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Justice is blind, and so is love: SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen the #LabGuru

By NICK GARCIA Published Sep 02, 2022 6:11 pm Updated Sep 03, 2022 2:14 pm

Marvic Leonen is as honorable as he can get as a legal mind. Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines; former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law; chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; and advocate of upland rural poor and indigenous peoples, among others.

But beyond those achievements that made him a respectable figure in the legal community, Leonen is also winning the hearts of Twitterverse as a "Lab Guru."

Every once in a while, the 59-year-old shares with over 92,000 followers advice and wisdom about love, which has always transcended the laws of the land. Though the heavens fall sometimes because of love, justice seems so undone and elusive, and that's when the Lab Guru Leonen steps in.

It all started in August 2019, when Leonen asked Bea Alonzo and Julia Barretto if a certain "he" is "really worth it," pertaining to Gerald Anderson who has had a romantic entanglement with them—and made sparks fly all over the internet. His tweet has since amassed over 28,000 likes and 6,900 retweets.

Following that viral moment, Leonen appears to have started tweeting about love. On Aug. 31, 2019, he said do not search for someone perfect, calling it "exaggerated advertising."

"Rather search for the imperfect individual with whom you both will be the sanctuary where you evolve into the best versions of yourselves," Leonen said. "If not, being alone should be a viable option. Reading books will help."

He has even made it a point to connect it to the law.

In a tweet in September 2019, he likened relationships to Supreme Court oral arguments, saying there are a lot of "interpellation questions" one may not be able to answer due to unpreparedness—or deep dark secrets.

He then started interacting with followers using the hashtag #LabGuru, writing open letters as responses to queries about love.

Addressing a certain "Ms. C," who appears to be having communication troubles with her partner, Leonen told her that "contrary to popular belief, humans cannot evolve mental telepathy even when in a relationship."

"To avoid unnecessary angst, tell your partner what you want. That’s why humanity invented words," he said.

In another tweet, he told "X" the qualifications for being a Lab Guru, which includes having "slept alone at least 2,000 consecutive nights" and having "made at least 20 relationship mistakes."

There must also be "at least 10 TOTGA," or the one that got away (someone you're supposed to end up with but didn't happen), and "with GCTA," or the good conduct time allowance which made headlines at the time.

With #LabGuru already carving a niche on the platform, Leonen has fully embraced the moniker he himself coined. From writing response letters, the hashtag has since included inspirational quotes, unsolicited advice, short poems, and six word stories.

Like the legal maxim dura lex sed lex (the law may be harsh but it is the law), Leonen nonchalantly delivers harsh truths about love that one must accept whether they like it or not.

"Do not mistake 'philia' (friendship) for 'eros' (intimacy)," he said. "Sometimes, you will be better as friends."

In addressing "K," he said that while people do change, sometimes it isn't one's responsibility to be there to wait for them to change.

As a "pro tip," Leonen also advised followers to create a hashtag for their pictures with their partners, so that it will be easier to search and delete later after breaking up.

Some of Leonen's words, despite their brevity, can also be so sober and speak volumes.

In a five-line poem in Filipino, Leonen encapsulated the feelings of a wistful persona using shadow as imagery.

But that's not without being cheeky sometimes, of course.

Through a romantic flash fiction, Leonen also illustrated the legal doctrine aberratio ictus, in which the perpetrator is still held responsible if their intention to harm an individual inadvertently causes another person to be hurt instead.

A purported text message he received read, "You are my light, my constant inspiration. Can't wait to see you soon"—only to have a follow-up one doesn't wish to read, much less receive: "Sorry po, missent."

Leonen also recalls overheard kilig conversations for #LabGuru, like in an al fresco restaurant in Baguio last April.

(Curiously, Baguio is dubbed as the Breakup Capital of the Philippines. One ought to wonder what happened to B and G after five months.)

There also appears to be self-reflexive tweets about being single, which Leonen has since publicly acknowledged.

"International Girlfriend Day is discriminatory. Just saying," he said.

Leonen also asked the public to "please stop" the "couples early pic" challenge, as people like him supposedly get hurt.

Leonen, though he's in a discipline that's perceived to be so stiff and strict, is not afraid to poke fun at himself.

"Kahit 'self-love' ayaw po ako sagutin," he said in a January tweet. "Will think about it daw."

He even chimed in on the oft-discussed topic of ghosting, which even led to a lawmaker filing a curious bill penalizing it as "emotional offense."

"To those I ghosted," he said, "sorry na po."

Jokes aside, Leonen has an important reminder to Filipinos about the politics of love: that it's an attempt to understand another person in their fullest context without losing oneself.

"Often, it also liberates the lover," he said. "That's radical."

In any case, Leonen's #LabGuru entry in April is more resounding than ever—with the "ber" months already here and with membership in the SMP (Samahan ng mga Malalamig ang Pasko), like the prices of goods, having an all-time high: Life is short. Lapitan mo na.