BY PET MELLIZA/ The Beekeeper
ST.PAUL NOVITIATE, SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA (April 10) – (I am writing this piece in this formation house of the Slociety of St. Paul where a younger sibling happens to be the father superior.)
I took high school and first year college at the St. Paul Seminary, Makati, then a town of Rizal. I did not make it to the novitiate, a phase for those who already finished college and the stage of religious life where one decides whether to go for priesthood or lay brotherhood.
The trees at the novitiate makes it ideal to recharge energy, and it’s a timely reprieve from the national convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) at Subic, April 7 – 9.
I will write a lengthier commentary on the gathering of lawyers in the Philippines, an opportunity for them for bonding which turned out to be an ordeal to fit themselves into a tight schedule of learning from MCLE lectures, a unique experience of being treated like five-year olds made to listen, instead of engaging in dialogue with lecturers most of whom never realized they were preaching to converts in the faith of counseling and therefore, must refrain from boring them with lessons already taught at law school, and compress their talks so to give time to reactions or questions from the floor.
It is also a rare experience of having to listen to moderators/emcees/reactors/presentors talking kilometrically, even longer than main speakers, and therefore, wasting time and opportunity for mutual discourse.
I must, however, make exception of Rep. Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna) and Dean Raul Pangalanan (UP Law). The former talked on fighting human rights violations, the latter on the same issue but in the perspective of international law. Both touched on burning issues of the day that many law professors preferred to skirt in their lesson plans.
I will write a lengthier commentary on the IBP national convention but suffice it to say that Subic attracts. It is the only urban area in the Philippines where you wake up to the chirping of birds like ravens and parrots. It is the only business and residential hub where you see monkeys, chickens and boars, all wild, on roadsides.
We will be back to Subic as tourists, no longer as IBP convention participants being treated as idiots, made to cough up huge sums in registration fee but left with no choice but concede to substandard meals and snacks in return.
More than 3,000 lawyers attended. Collection from registration fee reached between P9 to P15 million. On top of that, participants must pay their own hotel bills which ran to P1,500 to P3,000 per night. But all that the lawyers got in exchange were starvation meals: one or two slices of fried chicken and a scoop of chopsuey dominated by cabbage — in all lunches and dinners from Wednesday through Saturday. No fresh fruits but canned fruit salad served on plastic cups the size of leche flan.
They made it appear it was a buffet, but there is no second serving (which no one wanted anyway). A diner was given a free hand to fill up his/her plate to the rim with rice but the viands were left to the mercy of the caterer who should be blacklisted as a racketeer.
The caterer indeed used his/her head. The first day of the convention, with more than 3,000 having signed up, should have warned him/her to rush for more orders, at least for coffee.
The caterer prepared only four coffee stations with two boilers. Long queues at the coffee stations disbanded repeatedly after the servers informed them to return to their seats for endless reasons – hot water ran out, styro-cups, sugar, and even instant coffee saches were still awaiting delivery, etc.
Short delivery means super bonanza for the caterer. The lawyer-participants already paid in full and get starved as the caterer failed to deliver quantitatively and qualitatively.
Indeed, yours truly will certainly go back to Subic to take delight of its natural sceneries which the traumatic IBP national convention denied its members.
Stated otherwise, yours truly will be back to Subic with impunity as a tourist, but never, never, as participant to another IBP national convention.