Sunday, January 31, 2010

Just Talk

Aside from hand-outs, the secretariat are giving message pins and buttons inscribed with these words : “Just Talk”. They maybe pertaining to the office's commitment to the way of peace and resolution of conflict in the country : talking or negotiating in the manner that is just. But I, being an ordinary province boy, was just bothered by the word “just” in their slogan or catch word.

According to the invitation letter we received from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said office is calling this gathering to give us update on the status of the implementation of the National Peace Plan (NPP) and the current thrusts and directions of the comprehensive peace process and to orient us on the so-called “Projects for Peace” as a comprehensive programs between government and civil society especially at the community level in support of the peace process. But why only now that election fever is on? Is the issue of peace being pushed only during this politically-crucial period? In Occidental Mindoro, OPAPP became visible only in 2004 when it initiated, with the help of the vicariate, a province-wide consultation with our basic sectors in order for them to feel the pulse of the people, especially the masses, on peace-related local social issues then. Including some efforts in the documentation and facilitation of series of dialogues between the Mangyan leaders and Army Officers operating that time here in our province. But it stopped there. No concrete actions followed. When I was asked by my boss to attend this forum in his behalf, I immediately told my self, “Is this part of one big election brouhaha? ”

Yes, I was in Metro-Manila last Wednesday,- that was January 27, 2010 to participate in the Luzon Peace Partners’ Forum held at Astoria Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The gathering was called by OPAPP and attended by around two hundred peace advocates from different regions and provinces in Luzon. The religious and tribal leaders, members of the academe, some military men, media people and personalities from various peace organizations were there. Except peace worker and advocates from the ranks of the Catholic clergy for it coincides with the Second National Clergy Conference at the World Trade Center in Manila. I, together with Rey San Jose, came to represent our director as delegates from Occidental Mindoro.

We were “star-struck” seeing those prominent people whose faces and stories we often see only on television and read about in broadsheets. Among those who took part in the workshops include Bishop Efraim M. Tendero of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC). Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer of the Sulong CARHRIHL was also there. We shared table with Atty. Eric F. Mallonga of the Child Justice League along with NGO representative from Baguio and the National Capital Region or NCR. It was indeed “star-studded”.

But I was moved by the opening remarks of Sec. Annabelle T. Abaya, the current Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process or PAPP. Prof. Abaya was appointed PAPP only last November 3, 2009. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo named her as her peace adviser after Sec. Avelino I. Razon, Jr. resigned last October to run for the mayoralty post in Manila for the coming 2010 elections. Abaya is from the academe. She is a consultant to various international and local agencies such as the USAID and the World Bank. She is a professor at the De La Salle University and the current president of the Conflict Resolution Group Foundation, Inc. She had also been a spokesperson for former president Fidel V. Ramos.

Abaya admitted that due to various factors, though she did not elaborate, OPAPP suffered a lot of drawbacks especially in their coordinating efforts with its peace partners nation-wide. In short, we, peace advocates and organizations who are in the forefront have been neglected in the last couple of (no election?) years. But Abaya, in her conversation (she prefer “conversation” instead of “speech” or “talk”) with us pointed out that there politics has no place in her current major move at OPAPP which is to give financial and logistical support to their partners in the provinces through the so-called “Projects for Peace CY 2010”. She reiterated that, “peace go beyond politics”. Abaya will stay as government’s chief peace negotiator only until June 2010 but she said that after her term, she will still be into NGO peace building advocacy work. With such short period of time as PAPP, she will be doing all what she can so that OPAPP’s resources will be used by their peace partners for their endeavors, projects and programs. “Peace is timeless.”, she added. “Put on the lens of peace and see what we can share.” Abaya concluded.

Among the thematic focus of OPAPP under Abaya today is Peace, Conflict and the Environment. This involves activities that address the issue of environmental degradation and climate change as they impact on local peace and conflict situation. To my mind, in the whole Mindoro island, mining and oil exploration, are the biggest threat to peace. We cannot talk of environmental protection without questioning the national goverment policies and laws on mining.

I was drowned by the intellectual discussion at the open forum so I grabbed the “Just Talk” button from the table, put it in my bag and smiled inside…

(Photo from the anti-Intex hunger strike at DENR)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heavenly Memoir

Where am I? This is not Taikia, South Shandong and certainly this is not heaven. I guess, I am somewhere in Asia and not in my native South Tyrol in Germany, the country I left for more than fifty years. Over there, I see bamboo and banana trees. Where on earth I am? Those men at the gate are wearing funny looking white and blue clothes with wooden and rounded swords hanging on their waists. The place is crowded with students of various age. There are chariots attached to motorized horses that conveyed people coming out of the area. Behind me are vendors selling multi-colored water and foods, writing materials and other things that I am not familiar with.

Oh Lord, am I alive again or my spirit simply sent back to earth? All I can remember about my mortal life was, like many others in China, I fell victim to a typhus epidemic. It was the cause of my death and I died January 28, 1908. I was 55 then and it is my 102nd death anniversary today. In my previous life, I was not an obvious leader. I did not found a religious order and I never became a bishop. I did not write a significant theological treatise, nor did I develop any new mission methods. I was an ordinary priest. But I am a saint now, they say.

It's almost noon and I am still in this crowded street fronting an arch sign which reads : “Divine Word College of San Jose”. Its name coincides with the official name of our missionary order, the ‘Society of the Divine Word’ or perhaps this is one of our own and run by my brothers and sisters. Thanks God, I’m home, somehow. Surely, if this is our learning institution, majority of the students here do the daily spiritual reading and are trying to imitate Christ and reject everything that is against God’s will. People who are responding to a call to mission, especially in foreign land like what I, together with John Anzer did in March 1879 when we both go out from Steyl.

But wait, people cannot see me. I cannot touch them too. They cannot hear me no matter how I scream or shout, just like what I’ve tried a while ago. I’ll follow them wherever they go and see how they fare beyond the campus. I will also go to their homes and hang-outs and I am more than excited to see if the ladies and gentlemen, the college students of this,.. I mean our, school named after our order are worthy calling themselves Christians,- specially in off campus activities, like what I feel when I wrote my piece, “The Missionary’s Joy” : “If ever there was a great work on earth, great because of its sublime goal, admirable because of the quantity and quality of its means and successes, it is the religion of the Crucified and the apostolate inseparably connected with it… In this light everything takes on a new, quite unique hue; what is small and unimportant becomes singularly attractive, what is bitter gains a peculiar sweetness.” Here I am taking now a closer look how the students care for their community and the society as a whole!


Our spirit visitor stayed in the outskirts of San Jose for more than a week observing how the DWCSJ students live outside of their home and school. How they intermingle with their relatives and friends, the marginalized and the needy of society. How they fare in their academic and spiritual quest.

Catholic schools have a long tradition of fostering character through service. Service begins in the school and then extends outward to the Church and to the whole human family. In order to have an effect on students' personal character, service ideally should involve students in face-to-face helping relationships so they can experience the fulfillment of touching another's life.

To our spirit visitor, every single second of his vocation was very important. When he was still alive, he explained to his confreres the purpose of his one month temporary stay to the new central house in Takia : “Our life is too short, our time too precious to lose even a tiny second of it! This month, too, belongs to God, and God will place each of its 720 hours, each of its 43,200 minutes, each of its 2,595,000 seconds on the scale of his justice, and demand an accounting from us.” Are we dedicating the important moments of our lives to God like our heavenly visitor especially now that the year 2010 mark the DWCSJ's 50th founding anniversary? It was May 1960 when the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) bought the DWCSJ (formely Southern Mindoro Academy or SMA) from its former owners, remember? There will also be a grand alumni homecoming next month.

But nothing was heard of from our spirit visitor up to the moment that he was sent back to heaven the other day. I just presume that he wrote such a wonderful memoir about the young people who, in one way of another, bear the name of his' and St. Arnold's congregation. A journal of sort where words of wisdom for young Christians can be found.

A memoir where long laid words of wisdom are written but very difficult for us,- humans, to comprehend and thus to follow …

(Photo from wikipdedia and reference from

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Of Paradox and Big Winners

Last week, Jason Veron Francisco received negative label from his fellow housemates in Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Double Up, the most popular reality television show in the country today aired over ABS-CBN. You may click here for PBB’s website. He lied most, they say. So, he’s the liar in the house.

Jason, an avid fan of Robin Padilla, born October 11, 1987 in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro is one of the strong contenders so far for the current edition of the show’s “Big Winner”. We are both born in this island called Mindoro. I cannot imagine what would happen if I declare this philosophical paradox : “All Mindoreños are liars.” ?

Before I get the ire of my fellow Mindoreños and Jason’s million of fans and followers (including his Argonauts) and the PBB in general, allow me to share you a story behind the above-mentioned paradox. This is known as the “Paradox of the Liar” usually attributed to Epimenides although it was actually devised by Eubilides. Epimenides, who was a Cretan, was supposed to have said, “All Cretans are liars.”

The problem is : Is he telling the truth or not? It seems that if the sentence is true, then it is false. But if it is false, then it is true. A tempting way out is to suppose that the problem is to do with the notion of self-reference, that Epimenides was referring to himself when he said “All Cretans are liars”. After all, the most favorite interpretation of the paradox is, “This sentence is false!” But if we try to analyze, we would find out that the sentence is not true or false but meaningless. It proves nothing for it is void of any meaning. On its surface, it may appear to make sense but in reality it is something of no use so better not said at all. Forget about of philosophy and showbiz, let us go to local politics.

Honesty in politics is something you will rarely find, they say. Elections are just few sleeps away so lies are, more than ever, occupies every spaces of our social life as fatal as an airborne virus. But sad thing is,- at least on the outset, lies are accepted by the majority of the people here in our province. Do our people really like to be willing victims of liars with their lies? According to Hannah Arendt, author of the book “Lying in Politics” : “Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear.” From what I have observed, I think there’s a widespread acceptance of political lying and deceit here in Occidental Mindoro where truth is falsified or misrepresented.

When truthfulness is no longer among political virtues and lies have been regarded as justifiable tools in political dealings, then we are all in deep shi.., err,- septic tank. Because when society loses sight of the distinction between fact and fiction, truth-telling and lying, all of the conditions of democracy are rendered trivial and reduced to a collection of dull or nonsensical remarks, which in turn breed moral indifference and political meaninglessness. And the rest is by and large, a moral disaster.

Our politicians are sending a message to our youth that any lie is okay or permissible as long as it accomplishes our province’s “progress” and “development” (read : infrastructures and other social services) and all that conditions that the liars set. So, lie by saying you respect life and then applaud your boss even he’s the co-author the Reproductive Health bill. Lie about being a pro-environment advocate and then allow the company you manage to promote mining operations. Lie about being friendly to your critics in the media and badmouth them at any opportune time and place. Lie about the information you feed to your patron about your fellow journalists and then agitate him to lambast them. There are too many cases I wish to cite but because of lack of space, and I am just presenting four particular issues or incidents. With these, what messages are we sending to young Mindoreños from this west coast side when we lie to the gums?

Majority of the people accept and love to hear lies, but they do not believe them. They believe in the opposite of what the liars say. That is what I believe.

And at the end of the day, they will hail the most truthful politician (or housemate?) and declare him or her as their “Big Winner” …

(Photo of housemate Jason Francisco from PBB Double Up Website)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When Powers Meet

The two political powers in the province once again had an indirect verbal encounter in the recently-concluded Mainland Occidental Mindoro Power Summit held here in San Jose last Friday, January 16, 2010. As expected, it zeroed- in on the exclusive Energy Conversion Agreement (ECA) between Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative or OMECO and the Island Power Corporation or IPC which was penned in the early 90s. For further details on the preparatory phase of the summit, you may click here for my previous write-up in the Mindoro Post.

For me, as an objective on-looker and participant (or at least I am trying to be one!) on our province’s relevant socio-political events, I was able to hear the views of the IPC on said ECA directly from the horse’s mouth. After the somewhat very technical presentation of OMECO OIC general manager Engr. Alfred A. Dantis and the National Power Corporation-Small Power Utilities Group or NPC-SPUG, composed of Engr. Rogelio So and Engr. Melburgo S. Chiu, its vice-president,- designated event moderator, Atty. Rey Tamayo of the De Chavez, Sagayo, Lerios-Amboy Law Offices, gave the floor to former congressman, former governor and now Brgy. Bubog chairman Jose T. Villarosa, in his capacity as the present chairman of the IPC. Tamayo is one of the legal counsels of OMECO coming from said law firm.

The NPC-SPUG is mandated by law to undertake the electrification of areas not connected to the main transmission grid, also referred to as Missionary Areas. IPC is the sole Independent Power Producer (IPP) who operated in the province since 1992 but ceased to operate more than five years ago. There is an existing legal contest between IPC and OMECO pending at the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) on the controversial ECA. Unluckily, no single representative from ERB came to clarify things.

Villarosa exhaustively discussed how IPC came into the picture saying it was the solution to the energy crisis being experienced by the province and the whole country then. According to Villarosa, the late OMECO GM Col. Zoilo Perez (ret) along with other leaders coming from different sectors solicited his assistance as our congressman to address said crisis. In his presentation, the former solon cited specific provision on the agreement, its present status as far as the IPC is concerned which I think I am not in the liberty to elaborate for as I have previously stated, the case is still pending at ERC as a quasi-judicial body. I am afraid that I might touch some merits of the case. So, I opted not to. By the way, Villarosa said that one of the two power generators of IPC is still running and has the capacity to generate as long as OMECO will provide them fuel, contrary to the allegation that the IPC generators are now just pieces of scrap.

Toward the end of his talk, Villarosa also emphasized that IPC has an uncollectible amount of more or less P 168 million to OMECO. He even added that there is a possibility that IPC would take over OMECO if the amount will not be settled but Tamayo hold firm to his decision that corresponding legal action from OMECO is expected if the take-over will be pursued. Dantis immediately responded that the cooperative does not acknowledge such loan but he did not elaborate why. Villarosa added that the IPC have already transacting with Cigawatt Power Corporation, reportedly a Filipino-American consortium with net asset of P 1.5 billion and intends to operate a 20 megawatt power plant. He assured that the power it will generate would be sufficient for the province and for him, it’s the most possible solution to the current crisis. Villarosa even said that there is a possibility that they would take over OMECO and the power generation and distribution in the province. But Mayor Romulo M. Festin, Villarosa’s closest rival for this town’s mayoralty post, stood up and said that the coming up of a new supplier would not be the issue of the day until ERB settled the legal question. For Festin, OMECO and IPC should first settle the Motion for Reconsideration on the revocation of the ECA between the two entities before the perceived coming of another IPP.

Governor Josephine Y. Ramirez-Sato was among the participants who took part in the open forum. Sato initially said that he is not sharing her view as a governor but as a lawyer and most of all, as member-consumer. Sato proposed to Tamayo some legal steps to undertake and the latter duly noted the suggestions from her. The governor further suggests that a manifesto should be finalized as major output of the summit. She called for the people to rally behind OMECO, NEA and NPC and if needed, pressure the ERC for speedy trial and finality of the case. She said that proper processes should be made to decide on which interested IPP to come and assure that review components are embodied in the contracts and learn from the past.

This are just the highlights that I want to share in the meantime. Other people who were there at the summit are most welcome to share their insights on the comment section of this post. I really realized a lot of things from this summit. As former TESDA director and ECAP (Electric Cooperative Advocacy of the Philippines) national president Mr. Edicio dela Torre have noticed, there is a dire need to organize local ECAP not only in Occidental but for the whole Mindoro island so the holding of an island-wide summit is necessary. Most especially with the existence of EPIRA or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, especially after 2010 elections, there is a need to review national government’s policy on power and energy. But hopefully, let us pray that there will be reliable power supply this coming elections.

I realized too that in order for me to lord over in this part of the island, I’ll establish and wield power camouflaged as a service-oriented political and economic effort but in fact sustain my private corporation.

And my constituents will just sigh and say : “Ay, pes(t)e!” …

(Photo from the Save OMECO File. Candle ceremony in one of the rallies last year)

Sunday, January 17, 2010


In my post last January 10, we talked about that useless and moronic waiting shed at the approach of Pandurucan Bridge in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro and we tried to parallel it with political campaign ethics. To expand the discussion, we would look now into another project initiated by the San Jose Centennial Commission chaired by no less than the mayor himself and he is seeking his last term in office this year. This is the Mindoro Landing monument or statue, again erected in Brgy. San Roque. The aim of the project which is in line with our town’s 100th founding anniversary this year, is for us,- citizens, to remember said historic event and to pay tribute to the memory of our local heroes who fought during World War II. Noble isn’t it? But let us not forget, our main man, as I have said, is one of the candidates for the coming polls. I cannot help but remember a line written by certain Emil Guillermo in his post entitled “Of Monuments and Memories” for the which says: “Memorializing your critics neutralizes them.” Indeed, letting people collectively travel down the memory lane is a very effective way of persuading them. With or without light.

While I have nothing against the renovation of the statue or monument that became part of our lives, what interests me most is how such centenary project would go given in a changing San Jose political landscape after May 2010. How they would use their political authority on how our public spaces are used to remember the past, such as the Second Landing Mark near Aroma Beach? According to John Coski, “A monument always testifies to power — to who was in power at the time.” And let me add,”… or to the man who occupies power that initiated its erection!”

I am excited to see how our local legislators debate on how to utilize our finite public space in commemorating and remembering the past. My biggest concern is how could we assure that our historical sites which are religiously being visited, cherished and propagated by our dedicated and tireless local historians be treasured forever. Remember, none of them are eyeing for any political position this coming local election? How can we assure that all of their achievements and endeavors would not be wasted away? Later, I am going to propose something different for our electorates.

My only concern is my belief that these sites need to be properly preserved protected and discover other places with interesting historic memory and public history. In other words, I understand that many of our people are passionate about these kind of projects. We need a bunch of politicians or local government leaders with the same passion when it comes to our local history. That is only a starting point, then it is important for our upcoming legislators to initiate another public discussion in an open and honest way how to find other “hidden” historical places and how the existing sites like the Pre-Hispanic structures in Mangarin and the remnants of the Philippine Milling site in Central.

In the coming campaign period, why don’t we include this concern on local history and raise fundamental questions to our candidates and see if they included them in their platform of government. Aside from other social issues, this will guide us if we are going to vote for a particular candidate or not. Or might as well elect non-traditional but principled candidates living in historically rich village like Central.

Now, tell me, isn’t history a potent political tool for participatory governance?...

(Photo from San Jose Occidental Mindoro Facebook account)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

When a Gift is Not a Gift

Is it ethical to accept any form of gifts from politicians? Or to give cash gift to barrio officials and councilors if you are an incumbent candidate for any election? With or without elections, both sides of the two camps of our local political bigwigs give something to their supporters and voters in general whether in the form of projects and services, and yes,.. including cash, especially during holiday season. Speaking of cash gifts, I remember the most scandalous cash-giving incident happened in Macañan in October 2007 that was featured in this news item.

In a Facebook discussion thread just appeared in my wall, it was alleged that sometime last week, Governor Josephine Y. Ramirez-Sato and Mayor Romulo M. Festin distributed cash gifts to certain barangay officials amounting to P 1,000 to P 3,000 each through a meeting reportedly brokered,- err,.. called by Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) of San Jose president Marjorie Sales of Mangarin. I am not aware of the meeting but I have a feeling it happened. According to the initial thread post, the cash-giving cum meeting was held in Festin’s residence (or is it rest house?) in Doña Consuelo Subdivision of said municipality.

But when a gift is not a gift? Armed with the lessons I’ve learned in my Ethics class in college, here is my answer to that hard question : One issue to consider when assessing whether offering or accepting a gift is inappropriate is whether the relationship will be altered, or if there is an expectation that it will be INFLUENCED in some way. For example, when we are expecting favors (in this case, votes) in return, this is a bribe NOT a gift.

But what is “Ethics”? It can be summed up with these words : "Ethics is concerned with how people ought to act and how they ought to be in relationship with others. Ethics does not just, describe how things are, but rather is concerned with establishing norms or standards for how human life and conduct should be." My former professor at Divine Word College of San Jose (DWCSJ) told us that ethics are a set of principles of right conduct. But how can one distinguish clearly what is right from what is wrong? And it becomes more complicated when these two areas (what is right and what is wrong) overlap so that a gray area develops.

Gifts and bribes provide a good example of this case. Take for example our case at hand, the alleged cash-giving incident in Doña Consuelo. Was it a gift or a bribe? Gifts and bribes are distinctly separate. Gifts are ethical while bribes are unethical and often are illegal. However, in some cultures such as the Oriental culture in general and the Philippine culture in particular, the concepts of gifts and bribes are not distinctly separate. There are overlapping areas between offering gifts and offering bribes. Gift-giving behavior can be extended into the area of giving bribes, so that the concepts overlap. When this occurs, the behavior is ethical and unethical at the same time. But this is not limited only to politicians and their constituents but also to other “relationships” like between a politician and a media personality, etc.

Applying a code of ethics to behavior becomes very complicated because a gray area exists between ethical actions and unethical actions. As discussed before, offering a gift is an ethical (right) behavior and offering a bribe is an unethical (wrong) behavior. But in the gray area where offering a gift extends into the area of offering a bribe, it is very hard to interpret whether the behavior is right or wrong.

We are not expecting that government regulations and laws alone can solve the prevailing problem of corruption and bribery here in Occidental Mindoro or elsewhere in the Philippines. There is a dire need for a group of citizens to differentiate between the overlapping area of offering gifts and offering bribes so that we, Filipinos, are able to distinguish between gifts and bribes. This is not an easy task because gifts and bribes have traditionally overlapped in our culture so that the distinction between ethical and unethical behaviors is not clearly defined and practiced. We, the citizens, especially the media, our moral guardians and the academe, but certainly not the politicians, are expected to clarify and redefine these gray areas in order for us to develop as a nation which was suffered from corruption, from the overlapping of offering gifts and offering bribes.

In the said Facebook thread I also posted what the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (No. 198) says on the matter : “The more people and social groups strive to resolve social problems according to the truth, the more they distance themselves from abuses and act in accordance with the objective demands of truth…The unscrupulous use of money raises ever more pressing questions, which necessarily call for greater transparency and honesty in personal and social activity.”

Such “sumbong” utilizing the internet needs discernment and should be properly analyzed or else it would only be used as propaganda tool by one political group against their opponents and sow divisiveness, instead of unity among common voters and majority of the Mindoreños…

(Photo from

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Whenever somebody greet us “Happy New Year” with all honesty and sincerity,- for me, it’s a clear manifestation that as human beings , our understanding of the world is fundamentally future-looking. Once again, in every television and radio show, known fortune tellers and astrologers and all of their kind are featured and gain media attention. Some sociologists claim that indeed men of our era are attracted and fascinated most by the future than what have transpired in the past. People are more eager to know events that never has been and things that are essentially new.

Today is the Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus which is associated with the visit of the Magi to the Holy Infant (Mt. 2:1-12). But in most countries, including the Philippines, the celebration of Epiphany was last Sunday, January 3.“Epiphany” came from a Greek word for “revelation” or “manifestation”. It is the moment of understanding, an "aha" moment where everything comes together. And it is the final day of the twelve days of Christmas for us Catholics. This is to remind us that a star is born. A star that is even more central, not only for our solar system, but for the entire known universe.

Though I have stated a while ago that we are more interested in the future than in the past, I am inviting you to remember series of negative events that happened in Occidental Mindoro in 2009. The killing of Atty. Crispin Perez, the tie-up of some local officials,- especially at the barangay level, and the mining companies especially Pitkin Petroleum Ltd and Intex Resources, the massive mudslinging and politicking, the alleged graft-ridden and anomalous infrastructure projects, the continuous operation of Small Town Lottery or STL, the wrecking of the Partrick Pass in Sablayan, and so forth and so on. Let us forget for the moment the gains that we accomplished like the Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (OMECO) change of leadership, the 25 year Mining Moratorium Provincial Ordinance and the rest of our little victories. Let us concentrate on the flaws and horrors of the year as we reflect on these words from a known theologian named Jurgen Moltmann in his book “Theology of Hope” : “It is (the revelation or manifestation) an announcement which is a proclamation of what is to come and therefore the abrogation of what is.” And from his German contemporary named Gerhard Ebeling : “The fascination with the future transforms the existence and subsisting reality into a changing and challenging reality, so that the real of this reality emerges as its possibilities for the future.” So, each time a fresh year is first experienced, it brings new hope and challenge to speak and proclaim the God not “above us” but “before us” and to be committed to build a new world of justice and peace. In short, a time to turn the garbage into gold.

This situation requires men and women of faith nourished by great hope and thus possessed of much courage. The courage of the Magi, who undertook a long and dangerous journey following a star, and who knew to kneel before a Babe and offer Him their precious gifts.

The people of Occidental Mindoro need this courage, anchored on firm hope…

(photo from :

Saturday, January 2, 2010

To Catch A Snake

An old Mangyan once taught me how to catch a snake and I’ll share it to you later.

It was exactly fifty nine years and a day ago today when Mamburao became the capital town of Occidental Mindoro after influential elites of the province campaigned for its transfer from San Jose. Prior to this, from November 15, 1950,- when the a bill was passed that divides Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, up to January 1, 1951, San Jose was the capital town primarily due to its general importance and prosperity. But in 1960s, an exodus of new settlers came to San Jose and nearby areas. The economic and development of these areas justified the foundation of new municipalities like Calintaan in 1966 and Magsaysay in 1969.

Compared to a snake, our province’s head is Mamburao while its tail part is San Jose. Let a family member grab the head while you mind the tail and other extremities and the whole snake is yours. Butcher it and let your wife do the rest in the kitchen. I assure you it’s far much cheaper than the caviar at Le Cirque!

Now, let us proceed to the Hanunuo Snake-Catching 101. First is to observe the snake, its length, its colors, and other distinguishing features. If you are not sure what kind of snake it is and if your sure its not edible, leave the snake alone. Second, get a stick or other long slender object, or whatever you have at hand (read : your political influence, money and connections). Distract the snake with those things. Firmly grasp its tail and lift the snake upwards, leaving the front part of its body on the ground, but keeping your legs and own body as far away as possible (read : do not be too obvious of your true agenda). Then, place the end of the stick under the front half of the snake. Lift the front half of the body off the ground. This will keep the snake calmer than if you grabbed its head, and will also let you control the snake's position easily (read: pamper the voters with promises and superficial projects and services). You may tie it up and give the snake a big blow on the head until it is lifeless. Lastly, wash your hands well. Snakes and other reptiles sometimes carry bacteria. While usually a minor concern, there have been examples of serious illness and even death in humans who have handled reptiles that carry the bacteria (read : get away without traces of your big kill).

But let us always keep in mind that snakes and tigers,- or other wild animals for that matter are generally harmless and their power only come out when they are agitated and cornered.

This reminds of the recent call of Bishop Warlito Cajandig, D.D of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan to all politicians to be contented with their present political position. According to Cajandig, his so-called Theology of Enough will be propagated in whole Oriental Mindoro this 2010. Especially for their political and voters' education.

Why go for an edible snake when you and your family already have fish,…or, should I say, pork?...

(Photo :