Je suis très inquiet

May 2, 2016. “Bonsoir. Je suis très inquiet ce soir. Je nageais juste vingt tours dans la piscine pour effacer mon esprit. Parce que, demain, les résultats des examens du barreau seront annoncés.

Je prie pour que demain, dans ma prochaine vidéo, je peux me présenter comme un avocat. Jusqu’à ce que ma prochaine vidéo, au revoir!”

Don’t worry about offending me

January 8, 2016. Do not worry about offending me. From my family, to my school, to the organizations I belong to, to work that I have had to do, I’ve long been in environments where I naturally tend to hold a contrary opinion, or hold on to beliefs my family, friends and colleagues are against. Thus, don’t worry when you argue with me, I’m used to it.

Always, I hold on to my principle of assuming good faith in every man, relying on the basic humanity that binds us all, and the many experiences we all share, despite differences and conflicts. People will always be, to me, more than the sum of their opinions. They are my fellow human beings. As long as we do not breach out basic sense of humanity and good faith in arguing, I am okay.

Take note however, that respecting another person’s opinion doesn’t mean I would just stay silent too. It irks me a lot when people just invoke “respeto lang!” in order to prematurely end debates and conversations. It stifles our pursuit of the truth. If I think some people are wrong, I first try to understand the context of how such wrong opinions have been formed in their minds, but I would also make an effort to challenge these opinions, not because I don’t respect the people who hold them, but because I just really think they’re wrong.

Thus, I find it unnecessary to say, “no offense” the way many people do, because I think that should be a given. I find it odd, especially in our culture, where challenging beliefs and opinions is seen to be offensive. People should not take offense when their beliefs or opinions are challenged.

Admittedly, there are also times when I do stay silent. Sometimes, it’s because I just don’t care, a person’s opinion doesn’t matter to me, or the person doesn’t matter at all in the first place. Most of the time, I concede when I realize I’m wrong. I’m not a very proud person, in the sense that I genuinely don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong. But more often, I think challenging opinions and long-held beliefs, or trying to approximate the truth in any situation is a process that doesn’t begin nor end in one engagement. Parties have to go through different phases and stages necessary before arriving at their respective enlightenment. So I do let things be, at times.

I find myself writing this because over the course of the past weeks, I’ve seen how heated arguments over political candidates and the upcoming national elections have become in social media. Also, I’ve realized how colleagues are failing at their effort to convince others to side with them. Soon enough I may find myself joining these conversations. And this serves as a reminder to myself, and to others on how to engage in conversations with me over opinions and controversies.

Assertive but not aggressive. Diplomatic but not timid.

The sea, my friend

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On the beach, the sea can be your best friend. You can pour out all your heart’s regrets and frustrations and it will not cast judgment. You can hear its calming response with every wave that hits the shore. You can come closer and allow it to embrace you in its waters, and your sweat and tears will not matter to it, for it will not make a distinction from its own saline. And if you leave, you can always be certain that it will always be there, ready to listen upon your return no matter how long it takes.

To my heart’s beloved

My heart’s beloved:

I am writing you again, because I am alone and because it troubles me always to have a dialogue with you in my head, without your knowing anything about it or hearing it or being able to answer.

Momentary absence is good, for in constant presence things seem too much alike to be differentiated. Proximity dwarfs even towers, while the petty and the commonplace, at close view, grow too big. Small habits, which may physically irritate and take on emotional form, disappear when the immediate object is removed from the eye. Great passions, which through proximity assume the form of petty routine, grow and again take on their natural dimension on account of the magic of distance. So it is with my love…

Excerpt from a love letter from Karl Marx to Jenny Von Westphalen (June 21, 1865)

Kailan talaga birthday ko?

Tisay celebrated her fourth birthday last Monday. We had planned to spend Sunday in a theme park, but since the metro was still reeling from the aftermath of tropical storm Ondoy, we decided to have a simple feast of Chinese food at home.

We had a small sansrival cake for Tisay but we even forgot to buy proper birthday cake candles, so we made do with a medium-sized wax candle. Tisay’s understanding of “birthday” unfortunately, is of a party, so all along up until today she doesn’t believe it was her birthday. She insists that she still has to celebrate her “birthday” distinct from the simple celebration we had last weekend. If the weather permits, we will push through with our trip to the theme park this weekend. I think she even expects to give a blow-out bash to her kindergarten classmates.

At the Aquino wake in Manila Cathedral

My mother asked me if I was willing to accompany her to the wake of former President Cory Aquino.

The prospect of falling in line for hours instead of studying for class the next day was not appealing at first. But I agreed, paying respect to a good and upright former president never felt wrong.

Yesterday afternoon, before leaving for class, I watched the live coverage of Cory’s cortege from Ortigas to the Manila Cathedral. It was quite overwhelming. Tens of thousands of people lined up the streets and showered the funeral procession with flowers and confetti. I don’t remember Cory being that popular the past years. Perhaps its because the longing for an upright and moral leader is intensified in times when we are beset under the leadership of an evil woman. Cory’s presence, and the leadership she exemplified, though not perfect, is something that is greatly to be missed today. We appreciate something so much more when we don’t have it. Indeed. The cortege arrived in Intramuros two hours delayed due to the throngs of people that slowed down the funeral procession.

My mother and I had planned to proceed to the Manila Cathedral right after my afternoon class, but we decided to postpone the visit till midnight. We thought there would be much less people queuing by early morning. We were wrong.

When we got to Intramuros by midnight, the line was still probably a mile long, snaking around the streets of Intramuros. We were able to stand before the casket of the former president after almost two hours.

Lolo Roming (1925-2009)

Last week, my last surviving grandparent also succumbed to his failing health. He’d been confined for almost a month at the intensive care unit of a hospital in Manila and since then been bedridden in his home for weeks. He died on the evening of July 22.

That weekend, after my last class on Saturday afternoon, I drove to our upland southern Cavite hometown of Amadeo (by myself, for the first time), with my cousin, to join the rest of the extended family at the wake and interment of Lolo Roming.

I was, to be honest, never really that close to my grandfather. I would always remember him as a stiff person who doesn’t talk much. Though, at the same time, I don’t know any other man who is as sentimental and who cries as much as him. A peculiar mix of characteristics, I think. In his last years, he would often cry on the spot upon seeing relatives visiting him or cry even in the middle of conversations among his children.

He was, for around a dozen years, an elementary school teacher in Tagaytay. He is largely remembered by many, however, as Col. Villanueva, Tagaytay’s Chief of Police for almost three decades. (It escapes me how one becomes a chief of police straight from being an elementary school teacher, I still have to ask my elder relatives). One time we were buying fruits from among the elder fruit vendors in Tagaytay, and it was quite amusing how the women suddenly remarked how my father looked like hepe, for indeed he was Col. Villanueva’s son.

Despite the heavy rains that day, the ceremony continued with the family, relatives and townspeople finally walking the casket to the town cemetery in the afternoon.

On the picture above is my father, myself, and my grandfather, during my first birthday.

Advanced Father’s Day

My parents decided to celebrate Fathers’ Day a week earlier this year, probably to avoid the crowds of families this weekend, and more importantly because we will all be probably a little more busy by the time school had already started. So last week, we had lunch out at PowerPlant in Makati. We also did a little family shopping the rest of the afternoon. Today, the actual day of fathers, we just went to mass, then had pizza at home. Now I’m just making digests for cases to be discussed in class tomorrow. I’m back to the law school routine, hopefully for good. It’s unfortunate I don’t have much time to write a more profound entry suited for fathers’ day so I guess this will do for now.

Random family notes, again

Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite

Tisay will begin her post-daycare schooling this week as a nursery student at some private school a few minutes from home. I’ve been doing errands for my mom with regard to her enrollment, so I’ve been to her new school a number of times the past week.

It’s amusing how some of the people at her school mistook me as her father, that day I took her and bought the prescribed school uniforms. This time, she’d be taking the school bus, so there’d be no need for me to bring her and fetch her from school, as I used to do over the summer, when she was attending daycare school in UP.

A few weekends ago, we went to Amadeo for the Santa Cruzan. We had lunch at the residence of the presidente of the youth council of sorts in the community, organizing the festivities, who happens to be a second cousin also. It was the first time Tisay donned a gown for the parade. Too bad the dress made her itchy all over so she backed out from the parade the last minute. It’s hilarious how young girls are so excited over dressing up and parading, I don’t get it.

A weekend ago, the family went out for lunch together at the mall. It’s been a while since we did that. There are those rare times when we’re not all busy with our own preoccupations.