The 2013 Philippine Bar Exam Passers

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the 2013 Philippine Bar Exam Passers!

The names on the list below are the names of people I knew back in high school (batchmates), college (coursemates, blockmates, org mates) and knew through friends who moved on to study law. The names are written exactly the way they were posted on the website:

63. ANGANGCO, Bernadette Marie G
69. ANTONIO, Angela A
147. BAUTISTA, Maria Francesca V
191. BUNAG, Jan Nicklaus S
258. CHATTO, II, Efren Dominique M
363. DIAZ, Rona April D
429. FERMIN, Doreen Grace R
440. FORTEA, Natassia L
571. LAGASCA, Marianne Franchesca Therese S
591. LAURON, Diana Margaret C
596. LAYNO, Ian Abelle P
1065. TEE, Divine Grace C
1089. TORRES, Jose Carlos S

For the full list, please visit this link. According to the Supreme Court, out of 5,293 that took the exam in October 2013, 22.18% or 1,174 examinees passed. Of the topnotchers, 5 came from University of the Philippines Law, 2 came from Ateneo Law, 1 came from San Beda, one from University of Batangas, one from University of Cebu and one from University of San Carlos.

Congratulations to everyone who passed!

Sacrificed Lives and a Culturally-Relevant Discovery

2014 Florida Bus Crash 1

A bittersweet thing that came out of the Florida Bus Crash last Friday, February 7, 2014 is that more people (including me) now know about Whang-Od, the last tattoo artist from Kalinga. She’s 93 years old. Many of the passengers were on that trip to visit her and her tribe.

The Beautiful Whang-Od

The Beautiful Whang-Od. Photo by Jake Versoza.

Prior to the accident, it seems that only tattoo enthusiasts and bonafide adventurers knew about Whang-Od. Now, people know more about her. That’s the good thing. But it also took a fatal accident to get her name more out there. 15 artists had to die to make one artist more known to her own fellow Filipinos. That’s the sad thing.

I read an article and watched a short documentary on Whang-Od  and the traditional tattoo-making method. She makes the tattoo using a couple of wooden sticks, a small nail and sweet potato ink, with no anesthesia. It looks really painful but interesting. I used to want to get a tattoo for vanity reasons, but I like how my bare skin looks now.

Now that more people here in the Philippines know about Whang-Od, I hope more people would take the opportunity to visit the Kalinga tribe and get a tattoo from her. I think those who died in the accident would want us to continue their journey.

I hope that our Philippine government and private bus companies improve road safety drastically here, because we can’t afford this to happen again. We cannot stop adventurers from being adventurers because of such mishaps that could have been prevented through good and strict public transport governance. We have to make sure that our transport system is safe so that people continue living, discovering and savoring our culture.

That way we can start having a lot #morefuninthePhilippines.

My 2013 Ylocandia Adventure Part 2 (Ilocos Norte)

After visiting Vigan, we went back to Ilocos Norte to visit the Paoay Church and have our dinner. The Paoay Church was built by Augustinian priests. They built it in such a way that it would withstand natural calamities, particularly earthquakes. Its design is known as “earthquake Baroque”. Many other churches in the Ilocos region have the same design, including the churches in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte and Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur.

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 1

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 2

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 3

Beauty at Dusk

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 4

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 5

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 6

A Magnificent Sight

DAY 2

The next day was spent going to one site to another, making it our trip’s most tiring yet best day. We started by going to Cape Bojeador, then Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, the Windmills in Bangui and finally Pagudpud.

Cape Bojeador is an old lighthouse that Spanish soldiers used to man the sea. The whole place has weathered over time. The main lighthouse’s stairs have rusted so badly that you can’t climb it anymore.

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 1

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 2

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 4

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 5

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 6

The best thing about Cape Bojeador is the seascape. From atop the high hills of Ilocos Norte, I was able to take photos of rolling waves from afar. The experience of actually seeing that with the wind blowing in my hair in the morning truly started my day right.

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 7

Then we drove to Burgos’ Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Walking towards the rock formation was a challenging yet fun experience. I braved winds that almost carried me away to get near a beautiful natural wonder that every Filipino has to visit and be proud of.

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 1

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 2

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 5

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 4

No photo can ever do justice to this sight. Ever.

 I was able to take only one photo of Bangui’s windmills  because it was starting to drizzle and we didn’t want to stay long so we wouldn’t get wet. Haiyan was battering Eastern Visayas that day, and we also got a taste of strong rains on our way to and during lunch time in Pagudpud. That’s also why we took a few photos there.

2013 Ilocandia - Bangui Windmills

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 1

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 2

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 3

We went back to Laoag to relax after our lunch in Pagudpud, and spent the whole time there. We didn’t tour any site the day after as it was the day of my friend’s wedding. 

DAY 4

We had a little time left, but we paid Ilocos Norte’s lakay’s home a visit. It was the last site that we visited before having lunch and heading back to Manila. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Marcos loyalist or critic –  – the “Malakanyang ti Amianan” (Malacañang of the North) or any Marcos shrine is something to that you should do to know the extent of the man named Ferdie and his family’s power over the Ilocanos of Ilocos Norte, and the love that they continue to bestow upon him.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 1

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 3

The painting on the left is a portrait of a teenage Bongbong Marcos riding a white steed and carrying a sword. It looks like a mild version of the propaganda art created by North Koreans for the Kims. Too bad I didn’t get to take a photo of it!

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 2

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 4

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 5

It isn’t as enchanting and haunting as the the first time I visited in the early 2000s. The hospital bed was gone, and it looked more like a tourist spot than a genuine historical artifact, unlike Cape Bojeador.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 6

 

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 8

The family photos and “shabby chic” color is one of the significant changes from the last time I went there.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 9

I honestly don’t think “shabby chic” and Marcos mix. It just doesn’t. A for effort to rebrand though! I exited the house feeling a bit more endeared to the controversial family that I am critical yet not a hater of.

 

Overall, my Ylocandia adventure was a great one, and I’d gladly go on another trip to these sites and make it even more memorable by visiting the other places we didn’t get to visit like the Sand Dunes.

I’m writing about the food we had in my next post.

Post-Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda Thoughts (And Ways You Can Help the Victims)

It has been a week since Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda battered the Eastern Visayas region in the Philippines. And by now, it is clear as to how much damage it has created.

I was actually on vacation in the Northern part of the Philippines when it struck. When I got back from vacation, that’s when I thoroughly updated myself on various social media networks. Seeing photos and watching news reports of how Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda reduced buildings and houses into shreds, how it rendered thousands and thousands of people homeless, desperate, sick and hungry and how it reduced a population also by the thousands left me shocked, speechless and unable to write. I had planned on writing this post earlier this week, but I couldn’t bring myself to. Although the Philippines is an archipelago, it is a small one, so everyone knows someone who hailed from or was in Central Visayas at that moment. Filipinos are also scattered all over the world. For this, the story hits home, one way or another.

It is heartbreaking to know that this happened to our country. Year after year, we experience torrential rains and strong typhoons, as well as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions – albeit not as much as the typhoons. But we have never experienced something so strong, and so its psychological and emotional impact are as strong as the winds and rains brought by the typhoon itself.

And for this, we are all doing our best to help each other out. This is why other government units have sent in financial aid and their staff to affected areas to help out.  This is why volunteer registration lists are filled until next week at the Department of Social Welfare and Development. This is why operations at the Ateneo de Manila University grounds are nonstop, twenty-four hours. This is why beyond the aforementioned relief operations, I cannot give more as there have been so many, I can’t remember all of them. Just refer to Rappler for an extensive list of relief operation sites. Apart from that, there are kind individuals who conduct door-to-door relief good donations and delivery operations. They are not affiliated with any group. They just want to help.

And speaking of helping here are other ways that you can help:

For those living outside the Philippines, you may give to reputable nonprofit organization that work or will be working directly for the communities involved. Please click on the name of the organization to know more how you can donate.

Typhoon Haiyan - Ways to Donate - NAFCON

Image Source: NAFCON Website

NAFCON (National Alliance for Filipino Concerns)

Typhoon Haiyan - Ways to Donate - Mercy Corps

Image Source: Mercy Corps Facebook

Mercy Corps 

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders 

For those here in the Philippines who wish to donate, kindly refer to this list of ways on how to donate from Rappler.

Here are some more creative ways you can give:

Typhoon Haiyan - Ways to Donate - YolandaActionWeekend

Image Source: Pepper PH

Eat and drink in one of your favorite restaurants / bars. Several restaurateurs have come together for #YolandaActionWeekend, wherein participating establishments will donate either 20% of gross sales or 100% net profit to the victims of typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Read more about the said campaign on the Pepper PH Website.

Buy styled donated clothing. One of the memories I have from childhood post-Mount Pinatubo-volcanic-eruption was seeing a child on TV walking and wearing a flower girl’s gown in the midst of lahar-torn Pampanga. That image stuck because it seemed bizarre to me that someone would donate something like that. But I learned this happens often. I’ve also personally experienced unloading a bag full of donated clothing including prom gowns, parkas and full office suits.

For this, the Philippine Red Cross, in partnership with stylists and clothing care products Downy and Ariel, have taken these uhm, “pre-loved” clothing, styled them and are putting them up on sale. Each item has a corresponding donation equivalent, like a set of ten hot meals, or a number of tents. For more details visit the campaign website: Aid Couture.

Typhoon Haiyan - Ways to Donate -Makati Medical Center

Or if you don’t want to go out or spend, the best you can do is sign this petition asking Makati Medical Center in Metro Manila to put up a mobile hospital and provide medical care for those in need.

We’re a strong people, so we’ll definitely get back up again. But hopefully after getting up, we would be able not only to stand, nor walk, but be capable enough as a people to run ourselves independently and responsibly, and lead all those who have helped us to look our way and smile at the changes we have made in our government, in our infrastructure, in managing our people and most importantly, in our relationship with the environment.

Million People March at Ayala

Million People March 2

Right now, there is a discussion on the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP), prompted by Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s “revelation” about lawmakers who received money after voting to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Malacanang defended the allocation of such money, saying that they were released under what is called the Disbursement Allocation Program. While this “revelation” is significant as it shows the government’s larger system of spoils, this also seems like a blatant diversion to the PDAF scam. Estrada aimed to divert people’s attention away from the PDAF scam and his friends Bong Revilla, Johnny Enrile and Janet Lim Napoles, by making known the DAP scam. But it’s not making him look better, because he was also involved in it. He has placed himself in so much hot water, that he will come out deep-fried.

Anyway, why I am putting this issue again to the fore? Because for the nth time, I would want our government to know that we ARE watching and NOT stopping. I want people to not forget. The Philippine panopticon is working better and clearer upside down, contrast to the way its windows were fogged because of ultra-low temperature air-conditioning when it was standing upright. Our lawmakers used to not mind us the middle class – they couldn’t see through the fog that covered them and their corrupt ways. Now that they can see us, they are minding us, fearing and trying to hide from us.

The next rally that we will be having will be tomorrow, October 4, 2013, in Ayala Avenue, in Makati, from 5:30 pm onwards. It’s the second Million People March. Makati is the biggest business district Metro Manila, so I expect to see employees and big business leaders gather to listen to the concrete calls to action that will be laid out. In all of the Philippines’ people power history, this might be the most unromanticized one, and most productive just yet because it will have objective follow-throughs, not bent on exacting revenge on anyone, but real change in the system. Just like any business proposal that has been approved, the anti-PDAF movement will finally have a to-do list in order to reach its goals.

This is a good political exercise, because it shows the people’s propensity now to engage, not just with civil society groups, but private individuals who want change. It’s something monumental, and because of this, I hope all of us who can, would join.

“Freedom!”

My favorite song from the musical, “Les Miserables” is “Do You Hear the People Sing?”. I was delighted to find a Tagalog version of the song, penned by Youtube member dmmsanjuan:

Here are the lyrics:

Do You Hear The People Sing? (Tagalog version)
O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

Ikaw ba’y papanig na
Sa bayan na nagkaisa
Sa gitna nitong dilim
Liwanag ba’y iyong hiling
Kaya’t tayo na, humayo patungo sa paglaya!

O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

Ibibigay ba ang lahat
Nang adhika’y maging ganap
Mayro’ng mapapaslang
Makibaka’y tila sugal
Dugo ng martir
Ang sa lupa’y didilig!

O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

The song is apt as several of its lines speak about the people’s anger against widespread corruption in the government. Yesterday, two rallies occurred – a prayer rally at EDSA, and a rally lead by the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College along Katipunan Avenue aptly called “Katipunan Kontra Korupsyon”. Interestingly, I was wearing white but not on purpose (white is the color of the anti-pork barrel scam movement).

A few of the people I’ve met from the disciplines of political science and public governance have stated that if the Freedom of Information Bill was passed into law years back, then this would not have happened. 10 Billion Philippine Pesos have already been spent on making the oligarchs rich. For this it’s high time to pass the Freedom of Information bill. I first learned about the bill four years ago when I worked as a volunteer for Transparency and Accountability Network.  It was conceived almost twenty years ago and continues to languish. To read more about it, click here.

The reason why I’m writing this, is because of its significance in changing our government’s ways. I do not see the immediate and total abolition of the pork barrel by 2014, but I am hopeful. And as they are working towards abolishing it, then we must have concrete provisions that will allow us to see how the judiciary, legislative and executive (especially its agencies whom I hope will handle the budget for the different services) spend the appropriated money. This is my tax. This is your tax. To foreigners reading this – heck this is your Filipino friends’ and relatives’ taxes! We all deserve to know better, and the only real way to do this legally, is to pass the Freedom of Information Bill into law. With better budget appropriations, and this law, we will achieve a genuine sense of freedom, which we’ve long fought for.

Also, there is another rally in Luneta tomorrow:

rock and rage against pork

Until the government budges, we will not stop shoving them to the straight path they vowed to lead us to.

Right to Know, RIght Now! Scrap Pork Barrel!

Why Political Loyalism is Problematic

“If not for [personality], we wouldn’t have [public works/public services]”.

“If [personality] was the one in office, we wouldn’t have these problems, or he/she would address these problems better.”

I have heard of these arguments so many times. And I’m getting sick of it.

What makes political loyalism so problematic is that it perpetuates patron-client relations, dynasties and dependency. Because of personalistic ties, unjust practices or decisions are justified, glossed over or forgotten. Dynasties thrive when people elect more members from a certain known family based on the belief that they inherited their accomplished predecessors’ ability to govern and/or ability to provide and whatever legacy they left. Dependency occurs when people believe that once a person or a family is in office, their basic needs are taken care of, as well as their other expenses such as baptisms and funerals. As more constituents become indebted on them, and more people become indebted to them for giving them a job at the municipal office, political figures vie for political office, or assign their family members to run again and again. While some families do get the work done (the Dutertes, albeit in a very different way), many more others don’t.

Political loyalism also perpetuates unmerited hate or criticism towards other parties. For example, if you are a Marcos loyalist, you will never believe in an Aquino’s ability to implement livelihood projects, as Ninoy just talked a lot and Cory was not a good implementer. If you are a Corista, you will never believe that a Marcos has the right to advocate against politics in the Philippine Arts, because their father went against progressive politics.

Political loyalism also exalts normal work responsibilities. Political figures are applauded for building bridges, for lighting barrios and for other things that are naturally in their list of to-dos. It is like giving a standing ovation for an accountant who balanced the figures for a project’s expense, or for a janitor who rendered a public bathroom spotless. I understand the need to recognize political figures who have implemented excellent governance practices in place of systems and procedures that don’t work anymore, but not to the point of deifying them.

Lastly, political loyalism disallows for the democratization of public governance. Due to loyalism, people only recognize the legitimacy and ability of a few to govern, and vote for the same people, giving less or no chance to new entrants and new systems. Loyalism is also made as basis for a person’s appointment into an executive agency rather than merit.

Many people, even highly educated ones have the tendency to be loyalists to a political figure or family. And so even if many of them want systemic change, it would be hard to have that given that they contribute to the stagnation of the system.

In order for systemic change to occur, people must learn to let go of even the finest and weakest strands of loyalism they have for whomever in assessing political challenges and work as a person, or as a part of a community to make change.  Not one person nor family nor party can make the Philippines a better place.  All of us should act hand-in-hand.

The Philippines’ Million People March

It has almost been a week since the Million People March in Luneta, here in Manila in the Philippines. The Million People March took its name from the 1995 Million Man March movement that fought for African-Americans’ civil rights.  The Million People March was prompted by the widespread anger against the intricate system of corruption … Continue reading

The Filipino is Worth Being Great For.

Ninoy Aquino

Ninoy,

Ang alaala ng iyong buhay, mga salita at iyong pagkamatay ang nag-uudyok muli sa marami sa amin na tumayo at lumaban sa mga pwersang mapagsamantala mula sa pamahalaan, lalung-lalo na ang mga senador at kongresistang nagnanakaw ng bilyung-bilyong salaping mula sa kaban ng bayan, na sana’y napupunta sa mga proyekto ng gobyerno para sa mga mahihirap, para sa pamamahala laban sa sakuna tulad ng mga bagyo’t habagat.

image

Ang iyong paninindigan noon laban sa pang-aapi ng isang dinastiya, ay ang aming paninindigan ngayon laban sa mga mapangahas na paraan ng pagnanakaw ng hindi lamang isang politiko o dinastiya, ngunit maraming politiko’t dinastiya.

image

Ang iyong paninindigan noon para sa iyong kapwa Pilipino, ay ang aming paninindigan ngayon para sa aming kapwa Pilipino. Nagtutulungan kami ngayon upang sabay-sabay kaming makaahon mula sa baha at makabangon mula sa sakuna.

image

Hindi nasayang ang iyong mga salita at turo sa amin, Ninoy. The Filipino is worth living for, is worth saving for, is worth fighting for against dogmatic oppression and corruption, and is worth dying for. Whatever legacy that you and the other heroes left is still very much alive and is being continued. Hindi ka man gusto ng ibang tao, ginugusto naman nila ang ginusto mo, at iyon ang isang mas magandang Pilipinas para sa mga Pilipino. For this, we will fight for what’s right until we see what you wanted us to see, that is, a true democracy.

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