How Noel wants to be remembered

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Friday, February 21, 2014

NOEL ARCHIVAL was a friend. I mourn his loss but I am not going to remember him with a tear in my eye or a frown in my face. He wouldn’t want it that way.

Noel was a colorful man. Sometimes, I wonder whether the word was invented to describe his personality.

He was once alleged to have placed a street kid in the trunk of his car. He vehemently denied the charge but a local radio station continued to viciously attack him. One day, a picket suddenly appeared at the radio station. It was never confirmed whether Noel had a hand in it but when the station’s anchors stopped attacking him, the picket disappeared.


Noel went about espousing the cause of his clients with a passion that some people mistake for reckless abandon. Although he did not take unfair advantage over his opposing counsel, he was not shy to pulling a prank to lighten up a sometimes boring, sometimes tense, atmosphere in the courtroom.

One time, I caught Noel delivering a long and impassioned plea for his client (the accused, as was almost always the case). When he was done, the fiscal--I remember him because he loved to wear white shoes and he talked a lot (well, don’t they all, lawyers)--stood up to make his “counter-manifestation.” But Noel was quicker than he was.

“I am withdrawing my manifestation, Your Honor,” he told the judge. “But I have a right to give my comment,” the fiscal protested. The judge (I’m sure I saw a smile in his face) told the white-shod fiscal that he agreed with Noel, who looked at me and gave me a wink.

I remember that naughty wink.

It was during the championship game between Germany and Brazil in the 2002 Fifa World Cup. Our cable provider was not airing the match so the wife and I went to a bar at the corner of Escario and Juana Osmeña Sts. because it had pay-per-view TV.

Because we came early, we had the best seats in the house. Unfortunately, when the game was about to begin, we were asked to move, reportedly upon orders of the manager because our seats had been reserved by someone else. Naturally, I protested because I was a paying customer and they did not tell us about the reservation earlier when there were still other seats available.

Enter Noel. I hadn’t noticed his arrival until then but the moment he asked what the matter was between the manager and me, I knew that the former was in deep trouble.

“Don’t you know who he is?” he thundered. Then answering his own question, he said, “He is Atty. Malilong and I am Atty. Archival. We’re not just lawyers, we’re very good lawyers.”

By then, all the eyes in the room were on us and I was ready to slide under the table to escape attention but Noel wasn’t finished yet. “Where are the health certificates of your people? Present them now or I’ll have you closed tomorrow.”

The threat worked; the manager looked flustered and, turning to me, said, “it’s okay sir, the reservation has been canceled.” Noel winked at me.

He probably must have winked at some other friend during that time that he was supposedly cross-examining the girl complainant in a frustrated homicide case. I was not there and honestly, I am not sure if there was such a case or that Noel did what he was reported to have done.

Anyway, according to the anecdote, Noel asked the girl to point to the part of her body that his client, the accused, shot. The girl rolled up her skirt and pointed to a scar on her thigh. “Your Honor,” Noel was supposed to have told the Court. “I request that the leg of the witness be marked as our Exhibit 1.”

I will miss you, friend Noel. May you rest in peace.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 21, 2014.


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