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Strange things happen during Halloween

Unfaithful to what I pledged last year, I had a bit of Halloween celebration. That is, by dressing up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a far cry from my decade long style of celebrating this pagan custom. And as the old saying goes, old habits die hard.  Right or wrong, my kids and I always treated this occasion as a photo opportunity. Thus,

 

You must agree with me that Miguel’s eyes, reminiscent of the Village of the Damned, added to the creepiness of the photo.

My sons’ pictures above were regular; nothing special nor spectacular. However, when it was my turn, this happened.

The  second picture below, using an I phone, was taken by the lady whose head was mysteriously included in the photo. Don’t ask me what app was used because we did not use any. In fact, the photographer, the owner of the floating head, freaked out.

Strange things do happen during Halloween.

Feeding the Birds

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The last time I had a pet dog was during law school days. It was an afghan hound- very tall and very hairy. All law students would agree that if you are studying law, you spend hours and hours poring over the pages of your law books even during ordinary days to prepare for a possible graded recitation. Considering that my schooling usually ends at night, I didn’t have the time to bond with my dog until it died of a broken heart. Like humans, dogs have feelings too. My heart sank when I came home one night to find it lying down motionless. Fearing that another dog would suffer the same fate, I had to satisfy my “maternal instinct” by turning to turtles and birds instead of a furry friend. With dogs, there is the constant fear of outliving my pet again. Further, dogs have emotional needs. To my mind, birds and turtles are not as  emotional as  dogs. As  I write, my brother Ramon is grieving  the loss of his dog-Clotty. Clotty was ran over by a truck the other night. He died instantly.

Cloty when he was still alive.
Clotty when he was still alive.

In 1995, my older brother Luis gave me a female umbrella head cockatoo. My Family simply calls it Parrot but I named it Tak tak then my kids later on named it Nigel based from the evil cockatoo in the Disney movie RIO.  I bought it a mate in 2005 but its mate escaped.Its been twenty two years and for the third time, Nigel  escaped its cage. Nigel dashed out of its cage when my Mom opened the cage to feed it.

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Nigel  is currently on top of a tree in our backyard.

 

We feed Nigel by putting sunflower seeds and balingbing  (star fruit) in the basket.
Can you spot the bird? My blogger son, RG tries to bribe Nigel with sunflower seeds.

The nice thing about Nigel is it merely stays in the garden hopping from branch to branch. Occasionally it visits its cage but clearly, it has no intention of staying there.  My current predicament is feeding it because the trees are too high. Further, Nigel has developed the habit of walking on the grounds searching for fallen fruits  and scattered sunflowers- a potential meal for a lot of stray cats.  Studies have shown that  stray and feral cats have contributed to the decline of uncaged  birds. I decided to put a basket in a Bignay tree. So far it is working.

More on feeding the birds, my children just wasted one jar of birdseed to feed the neighbors’ pigeons which took up residence in our roof. The nice thing about feeding the uncaged birds  is  that you don’t have to worry about cleaning their surroundings. However, the danger lies in the spread of diseases.

 

In closing, I leave you with a quote made by Anatole France which goes: Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

 

Growing Old

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My parents

When I was 5, I wanted to grow up. So many rides, too many height requirements. I  was impatient about growing old.

When I was 10, I wanted to be 15 because I had a crush who was 18.

When I turned 18, I felt like an adult, but  not yet capable of paying my bills.

When I turned 22, someone broke my heart and I wished I was 18 again.

When I turned 29, I fell in love again, only to have my heart broken again and again and again.

When I reached 35,  I worried about the additional pounds gained.

When I reached 40, worried some more about getting old or dying young.

Talked to my father who is 82 years old, who never thought he would reach 80.

He drank too many beers and smoked too much cigars, survived Vietnam war and crashed on a post when he was 53.

He said,”You see, too many familiar names in the obituary. I don’t think I would be happy to live a few more years until I reach a point that you have to wipe me with a tissue.”

“Life is short Anak, let go of the hurt and remember only the love and good times.”

He said his life is filled with regret that he did not meet up with his friends only to find out that they already died.

He always said that if only he could apologize for the wrong things said or wrong things done to his kids when they were young he would do so. He was also busy growing up during that time.

Nobody could have said it better than a man who drank a lot of beers, smoked a lot and crashed on a post.

So enjoy the little things with your kids, because when you grow up, the little things turn out to be the big things.

Be wise, make your own evidence

I presume that most most lawyers know this. But these tips are for non-lawyers.  Yesterday, my younger brother was worried about an account which was recently assigned to him. His problem was, the period to collect from the debtor was about to prescribe/expire.You see, most transactions, debts, death claims, right to collect amounts and other benefits, like it or not, contain periods to observe; otherwise, you may lose your right to recover. How does one prevent or hold the period from expiring? Better yet, how do you win in an ordinary case without solid evidence? Solution, make your own.

The following tips are proven effective:

  1. If you get  hurt,  threatened, be it a death threat or an ordinary threat, report it. Not just verbally, have it blottered/registered in your local police then get a certified or photocopy.
  2. If someone slaps you or inflicts injuries on you, don’t forget to do a SELFIE. You don’t have to post it on Facebook. Further, go to the nearest hospital and consult a medico-legal practitioner so that should you decide to file a complaint, you have evidence.
  3. If somebody borrows money from you, make him sign a letter acknowledging receipt of the money. Photocopy it  a lot of times. Putting a date is optional. A date could work for or against you. Should you decide to put a date, use the same pen and ink color.
  4. Bringing a friend to witness the borrowing is helpful too.  You could even ask the witness to take pictures while talking with the debtor or as he is  signing the promissory note.
  5. If you neglected to follow up in writing an account or debt, call the person concerned; if no action,  write a letter: “This is a follow up on your outstanding debt..” To make it make it appear that you’ve followed up several times.
  6. If someone owes you money and you don’t have evidence,  write him or her a letter saying: This is pursuant to our agreement that you will pay $ 10,000 upon signing….
  7.  Please buy a clear book. I have proven that record keeping is easier with a clear book. If you bought something, say an appliance or furniture,  or after you’ve consulted a doctor who prescribed you medicine, before you decide to clear your wallet and desks, put all your receipts and prescription in your clear book. You never know when you will need proof.
  8. If someone slanders you or maligns you in Facebook or cellphone text message,  print screen it ASAP because that will serve as evidence.
  9. One warning though, before you click the send button on your email or text, review it first. Omit words which might be used as documentary evidence against you. Chances are, a potential litigant might have consulted a lawyer or read this blog.
  10. Lastly, are you aware that Facebook posts may be used as evidence?

The bottom line is, written evidence is better than verbal evidence because writing has more staying power. God bless!

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Be wise, like an owl.

Being popular for a day

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I’m too shy and too slow to have my picture taken beside Senator Manny Pacquiao. My son Miguel (in red striped shirt) was sorely disappointed.

Today, the union officers in our office were  inaugurated by no less than  the very popular, eight time world boxing champion turned senator, Manny D. Pacquiao. Who does not know Manny  Pacquiao? Everyone dreams of becoming as rich and  as popular as he. Actually, for me,  I would settle for rich.However, the idea of being popular appeals to me also. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be popular even just for a day? Actually, my dream came true sooner than expected; I did become popular for a day when this came out several years ago :

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I am not a topnotcher ; just lucky.

Imagine the delight of all my relatives and friends when my face appeared in the front page of one of the dailies. How did this happen? I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Back to Manny. It is no secret that Senator Manny Pacquiao came from humble beginnings. During his speech at today’s inauguration, he confirmed that he used to live in the streets and would experience hunger from time to time.Gifted with strength and agility, he harnessed his boxing skills until he reached the peak of his career as an Eight-division Boxing World Champion. Everybody dreams of becoming rich and famous but I don’t think  anybody wants to experience what he has gone through prior to his superstardom.

Meeting a celebrity is always a dream which does not always end up positive.There are several horror stories which will put you off meeting celebrities for life.  The nice part of the brief encounter with Manny is he was always willing to accommodate anyone who wants to have a picture.My office mate and fellow lawyer Atty. Jasper Sales was fortunate to have a selfie with Manny.

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Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Atty. Jasper Sales and Mrs. Leonor Sales

So why didn’t I have a selfie/groupie with Manny? First, everything happened so fast. Most people in the crowd were armed with an advanced high tech cellphone. Next, they were tall. Thirdly, they were quick! The exact opposite happened to me because my cellphone conked out as the Pacman alighted from his car. Next, those who were successful in getting a selfie with Pacman were either tall or armed with a selfie stick. Neither of which, I possess. Thirdly, I was too slow because I was wearing high heeled shoes and had a small boy in tow.

The secret to being popular is simple in this day and age. There is the long and hard way.  Study hard to become a topnotcher. Or if you want instant fame, jump off from a building in a thickly populated area.  If you’re lucky enough to be alive after such a daring feat, you will find yourself immortalized in you tube and other social media. Lastly, you can do what I have done,  be in the right place at the right time.

Do you believe in luck?

To complete my to do list every advent season, I had my yearly confession. As I sat in the confessional box, the priest repeatedly uttered the words heretic, heresy and handler. We’re clear on the word heresy because heresy means  a practice/belief contrary to established norms or  what is generally accepted. A heretic is well, somebody who practices heresy. What caught my attention was the word  handler.  Even if you  google it, it does not have many hits.  The priest mentioned something about having a guardian angel and a “handler”.  A handler is the opposite of angel. Don’t get me wrong, as earlier professed, I am a devout Catholic and would surely die as  Catholic.  However, the idea that I have a handler is something I don’t like to agree with, much less imagine.  For those who are expert on the subject please by all means, educate me.  Father Joey also described  me as heretic.  Maybe I am. I’m trying to avoid being one; but, like any other person, I grew up in a family with existing beliefs and superstition. And much as I want to throw away those heretic beliefs, it is rather a long process which I am continuously struggling in.

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So, do you actually believe in good luck or bad luck? I am fond of wearing black because some people say it repels bad luck. Exorcism Society of the Philippines encourage me to wear black because it is said to repel bad spirits. It’s really a matter of perspective. In some cultures, black means mourning.

The picture above was taken during the Itchyworms concert held in our office. Itchyworms is a famous Filipino boy band. My office mates and I arrived late because of a seminar; but nonetheless, we got the best seat in the gym where we could actually get a good and closer view of the performers. Further, the official photographer took our picture which was published within the local  office paper and Facebook.

Before the year 2016 ended, I had money in my bank account thinking that if I have money in the bank at the start of the year, for the rest of the year I will not be as financially  drained. But before the week ended, my car refused to start and its aircon lost freon. When I  attempted to start the engine, it wont start.  When I finally succeeded in making it start, as I parked the car, the  rear lights became grounded which required the batteries to be removed. The bottom of the story is I need to spend money for car repairs AGAIN. So much for having money at the bank at the beginning of the year.

02 January 2017, I fired my maid for her repeated and over extended vacation. This maid has been with me for four years and her primary assets are her intellect and strength. What a way to start the year. However, two days later, on 04 January 2017, my cousin, Rolando Ramos gave me a 58 year old maid who drinks coffee a lot BUT cleans the house perfectly. I have never seen our house that clean for the longest time. The negative trait of this old lady was, while she cleans the house well, along with it the coins and spare change in our wallets.

Friday the 13th

On January 11, my son, Ruben,  reminded me that the coming Friday would be Friday the 13. Nothing could go wrong, right? It’s just superstition.  Come  January 13, I woke up late hence I cannot bring my car because of the color coding scheme. I thought,  I am obliged to take a taxi on my way to work.  However, when I reached for my phone, it refused to power on.  I charged it for half an hour but still it wont open. Fortunately, my maid lent me her charger and my cellphone finally powered on.  See, nothing could go wrong. Finally the whole day went by without anything irregular happening, until I accidentally dropped my 1000 pesos and didn’t have any money for my taxi fare. Great. Thank God for friends. My friend Atty Janell lent me 500 pesos.

Good Luck Bad Luck!

There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck?

Who knows?

Everything that seems on the surface to be an evil may be a good in disguise. And everything that seems good on the surface may really turn out evil. So we are wise when we leave it to God to decide what is good fortune and what misfortune, and thank him that all things turn out for good with those who love him.

So, do you actually believe in good luck? As a devout Catholic, I learned the principle that one must not rely on good luck charms nor superstitious beliefs in their daily activities. Instead of hanging on to these superstitious beliefs, hold on to God and the ability to see the positive side of everything. God bless.

Black Belt

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Rg,MM and Me with Shin Nosuke Suzuki

I remember being the butt of jokes because of my height. I am barely five feet. Since I can’t do much about my God given measurement, I might as well become strong and improve my asset-my strength. Height is might but being small also has benefits. When my brother forgot his ID and wasn’t allowed to enter the school, I simply crawled under the gate and gave mine. He was allowed to enter; while I simply crawled back inside-unnoticed.

When High School was ending, I figured how to improve my lot.  Everyone else towered above me. Feeling a sense of insecurity, I joined TaeKwonDo. Back to the time when Bruce Lee was popular even twenty years after his untimely death, I was finally “in”.

I chose Taekwondo because it is very fancy and resembled Bruce’s Kung fu.  Further, you rarely find an authentic Chinese Martial Arts School unless you live in Chinatown.

During my white belt days, I stood out not because of my form but because I kicked hard. I was very fortunate to train under the Olympian Bronze Medalist, Stephen Fernandez.

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Back to the Basic Side Kick

When I finally gained my black belt, I felt invincible, and yes, TALLER.  You see, I am so fortunate to be born in a family where martial arts was much revered and required. Considering that I am now a black belter, I occupied the front row, closer to the Master.

When I entered law school, butt and head kicking days had to be archived, in the meantime.  The days that followed were thought provoking and more sedentary. I gained legal knowledge and POUNDS.  I remember the laws, but completely forgot my TKD forms. I even lost half of my sense of humor.

Twenty three years after I became a black belter, I came back (Well, I had to find a bigger dobok[1]  and run around the oval for two weeks straight to  shed unwanted fats earned during law school).   At the TKD Central Gym, the children were taller and faster. How does a forty year old lawyer spar with teenagers who have longer legs and at the prime of their youth?  Simple. Being small, I get closer and kick higher so their legs would not hit my little frame. After a week’s training, the coach lauded my old school moves.[2] You see, being a black belt does not mean it’s the ultimate level, there are several degrees/dans to reach. In order to be promoted to a higher degree, you have to break more boards and spar with several black belters as well. This is a very formidable task because age and height are never considered during promotion.

This is not just about me. It’s all about my sons too. You see, they recently became black belts too. Two years of hard training finally paid off.  The happy part is we three get to occupy the front row.

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Coach Ric giving instructions.

When asked if something inside them changed, my eldest replied, Mom, I think I will become more popular. Let’s see.

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RG, Shinosuke Suzuki and Miguel with Coach Ric Canlas taken on June 28,2016.
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Miguel, Shinosuke and Ruben wid Coach Ric, taken in June 2014.

[1] Dobok means Tae Kwon Do uniform.

[2] Old school meaning fancier more Bruce Lee like kicks which include turning head kicks.