Wide Weekend: Pasig River

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For years, I’ve been thinking of going on a Pasig River ferry ride. Last May 21, I was able to gather enough courage to hop on one of the ferries. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and Ateneo Graduate School of Business Student Council organized a guided tour and I went along with some friends from our MBA Program.

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There is still so much work to do. The air at the river is not (yet) inviting and I can only imagine how the commuters who ride the line regularly are able to stand the smell. But we’re thankful that there are people who dedicate their time and resources to rehabilitating the river.

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The ferry passes through several cities in Metro Manila. This route gives passengers a look at the new and old faces of the metropolis. From the new high-rise residential buildings at Makati to the decades old structures at the City of Manila. The organizers treated us to lunch by the river at the Intramuros Station. Not an ideal dining place for the picky but hey, we’re all still alive.

Ah, Pasig River. There’s such a lot of world to see.

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Wide Weekend: Mt. Pulag

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After less than two weeks of rest after my TNF trail run, I was already off to Mt. Pulag with new friends last weekend.

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The tour included side trips to Ambuklao Dam, Jangjang Hanging Bridge, the hot springs and, just before we went home, the Upper Session Road.

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We were up just a little past midnight for the preparations. The hours of climbing, braving the cold air and managing my aching knee (a hangover from the trail race) were all worth it. It was one of the best sunrises I’ve seen so far.

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TNF100, the fourth time around

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The North Face organizes an annual trail running event and I have been joining the Benguet legs of this race since 2012. For months, I have been unable to join races because of a injury brought about by a skimboard hitting my right foot.

Any runner who has taken such a long break knows how bad that feels. What makes this easier to bear is the company of good friends who encourage you to get back up, especially if these friends include ultramarathon runners. They mean it when they say it can be done. So this year, I decided to get back on track.

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I ran my worst time this year and contemplated on a DNF at that new steep slope where the route required us to do a difficult u-turn. It was so bad, I almost didn’t make it in time for the 22-kilometer cut-off time. Good thing my buddy Marc was patiently waiting for me to get back and got free lunch ready for me. I headed straight to the paramedics area after crossing the finish line.

Here’s to making myself a better runner this year. As they say, if you really want something, you make time for it.

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Wide Weekend: Palawan, Philippines

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Having grown up a few minutes away from the sea, trips to the beach didn’t have that much appeal to me. This year I tried to get over this mindset and penciled in a few sea-centered travels.

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During a weekend in Coron with friends, the question I had in mind was: damn, why didn’t I visit this place sooner? That was my first time to go island and shore hopping outside of my home province. It was also my first taste of the croc sisig (minced crocodile meat), which, as we have agreed upon, fits well into our modified seafood diet.

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If you’re still planning out your trips for the rest of the year, go see Palawan. This is something we should all be doing at least twice in our lives.

Wide Weekend is a series on this blog where I post short notes and photographs from quick trips and events on, well, weekends. Some people would go as far as calling themselves “weekend warriors” for having a life and some advocacies outside of work. But  I love my work as a lawyer too much to exclude it from what I call “life”. For most of us, the fighting for a better way of living happens everyday, and that makes us common daily warriors. It’s just that things can get so much more colorful on weekends.

Life is short, let’s make it wide.

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A musing and museum afternoon

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Via Crucis (2016) by Antipas Delotavo

The last time I went to the Vargas Museum was in college. I can’t even remember the name of the artist who opened his exhibition that day, so I’m pretty sure my attendance was partly because of the free food and beer.

So when I needed a place to work on my paper weeks ago, I visited the Vargas Museum, where there is also a museum cafe. It is true that a place rarely remains the same as the last time you saw it.

My favorite wall at its second floor is the one where Fernando Amorsolo’s paintings of ruins of Manila are on display. When destruction is painted by an artist well-known for works on the beauty of the countryside, we see a fresh wound while looking only at scars.

At the first floor, the current exhibits are those of Antipas Delotavo (Agos) and Roberto Feleo (Mito ng Aklasang Basi). Both exhibits run until April 8.

Museums have been more lenient about the prohibition against photographing the works on display. That might be a good way to reach out to the selfie-obsessed humans we have become. However, I can imagine the curators now face the challenge of creating a deeper experience than what the smartphones would allow.

For example, that day I visited the Vargas Museum, I saw two girls in the hall where Delotavo’s works are on exhibit. They were taking pictures of each other at the gap between the paintings Ganito Noon and Ganito Ngayon. Their hair and backs touched the canvas. They didn’t seem to spend time looking at the paintings, but the photos will most probably end up on their social media profiles.

There is no one way to appreciate a museum experience, sure. And among the many possible ways, there will be those that will prove to be annoying. I would like to ask curators and artists about this. Food and beer are on me.

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Allegory of Temptation (1933) by Graciano Nepomuceno

I vaguely remember how an ex-love demanded a trip to the National Museum. It was a weekend and I wasn’t feeling well, but my mind wouldn’t let me say “no.” Who would?

While looking at century-old masterpieces, I made believe my own emotions can transcend time and dust. I leaned and whispered that love lasts if you kiss in front of the Spoliarium. Before the walls of studies, I hoped the message was clear: the masters started somewhere, too. If forever exists, I’m sure it’s not ready-made.

After we broke up, I could come up with just one wish. That, damn it, when we proceed with the business of forgetting, may the memory of that rainy Sunday be spared. It should be framed, how we dragged ourselves out of the weekend slump and went to the museum. Art is always such a good excuse for loving.

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Break going out

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It’s World Poetry Day. Here is my favourite poem by Michael Ondaatje:

To A Sad Daughter

All night long the hockey pictures
gaze down at you
sleeping in your tracksuit.
Belligerent goalies are your ideal.
Threats of being traded
cuts and wounds
–all this pleases you.
O my god! you say at breakfast
reading the sports page over the Alpen
as another player breaks his ankle
or assaults the coach.

When I thought of daughters
I wasn’t expecting this
but I like this more.
I like all your faults
even your purple moods
when you retreat from everyone
to sit in bed under a quilt.
And when I say ‘like’
I mean of course ‘love’
but that embarrasses you.
You who feel superior to black and white movies
(coaxed for hours to see Casablanca)
though you were moved
by Creature from the Black Lagoon.

One day I’ll come swimming
beside your ship or someone will
and if you hear the siren
listen to it. For if you close your ears
only nothing happens. You will never change.

I don’t care if you risk
your life to angry goalies
creatures with webbed feet.
You can enter their caves and castles
their glass laboratories. Just
don’t be fooled by anyone but yourself.

This is the first lecture I’ve given you.
You’re ‘sweet sixteen’ you said.
I’d rather be your closest friend
than your father. I’m not good at advice
you know that, but ride
the ceremonies
until they grow dark.

Sometimes you are so busy
discovering your friends
I ache with loss
–but that is greed.
And sometimes I’ve gone
into my purple world
and lost you.

One afternoon I stepped
into your room. You were sitting
at the desk where I now write this.
Forsythia outside the window
and sun spilled over you
like a thick yellow miracle
as if another planet
was coaxing you out of the house
–all those possible worlds!–
and you, meanwhile, busy with mathematics.

I cannot look at forsythia now
without loss, or joy for you.
You step delicately
into the wild world
and your real prize will be
the frantic search.
Want everything. If you break
break going out not in.
How you live your life I don’t care
but I’ll sell my arms for you,
hold your secrets forever.

If I speak of death
which you fear now, greatly,
it is without answers.
except that each
one we know is
in our blood.
Don’t recall graves.
Memory is permanent.
Remember the afternoon’s
yellow suburban annunciation.
Your goalie
in his frightening mask
dreams perhaps
of gentleness.

 

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Leap

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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.

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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 (www.kaeskwela.org), 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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