Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The Philippine’s King of Comedy took hundreds of roles in various flicks he made in his very long showbiz career. Gay, cowboy, taxi driver, farmer, soldier,- name it, never in his decades-old career he portrayed a priest in a movie. It's his first time for such a role. In an interview, the 82-year old Dolphy said, "Yon na lang ang role na hindi ko nagagampanan, pari. Naalok sa akin 'yan ng uncle ko na pari na namatay na." In the forthcoming Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) that would run from December 25, 2010 to January 7, 2011, Dolphy’s own movie outfit, the RVQ Productions, will be offering an entry called “Father Jejemon”, directed by Frank Gray Jr. and written by Bibeth Orteza and Rhandy Reyes. It’s a good movie no doubt and a surefire hit not only for children but for the general public as well.
No problem came until the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares received complaints that some scenes in “Fr. Jejemon” were “violative of Catholic sensibilities.”
In particular, some lay groups within the Catholic church were complaining a scene that shows the consecrated host falling on the cleavage of a woman. Another is the consecrated host getting stuck in a woman’s dentures. “OA naman ‘yang mga paring ‘yan. Anong masama kung ipakita na may nahulog na ostiya sa suso, nangyayari naman talaga yan,” says a middle-aged costumer who was watching news on TV inside a noodle house where I am eating. By the way, she’s wearing a crucifix.
Let us go back to the controversial MMFF entry. "Due to the feedback we received regarding the trailer of Father Jejemon, I have ordered a second review of the scene in the movie being questioned. Please note that the MTRCB board is given the autonomy to decide what rating to prescribe,” Poe-Llamazares said.
I have my own reasons to believe that the woman inside the Rizal Street noodle house is indeed a Catholic. Moving on, lay people are expected to speak up on issues that don’t respect the sacredness of the Eucharist, and that's why here I am jotting this. “They (referring to the two movie scenes) are negative, the movie does not give a good reflection on the priesthood,” former CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said in a message yesterday. CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Social Commission and Mass Media (ECSCMM) executive secretary Fr. Francis Lucas said, “I think religion should be respected and (they should consider) the sensibility of people, things we hold sacred.” The two priests were interviewed by CBCP News yesterday.
To make fun out of religious and holy objects is sacrilege. Sacrilege means the profanation of something or somebody or some place set aside for the worship, glory and service of God. Sacrilege, whether acknowledged or not, is no longer the shocking things as it was for our Catholic ancestors, our grandfathers and grandmothers. It has become part of our daily life, as a matter of fact, in our present social setting - especially how it is employed in modern media – it is almost already normal if not fashionable!
Remember that many Catholics even cheered Carlos Celdran when he disrupted a Holy Mass at the Manila Cathedral just some months back?
Sacrilege in modern times is multi-faceted. Catholic faith and practice, morality and tradition are not only questioned, they are sacrilegiously derided and dismissed as irrelevant, or ridiculed by Catholics themselves. In modern day movies and television shows, we take “in vain” religious objects and sacraments. In the streets and casual talks, we coupled them with left and right blasphemies. How can people like them respect the law (of the land) if they do not respect or they are insensitive towards his/her own, or other people’s religion or faith?
But the rule is very simple : “Sancta sancte tractanda sunt” (Holy things must be treated holily) …
Thursday, December 9, 2010
It is International Human Rights Day today and it’s been 62 years since the United Nations (UN) passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). With all honesty, time came when I cannot grasp anymore and I am so confused about some human rights questions in my mind. This pertains to current discussions related to “reproductive health” in Philippine RH Bill. This is what I call then as my “HR-RH” dilemma. There was no such animal called “Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2010” or HB No. 96 during my days in human rights (HR) movements. When I talk of HR, I had only cases of violations in mind,- arrest and detention, summary execution, torture, involuntary disappearance, etc. Based on my recent experience, HR discussions now became broad and some are even wayward and that’s not unexpected.
I am fully convinced, then and now, that religion of whatever origin, Christians or not, cannot be taken away or excluded in any institution or instrument, like the UN and UDHR, which are aimed at establishing a social order respecting rights and dignity of the human person. This vision of life in this world can gradually be achieved if believers anchor it firmly into religious deep.
It is unlucky that the debate on the RH Bill, has focused only on whether it should be passed or rejected in its present form. To pass or to reject it would not be good for us as a nation, as some sectors would claim. The Catholic Church is firm in saying that the proposed bill has serious flaws that can lead to violations of human rights and freedom of conscience. So it must be rejected totally. On the other hand, pro-RH advocates want it passed also in its totality on the very same ground that through this legislation, human rights - particularly the right to maternal health - is enacted by the State. But here are questions that need to be settled the moment the discussion starts:
As it was in the beginning, the Church insists that protection of life must start from fertilization, is the State hold to same position regarding protection of human life? (It is not specified in the Constitution whether conception means fertilization or the implantation of an embryo in the womb.) For the Church, using contraceptive medications and devices prevent the implantation of an embryo. If the State take this similar stand, is it willing to conduct scientific evaluation and studies of medicines and devices provided by the bill and those with abortifacient effects be banned, regardless if the bill is passed or not?
For the purpose of protecting academic freedom and respecting religious traditions, should not the right of religious schools to write and implement their own sex education curriculum consonant to their religious traditions be respected? The Constitution allows religious instruction in public schools only if the parents consent in writing. Should a similar provision be enacted relative to sexuality education? Is the State amenable to respect the conscientious objection of individual teacher who refuse to teach subject on sex education that violates her/his religious beliefs?
Assuming that HB No.96 is already enacted into law as it is and you are a doctor in a public hospital; since this particular law prohibits the refusal of health care services and information based on a patient’s marital status, gender or sexual orientation, age, religion, personal circumstances, and nature of work; would you continue to administer an IUD to a minor who requested for it?
These are just three examples. The bottom line: Both the pro and anti RH Bill should initiate constructive and respectful dialogue leading to concrete actions that would correct it and somewhat soften their hard-line positions and make room for an open dialogue. This is a more positive move towards working for the good of our people, with special concerns for the unborn, the youth, women and families in problematic situations. The merit of the bill itself should be highlighted and not just distinct moral or legal rhetorical persuasions. Without totally surrendering what we believe in.
These are the main points of the authors of "Towards Critical and Constructive Engagement (Talking Points for Dialogue on the RH Bill)" a proposal issued jointly by Loyola School of Theology and the John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues few months back that can be read here.
As what the proposal observed,total rejection of the bill, however, will not change the present high rates of lack of health care among women, infant mortality, maternal deaths, and abortions. “Does the Catholic hierarchy want these dehumanizing conditions to continue?” pro-RH advocates rightfully ask. It is imperative that both the proponents and opponents of the bill sit and talk together to amend its objectionable provisions and retain those that can make a contribution to protection of the dignity of Filipinos, improve their quality of life and promote, protect and defend their human rights. Not without considering the importance of rich global experiences, references, views and trends related to it. Be it pro or con, to expand each other’s horizon. But of course we cannot be neutral in situations detrimental to human dignity and human rights of our neighbors.
Some years ago, reportedly many western human rights NGO have tried to insert into the UNDHR the term “reproductive rights” in order to export contraception and abortion globally and tie it to international aid poured into governments in the Third World or developing countries like the Philippines. Here at home, RH supporters insist that the bill is the solution to women’s rights and economic development for the poor and not primarily about population control or, as the HB No.96 terms it, “population management”. Using such language in international instruments can persuade and attract growing number of various feminist and women liberation movements and women rights advocates from all over the world. And it apparently did.
In his address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly commemorating the 60th anniversary of the UDHR, Pope Benedict XVI challenged the UN and the rest of the world leaders: “This is all the more necessary at a time when we experience the obvious paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few, whereas the world’s problems call for interventions in the form of collective action by the international community.” The UDHR, according to Benedict, cannot be applied piecemeal “according to trends or selective choices” that actually compromise universal human rights. I am sure that these words of the Pope are rooted in human dignity that is usually subjected to the decisions of the few global elites, both in private and public spheres, of different ideological leanings.
Anna Halpine, founder of the World Youth Alliance - a worldwide coalition of young people committed to promoting the dignity of the person - wrote in an article entitled, “Philippines’ Population Bill Speak With Forked Tongue”: “Population control or population management relies on the assumption that government can and should curb population growth in order to provide the goods necessary for economic development: education, opportunity, housing, protection and stewardship of natural resources. But if the government priority is managing the population according to a schedule of targets and goals, what of the dignity and rights of the persons being “managed”?” She observed further that: “It is obvious to anyone who bothers to actually read the Philippines bill that population management tops the hierarchy of principles. The idea that it is primarily concerned with the promotion of human rights, or women’s rights is an illusion.”
If our legislators including concerned groups are bound to re-open the issue of reproductive health in different forum and venue, it must take-off from the bill’s terms and merits. In such a dialogue, aside from Church and government leaders, leading economists might be engaged and the data available from countless national population policies in the past, especially during the Marcos government, should be re-visited and scrutinized.
To summarize, what I want to emphasize is this: A population management bill should not be offered to citizens only if it is sugar-coated with necessary maternal health reforms or increased women’s health and rights. Women’s maternal capabilities and women’s rights are not only women’s true essence but liberating tool in this patriarchal world. Not merely icings on a legislative cake in the hands of neo-Malthusian bakers.
Why not call HB 96 plainly and simply by what it intends to do: “Population Control” Act? …
(Photo from Google images)
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Complacency is a sin and it haunts us all. Even as a Church worker, I am also personally guilty of committing this 8th Deadly Sin (Is “complacency” falls under “sloth”?). Most of the time I say, ”Pwede na ‘yan” or “That’s okay as long as it serves the purpose.” But I also believe - based on my observation on socio-political realities in Occidental Mindoro and as a member of the local media then - our most wicked sin as a people is also complacency.
In today’s Gospel (Matt 3 : 1-12), John the Baptist is telling us that as we, new children of Abraham, await the coming of the Kingdom, we cannot rest in complacency. “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance,” John told the crowds gathered there at the Jordan River. This sermon no doubt, is a call out of complacency. He further said, “Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”. Presumably, John was just trying to “micro scare” the people maybe because they already had a long history of complacency that time. Not unlike today in our province.
Most of our people are guilty of apathy and indifference. For instance, only few civic organizations stood with the Church in its fight against the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP) and the Small Town Lottery (STL) operation in the province before. Only few joined the PPCRV pollwatchers during the last elections, just to mention two of our current social concerns. The people act more diligently in self-serving activities initiated by their political patrons or political groups than those initiated by the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) or their PAKRIS. It’s Advent time once again and may we be reminded that John’s sermon calls us to bear the fruit of repentance and it calls us into the kingdom of God.
As worker of our local Church, it is my Christian duty to go beyond my comfort zones (Here’s a very concrete example : What people do most of the time in Facebook,- finding, chatting, sharing, exchanging something unimportant or naughty with friends and relatives; joking and commenting to a thread, playing Mafia Wars and Farmville , etc.) and do things in line with my faith, with my beliefs, with my work, with my vocation. Whenever. Whether I go, physical or virtual. Because if I do not maximize the potentials of the internet in blogging about socio-political realities in my place, if I do not share news and updates to all the interested people all over the net, if I will not impart related social teachings and doctrines of my Church, I will be doing nothing and become irresponsible worker in His vineyard. For it is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do. Still, many of us do not consider the act of “not doing” as a sin. Both the laity and those belong to the ordained ministry who are not expecting intervention from God - and from themselves - to this saddening situation is also somewhat guilty of such a sin. Yes, we should not rely unduly on our competence. Strength lies in improvasion. But many leaders of social and religious institutions have overlooked this fact. Including mine.
But hey, let us set this straight for clarity. I am not insinuating that we aimlessly expect or look for something new. All I say is we must be prepared to anticipate something new rather than remaining where we are. We have to make change happen and not just waste our time in the waiting shed. According to Pope Benedict XVI, "It is important that the Catholic laity proficient in social communications take their proper place in proposing the Christian message in a convincing and attractive way." In a way, BXVI is giving us social communicators this challenge against complacency.
If I were right in saying that “Complacency is against the spirit of Advent”, so therefore, the opposite of expectation is also complacency. Because when we are complacent, we are expecting for nothing more, nothing better as believers and as human beings. Therefore, we are not expecting, anticipating the Kingdom.
Unlike how John foresaw something new in the person of the Emmanuel…
(Photo from ministrydepot.com)
Monday, November 29, 2010
Listen, I have a confession to make. My officers and the rest of the troop do not know that the two men we executed near the mountains of Maragondon are my former neighbors in Tondo. We grew in the same environment before we joined separate revolutionary movements. But nobody knows this except me. I am a soldier of a new republic and what I just participated in is part of my patriotic duty. I do not have a guilty feeling, bothered or whatsoever, by what we have done. Though the brothers are fellow Filipinos and not Spaniards, they became our enemies and I am here to serve and to protect the government.
May 10, 1897 - and that was yesterday - will remain in my mind till the rest of my life for I became part of this heroic act of executing these two traitors who have sinned against the revolutionary movement. The death verdict was already passed months ago and the presidential commutation of death sentence was received and already communicated to them. The two brothers deserve to die and I think they have sensed death already since the Tejeros Convention. They are dangerous and anyone who do not recognize nor respect the Supreme Government of the Philippine Republic must be considered bandits. They organized many men and collected firearms for the purpose of overthrowing the government and they even plotted to kill the national president, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. Based from what I saw from their eyes yesterday, they fully accepted and very proud of their impending death. They never even uttered words begging for dear life. Oh, their courage indeed is beyond description.
The Bonifacio brothers,- Andres and Procopio, were unaware that one of their tormentors and killers was a former neighbor. They did not recognize me for sure. I was only ten when my family moved from Tondo to Indang. Together we grew up in that proletarian community in Azcarraga with all its filth and poverty. How can I forget Azcarraga, that wide and long thoroughfare where from its west, you could find a lighthouse near the mouth of Pasig. The lighthouse was very visible from our homes. A beautiful marker facing Manila Bay was just part of many wonderful memories of my childhood, our childhood, of Andres and his younger brother Procopio. And if I remember right, the so-called Supremo was the oldest of four Bonifacio brothers, and the other three being Ciriaco – also a Katipunero who was also killed some months back – Procopio, and Troadio. They have two sisters, Esperidiona and Maxima. In Indang, at 19, I joined the Magdalo under the command of Col. Jose Ignacio Paua.
Deep inside I am proud every time I hear about Andres maybe because of my memories of Azcarraga or simply because he is a respected brother in this struggle, though his rank is higher than mine and he's more popular than myself. I do not exactly know why I have this feeling. I feel proud when he and Gen. Emilio Jacinto attacked Spanish force guarding the powder magazine in San Juan del Monte in August last year. This attack launched by the KKK made Katipunan’s presence felt heavily by the Spanish authorities and prompted the Governor General to proclaim Martial Law in the provinces of Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. On the day after the encounter, other towns around Manila also rose in arms. And the bloody arm struggle between the Spanish forces and the Katipuneros have started. All to the credit of Andres Bonifacio and, I hate to say this, to Magdiwang.
Yes, I am proud of Andres but I believe he is not qualified, academically-wise, to be the supreme leader of the revolution more so at this infantile stage of the republic. He only reached primary school because his mother - Catalina de Castro who I heard then hailed from Zambales – and later his father, our local tailor, died, leaving Andres with his brothers and sisters to face the world by themselves. Andres, without doubt, can raise a family but definitely not to lead the revolutionary government and the whole country. Tell me how could a lowly and uneducated warehouseman, messenger and salesman of British and German firms be our president? We need academically qualified leaders in Emilio Aguinaldo, Mariano Trias, Severino delas Alas and the rest of the calculating Magdalo leaders and not the stubborn and overly aggressive Bonifacio and the rest of the Magdiwang. Being a confirmed Mason, Bonifacio do not believe in God, as claimed by the leaflets allegedly distributed by one of our leaders in Magdalo, Daniel Tirona.
I do not care how history would judge us by killing Bonifacio yesterday. I am sure, time will come, many historians, politicians, students, scholars and academicians will ultimately oversimplify history. Only few will be interested in finding out our deepest secrets anymore and learn from them. With foreign invaders around, our idea of true heroism will be generalized until it become lip service. One and a half centuries from now, historical details no longer be given emphasis. The people of the next generation will remember only discrete bit of information - rather than vivid, often violent details - like how we killed the Supremo and his brother yesterday. Reading history in the future will only be trivial and will never be arresting and probing but when hate something that will hurt memories of a dead man and woman even how bad he or she was. History will no longer be the main instrument in educating the people to assert their basic and fundamental rights in the face of social problems of their day.
Centuries from now, majority of the Filipinos will no longer be interested in this critical study of history anymore, I am sure. Take it from me, time will come, unlike other heroes and luminaries, Andres Bonifacio's birthday will be remembered but not the day he died. People will remember the Magdalo leaders but not how and why we kill Bonifacio and his brother.
Their followers may call me and my officers and the rest of our troop, political murderers but we do not care. For tomorrow, centuries from now, Filipinos would again be putting into political power murderers like us…
(Photo soflinked from ofwnow.com)
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Fatima Soriano, the young singer-evangelist will be coming to San Jose this Sunday, November 28, as a guest speaker in the Advent Recollection sponsored by the Worship Ministry of Saint Joseph (Cathedral) Parish.
While most of the young guys and gals adore and idolize the international singing sensation in Charice Pempengco, to them, the name Fatima Soriano is “never heard”. But lately, Fatima had been into mainstream when she sing “Nandito Lang Ako”, theme song of child-oriented TV series then called “Momay”, aired over ABS-CBN Channel 2.
Born in 1993, Fatima was diagnosed with retrolental degeneration (a severe eye defect that leaves her nearly unable to see) when she was 3 months old. Not only that, when she was 10, she suffered severe renal failure but she endured them all and struggled and pray hard for a normal life. Despite this handicap, she refused to accept defeat and continue make her life worth-while. Instead, she rose to the top of her class at the Braille-enabled day care center she attended. She also became a very active choir member in their parish. Fatima, though none of her song landed in the Top Ten of the Billboard 200 album chart and never been a guest on “Glee”, I know that every time Fatima renders a song, somebody is singing with her. Not Oprah Winfrey but the Great Physician that took away her almost incurable kidney problem then. Especially that first song which says :
“My suffering is my offering
I'm offering all my sufferings
and if ever I will face, more trials and more pains
then I offer them gladly again
then I offer them gladly again…”
But more than a century ago before Fatima Soriano was born, in the early 1900’s, Fanny Crosby became popular. Crosby was an American lyricist best known for her Protestant Christian hymns. She was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 despite being blind since infancy. During her time Fanny Crosby was one of the best known women in the US. Here’s a piece from one of her songs :
“Oh what a happy soul I am,
Although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy,
That other people don't;
To weep and sigh because I'm blind,
I cannot, and I won't."
The songs of both Fanny and Fatima bear the same message I am sure. Inspirations that we have to hear- and not only see - in order to believe.
What would be Fatima Soriano’s Advent sharing for us on Sunday? Let’s come and see …
(Photo from Fatima Soriano's Blog Site)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
This German missionary had been brought to Lubang by his congregation, the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), more than forty years ago and he practically spent most of his life in that northern tip island of Occidental Mindoro. He is Fr. Bernhard Kasselmann, SVD who will be more than 70 come Monday, November 22, his natal day.
Looking back from our province’s past, in 1922, the Philippine SVD took over Lubang Island in 1923 where Fr. Henry Demond SVD pioneered the work and later, another missionary, Fr. Carlos Krusenbaum, SVD, was assigned in Tilik. The “chronologically-enhanced” Fr. Bernie, as we fondly call him, is the most senior (sounds like “monsignor”, huh?) priest in my diocese. The cigarette puffin’ cleric transferred to the Bishop Residence here in San Jose few months ago and he will be staying here until Only- God- Knows-When.
A missionary is always a missionary regardless where s/he is and what social and spiritual realities s/he is facing. The Encyclical called “Redemptoris Missio” is quite clear in emphasizing that geography cannot be the sole criterion for determining the frontiers of the mission “ad gentes” in our modern day (RM, n. 37). A little trivia : the Second Vatican Council passed a decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church called “Ad Gentes” from the Latin “To the Nations,” and is from the first line of the decree, as is customary with the Roman Catholic documents. It was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1967.
Let us go back to our birthday boy. I first met him in his San Raphael Parish in Looc sometime in the late 80s when I was invited to conduct a political education training there. Fr. Bernie is so fluent in Tagalog and I know no German. So, I did not bother to retrieve my unreliable English from my mental bookshelf that day and onwards. Riding alone in his blue Yamaha DT-125 motorcycle, he travel mountainous, rough and dangerous roads going to Agkawayan, Balikyas, Bulacan, Burol and the rest of the villages in mainland Looc. I was even shocked to see from my very eye that this old priest is also an acrobat. He gave us a little show or exhibition of sort using his bicycle,- pedaling in backward motion and other awkward biking positions- that amazed us all. But that was before. Now, he's no longer allowed even to set his foot on the kick starter.
Fr. Bernhard make things possible. In 1972, it is well remembered by the people of Cabra, an island community in Lubang, when he constructed a windmill and two deep wells as source of potable water in said coastal area. The project was funded by his friends and benefactors in Germany and elsewhere. Another ambitious project he accomplished is the computerized codification of individual profile of all his parishioners. He extensively gathered data of every single people within his parish. This work had been very useful in many pastoral and civic initiatives in Looc.
In his message for the World Mission Sunday 2010, Fr. Bernie’s compatriot, Pope Benedict XVI, said : “Like the Greek pilgrims of two thousand years ago, the people of our time too, even perhaps unbeknown to them, ask believers not only to "speak" of Jesus, but to "make Jesus seen", to make the face of the Redeemer shine out in every corner of the earth before the generations of the new millennium and especially before the young people of every continent, the privileged ones to whom the Gospel proclamation is intended.” Understandably, not only men of cloth can be missionaries but also the laity, specially those who are away from home. Like the Filipino migrant workers, the OFWs,- Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Beer and finger foods will be served this weekend I’m sure, including packs of Marlboro for this special celebration of life. Let me reiterate, the OFWs are missionaries in their own special ways. To work hard in a faraway land for your family is also an expression of faith. To care for people in need, regardless of nationality, is proclamation of Good News as well. Ask Fr. Bernie if this statement is true and he will surely throw you his patented big wide grin, nod his head until his cone-shaped nose point to the sky.
For Fr. Kasselmann : “Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag und alles Gute!”…
(Photo of two SVD Saints from svdphc)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Let us set aside the much-awaited Pacquiao-Mayweather fight for it is still very remote. Me? I am looking forward for a more interesting out-of-the-ring Pacquiao vs. Pacquiao scuffle. That big fight between Aling Dionisia against his own son, Manny. The Pacmom have been long convincing her son to retire from boxing was only coerced by Congressmanny to allow him to fight for the last time against Antonio Margarito. But the great Filipino boxer assured us, after his mauling of the Tijuana Tornado at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas last November 13, “Yes, I will continue to fight.” And Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is among Pacman’s prospective opponents.
The dream fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather, to refresh our memory, had already been archived twice when both the Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions can’t seem to agree on vital issues, ranging from drug testing to purse split and fight venue.
Certainly, Manny has to settle privately this retirement thing including his career plans with his mother. They need to talk at once before Bob Arum arranged with the Mayweather camp or Shane Mosley’s or Juan Manuel Marquez’s. Equally interesting is who will win in this Pacquiao vs. Paquiao “fight”? Is it the mother or the child? Would the son again disobey his mother to please boxing fans all over the world and continue bring honor and inspiration to his beloved country, and his struggling and impoverished countrymen?
Or will he follow his mother’s advice, hang his gloves and pursue other tasks and careers outside of that brutal boxing ring? Remember, no mother – generally speaking - want to see her son being beaten or involved in dangerous endeavors such as fighting. No parent want to see their children engage in trouble and suffer beatings. Because she knows exactly that boxing – even she’s not into medical profession - being a very physical sport, can kill. Or it can do you harm, gradually or instantly. I am just excited to know if parental desire can be powerful or not in this particular instance.
Aling Dionisia is a Filipina mother beyond compare. Her life changed since Manny hit the jackpot - cars, jewelries, accessories, mansion, travels abroad, name it – and now, it seems, she’s very much contented with all of that. Since she is no longer cooking native delicacies to support her children, the most important thing for her now is his famous son’s health and safety. Ever since, she didn’t want Manny to box. This was the reason why her son kept his training secret when he was starting as a young pugilist. The desire for greatness have been so powerful while parental desire had been powerless long before that boy from General Santos became famous and wealthy. And he is a grown-up man now.
Though she keep on insisting him to retire, Dionisia Pacquiao could still understand that on top of such a situation, parental desires (note : "desires" NOT "guidance") can be disobeyed. Thus, "Pacman Knows" and "Pacmom Understands"…
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Dahil sa kaliwa’t-kanang public appearances ni Congressmanny nitong mga nakaraang araw, baka mas pinag-uusapan pa siya sa Tate kaysa kay Barack Obama. Sa totoo lang, kabado ako na baka ang mga kasalukuyang ‘distraction’ sa ensayo ni Manny Pacquiao laban kay Antonio Margarito sa isang linggo ay mauwi sa ‘destruction’ ng Pinoy boxing champ.
‘Langya, papaanong hindi tayo kakabahan kung mismong sina Freddie Roach at Bob Arum na medyo nagtatampo noon sa kabi-kabilang appointments ni Pacman sa labas ng training camp sa Baguio City, ay tameme ngayon sa mas grabeng abala o distraksiyon na dulot nito sa preparasyon laban sa pambato ng Tijuana, Mexico sa Dallas Cowboy Arena sa Nobyembre 13. Tingnan n’yo ha, bago umalis ang Team Pacquiao ng ‘Pinas noong bago mag-Undas, tiniyak ni Roach na kapag lumapag na sila sa Los Angeles, wala nang iba pang aatupagin si Manny kundi ang kanyang mga sparring partner sa Wild Card Gymn at ang mga training equipments doon. Pero nasunod ba ito? Hindi.
Si Bob Arum naman na medyo naging masama ang loob sa pagsali ni Pacman noon sa public events kagaya ng 10.10.10 Run to Save Pasig River at ang Family Sports Festival ng Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Association, noong nasa L.A. na ay nag flip-flap na rin ito.
Sa biyahe pa lang ay bugbog na kaagad si Manny. Noong Linggo, ayon sa ulat, dalawang oras at kalahati na nagbiyahe si Pacquiao papunta sa San Diego para i-coach ang kanyang basketball team doon imbes na nagpahinga na lamang sana siya matapos magsimba. Si Manny pa rin ang nasunod dito imbes na si Roach.
Si Arum naman, noong Biyernes, ilang minuto lang umano matapos ang praktis ay pinalipad agad ang boksingero sakay ng private jet ng Top Rank promoter papuntang Las Vegas para i-endorso ang kandidatura sa pagka-senador ni John Reid, majority leader ng Democrats. Si Arum at si Reid ay matalik na magkaibigan. Ewan ko kung naging matalik na ring magkaibigan sina Reid at Pacquiao.
Noong Sabado naman, umapir uli si Manny sa grand opening ng Nike Store sa Sta. Monica Place kasama si Laila Ali na kapwa niya endorser ng nasabing brand ng toga,.. este, sapatos. Maraming mga kaeklayan ang itinampok sa opening na wala namang kinalaman sa pagsampa niya sa ring sa Dallas. Maliban sa pag-introduce sa sapatos na kanyang susuutin sa laban niya kay Margarito. Hindi ba kumanta pa nga ito sa “Jimmy Kemmel Live” noong Lunes at tinira ang “Imagine” ni John Lennon na ka-dueto si Will Ferrell? Pero hindi na bago ang ganito at huwag nating ipalagay na kapag boksing ay boksing lang. Kung aking matatandaan, kahit si Gabriel “Flash” Elorde nga noon ay naging endorser din at naging artista.
Sa dami ng ‘side trip’ na ito ni Manny, kabado ako baka maubusan siya ng gasolina sa darating niyang laban. Baka masira ang kanyang konsentrasyon at mawala sa pokus. Huwag naman sana. O baka naman ma-over-exposed na siya at dibdibin natin masyado ang resulta ng anumang kahihinatnan ng aktuwal niyang laban sa susunod na linggo. Tandaan natin, mas gutom sa panalo si Margarito para makabawi siya sa kahihiyang inani niya sa kanyang laban noon kay Shane Mosley.
Pero sabi nga sa kanyang bagong tagline o catch phrase, “Manny Knows”…
(Larawan mula sa www.pinoyscoop)
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
A freshman college student who is so dear to me, a struggling campus journalist once asked me for a “non-technical” and “non-scholar” poem- writing tips. Though I am not truly a writer by profession or a poet in the true sense of the word, I just told her to write, write, write and write. Write as fast and as many as she can but she have to write as she talk and do not get tired (but make herself relax) and do not be ashamed and afraid of committing errors (grammatical or otherwise). Mind not what your readers may say or feel against you. Expect not all of them understand what you write. In short, do not let pass any opportunity for a writing exercise. I just reminded her of some practical things. This is what I have told her more or less :
Imagine yourself as a movable CCTV camera : capturing, recording, photographing, using words as your “output cable” and monitor. I told him to try this exercise : Inside a crowded area,- an airplane for example or bus terminal, sit tight and still (or slowly move around). Open your eyes (Do not forget, you are a movable CCTV camera). Look in front of you, to your left and to your right, and occasionally to your back. What do you see? Write down or remember exactly what you see. Toy with words by describing the scenes, color, shape, texture, tone and sound. Remember again you are a movable CCTV camera so you take a long shot, medium shot and close up. One thing is certain, sensory experiences can sharpen our God-given creativity. So all we have to do is - and I think I do not have to reiterate this – be sensitive to the people and things around you.
The Barangay and SK polls will be held Monday and the election fever is on and as I travel aboard a tricycle going to our place, while the tail of Typhoon Juan subdued the air, here’s what I have observed :
“Crowded vehicles come and go; some are fast, others are slow, the clouds are dark , the strong winds blow, etcetera…”
These observations of mine can be translated or developed into a poem. How good and well it is crafted I cannot tell but surely they became a poem nevertheless. Here it is :
Crowded vehicles come and go, they jive, they glow
Some are too fast, others are too slow
The clouds above are dark and the wind strongly blow
But as usual the atmosphere, almost like in a circus or a freak show.
You may call me the persistent pessimist in the front row
But this election is far to be a unifying bond, still a dividing saw
Not minding first how to serve, but to how to gain influence and amass dough
Or to please their patrons, the one who loves pink and the other one blue.
They say that the typhoon crawls above the Philippine archipelago
Politics, the way it is practiced here, is as devastating as catastrophes do
As long as we don’t participate in governance, we, the common tao
And amidst corruption and irregularities we keep our arms akimbo!
The farmers solar-drying their palay are in a hurry too
Collecting the golden grains from the concrete road and patio
And to save their precious produce is the foremost thing to do
For another typhoon is coming, not one (Juan) but two!
Notice how my previous observation became a significant theme rooted to my work while my view on our present political system eventually emerged. And for me, this is Poem Writing 101….
(Photo from Google images)
Friday, October 8, 2010
No doubt that the current debate on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill serves as an anvil where we, Filipinos shape and strengthen our sentiments and condemnation against the clergy and the CBCP, if not the whole Philippine Catholic Church hierarchy. My “we” here pertains to the Catholics who are pro-RH bill. And while we curse from the top of our lungs our priests, the bishops and the lay people of being “hypocrites”, “gender insensitive”, “anti-poor and anti-women”, “sexual molesters”, “Modern-day Fathers Damaso” and other accusations – no matter how legitimate they are - let us also remember that aside from the two contending forces- those who support the HR bill and those who are against it – we tend to loose sight on how wealthy and powerful and nations that influenced such local legislative initiatives. As we lambast our priests, bishops and lay people, we ignore the questionable foreign policies of such powerful and dominant countries, cultures and corporations who support such policies. Especially Uncle Sam. Allow me to direct you to two important and recent events on Hillary Clinton and Bill Gates of the Gates Foundation on population control.
And no matter how we deny it, there are still invisible foreign hands in every major Philippine political affairs. And even series of social changes since the beginning of our supposedly independence from foreign domination, particularly the US, was not able to generally change such reality.
In minds of the US policy makers, as far as you understand, does “reproductive health/services/rights” include abortion, or doesn’t it? Let us hear it directly from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Last April 21, 2009, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Congressman Chris Smith as the alter ego of President Barack Obama : "And so we have total transparency, does the United States' definition of the term 1) "reproductive health" or 2) "reproductive services" or 3) "reproductive rights" include abortion?"
Reportedly she answered: "We have a very fundamental disagreement. It is my strongly held view that you are entitled to advocate, and everyone who agrees with you should be free to do so, anywhere in the world and so are we." But like a fish, she was caught through her mouth : "We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health and reproductive health includes access to abortion that I believe should be safe, legal and rare." See? But our pro-RH Bill legislators are denying to their teeth that it will ultimately fall to abortion. Saying that the US, or Clinton, has nothing to do with the RH Bill. Clinton, by the way is one (5th) of Forbes' 2010 World's 100 Most Powerful Women list.
The same thing happened some years ago when a despotic Philippine political leader justified his declaration of Martial Law saying it has nothing to with Uncle Sam or something to that effect. Or that the sorry state then (and now) of our economy has a little thing to do with transnational and multi-national corporations and the injustice and inequality that they bring. The people in the government then lead us think that it was just a product of the wild imagination of the Communist-leaning labor unions including the left-leaning radicals in the 50s up to late 80s. They made us believe that the poverty that we are experiencing as a nation is self-created by us, Filipinos.
But there we have it from Clinton herself, one of the highest authorities on the subject. At least there now is no doubt that the Obama administration will be endorsing legalized abortion as part of its policy towards developing nations like the Philippines. It seems that in the controversial RH Bill, the terms “reproductive health”, “maternal care”, etc. are juxtaposed to imply the need to legalize abortion. It echoes from Washington to Manila.
And to fuel up this grand “Contraceptive Imperialism”, to borrow the word from Atty. Jo Imbong, the world needs the ever-reliable American philanthropy.
Annually, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) give the so-called Population Award on a person and organization that has met its criteria for population control. And the 2010 Population Award goes to Bill and Melinda Gates. But Bill Gates and his wife Melinda were not there to receive the award and it was accepted in his behalf by William H. Gates, Sr., Bill’s father. The couple were in Mexico for a business trip.
According to Vincenzina Santoro,- an international economist who represents the American Family Association of New York at the United Nations, just few days after the said award, the Gates foundation pledged a considerable sum to support the UN led initiative called “The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health” which is “hosted and administered by the World Health Organization” and includes approximately 300 NGOs such as Planned Parenthood and organizations like the UN Population Fund. Of the 300 NGOs, how many of them are from the Philippines? And how much money being poured from it to the Philippines? Nobody knows. One thing is certain, worldwide, resource generation and fund campaigns such as this is initiated and gaining popular support from topnotch corporations in exchange of a future global society of “few, chosen and quality” citizens and nations.
As early as 1983, Ray Ravenholt, a former official of the US Agency for International Development or USAID, an agency actively funding population control in the Third World, has given an insight into the real reason behind US concern : “Population control is necessary for the normal operation of US commercial interests around the world.” Is that reality no longer true today?
Why would innocent words such as “maternal and child welfare”, “reproductive services” “reproductive rights” and “reproductive services”, and even “family planning” would always lead to population control through abortion or contraception?
I maybe wrong but maybe the stipulations in the RH Bill are perhaps the true “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and not only our erring priests and bishops as claimed by many (?) of us Catholics as result of this recent debates on RH Bill…
(Photo from Shots)
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Michael “Mike” Rogas, a fellow I know well, a resident of Brgy. Pag-Asa, San Jose and former student leader of our Alma Mater Occidental Mindoro National College (OMNC), is in hot water. Mike is currently employed as one of the announcers/reporters of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN)-Manila DZXL. He, together with other media personalities were recommended by the Incident Investigation and Review Committee or IIRC, the body assigned to review and investigate the bloody hostage-taking incident in Manila last August 23 this year. Justice Secretary Leila De Lima gave hint yesterday that Mike, along with his bosom buddy at RMN, the fearless Erwin Tulfo, and several other broadcasters may face charges of Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Multiple Homicide or the violation of Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code before a court of law. A case I thought before as exclusive only for drivers and motorists!
I had a short huddle with Mike when I met him at the San Jose Airport on September 6, the day before his first appearance at the IIRC investigation.
It cannot be denied that Mike is an accomplished homegrown broadcaster, for he made it to a prestigious radio network and became an anchorman to program with a nation-wide following. Mike indeed became one of the few people who hailed from Occidental Mindoro and became one of the prominent figures in Philippine broadcast industry. Especially after that incident at the Quirino Grandstand. Broadcasting for a Manila-based network is dream come true for every career-focused broadcaster from the provinces. And this is what separates Mike from the rest of our local broadcaster. He aimed high and willing to learn more. He took law and refined his skills risking his life and limb. He took lessons from his mentors and idols. He damned the risk as a reporter. He could not pass a day without a field report or a coverage. He was present at Oakwood and other events and even during the presidential campaign. He does not take for granted important things as far as his craft and career are concerned. He stand tall for what he believe is right.
But human as he is, Mike also have negative spots. Way back home, he is a known supporter of a politician. He even involved in an incident where he allegedly uttered foul and nasty words over a live radio broadcast against a political personality and his brother almost a year ago that ended with little mayhem in the radio booth. His mouth blows fire and not aimlessly. The other camp hated him very badly and they even accused him of financial opportunism. These are just few things in common about him and the rest of the local broadcasters that I know.
Going back to the IIRC recommendation, I do not believe that the journalists should be charged on the August 23 blood bath. According to a title of the blog post of lawyer-activist Harry Roque today, “Bad journalism is not a criminal conduct.” Roque even further cited, in commemoration of the Martial Law declaration, a Statement from Center for International Law which states : “Coming on the eve of the anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the despot Ferdinand Marcos, P-Noy must be reminded that without a free press, there would not be a public debate on public issues crucial to the functioning of a representative democracy. This was why as a precondition for the establishment of an authoritarian regime, then despot Marcos had to muzzle a free press.”
But the horror of reckless imprudence haunts every citizen in our own little way, even in normal occurrences of our lives. Many of us are morally guilty of this offense.
As media propagandists for a politician or for a cause, sometimes we are reckless, and sometimes we are imprudent. Or both…
(Photo from Dailylife.Com)
Thursday, September 16, 2010
If people from the national government now say that the primary aim of Small Town Lottery or STL is to outbox illegal gambling like jueteng, why they allowed STL to operate here in our place when in fact the present mayor of San Jose have already erased it from the face of Occidental Mindoro during his watch as governor. When STL came, jueteng already ended, so why on earth they allowed STL operation to kick-off here in our province three years ago? Surprising isn’t it?
But the latest exposé of retired Bishop Oscar V. Cruz, head of Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Sugal, that several dioceses of the Catholic Church are also receiving money from jueteng syndicates did not surprise me anymore. Cruz, formerly assigned in Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, said that 8 dioceses in Luzon and Visayas allegedly benefit from jueteng payola. For those who are not Catholics, a diocese, - which comprises parishes, is a district under the care of the bishop.
One opinion writer even stated : “Is the Catholic Church still holds firm to what its late Cardinal Jaime Sin once told that he was willing to accept money, "even from Satan as long as it could help my flock." Sin reportedly said that in 2000 amidst reports that the Archdiocese of Manila was receiving a huge sum of money every month as donation from the Presidential Social Fund coming from Pagcor for the so-called Hospital for the Poor project in his archdiocese.
But we should also be reminded that the late Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, then Archbishop of Archdiocese of Manila issued a contradictory pastoral letter on March 25, 2002 about this very issue : “With paternal solicitude I now enjoin all the faithful, institution and ministries of the Archdiocese of Manila to refrain from holding activities that would even at least give a semblance of promoting or tolerating gambling that enslaves the person. Nor we should receive funds from such activities, even if the project we have is for the poor. Our thoughts turn to individuals and families who suffer from the ills of gambling. We ask pardon from the Lord for whatever sins we as sons and daughters of the Church may have committed, through our action or omission, that have led to this situation of suffering and vice.”
And let us suppose the allegation of Archbishop Emeritus Cruz that there are bishops and priests in 8 dioceses all-over the Philippines are collecting money from jueteng is true, maybe they are just following the footsteps of Mother Teresa of Calcutta : helping the desperate poor is the most important thing than minding and considering where that fund or money came from. But Cruz does not buy that argument ever since.
In the Catholic Church, there is no general rule or universal agreement regarding the acceptance of money from gambling in general by priests, bishops or nuns for any pastoral project or program. Nowhere in its teachings or laws can we find them. That is where the big problem lies. This is one of the biggest gray areas in Church so far. And aside from advocating against the evils of gambling and exposing how corrupt officials benefit from it, the Church should have a clear statement on this. A clear-cut policy declaring outright if taking money from such operation is evil or not. Then execute the law and punish the wicked men from among them (1 Cor. 5:13). Anything less is hypocrisy!
May this latest outbursts of Cruz serve as wake-up call not only to the newly-installed Aquino Administration but to long reigning Catholic Church as well.
But let us now set aside gambling and focus on this hypothetical case of donation-giving : Is it okay for the Church to have someone with checkered political career (or a known leader of a criminal syndicate at that) construct a church building under his name? Like in the first case, in the eyes of the Church, there’s a lot of shades of gray in this particular situation.
Both the Church people who accepts and those who declined to receive gambling money have things in common : they are adhered to the gospel value of love and charity to feed the hungry, provide water to the thirsty, etc; and the core theme of the PCP-II called “Preferential Option for the Poor”. Sadly, they differ in the quality of food and drink to give and those who are provided with such necessities using our clean little hands, I think, are being loved and cared for more deeply…
Sunday, September 12, 2010
They put on a local radio talk show last week a man I know since I was a child. An interview made me reminiscent on my childhood days and my grandfather’s memory came to mind. It’s September 12 and the world celebrates the Grandparents'Day today. The old man worked with my granddad at the Bureau of Health’s Malaria Control Unit here in San Jose in the early ‘50s. The interviewee, Mr.Gaudioso Ordanel, also known as “Lolo Gudio”, is now more than 80 years of age but still puffing cigarette and swigging gin. My Papang was the medical technologist while Mang Gudio is the driver-team leader of the Malaria control spray men.
As early as 1906, the Philippine Bureau of Health established its Malaria Control Division which is tasked to conduct researches and study, history and epidemiology of malaria in the Philippines including control practices such as annual spraying of all houses in areas affected by malaria. Malaria is a protozoan disease and the word “malaria” means “bad air” in Italian, reflecting an old view and misconception that malaria is caused by gases from swampy regions where the anopheles mosquito, the carrier, usually dwell.
Even before the war, my late grandfather was sent by the government here in Occidental Mindoro from far-away Bulacan (he was from Tolosa, Leyte and my lola was a Bulakenya) to be part of the malarial control team composed of doctors, paramedics and health workers. They were stationed at the San Jose Sugar Central but most of the time, they go to remote areas including sugarcane plantations believed to be infested by malaria and breeding place for the dreaded mosquito. According to Papang’s account then, hundreds and thousand of employees and sacadas (sugar cane workers) suffered and died from the disease. No less than ten people die everyday because of malaria and other related diseases including cholera.
The old folks that I met today could still recognize my grandfather for they helped them in treating the disease. I was just a kid then but how I really wished to have written his biography or extensively made a journal on other interesting stories and experiences of his life. I never had a chance. But to tell you, the Novio clan - in this sense - spreaded in Occidental Mindoro because of malaria-carrying mosquitos!
On the other hand my Mamang was a typical Filipina wife. Good at cooking, at times strict but loving and very prayerful. A very religious woman of physical strength.
I just presumed that Papang joined the Six-Year (1953-1958) Philippine-American Program for Malaria Control in the Philippines. Aside from giving anti-malaria drugs as supplementary relief measure, they sprayed practically every houses, from San Jose to Rizal, for at least 3 consecutive years and thereafter another spot-spraying of houses as conditions demand. They use dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or DDT. DDT is a potent insecticide rediscovered in 1939 by Paul Muller of Switzerland but it was banned in the United States in 1972. The Philippines have completely banned DDT in 1994.
In 1962, biologist Rachel Carson wrote a report called “Silent Spring” citing studies of bad effects of DDT specially on the reproductive processes of birds. This became a breakthrough in alleged DDT hazardous effect. A series of studies then followed and experts even alleged that DDT residue affects humans through the food chain. DDT like any other product of the chemical industry and the so-called corporate science, is owned by big chemical corporations and capitalists world-wide. Today, very strong scientific evidences of various kinds of harm to humans and other living organisms caused by DDT use gained its highest momentum.
Papang taught me this : Malaria, not unlike other communicable disease, can be traced or rooted from various factors. It is a disease closely linked with poverty and underdevelopment. And the mosquito only take the supporting (or is it character?) role. On the other hand, it is poverty who take the lead role. Poverty in the form of inadequate or faulty surveillance and treatment strategies, faulty data gathering and analyses, lack of medical facilities, medicines, among others. Of course not to be counted out are other factors like improving our socio-economic conditions, environmental protection and the likes. Does he sounded like a politician? As I have told you before in this post, my grand old man introduced me to political stories, issues and concerns of his time.
And my grandparents luckily "infected" their children and grandchildren with these beautiful traits and advices : to pray and spray the good seed of service to others …
(Photo from history.amedd.army.mil)
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Citing Municipal Tax Ordinance No. 743 series of 2007, Mayor Jose T. Villarosa issued a letter addressed to OMECO Manager Alfred A. Dantis informing the latter about the cooperative’s “unpaid tax obligation to the local government of San Jose since 2003.” The letter further stated that billing statements for alleged accounts were already sent by the Municipal Treasurer’s Office but, “not a single centavo has been paid.”
Aside from Municipal Ordinance No. 743, the letter further states that there is a Supreme Court ruling that, “supports and demands for entities like OMECO to pay local taxes” but failed to give basic information on the aforementioned SCRA.
Last August 18, 2010, Dantis responded to Villarosa through a letter signifying the intention of OMECO to comply with Municipal Ordinance No. 743 as long as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) would allow the cooperative to utilize a payment scheme that would take into consideration OMECO’s present financial status and condition.
It was former Mayor Romulo Festin, Sr. who signed billing statements demanding for the payment which was prepared by the municipal treasurer. OMECO then was headed by its erstwhile General Manager Alex Labrador. Labrador, a known ally of the present mayor, now works with the Municipal Engineering Office of San Jose as consultant. When Labrador resigned at OMECO, the cooperative was believed to be already at the verge of bankruptcy. And the latest National Electrification Administration (NEA)audit findings can attest to this.
If this tax measure will be implemented, the burden would fall on our shoulders, the ordinary member-consumers. It is clear in the letter of Dantis that said tax imposition, “have to be recovered from the member-consumers of San Jose before funds could be made available [?]..” (Bold letters, mine) This tax measure would automatically reflect on our electric bill the moment it is imposed. It’s an additional financial burden for us consumers.
But hopefully, this tax measure - if ultimately imposed - would pave the way for improvement of basic social services for the people of San Jose. With basic services such as education, health, infrastructure and the rest, that came from local taxes,- indeed, we citizens are empowered.
In the same letter, Dantis’ requests to Villarosa are as follows and I am quoting them word for word :
1. “That OMECO be spared of penalties, interests and/or surcharges for the accounts until we could pay the dues – current and amortization of past due obligations – on time after we had the approval from ERC to recover;
2. That OMECO be allowed to spread its payment for the past due obligations for a period of five (5) years minimum – again free from penalties, interests and/or surcharges, on an equal monthly payment basis, and
3. That the charges on poles be limited to those erected in municipal road rights- of- way only, thereby exempting those that are situated on private lots, provincial and national roads?”
I just do not know if the two gentlemen,- Villarosa and Dantis, were already able to sit and talk on the matter. Also, nowhere in both letters gave hint that could lead us directly on what specific tax obligation are they referring to. Was it the charges on service poles?
Calling the attention of those who are privy to the issue and could you inform the public on the details of Municipal Tax Ordinance No. 743? What it is all about? When was it crafted? Who are its authors and sponsors? As a taxpayer and member-consumer of OMECO, could you please educate us on the matter? Please, do not allow such information to be as elusive as our dream of financial stability. Besides, information is power and it is priceless!
What should come first is not the power to tax or taxing power but the empowerment of the taxpayer…
(Photo from Google images)
Friday, August 27, 2010
Criselda “Cely” Marcelo,- my sister-in-law, is the president of Occidental Mindoro Association in Hong Kong or OMAHK and she called up last night all the way from HK informing her mother that she is okay and her relationship with employers is not affected by the tragic hostage crisis in Manila.
There were at least 100,142 Filipinos working in Hong Kong in 2009.
Hong Kong is listed as the top working destination for “Household Service Workers” with at least 71,557 new hires in 2009. This is based on figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
According to presidential Communications Group Development Secretary Ricky Carandang in a press conference yesterday, “We're still trying to confirm reports that a Filipino maid was fired by her employers because of what happened.” Concerned government authorities, specially Malacanang, are verifying reports of physical threats against Filipinos who are residing or working in HK.
My sister-in-law added, through a telephone conversation with my wife last night, that though her good relation with her Chinese employers remained, she was advised by the couple,- if possible, to stay away from the streets while the emotions are still high and be extra careful when she is outside of their flat. Cely told her worrying sister, “Don’t worry, all of these will just pass.”
Cely went to HK when her son Patrick was barely two years old. It has been more that 15 years that she’s with the couple and practically took care of the needs of the couples’ two daughters. From their personal to academic needs. She feeds them and bring them to school everyday. She also assist the children in their home works. To the kids, she is not only their nanny but their second mother. She is a family member to them and the couple knows all her commitment, dedication and effort to her job.
For Cely, this is not only for financial reason but more importantly, it is her contribution to humanity. In her particular case, isn’t treating children as your own is a vocation and not a mere profession? Hard work and dedication or commitment bring good personal relation and it is indeed counts. Even over diplomatic affairs of two countries.
Christians as we are, let us also remember, not only the souls of innocent victims of the tragedy but also the soul of the hostage-taker. Do not only remember the suffering that the victims and their relatives have but remember too the positive fruits that came out in this suffering : media organizations’ move to organize themselves and how to respond collectively to incident, this became a wake- up call for Philippine law enforcers to revisit their manuals and guidelines and aim for more trainings and exercises on hostage situations, for our legislators to pass laws on how to improve government security agencies, for our external affairs offices to evaluate or assess their tasks, etc.
But let us not forget our experiences, the “sidebar stories” that popped out from this latest tragic story showing fundamental and universal traits of human beings, regardless of our creed, color, nationality and belief : fruits of comradeship, loyalty, humility, generosity and greatness of heart.
This is my call and prayer to HK people : May these fruits be ultimately become seeds of forgiveness…
(Photo from AP)
Friday, August 20, 2010
To All Lawmakers Who Support the New Divorce Bill :
Thank you very much for filing and supporting House Bill (HB) 1799 or “An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines”. You do not know how greatly elated we are with your recent advocacy pushing for divorce here in our country. If that legal separation clause in our family code will not result to the dissolution of marriage, the passing of this bill is important for we can find another woman treating her the way we treat our previous,- we mean current, partners.
But would you please,- next time, file also another bill illegalizing marriage? It would be the easiest way, or shortcut, to end all of these marital concerns. In addition, do campaign and advocate rigidly for out-of-marriage relationships or “live-ins” especially among our youth.
This bill, if passed and enacted, would really favor us. This would put us to high heavens. Especially our members whose wives are no longer young, pretty and sexy and are already turned-off by their wives' physical attributes thus they are psychologically incapacitated with the essential marital obligations (i.e. to seduce us and turn us on!). Isn’t also that another form of irreconcilable difference that would cause irreparable breakdown of marriage?
Our dear lawmakers, please do not mind leaders of the Catholic church when they say : “Legalizing something that is immoral will not make it right, but will instead make it worse.” Ignore them for since time in memoriam, we do not believe in them. We do not believe in religion either.
Moreover, we do not believe in morality, do we? More so in the sacrament of marriage for we do not believe in marriage as a life- long commitment. To hell with those who say that marriage is a social contract. All we want is individual freedom. We no longer think of its effects on our children and the community. They are just obstacles to the image that we wish to project to others, especially to those young, pretty and sexy ladies out there. That “for better or worse” thing really sucks!
We are very happy to think that someday we can get wives as many as we could through our connections in the courts or be lucky enough to be elected to government offices for many of them are womanizers just like us.
Again, thank you very much, and may you continue to support this marginalized group of ours.
Very truly yours,
Andres de Mano
Philanderers and Wife-beaters Association of the Philippines, Ltd.
P.S – We are thinking of joining the party list next election...
(Photo soflinked from Flicker)
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I will officially be a member of Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals or BCBP- San Jose Chapter this coming Saturday, August 7, 2010. Truth to tell, BCBP’s “Be Honest” advocacy program somewhat “magnetized” me to join this Catholic renewal community of businessmen and professionals here in Occidental Mindoro. The “Be Honest” campaign program which promote the value of honesty was launched via a nationwide activity seven years ago participated in by 113 chapters and outreaches all over the country.
The campaign slogan of President Simeon Benigno C. Aquino III “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”, made me realize that while groups like the BCBP rally for value of honesty, his government should focus on tapping the civil society on disseminating information and paralegal know-how on whistleblowing. Whistleblowing, at least figuratively speaking, is a gargantuan task. It may endanger the whistleblower. His or her property or family. So this value should be inculcated in our minds especially the youth : It is our duty as citizens of our country and citizens of the world to fight corruption for common interest that can defy all fears. It is the most effective deterrent to corruption. Therefore, it needs the cooperation of the whole sector of society. And creativity towards this end is an imperative.
Former Tanodbayan Simeon Marcelo has this to say, “As citizens, let us all realize that good governance is equally our responsibility. We are not simply the victims of graft and corruption, but also, and more importantly, we are its enemies. As such, we must constantly look for venues and opportunities to promote honesty and integrity in government, like whistleblowing. Needless to state, the willingness to join this war against graft and corruption must be nurtured and supported by tangible measures from the government, i.e., a system of rewards and incentives, as well as protection from the informant.”
In his write-up called “Ethics and Spirituality of Whistleblowing” from a booklet published by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus in 2006, Fr. Albert E. Alejo, SJ said that the following are core values embodied in whistleblowing, paralleled with what the whistleblowers themselves think of what they are into : Sense of truth and justice (Hindi ko matiis na wala akong ginagawa sa harap-harapang pandaraya); Love of country (Ngayong nasa panganib na ang buhay ko, kahit maliit ang suweldo, damang-dama ko na mahal ko talaga ang bayan ko); Hope in humanity (Kaya nga ako nagsusumbong, dahil kahit papaano, umaasa ako na may katarungan pa rin sa ating sistema at may natitira pa ring mga taong mabubuti); Concern for the common good (Kung para sa sarili ko lang, e, bakit pa ako papasok sa gulo? Pagmamalasakit sa mas nakakarami, doon ako dinadala ng ginagawa ko); Faith in Action (Kumakapit lang ako sa pananampalataya ko sa Diyos na siyang nakakakita ng lahat); Deep love of family (Ginagawa ko ito dahil mahal ko ang aking mga anak, kahit apektado sila sa nangyayari. Sana balang araw maintindihan din nila ako); Personal conversion (Inaamin ko naman na hindi din ako malinis. Pero kasama ito sa aking pagbabagong-loob at pagbabagong dangal).
The BCBP advocacy was manifested by putting up billboards, posters, streamers, car stickers, t-shirts and other collaterals bearing the now familiar program’s message: “Be Honest, Even if others are not, Even if others will not, Even if others cannot.” But these words must be translated into action for faith is an action word. But why bother to be honest? What’s the point of being honest? Why be honest when it pays to be dishonest? Why fight for others, why they won’t fight for you or even for themselves? This need not to be answered by my brothers and sisters at BCBP.
Because before the BCBP came into existence, the late Sen. Jose W. Diokno,- one of my “life mentors” already answered these questions : “The answer lies what life means to you. If life means having a goodtime, money, fame, power, security – when you do not need principles, all you need are techniques. On the other hand, if happiness counts more than a good time, respect more than fame, right more than power and peace of soul more than security; if life doesn’t end life but transforms it, then you must be true to yourself and to God, and to love the truth and justice and freedom that are God’s other names.”
A mouthful but for me is the most human yet most powerful way of answering those questions…
(Photo softlinked from 4.bp.blogspot.com)
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I just came from the airport from an out-of-town official business trip. Around 170 delegates from all over the Philippines gathered at Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City last July 21 to 23, 2010 for the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) 2010 Post Election National Conference and I am one of the participants. Ms. Ana de Villa –Singson, PPCRV’s National Media and Communication’s Director, presented the PPCRV 2010 Election Report divided into following sub-topics : PPCRV : its history, vision and mission; the report also emphasized our mandates during the last election including the results of our Voter’s Education, Poll Watching and the conduct of Unofficial Count including the Command Center Operations. The report also covers a review of PPCRV’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The report was indeed comprehensive. And everything in the hotel is cool. From amenities, furnitures, scenery, food, etc. Including those neatly dressed young ladies moving around the hall watching and assisting us.
Towards the end of her presentation, Ms. Singson informed us that the PPCRV was awarded a citation by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for its “invaluable contribution to the conduct of the national elections of May 10, 2010, which represented a historic milestone in being the first automated election as well as outstanding exercise of popular democracy and an inspiring testament to the sovereignty of the Filipino people..” The presidential citation was given on the occasion of the 112th Anniversary of the Declaration of the Independence of the Philippines. A waiter suddenly offered me something to drink and I politely told him, “No. Thanks..”
The experience was best described in the opening part of our Conference Statement : “ with the scenic Taal Lake locking in dew-dressed embrace Taal Volcano as our backdrop, we listened to each other recount our experiences… And we take pride in having been a vital part of it. A part that was wrought with crosses, but also with many little triumph."
What’s in store now for PPCRV? Indeed we saw the need to identify key issues for us to focus on as the bases of our updating and our new thrusts and initiatives. Based on our Conference Statement, these key issues would allow PPCRV to be self-sustaining in its operational and financial concerns on the local and national levels; promote with “new fervor, new methods and new expressions” continuous education through new post election modules on political evangelization; integrate security of PPCRV volunteers in election work plan/roadmap; establish a election complaint system inclusive of protocols and sites; continue enhancing the technology skills and readiness of local units through basic training on AES-related IT, with access to basic pertinent equipment; and engage the youth aggressively in PPCRV’s political and electoral ministry.
In the report a mentioned a while ago, PPCRV National Chairperson, Ambassador Henrietta T. de Villa has this to say : “(I am ) Happy that our elected 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines rekindled our hope with his pronouncement : dito magwawakas ang pamunuang manhid sa hinaing ng taumbayan… kung saan kayo at ang pangulo ay magkasundo sa pagbabago… Happy especially that our new President in his inaugural address unequivocally proclaimed : Kayo ang boss ko. Thereby restoring anew the true meaning of democracy which is the rule of the people. The PPCRV is impelled by this will start designing simple and easy to put into practice modules on responsible voting and responsible citizenship, especially on how the citizens can think, speak and act like true bosses, marangal na anak ng Diyos, mabait sa kapwa, at mabuting mamamayan..”
I cannot help but feel sad because these words best describe a Filipino-Christian "heartist" who passed away that very day when we at PPCRV are having our conference In Tagaytay. The one who brought Christ’s face not only in his work but in the hearts of its lookers and the society in general. Not unlike the PPCRV.
Go with the Lord, Joey Velasco and keep the fire on our faith, PPCRV…
(Photo : Painting entitled "Lingkod" softlinked fro www.joeyvelasco.net)
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Hope you still remember that I am into a formation process called Christian Life Program or CLP which is required to all individuals joining the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professional in the Philippines or BCBP. BCBP is a Catholic charismatic renewal organization fully recognized in all diocese where it operates nationwide.
We had our Baptism of the Holy Spirit session and all of us candidates are asked to render testimonials on our previous activity. My sharing was unusual, brief and it bothered me a lot. Was my testimony really inspired by the Holy Spirit? You be the Judge. Here’s what I’ve said direct from my recollection of the important parts of what I’ve said yesterday afternoon:
By way of introduction I told them, “Bago pa man umpisahan ang ating gawain kanina ay sinabi ko sa ang aking sarili : “Charismatic na nga yata ako.” Then I continued, “Pero alam ninyo, may panahon sa aking buhay na ang mga charismatic ay tinatawag na “sira-ulo” ng mga Katolikong aktibista. Gayundin, ang mga aktibista ay tinatawag ding “sira-ulo” ng mga charismatic. “Sira-ulo” daw ang mga charismatic sabi ng mga aktibista dahil sa gitna ng mga karunal-dumal na kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao at dangal ng tao ay wala nang ginawa ang charismatic kundi ang mag-“praise the Lord”: Bible sharing, prayer at umawit ng papuri at iba pa. Wala raw kongkretong aksiyon ang mga charismatic para baguhin ang lipunan. Labanan ang kawalang-katarungan at iba pa.” They are all eyes and all ears on me but the expressions coming from their faces vary from one individual to another.
I had a short breather and went on, “Sa kabilang dako, sabi ng mga charismatic, “sira-ulo” din daw ang mga aktibista sapagkat wala na silang ginawa kundi mag-rally, manggulo sa lipunan at hindi man lamang pinahahalagahan ang pagdarasal at ang kanilang personal na ugnayan sa Panginoon. Pinupulitika na raw ng mga aktibista ang pananampalataya.” Some of them clapped their hands.
Then at the middle of my sharing, I do not know why I suddenly remembered that brutal massacre of a young Mangyan couple and their children in Magsaysay some years back. The so-called Blanco Massacre was perpetrated by some elements of the Philippine Army. And I almost cried. Is the Holy Spirit has something to do with these? I do not know.
In parting I said, “Pero sa magkaparehong ka-sira-uluhan ay tiyak na pareho ring kinikilusan ng Banal na Espiritu. Ang pagiging tunay na Kristiyano ay batbat ng pag-aalipusta pero ang Banal na Espiritu ang nagbibigay sa ating ng lakas ng loob at tapang na magpatuloy…” I can see relief in their faces and they gave me a very brotherly, warm and sincere appreciation through hugs and other gestures,- specially from women members, that I am not used to. They congratulated me for being newly-baptized in the Holy Spirit. “Welcome to BCBP”, said the BCBP-San Jose Chapter top honchos. I had a hunch that next month, I will be a bonafide member of BCBP, a (charismatic) renewal organization with social responsibility.
During the last election, BCBP officers in San Jose Chapter has been a mission partner of our local Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in all election-related activities. They (or shall I say “we”?) are active in their/our Be Honest Campaign which is an advocacy campaign for good governance and anti-corruption. But there are still a lot of things to do especially in the area of going into the pastoral concerns of the local Church and its parishes. The BCBP must find itself and be relevant in the mission and program of our diocese. Or else, it would wastefully reduce itself to a social club or an organization of the Church-going elite aimed only at socialization. In finding itself with the pastoral concerns of the parish and its different ministries and committees,- we can have a charismatic approach, in particular, to social action or ministry of a certain bigger community like our diocese or parish.
Since the early 1960’s, the word “charismatic” characterized a widespread renewal movement in various Christian churches. A essential core of the movement has been the experience of gifts or charismata of the Holy Spirit, namely the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of the spirits, speaking of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. During the early years of the Charismatic movement, the emphasis was very much on prayer, Bible study and spiritual growth of an individual. On the other hand, the theology of social action, in some ways, became a reaction against a one-sided or over emphasis on the individual.
Yes, those “charismatic activities” are necessary and must be sustained but it should not stop there. It should not stop inside an individual but go beyond that,- to the bigger society, to something that has something to do with the social structure. That is the difference, at least as far as the its tenets as an organization, of BCBP in many of the charismatic movements in the past for it includes in its mission, “professional excellence, community and nation-building, practice of justice,…” And that is why I like it here.
By the way, I realized this morning that there is a common thread between the “Catholic charismatics” and the “Catholic activists” : A conscious sense of the Holy Spirit’s initiative and intervention and the conviction that faith is not something we humbly receive but something we do bravely. So, we are all “charismatics” and “activists” if we bravely understood the gift of the Holy Spirit.
As brave as the fool doing foolishness all the way…
(Photo softlinked from BCBP website)
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona expressed in one of the interviews that there should be equal promotion of all family planning methods, whether natural or artificial, in the country. The chief health officer further stressed that all methods should be made available to couples if only to aid them in practicing responsible parenthood. Ona, a Roman Catholic, emphasized that, “Responsible parenthood is the responsibility and the decision of a very well-informed couple, considering whatever religious beliefs.” While Ona welcome the use of artificial contraceptives, his Church vocally opposed it. Church representatives have often equated contraceptive with abortion. Contraception, in the eyes of the Church, allows men to use women as objects and for pleasure without responsibility of birth. The original purpose of procreation and unity was replaced with selfishness and convenience, according to some of its apologists.
With his view and stand on the issue,- in the eyes of the leaders of his Church, is Ona committing a sin like the biblical Onan? Just asking.
We are all familiar with the story of Onan in the Book of Genesis. What was Onan guilty of, social or sexual sin? According to the earliest interpretations of scholars, how he frustrated the purpose of levirate marriage was irrelevant. What Onan had done was a grave dishonor to his late brother and not being true to his obligations. His sin, based on plain reading, was his refusal to provide his dead brother with an heir. The text focuses more on social and legal dimensions.
But when ancient religious authorities try to legislate morality at around 100 BC to 300 AD, rabbis and early Christian fathers sought other explanations for the sin of Onan, focusing more on the sexual act itself. The rabbis interpreted it as birth control through masturbation and ultimately they came into conclusion that what Onan have done was wasteful but not a severe sin and the punishment should be left to God alone. In general, the rabbis recognized that intercourse need not always result in pregnancy or procreation and there could also be purpose even in pleasure, or any act beyond simple reproduction.
On the other hand, early Christians saw it differently. The Christian church determined that man's sexual duty was to procreate and replenish the earth, no more no less. Sex for pleasure was a weakness, if not an outright sin. Thomas of Aquinas (1225-1274) have written volumes of materials about sexual subjects and these thoughts dominated Christian teaching for centuries. In one of his teachings he taught that any sexual activity that does not lead to procreation was deviant, even within the bonds of marriage. Sex without procreation was lust,- directed solely at venereal pleasure. Other sexual sins, according to Aquinas, includes adultery, rape, and incest. Theodore of Tarsus in the 7th century even distinguished onanism from masturbation or self-stimulation. He felt onanism was a form of contraception, not just a pleasure-giving act.
The Church today,- as far as I know, does not teach that a couple must ‘seek’ to have a sibling from each and every sexual act or love-making. Instead, it teaches all the married couple NOT to suppress the life-giving and life-nurturing power that is an essential of marriage and of their being one in flesh. Sex is holy. It was created by God for two purposes : Procreation and Unity (in all aspects of life). Pleasure is a consequence and not a purpose and if we remove one of the purpose, we defile the marriage bed. That is all I’ve got from my not so vast knowledge of the topic.
But there’s are two things I am certain : the Story of Onan was one of the factors behind Church’s evolving attitude towards sex and contraception. Similarly, the latest pronouncement of Ona, being an alter ego of President Benigno C. Aquino, III,- is also perceived to be a great factor in Philippine Catholic Church’s attitude towards the latter's new administration…
(Photo of Ceremonial Turn Over soflinked from Department of Health Gallery)
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Cabinet members of President Benigno Aquino III are reported to undergo training on how to properly deal with the media. This announcement by no less than the president himself came after his spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, had a heated exchange with some Palace reporters over the delayed conduct of press briefing. In another incident, Education Secretary Armin Luistro told the media not to ask too many questions on the controversial sex education issue.
First, a disclaimer from me. I have never been a media relation officer for a particular organization or a spokesperson for a certain public figure. Aside from answering some queries from my friends from the national media, I’ve never been into a lengthy and important appearance as a resource person on a radio or television show. I have never been ambush-interviewed ever. All I am sure is I watch a lot of ambush interviews over CNN, BBC, ANC and GMA-7, to name a few TV network. To reiterate, I am not an expert on dealings with the media. But I have read some materials on the subject and the most helpful, as far as this blog entry is concerned, is the book written by Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz, JCD, DD entitled “Media in our Midst”. My other writing tool for this one is my childhood memory of a television series called “Combat!” starring Vic Morrow and Rick Jason. Specially the scenes how my favorite G.I.s survived ambuscades.
There are three general ways for a public official to land into the news : through pre-arranged interviews like press conferences; written statements or press statements, and,- the kind that we are about to discuss : ambush interviews.
Just like the real “ambush” in military parlance, ambush interview is a game or war of quick decision. The potential target of such tactical offensive have to decide as fast as a piercing bullet if you want to be ambushed or not. And if your answer is on the positive, learn to “fire back”. Meaning make the most of it (the interview). The two things to remember is, one, public office is a public trust and a public figure is a public property. Second, the people has the right to know or the basic right to information. But everybody, including you, the resource person or the interviewee, have also the right not to accept the invitation for an interview under certain circumstances. We will discuss it later.
This is the fundamental rule of the thumb : “No one can force or coerce us to be interviewed.” It lies in out own creative way how to convey this to your perceived interviewer if you turn her/him down. On the other hand, if we want to be ambushed and willingly be part of the information-giving process, it is but important to know (his/her company and personal) and understand your “ambusher” and be patient with her or him. Keep in mind that all journalists are trained to have a “nose for the news” and they are out in the field look for stories (or preys!). That’s their job and reason for existence. In “firing back” and in saying that we must make the most of it, I just would like to emphasize that there is no substitute for objective and healthy exchanges that are aimed to unearth a news story together. The story or the truth that been denied and buried by powerful individual newsmakers or groups for their vested personal interests and survival. Including unscrupulous media practitioners or extortionists.
Speaking of such misdeeds of erring media people with checkered personal and professional background, try also to be patient and understanding. Including those who have unshakable ideological, religious or personal biases. Just answer their questions in direct, candid and brief manner.
To both the good and the bad media practitioner, show them respect. After your first interview with the good ones, try be a true friend to him or her but stay away from the bad people of the media. The unscrupulous and the extortionists.
In whatever circumstances, be clear as your canteen water on the messages you wish to convey because the moment when the news come out, you are figuratively out of the picture already. You can do nothing about it like a rocket-propelled grenade going to you direction. The saddest this is this : any rejoinder or disclaimer or correction is discretionary to the same media outlet where the interview came out.
There are at least three valid reasons to turn down a request for a interview : One, if you may put yourself in difficult or losing end or adverse position. Or be led into the landmine of embarrassment and/or imminent danger; Second, if you are not at the liberty to discuss matters that would put in danger other people’s (read : whistle blowers’ and witnesses’) life and limb or if you are tied to the promise to confidentiality or to a classified or top secret information; Third, common sense dictates that if you do not have the grasp of the nature and consequences of the subject matter, simply keep your mouth shut.
Allow me to add these. You are a dead meat if you engaged in an ambush if you carry a heavy mental or physical backpack or any baggage. In such encounter, you had a great chance of being riddled with bullets for you cannot move carrying that burden! Instead of a backpack, wear a bulletproof vest.
During the ambush, make sure that your visions are clear to have at least a view where the enemies and the booby traps are. Be precise in hitting your target. Clarity and precision require counter clarification on issues that are not clear to you when you are being interviewed. Let your interviewer define particulars and details that are unclear to you.
Do not ever use the much used and abused usual “No comment” reply to any ambush interview question, including facial expressions like a smile or a frown, for like your “No comment” they are all subject to millions of interpretation and may backfire on you! The easier and safest way to survive an ambush is to lower or bow your head down, cover it with you helmet or any hard material and move away from the site.
Just like those scenes from “Combat!”…
(Photo softlinked from Crazyabouttv.com)