Category Archives: Law

My Firm Life: The Interview

I have a friend who e-mailed to me these questions for her class. I decided to post it also here so that you could have a brief updated with what I am doing and why I can’t blog at all. Anyway, I feel so unfulfilled these days that I think, I’ll start releasing my stress through writing starting this week. I hope I won’t be so sappy or overly emotional.

  1. Can you give a little background about yourself, your current position and the firm that you are associated with?
  • I am Maris Angelica Ayuyao, 27 years old and a graduate of the University of the East College of Law. I am a new lawyer. In fact, I only signed the roll of attorney this April 29, 2015. I am an Associate Lawyer in RRV Legal Consultancy Firm. It is a small law firm in 12 Scout Rallos St., Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City.
  1. Is this a small, medium or big sized firm? What is the organizational structure of the firm? What are the pros and cons of working in a ____ sized firm?
  • It is a small firm. It is composed only of my boss, Atty. Redemberto R. Villanueva, who is the managing partner, and three associate lawyers, including myself. However, we sometimes team up with other law firms in other cases.
  1. How did you apply for the position? How was the application process?
  • I sent my resume and they immediately scheduled me for an interview. Atty. Villanueva interviewed me and after a few days, his secretary then called me and asked me on when I can start waiting for them.
  1. Before joining the firm, did you not consider working for the government? If no, why not? If yes, what was the main factor that motivated you to join a law firm instead?
  • I actually considered working for the government; however, I felt that really wanted to practice law and most likely, I have to transfer to the province if I have to work in PAO which did not appeal to me.
  1. As a/an [position], what are your responsibilities? How long have you been working as a/an [position] and how is it so far (workload, stress level)? Is it rewarding? Challenging?
  • As an associate lawyer, my responsibilities include attending hearings and meetings for the firm and a lot of writing not only pleadings but also contracts, memorandum of agreement and demand letters. I’ve been working for three months now in RRV and I am telling you this, it is a lot harder than I expected. There is no fixed work hour of work. There is no overtime pay. My health is also faltering now. But so far I am coping and learning.
  1. Can you give us a sneak peek on how a day in the life of a/an [position] looks like?
  • There is no fixed schedule for a practitioner. There are days wherein you have hearings from two different cities and when you come to the office, there is a client waiting for you for a meeting. You also need to constantly check your firm’s e-mail for communication with your other clients. But whatever happens in your day, you must always give time to drafting your pleadings and legal opinions.
  1. Please tell us about your first case and client. Have you encountered any clients who are difficult to deal with? Or do you know someone who has encountered such a client? Any tips on handling those instances?
  • I do not have my personal client yet but I could probably tell you the story of the first case which I drafted the complaint. The plaintiff, Mr. X, told me that somebody owes him money but he cannot collect money from him because his debtor does not want to pay him. That’s all he told me. Then, he sent an envelope with documents. In there, I saw a lot of copies of bounced checks, promissory notes and some letter of demand. It was so overwhelming and it took me sometime to understand the whole story. I realized that clients just do not trust their lawyers, they expect you to know everything right away.
  • The clients which are difficult to deal with are the following: First, the greedy clients who do not want to compromise. I have now one who really insists on bringing to the court a twelve-thousand pesos penalty charge despite being a multi-millionaire. Second, those who do not listen to your proposed legal action and insist their own way. You have to talk to them clearly about the consequences of the actions they want to happen.
  1. Before joining the firm, what were your expectations? Have those expectations been met? Are there any surprises? Like, are you doing things now that you did not expect to do?  
  • A catch-all answer to all the questions above is this: practice is a lot different than what is taught in law school. The spoiler here is that we really have a very sick justice system. But this is the challenge for all new lawyers like me: whether we maintain our idealism or just go with the system. I choose the former.
  1. On what branch of law are you planning to specialize in?
  • Criminal law. I want to become a Prosecutor someday.
  1. What values or skills did you learn from working in a law firm?
  • Time management. You would need this the most in dealing with all your clients. Also, always be calm. Always have grace under pressure.
  1. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Do you see yourself climbing the corporate ladder and becoming a partner or forming your own law firm? Or would you transfer and work, say, with a private corporation?
  • I see myself as a humble public employee, working as a Prosecutor in Quezon City. I could also teach, if I have time. I would like to pay what I know about law, forward.
  1. With your experience, so far, in working in a law firm, do you recommend it to future bar passers? Why?
  • Yes, I recommend all future bar passers to work in a law firm in order for them to fully discern their career path in law. Most likely, you would be exposed to all types of cases in working in a law firm.
  1. What is the most important thing that you realized upon practicing law?
  • That learning does not end after you pass the bar. You still have to read, update yourself with the latest jurisprudence and make sure that you know the news. This is because after passing the bar, the law is no longer things you study for your own benefit. More than ever, you need to understand the law because it is now affecting the lives of real people. In practice, the law now means the life and property of your clients, the people who are asking for your help.
  1. To conclude, do you have any words for those who are considering of joining a law firm? What skills and qualities do you think one must possess if he plans of joining a firm? Tips/advice?
  • You cannot expect to be wealthy right away as an associate. In fact, you would be surprised on how little pay you are going to receive from your bosses, which are the partners. Do not think of this as unfair. It is really difficult to earn a name for oneself in our field. It takes years of hardship and prayers to be in their position. I talked about the skills needed above so I’d go right away to qualities. I think the best qualities one must possess in joining a firm is humility and obedience. Be humble that there are so many things you do not know yet and be obedient in following your bosses. Trust me, they know better than you.

My Five Guidelines for a Happier Year

Happy 2014, everyone! Sorry this greeting and post are weeks late.  Life has been complicated for me this 2014 and this is just the thirtieth day.

How are your resolutions going? This year, I did not make any concrete resolutions, only guidelines. Nonetheless, I am sharing these because I believe that it is beneficial for everybody. Also, tomorrow is Chinese New Year. I do not consider myself as Chinoy or Chinese-Filipino though I have Chinese blood. Then again, this is a great day to do some changes in your life.

 

WHAT WE DO EVERY DAY MATTERS MORE THAN WE DO EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE

Face it. We think that our lives are a bore or some people live better lives than ours. This is especially true now when a lot of us record happy aspects of our lives in the social networks. But you see, those are the highlights of our lives. We do not usually post things that make us upset or our argument with our parents or our significant other or days where we practically did not do anything special at all.

That’s why if you’re a law student or medical student or taking up other courses which requires a long period of staying in school and feel that you are missing out so much in your lives, stop feeling that way. “Living to the fullest” does not mean frequent travels or having romantic relationships or giving in to that pressure of having a family by mid-twenties. Living to the fullest is giving your best every day in the path you choose so that someday you will be able to fully share the world your purpose. Besides, you can never be overdressed or over-educated.

Then again, it doesn’t hurt to reward yourself every once in a while. There is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 reminds us that,

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

 

INVEST IN YOURSELF

Well, of course, we could all agree that vanity is a sin. I seriously started giving in to makeup and skincare products on about the last quarter of 2012. I’m practically broke every single week because I spend them mostly in Korean beauty products. I also do not return the changes in the bills of my parents because I malverse them as extra money for the said products. Yes, do not dare do this, ladies. The rule of thumb is act your wage or in my case, act according to my allowance.

I’m wiser now. I do not buy new makeup until I almost fully consumed it. I also stopped shopping for skincare products and this act rewarded me. When I went back to the simple cleanse-tone-moisturize routine, my skin became visibly healthier. I hardly had any new zits.

Yes, I will still continue in investing myself. After all, I only have one body and I need to maintain my health because I have so many dreams to concretize. By the way, this is the year I’ve been waiting for all of my life. I’ll take the bar this year. Nevertheless, I will keep it simpler this year. Cleanse-Tone-Moisturize. Add some makeup. Do not forget some sun protection to prevent wrinkles. That’s it. Also, do not forget…

 

MEDIA CALL US UGLY TO SELL US SOME SHIT

There are so many ways of media that tells us we are not pretty and that we are not good enough. They tell petite people to wear higher heels. They make fun of every acne and scars we have. They convince everyone that they are fat by keeping their models unhealthily thin. They also tell us that we do not have enough clothes, shoes and makeup. But the truth and in fact, every one of us is made uniquely beautiful in our own ways. We do not need any validation from others. Feel free to express yourself. Do not wear shoes and clothes that do not feel comfortable to you.

You do not need to be in the trend. You just have to be you.

 

LISTEN TO OTHERS…AND DO NOT FORGET TO LISTEN TO YOUR OWN WORDS, TOO.

True, the ‘selfie’ generation had become a part of us. I love how it made some people in a way empowered to face the camera and share a part of them in the world. Honestly, this wasn’t easy for me in puberty years and pretty much the whole high school. I have looked at myself as a very, very, very ugly person. I hardly look at the mirror and when a person brings a camera with them, I immediately volunteer myself to take the picture. That is how disgusted I am with myself.

However, this ‘selfie’ generation also made some people too self-centered. I hate people who always begin speaking with “I” and end their paragraphs with “me”. Sometimes, I hate reunions or meet ups with some people I know who are so self-centered. They often complained about how stressing their work are, how their bosses bully them, how their co-workers gang up on them, how their family suck and basically how they play as the victim to every aspect of their lives. It’s almost they are implying that the people who are listening to them have no problems of their own. On the other hand, if we are not talking about how life ‘victimizes’ them, they are starting to badmouth some people we know and often gossip on their matters which details they do not know firsthand themselves.

I admit that sometimes I am guilty of saying those things, too. And when I started hearing myself saying nothing but complaints about my life or badmouthing some persons, I know that something is so wrong with me. It’s either I am tired of my life or I am very insecure or jealous of some people I know. That’s why I learned to listen to myself in order to assess the person I am becoming into. Always reassess your words to reassess the person that you are evolving into.

No matter how hurt you are, do not turn into a person you hate.

Always remember the wise words of my favorite Chinese philosopher, Lao Tze:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

 

WHEN YOU ARE LOST, REMEMBER YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAMS

It’s generally easier being a child. We have adults to take care of our money and ourselves. We have our innocence to easily identify the right from wrong. We are beginning our lives that is why it is easy to build a dream.

However, when adulthood creeps in, we realize that the world is not that huge playground that we first thought it was. We get frustrated. We are told we are not good enough. We are told that we are not talented enough or smart enough. Then, we just see ourselves just battling every day to exist and not anymore to live.

I am not saying that you cannot change your dreams. You can. But the beauty of childhood dreams is that they give a mission and vision right away in our heads because back then our innocence is there and our intention for the world is always pure and good. For example, a lot of children want to be a doctor in order to help people. Maybe you have thought that you are not suited to become a doctor but the reason why you feel so empty now is because you are spending everything you own to yourself and not in helping people which you initially perceived as you mission here on earth. Or as a child, you could dream that you want to become rich in order to buy a house for your parents because you were living on the streets before. But now that you achieve your dream to be materially rich, where are your parents? Did you fulfill your promise or are you wasting your life in vices and practically isolating yourself from everyone you know?

When I want to give up on law, I remember my first year high school math teacher who defended me from the person who bullied me. I always thought that for thirteen years, I’ve been battling my bullies alone. It feels so good to be defended by someone that is why when I grow up I will do everything in my power to protect the suppressed through the power of their rights vested in them. Unfortunately, my math teacher died in 2012 at a tender age of thirty-five because of esophageal cancer. But I will offer to him my license to practice law as soon as I get it next year.

 

Well, there you have it. Have a great 2014 and life ahead. Feel free to share some life guidelines to me as well!

ggg
Sky Lanterns. I edited this photo of mine in an App called Moment Cam and used it to greet my Chinese-Filipino best friend a Happy Chinese New Year. It turns out that the Chinese do not make Sky Lanterns fly in their new year; there is a separate festival for that. Nonetheless, I am always fascinated with sky lanterns (as if it is not obvious in my blog’s name). It reminds us that in letting go, beautiful things are coming ahead of us. That is why, let go of all the heartaches, the past, the what ifs and embrace the life’s surprises coming for us. 🙂

Wednesday Massacre: 2012 Bar Exam Disaster

Wednesday noon was a blur for me. It all started when I was on my way home from the Quezon City Hall to pick up my Voter’s ID. I went to St. Peter Parish to light up some candles and to pray. When I hitched my ride to home, I received a text from my classmate that our grades for this semester had been released. I freaked out and decided to go straight to SM Fairview instead of my home in order for me to check my grades as soon as possible.

At that moment, little did I know that it wasn’t my semester’s grade that would shock me.

I received another text again from the same classmate that the 2012 Bar Exam Results were released. I was doubly nervous. I know some friends from my old law school who took the Bar last year. As soon as I had access, the first thing I checked was my grades which were all good. I say they were good because my grades this semester were a lot better than my grades last semester. I called my Dad to tell him my grades but as soon as he answered my call, he asked if were there anyone from my school who passed the bar.

I went, “Huh?” then I continued, “Daddy, do not think about that first. This is my moment. I am pleased to announce to you that I passed all my subjects this semester…”

While I was enumerating my grades, I logged in to Facebook. Yes, I know that I wrote that I quitted Facebook but circumstances dictated me to reactivate my account for school purposes. When I logged in, I finally get what he means by his initial question. The first story I read on my timeline is our Office Administration status saying, “17.76% 2012 Bar Passing Rate… God bless the UE College of Law!”

17.76%! My heart suddenly froze for a minute and throbbed heavily like gongs. I quickly tried finding the list from the Supreme Court’s website. I personally do not know any barristers from my present law school because I never had any one of them as classmates so the moment the list was loaded, I tried looking for my two friends in my law school. When I saw both of their names in the list, a wonderful feeling magically filled my heart. They are finally lawyers!

But still, I want to know what is the story behind that 17.76% passing rate. First, Ateneo is exuberant as the dominated the top 10 of the bar, including the first and the second places. University of the Philippines have 4 people in the top 10, regaining their glory for not being able to send any person in the top 10 on the 2011 Bar Exams. Also, Aquinas University surprised everyone for one of their graduates made it in the top 10. Second, the Supreme Court pompously announced that they even lowered the passing rate from 75 to 70 otherwise only about 361 persons would have passed. Justice Villarama, head of the bar committee for 2012 said, “The Court, following history, and in the spirit of the Lenten season, decided to be liberal this morning. Out of liberality – may puso rin naman yan,” Wow. Liberal? Really? Thirdly, this “Wednesday Massacre” as my future professor in Remedial Law, Atty. Riguera, baptized this Bar Exam fiasco, came about because a lot of students miserably failed in Labor, Criminal and Remedial Law subjects. University of Santo Tomas’ official publication, The Varsitarian, added in their report that only 2% of the examinees passed Remedial Law which consumes 20% of the Bar Exams. Fourthly, this year is the fourth lowest bar exam passers percentile not second as the reports initially says.

Everything I enumerated above is what we learned from media. These additional statistics is what is being whispered in the legal community. Let us start with the not-so-secret stats of my former school UST. They garnered an average of 48%. In my school, UE, it was 36%. In San Beda, I heard that their passing rate is about 70%. Usually their passing rate is almost 100%. Top-notch school Ateneo is not as happy as we ought to be because although they dominated the list of top 10, they have 41 students who failed the bar exams and usually they only have about 2-3 bar flunkers per year. Still, these passing rates all doubled at least the current national passing rate of 17.76%.

Then again, I want to ask this question: Are the bar examinees in 2011 Bar Exams necessarily better than those who took the 2012 Bar Exams?

2011 Bar Examination posted a remarkable 31.95% passing rate. At first glance, the statistics pronounce it like that because 2011 Bar almost doubled the 2012 passing rate. However, let us go some statistics of the bar exam years back and you will easily notice that there seems to be a trend created. It keeps on going up and down every year curiously.

 

Ups and Downs
Yoyo. I gathered the bar percentage for 13 years. Notice the pattern in the line graph?

This bothers me because following this trend, I could predict that this year’s bar exam results will play somewhere within 25%. But in 2014 wherein I shall take my bar examinations, it will suddenly plummet down again to 20% or perhaps, God forbid, lower.

I really am nervous. What would become of me when I take the bar? I have no other dream but to become a lawyer. I studied for twenty years (and counting) straight just to prepare for the bar. However, I also thought of those who already failed the bar. What would become of them? I know some people immediately left their dream to become a lawyer. For those who are willing to take another chance, they could freely do so especially now that the Supreme Court lifted the 5-take bar rule. Still, if you fail but you are still willing to take the bar again, how will you do it? It is bad enough to gather all the pieces of your broken pride and morale. However, to take another year or half a year of to prepare is another story. For sure the 949 bar passers in 2012 bar exams are now somewhere on top of the world but how about the 4,737 people who did not make it and had shattered their dreams?

I completely understand that passing the bar is hard. However, to obtain that law degree diploma is also a great struggle. The hours are wasted in finding those assigned cases alone and just imagine how many more hours are needed just to read them. There are days where you cut off your connection with your old friends because you are too busy or too depressed to face them or any other people for that matter. There are days wherein you just want to cut your connection with the world and deactivate your social networks because you feel like you are going nowhere with your miserable study life while the rest are getting hitched, travelling the world and having the time of your life. I have classmates who immediately quitted law school after just several days in it because they can’t handle the pressure. Some call it quits after a year. I am even kicked out of my first law school though I now completely adjusted to my new one. Surely, ask any student or any lawyer for that matter, about law school and brace yourself with all the stress stories they would share. Or maybe they would be completely quiet about it just like me.

Yes, don’t try talking to me about school. I completely hate it.

Nonetheless, I want to take that 2014 Bar Exams no matter what happens. Although there is now that fear that more heads would roll on that year based on statistics, I take it as a challenge. After all, I believe that God backtracked me in order to prepare more of the bar. Had things went in my life smoothly, I should be taking the bar this year but I really feel raw and unprepared.

All in His time.

And when that day comes, I swear I’ll make Him proud and all the people who believed me.

A Decision Gone so Wrong: What is the Price of Artificial Beauty?

The news from China about the man suing his ex-wife for being ugly became a worldwide sensation. In fact, it was even one of the front page news from our local broadsheet this morning.

In case you have not read or heard about this news, I’ll supply the details: A man named Jian Feng married a beautiful woman whose name is withheld though her before-and-after pictures are shown. Anyway, according to Jian Feng, they had a blissful marriage until their daughter is born. He expressed his disgust by saying that their baby is “incredibly ugly to the point that it horrified” him. He accused his ex-wife of cheating because according to him, there is no way that their genes could produce such an ugly baby.

It turns out that the woman had undergone plastic surgery in South Korea where she spent almost $100,000 up to $125,000 (the reports vary) years before she met Jian Feng. Also, DNA tests were also conducted proving that indeed, they are both the parents of the baby. Thereafter, Jian Feng divorced his ex-wife and asked for damages. He won his case, not surprisingly handled by a male judge, and was awarded $120,000 worth of damages. The presiding judge ruled the man had technically married the woman under “false pretenses”.

Before and After the Surgery. Nobody could ever believe that these two pictures are the one and the same woman.

I understand that the woman is initially at fault here for she did not reveal her secret on what she really looks like before they got married. I understand the feeling of the husband that he was deceived upon seeing their baby and after knowing the truth about the plastic surgery.

But is marriage about what the other person looks like? Is this the “false pretenses” that the Chinese judge is talking about?

I do not know much about Chinese law but in case a similar case occurred here in the Philippines, I believe that they would use this provision from the Family Code:

Art. 45. A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage:

xxx                                                              xxx                                                xxx

(3) That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

It may be weird citing the Philippine law but I believe that our law could be applicable to any family all over the world. The words may be annulled purports that such marriage is voidable. A voidable marriage or contract is considered valid until declared otherwise. And this is for a good reason: marriage is for perpetual partnership and unconditional love. In marriage, one entirely accepts a person for who he fully is. This includes not only the person perceived at this present but also his vague past and unknown future.

Nonetheless, whatever laws the Chinese have, it appears that Jian Feng only marry her because she looks beautiful, period. But he totally disregarded other aspects of her as physical beauty is just one element of a person. How about the times where she became patient with his idiosyncrasies? Maybe she even learned how to cook, to behave as an honorable wife for him. How about the little surprises she made to keep him smiling? Also, it is priceless whenever a woman worry for the safety of the man she loves.

But what puzzles me most is why he didn’t seem to research about his wife before marrying her. I mean, if I were to get married to the man I loved, I would have asked him to let me meet his family and friends. This serves not only as a background check but for me to get to know him more. I want to know his favorites as well as his dislikes. Or what kind of child or teen he was. If he was timid, I want to know why. If he was rebellious, I want to know what triggers it. Did he have allergies? I would like to know that, too, as there is a high possibility that our future children might inherit it. Ultimately, because I love him, I want to know him best in order to make him happy for the rest of our lives. Of course, past pictures would surface from the people I was asking, that is inevitable.

I am saddened on how the world is turning out to be where everything is based only on superficial and apparent beauty. I am not a fan of anyone who had undergone plastic surgery but somehow I understand Jian Feng’s ex-wife. The competition is tough in Asia but more especially in East Asian countries. You must not only be academically excellent, extremely talented but you must also possess good features like those big eyes, small face and perfect skin. Or perhaps, that woman also wants to feel beautiful after being ridiculed as ugly not only by her playmates when she was a young girl or her colleagues as a working lass but also by her parents and relatives who have this mischievous looks at her coupled with uncomfortable snickers  or head shakings.

Unfortunately, the man she thought who could finally make her happy for the rest of her life turned out to be a douche bag. Not only did he divorce her and humiliated her in public, but she also needs to pay her $120,000. Worst, there is no mentioning of any decision beneficial to her daughter. Will Jian Feng be also freed of his obligation of support to his daughter because of his ex-wife’s “false pretenses”? Where is the justice in this instant case? It does not make any sense. Whatever he says, the fact remains that the baby is still his own flesh and blood and that the baby is faultless with whatever misunderstanding he and his ex-wife had. It is also most unfortunate that their baby shall live with the fact that her daddy left her and her mommy because they are “ugly”.

On the brighter side, I want to congratulate the ex-wife because she can now live in peace without that heartless man. Also, there is still a person who would love her indefinitely: her daughter. For Mr. Jian Feng, good riddance. Enjoy your money earned in this case. Assuming you are a handsome man, you proved to the world that you are revolting and vile inside. Alas, nobody could ever love your wicked, cold and callous soul.

Beautiful Baby. According to some news reports circulating across the web, this is Jian Feng and his ex-wife’s baby. I don’t see her as ugly at all.

The Truths About the Cybercrime Law (R.A. 10175)

It has been weeks since the controversial Republic Act 10175 or “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012″ has been effective as a law. Netizens were outraged for its passing. Several memes, blog posts and comments flooded my timeline in Facebook and Twitter. They clamor that we entered again the era of Martial Law, electronic that is. But what is it really?

The passage of the Cybercrime Law is intended not to be a burden for us responsible Netizens but it is primarily meant to act as a protection for us against people who are abusing their freedom of speech. A lot of people are downright hurtful and reckless in expressing their thoughts in the Internet especially on celebrities on Twitter. They easily spread baseless rumors that tarnish the images of our celebrities, both local and international. But it is not just the local celebrities who are getting the hurt from all of these Internet fiascos. Ordinary netizens suffers, too. I have friends who were victims of anonymous and reprehensible people who made an account using their pictures. I couldn’t forget my friend who we shall name as “Shirley “(not her real name) who not only used her pictures, but names that fake account with her real named coupled by the word “skanky”. To make it worst, her picture was edited with a drawing of a penis near her lips and there were scribbles of fangs on her mouth and horns on her head. She requested everyone to report to Facebook that fake account as spam. I reported it to Facebook until the day it was officially taken down by the popular networking site.

The list of victims could go on and on. And while I wrote this article below about bullying, there is also Cyber-bullying now. The problem with the old school bullying of physical, emotional or verbal abuse compared to Cyber-bullying is that in the latter sometimes you have no idea on who is your bully. In Shirley’s case, she never found out who made that fake Facebook account. It’s easy to create accounts in the Internet, spread things about a person whether imbued with truth or of complete falsity and just go away with it.

Before we start, please take note on the definition of the Cybercrime Law on what a computer is: “Computer refers to an electronic, magnetic, optical, electrochemical, or other data processing or communications device, or grouping of such devices, capable of performing logical, arithmetic, routing, or storage functions and which includes any storage facility or equipment or communications facility or equipment directly related to or operating in conjunction with such device. It covers any type of computer device including devices with data processing capabilities like mobile phones, smart phones, computer networks and other devices connected to the internet.” Therefore, everything here shall apply not only to our computers but as well as our mobile phones.

Anyway, let us analyze the penal provisions and the penalties one by one.

 SEC. 4. Cybercrime Offenses. — The following acts constitute the offense of cybercrime punishable under this Act:

(a) Offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems:

(1) Illegal Access. – The access to the whole or any part of a computer system without right.

Downright illegal. Of course who would want their computer accessed by anyone?

(2) Illegal Interception. – The interception made by technical means without right of any non-public transmission of computer data to, from, or within a computer system including electromagnetic emissions from a computer system carrying such computer data.

I’m not exactly sure how illegal interception could be used in computers. I suggest asking the opinion of an Electronics Engineer for this. I do not have a working knowledge of this so I cannot say if the provision is vague. Illegal interception usually occurs in telecommunication devices which is included in their definition of what a computer is. Weird, I know.  Also, would this include people who are making unwarranted usage of their neighbor’s Wi-Fi without the latter’s permission?

(3) Data Interference. — The intentional or reckless alteration, damaging, deletion or deterioration of computer data, electronic document, or electronic data message, without right, including the introduction or transmission of viruses.

Yes, this must be punishable. One of the major reasons for the decline of Friendster is some people ‘phished’ the information of its users. After clicking a graphic or an invite in your wall, you would be directed into a link which is asking for your Friendster username and password again. Thinking that you are accidentally logged out, you supply that information again not knowing that your login information was already acquired by a random person. That’s the Friendster virus everyone was talking about. Definitely, we do not want our information altered, damaged, deleted or deteriorated by a third person especially if we are talking about writings, photographs, videos and the like which are covered by the Intellectual Property Law. For your information, whether you registered your work or not, you already have a copyright for your work created.

One more thing, this probably applies to people who recklessly alter some of the tweets of known personalities like celebrities or newscasters to exaggerate the news especially in times of calamities like typhoons. Please, do not do this.

(4) System Interference. — The intentional alteration or reckless hindering or interference with the functioning of a computer or computer network by inputting, transmitting, damaging, deleting, deteriorating, altering or suppressing computer data or program, electronic document, or electronic data message, without right or authority, including the introduction or transmission of viruses.

Similar to the provision on Data Interference but its scope includes computer program. The rest that it mentioned could be understood as included under Data Interference. I believe that it is best to just merge these two provisions together.

(5) Misuse of Devices.

(i) The use, production, sale, procurement, importation, distribution, or otherwise making available, without right, of:

(aa) A device, including a computer program, designed or adapted primarily for the purpose of committing any of the offenses under this Act; or

(bb) A computer password, access code, or similar data by which the whole or any part of a computer system is capable of being accessed with intent that it be used for the purpose of committing any of the offenses under this Act.

(ii) The possession of an item referred to in paragraphs 5(i)(aa) or (bb) above with intent to use said devices for the purpose of committing any of the offenses under this section.

Wait? What? The law did not define what a ‘device’ is but reason would tell us that device would just mean the computer itself. I don’t know why there are suddenly commercial law provisions for this law but I’m pretty sure that selling of any goods without any right is illegal primarily because of taxation purposes and for fair market play under the commercial laws. Thus, what is this?

Why must there be a provision about the misuse of computer password or access code? I mean how can you access any data without the use of the password or access code? So if I hack one’s account and make use of his data, shall I be liable for both data interference and misuse of devices?

Also, by committing any other act in this law, aren’t you already misusing your device, too? I believe that this is a vague provision that must be removed if ever this law shall be amended.

(6) Cyber-squatting. – The acquisition of a domain name over the internet in bad faith to profit, mislead, destroy reputation, and deprive others from registering the same, if such a domain name is:

(i) Similar, identical, or confusingly similar to an existing trademark registered with the appropriate government agency at the time of the domain name registration:

(ii) Identical or in any way similar with the name of a person other than the registrant, in case of a personal name; and

(iii) Acquired without right or with intellectual property interests in it.

Cyber-squatting. I chuckled when I first read it. Nonetheless, in my humble opinion, this is another useless provision. This is well-covered by the Intellectual Property Laws on trade names! I also assume that they copied this from Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) of the United States which states:

SEC. 2. FINDINGS. Congress finds that the unauthorized registration or use of trademarks as Internet domain names or other identifiers of online locations (commonly known as `cybersquatting’)–

(1) results in consumer fraud and public confusion as to the true source or sponsorship of products and services;
(2) impairs electronic commerce, which is important to the economy of the United States; and
(3) deprives owners of trademarks of substantial revenues and consumer goodwill.

(b) Computer-related Offenses:

(1) Computer-related Forgery. —

(i) The input, alteration, or deletion of any computer data without right resulting in inauthentic data with the intent that it be considered or acted upon for legal purposes as if it were authentic, regardless whether or not the data is directly readable and intelligible; or

(ii) The act of knowingly using computer data which is the product of computer-related forgery as defined herein, for the purpose of perpetuating a fraudulent or dishonest design.

(2) Computer-related Fraud. — The unauthorized input, alteration, or deletion of computer data or program or interference in the functioning of a computer system, causing damage thereby with fraudulent intent: Provided, That if no damage has yet been caused, the penalty imposable shall be one (1) degree lower.

I scratched my head reading this. Aren’t all of these a fancy repetition of Data and System Interception? Couldn’t this be just deleted?

(3) Computer-related Identity Theft. – The intentional acquisition, use, misuse, transfer, possession, alteration or deletion of identifying information belonging to another, whether natural or juridical, without right: Provided, That if no damage has yet been caused, the penalty imposable shall be one (1) degree lower.

I was pleased knowing that this is included in the law especially having Shirley’s case at the back of my head. But perhaps, this provision must have some more parameters regarding the use and the right of identifying information belonging to another. I mean, quote people from time to time especially in writing blogs and tweeting but do I really have the right to do so? Also, some people are using the pictures of their favorite celebrities as their profile pictures. I believe that it is also a form of usage of identifying information belonging to another after all damage would just mean a degree higher in penalty. But isn’t that vague? You could be imprisoned by just changing your profile picture of Angelina Jolie is utterly ridiculous.

Penalties: Any person found guilty of any of the punishable acts enumerated above shall be punished with imprisonment of prision mayor (6 years and 1 day to 12 years) or a fine of at least Two hundred thousand pesos (PhP200,000.00) up to a maximum amount commensurate to the damage incurred or both. However, any person found guilty of the punishable act under Misuse of Devices shall be punished with imprisonment of prision mayor or a fine of not more than Five hundred thousand pesos (PhP500,000.00) or both.

But it does not stop there. If punishable acts in Section 4(a) are committed against critical infrastructure, the penalty of reclusion temporal (12 years and 1 day to 20 years) or a fine of at least Five hundred thousand pesos (PhP500,000.00) up to maximum amount commensurate to the damage incurred or both, shall be imposed. Critical infrastructure is referred under this law the computer systems, and/or networks, whether physical or virtual, and/or the computer programs, computer data and/or traffic data so vital to this country that the incapacity or destruction of or interference with such system and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national or economic security, national public health and safety, or any combination of those matters.

(c) Content-related Offenses:

(1) Cybersex. — The willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration.

How about between two consenting adults? Some women ‘reward’ their men by sending them their private photos on-line. I believe that this act consists of exhibition of sexual organs with aid of computer systems for a consideration. Could they be punished under this act?

Penalties: Any person found guilty of any of the punishable acts hall be punished with imprisonment of prision mayor (12 years and 1 day to 20 years) or a fine of at least Two hundred thousand pesos (PhP200,000.00) but not exceeding One million pesos (PhP1,000,000.00) or both. Good luck to you and your boyfriend in posting your videos.

(2) Child Pornography. — The unlawful or prohibited acts defined and punishable by Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, committed through a computer system: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be (1) one degree higher than that provided for in Republic Act No. 9775.

This provision increased the penalty for child pornographers. I’m quite happy knowing that. Those pedophiles must receive all the penalties that they deserve. It breaks my heart knowing how many children are exploited sexually at a very young age. The effect to them is greater in the future. They will have no disregard for their being as a person and would sell their bodies as an adult. Worst, they could become pedophiles themselves.

Penalties: Any person found guilty under this provision shall be punished with the penalties as enumerated in Republic Act No. 9775 or the “Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009″: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for in Republic Act No. 9775, if committed through a computer system.

(3) Unsolicited Commercial Communications. — The transmission of commercial electronic communication with the use of computer system which seek to advertise, sell, or offer for sale products and services are prohibited unless:

(i) There is prior affirmative consent from the recipient; or

(ii) The primary intent of the communication is for service and/or administrative announcements from the sender to its existing users, subscribers or customers; or

(iii) The following conditions are present:

(aa) The commercial electronic communication contains a simple, valid, and reliable way for the recipient to reject. Receipt of further commercial electronic messages (opt-out) from the same source;

(bb) The commercial electronic communication does not purposely disguise the source of the electronic message; and

(cc) The commercial electronic communication does not purposely include misleading information in any part of the message in order to induce the recipients to read the message.

This is useful for people who love transacting on-line. Internet is a source of fraudulent transaction because it’s very easy to advertise goods on-line but it is also very easy to abscond from your buyers. However, this is unnecessary. We already have the Republic Act 8792 or the E-Commerce Act for this.

Penalties: Any person found guilty of under this provision shall be punished with imprisonment of arresto mayor (1 month and 1 day to 6 months) or a fine of at least Fifty thousand pesos (PhP50,000.00) but not exceeding Two hundred fifty thousand pesos (PhP250,000.00) or both.

(4) Libel. — The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.

Without a doubt, this is the most controversial provision in the entire law. Senator Tito Sotto supposedly inserted this provision when he got offended with the netizens who made fun of his anti-RH Bill speech that was supposedly copied from a blogger and the other speech was translated from the speech of Robert Kennedy. But first of all, what is libel? Libel is defined under Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code which states that, “A libel is public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.” While penal laws are supposedly prospective, the Cybercrime law may have a retrospective effect because the coverage of the term libel is so broad, it could include all other libelous statements including those you’ve posted on-line a year ago as long as it tends to cause dishonor, discredit or contempt a natural or juridical person or blacken the memory of a dead person. The prescription of the crime libel is one year under our Revised Penal Code. In addition, the truth of your statements is generally not a defense according to Article 354 although your liability could be lessened under Article 361 if you can prove your good faith in posting such statements on-line BUT remember that this is a special law, a mala prohibita. In special laws, good faith is NOT a defense.

Article 355 enumerated the means that libel could be done, “A libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means.” Nonetheless, I do not understand why the penalty for libel is so huge and harsh if done on-line. Article 355 continues, “shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos, or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party.” Observe how little those pecuniary penalties are and the imprisonment simply means 6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months.

Nonetheless, according to Atty. Disini an information technology legal expert, on-line libel under RA 10175 is punishable by a penalty one degree higher than the one in the penal code. In this case, it’s a maximum penalty of 10 years. Because the penalties are cumulative, a single act of online libel can result in a maximum jail time of more than 14 years.

SEC. 5. Other Offenses. — The following acts shall also constitute an offense:

(a) Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime. – Any person who willfully abets or aids in the commission of any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.

Maybe if you helped in carrying the computers knowing it shall be used for the commission of the crimes under this law, you could be penalized under this article? I don’t know. How do you exactly abet a cybercriminal?

(b) Attempt in the Commission of Cybercrime. — Any person who willfully attempts to commit any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.

Oh, my dear Lord, this made me LAUGH! Hysterical! So if I typed something like, “Die, you bitch!” on the wall of a girl I really hate BUT NOT actually post this message, I shall also be criminally liable under this law? How would the government play like God in this case? Perhaps they could just include an attempted stage in the Child Pornography. It will just not do in any other crimes included in this law. Anyone else here who had a good stretch of imagination, come suggest something that could be considered as an attempted stage in the Cybercrime law.

Penalties: Any person found guilty of any of the punishable acts enumerated under this section  shall be punished with imprisonment one (1) degree lower than that of the prescribed penalty for the offense or a fine of at least One hundred thousand pesos (PhP100,000.00) but not exceeding Five hundred thousand pesos (PhP500,000.00) or both.

SEC. 6. All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.

In short, any of our crimes now named under the Revised Penal Code and other special laws shall have an aggravating circumstance if used with [digital?] information and technologies.

SEC. 7. Liability under Other Laws. — A prosecution under this Act shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws.

Uh-oh. I smell double jeopardy here. It means that you could be prosecuted for let’s say, libel, under the Cybercrime Law AND the Revised Penal Code. Good luck with that.

At present, after several protests, the Supreme Court finally issued its 120-day Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) with all the justices voting unanimously to its issuance but the battle is far from over. Actually, as a responsible netizen, I am not afraid of the Cybercrime law. I have my Constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression and I give only constructive criticism against the government in some of my blog entries. What I am mostly afraid of is Section 19 of the Cybercrime Law, declaring that “when a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer.'” No court intervention is needed because the DOJ can go right ahead and force you to stop publishing your posts. This is a clear violation of due process but how exactly are we going to be monitored by DOJ? I mean, personally, once I placed my post in an on-line forum, I can’t find it after a few hours especially if we are talking about hot topic here. Who will monitor our posts and how many shall they be? How far can the P50 Million annual budget for this law go?

While I understand the good intentions of the drafters of this law, this must completely be declared null and void by the Supreme Court as soon as possible. Not only because of its vagueness, its killer penalties and it being violative of our right to due process, speech and expression but it is almost completely unenforceable. Should we be afraid of these nuisance law? As the movie, V for Vendetta reminds us,

“”People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

From Facebook
Big Brother is Watching You. Go ahead. Search my posts including my 22000+ tweets. Am I afraid? No. Laughing, yes.

Read the full text of the Cybercrime Law in the Official Gazette.

67 Glorious Years of Eating Death Threats for Breakfast: A Tribute to Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago

There are two kinds of geniuses. The characteristic of the one is roaring, but the lightning is meagre and rarely strikes; the other kind is characterized by reflection by which it constrains itself or restrains the roaring. But the lightning is all the more intense; with the speed and sureness of lightning it hits the selected particular points – and is fatal.

—Søren Kierkegaard

I must say that in the present setup of the Philippine Senate today, I’m starting to lose hope for any progress for the Philippines. The present Senate have everything the Senate must not have. Practically the composition of the Senate could be divided into four subgroups: first, the movie stars who are not exactly sure why they are there in the first place; second, the products of nepotism which, if I may point out, unconstitutional and dishonourable, who wishes nothing but for their surnames to retain forever in the Philippine Senate; third, the group of not-so-witty-yet-so-ambitious bunch who are so obvious because they are the biggest political butterflies who practically has integrity and loyalty for sale to anyone who could assure them assistance for the next election (additionally, some people in this group really eye those higher positions in 2016 election); and lastly, the endangered group who are intelligent, brilliant, nationalistic and who really cares for our country.

Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan—buti nga!

I kind of hate myself for missing the opportunity to greet one of the people I admire the most in our country in twitter last Friday. She is the epitome of the fourth group I am talking about. Yes, Happy Birthday to you, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago!

Well, I do not really need to start narrating all her accomplishments from her student days, to her law practice, to her being the Regional Trial Court Judge up to her being our Senator now. Everybody knows just how smart she is. Nobody can ever question that. She is also a person oozing with talents from debating, writing, teaching and she had also been a swimming champion when she was in high school. There is no exact word that could properly define her very feisty and fiery personality. She could easily leave anyone befuddled and stunned. A couple of hyphaluting words here and some shrewd comments here plus some of her condescension easily reduce anyone into a dropped jaw. Also, once she starts talking with intense paroxysm, nothing can stop her.

Of course, I do not always agree with her. Obviously, I am anti-RH Bill and she is one of the biggest advocates of that bill. Nonetheless, more than her unquestionable intelligence and work made in public service, I admire her firm standpoints on several issues. I admire her burning desire to explain things to the public. She would even make profanities in Tagalog during the Chief Justice Corona’s Impeachment trial. Some people would say she is a crazy woman. Some people call her Brenda for Bren-damaged (Brain Damaged). But that is so juvenile for me. It is comparable to how little high school kids bully their genius classmates and call them geeks or nerds because they are too intimidated with their intellect. But I believe that if more people had tried listening and understanding her points, there would be less uninformed and unintelligent Filipinos. Do not misunderstand her as complicating everything. In fact she is doing the opposite. I believe that to her mind, she sometimes even uses the language of the streets in order to simplify a difficult law principle. One of the biggest cancers of the society today is the lack of the knowledge of people of the law and their rights like many people believe that they could actually inherit debts of their parents when they cannot. But she’s trying her best to reach out and correct that ignorance of our people even if it means risking her health for she knows that she could be so passionate that her blood pressure may rise to very high level which could be enough to kill her. It’s just sad that people mock her before they would even try hearing her words.

I wish her the very best. She just turned 67 years old and at that age, a person usually retires and spends the rest of their lives enjoying themselves or spoiling their grandchildren. Nevertheless, it is my selfish desire to wish for her a longer life. I wish for her life would be long and strong enough to make changes in our country and also make us all proud by her being a judge in the International Criminal Court. Damn those ‘crabs’ of hers who even go as far as campaigning ICC to reconsider Senator Miriam to the post as ICC judge because she is “emotionally or psychologically unstable” but I know ICC knows better. I’m certain that this iron lady could accomplish whatever tasks she faces in the future. After all, she is the lady who claims, “I eat death threats for breakfast.

The adventure of life is to learn, the nature of life is to change, the purpose of life is to grow and the triumph of life is to prevail.
—Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Happy Birthday again, Senator Miriam. God bless you all the days of your life.

Love, Sex, Law and Philippine Showbiz

Let me get one thing straight: I’m very much interested in Philippine politics every since I was a little child. I stay up for it, I analyze it, and I talk about it. I even write about it. Heck, when I first went on-line when I was eleven, the first website that I looked for was the ABS-CBN news website. But these months, my life took a 180-degree turn. I no longer care about politics. I’m sick and tired hearing the bullying of this administration. Now they even want to impeach the Chief Justice for no real reason at all. Before I go on and rant on how frustrated I am with this administration, let’s just talk about the next worst thing—the Philippine show business.

To start off, let us talk about the breakup of Piolo Pascual and KC Concepcion. I find it amazing how much KC can say without revealing anything with her reveal-all interview with the newly crowned Asia’s King of Talk, Boy Abunda. She just cried there ranting on how she accepted Piolo for what he is. He even accepted the fact that he has lovechild with an unknown woman. But what really intrigued as again is Piolo Pascual’s sexual orientation. Their breakup sparked rumors again that Piolo is indeed a gay man. Ludicrously, ABS-CBN quickly released an article that Maricar Reyes may be the one who caused their breakup. Come on, just leave her alone. Wasn’t it enough that she suffered so much with that Hayden Kho sex video scandal? Let’s focus on the real issue here on whether or not Piolo Pascual is gay.

Then again, what if he’s really gay? Would that make him less of an actor? I don’t think that it would really be an issue. Actually, my professors in University of Santo Tomas, the school where Piolo entered into but didn’t graduate, told us that indeed he is a gay man. We were told that he is a drama club freak being a proud member of Teatro Tomasino and in there everyone knows he is gay. But in entering show business, he needed to toughen up and act as a man. Every woman and gay absolutely adored him on the big screen. And who wouldn’t? He appeared to be chiseled to perfection from the purest white marble. His features are wonderfully crafted that you couldn’t see a flaw on any of its form. He is tall, muscular, gorgeous and well, he knows how to sing. He could live in anybody’s fantasy. Surely you wouldn’t waste someone like him to just do gay roles that will not fit him at all.

But you cannot completely hide your true self. There are many sightings of him having delightful moments on the arms of other men, some of which are well known in showbiz. Probably some the news was true but others were just mere allegations which were accepted as gospel truth. Nonetheless, who are we to judge a person? To criticize one who seems like perfect on the eyes of public may seem to be fun but it is still not right.

Moral of the story: Just because he is drop-dead handsome does not mean that he is the man for you. Also, men, whether straight or not, will never change.

Speaking of which, let me move to another issue—DJ Mo Twister’s video. In his infamous video we could see him speaking in monologue about him and the hot, young star, Rhian Ramos and their baby who is about to be aborted at that time. He says that they are in Singapore’s Carlton Hotel and it was about July 2010 and at any time soon he’s going to accompany Rhian to an abortion clinic there and even showed the pregnancy test kit with two lines visible from it. He blamed her family, her management and the Philippine show business for influencing her to make the choice to abort their baby. Nevertheless, he said that he still love Rhian, that’s why he respects and supports her decision to get rid of the baby.

Everyone was definitely too shocked or surprised after seeing the video. Some people were asking me if abortion is a crime. DEFINITELY. There are several types of abortion crimes under the Revised Penal Code under Title 8 (Crimes Against Persons):

Art. 256. Intentional abortion. — Any person who shall intentionally cause an abortion shall suffer:

  1. The penalty of reclusion temporal, if he shall use any violence upon the person of the pregnant woman.
  2. The penalty of prision mayor if, without using violence, he shall act without the consent of the woman.
  3. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the woman shall have consented.

Art. 257. Unintentional abortion. — The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium period shall be imposed upon any person who shall cause an abortion by violence, but unintentionally.

Art. 258. Abortion practiced by the woman herself of by her parents. — The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed upon a woman who shall practice abortion upon herself or shall consent that any other person should do so.
Any woman who shall commit this offense to conceal her dishonor, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.
If this crime be committed by the parents of the pregnant woman or either of them, and they act with the consent of said woman for the purpose of concealing her dishonor, the offenders shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods.

Art. 259. Abortion practiced by a physician or midwife and dispensing of abortives. — The penalties provided in Article 256 shall be imposed in its maximum period, respectively, upon any physician or midwife who, taking advantage of their scientific knowledge or skill, shall cause an abortion or assist in causing the same.
Any pharmacist who, without the proper prescription from a physician, shall dispense any abortive shall suffer arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos.

But why is no one filing a crime or at least investigating Rhian Ramos or her parents to find out of that abortion issue is true? Our crime laws are generally territorial. It means that our laws shall only apply on crimes made on the Philippine archipelago. There are several exceptions under Section 2 of the Revised Penal Code; however abortion is not one of them. In Singapore, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks. According to DJ Mo’s twitter account, Rhian was 3 months pregnant when they had the abortion. Thus, she and her parents did not commit any crime. So, yeah.

Anyway, going back to the real issue, I believe that it was really DJ Mo who uploaded the video. His allegation that he just sold his computer with the file in it is unbelievable. He is known for being a techie. He would not have done something stupid like sell his computer like that without even reformatting it. Second, see the timing. The video went viral the day before he set foot to America. Of course, if I had the file, I would have uploaded it way ahead of time to make sure it had enough time to impugn the reputation of Mo and to make things interesting like Rhian Ramos filing a case to him and Mo of course would file for counterclaim. But with the timing like that, only Rhian would lose everything while Mo would find himself free on the other side of the globe. Third, he has all the motive and intent to do that. Remember how many ridiculed him when he posted very emotional tweets about their breakup? He obviously wants the best revenge story which is more dramatic, more intense and more destructive than the movies Kill Bill or Oldboy or Katya Santos’ Keka. Yes, ikaw na talaga Mo!

Blame Game Over: What now?

But then again, those are my theories. Those won’t really weigh much it court. Heh.

But does Rhian have any remedy? According to her camp, yes—under the infamous (to the point na gasgas na) Republic Act 9262 or Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act. Under that said act, a woman could file a case against a man for economic and psychological abuse. Well, indeed she suffered those things. However, to prove without reasonable doubt that Mo is behind this is another story. Another problem would be summoning him back to the Philippines to answer for the charges. Even with extradition treaty with the United States, it would be very tricky to bring him back here.

I extremely pity Rhian Ramos. She is young, beautiful and talented but the spread of her alleged crime made her ugly and fatigued. Assuming the abortion issue is real then the sin of not facing your true responsibility as a parent made you ugly and fatigued at age twenty. I do not know whether she could stand up once again after this issue as GMA Network made her rest and all her projects went straight to Carla Abellana whose acting skills improved. One winner of this issue is Andi Eigenmann who just gave birth to a daughter last November 23. On-line, I saw a lot of people who were against her initially suddenly praise her for facing responsibility for keeping her child even though she’ll have to be a single mother and even though like Rhian, she’s on the peak of her young career.

But who are we to judge them? Who are we to speak ill against any of them? They are humans, too. They err. They sin. They have emotions. Just like every one of us even they are part of our show business. They need respect and understanding more than ever. We, spectators, are not saints to quickly said things about them and judge them over the top.

I’ll end this blog entry with a much neglected crime under the Revised Penal Code:

Art. 364. Intriguing against honor. The penalty of arresto menor or fine not exceeding 200 pesos shall be imposed for any intrigue which has for its principal purpose to blemish the honor or reputation of a person.

It’s easy to talk harshly, judge without basis and criticize a person’s dignity without any guilt especially if they are part of the show business. But such act is a crime under the Revised Penal Code. You are obviously intriguing another against his honor by passing hurtful things about them. If this law is imposed strictly then I believe that almost all Filipinos would deserve a life sentence in jail. Some may even deserve two life sentences. Remember:  Before you judge, listen. Before you listen, see. That’s why we have two eyes and two ears, cause there are always two sides of every story.

Kramer vs. Kramer: Battle of Choosing What You Want vs. Knowing What is Right

My wife used to always say to me why can’t a woman have the same ambitions as a man, I think you’re right and maybe I learned that much. But by the same token what law is it that says a woman is a better parent simply by virtue of her sex? You know a lot of times, think about it. What is it that makes somebody a good parent? You know, it has to do with constancy, it has to with patience, It has to do with listening to them. It has to do with pretending to listen to them when you can’t even listen any more. And it has to do with love, like she was saying. And I don’t know where it is written that says a woman has a corner on that market. That a man has any less of those emotions than a woman does? “

—Ted Kramer, Kramer vs. Kramer

Because of my father’s directive, I watched Kramer vs. Kramer this lazy holiday afternoon. He recommended that film after one breakfast morning at my cousins’ coffee shop, The Freedom of Espresso, while my siblings and I are having our favorite French toasts. I had a copy the film obtained the next day but since I was so busy in school, I did not have time to watch it. Thank God for making Andres Bonifacio’s birthday today.

The film focuses on a couple, Ted and Joanna, and their son, Billy. They were married for eight years until all of the sudden, Joanna bid Ted goodbye. She told her how unhappy she was with the marriage and she’s leaving Billy under his care. Ted had an exceptionally hard time dealing with the abrupt leaving of his wife especially now that his most awaited break is already on his reach. However, Ted found out that more than the difficulty of his job is the difficulty of being a single parent to his son. There are several things that he cannot do for Billy like whipping up his favorite French toast. But eventually the father and son overcame their differences and the two became extremely close. Ted, however, lost focus on his work. That’s the price he paid for making his son a priority over everything else.

Eighteen months later, he received a call from Joanna asking him to meet her. She did not want for her to return as his wife but she did come back to be Billy’s mommy again. And thus the ugly custody court battle began.

I do not want to give many details in the story or who would win in the end. It’s best if one watches the film himself and be the judge on who really deserves Billy’s custody. It’s interesting to know that both Ted and Joanna have their own fault. Ted, on his want to give his family a better life, worked himself to death to have that position in the advertising company. However, in doing so, he forgot to be a husband and a father for five years. On the other hand, Joanna tried to keep up with the life of being a housewife and a mother faithfully all those years. Nevertheless, she felt as if she is the saddest woman in the world because she felt no personal growth in doing those jobs that’s why she decided to abandon both her husband and son for eighteen month. This is something that the court would frown on because it appears that she is not fit to be a mother to Billy anymore.

The plot of the story may be simple yet more than the tear jerking scenes between Billy and his parents; it introduced the modernization of family roles that a mother and father should take. I believe that a husband cannot just confine his wife at home and doing all the chores and counting all responsibilities in raising their children. He is also capable of doing that. A wife also remembers that she is a woman before becoming his spouse. Therefore, she also has personal aspirations that she wants to accomplish other than family life. She wants to be a career woman too. Unfortunately (most especially here on Asia), even after thirty-two years since the release of this film, many husbands still wants to work solely as the breadwinner and let their wives quit their job to be a full-time wife and mother. People also frown down on men raising children on their own. It is perceived that men doing this job will make one lose his “manliness” or whatever society calls that. The movie’s objective is simple: it is to show the viewers that there is no exact and exclusive husband’s role or wife’s role in family relationships. Both must make way for the growth of the family without compromising the dreams and ambitions of another.

Nonetheless, if I would make some amendments in the movie, I would love to bring Billy to the court and make him choose who between Ted and Joanna. Making a child choose would be very heartbreaking, especially to the un-chosen parent. However, what if he didn’t want to choose? What if Billy answered that he wanted to be with both of them and return to their family of three that they had for years. I think the fault of the movie lies on the issue that they did not tackle and that is whether Ted and Joanna could work out their marriage again. I mean, they now understood where their problem is coming from. In the process of the custody battle, they had the chance of speaking in front of the court and each other what made them unhappy or dissatisfied with their marriage. Now that you know the problem, wouldn’t it be easier to talk over the solution? The story did not state what ground did they use in severing their marriage but I hypothesize that it is “irreconcilable differences” as there are no other grounds that I see fitting for their marriage. I do not understand why something is irreconcilable if they did not put effort to reconcile it. The movie would have ended happier had the movie shown that Ted and Joanna tried saving their marriage, which they never did.

Personally, I had issues with this movie. I now have doubts on fulfilling my dream as a litigator specialized in family court cases. I mean it breaks my heart seeing how people bid farewell to their ever after in court after swearing that they would be with each other until death do them apart. Nevertheless, the pain in the former scenario is nothing compared seeing children part with their parents who they also want to live and grow with. Defending the client’s best interest would be a piece of cake but how about the best interest of the child? Who would protect it? Someday, could I really have the heart and guts to witness those scenarios all the time?

But, whatever. You must watch the film. Dustin Hoffman who played Ted and Justin Henry were outstanding father-son tandem on this movie. However, though she have limited scenes, you must really watch out for Meryl Streep as Joanna. Without saying anything, your heart has been carried by the pure emotions of her eyes. Priceless, I tell you.

By the way, for my next assignment, Daddy wants me to watch Al Pacino’s “…and Justice for All.”

"We built a life together. We wake up and have breakfast and I take him to school and then I pick him up after school and we have dinner together and...I read him a bedtime story...I'm not always the perfect father...but I'm there. I'm there." ---Ted Kramer talks about Billy, defending himself in court. One of the dialogues that made me cry.

Mideo Cruz’s Kulo: Freedom of Mis-Expression

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We confess:

We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the Name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

—Pastor Joe Wright

The prayer above was from my textbook in Christian Living when I was in third grade, I think. I lost that book, I forgot what part of Christianity were we studying by then but I never forgot this. This opened by young mind to the consciousness of my limitation as a person.

Sorry for not just choosing the part where I need most to discuss in this article. But I think everybody needs to read the entirety of that all encompassing prayer to understand the limits and excuses of humanity in justifying their wrong acts. One thing that I do not understand in the news nowadays is that why a lot of Filipino “artists” protests against the removal of the controversial “Kulo” exhibit of Mr. Mideo Cruz.  Of course, I do understand where they were coming from. To say the least, this right had been overplayed, overused and overstated to an overwhelming extent. As the Section 4, Article III of the 1987 Constitution so provides,

“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” 

There is no doubt that exercising this freedom is what makes us all human and in a sense, sovereign from another person. This freedom is the means of a person or persons to communicate or to rage about discrimination in men as preference in employment, in the want for our LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) brothers and sisters to be accepted by the community and in the thirst of some persons to practice religion where they are minority. This freedom also freed our country from the more than four hundred years of Spanish occupation. Jose Rizal enlightened us with Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo as well as his articles on the bigotry and oppression of our forefathers. Other national heroes also resorted into writing for our freedom like Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Graciano Lopez-Jaena, Antonio Luna and the rest of our propagandists as well as the Katipuneros like Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto in history. During Martial Law, a lot of young men and women did fight secretly by publishing their anger on their loss of speech and the repression and hounding of the government to whoever fights for it. Yeah, I know you get the story that’s why we are now living in a world where we could easily express our views. This blog, of course, is a concrete example so is my Twitter account. The television, Internet and newspapers hardly have anything to regulate them. We love fiery arguments of another person, we love criticizing anyone mindlessly and we even like in-depth showbiz news which they all provide. Nonetheless, even though we overuse this freedom in our everyday lives, that doesn’t give us the right to be reckless.

Let me remind everyone again that there is NO SUCH THING as ABSOLUTE FREEDOM. But what limits it, you ask? The answer lies on the rest of our 1987 Constitution again which are other rights stated on the 22 sections of the Bill of Rights including due process, privacy of communication, freedom of religion. Simply put, you are going beyond the right vested in you from the time you are already stepping on the right of another person or group of persons. These rights are further limited by the Revised Penal Code. It’s a crime to uncontrollably say or publish defamatory or hurtful articles that’s why there is such thing as libel and slander. It’s even punishable if one incites to overthrow or incite war because this disrupts public peace. Pornography items are also illegal because it transforms the thinking of men with some women as sex objects. Offending religious feelings is also punishable just like what happened with Carlo Celdran and his “Damaso” sign. Just imagine a world with absolute freedom of expression. It shall be a more despiteful, more reckless and lonelier so to speak.

In Mideo Cruz’s “art work” he stepped on the feelings of the Christians who revere their religion. I wonder what would happen if he did a “Kulo” this time against Islam. I’m sure our Muslim brothers and sisters, who are known to be very passionate and brave with their religion, shall definitely also action on this. Just how important is Religion, the Supreme Court answered it with the 1974 landmark case, Victoriano vs. Elizalde Rope Workers’ Union et. al., to wit:

The constitutional provision into only prohibits legislation for the support of any religious tenets or the modes of worship of any sect, thus forestalling compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship, but also assures the free exercise of one’s chosen form of religion within limits of utmost amplitude. It has been said that the religion clauses of the Constitution are all designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others and with the common good.

Yes, I am a devout Catholic but personally, I was more of annoyed than hurt when I see parts of the “Kulo” exhibit from photographs on-line. They said it was “mixed-media” style but for me, I just see pieces of things glued together and childish vandalism on the images of Jesus and Mama Mary. Really now, is this art? Frankly, it looks like garbage for me. I do not condemn Mr. Mideo Cruz as a person but indeed, I see no art in what he had done. Perhaps, this wouldn’t have been an issue had it not for Cultural Center of the Philippines better use of their “artistic eye”. Come on, CCP, there are so much, much more talents in this country that needs more support and attention than him. Rather than calling this a blasphemy, I call this a very juvenile and insignificant piece of junk that is not worthy for all the media and public attention it’s now enjoying had it been displayed in CCP, but of course whether there had been negligence on the part of CCP is another story and I’ll leave that to the determination of our government instead.

In conclusion, I end this with a quote from Sigmund Freud. This verse verily summarized what is the essence of this issue regarding freedom of speech or expression or any freedom for that matter,

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.

Now the question remains: Who would be responsible for this “Kulo” hodge-podge?

Just Because Everyone is Doing it Doesn’t Makes It Right

Now with Malta’s approving their own divorce bill leaves only the Philippines and the Vatican City as the last two remaining states without their own divorce bill. But what does it imply? Are we now pressured to rush the two House Bills which are for the legalization of divorce in our country?

But what is divorce anyway? Wikipedia defines divorce as the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties. It has several types but the way I see it, divorce is the termination of marriage without any grounds at all except that you just don’t feel comfortable with your spouse anymore. It is fairly simple; just file your petition to divorce in the court and the next thing you know you’re back in the singles market. Remember Britney Spears and her first marriage? She got married and had it divorced after 55 hours. Such act is an insult to the institution of marriage.

I shall not elaborate it fully but there are three things that you have to know in marital laws in the Philippines: declaration of absolute nullity of marriage, annulment and legal separation. Declaration of absolute nullity of marriage requires that the marriage is void ab initio or void from the start. In short, as if there was no marriage that took place. It’s either the essential (consent and legal capacity) or formal requisites of marriage (marriage certificate, authorized solemnizing officer and marriage ceremony) were not present at all at the time the marriage was contracted. It includes the ever famous, PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY.  Annulment, on the other hand, usually happens when there is a defect on the consent given by the parties. For example, you married a man who concealed his homosexuality. Your marriage is valid but voidable or valid unless annulled. Remember that the defect must exist already when you get married otherwise, it cannot be a ground for annulment. Legal Separation steps in when the defect happens AFTER marriage. The Family Code enumerates several grounds for Legal Separation and they are the following:

Art. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:

(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner;

(2) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;

(3) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;

(4) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned;

(5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;

(6) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;

(7) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad;

(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion;

(9) Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or

(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

Take note that Legal Separation IS NOT rescinding the contract of marriage. It only allows couples to separate from their bed and board. It also separates their property and the gains would go to the injured spouse. However, it is even illegal for a woman to revert back after to her old surname because the marriage still exists. The law hopes that eventually the couple would put aside their differences and return to each other arms after a brief separation. They are free to reconcile anytime even after the grant of legal separation.

So why am I not in favor of divorce? It’s pretty simple: to protect the sanctity of marriage. To get into any of these three processes is a rigorous process. There are even counseling sessions involved. There would be people who intervene. It’s long enough to make you contemplate why you got married in the first place. That it is not only the two of you who would get hurt but also your children.  Everyone wants a family who would be steadfast strong to protect and support them hence I cannot really blame children who rebel against their parents after the separation. Also, the experience does impact the lives of children from broken families. There are several studies that children who grew up in a household of broken families tend to have unsuccessful marriages too in the future. It would probably start an unhappy cycle of unsuccessful marriages for generations to come. Couples who are breaking up would also feel the pain of their original nuclear family like the disappointment of their parents, the annoyance of their siblings.  Also, what about the sharp scrutiny of the public eye and the pain of being talked badly behind your back? Rumors may even spread that you’re actually having incestuous affairs when in fact there is probably none. Again in this scenario, it would be the children who would get hurt the most hearing heartbreaking things about their parents.

Just because everyone is doing it in the world does not make it right. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life (Article 1, Family Code). It’s permanent because it is the establishment of the conjugal and family life which is the core and heart of the society. Is it not when everything crushed in our lives like academics, work and friendship, family remains? What would happen when even family is not there to support us? How dreadful that life can be.

Also, we cannot be hasty on our decisions. I am single but according to all wedded couples I know, there are really days that it is a challenge to be together with the person that they had married. There are disappointments, heartbreaks, illness, misunderstanding and chaos from time to time but that is the essence of the wedding vows that you had uttered in the wedding:

I, ________, take you ________, to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

My teacher in Managerial Economics once told me, that finding the person and falling in love is the easiest in marriage because you just, well, fall. But it is a challenge to keep the vow. But you must. That is not only because of your children and your obligations to them. Or that’s not because you swore to God and its not nice breaking your promises to Him. You do it because of your love for that person that you sometimes take for granted or takes you for granted. No marriage is perfect as there are no relationship in this world is ever perfect. It is continuously challenged to enable it to be stronger and better.

With the approval of divorce, marriage may be likened to an ordinary contract where it is easily rescinded and mutual rights over their properties were returned as if nothing happened. More than the conjugal gains and more than the petty misunderstanding marriages are about responsibilities that you would do your vow wholeheartedly to your spouse, children and society. Divorce teaches one to be irresponsible as it is always easier to let go of one’s responsibilities than to fight for it. However, this irresponsibility or to an extent, cowardice, is never a guarantee for a happy future. In fact there are several people, most especially in the Western world, who would get married for more than four times and still not find happiness with it.

Happiness is not easy to achieve. Happiness means work and not running away. Work for your marriage. Work for your happiness.

Unendng.

***Anyone who wants advice on family law may ask me. However, take my advice on your own risk as I am not yet a lawyer.