Tickle on the Bar, too

Slivers of remaining light at past 6:0’clock last Monday strained to appeal to the incoming darkness to tarry back for a moment, as the aged and balding mountains of Buguias, in Benguet, hunkered down for rest, signal for a mixed adult and youth group atop a hill to retreat to Abatan Public Market and head back to Baguio.

Group members, from Baguio City and other provinces in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) decided to visit Buguias and asked Ah Kong to join as resource.

Like Buguias’ mountains, Ah felt aged, too, needing rest, after lecturing on health communication social marketing to the group.

Heading towards Abatan, Cornelia Pennarubia, lady from Baguio City in her early thirties, traces roots in the lowlands and, with a somewhat melancholy mind, suddenly blurted, “Ahoy Ah, I learned you have a lawyer son?”

Taken aback by such inquisitiveness, Ah nodded.

Cornelia pressed, “Are they people? I mean, are lawyers like the rest of us, humorous and the like?”

The labyrinth world of lawyers and the law intrigue many. By nature of their profession, many think lawyers are too serious.

“Are lawyers humorous? Of course, they are. By the very fact that lawyers are real people with real emotions and problems, yet laugh, like us. As for the Law, well, it’s like a scolding wife – very bad when it follows us,” Ah dumbly answered Cornelia.

“Humorous stories abound about lawyers, like ordinary citizens.  Ever considered what citizens would be, destitute of the ennobling faculty of laughter?” Ah continued.

“Laughter is to the face of man, what lubrication is to his joints; it oils, lubricates and makes the human countenance divine. Without laughter, faces of lawyers would be rigged hyena-like,” Ah denoted.

“You have lawyer-friends?” Cornelia pressed her questioning.

“Op kors. Let me see now. Ahh! Got lawyer friends in the persons of Manong Mauricio Domogan, Baguio’s mayor, councilors Peter Fianza, Faustino Olowan, human rights lawyer Joe Molintas and Herald Express columnist Erik Donn Ignacio, to mention a few,” Ah replied.

Questing further like a cop, Cornelia hissed, “So stories abound about lawyers. Tell us, hmm?”  This Cornelia, really, making life hard for Ah. But the group joined her, wanted to hear lawyer tales, as they plodded to Abatan.

First, Ah related about a friend’s story of a lawyer who, having   long courted a lady but couldn’t advance his case, accused the lady of “being insensible to the power of love.”

“That you think I am that, does not follow logic,” the lady replied coyly, adding, “because I am not to be won by the power of an attorney.”

Second, Ah dwelt on the story of a young lawyer, who just passed the bar, and defended a person arraigned upon a charge of pilfering a pig. The case wasn’t calculated to call forth a display of eloquence. But it being his first case, he resolved to show the court an earnest of his future efforts, and convince the court he was bound to shine.

Accordingly, the young lawyer delivered his brilliant preamble:

“May it please the Honorable Court, that while many Filipinos rise to fight for their rights, while many Filipinos rise to unshackle themselves from poverty, while there are those who rise to unsheathe guns wanting to overthrow our Philippine government, while there are those who rise to fight for animal rights, I, with due diffidence, rise to defend the cause of this humble hog thief.”

Third, Ah related another, told to him by another friend, of a male witness, who was asked by a judge, if he had anything to say before the conclusion of a court hearing.

The witness said, “Your honor, believe me or not. But I’ve stated a word that is not false for I have been wedded to truth from my infancy.”

“Yes Sir,” replied the judge drily, “but the question is, how long have you been a widower of truth?”

The group giggled; their way towards Abatan seemed lighter. Yet they pressed for more stories. Ah sighed and dug deep in his memory.

He remembered a story told to him, about two lawyer friends. One time, they engaged in a case in court on opposite sides.  That being the case, it happened their feelings got the best of them, very much enlisted in their client’s favor. During one court hearing, one of the lawyers, in the course of his remarks, uttered an assertion that caused outright anger to the other lawyer.

The riled lawyer thumped his chest and declared, “Panyero (colleague) do you say it as a lawyer, or as a man? If you say it as a lawyer, it is very well. But if you say it as a man, you very well lie.”

Ah, then went on to relate about a slander case. Before the trial concluded, the defense lawyer let flew a genius of appeal.

“Your Honor, slander is like a boa constrictor of gigantic size and immeasurable proportion that wraps coil of its unwieldy body about its unfortunate victim and, needless of shrieks of agony that come from the inner depths of its victim’s soul and reverberating as the mighty thunder that rolls the heaven, it finally breaks its victim’s unlucky neck upon the iron wheel of public opinion, forcing him to desperation, then to madness and finally crushing him in the jaws of moral death. Your Honor, I pray, give my client a break.”

Then Ah sidestepped his story telling and informed the group that many male lawyers in CAR are fond of, and love to wear cowboy boots when occasion, time and circumstance call for it.

“Pooh-pooh! We don’t believe you,” the group members shot back.

“Well, try asking Joe Molintas, Faustino Olowan, Peter Fianza and Erik Ignacio. You may want to disturb the hectic schedule of Manong Mauricio Domogan about this. They’ll tell you: many lawyers in CAR have cowboy boots stashed somewhere in their homes.”

It makes Ah smile to think that Cordilleran males’ (Ah included) fancy cowboy boots, and the fancy not lost on lawyers themselves.

Like the   winds are laughter around a tree, as to the crag the moss patch roots, so clings our constant soul to thee! Our own, our beautiful – our cowboy boots.

Nearing Abatan, the group clamored for more.

So Ah retold of a way lawyers cross-question witnesses in such manner as to confuse them and make them contradict themselves.

Once in a while, it happens, too, that there are witnesses who are more than equals in ready wit, like this witness cross-examined by a defense lawyer.

In this way, the dialogue spun:

Defense: “You hesitate to answer me, why? You look at me like I’m a scoundrel.”

Witness: “I do, to be sure.” (giggles in court room.) Judge ordered silence.

Defense: “Upon your oath, you think me a scoundrel?”

Witness: “Upon my oath, I don’t think you an honest man.” (More giggling.)

Defense: “You swear to that on your oath?”

Witness: “To be sure, I do; and what else could I think of?”

Defense: “Now, why do you think so?”

Witness: “Why, Sir, because you are doing your best to make me perjure myself.”

At Abatan Junction, as they waited for their ride, Ah lastly retold of a lawyer who established an office in a building, an edifice that looked like a place of worship. He then hung a sign, announcing to all and sundry of a law office.

But novelty of the building attracted attention of passersby, who stopped and viewed the structure with critical eye.

The lawyer, morosely disgusted at their curiosity, lifted up the window, put his head out and addressed them:

“Why in dang tarnation do you stand there, like a pack of blockheads, staring at my office.  Do you take it for a church?”

“Heck,” answered one of the passersby, “I was thinking so, till I saw the devil poke his head out of the window.”

“Did all your lawyer stories happen?” the group asked.

Ah merely grinned, answered them not, strode away, as the lengthening darkness swallowed him.

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