A Pope Appeals

By Jose Ma. Montelibano
First Posted 02:32am (Mla time) 12/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines—Pope Benedict XVI gave his Christmas message -- which asked mankind in general and Catholics in particular to give more attention to God and the poor. In other words, the Pope appealed for compliance to the very foundation of the Christian faith -- to love God and to love neighbor.

The Pope's Christmas message was for everyone, but it seemed to have a special aim for Catholics in the Philippines -- long the historical pride of the Church as the only Christian country in Asia. What the Pope said seems to be a swipe at the failure of the Catholic Church in the Philippines to make Catholic teachings the anchor of religious belief and the criteria of Catholic behavior. After all, what Pope or Church hierarchy could miss the status of the Philippines as one of the most corrupt and impoverished?

Appealing for more attention to God and the poor cannot be a more pointed appeal to the Catholic Church in the Philippines and its converts. After all, the evil of corruption that dominates Philippine society reflects the absence of God, as evil is understood to be the absence of good. The massiveness of poverty among our people reflects as well the absence of love for neighbor. In Asia's original and primary Christian country, the absence of good and the absence of love for one's neighbor have become its greatest achievements. Truly, the Pope's appeal cannot be more meaningful and pointed than it is for Christianity in the Philippines.

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Carolling farmers ask SC to lift TRO in Luisita

By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10:39pm (Mla time) 12/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- Militant farmers and farm workers’ groups on Thursday picketed the Supreme Court, singing Christmas carols as they campaigned for lifting of a temporary restraining order blocking the distribution of lands they had been tilling at the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

About 20 members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and farm workers from Hacienda Luisita joined the picket, which began at around 11:30 a.m.

Rene Galang, concurrent president of UMA and the United Luisita Workers’ Union, gave Chief Justice Reynato Puno a Christmas card “so that he will not forget our Christmas wish.”

“It has been 50 years since the farm workers started fighting for their rights to the land,” Galang said.

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Filipino Happiness

By Randy David
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The other night, while walking around the acacia-lined oval of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, campus, I found myself trailing behind a group of young people lost in cheerful conversation. They moved unhurriedly and seemed completely oblivious of everything around them. Every stride they made was marked by laughter. I had seen this before in many places abroad where overseas Filipino workers congregate on their free days. It became clear to me suddenly what happiness means in our culture. Our happiness springs from good conversation, story-telling, and joking with relatives and friends.

Happiness, says the Greek philosopher Aristotle, occurs when our human capacities function well. For him, the most distinctive of these capacities is reason, and so happiness must be the contemplation of the results of reason. But he wavered between equating happiness with contemplation and seeing it as the outcome of other human functions. Had he been a Filipino, Aristotle would have concluded that the good life is one lived in conversation.

The eminent American guru of Positive Psychology, Dr. Martin E. Seligman, was the guest of Stephen Sackur on BBC’s “Hardtalk” this week. He talked of three forms of happiness: Positive Emotions, Total Engagement, and Meaning and Purpose. They are interrelated, he says, and indeed he talks of them as if they were stages. Of these, the easiest to achieve is the first -- cheerfulness and laughter. The most difficult is anchoring life’s meaning to a purpose that you believe to be larger than you. This concept of happiness is fascinating, but I think it is culture-bound. It is still resonant of the Western accent on the primacy of reason and the intellect.

Survey after survey has shown that Filipinos rank very high in the happiness index. But we are not really sure what happiness consists of for the average Filipino. The most recent survey by the poll group Social Weather Stations reports that 64 percent or more than two out of three Filipinos expect Christmas to be happy this year. This is, says SWS, comparable to the 62 percent of the previous two years, but much lower than the recorded 82 percent in 1982. I am certain that the Filipino’s capacity for happiness even in the most adverse circumstances would still be significantly higher than the scores for the bastions of Aristotelian contemplation, like Britain, France, or Germany.

What might this suggest about the Filipino’s notion of the good life? To me, it indicates a preference for sheer sociability -- being with others for its own sake -- over any form of intellectual or cognitive achievement. We often say that our notion of happiness is shallow (“mababaw ang kaligayahan natin”). So be it. I think theorists like Seligman or self-help gurus like Rick Warren will have to show how having a “higher” purpose in life deepens one’s happiness, or why this should be the norm for everyone.

When the Filipino says he feels happiest when he is at home with family and friends, I think he is expressing a wisdom our ancestors have always known. We are indeed a culture of conviviality. All our basic values confirm this: “pakikisama,” “hiya,” “utang na loob,” etc. They all refer to standards prescribing smooth relations with others. They stand in contrast to Western values like virtue, wisdom, personal authenticity, freedom, etc.

Sociologists might explain this difference as an aspect of the contrast between pre-modernity and modernity. They would suggest that the direction of all societal evolution is toward the emergence of the individual from the control of his family, clan, community or nation. To a certain extent this is probably true. But how do we explain the fact that many overseas Filipino workers and immigrants who have managed to wrench themselves away from the womb of their society nevertheless continue to be emotionally engaged in the affairs of their primordial communities. Like turtles, they seem to have brought their homes on their backs.

The answer, perhaps, lies in the courage, faith, assurance and, yes, cheerfulness, that we Filipinos effortlessly draw from being in the company of other people we know. I am sure we will find this as well in other cultures in varying degrees, but not in the exceptional way in which Filipinos seek out each other’s company.

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A year-end reflection

By Mon Casiple

First of all, my best wishes to all Filipino patriots out there who do not want to lose hope with our nation and country. From where I sit, there is absolutely no basis for pessimism–as the saying goes, “a few good men…”

I think we stand now at a crossroad–not only with regards the fate of the nation’s current leaders in the light of the coming 2010 elections but also as a nation changing an entire generation of both Marcos and post-Marcos leaders. Relentlessly, the march of time creates the political vacuum that few in the young generations have the acumen, the skills, and the patience to fill up.

Click here to read full ttext.


Manifesto on Rural Life

Aloisius J. Muench
Bishop of Fargo

One need but take a cursory glance through American history to see that this nation has always had some kind of agrarian problem. Agrarianism has had a long and troublesome history. When our nation began, Daniel Shays led the farmer into rebellion. The farmer of revolutionary days was burdened with heavy debts; contracts were ruthlessly enforced against him; prices were low; the savings of hard labor expended in clearing land of timber, stumps, and rocks were being lost. Shays organized the first pressure group among the farmers. His rebellion was crushed by armed force. From the hard times of 1785-86 down to the hard times of our day is a far cry. But in the intervening 150 years the farmer often found himself face to face with serious problems. To cope with them, all sorts of panaceas were rushed upon the scene. Some were radical and revolutionary in character; others were legislative and monetary; still others were economic and political.

The fact is, of course, that the farmer's problem is so complicated by many factors that it cannot be solved by a simple formula. It is not the purpose of this MANIFESTO to offer such a formula. The MANIFESTO is not in the nature of a blueprint with detailed specifications to show how the new agrarianism is to be built and how the farmer's problems are to be solved. There is no such complete solution available.

The purpose of the MANIFESTO is to state certain fundamental principles and policies without which it would be folly to essay a solution. These principles and policies are chiefly derived from Catholic social philosophy as expressed in the social encyclicals of Leo XIII and Pius XI.

In propounding social philosophy, the Catholic Church does not leave out of view the spiritual nature of man and his ultimate spiritual destiny. She would not be true to her mission if she did so. Indeed, the salvation of souls must ever be her first concern. But so intimately are material things interwoven with man's daily conduct, its motives and its deeds, that the Church cannot be unconcerned about what goes on in the material order of things. In point of fact, a pure secularism which would divorce man's earthly life from spiritual concerns is not in accord with the realities of man's daily living. To ignore either the spiritual or the material in their manifold interrelations can only result in disaster.

The Church has ever shown a special solicitude for those whose living is derived from the land. "In the Twenty Centuries of Her Existence," writes Archbishop Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, "the Catholic Church has ever shown, emphasized even, her predilection for those who till the soil, on whose work and efforts depends so important a part of the well-being of all."[1] One need not search far or deeply for the reason of this solicitude for the tiller of the land. The occupation of agriculture offers the most favorable conditions, generally speaking, for the development of private property, the fostering of home life, the culture of initiative, prudence, thrift, courage and other priceless virtues, and for the promotion of simple but wholesome and rugged living.

Agrarianism has entered upon a new phase in the twentieth century, especially beginning with the period after the World War. Foreign markets have been greatly reduced, nations have embarked upon vast, even though costly, programs of economic self-sufficiency, domestic markets have shrunk owing to lessened purchasing power and a lower birth rate. Population shifts, because of the steady migration of farm youth from the populous areas of Rural America into the dying city centers of Urban America, have given origin to new and complex problems, and a dozen other factors, largely of an economic and social character, have given rise to great disparities between urban and rural living. The unbalance between the two has been aggravated by the Great Depression from both an economic and a social point of view. Archbishop Cicognani has summed up the whole problem in a few trenchant words: "In the present world-wide economic disorder, brought about by the abuses of capitalism, by technological changes, and by dislocated relationship between rural and urban life, dangerous inequalities and disproportions have developed to the detriment and, in some instances, to the degradation of the farm population. Those who live on the land form the larger portion of the human family and their labor is the most important and indispensable for the livelihood of all. The most elementary justice entitles them to standards of living no less abundant and complete than those enjoyed by the urban population. Briefly, justice should prevail between the farm and the city."[2]

It would be a mistake to think that the problems of agrarianism are entirely rural. What goes on back on the farm has its repercussions in the city, and what happens in the city has its reactions on the farm. Wheels of industry are quickly stopped if the farmer cannot buy industry's products because he does not obtain a just share of the nation's income. The immigration of farm youth to the cities often entails as consequences the reduction of wages, the lengthening of bread lines, and the swelling of city slums. A thousand different interrelations exist between city and farm. The sooner it is recognized that agriculture and industry form an economic whole with varied implications of a moral, social, and political character, the better it will be for the material well-being of the nation. To keep this thought to the fore has been among the prime objectives of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference from the day it was founded by the Most Rev. Edwin V. O'Hara, now Bishop of Kansas City. To give this thought more definite expression is one of the chief aims of this MANIFESTO. Hence, the economic, social, cultural, moral, and religious have all received consideration in this statement. It represents the thinking of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference over the years that have elapsed since it was founded. For a long time the great need of a concise statement on agricultural and rural problems has been felt by Catholic Agrarian leaders. The MANIFESTO is the joint product of thought of eminent leaders in the field of Catholic rural thought.

Lest the document be encumbered with factual, statistical, and illustrative material, and cluttered up with references of a varied sort, Annotations have been added in Part II. The reference to these is by paragraph number.

In a special Introduction to the Annotations we have given expression to our sentiments of appreciation and gratitude to those who, by advice, suggestion, and workmanship, were helpful in producing the document.

The MANIFESTO makes a venture on new ground, not that all fields have been covered and that nothing more remains to be said on rural life questions, but rather that for the first time, so far as we know, principles and policies have been stated in a succinct and orderly fashion with respect to Catholic Rural Life. We hope that the Rural Life Movement will march forward with new strength and courage under the stimulus that has been given it by this MANIFESTO.

Click here to read the complete Manifesto.


Filipino: A Damaged Culture?

Click here to read Manolo Quezon's blog entry entitled "Fallowship".


Church revives body to look into land reform cases

By Beverly T. Natividad
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Last updated 01:45am (Mla time) 12/20/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- WITH its successful intervention in the cause of the Sumilao farmers, the Church is now setting its sights on other land reform cases.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has reconvened its National Rural Congress (NRC) after 40 years to look closely into the government's Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, particularly in the light of the Sumilao case and the expiration of the CARP in June 2008.

"This is the time to discuss closely what can be done," Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, chair of NRC II's executive committee, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Ledesma said NRC II was being convened to look into why rural poverty was still existing, and what the Church could do about it.

The last NRC was convened in 1967.

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Lack of "activism" of Catholic Church leaders?

By Francisco Alcuaz

We are seriously concerned with the lack of activism of Catholic Church leaders in relation to the moral bankruptcy -- corruption, cheating and lying -- of government officials. Priests do not remind the faithful that it is their duty to fight corruption and to demand good governance. The priests do not read in churches or distribute the pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, demanding truth and good governance.

The priests have not been brave enough to use the pulpit and other means at their disposal to instill in church members, especially those in the provinces, the need to be rational and to properly plan the family.

It appears that many priests are interested more in “lacing” their churches with gold, which does not benefit the faithful. This is a throwback to the past. They should take note that today, the luxurious European churches of the past serve more as tourist sites than as houses of prayer and worship.

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Concern for a just Agrarian System

The Church does not have the technical competence to propose concrete solutions regarding complex agrarian reform questions. But its mandate is to teach and promote those moral values that help define the purpose of economic enterprise like haciendas. Thus the Church judges the economy by what it does for and to people. Something is wrong in a system where large numbers of workers are caught in a vicious cycle of heavy debt and who are denied the possibility of owning land.

This concern for a just agrarian system is not a new emphasis for the CBCP. Back in 1968 it organized a National Rural Congress which "saw the roots of much of our social evils in the present pattern of land ownership in our country" which condemns the farmer-tenants to a miserable condition of economic dependence and strips him of his freedom and dignity.

Click here to read full text


A Fire of Testing Has Come to the Catholics

In my last posting, I talked about El Shaddai’s brother Mike Velarde and his “seeming” contradiction to the official teaching of the Catholic church regarding statues and images of saints. In his previous message (12/08/2007) he admonished the Catholics of the nation to stop from kneeling and praying before the statues and images of saints because, according to his teaching, it is a cause of curse to our nation.

In his last message (12/15/2007) he continued to talk about statues and images of saints, but this time he was bold and he strongly urged the members of their group to surrender any form of idol they may have kept at their homes and destroy them all by burning them.

His last message was in continuation of his previous message which borders on the theme on generational curses of a nation and the ways of breaking free from them. Brother Mike Velarde believes that the primary reason why our nation is in a seemingly endless cycle of sufferings and hardships is because the nation is under many curses, and one of the major cause of these curses is idolatry that involves the statues and images of saints.

To the Catholics, the statue and image of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the most sacred among the saints. They may give up devotion to the rest of the saints but never to Mary. She is so dear to them because she is the mother of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and hence has become their mother in Christianity. But in his last message, brother Mike Velarde had “found the strength” to dare challenge the rest of the Catholics of the nation and even the priests and bishops by implying that devotion to Mary is unnecessary for salvation, and therefore it needs to be abandoned. He said with a forceful voice of delivery, urging the nation once and for all, to do away with “rebulto at rosaryo” (statue and rosary).

He also mentioned again the name of their group’s spiritual director, Bishop Teodoro Bacani. He said that the bishop would not dare to talk about this matter to the group himself for fear of being rejected -- implying that he (Velarde) was made to do the “heavy lifting” for the bishop concerning this matter. Does this mean that a Catholic bishop is in approval of what brother Mike Velarde is teaching and urging Catholics to do? To say the least, this is shocking and confusing to the mainstream Catholics who are not members of brother Mike Velarde’s El Shaddai group.

Brother Mike Velarde’s word to the bishops: “As the priests and bishops go, so goes the nation.” Implying that maybe the priests and bishops are not doing their supposed job correctly concerning this matter.

In this serious controversy that is slowly starting to burn among the “Catholics” in the Philippines, the lay people deserve an official statement from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) regarding this matter so that they may be guided accordingly.

Brother Mike Velarde also told that some non-Catholic Christian charismatic groups were urging him to join their group since he no longer believes in the official teaching and tradition of the Catholic church concerning statues and images, but he refused to break away from being affiliated with the Catholic church because, according to him, “Light is needed most in places where darkness dwells, not in places where light already exists.”

If brother Mike Velarde is really true to his conviction on this issue, then at any time soon, his prayer mountain should be blazing with fire from burning of the idols that their members may have owned. Or better yet, fire from burning statues and images should be seen at the wide open grounds of AMVEL business park and fully covered by media for the whole world to see -- or any other action to this effect, otherwise, his talk is cheap.

A fire of testing has come to the Catholic church – to the Philippines for now, to the rest of the world later; for these days is a season of testing.


“Catholic Idolatry”: A Curse to the Nation?

It is 1:00am of 12/10/2007, and I just finished watching the late night replay at channel 13 of El Shaddai’s (a locally founded Catholic group whose teaching authority is not officially recognized by the Catholic church) latest weekly religious activity at AMVEL business park.

In the Bible teaching portion of their activity, brother Mike Velarde (the group’s servant-leader and founder) talked about the various causes and reasons why a nation may be undergoing hardships and difficulties. He narrated verses from the Bible that speak about things that bring curses to a nation. Among the things he mentioned was idolatry, and bluntly but politely he emphasized (using his favorite line of caution, “Bato bato sa langit, ang tatamaan huwag magaglit.”) the Catholic tradition concerning statues and images of saints. He admonished the “nation” to do away with this tradition of kneeling and praying before the statues and images of the saints because it is one reason our nation is experiencing a seemingly endless cycle of sufferings and hardships.

December 8th in the Catholic tradition is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and this is one of the important celebration of the Catholic religion. But brother Mike Velarde didn’t specifically mentioned the “wrong way of veneration” that most Catholics render to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I observed in the video that many of the audience looked so perplexed with brother Mike Velarde’s admonition. Bishop Teodoro Bacani is the spiritual director of the group, but is this teaching of the El Shaddai servant-leader do not seriously confuse the lay Catholics who are members of this group? Because it seems that brother Mike Velarde is contradicting the official teaching of the Catholic church regarding this matter. Is this another manifestation of conflict among the Catholic church?

Below is a text from the Catholic catechesis concerning the First Commandment:

The First commandment: "I am the Lord your God, you shall not have other gods before me" (Basic Catholic Catechism)

The commandment most directly prohibits the worship of false gods, and, to follow up, prohibits images. The Jews were very prone to such idolatry before the great exile. Afterwards they seem to have been largely healed.

The prohibition of images does not apply now, since the danger of idolatry has gone. Our images of Our Lord, His Mother, and the Saints, are just helps to devotion. We do not adore them. We only venerate them, but even the veneration goes not to the image but to the holy one for which the image stands.

We need to avoid also superstition, which is offering worship in an improper manner, probably based on false revelations, e. g, prayers that if said for a set number of days will have an infallible result. Vain observance would be magic or satanism. Sadly, there is explicit worship of satan today. The Ouija board is dangerous, and we should avoid it, since part of its results come from automatic writing, but often enough satan intervenes.

We must also avoid sacrilege, which is scornful treatment of a person, place or thing dedicated to God. To receive Holy Communion in the state of sin is sacrilege. We avoid also simony, which takes its name from Simon Magus, who tried to buy with money the gift of working miracles . St. Peter rebuked him strongly (Acts 8:9-24). To give a stipend for a Mass etc. is not simony. It is not buying the Mass, it is an offering for the support of the priest, or a means of sharing specially in the Mass.

In a loose sense, not a strict sense, some people today "worship" the false gods of secularism, which says this world is the only one to be considered, or hedonism, which makes pleasure the goal of life, or Communism, which denies the existence of God, seeks happiness in a so-called classless society in Russia the very opposite has been true, great privilege and luxury for the ruling class.

On the positive side, we are to worship God, which means most essentially, adoration and obedience. Adoration means recognizing who He is, and who I am in comparison. This is due in justice, but also, more importantly, in love: we recognize that God is not only infinitely good to us, but also in Himself. As such we should respond by pleasing Him by making ourselves open to receive His gifts — for that pleases Him. that is what love for God means. In no other way to we really give Him anything. The central virtue that gave all its value to the sacrifice of Jesus was His obedience to the will of the Father. Without it, His death would have been a tragedy, not a redemption.

Sacrifice for us (some pagan peoples had different ideas of sacrifice) has an external sign, which is there to express and perhaps even promote the essential, which is the interior dispositions. God complained through Isaiah (Is 29:13: "This people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." The ancient Israelites at that time seemed to think their participation in their liturgy meant merely making responses and singing — these things were good, but the obedience was lacking. We must join our obedience — carried out in the recent past, or to come in the near future — to the offering of Jesus, when, through the human priest, He puts Himself on the altar under the appearance of separation of body and blood, to express His continued attitude of obedience to the Father. So catechists say our role in the Mass is ACTS:

Thanksgiving, and

We should do these things, but we must not let them cause us to forget the real center is obedience (Cf. Romans 519 and LG #3).

Outside the time of the sacrifice of the Mass, we should of course pray. Regular times are called for to insure we do not forget prayer altogether.

To God we give adoration, it the sense just described; but to Our Lady and the Saints we give only veneration, honor, something less than adoration. The sacrifice of Jesus is infinite, and so in a way we should need to do nothing. Yet St. Paul insists that the whole Christian regime means we are saved and made holy if and to the extent that we are not only members of Christ, but like Him. That includes being like Him in the work of reparation for sin (cf. Rom 8:17-18; Col 1. 24).


Bishop to Arroyo: Heed the signs

Tue, 12/04/2007 - 22:12 — CBCP News

MANILA, 4 December 2007— A Catholic bishop says President Gloria Arroyo should take a cue from the never-ending political saga and restore credibility to her administration.

Novaliches Bishop-Emeritus Teodoro Bacani said the standoff in Makati City recently only showed that the country is sinking to a deepening political crisis.

He said Mrs Arroyo is failing to read the signs that many people may have grown tired of her rule.

“I propose that the President and her administration take this most recent event as an opportunity to look into themselves,” said Bacani.

He said authorities might have foiled the supposed plan to overthrow the Arroyo administration, but warned that people's outcry is far from over until real issues are properly addressed.

“The victors of last Thursday’s affair may indeed be eating and drinking today, or going shopping or visiting other countries, not knowing what is in store for them,” he said. “Rather than gloat over their victory, those in power should examine their consciences."

The bishop also said he is hoping the government would be like that in Singapore where “center of truth” is present among their officials.

In Singapore, he also said, not one of the ministers has been charged or at least suspected of wrongdoing.

“This center of truth is so called because it is characterized by transparency, honesty and integrity,” he said.

Bishop Bacani, however, stressed that said facet of a better government is "precisely what we lack."

In the Philippines, he said, Mrs. Arroyo and her husband and other ranking government leaders have been accused, weighed and found wanting by the people, if not by the courts as yet.

“We, in fact, have a government we do not trust, because there is a lack of transparency, honesty, and adherence to the rule of law by those who are supposed to implement them,” he said.

The prelate cited the arrest and alleged harassments of journalists by the authorities at the Manila Peninsula siege last week as a case of breaking the law by the law enforcers themselves.

Contrary to what has been reported, Bishop Bacani also clarified that he was not at the Manila Peninsula during the standoff.

The bishop said he was in Batam, Indonesia attending the 3rd Asian Convention on the Divine Mercy when the foiled coup broke out.

Earlier reports revealed that Bacani also went to the hotel but reportedly left before the government assault.

Canon Law Prelate says involvement in social issues is part of mission

By Melo Acuña
Monday, 12/03/2007 - 19:17 — CBCP News

MANILA, 3 December 2007— Catholic priests and bishops may become unpopular should they talk about social issues but “that is part of our prophetic role, our responsibility to tell the people that what is morally wrong has to be rectified.”

CBCP Episcopal Commission on Canon Law Chairman and Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Y. Medroso said the bishops and priests may get into the picture if they see “there is something wrong with governance” and hastened to add “his conscience would tell him to get out and be heard, to speak out if there’s something wrong with the authorities.”

Bishop Medroso said limiting priests and bishops to spiritual matters is wrong. “It is a very, very wrong concept of the mission of priests, bishops and religious for we do not exist in this world as spirits, we are living in this world with body and soul and precisely because of that the involvement is so close and simply we cannot separate one from the other,” the prelate from Tagbilaran said.

Asked about various and at times conflicting opinions from bishops and priests, Bishop Medroso said his brother prelates and priests have different views and convictions on political issues.

“We have to consider the reality that even priests and bishops have different perceptions and appreciation of events,” the 69 year-old prelate concluded.

But read also, "Political Confusion at The Catholic Conference".


Be Careful of Your Pronouncements

You may be the President of this nation and withstood many grave threats in your presidency, but only it is because of the grace of God, so that the people may learn to truly abhor and turn away from unrighteousness that dishonesty brings. Despite and in spite of the attempts to topple your reign of power, yet the Lord is being true to His promise to you that He will be with you – even though you break your part of the covenant (you may recall the exact words of the covenant if you have kept a record of all the messages starting from the day the previous coup attempt was made by this same group of people).

Therefore to those who are planning to bring down this lady president's authority by any human schemes, do it to the best of your human abilities and you will once more prove the Lord's faithfulness to His word. It is not because of her righteousness or unrighteousness that the Lord will protect her against any attempt to end her reign before she completes the time allocated by the Lord to her, but it is because of the Lord's promise to protect her authority. This is how faithful the Lord is when He makes a promise.

And to you madam President, take no pride that you withstood so far all attempts to topple your presidency; for if the Lord lifts His hands of protection from you because of pride that power brings, you will surely kiss the ground like the king of Babylon in the old times.

Regarding this fresh incident of another coup attempt, consider what you must do. You can be near-sighted and be legalistic and assert your power as the head of the state and uphold the rule of law and prosecute every people you think are involved. Or you can rely upon the Lord and review all the messages you received (starting from the very first message) and know when is the time of completion of your reign of power that the Lord allocated for you.

In not more than two sets of seven days from now, the Lord will speak to you. Be not afraid, but rather be obedient. Prepare yourself and consider the signs of the times and check it against the messages so that you will know when is the right time to do what must be done. Count the number of your days starting from the day the reign of power was taken from the former president and given to you. How long a time has the Lord given you to hold power?

To those of us who are observant of the signs, did you not see this new coup attempt coming? Of course we all see the sign, but very few of us understood it. Didn't you wonder why a typhoon with a male nickname unusually returned and hit back our nation? Take note of its international code name, "Hagibis", and local code name "Lando". And also, the palace was shaken by the latest earthquake that hit Metro Manila and the neighboring areas. But of course, skeptics will always dismiss this as pure and plain lunacy.

We Could Not Wait!

Why are you so hot headed! Did you know that your time of freedom is very soon to take place? You talk of ethics, but is what you are doing ethical? Oh you of little faith! You do not know what the Lord has in store for you. Follow the dictates of your flesh, and you will forfeit the blessings God has prepared for you. This is the time of your great testing that is why you are perplexed, but everything is not too late for you -- unless you remain clouded by your own ways. But wait for the right time the Lord has set, and we will not need any effort to gain our freedom. Consider the former president. Yes, most of us feel too the pains our nation is suffering. But let us not lose hope. Most of our people just don't know, but things are slowly falling in place. Most of us just can't see it because we are too focused on our sufferings rather than in the workings of the Lord. Let us open our eyes.

To the government hear: this is another test for you. If you will be overcome by your flesh (by having the same attitude as that portrayed in the picture during the first coup attempt some years ago), and you will fail this test. You know what is the right thing to do. Grant them the opportunity to serve the people, for this is the burden God has given them.

Look among the nations, are we the only nation experiencing some of disturbance? Of course not. The world is in the season of great testing. Pakistan, France, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Malaysia, Burma, Sudan, Bangladesh, Russia, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, United States, Unted Kingdom, Iran... and the rest, are experiencing their own individual unique testing.

Frequent occurrences of earthquakes in various parts of the earth symbolizes shaking.


The Indolent Filipino?

By Marites Sison-Paez
October 11, 1999

The other week, I took a picture of an ambulant vendor. His cart got stuck on the muddy road and it took him a while to navigate through. This morning as I was sorting my digital photos, I came across that picture again, and as I was looking at it, I remembered an old article relevant to the story portrayed in the picture. But is this article still relevant today? Well, read on and decide for yourself.

If you ask the rich in the Philippines why majority of Filipinos are poor they would automatically say it's because they are lazy.

A businessman would say that he has to be extra careful about driving in the rural areas because chances are, he might run over a farmer who's dead drunk by the side of the road.

A banker's wife would complain incessantly about how her maid is not thankful she has a job cleaning a mansion in Forbes Park or how her driver wants to rest on Sunday and refuses to drive her to the beauty parlor.

A manufacturer would point to the men in the squatters area who are playing pool or having a "drinking session."

Some would say it's cultural. The Filipino would rather attend a fiesta or a wedding than earn extra by working overtime.

If you ask the poor why they are poor, most of them have no idea why they can't seem to get out of the rut.

The farmer cannot understand why despite backbreaking work-- from sunrise to sundown under the heat of the sun in the bare fields -- he still doesn't have enough to feed his family and he still owes his landlord a month's harvest.

The private sector employee wakes up at the crack of dawn,too, to catch that early bus to Makati where she answers phones and sells underwear and make up on the side. She comes home late at night after an agonizing two-hour ride home and at the end of the day, the money she earns combined with that of her husband's pay is hardly enough to make both ends meet.

Poverty is the biggest problem confronting the Philippines today and in my view, none of it has to do with the so-called indolence of the Filipino. In fact, recent studies by economic researchers have shown that the poor in the Philippines work harder than most. They often have three or more jobs to supplement their meager income.

Last week I was stuck in traffic in Makati at 3 p.m. and my eyes fell on a man with a pushcart who was on the side of the road trying to uproot something from an empty lot beside a construction site. Upon closer look I saw that he was trying his best to pull and saw off iron bars that were protruding from the ground. He was going to sell the bars as scraps. He saw opportunity in those iron bars and no pollution, no scorching heat, no hardship was going to stop him from getting them. Lazy?

The rain was pouring heavily one Sunday afternoon and outside our building an old man was shivering as he piled cardboard boxes that he had flattened and stored in his pushcart. He had no absolutely no protection and he was wet all over. The plastic he could have used as makeshift raincoat was used to cover the precious cardboard boxes he was going to sell. Lazy?

The streets of Manila are a paradox: There are visible signs of grinding poverty but there's also a lot of productivity spurred by the so-called underground economy. In the absence of opportunities both from government and big businesses, and in the absence of safety nets, the country's poor are trying their best to help themselves. But clearly, it is not enough because the jobs they've carved out for themselves are hardly enough for them to keep body and soul together.

Do you ever wonder how much the man selling Storck or Halls candies along the main thoroughfares of Manila is earning daily at 3 pieces for P2? Factor in the deadly elements he has to face daily in the form of pollution, unruly drivers not to mention the unbearable heat or the rains and you ask yourself how on earth he survives and how he manages to wake up every morning with the same mind-numbing existence. Lazy?

I've seen a man going door-to-door selling an unknown detergent brand and my impulse is to buy just to give him hope because God knows what he can do if his family is hungry and he does not bring home anything.

Also think about the millions of Filipinos we export every year as domestic helpers, drivers and construction workers to the world. A Filipino soldier who was assigned in the Middle East during the Gulf War told me couldn't believe that there were Filipinos working there for $200 a month or the equivalent of P8,000. The Filipinos couldn't earn that same amount of money in their own homeland so they had to leave behind their family, hock whatever assets they had in order to land those menial jobs. That same amount, the soldier said, was used by his European counterparts to rent a swimming pool for a day.

The bottom line is that Filipinos will grab whatever opportunity is out there to make a buck or two. Provide them the right incentive, the right environment and they will work harder than most. It has become normal in America, for instance, for a Filipino to have two to three jobs.

On the other hand, the farmer by the road is drunk because in between planting and harvesting season he has nothing to do; he has no other means of livelihood. He has neither the money nor the skills to begin a new livelihood; there are no temporary jobs either because there are no businesses in his area that can hire him. His ignorance because of lack of quality education also hinders him from looking beyond his immediate surroundings.

Most of the rich likewise blame the rural folk for coming to Manila saying "life is much better in the provinces. You just stick a plant and it will grow." What the rich do not understand is the rural poor come to Manila or the urban cities like Cebu and Davao because that's where the jobs are -- no matter how menial or low-paying they may be.

My sister's household help, for example, left her hometown in Surigao because with her salary of P2,000 a month her children could at least have the chance to eat at least twice a day and maybe even go to school. But part of her salary also goes to cigarettes and we had asked her why she was wasting her money on them. She said she had started smoking when she was eight because it was the way people in her barrio could ward off mosquitoes that feasted on them daily. Now she couldn't kick the habit. In short, there was no government that could provide them with basic services or with opportunities, nor even warn them that cigarettes don't kill mosquitoes but humans.

It is also no longer true that whatever you plant grows in the provinces. Life has changed, the environment has changed drastically through the years.

Thousands of families went hungry during the drought in Mindanao last year. The fishermen are getting less and less catch each year due to a number of factors including pollution and over fishing by big trawlers.

It isn't, of course, not just the absence of jobs or productivity that makes poverty persist in the Philippines.

The rich do not point to the inequitable distribution of assets as a cause of poverty. Why should they when they benefit from the centuries-old landholding patterns that puts the entire country to shame when compared to its Asian neighbors? The rich do not point to economic structures that protect their interests. But then again why should they when it enables them to acquire apartments in Manhattan and Paris? The rich do not point to the lack of taxes that could otherwise go to social services and infrastructures that will uplift the plight of the poor. Why should they when they are the first to evade taxes and point to graft and corruption as the reason why. The rich do not point to the political economy that drives politicians to pursue projects that make them popular but have no redeeming value. Why should they when they are the ones who also control political power?

The rich in the Philippines have a lot of soul-searching to do in these hard times. They are as much a part of the problem as a part of the solution. It is not enough that they set up so-called philanthropic foundations -- some even resort to this as a tax shield. Sure it is a start, but like the rest of us they need to bite the bullet, they must be willing to sacrifice their privileges for the good of all.

As one enlightened capitalist warned members of her class, "if you continue with this old practice one day you will just wake up and your children will have no country anymore."

A Reader's Reaction
October 25, 1999

Jose Sison is the leader of the Communist party of the Philippines. I wonder if he has any relation with the author, Marites Sison-Paez.

It is difficult to mobilize the masses. They don't want to change even in their misery. But, writings, like the "Indolent Filipino?", hits a soft spot upon the gullible peasants. A technique effectively used by my own relatives, who were once brilliant students in the mid 70s, and now, perhaps all dead, wasted their lives hiding in the verdant hills and mountains in and around the countryside.

Commentaries about the "Indolent Filipino?" attracted passionate and subjective appreciation for the beauty, the story as presented by the author. The working class, we the people, blame the polis, and the system of governance, along with the employers for the hardships being felt by the masses during hard times.

Political actors create causal stories to describe harms and difficulties, to attribute them to actions of other individuals and organizations, and thereby to invoke government power to stop the harm. Like other forms of symbolic representation, causal stories can be emotionally compelling; they are stories of innocence and guilt, victims and oppressors, suffering and evil. But, sometimes, scriptwriters like Ms. Sison-Paez conveniently forgets the fact that "life is what we make it", by Henry Noble McCracken.

We have two primary frameworks for interpreting the world: the natural and social. In the natural world we understand occurrences to be undirected, unoriented, unanimated, unguided, purely physical. There may be natural determinants -- the clash of a cold front and a warm front causes a storm -- but there is no willful intention behind the occurrences. The natural world is the realm of fate and accident, and we believe we have an adequate understanding of causation when we describe the sequence of events by which one thing leads to another.

In the social world we understand events to be the result of will, usually human but perhaps animal. The social world is the realm of control and intent. We usually think we have adequate understanding of causation when we can identify the purposes or motives of a person or group and link those purposes to their actions.

In everyday discourse, we use the term causality to refer to both the blind effect of nature and the intended effect of man, the first seen as an infinitely extended chain of caused and causing effects and the second something that somehow begins with a mental decision. Yet in politics, the distinction between actions that have purpose, will, or motivation, and those that do not are crucial. So, too, is the distinction between effects that are intended and those that are not, since we know all too well that our purposeful actions may have unintended consequences.

These two distinctions -- between action and consequences and between purpose and lack of purpose -- can be used to create a framework for describing the causal stories used in politics. In our society, stories of inadvertent cause are common social problems, like the "Indolent Filipino?", and captivated the emotions of some of our people.

Problems such as poverty, disease and malnutrition, are said to result when people do not understand the harmful consequences of their willful actions. The poor do not realize how important it is to get an education or save money; the elderly do not understand how important it is to eat balance diet even if they are not hungry; the sick do not understand that overeating leads to diabetes and heart disease. Inadvertence here is ignorance. The consequences are predictable by experts but unappreciated by those taking the actions. These stories are liberal versions of blaming the victim: if the person with the problem only changed his or her behavior, the problem would not exist. The conservative version of blaming the victim is intentional causation: the victim actually chooses to have the problem.

Thus, as a famous statesman said about the homeless, "there are those who sleep on grates by choice". (Herbert Block, Through the Looking Glass,1984). Often, a fight about the cause of a problem is a debate about whether certain people are acting out of their own will or carrying out the will of others.

To return to the problem of malnutrition, the liberal causal story rests on unintended consequences of purposeful action: malnourished people do not know how to eat a proper diet. Thus, Ms. Sison-Paez, blamed the smoking addiction of the young girl, to society's lack of warning and failure to educate the children, that smoking is addictive and harmful to their health. The conservative story rests on intended consequences of purposeful action: malnourished people knowingly choose to spend their food money on beer and junk food, drugs, and tobacco products.

People with power and resources to stop a problem benefit from the social organization that keeps them in power, as Ms. Sison-Paez mentioned, and so maintain it through control over selection of elites and socialization of both elites and nonelites. People who are victimized by a problem do not seek political change because they do not see the problem as changeable, do not believe they could bring about change, and need the material resources for survival provided by the status quo. And that is where we are today.

If for a moment we focus on economic problems, let's borrow the idea of Milton Friedman in his essay, Capitalism and Freedom: "Fundamentally, there are only two ways of coordinating activities of millions. One is central direction involving the use of coercion -- the technique of the army and of the modern totalitarian state. The other is voluntary co-operation of individuals -- the technique of the market place."


Executive Privilege, Decorum, & Congressional Circus

By The WindChime

Aren't we grateful we still have a senate, or do we regret we still have a bicameral legislature?

These recent days, it is "unusually" busy for both the lower house and the senate because aside from conducting budget hearings, they are also conducting a probe into the "alleged" irregularities surrounding the multibillion-peso national communication infrastructure project called the National Broadband Network (NBN) "entered into" between the Philippine government and the Chinese government. Aside from the NBN probe, the senate is also reopening the investigation on the illegal wire tapping operation involving the ISAFP (Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines), which some people likened to the Watergate scandal in the United States. These two investigations now add to the congress' regular burden of law making.

While this "heavy" workload on the shoulders of congress is "good" training for the neophyte lawmakers (which come "appropriately" at the relatively early days in their term of office), this workload could also be a potential stress generator to at least some of the senior legislators. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why some of them are maybe "unaware" that their level of decorum lowered significantly as they lost appropriate tact in their verbal exchange with the respondents and witnesses during long stressful hours of congressional hearings (as being televised nationwide). Some observers considered those behaviors amusing, but in congressional inquiries where most of the participants are professionals, it should be deemed improper.

If congressional inquiries are conducted for the purpose of aiding legislation, then it should not be used for political purposes or for ventilating personal grudges between legislators and respondents. Otherwise respondents and witnesses will continue to be indifferent and ignore or evade congressional hearing invitations or summons. If there is such a thing as "intellectual arrogance", legislators should have none of that, or at least suppress it.

We hope our legislators will be tactful enough in dealing with the respondents and witnesses. Congressional inquiries are not court of law hearings. Perhaps it will help if once in a while legislators will put themselves in the shoes of the respondents; won't they desire for a little dignity at least? If in a democracy "One is presumed innocent until proven guilty", then let it be so -- especially in congressional inquiries.

To the respondents and to the witnesses, please be respectful of the authority of our legislators. How else can the truth be ferret out completely if you keep invoking executive privileges when some specific questions are asked? This would only increase the people's suspicion and fuels their desire to take matters into their own hands if a deadlock develops out of this non-disclosure of information.

Do we want our legislators to be crafting inadequate laws based on wrong or insufficient information? Do we want them to file charges against wrong individuals based on inaccurate or insufficient congressional inquiry findings? If we believe that the truth shall set people free, then why hide the truth? If the truth does not involve national security, then why not disclose it? If it is self-incriminating, humbly admit it and be free of self-condemnation brought about by guilt. If you truly care for the nation, then disclosing those information that need to be disclosed is the only right thing you can do -- not just disclosing only those information that you want (or other people want you) to disclose.

We all make mistakes, but only very few of us are willing to repent and face the correction of justice. If justice is God's idea, then we can be sure He instituted it for our good in the long run. Unwillingness to submit to justice is a manifestation of spiritual immaturity. Do we think we can escape God's correction when we sin? If not, then what do you think is the best and most logical thing to do? The harder we refuse to submit to God's correction, the harder the chastening will become. The longer we resist, the longer we suffer.

Can we afford that the nation be forced (because of frustration) to try to resort once again to the wrong and ugly extra-constitutional means of settling major national issues? Have we not learned our lesson yet? Perhaps some people in the top levels of government are still in denial concerning how silently tense the nation already is because of these major issues besetting the nation. But before it is too late, the nation begs you to please do the right thing.

The Filipino people are so sick and so tired of corruption especially when it is happening in the government. We cannot afford anymore to have our public officials of high ranks be charged of plunder (like what happened to our former president). But perhaps everything is not yet too late. Who knows that (instead of withholding the truth by "abusing" the executive privilege) a "sacrificial disclosure" by some of the key witnesses and respondents in the investigations might spare the nation from another possible major political instability (even if the disclosure has unpleasant consequences for a few persons -- but which are more preferable than that of a major national political crisis like Edsa II or Edsa III)?

The entire nation wants to find out the truth, and we hope the investigations would not be wasted and degenerate into some kind of a "congressional circus" as what happened to many of the major congressional investigations done in the past (including that of the impeachment proceeding of the former president).

Responsible leadership does not consist only of the ability to lead the people when things are going well, but it also includes the humility to be accountable to the people when mistakes are made. No amount of economic progress will ever quench a nation's thirst for truth. In fact, there can be no real enjoyment of progress while on the other hand there is truth that is being suppressed.

Now that a major controversy has risen out of the NBN project, some people considered it as a project that is in search of reasons why it is pursued. But on second thought, it could also be the other way around. Maybe some people are just seeking for reasons so that the project may not be continued. In my personal opinion, this project could have been a good project only if it was done honestly (had it not because of the very serious allegation of overpricing for kickbacks, allegation of "attempted" briberies, and allegation of illegal procedures).

This NBN project involves very high level of communication technology, and no wonder why most of the legislators have a hard time conversing on the deep technical aspects of it accurately. This situation could greatly prejudice the outcome of the investigation. How can the legislators accurately justify their opinion against the project when most of them lack the technical competence to evaluate it comprehensively? It is easy for the observing people of the nation to be influenced by the opinion of the legislators especially that this project is alleged to be anomalous.


The Greatest Want of Our Nation

By Eleazar M. Famorcan

But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Timothy 6:9-11)

My editor and I once interviewed a man whose noteworthy features include his being short in height but long in wisdom.

You probably know who I'm talking about -- the popular former health secretary and now senator Juan Flavier, who once attempted to kiss a pretty lady on the cheek on the halls of the old Senate and found that all he could reach was her bellybutton.

Our visit with him in his government office was made years ago, and the details as well as the highlights of our hour-long conversation -- except those that found their way on the pages of our publication -- have blurred from memory.

During the quick interview I didn't have the chance to see much of his inner person. I didn't even have the occasion to catch his lower limbs dangle from his office chair as had been my amusing privilege with many other diminutive individuals whose feet, when they sit, don't reach the floor.

But I remember something I learned from this fellow who can straightforwardly claim he is a wee bit taller than 4 feet 11 inches. And who also is -- I must say -- short on earthly possessions (which some people find odd for one so well-positioned) but long on virtue. [Recently he was reported to be among the poorest of the present batch of solons.]

There is this interesting parable he wrote for a Manila broadsheet ["Barrio Breeze", Philippine Star]. The parable -- which could be about you and me--told of a person known throughout his locality and beyond for his honesty. He was extremely honest that people trusted him more than any other person, and even more than the bank and the church. People monikered him "the saint".

In time, as tribute to his integrity, this incorruptible man was handpicked by the governor to guard a roadside checkpoint which is famous -- rather, infamous -- for rampant bribery. The only way to clean up corruption was to put an honest person at the helm.

On his first day on the job, someone offered him a bribe of several thousand pesos to allow some cargo to pass without examination. A secret bank account would be established in his assumed name. He refused.

The next day and beyond, people visited his home in an attempt to corrupt him. He stood his ground. He rejected under-the-table money, and returned small token gifts because he didn't want to be influenced. Soon a new moniker was given to him: "walang lagay, walang lakad, walang lusot".

But the bribers would not give up. As months passed by, the bribe bait multiplied. Grease money doubled, tripled, quadrupled. The honest man, true to himself, consistently refused any and all offers.

Then one day, he appeared before the governor with a handwritten letter. He handed it to him saying, "I'm tendering my irrevocable resignation."

"How can you do that?" the surprised governor said. "You are doing well. Integrity and honesty have come back to our place. You are my most honest man. No one could buy you for a price. Why?"

With bowed head, the man replied, "They are about to reach my price!"

Many years ago, a man who made his life a protest against what he thought of as a corrupt society, went about Athens with a lantern in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man -- but never found one.

I'm no Greek philosopher like Diogenes, and I prefer to live in a house rather than in a large tub, but I like to think there are still honest persons hereabouts.

In my book, there are two kinds of honest people.

One, those who know when to flee from temptation, to get away before they get bought -- or caught in its clutches. They are those honest enough to accept that in certain situations, they may not be honest.

Then, there are those who resist temptation. According to a lady with extraordinary insights [Ellen G. White, Education], they are men and women

who will not be bought or sold,...
who in their inmost souls are true and honest,...
who do not fear to call sin by its right name,...
whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole,...
who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.

The want of such men and women, she said, is "the greatest want of the world."

So be it.

Eleazar M. Famorcan is the associate editor of Health & Home magazine, "the national journal for better living", a monthly publication in the Philippines.


"Guilty Beyond Reasonable Doubt"

By The WindChime

"Guilty beyond reasonable doubt." This is the verdict of the Sandigan Bayan on the plunder case charge against our nation's former president. It is the first time in the history of corruption in the Philippines that a highest ranking public official is convicted by a court of law of a crime that many of us may also be found guilty of if we too were in such public office.

While it is unprecedented and historic, it must not be considered alone as a victory for the nation (as what some people proudly conveyed), but also it must be considered a loss for the nation because we have sentenced no less than a former president who could have been a better public servant if only some of us had been persistent and brave enough to confront him while he was yet in the verge of erring while he was still in office. Can we afford to have another case like this in the future? If not, then what should we citizens ought to be doing now before it would be too late?

Conviction is perhaps a good thing, but only to the ears of those who accuse. Pardon is perhaps a bad thing, but only to the ears of those who accuse. Aren't we glad that death penalty was abolished in our nation, or do you regret it has been removed? Should we place life and death under the power of the judge's tongue? Justice is one thing, vengeance is another thing. But too much adversarial politics is a worse thing.

Often we hear lawyers say, "It is better to wrongly free a guilty person than to wrongly convict an innocent man." In some similar sense, how very hard it is to defend and justify a person if he is truly guilty beyond any shadow of doubt. What could an advocate possibly do to justify his client? What could he give in exchange for his client's freedom? What possible motive will the advocate has just in order to even think of doing a noble service which is beyond his normal obligation or call of duty?

Genuine love of God that produces genuine love for fellowmen. This is the only motive that produces genuine zeal for the good of others. And this is exactly what Christ did to mankind before the court of heaven against the Devil's accusation. With mankind's sin of rebellion (the ultimate state of disobedience which the Devil caused -- just like his sin), mankind brought upon himself the inherent penalty of sin, which is spiritual death (a state of total ignorance and separation from God). Christ not only became mankind's advocate but also mankind's savior by taking upon Himself the penalty of sin, which is death, so that mankind will live. And because of Christ's deed, He turned mankind's fall into a great testimony of Love and in effect condemning the Devil of his sin that he so proudly refuse to repent of, because what the Devil is rebelling against God is God's absolute law of Love. After going through sin and all of its consequences and then experiencing the depth of God's love, mercy, & justice, what sinner would not walk the narrow Way of Life instead of straying in the wide way of death? Listen to this verse: Do you despise the riches of God's goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

Nothing will ever separate us from God's love. Listen to Paul in his letter to the Romans:

For I [Paul] am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

And the following verse explains the root of corruption:

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Timothy 6:5-11)

We may be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, but because of Christ's deed we are worthy of forgiveness beyond any reason, so that we may live our lives anew for the Lord -- and this is real victory.

Euphemism in the face of guilt is like taking poison hoping for a cure.


Human Brainpower Development

The Weekly Nation, July 18, 1966
By H.L. Neri

Ever since the publication in 1798 of An Essay On the Principle Of Population As It Affects The Future Improvement Of Society by Thomas Robert Malthus, English clergyman and economist, the problem of overpopulation has nagged the minds of thinking men all over the world. For how long can the limited resources of the earth support a humanity that does not seem to require too much prodding to heed the divine command, Increase and multiply? Certainly, it is thought, the time will come when the world's expanding population will outrun the food supply, "leading mankind to outbreed itself into starvation and poverty."

But have we ever paused to consider that population explosion also means human brainpower explosion? Every time a child is born into this world, it brings with it within its delicate cranium a mechanism the intricacy of which human science has never been able to unravel and the potentiality of which human science has never been able to measure.

What are the modern marvels of transportation and communication, or of automation and cybernetics, compared to the marvel of the human brain? They are all interior in their worth an potential, for they are but products and creatures of the human brain, the same human brain that is contained in the head of every child that is born into this world.

True Potential

Yet, it is said that, at most, only ten percent of the true potential of the human brain is utilized in even the most developed and educated human beings. And thee most developed and educated human beings comprise only an infinitesimal fraction of the human race - the handful of men who bear the burden of mankind's progress in science and technology; the handful of men who direct or misdirect the fate and destiny of this planet.

What about the brainpower of billions? It just withers away as unceremoniously as it comes. It comes as a liability, stays as a burden, and dies away as though it had never come to be at all. This, I think, is the essence of the problem of population explosion - the criminal and senseless wastage of the brainpower of billions.

The continued slavery of man to man which has persisted in varying forms throughout the ages has been basically due to inequality of brainpower development. Emerson said that "greatness thrives on the imbecility of the overwhelming majority." The only justification that can possibly be found for the subordination of one man to another lies in their unequal degree of human development, which means development not in muscle power but in brainpower.

Proper Development

It was the utilization of human brainpower that made man the king and master of the animal kingdom and enabled humanity to graduate from one stage of history and civilization to another. It is the utilization of human brainpower that has ushered humanity into this high stage of scientific and technological attainment and will enable it to continue its progress toward self-fulfillment as decreed by its Creator.

Take away this human brainpower, and the world will revert to the untamed wilderness it was before the advent of man. Develop and utilize it in the heads of the billions of men that inhabit this earth, and man will rise to his proper height in the universe, to the summit which his Creator had reserved for him from the beginning of time.

The hope of the world lies in the proper development of human brainpower; the prospect of disaster lies in the possible failure of this brainpower in the handful of men who happen to hold and direct the destiny of all humanity.

The overwhelming majority of mankind live in darkness, the darkness of ignorance and its resultant degradation and economic want. The productivity of the overwhelming majority of mankind remains at a primitive level, a productivity based on mechanical muscle power which, with the advent of automation, is fast becoming obsolete. The majority of men live in misery and degradation because their ability to contribute to the common good has been held at a minimal, primitive stage by illiteracy and ignorance.

The Most Valuable Resource

Human brainpower is the most important and valuable natural resource of the world; it is the most important and valuable natural resource of our country. There can be no real progress in the world if the teeming brainpower of billions remain untapped; there can be no real progress in our country unless we see our way to the need for a sound and effective program of universal education designed to wipe out the blight of illiteracy and ignorance and bring about the proper development of our entire human brainpower resource.

More and more, East and West are enlarging their areas of agreement and narrowing their areas of conflict. Forced coexistence brought about by a balance of power and terror is gradually giving way to the hopeful beginnings of a détente. If East and West should finally realize the folly and senselessness of the current armaments race and agree at last to lay down their arms, the real contest between them will shift to the economic field, and this field, education will prove the final determination of who will emerge the victor. Have we ever paused to ponder how we shall fare in such a contest?

The literacy rate of the Soviet Union is 100 percent. The literacy rate of Japan is 99 percent. Red China has free universal education. The designers and architects of the US Great Society under the visionary leadership of President Lyndon Johnson premise and found their plans and projections on education. From the great educational programs of these and other advanced nations of the world will emerge the human gains of the future. How shall we stand among such men?

Educational Program

The miracles of modern transportation and communication have made the world shrink to a size which the generations of men before us never imagined to be possible. The time is not far off when men all over the world will be able to think of themselves as next-door neighbors. This will lead to rater international intercourse and understanding. It is not difficult to foresee that such increased international intercourse and understanding will one day enable men to overcome the psychological barriers of race, nationality, or creed, and bring them to a greater and fuller realization of their common humanity and of the fact hat the earth is their common heritage. This realization can be expected to break down the walls and boundaries that separate men from one another will be their individual personal attainments. I would like to know what will be the stature of our people in such a world. The answer lies in the kind of educational program we have for them.

We should expend a great part of our national energy on a crash program of universal education designed to produce after us a generation equal to the finest and the greatest in the world. Then and only then shall we be able to catch up with the peoples of the more advanced countries of the world within a single generation.

Equal Bounty

Talent has been sprinkled by God with equal bounty and generosity on all the various races of men. The children that we bring into this world are endowed with the same quality of intelligence possessed by the children of any other race in the world. Given the same educational opportunities, our children can very well hold their own among equals.

But can we afford to give the young generation the same educational opportunities afforded that of other nations? Should not education wait until our country is already sufficiently developed to shoulder the cost?

It depends on how we look at education. If we look at it as a mere consumption item, perhaps it can wait. But if we look at it as an essential investment without which we can have no real economic progress, it cannot wait. Education cannot wait for economic progress because there can be no real progress without it.

Education enhances the productiveness of the individual. The reason why an educated man earns more is that he is able to contribute more to the common good. Education for all will enable all to contribute in greater measure to the good of society.

The productivity of a country depends on the productivity of the citizens that live in it; the productivity of the citizens depends on the degree of their brainpower development; that is, on the kind of education they get. That is why John Kenneth Galbraith, renowned economist and former US ambassador to India, said in his book, Economic Development In Perspective, that "a dollar invested in the intellectual improvement of human beings will often bring a greater increase in national income than a dollar devoted to railways, dams, machine tools or other tangible capital goods."

It is not difficult to see that education benefits both the individual and society; and it is not difficult to see that the lack of it impoverishes both the individual and the community in which he lives. It is important therefore that we enable every Filipino, regardless of his financial condition, to obtain for himself an education up to any level to which his natural talents, industry and aptitude can bring him. This we can do only if we make education one giant national undertaking the cost of which should be cooperatively borne by all according to our individual ability to contribute to it.

If human brainpower is the most important and valuable natural resource of a country, it follows that its development will be its most important and profitable investment. Neglect it and we shall forever remain a poor and backward people; develop it as it should be developed and it will be for all of us a rich and inexhaustible source of he strength and power we need to scale the heights of true progress and national greatness.

The Prize to Win

Socrates saw that all sin is rooted in error.

And, on the cross, Jesus cried
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

All sin, all crime, all sorrow
Stems from ignorance of the way to happiness.

Ignorance is, therefore, the enemy to conquer;
Truth, the price to win - the truth which, Christ said,
"shall set men free": the Light that illumines the Way to the Life.

We may think of the human body (in which inside of the head is a large mass of soft matter called the brain) as a powerful super computer with an ultra high-speed processor as brain. The computer without a software is just a piece of hardware of less significance. But with software running, it is a useful and a productive tool that can do efficiently what the program instructs it to do. In like manner, a human being without an "education" is "less significant" and is considered by most societies to be more of a "liability" than an "asset".

So therefore as software is required in the processor of a computer in order for the machine to function and be useful and productive, education is necessary to the brain of a human being in order for him to understand and respond and function more wisely in the world -- and in the interaction, benefiting him and the world.

But, like the software that can be infected by a computer virus, education can be corrupted. A computer running a clean software is a good instrument, but a computer run by a malicious software is a sinister tool. And so, a man with the "right education" is a force for good, but a person with a "wrong ideology" is a potential "challenge" to society.

The software is like the education the brain needs for a human being to perform useful and sensible things for mankind and for the world. But man's inherent higher level of intelligence (not found in any other physical creature) is what makes him capable of designing and creating a powerful complex computing machine -- including the extensively complicated logic of the software's program code that runs the machine (which other earthly creatures could not comprehend). Some creatures have larger brains than man, but why is man superior in intelligence? The answer is in the kind of spirit within the creatures.

A body without the spirit is a corpse. Man is a living soul that has a "special spirit". While other living things may have their own kind of spirits, it is only man that has the God-kind of spirit breathed into his nostrils by the Creator. While other living creatures were spoken of by God into existence thru mere fiat, it is only with man that God took the time to form with His hands out of the dust of the ground and made alive by blowing the breath of life into the clay formed.

Consider the following verse of the scripture:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

This is the very reason why man has intelligence that is far above any other physical creature on earth. And this special superior intelligence cannot be attained by any other creature thru any natural means possible. No one can ever train or "educate" a chimpanzee or any other animal that it can be capable of designing or creating a powerful complex computing machine (which is so far man's greatest invention in the field of Information).

But what is the purpose of man's superior intelligence? Consider these verses:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28)

What an awesome task God has given to mankind! Do you think mankind could accomplish this great responsibility if God has not given them a superior intelligence?

If the development of the human brainpower is an important resource that promises great potentials to mankind and to the world, just imagine how much awesome it would be to develop with greater importance the spirit that gives life to the brain and which is the source of its superior intelligence. Man can achieve far greater things if his spirit power is developed, because more and more it unlocks the superior intelligence God has bestowed on him.

It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I [Jesus] speak to you are spirit, and are life. (John 6:63)

Education produces knowledge, but wisdom is of the intelligent spirit. God is a Spirit and His Intelligence is far more superior than any intelligence in the seen or the unseen worlds. Words are manifestations of intelligence and they produce tangible things by means of the body. No other earthly creatures can speak words besides man.

Have you ever wondered why there are more heavenly bodies in the universe (the seen world) than there are human bodies (all that ever existed including Adam and Eve)? It is because God's power is inexhaustible and nothing can ever diminish or deplete it.

So, what about the "insufficiency of resources brought about by overpopulation"? Is it preventable, is it manageable, or is it solvable? Is there any situation, condition, or circumstance that could make God caught by surprise? Certainly none; for in God's economy there are no surprises, He foreknew everything. Maybe we need to look at this "challenge" with some new set of ideas added to the old traditional paradigms.

Maybe few wild questions will stir up our thinking:

1. What if sex is a "painful" thing to do, rather than a pleasurable act to enjoy in marriage?
2. What if human birth is like that of the sea turtle, instead of having parents nurturing in the family?
3. What if humans reproduce asexually, instead of sexually?
4. What if normal life span is above a hundred or more?
5. What if man doesn't need to eat in order to live?

The questions above may sound strange but they may help us gain few insight into some of the basic elements involved in meeting the challenge of the so called "insufficiency of resources brought about by overpopulation".

Unless mankind's true intelligence is developed, we will continue to grope for some answers in the "darkness of ignorance" brought by the fall at Eden.


"Double Dead"

By The Windchime

Few weeks ago, due to some hog cholera occurring in few places in Luzon, authorities responsible are on heightened alert for "hot meats" which may come from the affected areas that are secretly transported to be sold to the consuming public. This kind of stuff is tagged as "double dead" because the carcass is still utilized and butchered for consumption even if the animal has died already beforehand of a cause other than the normal process of slaughtering.

With the consuming public's awareness and with the concerned authorities' action, many if not most of these "double dead" stuffs have been confiscated and destroyed and some of the "unscrupulous entrepreneurs" punished. But what about those "hot meats" that evade confiscation because of the "creativity" of some of our "entre-pinoys"? For now in Luzon, the consuming public's appetite for some of their favorite foods that are made from finely ground pork meats may have considerably lessened already. If this thing continues, we hope this do not create a "made-in-china" chain reaction to our domestic pork products.

There are other "double dead" cases that are also occurring not only in the northern part of the country. But unlike the "hot meats" of Luzon, authorities responsible are finding it hard to execute their plan of action in some particular case. Although the "double dead" were taken cared of already, a major issue still remains unresolved. In a tense and volatile situation, they are caught between bringing the butchers to justice and maintaining a status qou of relative equanimity.

Yes, of course, I am referring to the incident of beheadings of some of our marine soldiers in Mindanao even if they were already dead in an "unnecessary encounter" with a relatively sizable group of MILF (Moro-Islamic Liberation Front) and ASG (Abu Sayaff Group) as they were operating in a danger zone at that time hoping to look for the kidnapped Italian priest in a "wrong place" controlled by the MILF.

Indeed, such a gruesome act is barbaric. Even in "jungle societies" that at least claimed to be humanized, mutilating an enemy even when he is already dead is considered a cruel and inhuman act which is worthy of condemnation and detestation. But why is it that in many civilized urban societies, the many cases of chopping off of body parts of unknown murder victims by criminals which is also happening many times or the mutilation of a human being inside the supposed protective womb of a mother, do not seem to draw enough expressed condemnation anymore than that "one instance" of beheadings of marine soldiers in Mindanao? Is it maybe because society is already used to these many chop-chop cases that it has already become ordinary to them while the case of the beheadings of dead marines in Mindanao seems uncommon?

It's been said, "familiarity breeds complacency." Take for instance suicide bombing. The first time the world experienced such evil, it was filled with much terror and awe of the evilness of the act that so great was its expressed condemnation and detestation of such barbarism then. There was a heightened level of awareness and of prayerfulness. But now, most people do not even care to hear any news about suicide bombing -- especially when it happens in Iraq where it has become almost a daily occurrence. Because of society's complacency, these walking dead men with twisted radical beliefs continue to seize the Islamic faith and vainly dying for a false cause killing along so many innocent people even of their own blood, persuasion, and ideology in order to propagate their wrong doctrine.

Islam is invaded from within by a malignant cancer of false believers of their own. But the question is: "Will the moderate true believers of Islam cower while the false believers and highjackers of Islam continue to ruin and desecrate their faith?" Where is their well-known "righteous indignation"? Deep in their faith they know that these radicals wrongly interpret the Koran in the same way as there are "radical Christians" wrongly interpreting the Bible.

Consider the euphemism of this cliché: "One's terrorist is another man's martyr."

True martyrs (just a Greek word for witnesses) are those who willingly give their lives sacrificially for the good and welfare of fellowmen in accordance with God's absolute and universal law of love. One simple definition of love is: outgoing concern for the good of others. If true martyrs are witnesses, then what are they witnessing about? Among the many definitions of the word "witness", here is a simple one: an attesting of a fact, statement, etc.; evidence; testimony.

Let us take a look at suicide bombing in the light of martyrdom. Let us ask the question: "Is suicide bombing a martyrdom?" A way of answering this question is by asking some basic questions:

1. Do suicide bombers willingly give their lives sacrificially? Yes.
2. Is the act of killing others by suicide bombing brings goodness and welfare to fellowmen? No.
3. Is it in accordance with God's absolute and universal law of love? No.

In the answers to the three basic questions above only question #1 is "Yes". True martyrs give their lives as a living sacrifice unto God (not taking their own lives by suicide) putting others' welfare over their own. They are witnesses of righteousness and holiness that emanates from God.

If the suicide bombers believe that suicide bombing is God's will, then what is their use of living a righteous and holy life if suicide can easily and quickly get them to God anytime they want? What is the use of them working hard to earn a living for their families when they can simply bomb their families and themselves and get them all to heaven instantly? What is the use of God creating a temporary life within the dimension of time if all it takes for man to achieve to the dimension of eternity is to end his life by himself?

Suicide is not a true sacrifice but a cowardly act of escapism because it evades the pain of living a tough sacrificial life for the sake and for the good of others. A tired father earning an honest living despite hardships and difficulties for the sake of his family is one example of a true martyr.

So deceived are those who believe in this false doctrine! Oh how many are they who are innocently blinded by this wrong teaching. Destructive negativism is the only way they know, for they refuse to see. But unless the Lord opens their eyes, they will not see clearly and their hope is obscure. They are dead men walking who are waiting to butcher themselves to oblivion. They are "double dead" meats.

Oh... lest I forget, in case you are wondering what are those markings shown in the picture above. It is just a way of lumping messages in one posting. It is just the missing plate number of a vehicle. Rotate the figure then flip it and you will see the shadow of the lettering of the plate number.

Isn't it awkward to demand justice from others when we ourselves forsake justice to somebody else? Give justice and you will be justified.

Nothing will ever correct a wrong until it is admitted, confessed, and repented. God forgives and honors a repentant heart. Do the right thing and leave all the consequences to Him. You may suffer the world's punishment but you are free in God's sight.