Thursday, April 17, 2008

Battle of Law Schools

When I find myself with nothing to do, I surf the net aimlessly. It was through this that I came across several fora, including this one that appears to be a UP thread, which discuss the apparently burning issue - which is the best law school.

Now the word 'best' is an inherently subjective term. I can scream at the top of my lungs that Conti's has the best cake - Mango Bravo (I really love it), but someone else can just as easily scream - Sugarhouse is the best!!!! I cannot begrudge this someone for loving Sugarhouse, as in fact my mouth is already watering just thinking of a Sugarhouse cake, and, if that someone is fair, he/she should also not take it against me that I'm willing to fight for my right to love Mango Bravo. I guess this is where I want to start -- when someone from UP says that UP Law is the best law school, whether with cogent basis or not, no sane and reasonable person should take issue with the UP person's right to think that way. So too, when someone from Ateneo, San Beda, UST etc. says that their law school is the best, there should be no ad hominem attacks against the person, who was merely expressing an intensely personal opinion.

Having graduated from UP Law, I take great pride in my alma mater. I will never tire of saying, UP Law is the best, because for me, it is. It is best for me because the system suits my study habits perfectly. I love the law and everything it represents, and I love and fiercely defend my independence equally. I do not like strict rules very much -- be it on attire, schedules, exams. When exam week is nearing and the exam schedules are so close to each other, I automatically want to have one exam moved to a later day. I also have an aversion to being required to memorize. I love talking, so I enjoy the Socratic method. I love no-class days because a professor has to do something more important. I like being called to recite and being able to have the freedom to say: 'I did not read that case, ma'am.' This is why UP Law is best for me. I have a lot of friends in Ateneo Law, and I'm the first one to say, I will not be able to survive the rigors of class life there. I like my own internal rhythm and I instinctively rebel against impositions. I would not have been able to recite verbatim codal provisions, which my friends tell me is all but mandatory in Ateneo classes. I would not have been able to adjust to strict exam schedules, which again, my friends tell me, is the way it is in Ateneo. I would have probably spent the better part of my day stressing, then whining, then stressing, until I fall asleep. Because of this, I am almost sure, if I went to Ateneo, I would probably be on probation just on my first sem, first year. I guess, if I went to San Beda, the same would be true, because both schools are really really strict on academics. This is also the most plausible reason why both schools consistently produce a bigger number of bar passers in the recent years.

Having said that, I am also the first one to lament the declining rate of bar passers from UP Law. I said earlier that the UP Law system works for me. What can I say, I really wanted to become a lawyer so much that I studied hard without being asked to do so. Now, if my professor told me to memorize all codal provisions of the 1987 Constitution, my brain would have automatically shut down and the rebel in me would have said 'shove it.' But since I was not ordered to do so, I happily read the Constitution, twice, maybe ten times, and after the nth time, I could paraphrase most of the provisions. I finally got what they meant, not just what they said. That way, when I was reading jurisprudence already, I was able to understand, not only the literal meaning of the provisions as applied to the case, but also their nuances.

I have had countless discussions with my batchmates over the declining bar passing rate of UP several times over the years, especially during the time when we were about to take the Bar. We were the first ones to admit that we were not as mentally prepared for the Bar as our Ateneo/San Beda counterparts. There were gaping holes in our knowledge of the Bar subjects. I, for one, had to understand most special commercial laws on my own, because I did not take the bar review course for them. We were scared witless because, as one of my friends told me: kulang kasi tayong mga taga-UP sa pukpok, sa disiplina. If the professor is absent for the day, we do not read the assigned work, instead, we go to SM. That was the reality that we had to face: because in UP there was more freedom, more leeway to pass, some whose study habits require constant strict supervision understandably suffered. In UP, kung hindi ka talaga likas na palaaral, mahirap talagang suungin ang Bar. It is hard not to graduate from UP Law, once you're in. In stark contrast, you have to be constantly studying for your subjects in Ateneo or San Beda, because if you don't make the cut, you're out. As all law students know, you cannot rely on just natural intelligence to pass the Bar. It's not something you can 'wing' and say: bahala na si Batman. You really have to put in the hours, crack those books and highlighters open, and read read read. If you don't, you bet passing the Bar is out of your reach.

Now that I am a lawyer, and have the privilege of working with lawyers who graduated from Ateneo, San Beda and UST, I can honestly say, the law school does not define the person. Everyday, I am amazed at the intelligence and streetsmarts of my colleagues from other law schools. Mahuhusay talaga. I guess this goes to show, there can really be no objective barometer for measuring the best law school. And so we are back to our own opinions, based on our own experiences, and our personal biases. Whatever they may be, cheers to your right to have an opinion. And kudos to those who just passed the Bar. :-)

King BF

My sister, her boyfriend and I just came back from a frustratingly-short trip to Bangkok. We had a grand time searching for the cheapest clothes, bags and shoes, and wasted no time sampling the best pad thai we can find. I absolutely love Thai food, and I was happy that I could vacation in a country where the food is as cheap as here in Manila. Last time I went to Bangkok was in 2000, and I was amazed at how far and fast Thailand has progressed since then. I recall that the baht was roughly the same as the peso the last time I went, and the Bangkok roads were about the same as in Manila. So imagine how floored I was when I saw the majestic Thai airport (having just left NAIA three hours ago, where all I saw was trash everywhere) which could definitely rival other major airports in terms of size and beauty. [Sidebar: I love exploring airports, down to riding those moving flat Jamiroquai-esque escalators and being politely told to 'please watch [my] step... following a Chinese translation', onto going inside smoking rooms] Then, I was more shocked as we passed through the huge, flawless roads going to the city center. World-class talaga. I couldn't help but feel sad somehow, just thinking of my beloved PI.

Teka, my blog is about King BF, so back to that first.

Everywhere you go in Bangkok, be it to a mall, a restaurant, inside a cab, literally EVERYWHERE, you are guaranteed to see a picture, billboard, poster, of their most-revered King - Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Thais appear to love and respect their king so much, and his myriad photos all over the city attest to that. I understand that it is not mandatory for Thais to have his picture placed everywhere, but they voluntarily do it just the same [Please correct if I'm wrong].

So, my sister and I came from our vacation and passed Edsa on the way home. There, we saw huge posters of MMDA chair Bayani Fernando peppering Edsa MRT islands, as in literally, every kilometer or so. [I searched google for the exact same picture posted along EDSA but I couldn't find it] Government money was obviously used for those hundreds of posters, because they bore the pink MMDA color and an MMDA message.

Tired and sleepy from the trip, I let out a huge laugh when my sister remarked: "Eh si BF ata ang King natin eh." Then I realized her comment wasn't funny at all, but actually pretty disturbing. So I went back to sleep.

BF, please take down those posters. I want you to take them down not only because I do not see the point AT ALL in those posters, and because I have a major issue with the huge cost those must have entailed to the government. I traverse Edsa everyday, and this past week, traffic going to Makati has been especially horrible. So when I see your poster, I can't help but get mad at you. You don't want that, do you?

Boob Tube favorites

Work takes up much of my time that I can only squeeze in a precious few hours before I hit the sack for my beloved tv. Of course, I still have my weekend dose of dvd marathons, mainly of Boston Legal and House, but there are three reality shows that I just cannot miss watching, and if I do, you bet I am going to get oh-so grumpy:

1. American Idol, season 7: AI people are given to exaggeration, but I absolutely concur in the assessment that this has got to be the best season ever in terms of talent (I did not watch seasons 1 and 2 though so consider my concurrence as limited only to season 3 onwards). My favorite: David Archuleta and Jason Castro. David A. is just a real sweetheart who can, oh by the way, hit those powerful high notes and manage to look so cute and soulful in an I-want-a-little-brother-like-him kind of way. On the other hand, Jason Castro just strikes me as a genuine, honest-to-goodness artist. He may not have David A.'s or David Cook's range, but he knows what he's got and he sure knows how to make the most of it. AI always makes my Wednesday and Thursday nights. :-) [Sad that Kristy left, guess it was long overdue but I really didn't care much for Brooke's rendition of Hero last night. Guess some things are really just too little too late]

2. Project Runway: oh man oh man oh man, the latest season of PR [Christian Siriano, Rami Kashou and Jillian Lewis] is the best one yet. For most of the season, I really wanted to throttle Christian with all his insensitive comments and 'i'm-so-fabulous-and-you're-all-pathetic' mentality. Plus, I couldn't really understand all the hating against Rami, who I thought was magnificent. Sure, he drapes a lot, but he's done so many other challenges where he went out of his Grecian comfort zone and surprised the judges with his versatility [the Hershey's challenge immediately comes to mind]. Oh, Rami, please make all my gowns... but I'm afraid I can't afford you. Jillian... was alright. But the one person I loved most in the season was Chris March. Love him love him love him. No matter that he used human hair for the final runway challenge prior to Bryant Park and that Rami's collection was stronger in my opinion, I just so badly want good guys to win. Christian won and well, okay, at least he became humble in the last episode. :)

3. ANTM: I do not have the height or the body to become a model, and I guess I've always been so interested in what I cannot have. I've had this preconceived notion that models are not really smart, but I'm glad I was proven wrong by ANTM. Of course there are still the duh models, and I cannot believe all the drama in the house, the nasty are just too many to mention, but I've been very happy with the winners so far, especially Naima, Danielle and Caridee (Caridee being my hands-down favorite). They say people love to live vicariously through others, and when I'm watching ANTM, I think I know exactly what they mean. I want Tyra mail! I want stretch limo! I want makeover!!! But please, I don't want any of the banshee-like screeching, the name-calling, the granola-bar stealing (Bree vs. Nicole), or any of the other crazy stuff. My absolute favorite, Tyra blowing her top coz a contestant just pooh-poohed her elimination. Classic. I like Tyra (for the most part, and I feel bad that I take it against her that she's gained weight), but i think Heidi Klum is just divine.

So... everytime I feel bad that I have so much work, I just think to myself, it won't be long before AI. :-)


Since blogging became a world-wide phenomenon, I have been greatly interested in it. The lawyer in me balked at the thought that virtually anyone, from any place in the world, can write about anything under the sun -- harmless or damaging, socially-relevant or just plain inane -- and hide behind their anonymity. I cringed at the lack of responsibility, of moderation, of checks and balances, in blogging, that embolden otherwise cowardly people to peddle false rumors to discredit people they hate, or to just wage an all-out campaign to destroy people's reputations. Having been one of the victims of such vicious blogging, I became averse to it for a while.

Then I started reading really interesting, meaningful blogs. And I was convinced that there is still a place in the blogosphere for people who only want to memorialize their thoughts, who just want to vent after a hard day, or who merely desire a creative outlet for their burning advocacies and ideals. So here I am. A certified newbie to the world of blogging, far far away from the security of my friendster posts which only my friends can read. Hello, world! :-)