Monthly Archives: April 2005

Remembering a Great Filipino

I just heard from the radio going home from work that Raymundo Punongbayan, the former PHIVOCS chief now with the Red Cross, boarded a helicopter this morning to survey relocation sites in Dingalan, Aurora Province but failed to return home. The last I heard, it crashed and there are no survivors at the moment. None are expected. The details can be found here.

Dir. Punongbayan figured prominently for his untiring service during the Pinatubo years. Until the last, he was serving the public.

Let us remember this great Filipino who gave his life in the service of his nation. May we reciprocate his service even for a little bit. May his soul rest in peace.

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Some comments on the Pacific Plans fiasco

I’ve been following the Pacific Plan fiasco intently, both in the media treatment (which I think is already thinning) and in the claimants’ blogs.

Of course, there are a lot of emotions involved. This is not like the Pepsi 349 case because the claimants here have already invested time, effort and of course, money so their children are assured of enough tuition money when time comes. In the Pepsi 349 case, there is no initial investment from the claimants apart from the emotional kind. I am already a father for more than seven years. I’m already fuming mad when someone bullies Bea in school. Just imagine if someone bullies their children out of a future through absolutely no fault of their own. I was sold a Pacific Plan some two years ago but decided to discontinue it, simply because I do not believe in fixed value educational plan. Might as well call it an annuity.

I believe in the traditional educational plan, but with the skyrocketting tuition fees brought about by derregulation, I don’t believe pre-need companies can deliver on their promises unless the claimants pay huge premiums up front.

As a lawyer, I therefore have the following comments on this:

1. For the claimants, PARTICIPATE vigrously in the rehabilitation case. There is a big difference between rehabilitation and insolvency. Rehabilitation simply means that the company is in trouble but not bankrupt (yet). Hence, there is still a chance that the company may honor your claims IN FULL.

Dissect the reasons why PPI needs rehabilitation. Participate in the selection of a receiver. Dissect the rehabilitation plan if it is truly feasible. Otherwise, push for insolvency immediately and you will get more than what they are offering you right now. Much more.

And you can only do that if you participate in the proceedings.

I cannot say much more since I need to see the petition, the plans PPI sold and other pertinent documents to make a more detailed comment.

2. If the rehabilitation was caused by mismanagement, PROSECUTE the guilty persons to the full extent of the law. In this regard, I find the PPI line that the increased tuition fees depleted their trust funds rather odd. Trust funds, by nature, cannot be touched by the company that keeps it. It is, by nature, kept “in trust” for somebody else, namely the claimants.

Of course someone will contest this by saying that I oversimplify PPI’s situation. So it’s for you to find out if I’m correct or not.

3. There should be reforms in the pre-need industry. I think pre-need companies should at the very least buy insurance so that things like these never happen. Insurance companies, by law, do this by a system of reinsurance. Something similar should be done by these pre-need companies.

Here I find the silence of Congress peculiar. This is the perfect occasion for an inquiry in aid of legislation. Right now, they are more concerned with the complaint of Ana Leah Javier against their own rather than the future of their constituents’ children. Remember this when the next election comes.

4. DO NOT LET UP. They are relying on the Filipino’s short term memory and hoping that this will die down with the next big issue. You know how the media plays and how they’re playing you (for fools). Do not allow that to happen. For the PPI claimants’ bloggers, continue to do what you do. Remember who you’re fighting for.

5. Finally, this may sound trivial but for a company supposedly in trouble, PPI’s lawyer can still afford a Nokia 9500, Nokia’s top-of-the-line phone. Its materialistic of course, but I can usually judge a person accurately by their celfones and watches. I’m usually correct. For a troubled corporation, their lawyer is still enjoying the good life, unless it can be explained by some other reason.

Good Luck!

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An American Idol forecast

You may not know this but I have followed American Idol since last season. I even “cheat” by checking the website before the end of the telecast. Our cable’s coverage is just Off Satellite and not Live. Hence, it’s just delayed by about 30 minutes or so.

I make this blog forecast completely from my own opinion. People and friends may disagree but just hear me out.

At this point in time, the top 4 will be the two rockers, the country singer and the Vonz. While the “the Body” and Fedorov may step up, I don’t know if they have enough fans against these four powerhouses to sustain their stay any longer.

Of the top 4, the Vonz may fall on the wayside first because I think her fanbase is no match for the three. I could be wrong but she is my personal favorite because she projects well on TV. Unless she can pull another Jasmine Trias by having her home state voting for her.

For the semi-finals, Carrie may fall unless she can improve and/or successfully cross-over to pop simply because of her country style. Pardon me, I just don’t dig country and western and I think neither does most of the voting fans. If she can make the transition, however, she may go all the way. I think, however, she will be the hottest star in the country & western genre.

Then, it’s a toss-up between the two rockers. I’m leaning more on Constantine only because he the better performer than Bo. And his fanbase is bigger than Bo’s.

This is just my analysis and you may or may not agree with me. I’m just curious now to see if I will be correct. But Simon, even when going against the other judges, seems to be correct ALL THE TIME so I have learned to trust his judgement.

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Lighter Side…My choirs

I’ve been noticing my blogs have become more serious every entry I make. I think I need a change of pace…

I think it’s time tell you something more about one of my other pursuits…my choirs.

During a previous blog, I have stated that my choirs have kept me same, centered, balanced and basically alive.

Let’s get things straight, I do not sing in these choirs. I can’t even score high in videoke. As you may already know, I’m an instrumentalist. I play the keyboards and (you guessed it) the flute.

I started playing in a choir quite by accident during law school. People there had little musical talent (I stand corrected, there were a lot of musically talented persons in law school. It’s just that law school sort of erases all these talents away…) or just had little time to volunteer for church services. I was just one of those who “had” the time to volunteer.

And so I played with three other guys for four years. This was the start of the institutionalized law school choir today. (By institutionalized, I mean established as an institution and not the members confined to an mental institution, heheheh!). And along the way, my musical abilities improved.

Pressures of work and married life forced me to lay off playing for any choir for about seven years.

Out of sheer guts, I volunteered for church choir in my neighborhood. That was a good decision. It kept me from homicidal (or parricidal to be legally precise) thoughts. As I have previously blogged, I ditched them for three choirs, two of them based in the place we now live.

The third is the choir that was formed through the net. You see, we are (shameful for me to admit) fans of the Bukas Palad Music Ministry that maintains a message board on its website. Shameful for me to admit in particular because I have high school and college friends who are members there. My musical ability grew during law school. They did not know this they probably still don’t. I have not met them again for years.

You may not be familiar with the group we admire. But you may be familiar with their songs. Their main composer (but not too much now, I hear) is Fr. Manoling Francisco, S.J., the guy that brought us church classics like “Hindi Kita Malilimutan,” “Tanging Yaman” and “Sa ‘yo Lamang.” See? You know them!

By frequenting their messageboard, I met a lot of online friends, who share the same interest in the same music but serve in different choirs. Then, as an eyeball event, we decided to form what is now known as the BP Online Community Choir (or simply BPOCC).

As individuals in our respective choirs, we were veterans. As as group, our friendship surely bonded us to become good, if I do say so myself. BPOCC already served three times in televised masses. It currently sings monthly in EDSA Shrine aside from other venues by request. We have, as the cliche goes, gone a long way from being online friends.

And BPOCC has now come of age. Bukas Palad is organizing a choir convention on 02 June 2005 to gather various church choirs from all over. BPOCC will be featured to sing a few songs. The ultimate recognition for the ultimate Bukas Palad fans!

I am the flautist of this choir. Sad to say, I may not be able to play for reasons I have stated in previous blogs. Playing or not, I will be there to support them. Because they are my friends.

I will keep you posted when BPOCC sings in that future event.

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Taking the cause of the oppressed

I had a lot of ideas on what to blog today. I could make a follow-up on my previous day’s blog (particularly the “great” news on the National Power Corporation). I could have made an “appeal” to the greedy. Blogging about the “Seven Deadly Sins” even came to my mind. These may be great blogs in some future time but for today, I decided to blog about the title you see above.

This is a story of how my yesterday went. In the morning, I had a great hearing defending a client accused of pushing drugs. He was no pusher, he was just set-up for a “shake-down” by the people who picked him up. When he failed to come across, they promptly planted the evidence and charged him. My direct examination had no hitch.

The cross examination really showed the truth in my client’s claims. The prosecutor utterly failed to break him and his story. Unlike the police officers the prosecutor presented before that are now on AWOL on some extortion charge. A witness who tells the “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but” can never be broken, even by the best lawyer. And that’s what happened at the start of my day.

In the afternoon, I met a client whose spouse was killed by a reckless driver. Here, we faced a driver who refuses to take responsibility (as he has merely relied on the insurance and the generosity of his boss to pull him through this rap), and his boss who focused on getting his car out of the impound before he likewise took responsibility for the spouse his car killed. He even hired an expensive lawyer to take care of his car BEFORE he took care of his employee’s victim.

What’s up with that? And all the while, through the ordeal of the death and funeral of my client’s spouse, this rich guy always implanted in them that this was an accident (no one’s at fault) and the driver had six children to feed. Well for crying out loud! This was no accident, as the death occurred through the driver’s control or his lack thereof and at least those six children still have a father that would eventually come home to them…

I honestly told my client that the chances of a monetary recovery were very small and we would be prosecuting on mere principle here. My client decided to press on…good person…

Out of that meeting came one of my best pleadings I have ever made, PURELY IN FILIPINO since we were still in the preliminary investigation stage. I have never found myself so eloquent and so clear in Filipino in my entire life…I even translated the jargon in Filipino…

I did not earn money today. But this was one day I was glad I’m a lawyer. Truly, to defend the defenseless and to attack for the oppressed are the things that make this profession great. And it does not have to be a celebrated or high-profile case. The exhilaration, I think, is the same.

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Something to start your week…

Here’s to a good week!

Reports say twenty-five executives from the National Power Corporation (yes, you know, that company that incurred most of our national debt) paid themselves P119M in retirement benefits, THEN REHIRED themselves so they can continue to enjoy their six-figure salaries. The details can be found here.

Fantastic! Having the Filipino people’s cake and eating it too! May you choke on it in the process, at the bare minimum.

In a country scrambling to come up with the money to pay soaring tuition fees, compounded by the collapse of two giant pre-need firms that used to pay for them, you people have no shame!

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My flute’s giving out!

Ahh, the Armstrong 104n. My current flute that’s about to quit on me after all these years…

I started playing the flute in earnest during my college days. I started with a “no-name” chrome flute that I borrowed from my cousin. My reason to start was pretty lame. I wanted to try out for the ROTC band so I can get away with light duty.

I eventually did not try out for that marching band (since I decided to stick with the “regular” ROTC training). But my interest in the instrument developed. The instrument, however, did not have an interest in me. Could not make that darn flute play all the notes completely.

Then I attended law school…

Attending law school is like threading the edge of sanity. Unbelievable pressures. Unbelievable volume of daily reading materials. Unbelievable professors and graded recitations. Unbelievable examinations. People have to scramble for something to keep them from going insane. Then during my second year, a friend of mine bought an “el cheapo” flute just to have something else to do.

That flute taught me one thing…the reason why I could not completely play my old flute was because it was broken. It was not me, it was the flute. So since then, I borrowed this friend’s flute to play for our make-shift choir every Saturday.

This choir, mind you, kept me from being insane. Then some months after that, my parents decided to buy me a “decent” flute for my birthday. They were guilty at that time, having spent a ton of money on my sister’s wedding.

So we went to a music store and I was set to buy the same “el cheapo” brand like my friend’s. But lo and behold! There was a second-hand Armstrong 104n for the same price. Of course, that was my choice and it played perfect! (I had the old flute repaired but I donated it to the law school choir I left behind…)

With this “new” flute (that has a name only a few people know about) comes memories of more than thirteen years. Of course, I played this during law school, during bar review, during pre-week (which was funny because the lower batch was supposed to play and pray for us then). That flute kept me from going crazy through my law school and bar years… I even serenaded an ex-girlfriend with it…with positive results…(but not what you think…)

I forgot about it when I practiced law and got married. You know…marital and law practice concerns, except for the occasional weddings of relatives (and funerals…). Then, I got the chance to join a choir and started playing again. I ditched that choir when my wife and I separated. But I loved that choir as it kept me sane through my turbulent marriage.

But, I quickly found three, count ’em, three choirs to replace it.

More than month ago, however, the flute pads gave out, making some notes unplayable (in embarrassing moments, nonetheless). Having no budget to have it repaired, I just bought new pads and attempted to install them myself.

That proved to be a disaster. I somehow managed to “loose thread” (translation: break a screw) on important valve, sending it on an irreversible path to oblivion. I may have to eventually send it for repairs but I guess it’s irreparable. I can still play it, though it’s tough.

Of course I will try to have it repaired, budget permitting. But repairs take a minimum of three weeks (costing as much as half the price of a new one) and I have weekly choir commitments. A flautist without a flute is obviously useless…Hence, I have to buy a new one sooner or later. Again, budget permitting, hence the drooling found in my sideblog…

Ahh that flute…So many memories. A friend of mine once commented that it was my wife (yes you read correctly, my wife). When my human wife has come and failed me and gone, my flute was still with me. But probably for not any longer…

Oh Jeez! I better stop this blog before I get utterly depressed… But if I buy a new one, I will not sell it. Of course, I’ll have it repaired and give it to my kids, whoever wants to take it up.

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