[This photo was taken sometime in 1977 or 1978 in front of the UP Law Center showing some of the members of the UP Law ’79 Evening Section with the males sporting bell-bottom pants. 1st row:From L to R-Joey Osana and Talek Pablo.2nd row: L to R-Babes Navarro and Vicky Bataclan. 3rd row: Tony Abellera , Jim Nagrampa and Procs Sarmen.4th row: Wally Young, Ding Dar Santos, Eric Rodriguez, Benjie Dela Paz, and Cel Gellada. 5th row: Romy Legaspi, Bobby Lopez and Marvin Gonong.]
I actually overstayed in my undergraduate course in UP. Though, I odiously hated math, my Daddy Max who seem to regard engineers with high esteem asked me to take a course in civil engineering. Being an obedient child, I complied with Daddy Max’s edict. I actually took Math 53 which is INTEGRAL CALCULUS for a record THREE times as my previous attempts proved to be failures. In fact, though I made it a point to be always present in my 3rd Math 53 class under the tutorship of the stern-looking Prof. Inez Belleza, Prof. Belleza told me one time in class, which was heard by all of my classmates, these foreboding words: “Mr. Young, passing this subject is not merely done by way of not missing a single session of the class.” Thus, though my class attendance was 100 per cent, I failed the subject once again.
And because of this predicament, I came across and adopted the technique which I learned thereafter, and which was being successfully done by other students who are known to me. This technique which is captured in this kind of proverbial guide which became popular that time was…if you think you will fail in your subjects, do an LOA… and the LOA became my easy way out from my oft-repeated and difficult scholastic cul de sac. And as I got so fascinated, preoccupied and thrilled by the exciting camaraderie in our fraternity, my stay in UP became all the more extended.
LOA stands for Leave of Absence, and during those years at the Palma Hall, getting an LOA approved by the dean then, seemed so almost easy.
When I entered U.P. Diliman in 1965, the 2-year preparatory course for any scholastic career was termed University College and almost all classes were held at the Palma Hall which houses the Arts and Sciences Building, except for some.
It was good that during that time, there was still no policy against OVERSTAYING students, and that to avoid being kicked out, the LOA route was so very handy.
I really wanted to pass my Math subjects to at least give joy and honor to my Daddy Max, thus I tried all tricks to pass my Math subjects.
One time, I monitored and stayed in wait for the earlier class of my Math professor which class was then taking an examination at the 2nd floor of Melchor Hall, the Engineering Building. I waited along the corridor and on the belief shared by many then that the professor would give the same examination for all of the same Math classes being handled by the professor, I told myself that I am going to befriend the very first student who gets out of the classroom. Surely, during examination time, it is believed that the first one to move out of the classroom is the best among them, having finished the exam earliest.
So, when the first person emerged out of the classroom, with all humility and graciousness, I begun to befriend her and most reverentially, I asked the lady if she could just give me a rundown of what questions were asked in the exam. The comely lady mischievously smiled at me and I thought that it was a sign that she will eventually give in to my request. I followed her up to the Arts & Sciences Building (i.e. Palma Hall), like a suitor wooing a dame, walking side by side, as though we have been long-time friends. We walked side by side as though a lovey-dovey duo through the whole stretch from Melchor Hall up to Palma Hall. And I thought all along that her next class would be at the Palma Hall.
It was my guess then as we traversed the whole length of what is now known as the UP Oval (from its median’s end to end) passing through A. Roces Sr. Avenue towards the Palma Hall. But, I eventually got so surprised when she entered my Math classroom at the AS Building. And she turned out to be our Math professor’s assigned proctor, and my face turned red in shame. End of story…
Incidentally, by way of an aside, when I finally shifted course to AB Economics, my Math 100 (i.e. a lighter version of CALCULUS) professor who was a newly appointed lady professor, was all praises on me as she even gave me a final grade of 1.25. She never knew however that it was the 4th time that I took that CALCULUS subject.
Back to UP Law… The usual matching between male and female studes is usually being done at school complete with teasing, jesting, cajolery and prodding. I was being paired with the lovely Gina Calleja, though I did not take it on seriously as I was in a relationship then. However, I would from time to time (just as to intrigue the match makers notable of whom was Vicky Bataclan), do the motions of wooing Gina. Also, at that time Gina’s eyes were so much focused unto a Sigma Rhoan, as in fact, Gina would openly admit in class that she is a Sigma Rho fanatic. On the other hand, the charming and sweet-scented Babes Navarro was interchangeably being matched with Romeo “Romy” Legaspi and Roberto “Bobby” Lopez. Actually, the late Bobby Lopez, who was oldest among us, is a UP MBA graduate and is in fact occupying a topnotch managerial post in Makati then. Bobby Lopez eventually earned the moniker “Tatang”.
If Vicky Bataclan were not married then, being a real looker, Vicky would have certainly been paired/matched with all of those debonair-looking male students at Malcolm Hall. However, Vicky remained merely as some kind of matchmaker.
Earlier, during our freshman year, Peter Paul Pineda was continuously being matched with Annette Sandico.This match was good, as they eventually ended up as husband and wife; though both of them stopped their UP Law schooling.
Going back to Babes Navarro… it would seem that Babes did not want to be paired with someone older than she was, like Bobby, who was at that time, in his mid-30s already. Thus, the matchmakers stopped prodding the Babes-Bobby duo and instead focused on a Babes-Romy tandem.
One time, Romy came to school with lots of ripe santol fruits and Babes appeared to have gotten the lion’s share of those santol fruits. Eventually, Romy’s style of courting got labeled as the SANTOL STYLE. I heckled Romy once and told him: “ROMY…PAANO KA NAMANG SASAGUTIN NI BABES, EH YONG SANTOL NA BINIGAY MO, NAPAKA-ASIM!”.[English translation: Hey Romy, how could you expect a favorable reaction from courting and wooing Babes; the santol fruits you gave her are too SOUR!”]
But the more amorous of UP Law students then would naturally come from the day sections, as they would have all the time to muse and strategize on their amorous forays. As I actually am officially registered as a member of UP Law Batch 1980 having skipped one semester from school (and graduated in 1980), and considering all the more that I entered UP Law in 1974; I became part of THREE (3) UP Law batches and that those who are from batches 78, 79 and 80 are relatively known to me. Batch 78 entered the UP Law in 1974 too; while I actually got embraced by Batch 1980 as their official batch mate.
Indeed, there are lots of lovey-dovey duos during my stint at UP Law but my unarguable choice for the most amorous lovey-dovey duos are from the day section…and that which stand out is none other than the lovey-dovey duo episode of my lover boy IDOL, Arno Sanidad of UP Law 1980! Until my next BLOG!
[At the Red Kimono Restaurant located at U.P. Technohub, we met our UP Law classmate, now NLRC Commissioner Proculo “Procs” Sarmen, with work station in Cagayan de Oro. Fortunately, Procs came to Manila to attend the yearly en banc session of the NLRC at its PPSTA, Banaue, Quezon City Head Office. From left to right: Cel Gellada, Babes Navarro, myself and Procs Sarmen.]
I came to know lately that among the law schools in the country, probably it is only the UP College of Law which offers day sections to its students. I have been told that most if not all law schools in metropolitan Manila conduct classes and do the teaching all in the evening. Teaching at night time has become the norm in other law schools in the national capital region and even in the provincial areas. About this night-time preoccupation, I remember that Prof. Ruben Balane once said in our Persons & Family Relations class, that the most exciting things happen in the stillness of the night.
Anyway, this evening schedule, I guess is student- friendly and most convenient as most of the faculty members are working in the judiciary, others are with the national prosecution service and some are legal practitioners.
With the horrendous traffic now in Metro-Manila, it would really be hard for someone working at the port area at the extreme western portion of the metropolis just like me and Ambassador Vicky Bataclan then, to timely reach Diliman for a 6:00 PM class. More so difficult for someone working in Makati to catch that evening class as one would have to rush and sweat it out while wedging to get into the jam-packed MRT coaches plying the EDSA route.
During the early 70s, a JD bus from the port area in Manila could speedily navigate the run through Quezon Avenue from the port area to Quiapo and up to Balara in Diliman within a span of 30 minutes. But today, during the rush hour at 5:00 PM’s dismissal time from work, it could take at least ONE (1) and 30 minutes.
All along, I thought that the travails encountered by working students like me, Amb. Vicky Bataclan, Gina Calleja (who eventually was gifted by her parents with a flashy yellow colored Mitsubishi Lancer car, to make her trip from Makati more relaxing), the late Jimmy Nagrampa who was then working at the Press Secretary’s Office in Malacañang, and all of the others in the evening section of 1974, was the heaviest of all working student burdens.
Anent these travails, Babes Navarro who also experienced the same toil of a working student, was Jimmy Nagrampa’s favorite classmate to jest with. The latter would exaggeratedly lament his troubles in commuting via a public transport from Malacañang and upon arriving in class, Jimmy would readily be wont to say: “Tayong lahat, halos amoy pawis na at nanggigitata na, pero si Babes mabango pa rin.” [English translation: “All of us would smell so foul and sweaty already upon reaching our evening class, but Babes would still be sweet smelling.”]
And that was because, though Babes was in fact working too; she was just working nearby as a COA representative based near the Vinzon’s Hall which is about 5 minutes away, via a leisurely gait to the Malcolm Hall.
But, it turned out that the most laborious experience by one among us, a UP Law evening student who caught up with us in 1975 and stayed as our meek and taciturn classmate, was really something for the books. It was that of Procs.
Proculo “Procs” Sarmen entered the UP College of Law in 1973. Actually, though a native of Surigao, Procs took his political science degree at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City and as he was then still out of job (having to fend for his studies on his own), Procs had to stop for a year. I remember that Procs was so diminutive then (around 90 pounds in weight), as though an elementary pupil who might have gotten lost after gallivanting into UP Diliman and landing thereby at the corridors of the Malcolm Hall. But I got surprised thereafter as I learned that Procs was a former Corps Commander during his ROTC days. Candidly, Procs struck me as a nice and kind-hearted person who was neither talkative nor rowdy but was in fact, possessed with a calm and dignified mien.
In 1975 after procuring THREE (3) jobs, he went back to UP Law. His day job was as Graduate Assistant at the Department of Psychology in UP Diliman, a very convenient work posting, as he was then based at the Faculty Center which is a kilometer away from Malcolm Hall. Procs was in fact hobnobbing with the likes of Prof. Alfredo Lagmay and Prof. Lenny De Jesus, etc.
His most exacting night job however, which starts after his dismissal from his evening classes at UP Law was at the Fort Bonifacio area at the NAMRIA. This night job ensued when Procs accidentally got acquainted and became friends with a businessman who was in the business of making maps. And this intrepid entrepreneur was able through his connections, to bag government contracts for the generation of all types of maps most particularly aerial and mosaic maps. I even learned that the aerial map and the model mosaic map which adorns the lobby of the Tondo Foreshore Project office at the Don Bosco compound in Tondo, where I worked then, were all churned out by Proc’s friend’s outfit.
Procs’ duty was to supervise and monitor the work being done by a team of employees pirated by Proc’s friend from a topnotch surveying company which was also involved in geospatial concerns. These people were all enticed and lured by Proc’s friend with handsome pay packages to moonlight in his company. Almost sleepless, they would all work the following day in their regular diurnal jobs.
The third job of Procs was at the Engineering Building, just a couple of steps away from the Malcolm Hall, where Procs was not actually required to be stationed on a regular basis. Procs was actually serving as some kind of consultant of sorts, as the outfit was also involved in some geospatial concerns particularly map making projects.
Procs has recently confessed to us that the reason why he was so quiet, so taciturn and so much gentle and lethargic was that he was almost always sleepless. But at times, he said, he would do forty winks while stationed at his Faculty Center-Department of Psychology’s work post, as most of the time; his bosses would be at their respective classrooms teaching Psychology subjects. And this daily and nightly grind of drudgery and toil went through the years spent by Procs at the UP Law, until his graduation in 1979. Actually, Proc’s bosses at the UP Department of Psychology never knew until his graduation, that he was a UP College of Law student.
One time, as Procs nostalgically narrated, perhaps having taken a toll due to sleeplessness and the incessant toiling which could have brought him much fatigue, Procs got hospitalized at the UP Infirmary a couple of days before Christmas. And he got eventually surprised by the Infirmary’s staff and Church volunteers who greeted him with individual gifts and their joyful singing of Christmas carols immediately after the midnight mass at the nearby UP chapel.
Back to UP Law…I could still vividly recall during our Trial Technique class under the eminent and topnotch criminal lawyer that time, Prof. Dakila Castro; Procs was designated to act as Judge in our moot court activity. I think, we in that evening class took turns in conducting the direct examination and cross-examination of our classmate, the late Dionne Laurico, who was made to stand as witness. Actually, Prof. Castro served as defense counsel while our other classmate, Mario “Mar” Clutario served as the principal prosecuting lawyer. Perhaps, just as to take a swipe at Prof. Castro, Procs promulgated a decision which was unfavorable to Prof. Castro’s cause. Thus, when Procs promulgated the decision which put Prof. Castro somewhat on the spot, Prof. Castro wittily announced: “If ever I become President of the Philippines, I will surely appoint Mr. Proculo Sarmen as the country’s Solicitor General!”
Procs might have not been appointed as Sol Gen, and remained only in the wish list of the good Prof. Castro. Nevertheless, Procs became a judge but no longer in the moot court. He was appointed as NLRC Commissioner (equal to the rank of a Court of Appeals’ Justice) in 2003 and is now the most senior NLRC Commissioner at the Cagayan De Oro station.
We, myself, Babes and Cel Gellada, met Procs recently over dinner at the Red Kimono at the UP Technohub on January 19, 2016. This time Procs appeared much more dignified in his intricately embroidered jusi barong Tagalog, and his calm and serene personality radiated once more attended by his old wit and his fresh and new vigor. In fact, Procs was sort of loquacious and energetic; not anymore meek, lethargic and silent.
[Photo was taken inside the Yarakuen Restaurant at the Manila Diamond Hotel with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, H.E. Victoria Sisante-Bataclan, on January 17, 2016. From left to right: myself, Amb. Bataclan, Atty. Babes Navarro, and Atty. Cel Gellada.]
Atty. Ma. Loreto “Babes” Navarro sent a text message in the afternoon of January 16, 2016 (Saturday) while I and the members of our clan were all preparing for the wedding of my eldest nephew, Woodrow aka Woods, with his pretty beau Pam Unite.
Babes may have felt that I was preoccupied for which reason, she sent the message anew. Babes text message notified me that she just discovered that our UP Law classmate who is based in Brussels,Ambassador Vicky Bataclan is in town and that she has talked to Vickyand that Vicky has suggested TWO (2) dates for a dine-meet, either on the Sunday (January 17) or Tuesday (January 19), of the week.
I texted back and said that I will be attending the wedding of a nephew and that I will be preoccupied as I had to stand-in as proxy to a principal sponsor who called in sick. Babes however continued her text messages until the following day and as she has confirmed that Vicky would be free on that Sunday, she said that we will just ride together in her car: Babes, myself and another classmate of ours, Cecilio Gellada (“Cel”).
As pre-arranged, we cruised together on board Babes’ car to the Manila Diamond Hotel along Roxas Boulevard. Babes and Cel fetched me at my Cubao Law Office (as I was rushing some pleadings deadlined on the following day) and as it was a Sunday, not much traffic on EDSA, we arrived there at around 6:45 pm (late by 15 minutes, as the appointed time was 6:30 pm). It was a great and sumptuous meal of grilled salmon and a thrilling zest of an intense burst of fruity red wine. It was a night too of reminiscing our nostalgic past; the professors, the classroom activities and our extra-curricular outings. But the more exciting stories, were those about Vicky’s escapades which she did not permit me to publish in this blog.
Looking back, I remember Vicky as a feisty student leader-activist during our undergraduate days at UP Diliman. I did not know Vicky then personally, but she was a campus figure as she got elected as University Councilor under the Chairmanship of Ericson Baculinao in 1970-1971. Vicky was a real looker during those days when student activism was the IN thing. At that time, Vicky’s signature attire, which reflects her activist stance, was an indigo denim jacket with matching denim jeans. And when Vicky speaks out her mind during mass assemblies in rallies and demonstrations, she surely sounded like a “rabble-rousing revolutionary”, just like a female Che Guevarra, so magnetic and so beguiling.
When I entered UP Law in 1974, Vicky was not part of the evening section. However, on the following year, Vicky emerged as I learned thereafter that she went on leave from UP Law and has decided to continue her law studies.
I remember that I and Vicky would customarily meet accidentally at the Bonifacio Circle in Intramuros, Manila. We would be usually waiting and catching a JD bus to bring us to UP Diliman. I was then working at theTondo Foreshore Urban Renewal Project which was at that time, under the auspices of the Office of the President until it got absorbed later by the National Housing Authority. Vicky was then connected with the NEDA, an acronym for National Economic Development Authority, at its South Harbor office near the Customs zone.
As always, Vicky and I would be perusing through our thick law books while on board the JD bus throughout the ride. And at times when the JD bus is full, I will be standing holding on to the wooden stanchion with my right hand, while cradling the hardcover on my left hand.
I and the rest of our batch mates of UP Law 1979 are so happy for Vicky as she eventually became Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, a pride and honored joy of the UP Law 1979 evening batch.
It was almost 40 years ago, when Vicky started her career as a diplomat after having topped the Foreign Service Officer examination. But Vicky’s past affiliation with a militant student organization during her UP undergrad years, the Kabataang Makabayan, more popularly known by its acronym KM; proved to be some kind of an obstacle. The then National Intelligence and Security Authority (now, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) was not keen at issuing Vicky a clearance ( a must then during the martial law days, prior to one’s bagging a government appointment as a diplomat). But fate indeed shone brightly upon Vicky, and she eventually got the consular post which Vicky has been aching for.
Prof. Ramon C. Fernandez is a very astute professor in UP Law, who was the class valedictorian of UP Law Batch 1939 and who placed second in the 1939 Bar exam which former President Ferdinand E. Marcos topped. It became Prof. Fernandez’ practice to bring to Malacañang the students of his UP Law Remedial Law Review class to dine and wine with Pres. Marcos. And Pres. Marcos would always look forward to this opportunity to hobnob with bright, youthful and promising UP Law students in a night filled with feasting, wining and dancing.
Vicky joined the party and was able to snatch a chat with Pres. Marcos through the aid and intercession of Prof. Fernandez. And Vicky saw this as an opportune moment to bring realization to her dream of becoming a true-blue diplomat. Vicky came in prepared, as she earlier crafted a letter addressed to Pres. Marcos seeking aid and succor for her eventual appointment as a first grade consul. Upon Prof. Fernandez’ personal endorsement, Pres. Marcos scribbled out a marginal note to the then Department of National Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, and from then on, Vicky begun her diplomatic career rising to the ladder of success and attaining the highest rank in the Philippine diplomatic community as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union.
During our sumptuous dinner at the Yarakuen, Vicky narrated to us about the plight of a Filipino seaman who got into some kind of a legal complication which thereupon required the need for the services of a Belgian lawyer. As Vicky dispatched one of the embassy’s staff to look for a Belgian lawyer, it was pure serendipity that as this embassy staff member walked and milled around a favorite venue where Belgian lawyers congregate, a favorable development ensued.
After knowing that a Filipino seaman badly needed the professional services of a lawyer, the Belgian lawyer volunteered his servicespro bono on the condition that upon his future trip to the Philippines, he be afforded the chance to meet our Pambansang Kamao, Manny Pacquiao. And the Belgian lawyer clearly proved that he is worth his salt as he easily kept and tended our Filipino compatriot from harm’s way.
This February 2016, as Vicky is making preparations and is looking forward to the Belgian lawyer’s trip to the Philippines; Manny Pacquiao hugely needs to make his appearance. And that momentous occasion will be delved into, in the next chapters in this BLOG SITE…
[Photo shows Pres. Joseph “Erap” Estrada with Delfin Alcoriza when the latter visited the former President in his Tanay home sometime in 2006.]
In the late 80s and through the early 90s, my friend Delfin Alcoriza intensified his drive to make the business entity which he organized as a livestock distribution concern, operating under the name DEALCO FARMS INCORPORATED into a market leader. The business name DEALCO was an acronym for Delfin’s first and last names, actually, the first 2 letters of his first name and the first 4 letters of his last name, DELFIN and ALCORIZA. I became Delfin’s friend when I got employed with the World Bank-financed Tondo Foreshore Development Project in 1974. Eventually, Delfin became my kumpadre as he stood as godfather to my youngest daughter Alee, in 1999.
Prior to this trailblazing feat, Delfin organized and put up the first meat retailing business via a chain of shops that did away with the mud and dirt which usually are de rigueur in wet markets in the metropolis. Those air-conditioned meat shops which DEALCO pioneeringly introduced, operated under the business name NORA A’s MEAT SHOP. Those meat shops were actually named after Delfin’s comely and gracious wife, Nora Alcoriza. The store’s name carried some kind of an appeal nay, an allure, as it sort of intimated that the popular Philippine cinema’s Superstar then, named NORA AUNOR was behind the chain of these meat outlets.
Business fortune eventually shone in Delfin’s favor as a big and topnotch livestock enterprise in Australia which raises hordes of cattle awarded Delfin a very opportune arrangement known in business lingo as SELLER’S CREDIT. Delfin thus eventually became the number ONE (1) importer of cattle/ beef in the whole of the country and the number ONE (1) distributor of beef carcasses in the wet markets as well as in department stores in the metropolis.
It came to pass that DEALCO was virtually dominating the Australian cattle market. Thus, certain business interests in the Philippines who were also keen at availing of the attractive selling arrangements with the Australian firm have turned green in envy with DEALCO. Strangely, DEALCO’s import permits which previously flowed like a gush of river water turned into trickles. As it turned for the worse, the process to procure the import permits started to become as though a herculean task.
Looking back, Delfin neither acquired a college degree nor did he graduate from a high school education. But Delfin’s head is much filled with business acumen and pure sense of street-smart tack in earning money. Not only was Delfin smart in business, but that he also had splendid leadership skills which he started to evince at a very young age.
For the foregoing reasons, Delfin earned an amusing moniker and was eventually called by his childhood playmates most reverentially, as DELFIN ULO. The ULO moniker was practically a double entendre, as it had a dual meaning: Delfin Ulo was both business smart (i.e. “magaling ang ulo sa negosyo”- English translation: “possessed with brains for business”); and, also the leader of his gang of playmates and friends (i.e. “ang pangulo ng kanyang grupo” – English translation: “the head of his group”).
In the mid-1960s, the manager in a certain branch of a reputable bank of yesteryears in Divisoria got amazed to learn, as he was reviewing the accounts of the bank’s clients, that Delfin Ulo who was around NINE (9) years old then, had a credit balance of Php 7,000.00 in his account. During that time, as it is now, banks in the Philippines have started promoting the idea of bank accounts for kids, primarily to instill in the kids’ minds the great idea of SAVINGS.
Goaded by curiosity, the bank manager invited Delfin Ulo to a casual meeting in his office and from Delfin Ulo, the bank manager learned on how Delfin Ulo amassed the Php 7,000.00 bank deposit.
And Delfin recounted that with the connections of his mother who is a stall holder at the Divisoria wet market and his father who is butcher; Delfin was able to link up with transporters of livestock particularly cattle and carabaos. And these transporters regularly bring in livestock from all over the archipelago to Manila through the North Harbor.
As the Tondo Foreshore area which adjoins the North Harbor was a virtual grazing land then, the cattle and carabao which have yet to be fattened, to insure a hefty profit for the transporters; could not all be accommodated in the cramped feedlot of the nearby slaughterhouse facility.
Thus, Delfin organized a company of young teens, some of whom are even older than he was, mostly out of school youth, to take care of the cattle and carabaos for safekeeping and to bring them to pasture for daily grazing. The contracted fee between Delfin and the livestock transporters was about 25 centavos per day per cow/carabao. And from the fees, Delfin would share half of it among his troop of young pasturers.
During those days too, the fondness for hog entrails and pig’s blood was not then so keen, and Delfin using his charm as a cute and bright growing boy would be able to convince the co-market stall holders of his mom, Aling Maura, to part and give to Delfin gratis-et-amore, the pig’s blood and hog entrails. Actually, the entrails and pig’s blood are not expensive then, as they are being passed on, most of the times, as mere give-away by market vendors. But, whenever the stock of entrails and pig’s blood gets depleted, Delfin’s boys would then enjoy their heyday.
And Delfin’s gang of playmates who have no cattle to pasture would then be kept busy selling the hog’s entrails and pig’s blood at a makeshift stall in one of the nooks of the noisy and clattery marketplace or through a hawker’s handy hand cart along the street adjoining the market. And Delfin would share the proceeds among his playmates of off-time cattle pasturers and pig’s blood hawkers.
On top of these, Delfin financed the fabrication of shoe shine boxes which he distributed among his teen-friends so that one way or the other, these out-of-school teens would have the opportunity to eke out a living via shoe shining chores. And again, Delfin would have a share in the earnings.
During that time, Delfin was so well-loved by the community especially the parents of his gang of pasturers and hawkers, in their place in Tondo as not only Delfin was able to give a source of livelihood to his playmates but also of having kept them away from inimical vices.
It was in early 2000 when DEALCO felt the pinch of the trickling import permits until it was turned off as though a water spigot which was cut off from its supply line. The matter of the seeming persecution which DEALCO was experiencing then reached the ears of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and for over a week, a train of headline news got splashed all over the PDI ‘s front page and even spilling over unto the inside pages. The gist of the storyline suggested that a big business group allegedly wanted to slash down DEALCO’s market leadership.
As Delfin and my father-in-law, ANTEVA, which is an acronym for Antonio Evangelista (an acronym crafted by Anteva’s Ateneo High School Class of 1955 classmate, the creative Mr. Reli German) are friends too; Delfin sought Anteva’s succor.
Anteva thereafter sought an appointment with the hoi polloi’s well-loved leader and our nation’s President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who is also one of Anteva’s classmate in Ateneo High School. Thereafter, Anteva got notified by Pres. Erap’s social secretary that we will have an evening audience with Pres. Erap at the Boracay Mansion which is located in New Manila, Quezon City.
The meeting initial started as cold, starchy, solemn and decorous and afterwards, Pres. Erap started to ask questions from Delfin whom I sensed was somewhat nervous. Actually, Pres Erap did not relish the series of stories played up in the press. Indeed, Pres. Erap felt slighted by the PDI’s series which sort of talked about a supposed persecution of DEALCO. Pres. Erap felt that it has put his 2-year old administration which championed an advocacy for the liberation of the masses from poverty, in a bad light.
We, FOUR (4) of us, were all seated in a round table with glass topping, in a lanai which was fronting the swimming pool laced with powdery sand along its edges. Pres. Erap was seated to my left while Delfin was seated to my right. Anteva was seated close and adjacent to Pres. Erap (as Anteva would from time to time whisper something to Pres. Erap), who was seated in a high backrest chair to Anteva’s right. And from out of the blue, when Delfin revealed that he has been a cockfighting aficionado and a frequent habitué of the San Juan Cockfighting Arena, during Prez Erap’s mayorship, the conversation became a bit warm and amiable.
Thereafter, the conversation focused on a personality, also a cockfighting aficionado, who turned out to be a common friend of both Delfin and Pres. Erap. Pres. Erap said however that he has not seen the guy for a very long time up to that date of our Boracay Mansion meet. And when Pres. Erap, asked Delfin in the vernacular” “Nasaan na kaya yong taong yon Delfin?” [English translation: “Where is that guy now, Delfin?]
And this was how Delfin made a reply untoPres. Erap, also in the vernacular: “Sa totoo po mahal na Pangulo, hindi ko na rin po alam kung saan napadpad yong taong iyon…pero ang nabalitaan ko po ay nalulong po siya sa pag-susugal, sa pag-iinom at sa pambabae po.” [English translation: “In all honesty, Mr. President Sir…I also do not know where that guy’s whereabouts now Sir…but what I learned Sir was that this guy got so obsessed in wining, gambling and womanizing Sir.”]
As Pres. Erap is known to be an oenophile, an avid mahjong enthusiast and a ladies’ man; wearing a mischievous smile on his face, Pres. Erap looked at Delfin straight into his eyes and said: “DELFIN, Pinatatamaan mo ba ako.” [English translation: “Delfin, are you taking a SWIPE at me?”]
And theretofore, the conversation became all the more JOLLY.
After a month, the import permit ban which was imposed upon DEALCO was lifted. This was after DEALCO was sanctioned to pay a FINE for some kind of improprieties committed by DEALCO’s staff in regard to its past applications for import permits.
The upside was that Delfin became friends with Pres. Erap; while the downside was that Delfin lost his opportune deal with the Australian livestock supplier, following the long lull of trading which consisted of a searing suspension of the release of import permits.
As it stands now, Delfin is still at it, HELPING THE POOR through his various businesses as livelihood opportunities are afforded his kith and kin and the community folks within the Vitas district and its environs in Tondo, Manila. Indeed, it could have been the strive to help the poor which brought Delfin and Pres. Erap together into some kind of common ground and bonded friendship. Actually, Pres. Erap has continuously championed the welfare of the masses; and without doubt, he is still well-loved in the Tondo, Manila community.
From the looks of it, the strive on the part of Delfin to help the poor people of Tondo has been handed over like a runner’s baton to Delfin’s eldest son, Dennis. The debonair looking Dennis is a passionate and dynamic councilor for the first district of Tondo whose advocacy is a restatement of his father’s noble and people-centered ideals.
[Facade of the MALCOLM Hall, the building in UP Diliman which houses the University of the Philippines-College of Law. The hall is named after the first dean of the College, the American Law Professor George Malcolm.]
When I was still an undergraduate student taking up a course in Economics at the University of the Philippines (“UP”) in Diliman and eventually in UP Manila (when I became a working student), I once did a research at the UP College of Law library. I was so amazed when I did my research at the UP Law library at a time when the UP College of Law was just a one-building affair, the MALCOLM Hall.
During the sixties, MALCOLM Hall hosted under its wings two colleges aside from the library: the College of Nursing and the College of Law. The College of Nursing virtually occupied the first floor and the College of Law and the Library at the higher floors until the College of Nursing got transferred to UP-Philippine General Hospital in 1977.
My amazement when I first had the chance to visit the UP College of Law library was that the library was very quiet and so sedate as compared to the somewhat clattery ambience particularly the seemingly restrained but still noisy chatter at the UP Main Library then. Also, the furniture and appointments at the UP Law library then (i.e the tables, chairs and the stand-up cabinets which contained the catalogue cards, etc.) which was located at the higher floor of the Malcolm Hall were so classic and so rococo. Thus, my awe and amazement as well as interest to enter the UP College of Law someday, got all the more piqued.
Also, I got so awed and dazzled by a perception imbedded then in my mind that the students at the UP College of Law are the more intelligent and virtually the cream of the crop of the UP Diliman community. When Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago became Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Collegian in 1968, while she was I think in her junior year at UP Law, it was the first time that I encountered the word “concomitant” which I think she used in the maiden issue of her editorship at the Philippine Collegian. And from then on, I oftenly used the word theretofore, which to me then was highfalutin. I got so fascinated by the bombast and bluster of Sen. Miriam’s style and language for which reason, I tended to become pompous at times in my use of words too.
Also, during student council elections those days, most of the time when I was still an undergrad at what was called then as University College based at the Palma Hall (eventually referred to during those sequel years as A–S as acronym for Arts and Sciences Building), the candidates for Chairman of the UPStudent Council would invariably come from the UP College of Law.
Thus, when I passed the law aptitude test as well as the interview by a panel of UP Law professors, notably Prof. Ruben Balane, to allow me to enroll as freshman at the UP College of Law, I felt that I will then become among UP Diliman’s cream of the crop.
I was then working as Research Assistant at the Institute of Philippine Culture at the ATENEO, and after I finished my 6-month contract at the IPC, I workedat the Tondo Foreshore Dagat-Dagatan Development Project of the National Housing Authority (“NHA”) also as Research Assistant, when I was freshman at the UP College of Law. My seatmate then was my fraternity brother, recently retired Manila RTC Judge Felixberto T. Olalia, Jr. (“Jun”), who was seated to my left at the front row of the class. Eventually however, Jun moved to the day section as he was actually working in the office of his father, the eminent labor leader Ka Bert Olalia, who was the acknowledged founder of the Kilusang Mayo Uno. Other members of that evening class which I think initially numbered about FORTY (40), was the late Dionne “Dionne” Laurico, seated next to Jun and who became an Alpha Phi Betan, but who died young. His fraternity brother, Mario “Mar” Turingan, who was also with us in the evening section (the younger brother of one of RAM’s founders, Col. Felix Turingan), also died young.
Others who were seated at the front and second rows were: Peter Paul Pineda (“Peter”), Annette Sandico (“Annette”), Gina Calleja (“Gina”), Jose Osana (“Joey”), Imelda Baun (“Imee”), Mario Clutario, Jr. (“Mar”) and Romeo Legaspi (“Romy”).Peter and Annette got married to each other and neither of them pursued the dream to a law degree. Eventually however, Peter became the chief of staff of our more notable senators. Imee who was a Central Bank officer then appeared too prudish but strict, but she did not finish the law course too. Gina, who was almost always redolent then in class, migrated to the US and is currently working as Lead Legal Document Specialist in a topnotch law office in New York. Mar became a public prosecutor and is diligently doing his prosecutorial chore at the Antipolo City Prosecutor’s Office. On the other hand, Romy who always seem to enjoy practicing his debating skills with Joey, respecting any topic under the sun, migrated to New York too, where he continuously works as an immigration lawyer.
Those who were seated at the back were the following: Mario Mina, who chose not to finish his law studies but eventually married a UP Law lady-lawyer, Atty. Nonette Corcino of UP Law Batch 75; Cecilio “Cel” Gellada who is currently the Head of the Legal Department of PSALM; the late Ed Roden Kapunan, who became Atty. Lorna Kapunan’s hubby and became an RTC Judge (except that Ed eventually moved into the day section); and the late Jaime “Jimmy” Nagrampa, who was the co-founder of the law office which I am now managing) .
Somewhere seated in the middle part of the classroom were: the late Eric Rodriguez who became an active member of the Couples for Christ together with one of his law partners, Leonides “Nides” Respicio who actually belongs to UP Law Batch 1978; Conrado “Ding” Dar Santos who is now the Head of the Labor Cases Department of the Quasha Law Office; and Agaton “Tony” Abellera, who has not shown up in our reunions (perhaps, he might have RELOCATED to a distant land) but who during our student days acquired the habit of gradually displacing, moving and RELOCATING the chair in front of him every time he would be called to recite in class. Cel lately confided to me that the reason he would always come in late for our Political Law class under Prof. Carmelo Sison was a deliberate machination. He further explained that since it was Prof. Sison’s rule to call first for recitation those who would come in late, Cel made sure that he is much prepared to recite the assigned cases. And having been called first, he would not be so stressed throughout the remaining minutes of the class.
When Dionne, Mar, Ding and another UP Law 1979 grad, Edwin “Edwin” Sales (who actually belongs to the day section), graduated in 1979, I facilitated their employment as Hearing Officers at NHA’s Tondo Project while they await the results of the Bar examinations. Among them, it was only Mar who opted to remain at NHA until his untimely death. Anent Joey Osana, I will partly discuss about him further in the latter portion of this BLOG.
There were others who made lasting impressions among us during our evening class but who took their pre-law degrees from the provinces and one of whom is Jose “Joe” Camano, who migrated to Michigan, U.S.A. in 2000. He was originally enrolled at the evening section but transferred to the day section the following semester. Like others, he did not want to prolong his law studies for another year. At the UP College of Law, the morning or day section curriculum is spread through FOUR (4) years, while the evening section which caters to working professionals goes through a longer span of FIVE (5) years.
Joe Camano, whom I fondly called Pading Joe, which is Bicol term for “Kumpareng Joe” left his law practice to join his wife-nurse and children in the US. He initially worked as an IT help desk at the Ford Motors and Chrysler for a while then opened up his own business selling computer hardware. A freak traffic accident involving Pading Joe’s wife traumatized her and she could no longer drive to work. Thus, Pading Joe sold his business so he can drive his wife to work and in between chauffeuring his wife, he babysits his two grandkids. Joe is a great loss to the lawyering profession in the Philippines. I know him to be hard working, diligent and so passionate in advocating for a client. On occasions, that I have bumped into him in the court corridors –always, the spark of friendship rekindles.
During our UP Law freshman year, I truly found Pading Joe as studious and intelligent as he would dissect and analyze the legal issues in our discussions with fluid perspicuity. I admire Pading Joe even more as he was so courageous to have bravely expressed his mind and questioned a Supreme Court decision on the interpretation of the Spanish term regarding the matter of “semillaalimenticia” [I think it was the case of People vs. Arsenio Mesias, GR No. L-45749] in our Criminal Law 1 class under the eminent professor, Prof. Bienvenido Ambion.
Perhaps, Prof. Ambion had a rough day before that class of ours in the evening as instead of just telling Pading Joe that the Supreme Court was right and his (i.e. Pading Joe’s) perception was wrong, Prof. Ambion rebuked Pading Joe calling him even an UPSTART in the field of law and is therefore not yet entitled to question the decisions of the Supreme Court.
I remember that Pading Joe’s eyes and mine met, eyeball to eyeball, when I gazed from my front row seat to look at him as he was seated diagonally behind. My admiration reached its crescendo at that particular time as Pading Joe was erect with subdued smirk, a profile of unyielding belief in one’s conviction and defiant to the pummeling of even the most highly competent professor in the field. I smiled at him and he smiled back.
Pading Joe was suspended by the Supreme Court to practice law for one year in 2005, five years after he left the Philippines. But he wrote a book, “Censuring Back The Supreme” (Termites From Within) boldly complaining unto the Supreme Court on the railroading of the administrative case against him—i.e. without giving him the right to comment on his purported professional infraction; and by promulgating the suspension order “in absentia.”
In his book, he poured out his frustration over the sad state of the judicial system in our country. Joe also mentioned in his book that incident in Professor Ambion’s class and the quizzical look and amusement I have had seeing him baptized with fire and brimstone in one humid evening class session.
I do not have a copy of Joe’s book but I have casually perused a copy from a lawyer who in the past I had worked with in a probate of the will case, Atty. Eliezer Castellano. Eliezer migrated to Michigan too like Pading Joe and went back as a “balikbayan”. Eliezer’s son, Robert, a nurse, was hired by Pading Joe’s wife in the nursing facility in Westland, Michigan and it was this fated encounter that the two retired lawyers came to know each other in the U.S. It was my turn to find my friend again who had left the profession he dearly loves.
Eliezer asked me if I knew Atty. Joe Camano because Eliezer said, he happened to read in Joe’s book the name Walter Young who was “grinning from ear to ear” when the former was being upbraided by Professor Ambion one evening inside a classroom at the UP College of Law. Eliezer then was not so sure if I were the same fellow mentioned in the book and he was so ecstatic when I said Pading Joe was my classmate.
On hindsight however, that rebuff by Prof. Ambion directed at my classmate Pading Joe was normal in the UP College of Law. I felt that the esteemed professormight have seen in my classmate Joe, that irrepressible spirit which has to be nurtured and at the same time checked so the attributes of a good lawyer and a court warrior are polished like a sharp and shining sword – like a rough steel to be melted in the crucible to refine the edges and to temper its strength.
I saw my Prof. Ambion then as an accomplished blacksmith, while Pading Joe, as a steel about to be forged. That was in 1974. In 1979, most of my classmates had been forged – so we can face the rigor and stress of the profession and its vicissitudes. I actually got suspended due to my fraternity’s initiation rites which got reported by a parent of a neophyte (as I was then the head of my fraternity) and after which, I took a leave for a semester, I eventually graduated from UP Law in 1980.
In mid-year of 2015, I bumped unto Pading Joe again through FACEBOOK and I have never tired cajoling him to go back to the Philippines and resume his law practice. As a sweetener I offered him partnership in my law office in Cubao, Quezon City. Pading Joe was thrilled with the idea. As for me, lawyers should not be RETIRED; as lawyers (mostly the diligent, hard working, qualified and honest lot), are constantly REHIRED.
There were other UP Law students who caught up with our evening section batch, after having enrolled earlier, took a leave and stopped matriculating for some time, due to varied reasons. Notable among whom are: Victoria (“Vicky”) Sisante Bataclan who became Philippine Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Belgium, Ma. Loreto “Babes” Navarro, who became Vice-President of a reputable investment company, Proculo “Procs” Sarmen (whose key-chain tactic amuses me so gaily, as Procs aka Coluy would seem to mesmerize the professors while he fondles his bunch of keys with his right hand while confidently standing in recitation, putting the professor spellbound), who became NLRC Commissioner with work station in Cagayan de Oro; Talek “Talek” Pablo, who was connected with the Bureau of Customs and is until now working as Consultant therein, and the late Emmanuel RS (“Tonti”) Abad-Santos, the youngest son of the terror Dean of the UP Law during the 60s up to the early 70s. Tonti became one of my law partners too in the law office which I am managing.
There were UP Law studes then too who were actually originally from the day section but would subsequently enroll as evening students, after having landed a job. Notable among this group is Alpha Dayot (“Alpha”), who eventually for some time became a diplomat and who ultimately married a Pakistani diplomat.The demure and gracious Alpha whom Joey Osana fondly remembers as always on the GO, and who really seem to be almost always hurrying and scurrying , has put up a helpful FACEBOOK page for UP Law Batch 1979. Through this wondrous feat on the part of Alpha, communication among the UP Law 79 batch mates has all the more been fostered.
Another “Jose” whom I admire so much is my classmate Joey Osana, who emerged to be a top caliber taxation law expert and who has just retired as an eminent partner of SGV. Invariably, Joey topped most of the examinations in our evening section classes and would almost always get a good mark during class recitations. Joey graduated Magna Cum Laude at the University of the East and passed the CPA Board exams with flying colors. Joey is similarly acknowledged to be one among the more brilliant members of the UP Law Evening Class circa 1974-1979. More on Joey and the rest of our classmates in my next BLOG.
[Left photo shows Jovy in a jovial mood during one of our Christmas parties in our law office; middle photo shows the eminent SC Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Jr. who administered Jovy’s oath; while the photo at right is a sample of the roll of attorneys where lawyers sign their name to register as a duly licensed lawyer after taking the oath]
I met Jovy for the first time in September 1998. I resigned from Allied Banking Corporation (“Allied Bank”, now merged with Philippine National Bank), in April 1998 as one of the legal officers of its Legal and Collection Department. My classmate at the University of the Philippines-College of Law, the Late Atty. Jaime “Jim” Nagrampa, was persistent in his request for me to join him in the law office which he put up and organized in October 1997.
While at Allied Bank, I was retained by a friend, Mr. Delfin T. Alcoriza, to serve as his company’s Legal Consultant, the DEALCO Incorporated (“DEALCO”). Thus, on Saturdays, as my working schedule at Allied Bank is from Mondays to Fridays only, I would report for half-a-day’s work at DEALCO’s Vitas, Tondo office.
It came to pass however that numerous collection complaints for and in behalf of DEALCO which was a company engaged in the distribution and marketing of livestock products (i.e. hogs and beef carcasses being delivered to wet markets as well as department stores in the metropolis) needed to be filed in court. For which reason, I felt the need to engage an assistant aside from the secretary that Jim earlier hired for the law office which was located at the third floor of the Crispina Building along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, Metro-Manila.
Following my resignation, and after the first lady-assistant whom I hired resigned to focus on her law education, one of my former colleagues at Allied Bank, a young, smart and statuesque lady lawyer, Atty. Carla Borromeo (“Carla”), called me up one day and asked if I needed an assistant at our newly-established Quezon City law office. I told her that her call was serendipitous as I actually needed one. She however asked me for a meeting as she felt that she needed to truthfully confide first to me personally, the lowdown about Jovy.
During our meeting, Carla confided that Jovy is a 1992 graduate of the College of Law of the Lyceum University of the Philippines.Carla added that Jovy was her classmate at the Lyceum Law School and that Jovy would at times top the examinations in their class.
Carla also confided that Jovy was a diligent and competent student but that there was some kind of a hitch. When I asked about the so-called hitch, Carla confessed that Jovy is an ex-convict. Carla however explained that Jovy has been granted absolute pardon by then Pres. Joseph Estrada.
When I first met Jovy in the flesh, no trace of being an ex-convict could be discerned from the way he acted and talked. Jovy was soft-spoken and so polite during our first meeting. Thereafter, I intuitively concluded that Jovy is a good person and would truly fit to a “T” the requirements I envisioned for my assistant.
Upon arriving home that night, I told my wife Dang about my proposed engagement of Jovy but that I also told him about Jovy’s past, particularly of him being an ex-convict.
Dang got so timorous and afraid and objected as she told me in the vernacular that: “HUWAG MONG KUNIN, BAKA PAG NAPAGALITAN MO YAN AY SAKSAKIN KA NA LANG AGAD.” [English translation: DON’T HIRE HIM! HE MIGHT STAB YOU IN CASE YOU WOULD BE WONT TO SCOLD HIM!]
As was thereafter agreed upon between me and Dang, Jovy was invited to dinner to our K-Ville home as I told Dang that Jovy looked polite and looked good during my first meeting with him.
I also talked to my kids then, namely: Shayna who was then only 12 years old; Tonton, who was about 10 years old and Cheska, who was then the youngest at 9 years old. I informed them too of Jovy’s past.
At the appointed dinner-date at our K-Ville home, when Jovy arrived, I introduced him to Dang and my 3 kids. The kids were surprisingly silent, so polite and so mum as we, myself, Dang and Jovy engaged in some kind of pleasantries. I eventually learned thereafter that the reason why my kids were then so silent, and mum and looking afraid (CUSTOMARILY THEY WOULD BE SO NOISY AND RESTIVE) was that they were fearful that Jovy might grab a knife and hold as all hostage. Eventually, after all of the members of my family gave their THUMBS UP, I hired Jovy to become my assistant.
I thereafter learned that Jovy kept secret from his parents and kin his incarceration at the New Bilibid Prison. I even learned from Jovy that he merely told his parents that he was being assigned by the manager of the office where he was working then, to far-off Cebu. But that as an upside to Jovy’s incarceration, he became the Vice-Governor at the prison facility. In the Philippine penal institutions, there are organizations too which allow inmates to wield power over their co-inmates and that these officers, as a whole, serve as the coordinating arm for the inmates, who would work hand-in-hand with the prison authorities. The highest post in these inmate organizations is the Governor.
Thus, after I engaged Jovy on October 1, 1998, as my assistant, we commenced the filing of a skein of petitions to allow Jovy to take the lawyer’s oath and to eventually be allowed to practice law in the country. Initially, while his petition(s) were pending, I tapped Jovy to appear at hearings before the Fiscal’s office and at the National Labor Relations Commission, where non-lawyers may appear as some kind of Paralegal Assistant. We filed a total of almost TEN (10) pleadings with the Supreme Court and the denials rained down like hailstones, painful and cold; and the last of which carried the warning that the denial was final and executor. What made matters worse was that the denial declared that no further pleadings will be entertained, if subsequently filed.
I, ______ do solemnly swear that: I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; will support the Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal order of duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of the same in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, not give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion, with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, SO HELP ME GOD. (Aguirre v. Rana, B.M. 1036, June 10, 2003, last step is signing the. Attorney’s Roll)
The denials were based on varied grounds but when an earlier denial talked about the supposed absence still, on the part of Jovy of any semblance that he has actually and truly reformed, I asked Jovy to enter the cursillo [i.e. cursillo, which literally means a “short course”, is some kind of a 3-day religious live-in seminar where speakers would endeavor to make the attendees become effective Christian leaders either by renewing or re-intensifying one’s faith in God]. Before graduating from the cursillo, there is some kind of ritual, actually an early dawn serenade where all of the cursillo attendees would be greeted by songs while they all watch atop the balcony portion of the dormitory where they are all billeted, looking down unto the serenaders who would be grouped together below the balcony complete with lighted candles and guitars. And I was the only one who attended the mañanita as Jovy also kept his attendance in the cursillo secret from his kin.
Eventually, after so many tries, Jovy was allowed to take the lawyer’s oath and is now actively practicing his lawyering profession. One time, when Jovy seemed to have lost all hope, after a series of denials to his petition to take the lawyer’s oath, he approached and told me: “ATTORNEY, MAG-RE-RESIGN NA LANG AKO AT MUKHANG HINDI TALAGA AKO SADYANG MAGIGING MAPALAD NA ABOGADO. MAG-TATAYO NA LANG AKO NG CAR REPAIR SHOP SA AMIN SA BATANGAS.” [English translation: “Attorney, I have decided to resign as I think that I am not really meant to be a practicing lawyer. I will just put up a car repair shop in our province in Batangas.]
When Jovy approached me and uttered those words, one morning in our law office, I told him: “HUWAG KANG MAWALAN NG PAG-ASA; MAG-FILE TAYONG MULI, AT AKO AY NANINIWALA NA SA BIYAYA NG DIYOS, ANG PANGARAP MONG MAGING ISANG TUNAY NA ABOGADO AY MATUTUPAD.” [English translation: “Don’t lose hope; let us file for one last time another petition to take the lawyer’s oath. I am sure that with the grace of God, your dream and aspiration to become a practicing lawyer will finally come true.] Indeed, HOPE truly springs ETERNAL.
On July 7, 2006, Jovy took his oath as a duly Supreme Court-licensed lawyer before the Honorable Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. of the Supreme Court. Jovy has been actively practicing his lawyering profession since then. Most significantly, Jovy has vigorously advocated the cause of environmental issues against giant enterprises while championing the rights of agrarian tenants in his hometown in the fight.
[Tarp at the shop at left; with the baked bangus belly dish at right…so ambrosial and luscious!]
[At left is the PAN DE SAL PLATTER ordered by my wife Dang with the AGIMAT Smoothie; and the Hibiscus Pandan Hot Tea, which I ordered for myself as drink]
From a distance, one would think that the shop is just an ordinary bakery and pastry outlet (as the ground floor hall sports a virtual centerpiece of a nicely arranged heap of bread and pastries displayed like seeming artifacts in a museum); but descrying the signage as “KA TUNYING’S CAFÉ”, one would rashly conclude that it is just but another one of those coffee shops.
One day in November of last year, I got so curious seeing the newly opened outlet with signage which reads as “KA TUNYING’S CAFÉ” along Visayas Avenue, after I and my son Anthony bought a hardware item at the Wilcon Mall also along Visayas Avenue. We were heading back for home as we reside at Sanville just a stone’s throw away from Visayas Avenue. We decided to buy some bread, as the lighted centerpiece of bread and pastries at Ka Tunying’s Café, proved to be so enticing as the bread mostly pan de sal are so artistically wrapped in transparent cellophane complete with ribbons. Though, we just wanted to buy bread, I saw a bowl of arroz-ala-Tunying (which I learned thereafter is actually arroz caldo) being delivered into a customer unto one of the cute tables at the ground floor. I also learned that a more commodious dining hall was located at the outlet’s second floor.
Thus, I was actually lured by the sight of the arroz with the colorful toppings on it, to order for me and my son Anthony, the arroz-ala-Tunying.
My late mother Norma is an excellent cook and I love the way she cooked arrozcaldo with what is known in the vernacular as KASUBHA, which are tiny strands of yellow-orange colored garnish for food which adds some yellowish hue unto the arroz caldo broth. It is sometimes called fake saffron as some people would mistakenly refer to KASUBHA as SAFFRON when in fact it is not. Kasubha actually is derived from what is known as safflower; while SAFFRON is derived from the crocus flower. Saffron is expensive while KASUBHA is cheap; and saffron adds flavor and aroma while kasubha merely enhances the yellow-tinged color of the arroz caldo broth. Thanks for Ka Tunying’s Café as it brought me into researching the difference between the saffron and kasubha. But as I have said, taking from my late mother’s style of cooking, I really love eating arroz caldo garnished with kasubha and with lots of fried crunchy garlic. And after tasting arroz-ala-Tunying, memories of the my late mother’s arroz caldo reverberated in my palate and gustatory nerves. It was tasteful and delicious.
Yesterday, after our family heard a noon day mass at UP, lunched at Trinoma, saw a movie entitled “ALL YOU NEED ISPAG-IBIG” starring Kris Aquino, Derek Ramsay, Kim Chiu, Xian Lim, etc., then facial for the girls and massage for me along Timog Avenue; on our way home, we stopped by and partook of dinner at KA TUNYING’S CAFÉ
I and my youngest daughter Alee ordered BAKED BANGUS BELLY and it was a surprising excitement. I thought for a while that the food would just be another of those prepared conventionally, with a piece of bangus belly baked unto its luscious flavor. But it came with a surprise as it was served as though a baked mousse dish which was served with much adornment and color and truly a rich and creamy custard-like meal. Indeed, the taste was ambrosial and so fascinating. As the masseuse who attended to me at the Mont Albo Spa after doing the traditional hilot and ventosa on me, warned me against partaking of cold drinks, I ordered the HIBISCUS-PANDAN hot tea. It was similarly an excitement, as it tasted so good and so refreshing.
My wife Dang, who is herself a culinary chef also gave Ka Tunying’s Café her THUMBS UP after partaking of the PAN DE SAL PLATTER, as she is not prone to taking heavy meals at dinner time. The PASTILLAS smoothie of Alee and the AGIMAT drink ordered by my wife also proved to be drinks of thrill and exhilaration.
My son Anthony ordered RELLENONG BANGUS and the same AGIMAT Fruit Shake ordered by his Mom; while Shayna and Cheska ordered CHICKEN TOCINO and the same AGIMAT drink. All of them gave their green light of approval and satisfaction to the culinary creativity, “artsyness” and creativity in dressing up the meals in enticing colors and shades, and most of all…the tasteful and delicious meals as well as the titillating drinks at Ka Tunying’s Café. Finally, as my children and wife have all vowed, we (the members of my family including myself) will be regular and constant habitués of Ka Tunying’s Café.
CONGRATULATIONS to “KA TUNYING” aka Mr. Anthony Taberna and to “KA TUNYING’S CAFÉ”!!!
[Church-goers attend simbang gabiat the Bamboo Organ Catholic Church in Las Piñas City, in Metro-Manila – a Filipino Catholic tradition celebrated for nine (9) days in preparation for Christmas day ]
Christmas in the Philippines is truly unique for which reason most Filipinos abroad would almost always insure that they are booked for a homebound flight to the Philippines when the Yuletide season sets in. And the Christmas season in the Philippines is the longest, as after All Saints’ Day on November 1, families would unfailingly start to bring out for lavish adornment and decorations, their Christmas trees while embellishing their home’s façade with sparkling and twinkling Christmas lights, which will be kept twinkling at night until New Year, and even beyond. In the rural areas, as the Feast of the Three Kings has been traditionally celebrated on January 6 (despite a change in the date of celebration to the first Sunday of January, as has decreed by the Roman Catholic Church), January 6 still stands as the end of the Yuletide season. Thus, Christmas season “officially” ends for the country’s hoi polloi on January 6 especially in the provinces, as the old folks still consider that it is opportune to practice the giving of gifts on that day, to identify with the Three Kings’ gift-giving journey to the child Jesus.
Indeed, almost all of the month of December is reserved for Christmas festivities and it would not be uncommon that a Christmas party (mostly in offices) is held even in the first week of December, sometimes even on December 1. This would ensue as almost everyone is invited and must be present in at the least SIX (6) Christmas parties: Christmas party in the school where a child is studying, Christmas party in the Office, Christmas party among the family’s maternal clan, Christmas party among the family’s paternal clan, Christmas party in the neighborhood and Christmas party in at least one of your best friend’s office or family-related festivities. Christmas time is often marked in the calendar as time for family and clan reunions. And bus terminals in the metropolis as well as in the provinces would be hustling and bustling with hordes of passengers-in-waiting, yearning to be home on Christmas eve to partake of the traditional Noche Buena meal (i.e. midnight meal on Christmas eve) with the family.
This hurry and scurry tempo of activities would come about as people from the metropolis will be so excited to reunite with their families in the provinces while those who may have been assigned in the provinces for work would return to the city for their family reunions. Furthermore, December has also become a favorite month for weddings in the Philippines.
And in planning the Christmas party in the office, it is always assured that everyone would be present to join in the festivities which are usually capped with an exchange of gifts. In most offices too, they would even have the KRIS KRINGLE exchange of gifts starting from the onset of the first week of December. Lots would be drawn in the first working day of December and everyone is secretly assigned to give a token gift to his MONITA or MONITO (i.e. the gift’s recipient) depending upon the nature of the gift that is required to be given. Examples would be: SOMETHING SOFT,SOMETHING LONG, SOMETHING HARD, etc. until the Office’s Christmas party where the gift-giver would reveal oneself to one’s monita or monito.
Indeed, office work mostly in the government sector, turns into a slow down as Christmas approaches and usually, hearings in court would generally be held until December 15 or 18 ONLY. And lawyers, like me, would invariably avoid going to court after December 15 as it would almost always be a run through a gamut of Christmas parties from one court sala to another. And either you will partake of food to maximum satiation or that you are expected to bring at least a native round basket called “bilao” of noodles usually PANCIT which is traditionally a customary food-gift as it supposedly augurs well for long life and prosperity.
Among the more religious families, they would embark as a family in attending the NINE (9) misa aguinaldo masses or the simbang gabi masses from December 16 up to December 24. Every Catholic church in the whole archipelago will be sporting a BELEN (i.e. the NATIVITY scene of the Child Jesus complete with Mother Mary, Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus lying in a manger) near the altar during the Christmas season.
The origins of the simbang gabi is sketchy but it has been said that during the Spanish regime, the Spanish clergy started this tradition of holding the early dawn novena masses from December 16 to December 24. It was said that it was done to accommodate the farmers who would go to the rice fields to till and work in the rice paddies, so early in the morning to avoid the sweltering heat of the noon day sun. Thus, it has been narrated that the 4:00 AM mass was started during the Christmas season of yesteryears just as to allow the farmers, time to attend the holy mass and thank God for the blessings that they have received for the year. And this tradition lives on until today.
And what is most amazing, even though those attendees to the early morning mass at 4:00 AM (meaning that by 3:00 AM one has to prepare for church) are almost always benighted (having arrived home around 12 midnight or in the wee hours of dawn, from an office or a friend’s office Christmas party), they, especially the teens who would want to be in the company of their friends at those early dawn masses, would really strive hard to attend all the NINE (9) masses. Those church-goers are sometimes sleepless as they would even come to church to join their respective families straight from their own Christmas parties with friends and office mates. And as almost all of the churches would be filled to the rafters, some of the more enterprising devotees/mass-attendees would usually bring with them foldable stools.
After the “simbang gabi”, in the olden times, the family would partake of an early morning meal consisting of either puto bumbong (which is a native delicacy which comes in rolls of violet colored rice cakes about 4 to 5 inches long and which is cooked via steaming inside a thin bamboo stem) or bibingka ( another rice cake which is round-shaped and is cooked via a makeshift tiny oven using bricks of burning charcoal as heat generators).
With this modern age of fast-food chains, families would now take their early morning meals either at McDonalds, Jollibee, Pancake, Shakeys, Army & Navy, etc. This early morning gatherings add to the lost opportunities to take meals together and more so of family bonding, as everybody would be so busy at Christmas time shopping and/or rushing and cramming to finish a year-end report or other school or office related chores.
During all those Christmas parties, parlor games would be played and year after year, the creativity of the Filipinos has always been honed to the hilt as new and more exciting parlor games are crafted. Indeed, everyone in the Philippines during all those Christmas parties would turn like little children doing and playing seemingly foolish pranks and horseplay. One among the favorite parlor games is that one which involves the use of eggplants and eggs. The competitors would try to move the egg from the starting line to the finish line by nudging (and trying to be cautious not to break the egg) the egg on the floor, using the eggplant which is tied via a string from the competitor’s waist downward as it dangles towards the floor.
But what I usually await during the Christmas season is the homily which is delivered at the Chapel of the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice at the University of the Philippines-Diliman Campus (where my family hear mass every Sunday) by a Filipino guest-priest named Fr. Ferdie Santos, who though assigned as an Associate Professor at the St. John Vianney College Seminary in far-off Miami, Florida, U.S.A. would annually vacation here on Christmas to reunite with kith and kin. His homilies are so much applauded as these homilies focus on day-to-day issues that confront us in life. Fr. Santos’s homily on Sunday (i.e. January 3, 2016) was on how to successfully combat insecurities in life as he underscored that each of one of us, is unique as God made out a wonderful and unique creation of each and every one of us. But the most applauded of his once-a-year homilies is that which he delivered last year at UP which centered on the subject about no such perfect family in this world. And that in closing the homily, Fr. Ferdie punctuatedly counseled us all to deeply love our respective families despite the imperfections of some of our family members.