Nicole and Smith — a diplomatic uber-mess

I have been mulling about writing a post on my thoughts on the case but it’s been much too emotional until the verdict was handed down.  I do not wish to condemn either Nicole or Daniel Smith — I believe that the justice system, destiny and eventually, their God will be their judge.

Rape is a very emotional topic, discussed in legalese or otherwise.  It’s usually a “he said, she said” matter which is not as clear cut as other crimes.  It is also a private crime, and as such, cannot be prosecuted unless the victim herself, or if she is not able to give legal consent, her family, agrees to prosecute.

As a woman, I feel strongly about violating any person, male or female, sexually.  More than the physical damage, there is untold emotional and psychological damage that we cannot fathom unless we’ve been there otherselves.  As a lawyer, I tend to be more objective but I strongly adhere to the legal tenet that the accused is innocent until proven guilty.  Again, I do not wish to pass judgment on either party to this case.

I believe, though, that Filipinos as a people, are being put on trial for its failure to adhere to the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement.  It’s bad enough that we have refused to honor the ruling of international arbitrators in the NAIA III case, insisting on our own version of how things should go.  It makes me wonder if this administration is now hard put to make a stand only because any grease money had changed hands with the previous administration and so it was left with an empty bag.  But back to Smith..

I laud Judge Pozon for his steadfastness about standing up to Uncle Sam and GMA, but we have to keep in mind that he knows his decision is up for automatic review and will in all likelihood be appealed by Smith’s defense team on questions of fact before that even happens.  Except for an acquittal which would’ve meant no appeal except if new evidence or extenuating circumstances surface, Pozon can say the sky is red and he would have just been told to his face on appeal or review that it is actually blue.  And we have to remind our ever emotional kababayans that we are talking about a treaty which is recognized as part of the laws of the land.  What would we do if say we had this agreement with Indonesia, a Filipino soldier is in Smith’s shoes, and the Indonesian authorities refuse to hand over our erring soldier until all appeals are exhausted — we would probably run to another higher authority to arbitrate and who comes to mind? 

There is the issue of civility and diplomacy which we cannot just shun because it is convenient or expedient in terms of PR concerns.. we all have to adhere to the rule of law considering we might one day find ourselves on the other side of the fence.  They should release Smith back to the US Embassy.  If the decision is upheld — and I say that as a big IF — then Smith will serve his sentence.  If the higher courts find that the 40 years is commensurate to the circumstances of his crime, then he will turn old and gray on Philippine shores.  We don’t know how the decision will go, or what revision will happen.. it’s barely half the journey getting the accused convicted.    What is imperative is that we act in a stately manner, a true sovereign nation — and honor our commitment under the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA.  If Smith’s case shows us loopholes in the agreement, then let’s get our legislators working to correct it or altogether scrap the treaty — but that’s going forward, we cannot now turn a blind eye when truth as it stands is staring us in the face.

A Philippine Idol controversy?

Dessie paid me a visit a few days ago and left me a link on Simplywired which I visited, and where I left a comment that I would write a post on that post here.  So here goes..

Let me begin by once again congratulating Mau and the other two top contenders, Jan and Gian, for having gone this far and showing us what a talented people we Filipinos are.  There seems to be a controversy brewing with a threatened lawsuit hanging over the first Philippine Idol’s head because of a botched contract.  From what I understand, Mau had been a runner up in a previous national competition sponsored by Viva and a result of which was that Mau had entered into a 5-year management contract with them.  This contract has another year, more or less, to go before it is up, and we all know that one of the plum prizes of Philippine Idol was a management and recording contract.  (It’s 2AM and I’m in no mood to check specifically, so pardon the lack of details.)

The question most people are asking is why is it that Viva is only asserting its right under that management contract now?  My reply on Simplywired was, it was a business decision.  Why was it that Viva never gave her any projects while she was under contract with them?  Again, it was a business decision to put her career on hold to push the winner’s career instead.  It is not uncommon for a recording company to sign up a competing band or talent to someone who is already in their roster, because it is much easier to control the competition when you hold the reins to their careers.  While it seems unfair, it makes for good business judgment because instead of allowing a competing talent to be signed up by your competitor, you can instead have full control and effectively supress that talent by signing them up.  That is why it pays to evaluate any offers for recording or management contracts when you are a free agent.

If you were Philippine Idol, would you dethrone Mau as Philippine Idol?  That’s a tricky decision.  The issue is not whether or not she deserves to be Philippine Idol because we already know any of the three did, and she does.  There is the issue of being upfront and honest — concealment is just as bad as a misrepresentation of the truth.  My guess is Philippine Idol will probably buy her contract out.  Then again, I’m not part of Philippine Idol management, so I’m just guessing.  Abangan!


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Paris Scrapbook layouts


I’ve been busy with the Paris scrapbook and I’ve uploaded some layouts over at Pinay Francophile.  The first layout I uploaded was actually a 12×25 spread of a an external and internal shot of the Louvre which I reworked.  Although most scrapbookers would pick a few shots instead of using all available photos, I’m trying to use all shots because I’m chronicling a trip and not just keeping a scrapbook souvenir of a day or event.  Every photo I have saved after discarding the bad shots has meaning to me.

I’m making very good progress although I am barely a quarter of the way through.  I already have around 20 layouts of 12×12 pairs, and while I cannot upload all the layouts, I’m picking those that are worth sharing in my other blog.  Since this is not purely digital scrapbooking, some of the layouts will be uploaded photos instead of graphics.  It’s a very tedious process doing the layouts but I am having so much fun because it takes me back to this very special time and place.  Doing the scrapbook is therapy for me because I find it very relaxing and seeing the pictures preserved for posterity in print gives me something to go back to over and over again…

Ten days til Christmas

There are many things I wish I could do during the course of the week or the day for that matter which I fail to do simply for lack of time. Motherhood, being a wife and work takes up so much of my day that I often end up forgetting so many things. That, plus the fact that I’m probably getting old. (Brain cells, don’t fail me now!) Tonight I managed to sneak into a specialty store in the city to get Alan a long-delayed birthday gift. (Yes, his birthday was October 13.. we had that party, that CD and those pictures..) He has been ribbing me no end that I must be postponing giving him the gift so I could hit two birds with one stone this holiday season.

No, I meant to get him something I know he would like to have but wouldn’t buy for himself. (Just like his watches which all came from me..) Sometimes I just set my mind on something I want him to have and I don’t change my mind even if it takes me forever to get it. I know this is one gift he will like, but something he would think long and hard before he actually buys himself. It’s nothing particularly extravagant. I told him he will have to wait for me to win the lotto before he gets anything more extravagant than a Movado watch I got him last year.. I always tell him, he deserves it and more. It’s just that we have to be practical, too.

I haven’t quite thought of what I will get him for Christmas. We want to surprise each other all the time. We always give each other more than one gift, and there are smaller gifts that are just as meaningful. Two years ago, I asked him to give me Clinton’s MY LIFE (which I am still reading) and Queen Noor’s LEAP OF FAITH which remains to be one of my favorites to date. This year, I told him I have two books I want him to get for me, and I’m ordering them from Barnes and Noble and shipping straight to his office so he has no excuse not to put a dedication this time. I love my books and the ones that have come from him are special in a different way. Although the first book he gave to me was a paperback, it’s one of the few on my bookshelf which I took from Manila to New York when I finally moved here. It was also the perfect GRISHAM to give me because it was one of his novels with a love story angle, THE TESTAMENT.

My mother-in-law is all agog planning the Noche Buena, and I’m not interfering. My role is to help – I will defer to the elders.. This is her first Christmas in our home and her first without half her family – so I think she deserves the break to make it what she wants to. At her age, we don’t know if this might be her last Christmas with us, so Alan and I try to make it special for her. I want to make it a special Christmas, too, for my Mom because I know she won’t be here next year. My Christmas tree has been decked with an additional string of lights so it’s no longer sparse — I will put up my parol tonight, too. I just can’t help but pine for bibingka and puto bungbong, and I don’t care if it’s Via Mare or not. (NOTE TO SELF: Check out the Filipino store this weekend.)

Ten days to go.. time to get my queso de bola!