THE ROLLER-COASTER RIDE OF MY FRIEND, MON MARONILLA, IN HIS QUEST TO CLUTCH A UP LAW DIPLOMA

vicente abad santos-picture

ramon-maronilla-pictureUP-COLLEGE-LAW

[Dean Vicente Abad Santos’ photo is shown at extreme left; while that of Mon Maronilla is shown at right. At extreme right is a photo of the facade of the MALCOLM HALL which houses the UP College of Law.]

In 1962 Mon Maronilla  fresh from graduating at the St. James High School in Malabon, enrolled at the University of the Philippines in pursuit of a college degree in Political Science. However, as Mon was not too keen and serious in his studies then, after 2 years at UP, he was kicked out. Mon then continued his studies at the Colegio de San Juan de  Letran where he graduated with a degree in Political Science.

 

 

His dream to have a UP Law degree just like his Dad (the Maronillas of LIBON, ALBAY have a long history of lawyers in their clan starting from their famous patriarch, DON MANUEL MARONILLA CALLEJA) has not been lost as he eventually passed the UP Law Aptitude Test (“UP-LAE”). Thus, he enrolled at the UP College of Law. Mon narrated to me that his Dad just as to ensure that Mon would be able to take the UP-LAE even juggled and feigned his signature on the application. Thus, in the early morning of the scheduled UP-LAE, Mon’s Dad woke him up and said that they have a very important task to do. As Mon was still then dazed and muzzy after a night out with his friends boozing, he was unable to take a bath even. Mon’s Dad was frantically badgering him, to skip the morning shower (saying that they might be late) and the only hygienic thing that Mon did (amidst the badgering) was to wash off his mouth with a gargle of LISTERINE or was it, ASTRING-OSOL.

 

Don Manuel Maronilla Calleja

 

Upon his return to UP-Diliman (after getting KO’d), he was recruited and underwent a long and grueling initiation rites as neophyte of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity. On his first semester at UP Law, as he got hospitalized for almost a month due to the injuries he sustained as a fraternity neophyte, Mon was compelled to take a leave of absence. In his second semester at Malcolm Hall, out of FIVE (5) subjects, he got a grade of 3 in one and grading marks of “INCOMPLETE” in the other FOUR (4) subjects.

 

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The incumbent dean then, the hard-nosed and disciplinarian Dean Vicente Abad Santos, was very much keen in upholding and maintaining the highest standards of excellence in the UP College of Law. And as he was been wont to do, Dean Abad Santos would regularly review the scholastic records of students of the College especially the freshmen students.

dean vicente abad santos

 

As Dean Abad Santos went into his usual checking, the scholastic record of Mon caught the Dean’s eye: “FIRST SEMESTER – LEAVE OF ABSENCE; SECOND SEMESTER – One subject with a Grade of “3” and FOUR other subjects  – INCOMPLETE”.  Dean Abad Santos has made up his mind, this student, Ramon M. Maronilla, has to go.

 

MALCOLM-message-holmes

 

Thereupon, Dean Abad Santos called Mang Mac (i.e. Mang Mac is the virtual factotum in the Dean’s office then, doing almost all pertinent jobs as the Dean’s assistant cum utility man,  and most importantly as the executioner of the Dean’s whims and decisions)  and told him that Mon must not be allowed to enroll anymore for the next school year.

 

 

At that time, Mon was an avid JAI ALAI aficionado and would almost always be enjoying a winning streak in his choices among the Spanish-named Jai Alai players. One time, he saw Mang Mac at the Jai Alai fronton and he invited Mang Mac to a round of beer at the Keg Room atop the building housing the Jai Alai fronton. As he sympathized upon Mang Mac’s continuous losing streak, Mon took FIVE (5) crisp 100 peso bills and gave it as “BALATO”, actually a gift from winners in a game of chance, to Mang Mac. Mang Mac was so profuse with thanks. And perhaps, feeling sympathy too for Mon and to soften the impact of the  eventual news of Mon’s being kicked out anew from UP, after Mon recounted his earlier dismissal from the University College (that was the term then used for the 2-year general course at the Palma Hall) of UP, Mang Mac broke the news to Mon.

 

 

Indeed, Mang Mac   confided to Mon as follows: “Sorry Mon, at hindi kita matutulungan, gusto ni Dean, huwag ka nang pahintulutan na makapag-enroll pa sa susunod na semester”. [English translation: I am so sorry Mon, but I really cannot help you…the Dean wants that  you should not be allowed anymore to enroll in the College of Law by next semester.”]

 

MON-BECKY

 

Mon was crest-fallen and he was not only worried about the ban imposed by Dean Abad Santos, but all the more, he was  worried that his gracious girl-friend, Becky Fong, a sorority sister of the Sigma Delta Phi would turn her back on him. This was so, as Mon ardently vowed to Becky that he will be a lawyer and a graduate of the UP College of Law someday. Further, that year in 1966 was the heyday of the Upsilon, as there were about 47 Upsilonians enrolled as students of the UP College of Law.  And Mon was wary that if kicked out anew, he will be the butt of jokes and taunting from among his fraternity brods.

 

UNCLOS.jpg

 

Mon was so confused and so befuddled, as he always sported that harried look in his face. Until one day, after his glance caught an announcement posted at the UP Law’s bulletin board installed at the cream-colored wall beside the Dean’s Office, Mon sighed a sense of relief. Still however, he has to do something extraordinary. The announcement talked about the 10-day leave that will be taken by Dean Abad Santos as he was to attend a conference in the United States  as guest speaker in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea popularly known by its acronym UNCLOS.  Mon hurried to talk to Mang Mac and from Mang Mac, Mon learned that during Dean Abad Santos’ 10-day absence, Prof. Arturo Dadufalza will serve as Acting Dean.  From Mang Mac, Mon learned more vital information most especially the fact  that Dean Abad Santos and Prof. Dadufalza did not see eye to eye. And so, Mang Mac and Mon mapped out a plan. Mon must complete his INCOMPLETE grades for the FOUR (4) of the FIVE (5) subjects he took during the second semester with good grades to boot, and Mang Mac will present his case anew to the Acting Dean, Prof. Dadufalza.

 

 

This, Mang Mac has to do without however disclosing that Dean Abad Santos has reached a final decision on Mon’s case. Luckily, Mon got good grades in THREE (3) of the FOUR (4) subjects and the 4th with a mere passing grade. This, after Mon burned the midnight oil and studied hard for his completion tests in the FOUR (4) subjects. And Mon did it in just a span of less than TEN (10) days. At this juncture, Mon came into a realization that if he really would strive hard to study, he would have not much difficulty in passing the subjects. Consequently, Mang Mac became all the more emboldened to bring the matter up to the Acting Dean. And the dialogue between Mang Mac and the Acting Dean (as was relayed by Mang Mac to Mon thereafter) went this way:

 

STUDENTS_SUFFER-exam-fever

 

Mang Mac: “Sir, may estudyante po na LOA nung 1st semester  dahil nagkasakit at nung second semester po naman ay may isang TRES po at puro INCOMPLETE po yong apat na subjects niya Sir. Pero, na-complete na rin po naman niya, Sir at magaganda naman ang grading marks na nakuha Sir.”; Acting Dean: “Oh, eh anong problema?”; Mang Mac: “Papayagan po ba nating mag-enrol itong estudyante Sir?”; Acting Dean: “Okey lang, pumasa naman pala sa lahat ng subjects niya.” [English translation: Mang Mac: Sir, there is a freshman student who went on a leave of absence during the 1st semester as he got sick; and on his second semester, he got a grade of “3”  in one subject; and INCOMPLETE marks in his FOUR (4) other subjects; but he recently completed the 4 subjects and even got good grades Sir.”; Acting Dean: So, what is the problem?”;  Mang Mac: “Do we still allow him to enroll for the next school year Sir?”; Acting Dean: “It is okey, you allow him to enroll as he has eventually passed all his subjects.”]

 

enrollment

 

Thus, Mon was able to enrol anew for the succeeding school year. It happened however that Dean Abad Santos saw him once inside one of the classrooms of the UP College of Law while the Dean was walking through the corridor of the College’s second floor. Thus, Dean Abad Santos summoned Mang Mac outright to his office and was set to castigate Mang Mac, as the Dean hollered:

 

angry-prof

“Mac! Lintik naman…hindi ba sinabi ko sa iyo na hindi mo na dapat pahintulutan pang maka-enrol yang si Ramon Maronilla, eh bakit estudyante pa rin yong lintik na yon?” [English translation: Mac! Did I not tell you that that rascal of a student, Ramon Maronilla must not be allowed anymore to enroll in this college, why is he enrolled still?]

 

And this is how Mang Mac answered, as was conveyed by him thereafter to Mon:

 

 “Hindi po ako ang may gawa niyan Sir. Si Acting Dean Dadufalza po ang nagsabi sa akin na payagang mag-enrol muli si Mr. Ramon Maronilla Sir.” [English translation: It was not I who caused the enrolment Sir, it was Acting Dean Dadufalza who told me to allow Mr. Ramon Maronilla to enroll anew Sir.” ]

 

The following day, Mon was hailed to the office of the Dean. And Mon was told that he needs to pass a psychological examination to be conducted by the University psychologist. Mon was told that Dean Abad Santos has tasked the University psychologist to determine whether Mon was mentally, physically and psychologically prepared to go through the rigors of a UP College of Law education. From what Mon heard from Mang Mac, as the University psychologist was Dean Abad Santos’ protégée, Mang Mac forewarned Mon that, he might have to really go.

psycho-test-failure

When Mon was called anew by Dean Abad Santos, Mon prepared himself for the worst. As was expected Dean Abad Santos told him:

 

“Bata, hindi ka pumasa sa psycho exam, kailangang ka na talagang lumipat.” English translation: “Boy, you did not pass the psycho test, you have to go, you need to transfer to another law school.”]

 

But Mon was prepared to kneel and cry before the authoritarian Dean, as Mon uttered:

 

“Dean, kaawaan naman po ninyo ako, gusto ko po talagang maka-gradweyt sa UP College of Law, hindi naman po siguro masyadong mababa ang nakuha kong iskor sa psycho exam…katulad po nung tanong na: “WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER…MONEY, POWER, FAME, GLORY or FRIENDS”, ang sagot ko po ay “FRIENDS”, hindi naman po siguro mali yon. At saka nakapag-enrol na po ako Dean…maawa naman po kayo sa akin!” [English translation:  “Dean, have pity on me, I really want to graduate from the UP College of Law…I feel I  did not get so low a score in the psycho exam Sir…there was one question which I distinctly remember, which says:   “WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER…MONEY, POWER, FAME, GLORY or FRIENDS”, and my answer was  “FRIENDS”, I do not think Sir that that answer of mine is wrong, Sir. I have actually enrolled already Sir. Have pity on me Sir.”]

 

Moved by pity perhaps, or that Dean Abad Santos just wanted Mon to be out of his sight, the Dean declared in stentorian tone: “OKEY,  SIGE NA…HINDI KA NAMAN SIGURADONG MAGTATAGAL DITO SA UP COLLEGE OF LAW!”. [English translation: “Okey you may go now, you can continue attending your classes. But anyway, I am sure that you will not last the rigors of the UP College of Law!”]

 

It came to pass that Dean Abad Santos became one of Mon’s professors in Remedial Law, and that as it is usual at the Malcolm Hall, the daily grind was: RECITATION, RECITATION and RECITATION.

 

Dean Abad Santos seem so enamored on one legal principle known in LAW as ESTOPPEL, and that in most of his Remedial  Law classes, Dean Abad Santos would almost always call for recitation, students to recite the provision on ESTOPPEL enshrined in the Rules of Court.

 

Unbeknownst to the Dean, Mon would make out a large reproduction of every provision that may be the subject of recitation in the Dean’s class, written by hand via BLACK pentel pen on a huge Manila paper, and Mon would tack it on the wall inside his bedroom .

 

One class day, Mon was called upon to recite it, to voice out word for word the provision on ESTOPPEL enshrined in the Rules of Court; and he recited it in the following manner:

            “WHENEVER A PARTY HAS COMMA BY HIS OWN DECLARATION COMMA ACT COMMA OR OMISSION COMMA INTENTIONALLY AND DELIBERATELY LED ANOTHER TO BELIEVE A PARTICULAR THING IS TRUE COMMA AND TO ACT UPON SUCH BELIEF COMMA HE CANNOT COMMA IN ANY LITIGATION ARISING OUT OF SUCH DECLARATION COMMA ACT OR OMISSION COMMA BE PERMITTED TO FALSIFY IT PERIOD”  

estoppel

From then on, and eventually thereafter, Dean Abad Santos became Mon’s friendly professor. With the colorful episodes that adorned the trek of my friend Mon into clutching a UP Law diploma and having graduated therefrom, it can surely be flawlessly said that Mon graduated at the UP Law with “flying colors“. Atty. Ramon Matias Maronilla is currently the President of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association, Incorporated. 

 

 

MY DAUGHTER ALEE

alee-picture

As I have earlier recounted, this preoccupation to which I am in now, as a blogger came to me not by design, as it never was actually planned. Many years ago, my daughter Alee whose real name is Ma. Winnalee, made out a Facebook account for me but I never used it. Alee was so excited about Facebook that even our housemaids before, became Facebook accountees, courtesy of Alee.

I told myself then that I cannot be a serious Facebook advocate as it would surely consume much of my working time. But early this year, when the Legit Status Hiphop Dance Team to where my THREE (3) daughters became competing members, the Legit Status parents organized a group among themselves, myself included, to take care principally of raising funds to safely bring the over 40-male/female team to the competition venue in San Diego, California. And Facebook was made as the principal medium of communication. When I churned out lengthy messages in my Facebook timeline reporting on the day-to-day developments about the 2015 World Hiphop International Contest (“WHHI”), I was advised and counseled thereafter by my sister-in-law, Amy Young, that as an unwritten rule in Facebook, only ONE-LINERS/pithy sentences is DE RIGEUR. If not for my UP Law classmate’s (i.e. Jose Camano) further prodding I would have not plunged into this BLOG writing venture. Thank you Padi Joe!

Yesterday, my FB friend and former love-interest of my brother-in-law, Boyet Evangelista, Peachy Ablan sent me a message coaxing me to write a BLOG   entitled: “MY WIFE, DANG”. I told her that that would be one of the MAIN EVENTS of this BLOG SITE, and for this time, my BLOG SITE visitors have to be content with the curtain-raisers.

And here’s my BLOG about Alee…

Alee was born on November 6, 1998. It was my son Anthony, whom we endearingly call as Ton, who has been wheedling his mother, for him (i.e. Ton) to have a baby brother (to be his playmate, according to Ton), and when Alee came into this world, Ton, still a toddler at 10, confronted his Mom, Dang, at her hospital room at St. Luke’s as he (i.e. Ton) with a funereal look in his face sardonically said to his Mom: “Sabi mo lalaki, yon pala babae na naman.” [English translation: “You told me that the baby will be a boy, and yet, the baby is a girl again.”] My wife Dang was only able to manage a smile for this taunting remark from our 10 year old; then, a teeny-weeny Ton. A day thereafter however, Ton came back to Dang and said: “Mama, okey na rin pala, kahit na babae, maganda naman pala nakita ko kanina sa nursery!” [English translation: “Mama, it’s okey, though the baby is a GIRL, she is however pretty, I learned about her as I took a peek at the nursery room.]

Alee seemed to be practically destined for the arts particularly music and dance. Well, when she was about FIVE (5) years old, she was so hot and was an avid fan of the WESTLIFE singing group and the group’s song “MY LOVE” was her favorite. At age SIX (6) during a Christmas party in one of our family gatherings, she swayed her two (2) other female cousins: Gabby and Wendell, to perform an   impromptu group dance number as she counseled her cousins: “SUNDAN NYO LANG ANG STEPS AT MOVES KO!” [English translation: “Just follow my steps and dance moves.”]

And, in another Christmas outing in Baguio, the Philippines’ summer capital, when she was about SIX (6) years old, she did an impromptu pole dance number, using a vertical pole to the delight and guffaws of her maternal grandpa, Tony Evangelista. And when she was in Grade 2 at the Holy Spirit High School, she courageously participated in a solo singing contest at the school.

As early as her 3rd year in this world, Alee was enrolled by Dang at the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet (“HCSB”) and in her first international competition in Singapore in July 2006, Alee won her FIRST Gold Medal in a solo ballet performance. But the more fruitful harvest of medals in a ballet competition where Alee received numerous awards was at the 2009 Bangkok International Ballet Dance Contest where she won SIX (6) Gold Medals. I remember too during Alee’s first trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 2007; Alee skipped all meals during their almost 12 hour stay not taking any bite of food. Alee insisted to just ride and ride and ride, creating much anxiety upon her paternal aunt, Tita Bebot Llorca-Esconde and her Ate Shayna. They were compelled to stay at Disney till its lights went out.

Alee was really a passionate ballet dancer as even after arriving home at midnight, following those grueling hours of rehearsals at the HCSB grounds, she would still play the CD which contains the accompanying music for her dance number, in our home’s living room, move some of the furniture to make room for her turns, spins and pirouettes. And she would do a couple of dance rehearsals still in the middle of the night.

Now, Alee has turned her love for dance unto the hiphop genre.

Perhaps, because it is the IN thing among the teens. And perhaps too, because some of the teens of today who are among Alee’s more amiable friends would tease and taunt her with the thought that ballet is for JOLOGS only. JOLOGS is a fad term coined by the youth in our country, the Philippines, that connotes “UNCOOL or NOT HIP”.

Today, Alee who is now in Grade 12, is the Team Captain of the Sayawatha Dance Team which is the official hiphop dance team of the Miriam High School, one of the more reputable all-girls secondary school in Metro-Manila. Alee actually skippered her Sayawatha Team into winning the Championship title in the DANCE WORLDS Competition in Disneyworld, Orlando, Florida in April of this year under the tutelage of their hardworking and most creative coach, Randell San Gregorio.

In the first week of August 2015, Alee together with her elder sisters, Shayna and Cheska, saw action again in the international hiphop stage in the Megacrew Division at the 2015 World Hiphop International Contest in San Diego, California as members of the Legit Status Hiphop Dance Team. The Legit Status Dance Team ranked 5th among 53 nations which competed. Last year even, Alee was invited as GUEST dancer of the ALLIANCE Dance Team which competed in the Varsity Division at the 2014 WHHI held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The team reached the semifinals only as the team may have been unable to gel and bond together as some of the original members of the dance team failed to procure the US visa, and stand-ins got recruited at the last minute including Alee.

I was actually fearful that the daily grind of rehearsals would take a toll upon Alee’s academics. More than that, Alee registered almost a week’s absence when she, with her sisters in the Legit Status team, competed in the US in August 2015 when the school year in the Philippines has just begun. But me and my wife Dang, got surprised when Alee joyfully announced a couple of weeks ago that she even landed among her school’s SECOND HONOR STUDENTS. I would guess that Alee’s rigid routine to study on those break-intervals during rehearsals as well as her habit of studying even in the wee hours of the morning, after just a couple of hours sleep (as her almost daily dance rehearsals would at times end at 12 midnight)  helped her tremendously so.

Two (2) weeks ago, as some kind of a school project, Alee asked me to check what she did as a summarization of the customary perception shared by her amiable friends about her persona, psyche and character, and here is Alee’s summarization about what her schoolmates think of her:

“Alee is a goal driven girl and she would not let anything or anyone stop her from attaining  and capturing her dreams. She is a passionate dancer and has shown versatility by jumping out from ballet and now crumping, sashaying and dancing through hiphop music. Indeed, there is a lot more to dancing than what most people think. Dance fosters discipline, creativity, common sense, patience, hard work and love. I believe that dancing has transformed Alee into the successful person that she is. Without doubt, Alee has proven herself to be an exquisite dancer with a great technique and soul.

“Alee is also a responsible and respected team captain. Everyone in Sayawatha loves her! Most importantly, Alee is an amazing friend! You can always count on her to make you smile and make you feel important! I am amazed how she still has to the time to study while juggling her terpsichorean duties. Indeed, Alee has taught me to draw strength from the competing teams during those dance contests and to fight for others who have gone tired, a fight not just for myself but for our Sayawatha Team. I will forever be thankful to God for allowing me to spend FOUR (4) wonderful years of my life with Alee Young!

“In terms of hardships and difficulties that usually come along the way, Alee always remains optimistic despite all the negativity and challenges that may confront her. Alee always makes sure that the people around her are doing well in school and with their respective lives. It has always been Alee’s habit to help those who may feel lost in regard to a certain topic or those who may feel alienated and alone. Truly, when anyone would first meet Alee, anyone will surely   feel an instant familiarity as though you have known each other for a long time before. Indeed, one would never feel awkward around her. Alee is the type of person one could always turn to when you need to vent out because you know that she will be there to help you get through one’s tough and hard times.”

Tomorrow, October 31, 2015 Alee’s hiphop dance team will compete anew as the DEFENDING Champion in the Smart Hiphop Dance Contest at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Let’s say a little prayer so that Alee’s team brings home the BACON anew!

 POSTSCRIPT:Though Alee’s Sayawatha Hiphop Team, the team name of MIRIAM HIGH SCHOOL, only placed THIRD in last night’s SMART HIPHOP DANCE CONTEST, what was consoling was that the CHAMPIONSHIP AWARD was garnered by the College of San Agustin (“CSA”) Team which is being coached by Cheska’s BF, Jayjay San Juan; while the SECOND PLACER, the hiphop team of LA SALLE, is being coached by Shayna’s BF, Vimi Rivera. Cheska and Shayna are Alee’s elder sisters.

THE PHILIPPINES’ TOPNOTCH CRIMINAL LAWYER, ATTY. DAKILA CASTRO, AND MY FRIEND ATTY. MON MARONILLA DURING MARTIAL LAW

atty. dakila castro-picture2 martial-law ramon-maronilla-picture

 

 

The Late Atty. Dakila F. Castro (“Atty. Castro”) is the Philippine version of North America’s Clarence Darrow. Both are stupendous and topnotch criminal lawyers.

 

CLARENCE-DARROW

UP-COLLEGE-LAW

 

I remember when Atty. Castro was my professor at the UP College of Law in Trial Technique, he narrated a story when he was still a young boy in his native town in Big-aa (now the town of Balagtas) in the province known as Bulacan. If my memory serves me right, he told the class that he witnessed a court proceedings one day as his kin became a party to a law suit. And he was so frightened and scared while he sits alone at the back, and at the far end portion of the court room on an isolated chair. Perhaps, his parent who brought him has nobody at home, to attend to and look after him. The young Dakila Castro, never thought then that some day, he will be an expert legal technician and luminary who would awe his co-lawyers in court with his legal skills and   virtuosity.

 

On the other hand, my kumpadre and friend, Atty. Ramon M. Maronilla (“Atty. Mon”), was Atty. Castro’s protégée and ward. Atty. Mon is a street-smart lawyer brimming with witticism and wholesome wisdom.

 

mon-yuldong-speech

 

As any new lawyer aspiring to become a competent practitioner would be wont to do, Atty. Mon upon his graduation from the UP College of Law in 1972, applied with the Dakila Law Castro Law Firm at its office along Timog Avenue near corner Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City, Metro-Manila. When Atty. Castro glanced over and perused through Atty. Mon’s transcript of records which contained Atty. Mon’s grades during his stint at the UP College of Law, Atty. Castro spoke in a chortle and said in the vernacular: “BATA, PAANO NAMAN KITANG KUKUNING ABOGADO DITO SA AKING BUPETE, EH PURO PASANG-AWA ANG MGA GRADO MO AH.” [English translation: Oh boy, how would you expect me to get you into my law office, your grades are all barely passing.”]  

 

DAKILA-NINOY-TANADA

 

To which deprecating remark, Atty. Mon retorted: “Eh, hindi naman po ako naghahangad na maging abogado sa bupete ninyo po, gusto ko lang pong maging taga-dala ng inyong attache case po.”[English translation: Sir, I am not aspiring to be a lawyer of your law firm Sir, I just want to work for you by lugging your attaché case Sir.”  Atty. Castro was moved to laughter as he quipped: “Okey ka bata, tanggap ka na!” [English translation: You are okey boy! You are hired.]   

 

And that exchange, started a long period of mentorship and friendship between the two distinguished lawyers.

 

 

When martial law was declared throughout the land in 1972, the declaration carried with it the establishment of military tribunals which served as venue for adjudicative proceedings involving civilians even.  Indeed, civilians especially those defying martial law were made  subject to military tribunals as though they were men in uniform being court-martialed.

 

 

At that time, the legal services of the Dakila Castro Law Office was engaged by an accused in a purported smuggling of guns and ammunition case. As during that time, in regard to the proceedings in military tribunals where their dockets then were relatively light, proceedings were swift and expeditious. Thus, after the prosecution rested its case, Atty. Castro commenced to present evidence for the defense. While presenting the accused, Atty. Castro produced and presented a document which purports to be an importation permit that would belie the charge of smuggling.  The problem however was that the document presented by Atty. Castro was emblazoned on the document’s masthead with the rubric: “HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL” and below it was the phrase: “DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTED”.

 

The military colonel who was serving as prosecutor took a glance at the document which Atty. Castro was flaunting, and as though ready to pounce like a tiger towards its prey, the prosecutor bombastically declared: “Your Honors, the mere possession of the document being presented by Atty. Castro is a criminal act by itself. I therefore move that Atty. Castro be arrested and put in jail outright for this criminal act of possessing a highly confidential document.”

 

When Atty. Castro heard the colonel’s diatribe, Atty. Castro, as though shot by a cupid’s arrow direct into his heart, limply fell  and got slumped into his chair holding on to his chest with a terrifying grimace  on his face. Atty. Mon who was then assisting Atty. Castro got so frightened as he immediately suspected a case of a fatal heart attack. Thus, Atty. Mon called out and hollered for help as he held and embraced Atty. Castro in his arms: “TUBIG, TUBIG PO!” [English translation: “WATER, WATER PLEASE!”]

 

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Thereupon, Atty. Castro whispered unto Atty. Mon’s left ear:  “Mon, umaarte lang ako, iniisip ko pa kung ano ang isasagot do dito sa lokong gusto akong ipaaresto at ipakulong. Umarte ka na rin Mon.”[English translation: “Mon, I am just acting out a heart attack as I am still thinking and organizing my thoughts on how to reply to this rascal who wants me arrested and jailed. Mon, you have to do some acting too.”]

 

And Atty. Mon hollered: “Inaatake si Atty. Castro!” [English translation: “Atty. Castro is having a heart attack!”]

 

After a while, Atty. Castro stood up with much difficulty, while Atty. Mon did the motions of strenuously propping Atty. Castro up, who was still grimacing in pain, now clutching on to his chest with his right hand while his left hand was tugging on to Atty. Mon’s right arm.  And Atty. Castro mumbled as though trying to catch his breath: “Your Honors…with all due respect…I have been practicing law for the past 40 years, and this is the only time that I have encountered such arrogance and boorishness…a person who thinks he is the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner, all rolled into one…”. Then, Atty. Castro fell once more unto the floor as Atty. Mon acted out his part so beautifully as he shrieked: “AYAN! AYAN! INAATAKE NA NAMAN SI ATTY. CASTRO; KAILANGANG MADALA KO NA SIYA SA OSPITAL!” [English translation: “THERE IT GOES AGAIN, ANOTHER HEART ATTACK, I MUST BRING HIM TO THE HOSPITAL QUICK!”]

 

And the chief magistrate among the panel of the military tribunal jurors, frightened perhaps with the thought that the death of an eminent lawyer would happen within their premises, quickly pounded the gavel and declared: “HEARING ADJOURNED! LET’S RESET THE HEARING TO ANOTHER DATE! ATTORNEY MARONILLA BRING ATTORNEY CASTRO TO THE HOSPITAL QUICK!”]

 

ADJOURNED

Our Canadian Trip to the ILA Convention and a chance to hobnob with Polish Leader Lech Walesa

ILALech-Walesa

In June 2006, I attended the 72nd biennial convention of the International Law Association (“ILA”) at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Canada.

I was part of the delegation of lawyers from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines of Quezon City complemented by a number of Metro-Manila judges and other government functionaries from the Philippines such as: then Governor and Mrs. Vicente Valera from Abra, a province in the Ilocos region; PCCG Commissioner Camilo Sabio, Quezon City RD Chief Elbert Quilala, among others. The current President of ILA-Philippines then was the Late Gen. Guillermo Picache, who also was a lawyer and who was then President of the Asia Brewery Incorporated.

My room mate was Judge Erwin Ramizo, a competent and hardworking magistrate who is assigned at the Regional Trial Court (“RTC”) of Pasay City, Metro-Manila, Philippines.

We took more than 32 hours of travel from Manila to Toronto, as the organizer particularly the one who booked our flight plausibly scrimped on costs. We took a Southern China plane from the NAIA (“Ninoy Aquino International Airport”) in Manila to Xiamen, then another plane to Beijing, then an Air Canada plane to Vancouver and finally, another Air Canada plane to Toronto. What was aggravating was the fact, another indication of scrimping, was that every time we transferred planes we have to lug our luggage and have it checked-in anew, for each and every flight. I pitied Judge Teodoro Bay of RTC, Quezon City who traveled with his wife as they have to lug their heavy luggage and every one in our group tried to help them with their luggage. Judge Bay and his gracious wife planned to stay with their relatives living in Ontario after the convention.

I was excited to come to Canada as it was my first time to fly to Canada and I also wanted to meet my fraternity brother, Roman I. Dinglasan, whom I have not seen for a long time. And as I have always been boasting through my emails to him that my wife Criselda (“Dang”), who is a culinary chef, bakes the most delicious chocolate cake in the whole universe, Roman challenged me if I could bring the home-baked cake from Manila to Toronto, Canada. And there I was, hand-carrying the chocolate cake, always conscious that I have to really carefully hold on to the box. I was carrying the box as though I were carrying a bomb equipped with motion-sensors that a sudden jolt, a push or a bump, could let it explode. So, I was meticulous in my steps and my movements, with myself behaving like a ring-bearer in a nuptial holding on to the cake with my both hands, palms facing upward supporting the bottom of the box, as though offering the cake to the gods. And I would ask help from my group mates to substitute, every time I have something to do with my hands.

What was funny was that when we reached Beijing, the airport authorities suspecting perhaps that something could  be inside the middle of the spongy chocolate cake (perhaps, a BOMB!) subjected the cake to a punctilious check. Thus, airport police officers in Beijing, about THREE (3) of them, took turns in piercing the cake with thin but long bamboo sticks vertically and horizontally, as though they were trying to catch a ring or a hook from inside the cake. And the cake was eventually given some sort of a “clean bill of health”.

We arrived in Toronto almost around 8 PM and as Roman fetched me at the airport, he brought me to eat a meal of hot noodles at Toronto’s Chinatown and thereafter he brought me to Fairmont Royal York Hotel (“Fairmont”) which he said was the favorite hotel patronized by royalty and VIPs.

The speeches during the convention on subjects that seem to be so scholarly proved boring and that what brought us the daily excitement were the buffet meals and the drinks which invariably included premium wine.

And as usual, in a congregation of adult Filipinos unaccompanied by their wives, except for Judge Bay and Gov. Valera, we eventually found ourselves converging one night at Toronto’s Yonge Street     where striptease bars abound.

Well, for some kind of trivia about Yonge Street, is that it is touted and bruited about as the longest street in the whole world. But more than that I saw the tallest striptease dancer in one of the striptease bars, beautiful lady but looking like an enormous giant.

When the striptease act begun, one of the Filipino judges who quipped in the vernacular: “Eh, hindi naman tayo kakilala dito eh, lalapit ako para mas maganda ang panoorin!” [English translation: Well, we are not known here in this part of the globe, so I will bring my chair closer to the stage for a better view.”]

So the aggressive magistrate, brought his chair nearest to the stage (he was actually about a foot away from the edge of the stage while all the others were about 4 to 8 meters away from the stage) as though he was some kind of  an art critic descrying, scrutinizing and examining in detail every curve, crease and color of the stripteasers’ body and skin.

And as we got all benighted, the next day, it was so hard to keep our bodies awake as the soporific effect of the cool ambience and the enticement of the soft bed just a couple of floors up from the convention venue, kept tugging us out of the convention doors.

So, I and Judge Ramizo, decided to go up our room after taking a hearty lunch from the buffet meals, and doze off on our beds at our assigned room upstairs.

When I woke up, and checked the clock, it read 8:30 and I immediately concluded that we might have overslept. I jumped into the bath room, took a quick shower and woke up Judge Ramizo, telling him that we are already late for the morning schedule as the convention proceedings start promptly at 8:00 AM.

I darted out of our room, as all the hand-outs for the day’s scheduled were usually being disseminated at the start of the day’s session, fearing that I might not get any copy anymore (while Judge Ramizo hollered: “Sige, sunod ako at ikuha mo na ako ng handouts ko ha.” [English translation: “Okey, I will just follow and please get my copies of the hand-outs too.”]

When I reached the convention hall, I got surprised as I found the convention hall empty with a crew of janitors cleaning the hall. Thinking that the convention may have transferred to another venue within the hotel, I asked one of the janitors as to where  the participants of the ILA convention went. The janitor gave me a puzzled look and told me: “Perhaps, they have gone up to their rooms and may be sleeping by now.”

It was only then that I realized that I mistook the clock’s 8:30 PM as 8:30 AM of the following day. When I headed back to our room, I met Judge Ramizo along the hallway and I deprecatingly told him, while I checked my watch: “Just please do not declare me in contempt of court, sorry for waking you up, today is still Thursday and our convention’s resumption will still happen tomorrow morning. It is not 9:00 AM now, it is 9:00 PM still.”

And Judge Ramizo, with a snicker on his face, and myself with a downcast look repaired back to our room to sleep.

The following day, as it was Poland’s Lech Walesa who was scheduled to speak and as I tried to make up for the inconvenience I caused Judge Ramizo, I did my best to ask the Polish leader to have a photo-opportunity with the Philippine delegation. And Polish leader Lech Walesa willingly obliged.

As it was nearing the end of the convention, I kept on accumulating give-away items which are bountifully being given out to participants. In fact, those items supposedly donated by the many sponsors of the convention, are lumped in heaps atop a long table at the edges of the hall where the buffet meals are being served. My customary pick are the ballpens with the logo of the ILA on it as well as a round-looking item which is called PUCK, also with the ILA logo. Actually, as I belatedly remember a PUCK  is used as the focus of play in ice hockey. It actually is a round disk made of rubber about 1 ½ inches thick and which doubles up as paper weight.

As I was not as yet then too computer-literate, I skipped getting items from what I saw are piles of pint-sized looking gadgets heaped unto the brim of a huge crystal receptacle. I was wondering why it was a favorite pick from among the Caucasian participants to the ILA convention.

I eventually learned that those gadgets apart from pens, paperweights, etc. were useful as part of the computer-culture. As I knew nothing about that gadget, while I picked up a lot of pens and paper weights as “pasalubong” [English translation: pasalubong is a “homecoming gift to kith and kin”] for my colleagues in my law office, I kept on avoiding the gadget. But as I learned afterwards, upon my return to Manila that those were USB flash drives now termed as USB memory sticks or sometimes called jet sticks. On hind sight, I thought I should have scooped a handful of them too, considering the expensive nature of such  gadgets.

After the convention, Roman fetched us and eventually brought us to Niagara Falls, an episode which I will narrate in my next blog on this subject.

 atty. young-picture and others

PRESIDENT FIDEL V. RAMOS, DADDY MAX AND MEGAN YOUNG

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Daddy Max and President Fidel V. Ramos both served in the 1950 Korean War as proud members of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, also known as the PEFTOK. Daddy Max served as 1st Sergeant of the Reconnaissance Company of the 10th Battalion Combat Team (“10th BCT”)  which was the first of FOUR (4) battalion combat teams which were sent to Korea. Pres. Ramos served as 1st Lieutenant of the Headquarters Service Company of the 20th BCT.  Perhaps, during those times when the Korean War was raging, they never got the chance to meet and relate with each other as not only do they belong to different battalion combat teams but that Pres. Ramos was then already a military officer while Daddy Max was a mere enlisted man.

However, as they eventually became active officers of the PEFTOK Veterans’ Association, Inc. (“PVAI”), an aggrupation of Korean War veterans, with Pres. Ramos being regarded as the virtual Chairman-Emeritus of PVAI, and Daddy Max as the perennial 10th BCT PVAI President; they ultimately have been hobnobbing and rubbing elbows with each other every time the anniversary of Korean War is celebrated and remembered for so many years now.

On September 28, 2013 (a Saturday) Megan Young, the Philippine entry to the MISS WORLD won the title and it brought the biggest joy to the people of the Philippines as the Miss World title seemed to have been so elusive despite the fact that Philippine entries to other equally prestigious  beauty pageants, have earned the Philippines a couple of Miss Universe titles already.

On September 30, 2013 (a Monday), at around 11:00 AM my Law Office telephone rung and my loyal and hardworking Secretary, Romelyn “Ella” Hadap, picked up the phone and as I was just in front of her when the phone rung, I could sense that she got a bit flustered and thereafter excitedly told me: “SIR, SI PRESIDENT RAMOS DAW PO SIR!” [English translation: Sir, it’s President Ramos Sir!]  

I thought for a while that it could just be a continuation of some kind of thanking me for the biographical book which I wrote for Daddy Max, as I gifted Pres. Ramos with a copy of the book with my dedication as well as the dedication of Daddy Max inscribed on its frontispiece. This was my perception as earlier, Pres. Ramos sent me a thank you note for the book.

When I answered the phone, the caller  was actually male Secretary who was on the other line and after checking if I were Atty. Walter T. Young, the voice on the other line told me: “President Ramos would like to talk to you.”

I waited for a moment on the phone and after a couple of seconds, I heard the familiar voice of Pres. Ramos, who sounded so friendly and amiable, as he called me by my fist name, and he said: “WALTER, THANK YOU FOR THE BOOK, I ENJOYED READING IT.” And I answered: “YOU ARE WELCOME SIR.”

And Pres. Ramos continued as though enthusiastically expecting an affirmative reply, spoke in the vernacular: “OO NGA PALA, KAMAG-ANAK NYO BA SI MEGAN YOUNG?” [English translation: By the way, is Megan Young your relative?]

I was tempted to lie and boast and was about to say that yes, Megan Young is our relative, instead, I jestingly replied: “SA TOTOO LANG PO MR. PRESIDENT, HINDI KO PO ALAM, PERO ANG ALAM KO PO AY ANG LOLO PO NAMING AMERIKANO AY NAGPUNLA PO NG MARAMI NOON PONG MATAPOS ANG GIYERA.” [English translation: To be honest Mr. President, I really do not know, but what I know Sir is that my grandfather sowed a lot wild oats during his lifetime after the War Sir.]

From what I heard from his end, Pres. Ramos seemed to have snickered as I could sense a half-suppressed laughter. “Well”, Pres. Ramos chortled with some sense of levity, “I am giving you this assignment huh, you better conduct an investigation to determine whether Megan Young is your relative.” 

After this, Pres. Ramos changed his tone and somewhat became serious: “You know, I am not actually personally interested with Megan Young, what I want this government to do is to develop this kind of young talents!”.

And Pres. Ramos continued as though I could descry a frown on his forehead: “The problem with our government is that it is not doing enough to develop this kind of young talents.”

Then, in another serious mode, Pres. Ramos continued: “You see what they did in Zamboanga… when I was President I really took care of Zamboanga… but can you imagine how they allowed the gun battle there, which has resulted in loathsome carnage.”

After some more witty remarks from the former President,  I was swayed to make the following reply and I said: “Mr. President it cannot be denied Sir, that among all the Presidents of the Philippine Republic after the EDSA revolution, you were the only one who has made  an auspicious and remarkable change in our economy which has remained unprecedented, Sir.”  

Before I could even finish my statement, Pres. Ramos interjected and butted in: “Huwag mo nang sabihin yan, marami na ang nagsasabi niyan sa akin eh.” [English translation: Do not say that anymore, a lot of other people has told me that already.”]

Before we finished our phone conversation, Pres. Ramos invited me and Daddy Max to come to his office at the 26th Floor, Export Bank Plaza, Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue corner Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, Metro-Manila. And before I could hang up the phone, Pres. Ramos repeated his exhortation: “Walter, you investigate and check whether Megan Young is your relative.”

And I uttered in reply a snappy: “YES, SIR!”.

By way of a post-script; I and Daddy Max with my colleagues in my Law Office went on the Wednesday, October 2, 2013, following his invitation to his (i.e. Pres. Ramos’) Makati office where we were treated with spicy red wine, his own version of “sexy” coffee and a tightly-rolled bundle of  “miraculous” cigars wrapped still in diaphanous and crisp cellophane with the presidential logo.

DADDY MAX’S BEGINNINGS

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[The photo above shows Daddy Max at the center with me to his right, and my maternal cousin Alma to Daddy Max’s left]

When I and Daddy Max went to the US in August of this year, one of our purposes aside from watching the 2015 World Hiphop International Contest in San Diego, California is to visit his father’s tomb, our Lolo William, at the Santa Clara Catholic Cemetery in Santa Clara, California, USA.

We accomplish that mission of visiting Lolo William’s tomb (the second meeting for Daddy Max and Lolo William, as their first  and only meeting, in the flesh, happened in 1938 in Cebu City, Philippines) , and on top of it, we were able to meet and bond with Aunt Aida Young-Breslin (“Aunt Aida”) who lives near the Santa Clara Catholic Cemetery. It was Aunt Aida who opened the door to Daddy Max 77 years ago (their first meeting), at their Cebu City home in the Visayas region in the Philippines; when Daddy Max started his trek towards finding his roots at age 16. And this is how Daddy Max came into this world…

Daddy Max was born on July 30, 1922 in Toledo City in mainland Cebu. However, Daddy Max spent his childhood in Opon which is now called Lapu-lapu City,  the very place which became the venue of Daddy Max’s beginnings in life. While Toledo City is one of the cities of Cebu which is on the western seaboard facing the island of Negros Oriental, Opon was on the extreme eastern end facing the island of Bohol. This big leap from the western section of Cebu to the east seemingly depicts the transformation of Daddy Max as a son of a Caucasian Westerner to an Asian life of sea, forest and artless simplicity.

The biological parents of Daddy Max are William Young, an American soldier who was part of Admiral Dewey’s fleet, and a Visayan lass who has roots from the present Ozamis City in Mindanao, but was then domiciled in Toledo City, by the name of Emilia Purisima.

As Lola Emilia could not sustain life as a single parent considering that  Daddy Max was born out of wedlock, Lola Emilia decided to put Daddy Max up for adoption. And this act of putting Daddy Max for adoption brought Daddy Max to the town of Opon, now Lapu-lapu City.

The spouses Julio Mariñas and Eugenia Mariñas (the “Mariñas Spouses”) became Daddy Max’s adoptive parents. But as the Mariñas Spouses did not want Daddy Max to know that he was just an adopted child, the couple decided to make Daddy Max believe that they were his biological parents. And so Daddy Max was continuously led to believe that he was a Mariñas, as in fact, Daddy Max was renamed Maximo Mariñas.

The Mariñas spouses were industrious and frugal and they belong to a middle-income family and as there was  no problem with their living and economic conditions then, Daddy Max was living in relative comfort.

The Mariñas household were Daddy Max was part, lives in a two storey building made of strong materials along want is now known as Dimataga Street. The 2-storey house which still stands today and is near the foot of the old bridge (as there are now two (2) bridges) which links Mactan Island to mainland Cebu, though this bridge was not existing at that time of Daddy Max’s childhood. Food was in abundance in the  household as the Mariñas family was living along the seashore, where aquatic products were plentiful. In front of our two storey house was a farm of assorted fruit orchards, and which is also planted with corn. Corn grits cooked like rice was the daily cereal back then by the people of the Visayan region, and not rice which was the usual cereal consumed by people in Luzon.

Daddy Max was actually living with a relatively well off family. During those time in the early 20’s, the source of electrical power of the whole town of Opon was coming from a big power plant built by the early American settlers, and which was principally put up for the purpose of milling copra (i.e. a form of dried coconut meat which if further processed would produce coconut oil) and for the purpose of exporting copra abroad. Yet, despite the presence of this crude power plant, the practice of using lamps fueled with petroleum called PETROMAX, was prevalent. During those times, the use of electricity was strictly limited for radio usage and house lights ONLY, thus there were no streetlights then.

As is usual in almost all the towns in the Philippines back then, there were plenty of games and activities among the growing children back then in Opon. Daddy Max together with his childhood friends among whom is Tia Nene, a niece of the Mariñas couple and  a tomboyish lass who was of the same age as Daddy Max, would usually do a lot of singing at night. Aside from this nocturnal crooning, Daddy Max and his friends would play games like “patintero”, hide and seek, and story-telling. At daytime, especially during vacation time when the children are without classes, the group would go bird hunting into the forested area of Opon. But when the rains would catch up with them while on their way to go bird-hunting,  the group would instead gather fruits from hitherto unknown publicly-owned areas of fruit orchards in the forest and bring bunches of fruits  home, instead of birds or wild ducks. During that time, birds were aplenty in Mactan island as the area was forested and very much pristine.

Living near the seashore provides healthful and salutary conditions as well as fun-filled opportunities, as the children of Opon would usually go swimming with friends and the usual routine would be to catch various kinds of fish and crabs. In summer, the free time occasioned by the absence of classes, Daddy Max with his coterie of friends would go from one village to another. And as they hopped from one village to another, they would usually bring along boxing gloves and try to seek out from other villages their “barrio/village boxing champion” and fight for a prize via fisticuffs, to find out who has a better group of boxers in the whole town of Opon.

In summer also, especially in May, the Santacruzan (i.e. a flower festival dedicated to Mother Mary) would be celebrated. During this flower festival, there would be various amateur singing contests where music lovers would participate in singing their hearts out as well as acting out in plays and dramas. This kind of celebration is a special occasion which is held yearly and is looked upon with expectant joy by the youth.

From childhood up to his early teens, Daddy Max would always be participating in those singing contests. Luckily, Daddy Max  landed as one of the singing contest champion in Opon for which reason, Daddy Max was sent to try to participate in the PURICO contest (i.e. PURICO is a brand name of a popularly-purchased lard used for frying and is a product of Procter and Gamble, Philippines) in Cebu City where Daddy Max was declared the winner for one month as another set of singers would come in to participate for another competition period.

In those nightly outings into the sea, to where the children of Opon have customarily gone, they would similarly go trawling for different kinds of fish, using a lighted bamboo stick as a means to hunt the fishes. All kinds of fish would want to get near the light and so the fish was easy to catch. In those nocturnal activities, Daddy Max would always complain as though they are out of luck to catch the crabs as the crabs are fast swimmers, while the fish when glared by the light becomes easy target for their hunting.

As far as things were then going, Daddy Max was gradually becoming the darling of the Mariñas clan, as Daddy Max not only was possessed with a very nice voice which Daddy Max would pleasurably employ in singing to entertain them all. So, it came to pass that Daddy Max was in constant demand by the teachers at the school and the old folks and sometimes by the whole crowd in Opon as their master entertainer.

Most of Daddy Max’ activities as a child could have been concentrated along the sea shore which is near the 2-storey house of the Mariñas couple and the farm where Daddy Max would uncontrollably enjoy picking fruits with some close friends as the fruit orchards are just across the Mariñas house. Daddy Max’s friends would almost always instigate him to lead them in the “farm-raids” as the farm was big enough and there were plenty of assorted fruits there.

MY SECOND TRIP TO ROME WITH TON, AND THE CLUMP OF COINS I TOSSED ANEW AT THE TREVI FOUNTAIN

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When I first went to Rome in April 1999, I was inspired by Fr. Blanco to toss a coin at the Fontana di Trevi [English translation: Trevi Fountain]. The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. It stands about 86 feet high and about 160 feet wide, and is the largest baroque fountain in Rome and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and the 1953 Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck starrer entitled Roman Holiday.

Legend and popular belief have it that if you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you surely will return to Rome. And the way you toss the coin is peculiar, because you have to toss it while your back is turned from the direction of the fountain and you have the throw the coin overhead with your right hand into the direction of the fountain, over your left shoulder.

In 2011, exactly 12 years from my first trip to Rome, my only son Anthony, whom we endearingly call too as TON, told me that as a prerequisite to his senior year in the Ateneo, as he was pursuing a course in European Studies; he either has to do an OJT (i.e. on the job training) in a European company in the Philippines or do the OJT in Europe. I told him quick and simply: “Okey, I will look around for a friend who could refer us to a European company here in the Philippines.”

On the next week, Anthony approached me again and told me that he was actually the President of the European Studies League in the Ateneo, which is an aggrupation of all European Studies’ students,  and that almost all of the members in his group are going to do their OJT in Europe; one to do it in France, another in Germany, etc. I replied that that was good and surely it would be a learning experience for them to know first-hand the culture and the predominant life style in Europe.

Again, in another instance, Anthony asked if he could have his OJT done in Europe too. Well, the thought of having friends in Europe particularly in Spain and in Rome sort of enticed me to go to Europe as Anthony’s chaperone and perhaps to save on costs, by asking my European friends for a possible free lodging and board in their respective places.   First, I remember having dined and lodged at the Generalate in the Parioli District in Rome with the Claretians and having stayed too in Zamora, Spain at the residence of Fr. Blanco’s nephew, the orthodontic dentist, Fernando Blanco, Sr (“Fernando Senyor”). So, I and Anthony prepared for an April departure to Europe, and on April 5, 2011, zoomed… we flew to Spain.

Our first stop was in Madrid and we dined in a restaurant with a couple of Filipino waitresses from the Philippines’ Ilocos region prior to our 6 hour trip by land to Zamora which is located in the northern part of Spain.

 At the Zamora bus station, we were supposed to be fetched by Fr. Blanco’s nephew, Fernando Senyor. Alas, at the bus station in Zamora we saw and met Fernando Senyor’s wife, Marijose, and their son Fernando Ijo. Thereafter, after the customary greetings, we boarded their Honda car to their place which is about a couple of minutes of leisurely driving.

At that time, I distinctly remember that Spain was experiencing  the midstream of what was called as the Great Recession of Spain (which started in 2008) and which resulted in an increase of severe unemployment in that part of the Iberian peninsula. Fernando Senyor cautioned me with some kind of warning when we arrived at their 2-storey home. He told me that there have been  instances of foreigners being bullied and even hurt by disgruntled Spaniards who have been laid off from work, as they would always look upon foreigners who are wont to work for less pay, as their competitor in the constricting labor market in Spain. So, Fernando Senyor told me to be alert and to be cautious as I told him that we intend to do some walking and sight-seeing on the following day. I did not want to bother them as Fernando Senyor would have dental patients in the morning while his wife will be busy on their household chores and their two (2) children: Fernando Ijo and Cristina, preoccupied with their respective job and school engagements, respectively.

It was our plan then for Anthony to go through an OJT in a dairy cooperative where Fernando Ijo worked in the past, just a stone’s throw away from the Blancos’  house in Zamora. But after the cautionary warning given to me by Fernando Senyor, we were forced to cut short our stay in Spain. Fernando Ijo however promised that he will just work things out with his former colleagues at the dairy cooperative towards procuring a certification about Anthony’s having done an OJT at the dairy plant.

Thereafter, we flew to Rome and we were fetched at the airport by a friend and a Claretian brother, Bro. Arnel Alcober at the Fumicino airport. Bro. Arnel showed us around to tourist spots in Rome which I have nit previously seen and visited in the past particularly at the Piazza Garibaldi where the monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi is erected at the highest point of the Janiculum hill.

The value of friends is truly precious in times of need. At that time, the Claretian’s Generalate’s house particularly its guest rooms were all filled up with occupants. This was considering that certain Claretian priests from all over the world trekked to Rome for the impending Holy Week and the eventual beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011.

Fortunately, Fr. Marcos, a Mexican Claretian endorsed us to be billeted at the Suore Dorotee convent within the same Parioli District in Rome. It turned out that Fr. Marcos was the sisters’ confessor and the celebrator of their daily mass at their convent. The sisters at the Suore Dorotee convent were dainty septuagenarian and octogenarian Italian nuns who were so thoughtful and caring especially for my son Anthony whom they would endearingly call ANTONIO. Every time I would need to speak to any of the nuns, I would first write out in Italian on a sheet of paper the Italian phrases or sentences with the help of an English-Italian dictionary with a section on the customary Italian greetings and phrases.

Thereafter, I will read out the Italian phrases or sentences that I have scribbled on the sheet of paper. It costs us only 20 Euros for both of us, me and Anthony, per day’s stay at the convent complete with breakfast whilst a standard hotel room rate then in Rome would be about 115 Euros.

The room were I and Anthony lodged at the Suore Dorotee convent which is better known as the Suore Dorotee Figlie Dei Sacri Cuori convent and located along Via Salvini Tommaso, in Rome’s Parioli District, is about 12 square meter in area and was so simple though clean and tidy. But what was exciting was that the bathroom which adjoins it was almost twice the room’s size. So, what I did was to string a clothesline from end to end which I bought from a nearby grocery; and I did the laundry myself hanging our hand-washed clothes while I allowed the ceiling fan inside the bathroom to air-dry those clothes.

What is nice too is that the general headquarters of the Italian police is situated just across the street from the convent. It is a 4-storey edifice and the signage which is emblazoned on top of the cantilevered cement awning at the building’s façade reads as follows: “COMANDO GENERALE DELL ARMA DEI CARABINIERI”.

When we have spent about a week in Rome, Anthony talked to me again and told me that a friend of his from Ateneo was then vacationing in Vienna, Austria where his friend’s dad is the Chief Security Officer of a UN organization based in Vienna. Thus, I asked Anthony what was in his mind and he told me that: “Pa, I have already made computations; Kristian Panganiban, my classmate at the Ateneo has invited me to come to Vienna and I will have free board and lodging there at their house. I have already checked too on the amount of airfare and it will still cost more expensive if we continue to stay here in Rome, Pa.”

After I double-checked Anthony’s computations and as it was accurate to the last Euro, I called up our airline and asked for an earlier booking back to Manila for me. And I left Anthony under the care of the Soure Dorotee sisters, as he also prepared himself for a trip to Vienna.

Before I left Rome, I made it a point to visit once more the Trevi Fountain. It really is a work of art and I admire the fountain so much. It is so magnificent, stupendous and beautiful.  The backdrop for the fountain is the Palazzo Poli while the theme depicted in the fountain’s iconography  is TAMING OF THE WATERS, which is depicted by the movement of the waters which seem to tumble forward, mixing water and rockwork thereby. And as I said my goodbye to the Trevi Fountain, I tossed not only one but a clump of coins with a wish that someday, I could bring my whole family to Rome.

After a month, Anthony arrived home and told stories about his exciting Austrian tour particularly his trip to Adolf Hitler’s birthplace, that small village in Austria called Braunau Am Inn, which Anthony visited actually on the very birth date of Hitler 122 years ago then (i.e. April 20, 1889). When we followed up with Fernando Ijo on his promised OJT certification from the dairy plant, Fernando Ijo felt sorry for he was unable to work things out with his former dairy plant colleagues. And as Anthony’s college adviser was persistently following the certification, another friend’s help proved handy once more. I was able to convince Bro. Arnel to issue a certification that Anthony did his OJT at the Claretian Genaralate as some kind of clerk.

When the certificate from Bro. Arnel arrived via courier service, and when Anthony submitted it to his college adviser, I learned thereafter that Anthony confessed to his adviser about the truth regarding the certification. Eventually however, Anthony’s adviser told him that what actually matters was that Anthony was able to personal see for himself the culture, customs, social institutions and the lifestyle in Europe.trevi-fountain

DADDY MAX AND HIS GOLD CROSS MEDAL FOR HIS DARING FEAT IN THE KOREAN WAR

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[The GOLD CROSS MEDAL, shown above, which Daddy Max  received after over 50 years reckoned from the  date an armistice was signed ending the hostilities in the Korean War, is traditionally awarded by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (“AFP”) for gallantry in action. It was Armed Forces Chief General Hermogenes C. Esperon who spearheaded the move to accord Daddy Max the distinct honor.]

As narrated to me by DADDY MAX, when the FILIPINO SOLDIERS of the 10th BATTALION COMBAT TEAM of the PHILIPPINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCES TO KOREA, dispatched by former President ELPIDIO QUIRINO, to win back the freedom of SOUTH KOREA; arrived in Korea on September 19, 1950,  they witnessed the sight of Korean children of all ages streaming and moving in flocks with their belongings tucked above their heads.

The children, as Daddy Max described, were running into different directions, while their faces placidly show anxious uneasiness as they sought refuge wherever possible.

As Daddy Max’s unit roamed and moved forward towards the war front, they saw various villages burned down to the ground. The villages were literally flattened as though they were bulldozed and steamrollered with various poles and wooden posts sticking out and protruding upward, indicating that there existed a peaceful village before.

It was confirmed that after the North Koreans invaded  South Korea and when the North Koreans retreated, the North Koreans burned down all the houses in the villages. the burning and scorching happened up to and until the northern part of South Korea, along the way of the North Korean’s retreat path.

Aside from the pitiful sight of houses that have been burned and torn down, everywhere they go, they continue to see people of all ages moving in all directions seeking possible refuge from the chaos.

In most instances, in places where they would set up a bivouac camp in a deserted area, they would usually be surrounded by abandoned orchard farms with trees of apple, plums and chestnuts all around them.

As they were all overcome with pity and sympathy, they decided not to touch those fruits out of respect for the South Korean farmers. However, after tasting the fruits with their first bite brought about by their  compelling hunger pangs, they eventually felt that the fruits were heaven-sent as they hang in enticing clusters on the branches.

Tempted once more by the delicious and juicy taste, they were eventually moved to freely harvest the fruits as though they were the full owners of the orchards.

As they begun to immerse themselves  into the Korean way of life, they would see again the Korean children of various ages, never showing any fear or indifference to them They thought that perhaps, little as they were, the children already knew, then and there, that the Filipino soldiers were defending them from the North Korean aggressors.

Daddy Max further narrated that the children, despite the chaos would show their joy for the Filipino soldiers’ presence in their native land. The Korean children would continue to work and strive to make a living, not for their own, but for their respective families to where they belong. Daddy Max truly sensed that the Korean children were very industrious; all of them worked and toiled hard. They tried to work and endeavored to bring assorted food to their families and their loved ones during the chaotic war.

The South Korean children that the Filipino soldiers saw were very well-behaved too. Daddy Max pondered and thought that what they saw, those very well-behaved children of yesteryears, were the same who grew into adulthood and  who contributed much to the growth and the progress of the South Korean nation.

Daddy Max now firmly believes that those hardworking and well-behaved children was the key to South Korea’s success. And because of those children, it was no wonder that the South Korean nation has risen from the ashes of the Korean War  and has truly developed so fast.

Daddy Max remembered too that there was only one bridge spanning the wide expanse of the Han River that runs along the border between South Korea and North Korea, up and down to Seoul City then. Now in Daddy Max’s recent visit to South Korea, there are about 36 bridges which exist. And from Daddy Max’s rumination, this is a clear showing of the tremendous progress that South Korea has now attained.

South Korea is now known not only as a strong fortress of freedom and a formidable bulwark of democracy but also as a wonderful show window of peace, prosperity and progress.

At one time during the Korean War, Daddy Max recounted particularly in the first week of November 1950, Daddy Max’s unit received information that two regiments of Red Chinese soldiers were set to be deployed along their supply route on the fringes of the mountain ranges in Korea, which was  about 50 miles long, towards the north.

On 11 November 1950, Daddy Max’s unit left NAMCHONJON at 7:00 am towards SINGYE using the narrow road planted with mines and booby traps. Daddy Max’s platoon was in the lead with five (5) armored tanks, with Daddy Max’s  own-driven tank stationed  on the third position. Their  patrol contingent consisted of two companies, engineers and a medical platoon. They were backed up by two artillery batteries and air support was available upon request.

The support group that was way behind , ran into a land mine, that caused the leaping of the 6 x 6 army truck with the crew riding in it, soaring about eight feet above the ground. Luckily however, the support group survived that incident.

Daddy Max’s unit continued to move with caution, anticipating an encounter with the enemy. After five kilometers from where the land mine exploded, they reached a long hilly curve, while they tremulously expected another mine explosion.

When the whole component of soldiers cleared the hilly curve, a hellish volley of assorted gun fire started hitting the main body coming from their right flank in all directions, for 15 continuous minutes.  This caused their troops to seek cover along the road into some ditches and canals with the the natural instinct to initially keep still and observe where the enemies’ fire where actually coming from.

Daddy Max was inside his tank and he took a glimpse on his periscope. Daddy Max saw that all the soldiers were immobilized by the sudden impact of the volley of fire and the shock effect that it caused. No movement of troops was seen and the enemy soldiers continued to fire at will.

As Daddy Max descried that there was no free movement for their shocked troops, what was certain was that their troops were indeed being kept at bay by the continued enemy fire.

Daddy Max then opened the steel hatch of the armored tank which is located on top near the tank’s turret, thus exposing himself to enemy fire coming from all directions. He thereafter manned the 50 caliber machine gun installed atop the turret of the tank. And Daddy Max relentlessly started firing along the hilly side of the area, seeing dust when his bullets and tracer would hit the ground.

This COUNTER-ACTION on Daddy Max’s part  caused the enemies to start getting out of their foxholes as the enemies started to transfer from one place to another as they plausibly feared the impact of the 50 caliber ammunition.

The continuous firing from the 50 caliber machine gun created a great  commotion among the enemies and that the whole bunch of the enemy  soldiers frantically ran around and continued to transfer from one position to another. Daddy Max kept firing the  machine gun until he saw his comrades  start to stand up, one by one as they commenced to move towards the enemy’s position. The encounter lasted for one hour and a half.

The body count on the side of the enemy was: 42 killed and several wounded who were carried and tugged by rescuing soldiers among them. The info about the wounded enemy soldiers was according to the Red Chinese soldier who was captured. It was unfortunate that the sole casualty on Daddy Max’s  side was the very soldier who was supplying/feeding Daddy Max with ammunition while Daddy Max was manning the machine gun. With the almost crisscrossing of enemy fire, that friendly-soldier who was feeding Daddy Max with ammunition got hit on his forehead. Fortunately however, Daddy Max’s company eventually overran the enemy lines as they, Daddy Max’s company, went across the mountains to clear the route to their supply lines.

When the dust settled down and everything was clear, many foreign observers from the United Nations command who were observing from a distance, atop the mountains, who witnessed the whole operations, came towards Daddy Max and congratulated him in the presence of all of the troops that were all on the ground during the encounter.

Daddy Max thereafter (though extremely belated indeed) was awarded a GOLD CROSS MEDAL, for gallantry in action, for this daring feat. This daring feat of the Filipino soldiers was a supreme act of friendship unto the beleaguered South Korean nation. In fact, the Philippines was the first Asian country which sent support troops to  South Korea, and the third among the member-nations of the United Nations. Indeed, this daring feat of Daddy Max has brought much pride and honor to our clan.

MY FRIEND ROLLY NARCISO AND OUR EXCITING ALGERIAN TRIP

Algeria-portal

 

According to TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL: “Bribes and backroom deals don’t just steal resources from the most vulnerable – they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in government and leaders.”

 

2014-transparency

 

In their 2014 study, Transparency International gave the Philippines a score of 38 with North Korea and Somalia tied at the top position with both scoring a perfect “1”. It is noteworthy that the Philippines scored a 34 in 2012, then a 36 in 2013; and by 2014 it leaped to 38. Well, it sounds and looks, that the Philippines is improving bit by bit in its anti-corruption campaign.

 

daang-matuwid

 

Though corruption is indeed still flagrant in our country, I still believe that with the advocacy of the present administration towards that trek into the “matuwid na daan”[English translation: “STRAIGHT PATH”], corruption would eventually diminish or perhaps someday, it would become a thing of the past, a double “perhaps”. The front-runner of the Presidential polls, Grace Poe, who argued that the Liberal Party does not enjoy the monopoly to advocate the “matuwid na daan” program virtually hinted that she will push through with an aspiration of a corrupt-free Philippines. And that is a very good indication!

 

grace-poe2

 

But, compared to other countries, records would indeed show that there are other countries more corrupt than the Philippines. Thus, let us not lose hope and let us contribute one way or the other to make the Philippines a corrupt-free nation.

 

algerienne

 

In February of 2009, I was tasked by my father-in-law, Tony S. Evangelista, Chairman and CEO of the New Kanlaon Construction, Inc. (“NKCI”), to accompany NKCI’s President and COO, Rolly S. Narciso,  to Algeria to negotiate a contract with a Japanese contractor which was awarded a 200 kilometer road-building project. NKCI was keen at inking a manpower service contract whereby NKCI would supply Filipino skilled workers to Algeria. I was so excited to reach Algeria as Algiers, its capital, seems to be shrouded with magic and mystery and is commonly referred to as the favorite locale for spy-thriller books.

 

Kajima

 

I and my good friend Rolly flew in from London’s Heathrow airport into Algeria, after flying in from the Philippines via Cathay Pacific.

 

algiers

 

When we arrived at the airport in Algiers, we never saw any signage about the supposed need to totally declare the amount of foreign exchange you are bringing into the country. As we have to take another domestic flight from Algiers to Annaba, and that we have to transfer to another terminal, we rushed and walked double time to avoid being late in the domestic flight check-in process.

 

annaba

 

The flight from Algiers to Annaba aboard a small plane took us about an hour and a half. But what was unusual, was that when I and Rolly checked in our luggage at the Algiers airport, it did not go straight to the plane’s cargo hold. All of the luggage were collected, lumped together as though a heap of sand from afar as we have to walk through a relatively lengthy stretch of the tarmac to reach the  plane. And as you take your turn to climb the mobile stairway, you have to pick up your own luggage and lug it as you climb the mobile stairway. I learned unofficially thereafter (as there was heightened alert level in the airport) that it was some kind of security measure to supposedly avoid a luggage with a bomb planted in it, into the plane’s cargo hold. Understandably, the airport authorities were purportedly wary that someone would check in a “bomb-laden” luggage, avoid the trip and BOOM!

 

 

At the COJAAL Camp ( COJAAL stands for Consortium Japonais pour Algeria with Kajima, a Japanese construction firm, in the lead) after going through a marathon of daily negotiations, with a Japanese engineer, whom I remember is named Engr. Hatta together with his peers in K’bouda somewhere in the middle of Algeria, the contract was successfully crafted and polished.

 

algeria

 

Then, after successfully getting the contract signed, and while preparing for our trip back home to the Philippines, our Japanese host warned us against bringing back to the Philippines, notes or coins of Algerian’s currency. As I was excited to bring home some Algerian notes, I hid at the bottom of my carry-on luggage some pieces of Algerian notes. But our Japanese host forgot to tell us about the need to declare foreign currency being brought into Algeria.

algerian-airport

 

So, when we were passing through Immigration at the airport in Algiers on our way back home, the Immigration Officer who looked like Saddam Hussein, surprisingly asked for my wallet. Thinking that the Immigration Officer would just be looking for Algerian currency ensconced in my wallet, I voluntarily gave my wallet. While the Algerian officer was checking on my wallet, and descrying the wad of American dollars inside, as we barely spent the money given us as allowance for our Japanese host took care of all our expense,  he said: “Monsieur, you are carrying a lot of American dollars, did you declare this when you entered Algeria, Monsieur?”

 

When I retorted that I was not told that it needs to be declared as there was no signage at the airport when I arrived, the Algerian officer boomed out in a dreadful manner: “Monsieur, you are committing a grave violation of Algerian law!”

 

immigration-officer

 

Thereafter, as I was already feeling hot under my collar, and as I was becoming somewhat rattled too; the Algerian officer told me: “Monsieur, wait a little while as I will have to report this matter to my chief.”

 

As I waited and was turning fidgety, while those after me in the queue were passing through the Immigration without any hassle (most of them Algerians though), I asked the Algerian officer as to how many minutes more do I still have to wait. But, the Algerian officer just gave me a curt reply: “Monsieur, just wait!”

 

After a couple of minutes more, and as there was no more queue, the Algerian officer turned to me and said: “Monsieur, are you Filipinen?”

 

And when I answered in the affirmative, the Algerian officer snickered a smile and said: “Monsieur, you know Algerienne and Filipinen… they are comrades…anyway, I will just help you and I will not report this matter anymore to my chief…give me your wallet again Monsieur so that you can now proceed.”

 

As I felt some sigh of relief, I readily gave once again my wallet and that Algerian officer, without any word, just picked out two (2) crisp 100 dollar bills and told me: “Monsieur, you can go now!”

 

Though I was a little bit shocked to have witnessed the audacious Algerian act, I was still able to blurt out a meek “thank you” to the Algerian officer.

 

 

As Rolly passed through the Immigration kiosk earlier than me, as I did some last minute shopping of Algerian artifacts, I tried to locate him at the departure lounge. Upon seeing him, I complained about the Algerian who snapped up 200 US dollars from my wallet telling him: “Sir, nadale ako nung Algerian Immigration Office Sir, kinunan ako ng 200 US dollars sa wallet ko!” [English translation: “Sir, I was duped by the Algerian Immigration Officer, he snapped up 200 US dollars from my wallet.”] Rolly looked at me with a half-frown and a half-smile on his face as he told me: “Mabuti ka pa at 200 US dollars lang ang kinuha sayo, ako nadale nung loko ng 300 US dollars.” [English translation: “You are better off, that scoundrel snapped up 300 US dollars from my wallet.]

 

Thereafter, I thought and said that it still is better in the Philippines for at the airport, Philippine airport officers still would display some courtesy of asking for some largesse and/or tip…but in Algeria, they take the money direct from your own wallet themselves.

 

But after wondering why Rolly was snapped up with 300 US dollars, while only 200 US dollars from me; I remembered that Rolly was actually scrimping on his dollars, actually never spending a dime. And the Algerian might have seen the dollars in his wallet was much thicker while mine was thinner.

 

 

POSTSCRIPT: What was exciting about our Algerian trip was neither the thought of having seen Algiers, as the venue of top selling spy-thriller novels; nor the interaction had with the Algerian officer, but the visit I had in a Catholic Church which is the Basilica of Saint Augustine in Annaba (formerly named Hippo) in Algeria where his relic, part of the remains of St. Augustine, who was born in Algeria (actually his arm bones were made part of his statue featured at the altar) could be venerated. The Basilica however is now more of a museum than a place for worship, as Algeria is a predominantly Muslim country now, about 99 per cent of the population.

 

st augustine

COCKFIGHTING IN THE PHILIPPINES

COCKFIGHT

The 2016 Philippine national election is fast approaching. Perhaps, it would truly amaze foreigners that, as it stands on the last day of filing for candidates aspiring to be the next President of our country (i.e. October 16, 2015), 130 Filipinos listed up. One candidate even flaunted an intriguing slogan, perhaps with the motive of enticing all Filipino cockfighting aficionados including their families to vote for him; which goes as follows: “ASENSO SABUNGERO”. [English translation: “PROGRESS FOR COCKFIGHTING AFICIONADOS”].  Plainly, cockfighting has become an integral part of Filipino culture.

Indeed, in the Philippines, cockfighting has been looked upon principally, not as a form of gambling but as a form of entertainment. It has even been regarded loosely as some kind of sports activity and is likened to boxing where game fowl instead of pugilists, display their skills and fighting prowess.

Writer Antonio A. Hidalgo who is himself a cockfight aficionado wrote in his book COCKFIGHTING SECRETS, the following account: “Cockfighting is one of the oldest sports in the Philippines, as it antedates the arrival of the Spanish colonialists. This is supported by the accounts of the first Spaniards who arrived in our islands more than four centuries ago.”

Though the modernistic sway in animal-rights conscious North America has resulted in the ban of cockfighting in the U.S.A., as it is alleged to be a form of cruelty to the game fowl, still in the Philippines, cockfighting has remained to be a favorite pastime not only of the hoi polloi but also of the rich and the affluent.

As harped upon by animal-rights conscious groups in the U.S.A., cockfighting is a form of cruelty to the game fowl. However, while the same human-rights conscious America, has banned cockfighting, it has turned a blind eye to the inhumane cruelty frequently shown on television of bloody fisticuffs brought about by the burgeoning popularity of the UFC.

Animal-rights conscious groups in America regard cockfighting as a form of cruelty upon the argument that in those cockfights, the game fowl invariably dies. These groups however have unwittingly ignored the fact that table chicken, after 30 days of mechanical feeding,  are slaughtered by the thousands everyday for food as poultry meat.

Game fowl, on the other hand, are fed nutritiously, nurtured, massaged, “vitaminized” and trained for over 30 days. And if these game fowl would eventually lose in the cockpit battle, then and only then, will they be consumed as poultry meat by humans.

In some instances even, game fowl which have displayed a sterling record of victories are literally accorded a hero’s burial by the game fowl’s owner.

In a rural setting in the Philippines, a typical sabungero [English translation: cockfighting aficionado], would be wont to first do the usual ritual of massaging , of rubbing and kneading, his fighting cock upon waking up, even before washing one’s face or brushing one’s teeth.

When I was still in my  teens, during the late 1960s,  here in Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro-Manila; as there was  a vacant lot behind our 19th Avenue residential lot (the vacant lot was  facing up to 20th Avenue), our enterprising barrio captain put up a tupada (i.e. an illegal cockfight) to be operated during weekends. The proceeds of the tupada  was supposedly to fund some community projects. News of the tupada went abuzz in our community  and every body was excitedly waiting for its operation, including my mother.

A jerry-built fence made up of two (2) layers of adobe stone as base, cemented on top and between  each other, and four-by-four wooden posts at about 2 meters intervals, horizontally stringed by barbed wires about half-a-foot distant from each other, lined the boundary between the vacant lot and our residential lot. So, my similarly enterprising mother prepared to put up a table where we could place and vend foodstuffs such as pansit guisado (English translation: sautéed noodles], dinuguan [English translation: pig’s entrails in blood soup] and puto [English translation: native cakes], bread and soft drinks. Business was so good as people from all walks of life came to the tupada and our foodstuffs for sale  were in great demand and would almost be out-of-stock by midday.

The   venue for the tupada after the construction was finished, looked as though it was a mini-amphitheatre though square, almost rectangular, with about five (5) tiers  of  wooden benches nailed to each other, rising outward from the center-arena. The facility was virtually wrapped from the outside as though an enclosure, actually the façade which faced the street (i.e. 20th avenue) and the right portion thereof, with a native wall called in the vernacular as SAWALI,  actually made up of woven strips of split bamboo almost about 10 feet high except that juncture where some kind of an opening for ingress and egress was carved out (the left portion from our vantage point is a high concrete wall which fences off the property of a neighbor). The arena at the center where the fighting cocks are paraded and let out to smash and scotch each other is surrounded by a bamboo fence about a meter high.   As we have placed our vending place just across the rear portion of the tupada venue which was unenclosed, our customers-diners would just jump out from the benches and buy foodstuffs from us.  Vending was easy, as we would place the chosen foodstuff on a paper plate with plastic spoon and fork, pass it on to the customer across the barbed-wire fence and get the payment in turn. As the aficionados were always in a rush, wanting to get back to the action, they would not care about getting the change anymore; and we would just consider them as TIPS.

For quite some time, the tupada operated unrestricted as though it was legal as no one from city hall or the police seem to care to enforce the law against this kind of unauthorized activity. But as the hollers, yells and shouts of the tupada bettor may have eventually reached city hall, a funny thing happened thereafter.

One afternoon, the tupada was raided by the police, and as though in a blinking of an eye, the swarm of cockfighting aficionados, as the area facing 20th avenue was blocked by  platoons of police officers dressed in civilian clothes, leaving our residential lot as the only way out; bulldozed our  barbed-wire fence down and left the tupada facility including the sawali native wall crumbling like a house of cards.

The devastation came quick as other cockfighting aficionados (including their companions and a host of onlookers/bystanders who were waiting for their turn to let out their favored birds in the arena) who were milling at the façade ran and scampered towards our direction to avoid being arrested by the police.

After the dust settled down, the tupada facility looked as though it was a huge dump of detritus and debris and our remaining foodstuffs, the pansit and the dinuguan and puto, got strewn all over our vending venue.

At that age of mine, as I was not then (and until now) an aficionado, I never felt the fun in cockfighting. What gave me FUN , as a teener then, and every time I reminisce the raiding incident,  a smile would appear on my face with restrained laughter; was the sight of those scampering from the tupada venue, ashen-faced, as though they have  seen a multitude of ghosts.

DADDY MAX AND HIS WORLD WAR 2 MEDAL, THE SILVER STAR MEDAL

silver-star-medal

[SILVER STAR MEDAL, the 3rd highest military decoration in the US]

Daddy Max modesty aside, perhaps can now state with conviction, that among surviving war veterans,  he belongs to that rare breed of warriors who has earned the distinction of having been involved in THREE (3) international wars: the Second World War, the 1950 Korean War and the Vietnam War. During the Second World War, where he earned the Silver Star Medal, he got enlisted into the USAFFE, acronym for United States Armed Forces in the Far East; while in the 1950 Korean War, where he earned a Gold Cross Medal, he was part of the 10th Battalion Combat Team of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, better known with its acronym, PEFTOK.  In the Vietnam War, where he received various commendations, Daddy Max served as military advisor to TWO (2) quondam South Vietnam provinces. And I will narrate hereunder how Daddy Max got his Silver Star Medal in World War 2, the third highest military decoration for valor which is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States of America.

On December 7, 1941, Japanese forces bombed PEARL Harbor and this incident dragged the United States of America into the Second World War. Since the Philippines was still considered as territory of the United States of America, and that the country possessed important military bases, the Commonwealth of the Philippines got invaded too by the military forces of the Empire of Japan. Thus, on the following day, December 8, 1941, various places in the Philippines were subjected to air raid bombings.

As is mandated during a war, MV Legaspi, a commercial sea vessel where Daddy Max was working as shipping clerk, was commandeered by the US forces and Daddy Max, got commissioned as an active member of the USAFFE.

By April 1942, the combined Filipino-American army was defeated, but guerrilla resistance against the Japanese continued throughout the war. And as Manila was declared an open city, the last bastion of the defenders of the Philippine Commonwealth was fixed in the island of Corregidor. Gen. Douglas MacArthur who was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Far East together with the ailing Philippine President, Manuel Luis Quezon plus thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were holed up in Corregidor. Consequently, food and other basic supplies became scarce in the island of Corregidor.

The officers and crew of MV Legaspi were given the task of procuring food supplies from the Visayas particularly in Capiz. And as the prospects of triumphantly defending Corregidor became nil, it was decided that the top officials of the Allied forces principal among whom were General MacArthur and Pres. Quezon and other soldiers, who were holed up in the island be surreptitiously brought out of the island into Australia to avoid capture.

Per Daddy Max’s recitals, as MV Legaspi negotiated their trip to Corregidor under cover of darkness of the night, the principal personages among the Allied forces were transported out of the island.  As there were still stragglers and debilitated soldiers left in Corregidor, MV Legaspi sailed on its first trip to Capiz to get food supplies for eventual shipment back to Corregidor. Daddy Max remembered that the family of the then Senator Manuel Roxas who later became the first President of the Philippine Republic was the major contributor of food supplies for eventual shipment to Corregidor. At a nearby  port in Capiz, herds of livestock such as cattle, hogs and chicken as well as other food supplies (i.e. sacks of rice, sugar , salt and bales of vegetables) await their loading into MV Legaspi and other ships.

MV Legaspi was successful in making three (3) round trips to Capiz and back to Corregidor. However, on the ship’s fourth try, as narrated by Daddy Max, MV Legaspi was descried by a Japanese war ship and after orders called out from the Japanese war ship to stop  went unheeded, the Japanese war ship fired upon MV Legaspi until MV Legaspi was put ablaze. Instead of surrendering, the captain of MV Legaspi, Captain Conejeros, decided to continue sailing until MV Legaspi collided with a big rock formation just off  Puerto Galera in Mindoro. As MV Legaspi was brought aground and while burning furiously, its officers and crew including Daddy Max scampered and escaped on foot as they hit the beach of Puerto Galera.

As the Japanese forces were furiously mad, a search for the officers and crew of MV Legaspi was conducted in earnest. After regrouping in a town adjoining Puerto Galera, the officers of MV Legaspi laid out a plan to stop the continuous search being done by the Japanese foot soldiers. And as Daddy Max was the youngest among the crew of MV Legaspi, (he was the 19 years old) unto his shoulders fell the duty to surrender to the pursuing Japanese forces and to deceive the Japs into believing that all of his comrades have perished. As planned, Daddy Max was able to successfully make out a story that eventually swayed  the pursuing Japanese foot soldiers to believe in his tale that all of MV Legaspi’s officers and crew except him and the six (6) other crew members who joined Daddy Max in the surrender, have perished.

After Daddy Max together with six (6) other men surrendered to the pursuing Japanese soldiers, they were incarcerated in a camp where they eventually became personal attendants and servile servants of Japanese officers.

As attendants/servants of Japanese officers Daddy Max and his men were tasked to clean the latrine and prepare those essential ingredients for a Japanese warm bath daily. They were also made to do other menial tasks while inside the Japanese camp.

One day, Daddy Max in a huddle with his companions planned out an escape. Thus, one night while the Japanese soldiers were carousing and entertaining themselves playing cards and drinking liquor, Daddy Max and his men successfully flew the coop.

To put one over the Japanese who eventually pursued them in haste the following day, Daddy Max decided that instead of going south as the Japanese was earlier led to believe that they all wanted to return to their respective towns in the Visayas (most of the crew members of M/V Legaspi were Visayans), they moved up north. They were able to grab on to a batel, some kind of a boat, which they used in their escape from Puerto Galera and as they moved up north, they arrived at Abra de Ilog in Mindoro.

Hopping from one place to another, they negotiated by sea a sequel trip to San Jose in the farther extreme end of Mindoro. When they reached San Jose, Daddy Max then decided to take on their southbound trip to the Visayas particularly to Negros Island.

Following their escape, Daddy Max continued to wage the fight for freedom against the Japanese Imperial Army, still as part of the USAFFE guerilla forces. For their war feat, Daddy Max and the officers and crew of MV Legaspi were awarded each with a Silver Star Medal by the US government.

PRESIDENT GMA, ATTORNEY MON & CONSUL-GENERAL AMPESO

former-pres-gloria-arroyoramon-maronilla-picturejose-ampeso-picture

It was good that yesterday, October 22, 2015; the Sandiganbayan (a special court in the Philippines which tries government officials for felonious acts) on humanitarian grounds, finally heeded the plea of Pres. GMA, the acronym for the past leader of our country, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to be confined at St. Luke’s Hospital for more expert medical intervention. It was also good that the Supreme Court suspended the hearings of the plunder case filed against GMA. And these opportune developments came about in the face of a recent United Nations’ opinion urging GMA’s release from detention. I am neither pro-GMA nor pro-PNOY (the acronym for our country’s current leader, Benigno S. Aquino III), but I think the pattern which has grown into a habit, of bashing, demonizing and incarcerating our past leaders should stop. Despite all those allegations of fraud and felony, it cannot be denied that those leaders invested their  blood, sweat and tears in the service of the nation. With the possible showing of the movie HENERAL LUNA, in the international scene, after its success in the local tills, we as a nation might even be viewed as killers of our own heroes.

One way or the other, this practice may have subconsciously deepened into the psyche of our people in creating an animating rave to disregard law and authority. Thus, you could see motorists driving through the red light and even mauling traffic officers with gay abandon.

If elected officials in government may have committed criminal acts, the blame should not only be heaped upon the official but more so upon those who voted these officials into office. But I will not further dwell into the province of POLITICS, which in the words of renowned anti-war activist Bertrand Russell is the most ignoble preoccupation. END OF STORY!

And the fun-filled story I wish to tell was recounted to me by my kumpadre and friend, the cool and debonaire Atty. Ramon M. Maronilla (“Mon”). And if my memory serves me right, this is how the story goes…Mon and Consul Joey Ampeso (“Joey”) are UPSILON Fraternity brothers. UPSILON SIGMA PHI is one among the more illustrious fraternities in UP with its roll of members with the likes of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Benigno Aquino Jr., Estelito Mendoza, Gerardo Roxas, Arturo Tolentino, etc. I actually sought permission from Atty. Mon to publish this blog after telling him that the recent news about Pres. GMA swayed me into it. As has been usual, with Atty. Mon’s witticism, he declared that it is high time that bail be granted Pres. GMA.

Back to my story…sometime in November 1996 when Pres. GMA was serving as  Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (“DSWD”) under Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, GMA’s daughter Luli, who wished perhaps to have some experience in government service enlisted as volunteer for the APEC summit. The APEC summit was hosted by the Philippine government in the last week of November 1996.

Luli who was working as volunteer under Ambassador Antonio Basilio was tasked to deliver important documents sometime in the first half of November 1996 in connection with the APEC summit to Joey, who was then the designated Duty Officer. The submission of the important documents was to be done in the early hours of the appointed date for which reason, Luli who wanted to be prompt, went to bring the documents at the DFA office at around 12:30 AM.

Perhaps the chilly winds of November breezing through from the Siberian High got so inviting that Joey together with some of his DFA colleagues who were also working overtime, decided to take some shots of an inebriating drink.

When Luli arrived, Joey sort of subjected the bashful Luli to inappropriate questioning such as: why she was out of her house in the wee hours of the morning, whether her parents know where she was, etc. Emboldened perhaps by the seemingly obeisant attitude on the part of Luli and a somewhat coy smile emerging on her face, Joey, while some soft music was playing from a stereo component, jestingly invited Luli to dance and even suggested to Luli to while the time away, sit on the sofa and for Luli to take a shot of the inebriating drink.

The invitation to dance and drink may have finally irked Luli and as she prepared to leave the Duty Officer’s room, Joey accidentally bumped Luli on the side of her torso, but Joey quickly apologized for the gaffe.

Luli may have reported the incident to GMA and on the first working day of the week, following the incident, Joey was told that he has to resign. Joey refused to heed the “resign-directive” for which reason a complaint for sexual harassment was lodged against him.

Joey called Atty. Mon for help and an initial hearing was set by a Special Committee to investigate the incident. At the initial hearing, Atty. Mon clarified as to whether there was a written directive for the creation of a Special Committee to conduct the investigation. As there was no written directive that could be presented, the initial hearing was canceled and on the next hearing the written directive was accordingly produced.

The subsequent hearing came and Luli with a battery of Makati-based lawyers was set to adduce her testimony via a priorly-prepared affidavit. Atty. Mon registered his vehement objection saying that he cannot stomach the thought of cross-examining the complainant on the basis of an affidavit, as it violates his client’s right to due process. Atty. Mon moved that Luli be required to adduce her testimony via the usual question-and-answer mode and not via an affidavit which has been prepared with the help of the top-notch Makati-based lawyers. Luckily, the Committee perhaps not wanting to appear as though it was set to blatantly disregard the basic standards of law and justice, granted Atty. Mon’s motion.

At the next hearing, an announcement for work suspension due to inclement weather, was belatedly declared at around 2:00 PM. However, Atty. Mon made it a point to be early for the 1:30 PM setting. Atty. Mon did not leave the hearing room until 4:00 PM that day as he entertained the hope that with the manifest intent of the Committee to expedite the proceedings as was indicated in the earlier settings, the complainant, Luli, as well as her lawyers would not allow that day to pass without achieving something significant for their cause. Atty. Mon further remarked that if he can come to the DFA despite the inclemency of the weather, there is no reason why the complainant and her lawyers cannot do the same. Thus, the Head of the Investigating Committee allowed Atty. Mon to stay at the hearing room till 4:00 PM.

On the subsequent hearing, Atty. Mon purposely did not attend. However, despite vigorous protests from Luli’s lawyers to allow them to present evidence ex-parte and to declare Joey’s right to cross-examine as waived, the Investigating Committee reset the hearing. The Head of the Investigating Committee explained that Atty. Mon waited for the complainant and her lawyers at the preceding hearing date till 4:00 PM but not one of them came.

Ultimately, the hearing for the presentation of Luli’s testimony was conducted. And on direct examination, Luli perhaps due to sheer loss of composure and the drag of the emerging protracted proceedings which may have worn her down,  committed a slip. Indeed, Luli failed to fully substantiate the very core of her complaint particularly about Joey allegedly having accidentally bumped a part of her torso. Instead of expounding on it, Luli truncated her testimony and declared that she left immediately the DFA in a rush missing on that incident where Joey accidentally bumped her. Despite efforts on Luli’s principal lawyer to squeeze out that testimony Atty. Mon persisted in his objection: “ ALREADY ANSWERED!”, to the effect that after feeling irked with Joey’s actions, she (i.e. Luli) rushed out of the Duty Officer’s office. END OF HER STORY.

Finally, Joey was acquitted. And a couple of weeks after the decision was rendered, Atty. Mon received a call from the DSWD office. Atty. Mon was  requested to be present in a meeting with then DSWD Secretary Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, with specific instruction that Joey be brought to the meeting. Immediately thereafter, Atty. Mon hailed Joey to a quick meeting and gave him pointers to get by for the meeting with GMA. Atty. Mon told him that he has to keep his cool, deport himself with humility and never ever look at GMA in case the good Secretary would be swayed to castigate him. Atty. Mon stressed that Joey must just cast his eyes down to make for a picture of repentance and remorse for what Luli must have experienced during the incident.

When the meeting date came, Atty. Mon with Joey in tow was early at their 9:00 AM appointment at the DSWD office. When they were shown into GMA’s room, the dialogue in the meeting started cordial until GMA asked Atty. Mon, if he honestly believes that his client, Joey was indeed not guilty. In a seeming deprecating tone, GMA asked Atty. Mon: “Attorney! Do you honestly believe that Mr. Ampeso is not guilty?”.   Atty. Mon blurted out: “Mam, do you really want me to give you an honest answer Mam?”. “Yes, of course!”, was GMA’s quick riposte.

And surprisingly, Atty. Mon said that on the contrary, he entertained doubts that Joey was INNOCENT. To this reply, GMA  inquired: “And, why did you defend him, if you doubted his innocence?”.

And Atty. Mon courteously replied: “Madame, with all due respect, Mr. Ampeso was the one who secretly issued the Marcial Bonifacio passport to the late Benigno Aquino Jr.; if not for Ninoy’s return, there would have been no SNAP ELECTION, no PEOPLE POWER Revolution, no senatorial election in 1992 and 1995; and no Vice-Presidential election of 1998. In fact, Madame, who knows, you might even be the next President of our country.”

For a moment, GMA was tight-lipped and asked  Atty. Mon: “Where is  your proof that it was he who issued the passport to Ninoy?”.

But Atty. Mon came prepared as he brought the book written by an American author and allowed GMA to peruse through the page which read indeed that it was Joey who issued Ninoy’s Marcial Bonifacio passport.

During that couple of minutes interaction between GMA and Atty. Mon, Atty. Mon told me that he saw in her eyes that GMA has a compassionate heart and that GMA truly deserves compassion now, via the grant of bail to her.

Many years thereafter, in April 2009, GMA staged a state visit to Dubai where  Joey was appointed as Consul. As is usual during the arrival honors, dignitaries and the diplomatic community would line up to greet the arriving President. Perhaps, Joey was of the belief that either GMA has forgotten him or that his alleged transgression was already totally forgiven. When it was Joey’s turn to shake the hands of GMA, it was told  that GMA with a restrained frown on her face, sort of blurted out: “WHY ARE YOU HERE?” and GMA summoned Sec. Romulo inquiring why Joey was Consul in Dubai. Well, Sec. Romulo reportedly said: “Madame President, you must have signed his appointment.” END OF MY STORY.