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Pentecost May 27, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Seriously now….

What is an adventure? Does it involve a headlong careen from a ravine with nothing but a parachute strapped to your back? Does it involve riding a mountain bike while racing against a rampaging buffalo? Does it involve a feeling of giddy excitement and exultation?

I’ve been having an adventure since Sunday this week, and no, it doesn’t involve fighting off pirates with a rusty cutlass, swinging through buildings using a symbiotic web. I think in order to ideally constitute an adventure, the experience must be one that totally catches you by surprise and has you dealing with one unexpected situation after another, thrilling you till no end.

For the past few days, I’ve been the lead counsel of Joker Arroyo in the Province of Cebu. The adventure has taken me to the social hall of Capitol Province where I saw the proclamation of the Honorable Nerissa Soon-Ruiz and her Governorship, Gwendolyn Garcia. I’ve seen an army of the Philippine National Police camped outside the COMELEC Regional Building amidst a restless throng of Martinez and Salimbangon supporters. I’ve had sleepless nights spent staying awake protecting the integrity of the national votes, and moments of rushing through the streets of Cebu when I shifted from election work to law firm duties and back to election work. I’ve ridden an army truck wheeling down the highways of Cebu, accompanied by the loud, blaring sirens of a police motorcade, with six tin ballot boxes to guard and protect as we brought them safely to the COMELEC en banc in Metro Manila. I’ve taken part in the national canvassing of votes for Senatorial candidates and witnessed the showdown of two election law giants, Atty. Romy Makalintal and Atty. Sixto Brillantes. I’ve witnessed first-hand how election fraud and cheating unfolds in the end-game and how it fits in the grand scheming of our country’s national representatives.

And finally, the adventure culminates, as last night I shook the hand of my client, the Honorable Joker P. Arroyo, when he invited the members of his legal team for dinner at his opulent house in Dasmarinas.

What a memorable week it has been! An unpredictable thrill with one big event after another. It was an experience of a lifetime that this humble new lawyer could not in his wild imaginings ever believe he would have the fortune to encounter.

Today, as I am typing this blog entry in the quiet solitude of my hotel room, I struggle to remember each and every nuance and observation during the conversation and discussion that I have had with an important figure of Philippine history, one of the great lawmakers of our country. I’m reeling from the realization that I serve one of the heroes of EDSA, one of the giants who brought down both the Marcos and the Erap regimes. I’m awestruck at the quiet humility of this frail greatness, who talked to me as if my legal opinion mattered, as if my advice was worth considering. He is the same man who served me food and beseeched me to stay longer in Manila and take part in the national canvassing as a member of his legal staff… the one who’s urging me to learn and become a good election lawyer.

I am humbled by my part in all of this. Who am I to represent a legend? Who am I to be handed this experience on a silver plate? Somehow I feel the spirit of my grandfather, the Honorable Judge Rafael Ybanez behind all this, the same man who was, in his own lifetime, a kingmaker and a political stalwart in the Cebuano election community.

Somehow, it makes sense. The Holy Spirit is nudging me and answering my prayer… nay, not nudging, but pushing me off a precipice and launching me headlong into adventure. Two days prior to that fateful call one Sunday, I was in church, petitioning the Holy Spirit to address the restlessness and indecision in my confused heart and leading me to where the Father wants me to be. And the Holy Spirit answered.

I am a lawyer. I uphold the Constitution and defend people’s rights. I protect the sanctity of public process and uphold the majesty of the law over all, whether king, pauper, or prince.

It all makes sense now. I am where I should be.


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