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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

Spider-man Too May 15, 2014

Posted by Janjan in Geekery & Nerdoms.
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butt

I finally got to see the movie Spider-man 2 last night and got my heart broken all over again, like it did when I read about the death of Gwen Stacy back when I was a teenager. I liked the movie. It was good enough but there were parts that dragged. Andrew Garfield and Emma Thompson are really good actors, and listening to them banter was like watching a Woody Allen movie where everyone had really smart lines to say. It makes me wonder sometimes. Nobody talks like that in real life, do they?

In a way, the Andrew Garfield version of Peter Parker is a social commentary of how far nerds and geeks have come. Acting non-withstanding, I think the Toby Maguire version of Peter Parker was more true to the comics in the sense that Peter Parker was a social outcast. The jocks bullied him and the popular girls mocked him. The comic book Peter was as pariah as it gets.

toby vs andrew

The Andrew Garfield version of Peter, however… he’s the hipster nerd of the Millenial generation. He was picked on by bullies in the movie more because he was a miscreant. He was too cool to fit in, and the popular kids secretly wanted to be him, with his rebel-without-a-cause attitude and his neat skateboard tricks. The comic book Peter Parker was true to my experience. He could never be considered cool. He was the nerd’s nerd, complete with pocket protectors and Poindexter scientific mumbo-jumbo.

I guess this is a statement as to how far nerds have risen above the social strata of this generation, far higher than we nerds from Generation X. And honestly, I think the Millenial nerds should be thankful to us, and to all the nerds of generations past, for winning the fight for social acceptance and respect. Along the way, we somehow figured out the formula to make nerdery cool. Somehow, along the way, nerds became part of the hipster movement and at this point, I realize, I was a nerd *sunglasses* before it was cool.

For that, my people profoundly apologizes to the rest of the world. *smile*

The Magnificent King May 7, 2014

Posted by Janjan in Idiocy, Lawyer Jokes Make the World Go Round.
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“When I am king, you will be fetched against the wall…  and your opinion which is of no consequence at all… Watch this!”

– Radiohead, Paranoid Android

 sheldon

Dear People of the Philippines,

I, the Magnificent Atty. Perez, a native-born Filipino, of legal age, single and a resident of Cebu City, Philippines, do hereby move that you abdicate democracy and nominate me as your Supreme Emperor. Let us wake up to the reality that as a society, we are still too immature for democracy. We allow our votes to be bought which leads to all sorts of corruption and inefficiencies in government.

The truth is my dear people, you need a benevolent dictator, and I feel that it is incumbent upon myself, the Magnificent Atty. Perez, to offer my benign tyranny as the answer to your social ills. I already refer to myself in the third person, practicing in front of the mirror, reciting my daily affirmations day after day. “Our Magnificence is brilliant. Our Magnificence is supreme. Our Magnificence needs a new roll of toilet paper. Our Magnificence feels less hemorroidal today. Our Magnificence needs to trim his nose hair.”  Royalty is the next logical step.

I once aspired to be your Vice-president, and throw my support upon someone wiser and more experienced than I, our current Davao City Mayor and potential President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. But Roddy is not taking my phone calls or accepting my flowers and tokens of love and affection. Just today, I received a temporary restraining order requiring me to keep a 50 meter distance away from Mayor Duterte. I am beginning to suspect that he does not want to be my running mate, which makes me question his wisdom and experience.

It is inevitable, therefore, that you must make me your King. My country needs a Savior and Gat Jose Rizal once said that the youth is the hope of the Fatherland. I am young once and I could still pass for 23 years old. And I still know how to do the interpretative dance for “Children of Yesterday’s Dream”. Hence, logically, I am the most fit to rule you.

I make this offer out of self-sacrifice and humility. I am not thinking about the showbiz deals that ABS-CBN will offer for my life’s story, nor the celebrity endorsements that companies such as Century Tuna, Jollibee and Bench Underwear will surely make my way. Nor am I thinking of the young, nubile and impressionable political interns who will wish to pop out of my birthday cakes to sing me Happy Birthday. No. I wish only to serve and to rule you. I’m just that kind of guy.

I can be tyrannical. I am a litigator, after all. I have made people cry. Usually with laughter, but sometimes, with bitterness and regret. But I can also be compassionate. Why, just today, the waiter extended his hand and asked me for a tip. I told him to try the chicken at Isidra. I’m sure he was basking with gratefulness. As early as now, the Pope is preparing for my beatification. We’re still trying to find a loophole around that two miracle thing. If not, I also have a standing invitation to become a Moslem.

Nevertheless, I must inform you of my sound plans to make you the great nation that Imelda Marcos once declared you will become. Never fear, we shall do this without me purchasing any single shoe.

INFRASTRUCTURE PLANS

1) We need roads. Good roads. Lots of roads. Roads going to all the remote barrios of the country. Roads made of solar panels that could harvest sunlight as well as provide ingress and egress to the ends of the country. Roads so well maintained, we could make a killing holding F-1 races in the Philippines, sponsored by Ferrari, Mclaren and Pasajero Jeepney.

2) We need renewable and clean energy. Lots of it. Think wind turbines, and rotors powered by the waves of the sea. Think using solar panels on our roofs. Think putting a suction tube on Kris Aquino’s mouth to harvest her endless supply of hot air.

3) We need a strong and affordable information super expressway. Let us cut down on bloated profit-sharing bonuses for executives in government-owned and controlled corporations. Let’s use that money to buy fiber-optic cables as thick as my face. Let it crawl into each and every nook and cranny of our country until we are practically emitting wi-fi signals from our banana trees. We will need this to automate our repetitive manual systems and cut government processing times from 48 years to 30 minutes.

4) Schools. Lots of schools. Good schools that cannot be shattered by earthquakes or typhoons or by budget allocations favoring ghost projects. And give the public school teachers absurdly high salaries so that everyone will want to serve the education of all our bright young Filipinos, more than they will want to become caregivers for the senior citizens of all the foreign nations of the world. I want to see more people take the Education Board Exams than the Philippine Bar. God knows we need less shameless lawyers with delusions of grandeur.

5) Hospitals. We need lots of great hospitals. Let no Filipino ever die again because he did not have enough money for the downpayment of his medical bills. And better salaries for our nurses. Let us also find ways to lower the price of our overly-expensive medicines.

EDUCATION PLANS

1) First and foremost, I want to bring arts, music and culture back into our curriculum, not as a backseat subject but as something each child has to do. I believe that a productive and spiritually-sound nation is one whose childhood was spent learning how to play a musical instrument or painting pictures of banana trees using his fingers. A good Filipino is one who can speak a multitude of languages, from his native tongue, to English, to 3 other Filipino languages, some foreign language and a fictional language such as Tengwar, Dothraki and Klingon. If he can ululate and expectorate in Wookie, even better.

2) I will abolish that silly notion of a “Filipino” national language. Let’s call a spade a spade. “Filipino” is nothing more than Tagalog with a smattering of other Filipino languages. Each and every language whether Ilonggo, Tausug, Chavacano or Beckinese IS Filipino. I will bring back dignity in our other tongues.

3) Every Filipino child will learn how to defend himself or herself in hand-to-hand, melee and armed combat. It will be mandatory to train in the military, just like in Israel and Turkey. We know our precarious situation in the world. Everyone has to be ready to fight back. And everyone has to learn how to defend themselves from kung fu, because you know…

4) It will be MANDATORY for every Filipino child to learn how to start their own business. We will no longer promote a servant mindset and encourage each other to become better employees. We will liberate everyone to feel empowered and responsible for their own success.

5) We will promote a culture of cleanliness and clean living. No more throwing litter on the streets and in our ocean. No more farting indescriminately in public elevators.

AGRICULTURE

1) It will be MANDATORY for every Filipino child to learn how to maintain a garden, care for their environment, create fish pens, or raise animals. When the ape apocalypse comes, all Filipinos will learn how to survive and adapt to serve our gorilla overlords.

2) We will modernize our agricultural systems. No more use of carabaos to till the land. No more drying of rice hulls at the sides of the highway. Every Filipino will use modern techniques such as aquaponics and hydroponics to grow crops in their own backyards, and not just online through Farmville.

3) We will instill PRIDE in becoming farmers, soil scientists, agriculturalists, fishermen, and animal husbandrists. Our country will throw State Fairs to promote agricultural and forestry achievements. Students will be made to take psychological exams before deciding to take up Law or when they tell their friends and relatives that they want to become politicians.

If you make me your king, my people, you will all be very happy. We will make this country GREAT again!

Ako po ang Magnificent Atty. Perez, at ako po’y humaharap sa inyo ngayon bilang nagsasariling kandidato para Hari ng Pilipinas. Salamat at mabuhay ka Pilipinas!

 

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.

Luke Skywalking May 4, 2014

Posted by Janjan in Uncategorized.
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Today, May 4, is international Star Wars Day.  (Simply because this is the only day of the year that Star Wars geeks can greet “May the Fourth be with you!”.  Witty, yes?)

Image

 

I am not a die-hard Star Wars geek.  I say that out of relativity because one of my cousins is a Sithlord / Stormtrooper cosplayer who got married wearing a Jedi robe.  (To date, the only Jedi-themed Catholic wedding ever allowed in existence).  I do own the West End Games version of the Star Wars RPG and I did see Star Wars Episode 1 three times at the theater.  And yes, I can tell the difference between a Gunggan and an Ewok, an X-Wing from an A-Wing, an AT-AT Walker from an Imperial Interdictor, and I know that traditionally, there can only be two Sith Lords in existence:  One to wield the Dark Side of the Force and the other to crave it.

However.

Unlike most Star Wars fans, I don’t think highly of George Lucas.  Oh wait, let me correct that.  The George Lucas of the 1970’s and the 1980’s who created American Graffiti and the Star Wars Trilogy was a genius.  The George Lucas who came after, who tweaked, re-tweaked the digital editions of Star Wars and did a horribly-written “turning” of Anakin Skywalker… that guy is a piece of work.  But to be fair, he does have his moments.  The reason why I watched Episode 1 over and over and over was because I couldn’t get enough of the brilliant fight choreography between Qui-gon Jinn, Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul.

I do have a sentimental attachment to the Star Wars franchise, however.  I remember being three years old, wearing a white sando and tightey whitey briefs, and having my older cousins, the Gonzales brothers glued to the TV set watching on our Betamax, the intergalactic spaceship battle scenes.  I remember turning my mother’s bench to her vanity table over, facing the TV, and pretending it was me hurtling my X-wing across space and firing plasma cannons at the enemy Imperial fightercraft.  I remember seeing Luke hugging an overhanging part of a spaceship, his face badly bruised, with Darth Vader looming over him, saying “Luke, I am your father.”  Luke screamed “Noooooooooo!” then leaped off the ship.

I was too young to understand the script then (but I did get a gist of the overall story) and I never got to see the whole Trilogy again except when I was already in college.

I did get to see the adventures of R2D2 and C3PO in all its animated glory back in the 80’s.  And who could ever forget the spin-off Ewoks movies with Wickett and that ogre, and all the little furry Ewoks swinging through vines, Tarzan style, screaming “DANGGAR EWOKS!! DANGGAR!!”

(A little bit of trivia:  There was a creature there that ran fast and spoke even faster.  If you slow his speech track down, you’ll discover that he’s speaking in my native tongue, Cebuano.  One of Industrial Light & Magic lead animatronic engineers is a guy from Don Bosco Technical School here in Cebu.)

Let’s not even talk about my high school years, where I read Star Wars novels and discovered a villain that I wish the movies would include (Admiral Thrawn).

I’m not a big fan of George Lucas, but to his credit, he did leave behind a legacy which so many people have tied up fond memories of.  For that, I am grateful.

So from this geek from the islands, I wish you one and all a Happy Star Wars Day, and May the Fourth be with you!

 

 

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.

Mobile Office October 9, 2012

Posted by Janjan in Uncategorized.
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I don’t like bragging about gadgets. That’s why when I get new ones, I never advertise about it on social media. I will, however, make an exception for my latest acquisition, the Galaxy Note 1, not for purposes of bragging, but because I want to recommend it for all my fellow road warriors.

I am presently writing this blog on my Note, and people who know me can attest how much I detest virtual keyboards. I was happy with my Blackberry Curve, but this device opened up my eyes as to how intuitive virtual keyboards can be (believe it or not, I am typing this right now with my thumbs). So, one less apprehension to deal with.

I am also happy with its performance. Prior to the Note, I owned a much bigger tablet, the Toshiba Thrive. With that device, I was frustrated with certain limitations such as the clicking of the wrong links or the sluggish responsiveness of the touchscreen. I thought all smartphones were like that. To my surprise, despite its much slower screen, the Note has a much more responsive scan surface with only rare instances of wrong link selection.

I was also happy with its beautiful user experience and operational design. It’s very intuitive, with the working professional specifically in mind. Simple things such as having widgets for today’s agenda, or a monthly calendar on the screens are easily provided for use.

The icing on the cake would be its stylus pen, for note taking and drawing on your device. Another useful application for it is the signing of digital documents, which has become a necessity in this modern age, so much so, that it is one of the important provisions of the ecommerce act of the Philippines.

I don’t normally buy expensive gadgets unless there is a practical need for it. In my practice, the need had arisen. I travel often, which necessitates the acquisition of a mobile office gadget. No matter where I am, I can pull out the files stored on my laptop using my phone, through apps such as Dropbox, or Google Drive. I can edit them through Polaris Office. I can track and scan expenses and receipts using Expensify.

I can scan documents through Handy Scanner, annotate them with my S Pen, jot down items on my to-do list via Astrid or Action Method, or have a video conference with clients abroad through Skype.

The camera on this phone is quite decent (Trust me on this because I am also a pro photographer. This camera is pretty sweet, considering that its sensor is just mounted on a phone.)

I can even print direct to a printer using an app called Cloud Print, or use another app called TinyCam to monitor web-cams mounted to places such as my office, or (if I had one), my child’s bedroom.

For places without wifi, I can tether my laptop to this phone and use my phone’s data plan to provide internet to the laptop.

All that on a device as thin as a coin and as light as my bank account.

I highly recommend this to all my fellow professionals. The phone is a productivity beast, making life convenient for people who are always on the go and cannot spare time to go back to the office.

5 Things I Love About Being a Lawyer August 18, 2011

Posted by Janjan in Uncategorized.
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I’ve noticed that I criticize the practice of law far more often than I appreciate it.  Granted, the grass will always look greener at the other side of the fence.  But still, I did work hard for four and a half years to earn my title, so I guess I should learn to be more thankful about what life has handed me.  I did pray for it, so I should cherish this gift.

That being said, these are the things which I enjoy most about being a lawyer:

1)  The Opportunity to Travel Often – As a private practitioner of law, I am often required to go out of town for hearings and projects.  Back when I was an associate for the Palma law firm, the traveling was far more often and far more varied than at present.  Sometimes, I had to travel to as much as 3 provinces all within the span of mere days.  This was very good for my photography hobby as it gave me varied subjects to take photos of.  I’ve seen more of the Philippines than I ever thought I would, and I cherish each visit to somewhere new and never-before traveled as an opportunity to discover new things and to have an adventure.

2)  Meeting People from all Walks of Life – To quote one of the classics, I am one of those people who “dine with paupers and sup with kings.”  I have defended urban poor clients from being ejected from their own homes by an oppressive city government.  I count Senator Joker Arroyo and Microsoft Corporation as among one of my more affluent clients.  I have been fed with lansiao (bull penis) stew at a bus station carinderia, as well as the best roast beef in the country at Prince Albert restaurant in Landmark Hotel.  I’ve been the “floor manager” at a client’s house in the country, and billeted at the famous Manila Hotel.  I’ve rode a habal-habal from Dapitan to Dipolog, and flown first class at Philippine Airlines.  The beauty of the practice is that it allows me to meet people from all walks of life.  Squatters, senators, laborers, construction workers, dockhands, presidents, CEO’s, I’ve met and worked with them all.  This has allowed me a certain versatility and adaptability in blending in with whoever I interact with, regardless of their station in life.

3)  Prestige – There’s a joke that about lawyers getting the best seat in the house during barrio fiestas, surpassed only by priests.  The joke is that it does happen often, especially in the rural areas.  People in the Philippines tend to accord a lot of respect towards lawyers, all in deference to their title (regardless of whether or not respect is well-deserved, I’ve surmised.)  I find it humorous sometimes, such as during that year when a stranger asked me to be the godfather of his grandchild, all on account of my being a lawyer.  Sometimes, I think that the prestige is misplaced (such as certain lawyers who demand deference, i.e., insisting that people call them “Attorney”).  I do try not to let it get to my head, but to be honest, the prestige attached to my title does make my life easier for me, such as when I’m riding with unscrupulous taxi-cab drivers who are not aware that I know certain rules and regulations of the LTFRB with respect to public transportation.

4)  Dining Out and Drinking – More often than not, clients are quite gracious about meeting in fine dining places, which plays right to my foodie tendencies.  Thankfully, the Cebuano dining scene has diversified and improved from the 3 restaurant options from the 2 decades of my youth (i.e., Ding Qua Qua, Sunburst Fried Chicken, Larsians).  So now, we have a plethora of dining places to enjoy.  Also, clients seem to have this tradition of giving fine alcohol as presents to lawyers, which has bequeathed me with (to date) 4 bottles of Johnny Walker Black, a bottle of Chivas Regal, and 2 bottles of red wine.  Which again, I have no qualms in accepting and enjoying.  (P.S.  Dear clients, if you are reading this, I also am partial to Emperador brandy and Tanduay products)

5)  Flexi-time – The practice allows me a lot of leeway on how I spend the day.  Hence, if you hate the 9-to-5 routine, the practice of law is right for you.  On the downside, this has required greater discipline on my part because it’s just too easy to blow off the day doing absolutely nothing.  But nonetheless, I enjoy freedom on my mobility and the absence of restrictions on my time when it comes to my work, with no supervisor or HR Manager breathing down my back and whipping me in line at the salt mines.

I guess I can think of other things but these are, to my mind, the major perks of being a private practitioner of law.  They are, of course, balanced with things I hate about the practice, but for now, I will emphasize the positive.

I hope to find more things I like as the days go by, but this will do.

You’re Passionate! July 13, 2011

Posted by Janjan in Idiocy, Lawyer Jokes Make the World Go Round.
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2 comments

‎”Lust is no respecter of time and place.” – People vs Umali, 242 SCRA 17

One day, the Villainous Atty. Abella was partying with all his friends from showbiz when Anne Curtis, the girlfriend of his friend, the Magnificent Atty. Perez, got drunk.  Concerned, Judy Anne Santos asked Atty. Abella to drive Anne home.  Although he was villainous, Atty. Abella was still a gentleman.  So he got Anne Curtis to lean on his shoulder and drag-walked her slowly to his Porsche 911 Carrera.

Anne smelled so nice and the Villainous Atty. Abella was tempted to do something with her, but out of respect (and fear) for the Magnificent Atty. Perez, Atty. Abella desisted and tamed his libido with thoughts about his upcoming case.  Their drive home was relatively uneventful and silent.

However, Anne stirred from the passenger seat and said, “Harve, you’re passionate.”

Reaching the limits of his gentlemanly ways, Atty. Abella placed his hand on Anne Curtis’ bare thigh, but she drunkenly pushed away his sweaty palms.  Atty. Abella kept on driving.

Five minutes later, Anne stirred and again and spoke up more loudly, “Harve, you’re PASSIONATE!”

The Villainous Atty. Abella could not take it any longer so he stopped the car and kept the hand brakes up.  Then he leaned over and attempted to give Anne Curtis a wet and sloppy kiss.

 Anne Curtis shrieked and gave him a very hearty slap.

 Hot, bothered, and frustrated, the Villainous Atty. Abella could not take it any longer and shouted angrily.  “WHAT IS UP WITH YOU WOMAN???  You tell me I’m passionate twice but you stop me from doing anything about it!!  Are we getting it on or not???”

 To which Anne Curtis angrily screamed, “YOU SHTUPID MORON!!!  I KEEP TELLING YOU!!!  MY HOUSHE!!”, she said, pointing to the right.  “YOU’RE PASSHIN’ IT!!!”

————–

Morale of the story:  Never trust the Villainous Atty. Abella.  Or Anne Curtis.