes all out--all the characters are fully developed and they are all there (even Viktor Krum, in a pivotal non-quidditch role)--Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, all the Weasleys, the Order of the Phoenix and of course, the Malfoys and even the house elves. There are kissing scenes (!), and now fully-developed love angles. It is the last book after all and it is fitting that the saga of The Boy who lived is given a good ending. And, it is a good ending.

Harry is in every chapter, except one; I liked all the chapters, except one--even the obligatory wrapping up chapter (reading the book, I forget that it is supposed to be for children, so storylines need to be wrapped up and explained.) There are many surprises, very few disappointments and a lot of satisfaction at the way Rowling brings down the curtains on this boy's life.

All in all, a very good read and certainly worth the wait. The movie should be fascinating. But, until the movie, bravo, bravo!

NB. And just in case, Rowling leaves room for more. . . in the future. Read the book and you'll understand why.


Those who know me well will know me well enough to know that I would love Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for one reason: it is dark. And yes, I did love HP and the Order of the Phoenix for that reason.

No longer is the franchise a kids' franchise, it has now taken on an identity all its own by simply taking on the dark hues that match Harry's descent into Voldemort's clutches.

Those who are looking for the bright and cheery hues of all the previous Harrys (before Azkaban, which I loved also because of its dark and grim tone) will be disappointed. There are no cutesy scenes, there are no magic scenes for the sake of showing them and, best of all, there is NO QUIDDITCH! For this last reason alone, the movie soars!

From the start, you know it is NOT the book that was adapted for the screen but simply the plot and some situations and that is why the movie works. JK Rowling has given us a rich vein to tap into but she writes like a children's book writer. This movie is not a children's movie and so, no JK Rowling scenes, please.

And the movie does not disappoint. Harry is grouchy and moody the entire time and Radcliffe captures the growing despair Harry feels at being left out, being kept in the dark and being uncertain; the fight scenes are great and are given just the right amount of exposure; the scenes showing the DA in training are great too. Dolores Umbridge is perfect--the quintessential schoolmarm who insists on the book and will not hesitate to throw it at you, literally.

My only complaint is that there is very little development given to the reason for the Order of the Phoenix and very little development given to the plot line involving Snape's history with James Potter,who turns out to be a creep and a bully along the same lines as Draco Malfoy. A minor complaint is that there is very little time given to a now very beautiful Emma Watson as Hermione and very little development of the chemistry between Hermione and Ron (except for one scene involving the giant which is sublty and very deftly handled).

The movie ends without a pat and happy ending, but just the right amount of suspense to keep us whetted for HP and the Half-Blood Prince.

It is a dark Harry Potter we get and I love it. Definitely notfor those who like him light and fluffy.

July 07, 2007

Einstein and the Environment

Let's take it from Einstein and do our bit to stop climate change. From Greenpeace:

July 02, 2007

Luke 10:25-37 (ESV): "You go, and do likewise."

One of the many things associated with being a trial lawyer is questions. Lawyers are trained to question, to think in questions, to ask questions; in one of the classes I teach, I stress this over and over again -- that the essence of a good trial lawyer is being able to ask good questions.

In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus is confronted by a lawyer with two questions: first, "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" and second, ". . . who is my neighbor?" These two questions are significant because they are telling as to the nature of lawyers as well as of the character of Jesus.

The passages in Luke are more commonly known as referring to "The Parable of the Good Samaritan" and frequently, the narrative is taken up starting from verse 30; for me, however, the context of what Jesus says to the lawyer is best captured and the parable is best understood if it is read starting from verse 25.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii [1] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

In his first question, the lawyer asks about the rule--"what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (v. 25)--and Jesus gives the answer to him in what law students know as the Socratic method, i.e., by another question--"“What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (v. 26). Indeed, how best do you answer a lawyer's question but to ask him to interpret the law? And so, the lawyer, in his element now, answers as best he can--"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." (v. 27) Jesus says, "You have answered correctly" but also gives him an instruction--"do this, and you will live." (v. 28)

In answering this way, Jesus does not answer the lawyer's question because he wanted to know about living forever--"eternal life"--whereas Jesus tells him that he "will live" referring to the here and now. In John 10:10 (ESV), Jesus describes his mission in the here and now--"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." That they may have life now, not later, and life that is abundant.

This point is not lost on the lawyer because Jesus has managed to point out to him that while he understood the law perfectly, he failed to truly understand that the law meant for us to live abundantly here and now, not later.

And so, embarrassed and "desiring to justify himself" (v. 29), he asks the second question--perhaps in a desire not so much to get out of the hole he dug for himself but also to catch Jesus in a contradiction--"And who is my neighbor?" (v. 29) [The "and" at the start of the question is significant because it demonstrates the context of the question as related to the first question and the answer he himself gave. By engaging in a Socratic dialogue of sorts, Jesus actually allowed the lawyer to have a measure of self-examination as it were.)

This is where Jesus comes in with the narrative of the "Good Samaritan."

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii [1] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’"

The parable is intended only to demonstrate just how it is to truly live according to God's ways, to follow the commandments. The choice of a priest and a Levite as the first two who pass by the hapless victim on the road is deliberate and significant because these are two types of people in Jesus's time who know the rules and in fact pride themselves on living according to the rules; yet, it is a Samaritan, who knows not the rules and lives not according to them, who "had compassion." (v.33) And so the parable goes that the Samaritan "went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him." More than these, he then insisted that should the money he left not be enough, he would repay the innkeeper when he came back. (vv. 34-35)

After setting forth the parable in this way, Jesus then goes back to the lawyer with yet another question to answer the lawyer's second question--"Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" (v. 36)
And the lawyer again answered correctly, "The one who showed him mercy." (v.37) To this, Jesus then said to the lawyer--"You go, and do likewise."

Jesus's question leaves no room for doubt. The great commandment of loving God with all our being and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves is to be done by lives lived not and not simply by words spoken. Jesus asked, "which of these three . . . PROVED to be a neighbor. . .?" The Samaritan, who by no means, could be counted on as a neighbor to the jew, PROVED by his actions to be a neighbor to the jew by his compassion. And thus, Jesus sums it all up to the lawyer: "You go, and do likewise." Be like the Samaritan, who threw away the rules and simply did as his heart dictated--be compassionate, be merciful, be loving not only in words but in living.

At the heart of the Parable and the lawyer's two questions to Jesus is the nature of God's heart: it is a heart of compassion that acts with mercy. God feels for His people; many times over, Scripture tells us of God relating to His people with compassion and then acting with mercy. In Genesis 18:16-33, Abraham intercedes with God to spare the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrhah and God, feeling compassion for those righteous, acts with mercy in agreeing to spare them.

And so, Jesus's two instructions to the lawyer are equally instructions to us--"do this, and you will live" (v. 28) and "you go, and do likewise" (v. 37) Jesus tells us that in living out Godly lives, we must be neighbors to those who need us--the ones who suffer, the ones who are hurt, the ones who are in pain, the ones who are facing adversity and challenges--as well as those we feel we do not need--those we cannot understand, those we cannot relate to, those we dislike, those who "rub us the wrong way", those we conveniently label "unloveable."

Jesus tells us ". . . go and do likewise": to be like the Samaritan who threw out the conventions and the rules and did the only thing that was appropriate at the time, be a neighbor to one who needed him to be one. He did as Jesus's heart would do: show compassion and act with mercy.

May we, who wish to follow Jesus, truly follow Him as he commands us, ". . . go and do likewise" and may we, despite ourselves, do as His heart would do: show compassion and act with mercy.

June 26, 2007

"From strength to strength"

Recent post in Newsbreak on the Chief Justice's public pronouncements. Read here.

June 15, 2007

He reigns!

There are some songs that just blow you away. When I heard this one sometime back, it did.

The Newsboys, He Reigns.

June 11, 2007

Mad World, Redux

Two versions of the same song. The same message though.

Mad World
(Roland Orzabal)

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
'Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very
Mad World

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

Tears for Fears

Gary Jules

Still and all, in a mad, mad world, there is this promise that remains true: "I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) It is a promise of hope, of restoration, of abundance and of true joy. It is a promise I take comfort in, for it comes from the only one who is important and the only who should matter.

That Hah-vahd thing

Apparently, I have friends from abroad and also from the country who read my blog and also know the subject of my previous post and also HLS. Suffice it to say, I've gotten my fair share of ribbing and also a lot of information (from my students, current and previous) about the background leading to the commencement address. Suffice it to say that, instead of res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself), it is apparently a case of "there is more than meets the eye" in this Oscar Tan thing.

I cannot reveal though what has been sent to me because a lot of them, even if true, would be defamatory. Apparently, Oscar elicits the same reaction everywhere he is--either you like him or you don't. But the hidden story behind the Harvard commencement address of 2007 is apparently more interesting and funnier than the actual fact that Oscar Tan was "selected" to give it.

June 10, 2007

Oscar at Hah-Vahd

Since the "advanced" copy of his speech came out--wonder how it got leaked and who leaked it--and started to make the rounds of the email groups, those who know him and know me have been asking me what I thought of it. It, being Oscar Tan addressing his Hah-vahd graduating class.

My honest answer: I'm happy for him and I'm happy for his family.

Oscar Tan is a gifted writer, not so gifted in social or relational skills, but definitely a gifted writer--and it shows in his speech, which is so Oscar (if you've ever read what he has written, you know what I mean).

Congratulations Oscar, sincerely.

Hopefully, those nameless peasants and farmers who bore our legal education can start being paid back though by us, with undersubsidized U.P. and overpriced Hah-Vahd degrees*, through quality legal service rendered free and willingly. A first step perhaps would be to leave the current firm you're in right now and perhaps start treading the ground trod by those nameless peasants and farmers who bore our legal education? Practicing the law from the ground up or at ground level. Now, that would be putting an overpriced Hah-Vahd degree to good use and that would be practicing law in the grand (whatever that means)** manner.

* Disclaimer: I do not have a Hah-Vahd degree; I don't intend to get one. I do have a UP degree, which I am extremely proud of and which, pound for pound, I sincerely believe, despite everything, is worth more than an overpriced Hah-Vahd degree not only for what it gave me in terms of legal education but for what it did not give me but allowed me to look for, in terms of learning about law and lawyering for the people--lawyering from the ground up.

** The U.P. College of Law quite pompously advertises in granite in its lobby that "The purpose of a Law school is not sufficiently described by saying it is to teach law and to make lawyers but it is to teach law in the grand manner and to make great lawyers." It is a quote attributed to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, of the U.S. Supreme Court (the same Justice who advocated eugenics in Buck v. Bell); it fails to sufficiently define what "grand" manner means, thereby leading to a surfeit of interpretations.