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There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity June 28, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Idiocy.

Woohoo! I have just recently bypassed my 49-hit mark limit!

My WordPress hit-chart-thingy just informed me that as of June 27, 2007 GMT, I have had 49 hits on this blog! Just a few more entries to go and I’ll soon be on my way to becoming the next big thing in blogging! If only I can encourage 48,951 more people to visit my blog, then I will hit the 49,000 mark! Calling all my friends and contacts in both Multiply and Friendster… I need your support!

Looking at my statistics, it seems like my most popular entry is The Necessary Evil, a discussion on why GMA’s administration is supported by Cebu. It has led to a link/mention in Manolo Quezon’s blog, which in turn, has led to a Magnificent Atty. Perez-bashing in politicaljunkie and patsadakarajaw‘s blogs. To my credit (some would say dishonor, but I say that you know you’re on your way to becoming a rockstar when people start hating your guts, isn’t that right Mr. Marilyn Manson?), I’ve even inspired patsadakarajaw to name a doctrine in my (dis?)honor, which he calls the “Qualifiedly Practical Cebuano Doctrine,” which goes:

A cheat and a liar leader who lavish us with gifts and attention is ok as long as there is no alternative.

So to them and to all their readers who wrote commentaries and painted my logic with terms like “non sequitur” and (oooh, this is my favorite), “fallacy of composition,” I say… THANK YOU VERY MUCH, GOD BLESS, AND PLEASE TRY THE FISH!

I tell you, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being mocked and ridiculed by people you’ve never met. It leaves one with a warm fuzzy feeling deep down the pancreas knowing that people truly care. Huzzah to the constitutional right to free speech! ­čÖé Rest assured, I will write more controversial and contrarian political commentaries in the future, perhaps explaining why the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo should be our next Prime Minister, or a discussion on what would happen if we were to clone Antonio Trillanes IV and splice him with the genes of King Leonidas of Sparta. (“This! Is! Madness!”)

No, this is Sparta. ­čÖé

I would also like to thank the people who searched on “Ryan Agoncillo” and “Judy Ann Santos”, for stumbling to my site and discovering to their horror that I have made both celebrities as my affiants in a Memorandum of Support. So, to add more interesting topics for the bots of Google and Yahoo to stumble upon (and jack up my list of hits and readers), let me just type the following keywords to drive more traffic to my site:

Gretchen Barreto

John Estrada

Sam Milby

Pinoy Big Brother

Aiza Seguerra

Piolo Pascual

La Salle scandal


On another note, to all members of the respectable fraternity of my boss, the great Aquila Legis of Ateneo, especially to the lawyers I have dubbed Fifi and Rico Suave… if ever we meet up in court, please don’t beat me up. ­čśë To quote Maritess, famed domestic helper of the international organization, the Superfriends: “I’m suri Aquaman! I’m suuuurrrrriii! I was jaz cooking feesh!”

And finally, what better way is there to celebrate the fact that I’m becoming a minor Internet celebrity than to give myself an interview? This one goes out for all the Magnificent’s fans, both young and old, male and female or anything in between.

Ehem, ehem. Are you ready? Here it goes:

Hi there, Magnificent Atty. Perez. For the benefit of stalkers who are are madly in lust with you and for all the rabid anti-GMA oppositionists of the world, could you please identify yourself to us?

Hey there yourself 8) My name is Jan Ralph Y. Perez. I’m a 25 —

*cough cough*

–oh alright, demmit, I’m a 28 year old lawyer living in the qualifiedly practical City of Cebu. I like music, laughing, red wine, long walks under starry moon-lit beaches, and the art of making cheese. I also live to be adored by sycophantic nubile groupies, but I must say, nothing makes my day more than to annoy people with statements like “I think President Arroyo is the next best thing to executing public dissenters without due process of law.”

Someone mentioned in someone else’s blog that he’s seen you being interviewed in ANC. Could you comment on that?

Wow, I WISH that were true. I’m sad to say though, the only time I was on TV was when I was caught on camera during certain news reports in last elections. In ABS-CBN Cebu, my back was shown for 3 seconds and my face was shown for 0.74 seconds during the canvassing of the Bogo elections. Subsequently, I was also caught on camera accompanying Comelec Provincial Chairman Atty. Castillano and the watcher from C-Cimpel as we were bringing the Cebu province ballot boxes to Manila. Finally, people also told me that they saw my face during the national canvassing held at PICC. But interviewed in ANC? No, that hasn’t happened. Not yet. Pero kung pwede, I would love to be interviewed by Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda.

And oh yes, I also was in a local commercial back when I was in high school. It was for McJoy restaurant, and I was eating a cheeseburger. Forgive me for being 16 years late, but I would like to thank Vanessa for my hair and make-up, and the University of San Carlos Boys School for my costume. I’m still waiting for the FAMAS award for my stirring cheeseburger eating performance in that commercial. Perhaps even a product endorsement contract from Bench Underwear, that would be nice.

In your blog entry about jurats and acknowledgments, you mentioned Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo. Please tell us, what’s your official relationship with Juday?

We’re just friends. Pinagsama lang kami ni Direk Joey sa shooting, you know, for bonding, ganun. ‘Di naman threatened si Ryan sa friendship namin ni Juday eh, kasama nga kaming tatlo nag-poker kagabi sa Sand Trap, together with my celebrity friends like former BIR Commissioner Bu├▒ag, Raya Mananquil, Antonio Java, Elizabeth Ramsey, Ai-ai de las Alas, Tim Yap and Chiz Escudero. Strip poker pa! Si Anton yung pokee!

What’s your favorite color?

Hihihi. Why are you asking that? Basta! It’s the color of my underwear!

So how’s your lovelife now? Who’s your current girlfriend?

My parents said that I’m too young to have a girlfriend, so I’ll just enjoy life to the best that I can. Besides, I’m married to my career. But, shhhh… don’t tell career. Daghan kaayo ko’g kabit!

Ah, okay fine, so you’re accepting positions for the girlfriend position diay. But while we’re on that topic, what’s your motto in life?

It takes blood and guts to look this good!

So, Atty. Perez,–

Uhuurrrrmm. *casts an evil look at the interviewer*

Oh, I’m sorry po. Magnificent Atty. Perez, why are you so pro-administration ba?

A lot of people just don’t get it… I’m NOT pro-administration. I could care less about the administration, just let it do its’ job. I’m anti- anti-administration. Have you seen the anti-administration people who got elected into the Senatorial slate lately? Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes IV, Ping Lacson… *shudder* What I find very hypocritical is that these people are accusing the administration of massive cheating and rampant corruption. Eksmyuski noh, pareho ra mong duha! You’re just like Britney Spears calling Paris Hilton a slat and a beetch. You’re just jealous because Paris Hilton has a better looking vajayjay!

So does that mean that you like the President?

Well, her mole is so hot. I would like to see her on the cover of FHM and Maxim. It’s so unfair, why is she only on Time and Newsweek??

We would also like to ask your opinion, Mr. Magnificent, what is the essence of a woman?

I would like to meet Mother Teresa, for inspiring my humanity. World peace!

Are you always this weird?

Sweetheart, I put the “EEK!” in “FREAK!”

Okay, we’re now at our public viewer segment… this was emailed to us by Mia of Iligan City: “Magnificent Atty. Perez, if you could be a supermodel, what will be your superpower?”

Thank you Mia, that’s a very good question, but you see, I’m already a supermodel. If you open the economy-size pack of Trust Condoms (the one in chicken-pork-adobo flavor), take a look at their illustrated guide of how to insert a condom. That’s me!

Besides, I already have a superpower. I have the ability to lower your IQ just by reading my blog!

Next question, a text message from a certain carlolanie: “Who’s cuter? Me or Danikook?”

Borat. I like!! Next question?

Ah yes, your Magnificence. This was posted in our forum by your sister: “Hoy amaw! Ikaw nay manglimpyo sa kasilyas ogma!”

Ah, okay. Yes sis, I love you too!

Finally, here’s a tissue paper with a message written by two of our studio audience, it says “Room 210.” It’s signed Stellah and Matet and has a key attached to it. What can you say about that?

Alright girls, I’ll bring the can of luncheon meat this time. And Tets, I only have two words to say to you: “orgasmic dance.”

Well, Mr. Magnificent Atty. Perez, I’m afraid that’s all the time we have today. Would you like any parting words for our viewers?

Ah yes, thank you very much Mr. Interviewer. I would like to thank the people of Cebu for all their time and support, and to Mayor Tommy Osmena and Governor Gwen Garcia for supplying me with an endless choice of topics for my blog. Thank you also to Fanny Serrano for my hair and make-up, to Carbon Market for my wardrobe and underwear, and to the framers of the 1987 Constitution for the political right to free speech. I would also like to thank Atty. Avanzado of the Supreme Court Publication Office for the newsbriefs and the wonderful book on the Rule of Law.

And to all the little people I stepped on to make my way up to my Magnificence, you’re very much welcome!

In closing, I would like to just say, “Gusto kong bumait pero di ko magawa, nasa Dios ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa!”



I am the Litigator June 26, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer.

I have three court cases this week. One in Lapu-lapu City, the rest in Capitol. That’s five sleepless nights, researching on the facts, talking to witnesses, and preparing them to be presented for trial. Now I know why litigation is the cruscible of fire for all lawyers and why litigators are patronizing towards purely corporate lawyers (and just a tinge jealous). Litigation is damn hard work. Unlike corporate practice, litigation requires your full attention and one’s inordinate amount of patience. In the courtroom, it also requires a strong ego and a never-say-die attitude.

I’m not saying corporate law is a cakewalk because a lot of what I do involves corporate practice and it’s not as easy as it sounds, but still, the level of stress and aggravation from corporate practice does not even come close to what I face everyday in the court room.

I’ve had about one year’s experience as a litigator under my belt now, and based on this, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

1. As much as possible, stick to the truth. When faced against a sharp and experienced litigator, a witness’ lies will soon come crashing down on him like a stack of cards. If a certain part of a witness’ testimony is damaging, then conveniently omit such fact. Let the other counsel worry about ferreting that information out. And if he finds that out? Stick to the truth. It’s better to take a little damage than to be exposed as a liar. Remember, when it comes to testimony, the first thing a judge would do is assess your integrity as a witness. If you come out looking like a liar, everything you say will become circumspect, even when you really are telling the truth. (But I didn’t learn this principle from being a lawyer. I got this one from having a mom who knows better.)

2. A calm, rational examination is better than fiery, verbose monologues. Contrary to what a lot of clients think, it’s actually quite damaging to your case if your counsel likes to grandstand in court. Judges can see through our BS and will look down on lawyers who prattle on and on without any semblance of logic. The objective is to appear intelligent, not obnoxious. Some lawyers can’t tell the difference.

3. Keep it simple, stupid! This is the infamous K.I.S.S. principle, applicable to pleadings filed in court. Judges and their legal researchers have no time to read through inane discussions, so if you make their job easier for them by sticking to the facts and presenting your pleading in a way that makes it a pleasure to read, not a pain, then you’ve already won one-half of the battle.

4. Protect your client. If you know that you have a losing case, be frank about it with the client. Don’t try to squelch his time and money by promising him that you could win a case that has an ice cream cone’s chance in hell of not melting. It’s an old cliche but it’s a truth nonetheless, a lawyer’s value can only be gauged by his integrity and good name. If you’re known for taking your clients’ money and running away with it, believe me, sooner or later, that reputation is going to bite you in the ass. It’s better that you tell the client what his honest chances are, and have him decide for himself if he wants to continue or not.

Well… that’s one year as a litigator over and done with and so many years more left to come. Well, if there’s one thing I can honestly say, it’s that I worked hard for the money, so you better treat me right! 8)

Butterflies Instead June 25, 2007

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

Unlock the door, unlock my head
and dream of butterflies instead
the beauty of their colored wings
the trees, the grass and pretty things
imagination fills the void of my existence…”
-K’s Choice, ‘Butterflies Instead’

I believe that the souls of the dead reach out to us in the form of a beautiful black butterfly, one with swallow-tail wings and white spots in its tail markings.

At least, that’s what’s been manifesting to close friends and family every time somebody dear to us dies, or at a significant moment in our lives.

Somebody dear to our family just died, the sister of my maternal grandmother, and one of our most loved lolas. She was a dear and sweet soul who loved her family so much. Nothing gave her more pleasure than to cook and feed family and friends, since she was so gifted with the talent of cooking. My mom was her favorite niece and it was this lola who first taught my Mama how to bake a cake. We owe her so many of my Mom’s delicious recipes and for helping Mama’s talent to blossom and grow.

On Sunday morning, while I was still in Manila, a black butterfly like the one that I described appeared on our dining room’s screen door and stayed there. Our helper Jovy, who is very superstitious called out to my Mom and Dad and had them observe this butterfly. It was a very unusual thing to see because our house is located in the middle of the city and butterflies and moths almost never show up at our house. The butterfly just stuck there until our naughty dog Whiskey, wondering what the big fuss was all about, gave the screen door a bum rush and frightened the poor butterfly away. However, it came back and landed on the kitchen door’s screen instead. It stayed there for a long time.

Then, as I got back home on Sunday night, I received a text message. It was from my Tito Ed in Canada, informing us that Mommy Tita, our lola’s sister, passed away.

Mom then texted all our relatives, including our Tita Lita in Bantayan Island. The following morning, Tita Lita called the house up and talked to our mom. She told us that she’s seen the same big black butterfly flitter around the vicinity, first landing in Tita Lita’s house, then afterwards, landing in our Lolo Nonoy’s vacation home which was right beside. Lolo Nonoy was Mommy Tita’s and my own lola’s brother, who had previously died 2 years ago, while I was still reviewing for the Bar. After she noticed the butterfly, one of her neighbors came knocking on the door and asked her, “Who is that lady which keeps passing by Nonoy’s house repeatedly?”

Before Mommy Tita died, she was very upset because she wanted to come back to the Philippines from Canada, because she made a promise to Lolo Nonoy that they would meet up in the Philippines, but her doctor forbade her from traveling. Lolo Nonoy had already died when she wanted to visit. The mysterious thing was that an amount of money equivalent to a round trip plane fare for two was deposited in Mommy Tita’s special bank account that Lolo Nonoy periodically placed money in whenever he wanted her to come to the Philippines.

My godfather, Tito John Eggeling, told me the same story when his mother died. The same big black swallow-tailed butterfly kept hovering all around his house and landing on the main door where everybody could see them. His son, Jonas, also saw the same butterfly coming home on a late night out, plastered on his window. Jonas was his lola’s favorite grandchild. Finally, on the last night of the funeral, there were instead two big butterflies clinging to the halogen lamp overlooking the whole crowd. I saw those two myself. I think it was Tito John’s mom and dad, finally reunited after a long separation from each other.

Immediately after that butterfly sighting, me and my dad began seeing the same big black butterfly following us around. Dad saw it when he was meeting up with friends at Grand Majestic. The following day, he and I saw the butterfly clinging to our house’s porch steps.

The week after, when I flew to Dipolog (which was my first out-of-town assignment, but I was not yet a lawyer. I was just accompanying one of the firm’s associates, Atty. Hebe Tanga-an, to a case that I was going to be assigned to later on.), I was on my way to church when I turned around because something caught my eye. It was the same big black swallow-tailed butterfly passing me by and flying off to the plaza.

A few days after that, I learned the news that I had become a lawyer and there was a big celebration. In my first day in the office as a lawyer, I was climbing up the stairs en route to the office when I saw that big black butterfly clinging against the stairway walls, as if observing me. I told my boss about it, and he said it’s probably the managing partner’s father, Atty. Jose C. Palma Sr., who was welcoming me as the newest addition to the firm that he founded.

The butterfly’s final appearance for that year was quite comical. I was with with my bestfriend Raymond, who was at that time reviewing for the Bar. This was last year, on May. It was my last night in Makati after having taken my lawyer’s oath. Me, Raymond, his cousin Cristina, and his friend Gon-gon, were having some beers outside of Powerplant Mall when I spotted the butterfly alighting on the sidewalk pavement right across me. A black cat with white paws and a white tip on its tail quickly ran forward and ate it.

(And no Christela, I did not start seeing the cat.)

I did see that butterfly again, on December of last year. My favorite boss, Atty. Chito Teleron, had died a few weeks before the firm’s Christmas party. The managing partner, Atty. Jopox Palma, had decreed that in respect to boss Chito, we will not be celebrating our Christmas party with any fanfare. We will just have a quiet dinner over at Ching Palace. I was riding with my uncle, Atty. Ybanez, to Ching Palace, when we parked at the parking area behind the restaurant. As we went in the glass door leading to the eating area, we saw the butterfly fluttering against the door, trying to get in. We knew who it was. We opened the door, and true enough, the butterfly flew in the restaurant to join us in our celebration.

The following day, the lawyers and the office staff gathered around boss Chito’s office, opened two bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label and got unceremoniously drunk. We were all very happy. The butterfly didn’t show up though. It’s work was done.

I really believe that we have angels everywhere, the souls of our beloved dead, flying around in the form of beautiful, big black swallowtail butterflies with white markings. They’ve come to watch over us, and let us know they are around.

Why butterflies?

Well, I think it’s a symbol. Do you know how it is when an ugly creepy caterpillar spins itself into a chrysalis and comes out as a beautiful butterfly? The caterpillars are us, the souls of the living. The chrysalis is our death. The butterflies are them, the souls of our dearly departed.

The souls who are truly alive….


In loving memory of Teresita Mansueto-Veloso, may her soul rest in peace. Please say hi to Mommy Nena and Daddy Paeng for me. We love you Mommy Tita.

The Entire Cebu as an Ecozone June 25, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Economist, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
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I’ve read about an interesting project that the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and the Cebu Business Club are jointly collaborating on, namely, to have the entire Cebu, both province and city, declared by the National Government as an Ecozone. If both organizations can pull it off, I’m sure it will spur even more business investments into Cebu, to the end that some of these investments will be thrown to the rural areas of Cebu, thus lessening the diaspora of urban migration to Cebu City itself.

┬áIt sounds nice, a win/win situation for both businesses and the employment force, but I’m questioning whether or not local government units would support this move.┬á A brief backgrounder:

┬áAn economic zone, or ecozone for short, is defined by law as “selected areas with highly developed or which have the potential to be developed into agro-industrial, industrial, tourist/recreational, commercial, banking, investment and financial centers.”┬á Or, to put simply, it’s a special zone set aside by the national government for highly developed industries and given certain fiscal benefits like a special tax rate, special visas for business executives, and the like.┬á A good example of an ecozone would be the Clark export processing zone, our own Mactan export processing zone, and the Cebu I.T. Park in Apas, Lahug.┬á Each ecozone is run by the PEZA, or the Philippine Ecozone Authority.┬á To avail of the benefits of this law, a business must (1) be registered with the PEZA and (2) be located within an ecozone.

The nice thing about having a PEZA-registered company is their tax break benefit, which is preferential rate of 5% of the company’s gross income, in lieu of the regular 35% corporate income tax.┬á But that’s not all:┬á this 5% tax rate exempts the company from paying ALL national and local taxes, such as income tax, real property tax, VAT, customs duties, and the like.┬á Now, if you pair this with a registration with the Board of Investments (BOI), which grants registered companies with an income tax holiday of around 4 to 6 years, you have a killer tax break combo that spares companies from the burden of taxes which take up around 40% of their income.┬á (If you are interested in availing of this benefit for your company, contact this law firm, and look for me.)

So, the implication for having the whole of Cebu as an ecozone would be to encourage companies to set up businesses all around Cebu, not just in Cebu City.  Tourism-oriented industries will be sprouting up all around municipalities that are adjunct to the sea, like Bantayan Island, Argao, and San Remigio.  Manufacturing-oriented industries, like the Tsunishi ship-building facility in Balamban, can erect production facilities in far-away areas like Toledo and Dalaguete.  Agriculture-oriented industries can make vast corporate farms in Bogo, and Barili.  So, we will have a whole region-wide development that is not hinged on Cebu City alone.

However, I think that there would be some resistance to this move from the local governments, since the companies are EXEMPT from paying local taxes, thus depriving the local governments from a source of income.┬á They won’t be deprived of real property taxes though since the ecozone locator, or the organization that will set up the whole area as an ecozone, will still be liable to pay real property tax.

Personally, I am for this move because in the long run, encouraging businesses to grow and flourish in a rural community will have a spill-over effect of inviting more development into the municipality, such as the building of roads, the flourishing of the underground economy, and the retention of local employable talent in the community.┬á And think about it… why would the young men and women of these municipalities flock to Cebu City when in their very own community, they can find jobs?┬á I mean look at the Tsunishi facility in Toledo… it’s employs I think around 3,000 workers.┬á That gives the local people more money to spend on businesses in the community.┬á Just look at the numerous carinderias and eateries springing up around the factory and the hordes of trisikad drivers shuttling workers to and fro.

Also, think about all the corporate lawyers that will benefit from the need of registering so many companies…. 8)

It Pays to be Clean June 22, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Economist, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
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A few nights ago, I was talking with Ken, a key member of the Thursday Group and one of my co-founders in a future project we are calling “Section Six.” The topic was about Japan’s recent investment towards biofuel production in Leyte, where they are reportedly putting up $100M and $50M in a bioethanol and biodiesel production facility, respectively. I was thinking along ostensible reasons for the investment, namely so that Japan could directly import its biofuel from the Philippines and have its own captured supply.

However, Ken put up an interesting viewpoint in the matter, namely that Japan has a higher stake other than biodiesel supply. He propounds that Japan is in it to cash in on the Philippines’ considerably high carbon credits. To quote Wikipedia:

“Carbon credits are a tradable permit scheme. They provide a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by giving them a monetary value. A credit gives the owner the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide.

International treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol set quotas on the amount of greenhouse gases countries can produce. Countries, in turn, set quotas on the emissions of businesses. Businesses that are over their quotas must buy carbon credits for their excess emissions, while businesses that are below their quotas can sell their remaining credits. By allowing credits to be bought and sold, a business for which reducing its emissions would be expensive or prohibitive can pay another business to make the reduction for it. This minimizes the quota’s impact on the business, while still reaching the quota.

Credits can be exchanged between businesses or bought and sold in international markets at the prevailing market price. There are currently two exchanges for carbon credits: the Chicago Climate Exchange and the European Climate Exchange.”

In other words, it’s now profitable to be ecologically-sound. The genius behind this scheme recognizes a fundamental principle in economics, which is that scarcity creates demand, and demand, in turn, creates market economies. Clean air has become a product that you can buy and sell over the global market. In other words:

Carbon credits create a market for reducing greenhouse emissions by giving a monetary value to the cost of polluting the air. This means that carbon becomes a cost of business and is seen like other inputs such as raw materials or labor.

By way of example, assume a factory produces 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse emissions in a year. The government then enacts a law that limits the maximum emissions a business can have. So the factory is given a quota of say 80,000 tonnes. The factory either reduces its emissions to 80,000 tonnes or is required to purchase carbon credits to offset the excess.

A business would buy the carbon credits on an open market from organizations that have been approved as being able to sell legitimate carbon credits. One seller might be a company that will plant so many trees for every carbon credit you buy from them. So, for this factory it might pollute a tonne, but is essentially now paying another group to go out and plant trees which will, say, draw a tonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

As emission levels are predicted to keep rising over time, it is envisioned that the number of companies wanting/needing to buy more credits will increase, which will push the market price up and encourage more groups to undertake environmentally friendly activities that create for them carbon credits to sell. Another model is that companies that use below their quota can sell their excess as ‘carbon credits.’ The possibilities are endless hence making it an open market.

Japan is a highly industrial country with manufacturing as one of its driving industries. So, if Japan were to comply with the Kyoto Protocol, it would have two choices: reengineer its own manufacturing facilities to have them produce less greenhouse gases, and/or buy carbon credits from other countries.

Ken propounds further that perhaps, by setting up the biofuel facility in the Philippines, Japan found a way to claim some of our carbon credits as theirs.

The way I see it, the whole of the Philippines IS a big carbon credit manufacturing facility, due to the vast track of rainforests covering some parts of our country. (Rainforests, which, we are sad to note, are rapidly dwindling because of illegal logging and mining activities in the country.) Heck, if carbon credits were a tradable resource, the whole of Mindanao should be considered as an export processing zone.

Considering however that our country’s stance is now towards biofuel production, if we were to cash in on our carbon credits, we’d have to rethink our economic strategies. Biofuel produces less greenhouse gas emissions but it does release chloroflourocarbons (CFC’s) nonetheless.

Maybe our country should also make moves towards other forms of renewable energy like wind, geothermal, and solar power generation. In fact, this is the contention that environmental advocacy group World Wildlife Fund Philippine chapter has urged, by pushing for the passage of the long stagnating Renewable Energy Bill.

The bottomline is that the Philippines’ clean air has now become a valuable resource, one that we could trade in the global market in the form of carbon credits. It now makes economic sense for us to be ecologically-sound and environmentally friendly. (Not to mention that with or without economic reasons, we really should be protecting and conserving our natural resources). Therefore, both our government and our private sectors should work towards harnessing this valuable resource. Wouldn’t you agree?

It’s for the Kids June 19, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.


That is the headline spelled out by the June 4, 2007 edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which boldly declared that our country is facing a serious educational systems breakdown and crisis.

The article reports that out of 10 students entering Grade 1, 6 of these will complete the elementary course, 4 will get through high school and 2 will enter college. It is not even known if these 2 who enter college will go on to graduate, or get employed.

According to official statistics made by the Department of Education, our country needs to hire, build and acquire 16,390 teachers, 6,406 classrooms, 2.4 million chairs and 11.9 textbooks. Nationwide, 267 barangays do not have elementary schools to educate their children.

In the Philippines, over 4 million children are victims of child labor and half of them are exposed to hazardous conditions; about 100,000 children are abused every year; 300,000 children roam the streets; 3 out of 10 drop out of elementary school; and 1 out of 5 has a form of disability.

You and I are privileged in the sense that we went to good schools and universities back when we were kids. We were given chances that underprivileged children will never get. We had allowances and baon, drivers who would bring us to school, and parents who could afford to buy us the latest notebooks which had the faces of our favorite cartoon characters and artistas. We will never know what it’s like to carry your own chair to school. We will never know what it’s like to skip going to school for one semester just so that we could work and send our younger siblings to elementary.

I think it’s good if we gave something back to show how grateful we are for the opportunities that other children never had. You can give time, money and resources… every little bit counts.

For example, little people like you and me who cannot afford to give lavishly, nor spend time on other people, can get involved in small ways that won’t hurt the wallet. We can subscribe to Unicef’s 2800 text program. For P2.50 a week, your donation can go a long way towards combating illiteracy and providing funds and resources to poor but deserving schools. Now imagine if let’s say 2 million Filipinos subscribed to this service, that’s P5 million weekly going to our poor school children. All that from P2.50 which you will forego from sending corny forwards and answering “k” to a question.

If you a feel a lot more generous, you could also participate in the Ayala Foundation’s Children’s Hour program. Think about it, how much of your time is really spent for work? You take a paid 15 minute coffee break, twice a day for 30 minutes. You spend 5 minutes booting on your computer, 10 minutes in the comfort room, and another 15 minutes getting ready to leave the office. That’s one hour spent doing nothing which you are getting paid for. Why not at least donate that one hour for these children? That’s one hour of your time that you can spend to make a difference. For Cebuanos, the Children’s Hour donation box is located right in front of the Ayala Cinema ticket booth.

There’s also your coins and your pocket change. When you eat at fastfood establishments, or buy office supplies from National Bookstore, chances are you will be given a very heavy load of coins as change for your purchases. Why not lighten your pockets, wallets and hearts and give those coins to charity? McDonald’s has a small dropbox that goes to its Foundation, which uses the proceeds thereof to build homes and provides funds for public schools. Orange Brutus has a tin can that’s used for a children’s cancer foundation. National Bookstore has the same tin can for the Bantay Bata program.

Do you have a book at home that you don’t read anymore? Perhaps old editions of National Geographic or Reader’s Digest that’s taking up space and being a fire hazard? Textbooks from the time you were still in Grade 5? Believe it or not, some child out there would love to get their hands on those books and magazines that you don’t want anymore. Go to the nearest SM department store and participate in the SM Foundation’s Donate-A-Book program. This campaign has collected 2,287,964 books from generous tenants, shoppers, schools and publishing companies through the Donate-A-Book campaign. These books were distributed to 8,660 public high schools, elementary, provincial and barangay libraries, as well as Day Care Centers nationwide. Cash donations will also go to the different government-run day care centers to help them upgrade their facilities and improve their educational materials. Cash donors may opt to deposit their donations at Banco De Oro Account No. 15000 70694.

Or maybe you are a pious churchgoer who is zealous about lighting candles to pray for your petitions? Instead of using that money to light crudely-made candles that burn out after 5 minutes, why not let your prayer be heard by lighting a flame in some poor child’s soul? For instance, in Redemptorist Church here in Cebu City, there’s a big wooden box right beside the icon of St. Therese of Lisieux (the little Child of Jesus), which goes to the Sick and the Poor. Part of this money will also be used by the Redemptorists to provide scholarships for deserving poor children. Indeed, the Lord said that nothing pleases Him more than a sinner who gives with a joyous heart. It helps burn off all the weight you acquired from years of accumulated sin.

Perhaps you’re the manager of a small or medium-sized business entity. Or even better, perhaps you’re the COO of a large family business. (COO is short for “Child of Owner”). Maybe you’re thinking of donating something but you’re worried that donations are bad for business. It doesn’t have to be so! In fact, the government passed a tax law in 2003 that allows you to get a 150% tax deduction to donations made to public schools in the government’s Adopt-a-School program. That means that for every peso you donate to the public school, the government will allow you to deduct P1.50 off from your gross income, which will be used in computing your taxes. In effect, instead of using this money to pay your taxes (which I know you hate to do), you could instead help a needy child to go to school and deprive some greedy politician out of his pork barrel at the same time.

It takes only one peso of our money, one hour of our wasted time, one book that we won’t use anymore, to make a difference in one child’s life. Make that difference today and give that child a shot at the opportunities that we were given when we were growing up. Let’s, you and I, get involved in sending a child to school!

A State Within a State June 17, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics.

There’s a blog somewhere here in the Internet that reacted quite curiously to my entry, “The Necessary Evil.” It’s a blog maintained by a Manile├▒o armchair political analyst, with a cut-and-paste commentary on my explanations as to why Cebuanos tend to be pro-administration.

What I found curious was that, despite my explanation, some people just don’t get the point. That blog and its own set of readers attacked my opinion, and Cebuano voters in general. It’s as if it’s a sin to be pro-administration. It’s as if it’s a crime to be different from Manila. I wasn’t even trying to say that my opinion is right. I was just trying to explain why most Cebuanos are pro-administration.

Now I don’t mind people having an opposing viewpoint from mine, just as long as they respect my viewpoint and don’t try to assert the old “You’re wrong because I’m right” line of reasoning. I’m one of those who believe that I have my own opinion and you have yours, so let’s keep it that way. I will listen what you have to say, and I appreciate it if you would listen to mine. If someone does prove to me that I’m wrong, I’m usually quick to concede, “Yeah, you do have a point.” But please, if you have a point to make, say it nicely. A boorish line of argument does not impress anyone. The last time I checked, ad hominem attacks are only fair in debates held at children’s playgrounds and at fish markets. Ironically, these particular readers are reacting the same way that they’re accusing GMA of reacting to her criticisms. With a belligerent and condescending attitude.

What I also don’t appreciate is that the blog is insinuating that Cebuanos are pro-administration for the sake of being contrary to “Imperial Manila”. What I disliked the most was that one of the blogs readers even went so far as questioning the Cebuano voting populace’s intelligence because we support a mayor with a boorish attitude.

If anything, this kind of argument only serves to strengthen the bias we Cebuanos have against people from Manila who think their opinions are the only ones that matter, the same kind of people who think that the sun and moon sets only on the National Capital Region. I agree, this Cebuano stereotyping of Manile├▒os is unfair, because not everyone in the NCR is that myopic. But every now and then, someone comes up to reinforce the stereotype.

What I hate the most is that some people even insist that there’s some sort of rivalry going on between Manila and Cebu. We’re compared to being the blue and red states, akin to the North and South of the United States.

Speaking as a Cebuano who has lived in Manila and who repeatedly travels to Manila, I speak against such rivalry. Please. We will NEVER be able to compete with the NCR in terms of political power, as well as, economic and financial activity. The rate of power plays and the fluidity of money in Manila is staggering. Cebu will never hope to even be within the level of activity that Manila enters into day by day.

And you know what? Thank God we never will! The way I see it, it’s this quick change of power and money which causes the heightened sense of paranoia and helplessness among Manile├▒os, the feeling that they don’t have any control over the situation. You won’t find that here in Cebu, where the pace of life and business is quite slow, sedate, but sure. We like the way things are in our city and province. We like the fact that we are probinsyanos… a big city that will always be a small town. We will never be as rich nor as powerful as Manila and we’re okay with that.

If there’s one statement in that particular blog that I subscribe and agree to, it’s the fact that Manila sees Cebu as a State within a State. Frankly speaking, we wish we could be that ourselves, kind of like the way Hong Kong is to China. That’s why Cebuano politicians often lobby for a federal government or for more empowerment to non-NCR regions. Why? Because Cebu is self-sustaining. To a certain extent, we are insulated from whatever happens in Manila because we are not dependent on the national government for support. In fact, the rough estimate is that for every peso that the Cebu government remits to Manila, only 10 centavos go back to us as our share in the national budget. Rally all you want in Mendiola, or get scared about uprisings and coups. In Cebu, life goes on.

In fact, this is why most Cebuanos are tolerant of the President, notwithstanding all that’s been said and done about her. She’s been good to Cebu, and if you’ve seen how good our economy has become, you’d be supportive of her too. She’s the first President after a long time that has recognized that Cebu and Manila are partners in our country’s development. She supports a devolution of administrative and political powers in favor of the outlying provinces. She built a Malaca├▒ang in the South in our very own shores. She can speak our language fluently. Would you blame us then for being supportive of her? GMA is addressing the Cebuano’s need to be recognized and accepted as an independent economic power of the Philippines, and she identifies herself as a probinsyano just like us. She speaks Tagalog funny, just like us. She is throwing projects and development our way, and in a way that allows us to support our brothers and sisters in the Visayas. Bohol, Leyte, and the nearby provinces of Western Visayas are benefiting from the boom in Cebu, since we are eager to link up and share our tourists and resources with them.

We are well aware of all the protests and charges against her, and yes, we acknowledge that there are very valid and legal grounds for such protests. But you have to understand that in the Cebuano culture, we don’t like to rock the boat unless we must. We are a very community-oriented region and people who speak out and dissent are treated with skepticism and wariness. That’s just who we are, and that kind of group oriented mentality works for us. So please, respect the Cebuano opinion for what it is. We just do not see things the way you Manile├▒os do.

(Caveat… not all Cebuanos feel the same way that I do, although it’s pretty fair to say that most Cebuanos subscribe to my viewpoint, as proven by the recent results in the Senatorial votes. There are, in fact, a lot of pro-opposition sentiments among people my age, but as compared to Manila, these pro-opposition protesters are not as many.)

So, allow me to be so presumptuous as to speak in behalf of all Cebuanos everywhere. What do we really want from Manila? Respect us for who we are. We are different from you, and we like it that way. We don’t want to compete with you and we are not trying to be contrary to anything you hold, for the sake of being contrary. Cebu marches to its own drummer, and we won’t let Manila dictate our cadence for us. Sometimes, we agree on similar points, and sometimes we don’t. But nevertheless respect our point of view. Isn’t it a fact that variety is the spice of life?

In closing, I would like to stress that Cebuanos and Manile├▒os are cut from very different fabrics, but not necessarily in a way that negates one from the other. I would like to cite the fact that having lived in Manila (with a close circle of all-Manile├▒o friends) and as someone who frequently travels in and out of the NCR, I’ve observed very interesting cultural differences between Cebuanos and Manile├▒os:

1) Cebuanos are laid-back while Manile├▒os are always in a hurry. In Manila, money and power is quick to change hands. You can also notice this in most Manila malls. Most people are carrying shopping bags. They’re in a hurry to go from one place to another. In Cebu, people take their own sweet time in doing things. Well, that’s both a good and bad thing. Manile├▒os often complain that Cebuanos are unprofessional because it takes us a long time to finish or decide on anything. But on the flip side of that, Cebuanos don’t like to be rushed in making decisions because we like to think things out before making a commitment. Haste makes waste, as the adage goes.

2) Cebuanos and Manile├▒os have a very different sense of humor. Forgive me for saying so, but I find the average Manile├▒o joke very bland. When hanging out with friends from Manila, I’m often surprised why they suddenly burst out laughing. Oftentimes, I just don’t get what the joke was. As pointed out by a Manile├▒o friend, kaming mga Cebuano ay mahilig mang-asar. Our sense of humor has a touch of crassness and pang-masa appeal to it. If you watched the old Bubble Gang series, that sense of humor comes closest to Cebuano jokes.

3) Cebuanos have a more bohemian sense of fashion while Manile├▒os are very sharp dressers. For the average Cebuano male, anything that requires wearing a collar is already formal attire. Long sleeved shirts are for people who really are serious about dressing up. You can wear t-shirts, jeans and rubber shoes to almost any Cebuano establishment and you’d fit right in with the crowd. We don’t like to dress up. Now compare that with the Makati/Ortigas crowd, where women who are just hanging out having a beer will come dressed to the nines, accompanied by metrosexual men with highlights on their hair, and the latest fashionable pair of jeans. A typical Cebuano would balk at wearing expensive Havaianas while in Manila people go in droves to buy designer tsinelas.

4) Cebuanos are spendthrifts while Manile├▒os are very driven consumers. It’s a little known marketing fact that Cebu is the test ground for most new products and brands on the market. If it will sell in Cebu, it’s sure to be a hit anywhere else. Cebuanos must have value for their money. They do not like to spend money on something that’s not worth buying. But I’ve noticed that in Manila, you can set up just about any kind of food stall and any kind of specialty store and chances are it will sell like hotcakes. It’s hard to push products in Cebu. We are loathe to part with our hard earned money.

5) On average, Cebuano taxi drivers are more honest and respectful. Plus, they don’t ask for tips. If they have the money, they will give you exact change.

6) Manile├▒os are better partygoers than Cebuanos. We don’t have anything that comes close to Embassy. We have some bars and clubs here and there, but we’ll never be able to compete with the Manila night life. Again, our nightlife is more laidback and sedate. We prefer to just drink beer, talk and listen to live music. Most of our bars don’t charge an entrance fee and our beer is cheaper. The Manila party scene is a lot more interesting and their partygoers there a lot more hardcore.

7) Our food and cost of living is cheaper. But our average salary rate is also lower. I would be making a lot more money as a lawyer if I were living in Manila.

8) The proportion of women smokers from non-smokers is much, much bigger in Manila than in Cebu. In Manila, it’s commonplace to find droves of women having a cigarette break both in work and in school. In Cebu, although women smokers are not rare, still, they are pretty uncommon.

9) Cebuanos find it easier to speak English than Tagalog. And at the risk of drawing ire from Manile├▒o readers, I’d have to say that the average Cebuano speaks English better than the average Manile├▒o. The Visayan language is guttural and hard, while the Tagalog language is softer and more nasal. We Cebuanos resent the fact that we are forced to learn “Filipino,” and I speak as someone who had dismal grades in Araling Panlipunan during my elementary years and yet for some reason, Social Studies in high school was one of my best subjects. Despite the fact that “Filipino” is slowly adding other regional words to its grammar, nothing will ever change the fact that its intonation and base language will always be Tagalog, which we Visayans find infernally hard to pronounce and understand. (Present company excluded… I am a fluent Tagalog speaker, after having lived in the US. But in my childhood, I cannot speak the damn language straight and had dismal grades in Filipino and Araling Panlipunan… just like all my other classmates.) That is why we Cebuanos are staunch advocates of a straight English curriculum… because the English language is easy for us to pronounce, for some linguistic reason.

10) I love the cultural and cuisine diversity in Manila… it’s hard to find the different flavors and textures here in Cebu. It’s only recently that Cebu has had an explosion of different kinds of cuisine. For the longest time, we’ve only had barbecue stations, Ding Qua Qua dimsum, and Sunburst Fried Chicken. But then again, where in Manila can you find dimsum steam rice, puso, ngohiong and Cebuano lechon?

The Law of the Playground June 11, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics.
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I think the Philippines and its leaders would be better off if we all just remembered one unalterable rule from kindergarten:  Play nice, dear.

┬á In particular, I am referring to the latest fiasco involving Mayor Tomas Osme├▒a, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Lahug Barangay Captain Mary Ann de los Santos.┬á When I look at those three squabbling I see three little children fighting over an ice cream cone, arguing that one child took a bigger lick than what was fair and agreed upon, while the other would say, “Nuh-uh!┬á YOU took a bigger lick, not me!”┬á And so on and so forth, until the three start pelting stones at themselves, not noticing that the ice cream cone is melting and not a single one of them got to fully enjoy the frozen treat.

 Basically,  the latest cause of misery is the Barangay Lahug Elementary School.  The story is this:

┬áMary Ann┬á de los Santos is the barangay captain of Lahug, and was a staunch supporter of former mayor Alvin Garcia, who is the incumbent mayor Tomas Osme├▒a’s bitter rival.┬á Thus, during the term of Osme├▒a, de los Santos whined that she never got any project because of the incumbent mayor’s petty vendetta against anybody who dares oppose him.┬á So, during the last elections, rather than let Osme├▒a run unopposed, de los Santos decided, together with Garcia’s son Raymond, to run for office as Mayor, with Raymond Garcia as her Vice-mayor.

De los Santos was doomed to fail, of course.  Osmeña is just too crafty and too popular to be beaten at the polls.  So, de los Santos lost fair and square and went back to her barangay to lick her wounds.  Unfortunately, like a bitter woman scorned and rebuffed, de los Santos had to pass around a letter that both thanked the constituents of Lahug for their staunch devotion and support during the last 2007 elections, and complain that Tomas Osmeña never gave any projects in favor of Barangay Lahug.

This last statement particularly irked our onion-skinned Mayor because it wasn’t true.┬á He did have funds allocated for Barangay Lahug, but the thing was that he did not have these funds pass through the scrutiny and control of de los Santos and her baranggay council, such was his vendetta against any Garcia supporter.┬á In particular, Osme├▒a, through the City Council, was bankrolling the construction of a new building in Barangay Lahug Elementary School.┬á However, because of Mary Anne’s latest statement, Osme├▒a decided to have the construction halted and refused to disburse a single centavo on the project until Mary Ann de los Santos retracted her statement and apologized to the Mayor, which is, of course, a woman with de los Santos’ pride would never do.┬á She would rather start a “Piso para sa Barangay Lahug Elementary School” fund drive rather than bow before the mayor, and start one she did.

In comes Gov. Gwendolyn┬á Garcia prancing like a white knight on a big white horse (almost like a White Castle Whiskey advertisement, except that the governor is wearing a suit of armor, not a skimpy red bikini), holding a Five Million Peso piece of salvation in her beatific arms, making a bold statement against the Mayor’s arrogance and power-gaming moves and having her wonderful hurrah for saving a poor wounded Cebu City barangay from the clutches of the evil mayor.

┬áTake note that I┬á emboldened the words “Cebu City barangay”, which is to say that it is NOT a part of Cebu Province, for the fact that Cebu City is a highly urbanized and independent city which, by law, does not have any claim to the budgetary allocation of Cebu Province.┬á In other words, Gov. Garcia arbitrarily chose to take funds from the Province’s treasury chest and poured it on a barangay which was NOT under her jurisdictional responsibility, to the prejudice of other poorer constituents of Cebu Province who are starving for the funding of equally important and deserving projects in their municipalities.┬á Funding, which, Gov. Garcia instead spent without a forethought to spite her nemesis, Mayor Tomas Osme├▒a, and paint a pretty picture of herself as a conquering hero, and the latter as a boorish bully.

So can you see the absurdity of it all?┬á Can you see how these three little children squabbling over their poor wounded egos are determining the course of public funds and government property for the use of a power-game against each other?┬á Who stands to lose from their pettiness?┬á It’s not them, it’s you and me, the constituents of both Cebu City and Cebu Province.

When Mayor Osme├▒a decided NOT to release the funds of Barangay Lahug Elementary School, who was the real victim?┬á It wasn’t Mary Ann de los Santos and her damn pride, it was the school children of Barangay Lahug and their poor and improverished parents, who became the victims of yet another Osme├▒a vendetta against any voices of dissent who dare challenge his authority as mayor.

When Governor Garcia chose to divert provincial funds into city property, who stood to lose from the move?  Mayor Osmeña can, sooner or later, get over any affronts to his ego, but should it be at the cost of spending money on a city that has more than enough funds to take care of itself over a lot more other constituent cities and municipalities of Cebu Province with barely a dime to spend on improving their roads or educating their children?

When Brgy. Capt. de los Santos sent that inflammatory letter and when she refuses to lower her pride and admit that she was wrong, did she even stop to think about the consequences of her needless uprising against Tomas?┬á Knowing that the Mayor was onion-skinned and vindictive, does she have to keep rubbing her rebellion and┬á her “look at me, I’m the underdog” attitude before the media?┬á Would it take so much just to say “I’m sorry, can we start all over and try to fix this situation?” When the constituents of Brgy. Lahug are suffering in this mess, she has an equal blame on the fiasco as with the Mayor.

Playground rules, ladies and gentlemen, that’s all it takes to solve this mess.┬á Play nice.┬á You’ll get your turn on the swings.┬á Don’t go too fast on the see-saw, you might hurt the child on the other end.┬á Don’t steal your classmate’s sandwich.┬á I know you’re right, but can you say “I’m sorry” anyway?

These are very basic and very simple laws of engagement.┬á If they can work for little children, I’m sure they’d be equally effective on government officials who act like little children.

But where’s my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Winnie Gante, and her big wooden ruler when┬á you really need her?

Iba na ang mga Bata Ngayon June 9, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Seriously now….
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Nota bene: This particular entry was written by my good friend Mia Borja, a former corporate princess of the business outsourcing world, thrust by responsibility and duty back to her hometown of Iligan, where she supports herself and her family by teaching at the Mindanao State University.  May this paint a real picture of the lives and hopes of our brothers and sisters in the province.

I remember saying that the first time I taught in a classroom. “Iba na ang mga bata ngayon.” I said it when I was barely 22. Now, four years later, I still find myself saying the same thing, but meaning it differently. So much differently.

One can easily blame the internet, free porn, SMS, Kris Aquino, or those questionable “stars” on Pinoy Big Brother. My classes this semester easily look like a reflection of that thought: 320 wide-eyed, horribly impressionable, amazingly troubled teens divided into 6 classes, all held in the most dilapidated (and certainly the hottest) buildings of the campus.

Yesterday was my university’s first day of school. I surveyed my classroom and I must say, it’s always an interesting sight. I teach no less than 40 students per room, and I usually expect the usual combination of Muslims, pretty private school girls, “astig” public school kids, punks, hip-hop boys, and some international/half-something kids.

But yesterday was a different yesterday.

I took a look at the sea of faces frantically fanning themselves in the lunchtime heat and thought that I would once again embark on an uphill climb; teaching these kids English they may never use, correcting pronunciation of words that they barely need, or conversation skills they will hastily put away at the end of the sem. So, resigned to that fact, I checked attendance and asked where these kids where from.

I was shocked to hear many of their stories. Only when I called attendance did I realize the harsh truth about what many of my kids really go through just to get an education. The usual introduction went like this:

“Hi, my name is Gail. I’m a graduate from ____ High School from Zamboanga del Norte. It takes me 24 hours to go there from here. I have to ride 5 buses to get to my home town.”

“Hello, my name is Steven. I’m a graduate of _____ and I am a scholar. My father was a policeman who got shot. My mother, I don’t know where she is. I am here with my 2 younger brothers, and I want to be an engineer someday.”

“Hi, my name is Lorreymae. I am a scholar here in Mindanao State University. My father sent me here, because he said it was like Ateneo.”

“My name is Jo Ruel…I live an hour from here but I have to live with my aunt here. I hope that you will not assign many xerox expenses ma’am, because I do not have enough money for the jeep sometimes.”

“Hi, I am Arbi, and I am a scholar. I walk here everyday. My mother, she is in Hong Kong but I have to be a scholar because she cannot give enough money for me and my three sisters.”

I knew from the beginning that my students, being in a public school, would usually come from the lower ends of the social spectrum. But as to how low, I would still be amazed. A 23-unit semester costs only 2000 pesos at most, and yet many of them still have to be scholars because 2000 is a figure that is still far too much for their families. There were almost a hundred students of mine who were literally from the mountains where they barely had electricity and where they had to carry baon in banana leaves to school. Some where from lumad tribes, who were forced to come down to the city by their elders because their lands had been taken from them. Some of them had seen armed conflict and had their barangays burned down. Some easily admitted to having friends in rogue extremist armies. Their parents sold calamansi and salt in the market. All of them had a story to tell.

These kids were the stuff I would only see in documentaries and ethnic spectacles.

Someone once told me that the Philippines was a rich country pretending to be poor. I could’ve slapped reality in his face today. The Philippines is not pretending to be anything. We are poor. We are very poor. If that person could have the balls to trade one day of his air-conditioned life for an hour in suffocating heat with my kids, maybe then he would never again gripe at the pseudo-mess his life was in. There are bigger decisions in life, much bigger than having the cafe latte or the mochaccino. Much bigger than which Havaianas to wear tomorrow. Much bigger than my broken heart.

One cannot look at these kids’ trusting eyes and say they were not shaken.

These kids make me ashamed of complaining about why I can’t go to Boracay next month, or why I can’t find my way back to the private corporate ladder. These kids show me the face of poverty everyday at 7:30 in the morning, lest I forget that the latest eyeshadow palette can easily pay for their entire semester’s tuition. Everytime I come across colleagues who have made a way better life for themselves in big cities while drinking martinis, I now have slowly stopped wishing I had their “fabulous, glamourous” existence.

These kids make me feel small, shallow, and hollow. How I wished I never had them in my class so I never would have to face the truth about poverty. How I wish I could ignore the brittle hair, the tattered shoes, the faded and oversized t-shirts they wore. Their struggles make my neurosis superficial; they make my quarterlife crisis seem luxurious.

Now I am branded with an inconvenient conscience and I am afraid.

As a public school teacher, I am afraid I cannot deliver. I am afraid that by September, that by next year, that in four years, their lives will still not be any different than today’s. That they will not be able to make ends meet; after all, poverty typically breeds poverty.

There is so much to fear, but fear is a luxury no one in my classroom can afford. If they can carry a bayong-full of clothes and topload on a jeep down to this university, then I could very well probably step up and teach them a thing or two about job interviews and how to carry a decent conversation.

Iba na talaga ang mga bata ngayon. They are poorer, hungrier, and much more disillusioned than before. But they are also tougher, more determined, and more eager to alleviate their lives because they know the cold truth: no one will help them do so. Not the government. Not the fancy charity events. Not NGO’s who brag about being “youth empowerment” and do not deliver. Not peace relief organizations that have yet to have something to show.

So they take it upon themselves to ride 5 buses and 3 habal-habals for 24 hours just to sit in infuriatingly hot classrooms where they might at least see a faint glimmer of hope. They are different.

They are amazing.

Rewording the Jurat and the Acknowledgment June 8, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
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It seems like the Supreme Court is in another case-dismissing spree as I have heard of cases being dropped because of something a lot would consider as a trivial technicality, one of them in our very own law firm. The reason?

Failure to comply with the 2004 Rules of Notarial Practice, specifically Rule IV, Section 2(b), which says that a person shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved as signatory to the instrument or document is either (1) not in the notary’s personal presence at the time of notarization; AND (2) is not otherwise known to the notary public or otherwise identified by the notary public through competent evidence of identity, as defined by the Rules.

Rule II, Section 12 of the same Rules defines competent evidence of identity as, “the identification of an individual based on (a) at least one current identification document issued by an official agency bearing the photograph and signature of the individual; or (b) the oath or affirmation of one credible witness not privy to the instrument, document or transaction who is personally known to the notary public and who personally knows the individual, or of two credible witnesses neither of whom is privy to the instrument, document or transaction who each personally knows the individual and shows to the notary public documentary identification.”

For paragraph (a), the current identification document refers to an I.D. issued by government agencies, such as the Driver’s License, the SSS I.D., the Postal I.D., the passport, and any other official identification card that bears the picture and signature of the person. NOTE: the Community Tax Certificate (CTC’s) does NOT come within the definition of a competent evidence of identity.

In other words, we lawyers and notaries public now have to change the way our jurats and acknowledgments are worded, with a specific mention that we either have personal knowledge of the person attesting before our presence, or that such affiant is identified through competent evidence of identity, with a specific mention as to what I.D. was used, when it was issued, etc.

For example, an Acknowledgment of an attestator who is personally known to the Notary Public:

BEFORE ME, a Notary Public, in Cebu City, this June 8, 2007, personally appeared the Magnificent Atty. Perez, personally known to me to be the same person who executed the foregoing Memorandum of Support which he acknowledged before me as his free and voluntary act and deed and that of Magnificent Bastards Inc., whom he represents as its Attorney-in-fact with full authority to sign in that capacity.

June 8, 2007. Cebu City.

(Notice that since the attestator is personally known to the notary public, his “competent evidence of identity” is no longer needed?)

Another example is a jurat where an affiant is identified by two credible witnesses:

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me in Cebu City on June 8, 2007 by the Magnificent Atty. Perez, who has satisfactorily proven to me his identity through Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo, who is personally known to me and who personally knows the principal, that he is the same person who executed and personally signed the foregoing affidavit before me and acknowledged that he executed the same.

Note that for this to be valid, (1) the witnesses, Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo, must be personally known by the Notary Public; (2) the affiant, the Magnificent Atty. Perez, must be known by the witnesses; (3) the witnesses are not privy to the instrument, document or transaction; and (4) the witnesses must make an oath or affirmation. This means that the fourth requirement will need ANOTHER oath and affirmation to cover Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo, WHO must now present their documentary identification, which will state:

WE, JUDY ANN SANTOS and RYAN AGONCILLO, both of legal age, Filipino citizens, single, and residents of 13 Balete Drive, Metro Manila, and 21 Jump St., Ormoc City, respectively, affirm under the penalty of law that:

1) The Magnificent Atty. Perez, the principal making the acknowledgment is the same person named in the Memorandum of Support;

2) The Magnificent Atty. Perez is personally known by the undersigned;

3) The Magnificent Atty. Perez does not possess a current identification document issued by an official agency as required by Sec. 12(a), Rule II of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice;

4) There is reasonable belief of the undersigned witnesses that due to the Magnificent Atty. Perez’s circumstances, namely that he is in hiding for impregnating a very jealous gun owner’s wife, it would be very difficult or impossible for him to obtain the required official identification document;

5) The undersigned witnesses are not privy to the Memorandum of Support presented and signed;

6) The undersigned have presented their respective valid identification documents issued by an official agency, to wit:

JUDY ANN SANTOS, with Senior’s Citizen I.D. No. 88997, valid until ______.

RYAN AGONCILLO, with Drivers License No. 25448, valid until _______.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have hereunto affixed our signatures on June 8, 2007 in Cebu City, Philippines.

(sgd) Judy Ann Santos (sgd) Ryan Agoncillo

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me, etc.

There are actually various mutations and permutations of these new notarial acts. I’m using the book authored by Justice Regalado E. Maambong called “Primer on the Rules of Notarial Practice” which you can buy at National Bookstore.