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Monday, April 30, 2007

Give Me a Damn Break!

If you look out from my office workstation, this is the view that will greet you:

Can’t help but wonder: what on earth did these people do to deserve the good life? All they do all day is laze under the sun, float (or have sex) by the pool or doze off in their air-conditioned five-star hotel room. For anything they need, the hotel staff is at their beck and call.

Moi? I cannot even enter the goddamn hotel.

How I wish I'd have the time ... and resources, to simply disappear and be a King in a faraway kingdom. How I wish I could fly off to some island in the Bahamas. Or Greece. Even Antarctica. Wherever I could have some f**k**g rest.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Toast to Success

The Adamson College of Law tendered a testimonial dinner to its 20 bar passers last night.

The ceremony was simple but the mood was unmistakably jovial. It was obvious that the school was proud of what we have accomplished. With a passing percentage of 48%, our performance landed us within the top ten schools in Metro Manila, besting among others, San Sebastian, UE, PLM, PUP and MLQU.

For the first time, we met our teachers on a different plane: as equals. It felt weird being called “pañero” by people you dreaded just a few months back. But with the privilege formally conferred, we can’t help but strike back (kami pa!). As we all had the chance to speak, we took turns roasting our professors who made law school hell on earth. It felt great (nye he he).

When we dared to enter law school, we knew we had to shed off all trappings of pride. Regardless of who we are outside, we were nothing but students inside – the lowest of all mammals. It was our choice that we stepped into the jungle - we should dance with the tune if we want to survive.

I had a hard time adjusting during the early days. It was difficult being the subject of mental torture of teachers, some of whom could even be younger than you. And these teachers mince no words in putting their message across. In my books, the classic line forever attached to me are the words of Professor Abelardo Domondon in our Remedial Law class – “Nakakaintindi ka ba talaga ng Ingles? Ano ba course mo, ha? Yan na nga ba ang sinasabi ko, e. You are being allowed to reach 4th year even if you know nothing!”

I brought this out last night and we all had a good laugh recalling just how blanked-out I was that recitation night. I did resent the harsh words at the time, but now that I have proven myself (ahem), all doubts in the past, I guess, have been erased. So, okay na rin ako.

Being a former teacher myself, I know where the professors are coming from when they get utterly mad. For most of them who are there not for the money but for the passion to teach, it could really drive one nuts when students fail to meet expectations despite the teacher's efforts to prepare for the class. But when it’s harvest time, I know how happy and proud they are that their wards have accomplished what they aspired for. All the pain inflicted in the honing process were nothing personal. Just part of the game, so to speak.

And we understand.

Monday, April 23, 2007


My law school frat, Confraternitas Justitiae or the Knights, treated us to dinner Friday night. Had fun.

The event reeked of déjà vu. We’ve clearly been there before. Just last year and some years back, we were the ones hosting dinner for those who passed. Was I glad I was in the present scene.

-- *** ---

After dinner, my co-passers went out for coffee. From afar, one could read excitement written all over our faces as we crossed the street. Why?

Because I just got a copy of the Suggested Answers to the 2006 Bar Examinations published by the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS). You see, we took it upon ourselves not to look at the questions after the exams. With the results now out, we were all convinced it was time to check how (or why? :-)) we passed.

And boy, were we glad not to have taken the slightest peek on the questions. Some of them we can’t even immediately remember. Some were vaguely familiar and we cannot recall how we answered. And for the controversial questions that have been haunting us even in our dreams, some we got correctly, some we totally missed.

If we took the bar exams from those who provided the answers, we could have failed. But of course, we knew we could not have answered the way they did. They had all the time in the world to conduct research and compose and edit their responses.

I surmise that the examiners were patient enough in reading through our booklets. I guess the major reason we passed is because the examiners graded our performance as a whole and not based on major blunders alone.

My biggest nightmare had always been on the premise that I had undeniably wrong answers – answers that if read on their lonesome would make me look so stupid I would be a disgrace to the bar. That my other answers were considered and thus redeemed me is something that I should really be thankful for.

-- ***--

The drive home became reflection time for me. These thoughts uncontrollably rushed in:

1. At one point, one has to confront his fears.

2. The rendezvous could lead only two ways: you are relieved you did right or disappointed to know that you were right in getting worried.

3. But after all is said and done, everything is in the past. Either you continue wallowing in self-indulgence or free yourself from your ghosts.

Recalling our hearty laughs after checking how we fared in the exams made me wish life could go fast-forward.

I dream of the day when just like what we did Friday night, I would find myself reading through my life-blog and after browsing through angst-ridden pages, I’d simply smile at the mistakes I’ve done.

And then move on.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Song In My Mind

I wish I could sing this song now.

But no. Not yet. Not all things are in place. Yet.

I'd have to wait.

As usual.

I have no choice. The gifts I receive normally come in parts. Always incomplete.

Maybe I just have to appreciate every blessing that comes my way. Regardless of its nature.

And then believe that there is an appointed time for everything.

No need to rush. Really.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My Island 3: A Call For Tourists

(This article was published in the Lifestyle Section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 11, 2007)
(pics are mine)

Adventure Island Hops in Northern Samar
by: Augusto Villalon

ISLAND CARAVAN IS A YOUNG adventure tour operator offering a smorgasbord of tours to the most exciting and unexpected places in the Philippines.

Island Caravan arranges everything to get me to the many places I have always wanted to see. What’s more, they often suggest other places in this great country that I never even knew existed.

Three of these “secret” places are the islands Biri, Capul and Dalupiri, all off the coast of Northern Samar.
Remote and desolate, and definitely off the normal tourist track, forgotten Northern Samar evokes powerful images.

Among the last frontiers in the country, its rugged coastline of limestone cliffs along the Pacific Ocean is a historical landmark. During the Spanish colonial era, Samar island was the first Philippine landfall seen by the Manila galleons as they approached the end of their long voyage from Acapulco.

Entering the waters of the Philippine archipelago, the galleons called at the fortified island of Capul off Samar, offered thanks for a safe crossing at the Jesuit church, and then negotiated the rough waters of narrow San Bernardino Strait toward Manila, their final destination.

Capul also became the last stop on Philippine soil of the departing galleons before the long, often treacherous trans-Pacific sail to Acapulco in Mexico.

Island Caravan’s “Samar Outdoor Escapade” checks guests into lodgings at the port town of Allen then spends the next two days exploring the islands off the wind-swept Samar shoreline.

Walk around rock formations on the beach before riding astride a motorcycle behind the driver “habal-habal” style, climbing up a narrow, winding coconut-shaded mountain path. The rest of the trail must be negotiated on foot, but it’s an easy trek to a pair of massive rock formations atop of the hill, visible navigation markers to incoming ships seen kilometers away at sea.

The US Signal Corps used the location during World War II to scan for enemy ship sailing in from the Pacific.

The following day, a large outrigger banca takes you to largely unexplored Biri, a marine sanctuary surrounded by marshlands. Another “habal-habal” ride through rice paddies which follow the rolling contours of the rustic landscape ends at wind-battered limestone cliffs lining the shore.

After Biri, the banca crosses the open sea to fabled Capul, the next destination, the Spanish galleon staging point in the colonial era. The ruins of the massive, extensive Capul fortress, now part of the modern town, mark the strategic significance of Capul in the era of the galleon trade.

What has survived is impressive—Saint Ignatius Church, integrated into the fortress walls, the ruins of an old watchtower looking out toward the sea, and a Spanish-era lighthouse on the island’s most prominent hilltop.
The last island we visited was Dalupiri (or San Antonio), where the water is pristine, the white sand beaches deserted and spotless, and where weary psyches battered by urban stress recharge instantly, and the balance between man and nature is regained.

Fly to Catarman from Manila. The bus to Allen Baluarteco connects through the ro-ro (roll on-roll off) system to strategic points in the Visayas, Luzon and Mindanao.

Island Caravan offers an extensive menu of adventure tours in the most surprising, unexpected locations in the Philippines. For inquiries, information or bookings, call 896-1910, 816-7569, 0920-9048646, or e-mail

Monday, April 16, 2007

Handling Failure

I was the one who broke the bad news to a friend who was not in Manila when the bar exam results were released. I was talking to him on the phone as I read through the names – which did not include his.

I really didn’t know how to handle the situation. It was obvious from my voice that I was still excited from my own success, but at the same time, I had to show that I commiserate with his pain. And I really did. But how can one share in the pain while he is in extreme joy? Tell me.

There were other very close friends and some acquaintances of mine who suffered the same fate. Some of them even congratulated me but expressly asked not for me to text back. In my mind, I could hear them crying.

I wish I could in any way lessen the pain and depression, but I’m sure that no matter what I’d do, these are already etched in their hearts.

I know. I’ve had one failure too many. For years, I have lived through a challenge that until today doesn’t want to desert me. In my life, victories always come by installments.

I have yet to fully recover from the severe battering I got, but I’m living on. So, I hope my friends will find the same courage to just cruise through the pain. Maybe it would help if we all believe that there is a proper time for everything. Just allow the future to unfold and understand things from there.

I have earlier thought to send inspirational text messages but I decided otherwise. So, I hope my friends will not misunderstand the silence. I just think that at this time, any intrusion into their peace will only break their brittle resolve.

But I do hope to see them soon in brighter spirits.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Lenten Trek

If there was one thing that really touched me during my entire bar exam struggle, it was the fact that there were just so many who prayed hard for me to make it.

When I reached home Holy Thursday, my first public appearance was in Church and I was overwhelmed by the warm reception of the people. It was clear from the faces of those who congratulated me (and it was like my entire hometown population) that my feat made them happy and proud. And they all shared in my victory because they all did their part in storming the gates of Heaven.

Before the grueling September exams, my brother Louie and cousin Elaine decided to visit all the chapels in our island town and prayed to all the patron saints of the barrios. They made a vow to return should I be blessed.

They made good on their promise on Good Friday, this time, with me in tow. And it was a refreshing experience. I was able to say my prayer of thanks and met people I have long missed.

We crossed hills, rocks, dirt roads and some sea under the scorching heat of the summer sun, but it did not tire us much. Maybe there was something in the activity that simply soothes the spirit.

for sure I was not able to thank all those who shared in my pleas for graces. So to all of them, I bow my head and offer my sincerest gratitude.

Maraming Salamat po!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Thanks to All!



(The throng at the Supreme Court yard.)

(Posted at my workstation today.)

Monday, April 2, 2007

This Is It!

Just a few more hours ... and the verdict will be in.

The wait is killing me..