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.

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

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.

33 Degrees

I’m hot. No, really, I’m not kidding. It’s damn hot. I know it’s summer, but has the temperature really been this crazy the past few years? This is beyond insane. It has been my strategy (if you call it that) lately to force an all-nighter, sleep at 8am and wake up at around 3pm so I can at least subconsciously escape the unforgiving gaze of the noonday sun. Unfortunately, my brilliant ‘strategy’ barely works and even if it does, I wake up with my shirt drenching wet with sweat, my head throbbing with pain, and the treacherous fan blowing hot air on my face. Thanks a lot, industrial-grade steel.

Anyway, yeah, it’s summer. Although classes have officially closed more than a month ago, I did not feel summer begin – aside, of course, from the increasingly scorching temperature – until nine days ago, when I finally finished the 195-paged, handwritten assignment that my professor gave us for last semester. It is, however, a story for another day. This post is all about things that I plan to do for the next thirty days and more, and I am terribly excited to share it with you, so let us temporarily forget about that horrible assignment and get this entry down the road, okay?

Cool. You’re awesome.


The ‘Fifteen Genres, Fifteen Movies, One Summer’ Project

This is not new. I have done these what-to-do-this-summer entries before, trying to capitalize on this rarely found treasure called ‘free time’, and abandoned all of them even before I could cross a single item from the list. I am trying, therefore, to step back, meditate, and be realistic this time around. What can I do – and I mean really do – to make this summer more exciting?

And I thought: What about movies?

I think it is an awesome idea, really, and I think I know why I thought of it first.  Some of my friends and I should have watched The Avengers last Thursday, but my parents decided that it was the perfect time to leave the house. Since my brother also left for his jiu-jitsu training and my parents explicitly told me to protect the house at all costs, I have to cancel my plans with my friends. It is a terrible shame because I heard nothing but praises for the movie.

Hence, after that long interlude, this side-project. Since it appears highly probable that I cannot watch The Avengers now that it is in its second week, I decided to watch fifteen other movies to mourn for my loss. Some logic, huh? I know.

Update (6 May 2012): I returned from the future to update that I did able to watch The Avengers. Alone. Still an awesome movie, though. This update is so hardcore.

Anyway, for the next thirty or so days, I’m going to watch fifteen classic (and some not-so-classic) movies, each genre different from the last, from Reddit’s Top 250 Movies of All Time and review them here as I watch them. I’m not going to do a full blow-by-blow review, of course. I’m quite sure that the flicks are bound to be good anyway. I’m probably just do a little footnote here and there as I go along this path of self-righteousness.

If you’re curious, which I am sure you are, here are the movies that I am going to watch:

Action: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

IMDb: Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.

Adventure: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

IMDb: King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many very silly obstacles.

Comedy: Office Space (1999)

IMDb: Comedic tale of company workers who hate their jobs and decide to rebel against their greedy boss.

Coming-of-Age Drama: The Graduate (1967)

IMDb: Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock is trapped into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, who happens to be the wife of his father’s business partner and then finds himself falling in love with her daughter, Elaine.

Crime: The Departed (2006)

IMDb: Two men from opposite sides of the law are undercover within the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish mafia, but violence and bloodshed boil when discoveries are made, and the moles are dispatched to find out their enemy’s identities.

Detective / Courtroom Drama: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

IMDb: A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Epic: Apocalypse Now (1979)

IMDb: During the on-going Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Green Beret who has set himself up as a God among a local tribe.

Fantasy: The Iron Giant (1999)

IMDb: A boy makes friends with an innocent alien giant robot that a paranoid government agent wants to destroy.

Gangster: The Usual Suspects (1995)

IMDb: A boat has been destroyed, criminals are dead, and the key to this mystery lies with the only survivor and his twisted, convoluted story beginning with five career crooks in a seemingly random police lineup.

Horror: Alien (1979)

IMDb: A mining ship, investigating a suspected SOS, lands on a distant planet. The crew discovers some strange creatures and investigates.

Romance: The Princess Bride (1987)

IMDb: A classic fairy tale, with swordplay, giants, an evil prince, a beautiful princess, and yes, some kissing (as read by a kindly grandfather).

Science Fiction: Children of Men (2006)

IMDb: In 2027, in a chaotic world in which humans can no longer procreate, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea, where her child’s birth may help scientists save the future of humankind.

Social Drama: Network (1976)

IMDb: A TV network cynically exploits a deranged ex-TV anchor’s ravings and revelations about the media for their own profit.

Thriller: Memento (2000)

IMDb: A man, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife.

The ‘Art Film’: Amelie (2001)

IMDb: Amelie, an innocent and naive girl in Paris, with her own sense of justice, decides to help those around her and along the way, discovers love.

As I was writing this list, my big brother leaned in, asked what I was doing, and told me that I am a sucker for classic movies. Ha. He meant it as an insult. I took it as a compliment. Besides, not all of the films in my list can hardly be classified as a classic. Anyway, I guess I do get his point. Like him, I am always cynical when people say they are going to watch ‘old’ films or read ‘old’ books. I think they are being pretentious. Now that I am in the other side of the mirror, I guess I learned my lesson. We are being pretentious. Haha.

Anyway, as I said, I will post a little update here and there as I go along with my blog.


The ‘Random Book’ Project

Aside from the movie project above, I also decided to have a small literary project to go along with it so I can learn a thing or two. I do not mean that movies cannot impart knowledge, because I’m sure they can, but there is something about books, you know? They may only be words, but damn, these words are mystical, dude. The simplest words can invoke the strongest emotions.

Anyway, I pulled Reddit’s Top 200 Books, flicked my nose ala Bruce Lee, and asked myself two basic questions. What book do I like to read, and what do I like not to read? My answers then will comprise my reading list for the summer. Also, because I love things to be in threes and because I can, I decided to upload the entire list to and read whatever the machine spurts back out.

I present then, young Padawan, my to-read list this Summer 2012. It ain’t much but I guess they work.

What do I love to read? Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

What do I love not to read but will read just because? The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

What do machines want me to read? Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As I read what book the machines gave me, I immediately regretted having a third choice at all. I barely know Dostoyevsky. I know he’s some Russian dude and I know he is famous, but I also know his books are quite difficult to comprehend. Out of all 200 books, why would fate choose for me a Russian? The world hates me. Anyway, as for the other choices, do I even need to explain Calvin and Hobbes? It’s a bundle of entertainment, philosophy and stories of adventure. Who does not want to read that? On the other hand, The Prince looks like an excellent start to learn more about the world of politics. I hate politics (and yes, I am a law student, but it is a common misconception to tangle law with politics), but I guess for this summer, I will let do.

As for why only three books, you have to take account that I have other projects and this blog to maintain, dude. I actually thought of five books instead of three, but I am going for realistic here. It’s better to underestimate than to lose sight of my goal. Besides, if I finish early, I can always grab another book or two. Why not, coconut?

That’s it! Wish me luck, Reader, and I will update you when time comes. Adieu!

P.S. I guess you already predicted I am a Redditor. If you don’t know Reddit, check it out.

A Primer on the Spratly Islands Dispute

As a Filipino, I have always been proud of our race. Philippines may be one of the lower-tier countries in Southeast Asia, but we are proud of who we are and what we do. There are times, however, that this pride gets in the way of cool and rational thinking. A quick review of the history of the Philippines will show us the overwhelming insecurity of the Filipino race after years of abuse, slavery, and oppression from other nations. As a result, we rise our fists in impetuous rage at the slightest provocation. I believe that this is mob mentality and one of the many black spots on our otherwise beautiful culture.

The goal of this primer is to provide information, nothing more and nothing less, over the ongoing Spratly Islands dispute between China and the Philippines. I will not take sides. I will not attempt to solve the issue. I only want to take a little of your time to outline the information being provided to the public, hoping that this little project will divert what now appears to be a Cold War between the two countries to a battle of the mind. We should always remember that stupid wars have been fought over simple misunderstanding. I hope this dispute will not come into that.

This will not be a simple issue. I will try to explain everything in simple terms, referencing essential information when necessary, but terminology and research can only do much. The rest is up to you, Reader.


Is there any disclaimer?

Yes, there is. First of all, the Reader has to understand that I am not a lawyer, a historian, a government official, or even someone with intricate knowledge of the Islands or the dispute. I am only a law student, and even that has no merit at all. Second, this is not an original research. All information that you are going to read are derived from various Internet and print sources which are referenced at the end of the article. I merely summarized the essential details for your easy reading. Third. Although I checked every information below to be true, there will be always that tragic flaw which I undoubtedly missed.

As a final note – yes, you may use the information below in any (legal) way possible. The purpose of the primer is to inspire rational thinking after all. However, if you are going to give a report or partake in formal debate using this information, be aware that that is a very bad idea and you should probably research more into the issue. Thank you.


What are the Spratly Islands?

The Spratly Islands is an archipelago of more than 100 small islands, cays, and reefs. It spans over 410,000 square kilometers of central South China Sea and totals to over four square kilometers of land. The islands are thought to be volcanic in origin. Although the islands are not suitable for planting crops, research around the area has shown probability of a rich source of oil under the seabed. As of now, the main sources of trade in the area are fishery, shipping, and on a smaller degree, tourism.

Spratly Islands is only its English name. The other claimant countries also have their own name for the group of islands. Although it was originally known as ‘Horsburgh’s Storm Island’, the Admirality renamed it ‘Spratly Islands’ after Richard Spratly, master of British whaler Cyrus South Seaman, who sighted the scattered islands on 1843 and published it in The Nautical Magazine during the same year.

Spratly Islands is known as Kapuluang Kalayaan in the Philippines; Nansha Islands (南沙群島) by the Chinese; and Truong Sa by the Vietnamese.


What is Scarborough Shoal?

Scarborough Shoal lies outside of the Spratly Islands. It is not exactly a shoal, i.e., a single mass of sandbank, but rather an archipelago of small islands and reefs on its own. Although Scarborough is almost similar to Spratly, it is significantly much smaller, occupying only 150 square kilometers of the South China Sea. I believe the comment made by Colonel Bayley – a South African colonial military commander commissioned under the British Army from 1877 to 1892 – of the archipelago best describes the beautiful yet terrifying landscape and history of the land mass:

The Scarborough shoal was seen about four miles distant, a high rock, abruptly rising from the sea some hundred feet high, with breakers dashing over it, foaming and roaring most terrifically. The wind had completely subsided, leaving an enormous swell mountains high, driving us toward the fatal rock, where a Chinaman named “Scarborough” had been wrecked some years before and every soul perished (parts of the wreck having been afterwards discovered by sloops sent in search of her), from whence the shoal derived its name.

Scarborough Shoal is known as Huangyan Island (黃岩島) by the Chinese.


Why are the Spratly Islands important?

First, there is a rich economy to be had in the Islands. It is a prime fishing spot and can also serve as a trade route between mercantile countries. On top of that, there are also reports of vast natural gas and oil reserves deep in the seabed.  More than economy, however, is sovereignty. The country who controls a majority of the Islands also controls the South China Sea. The country can build naval forts, block enemy trades, and well, generally reign supreme over the other countries who need the optimum trade route most. It is a dangerous, terrible power which all the claimant countries seek to have.


What is the history behind the Spratly Islands?

14th century: The ancient Chinese maps, Shengjiao guangbei tu and Hunyi jiangli tu, were dated to have been made around this century. The combined map shows a group of islands called ‘Thousand Li Stretch of Sands’ and ‘Ten-Thousand Li of Stone Pools’ which the Chinese alleges to be the Spratly Islands.

18th century: Le Quy Don, a Vietnamese polymath and government official, recorded that Truong Sa (an island west of Spratly) belongs to the Quang Ngãi District and that the Vietnamese did a shipping trade around the area.

early 19th century: Vietnamese maps record the Spratly Islands grouped with the Paracel Islands, a small archipelago of islets and reefs near Vietnam and China that is almost similar to the Spratlys. They called these islands Bai Cat Vang or the Golden Sandbanks.

1885: Vietnam became part of French Indochina, the French colonial empire in Southeast Asia.

1927: The Chinese Civil War started.

1933: France occupied part of the Spratly Islands, claiming them in behalf of Vietnam. The Republic of China challenged this move.

1939: World War II erupted. Japan occupied some of the islands in Spratly as a submarine base.

1940: Germany captured France. The management of French Indochina transferred from the French Third Republic to Vichy France.

1941: After the war in the Pacific, France gave up the entirety of French Indochina to the Japanese which, in turn, established the Empire of Vietnam.

1945: Japan surrenders to the Allied Powers, effectively ending the war. The Republic of China reasserts its claim to the entirety of Spratly.

1946: The First Indochina War started between French troops and the Viet Minh. The Republic of China seized Itu Alba Island, the largest island out of all the Spratly group of islands, and established permanent physical presence around the area.

1947: Tomás Cloma, a Filipino lawyer and fishing magnate, discovered some of the uninhabited Spratly Islands. He was aspiring to open a cannery and guano deposits in the Islands as part of his fishing enterprise.

1949: The Chinese Civil War ended with the split of China into two – Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China.

1950: The Republic of China withdraws its troops from Spratly as they retreat from the Communist Party of China to Taiwan.

1951: Japan signs the Treaty of San Francisco, where they renounced all claims to the Spratly Islands. During the treaty, the Soviet Union proposes that the Islands be given to China. This was overwhelmingly rejected. Afterwards, Vietnam declared that the islands be part of their territory. This was not contested by the other delegates.

1954: The First Indochina War ended, which resulted to the split of Vietnam into two – the North and the South. South Vietnam continued to exercise military presence over the majority of the Spratly Islands.

1956: Cloma and 40 of his men returned to formally claim the eastern portion of the Spratly Islands. He posted notices in each of the uninhabited islands where he claimed the islands as his own. He called the islands Freedomland. The Republic of China challenged this claim and returned their troops to the islands as defensive measure.

1958: The People’s Republic of China issued a declaration defining their territorial waters which included the Spratly Islands. Pham Vam Dong, prime minister of North Vietnam, accepted this declaration; however, international scholars argue that as the Spratly Islands is part of South Vietnam, Pham Van Dong has no legal right to accept or reject any declaration regarding the Spratly Islands.

1959: The Second Indochina War, known popularly as the Vietnam War, started between North and South Vietnam.

1968: The Philippines first sent troops to the Spratly Islands.

1974: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos imprisoned Cloma and forced him to cede his private claim to the Spratly Islands for one peso. Cloma submitted, thus transferring ownership of the islands to the Republic of the Philippines. Marcos changed the name of the islands to Kalayaan.

1975: The Vietnam War ended after the fall of Saigon and with the victory of North Vietnam.

1976: The North and South Vietnam is reunified to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

1979: Malaysia begins to annex the southern portion of the Spratly Islands.

1983: The Chinese Toponymy Committee publicized the approved names of the 159 islands, reefs, islets, and shoals in the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands.

1984: Brunei asserts that under the United Nations Law of the Sea, their Exclusive Economic Zone extends to some part of the Spratly Islands because they are under the same continental shelf as their country’s domain.

1999: A French oil company found ancient Chinese pottery and other treasures from the bottom of the South China Sea near the Spratlys. The pottery was dated to be from the 15th century.

2002: The Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) and the People’s Republic of China signed the ‘Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea’ which stipulates that the nations claiming sovereignty over the Spratly Islands must commit to the status quo. This means that no claimant nation should erect new structure over the disputed territories and thus can only maintain establishments already existing during the time of the declaration.

2004: The unified Vietnam state asserted its claim to the Spratly Islands.


Who is claiming what and how?

People’s Republic of China and Taiwan

Both countries lay claim to all of the Spratly Islands as well as Scarborough Shoal. If you go back to the history of the Spratly Islands, you can see that the Republic of China (now Taiwan) has maintained physical presence on the Islands except a brief period from 1950 to 1956 where they have to retreat as result of the Chinese Civil War. This presence, together with tangible evidence that they have been on the Islands for hundreds of years dating back to the Yuan Dynasty, serves as the primary basis of their claims.

The Republic of the Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines has two grounds for their claim of the Spratly Islands – legal and geographical. It should be noted that the Republic does not seek to claim all of the islands but only the eastern portion of it.

Let us tackle the legal ground first. According to the Philippines, when Japan renounced their claim on the Islands in 1951, the islands became res nullius and thus open for acquisition. Res nullius is Latin for nobody’s property. If an object is res nullius, it can be validly acquired by whoever declares it as his or her own. In the case of the Spratly Islands, when Japan renounced their claim, the Islands became terra nullius, a specific kind of res nullius, which means  ‘no man’s land’. Thus, when Tomás Cloma declared the uninhabited islands as his own in 1956, he became the owner of these islands. When he sold the Islands to the Republic for one peso, the Republic of the Philippines became the owner of the disputed land.

The geographical ground is not as easy to explain but let me try, shall we? According to the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Land and the Sea or UNCLOS, a country has sole exploitation rights over external waters 200 nautical miles from the nearest baseline. This is the Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ. As a general rule, the baseline is the low-water line, i.e., the farthest level that the seawater can reach during low tide. However, in cases where the country is an archipelago or deeply indented, straight baselines may be used. Think of it as some sort of a connect-the-dots game where the dots are the farthest low-water line of each indent reaching to the sea. If you apply the straight baselines rule, the EEZ of the Philippines extends well to the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal.

The problem, however, with both the legal and geographical claims is that they assume that the Islands are terra nullius in the first place. The UNCLOS cannot unjustly claim for one country what has already been claimed by another country.

Brunei and Malaysia

Brunei and Malaysia do not lay claim to all of the Islands but only the southern portion which their respective continental shelves can reach.

Like the Republic of the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia principally use the UNCLOS as ground for their claims. According to the UNCLOS, a country still has exclusive rights to harvest minerals in the subsoil (but not the creatures) even if it is well over the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, provided that it does not exceed 350 nautical miles and that the subsoil is part of the country’s continental shelf. Brunei and Malaysia claim that their respective continental shelves extend to the disputed Islands.


Vietnam does not lay claim to all but only a majority of the Islands.

Like Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam use historical fact as evidence that they occupied the Islands since the 17th century. The French, who annexed Vietnam in 1885 to be a part of their colonial empire, recognized this right and claimed the Islands in behalf of Vietnam. Moreover, during the peace treaty with Japan at San Francisco, the other delegates did not contest when Vietnam declared the Islands to be theirs. They are the only country to establish a communal district in the Islands.


Who owns Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal?

Like I said in the Introduction, this primer does not mean to take sides. In my opinion, however, historical sovereignty reigns supreme more than geographical sovereignty. The problem with historical sovereignty, however, is how fickle history can be. For Vietnam, People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan to rightfully claim the Islands, they must be able to prove that (1) they occupied the Islands first, and (2) that they did not abandon or ceased to own the Islands which will give way for other countries to claim the Islands. It is only when these two requisites are proved not to exist that the other countries who allege the Islands to be terra nullius – the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia – can validly claim the Islands. This is a battle, therefore, not of arms but of conflicting evidences. I only hope that it stays that way.


What’s next?

You’re next. Do not stop here. Do your research. Gather evidences. Engage in casual debate with family and friends. The most important advice that I can give, however, is to always respect your enemy. The recent ‘cyberwar’ between China and the Philippines is nothing but immaturity at its worst. The Islands may be a vital economic resource, but do we – not only the Philippines but also the other countries – need to sacrifice honor and go that low to defame the other country? Think about it. We are civilized people after all.

Anyway, for all that it’s worth, I hope that this primer helped some of you to obtain some information about the ongoing dispute. If there is a fact that I was able to miss, to credit, or to check as true, do not hesitate to send me a message at my Contact page. This primer will not go far with my skill. I need your help and I need it bad. Peace, brother!



APA? MLA? Nah. I have my own reference guide. Let’s be casual, okay? Good. Awesome. Cool.

1. The Wikipedia pages about the Spratly Islands, Scarborough Shoal, the Spratly Islands dispute, French IndochinaVichy France, Vietnam, China, Japan, the Republic of the Philippines, the First Indochina War, the Vietnam War, World War II, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Tomás Cloma, Richard Spratly, Res and terra nullius, and Treaty of San Francisco. Accessed 1 May 2012.

2. Diary of Colonel Bayly: 12th Regiment. 1796 – 1830. Published 1896. Colonel Bayly’s description of Scarborough Shoal can be found in page 108.

3. CIA – The World Factbook on its description of the Spratly Islands. Accessed 1 May 2012.

5. Historical Evidence to Support China’s Sovereignty over Nansha Islands. Posted 17 November 2000. Accessed 1 May 2012.

6. China’s War With Vietnam, 1979: Issues, Decisions, and Implications. Published 1987. The territorial dispute over Spratly Islands can be found in page 48.

7. China’s Criticism of the early Vietnamese maps. Posted 2004. Accessed 1 May 2012.

8. Spratly Islands History Timeline. Accessed 2 May 2012.

9. Asia-Pacific Undersea treasure chest stirs up tensions. Posted 29 April 1999. Accessed 1 May 2012.

10. Q&A: South China Sea dispute. Posted 19 July 2011. Accessed 2 May 2012.

11. The Spratly Islands Dispute: Why is this important?. Posted 13 October 2011. Accessed 2 May 2012.

12. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. Promulgated 1982.

13. Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. Promulgated 2002.

The Rules

Hey there! Welcome to my blog. I hope you like it here. It isn’t much, but it’s home and it’s all that matters. Anyway, make yourself comfy, let me make you a coffee, and let’s get down with these pesky introductions. Okay? Good. Awesome. Superb. I like you already, dude.

Let me tell you right off the bat: I love rules. It’s probably the reason why I’m taking up Law right now. Yeah, I’m taking up Law. I know, I don’t like someone who is going to be a lawyer, but I am, promise. Haha. Anyway, this blog is a direct product of my love for rules. A few hours ago, after listening to my friend about her plans for her new blog, I was like, How about I make a blog with rules? Yeah, I know, stoner logic. Of course, I’m not really stoned (and even if I am, do you think I’ll really tell it in public? Haha), but watching Adventure Time for six hours straight will rustle your mind, baby. The rest, as you can see, is history. Some creation stories are really boring. Sorry if this is one of them.

Anyway, that’s about it for my blog. The rules, yeah, I did not forget. Wait for them, ayt? Let me talk about myself first. I’m narcissistic like that. Haha. Well, anyhow, I’m Kenneth, I’m 20 (as of writing), and as I already told you, I’m a law student. I’m from the Philippines. I don’t like sweets, but I don’t mind if I do. Again, don’t mind the randomness. I love dragons, I don’t like red wavy lines showing me my spelling of ‘randomness’ is wrong, and I prefer banana ketchup to tomato ketchup. Hey, that got me thinking. Is that how you spell ketchup?

Wait. Let me check Wikipedia.

Aaaaaaand… there you go. If we pause the professor-ingrained belief that Wikipedia is not trustworthy at all, catsup and ketchup are both acceptable. You do learn something new everyday. Anyway, I guess that’s enough information about me. Of course, if you want to know more, you stalker you, you can always follow this blog. The devil is in the details, but the hardship is in the waiting. Yeah. I don’t get it either.

And now, to the Rules! Think of this as a Constitution of this website. If you don’t know what a Constitution is, well, I can’t help you there. I’m not that good on my Constitutional Law.


The Rules of CLVII

Rule No. 1: The Writer must post a minimum of two entries a week where one will always be personal and the other will be a creative work. The week will start on Sunday and there will be no word limit. If a particular entry can be labeled as a personal entry or creative work, the Writer must choose which requirement the entry shall satisfy and do the other accordingly.

Rule No. 2: The words ‘warehouse’, ‘aqueduct’, ‘grape’, ‘Jolly Roger’ and any derivatives of such words will never be used by the Writer.

Rule No. 3: The Writer will not post a personal entry that only revolves around food.

Rule No. 4: The Writer must always use Google Chrome to post entries, except if he is in mobile where any browser or mode of posting is acceptable.

Rule No. 5: Every fifth creative entry must be poetry.

Rule No. 6: Every tenth personal entry must be accompanied by at least three pictures.

Rule No. 7: The Rules also extend to comments made by the Writer on this website.

Rule No. 8: If a Rule is broken, the Writer must abandon the blog. He may post two final entries thereafter.

Rule No. 9: These rules can only be amended on the last day of each alternate month following the month of promulgation of these Rules (April 2012).

Rule No. 10: Rule Nos. 1, 7, 8, and 9 cannot be amended or deleted.

Rule No. 11: These rules take effect on 28 April 2012. Philippine Time (GMT + 8) will govern the timepiece of this blog.


Ha. I’m loving this already. Wish me luck, Reader, and have a nice day. :)

P.S. This counts as a personal entry. Ha! I think I’m going to have a bad time with R.N.1.

P.P.S. I don’t why I named this blog CLVII. Maybe I’ll expound on this later on, either in a personal entry or creative work.