family of ofws

another one in the family has left.

my cousin, who has been with us since high school and is practically the third child in the family, left for turkey yesterday to board a cargo ship. he'll be working there for the next 12 months, or so his contract says.

nothing surprising really because as a seaman, what else is he supposed to do than board a ship? (foreign nga lang...duh, is superferry an option?) it's just that, come to think of it, almost everyone in the family now is leaving the country to work overseas.

one uncle of mine, who is a doctor, left for bahamas weeks ago to work on a cruise ship. i have cousins working as nurses in ireland and in the u.s. another uncle, who had been in saudi for more than 15 years, moved to qatar last year. that's where my parents, my "kuya" (an older cousin) and another uncle and his family are. from the looks of it, some more of my cousins are interested in trying their luck abroad. need i mention that my brother is a nursing student set to graduate next year?

ah, that leaves only a few of us who'll be doomed to stay here. with the profession that i chose, i don't expect to be employed anywhere else. working for al jazeera used to be an option, but now that bush reportedly wanted it bombed, it's out of the picture (i still want my body intact when i die, not pulverized...on second thought, cremation is more economical these days--how morbid these thoughts, God forbid!).

it's not that i want to work abroad. although i haven't stepped outside the country, i'd still say there's no place like home. i can study in other countries maybe and go on a tour, but not spend a lifetime in a distant place, with people you don't know and who won't probably care if you existed or not. given a choice, i'd still want to live here.

but that of course presupposes that leaving is a choice. it may seem like one but most of the time, people are compelled to pack their bags and leave. if you want the best for your family and send your child to law school, you won't care about homesickness, fluctuating temperatures, and long hours of work as long as the price is right. as my cousin says, for every ass she has to wipe as a nurse: dollar! (don't you dare call them selfish and unpatriotic.)

i recognize the concerns about brain drain--the better qualified people leaving and working abroad to the benefit of other countries. but i don't think that the reason why the philippines is lagging behind has anything to do with ofws or whatever term we call them. on the contrary, their dollar remittances have been helping the economy a lot.

i simply think that where the government could not provide people with opportunities for earning a living or for professional growth, it has no right to cry foul when the talented ones in search of a better life have deserted this archipelago.

to be sure, not one administration can resolve the problem that's been there for ages. but the least that government officials could do is to not become part of the problem. when, however, you have presidents who lie, cheat and steal, and tolerate those who do, then you don't stand a chance of ever changing things in this country.

trust is earned. you lose it, it can never become whole again.


speaking of which

the prof (see previous post) did call me this afternoon--just when i had a hard time breathing due to a runny nose made worse by a slight headache. it didn't help that his questions were tricky. lalo akong nalula. nakatayo pa man din ako the whole 2 hours. bonamine!

btw, what's with horses and old people? another prof, who's set to retire next march, always cites horses as an example in his class. (what's an accessory to a horse? what's an accession to it?) not just any horse ha: young female horse. heifer ba tawag dun?

wisdom nga daw comes with age. hope i won't be too old by the time i finally become wise.



one of my professors this sem happens to be the former lawyer of leo echegaray (the first death convict to die through lethal injection more than five years ago). i particularly remember him because i was impressed way back then for his unrelenting stand against death penalty. at a time when the most popular view seemed to favor lethal injection to put an end to the rising number of heinous crimes, he stood against the tide and fought for his principles.

i wasn't disappointed when he met us last week. his views remained throught-provoking, inviting us to think beyond the text and to look into the implications and the possibilities, including the loopholes, in the law. he pointed out how vague penalties in something so good as the comprehensive dangerous drugs act might eventually lead to its own demise, leaving us with nothing in going after druglords.

but the more amazing thing about him i was to find out not in class but in cyberspace--on his blog. (a friend of mine chanced upon his blog and shared the address with the rest of the block.) on it, he shared his thoughts on different things, the most striking of which was his firsthand account of two executions of his clients back in 1999.

he admits his stand on death penalty has constantly been challenged, but to this day he refuses to believe in the death penalty system. his view, i surmise, is rooted in his respect for life and his deep faith in God, Whom he unabashedly mentions on his blog numerous times.

one friend of mine finds his blog weird, just because there were entries about him trying to learn to play the guitar, among other seemingly simple things you wouldn't expect a lawyer of his caliber to think about. he talks about his experiences with his brothers in a lay community (he is single at age 30+)--about getting lost, sleeping on the floor with banig, etc... this is of course on top of his rants against gma and some college issues.

i find his blog interesting and very insightful. there is joy afterall in little things, but you only get to notice them if you rid yourself of worldly concerns. like he did. here is a man who could have been living off on riches from wealthy clients, but who chose a different path--the road less travelled.

his story isn't exactly new to me. i know of some people who have made a similar choice, and i do admire them for that. it's just that i didn't expect someone from the college where i am now and who have come so far in the profession to have kept that faith burning and alive.

in one of his entries, he did mention something frighteningly familiar--be men in the middle of the world, not men of the world.
so frighteningly familiar it scares me for some reason. i don't know why.

well, so much for stalking on professors. at the very least, here's one prof i could probably learn a lot from.

watched harry potter over the weekend. t'was fun although i wished i had read the book so i didn't have to be clueless the whole time.

must-watch movie: the exorcism of emily rose. funny how it combines most of the things that interest me all in one movie--faith, law and the supernatural. quite terrifying too. heard it's well-researched and intelligently-done and recommended by the cbcp. hope i won't be disappointed.



mon tulfo: this (julius babao experience) should be a lesson to all journalists covering controversial issues not to be too close to their subject.

look who's talking.

Erap: Ateneo taught me not to lie, cheat, or steal

no wonder. (no offense to ateneo friends)

call it argumentum ad hominem. but i just find these things funny. ibang klaseng humor.



sa isang nakakaantok at boring na 2pm class (1st day pa lang eto take note):

prof: obligation comes from the root word ligare, meaning to tie...that's why it's called ligation. you don't actually cut but you tie the fallopian tube. (faces a student na 1 hour nang nakatayo) mr. arandia, what's the male counterpart of ligation?

mr. arandia: castration!

hay sa wakas nagising kami. (sa mga hindi gets, vasectomy po)

pero may pagka-sexist pala tong prof na to.

prof: you know what happens to those who purposely go through castration? gossipping becomes their favorite hobby.

go figure.

sabi nga ng classmate ko: ano ba, kapanahonan pa nya si tolentino (na siyang nagsulat ng commentaries on civil code, etc...--buhay pa kaya to?)

at ang prof na rin ang may sabi: you are my valedictory class.

dapat ba akong matuwa?

sandamakmak na naman na readings...na hindi na naman mababasa.


the point madame

headline sa isang tabloid: GMA to media: Bad kayo!

this must be a joke. either the president was misinformed and needs a serious reappraisal of the whole situation or she has a different view--distorted by her desperate attempt to cling to power.

first off, it's never the media's job to be a dutiful son of democracy (or whatever rhetoric she wishes to describe the role of the media), if by dutiful she means helping the government implement its program singapore-style. nice try wishing madam but that just can't be. marcos tried that, by force or by inducement, and where did that lead us?

the point is not that the media chose to deliberately play up the negative angle, but that there simply is nothing positive worth reporting. should we expect the media to report on the merits of the e-vat law when the ones who could feel the benefits are only those in power while the ordinary citizens will have to bear the brunt of increased expenditures? should we ask the media to praise the pnp for its honesty in admitting that it wasn't sahiron, the suspected terrorist, whom they presented to the public but some innocent person? and yeah, should the media congratulate gloria for maligning the credibility of a journalist based on flimsy intelligence report and for standing by it?

the point is not that the media should stop focusing on the faults of gloria and her administration but that she, as a public officer, should have cleaned her own closet in the first place.

maybe she should try understanding the dynamics of the media first (and verifying her stories) before opening her mouth and later refusing to take her words back.

it's ironic that the president wants the media to present positive stories about her and her administration when she can't even answer one basic question: did she cheat in the 2004 elections? answerable by a yes or a no but she chose to say: i won in the elections.

her refusal to answer the question may not be conclusive of guilt. but she owes it to the public to tell the truth. unless she does so, all that she says and will say are gibberish.

in the words of my favorite professor, "you're not being responsive to my question."


to an old friend

i am happy where i am right now. i sincerely wish you would be, too.

warning: dorky GC post

what was supposed to be a happy get-together ended up as a depressing day for most of us in block b. the final grades in one of our subjects were out; the results were disappointing.

well, we really shouldn't have been surprised. the professor (who incidentally was part of the panel that interviewed miriam's son) was notorious for dishing out 5's. and he doesn't give 4's either.

at first, we brushed off stories we heard from his former students. but we eventually experienced how he is in class (yes, the stories were accurate). not only was he intimidating, he had the habit of getting upset all of a sudden and walking out of the room, calling us the worst batch in years. and he had no qualms about giving anyone a 5 for a recit.

to top off the absurdity, he gave us a surprise quiz. it's his prerogative really, but we learned later on that other blocks didn't have such. worse, almost half the class flunked. it seemed to us that when our views simply do not jive with his, we're lucky to get a 2.5. most of us got 5's.

when the smoke-up list (dropping list) came out, 12 from our class dropped the subject. i would have done the same had i known my class standing before the deadline for dropping. i was on the fringe of failing (a little above 3). under ordinary circumstances, it would have been ok. but in a subject where you are doomed to fail in the finals, you need at least a 2 to make sure you get an automatic 3 in the final grade (2+5=7/2=3.5~3). that was his policy we were told, or so we thought.

17 of us stayed on, including my seatmate whose average was a little below 3 (she was the highest among those in the smoke-up list). we prayed we'd get called more often to make up for the low scores. both of us were called once but that was not enough to get near the much-wished-for average of 2.

the final exam was difficult as expected. 4 essay questions to be analyzed using a certain framework or to be related to assigned readings. what was difficult about it were not the questions per se; it was the passing rate of 70, and the uber brilliant mind of our professor whose thoughts we could not possibly fathom.

i needed to pass the exam. so i stayed on until the proctor asked us to submit our papers—almost 4 grueling hours in all.

only 4 of us passed the final exam. out of 40, i got 29. passing score was 28. i was that close to getting a final grade of 5 for the first time in my life. i was ecstatic of course when i learned about it, although only after resigning my fate to getting a 5. luck was on my side i guess. or as my blockmates would joke: malakas kasi magdasal.

my seatmate got the highest in the exam (comeback queen). she did light an orange candle at st. jude.

i really should be happy for myself...for my seatmate...and for the four of us who passed. but inasmuchas i would want to, i can't.

i can't be happy because i know that the whole system is just so unfair. the rest of the class got 5's. two of my friends scored 27 in the finals, just one point shy of a 3.0 but they ended up getting a 5.0. in the finals. worse, they got a 5.0 in the final grade because the prof raised the passing grade from 3.5 to 3.0. that means we needed an average of 1 in the recit to pass if we get a 5 in the finals (that's just so impossible).

but the worst part of it all is that while the automatic 3 rule does not apply to us, it applies to others. one student from another block got a 3 even if he flunked the finals just because his recit is 1.5. my friend has almost the same class standing (the prof even praised her for giving the best answer ever to a question he's been asking for years) but she still got a 5. the difference? we were not his favorite block. if my friend's recollection is correct, the prof gives a 0.25-increment to his favorite block.

the sad thing is that these friends of mine, who have been studying just as hard as i did and who have even performed better than i did during the sem, will have to retake the whole subject just because they failed in the finals. in the words of one of my blockmates: "pasado ka nga the whole sem, bagsak ka lang sa finals, bagsak na lahat."

how can i be happy when to be happy about it is to condone the rotten system?

i am disappointed with our prof. disappointed because he is so brilliant yet coldhearted. disappointed because he is an advocate of rights of peasants and women, and yet he could not see the oppression he's inflicting on his students. disappointed because he is quick to point out what's wrong with the legal system, but he himself is blind to his own excesses.


in the end though, he is still the professor, we, his students. in a world were professors are gods, all we can do is hope and pray that their conscience bother them. (and that there is indeed such a thing as karma.)

ironically, injustice begins where the quest for equality starts.

quoting one of our professors: "this is the college of law, not of justice."

absurd headline (c/o insider): mga dayuhan hinikayat na magparetoke para tumaas ang turismo sa bansa (calling dr. vicky. belo country na ba tayo?)

disturbing news: ortigas shoot-out. the video speaks for itself. overkill naman yun. nakahandusay na nga sa loob nga kotse, nilapitan pa, pinagbabaril. la pang id ang mga pulis, nakashorts at sneakers lang. hindi naman pala hot car. shux, ano na ba nangyayari sa'tin. something is just so wrong with things these days. i can't trust policemen anymore.

well, nothing surprising really. the president can't even be trusted.


pasukan na!

first day ng second sem ngayon...

excited, kinakabahan, happy.

hope things go well!


work visit

i promised rhea i'll visit her at work one of these days. sunday seemed to be the most appropriate day (no bosses, less work, fewer people) and so i spent the whole afternoon there last sunday...just watching her fret over a lot of things (ang cute!). and for other purposes as well...(ok, ok, magbantay na rin kasi la pa naman akong mole dun...oo na, andun din si ms. mu hehe. joke lang yun ha.)

big news of the day: si gloria, nakuryente. inosente pala ang nahuli at hindi ang notorious na suspek.

there she goes again. in her haste to present the "achievements" of her administration, she and her people seemed to have forgotten the basics of verification. and she refuses to apologize. the gall!

oh well, no sense ruining a good day.

i stayed on pretending to be busy--tumulong nang konti sa pag-aayos, nagdial ng mga numero at bumili ng pagkain (na ayaw namang kainin--busog na raw kasi siya. hmmm...mukha ba kong nakakabusog?).

work there seemed endless for deskpersons like rhea, or was it just her? kung workaholic ako, i don't know kung ano pa siya hehe. at least ako pag gutom kumakain. i told her there's no sense dying out of hunger for a company who can easily fire you with a piece of paper. then again, i shouldn't have forgotten. it's rhea. and this isn't just about employment.

was supposed to stay only til 5 p.m. i told my brother and my cousin, who invited me to watch yet another pba game at araneta, that i'd catch up with them by 6 p.m. well, 6 p.m. came then 7, then 8, til they finally went home at 9 p.m. but i was still there, waiting for her to finish her work. and still trying--to no avail--to convince her to eat.

finally, at 11 p.m., she decided she's done (she's supposed to be out by 9!). i was really really hungry by then. how can i eat when she hadn't even eaten lunch! we took a late dinner at t. morato then headed home (to our different houses, just to make it clear). i could sense she's tired and drained but she has to wake up early the next day. wawa naman. ako nga, nanonood lang, nanghihina na sa gutom at sumasakit na ang ulo sa lamig ng aircon. pano pa siya?

ganun pala sa newsroom. taxing but fun. the adrenalin rush is always there--aatakehin ka nga raw sa puso.

ganun din naman sa basketball, heartstopping action ika nga. but given a choice between watching a pba game and staying inside a newsroom for hours even as a bystander doing nothing, i need not think twice. it's never easy to forget something you've loved all your life.

but at this point i harbor no illusions of leaving law school for a job in the media--no matter how tempting. though a part of me yearns to go out there and look for a story, i remind myself that for every minute i spend studying and attending class, i gain knowledge that i can use in the future. though i sorely miss and sometimes envy my friends who are out there working, i can't imagine leaving my new block behind. and though i cringe at the thought of having to make do with less time together for the next couple of years because law school simply won't allow me to see her every night, i also realize i can't exchange a moment of pleasure for lifelong bliss.

as i've said before, i will finish what i've started...or at least try to. unless law school throws me out of the window and closes its doors on me, i'm sticking it out here. this is something i want and love. and i don't want to squander the opportunity that so many people out there have been dying to get hold of.

thanks rhea. every moment i've spent with you has been magical.


lampley saves the day for ginebra

sa wakas, natuloy rin ang panonood naming magkapatid at magpinsan ng pba. wednesday afternoon nang magkita kami sa cuneta (hindi pa talaga nagsabay). 5 pesos lang daw ang ticket sa general admission sabi ng kapatid ko kaya ang kuripot na kuya nanlibre. well, pati pagkain sagot ko na rin.

dahil nga 5 pesos lang ang ticket, walang matinong upuan. palipat-lipat kami, nang-iistorbo pa sa mga nakaupo sa bleachers, para makahanap ng magandang pwesto. alas singko pa lang, 90% full na ang cuneta. effective nga naman ang marketing strategy nilang ito. maglalaro rin kasi ang ginebra.

at dahil nga 5 pesos lang, nasa tuktok na kami. ok daw yun, kitang-kita buong court. eto naman si tanga, kinalimutan ang eyeglasses. all i could see were numbers running back and forth. i kept asking my brother kung sino si player 17, 7, 47...buti na lang sampu lang sila on court.

medyo uneventful ang match between alaska and red bull. red bull led during the 1st half pero tinambakan na ng alaska towards the end. maglalast 2 minutes na, gumawa pa ng eksena si pennisi. pano, he failed miserably to follow-up a shot kaya binalibag si allado, sending the poor guy crashing to the ground. (wawa naman, kakadonate, este kakabigay lang ng magarang bahay kay maricar de mesa). syempre, sumugod itong si allado pero si villanueva ang sinuntok (nakaharang kasi). sinuntok naman ni cruz si allado kaya labo-labo na. nagtayuan ang lahat. BOXING! BOXING! mga pinoy talaga violent.

na-eject tuloy itong si allado at cruz. si pennisi? parang walang nangyari. moral of the story: pag binalibag, wag gumanti and don't lose your poise. sabi nga ni tim cone: "he (allado) lost his poise for a minute." aba, miss universe ba ito?

by 7:30 p.m., nag-uumapaw na sa tao ang cuneta. lakas talaga ng powers nitong si caguioa. daming fans. tawag sa kanya, buwaya. sinosolo ang bola. but to his credit, he delivers naman e. kaya naman may nagsabi, wag naman buwaya. alligator naman. (duh?)

lamang ang ginebra halfway thru the game. sa halftime, would you believe andun na naman ang the speaks. as if the saturday concert were not enough, sinundan na naman nila kami. may pagkastalker din tong mga to no?

too bad the crowd didn't seem to like their music that much. nang kumantang "yeah, yeah," sagot nung nasa likod namin: vonel.

nakahabol din naman ang san miguel sa third quarter and led by more than 10 points going into the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. ginebra slowly inched closer hanggang sa apat na lang ang lamang nang mag-last 2 minutes.

nagpanic ang san miguel. tira nang tira mula sa three-point area; panay naman ang mintis. takbo agad ang mga gin kings sa kabilang dulo ng court. pasa...pasa...shoot...sablay.

hill (sanmig import) gets the rebound and makes a wild pass to racela at the other end of the court...oops, napasobra ata. racela runs after the ball...run, olsen, run...and olsen jumps over the lazy, err some press people at sumemplang dun sa harap ng ilang screaming fans.

balik sa ginebra ang bola. shoot...ayaw. shoot pa uli, ayaw. tapik...tapik...someone gets the ball at binato ang bola kay adducul. oops, ang sakit nun. teka, basketball pa ba to?

to make the long story short, lalo pang uminit ang laban nang pumasok ang shot ni rodney santos of ginebra. game tied at 72 with 59 seconds left. nabuhayan ng loob ang mga ginebra fans. GI-NEB-RA! GI-NEB-RA! GI-NEB-RA! Sa lakas nang sigaw, napaiyak tuloy ang bibong-bibo at cute na cute na little girl sa tabi namin. (ang bata-bata pa kasi, kung anu-ano na pinapainom.)

sa san miguel na uli ang bola. dala siguro nang matinding kaba, di pumasok ang shot ni dondon hontiveros. ginebra gets the rebound and the crowd goes wild. nagtayuan ang lahat. lalo pang lumakas ang cheer kahit pa tumawag ng time-out ang ginebra.

18 seconds left in the ballgame. hawak ni lampley (ginebra import) ang bola. nagdribble nang nagdribble at nagdribble uli for god knows how long. 5 seconds, 4 seconds, 3...lampley makes his move, throws the ball into the air...toink, toink as the ball hits the rim, at PUMASOK ang bola sabay tunog ng buzzer! naghiyawan uli ang mga tao. lampley saves the day for the gins! hindi naman pala siya lamp-a afterall.

what a way to end the game. what a way to end the night! alas diyes na, gutom na gutom na kami pero game na game pa rin.

finally, naenlighten din ako kung bakit the 5-peso seat near heaven was worth it. first time kong makakita live nang lumilipad na bote ng viva mineral water. bote na lang talaga dun kami umupo. bote nga hindi bote ng ginebra ang binato.

on the other hand, nung palabas na kami, siksikan at halos tulakan papalabas sa dami nang tao. kalahati ata ng male population andun na. ang tindi pa ng init. para kaming nileletson while marching down to hell. at ang amoy, hmmm, halu-halo. sabi nga ng kapatid ko, "ang lakas. di kaya ng tawas."

nanalo man ang ginebra at natalo ang san miguel, si danding pa rin ang yumayaman. aba, sa lakas ng benta ng viva mineral water, coke at purefoods tender juicy hotdog, di hamak na milyones na naman ang kinita.

ako naman, heto broke. 5 pesos nga lang ang ticket, 500 naman ang pagkain.

who cares anyway? ang importante, we had a blast. i never thought watching the pba could be this fun.

Menk: PBA. Leban kung leban.