March 22, 2011

It was the last week of lecture classes for the second semester of our first year in law school. By tradition, we have something special on our last day of lecture class for most of our professors. On Tuesday, we had some sushi in class right after our last lecture in Criminal Law 2. Earlier, Mong took me to the congressmen’s lounge to have late lunch. I bumped into Congressman Socrates of Palawan, who is a senior fraternity brother.

Briefly in Batangas, then Pangasinan

My paternal relatives have been taking advantage of every opportunity to get together after my paternal grandfather passed away a few months ago. Lolo used to be the reason why the extended family gets together, usually during hospital visits in Manila. Now that he’s gone, any paternal relative’s birthday is a reason for our family to spend the day in upland Cavite or in Batangas. I hope it stays that way.

Last weekend, we went to Nasugbu in Batangas for the birthday of one of my young nieces. We spent the night and the rest of the day-after leisurely at Canyon Cove Resort.

A day after our trip to Batangas, I took a bus to Pangasinan to join my fraternity batchmates from UP Los Banos in a brief leisure outing. After a little more than four hours on the road from Manila, I reached the municipal hall of Bugallon, Pangasinan. I had asked for the bus to drop me off at the landmark where my fraternity brothers were to pick me up. They had arrived hours earlier and had gone sight-seeing ahead of my arrival.

I took the opportunity to go around the plaza taking photos while waiting for my companions. After meeting up with my brods and sisses, we proceeded west of Lingayen to Alaminos, where we spent a few moments at the town’s docks with the famed Hundred Islands in the horizon. Unfortunately since we only had a day and a few hours to stay in Pangasinan, a Hundred Islands trip was out of the itinerary.

Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09)
On our way back to Lingayen, we passed by the place of the mayor of Alaminos, who is apparently a fraternity brother also, but we didn’t catch up with him as he was somewhere else. We spent the rest of the afternoon till early in the evening at the wide stretch of beach right behind the provincial capitol in Lingayen. I don’t remember being in a beach that wide-stretching. Like a public park, locals and probably a few tourists were all there just having a good time. The rest of the night was spent at one of our batchmate’s family rest houses in town. We did have to go back to Manila right after midnight since some of us had to attend to our own functions by morning.

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.

Hopping over to LB

A few days ago, I went to UP Los Banos to attend a forum sponsored by a Buklod-UPLB, a student political alliance in campus. I found it odd at first because Buklod, is a “blue” party (which in terms of the spectrum of campus politics, is on the other side of the fence from where I stand), contesting student council seats from our colleagues in the militant Sakbayan.

Nevertheless, I told them that appreciated that they invited someone like me, all the way from UP Diliman, to share my views, however different it may be from theirs.

The forum was about the 2010 elections and the youth’s participation in it. I was one of four panelists, others were from the Liberal Party (represented by ex-Congressman Neric Acosta), a media organization (I don’t remember which one exactly), and YouthVote Philippines.

What I said was nothing you wouldn’t have expected me to say. Among others, I said that all the hype about the youth participation in the 2010 elections is well and good. However, I stressed out that the youth’s participation goes well beyond 2010 and the elections. I encouraged everyone to sustain the heightened enthusiasm in participating in the elections and use it as the drive to participate in more democratic exercises in their school, in their communities, with other sectors of society, into the streets or wherever their passion drives them to. We cannot rely on the elections alone as the only means for effecting social change in a country plagued by systemic economic and class exploitation, especially because the elections is largely dominated by those who thrive on that kind of order.

I forget what the other speakers said. I think they all said the same thing, drumming up the same slogan of youth participation in the elections. Which is all well and good, as I’ve said.

Anyway, after the forum, I spent the rest of the day till much later into the night with my fraternity brods and our sorority sisters in Los Banos. It was actually just my third time in UPLB (the other two being just a grade school and a high school field trip to the botanical garden), and my first time to meet met most of my batchmates in Los Banos. This time I also got to go around the campus itself and the different places outside the gates. Needless to say, I had a great time and I’m looking forward to my next visit, hopefully a longer one. Soon.

Ninoy Aquino 26th Martyrdom anniversary

Today, the nation marks the 26th year since Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. was assassinated at the tarmac of the then-Manila International Airport. The 1983 assassination is currently regarded as one of the sparks that ignited the last waves of massive public outrage that eventually lead to the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

A few days ago, I appeared (very) briefly in GMA 7’s 24 Oras newscast on a segment about Ninoy Aquino. The segment focused on the relationship between the late senator and the late dictator and strongman Pres. Ferdinand Marcos who both belong to the same fraternity, the Upsilon Sigma Phi. The popular theory, among brods especially, is of course though the rivalry was real, Marcos couldn’t have made a martyr out of his main political rival, and much more so out of his own fraternity brother. Aside form the fact that at that time, Marcos was bedridden and simply too sick to orchestrate and mastermind the assassination, we simply weren’t indoctrinated that way. Marcos also had very little political gain to compensate the great political risk entailed by doing the deed. This may be speculation to some, but for brods who understand the unique personal dynamics existing among fraternity brothers, it is a ‘theory’ worth more than a grain of salt.

Puzzled, the reporter asked me to explain how, in my opinion, the intense political rivalry between Marcos and Aquino, could have existed among two fraternity brothers. I told him (though, all these got cut from the final segment that went on air), it was a natural consequence of putting two ambitious politicians in the same fraternity.

I added, that though we were indoctrinated to strive for a prosperous and progressive country, we were free to choose the means to achieve what we believed was for the good of the Filipino people.

Fraternity history recounts how the brods, especially in the late 60’s and 70’s were found in all sides of the political spectrum, from the side of the dictator and his ‘cronies’, who believed in authoritarian leadership to achieve prosperity, to the mainstream political opposition, who believed in the ideals of “liberal” democracy, to the communist left who believed in the Maoist armed rebellion and national democracy with a socialist perspective.

From my experience, I recounted how even in the university today, brods are encouraged to exercise their beliefs and fight for their principles by being active in their own political parties. In UP for example, while most of my brods were leaning towards conservatism and compromise activism, I was allowed to and encouraged to stay in the militant formation I belonged to even before I joined the frat.

When I was in the University Student Council, the chairman then was a brod who belonged to a rival party, and a fraternity batchmate of mine belonged to the third party, and we had many principled differences and arguments with regard to various campus issues, but at the end of the day, we treated each other with great respect and still shared many fellowships.

[photos from Albert Domingo] Anyway, last night, the brods, me included, were also interviewed on Monster Radio RX 93.1. We were asked how relevant Ninoy is to young people today, most of whom were born after his martyrdom in 1983. From 10 PM to 11, we talked about our opinions with regard to Ninoy Aquino’s heroism and how it is important today. I simply said that for as long as we have not achieved the prosperous and progressive nation that Ninoy, and all of us, aspire for, and for as long as our nation’s development is stunted by corrupt and oppressive leaders like we do today, the ideals and the memory of Ninoy, his martyrdom as well as the martyrdom of the thousands of other freedom fighters through the decades, will always be relevant.

“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.

Brief visit to Aquino museum, Tarlac

A few weeks ago, largely in preparation for the IAMNINOY summit we were helping out in, two of my brods and I went to the Aquino Museum in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac to get some materials and to accomplish other errands. It was just a half-day trip. We left Manila before 7 AM, arrived in Tarlac by 10, did our thing and arrived back in Manila before 2 PM.

It was my first visit to the museum, which apparently has been open for a few years already. They have a very interesting collection of Aquino memorabilia, including photos of Ninoy I’d never seen nor imagine would exist before. On display, too, were the clothes that he was wearing and his other accessories when he was gunned down, and a replica of the room where he was detained for years, with the original furniture and other things. The place is pretty big. The manager graciously accommodated us despite us being the only visitors that time of the day, and they didn’t even make us pay the entrance fee anymore.

It’s been a while

A few weeks ago, I had dinner and drinks with my STAND-UP friends in the outgoing University Student Council. Since our terms are about to end in less than two months, we all decided to go on a ‘farewell’ night out at Conspiracy Bar along Visayas Avenue. There are fourteen of us in USC 2008 (vice-chair, seven councilors, six college representatives) and only three of us were absent that night. It was quite a blast reminiscing and sifting through collective experiences from the student council election campaign all the way through the year, along with our experiences with our colleagues from ALYANSA and KAISA. Ha ha. Oh boy. We ended the night at past five in the morning with personal speeches and messages for everyone. Continue reading