23 December 2021

I flew in from JFK twenty-four hours ago, I'm waiting for my swab test results, wearing my auntie's comfiest FILA sweats, and enjoying the rainy-but-relatively-warmer-compared-to-the-East-Coast weather. Hello SFO, here I am, barely avoiding omicron. Until I've fully righted myself to Pacific Time, let me share about my NYC trip!

12 December 2021

I just submitted my last exam for the first semester forty minutes ago, and I’m leaving for New York in about sixteen hours with my luggage still unpacked. But look at me, having the sudden urge to write about my many trips to Boston. Is it a couple of weeks, months, too late? Sure. But hey, let’s just roll with it.

Boston is just an hour away from Concord.

Or maybe I should say Concord is an hour away from Boston, if we're going to be taking on the point of view of a tourist (which sometimes I feel like I still am, despite having been here for five months already). It's my port of entry when I first got here last July, after all. The nice thing about it being just a bus ride away is that whenever I feel suffocated about the small-town life, I can always run away and find peace in the city. Okay, the irony is not lost on me. Yes, I'm a city girl through and through! I grew up near an airport, on a busy street! The city is more comforting to me! I wouldn't have seriously considered a law school in Concord if it was actually in the middle of nowhere. Having Boston nearby makes me feel a little less homesick.

12 November 2021

One of the things that most thrilled me about living in the New England area is experiencing autumn in all its glory. All the oranges, reds, burgundies, ambers. To borrow from Linda Cope: "And that orange, it made me so happy, as ordinary things often do." 

I'm not a very outdoorsy kind of girl, but New Hampshire didn't have to try so hard to make me change my mind. I live in front of a park, and seeing the view outside my window makes me want to go outside, burst into song, and feel the sun on my face. Yep, this is my Disney Princess origin story, I guess.

Autumn is so short in this neck of the woods, apparently, so I did my best to soak everything in. Here are a couple of pictures from the last few weeks that would make you want to put on a coat, a big fluffy scarf, and take a walk in the park, like a manic pixie dream girl in a movie emoting to the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack. 

Apple picking (taken using a Samsung, haha!)

We went apple picking after school one random Wednesday, organized by our super lovely Dean for Student Affairs, Dean Lauren Berger. After spending about an hour filling up our baskets with apples of different varieties, we sat down for some apple cider and brought home apple crumble pies. Whew, that's a lot of apples.

Did you think I would pass up the chance to pretend like I'm the modern-day live-adaptation remake of a darker, more twisted Snow White? Of course not. 

Pretending to know which apples to pick. (There were ribbons to differentiate the varieties, but I just went for the roundest, reddest looking ones.)

Pumpkins waiting for Halloween! I can't wait for my Disney Princess-turned-witchy-villain plot twist.


We drove to Portsmouth, New Hampshire one Friday for my friend Kathy's birthday - and completely forgot about our afternoon makeup class. Ha! Model students. We attended the class via Zoom while we were having lunch by the marinas and having lobsters! Portsmouth is known for its fresh and delicious seafood so of course, we had to try it. But not really knowing how to eat lobsters and crabs - and you know, not wanting to ruin my outfit - I went for lobster mac & cheese instead. Make no mistake though, it was literally the best mac & cheese I have ever tasted. We walked around, visited a few parks, window-shopped, went to a museum, took lots of pictures - typical foreign-students-being-tourists stuff. It literally felt like being in a Gilmore Girls episode.

That's Kathy's sister, Karol, driving us. Look at that view!

Lobster mac and cheese!!! The most incredible thing I've had in the last few months.

Portsmouth's cute, small-town vibe was delightful.


From one "mouth" to another! I attended a talk at Dartmouth co-sponsored by the UNH Law Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership & Public Service on "Renewing Trust in Democracy: The Role of Courts," featuring former US Solicitors General Gregory Garre and Neal Katyal. I went with my good friend Mithra, who, just like me, wanted to learn about the career trajectories of these former Sol Gens, and was looking for an excuse to visit and step foot in one of the Ivy Leagues.

I was so glad to have finally visited Dartmouth because it's a dream college of mine. It doesn't have a law school, sadly - if it did, I would've been in Hanover and not Concord! Papa and I have always talked about wanting to attend Dartmouth, especially since his father (my grandpa) was supposed to have gone there under scholarship offers by the US to exemplary university students after the second World War. Things just didn't work out as hoped, but it remained one of his (and our) dream, what-if schools.

Fun fact: the University of New Hampshire was originally incorporated as a part of Dartmouth in 1866, as its College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, before finally becoming the state university in 1923. So I guess... I kind of am Dartmouth-adjacent now? 

Another fun fact: My favorite Conan O'Brien commencement speech was the one he made at Dartmouth! (Kind of wrote about it here.) One of my favorite screenwriters also went here: Mindy Kaling.

I feel like in another life, I could have gone to Dartmouth and become a screenwriter like Mindy Kaling or Shonda Rhimes. Ah, multiverse, when are you gonna unravel??

Just a bunch of other fall pics that will make you quote Taylor Swift and go, "I remember it all too well,"

Fall just made me want to rebrand to a very "live, laugh, love" / "nature is my playground" kind of girl. Lol! If only I wasn't so lazy and dedicated to my bed and space heater most of the time! But I definitely enjoyed going out and actually taking advantage of the public spaces nearby. This is something I wish we had in Manila: less malls, more parks and hiking spots. Maybe I wouldn't be such a Greenbelt and Landmark hoe if we actually had nice outdoor spaces in the city?? 

The temperatures are starting to drop to around 8-14 degrees Celsius these days. Pretty cold, but nothing that a cute coat can't fix! I'm just trying my best to enjoy the sweater weather and the warm oranges before winter comes creeping in and officially turns me into a scrooge. 

The view in front of my house. Can you believe it!!

White Park, which is just in front of the school

And that's the law school behind me!

Panorama photo from the Pierce Bridge

More pictures of White Park - because how else can you not capture that view?

The lodge won't open until the winter: it's used by skaters and hockey players when the lake freezes up!

Concord has its charms.

And just generally more pictures around Concord because I like remembering my weekend walks to the grocery and the bank. Running errands (and not having a car!!) doesn't feel as exhausting when you've got this view along the way.

I also went on a couple of hiking trips with friends. One of them was to Rainbow Falls, in Plymouth, NH (Another "mouth"! New England towns, amirite?) which was not the original place we wanted to visit but Waze kind of tapped out and brought us somewhere else. Not so bad at all, though, because we didn't initially plan on seeing waterfalls. 

My "I miss my bed and my back hurts enough nature for the day" pose

And some more pics of my walks to school. My two pairs of Adidas UltraBoost have served me very, very well. 

Pretending to text but actually taking a very artsy/aesthetic photo for the 'Gram

Rains do not dampen the vibe of the scenery at all

Can this view get any more perfect? There's a baseball court somewhere in the right side of the picture, and every time I walk past it I feel like one of those girls in teen movies, meeting up with friends and secretly eyeing their crush. Unfortunately for me, my crush is all the way in Boston - hi Chris Evans, when will the universe conspire for us to meet???

My walk from the law school to our house

And the other way around!

Sorry, I just can't get enough of this view.

Literally just right outside my window.

Our school!
(Photo from UNH Law)

Please stay a little while longer, autumn. I'm kind of not done falling in love with you yet.

27 October 2021


1st anniversary of my 29th birthday!


1st anniversary of my 29th birthday!

As a random treat to myself (after all the cake and mojitos courtesy of my friends), I rewatched the Loki finale. Yep, three months later and I'm still processing it. Did I expect to feel as much as with WandaVision? No. Did I cry at the possibility of worlds, of entire universes, of unrealized selves opening up and becoming a reality? Maybe, a little bit.

Okay. A lot.


Would I want to meet another version of myself? 

I always catch myself wondering about - and often, wishing for - other universes. A slight inconvenience? "Other Karla wouldn't have missed this e-mail, ugh." A major detour? "Another Karla would have been at the finish line by now." A missed opportunity? "She would have taken the train as soon as the doors opened." 

It's not so much intriguing as it is oddly comforting. Other worlds laying tangent to our own. The infinite possibilities of more definite futures. Of lives lived more fully, of decisions determined more resolutely. Of huge choices made and left unburdened by the expectations particular only to this terrain. A totally different person who looks, thinks, acts, and maneuvers the world nothing like me.

But then, perhaps, in another universe, there exists a version of me that is only slightly different. One who made almost the exact same choices, got to the exact same point, living an almost identical life, except for that one single incident that didn't wreak literal havoc to my organs, and living happily just the same.

Am I the sum of my sadnesses? Am I who I am because I had to overcome? What if I didn't have to, and everything else on my plate right now I still had anyway? What would become of me, and what if we met?

Would I ask, "What's it like being 35% less sad? How does it feel not having all of life tied down to a moment?"

You know how in video games, there are certain crossroads that you just know will ultimately take you to the biggest, most important battles? And at that point, you choose to save the game so that in case you lose, you can always go back to that moment and redo everything? I think, at 30, I've lived long enough to know the "save points." And sometimes, I still wish I could go back to it. Maybe do better, think more thoroughly, make a different decision. Find out the life that could have been if I didn't press A or jumped over a cliff.

But this isn't how real life works, unfortunately. And no matter how many times Loki and Sylvie convince themselves that they belong to a different, better timeline - they had to grapple with where they are and where their choices brought them.

I guess He Who Remains said it best:

"Been a long journey for you, hasn't it? Lot of running, lot of pain. And you, you're a flea on the back of a dragon in for one hell of a ride. But you did manage to hang on. I guess that counts for something."

Perhaps this is the biggest lesson of growing old - and growing up: hanging on. It counts for something. When we manage to thrive despite the uncertainty and the ambivalence of it all. Life will keep throwing curveballs; the universe will keep dangling the past and the lost futures. But there is real joy to be found in flourishing. To bloom where fate plants you, and to find peace in being exactly where you are at precisely that moment in time.


This year may be different - a thousand miles away from home, missing loved ones, traversing the unfamiliar, in the middle of a pandemic. But different is also good: it means finding family in new friends, diving into new experiences, and seeing silver linings despite the roadblocks. I'm thankful and happy and incredibly lucky to be where I am. Who would've thought? Turning a new decade and finally crossing something big off my bucket list.

I'm so, so grateful. 🌸

16 September 2021

Signs of life: Yep, I'm finally here! A journey that started in 2018 now finally coming to fruition.
I'm officially an LLM in IP student! Hi, UNH Law!

It has been a while since I last wrote here, I know. I've always been meaning to but somehow as soon as everything started, time just whirred by so quickly. (As if we haven't been losing track of it since the pandemic again!)

I arrived in the US on July 30, after what seemed like a rollercoaster ride for the first half of 2021. I deferred admission from Fall of 2020, but even with situations improving in the US sometime during April, I still didn't allow myself to fully embrace the reality that enrollment will finally push through until I finally stepped off the plane.

It has been an exciting first two months to say the last. So far, since arriving, I've gone hiking, visited museums, published a paper, formed new friendships, and learned how much I don't know in the world of IP. 

Remember that old National Geographic tagline? "The more you know, the more you know you don't know." That has basically been the running theme of my life thus far. Every single day I find out about things I thought I already had enough working knowledge on and realize how much I have yet to discover.

This semester I'm taking Trademarks, Patent, Technology Licensing, Internet Law, and Art Law - all of which are incredibly interesting to me. I chose Trademarks because of the professor, Alexandra J. Roberts, who is basically one of the most well-known experts on US trademark law and the Lanham Act. She's well-regarded in the legal circles especially on Twitter, has been featured on numerous publications, and has been cited in a great number of scholarly articles. I'm so lucky she was also assigned as my Faculty Advisor. I'm looking forward to learning from her - and hopefully have her guide me through writing another paper, perhaps!

The actual emotional and mental journey to just get here is still astounding to me. I always have random moments of disbelief, because how could I ever have gotten here? If you told 2014 me that I would pursue further studies - and that I'd actually be good enough to get into a top 4 program - I would have thought you were making a mean, cruel joke. During the entirety of law school, I was anxious and deeply insecure. I couldn't think of a future where I could enjoy the law and the legal practice. "Is there even a space for me in the real world?" I'd often ask myself. And turns out, there is. I just had to go follow my interests and let them lead me to a field that I can actually, truly revel in.

So far, the main difference from law school in the Philippines? Here, it's a more relaxed, laidback classroom setting. Some professors do "cold calls" (their term for "recits") but it doesn't actually impact your performance in class; its sole purpose is to ensure that the discussion pushes forward. Because of this, there's less pressure in the daily grind and it's easier to enjoy going through the readings. The professors are also very sincere in wanting to help, and asking questions is highly encouraged. I don't think I've ever enjoyed reading cases as much as I have here; it's quite comparable to my undergrad experience, actually, where I take pleasure in actually burying myself in books and doing my homework. Which isn't to say the workload isn't heavy - in fact, only two months in and I'm already feeling slightly overwhelmed. But at least I'm genuinely having a good time poring over the readings. It's so refreshing, especially after the trauma of UP Law.

Anyway, I'm so excited about what lies ahead! I’m very thankful, grateful, and appreciative of my parents & loved ones, bosses, mentors, sisses in UP Portia, and friends who’ve encouraged and believed in me. I'm looking forward to learning more about the different aspects of IP and how each field can help shape our understanding of what it means to be IP practitioners. More importantly, I hope I can gain enough knowledge to carry back home, where my passion and experience can make a big difference. I've always said I’d love to make a big splash, a huge leap just before I turn 30. Well, I guess here goes. 💙

01 July 2021

When I lined these books up for my June to-read list, I had no idea how similarly both books would make me feel after the last page. I got so caught up in the narrative of each book that I sped through each of them in three days, and found myself wanting to go outside and soak up all the earth that Earth could give me. 

It's always nice to be reminded of our humanity - all aspects of how as individuals, and as a species, we manage to survive. And, in many ways, flourish. In the course of the universe's history, we've only been here for a short time. We've barely scratched the surface of what there is to know about the world and what's outside it. But that short blip of time has been long enough for man to endure, flourish, and even dare to want more. Humanity, as it seems, has a penchant for pushing the boundaries. Often, this leads to surprising and exhilarating results that make life more meaningful. And while we sometimes court danger along the way, unlocking something new about the world makes it all worth it. 

01 | Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

My love for this book only grew exponentially with each chapter. I can say part of it is because I miss swimming so much, and I loved living vicariously through the author as she chronicled her journey (researching for "science" but really just frolicking out to sea with some of the best open divers), all while I'm cooped up at home with no choice but to stay put.

This book dove into (pun intended) the history of swimming for recreation. Have you ever wondered how the first man discovered swimming as a hobby and not just a skill for survival? It's fascinating that the earliest evidence of recreational swimming is from some 10,000 ago, through prehistoric drawings in a cave now known as Cave of Swimmers in Egypt. It contains Neolithic rock paintings depicting people with their limbs bent as if they were swimming. The paintings convinced Lazslo Almasy, the explorer who discovered the cave in 1933, that water might have been a natural feature in the immediate vicinity of the cave and that the swimmers themselves were the painters. What we now currently know as one of the driest deserts, Sahara, was once a landscape with lakes and other bodies of water. Years later, a paleontologist named Paul Sereno would discover human remains interspersed with prehistoric fragments of pottery that were up to ten thousand years old in this once Green Sahara. This only proved further evidence that prehistoric human swimmers could have existed - and thrived.

Each chapter of the book looked into aspects of what makes humans so drawn to swimming. Much of our physiology is composed of water, and our bodies respond well to being surrounded by it. But it's also fascinating how some people are more biologically inclined to withstand the harsh nature of the waters. In fact, we know them and are probably related to them in some ways. In the coastal regions of Southeast Asia’s Coral Triangle, lives the Bajau tribe, an "aquatic society" of free-diving fishermen who can swim down to 200 hundred feet and stay there, alternately swimming and walking along the ocean floor, ten minutes at a time, waiting for their catch. They can spend five hours a day submerged underwater. For thousands of years, in what is today Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, the youngest Bajau sea nomads have been initiated into a life of the sea before they even learn to walk. Turns out, the Bajau have recently been shown to have spleens that are 50% larger than typical humans, which explains their exquisite skill. 

Then there are unbelievable humans like Gudlaugur Fridporsson, Lynne Cox, Dara Torres - just amazing, exceptional people all around. How their bodies withstand cold temperatures and fatigue is just unimaginable. But they pushed themselves to the limit, broke records, survived disasters. And somehow, became just one with the water. It's crazy and inspiring. Makes me want to go out and dive into the open waters, freezing temperatures and unpredictable weather conditions be damned. 

Swimming is healing. I've always believed in the therapeutic value of immersing ourselves in water because it makes us feel light, and brings about a feeling of calm and ease. But what I loved about this book is how it dove into the history and biology of our species to discover why we are drawn to it, and why we will probably never stop pushing the limits when it comes to the oceans and what lies beneath.

02 | Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Mike Massimino

Right off the bat let me just say that I've been watching NASA and space videos non-stop for a good chunk of this quarantine. I've gotten to know astronauts through YouTube videos and their Twitter feeds; I've learned about what it means to stay in the ISS for months at a time; I've seen the many ways they've answered the question "How do astronauts eat in space?" I guess deep down I still don't want to give up on my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.

Mike Massimino's one of the more prominent faces you'll come to know when you search for astronaut videos. He's been a spokesperson for NASA, teaches aeronautical engineering at Columbia, and even appeared as himself in The Big Bang Theory, apparently. He's become one of my favorite astronauts to watch and learn from (along with Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency), so when I found out he had a book, I knew I just had to read it.

What I loved about his story was how compelling it was despite being very simple and straightforward. Middle-class family from Long Island, above-average boy in class, a little funnier than everyone else, gets along well in any circle. I identified with that. He wasn't a genius, by any means, but wow, he was determined. He really went out of his way to be on the path towards becoming an astronaut. Took up master's and PhD degrees, moved to many towns, worked with different professors, scientists, and engineers, racked up all the experience necessary to become qualified to apply to be on NASA. But it was not at all easy. He experienced all kinds of rejections and failures that would make anyone quit trying for good. (I mean, even his freakin' eyeballs had a weird shape that disqualified him from the physical exam!) 

His determination is so admirable. It took him more than a few decades, but man, what a journey. And the fact that his space missions were so unique and tied to his past experience (both trips were to repair the Hubble Telescope and not on the ISS) was nicely serendipitous. The culmination of all his past work, which were consequences of his past detours, made him the most suitable candidate to join the Hubble repair missions. It was so inspiring and so rewarding. The physics of actually going to space - and the way he described it - was so captivating too. It's such a feel-good read. 

This book actually reminds me of Colin Jost's autobiography. Their backgrounds are quite similar. I identify so much with people who aren't the most brilliant, most talented ones, but who acknowledged their privilege and didn't waste the opportunities they had in front of them. They just continued working, doing, creating. They kept their heads low, remained close with their families and friends, and never lost sight of why they loved doing what they do. They may not be the smartest guy in the room, but they certainly had the most fun. They kept reminding themselves of how lucky they were to even be in NASA (for Mike) or in 30 Rock (for Colin). In the end, the totality of all their experiences is what made them stand out. 


“It’s a planet,” I said. “It’s not what we thought it was back home. It’s not this safe cocoon, man. We’re out here spinning in all this chaos. The Earth is a planet. The Earth is a spaceship, and we’re all space travelers.”

We're all just land animals trying to find our way through the waters, on a huge satellite traversing space. We work, we seek leisure, we find ways to evolve and endure. We learn to live through the indignities of life and find meaning in whatever it is we discover. It's complicated, this Earth, this space we're occupying. And yet, it turns out, when you're able to swim through the deepest trenches or to fly through the farthest point in space possible, it's all so simple: life is short and fleeting. But it's beautiful for what it is in this moment in time. Soak it in. 

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06 June 2021

Ahead of the release of Netflix's "Trese" adaptation, I decided to pull these out of my bookshelf and re-read these graphic novels on Philippine mythology. Coming to terms with the myths in our culture is imperative. So many of these stories were passed on to us orally by the older generations, but to most, they remain just that: old tales. What some fail to grasp is that they are reflective of our ancestors' beliefs and identities. Our forefathers devised these as a result of their unique and collective experience as a people who traveled, migrated, and traded throughout the Austronesian archipelagos. What seems to be fantastical and unrealistic was, to them, logical and compelling. And while rediscovering our myths does not mean that we must believe in them the very same way our ancestors did, it should give us a better understanding of our history and make us appreciate how our pre-colonial forebears survived — and even thrived — because of these. 

1 | Trese (Issues No. 1 to 5) 

I first got Trese 1-5 in 2012, sometime during my first year of law school. What drew me in was its episodic nature, with each issue containing several individual mysteries tied with a different mythological creature. Alexandra felt like a darker, more diabolical (pun intended) Nancy Drew and I loved it. I don't recall why I never got to buy the succeeding issues (I think the current run has until Issue 7). It was probably law school getting in the way of leisure, as usual, and this series slipped through the cracks I suppose. 

Upon the release of the Netflix trailer, I immediately decided to re-read the issues I had. And since it's been almost nine years since I first read them, it felt like seeing them with fresh eyes. It was still as exciting and intriguing. It felt recognizable because the stories were interwoven impeccably into modern Metro Manila. It all looks real. Granted, some story elements, as a result of being attached to pop culture references may seem dated. (References to Embassy and NU 107.5, for instance.) But I don't see this as negative. It actually properly contextualizes the mythological creatures in a setting that feels real. The underlying premise of Trese is that the creatures of lore actually exist and live amongst us. They adapt to the times and find ways to survive within this realm. But given their powers, they inevitably reveal themselves in ways that harm or hurt humans. Alex Trese helps maintain the balance of good and evil, myth and reality.

It's interesting to imagine that the worst crimes or the most baffling incidents in Manila are caused by these creatures. It sounds exciting, but also, somehow, it makes more sense than coming to terms with how evil humans actually are. In an odd way, it's more comforting. Murdered women in a mall's basement parking lot? Tiyanaks. Of course, what else could it be? Their toxic male companions who can't take no for an answer? 

That's a much scarier thought than monsters. At least their world has Trese to protect them. What do we have?

2 | The Mythology Class and The Children of Bathala

I first read Mythology Class in college, although I first heard of it in high school when our third-year high school English teacher (who was a young, geeky guy) told us about Arnold Arre. I enjoyed Mythology Class in large part because I felt like I can relate to it: it was set in UP, about an elective on Philippine folk history, with a mysterious elderly professor. And a rag-tag class of weirdos. Yep, sounds just like most of my GE classes. 

From the get-go, this graphic novel felt cinematic. You just know an adventure is on the way. It was my first time to see these mythological creatures in a narrative that makes them dynamic, three-dimensional, and electrifying. Where else can you find a book featuring a tikbalang chase on a highway? The story is structured like an epic: a group of misfits find each other and go on a quest to save the world and defeat evil. It makes you want to read more about our folklores, makes you want to do a deep dive into our people's history with animism. Our pre-colonial ancestors deemed their beliefs in the supernatural sacred. There is so much to learn about the myths that our forefathers held dear, and this book is a great starting point to all that because the characters not only encounter creatures like diwatas and kapres, they also meet epic heroes like Sulayman and Lam-Ang. I still wish I could enlist in that class.

Last 2019, Arnold Arre released a sequel, The Children of Bathala. This was actually the last book I bought before quarantine last March 2020. (Literally got this on March 13, Manila was placed on lockdown on March 15.) It took me a while to read it because I actually forgot about it! I left it in one of my bags, which I didn't get to use since we all stopped going to work. The book takes place 20 years after the original, and we see the aftermath of how the events of the first book altered the course of the characters' lives. The first chapter wastes no time in reacquainting the reader with the characters (and there are many of them!) While Nicole, the protagonist, has since started a family and thrived as a PhD in anthropological studies, the rest of the characters are having a hard time dealing with a terrifying circumstance they encountered after their adventures in the other realm. Despite being set in the "real world" for about two-thirds of the book, I appreciate that the narrative took this turn because it grounds the characters. It makes their story more real. When the adventure ends, what happens next? It's a very interesting premise, and one I did not expect to enjoy as much as the original.

The next issues of The Children of Bathala were supposed to come out last year but got delayed due to the pandemic. Looking forward to their release soon after that suspense of an ending. 


The anticipation for Trese certainly reignited a lot of interest in Philippine mythology, which is a welcome development. Any opportunity to dive into our history and culture is always a good thing because it encourages people to read, learn, and actually enjoy these totem poles to our identity.

I remember having read a few years ago that a movie adaptation for Mythology Class was greenlit, with Jerrold Tarog (of Heneral Luna and Goyo) set to direct. I wonder what happened to it? I came across a post on Reddit that seemed to imply Arnold Arre's beef with the Trese adaptation. Perhaps, there's a bit of bitterness on his part that Trese is breaking into the mainstream first? Which is sad and unfortunate if true, because I think there is room for both these works to coexist. In fact, I wish more Filipino stories (not just those involving Philippine mythology) get adapted into TV series and movies. These tales enrich our existence. They place our struggles and our victories front and center, and it allows the audience to recognize our roots in a way that deepens our understanding of what it means to be a Filipino. 

I can't wait to binge-watch Trese this Friday. What a win for Filipino writers, animators, history professors, and just everyone in general. And I hope Mythology Class The Movie takes flight in the near future too. We deserve stories outside and beyond romance, adultery, and... whatever Ang Probinsyano is. 

Myths are important. They are more ancient than science, more thematic than philosophy, and more instructive about our distant past than any other piece of history. They contextualize our past. They carry with them the steadfast values of honesty, goodness, and courage. It is the truth of experience, of life lived, of nature providing. 

These books take the relics among our folk traditions and give them new life. They indicate that the function and value of folk tales in the past are still present, still intelligible. And to learn them and embrace them can make us better human beings, for the tenets underlying in these myths — that good should prevail over evil — should still resonate with us today, now more than ever. 

31 March 2021

Because of the ongoing pandemic (and last year's deferral), I decided to take my chances and apply to other universities for my LLM, despite believing that some of them may be quite a reach. While my heart was set on going to UNH Franklin Pierce because of its consistently top-ranked and renowned intellectual property law program, a part of me also wanted to see if I had a shot at other schools, if only to explore other options and satisfy my need for affirmation. (Insert insecurities caused by law school here.)

Realistically, I wanted to apply to California law schools because I might have a chance of defraying costs, considering the relatives living there. I have an aunt in San Francisco and we have close family friends in Los Angeles. I greatly enjoyed my last visit in 2017 and have always felt like I belonged more to the sunny West Coast.

But deep down, I wasn't sure if I'd even get in these schools. It's no secret that I did not excel that much in law school grades-wise, and I had a hard time coming to terms with that. Typical law school story: I was a consistent honor student from grade school to college, so to find myself in a place where everyone was so much better, the environment wasn't as encouraging, and the subjects were so terrifying certainly took some adjusting. But of course, I did manage, and I did survive. I found great, supportive, life-long friends (in my sorority, my block, and in different batches) who helped me hurdle four-and-a-half years.

And I did eventually stumble into a field I enjoy, enough that I now think I'm deserving of pursuing higher studies in it. Ha! Me, wanting to study more law? Crazy how it all turned out.

I'm happy to share that I got zero rejections in all the schools I applied to. I got accepted to University of Southern California, University of California Davis, and University of California Hastings. Even better, I was offered merit scholarships / Dean's Academic scholarships in all three law schools. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. Me??! How did this happen!

In addition, I got waitlisted at UC Berkeley and UCLA, schools where I was a hundred percent sure that I will be rejected. I kept telling myself, before pressing the "Submit" button on LSAC, "Sayang lang application fee ko dito." For real. I could not believe that my application was even strong enough to merit being placed on the waiting list for these universities. I didn't get rejected! What!

(I also got accepted to Loyola Law School and Santa Clara University last year. Yay, Jesuits!)

My grades in law school were not stellar, but I'd like to believe that I made up for it with my "softs" - work experience, internships, and strong application letter. During law school, I actively pursued internships during the summers, including work for the Regional Trial Court and the Supreme Court. I'm certain our fourth-year internship for the UP Office of Legal Aid (OLA) and externship for the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) helped as well. This, on top of my work experience that focused specifically in IP and media law, and my teaching experience.

Perhaps more significantly, in my personal statement, I made sure to highlight my affinity for arts and literature. It was the reason why I mainly wanted to pursue IP. Outside law school and in practice, I kept writing, had a few articles published in magazines and newspapers, and continued to explore this pursuit. I honestly think this helped make my application stand out because it showed an aspect of me beyond academics. It also reinforced why I wanted to pursue an LLM in IP: I honestly wanted to make a significant impact in the Philippine literary, artistic, media, and entertainment landscape.

In the end, it just feels so good to have your work experience mean something. To receive confirmation that your output is impressive is much-needed, especially during this time. I admit that I could have chosen to no longer apply to these schools, especially since I already paid for my deposit to UNH last year anyway. But I guess I just really wanted that affirmation. Sue me. Law school was difficult, but it shouldn't be the end-all, be-all predictor of how our careers will turn out. We can flourish even more in the field, where our actual skills and expertise truly matter. 

It's worth pointing out Chief Justice Peralta's retirement speech from last week. “I was not a Bar top-notcher or an honor student. That is the truth. Unlike most Chief Justices before me, I was not an academic standout,” he said. Same. It's statistically impossible for everyone to stand out in law school or in the Bar. But our collective body of work outside law school - and even outside the legal practice - should say so much more about who we are as professionals, and ultimately, as people. I don't think I can claim to be as brilliant as some of my (very) impressive schoolmates and peers (all of whom I hold in high regard; they know who they are!) But as far as my own personal goals are concerned, I'm happily and luckily getting at them, slowly but surely. 

I would have loved to go to any of these prestigious universities, and right now nothing is quite final yet (still waiting on scholarship negotiations), although I'm really leaning towards going to UNH Franklin Pierce this fall. The cost of studying in the US is steep, and their generous scholarship offer will realistically allow me to pursue my LLM this year. They're also the only university among my choices which offers a specific LLM in IP. Not to mention, it really was the school I intended on going to in the first place. My boss and mentor went there in 1993 and encouraged me to apply. His recommendation as an alumnus helped land me an additional financial grant from the university. They're also a consistently top-ranked school for IP in the last 30 years. Just yesterday they rose in ranking to be #4 in the US for IP, from last year's #5. (Google "Top IP law schools" and they always come up.) I really could not pass up that chance. 

But I'm keeping the admission letters below to remind myself that I'm so much better than my transcripts. That some professors were wrong to write me off. (Is this my villain origin story? Yes. No. Maybe. Lol.) That I'm doing something right and going in the right direction. And that the sky's the limit, even for regular, non-genius, jowa-over-GWA, slightly kalat girls like me. 

You just have to try.


11 February 2021

My third anniversary in the office is coming up (tomorrow, to be exact), and it just dawned on me that I haven't exactly written about my work life. Not in my old blog, and not even in my personal journal. I've shared snippets of it on Twitter, my LinkedIn profile is pretty transparent, and surely most people in my circles are aware of the kind of work I do. But it never really occurred to me to really write about what I do for a living - and more importantly, why.

I suppose it's mostly because I don't want to come off as pretentious. People who only talk about their work can come off as insufferable. Especially when they claim to be experts at what they do. And I still feel like there is so much I don't know, so what right do I have to be writing about it?

Then again, it's not as if I'm going to be throwing out random legal advice into the ether. Describing the job - and really thinking about why I'm in it - is certainly worth making some room for, even in my small corner in the digital space. After all, it's almost three years now. Milestones are milestones, and they're worth writing about, aren't they?

Being in intellectual property wasn't something I planned on before I entered law school, and it wasn't even something I considered in law school. Before my fifth year of law, I was dead set on applying at the Supreme Court, particularly in the office of then-Chief Justice Sereno, where I interned that previous summer. But we all knew how things turned out, and by the time I finished taking the Bar, they were no longer taking in new applicants, given the uncertainty of the situation. As such, I was forced to consider the more "traditional" route, i.e. firm life. 

I did enjoy IP in law school, in large part due to my professor (and one of our sorority's most esteemed alumni). Something about it made sense to me, mostly due to my undergrad. CAL taught me to value the artistic and creative integrity that comes with each piece of art, innovation, or technology. And considering that I was in deep denial about no longer being a literature major for the entirety of law school, taking this path felt like coming home in many ways.

My law school thesis was actually on fair use. And the topic was serendipitous, in that, all the pieces wouldn't have come together had it not been for my background. One desperate, fateful night in 2016, just a few hours before the deadline for submission of initial thesis proposal topics, I came across several Facebook posts (and links to some blog posts) about an ongoing copyright issue with one writer and one local publishing house. (The writers on both sides included professors from our department.) It was a very interesting, unique, and novel issue on copyright, fair use, criticism, and appropriation of literary works, and one that I had a unique viewpoint from which to see the action.

Two years later, it got published in the Philippine Law Journal. And that very same thesis also landed me my current job. During my interview, one of the partners asked me about my thesis. It caught me a bit off-guard, since none of the firms I previously applied for asked about it. I went into great detail about the topic, arguing passionately for the writer/artist. In another twist of fate, turns out, this law firm represented the publisher! I was so sure I would not get the offer, considering my stand. I walked out of there thinking, "Okay time to search for other IP firms!!!" But I got invited to a second interview, and was eventually given an offer.

And now here we are. To borrow from another great KB (Kate Beckinsale, in Serendipity): a fortunate accident.

Since then, I've handled cases on copyright, trademark, and patent enforcement and litigation. I am also assigned work that deals with the policy aspect of intellectual property. We assist in the drafting of university and institutional IP policies and agreements, as well as give advice on certain government-funded technology projects. I also do contract reviews and provide legal opinions on franchising and licensing agreements, artist/producer/director contracts, and other IP related matters. We handle local and foreign clients, and we provide opinions on a variety of novel issues. You'd be surprised at how much IP intersects with a lot of other fields.

Last November 2019, I was selected by my firm as a delegate for the Licensing Executives Society (LES) Young Members’ Circle Asia-Pacific Conference in Seoul, South Korea, where I learned more about global licensing particularly on beauty, healthcare, telecommunications, big data, artificial intelligence, and entertainment. It was such a privilege to have been selected to attend that short conference. I got to meet other IP practitioners from Manila, and all over the world. But I'm not going to lie, my favorite part of the whole thing was the fellowship with other attendees. We all went to a cozy, underground jazz bar and drank all night. (All while trying to squeeze trite trademark-related jokes in between.) It was a blast. 

Something I'm most proud of during quarantine was being part of the Technical Working Group in the Supreme Court that worked on the amendments to the Rules of Procedure on Intellectual Property Rights Cases. One of our partners was part of the TWG, and he tagged me along. Before the start of the pandemic, we would regularly attend meetings at either the IPO or the SC. And during quarantine, we had bi-weekly Zoom meets to discuss, go through, and align all provisions and proposed amendments. Since my boss was the expert private practitioner in the group (even the justices deferred to him on some matters), we worked double-time on ironing out the kinks, while consulting other laws and even rules from other jurisdictions. And yes, even on weekends. But it was so satisfying because it felt like a significant contribution to the practice. I have to admit, I cried a bit when the Rules were finally published on the newspaper. My name wasn't there (my boss' was though), but deep down, I was like, "I helped!!!" 

And just this week, our boss again tagged me along to join him as part of a TWG in Congress, this time for the amendments of the IP Code itself. I can anticipate a pretty long, gruesome, and thorough process again. But it all sounds exciting. 

Exciting. I guess that's the important keyword right? The last twelve months have been stressful as f*ck. For about two-thirds of 2020, we were only two associates. (Two resigned pre-pandemic.) There were days when I'd literally cry myself to sleep, then cry myself awake. Highly unusual for masandal-tulog, parang-mantika-matulog me. But... I don't know. I still very much enjoy the work. As much as I hate litigation (I really do; but my frustrations about it are for another post altogether), I still like everything else I'm doing.

I like doing what I do. Which isn't saying a lot for most people. A friend once told me that your mission is where your deep happiness meets a deep hunger of the world. I don't know if I'm at a point in my life where I can say that about being a lawyer. Or this practice, even. The truth is, I've never fallen in love with lawyering the way everybody - including myself - expected. I crawled my way out of law school, desperate for affirmation, lost as to purpose. But somehow, surprisingly, I managed to find a good, comfortable place that I actually like. Me, liking the intricacies of the law? Who would've thought? Maybe I'll be elsewhere years from now. Maybe I'll come across a field or a job that is truly representative of all my interests (and that does not involve appearing in court). Maybe not. But right now, I still like this.

And maybe that's a good thing.

26 January 2021

(Say hello to my Kobo Glo HD, a New Year gift to myself)

“You can write it all down, you can put it in your book of facts, but the truth is no one can ever really understand the tangle of experiences and passions that makes you who you are. It's a secret collection, a private language, a pebble in your pocket that you play with when you're anxious, hard as geometry, smooth as soap.”

I don't think I have highlighted and bookmarked a book as much as I did this one, at least in recent memory. So many passages I wish I could press onto my skin, words I truly wanted to physically carry with me every single moment if I could, like a neon sign that says, "Yes, this is how I feel."  Raphael Bob-Waksberg's short story collection is a brilliant, unique, weird, and absolutely enjoyable ride. I read it in two days. 

I loved BoJack Horseman. I loved it so much I don't think I can watch it again any time soon. The way the story unfolded was so painful, realistic, and dark. But it was the perfect encapsulation of human fragility. And human resilience. We all just want to keep trying to be better versions of ourselves. And that includes accepting the worst parts of us too.

This sentiment is carefully crafted into each of the stories. That feeling of hope: hope that the wounds of past loves heal, hope that we can learn from our mistakes, hope that we find meaning again, hope that love sustains. Even when it's heartbreaking, it's uplifting. 

So unlike the show, this is definitely something I want to go back to again and again, to read when I'm sad or happy or when I feel like I need to be reminded of how beautifully devastating and fleeting life is.

"Every other night will have been rehearsal for Friday 18 July - we had to be ready. Everything was pushing us imperceptibly toward this moment - if I hadn't missed that train, if you hadn't moved for the job, just imagine." 

The best stories in the collection were those that leaned toward the more absurd, almost science fiction. Bob-Waksberg has a very careful hand when it comes to ludicrous premises. He's done it successfully in BoJack Horseman, and he's an even better architect of it in fiction. The surreality of these stories is heightened by the fact that they're being told with a straight face: here's an AntiDoor to a different universe which you can step into during your lunch break. Oh, just another day of planning a wedding with twenty-eight sacrificial goats. A band with a slightly modest following is forced to choose between touring Portland or staying in San Francisco, and oh, by the way, they have superpowers. Two people who found each other on a train but never spoke to each other for six decades. It's all so crazy, and yet, it's precisely the right amount of crazy that amplifies just how vulnerable and foolish we are as humans. It won't change. Put someone in an otherworldly dimension, a world so completely different from their own, and you can expect them to be themselves. 

No circumstance is so bizarre that it will force you to become someone you aren't - in fact, you will turn out to be exactly who you are.

"And I think about how loving someone is kind of like being president, in that it doesn't change you, not really. But it brings out more of the you that you already are."

Thirty-one pages in and I was already crying my eyes out. A little spoiler alert: the fourth story, about a missed connection on a train, really hit home. I've never personally experienced that, but I think the many heartbreaks in our family certainly revolve around those feelings. Of missed chances, of having spent a lifetime with a person and still not knowing them. Another story, about jumping into an alternate universe and meeting a different version of your beloved, was quite compelling too. It was an exercise in futility, an abstraction of curiosity and guilt. It's about pushing the limits of what a transgression can be, using regret (or the lack thereof) as the compass. It's fascinating and heartbreaking. You know where it's going, but just like the character, you still have to go through with it.

"But no, you were gone. And I realized most likely I would never see you again. And I thought about how amazing it is that you can know somebody for sixty years and yet still not really know that person at all."

A lot of the other stories in the anthology contain that same eagerness to just live through it. Pain and misery are just around the corner, but who's to say that's the only thing waiting for you? The first story is actually a great metaphor for this entire premise. A man gives a woman a can of cashews. She knows from her past experiences that it can be a practical joke: open it and a spring-loaded snake will jump at her. And yet, and yet. He promises that it will be different. The canister says it will be cashews. Her heart wants to trust the moment but her memories say otherwise. It's a tug-of-war between going for it and walking away. But one thing that is absolutely clear however - she wants to. 

This book is mostly about the wanting. Some characters follow through with it, most of them don't. In the end, they are defined by the choices they made when the universe - bizarre, and absurd as it was - led them to a fork in the road. And while it can be terrifying to look at life this way (Will I forever be haunted by the weight of every decision??), there is also a kind of liberation that comes with it. That there are so many opportunities to be brave, to take a U-turn, to change course. There's always room to move forward.

"But if there’s a silver lining here (and you’re not sure there is one), it’s the assurance that what you had, whatever it was, had weight. It made an impact. You can put to rest the fear that you were a blip in this other person’s life, a footnote. What you did was important. You hurt somebody, and somebody hurt you."

But it's not so bad to look back, fondly embrace the past, and burrow in the weird, dull, aching satisfaction of remembering. 

"And I thought about how, actually, if you wanted to, you could say the same thing about life. That life is terrifying and overwhelming and it can happen at any moment. And when you’re confronted with life you can either be cowardly or you can be brave, but either way you’re going to live.

So you might as well be brave."

(P.S. This is actually already my fifth book for the year! Yay, resolutions, progress, yadda yadda.) 


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