Malayo na, pero malayo pa.

Life Lately

“What? Like, it’s hard?” (Elle Woods, Legally Blonde, 2021)

Incidentally, my last life update was also around this time last year, right when I was about to enroll as a sophomore in law school. Singing One Direction’s hit now, “Does it ever drive you crazy just how fast the night changes?” It only seems so yesterday when I was a freshman who was psyched about entering law school; now I’m in my third year, still having that burning passion inside me to become a lawyer, but I have to tell you, there have been many doubts along the way.

As someone who’s about to enter her third decade on earth less than a year from now, I cannot help but look at the past decade of my adult life. Two degrees, one certification, and two years in law school but I still feel that I haven’t accomplished much. There are days when I still feel left out and feel like I’ve been stuck in this bubble that I couldn’t get out of. I question my decisions, the timing, and everything else in between. I’m not sure if this is actually me having an existential crisis as I’m nearing the big 3-0, but I have to say that these thoughts aren’t pretty.

With God’s grace, I was able to pass all my subjects again, though the second semester was really challenging because we got re-blocked and I got separated from my “constant” law school buddies. Things got bearable though because the block that I got into was really warm and it was really easy to adjust. I also got appointed as the Features Section Editor of the Gazette and elected as the Vice President for Internal Affairs of the Law Student Council. You’d probably think that there’s so much going on my plate – full-time work, full-load units, student publication, student government. But trust me, these things keep me going. I would crave rest sometimes but I would just then want to go back in action. That’s probably my nature.

To be honest, though, it’s really tiring to be a working student. It’s hard to work all day and study all night. It’s frustrating to be on a “busy work day” and actually work while in class because I have a deadline to meet. It’s disappointing to memorize provisions and study your cases, only to not remember everything I’ve studied the night before. It’s heartbreaking to postpone an anniversary dinner with my boyfriend because I have an exam. It’s sad to just meet my friends once every five months because I can only meet them at the end of the semester. It’s upsetting to miss out on family gatherings because I have to study. I just thank God that He helps me to live one day at a time. Every day I feel like I’m barely surviving but surprisingly, I am able to make it out alive every single day. And for that, I am beyond grateful.

Long story short, it’s been an exhausting year. And the next school year will probably be a lot harder. I’m not sure if I’m ready, but I believe that you’re never too ready unless you try. So even though I’m full of anxiety right now, I would just say that I’m up for it and keep on reminding myself that this is the dream.

Is law school hard? Yes, and to say that it’s [just] hard is actually an understatement. It’s more than that. But it’s a story that I would love to tell once I reach the destination. May I always be reminded that this is not a race so that I would be able to allow myself to let things be if I need to rest.

Malayo pa, pero malayo na.

https://wallpapertops.com/walls/voldemort-wallpapers

At Your Service: He Who Must Not Be Named

This was my entry for PLM Law Gazette’s Write it Season 2 (Editorial/Essay Writing Contest) with the theme “What makes a good public servant?” last September 2021 where I won second place. A shortened version of this piece was published in The Philippine Daily Inquirer (broadsheet and online) later in October. You may read the published article in the Inquirer here.


If you have read or watched Harry Potter, Voldemort’s name must ring a bell. As the villain in the story, he is considered the most notorious wizard of all time. Feared, self-centered, and dangerous, he has nothing in mind but his pursuit of power, at least in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

As much as we wish to live in fantasy, we are all forced to face the reality. In 2020, the pandemic hit the world without any sorcerer’s stone in our pockets. In our country, a lot of “Voldemorts” were revealed. Many are still at large because they have the power to hide under invisibility cloaks. In fact, even before the COVID scare began, they have already been roaming around, killing innocent lives with one “Avada Kedavra” shoot of a gun in the infamous Drug War. The magic word “nanlaban” would exempt them from being responsible for the lives lost. Despite the absence of justification for these actions, we never heard the Voldemorts admit that killing is not the solution. As a matter of fact, we never heard them present a solution; rather, just a series of incomprehensible plans to eradicate the country’s longstanding problem with drugs.

Most recently, the Department of Health (DOH) went trending because of the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA). According to COA, P67.32 billion funds were allegedly mismanaged which contributed to the challenges that the country has faced in addressing this crisis. Not so long ago, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) also faced controversy as regards the P15 billion funds that were allegedly lost to corruption. Again, the Voldemorts never acknowledged that something is wrong with the system. Instead, they just swished their wands to tamper with the pieces of evidence in one flick.

As we move on to the present time, our fight against COVID-19 continuously becomes a losing battle. The numbers are rising, but apparently, the Voldemorts still claim that we are on the right track and that the government is responding to the crisis better than they are expected to. Indeed, no country was ever prepared for the pandemic to occur, but there were leaders who were able to make things happen because of their sincere aim to save their people from more positive cases, job losses, economic downfalls, and deaths. While we are stuck with the use of face shields as a way to prevent ourselves from acquiring COVID, other countries are now slowly looking at the world like it’s 2019 because they have public servants who really have the heart for service.

But what about us?

Section 1, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution provides, “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”

Public trust is the power and duty that our public officials have once they are elected. Since the Philippines is a democratic country, public officials are elected by the people, thus, public officials ought to serve the people with “utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency,” just like what is provided in our Constitution.

When we say public trust, we mean transparency. It is the responsibility of our public servants to inform us where our taxes went. When there is alleged corruption, it shall be duly investigated to assure us that our hard-earned money, as the people of this country who comply with our duty to the State to pay taxes, is not being kept in the pockets of the Voldemorts in power.

We mean loyalty and patriotism. We own the West Philippine Sea, and we should be fighting for what is ours. Our public servants should be loyal not to a person, but to the country and to its people. Our officials should be serving us, the Filipinos, and not a family of “dark wizards” who just follow a bigger Voldemort out there and want nothing but to sit on the throne and gain power.

We mean integrity, honesty, and dignity. Whether we like it or not, our elected public officials represent us before the world because they represent the vote of the people. They represent our values and ideals, and if they do not have the virtue of integrity, honesty, and dignity, then we are doomed to be fooled by those in power. Without these three, empathy and compassion are already out of the equation, and self-interest is shelved as the top priority rather than the interest of the people. Being a public servant is more than just the popularity in one’s name, but the character attached to it. In Harry Potter’s story, everybody knew Voldemort, but they also knew that he “must not be named.”

A good public servant embraces the true meaning of public service. Good public servants know that they are accountable to the very reason why they hold the office in the first place – the Filipino people. They hold power because we, the public, entrusted them with our lives, properties, and rights. To lead is to serve, and serving is more than just the position being held. Public service is leading with justice and modesty, and a good public servant should know that serving their people with sincerity means having their constituents say their name without fear. Ergo, a good public servant is not a Voldemort.


Featured image source: https://wallpapertops.com/walls/voldemort-wallpapers

Lumang Kalye

Nitong nagdaang linggo, ako’y nakapagmuni-muni at nakabuo ng isang tula. Bilang paggunita na rin sa Buwan ng Wika, sinubukan kong isulat ito sa wikang Filipino.


Let It Be Me

It’s Scribble Saturday!

I’ve been trying to write from different perspectives lately and make pieces that aren’t really “my” story. It’s quite a challenge because I’m not sure if I am able to relate it to “actual” feelings of the supposed character.

Anyway, I’m here as a storyteller. Here’s my hymn for the weekend.

*plays Coldplay*

Catharsis

In case I haven’t told you, I graduated from my postgraduate diploma and entered law school last year. So much for 2020.

Now I’m a sophomore Juris Doctor student. It feels surreal. Modesty aside, I was able to pass all my subjects last semester despite being a working student, the class beadle, the freshman representative for our college’s online education committee, and a member of the executive committee of the student council. Now guess what? I’m already a student council officer, a bar operations assistant head, and a member of the college publication. I am overwhelmed by all these things in an awesome way. Before entering law school, I told myself that I will just be as low-key as possible, and I will just study on the side and aim to pass all my subjects; I’m not even aiming to top my classes. I just wanted to learn and make sure that I am bar-ready by the time I graduate. But probably this is how it really is when you’re an ENFJ. It just happens. And just like one of my [now] favorite friends told me, “Sometimes, it’s a calling.”

It hasn’t been easy though. I have to admit that I’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the past year. I even switched jobs in the middle of the semester because everything seemed to be crumbling down (aka work overload). And for what it’s worth, I’m back in the arms of the Inquirer. I’ve also had my fair share of self doubt and emotional outbursts because of some things that I never saw coming. I’m just glad there are those people who would literally call during those times when I need a moral compass or sanity check. Those “usap tayo saglit” moments which would last for at least 20 minutes up to two hours show how connection among your friends despite the absence of physical interaction really matter. And I’m really grateful that I was able to tell something that’s been bothering me for a long while to a selected few, and they accepted and embraced me without a hint of judgment. I swear, after composing that long message of revelation and pressing send to each of them, I was really, really anxious. It was a huge sigh of relief and tears of joy when I received their responses. Indeed, the truth shall set you free. I’m not sure if I would be comfortable sharing that to a lot of people when the need comes though.

To be honest, I made this blog post not for the lack of update, but for the lack of organized thought on how I can show a proof of life without being too wordy. But here I am, down on my fourth paragraph and still going nowhere.

As part of my realizations over the year, patience is really a virtue. When you pray that it’s the value that you want to practice, you will be given a lot of challenges to test if you are walking your talk. At the end of the year, a lot of my friends said that I’m really good at that. Funny because I never thought I’d be that patient, considering all the people and circumstances. In fact, I’m surprised that I lasted. I’ve probably grown up.

All the drama aside, learning is a continuous process. Learning to trust, or to not trust, learning to love, or not to love, or learning to care, or not give a f*ck. The process may make or break you, but for sure, you’re going to have a key takeaway. As for me, over the years, I’ve learned how to compartmentalize people; in fact, I’m still learning. All these boil down to always looking into my core values. Who share the same ideals as I do? Whose views can I tolerate even if they differ from mine? Who’s really looking after me, and do I look after them as much as they do (or vice versa)?

As I have mentioned earlier, I have shared a very personal story to a few people, who, in turn, I’ve heard personal stories from as well. And it’s a great feeling that despite the pandemic, despite not seeing these people face to face, there’s an invisible string of trust and comfortability. I am glad I have these kinds of relationshps in my life.

There’s really a lot going on in my mind right now, and I don’t even know how to end this. I’m not sure if this is just my excitement because tonight’s my first meeting with the Law Gazette, or because I have another year to conquer in law school. I probably have more stories to tell, but I just can’t find the right words. So for now, I’ll just leave without a period