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The Fern and the Bamboo August 21, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer.
4 comments

I would like to repost a beautiful forward that my mom sent to me. (You got to love mothers. They have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing when their kids need moral support.)

I don’t normally pass out forwarded messages, but sometimes they come out with beautiful gems like these that really know how to uplift one’s spirit. And yes, lawyers, just like most people, can easily get demoralized too. Even the magnificent ones. 😛


Don’t give up…..

 

One day I decided to quit…
I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality… I wanted to quit my life.
I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.

 

“God”, I asked, “Can you give me one good reason not to quit?”
His answer surprised me…
“Look around”, He said. “Do you see the fern and the bamboo?”

 

“Yes”, I replied.
“When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them.

 

I gave them light.
I gave them water.

 

The fern quickly grew from the earth.

 

Its brilliant green covered the floor.

 

Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.
In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful.
And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on
the bamboo. He said.
“In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed.
But I would not quit.
In year four, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. I would
not quit.” He said.

 

“Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant…But just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall.

 

It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive.

 

I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.”
He asked me. “Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots”.
“I would not quit on the bamboo.

 

I will never quit on you.”
“Don’t compare yourself to others.”

 

He said.

 

“The bamboo had a different Purpose than the fern.

 

Yet they both make the forest beautiful.”
“Your time will come”, God said to me.

 

“You will rise high”
“How high should I rise?”
I asked.
“How high will the bamboo rise?” He asked in
return.
“As high as it can?” I questioned.
“Yes.” He said, “Give me glory by rising as high as you can.”
I left the forest and brought back this story.
I hope these words can help you see that God will never give up on you.
Never, Never, Never Give up.
For the Christian Prayer is not an option but an opportunity.
Don’t tell the Lord how big the problem is,
tell the problem how Great the Lord is!

 

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Wet and North – Day 1 August 18, 2007

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

I’m at the rather noisy and crowded domestic terminal of Cebu Pacific Airlines, looking out at a muggy rainy morning in Manila. The solitary ham and cheese croissant paired off with a tetra-pack of iced coffee fails to quell the rumbling of my rather famished stomach.I am sleepy because I had insomnia last night. I left my wristwatch and cellphone charger over at my friend Blake’s house (where I was staying during my trip there). My trip back to Cebu has been delayed for an hour and the overall surroundings are as somber as my mood.

But all things considered, it has been a good and productive trip up North at our fair nation’s National Capital Region. I was assigned here to follow up on a client’s *long inhale of breath* Petition for Correction of Clerical Errors on Petitioner’s Birth Certificate Through Republic Act No. 9048, and so far, I’ve accomplished that task. Never mind if my trip there could have easily been averted through a simple phone call to the Civil Registrar of XX City, I will just disregard the fact that some government offices haven’t caught up with the wonders of facsimile machines.

Still, interesting things always happen to me whenever I am in Manila. My trips this year alone have been ones for the records. Last May, I was in the legal staff of a Senatorial candidate and was billeted at the hotel which in one case, “has bore mute witness to the triumphs and failures, loves and frustrations of the Filipinos; its existence is impressed with public interest; its own historicity associated with our struggle for sovereignty, independence and nationhood.” (Incidentally… the food at that hotel was just yecchhh.) Then last July, a couple of friends paid for my fare and lodgings and had me fly over to Manila just so that I could run a weekend campaign of Game of Thrones.

This August found me, among other things, on an LRT adventure, a wedding misadventure, a long talk with my kids, and finally, a long talk with my host family.

The LRT adventure, courtesy of the fact that I was on a tight budget, refers to my hasty jump aboard the bonny LRT 1, as as I hopped from the Taft station up towards the Central station. Now I don’t mind mass commute, mind you, but not when I don’t know where I’m headed and I’m crammed into an overstuffed coach full of strangers with no convenient handle to latch on to. Now I know what a can of Señorita sardines feel like… or a New York subway commuter! But that’s what I did, with many a long consultation with the LRT map and with even longer interrogations of the subway police. Fortunately, I got to Central station without fanfare, making my way down to Earth and figuring out where the heck the City Hall (or more precisely, the Civil Registry) was.

Thus, I walked down the bonny streets of Manila City with a scenic view of the KKK mural on my right (and no, my American readers, not THAT KKK. I mean the organization that had such magnificent Philippine heroes now contained in our local currency and nearly defunct postage stamps: Aguinaldo, Bonifacio, Rizal, and some militant carabaos.) To my left lay the scenic walls of Intramuros, where my friend’s organization’s head office is located, the one rumored to be inhabited by dead Spanish friars that float above you whilst you lay sleeping in bed and have weird dreams about sacristans. I wanted to go there, knock on the door and say, “Who you gonna call??” then run off giggling like a crazy lawyer who has been cooped up too long in the LRT.

Eventually, I got to the City Hall and was greeted with a flurry of people and activity. By sheer luck, the first door I entered into immediately led me to the Office of the Civil Registrar. Apparently, so many people were having problems with their birth certificates, marriage licenses, marriage contracts, death certificates and what have you. Everybody looked like ants scurrying about looking for the right hole to crawl into as harried government employees did their best to transact official government business.

I eventually found the correct person to annoy, badger, intimidate, and eventually kneel down in front of and beg with matching tears and incoherent shrieks about the starving children of Africa until my case was attended to and solved. The problem? The Civil Registrar was requiring additional documents which I did not carry on my person. Apparently, the appropriate communication was supposed to be sent to Cebu City’s Civil Registrar (although never received by the latter), informing my client of what was lacking. Hooray. Government efficiency at its finest. Yet another problem that could have been immediately solved by a fax machine but wasn’t. Joy.

Fortunately, the transaction was finished. There was no more that I could do. I immediately made my way down the streets again and waited for a taxicab to show up along the road. Numerous unoccupied ones passed me by but didn’t attend to my apparent need for comfortable mass transport. Apparently, they too have heard of the dead Spanish friars that lay entombed inside Intramuros. I didn’t know that THAT many taxi drivers used to be sacristans.

I sighed wearily and made my way towards the LRT again. With another long talk with your friendly neighborhood LRT police, I got into yet another jam-packed trip to bliss and prayed that Spider-man will not come barreling down on our coach having a bitter fight with Doctor Octopus. I did not want to rely on the strength of his webbing to save my life.

Getting down the next stop (which sounded something like Someone Jose…. Doroteo Jose? Fernando Jose? Marimar?), I surveyed the area around me and tried to figure out where the other train was that was supposed to take me to Quezon City. Spotting a cab, I thought “To hell with that!”, flagged the bugger and rode in relative comfort and bliss all the way to a church, where some people that I’ve never met where getting married.

My friend Blake, who was my host for my trip there, asked me to accompany him and his mom (who was a principal sponsor of the said wedding), and help alleviate his boredom attending the wedding of perfect strangers. I arrived there in time just as the bridal procession was about to start and sat with Blake observing a fat ring-bearer waddling down the aisle and people going “Ohhhh… he’s so cute!!!” I was more entertained with the other ring-bearer… the skinny kid patiently waiting for the other ring-bearer to finish waddling down the aisle so that he could do his own walk and be done with his obligations to this wedding. What amused me was this kid’s barong… a see-through affair that did little to cover the poor guy’s upper torso. Only a poor innocent ring-bearer could get away with wearing a barong made from the same fabric as Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet. Wear that thing in court and the other lawyers would laugh at you. (“Haha. Look at the Magnificent Atty. Perez. The only thing you can see of his barong is his collar! Oh look, his sando has a big hole at the back. Haha!”) I pray that someone will spare the kid of the horrors of a photograph.

The mass was soon over, and after the obligatory pictures with the married couple’s principal sponsors, their family, their relatives, their friends, their orthodontists, their lawyers and their pets, we soon made our way towards the reception. More uncomfortable silence as Blake and I were seated right next to yet another set of perfect strangers, who were apparently close relatives of the bride wondering who the hell we were. I cheekily took a nearby appetizer and grinned shamelessly at them. “Oh, the bride looks so cute… I remember when she was only 10 years old and looked so lovely running around naked in the playground screaming ‘I AM THE LIZARD QUEEN!'”

(And no, I did not actually say that but part of me wishes that I did.)

To compound to our embarrassment, Blake and I were heavily engaged in a conversation involving biomechanic Filipino spaceships manned by an alien race patterned after thuggish kapres and controlled by engkantos, that we didn’t hear the wedding coordinator’s instructions that each table was to stand up when called, take their picture with the bride and groom and make their way down to the buffet table. All I saw was that people were lining up for food and then nudged Blake for him and I to follow suit. I might have missed the uncomfortable and shocked glare given by the people in Table No. 12 (where we were seated), as Blake and I boldly went where no man has gone before and joined the line prematurely to the buffet table. By the time that the first porkchop was on my plate, I horrifically realized my mistake as I heard the emcee shriek out “Hookehy, Teybol Number Payb… Come on Down!!! It’s your turn to get fed and pektyured!!!”

Explaining our predicament to Blake, we pondered what to do. It was too late to go back to our table since we already had porkchops, lasagna, soup and other comforting wedding reception food planted like damning evidence on our plate. Meanwhile, the residents of Table No. 12 (who apparently, all knew each other except us), looked like they were busy gossiping about us. (“Who are these people?? How rude!”)

And that was Day One.

I will blog about Day Two some other day, because I have to start dressing up for a formal dinner, and because the topic of Day Two requires some thoughtful and ponderous blogging.

I Know All There Is To Know About the Crying Game August 15, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Idiocy, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
19 comments

Dear Magnificent Atty. Perez,May a thousand winds fan you with cool breezes despite the heat of an unforgiving sun!

Good day! My name is Fazouk, I am a camel trader from Middle Eastern country. Around 8 months ago, I met this divine vision of loveliness from your country, a creature whom the angels have gifted with the name “Maricar.” She and I met through the wonders of cybersex on the Internet.

I pursued and courted Maricar for 4 months, communicating with each other through e-mail, chatting, webcam and phone calls, until eventually, I made the grand decision to fly all over to your beautiful country to finally meet my love. Do you believe in love at first sight, Attorney? That was how I felt when I first saw Maricar at the airport. She was literally the most beautiful girl that I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t wait to alone with her and ravish her with the burning passions of the Mideastern dessert.

Fortunately, during the third day of my stay in the Philippines, I finally got my chance. The walls of Jericho caved in for Fazouk and my Maricar found her sweet body on my soft hotel bed.

But that was where I learned the bitter truth, your Magnificence. May a thousand and one of Sulaiman’s djinns strike me blind, deaf, mute but not impotent!!! May a sandworm rise from the desert and eat all my camels, leaving behind nothing but precious spice!!! What is the truth, you may ask??? What is the bitter truth???

Maricar’s real name is MARIO CARUNGOY!!

Yes Attorney!!! Under the cruel fluorescent light of harsh reality, my lover could no longer hide her secrets, with her body laid bare and open to all scrutiny and so I had to ask, “What is THAT????!!!!!”

Oh the shame!! The shame!! My father is turning in his grave, grief stricken by the fallow turns of fate dealt upon his foolish son. However, Attorney, destiny has left me a greater sorrow when I realized that I cannot help it… I AM IN LOVE WITH MARICAR!!! Yes!!! Whoever he, she or it may be, I LOVE YOU MARICAR!! YOU COMPLETE ME! I’ve realized the truth… I cannot live without you! Oh the shame!!! May my father strike me dead!!!

These are my plans Attorney: First, I cannot accept the fact that Maricar’s sheesha pipe is bigger than that of my camel’s, so I am going to pay for her sex-change operation so that he, she, or it will finally become a REAL woman.

Second, I want to make Maricar happy by getting married in the Philippines, attended by all of his, her or it’s close family and friends. But will the Philippines legally recognize Maricar as my wife? Will it be alright to get married in a Catholic church when I am not even a Christian?

If this is not possible, can we go somewhere else that will legally recognize our uhm… unusual marriage arrangements, like for example Amsterdam in the Netherlands? Will that be legally recognized?

Please help me Attorney… I have no one else to turn to!

Love hurts,

Fazouk the Camel Salesman

Dear Fazouk,

I sympathize with your predicament and may I just say that truly, there is a truism to Shakespeare when he wrote that “Love has its reason which reason does not know.” This fact was even recognized by the Supreme Court in the poignant case of Chua-Qua vs Hon. Jacobo Clave (G.R. No. L-4959, August 1990).

Unfortunately for you and your Mario Carungoy (erstwhile known as the lovely Maricar), the Philippines is quite adamant and strict in the interpretation of the law where no less than our Family Code has defined marriage as:

“A special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with the law for the establishment of conjugal and family life.”

Article 2 of the same law further requires the following essential requisites:

1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female, and;

2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.

So, needless to say my friend, if you do get married to your precious Maricar whether here or in another country, your union will not be recognized by the Philippines because under the eyes of our law, Maricar will always be a MAN, regardless of whether or not you will cut off his, her or its manhood and feed it to your camels. And in our country, a man could NOT marry another man. (And besides… you did not mention which country you come from, but isn’t it possible that in certain Middle Eastern countries, you and Maricar would get stoned to death for having that kind of marriage?)

So, whether or not Maricar will undergo a sex-change operation, in the eyes of Philippine law, Maricar will always be Mario Carungoy. Why? For your marriage to be valid, the law requires that Maricar should have been born as a woman, and not become a “woman” subsequently thereafter. This fact is explained by Article 1 of the Family Code when it provides that the purpose of marriage is for the establishment of conjugal and family life, or in other words… the biological procreation of children must have a shade of possibility from the onset of your marriage.

Finally, although it is already moot and academic at this point, I would like to state that had Maricar truly been a natural woman and not merely a “you make me feel like a natural woman”, it would have been alright for the two of you to get married in a Catholic church, even if you are not Catholic. Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Family Code provides that:

Marriage may be solemnized by:

xxx

2) Any priest, rabbi, imam, or minister of any church or religious sect and registered with the civil registrar general, acting within the limits of the written authority granted him by his church or religious sect and provided that at least one of the contracting parties belongs to the solemnizing officer’s church or religious sect;

I feel your pain and torment, Fazouk. I hope you and your Maricar will find happiness despite all the obstacles that the world will pin on your union. Whether or not such happiness will lie in each other’s arms, is a matter I don’t wish to judge. Everybody deserves to be happy, that is all I want to say. 8)

My friend Matet has a saying and I’m sure you’ll agree with me on this: “When the world hands you lemons…. grab some tequila and salt and call me over right away.”

Good luck Fazouk and may you find shade in an oasis far away from the sun.

Sincerely,

the Magnificent Atty. Perez

Shining Happy People August 13, 2007

Posted by Janjan in Uncategorized.
3 comments

 

(This is an actual t-shirt design of one of my favorite webcomic artists.

Please support the guy by buying his very cool merchandise. Thank you.)

Okay, I confess. I started blogging on WordPress without any clear idea of what I was getting into.

The more I get into blogging, it seems like the more entrenched I became with the blogging community. That never happened when I was still pounding away on Friendster blogs. Now on one hand, I find that very amusing. I for one never thought my views would ever see the light of day since I had no plans of advertising my blog with search engine optimization (except in one particular entry where I thought it would be amusing to see how many people I can redirect to my blog), but out of the blue, Manuel L. Quezon III cited three of my blog entries and I’ve been getting some attention ever since.

(As an aside, has anybody noticed that MLQ3’s blog is the most widely linked-to among Filipino bloggers? It’s like almost every blog written by a Filipino links up to this site. I think this is because MLQ3 shares the love by citing all our other obscure articles and blogs for his wide fanbase to discover. And then of course, there’s the decided prestige of being cited by THE Manuel L. Quezon III who is of course, a noted columnist and TV personality. MLQ3, if you’re reading this, it might amuse you to know that I bask off the light of YOUR magnificence by bragging to my friends that you’ve cited me THRICE! I’m shallow, yes I know. Forgive me. Hehehe)

On the other hand, attention can be a bad thing, especially when your views and opinions get clobbered online by people you’ve never met. It can be especially irritating when they get all judgmental on you as a person just because your opinions don’t match up with theirs. *sigh* It just goes to show that there’s no pleasing everybody. As much as I act all prideful and narcissistic, the truth is that I’m just putting on an act… something to entertain the people who find my delusions of grandeur entertaining. The truth is, I’m just pretending to be a Cebuano version of Denny Crane and Alan Shore. (Blatant fanboy plug: Boston Legal is airing this Wednesday on 10pm at StarWorld!!)

Fortunately for me, a lot of people get the self-deprecating humor that I try to inject my humor blog entries and this sets me apart from a lot of bloggers, the fact that I outrageously write deadpan entries that flip-flop between blatant narcissism and cheeky jabs at my own blatant narcissism. I mean, dude, come on… it takes a lot of balls to call myself the Magnificent Atty. Perez. Did you really think I would take myself seriously? I’m conscious of the fact that I’ll always be misinterpreted and that I’ll be held up to ridicule and mocked by my own supposed claim to fame.

And so be it.

As a lot of people can tell, I don’t particularly care so much for other people’s opinions of me, I never did. Even as a child, I’ve always been set-off and aloof from the rest of what others would consider as “cool” and “popular,” ever conscious of the fact that I’m not your average run of the mill kid. My classmates can attest that I’ve always marched to the tune of my own drummer, sometimes with a few violins short of an orchestra.

I’ve been fighting for my individuality with tooth, nail and claw. I’ve always walked the razor’s edge between orthodoxy and aberration… and it confuses people because they don’t understand where I’m coming from. For instance, my views have been against those who espouse rebellion against the Order, the Administration, the Man. I uphold the system because the system may not be perfect but it works. How can we build lasting change when everytime the system shows a flaw, we come tearing at the gates to replace it, rather than repair it? But see, people don’t get that. All they see is one man supporting a widely-accepted-as-unpopular President and using “practicality” of all things to defend his argument. Never mind if there is a semblance of sense in what I do say, cloaked between ribald humor and witty comebacks. People just don’t want to listen and understand. They want to see you bow down and recognize the common point of view, regardless if you find their reasoning absurd and illogical.

And yet, for one who rebels against the rebellion, my tools are very decidedly unorthodox and unconventional. As someone once said about me, “People are standing up and paying attention. You are making them see the other side of the coin, whether they want to or not.”

But see, the thing is that I’m not doing it to grab anyone’s attention. I’m not rebellious by nature, as evidenced by my preference to support “the Institution.” I’m not a rebel, I’m an individualist. I don’t do what I do or say what I say because I want to prove a point or to be contrary for the sake of being contrary. I do it because this is what I feel is the right thing that must be said or done, regardless of whether or not it’s the popular point of view. I switch between Right, Left and Center as I damn please, and no man has the right to say that I am not entitled to my opinion.

And this is where I say that I don’t want to be so firmly entrenched in the “blogosphere” (I still find that term unwieldy, even if I do blog) that I begin subscribing to the mass myopia I find some of my fellow bloggers indulging in. The minute we all lose sense of our own inner voice and what makes us different from each other is the minute that the purpose of blogging is defeated, and that purpose is self-expression, or as my classmate and fellow blogger Alfred keeps saying, “to whisper our thoughts to the universe.”

And that being said, I whisper my thoughts to the universe in the hopes that the universe will hear me and whisper back.

I’ve only wanted to say my piece, and for certain, I never expected that my words would reach so many ears.

Thank you so far for listening. I still don’t honestly know what I’m getting into by being myself in all my frailties, delusions and self-importance, without hiding my real identity behind the cloak of anonymity and pseudonyms. Sometimes you slapped me hard for saying something that you did not want to hear. But more often than not, you embraced me, laughed at my jokes, and pondered on my words.

And more often than not, I’m surprised that the world listens to the foolish ramblings of a deluded lawyer. There may be hope after all.

Waking Up When Others Go To Sleep August 13, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Seriously now….
1 comment so far

This is an old, old blog entry that I wrote exactly on Feb. 17, 2006, five minutes after I saw the newsflash about the Guinsaugon tragedy. I write this in comradeship to a fellow probinsyano and law practitioner who was born and raised in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte and who wrote a similar article about the incident.

—————–

Waking Up When Others Go To Sleep

“…and I saw my reflection on a snow-covered hill… the landslide brought it down… ah-hmmmm…”

‘Landslide’, Smashing Pumpkins

I was about to write about how morose I was feeling these past few days, pining away for an unrequited love, when a sudden news flash informed our household that a whole barangay in St. Bernard, Leyte was submerged entirely by an unexpected mudslide.

All thoughts about my own sorrow melted away as the TV flashed image upon image of survivors and corpses alike, their broken bodies slick with mud, their mouths spewing clods of dirt. The camera slowly panned around the area showing what once was a populated community full of buildings and structures, now hidden underneath a common grave of lopsided earth. Earlier that day, these people went about their lives not knowing about the impending disaster that lay claim to an estimated 3,000 lives.

This barangay had an elementary school full of children who are now buried underneath the soil, never knowing what it will be like to grow up, fall in love, have their hearts broken, and moon over lost relationships. This barangay had a woman’s league that was holding a party celebrating women’s rights, but instead of celebration, the day quickly turned into one for mourning.

Underneath all the mud lay countless homes and farms with families submerged under the same loam where they grew rice, fruits, and vegetables, the mudslide interrupting them while they were eating breakfast.

Tragedy strikes us unaware and those of us who peer from the haven of supposed safety can do nothing but cringe horror-struck at the sight of life lost so instantaneously. Some of us are morbidly grateful that, for now, they are not among those who have lost their lives, their homes, or the existence of those dear to them.

….and as quick as that mudslide, I am grateful for this hole in my heart that was once a gaping maw of emptiness, which minutes after the news flash, became the pain reminding me that I was alive to suffer a minute amount of humanity’s many tragedies.

I fear it took the loss of over three thousand lives to make me realize that my own pathetic one was still preciously worth living.

But such is the dark joke of irony. Today, a barangay and its many inhabitants lost their lives to a sudden disaster. A barangay located in a municipality named after St. Bernard, the patron saint of emergencies.

“…the landslide brought it down… ah-hmmm…”

Coming Soon! August 12, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer.
3 comments

A lot of my friends, being the loyal people that they are, are convincing me to write a column in a newspaper. (And by loyal, that means they’re trying to kiss ass in the hopes that I will buy them pizza. Thanks you guys! Love you too!) A good friend Kai-kai even went so far to say “Jan, why hasn’t anybody offered you to write a column yet???”

Why indeed.

(Incidentally, I brought Kai-kai to Abuhan the following day and fed her fish and adobong kangkong. Love you too Kai.)

Well… honestly guys, I would love to be a newspaper columnist. I’ve been involved in campus journalism ever since I was in the 6th grade, but seriously, I doubt the nation is ready for my brand of writing. I get enough weirdos as it is on the Net, with extreme reactions to my writing — they either love or hate my opinions with a passion bounding on obsession.  (And why is loving my opinions a bad thing, you may ask.  Well… have you ever seen the movie “Swim Fan”?  No?  How about Stephen King’s “Misery”?  You should.)

So yeah, that’s why I haven’t been offered my own column yet. Maybe the nation’s editors-in-chief are figuring out where to place me. Assuming of course, that they have read my blog, which is unlikely.

However, I would like to formally announce that my legal attacks on logic have captured the attention of a local FM radio station and this has led to me and my bespren Raymond being offered a radio show to air in Cebu. Like my blogs, the radio show will feature legal advice with a humorous twist.

Coming soon to a radio near you!

A Bajillionaire’s Guide to Simple Estate Planning August 7, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Idiocy, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
13 comments

Dear Magnificent Atty. Perez,

My name is Scrooge McDuck, a bonnie Scot mallard of the clan McDucks from Glasgow, Scotland. It pleases me to note that you are a quite learned and enthusiastic human lawyer for one your age (not to mention the fact that you give FREE legal advice), and though you have taken a penchant for educating the poor and underprivileged of society, may I inquire as to whether you would render your expert legal opinion on one such as myself…. eccentric bajillionaires that are absurdly wealthy beyond all measure. (And dear sir, I ask that you render me the same FREE legal advice as you would the likes of Maritess and Ging-ging.)

Now sir, I have acquired an estate over at Sagay in the Province of Negros Occidental. It is a wonderful hacienda, as you Filipinos would say, one overlooking a vast sugarfield with a thousand and five slaves, errr, I mean laborers, toiling in my sugar fields. The estate includes a horse farm, a banana plantation, a free lot where I shall be growing Jatropha (known in your native parlance as tuba-tuba) for bio-diesel, as well as a 5-hectare beach front that I intend to develop into a beach resort.In the interests of providing my three grand-nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie with employment, I also intend to acquire two franchises: Sunburst Fried Chicken and Jo’s Chicken Inato, two very well-respected establishments in your native Cebu.

Lately, I have considered acquiring a salt-mine in Bukidnon, which will not only provide my grand-nephews with free salt for their restaurant business, but shall likewise provide me with the pleasure of cracking my whip and ordering, “Work my peons!! Work!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

However, I am getting quite advanced in my years. Having first appeared in Disney’s “Christmas in Bear Mountain” on the year 1947, I am now more or less in the respectable age of 60 years old. (Which makes my nephew Donald, who first appeared on June 9, 1934, thirteen years older than I. Absurd, is it not?)

Nevertheless, such being the case, I am asking for your esteemed legal advise on this matter: I plan to bequeath my properties in favor of my nephew Donald, and my grandnephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. I have already made arrangements for all my properties around the world but none for my properties in the Philippines. I may or may not engage your services as my lawyer in the matter, depending on the advise given.

So, my dear Magnificent Atty. Perez, how can you help me with this endeavor?

Ad quack dei memoriam,

Scrooge McDuck

Dear Uncle Scrooge (Please please please… Can I call you Uncle Scrooge????):

I write in reply to your query dated August 8, 2007 on the matter of how to dispose your Philippine assets with the view of the same being transmitted in favor of your nephew Donald Duck and your grandnephews Huey Duck, Dewey Duck and Louie Duck.

But before I do, I just want to say that I AM SUCH A BIG FAN OF YOUR CARTOON SERIES, DUCKTALES!!! I think I may have skipped a few classes just to see your adventures on GMA-7, and my childhood consists of singing our your theme song, “Duck Tales!! Woohoo!!!” I wish YOU were my real uncle.

That being said, let me now go to the matter on hand. What you ask for, dear Uncle Scrooge, is a matter called Estate Planning, which is a legal program of planning the disposition of one’s existing and future assets in a way that minimizes one’s taxes, as well as reduces the headaches of litigation on inheritance matters.

Considering the glut of your assets here in the Philippines, my recommendation is that you form a corporation and transfer all your assets under the name of this corporation. Considering likewise that you will need a corporation to manage and run your businesses in the Philippines, I wholly recommend the formation of one such corporation. We can call the business “McDuck Enterprises, Inc.” We can reserve the name now, if you want. If the name has been taken, may I suggest we call the corporation “Itlog Maalat Corporation” instead? In Filipino, that loosely means, “Good Fortune, Good Venture, Good TASTE!”

Now, there are three ways that we can transfer the assets to your corporation. The first way is through a “sale” of assets by you to your corporation. The advantage of this option is that it is the fastest and easiest method to transfer the assets to your corporation, involving only the execution of a Deed of Absolute Sale and the registration of the same with the Registry of Deeds and voila! Your assets are transferred to your corporation! The drawback? This method also involves the payment of a greater rate of taxes (a Capital Gains Tax of 10% of either the fair market value of the property or its selling price, whichever is higher), hence, not recommended if we are dealing with vast tracks of land and numerous properties. Imagine transferring property worth P800 million… we’re talking about taxes at the rate of P80 million!

The second option is to “donate” the properties to your corporation. This option has the same expediency as the first method, which may or may not have a higher tax rate than the first, depending on the value of the property donated. However, I do not favor this method since in terms of succession planning, this is the least secure method of transfer, in the sense that properties validly donated may still be collated by the other heirs under the estate of the decedent. As you know, families have been destroyed all because of squabbles over inheritance. Thus, if your purpose in transferring the properties is for the sake of buying peace within the family, then I recommend that you don’t resort to a donation.

The third option is to have an equity swap, meaning that you will “invest” these properties under the name of your corporation in exchange for shares of stock of the same. Of all the three methods, this option involves the most bureaucracy and red-tape, but nonetheless, it is also the one that involves the least amount of taxes. Technically, no taxes are involved other than documentary stamp taxes (1% of the book value of the original issuance of shares of stock), but you will be paying for certain fees.

The third option essentially involves the Bureau of Internal Revenue which will issue a tax ruling declaring the transfer in exchange for capital stock as a tax-free transfer. The tax ruling is to be issued by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, who is based in Manila, hence, you will need to have your lawyer periodically follow up the matter over at BIR head office in Manila.

As to transferring these properties under the name of your nephew and grandnephews, it merely involves the issuance of stock certificates under their name, or the execution of a Deed of Assignment, as the case may be.

There are many more ways I can help you legally minimize taxes and form your corporation in a manner that best serves your needs, but that advice is no longer free, I’m sorry to say. Might I entice you to visit me here in Cebu and employ the services of both my law firm and my bookkeeping corporation? Let’s have lunch, my treat. There’s this delightful Chinese restaurant called Grand Majestic that serves the best Peking Duck in Cebu!

Errrrrrr….. on second thought, how would you like some Sunburst Fried Chicken? 8)

Truly yours,

the Magnificent Atty. Perez

The City of Orchids August 4, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Economist, I, Lawyer.
19 comments

It’s Monday night in Dipolog as I am writing this entry. I just had dinner with an old law school buddy, Atty. Christoper “Popoy” Mah, who was my fellow swimmer in the Law swimming team, as well as my room mate during my 6-month review for the Bar. Popoy, who is a native of Dipolog, took me out to dinner at a non-Sunburst Fried Chicken restaurant (where we had grilled salmon, yum!), and afterwards he took me to Dapitan city where we hung out at a small tourist attraction called Gloria de Dapitan. (Yes folks, on its inauguration, it was attended by no less than the original La Gloria, whom we know more popularly as Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo).

This trip is probably my fourth or fifth to Dipolog, as I’ve explained in a previous entry, to litigate a certain hearing. Over time, I have walked and toured around the city, observing its people, sampling its cuisine (alright, alright… sampling its Sunburst Fried Chicken), and generally losing myself among its populace.

If anything, Dipolog reminds me of Cebu in the mid-1980’s, a sleepy town poised for an economic boom. The feel and the vibe is definitely there, as well as all the key ingredients which was necessary for the “Ceboom” phenomenon.

For one, Dipolog has a visionary administrator in the person of Zamboanga del Norte Governor, the Hon. Rolando Yebez, who has implemented good programs for tourism, industry and agriculture. His leadership is so prized by the people of Zamboanga del Norte that he won the last elections by a landslide over his opponent.

Another important feature is Dipolog’s beautiful beaches, which I daresay looks better than the ones over at Mactan, Cebu. But other than being a nice tourist attraction, Dipolog also protects certain areas by setting up marine sanctuaries strongly enforced by anti dynamite fishing regulations and controls. Since its ecosystem is well-protected, they have strong potential for an eco-tourism industry. My friend Popoy particularly recommends Dipolog and Dapitan’s beautiful dive spots. A few years from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dipolog and Dapitan become Mindanao’s answer to Boracay.

A third feature is Dipolog’s strong agricultural industry in the form of marine resources, and lush agricultural lands. Being located beside open seas, Dipolog has rich fishing grounds. In fact, this has spawned the growth of its well-reknowned bottled sardines, which are exported both domestically and internationally. I brought home some bottles myself, as pasalubong for family and friends.

Expounding on the agricultural industry, Dipolog’s vast and long shoreline is likewise dotted with coconut plantations, which has supplemented the local income with the exportation of nata de coco and copra.

Another factor that could lead to its success are its beautiful roads. The roads leading from Dipolog to Dapitan and onwards is even better than the roads we have in Cebu. Much much better. It is better maintained, with nary a crack or a pothole to ruin one’s driving experience. That’s why I enjoy riding on a habal-habal on my trips there. It’s a joy to drive past the localities and savor the rustic charm, which at night, is well-lit by street lamps for safe night-time driving.

In the matter of infrastructure, both Dapitan and Dipolog each have their respective wharves for boats and ships. Although I am no civil engineer, I doubt however whether the waters of both cities are deep enough to support the large vessels which ply international maritime routes (which Cebu and Manila has), but nevertheless, both cities have good access to open seas.

Dipolog already has its own existing airport, although I’ve heard that it hasn’t been used for some time due to the unavailability of flights supported by our local airlines, but given an appreciable number of tourists and human traffic, I believe that over time, the local airlines will soon be chartering flights to Dipolog City.

The people? I feel like I never left Cebu. Historically, the Dipolog/Dapitan area used to be populated with its own native-born culture, called the Subanos, back in pre-Spanish times. These people were said to have their own language, but I guess that language died out during the Spanish Colonial era because the only language I’ve ever encountered during my trips there is Bisaya, in particular the staccatic and clipped Cebuano variant (as opposed to the softer and more lyrical Bisaya spoken by Leyteños, Boholanos and Cagayanons). This is because, over the years, people from Bohol, Cebu and Negros have moved to Dipolog and populated it, notably during Spanish times when masons and carpenters from the Visayas were employed by the Spaniards to build the infrastructures of Dipolog/Dapitan. (Dipolog used to be part of Dapitan until it broke away as an independent town somewhere in 1912 during American occupation).

However, more and more Visayans (especially Cebuanos and Boholanos) moved to the Dapitan/Dipolog area in the 1950’s, a fact mentioned to me by my dad, who said that when Pres. Ramon Magsaysay caused the enactment of the Homestead Patent Act, there was a great diaspora of entrepreneurs, farmers and thrill-seekers from the Visayas into the various provinces of Mindanao, which, back then, was hailed as “the Land of Promise.” Vast tracks of agricultural land was being offered by the Philippine government at a really cheap price, hoping to lure people from the Visayas who had dreams of becoming their own hacienderos into populating the underdeveloped lands of Mindanao. I guess a lot of Cebuanos and Boholanos found their way to Dipolog and Dapitan, judging from the language and traits I’ve observed during my stay there. In fact, I daresay that a lot of it is Cebuano stock, judging from the family names that I’ve encountered, which are also old families in Cebu, such as my very own Perez namesakes.

In my opinion, the only things needed to put Dipolog more prominently in the economic map are:

(1) A strong academic institution with modern-day facilities. A University would be nice… U.P. or U.S.C., perhaps? Dipolog needs a good college to develop the existing skill-set of its well-populated youth, to supplement the skill and knowledge level of the community’s workforce, hence, removing the need to send its children off to Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao in order to get good quality education, because chances are, when these youths hie off to the more modernized cities, they will not likely be coming back to live in Dipolog.

(2) A large manufacturing and/or industrial facility. One the likes of Atlas Mining Co. or the Shemberg Manufacturing Plant, or even an equivalent of the Balamban shipyard, in order to spur development, investment and employment in the community.

The one thing that keeps these from happening, I believe, is Dipolog’s proximity to the more unpopular regions of Mindanao, which, I think, is an unfair case of guilt by association. In my numerous trips to Dipolog, I can personally vouch for the peace-and-order situation of the locality. I actually feel safer walking in the streets of Dipolog than I am in either Cebu or Manila.

I do believe Dipolog and Dapitan have so much potential for economic prosperity, but hopefully, not at the price of losing its beautiful provincial charm and its wonderfully protected ecosystem. Given a good break, over time, I wouldn’t be surprised that this area will become one of the true urban metropolises of the Philippines.

Links:

Official Website of the City of Dipolog

Official Website of the City of Dapitan

Ispokening Bisaya August 1, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, cebuano.
4 comments

Taken from the blogs of my good friends, Antonio Java, an editor and columnist of Cebu Daily News (a local subsidiary of the Philippine Daily Inquirer), and Mia Borja, a linguistics specialist, call center trainer and proud promdi school teacher from Iligan.

I hereby adopt their entries by ratification and append my concurring opinion to theirs.

For the record, I am not opposed to learning Tagalog, except when it is used as the medium of instruction for Social Studies. I believe English should also be continuously taught, and used as the medium of instruction for subjects like Math, Music, Social Studies, Science, etc.

However, I am all for teaching Bisaya in Bisaya-speaking regions, Waray for Waray-speaking regions, so on and so forth.

I don’t believe in language superiority and I maintain that there is NO SUCH THING as an official “Filipino” language, if we are talking about one overriding language to be imposed by one region over the others.

There are many Filipino languages however, and we should take care to protect and preserve the continued education of all these languages into the curriculum of their respective regions.
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SECOND CLASS LANGUAGE?

by Antonio Java

I was reading a friend’s blog last week where she made quite an interesting point about the Visayan language: It is a language spoken by a great majority in the country, yet it has become relegated to a sort of second-class tongue.

I’ve stressed in previous columns that the Visayan language or Binisaya is, as languages go, more evolved than most major languages in existence, according to language scholars. The fact that Binisaya is a couple of hundred words larger than, say, Tagalog or English is proof enough of its age and flexibility (just the other day, my barkada was wracking our brains trying to translate the Visayan word “hata” to English. Finding no direct translation, the closest we got was “feint,” though we had to note that to feint is more of a movement meant to mislead or to deceive, while hata is a movement more related to indecisiveness rather than deception).

Some would argue that there is no such thing as a “superior” language. I’d actually tend to agree, since the idea of a language is to communicate ideas. Though one has to admit that certain languages make the transfer of ideas easier and faster than other languages. However, for the transfer of ideas to work, one particular language has to be common between two or more people. So, logically, if a language is spoken by more people, then more people can share ideas, and an idea can spread faster. Right?

Well then, here’s the premise in the Philippines: Tagalog is taught in school. English is taught in school. But when it comes to sheer population, there are more natural Visayan speakers in the country than there are natural Tagalog speakers or English speakers.

So then why, oh why, isn’t Visayan – one of the most beautiful, most evolved, most ancient, and most widely spoken languages in the Philippines – NOT taught in school?

In fact, over the past few decades, Visayan has, unfortunately, been given a stigma or sorts as something inferior. Even some of us Visayan natives refer to something as “Bisaya kaayo” to derogate something. In fact, in many schools, speaking Visayan is practically banned, sometimes with a fine imposed on every instance a student speaks Binisaya.

Can someone please tell me when Binisaya or being Bisaya became something so “wrong” that we have to be fined for it?

It would be easy to blame “imperialist Manila” for the state of Visayan today. Tagalog is spoken in the capital city of Manila, hence, the capital city’s language should be the language of the entire country. I could also easily blame the influences of those who sought to colonize us: The Spanish and the Americans. In attempting to establish a colony here, they had to impose their own culture and language on the natives. No doubt, these things are partly to blame.

But I also blame the Visayans themselves, among whose number I am included, for slipping over the past few decades. I would hardly say that we Visayans were quick to abandon our own in lieu of something new and foreign. If that were so, Binisaya would have been lost to history generations ago. But neither have I seen any major effort for us to retain and educate ourselves of our own native culture. Not Asian culture, not Filipino culture, but Visayan culture.

Now I’m not saying we all start tattooing ourselves and make like our Pintados ancestors; for a culture to survive, it must also evolve. But at the very least, we should teach ourselves our own history, and we should especially teach ourselves our own language. But in this aspect, we are slipping. We’re slipping so much, in fact, that Cebuano, a dialect of the Visayan language, is already so full of words from other languages that while native Cebuano speakers can still understand pure Binisaya, most Cebuanos can’t speak Binisaya fluently.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we should stop teaching English in school. English is already the widely accepted “global” language and without it, we miss out on the world. I’m not even saying we stop teaching Tagalog (or what some would like to call “Filipino,” though any Filipino worth his tongue knows that the Filipino language is just what they call Tagalog in an attempt to make it more nationally appealing… emphasis on “attempt”).

What I’m saying is that we Bisayas should not leave out our own native tongue when it comes to the languages we teach our children in school. I’m not merely proposing to allow, or even standardize the use of Bisaya as a language of instruction wherever Bisaya is natively spoken. I say we should have Bisaya classes, where students are TAUGHT proper Binisaya in all its native glory. It’s the most widely used language in the country. WHY NOT?!

And by extension, along with teaching ourselves the proper way to SPEAK Binisaya, perhaps we should even teach ourselves the proper way to WRITE Binisaya. That’s right: Alibata classes, which is applicable to both Binisaya and Tagalog. From my meager experience with Alibata (or Baybayin as it was called in olden times), I’ve discovered that one is actually able to preserve intonations and stress points in the written words through visual representations where it would otherwise be lost if Bisaya words were written in the Roman alphabet (compensated only by a reader’s actual knowledge in Binisaya).

But as it is, no schools I know of teach Binisaya. And I suspect only the most specialized of libraries have literature that teaches a person Alibata.

Well, here’s a factoid for you all: UNESCO estimates that half of the world’s languages are endangered because they are no longer taught or spoken.

When was the last time anyone remembers having Bisaya classes?

Anyone?

—————————-

ONLY ONE OF 6,800

By Mia Borja

Looking back at my profession as a call center trainer and boybeater (haha), I realized that I wrongly regarded English (and the oftentimes annoying accent) as higher than Visayan and other languages. I was guilty of allocating Visayan and other “dialects” as second only to English, and that it was the English-way or the highway. I had no idea how misinformed I was, or how misguided. There are 6800 languages in the world, of which English is only one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, we do need English to transact business in and to instruct in on a regular basis; and I am still an avid supporter of the call center industry. I lab Cumberjis, and I always will.

However, it is the tendency to alleviate English so much at the expense of our native tongue that I am not comfortable with. I don’t know about you, but to be honest, I get irked when agents still speak in the “twang” outside of work (Mah-nang, pwede iza ka-tahkus na batih-cowlown?). Give it up mate, and please speak in Bisaya.

It was only last year, when I decided to take my MA in language, that I realized how narrow-minded I was as a trainer and “language specialist”, and how shallow my foundation for teaching language really was. Five things particularly struck me:

1. There is no such thing as language superiority.

While some languages are spoken by more people than others, each language is innately beautiful and unique. There is no basis for saying English is “better” than Visayan, or Tagalog is “higher” than Visayan. Even Ainu (a language spoken by only 15 people in Japan, and is no longer being taught to young Japanese) is equal in rank to Chinese, whose dialects are spoken by more than a billion people.

2. Visayan is NOT a dialect. It is a language.

This is not a radical leftist idea. It is a language fact.

I used to think that the difference between languages and dialects was the number of people who spoke it. In fact, dialects are a political misnomer. The real measure of language is mutual intellegibility. If I speak Visayan to a Tagalog person who cannot understand what I am saying, I am no longer intelligible to him. This fact makes Visayan a language. Now the Visayan speakers of Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, and Iligan can still understand each other even with regional variations, so we are all dialects of Visayan. The number of speakers have nothing to do with it, which means Higa-onon, Tausug, and other lumad languages, as well as gay languages, are real LANGUAGES, and not dialects because they are no longer easily understood by speakers of other, more “mainstream” languages like Visayan and Tagalog.

3. English should not be considered the pinnacle of language learning in the Philippines, because English is not “superior” in any way.

In fact, schools should integrate and emphasize learning different Philippine languages in the curriculum. I am all for teaching subjects in the Visayan or in Arabic, complimenting subjects taught in English. Hawaiian universities have managed to save their original Hawaiian language by teaching it in schools. Even New Zealand has saved the Maori language and culture by teaching it with pride to their students.

4. The fourth most widely “spoken” language is not spoken at all.

Sign language is fast becoming one of the five most popular languages in the world. There are different sign languages too; there’s the American standard (usually with one hand), the British sign language (usually with two hands), Nicaraguan sign, and Canadian sign language, among the many. Scholars predict that sign language will be achieve lingua franca importance in the next twenty years, and may soon be considered a necessary job skill, like speaking English.

5. When one teaches or speaks a language, one is preserving a culture.

The last filament of any group or tribe is the language. When you are the last speaker of your language and you die, there is no more of your culture to speak of. UNESCO estimates that half of the world’s languages are endangered because they are no longer taught or spoken.

That being said, I am memorizing the Lord’s Prayer in its original Aramaic language. Nothing beats the real thing.

Charms and Iron Lungs August 1, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer.
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It’s a humid August afternoon. The steps to the diving board is hot on the pads of your feet. Very hot. You try not to mind it as you crouch down on the board, fingertips pressed against the metal, head faced first on the water. The goggles fit snuggly on your nosebridge, the swimcap on tight around your head. The pool is a beautiful cerulean blue.

In this perfect moment, you are one with the second, one with your body, and soon to be one with the water. The moment is perfect. Your body tense, your ears straining to hear the whistle. You almost forget that there is only one skimpy piece of spandex separating your total nudity from five hundred pairs of eyes.

The whistle blows, and you leap forward towards the water. And the race is on!

———————-

I miss a lot of things from law school, one of them being the only time I considered myself athletic. During second semester, I was a basketball player for the Law Days competition. During the first, I was a representative for the College of Law swimming team.

Although I love to play basketball (even if I suck at the game), in my heart, my true sport is competitive swimming. Disregard the fact that this game leaves me half-naked before a throng of strangers, I just love this sport. I loved the regular practice sessions in the USC pool and in the Olympic-sized pool in Abellana, the feel of lungs straining to deliver oxygen to all parts of the body. I love the ache of muscles resisting against water, getting exhausted from the repetitive strokes of forms and motions practiced and perfected over a period of time. I love the flutter of feet, the froth of water from swift kicks, and the flow of my body slicing through the water and reaching from start to finish.

But what I miss most of all is the camaraderie of my swimming team. Dax-du Quijano, our loyal and stalwart coach and star ‘flyer. Popoy “Supercat” Mah, the backstroke equivalent of a beached whale. Fabian “Mr. Pogi” Gardones, who swum the entire length of the swimming pool on a single intake of breath. Barnsby “Deep-throat” Cagang, the man who drunk the entire volume of the swimming pool on a single intake of breath. Karl “Dangerous” Banag, breast-stroke phenomenon and financier of the swimming team. Maui “Free Willy”, a man whose midwaist girth is as big as his swimming stamina.

And of course, there was yours truly, Janjan “Freestyler” Perez, law school torpedo, whose amazing speed in the water almost matches his amazing sexiness in P300 swimming thongs. (I am still waiting for the Speedo product endorsement contract, but apparently, I heard that it has been awarded to their new image model.)

We were a good team. We cracked a lot of jokes and made the spectators laugh during our swim team antics. (Imagine this: in one year’s King of Sprints contest, the whole team jumped into the pool and did a synchronized swimming demonstration, while the fastest swimmers from the other colleges furiously paddled away to see who would be the King of Sprints. We did this year after year while me and Dax were in the swim team)

I miss our yearly trips to Chicken Butterfly after swimming practice and a good swim. I miss our draining physical pool workouts just to get us into shape, “para naay hangin inig Intrams.” I miss splurging all the school’s alloted budget all into kick-ass uniforms for the team. I miss the team’s motto… “Di man jud ta makadaog ka’y wa man ta’y hangin… salig na lang ta sa atong charms…”

But most of all… I just miss having hard washboard abs.

It’s almost August, and my skin is beginning to have that itch that could only be soothed by the feel of heavily chlorinated water on bare-naked flesh.

….and in my cramped office, surrounded by piles of paper and case folders, I can only dream of getting wet and racing against seconds of time.

Getting by with only charms and iron lungs.