Starting all over

Chay F. Hofileña

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Not easy but always doable

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Let me share with you a little known fact about Rappler. Every Monday night, we hold a yoga class in the newsroom to give some semblance of balance in our deadline-driven lives. For at least an hour, those who join the class leave behind worries about the nation and its politics, and instead focus on the breath and on the pose. It’s time to be in the moment.

Used to sitting for long hours, hunched over our laptops, writing, rewriting, revising, or rephrasing, restructuring, editing, we’ve lost flexibility and are in dire need of stretches in the back, hamstrings, arms, legs, neck, shoulders, and what-have-you. We struggle to keep our balance, reach the floor with our palms flat, steadily hold our poses, and often forget to inhale-exhale at the right time. But we keep at it every week.

Monday, October 28, was a bit tough because we worked on our side stretches and twists, gradually building up to a bridge pose and ending with a shoulder stand before our savasana or corpse pose. Almost a decade ago, I was a regular yoga practitioner already able to do the bridge with relatively decent elevation. My shoulder stand, which I could hold for more than 10 breaths then, was straight and steady. But yesterday was not what it was a decade ago.

I successfully managed the bridge, lifting and curving my back into a cave-like shape, while raising my hips and head off the floor, supported only by hands and feet pressing against the flat surface. After two or 3 repetitions, I could no longer lift my head off the floor, my upper body and head feeling like a dead weight and my arms no longer having the strength to push and lift again. 

At the end of the practice, I told Elyssa, the yoga instructor, it’s a humbling experience knowing that one has to start all over again to get to where s/he was years back. It’s part of the journey, she replied. And I nodded in agreement, getting reminded of other instances of new beginnings.

Retirement. Only last Friday night, October 25, I witnessed, too, how a chapter in a public servant’s life ended and marked a new beginning for him. He turned 70 by midnight of October 26, the mandatory retirement age for justices of the Supreme Court. Antonio T. Carpio bid goodbye to the High Court he served for 18 long years and he was vigorously applauded after he blew his simple birthday cake. If you missed this earlier piece by former ambassador Albert del Rosario on him, you can read it here: PH owes ‘incalculable debt of gratitude’ to retiring Justice Carpio.

Many of the close to a thousand who were present will agree that the evening was classy and elegant, no exaltations and seemingly endless exuberant perorations by colleagues in the High Court. Instead, there was only one: the highly respected former ombudsman and former justice Conchita Carpio Morales. 

Instead of praising her cousin to high heavens, she simply narrated how in Sydney, many years ago, during a concert of Olivia Newton John, who was belting out a rock song, “somebody in our back was tapping his feet.” 

They looked at the back “with piercing eyes and lo and behold, it was Justice Antonio Carpio and he was even imperceptibly rocking in his seat. So you see he is also a rock in the music world as he is a rock in the West Philippine Sea. Although most people acclaim that he is a rock star in the judicial firmament,” Carpio Morales said.

“Thank you for your simmering and incandescent legacy. May you continue to do good with all the means you could, in all the ways you could for the country. Cheers!” Less than two minutes and the toast was done.

Acclaimed as “the best chief justice we never had,” Carpio had a simple response. He thanked everyone who was part of his career as SC justice and acknowledged the Philippine Madrigal Singers led by choir master Mark Anthony Carpio, the Manila Philharmonic* Orchestra led by conductor Rodel Colmenar and Gerphil Flores. Rare to hear him go personal, but he thanked his wife Ruth who he described as “the wind beneath my sails,” his son Ronnie, and daughter Audrey. 

Speaking about two hours before midnight, he ended his short speech of thanks with: “It is my honor and pleasure to have shared with you my last moments on the judiciary.” For sure, civil society and the media will embrace him with open arms. As a prolific writer (he was a campus journalist in his student days), we look forward to reading his columns – hopefully in Rappler. Undoubtedly, it will be an exciting new beginning for Justice Carpio.

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*Justice Carpio mistakenly mentioned the Manila Symphony Orchestra when it was supposed to be the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra.

Newsbreak is where you’ll find Rappler’s investigative, in-depth, and data- and research-based reports. Be updated on the latest stories by likingNewsbreak on Facebook and following@newsbreakph on Twitter.


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Chay F. Hofileña

Chay Hofileña is editor of Rappler's investigative and in-depth section, Newsbreak. Among Rappler’s senior founders and editors, she is also in charge of training. She obtained her graduate degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism in New York.