Thursday, April 29, 2010

now reading: shadow of doubt by marites vitug

after having bought the book on a whim (not exactly cheap at P475 for the paperback and with newsprint paper at that) yesterday afternoon, i started reading the book almost immediately, even if i did get home at almost midnight. an 8am meeting notwithstanding, i knew i couldn't really if i put off starting the book i had heard so much about. the lawyer i had a meeting with yesterday afternoon mentioned how it was a pretty good read, informative, and -- said to say this was really that piqued my curiosity -- no longer available at national bookstore because of the stuff contained therein. clearly, this was more exciting than any of the books i had stashed at home (all costing anywhere from 15 to 30 pesos each, and therefore, containing stories that were, well, that poorly-written too.) and so when i *luckily* found myself having coffee with a client across from popular bookstore in morato, the only place that allegedly still had copies to sell, i bought almost without thinking.

i'm on page 75 now (i had to sleep and i had the aforementioned 8 am meeting) and so far, nothing major yet. i guess it's a big deal that i did work for the court of appeals for almost 3 years after graduation from law school. the things i've read i more or less knew, and those parts which may have intended to shock ("really, that's how they do it there?") seemed to me things which i took for granted as part of the job. then again, maybe that is what Vitug wanted to point out -- some of us have been so desensitized that the things which weren't really normal had become just that to those who called the judiciary their home.

am i upset over the fact that the justices spent millions of pesos on draperies? yes, but that feeling is tempered with the knowledge that our government offices are so dilapidated that one would more often than not choose to take the stairs than be stuck in a rickety old elevator.

am i upset over the salaries that justices decided is due them? yes, but i also know partners in law firms earn so much more.

bits and pieces (like how Davide was caught up in the tide that he decided to proclaim GMA as president instead of acting president), admittedly, make me pause and think. and that's good. one has to think. i like how certain insights, inside stories, and profiles (there was one regarding Gibo's participation in the impeachment of Davide over the JDF controversy) help me understand certain news stories that happened in the (recent and not so recent) past. it's a good read -- partly for entertainment (and possibly to satiate a curiosity) and partly for personal growth as a member of the legal system.

i've got a whole lot more of pages to go and i've no doubt that by tomorrow or by the weekend (when i finally finish the book) my opinions and insights will still be subject to change. a couple of thoughts though from someone who's just on page 75:

1. the mystery, i believe, isn't just cause it's the supreme court. it's simply because it involves lawyers and lawyers love mystery. i mean, unlike other professions, save for barkers, our job is largely dependent on laway (or on paper, pen, and ink). we ARE made of talk (of course largely supplemented by brain power which is, ideally, supposed to put muscle behind all that talk). unless we are more reserved with our words (hello, client confidentiality), we expose ourselves to a whole lot of problems (hello, ruben t. reyes)

2. there isn't anything really wrong with confidentiality. while it IS another thing to hide things under the carpet, would you really want to know how deliberations are? would you even be interested? you've seen congress at work, right? and, save for the few exciting episodes, it was mainly boring. lastly, i'm willing to bet that if those from the legislative and the executive branches of government weren't dependent on votes and popular opinion to get them into position, i doubt they'd be as forthcoming either.

this weekend i plan to finish the book. and hopefully, read it a second time -- more leisurely, more analytically, with less personal bias and with greater detachment. truly, the words that i've typed out in the space of half an hour don't really (intelligently) encapsulate what i'd probably feel about the book after all is said and done. but for now, this is as candid as i can be and all i can say is -- from page 75 -- i don't get what the big deal is all about.

*edit: read a couple of pages during lunch. part 2 is much better, highlighting how the SC is an exclusive club. that's more like it.

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