Raphael’s Hand

I wrote this story as a partial requirement for a class back in college. I’m not exactly too proud of it, with its movie cliches, awkward storytelling and common plot, but you can judge yourself. Haha.


“Sir? Is that you? Come in, come in. Please excuse the mess.”

Francis waved his hand and ushered a tall man in a black suit into his room. It was 1984, and like any other freelance, unorthodox scientist in the Philippines, his room consisted nothing more than a roll-away bed, a black and white TV with big black knobs on one side of its face, and a long table that took most of the remaining space. Beside the table, an uninteresting stool; on the table itself, the poor man’s life work. After a quick scan, the tall man smiled at Francis and sat on the stool. The man was carrying a black briefcase, and after a moment’s hesitation of whether he should place the case beside his seat or on his lap, the man opted for the latter.

Francis sat on the roll-away bed and shook his guest’s hand with enthusiasm. “Jesus Christ. I thought you will never come!”

The man chuckled. “Are you kidding? Good gracious, Mr. Torres. If what you said on the phone was true – imagine the possibilities! This will revolutionize the entire world, nay, the future of humanity!”

Francis laughed but shook his head at the same time. “The credits are not mine, not at all. I only found it. It was God all along, see? The cure has been right under our noses!”

“I do not believe in God, but off to business, shall we? May I see this cure you have talked on the phone? If it were any scientist who talked to us like you did, we would have scoffed – but it was you, and our records told us that you are an amazing scientist.”

Francis smiled and procured a small vial from the breast pocket of his lab coat. The liquid inside was blue and had almost the same texture as a gel. Francis stared at the vial for a moment, mouth etched into a small smile, before turning it on his guest’s open hand.

“It’s beautiful,” said the man, raising the small vial into the air to check its luminosity. It glimmered like a precious diamond under the pale, yellow light of the fluorescent light. “How, Mr. Torres? How did you ever find this… this thing?”

Francis sat at his bed once again, looked outside the window and racked his mind for the details. “Well, everything started when my professor for my masters, the French biologist de Nauvellite, asked me go with him on his research in one of the remote forests of Davao del Sur. While I was there, I stumbled on this very unusual flower. I called de Nauvellite’s attention, but he said that it was only a field of flower-bearing clovers. Christ! I know de Nauvellite has always thought that I’m kind of daft and stupid, but I’m sure that flower ain’t no clover. It was new, and since de Nauvellite won’t have my protest, I took a few samples and left it at my backpack for the duration of the trip.”

Francis cleared his throat, and continued: “After my expedition with de Nauvellite, I went back here and experimented with the flowers. Really, even though he was bad, I don’t blame de Nauvellite when he said that the damn flower looks like a clover. It does; it might even be a deformed family line of clovers if not for its pink bud. de Nauvellite missed that, and missed his chance entirely!”

The man in the black suit interrupted. “Wait, sir. Where in Davao did you find this flower again?”

“A small glade, a few miles north of Digos, near some abandoned Coke factory.”

The man smiled and twirled his fingers, opting Francis to continue.

“So, there I was, experimenting with the extracts of the limited flowers that I have, when one day, out of the blue, I found something amazing under my microscope. It was the pinkness of the bud all along! The bud is pink because the entire flower is packed with siccusalba!”

The tall man took another glance at the small vial on his hands. “Siccusalba. You found a rich source of siccusalba.”

Francis struck a fist on his bed. “Right! Of course, it took a long time to get a pure form of the chemical with only myself, but I did able to make one sample eventually. You’re holding it now.”

The tall man looked behind him and pointed his long finger at a small pile of dry flowers lying idly at one end of the table. “Are those the flowers?”

Francis stood up and checked the crushed flowers on the table. “Yes. They’re beautiful, aren’t they? I’m going to name them Raphael’s Hand if the committee will give me the chance.”

“Did you tell anyone about this?”

“Never! I know the business around this kind of things. That’s why I made sure to call you guys first.”

At this, The tall man opened his briefcase and removed an object underneath a small pile of papers.

It was a revolver.

“W-What’s with the gun?” Francis asked, stammering.

Siccusalba. Do you know that you are not the first man to discover that flower?” the tall man asked. He was not looking at Francis. He was looking at his gun.

Francis stepped back again and felt the wall on his back. He tried to look for an escape route. There was none. The tall man blocked the path toward both door and window.

“Hey,” the man said, and this time, he turned his head back at Francis. His cold stare was far from the warm pleasantry that he showed earlier. “I’m asking you a question. Do you know?”

The scientist replied with a reluctant shake of his head.

“Ah-ha.” The tall man stood up and shook his own head. “Of course. You know why?”

Another shake of the head from the other party.

“You never heard of it because she was killed.”

“K-Killed?” Francis repeated.

The tall man noticed the perplexed look on the scientist’s eyes. “You have a question and I think I know what it is. You’re wondering why, aren’t you?”

Francis mustered the courage to speak. “Why? The government, I thought—”

“Well, you thought wrong,” the tall man interrupted, “The government is a business, Mr. Torres. It is one hell of an all-encompassing enterprise. We run profits from everything. It’s just what we are and what we do. Cancer – well, you might as well say that we profit from that too. When people stay in the hospital, we get a cut. It doesn’t matter if it’s private or public, we always get a cut. Pharmaceuticals, however, that’s a totally different ball game. The underlying network of the whole thing is risky. Your drug, well – it’s bad for the business. It’s too… revolutionary. We can’t get a cut from it. We’ll lose some of our profits it that thing goes public. Siccusalba is too easy to replicate if you only know how. Believe me, Mr. Torres, when I say that I’m sorry. It’s just how the world works.”

Francis closed his eyes and knelt in front of the tall man. He was lost for words.

The last thing that Francis saw was the flowers on the table. Raphael’s Hand. He tried to smile but it was too late. A pink flash of light – after that, there was nothing more.

Summer Project Update

Remember this? Unfortunately, I was only able to watch three films (Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Iron Giant, and Memento) and read one book (The Prince) from that list. I feel terrible, really, but circumstances developed after I wrote that entry which resulted to lethargy. I will still try to watch all of them, but probably not in the hurried pace I was planning. Also, a quick note for my future self – watch 12 Angry Men.

As an aside, I’m currently reading a textbook on Negotiable Instruments to prepare myself for second year of law school. The topic is very interesting, to say the least. My father’s teacher when he was in law school called Negotiable Instruments as the ‘toughest nut to crack’. My father assured me, twenty-odd years after the fact, that it is not. I nodded at him, promising I will crack the tough nut.

Also, American Idol. I want Jessica Sanchez to win obviously, but the odds (and the votes) seem to be on P2. Regardless on who wins, however, it’s a pity that this year’s American Idol started strong but ended quite disappointing. I love Jessica, but only because she has Filipino blood. She has superb talent, sure, but little stage presence. I will buy her album on a heartbeat, but a ticket for a concert? I will have some serious doubts.

To another show, this time local to my country: Pinoy Big Brother – Teen Edition. I love the show, but seriously, these teens demonstrate everything that is wrong with their age. Alec, the Filipino-Chinese housemate from Laguna, appears to be the only mature housemate out of the batch. I hope he wins over this reality show full of reckless love and unwarranted bouts of anger.

Anyway, a few more updates, but minus the commentary:

Currently listening to… Roxanne, by The Police; and I Can’t Stand Losing, by the same band.

Currently mesmerized by… Adventure Time.

Currently awed by… Chris Cheng’s performance on History’s Top Shot. What a guy.

Currently wishing for… love. Haha. Kidding. I want a new book.

Anyway, this is it for now. This is only an aside, a mere blip on the radar. Have a great day!

And King Tut Shoots For Three!

I cheered for Miami Heat today.

A short trivia: I do not love sports. I mean, I don’t exactly hate sports, but I certainly don’t welcome it with open arms either. Hell, looking at guys battle it out – sweating, cursing, touching butts – is enough to deplete my entire energy supply for the day. I cannot even remember if my brothers and I played a single game of basketball when there is a basketball court right across our house.  I guess not.

(To my credit: I did play a round of basketball back in high school. It was for a Physical Education class. We won. Ha! Take that, Michael Jordan.)

Anyway, the story actually goes back four or five days ago, when I received a message from J-. He’s a friend from law school and a basketball fanatic. Anyway, I don’t remember what I was doing when I received his message. I think I was reading articles on Cracked.

J-: Ken. Do you know any website with live streaming of the NBA?

I leaned back on my chair, crossed my arms and began to think. My friends have always flocked at me if they need something from the Internet ASAP. I do not mean to brag, but I have mastered my Google-fu after years and years of searching rare porn clips and risqué pictures online. If the Internet has it, I can provide it. And the Internet, as we all know, has everything.

I shot back a reply. I hate sports, I know, but I cannot turn down a challenge on my Google-fu. I was already scouring the web at this point.

Me: You’re asking me about basketball? You know I don’t like basketball.

J-: I thought you have everything, man.

I smirked. You only hear that phrase being uttered on shady drug deals.

Me: Fiiiine. What teams?

J-: OKC vs. Lakers.

Me: OKC?

J-: Oklahoma City Thunder.

Me: Okay, wait.

I do not know about you but I do not have any inkling about Oklahoma. I know it’s one of the 50 states and some bombing occured there on 1995 (I read that on Reader’s Digest), but aside from that, I do not know anything more about Oklahoma, much more the Thunders. On the other hand, I do know the Los Angeles Lakers. I guess they’re famous or something.

Anyway, the task was easy. I found a website offering live streaming and sent the link to J-.

J-: Thanks! Welcome to the NBA World.

Me: You’re welcome, dude. Remember: Kenneth’s General Goods and Services, open from Monday to Saturday, 8am to 1am. Haha. Refer your friends to me.

With nothing to do and the night still young, I decided to fool around and irk J-. I know he loves underdogs. My theory is that Lakers, being more popular than this Oklahoma team, J- is betting on OKC  to win the game.

Me: I think Oklahoma will lose. Lakers is more popular. And they’re Los Angeles, dude. Los Angeles.

J-: What? LAL is weak, man. They’re old.

J-: And Kobe’s a goddamn braggart.

I smiled. J- took the bait. That, or he’s bored. Haha. Anyway, I’m a little proud of myself. I know Kobe Bryant! Haha. I keep hearing his name when my friends talk about basketball. He’s got some bad rap or something, but I do know he’s one badass player.

J-: Oklahoma, on the other hand: they’re simple guys. They don’t like to brag.

J-: I’m quite disappointed Memphis took the boot. They’re the blue collar workers.

Me: Memphis? How did Egypt come into the picture?

A few points need to be raised. First, I don’t know how blue collar workers can still qualify to play NBA. Isn’t basketball a full-time job for these guys? And second. Memphis? Isn’t that a city in Egypt? When did King Tut decide to play a basketball league over half a world away?

Anyway, my conversation with J- is actually quite an eye-opener. He revealed that Memphis is actually a city in Tennessee, that Canadians also play NBA, that everybody hates Miami Heat because they stole star players from small teams such as the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers, that Cleveland is not a fictional place invented by Seth MacFarlane, and many more. It is interesting and I am not saying that to be polite. I mean, I am yet to be a fan of the game, but damn, there really is more to basketball than what meets the eye.

Flashforward the morning earlier. I was watching a local show on TV when I looked at the clock and realized that it’s time for my favorite show at the History Channel. While I was surfing the channel, I chanced upon a game between Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat on ESPN. Normally, I would spend a minimum of 5 seconds on sports games and move on.

Not today.

I decided to watch, cheered for Miami Heat because they appear to be losing during the first half of the game, and did a small victory dance when they recovered and won against the Pacers, 101-93. I know. I’m quite surprised myself. Haha. I never thought to be cheering for real live people and at basketball no less.

I am actually quite anticipating for Game 5. I hope Heat wins again.

A toast, ladies and gentlemen, to basketball.

Poems of Earth, Fire and Water


on the cupboard:

a half-full bottle of peanuts

together with an empty can

of mushroom soup

above the stove:

a boiling pot

on the coffee table:

a framed picture of Mother

burnt on the edges

(faded but otherwise okay)

on the trash:

an empty can of mushroom soup

above the stove:

what more of it but a boiling pot and

hot water reaching for the top

on the chair:

a white rose

the stove:

the knob is pointing on some little print

and the fire rages like wildfire

(feral but otherwise okay)

on the cupboard:

what cupboard-

(ah, the new one, the unburnt one)

same half-bottle of peanuts

above the stove:

the water had spilled over

and i have nothing but quenched fire

and water quickly cooling.


why the planets do not fall to the sun

as the rubber on your shoes bend

on the persistent granite

from the speed of your dash

to an undetermined finish line

you recognize

the truth of your existence:

you run to escape the allure

of a nameless burning rose


hollow earth theory

beneath these stones




is a huge green dragon


the last of its kind

Zombie Philosophy, Part One

I decided to take a three-day hiatus from my social circle for reasons I am too tired to explain here. I deactivated my Facebook, abandoned my Twitter, closed my Thunderbird, told three or four of my friends to take care of my affairs, and left my phone on the bedroom table. Aside from this blog of which only a handful of my friends know of, I am completely cut off from my friends. I do not care much about Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, but the decision to shelf my phone is what made this hiatus quite challenging. I am never without my phone. Well, until now.

I woke up with no plan in my head. The hiatus began exactly the midnight before, and with nothing to do and lots of hours to spare, I decided to groom up and visit the mall. My initial plan was to look for a new book, but as I passed the arcades and saw no one was playing House of the Dead 4, I cannot resist to play one short round. Although I have probably completed the game about a dozen times and played it for twice that number, this shoot-it-up game has never lost its appeal on me. I am not really much of a Tekken guy.

I triggered the secret code to show my score (it is turned off by default for reasons I cannot fathom), swiped my arcade card, and started to shoot my way through the horde of zombies as Player One.

I am no expert of the game, but I am no amateur either. I delivered head shot after head shot. My points racked up. My accuracy score never lost its momentum. The bosses fell on their knees while inflicting the least damage possible. It was, in summary, a massacre.

I was watching the short cutscene after finishing Chapter 3 of the game when a kid, probably 7 or 8, stood beside me to watch. I looked at him and saw that he was simply itching to play the game. You can see it in his brown eyes. Well, to give him credit, it is a zombie game. Everybody loves (killing) zombies.

“Hey,” I called out, “do you want to play?”

The boy shook his head, smiling.

“Where are your parents?” I asked.

It took him a few seconds to reply. “Only my sister, sir. She’s in the grocery.”

“Well,” I said, swiping my card and giving him the gun for Player Two, “you can have this then. I need help.”

The title card for the next chapter appeared on the screen. The scary opening music blasted from the surround speakers. The boy immediately took the gun from my hands, nodded his head, looked at the big screen before us, and lost his smile. There was a look of concentration on his face. I smiled at this, positioned my middle finger on the trigger and waited.

I need not wait longer. The zombies attacked and we shoot – the game begins!

As we fought our way from the subway to the surface, looking for a way to find and destroy the source of the zombie apocalypse, I realized that my young partner is a complete amateur. He was shooting in the wrong places. He forgot to reload at the most crucial moments. He kept shaking the gun when the moment did not call for shaking. I kept saving his ass, killing the zombies who went after him, that I forgot to save my own damn ass. At the end of the day, after we fell the big fat Temperance, I only had 2 lives left, my partner 4 lives, and one credit left in my arcade card.

I sighed and docketed the gun for a while as the cutscene for the next chapter began. I looked at the kid. He was staring intently at the screen, his finger still on the trigger of the gun. I smiled, despite the hardship of trying to actually finish the game and saving his life. At least the boy is having fun.

“Hey,” I called out. “Relax. The game is yet to start.”

He grinned at me. He relaxed his grip of the gun but kept his finger on the trigger.

The title card for Chapter 5 lit on the screen. My heart stopped and I immediately felt pity for the boy. I forgot that I hate this Chapter. I really hate this Chapter. The boss for this stage, Star, is a complete jerk and a cheat. I will get to that later.

The boy and I started good. Three minutes into the game, the boy was finally comfortable with the gun and was going Rambo with the zombies. His shots were far from perfect, but they did nicely. They do, indeed. There was a slight trouble when the zombie horde went after him, but with my assistance and my partner’s don’t-mess-with-my-unlimited-ammo-gun attitude, we eliminated the entire horde. The boy lost one life during the crazy shooting, but that was only because the hit came from fucking nowhere. I added one to mine, thanks to a bonus, so as we stood on the lobby of Goldman Headquarters, the source of all evil, my partner and I were at three lives each.

It was then Star came swooping with anger on his heart and vengeance on his soul.

Let me describe this scum Star. Although a monster, Star appears as a humanoid with pale white skin and an almost featureless face. He wears a red long coat and have knives as his primary weapons. His weakness is the rather obvious large scar on his chest. It would have been easy for anyone to shoot the scar if not for Star’s ability to hover around the screen like a maniac under the influence of meth. This makes shooting him incredibly difficult as he sometimes levitate off-screen. During my entire lifetime of playing the game, I never escaped Star without losing a life.

Anyway, so there we are, Star hovering before us – taunting and knives glimmering.

We began to shoot.

“The chest,” I said to the boy. “Hit him on the chest.”

Although the boy tried his best to hit the increasingly infuriating boss, his trigger finger was no match against Star’s speed. I tried to compensate, but all it took was a short delay on reloading my light gun and Star was able to slash his way through our defenses and decrease our lives to two each.

“Okay,” I said to the boy, anticipating Star’s next move, “keep hitting the guy, okay? Keep hitting the guy.”

As I predicted, Star stopped to hover like a crazy maniac and began to shoot pink projectiles from his knives. As the boy kept hitting the now rather stable Star, I shot the projectiles awayWe successfully deflected the deluge of pink projectiles and the boy managed to pound Star’s chest with a hundred lead bullets. I felt proud of ourselves. The boy and I make a pretty good team, I thought.

Bloodied, Star thrust his arm sideways and began to rotate in an amazing speed. This is his last attack; the last show of the town. Star slowly hovered toward us, picking up speed, his knives slashing through air and the wind beating on our faces. The boy and I raised our guns together, hoping for the best.

We shoot and Star danced along with the bullets.

It was going well until there was a swift flash of stainless steel across our faces and everything went pitch-black.

Random Musings

This is a conversation my friend I- and I had yesterday. There really is nothing here but, as the title suggests, random musings. If you are the type of person who likes to eavesdrop, however, I guess this is for you. 


I was having coffee with a friend yesterday when the subject turned into love.

It was 4pm.

“What is your perfect date?” my friend I- asked, eyeing a cute girl sitting alone across our table. She was probably in her teens, wearing a beautiful yellow dress, reading a nondescript book, her right leg dangling from the other. She looked Japanese, Chinese. Aside from an old gentleman reading the daily newspaper outside and the two baristas by the counter, the coffee shop was quite empty for a Monday afternoon. There was a lot of people in the mall, but no one was entering the coffee shop. I don’t know why. Lazy coffee season, I guess?

I raised my head from the book I was reading. “What?”

“What is your perfect date?”

“Why would you ask me that?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. I turned my gaze at the girl I- was looking at. She was cute.

I shifted my eyes back to I-. “Well, a movie date, I guess. Or a dinner at a fancy restaurant. A quiet time by ourselves.”

I- pushed his cup away from him and continued to look at the cute girl. His cup was already empty. We ordered two small cups of cafe latte an hour earlier, thinking no one can possibly mess up a latte. Later, after we had our first sip, we realized that this shop could. Yikes.

“I like your last one,” I- said. “My perfect date was to sit by the lake, at night, and look at the stars.”

I closed my book – it was a Spanish-English dictionary – and laid it down on the table, cover up. “That sounds boring, dude. And a little cliche. Besides, what lake are you talking about? We live in the fucking Philippines. I don’t know any accessible lake around, much more at night.”

He laughed. The girl across our table caught his laughter, raised her head momentarily, glanced at us as we stared at her, and resumed reading her book. She probably get stares all the time.

“Hey,” I- said, finally looking at me instead of the girl. “Now that you’re single, what are your plans?”

I hesitated. I don’t have any plans. “Enjoy life, I guess.”

I- snorted, grabbed my dictionary, flipped around some of the pages, and laid it back on the table. “You need contingency plans, dude. Date someone. Don’t tell me you still have feelings for the girl?”

“Of course,” I said, grabbing the dictionary away from his immediate grasp. “You cannot put an end to that so quickly.”

“Didn’t you tell me a few years back that you like someone here, in Davao?” he asked. His gaze returned to the girl. There was no much difference except it was now her left leg that was dangling by her right leg. I tried to spy what book she was reading, but there was no title in the cover. Weird.

“She has a boyfriend. Well, sorta. Besides, I rather stay single for a while. I am not up for commitment. Too fast, I guess.”

“You think you’re so hot, huh?” I- asked, smiling.

I smiled back, my answer without hesitance. “Yes.”

“That’s the confidence,” he said and slapped me on my back.

“Wait. I do have some plans.”

“What is it?” I- asked, suddenly curious. Or I think he was. I can never decipher any of this guy’s emotions. He has this happy, smiling look for everything. It’s probably the reason I hanged out with him today. He’s a ball of awesome sunlight, and God knows how much sunlight I need now.

“Myrtle-” I started, but he quickly cut me off. That time, I could tell he was exasperated.

“Myrtle again. Dude, you’re starting to get crazy. She’s a celebrity-,” I- made sure to emphasize the word, “-and you are never going to get her. And Jesus Christ, she’s 17, man. You’re 20. Two-zero. She’s a teenager.” Again, another emphasis.

I laughed at his reaction. “You never know, man. Chances, chances. As I said to my friend, uncertainty is better than absolutes.”

To give a little background for the uninitiated, and just because I love talking about her – Myrtle Sarossa is one of the housemates in the reality show Pinoy Big Brother. To cut the story short, I was immediately smitten when I saw her on TV. Add to the recipe my recent breakup and you have this recipe for absurd love probabilities going on my head. I guess I am crazy, yes. I am actually laughing as I am writing this short explanation. Anyway-

I- shook his head. “You’re so jologs, Ken.”

“Hey,” I said, “I cannot really see how watching local teleseryes or reality TV show make people jologs. We’re just having fun. I don’t call you metal head or a drug addict for listening to those rock’n’roll shit you hear everyday.”

He raised both of his arms jokingly. “Okay, okay. You don’t have to be all defensive, dude.”

At this remark, we suddenly noticed the cute girl across our table pocket the nondescript book back at her white handbag, take one last look at her (probably) empty cup, stand up, and leave the coffee shop. As the security guard opened the glass doors for her, the girl turned her head back and shot I- with a smile.

Of course, I was perplexed.

I turned my head at I-. “How did you do that? You always get their attention.”

He smiled, shrugged his shoulders and turned his attention at his phone. Someone sent him a text message. “I don’t know,” he said.

“Damn you,” I whispered, but with a smile. I took the dictionary again, flipped to the page where I left off, and began to read. It was 4.30pm, it was a lovely day, and everything appeared to be all right with the world. In a way, I am satisfied.

The Rules of Engagement

I texted this once to a friend: Flirting, I believe, is a mental exercise. It is like chess. Should you push a compliment or should you retreat for now and feign non-interest? Should you castle your feelings, or siege onward? She replied too quickly – is this a trap, or are her defenses finally crumbling down? As it is with chess, flirting needs strategy, persistence, determination. And as it is with chess, the ending can either end with humiliating defeat, glorious victory, or a dreadful draw. How it will end, however, depends on how you play the game.

This entry is about how to play that game. Although I admit that I am not an incubus, a pick-up artist, or someone with a bachelor’s degree in seduction, I am a crucial observer and casual advocate of the rules of engagement. I may have not have the looks, but I do have my way with words and theatrics. Hahaha. You just have to trust me on this one, okay?

A fair caveat before you continue – this article presupposes that you are confident with what and who you are. No amount of how-to essays, comforting voice or humorous anecdotes will help you if you do not want to help yourself in the first place. Well, if it makes you feel better, I think the fact that you are reading this shows that you are ready to tackle the world. And you know what? I believe you are ready. Go out there and wrestle Atlas for the world, stranger!

Also, this is not a walkthrough. Your mileage may vary. Adjust accordingly. Do not use this for evil. This is modified from the American style of seduction as to fit the Philippine setting. Read the readings at the end of the article. This is a semi-humorous article so don’t take everything seriously. Enjoy.


The cornerstone of every flirting engagement is research and correspondence. Do you believe the usual professional game of chess begins with White’s first move? No, it begins with reconnaissance. Before you engage in total war, you should first stalk the enemy. What is her name? Where does she live? Does she love pizza or pasta? Who are her friends? What is her father’s profession? What are her hobbies? Of course, the Reader should remember not to go overboard. There is nothing more creepy than to learn that a stranger – total or not – knows everything about you, from the exact place of your birth to the exact time that you fell asleep yesterday. Only collect sufficient data, and with the advent of Facebook and Twitter, stalking has now become easy and convenient. Again, and I cannot stress how important this is, do not go overboard. Really.

The second step is connecting the dots. This is where the hunt begins. During this step, you willingly give away your presence to the enemy. This can be easy or hard, depending on how difficult it is to get to her. For the most part, unless the prey is a total stranger, you have already done this step.

The third and crucial step is to meet in the crucible. Now that the enemy is aware of your presence, you need to obtain that crucial chance to be alone with her. This is where most people hesitate, falter and lose the game. A moderately sure technique, with a 30% success rate, is to use friendship as a means to the end. Match your interests with hers. If she likes tennis, join the local club where she is a member, make sure your schedules match, and feign surprise when you see her on the field. If she is a Physics major, learn the intricacies of quantum mechanics, blunder in front of her, and be that harmless cute nerd who only wants to learn something new. Proximity is key to success. The goal here is to force her into thinking that destiny is getting out of its way to align the two of you.

You know better, of course. You know you are your own destiny.

Anyway, before anything else, the Reader should do well to avoid the friendzone. The friendship is only a means to the end. Some people burrow far down the rabbit hole that they forget what they are after in the first place. Do not do anything that will later bite you in the ass. Do not attempt to compromise. Once you have obtained that chance to be alone with her, imply that you are not there for friendship but for her heart. This is important because the friendzone is a tricky place to be in. A surefire way to avoid the friendzone, of course, is to declare what you really feel for her. It is not a bad move but it is risky as you lose that chance of reconnaissance afforded by the guise of friendship. Her reaction will largely depend on what you have built during that point.

If you did manage to get close to the enemy, proceed to the next step – the bait and switch. Although the technique is easy to execute, it is very hard to master. Basically, you push a romantic gesture such as a compliment, make sure it connects, and then quickly pull away if she begins to show any interest. This creates some sort of tension where you leave her hanging and wanting for more. There are dangers, however, that you should be aware when you proceed to this step. First, if your timing is off, you will likely leave a rather awkward moment when you pull away. This makes you look like a fool. Second, as it is with our first step above, do not go overboard or the enemy will eventually realize that you have really nothing to offer to the table and will not expect anything anymore.

The last step is releasing the arrow. This is the time when you admit everything to the enemy. Only you will know the best time when to release the arrow. It will come and you will feel it. And once it does, release the string and shoot the arrow. Aim true. Do not hesitate. If it misses, heave a sigh, force a smile, pick up another silver arrow from your quiver, and look for another target. Your story need not end with failure. Even the greatest silver tongue has faltered many times during his lifetime.

And there you are. The basic rules of engagement. There is a lot more to seduction, of course, but you will learn this as you go along this path of great pleasure. I heed you well with your future endeavors, dear Reader, and have a great day ahead of you. Excelsior!


For Further Reading:

1. TofuTofu on Being a Modern Alpha Male, Alpha Body Language and Tonality, and Importance of Projecting an Aura of Happiness and Well-Being

2. MaysonNSS on Scarcity vs. Abundance: How Neediness Kills Your Game

Poems of Love and Innocence Lost


the magic of poetry

begins with this:

you are with me

in a small house on the

middle of a thick forest

while you reach for the bag of flour

above the mantelpiece where i placed

our picture together, smiling with

hands draped on each other’s shoulder

ignorant of the consequences

of a broken chair

and a bag of flour

to the almost seven years

we walked together

on our way home



i scaled the wall

and waited with the primroses

when i saw your sky blue dress

waving by the metal brazen gates

and on your hand was

a mass of papers printed with the

smiling, happy face of a yellow plane

i muttered under my breath all of the

familiar things: the crook of your nose

the depth of your breath

the strand of hair by your right ear

and all you did was look at the primroses

and remember how many petals

the red one had

Philippine Law 101

Although the primer is far from perfect, I absolutely enjoyed myself when I scoured, researched, and wrote about the territorial dispute. It has been two years, I believe, since I last did a proper research, and five years since I last enjoyed doing research. This is unfortunate because as a law student, I must know how to do good research. Law is a very complex process. Thus, a good lawyer should be able to sift through hundreds if not thousands of materials to be able to support his ideas. An unsupported idea is similar to the TV series Lost – all air but no action.

Anyway, as I said, the ability to research is not one of my strengths. This entry is an attempt to change that. Also, given the fun I had with the Spratly Islands primer and this entry, I decided to make these so-called educational entries as one of the features of this blog. Hell, I might even write about chi-squares in the future! Who knows? Haha. This is as much a learning experience with me as it is with you. I decided, however, to stick with Law first. This is my home turf, so I hope this will be going to be a great start. Anyway, let’s get this thing going! Let’s do Law!

I decided the first topic to be simple: Where does our laws come from?



Wait. Before you continue, let us agree on three things – the world is dark place, there are a whole lot of stupid and opportunistic persons, and lawsuits are bad. The following disclaimer has been copied from my earlier post regarding the Spratlys dispute, modified slightly to fit the theme of this entry. Read it and we will all be fine.

First of all, the Reader has to understand that I am not a lawyer, a politician, a government official, or a genius of Law. I am only a law student, and although that has little merit, I am here not as a law student but a layman. Second, although I claim all words below is mine unless said otherwise, I did not conduct serious research on the topic as to pass academic standards. All facts that you are going to read are derived from various Internet and print sources which are referenced at the end of the article.  Third. Although I checked every information below to be true, there will be always that tragic flaw which I undoubtedly missed.

Anyway, you can always contact me if anything is amiss. I will make sure to reply quickly. Thank you!


Definition of Terms

First, let us tell apart a law from a statute. First, law refers to all rules governing the state in general. This may take in several forms. The President may declare proclamations which are binding to the entire State. The municipality may promulgate ordinances, such as a complete ban on cigarette smoking or punishment for littering, which are binding to its constituents. The Supreme Court may interpret laws that are binding on the lower courts. These are all laws that need to be followed or obeyed at risk of being punished. The term law, therefore, is a vast concept which comprises all legitimate rules of action.

A statute, on the other hand, is only one form of a law. The primary difference between a statute, an ordinance, a court decision and a presidential issuance is that a statute is always promulgated by the Legislature. The Revised Penal Code is a statute. So is the Civil Code of the Philippines. The Republic Acts that you constantly being referred in TV are also statutes. Any act made by Congress according to procedure, therefore, is a statute.

This entry will only refer to statutes.

If you’re asking what the Legislature is, well, aren’t you the nifty curious scholar. Haha. Anyway, the Legislature is that branch of the government that makes, appeals or repeals laws. The word legislature is derived from the word legislator which, in turn, is derived from the Latin phrase legis lator – meaning law’s bringer. On the other hand, the words parliamentary and congress are another names for the Legislature. I will not delve into the difference of the two because that would be too complex, but we adopted the word ‘Congress’ here because it was the word that our colonial masters then, the United States of America, used to refer to their Legislature.

Thus, to summarize, although statutes are always laws, not all laws are statutes because only the Legislature can make statutes. Hell yeah!

The next thing you need to know is the difference between a bill and a law. A bill is only a draft or proposal of the law and not binding until approved. A bill can only become law when it has followed definite procedure outlined in the Constitution.

Another point of discussion is the difference between a unicameral and bicameral system of Legislature. A unicameral Legislature only has one House whereas a bicameral Legislature has two chambers which are commonly referred to as the Upper and Lower Houses. Under a unicameral Legislature, any bill approved by its constituents directly becomes a law or goes to the President for approval; whereas in a bicameral Legislature, both Houses must agree to the bill before it can proceed to the next step. It is therefore easier for a unicameral Legislature to pass a bill into a law but it is more democratic in a bicameral Legislature as it effectively allows checking of powers between the different chambers before any law can be passed.

An interesting note – there were countries before that had tricameral and even tetracameral (three and four Houses, respectively) systems of Legislature! Isn’t that awesome? I think it’s cool, really.

As a final note, although I know you know this, but only to cover all bases, a Constitution is the fundamental law of the land. All laws and acts of Men must always conform to the Constitution. It is better to think of it as the sturdy trunk which supports the entire country.


The History of the Legislative Branch of the Philippines

During the Spanish Era, because Philippines then was only but a colony, we had to follow the laws promulgated by the Cortes Generales or General Court. The Cortes was based in Spain and its structure was almost the same as our current bicameral Congress. There was the lower house, the Court of Deputies, and a higher house called the Senate. Anyway, during the first hundred years of our colonization, Philippines did not have any representative in the Cortes, whether a Peninsular, Insular, Creole, or native. If you have read Rizal’s books or his rich history, you may know now that this was one of his pleas to Spain, aside from the secularization of priests. Jose Rizal never intended to be liberated from Spain. He only intended equality, a cause which culminated on his death.

Although they certainly did not intend it, the works of Rizal and his fellow Ilustrados to fight for equality became one of the contributing factors of the creation of the Revolution. This is not to say that the Revolution started with Rizal. It started well before his time, but it was Rizal’s thoughts and subsequent death that became that certain spark that turned the wheels of fate.

On June 12, 1898, the leader of the Revolution, Emilio Aguinaldo, proclaimed the independence of the Philippines and established the Malolos Congress. This independence, however, is short-lived. The Americans, though our allies against Spain, never intended the Philippines to be free. Aguinaldo was branded a criminal and subsequently captured on 1901, essentially ending the Malolos Congress.

As the Americans never recognized Aguinaldo’s proclamation of independence and government, America established a new government in the country with the Philippine Commission as Legislature. Although only Americans comprised the Philippine Commission during its early ages, the adoption of the Philippine Organic Law on 1902 allowed us to delegate two Filipinos as Resident Commissioners. This changed on 1907, when the Americans allowed Filipinos to create a Philippine Assembly which will form part of a bicameral Legislature with the Philippine Commission as the Upper House and the Philippine Assembly as the Lower House. Although a liberal move, this resulted on a constant clash between the American-ruled Philippine Commission and the Filipino-made Philippine Assembly. This setup, however, changed again on 1916, when the United States finally decided to abolish the Commission and allowed the establishment of a new bicameral Philippine Legislature consisting of the House of Representatives and a Senate.

On 1935, the President of the United States approved a new Constitution of the Philippines which established the Commonwealth of the Philippines and paved the way for eventual independence. The 1935 Constitution as it is then provided for a unicameral Legislature, but was subsequently amended in 1941 as to create a bicameral Congress.

Fate, however, will not allow us to have our independence. On 1939, World War II broke out and Philippines fell to Japanese hands on 1942. Although Japan declared the Philippines independent on 1943, this proved to be a folly of the highest order. They established a puppet government with Jose Laurel as President and a unicameral Congress as Legislature. They also promulgated the 1943 Constitution, also known as the Japanese Constitution, during this time.

Fortunately, Japan lost the war which finally led to the United States proclaiming Philippines independent on July 4, 1946.

As the 1943 Constitution was never recognized by the now-independent Republic, the 1935 Constitution as amended on 1941 continued to take effect until 1973, when President Marcos decided to amend the Constitution, through his own machination of the Congress and the entire country during that time, to introduce a parliamentary system of government. On October 1976, the amendment was ratified through shadowy means, which resulted to the abolition of the Congress as it is of the old Constitution and the creation of a unicameral National Assembly. Although parliamentary in name, the system of government then was still only presidential with President Marcos holding all power of government. You know fate has been unkind to your country when a man of genius like Ferdinand Marcos turned into a greedy dictator.

The sands of fate, however, soon favored democracy and the President was forced to exile by the historic EDSA People Power Revolution on February 1986. The new President, Corazon Aquino, then abolished the highly unjust 1973 Constitution and created a transitional Constitution while a new Constitution was being drafted. During this transition, President Corazon Aquino was granted exceptional power and became the source of laws by decree.

On 1987, the new permanent Constitution was approved by President Aquino which led to the restoration of the old presidential system of government as it was before the 1973 Constitution, with some amendments as to prevent another Marcos from rising again. The 1987 Constitution continues to take effect until now, as of writing, although several Presidents after Corazon Aquino have tried their best to amend it with only some measure of success.


The Making of a Law

Well, here we are at last. How exactly does our beloved and nefarious Congressmen make our laws?

Preparing the Bill

The first step of every legislative process is problem solving. During this step, there is no explicit rule to follow or procedure to be wary of. Every member of both Houses may deliberate in any circumstance that he or she so pleases, with person that he or she knows important, about any proposal that he or she believes worthwhile in the time frame that he or she considers convenient and efficient.

Once the Congressman has set his mind what law to create, amend or repeal, the next step is to put the proposal on paper. There are two rules that should be followed here. First, as mandated by Section 24 of Article VI of the Constitution, appropriation, revenue or tariff bills; bills authorizing increase of the public debt; bills of local application; and bills of local application must originate exclusively in the House of Representatives. Second, all bills must only embrace one subject which is expressed in the title thereof. This means that there should be no rider in the bill. A rider is any provision that has nothing to do with the subject of the bill. This is a constitutional mandate expressed in Section 26, paragraph 1, of Article VI of the Constitution. The Congressman must always remember these two rules when he drafts the bill or requests the Reference and Research Bureau to draft it for him.

As an additional note, it is common practice for several Members to band together to draft a single bill. This is known as a joint resolution.

Submitting the Bill

Once the bill is drafted, the authors must affix their signatures and submit it, together with an electronic copy, to the Secretary General of their respective House. The Secretary General will then assign the bill with a number and reproduce the same for First Reading.

First Reading

The First Reading does not involve any deliberation or voting. The Secretary General will simply read the number, title, and authors of the bill, followed by its referral of the House Speaker to the appropriate committee.

Committee Deliberations

The appointed Committee deliberates on the bill. They may approve the bill with or without amendments or act unfavorably on it. They may substitute the bill with a new one. They may consolidate existing bills under their command. This is a crucial process where the very identity and life of the bill hangs on the balance. Although the Constitution does not dictate some sort of a time limit for deliberations, under the House Rules, a Member of the House may file a motion to discharge the Committee if the latter fails to act on the bill after thirty days. The motion, however, needs to be voted favorably by the members of the House before it can be enforced.

If the Committee approves the bill, they send it back to the House for Second Reading.

Second Reading

During the Second Reading, the bill will be read in full unless final copies have been distributed to all the Members. The House will then conduct a debate regarding the bill. They may amend or remove provisions as they please. After the debate, the Members of the House must vote whether to approve or reject the bill. If it is approved, it is assigned a spot in the Calendar of Business for Third Reading.

Third Reading

During the Third Reading, the Constitution mandates that no further amendments is allowed. The Members of the House may only vote whether to finally pass or table the bill. If it is approved by the House, the bill is then sent to the other House for three readings as well.

It should be noted that the Constitution dictates two crucial rules – the three readings must occur in separate days and all the Members of the House must receive printed final copies of the bill at least three days before its passage. These two rules may be ignored if the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. It is, however, important that the bill must pass three readings even if the President certifies to its immediate necessity.

House Cycle

Once the other House receives the bill, that House must treat the bill as if it has been proposed by a Member of their own House. Thus, the bill receives no special treatment and must still pass three readings for a grand total of six readings. This is the reason why laws take forever to be enacted. Although this can be considered a bad thing, the long time also assures that no law is passed until it is scrutinized closely by our Congressmen. Hopefully.

It should be noted that the other House may amend or completely substitute the bill being passed by the originating House.

Anyway, if the other House approves the bill, it is sent to the originating House for approval. If the originating House approves of the changes made by the other House, a final copy of the bill is printed (known as the ‘enrolled’ bill) and signed by the Speakers and Secretary Generals of both Houses. This bill is then sent to the Office of the President for the President’s approval.

If, on the other hand, the originating House does not approve of the changes made by the other House, a Conference Committee may be called to settle the differences between the two. The Committee comprises representatives from both Houses. The Committee must finalize a report within sixty days (or more, if the Committee can provide an explanation) from the date of their organization. The report of the Committee will serve as another version of the bill and sent to both Houses for approval. If both Houses agree to that version of the bill, it is sent to the Office of the President for the President’s approval.

It is important to note that the Conference Committee may amend or substitute the bill being passed by its parent Houses.

Approval of the President

Every bill passed by Congress will be presented to the President. If he approves of the law, he shall sign it; if he does not, he returns it with his remarks to Congress. If he signs it, the bill becomes a law.

If the President does not sign or veto the bill within thirty days after receiving a copy of the bill, the bill becomes a law as if he has signed it. The concept of ‘pocket veto’, i.e., the bill dies if the President ignores it for some time, is not accepted in our country.


If the President vetoes the bill, i.e., he rejects the bill, the Congress has the power to override the President’s veto with three-fourths vote of all the members of both Houses voting separately.  The bill then, though initially vetoed by the President, still becomes a law.

As you can see, the legislative process is quite complex. The Reader should note that I did not include here all the rules of each House. There are still intricacies that I left out – how the Members should vote, how they should deliberate, how they should protest if they something is wrong. I did, however, tried to include the most basic and important provisions, particularly those mentioned by the Constitution.

And that’s it, folks. I hope you learned something new again. As usual, if I missed something, you can always contact me and I will quickly correct it (or debate with you if I found your comment wanting, but it is all in good fun). Toodles, dear Reader, and I’ll see you when I see you.



As per tradition, I am not using any referencing standard. Read further, expand knowledge!

1. The Wikipedia pages about the History of the Philippines, Cortes Generales, Spanish Constitution of 1812, Philippine RevolutionFirst Philippine Republic, Philippine-American War, Philippine Commission, Philippine Assembly, World War II, Philippine Organic Act of 1902, Jones Law, Tydings-McDuffie Act, Legislature, Unicameralism, Multicameralism, United States Constitution, Act of Congress, Bill, and Conference Committee. Accessed 5-7 May 2012.

2. House Rules of the Senate of the Philippines. Accessed 6 May 2012. The relevant House Rules are Rules XXI-XXIII and XXV.

3. House Rules of the House of Representatives of the Philippines. Adopted 14 December 2010. The relevant House Rule is Rule X.

4. The Biak-na-Bato, Malolos, 1935, 1943, 1973, and Freedom Constitutions of the Philippines.

5. The 1987 (and currently used) Constitution of the Philippines. The relevant provisions can be found in Article VI, Sections 24, 26 and 27.

6. Statutory Construction by Ruben Agpalo. Published 1986. Revised 2009.

Three Poems of War and Hopelessness


the streets were filled with sorrow

when a young child, aged seven,

lost his beloved toy

at one of the intersections

of tall skyscrapers and

blazing neon lights

only to finally realize

that the skyscrapers were

really mischievous giants

stealing little firetruck toys


when evening fell

when evening fell on MSS Lusca:


a thousand arms

reached from the ocean

destroying the hull, the mast

into small planks of wood and cloth


(on the radar: a massive beeping dot)


from the horizon

a rain of metal and fire


the arms subsided

the captain rejoiced


when the sea split apart

and St. Augustine emerged

fully naked and fire raging


did we mine the last hydrogen?

when we exhausted all possibilities

we hauled the sun from the heavens

(what is it that you call those things again?

ah, yes, the Leviathan, wonderful how it sounds

than Large-Scale Extraction Satellites)

and created machines of wonder


ask yourself:

did your lovely iRobot protect you

when the big ball of fire

exploded into endless space?