Random notes – September 04, 2009

BATASAN STUFF. A couple of nights ago, Rep. Mong Palatino took me to the congressmen’s lounge beside session hall, to sample some of the food. It is exclusive to members of the House but I think they’re allowed to bring one or two of their staff or family once in a while. It was free, limitless, hotel-like food for congressmen every session day. Apparently, Mong said he hasn’t seen any same dish served twice for the entire month. No wonder many of the congressmen get fat in Congress, literally, and figuratively too.

That night, it was Chinese-themed food. I don’t think Congress has a concept of simple living, which is a shame in a poor country like the Philippines. Iba talaga when one has the “power of the purse.” Speaking of Congress’ “power of the purse,” I briefly attended the first hearing of Congress for the government’s P 1.541 trillion budget for next year. The hearing was very well-attended by the congressmen, their staff and employees of the Budget and the Finance departments. I could barely find a comfortable place, not even to sit, but to stand. It’s that packed. Iba talaga pag pera na ang pag-uusapan.

TAMBAY SA OSPITAL. A few days ago, some of my fraternity batchmates and I brought another batchmate of ours to the hospital due to his chronic seizures because of his multiple sclerosis. He had five attacks that day, and the UP Health Service urged us to move him to a bigger health facility because all they could provide were valium shots. It was the first time I saw someone having a serious seizure, and it was quite scary. Since his parents were in the province and his relatives couldn’t come as soon as possible, we stayed at the hospital the rest of the afternoon, some of us till later that evening.

MEETING BOY ABUNDA. In between staying at the hospital, I went to a meeting with some ABS-CBN staff together with Boy Abunda, to talk about his new political talk show. I don’t know why I’m part of it. I got a call a few days earlier inviting me to join in, and well, I agreed. Though I’m having second thoughts now. True, I may be opinionated, I write and I blog, but I don’t do a lot of talking, really. Details to follow, as I don’t think I’m at liberty to disclose any more information about it.

CLEARING OUT OF U.P. I’m currently processing my papers for my honorable dismissal from UP Law. I passed by Malcolm Hall yesterday, after not being there for weeks now. It didn’t feel nice being in a place you were forced to leave all of a sudden. Unfortunately, I’ll have to keep coming back the next few days to finish the process, get a transcript and other papers to be able to take tests in other law schools.

“Bagati” production stills

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Last weekend, I joined the thesis short film production of one of my colleagues in the UP Film Institute and STAND-UP. It had been a long time since I took part in a film production ever since I entered law school. Interestingly enough, I got invited into one right after I decided to take a break from law. The shoot was held in a peasant community in a barangay in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal, near Wawa Dam. It was, surprisingly, just a little more than thirty minutes from Diliman, if one takes the path through the winding Payatas Road.

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Despite the apparent beauty of the scenery surrounding the community, residents are actually suffering from neglect of support from the government. The hanging bridge that serves to connect the community with the main highway was only built three years ago, and even so, is already on the brink of total deterioration. Many of the residents are also confronted with the threat of demolition in the name of road widening and property development by big landowners. Until recently, the communities in the area were being patrolled relentlessly by soldiers and intelligence personnel.

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The short film features peasant children in communities suffering from military offensives and similar forms of violence.

Hanging on in the meantime

Last Saturday, I still took my midterm exams in Insurance. The previous night, I struggled to muster enough enthusiasm to review. At the back of my mind played the thought that staying up that late and re-reading piles of cases was worthless, because at the end of the day, it wouldn’t matter if I pass or if I get a high score in that particular exam because I won’t be able to enroll next semester anyway.

However, I’ve decided to just go on. I will try to attend classes in the coming days while I await the final advice form the UP Law administration, in the rare and slim chance that I get through by some miracle–without being too hopeful, of course.

Sure, it may be a waste of time and energy if what’s supposed to happen is inevitable. I just try to think of it as a way for me to take advantage of my last days in Malcolm Hall, and perhaps, for the pure desire to learn, regardless of the fact that I won’t earn any academic credit for it.

In between reviewing for the exam at a coffee shop, I was also hopping over next-door for my undergraduate college organization‘s anniversary night, being held at the restaurant beside the coffee shop.

It was great seeing my contemporaries again, and catching up on their careers. Most of them are in media companies, for obvious reasons. As for myself, I told them I’m still in law school, though I left out the part where I was supposed to say I’m struggling to stay in law. It wasn’t a time to dampen the mood of people.

Last night I also went to another party, it was Inter-B, the inter-batch party of UP Law’s block B’s. The sophomores, that’s our batch, organized the event. Since I’m about to be out of the college soon anyway, I might as well attend the last inter-batch party I can attend as a student. I will miss my blockmates. They’ve been so supportive all along, ever since we all started out last year.

Past academic shortcomings continue to haunt me

Just when I wrote about trying to start anew by chronicling my experiences in UP Law, my academic shortcomings last year come back to haunt me. I felt very distressed this afternoon after an unfortunate re-test of one of my freshman subjects. No matter how much I try to recover from my past mistakes or to reform from my, admittedly, poor performance last year by being much more diligent with my studies this year, they will continue to haunt me.

There’s no use regretting to have taken up a lot of extra-curriculars last year and not offering my jealous devotion to law. My renewed enthusiasm in studying may well be for naught. I don’t know what to do now. To quit, I may, to transfer I might consider, but for now if it’s not meant to be, I shall take the break and surrender to my unfortunate academic fate. I apologize to everyone I might be disappointing. I am thankful to those who understand. Admittedly, I felt terribly upset a while ago. All’s well now. But that’s probably it. Goodbye UP Law.

I shall write more about my law school experience

I shall start to attempt writing down chronicles of my stay in law school. Perhaps it can be a way for me to totally imbibe the law school routine. Sometimes I feel like the reason why I don’t blog much about my experiences in law school is that I feel like everything is just some negligible routine which I don’t bother remembering for posterity. Up until now, I still don’t feel like I totally want to become a lawyer. I just struggle my way in the College of Law one day at a time, without fixating on the finish line or the thought of graduating too much. It’s difficult enough to think about getting by each week, after all. But that’s not right. I’m on my second year, and there’s no turning back.

Anyway, certainly there are things you don’t appreciate till they’re gone. This won’t be another Cory Aquino-related blog entry, though. (God bless her soul as the nation escorts her to her final resting place today).

Yesterday the entire air-conditioning system of the College was down. It was like some inconvenient server crash. Some people know how much I sweat, often more than others. Needless to say, I was sweating profusely in my two classes. To make things worse, I got called for recitation and I was largely unprepared. And even more unfortunately, it was one of those sessions when I was the only one who was called to recite during the entire two-hour lecture. It was just one of those days. I got by, nonetheless, with lucky guesses and my classmates’ “radio coaching”.

In another matter, I’ve recently discovered the convenience of studying at Malcolm Hall’s student lounge. For the longest time since my freshman days, I always went to the library or to some coffee shop outside school to study during long breaks or after class. There seemed to be no other choice if I didn’t want to go home yet. However, the past weeks, since I lost my ID and the guard has blacklisted me from the library, I was forced to find an alternative academic hang-out, where I don’t have to buy anything. And then there was the student lounge at the ground floor. I always thought it was an exclusive tambayan for some law school cliques. Not quite, really. It was a homey, air-conditioned lounge complete with couches and other fixtures. Pretty neat.

Wow. This entry sounds quite mundane! Well, it’s a start. Hopefully if I get the hang of this, I shall write about some (academic) lessons learned, too, not only so that I could share them with everyone, but so I could recall them more easily, perhaps, (because I would be forced to digest legal doctrines and cases, unless you want me to write lengthily about them).

“Ako si Ninoy” musical

Last Friday night, I went with some fraternity brothers to the Ayala Museum in Makati to see a special staging of “Ako si Ninoy,” a musical performed by the Philippine Stagers Foundation. It is, as its title suggests, a stage play about the late Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., and how his heroism is reflected in the lives of several individuals in the present time–a school teacher, a teen actor, a farmer activist, a labor union organizer, and a migrant worker.

It is no secret that I have issues with some I-am-change campaigns for its condonation of simplistic neutral daily activities of individuals as heroic enough to effect change. I was afraid that this stage play might carry the same message.

Fortunately, for the most part, it doesn’t. The very fact that it portrayed individuals who fought and struggled for what was just and right in their school, in the factory, in the streets, overseas, and even in the entertainment industry, is a manifestation that it takes courage, determination, and action to effect change in one’s family, community and society.

The play has catchy song numbers, and romantic subplots, and is thus largely targeted towards an audience of young people. It is hoped that this play would inspire young individuals to realize their potential to effect change in their communities, not simply by doing what is expected, but by, like Ninoy Aquino, being brave enough to take action to fight for what they believe is right.

“Ako si Ninoy” will have a grand gala presentation at the Meralco Theater on August 14, 2009, and will be on tour around schools, universities and malls for the rest of the year.

Law students against Cha-cha

We, law students from UP, UST, Lyceum, San Beda, PUP, Arellano, and San Sebastian, united by common ideals, do strongly voice out our opposition to charter change. As students of the law, we recognize the supremacy of the Constitution, the highest law of the land. On it hinges the legality or illegality of all other laws.

We also recognize that it is actually us, the people of the Philippines, who are the true authors of the Constitution, and as such, any move to amend or revise the Constitution should respect the will of the people of the Philippines.

We agree that the law only authorizes three methods of changing the charter, and that it is the intent of the framers of the Constitution that any amendments or revisions must still be ratified by the citizens, thus giving to the citizens a very important role in shaping the highest law of the land.

We generally have nothing against charter change, since it is provided for in the Constitution itself. What we are against is the suspect timing of such a move, which we believe is motivated by the political agenda of those involved, especially the ones who vehemently push for the approval of a Constituent Assembly.

We believe that all this commotion dwells too much on the procedural aspect of charter change, under the assumption that a Constituent Assembly is perfectly legal. Yet any move to change the charter should be done with pure intentions, for the greater good of the republic.

Charter change should not be done to prolong the terms of those currently in power, nor to prostitute our natural resources to the highest bidder, nor to grant absolute power to certain individuals or groups who have had a history of wielding their power for their own personal benefit.

We, the law students of UP, UST, Lyceum, San Beda, PUP, Arellano, and San Sebastian, have come together as an alliance, opposing vehemently all moves to change the Constitution, until such time that the people of the Philippines deem it right. And until then, we shall stand guard over the liberties of the Filipino people, defending those who are ignorant of the law from those who seek to take advantage of them.

Students walk out of classes vs. charter change

As much as I wanted to join the walk-out, I was apprehensive about missing my one class that afternoon. Excessive absences was, after all, a contributory reason as to why I had bad grades last semester. I was supposed to just pass by the AS Lobby and deliver a solidarity speech before going to class in Malcolm Hall.

When I got to the historic lobby, however, the entire hall was full of students in red shirts. A lot of them were new faces, freshmen perhaps. It’s a sight I’m honestly not used to seeing during regular mobilizations in UP. And it was enough to agitate me to join. Unfortunately, it was one of those days when I forget to bring my camera. I’ve lost the habit of always tagging it along with me wherever I go. In any case, posted below are pictures and a video coverage done by Bulatlat. There’s also a slide show of photos, at their site.

Here are photos from the simultaneous mobilization in Baguio, where hundreds of students also walked out of classes to protest against Gloria Arroyo’s charter change attempt. Photos by Ak Riva. Student groups from Cebu and Davao also participated in the nationwide protest action of the youth.

Perhaps it’s been said over and over again–Gloria Arroyo’s charter change does not address the plethora of problems that confront the youth. It does not provide a solution to the rising cost of education in the country, nor does it provide solutions to the crises that besiege not only the youth but different sectors of Philippine society. It even worsens the present conditions by intensifying the policies that have made the lives of Filipinos worse over the past decade, and, as I’ve mentioned, it only further intensifies the local and foreign exploitation of our national industries and our natural resources.

For me these are stronger reasons for us to reject, not only the current attempt at charter change, but any future proposals to liberalize the economic provisions of our constitution. I’m sure, even if we do have new leaders by next year, extraneous political forces will continue to lobby for these changes. Sure, we want Arroyo out by 2010, we want to select new leaders perhaps. But more to the desire to have an elections by 2010, we should also strive to preserve our sovereignty and dignity as a people.

A quick note before going back to the books

I’ve been trying to be as diligent as I can with my studies right now. I rarely hang out in school after class anymore, unless there are really important meetings, activities or errands. And when our internet connection was cut a few days ago, I didn’t quite mind it, as I was too busy reading cases and textbooks when I’m at home. Right now, I’m just finishing this entry before going back to my readings.

Anyway, last night, since all the other cinemas were booked because of Transformers: The Revenge of The Fallen, we found ourselves rediscovering the cinemas of Metro Manila’s first mall (okay, apparently, Harrison Plaza claims to be the older mall).

The last time I was at the cinemas of Ali Mall was two or three years ago, when it was still all dingy and dark. It was the opening weekend then, I think, of The Da Vinci Code, and my friends and I gave up upon seeing the humongous crowd at Gateway Mall in Cubao. Upon my suggestion, we walked to Ali Mall and watched the movie in its large, decrepit, and largely empty cinema.

Last night to our pleasant surprise, however, it’s a lot, lot better now. Together with the rest of the mall, the cinemas have been renovated. The large cinema has been divided into three smaller and cozier modern theaters that look like the cinemas at Gateway. And since I don’t think a lot of people are aware of Ali Mall’s recent transformation, the box office lines were pleasantly short.

Transformers was a great visual treat. Nothing artsy-fartsy. Funny how I think like a law student sometimes even when watching movies. The moment Sam’s family home was destroyed my first thought was, damn, I wonder if their house is insured (or if the insurance policy will cover destruction by robot).