Friday, December 22, 2006

and Merry Christmas to all!!

I sit alone in my room. It's a friday night. In Makati where I am supposed to be, there is a throbbing christmas party at the office. I expect it to be the same as the other three parties that I attended this week. I refer to it as a delicious orgy of oily food and MSG. Even if pundits always say free food (avarice?) is the one which killeth..Ahh who can refuse free food...lechon, morcon, estofado...the temptation is hard to resist especially when world hunger is just around the corner. For my part, I just think of the damn Fat Bastard and is enough to numb my taste buds!

What i also hate about this season along with the tons of food is the crazy traffic that brings out the worse in Manila commuters. I was stuck in several mind draining traffic jams this week. The road home has turned into a large parking lot - in both directions along C5. Even in the late evening i still run smack into an hour long jam just a few kilometers from our house. It seemed that all the traffic aides, police and barangay tanods have simultaneously celebrated their Christmas party! It is just insane. Wheeled vehicles of all kinds and sizes have gone downtown. Surely, even Lolo's old timer Holden has take on the road again. I am particularly afraid of are those those gargantuan trucks and other wayward behemoths out for a kill.

Maybe it is the flourishing commerce that happens every Christmas month that creates these humongous traffic jams. Even the side streets are packed! Or maybe the battalion of balikbayans and bakasyonistas which troop to the malls. A trip to Makati which usually takes 45 minutes is a snail phase 2 hours.

Aside from the traffic, I also feel bad about missing the good ol' christmas spirit. Drowned by uber commercialism, people tend to forget that Christmas is a time for sharing. I may sound corny but I always believe that Christmas is not the time to enrich the Sys and Gokongweis - through their OA midnight sales (sadly we Filipinos falls helplessly into these rehashed marketing gimmicks) but the opportunity to thank the Lord for the blessings we have received during the past year. But then this seems long forgotten. At the Christmas parties I have attended, I seldom feel that we are even having solemn christian celebration. Instead, these parties are always the mad rush to the buffet table and an effort not to get drunk before your date does (imagine the ulterior motive thereafter..). Yes, there is kris kringle as your boss may have required you to bring a gift...but this does not suffice for the sharing part. Everybody hopes not to receive those last minute shopping results or worse the recycled gifts. Gee, don't look at me as i'm not guilty of gift recycling (this year!). Frankly, I have always been the victim. I received lots - some complete with cards addressed to another person (the gift giver)!

For me, I would rather cuddle with my family this holy season- maybe bake a cake and happily await christmas midnight just like what I have experienced all my life with my parents and siblings back in Iloilo. If I have the money I will double the bonus of my kid's yaya and perhaps distribute food in the neighborhood. For me, Christmas without traditional spirit is like my younger sister's favorite dish - a kilo of fatty chunk called Pata Tim. You may crave for it helplessly only to realize that that it just gives you high blood and a heavy payload of crap.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Probing through Thick Skull

I mentioned in my previous post what joy it is if clients (and the general public) get to see into the thick skulls of lawyers. If that could happen then there will be no need for lawyers to aspire for fame and Fortune(r). There will be no need to do ass kissing, white lies fabricating, and boot licking. Business will be able to cut down cost on expensive car loans that afford their lawyers to look good and presentable sans their brain power. More pauper litigants will be attended and the legal profession will genuinely be considered a noble profession.

Some people think that I have a lot of reasons to rant. But they are wrong. I was never oriented to be a flashy person, much more a show boat kind of a lawyer. I have no reason to buy a new set of clothes, an expensive car or a ritzy town house. I good to go with an ordinary life - maybe I grew up with modest luxury. Until i left for law school my brood lived in a gargantuan house similar to those owned by Colombian cartels, driven to school in different cars, and sent to the prestigious schools and the best law school in the country. But then our parents still taught us the value of hard work. They always tell us not to show off our advantages, its good just to be simple and under the radar. I remember a time when my brother Jun and I would duck every time our vehicle would enter our school during high school. There was also a time when we even ask our driver not to fetch us anymore and opted to join our classmates in their long walk home.

We were always taught: Good Education does not come cheap. My mom would always say : Kun maaeam eang sanda bukun it mabudlay intindihon nga ro minatuod nga manggaranon eang ro maka magpatuon it tatlong ka abogado ag tatlong ka doctor, sa Ateneo, Assumption ag UST! (if only are only wise, its not hard to understand that only a true rich man can have his 3 of his children study law and another 3 medicine at Ateneo, Assumption and UST).

Do the know how much is the tuition at Ateneo Law School and UST College of Medicine. Multiply that by 6!

That is why I really pity people who expects to see signs of affluence in me. They always expect it because that is normally expected from people who have accomplished too much. To avoid this predicament, I just retreat to the background and hope somebody develops super power capability of probing into a thick skull.


Lolo Pedring, 82

While in law school, my brother and I are often asked if our father is a lawyer. Surely, one will wonder how come somebody could be so obsessed with the law profession that he sent two sons to law school at the same time. Most of the time we end up telling them that there are only four lawyers in our family. Our Lolo Maning and his younger brother Lolo Adong who passed the bar at the same time and became lawyers despite sheer poverty (Lolo Adong already passed away and used to be a legal counsel for GSIS). Two became judges - Lolo Pedring Icamina, a judge with the RTC Kalibo, Tito Arthur an MTC judge at New Washington. An in-law Tito Lolly has long sidelined his practice to pursue his first love- farming.

Lolo Pedring was at the forefront as he is a true litigator. Before being a judge, he has handled a variety of cases. He was also one of my father's trusted attorneys and handled most of his legal affairs. I remember going to his home office and met by sweet smelling tobacco. I think it was Lolo Pedring who gave me the first best impression of tobacco. Until now, I still believe that tobacco like my Lolo Beato's Old Spice after shave is not that bad.

As years go by, I seldom get to see Lolo Pedring. But then every time i go home to Kalibo for vacation, he would often come to Lola Susing's parties and gatherings. He always play the grand old man of the Icamina clan. Highly opinionated, fierce yet principled, Lolo Pedring finds it easy to stress a point through arguments. Well, nobody actually dared to butt in, he's the judge for pete's sake.

Lolo Pedring died yesterday after having been proclaimed dead by our relatives a day before. Some said that he was just waiting for his children to come home before he let go of his last breath. He has three children: Tito Bing with whom he has a grand daughter, Chrissy (a gifted writer and currently one of the editor of FHM Philippines); Tita Ching and Tita Pearl. Lolo Pedring's wife, Lola Diday passed away ahead of him and surely is waiting for her beloved in heaven.


My Brother the Lawyer

People are taken aback to know that my younger brother is also a lawyer. It's double trouble- no one dares mess around with a lawyer who has a lawyer for a brother. This powerful combination was foreseen by our Papa, the master strategist himself. He wants his kids to pursue only two professions - either a lawyer or medical doctor (well, actually one if he consider "juris doctor" a specie of "doctor").

My brother Jun has always been extraordinary. Way back in nursery he has already excelled and often out-gunned his older brother in childhood and teenage competitions. I did not care because he is my brother. What he has achieved I considered my own. Anyway, he is always the little "Taktak" who followed my tail whenever I go. He is the kid brother I used to protect against Renfredo and Steven during our Assumption days. And I always guard his secrets those we have started trading as kids.

Jun and I only went separate ways after graduation from law school. He chose to stay in Iloilo and close to his girlfriend at that time (now his wife Joy). I stayed in Manila after having been lured into public interest law by Atty. Jose Sison. But we always keep in touch. We still argue, laugh, argue, joke, argue, tease, confide and argue over all modes of communication. One of my best kept secrets now unfolded is the fact that Jun has been my best legal adviser and source of those legal forms for which I charge my clients so dearly.

One thing peculiar about Jun aside from his ignorance on latest gadgets (hehehe) is his innate character which shuns accolades and limelights. He is a good lawyer no doubt but a few of his astonishing exploits have been unwritten. I am lucky to have known a few of his bright moments. 

One of this is his story about a certain lady named Kat Gonzales. One day, Jun was just sitting inside his freezing law office when he received an anonymous call on his cellphone. Hoping it to be a prospective client (!) he did not hesitate to answer the call. A lady who introduced herself as "Kat" was on the other one. Surely Jun must have not said the convenient "Wrong number" as the lady has a very nice kolehiyala voice and maybe an unbroken English to boot. Actually, Jun thought it was his client's daughter whom he expected to call him. Sensing that it was not his client's daughter, Jun tried to end the call politely. But then "Kat" pleaded with him, telling him about her predicament being lost in a middle of a highway somewhere in Bukidnon. Her car conked out on the way to Davao and tried to dial a friend's number but alas reached Jun's number instead. Kat was running low on cellphone prepaid credits and has spent her last load, she could not call her friends anymore. So Jun had to call her again and tried to help. Kat went on to introduce herself as a vacationing student and part time model! (Now my bro's all pumped up hehehe). She asked my brother if he can contact her father whom she claims to be a General in the Philippine Military. True indeed when Jun called up the General's number he seemed to have stirred an hornet's nest. The General has cut short his meeting in Malacanang and scrambled his aides to rescue his darling daughter. When Jun called Kat to relay the good news, he sensed concern in the lady's voice. Kat reported that a group of people is approaching her car. So Jun advised her to lock herself in and keep the communication line open. Soon, Kat was telling him one of those who came - a lady who has introduced herself as a Barangay Captain. Jun was not convinced and demanded that he speak to the barangay captain. In our local dialect (Hiligaynon which was spoken sparingly in Bukidnon) Jun was able to confirm that indeed the lady was a bonafide Barangay Captain and was contacted by the Army Headquarters about a stranded lady along the national highway. The Barangay Captain did not let go of their conversation without a teasingly comment "Attorney, ka tahum man ini sang imo miga! (Attorney, your girl friend is really beautiful). I'm sure my brother has let go an equally naughty smile. Because of Jun's help, Ms. Model was rescued and quickly spared from harm's way and brought into a nearby army camp. Kat kept on thanking him and showered him with a lots of compliments (even telling Jun that he is her "soul mate" ehem..ehem).  But then I know that was never a big deal to my brother. It is but normal for him to extend assistance even to strangers in need. He never even tried contacting Kat whom has promised to return the favor once they meet in person. Jun never even thought of the valuable connections he could profit from General Gonzales if he choses to contact him. I think he never even got the chance to contact Kat before the latter left for the US just for the heck of it.

Now, that's Jun my brother the lawyer. A real poster boy for the Jesuit creed "Be a Man for Others."


Sunday, December 10, 2006

On being a Pro-Gun Believer

I came from an early morning shooting competition at the Shooting Range inside the Bilibid Compound in Muntinlupa City. Its my second time to shoot there. The range is quite respectable with separate areas for various shooter groups. Thick concrete walls separate us from probable crossfire. There were 10 of us who came that morning. We had lady shooters too with their cute glocks. The guys on the other hand are mostly .45 caliber shooters. The modified 1911 pistol is the weapon of choice. I just relied on my dependable glock 19c. Well, it was not the best to bring in the gun range...but what the heck it still earn me alpha marks. But to keep up with the competition, i borrowed Alex's (Cataquiz) modified 1911 which was really a very stable pistol. If not for the magazine malfunction (the bullet jammed during the speed match), i could have figured in the ranking. But then I finished with 6 alpha hits....for me thats already okay.

I really enjoy target shooting as I picked this fancy from my late father who is a deadshot with his 1911s. I grew up in a home environment where guns are customary part of the house. My father who is a serious gun enthusiast who took time to orient his children about gun safety. He emphasized that guns in the hands of clumsy persons is the worst threat. He believe that proper gun handling will prevent somebody from being a gung-ho shooter. And so me and my siblings were trained in shooting and maintaining guns. We even had a target range at our compound where we took turns in shooting .22 caliber rounds at tin cans. I also remember having a fully loaded M16 under my bed with cache of ammunition. Whew...thats was when my father was alive. And I am happy my siblings and I never figured in a shooting rampage. We remain cool shooters. ..As such we try to maintain the tradition and teach our kids gun safety and proper handling. Maybe it will be a family affair as my wife is okay with guns...lucky me...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Collection

When I was still studying i dreamed of coming up with a splendid collection of valuable things. May it be books, cassette tapes of my favorite bands, model airplanes...whew..i used to have this list "of what to buy and collect". Unfortunately it never got off ground. Maybe because i did not have enough money as a cash strapped kid.

Well, now that I am grown up (with small money to spare), I decided to collect something to cherish during my retirement -when I am old and gray...i hope to go through my collections and remember my youth...

As of this writing, I have started collecting various things:

21 original DVDs of my favorite movies (gladiator, black hawk down, saving private ryan, traffic) and still counting...

about 10 model aircrafts and ships

and around 20 action figures (well, I always justified this line as being bought for my kids, Kobe and Milo who are also going gaga about their superman and batman action figures). It is the only part of my collection which my wife conveniently buy for us...hehehe...her two little kids and overgrown baby!

6 US printed Movie Posters (Saving Private Ryan, The Last Samurai, X-Men 3, The Departed, Open Season and Superman the Return).

Once my audio system is finished, i'm planning to collect vinyls (which some say are better than audio cds).

whew..this is gonna be a big collection!

Friday, December 01, 2006


Surely she was tired from smiling and posing for the assigned photographer. But when I asked her to pose for another picture, she obliged. I just told Nikki to be herself. Pose naturally. And she did. This is the result. Oh, well....