When I was in Maldives, I met this traveler who authors the blog site: http://www.backpackingdoc.com. He describes himself as Afghan, American, Muslim and a Doctor, who travels the world to explore humanity. In one of his blog entries (“Who’s Maneeka’s God?” posted on January 18, 2017), he wrote about his Maldives trip and mentioned about a group of people whom he met, including “Franklin the world traveling Philippino lawyer.” That’s me, by the way!
When he referred to me as the traveling Philippino (Filipino) lawyer, I realized that, hey, I am a lawyer! I am a Filipino lawyer when I am in the Philippines working in my law office. But then there are times when I would take “career breaks” and transform myself into a Filipino traveler. And after each travels, I would revert to my alter ego as the practicing Filipino lawyer. And the transformation cycle would go on.
But was there ever a time when I assumed both identities, simultaneously, as both lawyer and traveler, in any of my trips? I think so. There are two instances as far as I could recall: one is when I figured in an accident in Maldives where I demanded my legal right to compensatory damages (which I will definitely write a separate entry for that) and, two is when I went to Nacpan beach in El Nido, Philippines. For this entry, I will talk about my El Nido “traveling Philippino lawyer” experience.
In a DIY inland tour to explore Nacpan Beach, I hopped on a tricycle, a motorcycle with sidecar affixed to it (similar to tuk-tuk’s of Thailand or auto rickshaw’s of India) and off I went to my destination.
Nacpan beach is said to be the most beautiful beach around El Nido town. And I totally agree! It is a 4-km coconut lined strip of white sand beach facing a small cove.
There is a small hill near the beach where you can hike. From the top, you will get a view of Nacpan and Calitang beach – here you will see why the place is also called NACPAN TWIN BEACHES!
The views from the hill were magnificent!
Going back to my story about my “traveling Philippino lawyer” encounter – on my way to the hill, I saw a local couple selling fresh coconut juice in their small coconut stand. They smiled at me when I passed by them. I wasn’t sure if they were just being friendly or they were smiling probably because I was already sweating and trying to catch my breath when I have not even started climbing the hill yet. Anyway!
I was not able to take a picture of them, but thanks to a fellow blogger who met the same people during her trip in Nacpan, I am able to upload their photo here (thanks to Ms. Ferna – you may follow her blogs at http://www.everywherewithferna.com).
The coconut vendor is from Iligan City. He was with his wife when I met them. They lived in Nacpan for years now. According to him, he decided to settle in Nacpan when he married his wife.
After taking photos from the hill, I went down to the coconut stand and bought a drink. And while I was enjoying my drink, the husband-vendor approached me. The following discussion ensued (english translation):
Husband-vendor: Sir, can we consult with you this problem we have with the security guards of that property?”
He then pointed his fingers at a nearby land surrounded by a fence with a sign that says “private property.”
Me: But why are you asking me again? (I asked in a polite way as I was a bit curious).
Husband-vendor: Sir, when you walked by earlier, my wife and I were talking about you. We both felt that you could help us. We think you’re like a lawyer or a movie star or something. (Okay that “movie star” part is not true).
Me: Wow, ang galing nyo po (you’re good), your guess is right, I’m a lawyer.
At this point, the wife-vendor waved at some local fishermen (there were bancas or boats along Calintang beach at that time) and called them to join us.
Wife-vendor: Guys, the handsome gentleman here is a lawyer!!! (Okay, so the “handsome” part was not entirely true as well!)
I was caught by surprise as they all approached me and gathered around me as if they were waiting for me to present some powerpoint presentation on how to solve their problems.
Me: Uhhhm, so what’s the problem about po?
Husband-vendor: The security guards in the private property have been harassing us and forcing us to leave this area. We insisted that this is a public land and they have no right to stop us from doing our small business.
Me: Sir, I would have to agree with you. This area is what we call a foreshore. It’s a property of public domain which means it is owned by the State. In that context, it is not within the discretion of the security guards to let you stay or not. Perhaps you can go to the village head (barangay captain) where you can file your complaint.
Husband-wife: Sir, the problem is, even if we go to the barangay captain, the latter would most likely favor the owners of the private property. They seemed to be in very good terms.
Me: I understand. Well, as long as your coconut stand would not cause any obstruction, and that you keep the area clean, then I do not see any reason why you should not be allowed to stay. In fact, you’re already part of local tourism in this area. Visitors like me needs a place where we could rest and get a drink after a short walk from the hill. As regards the security guards, I see that you have phones with camera, take photos or videos when they harass you. You can use these devices as your weapons to scare those scumbags away!
It was a brief legal consultation. I would have charged them my professional fee under normal circumstances, but instead, I paid them for the coconut juice I drank and even gave them a hefty tip. I was so happy to help them in my very own little way.
For that brief moment, I felt that, indeed, I am a traveling Philippino lawyer!