Rodolfo Aquino, Bar Placer at 64

Here is an example of a senior citizen who proves that age is not an obstacle in passing, even being at the top 10 of the Philippine Bar Examinations.

At age 64, it is also his first take of the Bar exams. He took up undergraduate studies and earned his Bachelor degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines (UP)   in 1966 and a master’s degree in business administration from the same university in 1969.

He had wanted to take up law earlier but could not do so because of financial constraints. Instead, he got a scholarship for a master’s degree in operations research and statistics from RensselaerPolytechnic Institute in New York in 1977, and finished a doctoral degree on the  fields in 1979.

At 52 years old in Year 2000, he earned his master’s in economics, and in Year 2005 at age 57 he got a PhD in economics.  At age 64,  Rodolfo Q. Aquino took the bar exams and placed number 10 from among 6,200 examinees in November 2011.

He is a professor at UP’s College of Business Administration.   His  educational background and list of research works as published in the UP College of Business Administration’s page about him (  shows a picture of an overachiever.

But more than anything else, his story of inspiration for the millions of senior citizens in the country. Who is to say that age is a hindrance in earning higher level degrees?  He got his Master’s in Economics at age 52, and his PhD in economics at age 57. He  finished his law studies at age 62 or 63 and was among the first batch of law graduates from the Alabang campus of San Beda College.

He told reporters in a telephone interview that being a senior citizen has never been an obstacle to completing his law degree.  Indeed, for the sexagenarian Rodolfo Aquino, it is never too late to fulfill a life-long dream of becoming a lawyer so that instead of retiring next year, he plans to apply in one of the law firms of his Sigma Rho fraternity brothers  to gain experience.”

Congratulations  Atty. Rodolfo Aquino! You are an inspiration to millions of senior citizens in this country. A lot of latent dreams has been rekindled with what you achieved this year!

 

 

 

 

 

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Impeachment Trial Impressions: Defense Wins Round 1 But Renato Corona is Badly Bruised

Round 1 Goes to the Defense, but CJ Corona is Badly Bruised

 

Fourteen days have passed and the prosecution team is about to wrap up the presentation for Article 2. Thus far, these are my impressions of the first 14 days of the impeachment proceedings:

  1.  I thought that Chief Justice Renato Corona would do a Merci; i.e. resign from his post and  spare himself from the embarrassment of whatever things the prosecution will throw at him during the trial. Renato Corona however has chosen to fight. In an interview  aired over TV Patrol last January 16, 2011, he declared that he will not resign as Chief Justice and only death can remove him from the Supreme Court. Such a bold statement can be interpreted either way: He is either “kapit tuko” or he is convinced he will be acquitted. Whatever it is, his statement over television suggests a long drawn trial.

 

  1. Except for one member of the court who never fails to perform headline grabbing antics when  attending the proceedings, I thought there is a conscious effort on the majority of the senator jurors  not to let the process be hampered by technicalities attendant to judicial proceedings.  I hope this will continue well into the rest of the impeachment trials.  The worst thing that can happen is for technicalities to prevent the truth to come out.  I believe that a decision that is reflective of the truth will surely get the support of the people. But a decision that bars the exposition of the truth using legal technicalities will be rejected by the people and my even result to some form of direct action. (Remember the second envelop and Edsa 2?)

 

The Impeachment Trial on the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 16, 2012
  1. This is a trial to show that Renato Corona is not fit to become Chief Justice.  Specifically it is not about the commission of high crimes” but about “betrayal of the public trust” and “culpable violation of the Constitution.”   For the first fourteen days, the trial was progressing  like a criminal proceeding. This could be a mistake by the prosecution resulting in the arguments being focused on evidence akin to a criminal proceeding, not about fitness in office of the Chief Justice.  Result: the Defense is having a field day in Court.

 

  1. The impeachment trial is a showcase of the best lawyers this country has.  I wonder how expensive these lawyers are.  And if indeed they are offering their services for free, are there strings attached to these free services?

 

  1. The defense team may have won this round on technicalities but their client has been badly cruised and his reputation badly tarnished.   No matter how brilliant and experienced the defense counsels are, the prosecution team was able to paint a Chief Justice who has not been that honest with his SALNs, who has bought penthouses at a great discount and who has tried to avoid paying the correct taxes on his real estate transactions and other incomes.

 

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A Walking Constitutional Violation

I reproduce below Secretary of Justice Leila M. de Lima’s reaction to Renato Corona’s statement that President Aquino is a dictator. When Corona lambasted the President in his address to the judges and the court employees, he created an “open season” for himself to be  hit by everybody.

Statement of Secretary of Justice Leila M. de Lima:
Corona: A walking constitutional violation

[Released on December 15, 2011]

Yesterday, Corona called the President a dictator. He says that holding the Chief Justice accountable to the people through impeachment shows that the President is a dictator.

Every human being is accountable for his actions. The Constitution sets higher standards of accountability for public officials, more for judges, the highest reserved for Justices of the Supreme Court. In the case of the Chief Justice, accountability comes in only one form, by impeachment. As Chief Justice, there is no other manner by which Corona can be held accountable. But Corona says that for the President to hold him accountable in accordance with the Constitution is dictatorial, as Aquino wants control of the Supreme Court. According to Corona, his impeachment is an assault on the judiciary, the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and democracy itself. According to Corona, he cannot be held accountable without attacking the Constitution and democracy. This, according to Corona, is his very own apotheosis, for only human beings can be held accountable.

But the Filipino people know better. Judicial independence does not mean independence and exemption from justice and accountability. The highest form of accountability is demanded from no less than the highest magistrate of the land, whose title under our Constitution is deliberately termed Chief Justice, not Lord Justice, lest the title is misrepresented by its holder. This is what the President is demanding from Corona, not subservience, which Corona has already pledged to Arroyo, and certainly not capitulation. All that the President demands, what the people demand, is that Corona be held accountable. Corona, contrary to his protestations, is not exempt from the most basic human precept of accountability.

Yesterday, Corona claimed the whole judiciary for his personal retinue, ordering judges and court personnel to stop working for a day. Through the Court Administrator, he ordered that the judges and courts should not hold hearing for a day, and that everyone who went to the courts for justice yesterday should go home, because justice, that day, took a leave of absence. Yesterday, justice stopped because the Chief Justice wanted to say something to the judiciary he deemed more important than justice itself. So important were his words that the wheels of justice had to stop turning for a day.

Yesterday, the Chief Justice called the President a dictator. The title could very well apply to him. There can be no more apt description of a tyrant than someone who holds himself above justice and accountability. Clearly, the framers of the Constitution were thinking of Renato C. Corona when they did not put the Chief Justice in the line of succession to the Presidency.

The Supreme Court and the judiciary do not belong to Corona. Corona is not the judiciary. Corona may belong to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Some members of the Supreme Court may belong to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But the Supreme Court, the institution, the Supreme Court of the people, can never belong to Corona or to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Supreme Court belongs to the people. And when the Arroyo justices start thinking that in protecting Arroyo, they are shorn of any accountability, not even by impeachment, then it is time the people, through their representatives in Congress, impeach them. It is time the President and Congress reclaim the Court for the people.

Yesterday, Corona said that President Aquino wants him impeached because he wants to appoint a Chief Justice he could hold by the neck. Corona said that the President’s quarrel with his midnight appointment is that the President was denied the opportunity to appoint a Chief Justice he could hold by the neck. What he did not say is that by being appointed Chief Justice by Arroyo despite the constitutional prohibition on midnight appointments, it was his own neck that was held by Arroyo. More than President Aquino appointing a Chief Justice he holds by the neck, which he never got to do, it is Arroyo who appointed the Chief Justice, Corona, so that she can hold him by the neck long after her term was over.

For this is the very essence of a midnight appointment, to hold the midnight appointee by the neck, the outgoing President making a tail-end appointment to assure her power in government long after her term is over, consequently depriving the President-elect his rightful appointing authority. The Constitution states that two months before a presidential election and up to the end of her term, then President Arroyo cannot make any kind of appointment. After depriving the eventual President of his constitutional authority to appoint the next Chief Justice, Corona claims that better a Chief Justice held by the neck by Arroyo, than a Chief Justice held by the neck by the rightful and constitutional appointing authority, the incoming President Aquino. At least he was clear about who was holding who by the neck.

With his impeachment by Congress, the Chief Justice now, like his patron Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is nothing more than an accused. As Arroyo was the beneficiary of “Hello Garci,” Corona was the beneficiary of a constitutional violation. From the moment of his appointment, Chief Justice Corona was a walking constitutional violation. His appointment was the “Hello Garci” of the judicial department.

A midnight appointee held by the neck by Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo, Corona should be as he was rightly impeached for the simple reason that, like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he is nothing more than a usurper to a public office. Corona, in his own twisted view of reality, may call the President a dictator, but he can never question Aquino’s mandate as the duly elected President of the people. Unlike the President, all that Corona can show for himself is his illegal and unconstitutional appointment as a usurper to the Office of the Chief Justice by the other usurper Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. And as history shows, usurpers make the worst tyrants, because of their false sense of entitlement to something that was never theirs from the start.

doj.gov.ph

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The Impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona

 

Gloria Arroyo and Renato Corona
Image by Piercing Pens via Flickr

He should have seen it coming. He was a midnight appointee.  He was not the most senior of the justices, so it was not a case of making sure the most senior got the job. Many people believe he was appointed by Arroyo to protect her. He was after all her former chief of staff and her former spokesman, to name a few posts he held under the Arroyo administration.  And he was not the only one “indebted” to the former president: his wife was given a post in a government-owned and controlled corporation.

The presidential campaign of Noynoy Aquino has four legs: Food, Jobs, Education and Anti-Corruption. And now that he is president, he is damn well serious about delivering these promises. But with a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court perceived to be a hindrance, and not an ally in fighting corruption and/or persecuting those who committed corrupt practices, it was just a matter of time before an impeachment process is put in motion. Chief Justice Renato Corona should have seen it coming when this administration marshalled its forces Congress to make sure that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is impeached.

Or perhaps, he may have known about it way before his public announcement of such a plot in the morning of the day he is impeached. After all, we lesser mortals have heard about the move from the grapevine more than a month ago.

I am sure Chief Justice Corona has prepared for this eventuality. He may dig in, but that will be a costly move for him. The more he digs in, the more people will believe he is doing it to make sure he is in still with the Supreme Court when anyone of the cases against Gloria Arroyo will reach the highest court of the land.

Enrile’s Senate will hear the impeachment of Corona with Pnoy’s Congress allies serving as prosecutors

Moreover, when the impeachment trial will start at the Senate level, the prosecutors will present a lot of evidence to prove their case against the Chief Justice. That will bring out a lot of dirty linens. Are Renato Corona and his family ready for that?

A few opinion makers have branded the current acts of the president as bullying – but the fact remains – an overwhelming majority of Filipinos is behind the president in his actions against the Chief Justice.   Chief Justice Corona is widely perceived to  be as a GMA boy even before the formal announcement of his appointment.  It would be hard put for him to shed that image. Not even his personal guestings in various radio and cable since his appointment as Chief Justice helped.

Doing what Merceditas Gutierrez did before her impeachment was heard by the Senate might be something Chief Justice Renato Corona should consider.

 

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How to Produce an Indie Movie – The Case of Happyland

In a earlier post, I wrote about the circumstances behind my joining the Happyland team as one of its producers. Here is the second part of my experience as an indie movie producer.

The Main Story:

Jim conducted various interviews with football aficionados, Don Bosco Brothers and former Tondo barefoot players to weave the story for the film. This is the excerpt of the movie:.

A Spanish missionary priest tries to form a fighting football team composed of disadvantaged boys from the slums.  He enrolled the help of a seminarian, who was a college football star; his assistant parish priest; a volunteer catechist, and, parish workers.

Together, they recruit the most unlikely group of young men – a neighborhood  basketball star; a skilled pickpocket and fearless thief; two drug-sniffing brothers who live off the garbage dump;  a hare-lipped rapper wannabe; a gang leader;  a pedicab driver; and many others. The young men were lured by the dream of winning the tournament’s hefty cash prize. And to win, they only have to do one thing — beat their opponents from the “rich catholic schools.”

The priests, the seminarian, catechists and other church people set out to build his football team.

The Back Story

The priest was inspired by the story of Filipino striker Paulino Alcantara – star of the Spanish football team FC Barcelona in the 1930s.  His record of 357 goals in 367 games is still unmatched in Spain’s football history.  It is the memory of Alcantara’s feats that inspired Father Jose, the Spanish missionary priest, to attempt the audacious: build a football team in the slums of Tondo.

Our original plan was to shoot some scenes in Barcelona to highlight the extraordinary feat of Paulino Alcantara. Budgetary constraints prevented us from doing so. Thus,we settled for dream scene instead. However, the Paulino Alcantara story may have been among the reasons (plus probably the fact that Spain won the FIFA World Cup that year) why we got invited to screen the film during the Spanish film festival in Manila in 2010.

 

The Actors

Strictly speaking, we did not have any professional actors in the cast.  But we do have football players who had important roles in the movies: Phil Younghusband, China Cojuangco, and football players from various exclusive schools. We also hired actual residents as extras. Some of the supporting characters were playing their real selves. Nevertheless, the production experience was one of camaraderie and fun.


 

People behind the Camera

Mitch Moreno, Jim’s partner, was the project’s workhorse. She was in control of all aspects of the project, except the creative side which was Jim’s.

I helped raised money from corporate sponsors. Initially the corporate guys listened to the pitches mainly because they were my friends, but when they started to interact with the production and the creative group, and after they have internalized the film’s story line, they become converts.  We got funding from Alaska, Rebisco, and a few other brands..

Butch Jimenez and Manny Luna of Activ Asia pitched in with their personal funds.  It was Mitch and Jim who talked to Butch and Manny, and since I saw the presentation outline before the meetings, I believe they were not there as financial investors but as believers in the objectives of the project.

We also got grants from a European donor and from the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP). We also did crowd-sourcing, a way of raising money via the social network, and got monetary contributions from various individuals.

It was a lean and mean way of running a movie production project, poles apart from my experience with my former network. At Happyland, we planned every shooting day and source out the best cost for everything we need in the production.  It also helped that some members of the creative team agreed to cuts in their professional fees..

 

The Setting:

Happyland

The movie’s setting was a place in Tondo that residents call  “Happyland,” which comes from the word “hapilan” — a Visayan word for “garbage dump. “  The movies main characters lived in this place – a former smoking mountain of trash that government bulldozers levelled to give way to substandard and cramped residential buildings for the poor.

 At one point, Star Cinema talked to us about the possibility of co-producing the film. It came with a condition though. They will re-write portions of the story to make it more commercial, introducing among others, a love angle aspect to the story.  A tie-up with Star Cinema would have meant a great boost to the commercial success of the film. On the other hand, it would also mean we have to replace a number of actors, which would have resulted in a dissension among the ranks of our technical and creative personnel. A number of them are apprehensive with working with a major studio as this may result in loss of their creative independence. After much thought. I politely told Malou Santos, MD of Star Cinema, that in the interest of “industrial peace” I will have to refuse her offer.

 

The Economics

We struggled to finish the film.  We began filming at the beginning of 2010. We intended to release the film around June or July 2010, around the same time as the World Cup. However, problems encountered during post-production delayed the film’s release and put the production into debt. The post production house has inadvertently erased very important materials from two days of shoot, so we have to re-shoot those scenes.  Production costs also shoot up because of the elevated cost of storage and expensive cost of post production that the choice of Red Cameras entails.

Nevertheless, there were opportunities that resulted out of our failure to meet the June-July 2010 deadline. Spain won the World Cup, and so when they held their Spanish film festival in Metro Manila in October 2010, they look for a football movie to show in their festival. Happyland is that movie – the first movie about football produced by a Filipino team.

 

Next Steps

The first payback we got  was that we were able to provide opportunities for personal growth to the more than 20 teenaged football players who joined the cast. Some of the boys got football scholarships. Another one became a team member of the Philippine team to the Homeless World Cup.  Moreover, the boys today are more confident and sure of themselves compared to how they were before we started their training.

Meanwhile, the Philippine football team -the Azkals, won games in the Asian stage and soon enough, football became a household word. That rubbed off on us, and it became a bit easier  to get groups and communities to sponsor private screenings of the movie. Adobo magazine – the authoritative advertising industry publication sponsored a special screenings of the movie. It even got its corporate clients and guest to donate money or shoes for the Tondo boys.

It was clear to us that Happyland will have a difficult time at the commercial theaters, so our strategy was to do private screenings of the movie. It was also screened in various Sineng Pambansa events in various cities around the country. And it is making the rounds in schools and communities.

To be sure, we are still a long way from recovering the investments we made for the movie, But it is an historical first. It is the first football movie produced in the Philippines.  It even won awards for some of our creative and technical staff.

And to me, the satisfaction of being part of a pioneering media vehicle featuring the game of football.

Below is the full trailer of the movie.

 

 

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How I Became a Producer of the Indie Movie – Happyland

I become a producer of a movie about football two years before the sport got widespread attention. We even tapped the country’s most popular football player, Phil Younghusband, as one of the major actors in that independent film.

Serendipity

During the summer of 2008 my son attended a football clinic. As a culminating activity, football trainers from various schools held a friendly tournament among their wards.  I was watching the friendly among teams composed of players aged 16 years and below. The venue was the Ateneo Football field.  The name of the visiting team was Los Mataderos.

They don’t look like butchers to me, but the team name and being from Tondo evoked toughness and a killer ring to it. There was therefore an initial hesitance of the Ateneo boys to rough it up with the visiting team. Some of the Tondo boys were playing barefoot while others had worn out shoes.  They were cursing a lot, but would quickly lower their voices when their coach called their attention.

Except for 3 or 4 players, most of the team members are still newbies.   Nevertheless, they won the game and would have been the champion of the tournament had the organizers not discover that their best player was over aged.

They were also on a first named basis with my son’s team trainer/coach. I learned later that Coach Boy also trains the team. In fact, he grew up in the same neighbourhood as these boys. Like many others that played with him before, football became their ticket to changes in their economic well being. It sent them to school, it put them away from a life of vice and crime, and it paved the way for them to get jobs.

I thought that if football became a ticket for some Tondo boys to improve their lives, other boys all over the country can benefit from being good players of the sport. All it takes is an inspiration.  And what would that be?  Back then, I noted three possibilities: (1) a winning national team; (2)a popular league and/or players; and, (3) an inspirational media vehicle (movie,TV show, social network page, or a book).

In another part of the field on that same day, Jim Libiran was also watching his son play football. In the course of the tournament, Jim also noticed the barefoot boys and asked a question or two about them.  He learned that they are from the same area that he used as a setting for Tribu, his award winning movie about the gangs of Tondo.   The film maker and storyteller in him saw a material for a film.

Elsewhere, Peter Amores, a former college football standout,  took a respite from helping manage their family business in Cebu and started a non government organization with the objective of teaching football to street kids. He named his NGO, Futkal or Futbol sa Kalye.

One year later, Jim Libiran invited me to a cup of coffee. At Bo’s Coffee in Katipunan,  while both of us were waiting to fetch our sons, we talked about Happyland,his second movie after the much acclaimed Tribu. Jim invited me to join him in the project.  My role is to advise the team on the business and marketing aspects of film-making and of course, to help get corporate sponsors for the movie.

Jim has also encouraged Peter Amores to take FutKal to Tondo.

Jim and Peter tapped more than 20 boys ranging from 12 to 20 years old and provided them with football training and even acting lessons in preparation for the film. They tapped the players Jim and I observed at play during the Ateneo tournament.

Immediately during our first meeting, I said yes to Jim, not only because producing films is in my bucket list but also because the project is a vehicle that will popularize a sport wherein Filipinos have a fighting chance in the world stage. I also have a personal affinity with the main message of the film which is: “Victory is sweetest if you worked hard enough for it.  One won game is not enough to win a tournament. Fight hard enough in every game. Give it your best and then fight some more.”

And so it came to pass that I got involved in the independent movie, Happyland.

 

 

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