Saturday, September 26, 2015

67. The Politics of Exclusion

The bloodline school of determining nationality is no doubt akin to the Divine Right paradigm of power. I imagine, however, that there is nothing fundamentally and biologically different in the blood of citizens of different countries. For that reason, this country has outlawed the Divine Right paradigm, and we elect our leaders by popular election, never mind if their bloodline is tainted by the blood of plunderers or dictators. Yet, in spite of the obvious fact that human blood is all the same, our Constitution has adopted the bloodline school in excluding the non-Filipinos from the real ones. Thus, you're a Filipino if your father or mother is a Filipino. The worse anomaly that can happen to you is if you're born here of foreign parents, because you follow the citizenship laws of your parents; but if your parents' nationalities adopt the place of birth school of thought, then you're neither a Filipino nor a citizen of your country's parents. This makes you stateless. I suspect that this is not an accident of history; our forefathers have envisioned the bloodline theory of nationality to exclude the foreigners and deny them the right to own land and exploit the country's natural resources. In 1954, seeing that the foreigners have dominated the retail trade, Congress passed the Retail Trade Nationalization Law, which would prohibit foreigners from owning not a single percent of interest in any retail trade business. This would be relaxed in the Estrada era with the passage of the Retail Trade Liberalization Law. But the politics of exclusion at the core of the bloodline school is clear. The occasion to revisit this principle of citizenship under the Constitution may never come, but the underlying assumptions that made us impose this on ourselves are outdated. People born in the Philippines should be Filipinos. People born in other countries of at least one Filipino parent should also be Filipinos. Excluding those of foreign blood, even if they were born here, also excludes the country from the benefit of their skills and talents. It works both ways. In the end, the wider we keep our gates to allow more Filipino citizens gives us more chances of getting good ones. And the bad ones, hopefully don't get elected, but sent to jail.

Friday, September 25, 2015

66. Art and Propaganda

Somewhere in my old stacks of books and magazines is a quotation that goes, "All art is propaganda, but not all propaganda is art." I mention this because a friend of mine is concerned that "Heneral Luna" is officially entered to the Oscars, and the film ends with the American generals laughing at the Filipinos. The implication to the "amor propio" of the country, especially so that it is Hollywood's most prestigious awards, couldn't be more alarming. In other words, Heneral Luna may arguably be good art, but it is definitely bad propaganda. The political reading of Heneral Luna, as far as Fil-Am relations are concerned, puts the Filipinos in very bad light. As the film lifts Luna, it puts down Aguinaldo, Mascardo, and the rest of the Kawit command, most of whom were shown to have lacked the discipline demanded by the war.  I told my friend the historical consequences after Luna's death may not be altered, and those American generals laughing may not have happened but the statements were quoted accurately. Still my friend asks, "Why do we have to do this to ourselves?" Well, we did it already, and we would do it again and again as the Luna story attracts more followers while our young nation matures. We would only stop once we find a way to reconcile Luna's death and that of Bonifacio's with our continued patronage of Emilio Aguinaldo and his brief stint as the first president of the Philippine Republic. That is only possible if we downgrade the status of Aguinaldo and put him on the level of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna, the other heroes he had killed or allowed to be killed, that would necessitate us marking Manuel L. Quezon as the first president  of the Philippines, which is a historical fact. Manuel L. Quezon is another one of Aguinaldo's men in the Fil-Am War, and he beat Aguinaldo in the first presidential elections after Quezon hammered in on the issue of Bonifacio and Luna.  Yet, of all the generals in Aguinaldo's army, my personal favorite is Artemio Ricarte who up to his death never gave up on the revolution, even as he suffered many years in prison for his persistence.  After serving sentence for his refusal to pledge allegiance to the American flag, Ricarte was asked to make the pledge, and he refused again. This prompted the Americans to have him exiled. As luck would have it, Ricarte found his way to Japan, and he would return to the country during the Japanese invasion collaborating with the Japanese and its politics of the Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Artemio Ricarte's stature as a patriot is thus mired by the stigma of his Japanese collaboration, notwithstanding the historical reading that his return as a Japanese collaborator was him carrying on with the Philippine-American War and the Philippine Revolution. Nick Joaquin and F. Sionil Jose both posit this political line, but whether it will make good art is another question. I hope some indie producer finds Ricarte's story worthy of a decent and well-funded film production,  as that one has better possibilities as art and propaganda than Luna's. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

65. Adobo is French?

(Adobo by La Seda Hotel Davao City)

Someone wrote that adobo is of French origin, which I think may have some truth to it, considering that braising the protein in vinegar, soy sauce, and spices is peculiar to this Filipino dish. This chemical process of braising the protein, be it pork, chicken, or beef, has the effect of infusing the color, taste, and the spice on the meat and magically appetizes the foodie's palate. This is similar to how braising meat in wine does the trick. Whenever I travel around the country for work and I see the adobo  on the menu, it is, hands down, my chosen meal. Some of the more memorable ones is the adobo I order from a hotel in Pagadian City, which, although a little bland, is full of aroma because of the bell peppers they mix in it. Pamana Restaurant in Tagaytay serves it three ways of which what stands out is the one braised in coconut milk. Coconut adds the sweet coco flavor that is a Bicolano staple.  By far the tastiest adobo I have eaten is the one they serve in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, which is made from the meat of farm rats. I told my wife, Celeste, to credit the culinary genius of the people from Cabiao to cook adobo rats.  They removed the hairy skin, chopped off the head, tail, and legs so what remained are little drumsticks no different from the drumsticks we derive from small gaming birds. I asked them if there was any other way to serve farm rats, and the people I met in Cabiao said the adobo way is the only way, as it removes the stench of the meat completely. Cooking adobo rats not only puts food on the table, it also eliminates the pests. The Cabiao folks have turned the problem of pestilence into a feast. How much more Filipino can they get? Perhaps, Albert Camus's The Plague may have ended differently if the French author casted somebody from Cabiao to turn all those pests into an exotic culinary dish as adobo rats. It hits the existentialist school in the gut.  If such were the case, then there is more compelling reason to say that adobo is French.

64. Blogger's block

A couple of false starts and I still couldn't get a paragraph done. It was probably because of the rugged schedule yesterday, which had me occupied by hearings for an entire day and the preparations for another trip to Davao today. This is not my first encounter with presumably a writer's block, but this is the first time I am addressing it directly by writing about it. In the past sixty three days, I have only skipped a paragraph once, due to unusually heavy workload; I feel though it was not about an inability to  write, but more of the scarcity of time to get it done. Yesterday, however, was a different case. I was shuttling between two hearings at high noon in EDSA from Quezon City to Pasay. And to relieve myself of the stressful condition of being in heavy traffic while time is ticking before the next hearing started, I tried to write a couple of lines, but there was no paragraph to be had. The same was true in the evening even as the hearings have finished.  I am reminded of Kobe Bryant's high school coach who taught him of the need to have a bread and butter shot. It's the high accuracy and all weather shot that he could make if necessary when a shot couldn't be sourced from anywhere. Kobe Bryant, whose phenomenal career as a basketball player is legendary, can make shot at will, even at the worse game situations. I watched him make two free throws shortly after his Achilles' heel popped out.  How that relates to writing the paragraph is likened to a bread and butter piece of writing -- it has to be a topic that I should be able to write about confidently and with undying inspiration, if the need arises. And the bread and butter paragraph should be the answer to the impending writer's block -- the one that I could still write even as my Achilles's heel has popped-out, so to speak.  It should be the topic of paragraph 65. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

63. Justice Carpio spoils the party.

NVM Gonzalez used to say, "Every reading is an opportunity for misreading." And I am revolted by the news of the misreading of the Constitution by a senior justice of the Supreme Court. Yesterday, Justice Antonio Carpio disclosed his position before the hearing on the Senate Electoral Tribunal that Sen. Grace Poe is a naturalized Filipino, and not natural-born, unless she can prove she had blood relations with Filipino parents. I reviewed my paragraph 58 which outlines my own thinking, and it seems that Justice Carpio's position is the middle ground of the two opposing schools of thought on this issue. This interpretation arises out of the literal reading of the meaning of natural-born and ignores the textual definition found in the Constitution that one is natural-born if one does not have to perform anything to perfect one's citizenship. The weight of the opinion of the senior justice is indicated by the sudden decision of George Garcia, Sen. Grace Poe's counsel, to reveal that Sen. Grace Poe's DNA are now being matched with possible blood relatives. This indicates that Sen. Grace Poe is about to do a Cinderella-like search in  a blood pool of Ilongos that hopefully has not been inundated with false leads that would not only make the search long, but also expensive. There are three justices of the Supreme Court and six senators appointed by party affiliations in the Senate Electoral Tribunal. David, the petitioner who sought the disqualification, would need two more votes from the senators to unseat Sen. Grace Poe and jeopardize her presidential run -- the justices appear to share the same opinion as Justice Carpio. Justice Carpio's resume is nothing to sneer at. He was at the top of his class, and his law firm rose from obscurity to become the darling of the Ramos era. They helped convict Estrada for plunder. And when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became President, they got their partners appointed to key positions in the government, such as the Ombudsman and Secretary of Defense. Justice Antonio Carpio was Pres. Arroyo's first appointee to the Supreme Court. When Chief Justice Renato Corona got impeached, thanks to the impeachment complaint which that law firm drafted, I thought Justice Carpio was a shoo-in for the position. But it was not meant to be, at least not yet. This is an interesting development, albeit a heart-breaking one. NVM was right about misreading, which in the case of a legal decision eliminates all possible readings, including the right one, unless appealed. I am shaking my head as I imagine Michel Foucault in the room saying, "Truth is what the powerful says it is." 

Monday, September 21, 2015

62. Unwashing the Brainwashed

Our teacher in Grade V Social Studies, Mr. Bravo, once got furious, because no one among us in class could tell what was the number of the official proclamation of Martial Law. He sent us out of the classroom to find out before the class ended in an hour. It was 1981, and we weren't even teenagers, and I thought it was unfair of him to expect us to know something that nobody taught us before. Of course, that was my view then, and I have so far been awakened into the evil that was Martial Law. But thanks to Mr. Bravo, my classmates and I would probably never forget what Proclamation No. 1081 meant. 

In high school, after the departure of the Marcoses, somebody passed me a copy of the book, "Conjugal Dictatorship," by Primitivo Mijares and pointed me to the chapter on Dovie Beams. Of course, the chapter would hardly qualify as porn, but to teenage kids, the Dovie Beams chapter was our initiation to the sex lives of the rich and powerful, and we were deciding between condemnation of the sexual transgressions of the dictator or cheering on the virility of the old man. But there are other pages that showed the cunning disregard of Marcos to the rule of law, particularly the chapter on Oplan Sagittarius. This would further shape our young minds that things have been set up by a power hungry Marcos couple. I'm sure I bought a copy of that book, then a pricey PHP 75 per copy, but it seems to have fallen out of the publishing reprint list, because nobody is selling it anymore.  Our teacher in high school, Mr. Bango,  said they used to pass around photocopies of the book in their days because it was prohibited. Now, that I'm a forty-five year old bookworm, trained in reading bullshit pleadings and political propaganda, it would find me a more discerning reader, who may evaluate its pages, like a reader of the future, eager to know how the republic unwashed the brainwashed minds of the Martial Law babies. To his credit, Marcos did not abolish law schools and universities, and Imelda would allow artists and writers to flourish during martial law.  Otherwise, they would have turned us all into minions incapable of thinking for ourselves. For, as many suffered during the dark night that was martial law, a generation of discerning teachers, academicians, lawyers, writers, and artists would survive and nurture our country's love for freedom, hold vigil to unwash our brainwashed minds, and  see this love coming out with all its might in the days of February 1986. It would carry on henceforth. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

61. Luna

The temptation in watching a film like "Heneral Luna" is to compare it with a book, such as Vivencio Jose's Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna. But the historical fact hunter in me gets parried by the visuals in that cabinet meeting scene at the start of the film as soon as Pedro Paterno appeared. I blurted out to my wife,  Celeste, "I hate that guy." And it was all suspension of disbelief from there. 

Apparently, Aguinaldo did not know how to facilitate a cabinet meeting, people were talking at the same time, and he didn't have the voice nor the gavel to quiet down everyone. When people were almost about to come to blows,  he would not call for a break, so they could cool it down. I am reminded of Joker Arroyo's quip about a student government running the Aquino Administration, which I pray is inaccurate, but Aguinaldo's won't even pass as a student government.  No wonder the revolution was doomed. Antonio Luna running the army, however, was different story. He knew what to do. Arthur MacArthur, the American general, wondered if they might be reading the same books, because Luna's strategies were familiar. Yet, to MacArthur's good fortune, Luna's army was fractious. I've read a lot of books about the Philippine revolution, and until now I haven't seen an organizational chart, which gives me the suspicion that there was none. This leads us to the counterfactual that had Bonifacio lived and organized the government himself, with Aguinaldo still leading the army, and Luna at his helm, the results might have been different. But Bonifacio would die, and Luna would die, and Aguinaldo would survive them all. And so the result was an embarrassing defeat. "Heneral Luna" the film was spot on.  Antonio Luna's death in the hands of the Philippine Revolutionary Army marked the watershed event of the Fil-American War, and the movie makes a compelling case that it could not have been that way had he lived. He had a plan; the Cordilleras provided the natural fortress for the protection of the President and the base to re-build a guerrilla army. Unfortunately, Aguinaldo appeared to be half-hearted about fighting. Apolinario Mabini wrote in his own summation of the "Philippine Revolution" that, 

To say that if Aguinaldo, instead of killing Luna (allowing Luna to be killed), had supported him with all his power, the Revolution would have triumphed, would be presumption indeed, but I have not the least doubt that the Americans would have had a higher regard for the courage and military abilities of the Filipinos. Had Luna been alive, I am sure that Otis's mortal blow would have been parried or at least timely prevented, and Mr. Aguinaldo's unfitness for military command would not have been exposed so clearly. Furthermore, to rid himself of Luna, Aguinaldo had recourse to the very soldiers whom Luna had punished for breaches of discipline; by doing so Aguinaldo destroyed that discipline, and with it his own army. With Luna, its most firm support, fell the Revolution, and, the ignominy of that fall bearing wholly on Aguinaldo, brought about in turn his own moral death, a thousand times more bitter than physical death. Aguinaldo therefore ruined himself, damned by his own deeds. Thus are great crimes punished by Providence.

Luna's death elevated him to the status of a Filipino hero for all time. The movie's penultimate sequence where as Luna was playing his guitar, Luna's mother enters, and the film drifts to a flashback of Luna's days gone by, gave me the shock of recognition, it's Joseph Campbell's "The Hero of a Thousand Faces". Luna could have stayed in Madrid and continued chasing the bohemian life of the defunct Propaganda Movement. He could have skipped the war and returned as a doctor when everything was all over; but Luna -- he was going to come back and lead the war against the Americans. His days as a young writer for La Solidaridad that initiated him to the quest for Philippine independence were marked in his soul. It was the inspiration of Rizal's friendship and tragic death that helped him keep the faith. It was his mission and calling. Fighting the war for independence was his bliss, and his death, his own fulfilment. Punyeta, ang ganda!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

60. FPJ's legal roadmap for Sen. Grace Poe

In paragraph 59, I wrote that Sen. Grace Poe only needs to substantiate her allegations that she decided to re-establish her domicile to Manila after the death of her father, Fernando Poe, Jr. in December 2004. But my real concern is how the dispute can derail the election process. In Tecson v. Fornier (G. R. 161434 March 3, 2004), the Supreme Court decided Fernando Poe, Jr.'s disqualification case barely two months before the elections of May 2004. He filed his Certificate of Candidacy on December 31, 2003. Victorino Fornier and the other oppositors filed their Petition against him on January 9, 2004. In ten days, the COMELEC Third Division received the evidence and by January 13, 2004, the challenge was dismissed. Upon the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration, the COMELEC en banc dismissed the case with finality on February 6, 2004. The Petitioners brought their case to the Supreme Court on February 10, 2004. But the Supreme Court dismissed the Petition on March 3, 2004. That is exactly sixty-three (63) days from the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy by Fernando Poe, Jr. By the standards of the Philippine judicial system, that was very quick. It could not have happened if the COMELEC and the Supreme Court did not have the resolve to swiftly decide the matter of such great importance during those days. Yet, I can think of a hundred permutations that would have complicated everything, especially if Fernando Poe, Jr., did not lose in the counting. The COMELEC en banc could have reversed the Third Division and removed his name from the election returns, and he could have missed the voting altogether if the Supreme Court did not act. This is, of course, speculative but I mention it here, because I think the ideal scenario for Sen. Grace Poe is for the COMELEC and the Supreme Court to match the timelines and milestones of her dad's disqualification case. Based on the election calendar for the May 9, 2016 Elections, the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy shall be from October 12-16, 2015. Thus, Sen. Grace Poe has an additional seventy-six (76) days from the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy leading to January 1, 2016, after which the administrative tyranny of the looming May 9, 2016 elections would wreak havoc on her campaign. Yet, this is a different COMELEC and Supreme Court, and they are not bound by the timelines from the Fornier case. Accordingly, while I think the legal challenges to Sen. Grace Poe's candidacy have no merit as discussed in paragraphs 57, 58, and 59, there is still a danger that the legal process would be used to derail her run. Vigilance is the key. Her first test to the complex world of politics and law is how not to get disqualified by her enemies. Thanks to her dad, there is a roadmap.

Friday, September 18, 2015

59. Domicile, Residence, Citizenship

Sen.  Grace Poe's residence is the last focus of the disqualification case against her fitness to run for higher office, because the Constitution requires that a candidate for the presidency must be a resident of the Philippines for ten years. Yet, this argument is "dead in the water" so to speak, by simply clearing up the legal concepts of  domicile, residence and citizenship. First, citizenship is not synonymous with residence. Citizenship refers to the oath of allegiance to a state; residency relates to the place of abode. A person can be Filipino citizen and a resident, or a Filipino citizen and a non-resident. Conversely, a non-Filipino can be a resident of the Philippines. Applying this distinction, it is now easy to see that Sen. Grace Poe's residency has nothing to do with her brief status as an American citizen, which we discussed in paragraph 57. These are two matters that cannot be confused. The second point is that whenever the law speaks of residence for purposes of election, it refers to domicile. The ordinary meaning of "residence" is the place of abode, whether permanent or temporary. Meanwhile, domicile means a fixed permanent residence to which, when absent, one has the intention of returning. Domicile is residence coupled with the intention to remain for an unlimited time. It is the place of habitual residence. For election purposes, a temporary residence in one place does not change a domicile, which may be in another place. In the case of Imelda Marcos vs. COMELEC G.R. 119976, September 18, 1995, the Supreme Court noted that Imelda established her domicile as an eight year old in Tacloban, left for Manila in 1952 to work with his cousin and then got married to Ferdinand Marcos, registered as a voter for Ferdinand's congressional district in Ilocos Norte,  moved to San Juan, Metro Manila, when Ferdinand became a senator, then moved to San Miguel, Manila when Ferdinand Marcos became the President, then she claimed they got kidnapped (?) and brought to Honolulu, Hawaii in 1986, after which she returned  to San Juan,  Metro Manila in 1991 and ran for President, until she finally decided to return to Tacloban to run for Congress. Said the Supreme Court, 

None of these purposes unequivocally point to an intention to abandon her domicile of origin in Tacloban, Leyte.
That's almost a forty-year adventure out of Tacloban for Imelda that had her travelling around the world, so to speak, not counting the acquisition of real estate in New York and the bank accounts in Switzerland. Yet, her domicile, said the Supreme Court, has always been Tacloban. As for Sen. Grace Poe, she has to satisfy the requirement that she has been a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding the elections in May 2016. So strictly speaking, she has to show that her domicile from May 2006 onwards has been the Philippines. Her press kit says she decided to return to the Philippines for good after the death of her father Fernando Poe Jr. in December 2004. From then on, she moved her domicile here, which she demonstrated by a series of activities, such as moving residence here, enrolling her kids in Philippine schools, buying her family's abode, and selling her American house. Most of these activities took place in 2005, which is safe enough to qualify for the ten year threshhold. Of course, by applying the all embracing precedent set by Imelda Marcos's case, the residency issue against Sen. Grace Poe is clearly settled. There is, however, a controversy as to her personal declaration in her application for certificate of candidacy for the Senate where it was inscribed that she's been a resident only for  six years and six months prior to the May 2013 elections. If the declaration were to be read on its face, it would make Sen. Grace Poe a resident only from December 2006, about five months short of the threshhold. Yet, this was the same situation in the Imelda case where the Supreme Court ruled that it is a non-issue as those declarations in applications for certificate  of candidacy are outweighed by the actions of the candidate, which ultimately determine the domicile. It would therefore be a matter of evidence on the part of Senator Grace Poe to show by testimonial and documentary proof that she has moved her domicile to the Philippines after December 2004. This is where I think the procedural hurdles would be thrown, which should be subject of paragraph 60. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

58. Foundling, Citizenship, and Adoption

In paragraph 57, we discussed that the Maquiling case did not have any relevance in determining Sen Grace Poe's legal fitness to run for public office. I am not a lawyer of Grace Poe, so I am writing this for my own legal satisfaction. In fact, it may be different from what her lawyers are saying. Nonetheless, as her candidacy has been announced last night, I might as well discuss the other legal hurdles that she would go through to complete her run. The argument has been raised that she is not a natural-born Filipino, because she was a foundling. Her bio says she was adopted in accordance with law by Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces, after she was found as a baby in a church in Jaro, Iloilo City. Under the Constitution, natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship, (Section 2 Article IV 1987 Constitution). Meanwhile, Filipino citizens are those 1) who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, which was October 15, 1986; 2) those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines; 3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, 4) those naturalized in accordance with law, (Section 1 Article IV 1987 Constitution). (See also Art. 48 of the Civil Code). The argument is that, being a foundling whose real parents are unknown, Sen. Grace Poe cannot establish that her blood parents are Filipinos as defined above. Thus, she is not a natural-born Filipino. The underlying proposition is that foundlings in the Philippines are born stateless and remain stateless in spite of the adoption. As being a natural-born citizen is traced through bloodlines, the argument is that a foundling's bloodline is untraceable, and therefore the foundling is stateless. This argument proposes a strict application of the bloodline principle, and demands the burden of proving the bloodline on the foundling, which is the opposite of how it operates in real life. A foundling rescued in the Philippine is always treated as if the foundling had Filipino parents. Thus, when the foundling is subjected to adoption proceedings, the foundling's citizenship is presumed to be Filipino. Our law office, which handles adoption by specialty, have never been asked by a judge to prove the citizenship of a foundling. If, by any chance, any one were to challenge the citizenship of a foundling, the burden is on the challenger to show the foreign lineage and not on the foundling. This practice arises out of the Philippines' assent to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which mandates the recognition of every human being's right to a nationality from birth. The UDHR, along with other human rights treaties, are considered part of the laws of the Philippine as binding customary international law.  In addition, I think the key to further neutralizing this argument is Article 189 of the Family Code, which defines the effect of adoption as follows: 

"For civil purposes, the adopted shall be deemed to be a legitimate child of the adopters and both shall acquire the reciprocal rights and obligations arising from the relationship of parent and child, including the right of the adopted to use the surname of the adopters".
In other words, once the foundling is adopted, the adoption creates a legal fiction, which deems that the adopted is a legitimate child of the adoptee. The effect of the legal fiction between adopter and adoptee is restricted to that relation. Yet, my view is this is not so in the case of citizenship, as the Constitution and the Civil Code state that one is a Filipino if her father or mother is Filipino without qualifications. This should apply to both natural parents and adoptive parents as the law does not distinguish. It goes without saying that the foundling did not have to perform anything to acquire or perfect the citizenship, because being the subject of adoption proceedings, the foundling or the adopted does not take an active role in her adoption; the adoptive parents are the main participants in the foundling's adoption proceedings. In other words, not only is the foundling regarded as a Filipino upon birth, once the foundling is adopted, the foundling acquires the rights of a legitimate child, which includes the citizenship of the adopters. Thus, the argument of the stateless foundling is not just unkind -- the foundling normally does not come with a passport -- but also inconsistent with the presumptions mandated by the adherence of the Philippines to international treaties on human rights, and  the basic law on adoption as defined in Article 189 of the Family Code of the Philippines and the Constitution.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

57. That Maquiling case and Sen. Grace Poe

Sen. Grace Poe is set to make an announcement today, which is presumably about her intention to run as President. But sponsored Facebook and Twitter feeds  abound with legal questions about her legal fitness to run for the position. I have raised my reservations too in paragraphs 6 and 53 but have not found the occasion to look it up myself until today. One of the cases being cited is that of the former Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, known as Maquiling v. Comelec (G.R. 195649, April 16, 2013). The facts of that case are as follows: Rommel Arnado, a natural born Filipino, acquired American citizenship, became a dual Filipino and American citizen, renounced his American citizenship under oath as prescribed under Republic Act No. 9225, got elected as Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, and used his American passport twice while serving as Mayor. The Supreme Court removed him from his position as Mayor for being ineligible. The Court said, "by using his US passport after renouncing his American citizenship, (Arnado) has recanted the same Oath of Renunciation he took." The logic is that by nullifying his Oath of Renunciation, Arnado was still beholden to his American citizenship, which under the Local Government Code was a ground for disqualification as the law expressly disqualifies those who have dual citizenship from running for local office. The key action that got Arnado disqualified was his use of his American passport, in spite of holding the position of Mayor of a local town. How he thought he could get away with it is beyond me, but this case is now being cited to disqualify Sen. Grace Poe. Reading the materials being peddled around by her friends and enemies, the accusation is she had used her American passport too while serving as MTRCB Chair. This is something that she has, however, repeatedly denied. She renounced her American citizenship on October 20, 2010, and she never used her American passport thereafter. The proof that will best show it was never used is the passport itself. But that is evidence that comes during trial. Yet in her paragraph 1.23.2 of her Answer to the disqualification case filed against her in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, she swore under oath that "At no time after she executed the (Affidavit of Renunciation), did (she) ever use her U.S.A. passport." Thus, Arnado's case is irrelevant to Senator Grace Poe's legal fitness to be a Senator or President of the Philippines. Personally, I thought the Maquiling case was the strongest objection against her candidacy; but so long as the proposition holds true that the good senator never used her U.S.A passport after she executed her Affidavit of Renunciation,  the  Maquiling argument is weak.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

56. Religious Freedom and Illegal Detention

In paragraph 42, we explained Freedom of Religion and discussed some decided and hypothetical freedom of religion issues. After talking to some friends from the Iglesia ni Cristo, I've come across a potential landmark jurisprudence on this matter. Say a minister takes a vow of obedience to his religious superior. Then, the religious superior enforces this vow by telling the minister to stay in a guarded home. The issue then would be whether the superior is  liable for Illegal Detention or whether he can raise as a defense that he is merely enforcing the congregation's religious code, whIch the minister consented to when he made his sacred vows. The answer can be more discussed without religious bias if we change  the characters and assume that the religion concerned is the Catholic religion and the superior concerned is the Jesuit Provincial. What I would like to underscore is the unfair comment that this matter is not a legitimate grievance worthy of making one traffic mess for or maybe a revolution. The key essence of Illegal Detention is the prohibition on any one restraining one's freedom of movement with malicious intent.   The question may be approached whether the minister consents to the detention as his religious vow includes the vow to obey the rules  of the congregation, including any disciplinary measure of detention. Yet, I think the more fundamental issue is whether detention was ordered by the religious superior with malice. In other words, the detention may only amount to a crime if there was no religious reason for it. If it were detention for ransom money or for any selfish motive, then it would not fall under the ambit of religious freedom. Yet, the definition of a religious purpose is the tricky part. If, for example, a minister is detained by the superior, because the minister has been instigating sedition in the populace or in the congregation, and the superior decides to detain him to protect the congregation or government, that might not be a religious reason, but it doesn't appear to be malicious either. I don't have the answer. For this reason, it is indeed alarming for the ordinary members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo that the Secretary of Justice, knowing how difficult the issues are at hand, decided to give the case some special attention, made a few comments in a press conference while receiving the case file, and created a special panel of investigators, especially so that every time she did this, i.e., PDAF cases and the PAGCOR cases, the cases ended up in court which issued warrants of arrest.   She could have at least skipped the press conference; but she had to do it, because she wants to run for senator. Now, with all this mess, the real issue has been drowned out by the murmurs and the catcalls.

Monday, September 14, 2015

55. Desaparecidos

In paragraph 54's discussion of the milieu of mass media of the mid-70s, which was about three years from the declaration of martial law, the role of media as an entertainer is underscored. Media fed us the feel good stories of World War II and gave us Dolphy. The Bulletin was like a memo from Malacanang. The only anguish allowed airtime is one for lost love and its variations; there was nothing about the martial law situation. We were all trained to be authority loving children, and Marcos was our hero. But Toym Imao, an artist born in 1968, would have his awakening when Marcos pulled out Voltes V from television, just four episodes before the series would end. That was 1978, and while I was a crazed Voltes V fanatic myself, my awakening would be much later. But Toym has taken it to heart, and his awakening of the manipulation of the media by the martial law regime  would lead him and his art to the realm of protest art. I caught Toym's art installation at the University of the Philippines this morning, and I was stunned by the expressions on the faces of images, so I decided to take a picture of them. The images represent the Desaparecidos, the missing persons whose loss is believed to have been sanctioned by the Philippine State. There were many of these reported disappearances during the martial law era, but we would not hear of them until much later when Ferdinand Marcos was deposed. Yet, the sad fact is these disappearances have not stopped. Labor leaders like Bert Olalia, media handlers like Bubby Dacer, whistle-blowers like Bentain, and activists like Jonas Burgos would vanish along with countless names of students and community leaders in the past twenty-nine years. In pursuit of its reform agenda this present administration has passed the "Anti-Desaparecidos Law." Yet, at least twenty persons have disappeared and believed to have been abducted by elements of the State, since the law was passed in 2012.  Toym Imao is now a celebrated international artist, and it is encouraging to know how far he has gone from the martial law milieu of state-controlled media that nurtured our generation's young minds.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

54. My Media Diet in the Mid-70s

Afternoons in the 70s were spent listening to Victor Wood's radio show, "Mr. Lonely". The television was a scarce appliance and the transistor radio was our medium of communication and entertainment. My dad required us kids to take naps in the afternoon, and we would bore ourselves to sleep with AM radio drama shows. On Saturday nights, I would be in our neighbor's sala early evening to get the front seat for the 7:00 o'clock re-run of "Combat". I never quite understood the World War II tv series, but I've often wondered why Rick Jason and Vic Morrow were never on the lead at the same time. My earliest recollection of the show was when Vic Morrow, who starred as Sgt. Chip Saunders, got deaf after a bomb explosion, and there would be moments he would be oblivious to a German platoon coming at his blind side. And we would be at the edge of our seats, hoping he would not get caught. Combat did not have complicated plots for a five year old to follow; it was war, they shoot at each other, somebody dies, the end. The moral dilemmas that the characters faced in each episode would be lost in my young mind.  I would go home after the show, sleep, and the following day, I'd get hold of the Bulletin, and  peruse the movie pages. I'd analyze every movie ad, note the actors, and wonder if the title of the movie promised any fun. A title of a movie stands out from memory, "Kaming Matatapang ang Apog", which apparently was a Dolphy movie. The Bulletin had this two page movie spread and at the top half of the spread would be the names of the theaters in boxes with the movies showing on those theaters. On one particular Sunday morning, I noted there were a lot of theaters showing that Dolphy movie. It was also showing for many weeks. I was not allowed to watch movies then, because I was too young, and I didn't really mind as reading the movie pages was enough entertainment for me. In the Panorama Magazine that came with the Sunday Bulletin was a cartoon, and the memory escapes me if it was on the fifth page or the back page. But I'd look forward to being humored by that cartoon every week. Our neighbors, who were Baptists,  had Gospel Comics, which were written in Tagalog; I borrowed them one night, and I finished reading the New Testament in one week. Gospel Comics were the only graphic novels that my Mom allowed in the house. Apparently, it was the heyday of the Philippine comics industry, but my Mom censored them from the household as for some reason they had a reputation of being crass. Later, as I grew older, I would have access to comics, but I had to hide them from my Mom, who never took a liking for them. Looking back at all my diet of mass communications in the mid -70's, I would say it was lean by today's standards. I used up most of my time interacting personally with other kids, running, talking, laughing, brawling, and growing up before the mass media explosion that would characterize the 80s. It's probably the reason why I think I'm not as bright as my kids as when they were five in the early 2000s. But I'm not willing to concede that they had more fun. 

53. Metaphors of 2016

The metaphor of the straight path, "Tuwid na Daan" may have been a clever device that got this Administration elected after a corrupt regime, but it doesn't look like it can have an extended run. This Administration failed in the delivery of basic transportation services, and hardly anyone would like to be associated with a road these days, much less be traveling on one. I spent five hours on the EDSA last Tuesday, September 8, 2015, inching our way to the Mall of Asia and back in the middle of the rain, and monitoring how everyone else was doing; they were doing no worse. Meanwhile, the radio had Mar Roxas's commercial repeating his "Daang Matuwid" spiel more than once per hour, which irritated me and convinced me that he was probably spending all that money for people not to vote for him instead. Continuity is, of course, the message but continuity from an era of botched police operations, MRT accidents, and unfulfilled promises like the Freedom of Information Law is unwise. These Mar Roxas people are spending too much time with their sycophants and bootlickers that they don't realize they're headed to loserdom. With barely eight months left before the elections, it is too late to reinvent a new metaphor to reenergize Mar Roxas's campaign, and it has no choice but to stick to its propaganda line. Meanwhile, Binay and Duterte have not chosen theirs. I saw a youtube ad of Grace Poe with the 2004 FPJ theme, "Bagong Umaga",  literally new dawn.  The choice was very tasteful of FPJ when he used it in 2004. If the daughter would use it for her campaign, it would equally connote the idea of change and hope. It sounds fresh but familiar; it would work well as a contrast to the tired cliche of "Tuwid na Daan." A new dawn always carries a message of hope and change. It opens our eyes to new possibilities, new experiences, and new energies. If I heard that song in the middle of the rain and traffic in EDSA last Tuesday, I would be a Grace Poe convert for good. It would be telling myself this traffic nightmare would end soon. Bring me to the next day. I want to get to tomorrow now. No more incompetence and blaming others for this mess. I want new hope. Unfortunately, the Grace Poe campaign is going to face legal hurdles by her enemies' design. The danger is that the legal issues hounding her might sap her energies, and then we  end up with a President whose election would stand in the balance of the Supreme Court. If that happens, then only a technical elucidation of the law and its application would resolve it, and the only metaphor that we would be looking at is the blindfolded Lustitia and her scale.

Friday, September 11, 2015

52. #AlDub is a Script from Shakespeare

I've caught two clips on YouTube of this phenomenal #AlDub segment of Eat Bulaga, Philippine TV's long-time running lunch show, and I can understand why its viewership is approximating a Pacquiao fight. It's Romeo and Juliet. It bears the theme of prohibited love like Hemingway's Farewell to Arms or Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera: two lovers separated by time, distance, or conflicting social interests fighting for their love. Shakespeare sets it up against the family wars of his time, and breaks it with a stupid mistake of a messenger that ended in the lovers committing suicide one after the other. Hemingway puts it in the backdrop of World War I, and it ends in the death of the lady after giving birth. Marquez frames it in South America as the young lovers wait till they get old to fulfill their love on a steamship going back and forth a South American river. The highlight of the story is Marquez's description of two old people making love. Yet, with the comedic genius of Eat Bulaga's talents, this tired old theme gets a social media twist in #AlDub with live audience and online internet participation to boot. They made the plot as simple as possible. Boy (Al) meets girl (Yaya Dub), but only on camera. Grandmother (Lola Nidora) objects and sets the obstacles and conditions for the two to meet and fulfill their promise of love. And with that simple plot, they've milked it of all its dramatic and comic possibilities. People are hooked.  Children think the story is true and they hate Lola Nidora with all their souls. The Inquirer even made it a banner headline -- an implied admission that fictitious tales roam their front pages. #AlDub is trending topic on Twitter and Facebook. Office workers, household folks, drivers, managers, doctors, lawyers, and industry leaders are talking about it. Of late, concerns are being raised that the phenomenon might be used to propel a politician's career. Yet, this will end soon for sure. I'm betting it should go the way of Marquez. To paraphrase him as he wrote in Love in the Time of Cholera, that when a woman decides to love a man, "there is no wall she will not scale, no fortress she will not destroy, no moral consideration she will not ignore at its very root: there is no God worth worrying about.” I can imagine how Philippine TV and internet is going to break out into ecstasy when it happens. Eat Bulaga has everyone itching for this ending; it better fulfill that itch. For if it goes  the way of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or Hemingway's Farewell to Arms where the lovers die, we might have a revolution.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

51. Notes on the Inferno: The Second Circle

I take back what I said in paragraph #48 that Manuel L. Quezon's vision of a government run like hell by Filipinos is a smashing success. It turns out after reading Dante's Inferno, hell is pretty organized. In spite of all the people there, nobody's  complaining about the traffic. Nobody leaves hell. People just keep on coming. And unlike the chaotic government, no smart aleck is claiming that traffic in hell is not fatal (they are all dead) or that it's a sign of development. The Minos,  which guards the gate, tells the souls their place in the nine circles, and they're not in a hurry. Nonetheless, in the Second Circle of Hell, dwell the lustful. In Canto V, we read of the story of Francesca Da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta. The story is Francesca's husband caught her in bed with Paolo, her husband's brother, thus her husband killed them both. She claims  they were just reading a book about Lancelot and Guinevere, so they did it, and they got caught. She claims their predicament is rooted on love, (Line 125 Canto V). The modern equivalent of this story is the wife who went to bed with her husband's brother after watching porn. In law, love is hardly an excuse for this malfeasance. In fact, the Revised Penal Code doesn't prescribe jail time for this kind of murder and parricide for the assailant-husband. So, this kind of "what I did for love" excuse will only earn the victim and her lover a bullet and free pass to hell. Love is such an abused word. We once had a case against a judge for slapping her clerk of court. Her excuse? It's a slap of love, literally, "sampal ng pagmamahal." I can't believe the court bought it and we lost the case. Nevertheless, in Dante's Inferno, those who are lustful belong to a bigger group of sinners who commit the sin of incontinence or the inability to restrain one's urges. That's why the sinners there are full of excuses; everyone is to blame but themselves.  Hell is organized indeed, but hell, like earth, is also full of bullshit. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

50. Notes on the Inferno: Limbo and the Nine Circles

I've been studying Dante Alighieri's classic "The Divine Comedy" for a book project. The epic poem is considered a landmark in world literature, and has spun countless artworks, books, movies, and even a computer game. Exiled from Florence, Dante portrays himself  as the hero of the story who explores hell, purgatory, and heaven. In the process, he  meets dead people, finds out where they are, and even talks to them. One thing I noticed is this book may appear to be a theological piece of work, but at the heart of it is political satire. The personalities in it, or particularly those who were placed in hell by Dante where I am currently bookmarked, are actually his family's enemies. So, when Dante was writing this epic, he must have been a having a great time, imagining all those personalities who were responsible for his being in exile, as he puts all of them in hell. Essentially, the book says there are nine circles in hell, each circle is inhabited by a certain group of sinners: 1st) The Pagans, 2nd) The Sexually Promiscuous, 3rd) The Gluttons, 4th) The Hoarders and Wasters, 5th)The Angry and the Sullen, 6th) Heretics and Skeptics, 7th) The Violent, 8th) The Fraud, 9th) The Traitors. If somebody were to update this book to the 21st Century with a focus on the Philippines, there's going to be a lot personalities in hell. Let's start with the pagans. In Dante's book, these are the people who were born before Christ so they weren't saved. Nonetheless, in Dante's list of the people in the first circle, also known as limbo, are Homer, Ovid, Horace, Virgil, Caesar, Aristotle, Socrates and Plato, among others. As a philosophy major, it breaks my heart to know that the three pillars of western philosophy are in hell, even if its in the first level. The Jews, like Abraham, were saved from hell, because Jesus is supposed to have descended to hell to save them after he died. I reckon the Filipinos there would be Lapu-Lapu, Rajah Soliman, Datu Kalantiao, Datu Puti, Datu Sumakwel, and may other pre-Spanish Datus. A curious case would be Datu Humabon, who converted to Christianity on April 14, 1521 and was baptized as Carlos. But he had Spanish soldiers killed after they raped their women, so maybe he was not able to confess before he died, in which case he may be found in the 7th circle. Really, Dante's piece is a nifty political trick. Yet, it is all subjective. If PNoy would make the modern list of Filipinos in hell, I'm sure that list would not be the same as Gloria Arroyo's list, while some people would have both their names on the list. To say that somebody is going to hell is harsh judgment, because nobody knows the complete story why persons act unreasonably or sinfully at times. Sometimes, sinful actions may not even be defined. Well, Dante's lucky, because he's dead. If he were alive today and he made that Filipino list, he would not be in hell, but in jail. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

49. NVM Gonzalez

Pete Lacaba recalled how in one writer's forum,  NVM Gonzalez retold the tale of the sick king and his three sons  who were sent to catch the Ibong Adarna. The king would only heal if he hears the enchanting songs of the bird. The first two brothers were set off on a hunt. But they failed, because as soon as they found the bird perched on a tree and the Ibong Adarna would sing, they would fall asleep, and the Ibong Adarna's droppings would hit them and turn them into stones. Thus, it was the third and youngest prince's turn to find the cure for his ailing father. But in a chance encounter with an old man, the youngest prince because of his kind heart, was warned by the old man about the spell. The old man gave him lime and told him that as soon as the bird sings, he should cut himself and distill the juice of the citrus fruit on his wound to keep himself awake. The Ibong Adarna would sing seven songs, so he had to cut himself and press the lime seven times as well. The bird would then poop and he had to make sure that he avoided its droppings so he won't turn into stone like his brothers. And then it would fall asleep, at which time, he could catch it.  The young prince did as he was told, he was able to resist the lure of sleep, avoid the Ibong Adarna's droppings, and capture it alive to heal his ailing dad. 

NVM  warned the writers in that forum that they have to be the young prince who should struggle to keep awake as the lure of the Ibong Adarna's voice tempts them to sleep. Their role in society is to stay for the night. They should press the pain of the lime on an open wound, so they won't fall asleep, avoid the droppings, and capture the mythical bird. 

I don't know why that vocation of capturing the bird should be exclusive to writers. I think the tale is meant for all, and NVM wouldn't mind if I say that it is a tale for lawyers, teachers, fathers, mothers, and children too. The lure of the Ibong Adarna's enchanting songs could be anything: entertainment, computer games, money, gossip, power, sex, all these mundane pleasures that may be beautiful but with potentials of turning all who encounter them into stones, or zombies -- to keep the myth up to date with my kid's language. And like the young prince, we should cut ourselves and press the lime on our wounds to keep ourselves awake. Cutting our wounds is like making sacrifices. In this generation, pain has earned such a bad reputation, but we should remember that pain keeps us awake. Like fasting, exercising, or instilling discipline on ourselves against these pleasures, whatever that could give us enough to keep us mindful, because it's the only way for us to stay the night so we can capture our mythical birds and bring the cure to all our ails. And the old man, thanks to him for the tip. NVM Gonzalez, whose 100th birthday is celebrated today, is the old man in the myth. 

Monday, September 07, 2015

48. Exemplars

Somewhere buried in my Facebook timeline is a comment I made about a post, which gave accolades to this present administration as being one of the best the country has ever had. I said something like why do we compare against our own? We should compare with the best of the world across time. And of course, that would burst the bubble, so to speak, of any one who would like to trumpet the outgoing administration to boost the dismal rating of its anointed. Yet, this myopia appears to be prevalent not only with the present but also with the past leadership. I'm not even thinking about the globalization slogan of "Think global, act local." I'm just thinking exemplars. We should not limit ourselves to the Filipino personalities of the past of which the best appears to have vanished with the Propaganda Movement. Yet, those guys did not even experience running a country. They just wanted independence. They have romanticized it so much, that the great apostle of their efforts, Manuel L. Quezon, who headed the Philippine Commonwealth, had preferred, over a government run like heaven by foreigners, a government run like hell by Filipinos. By that standard alone, we can say that Quezon's vision was a smashing success. NVM Gonzalez said there is genius in the Filipino race, but we have to teach these geniuses as they are nurtured and educated today,  that there are a lot of idiots among us too. We have to teach them to look to Lincoln for wise leadership, Churchill for courage and resolve, Gandhi for purity of will and method, and many others. They should have monuments here too, because they also remind us about freedom, and the extent of the human capacity to do what is right. And if we measure this administration against just the three I mentioned above, I would not even say a word. We shouldn't be that stupid to say that we had it good.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

47. Sunday Meal

My wife, Celeste, and I would be on our way to the market before the sun is up. Crabs, shrimps, mussels and some other new seafood -- who knows what we would find? -- are on the "to buy" list. The other day they had angel wing clams, which made me remember that Chef Chris Locher, then from the fabled C' Italian Dining of Angeles, once cooked this for us, and we could not have enough of it, because of the heavenly way he cooked it. Sometimes it's the sea mantis -- cooked with salt and pepper, deep fried until crispy -- and other days it would be just lobsters or curachas -- not enough meat as my son, Anselmo, puts it. The boys, Ben, Anselmo, and Agustin, welcome these culinary adventures, but the girl, Regina, would only have pork. The kitchen would be busy as soon as we arrive with our finds. Turmeric is our "go to" seasoning, because it adds that ginger kick and that marvelous yellow hue to any dish that it touches. And white wine brings the sweet sour sophistication to the seafood chemistry. All of these would be cooked, recipes in hand, with rice and grilled pork on the side. The dishes are then placed in hand made colorful clay plates, which Celeste took pains and years to find. Rosemary and basil leaves then garnish the meals fresh from the garden pots. At about noon, the members of the family take their designated spots with their sauces, salt and pepper in vinegar, and soy sauce, on their places. Nobody starts unless everyone is on the table and has prayed. This is our Sunday lunch meal. This is how I hope my kids would remember their Sundays growing up in the early 21st Century.  It took years for Celeste and myself to develop this ritual of a meal, and I reckon it's still a work in progress. I'm still working on the live string quartet to boot. Seriously, the complicated detail and the time and attention we put on this meal measure up only to the importance that we put on the occasion. It's the only time in the entire week that we are gathered together as a family to talk. The rest of the week is the time we get lost in the mess of our daily individual lives, the kids with schoolwork, computer games and anime, and the adults with their jobs, duties, and their budgets. But the Sunday lunch meal is when we all put everything aside. This is where Regina talks about her mangas and the anime, Attack of Titans, where I learn about the latest football news, or the new Ipad game, or that UP is not such a hard school according to my college level son, Ben. The dog takes some attention too as it barks for some bones. We all laugh and cheer together at its antics.  This is also where we talked about our successes and tragedies and challenges. It's not always fun. But always, it's us talking. The rest of humanity have their meal rituals too, like Christ and his disciples and the Last Supper. State dinners for the heads of state, "kauntians" for the poor, boodle fights for the men in uniform, no matter how modest or elaborate, the Sunday meal is the most impressive meal of the week. But I have a suspicion it's not about the food. It is about the satisfaction, not only of the need for nourishment  of the body, but also of the spirit. For meals are not only about being  hungry, but also about being together with the people we love and respect who  also share our hunger no matter what our faiths. And that is as much human as we can get. 

Saturday, September 05, 2015

46. Bloc Voting

Legend has it that Diosdado Macapagal lost to Ferdinand Marcos in the 1965 elections, because Marcos solicited the 500,000 Iglesia ni Cristo votes. Macapagal publicly declared his disapproval to the bloc voting practice by the religious sect, and lost to Marcos by about 600,000 votes. Since then, the bloc voting Iglesia Ni Cristo had been a mythical game changer in Philippine elections. Many have spoken against the evils of bloc voting, but it makes sense for a politician to court these votes, because it gives him a sure number for the win. The common sense approach to winning an election is by determining the majority of the average turn-out of the voting population, divided by the number of strong candidates. That is the magic number. The politician is always scrounging for votes to get that number. And if there is a bloc vote from an organization, sect, or other interest groups, then that would deliver a big chunk of that magic number; the politician would be hooked. It also makes perfect sense for any organization to create a bloc vote knowing that politicians would be after them all the time. The real world scenario, however, is there is always a trade-off for that vote. An appointment here and there, a radio or tv frequency, a mining claim, a free patent to a public land, or a big ticket housing loan -- as the song goes "everything counts in large amounts." Plato warned us in "The Republic" of the ills of democracy that could give rise to tyranny. In a democratic environment, as shown by the Philippine experience, these bloc voters could become unruly. Say for example, they want the Secretary of Justice to come from their ranks, so none of the cases filed against their brethren would prosper. They could potentially dictate how the law could be applied. Further, as politicians are always haggling with other interest groups which always get what they want so long as they deliver the votes, society would degenerate, and there would be anarchy. The anarchy would then create a vacuum for the rise of tyranny. For this reason, Plato batted for a better government ran by a philosopher king. A philosopher king would not haggle with the bloc voters, because the philosopher king would always think about the general welfare. Unfortunately, the closest thing the world ever had to a philosopher king was Solomon, and Solomon is just one of the kings in the Iglesia's and Catholic's Book of Kings. Solomon also never had to deal with the bloc voters. He became king upon proclamation by his father, David, and not by a popular vote; albeit, it evokes a good feeling to think about how, if he were alive in a modern democracy, Solomon would turn these bloc voters away, especially when they come demanding for their spoils. 

Friday, September 04, 2015

45. Exit Row

With all this flying back and forth to Mindanao, I've developed a liking for the exit row. These are the seats on the twelfth row when taking Cebu Pacific, or the twenty-secondth row, but designated as forty-first seats, when aboard Philippine Airlines. The best thing about these seats is the extra leg room. The normal rows are so crammed, especially with the Cebu Pacific planes, that sitting  on them is like being in a military training. There is only one way to sit, which is straight up. If the guy in front of me decided to recline his chair, I'd be inches away to having a direct view of his bald spot. And if the flight is from Manila to Davao, that's an hour and twenty minutes of that view, which is not good. The exit row, however, takes off that inconvenience. I have space to stretch my  legs, and the reclining chairs don't interfere with my line of sight. For two hundred fifty pesos more, it's bliss in flight. Of course everything has a catch. Being in the exit row requires the passenger to read the manual on how to open the exit doors in case of emergency. Fine, if it never happens. But if it does, it may be a life-changing experience. I have a friend who's brother was on the exit row in a plane travelling to Bacolod.  His plane over shot the runway, and he did his duties. He opened the door, but in all the commotion, he was pushed overboard before the stairs could inflate. He survived what was equivalent to a two storey fall. But he was badly injured until he died. He sued the airline, yet the case remains unresolved years after his death. Indeed, the exit row is a dangerous fascination, perhaps like the attraction to light of the fireflies in that tale of Teodora Alonzo, Rizal's mom, related to him when he was a kid. But a life lived by turning away from the fascinating things, because of perceived danger is a life for the common man. Many like to live the life of the common man; whatever suits them. But the exit row is not for the them, it's for those people who like the fireflies are willing to get burned for things they want from life. If Rizal were alive today and flying aboard these flights, I'm sure I would have met him by now by the exit row. I have also imagined many times opening that door,  if by fate, the same eventuality as what happened to my friend's brother takes place. In my mind, I have practiced how not to get pushed overboard by the wild throng before the stairs inflate. For unlike the fireflies that die by their attraction to the light, uncommon people learn from their experience and the experience of others to survive and enjoy what they want.

44.Just your luck, punk

In the news recently is a report that Mayor Duterte allegedly gave a violator of Davao City's smoking ban a choice: get the violator's penis shot with a .38 caliber revolver,  get imprisoned, or eat the cigarette butt. The Mayor's press people have denied parts of the report but the reporter stands by his story. What I am concerned about, however, is that Rappler's mood index for this story generated a result that people are happy about it. While it is possible that this mood index rating is being manipulated, still I have a feeling that this may be the sentiment, especially among non-smokers and the fans of the Duterte saga. The pre-text of the story is Duterte's alleged reputation as a stern implementor of the law. But I can hardly say that what he did was legal. Assuming the facts in the news story are correct, Durterte is actually liable for Grave Coercion. Under the Article 286 of the Revised Penal Code, the following are the elements of Grave Coercion: (1) that a person is prevented by another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compelled to do something against his will, be it right or wrong; (2) that the prevention or compulsion is effected by violence, threats, or intimidation; (3) that the person who restrains the will and liberty of another has no right to do so, or in other words, that the restraint is not made under authority of law or in the exercise of any lawful right. In this case, forcing the violator to eat the cigarette butt or get his crotch shot or face arrest most certainly fulfills elements 1, 2, and 3, unless the Mayor, who used to be a prosecutor, can find the law that says forcing a smoker to eat his cigarette butt is legal. Indeed, the mindless glamor that people give the Mayor's antics is getting out of hand. I can imagine that as people read the news story, they were envisioning Mayor Duterte as Clint Eastwood acting as Dirty Harry pointing the gun at the violator's crotch and saying the immortal words, "Do you feel lucky, punk?" Wake up everyone. Dirty Harry is dirty. Clint Eastwod is old. This is not a movie. And that cigarette butt stunt was Grave Coercion. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

43. Sleep Secrets

Somebody showed me Arnold Schwarzenegger's Six Secrets of Success on youtube. I found it funny when he reached the #5 secret, which was "Work your butt off," I told myself I don't know anyone who actually became successful without working. That's too obvious to be a secret. Nonetheless, he recounted how many hours we all have to sleep. He was saying while we are all sleeping or horsing around or partying, somebody is working and getting smarter and better than we are. He sleeps six hours, so he's only got eigtheen hours to work. Thus, for those who sleep eight or nine hours his recommendation to them is to sleep faster. I was expecting canned laughter after that line, but there was none. So, Big Arnold must have been serious. I'm wondering how can a person sleep faster. This thought takes me to a book written by Quijano de Manila about the life and times of former Vice President Salvador "Doy" Laurel. There is a lot of Philippine history in that book as it also recounts the life of Doy's father, former President Jose P. Laurel. But I recall that book now specifically for a breathing technique that Doy shared. Basically, he was saying if you inhale in one nostril and exhale in the other, and you do it for thirty minutes, that exercise would give you the energy that six hours of sleep would provide. He said that was how he managed to survive the long hours required for his graduate school work in Yale. I've done the technique myself in college and law school, and I must say that it worked. I haven't found the need or occasion to do this trick recently. Of course, Big Arnold was not likely thinking about Doy's breathing technique. Yet, what concerns me is how sleep has acquired such a bad reputation with "successful" people. My own experience is sleepless people are hardly successful. I reckon some of them actually die before they can achieve a measure of success. Some might be using a breathing technique and snort some prohibited substance on the side. In fact, if Big Arnold spent an extra hour sleeping, he might have been a better governor or actor. Seriously, if his motivation in cutting  sleep time is because somebody is getting better or smarter than him while he is  sleeping, he must be sick. I haven't met a person who got better by not sleeping enough or someone who caught up with better people by sleeping less. In case you find this video, you have to decide whether you're watching for advice on life strategies or you're just looking to laugh. I chose the second one and I haven't laughed this much recently.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

42. Freedom of Religion

In 1633, Pope Urban VIII had Galileo declared a heretic and imprisoned for professing that the world revolves around the sun. Today in the Philippines, considering that we have the Freedom of Religion clause in the Constitution, Galileo could profess his view or even the opposite view, i. e., it's the sun revolving around the world, and the State could care less. Galileo would be a free man. The Freedom of Religion Clause in the Constitution guarantees two things: 1) The State will not establish a religion; and 2) The State will not interfere in the practice of any religion. In Galileo's era, Catholicism was a state religion. Thus, if one professed a belief contrary to  Catholic doctrines, it was equivalent to a crime against the State, for which one could be punished and sent to jail. This would not work today, because under the first guarantee, Freedom of Religion ensures that there is no state religion, and no religion can receive special favors, funding, or endorsements from the State. Neither can any religion receive any burden or punishment from the State for being a religion. Galileo could even believe that there is no god, and the State wouldn't mind. To the State, what Galileo does with his soul, is his business, and the State has no business with souls. I don't know if Galileo kept his Catholic faith, but he if did not, and instead he established for himself the Church of the Sun Worshippers that would have been fine with modern day Philippines. This is the second guarantee under the Freedom of Religion, known as the Free Exercise Clause. Galileo could propagate his view, write his bible, develop his church rituals, and create a code of conduct. The State would not touch him. Galileo could even refuse to salute the flag if that was contrary to his religion, and the Supreme Court would be constrained to uphold his right to do so, as it did in one case, known as Ebralinag vs. Division Superintendent of Schools of Cebu (GR No. 95770, March 1, 1993). Yet, if you're wondering whether the Free Exercise Clause would protect a religion that uses kidnapping and violence against church members and non-church members, the answer is of course not. Freedom of Religion is not a license to trample with the law.  The limits and bounds of this Free Exercise Clause are defined by its effect on other people's rights. Accordingly, if Galileo's theoretical Church of the Sun Worshippers would require human sacrifice as a ritual, Galileo is going to jail. Yet, the Supreme Court would swing in favor of upholding the right when balanced with some other value. In a relatively recent case (Estrada vs. Escritor, AM No. P-02-1651, June 22, 2006) the Supreme Court said that living-in with a married man, if it is sanctioned by one's faith, would not amount to immorality, and consequently not a ground for dismissal from government service. So, if the Church of the Sun Worshippers profess the doctrine of free love, regardless of marital status, the Supreme Court would not find that immoral. I don't know if Galileo would have welcomed that too. Yet, one thing is for sure,  if Galileo were alive today and living in this country, he would have been a happy man. With our Freedom of Religion and other freedoms, he could be our ambassador to all the people in the world today persecuted for their religious beliefs, saying come all ye faithful and ye faithless, it's more fun ..!