Thursday, June 28, 2007

Been there, done that

I just saw this terrific site made by Eugene Alvin Villar. Lakbayan grades you on how well have you travelled and remembered the Philippines. I am very proud to say that I did well. I had a B for the test, which would say that I am a well-traveled person. Tee-hee.

Traveling has always been a big part of my life, since my family always made it a point to travel every summer to a place in the Philippines that we have never even set foot on. I guess I inherited my being laagan from both my parents. My dad, being an army brat, would always follow my grandfather where ever he was stationed. My mom, on the other hand, has this mole on her left foot that according to my grandmother, was a sign of being laagan.

I was infected with this penchance for traveling around when I was little, as far as I remember. When I was a toddler, my father was assigned to Cebu and Iloilo, while my mother was oftentimes in Dagupan City in Pangasinan. Though I have never really set foot and explored Cebu until I was studying in Silliman, I was fairly familiar with Dagupan and the northern part of Luzon.

My mother have often told me stories of the four of us (the family only grew big when we transferred to Gen San) would go to Laoag, Baguio, La Union, and Vigan, just to name a few, just because we were there and we were itching for adventure. As long as we had a clean set of clothes, a few hundred pesos, and we were all set.

When my father found a job in Gen San, we also followed, but being in Mindanao did not stop our traveling ways, as we made it a point to go to Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Butuan at least once. I guess that is why when I was in Tokyo for a year, I did all the traveling I did from the meager allowance ICU was giving me, and I was scrounging for a few more thousand yen from the salary I was making at Bamiyan Chinese Restaurant.

I think Jose Rizal was right in saying that one should not be a foreigner in your own country, and make it a point to travel your country first, before even America, Europe, or whatever country you go to. Not only does it say something about your being a Filipino, but I guess it is something that you can truly say, "Been there, done that."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A proud day...

My ninang just sent this:

Pinoy to address Harvard Law graduation

A FILIPINO lawyer taking up his LLM or master's degree in law at Harvard Law School in Cambridge , Massachusetts , will deliver the school's commencement address on June 7.

Oscar Franklin Barcelona Tan, a graduate of UP Law Class 2005 will address about 700 graduates. He is an associate, on study leave, at the ACCRA law office.

His father, lawyer Edmundo L. Tan of the Tan Acut & Lopez Law firm, had no comment on Franklin 's selection by a select committee, but said, "I will be there in Harvard on June 7 to congratulate personally my son and to share the moment with him."

His mother, Dr. Jesusa Barcelona Tan, is a dermatology consultant at the Hospital of the Infant Jesus in Sampaloc, head of the photo-dermatology unit, and former chair of the Department of D ermatology at the Jose R. Reyes Medical Center of the Department of Health.

In his draft speech, Oscar urges his 700 fellow graduates to transcend narrow nationalism. "My friends – and this includes our American classmates who will soon lead the world's lone superpower – let us transcend our individual nationalities and affirm that we are citizens of the world," he says.


Like Wine in the River, Like Citizens of the World
Harvard Law School 2007 Student Commencement Address
Oscar Franklin Barcelona Tan ( Philippines )

Dean Kagan, Vice-Dean Alford, professors, classmates, families, and friends. Let me first thank our tireless graduate program staff. They were the first friendly faces who greeted me, told me which functions offered free food, and what to do if you faint during your final exams. Assistant Dean Jeanne Tai, Nancy Pinn, Heather Wallick, Curtis Morrow, Jane Bestor, Chris Nepple, April Stockfleet: This year would not have been possible without you.

But this goes to everyone: Thank you all for truly making us feel part of this community. We LLMs became your fellow students after your Salsa Party, Chinese and Korean New Year, African Night, and our International Party. To honor you, we took Europe by storm, winning in the inaugural Negotiation Challenge, in the European Law Moot Court, and in the Willem Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court. Of course, you truly become part of Harvard Law School when you're featured in the Parody.

Not so long ago, Cambridge seemed a strange, unfriendly place especially when I first saw Gropius. I went to John Harvard's with the British, who began chittering in an alien language. I later discovered it was actually English -- the real English. I complained I was not used to cold, but a Saudi Arabian reminded me that you can fry eggs on a sidewalk in Riyadh . An Italian gave me tips on women because Italian men are the world's greatest lovers, with the disclaimer that their style does not work on American women. A Malaysian was asked to
explain the religious significance of the color of her hijab, or headscarf. She would answer: It had to match her blouse.

Soon, we found that great substance that keeps any law school together: alcohol. On New Year's Eve, a Belarusian handed me a glass of vodka, but scolded me when I began to sip it. Sipping, he emphasized, was not the Slavic way. I shared a Frenchman's champagne, a Peruvian's pisco sour, a Costa Rican's pina colada, a Brazilian's caipirinha, a Mexican's tequila, and a Japanese's sake. And apologies to the Germans, but I learned how even weak American beer enlivens an evening when you drink it with the Irish.

We found greater common ground: The Swiss complained about American chocolate, the New Zealanders complained about American cheese, the Sri Lankans complained about American tea, the Indians complained about the lack of vegetarian food, and everyone complained that American food makes you fat. An Austrian made homemade apfelstrudel. A Nigerian made homemade fried plantains. The Pakistanis made a non-spicy version of keema, and I only needed eight glasses of water during the meal. All the Americans had was Three Aces pizza.

As for me, I come from the Philippines , a former American colony best known for Imelda Marcos's shoe collection. I remember being a six-year old watching my parents walk out of our house to join the crowds gathering to depose the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and form human walls against tanks. I remember being a twenty-year old in a different crowd deposing a different but equally corrupt president.

It was liberating to hear how a Chilean danced with crowds in the streets when Pinochet was arrested. How the Chinese come to grips with Tiananmen Square, while convinced that one cannot transplant American-style government wholesale to Beijing . How life changed in the former Soviet Union ; how it was like growing up in a fledgling Eastern European country. How a Pakistani discussed Musharraf's assault on judicial independence with a South African worried about Mugabe's own acts in Zimbabwe .

It was even more liberating to hear from a Korean prosecutor how his country sent two former presidents to jail. How the Swiss have preserved their tradition of independence and referendum. How Ghana threw off its colonial fetters and inspired a conscious African solidarity. How a Bhutanese wants to help shape her constitution after her king voluntarily gave up absolute power.

I cannot deny that our generation's issues will be complex, but I can guarantee that they will never be abstract, not after having a classmate who was an Israeli army drill sergeant, not after having a Chinese classmate with a Taiwanese girlfriend, nor after having a classmate chased by gunmen out of Afghanistan . In fact, when George W. Bush's speech writer visited, my Iranian classmate introduced himself, "Hi, I'm from an Axis of Evil country."

Friends, my most uplifting thought this year has been that the more we learn about each other, the more we realize that we are all alike, and the more we inspire each other to realize our most heartfelt yearnings. My single most memorable moment here came when I met South African Justice Albie Sachs, left with only one arm after an assassination attempt during apartheid. My classmate stood up and said: " South Africa is the world's second most unequal country. I come from Brazil , the world's most unequal country, and I admire how the South African Constitutional Court has inspired the progress of human
rights throughout the world."

And this is how Harvard has changed us. We recall struggling with English to keep pace with the world's most brilliant professors, especially with Elizabeth Warren's Socratic blitzkriegs, and we thank Harvard for raising our thinking to a higher, broader level. But even the most powerful ideas demand passion to set them aflame. The passion we ignite today is fueled by a collage of vignettes that will remind us in this crucible of life that our peers in faraway lands face the same frustrations, the same nation building ordeals, the same sorrows,
and ultimately, the same shared joys and triumphs.

How do a mere 700 change the world, even with overpriced Harvard diplomas? Before a great battle in China's Spring and Autumn Period, the legendary King Gou Jian of Yue was presented with fine wine. He ordered his troops to stand beside a river, and poured the wine into it. He ordered them to drink from the river and share his gift. A bottle of wine cannot flavor a river, but the gesture so emboldened his army that they won a great victory. We of the Class of 2007 shall flavor this earth, whether we be vodka, wine, champagne, pisco sour, pina colada, caipirinha, tequila, sake, jagermeister, raki, Irish stout, Ugandan Warabi, or Philippine lambanog.

Thus, my friends --and this includes our American classmates who will soon lead the world's lone superpower -- let us transcend our individual nationalities and affirm that we are citizens of the world. Maraming salamat po, at mabuhay kayong lahat.*Thank you and long live you all.*


Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Yeah, back in Dumaguete, and will be facing the inevitability of starting the yearly grind that has been a part of my life for the past 15 or so years. Nothing fancy really, just this new system of enrollment that is a bit better than years before. Supposedly...

Let me break it down for you. (This is what happens at the History-Political Science Department)
1) Pay to the Business and Finance office your deposit of at least P6,500 to get your enrollment form.
2) Go to your adviser for advice on what subjects you can take.
3) Go to your college and choose from a list what subjects you have to take, according to your curriculum, of course. (And this is provided you have passed all your subjects the previous semester)
4) Let one of the "friendly" encoders supplied by the University make a printout of your schedule.
5) Back to your adviser for verification.
6) Pay A/S Council Fee. (Which I believe is a highway robbery in broad daylight, if you ask me.)
7) Proceed to A/S Dean for signature.
8) Proceed to get your class cards from the "friendly" staff of the University.
9) Get your I.D. validated.

1) Pay P6,500. (If you can't cough up that amount, I am sorry to say, you will have to bleed for it.)
2) Show your "OK for Enrollment" receipt to the "friendly" Encoding Section staff for your priority number.
3) If you're number is up, proceed to the computer room to verify your schedule. (Because apparently, the secretary of your Department has encoded it. The helpful Ma'am Perla from my Department has done it already, but upon checking my account, the schedule she made for me just wasn't there. Who knows what happened.)
4) If your schedule was encoded and you're satisfied with your schedule, you can get your printout.
5) Pay your college fees.
6) Dean for verification.
7) Stamp "ENROLLED."
8) ID validation.

The International Christian University (ICU) way. (As narrated to Fred Carnice).
1) I didn't have to pay, because I was a scholar! But if you are paying, ICU gives you how much you have to pay for this year, say, 2.2M Yen. Just pay at your bank and ask for a draft, payable to ICU.
2) On Enrollment Day, go to the Computer Centers. Type your user name and password. Select your subjects and get your first printout.
3) Go to your adviser and have him sign it.
4) Back to the Computer Center for verification.
AND YOU'RE DONE! Then, next day is class. (Bummer!)

Another great thing about ICU is, if you want to add/drop subjects, you just go to any computer and do the process again, but this time choose add/drop. (By the way, we only had two (2) weeks for adding/dropping. You cannot drop/add after those two weeks, and you're stuck to that class until the term is over.


I applaud the people behind this great idea to make enrollment online. It's hassle-free for the students.

But when glitches like a sudden printing of schedule without the actual pressing of the "PRINT" button locks up my account, the PABX system of Silliman is "suddenly"not working, and I have to work up a sweat to unlock my account, go to the Physics department to request for another Physics 25 section be opened (but the f*cking PABX of Silliman - which I believe is top-of-the-line, continues to be f*cked up) and I have to walk all the way again to the EDP center because I was asked by the secretary of the Physics department to tell those guys to increase the enrollees to 45 instead of 30 (I have a lot of respect for utility men, but I was no student assistant that they can order around - and I made sure she knew that!). I ended up doing all of these to get my shitty little piece of paper!

And when I got to the "ENROLLED" stamp section, I was told that I still needed those window envelopes! Can't Silliman just frigging provide those P8 envelopes! Salamabit! I am paying a lot of shit to Silliman since my ADF was increased to the level of a freshman, when in fact I should be given the chance to pay a lower ADF since I have overstayed my expected date of graduation. (No fee increase my ass!)

This is not hassle-free at all!

But since this is the first time, I will forgive Silliman for their shortcomings.

Oh well. On to better things...