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The yearbook write-up I could've written for you*

Let me set the scene: 2008, we were freshmen in college, classmates for our first ever PE. We were required to pair up and walk for two hours, twice a week. For most, that's enough interaction with classmates - to end up politely greeting each other across hallways or dutifully saying happy birthday when Facebook prompts you to. And that's fine; it is somehow a feat to still be on minimal contact with a person you spent a few afternoons with more than seven semesters ago. I greet him on his birthday; he likes my posts and comments with something more than a thank you. Fishball tayo, something something, see you around, something something, bonding soon! It's all good. On that front, I can honestly say that Ludwin is definitely a great... acquaintance.

And acquaintances are all that we are, because what do I know about him, really? Aside from the fact that he wasn't born on a leap year, and that he's been in UP all his life? I... know he brings a bottle of water to class every meeting. I know he replies when you ask him if the professor is there. I know he politely laughs at people's jokes, even when he doesn't find them funny; and when he does, he will add on to that because he just gets humor that way. He will hold an umbrella over your head even when it's only drizzling. He won't laugh mockingly at your bright neon green jacket, even when it clashes terribly with your equally bright neon pink bag. He will be amused at the fact that you don't know how to bike. You should let someone teach you, he'd say. And he won't tell you if he had himself in mind when he said so. He won't, because he doesn't belong to you, and he knows his limitations. He plays the drums, and you will remember this because sometimes when you're all sitting down and waiting for your professor you see him tapping his feet to an imaginary bass drum pedal or his fingers playing with imaginary sticks before hitting an imaginary cymbal. He moves his hands in careful precision, accurately inching through each second with a single beat; but his head sometimes sways in a quiet form of abandon, as if in his mind he is preparing for the swell of a finale. He doesn't have the face of someone who fades into the background; he seems like a natural leader, like the rhythm that ties all notes together. But he looks like he has the tenderness of a man who will gratefully concede, to the music, to a girl, to a great love - whichever calls him the loudest. And you can tell by the way he doesn't let you cross the road before him that he knows how to keep one safe, even and especially when you don't ask him to. 

Perhaps this is who he is. Perhaps not. Perhaps this is the kind of description I can write about someone I only know from afar, someone I only see on my feed and never in person, someone I haven't really conversed with in five years. Perhaps. But he asked me to describe him, and this was the only way that I could: through vague recollections and hasty projections. In any case, after this, only one of two things can happen - either I get it right, and we are both pleased at how lucky I was to have come up with something so spot on. He will get a nice yearbook write-up from a kind acquaintance, and that is that. 

Or I get it wrong, and he finds a way to get back to me, just to tell me how incorrectly I've characterized him, point-by-point, over some ice cream and chocolate cake. You should let someone teach you, he'll say. How to bike? No. How to write about me. And at that instant, we will both know who he has in mind.


* In an alternate universe, 2012 would have turned out a little differently than it did. He would've asked me to write him a yearbook description, and I would've been in the proper mindset to do so. He wouldn't have been attached; I wouldn't have been saddled with problems that kept me up at night and terrified me in the mornings. Things would have been a lot different, but hopefully it would've also been the same. We'd like to believe there's a universe out there that would've led to me writing this, and him liking it. And things still falling into place the way it all did.



Sa letrang B

— talá • sálitaan (@makahulugan)


Law student milestone: First hearing

I attended my first ever hearing today! And by first hearing, I mean, the first hearing in which I am making an appearance on behalf of a client, as a law intern of the UP Office of Legal Aid. Sobrang kilig!

As part of our curriculum, when we reach our fourth year (and have finished all Remedial Law subjects), we are required to take Law 138-A and Law 138-B, the clinical education program of the College of Law. The UP OLA provides free legal assistance to indigent clients and allows students to experience practical and actual training in court while doing a great service to the public. Think of it as the counterpart to med students interning and serving patients in hospitals.

Unlike my previous summer internships in Makati, the UP OLA is an entirely different experience because as a law intern, I handle my own cases and represent my clients in all their pleadings and court appearances. While all of us act under the direct supervision of an assigned supervising lawyer and the OLA director, we are the ones who confer with the clients, interview witnesses, prepare documents, and appear in court - the whole enchilada. I guess this is where the UP Law experience cuts itself above the rest: we put primary importance in public service, it's integrated in our curriculum. UP does not credit our internships in private law firms; and regardless of how many firms and courts we work for during our school breaks, we are still required to go through OLA as a way of "giving back" to the State.

It's exciting because it gives us an actual taste of what it's like to be lawyers in court, while still allowing us much leeway for mistakes and learning (thanks to the "We're just law students" card.) Everything is put in an entirely different perspective when you realize that someone else's life is already in your hands. It's incredibly overwhelming - especially when you realize you now have to apply everything you've learned thus far - but also fulfilling when you do something right, when you make someone feel that there is justice and goodness in the world.

Earlier, I couldn't resist the urge to pinch myself when it finally dawned on me that I am appearing before a judge. True, I had my SL with me (as the Rules of Court provide that a law student enrolled in a clinical education program must be accompanied by a lawyer, when he/she is representing in a Regional Trial Court or higher), but he was intent on letting me do my own thing. Even we ended up resetting the hearing because of the absence of opposing counsel, I can still say that this day is definitely one for the books. For the last three years, I've been struggling with my feelings about law school. But today was an affirmation of sorts, a kind of epiphany that says while being in school is difficult, getting a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel is so, so worth it. Apparently, there's no greater feeling than finally being able to say:

"Appearing for the plaintiffs, your Honor, I am from the UP College of Law Office of Legal Aid, law intern Karla Bernardo."



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Parasailing + Kayaking

Boracay, July 2015
Parasailing + Kayaking

A short glimpse of Louie and I's parasailing and kayak rides from a few weeks ago, shot by my Re. Sorry for the very amateur video-editing skills — I won't even pretend this looks decently put together! But it was the best I could do :)))

Definitely more than decent, though, are the stunning views, both of the calm and serene Puka Beach, and the deep blue waters from about hundreds of feet in the air. It was exhilarating to say the least! Both activities were exciting in their own ways: the kayak ride turned us into the Amazing Race wannabe contestants whose teamwork led us into the middle of the sea, wading against the current, while parasailing made us go through a roller-coaster of both completely terrified and extremely giddy in a matter of minutes. (Obviously, I was most thrilled when we were splashed into the water as we were descending back to our boat.)

I wish I took a video while we were on the ATV; however, being the responsible (aka scaredy-cat) driver that I am, I couldn't whip out the camera out of fear of accidentally driving off the cliff. But two out of three ain't so bad: great to know we've conquered land, air, and water all in one weekend! Now, how to conquer fire...? :))




Boracay in July

Quite fitting that on the first day of class, I am writing about my summer vacation. Although technically, since UP adjusted its academic calendar, "summer" now meant late July, and the kids nowadays call it "midyear break." But whatever. The sun was out and I was on a beach two weekends ago - sounds like summer to me!

True to last year's word, our high school barkada once again surprised ourselves by actually pushing through with a great escapade - and this time, by plane! I think it needs emphasizing that we are such losers when it comes to planning any get-togethers. For the longest time, we've failed miserably at the idea of "going out" and "getting away. Almost always we just ended up at someone else's house to hang out, watch movies, talk about people, and fall asleep. But thanks to the success of last year's spontaneous Borawan trip, we've gained enough momentum to finally push through with this one. After all, we've gone outside Metro Manila, finally - why not leave Luzon altogether?

And so, Boracay it was.

Yep, the cliched, uninspired, obvious choice for a summer getaway. But everybody flocks there for a reason. And when the opportunity to go there presents itself, you do not say no. And how can you? With its pristine white shores and deep teal waters, it would be a travesty to refuse.

Oh, Boracay. How do I even begin to explain Boracay?

It's like meeting the popular girl, and realizing why everyone is in love with her.

Just like last year, we brought our plus-ones along. And again, like last year, it was nice to welcome new faces into the fold. There's a special kind of gladness that comes with hanging out with the girls I love, and the people who love them. And it's really great to see everyone getting along quite perfectly. It's comforting to know that the most important relationships in our lives - closest girl friends and significant others - are not mutually exclusive, and can, in fact, co-exist happily and hilariously.

Yep, just in case you are wondering, the Re once again made me a happy, giddy, completely satisfied customer. Not convinced? In lieu of a complete, detailed re-telling of our trip, let these pictures paint you the story of that awesome weekend:

#KaliboGang: The first eight!

On the ferry ride going to Caticlan

We stayed at Agos Boracay Rooms + Beds, which was somewhere in the middle of Station 2. Look at how pleasant and presko-looking the place is! We rented out two family rooms for 6 people each, which was just enough for the 12 of us. The family rooms on the 4th floor have lofts, and were big enough to accommodate all of us. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the place! I wasn't expecting anything fancy, but the hotel looked cozy and homey. And very, very clean too. It's well worth mentioning their customer service - the staff were very accommodating and considerate of us (our flights were delayed upon arrival, and we left way beyond check-out time, but they were incredibly understanding.)

This is just the eight of us, the ones on the first flight to Kalibo 
(which was originally scheduled at 9:25 am, but left at around 3:00 pm :| )

 First time to explore the beach the next morning!
Look at that beach! Walang tao! :)

 After the obligatory group photos, everyone just went off in pairs to take pictures :)) 

 The extraordinarily diligent partners of law students :))

Since we were pressed for time (because of the flight delays the previous evening), we just opted for the activities that everyone really wanted to do. Almost everyone was a first-timer (I think only 4 of us had been there before), so we wanted the best slice of the typical Boracay turista pie in the shortest amount of time. It was actually quite easy to haggle since there were 12 of us! So we ended up parasailing, getting thrown off of the flyfish, and riding ATVs.

While ascending on the parasail! Relationship milestone: check! 
(Check out Louie's nervous smile :P )

Look for Spider-man :P 

 Still amazed at the wide-angle shots! 
Louie was so scared to stretch out his hand, in fear of dropping the Re 
(although it did have a wrist strap), this was the best selfie we could get. 
But look, we're still both in it! :)

 Strolling towards Station 1

The famous Jonah's Shakes! I got Choco Banana Peanut :) #THEBEST 

 Feeling fashion-blogger pose! (#FAILING)

Look at that sky! So blue! 

Some other pictures that day are in my regular camera or in other people's phones, like the flyfish and ATV photos. (Will probably put them in later!)

The following morning, we went to Puka Beach, which was a P25 tricycle ride away from the main strip. And wow, I thought the main Boracay shoreline was beautiful, but I was definitely floored! It was the most exquisite beach I have ever seen. The water was so clear, the sand was so white, and everything just looked like it came straight out of a postcard.


We really aren't a "sweet" couple, i.e. fail at "romantic" poses :( :))))
This is what we did when they said, "Oh yung pang pre-nup pose!" :| :D

Since Puka Beach was a "virgin" or untouched beach, there wasn't a lot to be done on that side of the island. But they did have paddleboards and kayaks for rent. Of course, Louie and I gamely tried it (after much haggling by Joa and Louie)! We tried the clear kayak, which was for two people. It was so cool! I felt like we were in the Amazing Race; I kept pretending we were rushing to the next pitstop the entire time :)) The waters were soooo blue, I had goosebumps at seeing how clear and deep the sea was just right below us.

I actually took a video of our kayak ride. I placed the Re on my chest, tucked inside my vest! How handy! But when I checked the video, apparently I had some strands of hair covering the lens :))) I'll probably just crop that part out so that I can upload and share the video. The view was fantastic!

View of the Puka Beach shore from the kayak 

Adventure is out there! :) 


Look at that postcard-worthy view! Stunning :)

The weekend may have been extremely short, but it turned out to be just the kind of last-minute summer escapade I needed right before school started. There really is nothing quite like a trip with my high school barkada. The jokes, the games, the harmless kulitans - it's all part of our histories that have not changed at all, and I am always grateful for that. When we're all back together, we're just our usual 16-year-old selves again, laughing at the littlest things and making fun of each other's quirks. It's the kind of familiarity that makes you feel that all is right in the world - for everything else that has changed, these guys are my constant.

It's doubly great that we now have our plus-ones into the fold. It's always such a riot! Now we can't imagine going out without bringing them along, because they've felt like an extension of our barkada already. And that goes even for the new faces. Just shows how well we all gel and hit off. The chemistry's just off the charts! :))

The #KaliboGang (L-R): Francis M., Tin, Karla, Louie, Hope, Mikka, Joa, Trixie, Kye, Dada, Francis G., and Nica

The "joke" now is, since last year we went to Borawan, and this year we went to Boracay, next year's stop should be Palawan. Everyone's psyched to go to Coron, and even though I just went last January, I'm already super excited to return! Crossing our fingers that that one pushes through! And I think it will, considering how much fun we had last year and this year. There's already momentum keeping the ball rolling and really pushing us to plan in advance for the next one. Here's to hoping all our schedules match and everything falls into their places by then.

Until then, Boracay, you'll be on our minds!

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