Philippine Sun Part 3
Pursuing a case in the Philippines has been known for being a long, arduous, and expensive process. Serving Grace the summons alone took almost a year. Because it was sent to Graces local address, she did not receive it. We had to resort to summons by publication for it to be served and the case to move. The civil case defaulted by end of 2008. By early 2009, it was already up for decision.
At this point we were about to file a motion for resolution. The sudden death of our grandmother, however, forced Grace and I to finally meet again. Grace did not actually come home for the wake, but to prevent any court decision adverse to her property. There was another reason. The lawyer she hired did not do his job so she hired another lawyer, a relative who was referred to her by our mother herself. With this gesture, it was made clear that the family support was with her, despite full knowledge of her blunder. I was so tempted to confront Grace at the wake but for our grandmothers sake, I kept my composure.
After the uneasy pleasantries exchanged at the wake, we agreed to sit down to thresh things out one afternoon. On the day we were supposed to meet at Eastwood City, she arrived earlier than our appointment. But there we were: She with her lawyer and me, alone and bewildered. Needless to say, we failed to reach a reasonable agreement. She, as expected, avoided answering incriminating questions. I, on the other hand, was so angry but determined to get to the bottom of things. It was only after our meeting when I realized that she did another unthinkable thing: She arranged to have the padlocked condominium leased with all of Michaels furniture. When Michael and I learned about it, we decided to file a trespassing case against Grace along with other criminal charges.
Just like with the civil case, the criminal case we filed went through a long and difficult process. Let me share bits of what went on in this other dark phase: Grace did not show up for the arraignment at the Fiscals office, and my mother, who refused to testify for me, spoke in defense of Grace. I was also disappointed in the way the fiscal handled our criminal case. Any lawyer I asked told me that the fiscals job is just to see if there is probable cause. To this day, I still have questions.
Is it really legal for Grace to padlock the condo and deprive Michael of the right to occupy it without any valid reason? There was no default, violation or breach of contract on Michaels part and the lease period had not expired yet.
Is it morally and legally right for Grace to take Michaels furnishings and not to return them despite his demands for return of those? And to have the same furnishings rented out to another person without Michaels consent?
My questions still stand. Where are Michaels things now? What about the money he paid in advance for the rent? He was not allowed to occupy the condo he already paid the rent for. Is he not entitled to get his money back?
After this, Michael and Gina divested all their businesses and properties in the Philippines and moved to Europe. When we last spoke in person, Michael, with his usual calm, said The money I lost there, I earned again, he told me. He also told me he had lost faith in this country and would not wish to build a life here.
I still communicate with them through the Internet. Gina is still delightful. Im just glad our friendship remains. I really am glad.
Chapters In My Life