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A Love Letter to Beer May 20, 2014

Posted by Janjan in I, Lawyer, Idiocy, Representation Expense.
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Dear Beer,

I am writing to ask you for a time to cool off. Our relationship is too intense. It seems like these past few weeks, we’ve seen each other quite often. Nearly every day. Perhaps it’s getting too intense? I know I love you and you love me, but it’s starting to become unhealthy. Because of the time I spend with you, I’m neglecting time spent with my dear friends, Exercise, Writing and Art. Also, I’m having a hard time catching up with the latest episode of Game of Thrones. While I enjoy being an alcoholic, I think deep inside, the real me is a geek.

best friendBut don’t get me wrong. I still love you. I love that you have many moods and personalities: ale, pilsen, lager, and even the fruity dessert beers, like kriek. I love that you pair well with a lot of the food I like to eat… sisig, fish, steak, potatoes, lechon, pizza, to name a few. I like that you encourage me to do things I normally would not do.. like dance half-naked on a tabletop, or sing “My Way” with feelings. I like that you help me forget about my heartaches and pain… about my frustrations of being the only point guard with zero ball-handling skills, or the fact that Maria Ozawa does not know that I exist and that she continues to ignore all the letters I’ve sent her, pleading my undying love and admiration.

I still remember the first day we became intimate. How I hated your taste… to me you were like the flavor of dog urine, the lamentations of angry old men, and the fart of flatulent politicians, all combined into one tepid excuse for battery water. It was not love at first sight. But thankfully, due to peer pressure and the need to fit in with my smarty-pants law school classmates, we slowly developed into true love. Now to me you taste like golden rainbows refracted from the droplets of water tossed in the air by squealing Greek virgin nymphs splashing each other with champagne from Bacchus’ grove. The very thought of you leaving my life causes anxiety and depression. Without you, there is no point in living.

beer afternoon

Over the years, I have gotten to know you better, as a lover should. I learned about your history… about how you were developed by Egyptians for their Israeli slaves, as a form of liquid bread to make their peons more compliant to dangerous manual labor. I learned how to drink you, about how mixing you with ice cubes is a capital sin. Real beer should always be drunk in a chilled glass. I’ve had you when you were at your cheapest (Manila beer and Gold Eagle), and I’ve had you at your most expensive (Roquefort 10). I’ve drunk all versions of San Miguel: Pilsen, San Mig Light, Cerveza Negra, Premium, Super-dry and all other variations.

It’s been a series of ups and downs. You’ve had me retching at the side of the road for hours on end. That’s the last time you and I have a threesome with Johnny Walker Black Label Whisky. You’ve brought me so much laughter, like when you made my handsome classmate so drunk that he didn’t know he was kissing a lady-boy. You’ve brought out the interesting quirks in everyone who loves you: like the drunk friend who got karate-kicked by a “di-ningon-ato” when he mistakenly whizzed on an ancient acacia tree, or the friend who cleans up the table everytime he’s drunk, or the friend who was discovered by his mother, retching at the public bathroom in Baseline, hugging the not-so-clean toilet.

Funny-Drunks-13

It’s a fact that beer and lawyers go together, like guilty politicians and wheelchairs. It’s been an adventure, Beer. But all good things have an end. Or at the very least, a slow-down.

The fact is that my tummy is getting bigger, and I do not like shopping for new pants while I still have perfectly good ones hanging on my closet. And as much as I love you, Beer, my vanity and stinginess are stronger than my alcoholism.

There has to come a point where I have to learn to love myself. It cannot be about you all the time Beer. It cannot be all about you!!

I think this will be good for us both. Time apart can make us grow better as individuals and appreciate each other even more.

Know that my love for you is true and I thirst for you like a camel lost wandering on the endless Bedouin deserts under the relentless heat of a parched sun.

I’m not saying goodbye my darling. I’m just saying if you love me, you will let me grow (and by that, I mean metaphorically, and not physiologically).

challenge

I’m just saying that we should take it slow.

So farewell for now, my Beer. You will always be in my thoughts.

Yours always,

The Magnificent

Last Supper May 6, 2014

Posted by Janjan in I, Lawyer, Seriously now….
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It was the second night of my invitation. Together with my friend, Ali from Pakistan, we headed to the secluded mosque hidden behind a short path of alleyways located in a neighborhood downtown, at a very short walking distance from Elizabeth Mall. I normally see Ali dressed in a very cosmopolitan fashion but tonight he looked regal in the blue longshirt that is commonly worn in Pakistan.

Finally, the brightly-painted yellow walls of the mosque appeared, lit by the melon-orange sodium lamps nearby, stark against the dark starless sky. It was a three-story building, and looking from outside, you can see that the interiors of the wall was plainted entirely in white. There were no furnitures or any other ornaments inside, except for rugs which were used for prayer.

As we entered the gate, we saw that the Pakistani men had already set a carpet by the perimeter beside the mosque’s edifice. They were seated on the carpet and happily feasting. Ali and I went to a nearby faucet to wash our hands and then made way to the dining area. I took my shoes and socks off before sitting down cross-legged on the carpeted floor, taking my place beside the other Pakistani men. There was one Indian with us, who was also a Muslim. I was the only non-Muslim as well as the only Filipino dining among them. The other Muslim Filipinos were seated nearby but were not taking part of our supper.

There were no women. I believe that this mosque was, at present, reserved only for men.

In the middle of the carpet were metal bowls of food. On the largest bowl was a stew made of red beans and curry. On another bowl was a grilled flatbread, commonly used in Pakistani meals. On another bowl were quartered slices of red apples. And in the smallest bowl was nothing but water.

On one side of the carpet were seated the older men, a group of about 5 or 6 gentlemen with full, flowing beards, which was bare only above the lip area. They were dressed in traditional Pakistani garb, with the oversized shirts, the loose trousers and the white caps and turbans. Guessing from their appearance and the way they carried themselves, I understood them to be imams… leaders of the faith. On my side of the carpet were the younger Pakistanis, including my friends Ali and Azmat, who dressed in a more modern fashion.

There were no plates. While the flatbreads were as big as dishes, we did not put food on them. Rather, using the right hand, we tore the flatbread into pieces and used it to dip into and scoop the stewed beans. We took direct from the bowl in the middle, not using any serving spoons or forks, and ate with our hands. Sometimes, the men would talk to me, asking me, “How are you?” and smiling at my answers. All of them treated me with such warmth and welcoming, with no reservations whatsoever.  It was unusual for me, considering that I was someone that they’ve only recently met. All of the imams called me Brother.

On one hand, it felt a little surreal. Here I was, having an authentic Pakistani experience, supping from the floor and sharing a common bowl with my hands, with some men who seemed to walk off the pages of National Geographic. I didn’t mind keeping silent most of the time. I enjoyed listening to them talk in Urdu, their speech peppered with praises to Allah and admissions that Allah’s Will be done.

The food was certainly delicious, in a simple but soul-filling manner that only home-cooked meals can be. The beans were mildly seasoned and not overpowering in flavor. The flatbread was my favorite. It was soft, chewy but full, with none of the fluffy texture that I normally have with leavened bread. Someday, I hope to learn how to make that bread by myself.

supper

After we ate the dinner, I took the apples and a banana for dessert. The men kept saying my name Jan with a warm smile. I found out that my name is common in Pakistan, and that variants of the word Jan in their language could either be a term for endearment, friendship or respect. I think they took it as a sign of good fortune to have met someone with my name.

One of the imams took the time to sit beside me and talk. He started by instructing me on how to dine, the Islam way. First, I was to sit, and not to stand because only animals stood while they ate. Second, I was to look at the glass of water before me and take it with my right hand, which was clean, and not with my left hand, which was dirty. (In their culture, they used the left hand to clean themselves after defecation). Then I was to say a word which gave praise to Allah. Then, finally, I was to drink the water.

From their the conversation instructed more about the cleanliness practices of Islam, and then proceeded to an invitation for me to become Muslim, which was the one true religion as Yssa (their name for Jesus) was not God but merely a prophet.

I listened intently and smiled when he preached about the rightness of Islam and my redemption. I was not offended, actually, but saw it as an old man’s good intentions and wish that I be saved, as he, a Muslim, understood deliverance. It meant that he respected me and wished nothing but the best for me. I bowed in graciousness to his good words and thanked him sincerely for sharing me wisdom and enlightenment.

He seemed to be a man in his mid-60’s, face kissed by the sun and full of character, his eyes twinkling with the look of a man who has found peace and enlightenment. His full and bushy beard was white, and he had a strong masculine nose. His white hair (graying at the temples) was cut short and was very neat. For a man of his age, he had the stature and carriage of one full of vitality and strength. I felt like a child being patronized by his grandfather, a grandfather who admonished me for being 35-years old and unmarried. When he found out that I had a girlfriend, he said that the relationship was haram in Islam and that I should marry her right away.

I merely smiled. Under the darkness of the dimly-lit mosque grounds, the imam easily looked like my paternal grandfather, the one who died before I was born. It was easy to pretend that I was being scolded (in a fond manner) by my own lolo. For one moment, I wished he really were my grandfather. He seemed to be a very caring man.

He finished by inviting me again to convert to Islam and said that he was giving me a Muslim name, Jan Mohammad.

But soon, it was time to go.

I put on my shoes, washed my hands and gathered my things. The imams made their farewells. Some of them merely gave me a firm handshake. Most of them took me in a warm and tight hug and bid me to go with the blessings of Allah.

As we walked outside, Ali asked me what the old man and I talked about. I told Ali that they wanted me to convert to Islam. He smiled and said, “You know.. the guy you were talking to… he has grown fond of Filipinos. He said that you are a warm, friendly and loving people. You are almost Pakistani but only, you are not Muslims.” We both laughed at that. I told Ali that I will blog about this and conclude that the Pakistani that I’ve met are warm, friendly and loving people but only, they were not Catholic.  Ali smiled as we got into the car.

As we drove of, he said something which sums up my whole experience, “You and I… let’s form a new religion. One where every man treats each other with respect, kindness and friendship, and we shall call it ‘Humanity'”

I could only nod and put my faith in a better future. Inshallah.

8 Years of Magnificence May 2, 2014

Posted by Janjan in I, Lawyer, Seriously now….
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One of my contemporaries in the blogging community, Atty. Marvin Aceron, resumed writing on his blog a few days ago.  Naturally, it reminded me of this long dormant (but still living) WordPress blog.  It’s not my first blog, truth be told.  I’ve had older blogs that are gathering dust somewhere in the forgotten annals of the World Wide Web.  It is however, the first blog I maintained as a practicing lawyer.

I thought I’d go back writing on it, just for kicks.  I don’t know if this is going to be a regular thing, but I will try.

I first wrote this blog when I was only 1 or 2 years in the practice of law.  To be honest, I don’t know why I chose to call it “The Magnificent Atty. Perez” because it admittedly sounds grandiose and arrogant, which I don’t think I am.  (My friends, however, are encouraged to disagree).  The name just had a nice ring to it, and delusions of grandeur notwithstanding, I stuck to the moniker.  Perhaps the fact that I was a neophyte lawyer still earning my chops had a lot to do with the name.  Admittedly, I was still very insecure about where I stood in the legal community and I had yet to make a name for myself in the world.  After all, the practice of law (especially those engaged in litigation) requires a touch of gravitas and a flair for showmanship, of which I had none.  People who know me in my pre-law days remember me to be very soft-spoken, shy and reserved.  (But people who see me grab microphones on stage, know otherwise.)

“The Magnificent Atty. Perez” was a persona that I needed to become.  After all, when one has no confidence in himself, pop psychology encourages that one pretends to have confidence.  Often times, other people cannot tell the difference.  (“Fake it till you make it”, that’s what they say. )

I stopped writing in this blog at some point.  Part of it was because I felt that I had become too open to famous strangers (believe it or not, I was getting comments from people like Manolo Quezon III and Chiz Escudero.  And I double-checked… yes, they were the real McCoy). Part of it was because I simply got too busy to write.

But perhaps, thinking about it now, part of the reason that I stopped writing on this blog was because I felt that I had no more reason to pretend.

I look back at my entries here and I smile.  I see where my naivete and idealism shone like a beacon… or perhaps more accurately like a bunch of crazy neon disco lights.  I read in between the lines and remember my fears at jumping head first into something I was never prepared for.  I remember the paranoia, the insecurity and the floundering and pretending that I knew what I was doing.

I smile because it did get better.

I am 8 years in the practice this coming May 10.  I’m no longer the shy, insecure lawyer who’s pretending to be braver than he really is.  I’ve learned to stop expecting it to get easier.  It never does.  The challenges get bigger, year after year.  It’s just that you stop trying to fight your fears and you embrace the fact that you just don’t know where the road will take you.  You learn to live with the uncertainty.

I’ve seen, said and done a lot in these 8 years of practicing law.  I’ve gone from being an associate lawyer, to being a partner in a law office located beside the dusty roads where tricycles and pedicabs park while waiting for passengers, to running a 2-office show in both Cebu and Manila, and finally, back to a humble little practice in a humble little office in Ramos St.  I’ve made a living doing the strange corporate projects that nobody ever thinks of taking on.

In a sense, I’m no longer faking it.  I’m making it.  Making it up as I go along, that is.

I call myself the Magnificent Atty. Perez, more of a wish, and not a boast.  It’s the wish that at the end of the day, I become a better lawyer than when I first started.

It’s the wish that at the end of the day, I leave the world a much better place than when I first came in.

Wheel of Time May 25, 2013

Posted by Janjan in I, Lawyer, Seriously now….
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I first started reading the Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series back when I was 15 years old.  I was a high school senior, soon to leave for the United States.  It was a book recommended to me by my friend, Badong Reyes, who piqued my curiosity by talking about the One Power, Aes Sedai, Rand al’Thor, Mat Cauthon and Nynaeve Al’Meara.

Because of its unique fantasy elements, good writing, and strong characters, I immediately took to the story and eagerly read each and every chapter of the books during my college days.  But looking back, I realized that maybe it was because I saw so much of myself in the personal circumstances of the main protagonists that I was drawn to the book.

Back when I started, Rand al’Thor was still a sheepherder, the son of a farmer.  His friends Perrin ay’Bara and Matrim Cauthon were a blacksmith’s apprentice and a horse trader, respectively.  Rand was unofficially betrothed to Egwene al’Vere, and they were fostered / bullied by their village Wisdom, Nynaeve al’Meara.  They were all simple folk leading simple village lives, not knowing of anything other than a quiet provincial existence.

All that changed when the bestial Trollocs attacked their village, the Two Rivers.

Rand and his companions found out, through the explanation of an Aes Sedai, Moiraine Damodred, that Rand was meant more to the world, that he was the “Dragon Reborn”, a messianic creature that was prophesied to break the world and save it.  Hence, the forces of the Dark One were doing everything they could to destroy the village and destroy Rand in the process.

Hence to protect the village, Rand had to leave, together with Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nyneave, accompanied by Moiraine and her Warder al’Lan Mandragoran, and a gleeman, Thom Merrilin.

It felt a lot like my life back then.

There were so many changes happening to me.  Cebu and the University of San Carlos-Boys High were the only homes I ever knew of, but  I left them to immigrate to the United States, only to come back and go to college.  After a few years, I graduated, worked at a bank, and quit that to study Law.  In a sense, I was growing up together with the main protagonist, Rand, who himself was going through so many things on his way to prepare for the Last Battle.

In a sense, I was the “wool-headed sheepherder” that Rand was, and I could relate to his ordeals:  realizing that he was a man who could channel saidin, facing eventual madness; suddenly becoming some sort of nobleman and important person; fighting the Forsaken and handling one of the most powerful sa’angreal in the world; until officially, he became recognized by the world as the Dragon Reborn.

While my own struggles were nothing as dramatic, nevertheless, I could relate to the sense of strife and despondence that Rand was facing and recognized the demons that he was struggling with, because I was fighting them too.  From being the shy, introverted and socially awkward loner that I was in my Boys High days, I started mingling with other people until during Law School, I became some sort of campus personality.  And just like that, I learned what it was to be popular / infamous, to play sports, to hang out with the cool crowd, to push myself academically and intellectually.  From being the spectacular underachiever of Batch 1995, I was the guy who managed to survive law school while studying full time, working 2 jobs AND being an active leader in both Lex Circle and Bar Ops.  I played the Game of Houses in the hotly controversial atmosphere of campus politics, and danced the spears in becoming active with basketball.

Like Rand, I was changing.  A part of me was elated to see the world at the other side of the fence, but a part of me hated the turmoil that change and infamy brought about, wishing that I could go back to being the wool-headed sheepherder that I was.

I quit reading the Wheel of Time (and all sorts of fiction) when I got to law school, which is as well because Robert Jordan also slowed down on his writing.  By that time, I had already gotten to Book 7 of the series and Rand al’Thor had become the King of Tear, Perrin married and became the Lord of Manetheren, Mat had sounded the Horn of Valere and became the General of the Band of the Red Hand, while Egwene became the Amyrlin Seat and Nynaeve married Lan and discovered that she could Heal stilling.

It was only when I became a lawyer, having practiced for 7 years, before I got back to where I left off.  A total of 12 years, in other words, since I witnessed the turning of the Wheel of Time.

When I went back, Rand had become a hardened despot and tyrant, unwilling to listen and feel emotions.  He’s also gotten raving mad, sometimes fighting with the voice in his head, Lews Therin Telamon, for control over his own body.  By Rand’s logic, he had to become hard.  He had to stop feeling, so the pain, fear and worry wouldn’t paralyze him when he needed to move and make important decisions.

It was only then that I began to see the parallels in Rand’s life and mine, and it struck me because at that point, Rand was my least favorite character in the story.  His arrogance annoyed me.  His constant drama was wearing down my patience.  I realized however that it annoyed me because at a sub-conscious level, I saw so much of that arrogance and drama in the person that I had become.

My life had become harder at this point, in the sense that the pressures of litigation and law practice were like a sword constantly hanging over my neck.  Like Rand, I had changed.  I was no longer the carefree youth that I was, I had to become someone that the world needed me to be, and in that, I longed for freedom from the constant war that I was locked in, with myself, with other lawyers, and sometimes, with the people that I lived or worked with.

I finally finished the book a few days ago, and I leave it up to you to find out what happens to Rand and the other characters in the Wheel of Time.  Let me just say though that it’s a relief, and if my life does parallel that of the Dragon Reborn, then I look forward to my own happy ending.

Suffice it to say that Rand changed, and so I am changing as well.  The story ends with the breaking of the Age and leaves with the dawn of a new one.  Perhaps this is to say that this is likewise a new day in my life.

The wind blows northward over the dusty roads of the south, passing by the sleepy butandings of Oslob, the crackling ovens of Carcar where pork rinds undergo the process of changing into delicious chicharon.  It blows over the busy South Reclamation superhighway, over cars driving back, eager to go home, and it blows past the small town that has the audacity to call itself Cebu City.

Inside Sacred Heart Hospital, the lawyer looks up from his laptop, as if sensing the passing of the wind.  This wind, it was not an ending.  There are no endings, and never will be endings, to the turning of the Wheel of Time.

But perhaps, it was a beginning.

Dread and Anticipation March 29, 2008

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer.
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My barrister friends are awaiting the results of the 2007 Bar Examinations today. I was in their shoes two years ago and I remember the feeling of uncertainty of waiting for the results, not knowing if four years and six months of your life will culminate into seeing your name in the list of successful Bar Examinees.

These pictures will explain how that moment feels.

Good luck friends!

Walking on Water March 9, 2008

Posted by Janjan in All, cebuano, I, Lawyer, maniniyot, Seriously now….
3 comments

In one of my previous picture posts, I talked about the symbolic significance of water in my life and how during times that I am stressed, troubled or in despair, I dream of being near bodies of water.

I am going through one of those times now.  A lot of times I think about how much simpler life was when I wasn’t an adult, where I didn’t have to deal with choices, responsibilities, relationships, or be worried about the state of the nation and the rising costs of basic commodities and goods.

Sometimes I find myself wanting a quiet and uncomplicated life, much like the subject of this series of pictures lead, the Badjao children.



How much simpler it is to be Badjao.  A lot of people look down on the Badjao, because it seems that they live a life spent begging.  It didn’t used to be like this.  My bestfriend Danny C. told me that the Badjao are really a peaceful tribe of indigenous people from the Southern parts of Mindanao who had spent a simple life of subsistence fishing.  They are a peaceful tribe, unused to conflict and warfare, getting along well with each other and always smiling.

It’s a pity that these Badjao have been displaced back in the 1970’s during the time of the political upheaval in Muslim Mindanao.  These poor non-violent people were forced out from their ancestral homelands by their more warlike neighbors, and in order to escape the massacres of that era, the Badjao were made to flee to various parts of the Philippines.

Unused to a life of toil and hardwork, it is now common for us to see the Badjao here in Cebu, in Cagayan de Oro, in Davao, and yes, even in the wharves of Tagbilaran, Bohol, where I took these shots.

Growing up in a family where I was raised to value the dignity of work, I had come to look down on the Badjao.  All you ever see them doing is beg, beg, beg.  They’re dirty, unmannered, and rude.  However, after I heard the story from Danny, I grew to see the Badjao in a different light.  These people have never known better because all their life, they had always known simplicity and living off the sea.  To force them to adapt to the complicated rules and values of the big city is asking too much of these simple people, who now adapt to it the best way they know how… through begging.



I am older now.  I have adapted to the city.  I have work that keeps me facing my laptop the whole day long.  My life has definitely become complicated, and sometimes, it is too complicated.  I’m always exposed to pressure and expectations and a lot of times, it takes everything I have in me just to keep up with my job.  Unused to running, I trip on my feet and land hard on my face.  To quote a toy figure that my other bestfriend Johndi gave me back in high school, “Getting older sucks.

And now, these times, I envy these Badjao children.  Instead of looking down on them, I envy their simple uncomplicated lives.  I envy their freedom, their ability to laugh at their hardships, the close bond that they have with the sea and with each other.  Yes, their lives are tough and it borders on day-to-day survival.  But then again, can we really say our lives are much better?  True, we have more resources and wealth than these little beggars, but in exchange for these, we are saddled with burdens such as taxes, responsibilities, and for us lawyers, an exacting code of professional ethics.



Tell me now, are our lives really any better than theirs?



We are still beggars, living off grace and looking to God to provide us with our daily bread, regardless of whether we are Badjao children, Philippine presidents, or struggling CPA-lawyer-photographers.  Each of our lives are hard on one way or the other, frought with hardships, sacrifice and tears.  As that song by REM goes, “Everybody hurts.

It is times like these that the Badjao children remind me that each and everytime a question of love, faith and hope arises with Jesus, it somehow always involved the water.



We see it when the apostles were trapped out at sea during the height of a mighty storm, and Peter called out to a soundly sleeping Jesus to save them.  “Oh ye of little faith,” Jesus said, as he brought the squall to subside and the boat back to safety.

We see it again when the apostles were out at sea and encountered Jesus walking on water.  Calling out to him, Peter got out and started walking on the waves towards Jesus.  But he looked at the tides, got scared and started to sink to the depths.  Again, calling out to Jesus, he came by and saved him.

Finally, I’m reminded of the time after the resurrection that Jesus told the apostles to cast their nets to the other side of the boat, and came back with a catch of fish overflowing to the brim.

We all experience the storms.  We all have questions of faith, and look within only to find ourselves sorely lacking.  And we cry out calling to the Lord for succour and He tells us, “Oh ye of little faith.”



Like the Badjao, we need to believe that despite all our troubles, tomorrow will be another day.  The sun will be shining and the tides will subside.  Like them, we are all beggars of faith, wholly dependent on our Father to get us through another long night.  And with this trust in Him, we lean back and smile.

The storms will not last forever.

It takes one step then another, holding Jesus’ hand, for us to find out to our disbelief, that yes, through the certainty of faith, we CAN walk on water.


Unused Blogging Muscles December 15, 2007

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

I knew it was going to happen someday.

I would finally want to sit down and update my blog, but there is nothing that is worthy of writing about. So I just sit here, enumerating mundane points-of-time vignettes about my relatively dull life which are only of importance to myself.

So SHOO!…. you can stop reading now. I might bore you to tears.

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What, you’re still here?

You’re a lot more bored than I thought you would be. Well okay then, here are snapshots of my so-called life, as it is at the moment:

1) Christmas Party season

December is here and Christmas Parties about all over Cebu. I’ve so far been invited to two Christmas parties. The first Christmas party was supposed to be last November 30. It was to be an island hopping event with an overnight stay at a small beach resort. Well… it pushed through except for one thing: the office manager of the company (who was the one who invited me) conveniently forgot to pick me up on the day that we were to leave for the beach, which she said she would do. She called me up on the following working day, explaining that she had so many things to take care of that she only remembered forgetting to pick me up when she got to the beach herself.

Yeah right.

Oh well… I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, so I just let it slide. I don’t know what the deal was with her, so I just let her be. *shrug* I was kinda disappointed though because I was looking forward to taking pictures of our island-hopping trip, as well as night shots of the moon-lit beach.

Last night, I attended another client’s Christmas Party, which was a masquerade ball held in Fort San Pedro. That one was very interesting. I bought myself one of those cheap 9-peso plastic masks sold in the local department store, expecting my client and his employees to do the same, but to my surprise, they came with elaborate masks that they fashioned themselves, very much like those found in Venetian gala parties in the Victorian era. Well, what would you expect from a company that exports furniture accessories? They’re bound to have very creative craftsmen. I was made to be one of the judges in all their contests for the night, witnessing their hidden talents, such as singing, dancing, and creativity in certain games. And, as concluded by their very own bosses, it was remarked, “Some talents should remain hidden.”

They had very interesting games which I’ve never seen before, such as “Dress Up Your Santa Contest” where each team was given red crepe paper, a roll of scotch tape, and a whole bag-full of foam-cotton, the objective being to convert one of their members into the closest parody of Santa Claus, front and back. We had to disqualify one team because they dressed up their member as Mrs. Claus.

Another interesting game was the “Gift Wrapping Contest.” This was interesting because it comprised of two members from each team, each pairs’ right and left hand tied together while their untied hands had to work in tandem to wrap a Christmas present.

I have a feeling that I will be invited to three other clients’ Christmas parties within the month. Our firm’s own party is coming up on Friday, and already there is this really gigantic box under the office Christmas tree with my name on it. I hope it’s not a stripper in hiding. I only plan on opening that box on Friday. She might starve.

2) Christmas Gifts

I’ve done my Christmas shopping early and bought gifts for all my inaanaks and some pamangkins, as well as some gifts for the people in the firm. I’ve gotten some gifts in advance as well. A client sent me a cake from La Marea, and another sent me that gigantic box which I previously mentioned. My parents gave me my Christmas gift in advance, a handsome and lightweight black jacket with reflector stripes. Also, last November, I got a stack of books from my sister.

The only people I haven’t bought a gift for yet are for those close to my heart: some friends (the special children), my sister (Nips, timbon na lang when you get home), and my parents. It is impossible to buy gifts in advance for my folks, especially for my dad, who is picky about the things you give him. So for Christmas, I will have to take them both to the mall to do our shopping.

3) Simbang Gabi –

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is coming up tomorrow, the Simbang Gabi. I’ve been going to the Simbang Gabi all my life, accompanying my mom, lola, tita, sister and cousins for this annual tradition, but it has only been for the last 5 or 6 years that I’ve made a habit of completing the attendance of all 9 days of the Simbang Gabi.

My family attends the Simbang Gabi of Redemptorist Church, which is held on 5am, starting tomorrow. The nice thing about going to Redemptorist Church is that they have immediately after the mass, as certain charitable churchgoers sell foodstuff the capital AND proceeds of which go directly to the Church fund, which has benefitted many scholars and calamity victims over the past few years. Plus, some of the pama-init stall vendors include Cafe Laguna which sells their well-reknown bibingka.

Since tomorrow is the first day of the Simbang Gabi, and a Sunday to boot, expect very large crowds.

4) Balikbayan in town –

One of my oldest and closest friends arrived in town yesterday night, flying over from New Jersey in the United States. This friend is Dr. John David Seno, a Board topnotcher twice over (once in the Philippines and the other time in the US, where he scored 99 in the recent exam… the highest score ever achieved in the State of New York).

This guy has been my bestfriend since the 5th Grade. If you think that I’m one of the screwiest and most green-minded persons, you’ve ever met, well let me reveal to you that my corrupting influence is this guy, Johndi. This is the same guy who introduced me to the wonderful world of pornography and hard partying, for which I am eternally grateful for.

Johndi was into photography even way back in our teens, so I hope to take Johndi out down South later this month for a photoshoot with me in one of the Churches. Plus, I wanna see how it feels like to use a Nikon D80, which is the SLR being used by Johndi.

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And that is my life, so far.

And whoah! I’m blogging again.

Science, Progress and Restlessness December 1, 2007

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

In basic general science, we’ve learned that a body at rest does not launch into motion unless propelled by a force of energy sufficient to overcome the pull of gravity upon its stationary mass.In my case, I am a body at rest and in lieu of gravity, the forces which have frozen me into inaction (and sometimes stupification), are the mind-numbing paralyses of stagnation and ennui.

The fact is that I just don’t want to move.

I just want to crawl under a rock like a dung beetle and bide my time away while I make sense of my bearings and understand where True North lies for this mangy, flea-bitten wolf.

Unfortunately, Time won’t stand still with me. It moves in tides and ebbs with the threat of prescriptive periods, deadlines, and deliverables. While I remain as a practitioner of law, I cannot afford the steep price of killing time to get to know myself better.

My responsibilities to the law firm and its clients is paramount over my own selfish self-interest. These are without mention of my heavier duties to my family, as one of its breadwinners.

I am an object in motion whose critical mass of stagnation and discontent demands that I shut down and store potential energy. Unfortunately, the strong winds of duty, necessity and survival prod me along unwillingly towards a stumbling vector of resistant movement.

In truth, I do not wish to be made to move against my will. I want to act of my own volition, towards the first quadrant of the vector, where the passion of my spirit increases in proportion to the distance covered by my movement. Rather than be made to move against its intent, this object that desires to be at rest wishes to find the energy within itself to move and run by bounds and leaps.

And what is this inner energy that I seek? Some men have named it as Inspiration, Passion and Purpose.

But of those, I have none.

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And with this, I apologize to my regular readers (if I have any left) from my long absence and erratic pause-gaps in blogging. I just don’t have it in me to summon the arrogance and project the sublime bastardry of the Magnificent Atty. Perez. Right now, I’m just Janjan, a tired and overworked new lawyer.


Escapism in my Mind November 15, 2007

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

Ever since I’ve graduated from high school, I’ve either been studying or working or both. At the most, I have had only my summer vacations back in my undergraduate years in Accounting to count as real vacations where I had nothing to do but lounge around in the house.

And I’ve realized that I’m tired. I want to run away. That is my fondest wish. I want to get lost to this world, to be a complete stranger in a strange land. I want to take time, a year and a day, to just stop and reflect. I want to reorient myself, know where I’m headed, understand who I am, and just reconnect to the world that I feel I’m alienated from. I want to take time to meditate and get to know my God better.

But of course, that is just an idle fantasy. The reality is that I have duties at home, to my clients and to life in general that bars me from irresponsibly dropping everything and being self-indulgent. But nevertheless, I can always run away in my dreams.

The question begs therefore… where will I run off to? What will I do? What will I carry?

Well… in my imagination, I’m packing the following things: One week’s worth of change in clothes, plus a lot of laundry soap for my washing. A strong, sturdy and waterproof knapsack. A nuclear-powered laptop with satellite link to the Internet (so I can still keep track of the world and let everyone know that I’m alright and alive), a magnesium-alloy body DSLR, with a full complement of Nikkor lenses (macro, fisheye, tele-zoom, and wide-angle). The camera should be chargeable against the laptop’s nuclear battery.

I would be riding an amphibious car that can run on land or water, powered by super-efficient solar panels. My wallet would have enough to meet for my basic needs during all the time that I’m away. I will carry a cellphone with satellite link-up, but on a strict firewal that only allows me to be accessed in case of someone dear to me.

And now… where do I go off to? Where will I spend my year and a day in solitude?

My conditions are that the place where I am going to must be quiet, solitary and cut-off from the rest of the world. I would like to hear myself think, that’s why I would like to go to:

1) The Benedictine Trappist monastery in Belgium that reputedly brews the best beer in the world. I would love to stay there and learn the secrets of their brewery. Plus, I could also learn the Benedictine’s discipline of prayer and meditation. They could assign me somewhere, perhaps to their vegetable patch or to their carpentry room, where I could make myself useful. I could already imagine myself in the beautiful and cold temperate forests of Belgium, taking pictures of black bears and wolves, and hying off for vespers at the Trappist chapel. And as we turn in for the night, we are handed our ration of heaven’s beer.

2) Osaka, Japan, the birthplace of karate, where I will train with the best karate masters in the world. I’ve been a Japanophile way before the advent of the anime craze in the Philippines. I love the quiet minimalism associated with Japanese culture. I want to wake up to a glorious sunset with a D300 in hand, taking pictures of cranes bobbing for fishes in the Osakan sea.

3) The Banaue Rice Terraces. I want to live amongst the Ifugaos, and get my hands dirty planting rice alongside them. I want to take pictures of their ritual medicine dances and sleep in their conical stilt huts.

4) The Wudan Temple in inland China… the one that was used in the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Oh to learn meditation principles and kung-fu with the Wudan masters…. that would be a treat. Mind you, I am not talking about the Shaolin monks (the ones in orange robes, practicing Buddhism), but the brown robe-clad monks of the Taoist sect. Why? Because if you’ve seen the movie, you’d know how breathtakingly beautiful the Wudan Temple is and how hard it is to access.

5) The wineyards of Champagne, France, where I will harvest the delicate white wine grapes together with the French peasants. A bonus for me would be if it has an eerie forest, just like the one seen in “Le Pacte le Loupe” (Brotherhood of the Wolf), where there are great photo opportunities waiting to be captured.

6) Barcelona, Spain, where my Perez roots are said to hail from. Barcelona… a city full of painters, passionate women, flamenco guitars and tango dancers. Beautiful stucco roofs, old buildings, flourishing art all around… strong, full-bodied… just like brandy.

7) A castle in Germany. I’m a big fan of the medieval ages, and what better way bto retrace the roots of the Dark Ages than visit the land where Goths, Visigoths and Vandals once rampaged? I could spend hours learning German and then poring over ancient manuscripts hand-written by Jesuit friars.

I guess this is my list of idyllic places where I want to run away and hide from the rest of the world. One can only dream. 🙂

Magnificent in Iloilo October 27, 2007

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

I am writing in the stark new whiteness that is Iloilo’s international airport, arriving an hour earlier than my scheduled flight. It is 7:43 in the morning, a diffused gray light permeating through gray overcast clouds and the vents of the airport roof.

Two days earlier, I was appearing for the private complainant in a criminal case for the violation of B.P. Blg. 22, the Bouncing Checks Law. It was an interesting experience for me, one where the gentle spirit of the Ilonggo people was laid bare before the halls of justice.

Being a case for bouncing checks, my hearing was held at the Municipal Trial Court, where jurisdiction over B.P. 22 cases is lodged. There were around 20 other cases slated for hearing prior to our case’s arraignment, in various stages of hearing, from arraignment to pre-trial to full-blown trial.

I was amused to observe the proceedings of these cases. Most of these were for violations of B.P. 22, and I was surprised to see that considering the number of cases slated for hearing that day, I only saw a few lawyers. The room could barely contain the throng of people gathering outside to participate in the proceedings. The first few cases were called, and to confirm my suspicions, most if not all the party-litigants weren’t represented by legal counsel. That was weird. In Cebu, it is very uncommon for parties to appear in court without being represented by a lawyer, while here in this court, counsel represented only 1 out of every 5 cases.

The judge started the day by berating the number of people gathered before her to try their cases, for the reason that so many of the B.P. 22 cases lodged with her court had barely moved from the date of filing. Now this is surprising, notwithstanding the delay in the Philippine justice system. In my experience in Cebu, B.P. 22 cases usually were resolved within a year, or 2 years most. But it seemed like each and every case that stood before the judge had long been stuck in litigation, taking around 3 to 5 years to move from arraignment to pre-trial, which is highly unusual.

Now there can only be two reasons for this delay of so many number of cases. It was either that that particular court didn’t have a judge for the said number of years and that the judge before me was newly installed to her position. But on the other hand, it could also be that the party litigants themselves delayed the trial of the case either through neglect, lack of interest, or mutual consent to delay the case.

Judging from the ebullient rantings of that judge, I guess the situation in this court was of the latter, that the litigants themselves have not moved for the prosecution of the case. Again, I found this unusual. Usually, in Cebu, once the private complainant filed the case for B.P. 22, his lawyer’s marching orders are to hasten the proceedings for immediate collection in the case. But here in Iloilo, I was amused to find that the private complainants themselves were asking the judge to give them more time to settle the case with the accused, as if they were embarrassed to have filed the case in the first place with the court. Of course, the judge got angrier at that point and started chiding the parties in Ilonggo.

“Ti lima na ka tuig inyong settlement haw, kag way pa gihapon mo na obra nga compromise. Guin-usik-usik lang ninyo akon oras, indi na puwede! Mag-pre-trial na ta subong, kay kun dili, akon i-dismiss ang kaso!” (You have been trying to settle this case for 5 years and until now, you still haven’t worked out a compromise. You’re just wasting my time, this cannot be. We shall have pre-trial today, otherwise I will dismiss the case).

I actually pitied the accused. Had they hired a lawyer, they themselves could have moved for the dismissal of the case with prejudice, for the violation of their Constitutional right to speedy trial. 5 years is an abnormally long time to resolve a B.P. 22 case. And for what? The amounts involved in the trial were very minimal, ranging anywhere from P10,000 to P30,000.

This reveals a lot about the Ilonggo people to me, insofar as litigation is concerned. Based on this, I infer that Ilonggos are very gentle people who would avoid direct confrontation at all costs, preferring to work things out through compromise and discussion. Judging from their behavior in the courts, the party litigants seemed like they didn’t want to have to resort to litigation to enforce collection of the checks, but perhaps to show the accused that they meant business, the private complainants filed the cases anyway for collection.

In Cebu, you would have found the party litigants arguing in heated debate before the judge. Here in Iloilo, after sheepish appearance before the courts, the parties walked away shaking hands and smiling at each other. Interesting. Indeed, the Ilonggos are a warm and gentle people.

My client, a Cebuano contractor for construction projects, also pointed out something interesting about Iloilo: the buildings and their interiors were better designed than the ones in Cebu. He concluded that architects here had more say over the outcome of the building and that Ilonggos were willing to spend good money for good-looking homes and offices, much like the people in Manila. This was unlike Cebu where cost, value and functionality were more important considerations over design and aesthetics, evidenced by the admittedly drab and Spartan design of Cebuano structures. In Cebu, the contractor had bigger say over the final outcome of the construction, much more than the architects, consistent with the Cebuano mentality that “We don’t care so much about it looking fancy, just make sure the building is stable and built at low cost.”

I wish I had more time to tour around during my stay here but my time was spent at the hotel studying my cases and working on pending pleadings. I would have wanted to visit the old houses and churches that the Ilonggos are known for. At least I got to meet up with old friends and sample some of the tasty Ilonggo cuisine. The batchoy and the inasal nga manok was superb. I also got to see that contrary to what I expected, Iloilo was actually quite urbane. I was expecting something like Tagbilaran or Dipolog, a city that still looks like a town.

Well… they’re calling my flight back home to Cebu. Thus ends my first ever trip to the land of batchoy, Dinagyang, beautiful buildings and gentle people. It was an interesting trip, but nevertheless, it would be good to go back home.