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 random.com 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.

Room 302

Everything started with the earthquake.

We were having our recitation on Criminal Law when the floor and the walls around us began to shake. I did not notice it at first. It was a small tremble, really. I experienced worse. Anyway, Dainah was having her recitation – I think it was about mitigating circumstances, but fat chance, I was not really listening – when our professor told her to stop. Dainah’s face dropped and sat back on her seat.

The professor held one of her fingers up. Don’t worry, the finger told us.

The professor bowed her head as the earthquake continued to roll. We stared dead ahead, on the dirty whiteboard in front of the room. Surprisingly, there were no giggles, no murmur, no relieving sigh as the recitation stopped for a while. There was only silence and a strange feeling of apprehension.

After a minute, the teacher stood up from her desk, confused.

“Jesus Christ,” she whispered to herself, but loud enough for us to hear. Although we can recognize a slight tremble in her voice, that broke the tension. We looked around and talk among ourselves. Some joked about the earthquake. The nerds bowed their heads and read their notes. Dainah asked her seatmate if her answers were right. I overheard her seatmate saying that it was not, that it should have been ‘four’, not ‘three’.

I let out a sigh of relief. I don’t like silence.

The professor clapped her hands, calling our attention. “Okay, guys. Let’s get out. Forget about packing your things. We’ll be returning soon.”

There were some cheers as we stood up from our seats and walked outside the room. It was 7 PM then. Darkness had already set in. The earthquake rolled around us; the tremors weak, steady, intimidating. My seatmate, Mark, timed the entire deal. It had been 8 minutes since the earthquake started.


There was no one in the hallway. It was not unusual, considering it was 7pm, but the silent, rolling earthquake was making everything quite eerie.


The professor walked toward the classroom next to us – Room 302 – and peeked on the window. I never forgot her next reaction. She stepped back, fell, and crawled away from the door. Her face was deadly white and her eyes were bulging from their sockets. She was shivering and her right hand was doing the sign of the cross over and over again.

We ran toward her.

As they tried to comfort her back to her senses, Mark and I walked toward Room 302 and took a short glance. Mark screamed. I would have too, but I was too frozen with fright that I cannot even open my mouth. We turned around and ran toward the safety of our classmates. I tried to tell them what we saw, but all I could mutter were short indiscernible grunts.


They took a look. Of course they took a look.

They screamed as well. We rushed back to our room and locked the door.


Room 302 was not empty.

There were some twenty or thirty students sitting on the seats, and the teacher, a woman, was sitting behind the desk. She was holding a small stack of yellow index cards. The scene would have been ordinary, except that all of them were looking at us. They were sitting there, body straight forward, except their heads were directly looking at us at the window.

We screamed not of that. Far from it.

We screamed because all of them do not have any faces. They do not have eyes, or nose, or eyebrows or mouth. They were staring at us with blank brown faces that would be our nightmares for years to come.


The earthquake stopped minutes later after we crowded back on our room.

The teacher after Criminal Law would find us, sitting quietly on our seats, praying. Our professor was with us, silent as a rock, her right hand still making the sign of the cross without pause. She would later become recluse and quit teaching months later.

As for the rest of us, we tried to forget what happened. The weird thing was that no one felt the earthquake except us, and there was supposed to be no class on 302 that night. Well, there was one other thing. I did not mention this to my classmates, but when I took a look at that fateful room that night, I noticed something else entirely.

They may be wearing different clothes, but I know, without an inkling of a doubt, that all of the students, including the professor, on that room were us. We were looking at ourselves.

those i will lose this windy afternoon

standing here,

on the balcony of neon lights and rusty cables,

overlooking the colony of ants below,

reminds of the time when I took you

here for a quick cup of coffee

you never liked milk with your coffee

my momma never did, too

she always take me on this big train

and pull my hair when I take a look

at her big firm breasts waiting only

to be tapped by a hydraulic engineer

which was my father’s job

back when he still had the time to play with Rocky

my teddy bear from the Himalayas

where I took my winter trip

and had to bring a lot of coats and scarfs

but I still got sick

and my bestfriend Johnny had to bring me

in this dark hotel where I am now

overlooking the colony of ants below

thinking how many centimeters

from the ledge

separate me and those i will lose

this windy afternoon


I wrote this poem back in college. I’m aware that the image of the man on the balcony is a cliche, but there’s something about memories that are both endearing and terrifying, you know? They can bring tears or laughter (or even both) at the blink of an eye. It’s almost like magic.

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.