Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sapay Koma: "August"

Almost two years after an experience of loss, tragedy, hopelessness, and even the toll of having enemies, I barely recognized my dreams and my goals. Everything became bleak, uncertain, almost confusing. To re-examine one’s life must be one of the most difficult stage of moving on. After my father’s death in that gloomy August, I lost the passion and drive to become what I dreamed of - I was depressed. Failure, it seems to me, has become a familiar visitor, a friend which stays, not really to taunt, but to keep me out from the brink of insanity. “This is life”, I muse from time to time.

But I’m not a kid anymore. I write about hope, and damn put my belief on it - that no matter how wrong things seem, it will always turn out alright in the end. I felt good about that idea, who wouldn’t? Acceptance, however, is most easily said than done. My father’s death has become the death of one of my dream’s purpose – to impress him, to prove that I can do things, to prove that I’m not immature. But then, all becomes irrelevant in the face of death.   That day, I also died. It is not what I want, who would want that anyway? but perhaps...it is what I need.

What did I need? What did a self-aggrandizing irresponsible prick want? Surely, I was heavily confused back then. It may have changed in the last two years. To a certain extent, I hoped that I gained a sensibility common to those who have experienced grief, or loss – humility, among others, and a deeper appreciation of life. A couple of years may not have totally changed me, nor was my experience the ultimate tragedy that may shatter one and mend the same anew to a better one (there are countless others who went through worse), I would like to believe that in those years, I did not just lose a life…that I also reclaimed one myself.

What’s the rush in August? I always ask. But, before I tell the story of August, one may wonder about that first week of December. It may not be that hyped month of hearts, but nevertheless a very interesting one; and that cold merry night after the shared boozed laughter…and two lonely people decided to spend a long special moment together. Ah, how can I make it sound romantic? The story is rarely found on the sheets and the pillows. The real story started when we received the biggest surprise of our lives.

I may have also surprised everyone. And believe me, I know the repercussions. But, for what it is worth, and after the painful gossip of politics, regretful comments, burning bridges, and what have you-- of ‘what ifs’ and ‘whys’ ,and, even if I may hurt that other one who might be waiting for me on the other side of the world, or even that other one in our neighborhood, how can I deny the existence of a very special gift? How can't I yearn to feel his first kicks in his mom's tummy? To see his sleepy eyes on his first day?  I couldn't. For me, telling the world, and having him in our home, and being a father, a good father, is the right thing to do. Even when my life is really full of wrongs, I wouldn’t dare add this on top of it. To tell the world that I have a son, is one of the better things I did in a long time. Indeed, it is, really, the right thing to do.

What’s my rush in August? Two years ago, I dreaded this rainy month for taking away one valuable life from us...But from that, it reminded me that everything has its own time and reason -- the rains may take life away, but it may also nourish and give another one. This August, the night must finally give way to the day, and just like the seasons, there is a time to be a kid, and a time to have one. Life, can't be meaningless after all...

                            - I will always be here Vash Gray !

Saturday, April 13, 2013


It is the third season in the Philippines after the wet and dry seasons.  We cannot escape from the posters and streamers hanging on electric cables, the flyers scattered on the streets, the loud speakers, and the freebies given by campaigners…certainly, the Election Season is here, again.  Admit it, you have waited your whole life for this .Following the line of Benny Carantes, ‘we always come to a point of boredom and routine; watch movies, go to the park, attend parties, sleep, and eat – is that all there is to life?…luckily, the clowns are back!’

There is no escaping it. No matter how sick we are with the names, the colors, the smiling pictures, even the  speeches and campaign jingles, we have to endure this season because of its relative seriousness – we will actually be choosing ‘our leaders’. 

As I write this, there is a funny feeling that I am indirectly mocking myself. Have I not posted my face somewhere, even in a waiting shed? Have I not spent money on some flyers and food for campaigners? It was a barangay election, but it was a huge urban Barangay nonetheless. How will one introduce one’s self to about 7,000 -8,000 voters in a very short time? How can you convince them to vote for you? It seems that one’s way of winning has always involved the ways of traditional politics.

Senatoriable Migs Zubiri caught the ire of critics when he maintained that election is merely a ‘popularity contest’, hence, being an ‘epal’ is an acceptable strategy to boost popularity, and that voters will not mind. In my humble experience as an insider who hears and sees things, he is partly right – in our country, most people seem to celebrate superficiality, and where people gives more appreciation to  the ‘freebies’ and entertainment over the real issues - It means that people willingly desire to be part of that rotten system in Philippine elections. Not surprisingly, the winners mostly will always be from the popular clans, the ‘artistas’,  and those who can finance a huge campaign. Only a few can be popular by their deeds, their character, or their competence.  Unfortunately, these attributes may take a long time to ascertain, and the voters are only left with a prayer – hope that they voted for the right people, and that they are there for the right reasons. Most of the time, prayers are unanswered; we get disappointed, feel betrayal…at times, even anger.

No matter how we hate politics, and no matter how others shun voting, or decide on boycotting the elections, it is still wise to practice our right to suffrage. You put ‘crocodiles’ in office and you will be surprised with sub-standard infrastructures, of being late to school or work because a road has to be replaced the 4th time in the same year, of ghost projects or milking-cow projects, of rejected applications for work or study, apparently because the appointing power is not fair, and only recommends his friends or relatives. You put ‘clowns’ in office and you will have a ‘circus town’ with no rules, no discipline, no plans, and no direction. The actions of the people you vote have repercussions on your life, believe me. Does one have the right to complain about it when he/she did not vote in the first place?

“Why aren’t you running (for councilor)?” Many people asked me, and I simply dismissed them saying “Kababain nu haan tayo nga maited expectations ti tao (It will be embarrassing if we cannot give the expectations of the people)”.  The truth is, I give the most regard to these positions, and I do not think that a mediocre person should handle the job. I respect the position so much that I refuse to even run if I am 'inadequate'. The people deserves the best. A municipal official must be at least trained or educated in communications, social science, public management, law, and philosophy. I’m not saying that he should be a very smart person, but in the ‘office world’ coupled with public interest, an official must have the knowledge, creativity, and skill to execute his/her job and advocacy. And the job is not an easy one, there are too many challenges. It’s just like qualifying a person for work, the only difference is that, this is not ‘just’ a job, it is public service.

One might contend that smart people may just use their ‘intelligence’ in corruption since they know how to get away with it. This is a valid point. Many towns in Benguet rejected Lawyers, people with Ph.D’s, and other so called ‘Intellectuals’ or ‘Elites’, because of an unfortunate precedent involving issues of graft and corruption (by  smart people). Hence, a town even voted for a “No read -no write -Mayor" as a statement that people, when betrayed, will find means to express their disappointment. The late Jesse Robredo, my public service hero, said that politics in the Philippines is mostly determined by EQ , and not IQ . For if intelligence is the basis, then Gilbert Teodoro, a Bar Topnotch should have won the last Presidential Elections. Former President Joseph Estrada even got the second spot, even if he’s kind of comical on his up system.

The point is, the ideal candidate must be well balanced. As I’ve said, it’s just like considering an employee for your company. What do you look for? Track record? Experience? Moral integrity and conviction? Intelligence only? Passion and character only? A combination of many factors?

 It is the voter who will ultimately decide, of course after being well informed and educated. It is actually our job to research, to weigh their pros and cons, and not be easily swayed by mere intrigues and propaganda.

Thomas Jefferson once commented that an informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will. It is for this end that I have decided to help organize the Mayoralty Forum II on May 3, 2013 at the La Trinidad Public Park. Let’s hope that this activity will be successful. Cheers!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Some Funny Lawschool lines (I think) :)

Most of my batch mates have been drinking at bars for days now...true to their title: bar-takers (bartikeros). Apparently, they have already taken their final exams and will only wait for a few more weeks before they graduate (congratulations!). They will be taking the bar exams this year, and hopefully become lawyers next year. I can’t help but keep a little envy – I could’ve joined them if only I’ve made some right decisions in the last two years. But then, as lower beings who are sadly out of focus, and out of luck, we have yet to wait for another year or two. It sucks.

Or maybe a miracle will happen. If all goes well, then summer must be the answer from the heavens. *Sigh, I'll be crossing my fingers for that!

One can’t help but feel depressed. Spending years  in law school had already demanded sacrifices – no time for friends, family, social life, and personal passions. Being a community official and a part-time teacher (and taking Masters Degree at the same time) did not help either. Something is doomed to fail. Juggling things is difficult after all.

To vanquish such a gloomy mood, I tried to recall some laughter in those years. At least to console myself that I have made the right choice in staying, even with the grueling task of facing 'judgment' every meeting. Most of these lines are funnier when you have the background though. Well, here are my top 12 (not in any order):

1.    In Law on Property, “the Cloud on the title is not so cirrus (serious)”, and the Prof. smiled. - Nakuha ko lang after ten minutes.

2.    In Taxation regarding appeals, “Mandamus will not lie!” napaka-honest  naman ng ‘Mandamus’ na yan! - * Laughter.

3.     In Criminal review, sir stood for five minutes then finally said: "Let’s proceed to your 'alleged review'". - Judge Patnaan is always sarcastic.

4.    “Sanamagan ng Sanamagan” ang mga lawyer na yan!, akala nila nakakatawa ung term!  - Sa totoo lang ang sarap kasing bigkasin ung “Sanamagan” (son of a gun) hehehe

5.     “Stop the delaying tactics in our recitation! This is not remedial law! Inulit ulit din to eh hehe

6.    Pupunta ka sa pinaka-pangit na court, and Supreme Court. Yan lang ang walang “appeal” eh. - Nyak. May tama ka Dean hehe. (*Rest in peace Dean Gumpic..)

7.    “Penal in nature” not “Penile in nature”, iba yun hehe Narinig ko na sa halos lahat ng criminal law prof.

8.    In civil law, “alam natin yang possession na yan (pronounced as ‘position’)...: Dog. – Bwiset.;) Naalala ko tuloy ung Naked  Title sa civil law.

9.    Sumo-sobra na eh! He pushed his luck too hard (pertaining to the non-lawyer MTC Judge who applied  as RTC Judge). Sinobraan na met! – It’s funnier if you’ve heard it from Pros. Maranes!

10.  In Political Law; "In the case of VirJen Shipping and Marine Services, Inc. vs. National Seamen Board...The workers are the Seamen (semen), papasok sila sa VirJen (virgin)" Atty. Gacayan really has the pornographic memory! haha!

11.  In a recitation, my classmate started with, “Sir, I believe..” The prof. interrupted him immediately with: “DO NOT BELIEVE!...I’m not asking you to believe anything” Wala lang, parang duet lang kasi hehe (tapos nakakatawa talaga expression ni sir)hehe

12.  In Evidence; “The case of People vs. Pagpaguitan…” (paused and laughs), which I suspect is the neighbor of Mr. Olsim ( because it seemed that the name came from Mt. Province) – Mas nakakatawa talaga pag si Sir Mark nagsabi hehe 

      As usual, my poor memory failed me. Marami pa toh eh. I will update them the soonest that I remember things. It will be a tragedy kong eto lang funny lines in those  years. Hahaha. 

Yet, the real fun, perhaps, is being with many great people in those years. Indeed, I have learned a lot. Good luck and all the best to Batch 2014 of CCDC-LAW!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Free beer (Fast Fiction)

A little of the moist he considered only necessary to swab the chalk dust which settled on his palms. ‘501’ must be reduced by pummeling small arrows from a good seven feet and nine inches away – the one-fourth inch tape included. The bucket of beer for him was never just a bet, not even the packs of cigarette. What is it that sets their mood? A Billy Joel song? The new nineteen-year old waitress?

“Double twenty!” his new partner yelled. And double twenty indeed. At forty, he had doubled his wealth but also doubled his wives (and debts). ‘Men and their insatiable pleasures’, they always say that. But, in his many years of drinking with journalists, politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers, artists, musicians, and what have you, he had come up with the conclusion that men are pigs indeed. At least after a few beers.

The college students on table number four beside the bar exploded with laughter, probably talking about some little adventure they did. He used to be as trim as them, he remembered. Then work, age, and stress came; and the car he bought was used more often, even on a mere five-hundred-meter walk. It didn't help too that big grills of pork and beef became part of his daily diet. Add the visits at bars to drown the pressure of two wives, and his weight is doomed to rise.‘Screw life, we eat and drink because tomorrow we die’. They always say that. Not after a bypass or a costly operation though. A visit to the doctor in some pale room always scares them. Changes them a bit, and makes them re-evaluate their lives – even their last will and testament. He had thought about that too. After all, a few of his friends had already kicked the bucket to meet their maker.
“Out!” his partner had aimed for that green flake of that pie but missed. Perhaps that it is the price for secretly cursing the moon. He steadied himself mechanically to execute the drill. For that moment, he was a deity holding a thunder bolt. Just like an artist who escapes this world by painting their own reality, he raised his left hand victoriously for a high-five. His minions rose to applaud. They are now sure that the couple of beers they have grabbed are free. 

Nothing beats free beers.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Philippine Elections: A Story of Hope and Frustration

Note:  *This is an essay I wrote in my college years (2007)..It sucked, but there's sincerity in it..I guess...

One may wonder, given their dull and tasteless appearance in their pre-campaign television (and ‘facebook’ ads), if these politicians are ever aware that people today would rather turn their TV sets off than to watch their exaggerated and self-laudatory masterpieces. What is it that prompts them to spend millions just to look good on the screen? What makes them fake those smiles in front of the camera and tell us ‘things’ – beautiful things, promising things, hopeful things?

Why do they want to become the leaders of this country?

We have seen and heard of men and women of power; of people who ventured for greatness, and ended up being blinded by its illusions; tales of warriors who took the chance of slaying a monster...only to turn into the same monsters which they thought they have defeated. We have put people in power, in hopes that they will be different from those who are corrupted, only to find out later that they are of the same mold – eaten by the same ancient system that caused them to exploit their own people.

What is ever new to people who, by experience, have grown cynical to power politics and traditional state affairs? None. For them, it will always be a series of repetitions similar to what they have already witnessed; the same colorful posters that will be scattered on the streets, and the same long speeches of “Iboto ang pagbabago..”, “Tutulungan ko kayo…”, “…babangon tayo”, “…lalaban tayo…” and “Hindi po ako katulad ng mga iba..” As if they have known us for a long time, as if they have known our problems and troubles, as if they can save us from all of the damn worries of our everyday life.

Keeping their pristine ideals, young people storm the streets with painted boards and loud speakers to express their disgust on the government and the politicians in position. After awhile, the movements will be succeeded by some new faces and the young people grow up to become the same people they have criticized. Maybe, there is something about age and experience that makes idealists plunge into the bitterness of realism. Many people who have seen “how it is” and sadly, and maybe, of “how it will always be”, tend to lose hope and embrace apathy because it is only in such way that they can accept the cold stinging truth that they cannot change or go against “this system”; and that,  if they cannot “beat them”, they might as well “join them”.

But, why? Why do people want to become politicians? Why do they want to become the Mayor? The Congressman or, the President? To help the poor? To initiate change? To make the move for a more responsible and more accountable government? I hope so. Or, is it because, they wish for the power and wealth that comes with it? Or to cement their names in the pages of history and become immortal in the process? We will never know until they are seated…when they will reveal their true intentions. All that is left to do is, yes…hope.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines day sucks sometimes :)

The fire police in the truck were chuckling, their job was already done when they got here. Apparently, of all people who might need them, they responded to the house of a Barangay Official (who is supposed to be one who responds to fire incidents). Alerts are high for them because King’s College threw in a spectacle of fireworks display, and the fire trucks, at last, will be roused to its duty. I get to beat myself from the analogy that I was supposed to be at the college to assist my co-teachers in the culminating program of the Foundation day. But, here I am in a wet short pants stained with charcoal because I have to watch the fireworks display from the elevated road and forget that I also left some flames beside the stock house that stored piles of dry wood.

So, what went wrong? The answer is simple, it is February 14. One of the most commercialized and sensationalized date in the history of humans, and fortunately/unfortunately, the date in which I have to be always identified with. My name is inseparable to ‘Valentine’s day’ because not only did my parents adopted “Val”, but also painted it “Red” to permanently etch that event’s color in my person. At least I was not named ‘Valentino’. 

Five hours ago, I was giving replies to text messages that I am in Manila, even though I’m just in my bed munching some chips while watching the TV, and hoping that this day will end. Earlier, I even applied for a birthday leave despite the knowledge that all members of the faculty are needed in the school event. I want to avoid people, avoid meetings…I wanted to be alone – just like last year, and even years before that.

Why do I have to do that? I have learned to run away from Valentines day, because of the stress of it – the high school pressure of having a date, and the jealousy that one feels when popular guys receives tons of love letters, while you stand there with ‘forever alone’ guys contemplating about your sad ‘fate’, or the stress of impressing someone, even if you are aware that you have just spent a week’s allowance.

I’ve been there, the ‘unpopular guy’, the ‘fat boy’ whose supposed sole purpose in the world is to be made fun of, and be a character of somebody’s joke. It’s not that I have not overgrown that ‘victim-mentality’, but I am surprised that even after 10 years, my tendencies in life are shaped by my interesting experiences in elementary and high school.

Sometimes, guys like me will never find ourselves perfect for someone. That is why even if we have grown up from that awkward appearance of highschool and start having girlfriends, we break it up because in the back of our minds; we never found ourselves to be lovable, and we have to break things up before the girl does. Of course, girls will passionately react to this, but let’s save that for a later ‘lovechika’ kunwari (haha). A girl once told me that I am afraid to get hurt that’s why I avoid relationships and commitment, and perhaps, she is right.

So, again, what went wrong? It is the date (period). If only it wasn't Feb. 14, I could’ve made it to our school event and not have to burn some old letters (and memories). I wouldn't have run outside to watch the fireworks display, and would have not forgotten that I am burning something which would have prevented the burning of the whole stock house, and would not have exposed myself to a bunch of grinning people who knew that it was my birthday and I was just hiding in my room to celebrate it. I can only tell them that; “Nu sabado tau nga mangan etoy ayan me inya?” (hahaha!) See my point when I said something about stress? 

What comedy! That I have to ironically burn a big candle light (the stock house) to celebrate my natal day (sabi ng mga nurse), and have to excite the emotions of the whole community on the sight of it.

Tsk tsk tsk…This is one of those instances when I hate Valentines Day!

P.S. : NO ONE GOT HURT IN THE FIRE ACCIDENT AND THE ‘TAMBAYS’ DID A GOOD JOB IN SAVING WHAT REMAINED, THEY SHOULD APPLY AS FIREMEN (Although I have to buy 2 by 2s and Empelights afterwards..”Dayta gamin ti madi na aglibre!’ hahaa)