Stay as sweet as you are



MAY I felicitate the new lawyers due to take their oaths on Monday afternoon, May 22, at 3 p.m. at the MOA Arena, thusly:

“Compañeros y compañeras, I see that 3,747 of you, 2016 examinees, passed the 2016 bar examinations and will now take your oath.

“Now you feel being on top of the world, basking in the many-splendored afterglow of a well-earned achievement. There will be many big nights on the town, but the mornings after inevitably bring the cold light of day, so to say.

“What else can one say to you after welcoming you to the guild and expressing the ritualistic good wishes? Where will you be years from now? Particularly the superior ones?

“The driving dream that lifted most of you in your school days was that the law offers a good, if not the best, way of serving the poor, obscure, oppressed, unwashed mob, to attain a measure of justice. Too often, however, it takes only a few years of practice, plus a taste of the good life, for this consuming passion to sink without a trace in the deep rugs of a well-appointed law office, amid the staccato clatter of top-of-the-line thingamajigs and the hum of multi-horse-powered air conditioners.

“Co-optation was the word for it in the language of the street-wise radicals of past years.

“Who among you, unpublicized and unadvertised, will advocate the causes of the poor or unpopular condemned by the lynch mob? Not for the experience either but to be true to a promise to fight the manipulators and the oppressors in society. Mga naghaharing uri, we used to cry.

“Some of you, feeling your word is your bond, will possibly stick it out for a while. But probably, not many. Somewhere down the road the thought of your kids going around barefooted, not going to expensive exclusive schools, and of you being labelled unsuccessful for not being affluent, will stare you in the face and bite deeply into your psyche. And then you will kiss a dream goodbye, to join those who defend the rich and the powerful with ruthless efficiency. In the process you will strengthen, willy-nilly, your clients’ near monopolistic stranglehold on the country’s finest talents, aggravating the imbalance in the power situation in society. Mediocrities can go far in our society but it is the loss of the bright ones— who know the law, not the judge—that really hurts.

“Holmes once said that happiness does not come from material rewards. `[H]appiness,’ he wrote, `I am sure from having known many successful men, cannot be won simply by being counsel for great corporations and having an income of $50,000.’ ‘Oh, yeah?’ may very well be the retort of the hired guns retained by the oligarchs, particularly those who had their positions buttressed and reinforced with the installation of today’s quasi-martial law apparatus in a seeming police state reinforced by militarization. How naive could Holmes get?

“Still and all, we are delighted to welcome you, the new lawyers, to the fraternity (and sorority). Do achieve, and acquire what you will, but never, never forget the least of our brethren: the psychic income is something not all the money in the world can buy.

“Stay as sweet as you are.”

* * *

Why the title “vision and vindication” of 1971 Con-Con Delegate Jose Mari Velez last week? Cuz his effort was derided then by certain kadunong as if smoke had gotten to his eyes. “Not going to work,” they pooh-poohed and sniffed at the novel (here) effort.

Another 1971 delegate was Jose Concepcion, also detained by Macoy, He has been the face of Concepcion Industries which originated, and has supported the Ten Outstanding Students program, since 1962. Eggie Apostol wrote in the Sunday Times Magazine (July 7, 1963, pages 25-27): “Salute to Ten Top Students.” Picked that year were Edna del Val Zapanta, Mercedes A. Rivera, Demosthenes Baban, Patrocinio C. Pagaduan, Antonio Ledesma, Lucio C. Sanchez, Jr., Lourdes Q. Pantaleon, Julma C. Neo, Victorina Palanca, and last and least, a certain RAVS, me. Blush.

Most of us were SCAns, Student Catholic Action activists (I taught catechism atMapa Hi) and with us was Nita Salvador-Burris, now visiting from Chicago. She came to attend two Golden Jubilee celebrations of religious vows: 1) Sister Vicky Palanca, CICM; and 2) Archbishop Tony Ledesma, SJ, celebrating 52 years as a Jesuit. Jean Raymundo-Lobell and Josie Opeña-Disterhoft would also fly in from the US, for the purpose. Jean was once invited by my late Dulce to have supper at home in Palanan, Makati in the last millennium.

Nitz says nice to have a SCA reunion event at the FEU Conference Center on Sunday, May 21 at 2:30 p.m. to launch “Pananagutan” to keep the SCA flame burning. Then a piano recital at St. Scholastica’s College starring Ditas Rivera-da Silva and Yoly Fenix-Bacani at 5 p.m. Nita also asked for Pareng Art Panganiban’s contact points. He was characteristically quick to respond felicitously but regretted that he had commitments from which he could not extricate himself. Art and I married Kulasas Leni and Dulce. Yoly I met in the National Union of Students confab in Baguio.

Incidentally, talking of reconnection, last Monday I met at a resto a niece of campus contempo Steffi San Buenaventura, Maryknoll’s Chi-Ro editor. Raul and I were The Bedan eds-in-chief. Stef, I learned, passed away a decade or so ago. Sad she could not reunite with us. Then, a gent stopped by on his way out and introed himself as knowing my Mauban (my common hometown with the Fr. Horacio de la Costa) baptismal ninang who owned an island off Mauban (now supposedly the property of Bobby Ongpin). Madamba? Kin of Casto? Yup, the Blue Eagle of the 1950s. His Lolo, he said.

Reconnecting is joyous. The friends of one’s youth are the finest, said Robert Penn Warren in All the King’s Men.

Now, my Dulce must be rejoicing that the Celtics of Boston (where she lived for two years) have advanced in the NBA, whose epic rivalries we regularly saw on TV, after a scare on our Channel 33. And after decades, I heard recently from Mary Cooke, Dulce’s apartment-mate in Boston when they were in Boston College, another long-time and valued friend.

BTW, may I test the new lawyers and ACCRALaw: did Digong have to pay income taxes on his alleged excess political contributions which he said he had done? “No” is the answer I’d prefer to see. He should get a refund of what he paid as income tax. In 1991, in RA 7166, Sec. 13, was a last paragraph I added in the bicameral conference committee: “Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding any contribution in cash or in kind to any candidate or political party or coalition of parties for campaign purposes, duly reported to the Commission shall not be subject to the payment of any gift tax.” My contributors believed in my causes and me so the rationale I gave to my colleagues in 1991was: we don’t tax an investment in a democracy. The voter may like a bet’s advocacies; the rationale is more stark in plebiscites and referenda, which are about causes, not personalities. Elections are a sometime thing, but causes and advocacies are forever.

Finally, do Digong and his entrepreneurial fave and working (?) kulasisi save on taxes by his not marrying anyone of them?


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    Yonkers, New York
    19 May 2017

    Ah, the discouraging reality is that the Legal Profession is now terribly overcrowded. Perhaps a negligible few of those who passed the last Bar could make it to the country’s big and prosperous Law Firms, but the majority of them will find it hard to find clients who will have the money to pay them a satisfactory fee. Some of them may have no choice, but to take on a job as a Clerk in a company which has openings for them. Others will consider going to any of the Middle Eastern countries as an OFW.


  2. You say ‘And then you will kiss a dream goodbye, to join those who defend the rich and the powerful with ruthless efficiency’. Didn’t you defend the rich and powerful and convicted plunderer with ruthless efficiency?