LOVE AND DESTINY, A Novella By AMADOR F. BRIOSO, JR.

30 MonUTC2011-06-20T11:26:51+00:00UTC06bUTCMon, 20 Jun 2011 11:26:51 +0000 2009

A novella from the author of “You Filibini?” Stories And Other Writings. To be available at the local bookstores near you soon!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Driven by near desperation in finding a good-paying job in her own country to support her offspring, Perla decides to go abroad to work as a housemaid in the ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia. She has nothing in mind except the welfare of her children, relegating to the backseat even her own well-being and happiness. Until she meets him. Is it fate that led her to him? What follows is a story that we see around us. A love story. A woman falling in love. A man doing everything to protect his woman. He is the last man in her life. She is the woman he has been waiting for in his life. Theirs, however, is not just a love story. Something intrudes. Is it her destiny?

EXCERPTS:

There was a moment of hesitation on both of them. Perla was half-smiling, her eyes trying to examine the man whom she knew by the name Derek. She had come to like the name; she had come to adore the voice. She was getting a severe beating inside her chest. She had not felt like this for a long, long time.

Derek stood like a statue, uncertain what move to make. Should he step near or should he back out? He was now starting to sweat. “Perla?” Derek finally found his voice. He was struck by the captivating magnetism of the lady’s beauty. Suddenly, he felt ashamed. At his old age, he was still meandering like a Casanova? Why, she could just be his daughter!

…     …     …

Perla started to move, intending to lean back. When she did so, her hand suddenly struck the glass. The cold yellowish liquid flew off, smearing the table and drenching the untouched croissant. “Oh, my!”

Derek’s instincts made him grab the toppled glass. “You have any tissue?”

At the very same moment, Perla’s hand suddenly tried to grasp the capsized glass. In doing so, her hand involuntarily touched Derek’s. She had taken hold of Derek’s hand.

We have seen thousands of scenes similar to what had just happened. In the movies, especially in the movies of yore. Even in cartoon shows on TV, the sight is familiar. Boy gets to hold Girl’s hand. Girl looks at Boy. Boy stares intently at Girl. Their hands clasp, their eyes lock on each other. Boy’s hand slowly reaches out, gently grabbing Girl’s shoulder. They move closer. The next moment, they are locked in full embrace. It may seem unreal, it may seem fake. You may dismiss it easily as some bogus scene that, well, in this e-age of ours, such play of human images appear unrealistic. In fact, too ridiculous to happen, to be true.

But then, it did happen.

There was a sudden flow of force, of some unexplainable and irrisistible power that ran through her body. She was abruptly feeling some energy sourced from her inner being. From her heart. From her soul. It was hunger. Hunger for love, for passion. Raw passion. Passion for the voice. For Derek’s voice. For Derek. The man she had dreamed of. From the time she first heard him on the phone. His laughter, his sense of humor, his messages. Derek was the man she had been waiting for. Patiently. Over the years. Oh, Derek!

Her hand gently clasped his. She stared at him. She started to rise. Moved closer to him. Nearer. Derek found his feet. Slowly, he started to grip her hand. He was pulling her gently to him. He was drawn by the force, the power that had seized Perla.

Her embrace was tight. He returned the tightness of her arms.

When she opened her eyes, she noticed he was saying something. She did not hear it; his voice was somewhat indistinct. He lowered his head. Her lips were soft. She closed her eyes again. There was total silence around them.

A sudden roaring of a car, an SUV probably, brought them back from their elevated ecstasy.

Derek moved, detaching his lips from hers. “Whose car was that?” Fear was suddenly in his eyes.

“No, that’s probably our neighbor’s. They won’t be back till Sunday evening.” Perla suddenly drew away from Derek, her head bowed. She clasped her hands, and then, the next moment, one hand slowly broke free and ran on the other arm. The hand rubbed the arm, starting from the wrist then ascending toward the shoulder, then descending back to the wrist.

“Perla?”

She remained mute. By now, she had crossed her arms across her chest.

Derek started to go near her, but she backed away.

“I’m sorry, Derek,” she said softly. “I’m not that kind of woman who easily…” 

TREE AND OTHER STORIES: A collection of 19 great tales by AMADOR F. BRIOSO, JR.

30 MonUTC2011-06-20T11:09:44+00:00UTC06bUTCMon, 20 Jun 2011 11:09:44 +0000 2009

Nineteen great tales from the author of “You Filibini?” Stories And Other Writings. Soon to be available at the local bookstores near you.

Tales that are as timely as today’s headlines, as theatrical as the soap dramas played on primetime TV, and as entertaining as the cinematic movies one gets to see these days. Tales that are populated with a variety of colorful characters whose lives are interwoven with tragedy, murder, mayhem, deceit, scandal, humor, love. From the dirty sidewalks along Manila’s decaying avenues (Claro M. Recto and Avenida Rizal) to the stinking, garbage-strewn waters of Tondo’s Isla Puting Bato; from the state-of-the-art Hong Kong airport to the famous J. Edgar Hoover offices of the FBI in the US; from the ever peaceful city of Riyadh to the unrest-stricken cities of Egypt; from the world’s cyber-scam capital in Nigeria to the haven of scammers involved in internet dating services in Russia; and from the glory days of the famed centuries-old Escolta street of Spanish Philippines to the time of the occupation of the islands by the ruthless Japanese army and up to the 20th century life in the modernistic city of Makati—the reader is taken to a virtual rollercoaster ride to behold the battles faced by the protagonists in these collected stories.

EXCERPTS:

FROM THE STORY “RAPE”:
 
Nighttime. The veil of darkness has fallen. A pall of deep silence. There he lurks. In the shadowy, sinister corner. He rises. Then he begins to move, walking stealthily, with premeditated steps. He sees her. There she is, lying on her back. In peaceful quiescence. Perfect. As soon as he gets near, he swiftly sits astride her belly and covers her mouth, his hand firm, steellike, stiffly holding her head down. The sudden force shakes her from slumber. Her eyes abruptly stricken with fear, she tries to rise. But her effort is in vain. For he has already clamped her: his knees have cuffed her arms. The weight bearing down on her is simply too much.  He says something in a soft voice. She turns her head on one side. He suddenly grimaces. Her teeth have sunk on his hand. He swings back his other arm and brings down a clench fist, which crashes savagely on her abdomen. She goes limp, the massive pain numbing her body. She is groaning. He quickly stands up and drops down his trousers. She doubles her body in an embryonic position. He goes down again and grabs her arms that are shielding her chest. Another fierce blow to her belly. She is now in near-lifeless form. His frenzied arms rip her upper clothes. He grabs them, the two mounds of exposed flesh, mashing them hard, viciously. He half-rises, grips her lower clothes and hurriedly pulls them off, revealing the delicate, triangular area. The sight of lush hairy growth lets loose from the bonds of sanity his raw hunger. Animalistic. Beastly. Brutish. No time to waste, his bestial instincts tell him. He rapidly obeys. The dark dastardly deed now over, he quickly leaves, his wicked shadow trailing him.
 
…     …     …
 
“Appearances?” Judge Senye’s mentholated baritone voice evokes the rumbling sound of thunder. One is reminded of James Earl Jones, the voice behind Darth Vader. His goldfish eyes, thick eyebrows, huge, beaklike nose, sagging jowls, thick, droopy lips and wrinkled facial skin create a ghastly, if not a terrifyingly horrible, countenance that scares the hell out of lawyers appearing before him. Seeing this man, one gets to think that this five-foot stocky man may have just come out straight from a mixture of some Hollywood flicks: Nightmare on Elms Street, Night of the Living Dead and Tales from the Crypt. During court sessions, the scene gets doubly terrifying: the rumbling thunder’s decibel level reaches a higher altitude, the facial countenance attains horrific proportions destined to cause an intense, painful feeling of repugnance, of fear. Rendo oftentimes hears from other lawyers that they have just attended a hearing in the Courthouse of the Undead, presided over by “His Horror.”
 
 
FROM THE STORY “MERRY CHRISTMAS”:
 
A few minutes passed, Eddie came back with a tray of food. Chonalyn and John paused in their chatter, purposely to wait for Eddie to leave them. While John was enjoying the fruit salad, Eddie appeared again, holding a wooden box. Chonalyn knew what was at hand. 
 
Eddie sat at the other couch opposite to where they were seated.
 
Say, how old are you, John?” Eddie brusquely asked; he set the box atop the side table beside the Christmas tree.
 
“Ah, sir, I’m…I’m eighteen, sir,” John said in a voice that could barely be heard as he suspiciously eyed the box.
 
Eddie unlatched the cover of the box. Soon, he was taking out a shiny .45 Automatic Colt Pistol. From his pocket, Eddie pulled out a crumpled hanky. John felt his heart jump. Suddenly, John could feel a film of sweat appearing on his forehead.
 
“Dahddeeh…” Chonalyn uttered in a voice with endearing charm similar to what she would always do in a naïve, enchanting way when asking for something from her father.
 
“You’re my daughter’s boyfriend?” Eddie barked again.
 
John gulped as he mumbled a “Yes, sir.”
 
Chonalyn’s cheeks started to cave in; she was suppressing her laughter.
 
“Will you marry my daughter?” Eddie grumbled as he continued to mop the pistol.  John’s blinking eyes were glued on the gun. He was now conscious of a rhythmic pounding on his chest.
 
“Dahddeeh…” Chonalyn’s endearing voice prevented John from replying back.
 
Eddie slammed the pistol on the table that jolted John. Perspiration was now heavily building on John’s back. The next minute, Eddie was taking out from the box a pistol magazine and some bullets.
 
“Ah, sir…ah,” John started to say through quivering lips when he heard Chonalyn’s mother’s voice who had burst into view.
 
“Eddie! What are you doing?” she snapped.
 
“Oh, nothing, just cleaning this stuff. It’s kinda dirty, you know,” Eddie replied nonchalantly.
 
Chonalyn’s mother was stricken with disbelief. “On Christmas day?! In front of the visitor?!” A towel was still wrapped around her head as she stuck her hands on her hips. “My goodness, Eddie, do it upstairs not here!” Chonalyn’s mother was frowning. She added, “So sorry, John, about this.”  John was trying to say something when he noticed Chonalyn’s silent guffaw…
 
 
FROM THE STORY “ESCOLTA”:
 
Escolta is a narrow, crooked street. Its paved roadway does not go beyond thirty feet; its narrow sidewalk can hardly accommodate more than two people walking side by side.
 
Escolta is “The Bond Street” of Manila. It is “The Broadway” of Manila. It is “The Fifth Avenue” of Manila. It is in this “fashionable street” where one can find a congregation of the fashionable boutiques, classy millineries, stylish haberdashery stores, high-end emporia, shops that sell articles for the sophisticated and the discerning, drug stores that offer premium quality items. Also along this famed street are the offices or clinics of famous Spanish doctors that offer pricey services, storehouses of stationery, shops that house and sell imported periodicals and books, studios where photograph services are available, and picture and music stores. After exhausting oneself in lavish shopping spree, the shopper can partake in some delectable European- or American-styled dish offered by the finest chefs in town: first class restaurants are just a heartbeat away. Or, he can spend his idle time in some elegant cafés or “wet his whistle” in some neat liquor-rooms or buy some tasteful sweets from confectionaries purposely established for the high-income consumers. Clubhouses for the rich and famous abound in the area, too.  Then, too, it is in Escolta where one can find the offices of well-known businessmen or firms.
 
Where does one get to hear salacious gossips or intrigues of the day, those involving the aristocratic, the landed gentry, the high social class, the upper class, the lordly, the patrician, the blue-blooded? In what place could one get a whiff (or even an earful) of schemes or stratagems of the business tycoons, the industrialists, the moguls, that dictate on, and thus, rule the islands?
 
Only in Escolta.
 
It is on Escolta alone where the mighty, powerful, the famous, the legendary, the eminent, the rich, the fashionable, the classy, the trendy, the snobbish, the haughty, the arrogant, the polite, and the humble meet. It is also a magnet for the lowly, the poor, the beggars, and the crippled: for them to set foot on this famed street is to have a taste of heaven.
 
History is vague as to exactly when Escolta came to exist or how it exactly got its name. Legend has it that the famed street got its name from the Spanish word escolta, which means an “escort” or a “guard” or a “convoy,” in reference to the “escorts” of the Spanish General (who was quartered in the nearby Santa Cruz headquarters that was attached to the rectory) who passed everyday in the street.  Back in the early part of 1842, a U.S. naval officer, Charles Wilkes, who was in the American warship that visited Manila, observed with amusement the outburst of activity he beheld in the “longest and main street” in the Binondo suburb or district, indicative of the vibrant life of Escolta, and thus already in existence, in the early 19th century. In 1856, Escolta was listed in that year’s edition of the Lippincott’s Pronouncing Gazetteer, a respected and leading geographical dictionary journal containing a list of geographical names or places in the world published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An Englishman, Sir John Bowring, who came to the islands in 1858, was told that the average number of vehicles that passed through Escolta daily amounted 915. Some three decades later, the figure quantum-leaped to 5,000 vehicles per day. By then, the European merchants had conquered every nook and cranny of Escolta, forcing their Chinese counterparts to transfer their (the Chinese’s) tiny quaint shops in the parallel Calle Rosario.
 
Just as Bond Street located in the fashion district of London has been mentioned in some well-known works of literature (among which includes Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway), so does Escolta figure in local literature–in the famous twin novels of national hero Jose Rizal, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.
 
When the Americans took possession of the islands, Escolta became even more extragavant and grandiose. The pavement on the road has been much improved, structures have been greatly rebuilt and refurbished, the stores have become even more radiant, resplendent, fascinating and glamorous. It is the sun, the star in the center of Manila’s solar system where all the segments of society revolve. It is the most prominent feature in Manila.
 
Manila is not Manila without Escolta. Manila is Escolta. Escolta is Manila.
 
…     …     …
 
The Roaring Twenties. A decade of affluence. The economic boom in America stretched beyond its shores.  Being an American territory, the Philippines was a logical recipient of the beneficent American prosperity.
 
Manila flourished under the favorable conditions of the time.
 
In no other place could this be evident than in Escolta, the nucleus of Manila’s life. The control center. The shops, the stores, the cafés, the saloons, the restaurants, the drug stores. The big offices. The clubhouses. The daily life. The nightlife. The flashy, trendy clothes, shoes, the bags, the hats and other personal accessories. The outburst of new products and technologies, like the radios and the phonographs.
 
And the automobiles.
 
Along Escolta’s edge were parked expensive and gaudy automobiles imported from America. A show of wealth and might by the opulent and flamboyant rich and powerful. They were the regular hoipolloi of the famed street. It was there where they forged huge business deals, fashioned business enterprises, planned the future of their riches and other wordly possessions. It was there where they huffed and puffed after an endless shopping spree, indulged in endless bragging, traded scandalous gossips, lounged the day away, loafed away their lives, bummed around, stagnated in boredom.
 
Though in the Thirties, America succumbed to the “great depression,” in Manila, no economic downturn of such magnitude was felt. Manila continued to enjoy its good life.
 
And so did Escolta.
 
Along Escolta, a high class cinematograph theatre was built, the Capitol Theatre. And a host of other modern earthquake-proof structures were built on both sides of the famed street.
 
In the Forties, a desvatating war raged across the globe. Suddenly, Manila woke up one morning to find its life in the throes of an impending demise. Escolta still throbbed with activity, though under the close watch of the distrustful eyes of the Japanese invaders.
 
Then came the day of liberation. The endless American bombing of Manila to pulverize the ruthless Japanese invaders left the city with death and destruction. It was in ruins. No one was spared, not even Escolta.
 
Determined to rise from the ashes of the war, Manila spent the next half decade of the Forties rebuilding itself.
 
By the time the Fifties arrived, a resurging Manila pulsated with a vigorous life, with a vibrant hue.
 
A rebuilt Escolta was casting off a vivid and bright light again.
 
When the Sixties came, a new generation came. The “Swinging Sixties”. The “High Sixties”. The “cultural decade”. The effects of the significant events that took place around the globe were felt in the Philippines. Especially in the fashion trends. The rock and roll music, the Beatles. The hippie movement. The mini-skirt. The hairdos. The movies.
 
On the local political front, a self-proclaimed war hero, who topped the bar exams some decades ago while reviewing in jail, notched the highest position in the land. He would steer the nation, as the events later showed, in the depths of the abyss. In the next two decades that followed, the nation would earn the appellation “The Sick Man of Asia.”
 
Little did everyone expect that the famed street Escolta was itself starting to feel the symptons of a “sick man” during the twilight of the “Swinging Sixties.”
 
By the advent of the Seventies, the marshlands, the morass, the wetlands that adjoined Manila were being transformed into residential and commercial lands. The rise of modern structures in these quondam wastelands spelled a shift of activity, of attention. No longer did Escolta have a monopoly of power: it was fast losing its grip on the rich, the powerful, and even on the commoners, the working class, the great unwashed. The symptoms were progressing.
 
In the Eighties, Escolta had started to become really sick: it was already the “sick man” of Manila. One by one, the shops, the stores, etc., were closing up; the big businesses were transferring their offices elsewhere (notably in the new business or financial district, the Makati area). In the last moments of the decade, the famed street was gasping for breath.
 
In the Nineties, Escolta had become a virtual ghost town. Though there still remained some offices or establishments on each side of the famed street, they no longer bore resemblance to anything powerful or mighty.
 
At the turn of the 21st century, Escolta remained a ghost of its former self.
 
Nowadays, one can still see some flurry of activity along Escolta. Aside from some run of the mill business offices and small time cafés and fastfood restaurants located there, there are street vendors that pass through it. Some banks and pawnshops are also there. Then there is a school. A drugstore has opened a branch there. Some convenience stores occupy the corner blocks. There is still a clothing store which you can visit, an ukay-ukay store that offers secondhand or used clothes imported from China.  Along the sidewalks, you might stumble upon some makeshift stalls which sell cigarettes and candies or which offer shoe shine polish or duplicate key services. Then there are vagrants or beggars loitering around. And also, cars, passenger-type jeepneys, motorcycles and pedicabs can be seen parked along Escolta’s edge.
 
Where can you find the lost grandeur of Escolta?
 
Try to spend a little time in front of the computer screen and try to “Google” it. There you will find Escolta, romanticised in a number of blogs or blogsites, the personal websites of those who were fortunate enough to have tasted the magnificence, the splendor of the famed street in its glory days.
 
Escolta, right now, is a state of mind. Just a state of mind.

Now On Sale! “You Filibini?” Stories And Other Writings

30 SatUTC2011-01-15T11:08:49+00:00UTC01bUTCSat, 15 Jan 2011 11:08:49 +0000 2009

“YOU FILIBINI?” Stories And Other Writings

By AMADOR F. BRIOSO, JR.

Now on sale at all Power Books outlets in Metro Manila.

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“You Filibini?” Stories And Other Writings by AMADOR F. BRIOSO, JR. (Published May, 2010)

30 ThuUTC2010-06-10T05:56:46+00:00UTC06bUTCThu, 10 Jun 2010 05:56:46 +0000 2009

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Drawing from his rich experience as a court litigator, the author has put forth a collage of characters ranging from a judge (or a justice in a higher court), to a practicing lawyer, to an accused charged with grisly or heinous crime, to the very victim of the crime itself. The scenes take place inside a high-octane law firm, adrenaline-soaked drama that takes inside a courtroom, and the behind-the-scene power play in cases that reach the highest court in the land. Some of the pieces, however, are non-courtroom; they relate to some aspects of the author’s interaction with some people; while others on the rather amusing, if comical, circumstances that he has come up with from his observations on life itself. Still others border on the futuristic and nostalgic (an attempt to experience in the imagination a decadent city’s glory days).

The other writings consist of some poems and an essay.

Below are some excerpts from the stories:

“You don’t have to raise your voice,” the man in the exquisite business suit is saying as Gina enters the conference room. “You talk as if you own everyone of us here.” The voice is somewhat combative.

 “You bet I do, Pete!” counters Rutera.

 Gina is frozen to where she is standing. Pete eyes her, then shifts back his glare at Rutera. The rest of the men on the conference table stare at Rutera.

 “Who do you think you are, huh?!” Rutera is on top of his voice. “You come here once a month just to get your money! You never stay, not even a minute to see what goes on here! All you’re after is your share of the profit! You don’t care a whiff! I run the show here! Were it not for me this office would have folded up a long time ago!” Rutera is now standing, his eyes smoldering.

 Pete slams his clenched fists on the conference table as he stands up. He explodes. “Bullshit, Dennis! I gave you the capital to start this office! I plucked you out of poverty. Don’t you dare shout at me!”

 “Damn you! You’ve already gotten back your capital a long time ago!” Rutera’s words are flailing the air.

 “This meeting is over!” Pete shouts back, and right off storms out of the conference room.

 –The Law Firm–

THE BUILDING WAS mid-rise in height, already twenty years old and decaying. Though some portions of the paint were already peeling from the wall outside, from a distance, one could get the impression that the building looked nice and tidy. Once the visitor got inside the building, however, he could not use the elevator, which had been unrepaired for more than a year now. The corridors were always dusty and strewn with candy wrappers and cigarette butts. The toilets on every floor reeked of urine as the building had no janitor. The faucet gave out a trickle of water. Flushing the toilet bowl would be a miracle. It was no wonder why the building had no occupants, except only on the second floor.

The building stood just at the border of Makati and Manila; the building occupants, however, maintained that the building’s address was at Makati. And so, upon repeated advice received from the occupants, the post offices of both Makati and Manila recognized that the building was inside Makati area.

On the second floor of the building, a law office could be found. The office occupied the entire floor. Inside were two secretaries in their forties. Two more employees, male employees, served as the liaison officers or messengers. These employees had been working there for the last ten years. The man in command of the firm was a fiftyish mild-mannered man with thick eyeglasses, the one which reminded you of those worn in the seventies. He had been in the business of litigation for over twenty years now. Over the years, he had established a network running from lowly court clerks to clerks of courts of the various trial courts, from lowly employees of the Court of Appeals to the confidential attorneys of the justices of the Court of Appeals, from lowly employees and personnel of the Supreme Court to the court researchers and confidential attorneys of the different justices of the Supreme Court. His prized possessions, though, were those retired judges and justices of the trial courts, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. These retired magistrates received a monthly “retainer fee” from the firm in exchange for the “services” which they rendered for the firm. He valued his professional liaisons with these retired magistrates. Of course, if he wanted the “service” he needed, these retired magistrates would see to it that the sought “service” was properly discharged.

–Justice–

When dark mantle of nocturnity blankets the avenue, ah, a new milieu springs out into the open: vagrants, whores, pickpockets, thieves, muggers, beggars, drug addicts, etc., roam the area. Beware. On a dark corner, your attention is drawn to some lady making a “pssst” sound. Heavily rouged lips and thick make up on her face. She smiles at you, making motions with her forefinger for you to come forward: her eyes and brows and lips do the talking. She is actually standing a few feet away from a cheap motel whose entrance door is at a narrow alley that adjoins Avenida. As you come nearer, you notice her features quite clearly. Wrinkled face. Decaying teeth. Hair that is brushed back and hardened by the dirt and dust. Cheap and unwashed clothes. At once, you know that the gal hasn’t the vaguest idea of what hygiene is. At the same time, though, you feel some measure of pity toward her. A hopeless denizen of the avenue. No form of help has been extended to her either by the local city government or by society itself. But she has to live, to make a living, to survive. And this she’s now doing. You walk away with a mixture of feelings, both of contempt and pity. Then you get bumped along the way by somebody rushing toward your direction. You turn your head and curse fellow now sprinting away at the opposite direction. The next minute, you notice your back pocket feels hollow. Now, you express your massive wrath at the guy who’s now nowhere to be seen.

–The Victim [The Ballad Of Avenida]—

I have been already asked around a dozen times about my nationality. At times, I find it amusing; at times, too, I get irritated. 

Last night, I found it irritating, maybe because I was just tired from work. I told myself before going to bed that, the next time around, I would bluntly retort back to any inquisitive guy, “Don’t I look like a Filipino?” Just to sort of let out my irritation.

This morning, I had to go to a building near our office to attend to some matter. As soon as I was done, I got in the elevator to get to the ground floor. Three tall Saudi guys were having an animated conversation. I noticed their observant eyes veered towards me. Instantly, I expected the same question would be thrown on me. Do it and I’ll give you a piece of my mind, I told myself.

 –“You Filibini?”—

He felt a strong rush of relief as he walked to the holy water bowl. He breathed deeply, his hand pecking inside the bowl. He made a slow 180-degree-turn, peering again at the altar piece in front and the dozen other lifeless statues that stood there. “Thank you, Lord, thank you,” he breathed, then made a swing and headed toward the church portal. He was met by a small snot-nosed girl bearing a bunch of circularly stringed sampaguita buds. Wearing an old dirt-smeared, smelly dress worn out by constant use, the girl sniffed, then raised her tiny arm to wipe off the sticky greenish mucus that had gathered under her nose. The effort left a linear viscous stain across the already dirty face.

 –The Confession–

She saw it, her very eyes. There he was, her beau, the guy to whom she had given almost all of her, her life, her time, and whatever she had—the guy was in the company of another girl, walking hand in hand inside Megamall. Mustering enough courage, she stepped in front of them, confronted him, hurled invectives at him, cursed him to high heavens and pummelled him in his chest. A slap on his face that left the other girl’s mouth agape and off she left, with her sister trailing her.

The crowd that had been drawn by the scene was treated to a further delight. The other girl was a lot meaner. A nasty left to his jaw made him bend his head a little; this gave her the opportunity to grab his hair.  Her two hands full of his luxuriant curls, she pulled his head down, raised her knee and whacked him in between his legs. As if a baseball bat had hit him, he fell side-wards, curled in a fetus-like position: his back curved, head bowed, limbs bent and drawn up to his body. He was gasping for air when the other girl left him.  It took around four security guards at the mall to carry him to the administration office. The crowd was then dispersed, some changing their minds not to watch anymore a movie since, well, they had just been treated to an actual human drama and not just a movie-in-the-making scene. 

–Facebook: Hazardous To One’s Well-Being—

 Like what I did this morning. I harangued for almost an hour to the delight of the mesmerized courtroom assembly and drove home the reason why Roque should be allowed to cop a plea to a lesser crime. The public prosecutor’s protestations were reduced to a mere whimper. I peppered her with every conceivable assault I could lay on without any letup. She found herself voiceless, flushed with embarrassment, unable to extricate herself from a web of incoherence. She stammered and halted in her speech. Her mythical lawyerly derring-do was shamelessly demythologized. She was pathetic. Served her right. I wonder how she got her position. Connections, of course. But this morning’s encounter gave her the lesson of not crossing paths with me. I thought I saw the private complainant squawking, cursing her for her incompetence right after the session.

–Guilty–

It was Wednesday when Ernesto came back to school. The day before, his head was throbbing with unbearable headache that caused him to lie down the whole morning. He just told his peers at the boarding house that he wasn’t feeling well that day, that he would skip school. A Tylenol pill did it, and by afternoon, he already felt well. This morning, he was early; he was the first to arrive inside their room. A little later, he heard some noise. Around five of his classmates had arrived. Chloe was among them. He went out to go to the toilet. When he came back after a few minutes, no one was inside the room. He noticed some books on Chloe’s seat. He figured now’s the time. He quickly moved toward his seat, took out the envelope from his bag and tucked it in between the pages of Chloe’s book. The effort took no more than ten seconds. A cold sweat was running on his back when he stood up and turned his head toward the door. It was at this time that Chloe, with her friends, came back. They looked at Ernesto, but Ernesto, with his usual I-see-no-one stance, just ignored them. That was close, he told himself. He went out again, deciding to while away the time while waiting for the class to start. It was still around a quarter of an hour before the teacher arrived and started the class.

–Love Letters: Some College Stuff–

Politely turned down by the store manager as he had supposedly come for his purpose more than the 7-day allowable exchange-return of items, which was the store’s stringent policy, Jojo let his mind out. Short of holding up in the air the store manager by his scruffy neck, Jojo banged the manager’s table (Jojo was seated in the visitor chair just in front of the manager) with his cupped fists, stood up and threatened he would fling the manager out of the room if his (Jojo’s) demand for the exchange of the defective item would not be heeded.  The security guards that came over were helpless as Jojo’s booming voice had already flooded the room. Not wanting any mayhem to occur in his office, the store manager relented and acceded to Jojo’s demand. Once we were out, with Jojo holding the new item, Jojo burst out laughing, asking me if his acting looked authentic. I remember getting swallowed up by raucous laughter when I heard him ask me.  For, I myself was in the throes of panic when I saw the hulking guards arrive to deal with Jojo. I was cursing myself why did I ever accompany him to the store manager’s office.

–Thanks To Jojo—

The lanky man politely shook his head, then entered the building, his feet taking the stairs two steps at a time. He purposely overtook the other entrants who were also taking the stairs. Now at the second floor of the building, he paused near the glass-covered bulletin board attached on the concrete wall and ran a forefinger on the glass. “Room 204,” he said to himself. Then he strode along the sparsely peopled corridor. He turned left and proceeded to the building toilet. Inside, he stood in front of the mirror and examined his reflection. After placing his envelope atop the edge of the toilet sink, he gently snaked a hand behind his back and reached for his comb in the rear trouser pocket. He gingerly raked his tousled hair, smoothing it with the palm of his hand after every stroke. He checked his watch, inserted the comb back into his rear trouser pocket and opened his envelope. Ignoring the stare of the building janitor who had paused from his work to comb his hair, the lanky man took out from the envelope a folded white barong tagalog and cautiously unfurled it. Then he slipped his arms through the sleeves and started buttoning the native shirt. He shook his head at the sight of the ugly wrinkle on his barong tagalog. He sighed heavily and then dashed out of the toilet, his hand grabbing the envelope from the sink. Shambling along the corridor with hurried pace, he checked his things inside the envelope.

–The Practitioner–

Lester was silent; he felt some tears forming in his own eyes. He started blinking his eyes, fighting off the tears from streaming down. He propped an elbow on the table and held his face with his palm, trying to partially cover his face. Guilt had suddenly seized him. He had taken her for granted for quite some time, he thought. Before coming here to talk to her, it had dawned on him how stupid he had been in taking her lightly, in not giving importance to her, to their relationship. He had preferred the company of his friends, his pals. He had thought that whatever he did, Chona would always be there, would always forgive him. That she would not leave him because she loved him too much. Until he saw the messages that were posted on Chona’s Facebook wall. Messages that made him feel jealous. A possibility that Chona would leave him, would find another guy. He slept late the night before, thinking about their almost two years of relationship. He was not prepared to let go of their relationship; it was too precious to be wasted away, he decided.

–A Monday Night Scene At Friday’s—

Friday evening, or to be more accurate, early Saturday morning, around two o’clock, he was with a female companion, a colleague at the call center. They were walking along Paseo, having bought some sticks of cigarettes from a nearby 7-11 convenience store at the Paseo Center, a block where a number of cafes, food shops and stores could be found. Except for a few people waiting for a cab at a distance, nobody was near the area where Nelson and his colleague were walking. What happened was swift, too fast that caught them flat-footed. A hooded guy burst out from behind, from nowhere. It appeared he struck the girl at her back, savagely, for she was violently pushed forward. As the fallen girl lay prostrated, the felon made rapid blows on her back. Nelson’s reaction was a bit delayed; he was only able to kick and to throw some punch at the assaulter only when the girl was already lying face down on the floor. The assailant, for an instant, looked as if he would strike at Nelson, but decided not to and instead fled. It was only at this time that Nelson noticed that the attacker was armed with a dagger, which the latter dropped on the ground. The felon now nowhere in sight, he grabbed the lady, now soaked in her own blood. His cry for help elicited the attention of those who had heard him. An hour later, he was at the Makati Medical Center where he was grimly told that his companion was already “dead on arrival.”

–The Crime [The Calling]—

When I went back to our room after ten minutes, I noticed the sudden blackness that had now pervaded inside the room. The light had been switched off. The guys were all peeking through the window. Their attention was directed toward the girls’ dormitory, just a meter away from our room.

“Hey. Come here. Look.” Nil was talking in whisper. He had a naughty smile below his moustache.

 I stepped near to him and took a peek.

 There she was, clad only in her underwear apparel, pacing the well-lit lady’s room. Through their open window, we feasted on her bare body.

 “Nice body, eh?” Totie’s voice was inaudible.

 “She’s an exhibitionist,” said Eddie. Jinky didn’t utter a sound.

 –The Bar Exams–

 As Cruz turned his head, he was immediately blinded by what seemed to him the flash of klieg lights accompanied by fly-speck of red. His 180-degree turn was then aborted by a strong force from behind–he felt somebody strike his back fiercely–which caught him flat-footed, causing him to slam forward atop the counsel table, his abdomen violently hitting the table’s corner edge. His forehead intensely crashed against the sharp edge of his attache case which was lying on the table. His arms thrust forward, he was conscious of a slew of tears that had instinctively coated his eyes. Breathing hard, he heard a lady’s voice scream: “He shot him! Oh my God!” Then he faintly heard a succession of shots. The world around me is spinning, he thought. Futilely fighting to keep his eyes from shutting off, he was beginning to see darkness around him.

–The Client–

IT’S TUESDAY EVENING. I’m with my peer-lawyers. We’re in a bar along Makati Avenue.

“We need to relax sometime, bro,” says Rudy. His leech-like arms are stuck on the shoulders on one of the bar girls.

I raise the bottle of San Mig light. “Cheers to us,” I say, and guzzle the beer out of the bottle.

Eddie, the corporate lawyer among us, keeps on polishing the microphone with his alcohol-laced saliva. He’s enjoying the bar’s Karaoke TV, having sung around ten songs already. He refuses to let up.

I hold the warm, soft hands of the bar girl I have chosen. I look at her eyes in the darkened VIP room. Quite a stunner. I slowly pull her head near mine. She laughs after I whisper something to her.

“No, Sir, we’re not allowed to leave the bar after closing hours. We’re stay-in here, Sir.” The girl is still giggling.

I drink some more light beer. Eddie is bringing the house down with his almost professional rendition of his chosen songs. I join him in his singing.

“Sir, excuse for while, I’ll go to the bathroom,” says the bar girl seated next to me. As she stands up, I eye her beautiful curving figure. I suddenly feel something inside that make me want to have her, to bring her home with me. I’m reminded of the same feeling I had, back when I saw a real knockout gal walking alone one night. One hot lady, I should say.

–The Accused–

In his more than a decade of practice of law, no one had ever dared shout at him in the face, no one had ever dared insult him behind his back. Not even fellow lawyers could muster enough courage to attempt to embarrass him in front of some people. Not even his most hated judge could utter a pipsqueak of a word irreverently directed at him. And certainly, his clients were no exception. The moment Mrs. Cruz rattled off her last vituperation, the last fiber of sanity, which was holding back the deluge of Caramto’s seething anger, snapped. He saw his name, honor and dignity being savagely trampled upon by Mrs. Cruz. He was being stripped naked by a merciless monster, which went by the name Mrs. Cruz. He was seeing a specter out to devour his life. This has to stop, he told himself. Enough is enough, he ordered. He raised a balled fist and struck brutally at the face of Mrs. Cruz.

–Attorney–

SHE WAS LIVING in a dormitory just near her school. She was now in her fourth year in college, taking up nursing. She needed just one more semester, after which, she would be graduating come March of the subsequent year. She, however, faced problems. Financial problems, that is. The series of tropical typhoons that wreaked havoc late last year on the northern part of Luzon left a huge damage on the farmlands. Her family was left to desperation after the typhoons had wiped out the crops from which her family had expected to derive bountiful harvests. The loan which her father had taken from a shark lender had now almost doubled in amount, what with the soaring interests that were added to the principal amount. No, her father wasn’t able to find another predatory lender willing to accept as security the now worthless farmland. It was like a death sentence when, suddenly, she received a call from her mother informing her that she would have to stop going to school as her father could no longer send money to her. She must return back to their province after the semester, so she was told. She, however, called back her mother a week after, telling her mother that she was able to find work, a good-paying job, courtesy of a classmate who had given her ample assistance. Nothing to worry, Mother, I know how to take care of myself, she’d said before ending their phone conversation.

She was now almost sobbing as she began to dress up, putting back her school uniform. They had arrived almost three hours ago here in one of the sleazy motels located in Sta. Mesa. As she looked in the mirror, she could see the reflection of the man now putting on his long-sleeved barong. The man’s eyes were peering at her back. He then slowly stepped behind her and started to caress her hair. Soon, his hand rested on her shoulder.

–The Student—

The courtroom, often referred to as the magistrate’s sala, occupies a small space in the crowded building. It is cramped, fenced by flaking walls. A long fluorescent bulb, pinned to the ceiling and dirtied by hardened dust, provides artificial light to the sala. Pockets of cobweb adorn the corners of the ceiling. Standing on a raised platform, the Judge’s desk, invariably called by practitioners as “the bench,” is a relic from antiquity, its once proud outer varnish now shines with grayish dirt. Beside it, to its left, is the witness stand where an old wooden stool sits. Behind the bench is a worn-out, long-backed swivel chair, where Judge Guiho settles during the court session. Fastened to the wall is a spreadeagled flag, which furnishes a dramatic backdrop to the presiding magistrate. Fronting the bench is the counsel table that runs parallel to it. Ragged at the edges, this table can easily vie for a permanent niche in a junkshop. The lawyers gather here while waiting for their cases to be called. Rows of four-seater pews, now filled by curious spectators, are scattered across the floor, which is dotted by hardened chewing gums.

–His Honor

“We’ll I would say that during the nine years that we’ve been married, it has been a happy marriage, and…”

“No, no, no, Mrs. Cruz. Don’t say that. How would you expect the judge to act on your petition to annul your marriage? You want your marriage annulled, and now you’re saying your marriage is a happy one?”

“But…”

“No. We’ll change that. You must say something like this: ‘Initially, it was a happy marriage, but starting the second year onwards, my husband started to change ways…”

“You mean I have to say something different?”

“Of course. For your petition to be granted by the court, you must show that your claim for annulment must have a very valid basis, something that the judge will consider as meritorious. If you’ll say what has actually happened, then I doubt if you’ll get the judge to rule in your favor. Understand?”

–Lawyers Are From Mars, Clients Are From Venus–

 25 March 2090

It hadn’t occurred for almost 80 years. All along, everyone thought it wouldn’t happen again. But then it did. The Chilean earthquake that shook the world way back in February, 2010, came back with a vengeance. It registered a 9.8 magnitude and caused more than a dozen aftershocks. Those living half-way around the planet felt the catastrophe via never-before-seen tsunamis that totally wiped out coastal towns in countries affected by the huge raging waves.

–Centennial–

He dreaded the approaching darkness. Another night, another ordeal.  She was there, beside him, his arms around her back. She was saying something, he just couldn’t understand. Her smile comforted him. Now, he wouldn’t let her go. Now, she couldn’t leave him. But then, suddenly, she stood up and broke free from him. He tried to hold her, but she was beyond reach. He couldn’t understand it, how did it happen. He stood up, but then she’s gone again. He shouted her name; he was now crying, begging for her to come back. He was trembling when he opened his eyes. What he saw was darkness in his room. It was a dream! He rose and sat on his bed. Where are you? he cried out. He covered his eyes. He was now wondering when this would ever end. If only she’d give me another chance, if only she’d listen to me, if only she’d believe me, oh please, please come back! he almost shouted. He lay down again on his bed, the sheets now soaked with sweat. His hand reached down, on the floor, groping for the bottle of brandy he had left there hours ago. He drained what’s left and threw the empty bottle into the corner. At last, he could sleep again.

–She–

Just seconds after Ramon had left, a commotion rose from another table not far from ours. The American serviceman, who had earlier complained about the fly in his soup, was now bawling at another waiter. We could hear his loud voice; he was hollering that he should not be required to pay for his meal after he had found the fly in his soup, which was then already half-consumed. There were two more waiters who had approached the American, trying to offer explanation. He would not be made to pay for the soup, the American was told; only the meal and the drinks he had consumed. Still, the American would not want to pay, insisting that the fly had ruined his appetite. This time, the man from the counter arrived; he appeared to be the supervisor. The American—I could see he was already drunk by the way he talked—had become rude and rowdy, his voice laced with cold rage. He was telling the “muchachos” to back off, or he would beat them up. He started to turn his back and walk away, but then, the supervisor grabbed his hand. This infuriated the American. He swung around, swatted away the supervisor’s hand and threw a savage punch. The supervisor, who caught the blow full in his face, bent down. Blood began to spurt at the corner of his mouth. Several more waiters came up and surrounded the American. At this time, the supervisor had disappeared behind the waiters.

–A Scene At Plaza Goiti—

Suddenly, a black hole of the past swallowed her up. The first time she saw him. She fell in love right away. Madly in love. No, not only her; rather, almost all the girls in school did, too.  They wanted to get a piece of him. Well, just who wouldn’t be? Tall, dark, handsome. Dashing, debonair. A hunk. He was a varsity player. Every girl would swoon, keel over, faint whenever he was around. During varsity games, screaming girls fought each other to get near him. In the campus, it was simply impossible for him to get unnoticed by the female genus. He would always be tracked down by a pack of predatory girls. The only place where he could find sanctuary was in the toilet, in the men’s toilet. No, not really. For, inside that exclusive territory, another human variety lurked: those belonging to the third sex. He had seen to it to be on guard at all times anywhere he went. What’s more, and this had thrown him to near madness, the jealousy which he’d drawn from a lot of boys in the campus. The “oohs” and “aahs” his presence had generated in the female population of the school was simply too much. There was an incident where a group of heartbroken boys hunted him down simply because the girls who had jilted them had professed undying affection for him. Luckily for him, there were girls who stayed and served as his “bodyguards” until he reached home.

–He—

A bare-bodied customer, seated on an old plastic stool beside the box-cart, was gobbling his bowl of congee. He just ignored the little boy who had seated beside him. Instead, he gave notice to the flies—by swatting them away—that continued to fly near his bowl, which rested on an add-on narrow wooden board that ran the length of the box-cart. This board served as the “table” where customers could conveniently consume their congee—as what the customer was now doing.

No dice. The little boy failed to get any portion of the congee. None was offered to him. No, not by the customer. Why should the customer share his bowl of congee? The bowl wasn’t even enough for him; besides he didn’t know who that boy was. And he himself was hungry, for he devoured the congee in just a few minutes. Most certainly, none would have been offered by the vendor to the little boy—without the vendor receiving payment. Business is business. No exceptions.

Another frustration for the little boy.

–Change Of Plans–

HAULED OFF AND DUMPED AWAY

30 MonUTC2009-12-28T05:57:47+00:00UTC12bUTCMon, 28 Dec 2009 05:57:47 +0000 2009

“Justice Oliver Holmes was the master in the art of packing within a sentence the phosphorescence of a page,” says Benjamin Cardozo, an equally eminent American magistrate who sat in the US Supreme Court in the 1930s. Holmes, as is known to all English-language legal systems, enriched the legal literature with his profound views clothed in a language unrivalled during his time. A Holmes sampler reads: “Legal obligations that exist but cannot be enforced are like ghosts that are seen in the law but are elusive to the grasps.” Cardozo, to whom (many observers consider) Holmes’ torch was passed, himself was a great contributor. In one of his works, he said that “form is not added to substance as a mere protruberant adornment,” adding that “the two are fused into a unity.” He said it best in his further language: “The strength that is born of form and the feebleness that is born of the lack of form are in truth qualities of the substance.”

In the years that I have been in law practice, I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of pleadings (these are the legal papers prepared by lawyers) filed by lawyers in court espousing their clients’ causes, containing arguments that their clients should win over those of their adversaries. Almost all these pleadings are true to their form: they are limited only to legal arguments—arguments that bear great relevance to the issues that are up for decision or resolution by courts where the cases are pending.  Laws and settled cases (decided by the Supreme Court that have previously interpreted those laws) are cited in support of one litigant’s side. In these arguments, the reader is told by the advocate of how the case has sprung into existence and of how it should it be disposed of in accordance with what the law prescribes. And so the judge eventually decides. The winning litigant gets his award, the lawyer gets his fees. And the case ends.

What happens to the court pleadings?

They end up as pure worthless papers. Heaps of bound papers—thick folders containing all the records of cases—are put in the large built-in or wall-mounted cabinets of the court’s staffroom there to age and gather dusts and to become yellowed over the years.  I think, after 5 years or so, these folders are taken out for eventual disposal as garbage.  In some local halls of justice, these folders are made to rot in the stairways or corridors (for lack of space in the court’s staffroom), there to be seen and ignored by the daily lawyers and court litigants passing by. Once the required period of time has arrived when these folders are legally deemed “of no value”, they are thrown away.

In every law practitioner’s heart, he well knows the great amount of time and attention he spends in preparing the pleading he files in court. He has to perfect the art of transcribing what his client has narrated to him, the art of researching the applicable law and previous court decisions laid down by the highest court, and more importantly, the art of eventually producing into a fine piece of written argumentation his client’s cause.  Once the pleading is filed in court, the task is done; the practitioner is paid, at times, handsomely.  (This is not to mention, though, the herculean task of doing the litigation work, but that is another topic.)  

Just as the case ends, so does the relevance of the court pleadings—these pleadings are relegated in the practitioner’s office corner. They remain there for future reference.  But when new cases come in, the old folders are shoved out of the office to make room. They are used as scratch papers, fed in the paper-shredder, or are just thrown away.

In our high-tech world nowadays, practitioners maintain electronic files of their court pleadings. When a similar case comes up, he just uses the old electronic file, changes the case title or caption, changes the litigant’s name, utilizes the same arguments and citations, and voila! a new pleading for the new client is ready for filing in court.  Billing the client is just an e-mail away.

In the busy world of the practitioner, he never minds the fate of the intellectual content of the pleading or argument in the pleading he makes. Once the case is concluded, his work product is deemed irrelevant.

Many of those pleadings which I had written ended up similar fate.

Like dead gladiators after some bloody joust in a Roman arena, these pleadings are hauled off and dumped away.

I had, for some time, thought about the sorry destiny of these unfortunate pleadings—the intellectual work product of a practitioner’s effort. The enormous amount of time the practitioner has exerted in coming up with the perfect argument is indescribable. Times there are when the practitioner skips meals, controls the urge of nature, ignores the lure of relaxation, fights off the call of nocturnal rest—all in the name of producing the very best espousement of his client’s cause. But then, all these perish in thin air soon as the case concludes. After years of practice, the intellectual product of the practitioner’s efforts is just a part of his fading memory. Indeed, one can just ask: Of what use will it be to preserve those arguments which a practitioner has brought up when there is no more case to speak of?

Reading some of Cardozo’s excellent writings has somewhat fed a seed of thought in me: Why not put in some measure of “form” in pleadings which I would make for filing in court? Some literary content in the argument? Some language that would, to my mind, make me keep the “end product” for myself (or even for posterity) after the case had long been concluded? By the time I would be done in law practice, I could at least look back at something that I could consider as the intellectual product of my years in practice.  

I watered the seed; the growth sprung into existence and protruded. The effort took form in the language of my pleadings. To any other reader’s eye, the end product is feeble, with the reader possibly stigmatizing my effort as a gradeschool attempt to be in the company of those great legal minds in the profession. Hardly. The collection is a personal matter, for my personal enjoyment. To me, the finished task has enormous, priceless content: it is a practitioner’s cherished masterpiece on the canvass wrought out of blood, sweat and tears.

Below are some of my end products:

Cases there are that genuflect in the temple of justice prodding the gods thereat to heed their besought entreaties and shield them from the tentacles of injurious injustice.  On the other hand, cases there are also that wear the spurious masks of compassion before the halls of the temple, also egging on the gods to bequeath to them heavenly raiments against the supposed inroads treading on their supposed rights.  Take away these masks and what are exposed are the faces of the knaves.  They excel in the art of casuistry and sophistry and nothing more.

To the latter classification belongs the present case.

-o0o-

Chiseled in the architraves of the granite pavilions of jurisprudence is the familiar norm that justice is that which breathes life to every letter of the law.

-o0o-

Jurisprudence, not being a hardened substance as to be resistant to the attributes of malleability, has to undergo continuous pounding on the judicial anvil to adopt to the dictates of broader interests of substantial justice.

-o0o-

Tested in the crucible of the foregoing authorities, we just do not see how can the individual defendants escape from the clutches of the rule on waiver of objections to jurisdiction over the person, anymore than we see how a felon could escape from the clutches of the iron bars into which he has just been thrown.

-o0o-

What we are beholding is a spectacle fraught with legal levity.  And what makes the scene more appealing is the present motion’s effort at spiking the arguments contained therein with a modicum of totally irrelevant and inapplicable caselaw prescriptions.  The effort is there but the result is plain legal theatrics.  It plainly leaves a comic taste to an otherwise monotonous procedural landscape.

-o0o-

There can scarcely be any denying to the conclusion that the present motion is to jurisprudence what the character of Don Quixote de la Mancha is to literature: both are delusion-lulled that served as fodder for the reader’s levity.

-o0o-

In fine, what one sees in the present motion is something like a legal pyrotechnics that attempt, rather quixotically, to create a cacophony of noise in the procedural sky which, after spending their last sparks, now find their way plunging to the judicial abyss to form part of oblivion’s sorry, worthless refuse.

-o0o-

The problem with the defendants is that they subject the allegations in the complaint to a scalpel with they themselves had crudely crafted and use the same to incise the said allegations into separate pieces.  Thus asunder, these pieces, juxtaposed with jurisprudence cited by defendants, are then discussed by them out of context.  The ingenuity exhibited by them is very much evident.

-o0o-

The present motion—indicative of the fact that the plaintiff is out of sync with procedural reality—is nothing more and nothing less than a mere faint, if not inaudible, echo in the grand orchestra of jurisprudence.

-o0o-

The objective mind is easily engulfed with a sense of frustration upon reading the said decision.  For, the said decision is shorn of any judiciousness; worse, it traversed the path of narrow-mindedness, discarding in the process the elementary cannon of judicial receptiveness to jurisprudence-wrought injunctions.

-o0o-

Though the objective mind may easily find itself stricken with paroxysms of merriment over the “not-worth-the-paper” and “poor-attempt-at-being-cute” accusations for being indicative of some measure of immaturity, far from it from us from sharing the same reaction as, on the contrary, we are deeply saddened by the accusations for having been made sans any basis whatsoever.

Plaintiff would do well to take a look at the dirt on himself before trying to even look at the speck of dust on another.

-o0o-

Should justice be crucified on the cross of procedural precepts?

More so, if we allow these presumptions to prevail and predominate over the admittedly void act perpetrated by the respondent, then, as what we have said at the outset, we will be crucifying justice on the cross of procedural precepts. 

Thus to address the query we have propounded at the outset, we believe that in no case should justice be made subservient to the dictates of mere procedural fiats.

-o0o-

With this in mind, one should not be judgmental in assessing an action of a public officer, as was so wantonly exhibited by the petitioner.  Indeed, petitioner was quick to level the gratuitous accusation   x  x  x.   This is quite understandable, though, in the face of the fugitive-styled flight which the petitioner had displayed in evading to discharge his obligation to the private respondent antecedent to the filing by the latter of its complaint against the former, a cat-and-mouse chase that went all throughout the proceedings a quo culminating in the fiction-like denouement of an on-the-run fugitive finally falling into the grasps of the law.

-o0o-

The present case does not profess to contain the trappings of a great case that would necessitate the intervention of the great legal minds in this side of the legal world.  Rather, this case offers a simple case of justice being turned the-other-way-around as will be seen in the text of the decision of the lower court and as will be discussed by the defendant-appellant later on, with herein defendant-appellant finding itself the affronted victim of the legal joust it had engaged with the plaintiff-appellee whose victory was made possible via some misapplication of laws by the lower court. 

-o0o-

This attempt of defendants (to have “the plaintiff and its counsel” cited and punished for contempt, even citing Rule 10.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility) exhibits a fine case of utterly failing to grasp the bounds of advocacy — an attempt which makes us express our extreme dismay to the defendants.  But no, we will not include the defendants’ counsel in our expression of dismay, as to do so would be to exhibit an extreme case of immaturity, a stuff that rightly belongs to gradeschoolers.  For, as we know it, the client is not the advocate and vice-versa.  There is a fine dividing line that separates the two.  Defendants’ counsel of record can hardly be faulted for representing said defendants and advocating the latter’s cause before the hallowed portals of this honorable court, anymore than the loudspeaker or microphone can be faulted for being the medium which the speaker uses to get the attention of, and speak clearer to, a crowd of people gathered in an assembly.  For the hearer or listener to condemn not only the speaker but also the loudspeaker or microphone which this speaker uses is, as we have said above, gradeschool stuff.

-o0o-

This utterly preposterous act of plaintiff in impleading defendant in this case without any basis, both substantive and jurisprudential, brings to fore the need to cut off the hydra-headed propensities of some party-litigants to drag to the courts strangers that have nothing to do with the case.

Having been unnecessarily dragged in this case, defendant has every right and duty to protect its interest against the baseless act of plaintiff in filing this case against it.  Obviously, defendant can hardly afford to let this case dragged on without it raising any finger to extricate itself from this legal mire.  For, to just let this case remain and thus, for defendant to keep mum on this case, and just face this lawsuit, the consequence could evidently be disastrous on the part of defendant.  For, it is a certainty that this case will drag on for a number of years before it can finally be concluded; in that event, the untold time and effort and expenses that will be wrought on defendant will surely be beyond description.  Why must defendant be forced to carry a Calvary which, in the first place, does not rightly belong to it?

If plaintiff  —  if we make an assessment of even the last drop of pathos in his jeremiad which he has essayed in his present amended complaint  —  wants to make it appear that he has been, or is being, allegedly shortchanged by the defendants in this case, then why is he making a deliberate violation of clear and simple provision of the law? 

-o0o-

But the primordial ground upon which plaintiff-appellant anchors the present appeal is that the failure of its counsel of record to attend the pre-trial conference set by the lower court was due to the alleged “monstrous traffic jam” that got in the way along the National Road (which allegedly “was completely in state of dilapidation and disrepair”) in Tunasan, Muntinlupa, “aggravated by a jeepney which was stalled in the middle of the road, thus doubling the traffic.” Plaintiff-appellant further continues that when its afore-said counsel “thought that he would be already late even if he arrives in court, he did not anymore proceed which resulted to the dismissal of the case.”

One is right away pierced by the skewer of doubt at this very obvious puerile excuse.

This honorable court can easily take judicial notice of the fact that the metropolis is always fraught with endless traffic.  Wherever one goes, he is bound to be caught in a traffic at whatever time in the day.  If one were in a situation where, in going to his place of destination, he would be meeting traffic along the way, considerations of elementary judgment would compel him to leave early from where he would depart so as to avoid being caught, or taken aback, by any ensuing traffic along the way.  This is as it should be.  This is a lesson too elementary to be told to anyone with common sense.  In other words, it is a rule that need not even be lectured to anyone in his right mind.

-o0o-

We do not know that petitioner is a fiction writer—indeed, his claim comes out straight from a comic book. 

As we have said above, petitioner is blessed with a shrewd legal mind, having placed 9th in the bar exams, a consistent honor student in his grade and high school years, and twice a cum laude graduate (both in the undergraduate course and in the law course).  How then could he possibly be a victim of a supposed “blackmail”? 

Petitioner had worked in a prestigious—and one of the best—law firm in the country. He had been with the government agency as a lawyer for seventeen (17) years.  How could he now pretend to be a mere sheep that is so helpless as to be unable to go about a supposed “blackmail” to “cough up P30,000,000.00”?  The amount is staggering, the charge mind-boggling, to say the least. 

Anyone who may have found himself in a situation similar to what petitioner may have been in would have surely right off warded the same via appropriate legal court case against the supposed “blackmailer”.  Petitioner is no ordinary man; he is a lawyer; he knows the law.  Not only that; petitioner is a bar topnotcher; he graduated cum laude in the State University, both the pre-law course and the law course.  Not only that; petitioner had been a consistent honor student in his grade and high school years.  Not only that again; he had worked in the prestigious law firm for a number of years. And further, not only that again; petitioner has been with the government agency as a lawyer for at least seventeen (17) years;  to be in that kind of work for that long a time one must totally be courageous, with nerves of steel, and be protective of his rights and duties as a public servant, given the fact that that government agency, as is the perception of the public, is one of the most graft-ridden in the government. 

Petitioner, in other words, is a gifted man, with a brilliant mind, conversant with the ways and trades of the world.

Now, petitioner is telling us that he was being “blackmailed” by private respondent?  Who is private respondent anyway?  She is not a lawyer; she is not a bar topnotcher; she is not a cum laude graduate of the State University; she has not worked in a prestigious law firm.  What possible power does she have over and above petitioner and his wife to make her capable of supposedly “blackmailing” them?

What we are saying is that petitioner’s version of the facts is obviously the product of a wild imagination—concocted by a desperate man now being hounded by the ghosts he himself has created.

-o0o-

This case brings into focus the conduct of banks in their dealings with the public.

Are banks on the same level with individuals and ordinary private firms?  In the handling of their affairs and in their dealings with their clients, that is, with the public, do they have to observe the same kind of standard of care or diligence observed by ordinary private firms? 

Admittedly, banks are no ordinary institutions in the present economic world.  They play a significant role in the life of every member of society.   From the fly-infested public market in the far-flung barrio to the busiest business district in the modern metropolis, one is sure to find a bank either lurking in a corner street juxtaposed with a sari-sari store, or stodgily located along a peopled park, or competing with other establishments for attention inside a mall, or conspicuously standing beside a fastfood restaurant, or proudly housed in an ultra modern skyscraper, or complacently located on the school facade, etc.  Banks, in other words, are everywhere; in a sense, they are omnipresent.  Their being ubiquitous is what makes them a part of every person in the community.

But why do we deal with banks?

We can ask a man in the street, or a straphanger in the bus, or a taxi driver feeding his hunger-panged stomach on a sidewalk carinderia, or a stall owner in a flea market, or a tyronic Chinese trader manning his niggling establishment in the downtown area, or a Croesus-like business executive attending a meeting in a posh city building, or for that matter, we can ask the stranger whom we may first meet along the way: they will right away tell us their reasons why do they deal with banks, which particular banks they patronize and the reasons for their choice.

We deal with banks simply because of utter necessity.

Indeed, who can deny the fact that tucked inside our own wallets is an ATM card which we carry with us wherever we go every second of every minute of every hour of the day?  Banks have truly become indispensable in our daily dealings in life.

In our need to deal with banks, must we perforce repose to them our trust? 

When we speak of banks, we speak of money  –  handing over to them our money (or property) for safekeeping, for deposit, for profit;  borrowing from them money by way of loans for our use; buying from them repossessed cars or foreclosed properties, etc.  Undoubtedly, why will we deal with somebody, especially handing or parting with our money to him, if we do not trust him?   It is plainly automatic for us, in dealing with banks, to give to the latter our trust and confidence: that they will manage and safekeep our money once we give it to them; and that they will not violate any existing law, rule or regulation. 

Their being omnipresent, their being indispensable to us in our daily lives, and our act in giving to them our trust and confidence are the main reasons why banks in the conduct of their business are endowed with public interest. 

This is the plain reality.

This reality, in turn, is what places banks on a level higher than any private individual or ordinary private firms.  So that in the conduct of their business with the public at large, banks carry with them a very high standard of diligence and prudence.

This reality has found its way in the portals of our highest court. 

In a number of cases, the court has seen fit to put the blame on banks for the contretemps that have arisen despite the fact that their clients/depositors have inceptively failed to fully discharge their own duties as bank depositors.     The reason, no doubt about it, for the court’s attitude is this very high standard of prudence and diligence imposed upon banks in the conduct of their business.

-o0o-

The espousement by petitioners of their cause by fine-spun language easily captures the reader’s attention.  Without doubt, credit is due to fine juxtaposition of words.

Form, however, is to be distinguished from substance.

The essentialness of a party’s cause lies beneath the veneer that shrouds this cause.  No matter how it is admirably embellished, this cause is bound to find its way into the judicial abyss once it is unmasked as nothing more and nothing less than a bodacious balderdash decked in pretentious linguistic ornamentation.

To the objective mind, the description made by petitioners of themselves belongs to this class.

The clarity of this all leads one to conclude what the present Petition speaks for itself:  it is a misleading plea for justice.

This statement, obviously, provides some comic touch to the otherwise monotonous procedural landscape.  It is simply preposterous to behold some such excuse to shroud a clear procedural faux pas now staring at our eyes. 

-o0o-

The present motion obviously faces a formidable task of hurdling a tough procedural obstacle.

It is quite unfortunate, however, that even to this very day, the honorable Supreme Court refuses to lend a sympathetic ear to the supplication of the defendants.  No temporary restraining order was ever issued by the high court.

If the high court refused to budge, why should this honorable court act differently?  If the highest court of the land saw no reason for the issuance of a restraining order, why should this honorable court, a rung lower in the judicial echelon, see differently?  If the high court, the final dispenser of doctrinal precepts in the country, sees white, is there a particular reason why should its judicial sub-ordinate see black?

-o0o-

May the law be utilized to satisfy one’s greed?

It is universally accepted that law has as its ethical basis, the social conscience.  Its purpose is basically happiness among men—the regulation of relations among men so that harmony can be maintained in the social group. Its creation is necessitated by the intention of the state to make men live in a state of peaceful equilibrium.  If and when one acts which is subversive of this equilibrium, a transgression of the law is committed.  In such cases, the strong arm of the state gets into the picture to stymie the hand of the wicked—the obvious purpose being to maintain order in human conduct. 

The same thing can be said if one uses the law to further his greed. To the argument that no law is ever violated by the act last supposed best exemplifies the reasoning of man who is not in his right mind. For, he deliberately refuses to see the very basis why law was created: to prevent a person from causing damage to his fellowmen.  What he wants to see is himself getting what he wants even to the extent of making a perversion of the law.  He cares not to the damage wrought to his fellowmen. To his mind, since he has not violated the law, he must not be held to account for the resultant injury caused by his wanton act.

This sort of thinking, however, has had difficulty in getting doctrinal acceptance, nay, recognition at the very least.  The corpus of our reports finds such thinking basically anathematic to the very concept of our law.  Once an act contravenes reason, it must not be allowed at all cost.

-o0o-

If, in the above said case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy, this honorable court cast aside a provision of substantive law to serve the dictates of justice, why cannot the appellate court do the same—-more so when what is involved is not even a substantive law but a mere rule of procedure?

We are certainly forced to conclude that the decision of the Court of Appeals should be relegated to the genre of antiquated norms that have no place in modern jurisprudence.

-o0o-

It is a jurisprudential reality that the doctrine on liberality in the application or interpretation of procedural rules has been found to be a convenient judicial tool in according every litigant the amplest opportunity to determine his cause in law.

 We have no quarrel on this.

 However, we take issue to the all-encompassing application of this doctrine in every case that reaches the portals of the courts where, as in the case at hand, a flagrant violation of both the judicial directives and the rules of procedure has been exhibited by a party-litigant.  In other words, the doctrine of liberality finds application only in extreme cases where the circumstances therein justify its application.  The proverbial euphemism—-“to afford every party litigant the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from the constraints of technicalities”—-should not be applied to cases where the party concerned has been guilty of deliberately violating both the judicial directives and procedural rules, and thus, wasting away his opportunity to be heard or opportunity to have his cause in law heard and determined.

Indeed, if we were to accept at face value the reasoning by the petitioners, are we to hide behind the doctrine of liberality every time we have committed a deliberate act of ditching our right to due process?

Petitioners have wasted their opportunity; they had made a mockery of their right to due process.   For such condemnable act of theirs, are we to get the impression that they still are entitled to a judicial premium? 

Our reading of the events in the case at hand tells us that there exist no exceptional circumstances that would compel any court of law to apply the doctrine of liberality in the application of procedural rules—contrary to the stance of petitioners. What should instead be applied here is the equally-accepted principle of stringent application of procedural rules where the circumstances so justify.

-o0o-

Procedural nitpicking can best be ascribed to the plaintiff’s hollow arguments.  For, the plaintiff simply proceeded put at issue the reason behind the failure of the defendant’s counsel to attend the pre-trial conference.  While the objective mind is loath to impute any motive for such aberrant arguments put forth by the plaintiff, it is plainly beyond one’s control to easily stigmatize such arguments as ad hominem, those which are illogical digressions from the matters dealt with.

No less emblazoned in the plaintiff’s tendentious arguments is the plaintiff’s implicit admission that the defendant’s counsel’s failure to attend the pre-trial conference (i) was hardly dilatory as the defendant itself is greatly interested in having this case be promptly disposed of by this honorable court, and (ii) scarcely caused any prejudice to the substantial rights of the plaintiff.

Reduced in simpler language, plaintiff, implicitly, is out to grab every available opportunity to take a dubious procedural short-cut in foisting its equally questionable claims upon the defendant at the expense of rudimentary procedural fair play.

And in its avowal to take the path of narrow-mindedness, plaintiff, arguing as if it had acquired a vested right over the default order of this honorable court, even went forth to the extent of being extremely judgmental, characterizing the meritorious defense of the defendant as “not really as meritorious as it is made out to be.”

In synthesized conclusion, it is defendant’s submission that there is the compelling need for this honorable court to loosen itself from the fetters of procedural technicalities and allow the parties to take the regular evidentiary route in substantiating their respective claims and defenses in this case, which, undeniably involves complex and complicated issues and in view of the substantial amounts involved herein.

-o0o-

We certainly see the evident fact that petitioners are slowly sinking in the slough of confusion.

But the legal implication of this admission of petitioners scarcely escapes us: they are chained by the equitable doctrine of estoppel from assuming a different stand.  We need not bother to discuss herein the basic concept of estoppel as we can rightly presume that petitioners are not grade school pupils “unconversant” with the trappings of estoppel as a civil law principle; we definitely can rightly and justifiably presume that petitioners are knowledgeable of the same.  But what we want to impress to this honorable court is that they are barred from assuming a stand which is different from their previous one.

This afternoon, respondent received a copy of their 7-page comment to the motion to dismiss of respondent.  We are stricken with surprise with this development in view of the fact, as intimated above, the period for them to file this comment has already lapsed.  This right of petitioners to so file their intended comment had already carved a permanent niche 6-feet under the ground.  It would simply be incredible and impossible for this right to dig its way up back to the surface without running afoul with the law of order and equilibrium.  In simple words, they could no longer file the same; a procedural barrier has already crystallized that now bars them from filing any comment or opposition to respondent motion to dismiss.  This comment which they filed should rightly be stricken out form the records of this case.

-o0o-

Banks, like the plaintiff herein, are no ordinary institutions in the present economic world.  They are, as has been aptly considered by jurisprudence, endowed with public interest, playing as they do significant role in the life of every member of society.  For this reason, and always foremost in their mind the trust and confidence reposed to them by the public at large, banks always see to it that they exercise prudence and meticulousness in the running of their affairs to the end that no damage, as much as possible, be wrought on their clients in consequence of any unavoidable oversight.  This compelling concern has crystallized the need for banks to put in black and white every transaction they do with the public by necessary documents/papers delineating with specificity the terms and conditions called for by the intent of the transacting parties.

This dire duty of banking entities is observed indiscriminately, whether the client be an ordinary person with modest means or one with privileged wealth.

It is a fact beyond dispute that plaintiff here is a huge banking entity, having as it does numerous branches spread over the entire archipelago.  And because of this, plaintiff sees to it that every transaction it does with each and every client be done with care, attention and fidelity.

More so, when the amounts involved in the transaction are huge and substantial, plaintiff acts with deliberate caution and prudence.  As much as possible, plaintiff herein sees to it that the transaction be documented with pertinent and appropriate papers to eschew litigious affairs in the morrow.

With the foregoing in mind, there is every probability, not mere possibility, that plaintiff herein would surely have issued corresponding receipts to the defendants had they indeed made payments to the plaintiff in settlement of their obligations covered by the subject dishonored checks.  For, this is the standing operating procedure of the plaintiff, a practice which it usually follows in the ordinary course of business.  And presumably, not only by the plaintiff, but likewise by other banking entities, where huge or not.  The rule is, and has always been, “that the ordinary course of business has been followed.”

-o0o-

The uncertainties and inexplicable mysteries of human emotions refuse to be shackled by the fetters of the mind. Almost always, the dictates of the heart overwhelm whatever effort of the mind tries to exert in an attempt to check, and put sanity in, human emotions.  Relations borne out of such unrestrained human affairs at times eventuate to consequences detrimental to one’s freedom. 

The case at hand exemplifies this tableau.

In the heart of loneliness the inscrutable hands of love set out a trap for petitioner.  She was a twenty-five-year-old professional and single, and was working in the far-off land of Saudi Arabia.  The year was 1989.  There she met the man whom destiny had willed to play a big role in the trap.  Cunning and wily, [this man] donned the posture of a man in shining armor.  He befriended petitioner; he sought out petitioner via phone calls; he courted petitioner.

Shrouded in a penumbra of homesickness, petitioner found shelter in the company of this man.  The constant companionship brought forth by him gave petitioner profound comfort against the onslaught of loneliness in the alien land.  Then, companionship led to intimacy. Before long, petitioner and [this man] found their hearts intertwined.

Petitioner unconsciously fell victim to this trap set out by human emotions.

Lulled by the indescribable happiness her heart has found, petitioner trusted every word that came from the lips of [this man].  Chief among those that [this man] uttered was that supposedly he was single, that no legal impediment existed between him and petitioner. In the days, weeks, months and years that followed, petitioner lived blissfully in the belief that they would eventually live in marital union.

Fate, however, was not to be kind to petitioner.

It was only until after the marriage rites that she got shoved to face the painful reality: [this man] lied to her.  He was in fact had been previously married to a woman. He had performed a dastardly deed which only a wicked felon could possibly exhibit: For not only did he swim in the sea of sexual pleasure whenever he was in the arms of petitioner, he also ditched her to fall into a legal ravine that now threatens to shear her of her freedom.

Petitioner seeks justice to this honorable court. 

Her future has now been shattered into tatters, her dreams splintered into smithereens.  She fears for her life now that her freedom is on the brink of being taken away.  For what would her life be if the place of her abode would be sheltered by the cold iron bars of prison?

If at all, petitioner could be faulted only for having succumbed to the call of the complex, if not chaotic, human emotions that drew her to the deep abyss of great misfortune.  But this, however, is not enough, that is, should not be a reason for her to lose her freedom.  This birthright of hers undoubtedly weighs much more than the fault that should be attributed to her.  She should not be made to suffer a Calvary that she never had intended to bear.

What makes petitioner’s misery doubly painful is that [this man] is nowhere to be found, as he seemed to have been devoured by the darkness of nocturnity.  He has cleverly seen to it that not even his shadow would be held to account for the dastardly deed he had done. [This man], beyond the clutches of Philippine jurisdiction, continues to swagger scot-free, endlessly showing his masculine vanity to the world, waiting for another prey to fall to his trap.

Petitioner is now all alone with nowhere to turn to except to herself in the face of this great misfortune.

Petitioner earnestly urges this honorable court to extend to her a helping hand to enable her to climb out of the legal ravine.