UNTIL now, he still favors Ruy Lopez, the Spanish Opening in chess popularized by and named after a 16th century Spanish clergyman and chess enthusiast.
“I may be progressive and aggressive as a lawyer, but as a chess player, I’m conservative,” declares Bayan Muna Party List Representative Neri Javier Colmenares, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). The confessed chess addict recalls how his mother used to discourage him from playing the board game, despite his having been junior chess champion of Negros at 14 and placing third in the 1976 Palarong Pambansa as representative of Western Visayas.
At that point, Colmenares recounts, all he ever wanted to do was play chess.
But it was the mid-70s, martial law held sway and like most youngsters of the day, Colmenares chafed under its authoritarian grip. He became active in both the Student Catholic Action (SCA) and the Student Christian Movement, the only two student organizations allowed to exist under the military regime of then President Marcos. His shift from the chessboard to the streets, he later realized, was a gambit that was perilous as it was precious.
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