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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Pride & Principle

It is said that the war in the heavens began with the idea of Man. When God showed Lucifer, his most exalted angel, that He would destine man to be the lord of all creation, including angels, Lucifer was aghast and appalled. Aghast to realize that his exalted position will be decimated with man's creation and appalled by the thought that he would be serving a lowly creature for all time.

And so, he gathered a host of like-minded angels and stormed the gates of heaven, only to be put down by Michael and his hosts of archangels cherubs, seraphims, powers and principalities. To this day, Lucifer, now called Satan, refuses to bow down. And the words of pride he spoke against God reverberates till this very day: "Non Serviam" - I will not serve. And so, as they say, pride goes before the fall.

It is all too easy to identify pride especially when the cause for such pride is specious and shallow. For instance, someone who refuses to queue up because he is rich or someone who refuses to concede defeat because they think the voters are too dumb.

But sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish pride from principle. How do we know if one is fighting for his principles or just being too proud to admit he is wrong? Was Thomas More fighting for his principles when he refused to swear an oath to the Act of Supremacy passed by Henry VIII's rubber stamp parliament? Is it pride or principle dictating France not to admit that the US invasion of Iraq has created a good fledgling democracy in a predominantly Islamic state?

On a more personal level, we have encountered the tug between pride and principle. And it is infintely more difficult to distinguish the two. When one gets hurt, is it pride or principle that stops us from reconciliation? When one quarrels with one's parents, would one rather be right with oneself or would one rather be right with one's parents. Change parents to siblings or to friends and you still get the same dilemma. More often than not, to appear justified and righteous, we say we fight for our principles. Or are we?

Sometimes, the fine line between pride and principle can get blurred. We can not afford to be judgmental but there are matters that can guide us. One is that little thing in our minds that bothers us we call conscience. Regardless of how we feel, our conscience eventually tells us what is right and principled and what is wrong. It is the fear to carry out the dictates of our conscience that prevents us from doing the right thing.

Another good thing is the counsel of real friends. We will always have sycophants around but it would do us well to keep the company of real friends who will confront us with the ugly truth when our conscience has been overshadowed by our own emotions.

And another indicator of fighting for principles is if one is willing to go the distance and die for the cause. Thomas More died a king's good servant but God's first when he refused the entreaties of Henry VIII. It was not pride but principle that brought Ninoy home and unto his death. No man will knowingly die for false beliefs and certainly, no man will knowingly die for pride.

We can go on and certainly, the list is long. But however winding the path may be, we need to pray for the virtue of humility. If there is humility, we can listen to our conscience, the counsel of friends and hopefully, pride will be vanquished. As to our principles, living by them is indubitably the preferred moral thing to do. And dying by them will certainly earn us the admiration of our family, friends and neighbors, not to mention the eternal fealty of the Big Man and His angels in heaven when He welcomes us home as His good and faithful servant.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


I studied Communication Arts in De La Salle University. I enjoyed filmmaking as a subject. Our group thesis was a film on old age where we hired the late great thespians Mary Walter and Adul de Leon. My professors were the famed scriptwriter, Doy del Mundo, now the chairman of the Department of Communication, the late great Hammy Sotto, the Philippine Francophile who perennially attended the Cannes Film Festival and the telenovela director of ABS-CBN, Trina Dayrit, among others.

I grew up with LVN movies in the afternoon. I saw Fernando Poe, Jr. fence with mestizo looking villains. I watched Ramon Revilla massacre the Americans in Balangiga. I mimicked every move that Ramon Zamora did in the movies aping Bruce Lee. I was a Vilmanian because my mom was and I hated Nora Aunor because of Maria Leonora Teresa. I can memorize lines in movies better than I can memorize quotes from the Bard or the Bible. In short, I was weaned on movies.

They say watching movies is fundamentally escapist. And I say why not? What is wrong with watching movies when you want to blow off steam. What is wrong with watching movies when you want to forget the miseries around you even for only two hours. They said Lord of the Rings was an escapist novel. Look how the movies turned it into 3 megahit morality films. What is wrong with watching movies when you can stop blabbering for a change and be a silent witness to the magic of the celluloid? Peace and quiet are the intended but happy consequences of movie watching. And that is good.

Movies were never meant to be the solution to anything. They were meant to expand our horizons, to experience things that our present realities in life may not have the luxury to give us. Movies were made to console us that in whatever station in life we are in, be it in sorrow or in joy, we are not alone. Without movies, imagination would forever be limited to the mind of the dreamer. Books can move you to action but movies made mass empathy instantly universal.

So, the next time you watch a movie, do not denigrate the time value spent inside the cinema. All the emotions you may not experience or all the sights you will never see or all the galaxies that may never be explored are now within reach through the magic of the silver screen. And that is something worth more than the hundred pesos we pay to get in.

Therefore, keep on watching movies to appreciate life and explore it. So, sit down, relax, grab a popcorn and enjoy.... A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.....................

Monday, November 22, 2004

Life As We Know It

In a meeting I attended very recently on the possibility of putting out a magazine, one of the speakers spoke of the kinds of magazines that do well in the stands. Principally, she mentioned that with a hectic lifestyle, articles should be reduced to bullet points and no winding prose. Readers want to know immediately the long and short of the article. Thus, for magazines to sell, bullet points and a short description is the must-see new look. After being presented with several examples of glossy mags that sell well, I agreed albeit grudgingly.

Which brings to fore the truism that art imitates life. The world is fast-paced, so must our readings. So, what kind of a life do we have now? We live in a world that is dominated by a lotto mentality where we seek instant gratification. We adopt a Hollywood swagger where we glorify form over substance. We prefer to see the world as half-empty rather than half-full thereby engendering a pessimistic worldview. We praise people who make millions regardless of the means rather than emphasize the value of an honest wage for an honest work. And last but not the least, we prefer glossy magazines over intellectual discourses.

Humanists say that man is the measure of all things. But even that no longer holds true. Man is held captive by the technology that springs up almost every day. Man is besieged by the events that he ought to control but cannot. Man has become the mere pawn in the battle between conglomerates, consumerism and crass materialism. The marvels of reproductive science are slowly but surely diminishing the role of man into a mere donor. In short, man no longer controls the lay of the land. The territory has had him marked. And as the world becomes more and more secular and less and less sacred, the juggernaut towards the irrelevance of man becomes all the more inevitable.

What do we make out of these conundrums? What must we do to reverse the trend? The answer, my friends, does not lie in the stars but in ourselves. As fellow travelers, let us find the answers soon. But I do not think the answers will be found in those glossy magazines.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Stay The Course

If you kept tabs during the recently held US election, you would have gotten the impression that the print and broadcast media were up in arms against George W. Bush. For most of them, four more years of his presidency was something untenable.

A barrage of criticism was thrown his way ranging from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, to the non-existence of WMD, to the National Guard memos which turned out to be fake, to the less than stellar US economic figures, and to the undestroyed WMD etc. But through it all, you saw a George Bush smiling, smirking and swaggering which all the more incensed the Democrats and the liberals. On the eve after the election, he came out swinging, defeating John Kerry and getting more than 50% of the popular vote.

Despite all obstacles, this Texan held his ground. Most of us may not like George W. Bush. But you cannot help admire his tenacity. The whole kitchen sink was thrown at him and yet, he sung the same tune. We may not know it privately but publicly, he was the picture of a man in control, of a man who stayed the course.

In our simple ways, we are confronted with obstacles, some hurdles are more difficult than others. Sometimes, due to the enormousness of the problem, we cannot stop ourselves from thinking of quitting. History has lots of shining examples of quitting in midstream. But history also has a stream of profiles of perseverance and of staying the course. How can one forget the Allied landing on the beach of Normandy, of the death of countless lives to create a beachhead signaling the end of Nazi Germany's hegemony over continental Europe.

But the question is: When do we know when to stay the course or to quit? This query is made more difficult if our problem is exacerbated by the presence of kin or the pangs of love or rejection which makes us think with our heart rather than with our head. Very difficult indeed.

Perhaps, as has often been remonstrated by the oft quoted maxim, we need to look at the forest and not the trees. Why? Because trees block our line of vision and at the same time, we are daunted by their height. Step out of the forest and you will realize that they are not so scary after all. It is when you are inside Fangorn forest that we, hobbits, dread of orcs, of trees talking, or of witches dwelling in the mists. Step out and you will see the majesty of the great rolling plains of Rohan. Then, make a decision.

Or another guide is whether the ends of our adventure are worthy of pursuit. Is it worth all the sweat and man-hours poured into it? Is it worth all the moral means to achieve it? Is it worth all the conflict, enduring the hubris of our friends, and the exhaustion of our emotion and intellect. If it is not, then quit.

It is so easy to give counsel when none is asked or when our emotions are placid. And maybe, that is why Ignatius of Loyola cautioned his companions never to make a decision in a fit of anger. It blurs our intellect and dims our judgment.

So, my friends, when you cross the bridge of whether to stay this course or not, whether to continue to love this person or not, or whether to continue to invest in a losing proposition or not, just remember to gaze at the forest or to stretch your neck a little longer if you can see the outline of the finish line. If you can either do both, then stay the course. If not, there is no shame in quitting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

First Try Out

Finally, one of the most liberating moments in the life of an Internet surfer. A blog to call your own. So, what do we have in store for ourselves. Nothing! Just ordinary observations on the misery and the joy that surround our local environment.

This blog is called San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet for the simple reason that I have resided in San Juan for a third of my life now and all we hear from friends and acquaintances are facts wrapped in the edible nature of gossip. It is an outlet for people who are so tired of their dreary existence not to mention people who would like to write but do not have the sufficient anonymity to post a blurb or two.

So, with this initial blog, I would ask all of you to blog anything under the sun. Whether you are a Bush hater or a Kerry lover (same difference!) or a conservative needing air to breathe from the cesspool of extreme secular liberalism or a Filipino who just wants GMA to succeed and for Gen. Garcia to rot in Muntinglupa, feel free to blog. It's a free country until the military decides to take over.

Good luck. Be brave to post. Carpe diem