Monthly Archives: February 2016



Probably my only shelfie

Four years ago, I spent the leap day waiting for the results of the bar exams. This is a good day for posting old writings.


The Barrister, Official Student Publication of the San Beda College of Law-Manila, started printing my column in 2008. This was my last piece for Line Break.

The Power and Failure of Words

In the 1991 film Class Action, civil rights lawyer Jed Ward handles a case filed by affected customers against an automobile company. The company’s legal counsel is his daughter, Maggie Ward. My favorite is the scene where, while they’re having a personal argument, Jed attempts to slap Maggie. She says: “Finally, words fail the great Jedediah Tucker Ward.”

As law students, we were trained to use words appropriate for the legal profession. We were taught how to craft our sentences and that skill was crucial to our recitation and exam scores. The hours we spent each day on the acquisition of knowledge were meant to achieve an end: to give power to our words.

Our words work sometimes, but there are days when they just fail. I believe I’m not the only one here who played Justice once in a while and invented my own jurisprudence in a few exams. (Let’s make sure we won’t need to do that in the November 2011 Bar Exams.)

The times when we run out of words remind us that we have limitations. Because we committed to give our best to this profession, our task is not only to know those limitations, but to defy them if necessary.

It is the silence – that failure of words – that oftentimes pushes us to strive further. Maybe great lawyers have those moments, too, and not only in films.


Hello, gradpic

This is my last column for The Barrister. I will read this issue the way I read the other issues for the past four years. I’ll read the articles as if I haven’t seen the content several times already. I’ll look at the photos. I’ll check again if there’s anyone who wasn’t given proper credit for his work. Then I’ll go to the part where the names of my co-editors and the staff are printed, and as always, I’ll stay there for a while.

I always take a little more time looking at the masthead, a silent “thank you” for all the efforts exerted by each person whose name is printed there.

Thanks to Grace Wilson and Janelle Reyes, good friends with whom I shared the responsibility of choosing the right pizza flavors for two academic years. Thanks to those who were here before us – especially Attorneys Pambie Herrera, Kai Rosario and Shirl Nuevo – for believing that we can do the job. Thanks, too, to the editors and staff of The Red Chronicles, for keeping journalism alive there at San Beda Law-Alabang.


Law school can be heartbreaking. Our consolation is that we have families, relatives and friends who still believe we’ll be great lawyers someday, even though evidence to the contrary abound at times.

I thank my parents, Mr. Juanito Angeles and Dr. Amelia Angeles, for giving me the strength I needed to get here. Most importantly, I thank them for instilling my faith in God. I’m grateful for the support and inspiration given by my brothers Jeri and Kristopier, Ms. Rosebud Ebalo and my nephew Mikhael, Mr. Cirilo Dizon, Ms. Imelda Dizon, the family of Drs. Catalino and Edna Calimbas, all my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

A million thanks to my grandmother, Ms. Adelaida Javillo Dizon, who listened – until the last days of her life – to my testimonies about lawyers with souls.


To my Lambda Rho Sigma sisters and Lambda Rho Beta brothers, I know how much effort you’re already exerting this early just to make sure everything will be fine in November. Things will be great, because we’re Lambda Rhoans.

To the wonderful volunteers of KaEskwela (, I hope more people will be inspired by the belief that there are things that can be done for education, even by an ordinary person like me.

To my former students and colleagues from the Bataan Peninsula State University; the brave pilots, soldiers and employees of the Philippine Air Force; my officemates, friends and mentors at the RCBC Corporate Risk Management Services; and everyone I’ve worked with and learned from – thank you very much.

Thanks to my friends from UP APSM, BATO, Block 1C 2005-2006, Section 4S 2009-2010, the next batch of bar topnotchers and lawyers, all the people I grew up with, and those who were patient enough to watch me grow.

Thanks, too, to the professors, for the knowledge they shared. More importantly, for helping us unlearn a lot of things in order for us to become better students of law.


In this last column, I am restrained less by the word limit than by the thought that any number of words will not suffice. “Thank you” has its limitations. This is one of those moments when words just fail.

And I can only strive further by making the rest of my life an expression of gratitude.


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KaEskwela’s First Museum Tour


KaEskwela, Inc., our non-profit and non-stock organization that helps public schools, received an e-mail last year from Mr. Augusto Chio. Sir Nony, as we call him, was looking for an organization that can help their family organize a free trip to the Ayala and Mind Museums for students in Morong, Bataan.

One of the most inspiring things about the project is that the Chio Family has been sponsoring yearly museum tours since 2011, without publicity and with the sincere belief that the activity will be good for the children. The first time I visited Sir Nony and Ma’am Tess in their home to talk about the project, I began to reassess my #retirementgoals.


After a series of meetings and correspondence with our kindhearted sponsors, the school administrators and faculty, and months of preparation for the project, the museum trip pushed through last Saturday.

One hundred fifty-nine (159) Grade 6 kids from the Nagbalayong Elementary School (NES) and F. Angeles Memorial School (FAMES) had a day of fun and learning at the Ayala and Mind Museums. We were also joined by 22 teachers, including the principals, Ma’am Mayette Labandilo and Ma’am Gemma Taba-Barquin. The participants are now preparing for their post-tour projects, which include exhibits and essay writing.

KaEskwela is honored to be part of this project. We thank the Chio Family and the participating schools. We are especially grateful to the following volunteers who helped make the tour meaningful for the kids: Jhony Martin Alba, Espie Apostol, Hera Aiza Barona, JayR Casiano, Ryan Demesa, Jenny Hernandez, Jonnah Lapizar, James Lorenzo, Eunice Monsod, Jen Nicolas, April Paguio, Katrina Regunton, Dia Santos, and Jayson Vicedo.

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Sky Train, October 2014

Dear _____,

I remember seeing you at the National Stadium Station of the Sky Train in Bangkok. You didn’t have enough coins for the ticket vending machine. I offered help and found out that you were also on your way to the airport. (You spoke to me in Chinese first and I said that my Mandarin is too limited for any meaningful conversation. You smiled and said “your English is good.”)

During that train ride, I learned that you spent a few weeks in Thailand. You were about to go back to China, where you work as an urban planner. Every trip is a form of research, we agreed on that.

I asked if you’ve ever been to the Philippines. You said “no” and that you wanted to visit but got scared because of news in China about Filipinos killing Chinese people here. I wish I could tell you everyone is safe in my country, but personal experience prevents me from saying that until now. I just told you that I doubt Filipinos would kill a person just because of his citizenship, that there are safe places here, that I’m willing to show you around if you ever swing by. We said goodbye at the airport.

If you ever go here, I will give you a tour in my hometown first. By that time, I’m sure I’ve figured out how to say nicely that it’s the West Philippine Sea, as we watch the sunset.

Dahican Sunrise

I’m sure you’ll ask for another beach trip. I’ll take you to Dahican Beach, Mati City in Davao Oriental. It’s a sunrise beach, for a change. There’s a 7-kilometer stretch of white-sand there, but in the morning we can wake our feet up along the rocky parts. We’ll have scrambled waves for breakfast.

There, we will not argue about the name of the ocean.

Dahican wave2

I celebrated the Chinese New Year in Dahican weeks ago. Sure, there were no fireworks and lion dances. I spent time reflecting about the past years and planning for the new one. At the quiet shore, I could almost hear my heart’s rhythm like a steady beating of a drum.


It was also a weekend of skimboarding and surfing, spent in the company of talented but humble new friends. Vince, my surf instructor, works at the Philippine National Police. Based on his quick talk about crime rates, I’m sure we won’t have to worry about safety while we’re in Davao.

Dahican hatchery

Can you guess what I loved most about Dahican?

Mention the word “pawikan” and surely, whether you’re talking to older locals or one of the skimboarding kids, you’ll get a rundown of facts about the marine turtle. Someday, people will love that, too, about where I came from. That’s one of the main reasons why I was in Dahican that weekend. And I will be back for more lessons, both on conservation and boardsports. I wish you’d give the wonderful place a try.

Dahican tricycle

You wrote your e-mail address on a piece of paper before we parted ways. I’m sorry, it got lost during my trip back to Manila. I don’t even have your full name. But if you’re planning to come here, you’ll be searching the words “Philippines”, “beach”, and other related tags. Maybe you’ll be led to this blog. Maybe you’ll drop me a line.

Fat chance. Like how it was, seeing you at the train station when I had that one extra coin in my pocket.



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Surf Village Hostel, Dahican Beach

Dahican hostel

When I was at Dahican Beach early this month, I stayed at the Surf Village Hostel. The place is about five minutes away from the shore, maybe three minutes, depending on how beach-deprived you are. Since it was a weekend of reflection for me, the location was perfect. The distance for walking was welcome.

The rooms are made of local materials, mostly wood and bamboo. I wouldn’t call it a cowboy place, because by my more hardcore friends’ standards, cowboy means making a home out of a hammock you brought with you. At Surf Village, you get a comfortable bed and free breakfast.

Dahican company

On my first night at Dahican, I had a few drinks with the Surf Village Team and guests from Finland. It was also a salubong for the birthday of Chris (former Team Captain of the DLSU Men’s Volleyball Team), who was on a solo trip that weekend as well.

That night, Skimboarding Champion Bayogyog (the Surf Village kids call him Yogi) showed me his training scars. We talked about figurative heart scars, too, and that’s how  I discovered that this board athlete’s alcohol tolerance is lower than mine. Yogi has been in the sport since he was six. I hope he gets more sponsorships and support.

Dahican surf and shoot 2

The owners, Harrison and Irene, stay at Surf Village and can easily be reached through You may also text them through the number above. Harry, Vincent and the boys at Surf Village will also be happy to help you out with surfing or skimboarding lessons.

Visit their website at and Facebook page: Surf Village Hostel.

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Dapithapon, Samu’t Sari and maybe more beer


The song Dapithapon (2010) is a buddy who’d drink heartaches away with me at Sarah’s in Diliman. When I first heard the song – just Johnoy Danao’s voice and his acoustic guitar – I decided to get hold of the artist’s album of the same title. Six copies, to be exact. Back then, Johnoy himself would meet you to deliver the CDs. He delivered and signed my copies at a friend’s kitchen somewhere in Teachers’ Village.

I’d put the song on repeat, its lyrics seeping through my heart’s cracks, the way the grilled chicken intestines (OK, isaw manok) and beer filled my stomach. It was the song for a sadness both raw and slow: “Ang pag-ibig nga naman, kapag hindi na maramdaman, hindi kayang pagtakpan ng sumpaan.” It was a friend who would ride the Ikot jeep with you to Krus na Ligas, who would divert her photocopy allowance to beer fund, so you’d feel better.

The first album has twelve original tracks, half of which were written by Johnoy. My other favorites are Tara Na, Bayan, written by Sammy Asuncion and Isang Iglap, a song about dreams ruined by calamity. Remember that this was released in 2010, we were still reeling from Typhoon Ondoy. Johnoy’s voice, with the riffs, percussion and backing vocals, take you back. Remember, with lyrics like “Nadungaw ko si Tatay, nagtatanim ng palay / Umaasang ang butil ng pawis niya’y maging bigas / Ito namang si Nanay, nag-aayos ng bahay / Ilang taong pinag-ipunan nang kami’y masilungan.”

I admire Johnoy for the acoustic songs he performed alone. His covers made me watch Good Times With Mo (GTWM) on YouTube even though Mo Twister is such a pain to listen to sometimes. But it’s always interesting to hear Johnoy collaborate with other musicians.

GTWM may have helped him go mainstream. His second album, Samu’t Sari, was released under Universal Records in 2014. I bought one copy in a shopping mall.


Samu’t Sari is a mixture of remakes of familiar numbers, two tracks from the first album, and new songs. I’m not comfortable listening to his cover of Imago’s Sundo, but I forgive Johnoy and the band for trying out Beer and lacing it up with saxophone. Try listening to it while stuck in EDSA traffic after work, when you’re too weary to sing along to the more upbeat original by Itchyworms.

The second album has the hopeful Buntong-Hininga as opening track. This is Johnoy inviting us to fall in love again, almost four years after Dapithapon.

“Sa aking palagay, tayo’y nagsasayang / Ng araw at gabing sa’tin dapat” – I, too, would need a band complete with ukelele and harmonica if I’m going to express this. The song Ikaw at Ako from the first CD is included as a bonus track. If sometime between 2010 and 2014, you already met someone who can help you relate to the lyrics, it’s a bonus, indeed.

The song Dapithapon comes back in the album, Johnoy plays it with the band this time. The Dapithapon of 2014 is the same drinking buddy who has been working in Makati City for years now and like me, uuwi nang walang nag-aabang. This friend might still find me heartbroken, for reasons different from those of 2010. We hold our glasses of whisky and pretend we don’t miss Sarah’s.

***       ***       ***

It’s February, month of freebies. I’m giving away a signed copy of Dapithapon.

This is so easy. Just be the first single person to share this post publicly on your Facebook account, then tag me in the comment. You will be required to present proof of singlehood (i.e. lack of romantic/love relationship) before I send you the prize.

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