NATURAL calamities, absurd executive orders, coup threats, holiday economics and school occasions aside, a classmate once asked me: what is the most “convenient” and “effective” student-initiated recourse to prevent a regular class from unfolding at the professor’s expense?

Barely an iskul bukol fan despite being a self-confessed “outside learner” – who would rather prefer to sit in one corner of the library or some uncharted spot on campus while deciphering an archaic reading for a graded recitation the day after, than bore holes of disinterest on a vandalized armchair in subtle dismissal of the monotonous air of toilet humor and powder-room chatter reverberating from the four walls of the classroom – I begged off from answering the question, perhaps convinced of its downright triviality which only the hard-knocked lads in class could understand and relate to for reasons not limited to mere horseplay.

Pardoning my uncooperativeness, my classmate, albeit ironically, cracked his own question by saying: “e ‘di ‘wag tayo pumasok lahat…sa tingin mo ba makakapag-klase sila kung wala namang makikinig? Besides, he added, “mayroon namang specific number of absences and tardiness na kailangan munang ma-abot ng isang estudyante bago siya tuluyang masipa sa AB, ‘di ba? Hindi naman natin siya sasagarin. It’s a privilege we’ve paid for.”

Going by the rulebook, my classmate has the right finger pointed to the heavens inasmuch as deeming a student ineligible to pass a course due to absences. This is perhaps a brainchild of the theory of exhaustion of powers which optimizes the ladder of accountability in all government firms, at least according to the dynamic context of the politics we used to known and endure in this side of the planet.

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Journeyman

Just recently, two news items from different broadsheets caught my attention. The first article which appeared in the May 30 issue of the Philippine Star caught Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile in a tongue-lashing mode, chastising his “habitually tardy” and “unprepared” brethrens of the realm to submission for their no-show and so-so participation in the plenary talks. The veteran lawmaker blamed his moon-walking colleagues for the delay of important pieces of legislation, subject of which during the 84-year-old senator’s verbal calisthenics on the floor were amendments that he wished to inject in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

Heaping more fire and brimstone on the sea of lost faces, Enrile bewailed the kindergarten-like responsiveness of his fellow legislators whom he waited to open their mouth but only had the gall to interpellate him regarding his sponsorship of a bill seeking changes in the EPIRA only after two weeks of session.

Last June 6, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported the Lower House’s failure to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program for another five years, which Pres. Arroyo has even earmarked as urgent, through the supposed passage of House Bill (HB) No. 4077 before Congress adjourns on June 13. Quorum, or specifically the lack of it, dear taxpayers and patriots, was again the bogeyman that hi-jacked the legislative diligence of the few warm bodies that had assiduously flocked to the plenary hall to furnish farmers with at least the legal sword and shield in facing, nay slaying the demons of abject poverty and social injustice.

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The chronic absenteeism and/or antipathy of most members of the Lower House must have been unbearably tough for some business-as-usual legislators on the floor to stomach that like Enrile, Camiguin Rep. Pedro Romualdo had also gone berserk while debating the merits of HB No. 3971 (which aims to give tax relief to taypayer) for second reading that he had proposed the locking of the doors of the session hall after the roll call, all for the sake of maintaining quorum and ensuring the enactment of priority bills into laws for the benefit of the public, whom our honorable congressmen must serve through clean-cut legislative work, minus the segues.

Unfortunately, in this country where well-dressed hang-ups are worshipped like Hollywood gods, punctuality is a 15-minute stroll to infamy.

In the school of discipline, the “late” Juan dela Cruz, sorely “missed” by seatmate Prudencia, sits at the back…alone.

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At this point, I wish to thank my Varsitarian batchmates who had helped me in steering the paper to greater heights this year.

Cheers to Ketch, my fellow executive editor, for giving me a shot in the arm when it comes to managing the internal goings-on in the office as well as in exercising fiscal prudence.

To the journ people Jenny, Hershey, Kristine, Vet, Eieth, and Ruben, thanks for keeping me company with your pens as well as sharing your unforgettable Varsi and non-Varsi (mis)adventures.

To the nursing ladies Raye, Celina and Myla, I would always be grateful for the patience and trust you have given me despite my perennial bashing tendencies and temperemental outbursts.

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To Reize and Richard, I know how much you wanted to stay until the final buzzer sounds. But there are things which simply cannot be bargained nor discarded for much higher priorities – that though I accept, albeit with a heavy heart.

And to the senior staffers who had also graduated, Ayn, Tanya, Carla, Au, a year of friendship is still a treasure to behold.

Forgive me for all the pain and stress which my restlessness and sometimes unpopular decisions may have caused you.

The ‘V’ will always be a welcome home to all of you. Godspeed my dear amihans.

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