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

Ada

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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KaEskwela’s First Museum Tour

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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.

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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 scrambled waves

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 wave

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.

Dahican skim

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.

Cheers,

A.

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