Friday, February 26, 2010
Now that local election is fast approaching, gamblers(?) from two opposing political camps in the Occidental Mindoro are now openly placing their bets,- worth million pesos, mind you - on their “political horses”. There is a humor spreading in our locality that the “bet for dough” between the incumbent governor Josephine R. Sato and her closest rival, Father Ronilo M. Omanio is on. According to my source, the “pustahan”, though informally done, was even aired live over a local radio last February 22, 2010 when a SMS-sender dared the political patron of Father Omanio to said contest and the boss reportedly accepted the challenge. They even discussed over the air its details,- how, what bank and when to place the pot money.
“I don’t know why Omanio, being a man of cloth, did not even say a word about such a game. Isn’t it part of the culture of gambling that the Catholic Church is trying to counter?”, my source asked. She expected words of enlightenment from Father Omanio, the station manager, on this but she heard nothing. “He was there present in said radio show”, my source added.
Now, I am the one asking : I thought it is degrading for any human being with dignity to be treated like race rat for a dime or two? Besides, I think betting games such as this is an affront to the sacred expression of the sovereign power of the people. Election involves every element necessary for the ascertainment of the popular will of the people. That is why the process of election, or politics in general, is really holy or Godly. But Father Omanio’s “lips are sealed sometimes”,- to borrow the familiar line of society page columnist Maurice Arcache, especially on controversial but thought-provoking discussions like this one.
I also do not like the gesture of said hostile anonymous listener,- presumably a supporter or ally of the incumbent governor and/or San Jose’s present mayor, who texted the anchors and made a child-like but money, fun and ego-centered play out of this noble exercise called right to suffrage. To him (or her) I would like to emphasize that voting it is imperative for elected officials to ensure by just means the security of society and the citizens. That our vote demands them to defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens and government offices. So, get rid of such gambler’s antics in this,- if I may repeat, holy and Godly task of electing truly integrity-ridden, full of wisdom, capable and service-oriented leaders.
Indeed, no other event can mobilize public or private funds in such a short or concentrated period of time as elections can. Such gesture is one of the many proofs of superficiality of our local elections. What I am really saying is we must keep on guard against the ploy and antics of traditional politicians (yes, they are all trapo to me!). And let us heed this biblical call : Keep your eyes open! Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod (Mk 8:15).
Only through this we will all become enlightened citizens and Christians. And I’ll bet my last centavo for it. At least, figuratively…
(Photo from www.gm-volt.com)
Monday, February 22, 2010
Nakapagtataka. Noong 1986 sa EDSA, milyong Pilipino ang humugos sa kalsada para magdasal pero bakit hanggang ngayon ay lugmok pa rin sa kahirapan ang ating bayan? Bakit wala pa ring direksyon ang ating buhay-lipunan? Hindi ba dininig ang mga panalanging iyon?
Noong tayo ay bata pa, walang nang sasaya pa sa paglalaro ng patintero sa liwanag ng buwan. At dahil diyan, ito ang una kong personal na dasal na natutunan, kung ito man ay maituturing na isang sinasambit na panalangin : “P’wera tabis, sulod dayon!”
Dasal nga ba ang mga naising katulad nito? Kagaya halimbawa ng mga katagang ito ng mga sugarol sa Las Vegas bago nila ihagis ang dice sa kuyom sa palad : “ Give me a five, to keep me alive!” Oo, hindi ito kabilang sa mga dasal na itunuro sa amin noon ni Ateng Cordia, ang guro namin sa Katekesis (na Religion pa noon ang tawag namin) sa Mababang Paaralang ng Bubog. Pero talaga, para sa akin noon, ang aking bawat “P’wera tabis, sulod dayon” ay isang hiling, isang petisyon, isang panalangin.
Medyo chubby kasi tayo noong tayo ay bata pa at dahil dito ay may kabagalan tayong kumilos. Alam ko na sa aking bawat pagtatangka na pumasok sa loob ng alinman sa apat na parisukat na mga guhit sa lupa,- ang arena sa larong patintero, mas lamang na ako ay matataya dahil nga sa aking pagiging mataba, mabagal o pisikal na kahinaan. Bagama’t alam ko ang kahinaan kong ito, walang sinuman sa aking mga kalaro ang makapipigil sa aking pagsali sa larong patintero.
Sabihin na ninyo hindi tunay na dasal ang aking “P’wera tabis, sulod dayon”, pero alam ko na sa kabila ng aking pisikal na kahinaang ito, may isang puwersang hindi nakikita na tutulong sa akin, sa aking bawat hiling, sa bawat panahon kanyang nanaisin. Basta ang alam ko noon, nagtatakda ako ng isang komplementaryong ugnayan sa isang kung ano na nakakaalam ng lahat ng bagay. Alam ko na bago pa man ako matutong maglaro ng patintero, bago pa man ako pumasok sa klase ni Ateng Cordia, bago pa man ako unang magsimba sa misa ng Amerkanong pari na namimigay ng skimmed milk bago mag-uwian, una nang sinabi ng aking mga magulang na may tinatawag na Diyos na takbuhan natin sa lahat ng bagay. Ayon kay Nanay, ang panalangin ay hindi lamang ginagawa upang makamtan ang ninanais, makamit ang resulta ng bawat kahilingan. Mabuti kung tutugunin niya ang iyong mga kahilingan at kung hindi naman ay binibigyan ka niya ng sapat na panahon upang muling suriin ang iyong sarili, sabi ko nga kanina,- kilalanin ang ating mga kahinaan. At malay natin, hindi pala siya ang solusyon kundi tayo mismo!
Pero ang pagdarasal daw ay hindi lamang pakikipag-usap o pakikipagtalastasan. Ito rin ay panawagan sa isang pansariling pagbabago. Tayo ay nananalangin upang tayo ay maging isang bagong tao, naiibang tao at isang hindi basta-bastang tao. Isang alagad na kumikilala at umuunawa sa kanyang mga plano at kapasyahan, pagbigyan man niya tayo o hindi sa ating mga kahilingan sa ating bawat panalangin. Kung ang pagdarasal ay para sa pagbabago ng ating pagkatao, mula sa mga pansariling kahilingan ay dapat na umiigpaw ito sa lipunan. Sapagkat ang isang hindi basta-bastang tao ay nananalangin at kumikilos hindi lamang para sa pansariling kaligtasan kundi maging sa kaligtasan ng kapwa at ng lipunang kanyang ginagalawan. Kumbaga sa anyong tubig, kung ang mga personal at pampamayanang mga panalangin ay mga ilog at lawa o may pakinabang na tulad ng mga ilog at lawa, dapat ang lahat ng mga ito ay mauuwi sa dagat,- dagat na nagpapahayag ng kanyang pag-ibig at dagat na nagtatatag ng kanyang kaharian. Kung ang diwa ng EDSA sa isang panig ay isa lamang pabalat-bungang pagbabago na ginawang tuntungan ng ilan sa pagsasamantala sa pulitika, ito rin sa hinaharap ay inaasahang maging diwa na magtutulak sa atin sa pagtatatag ng isang lipunang mapayapa at makatarungan. Ito rin ang diwang magtutulak sa ating huwag iboto ang mga sakim sa kapangyarihan sa eleksiyong lokal. Saang barangay man sila nagmula.
Tayo rin ay nananalangin upang maging isang bagong bansa, naiibang bansa at hindi basta-bastang bansa bagama't hindi perpekto. Kagaya sa larong patintero (at maging sa unang EDSA), tumutugon siya hindi lamang sa paraang kagyat, radikal, mapaghimala o dramatiko,- sa mga penomenal na lundag, ilag, iwas, preno at takbo o mapangkumbinsing panalo, kundi tahimik na katulad ng isang dalisay na panalangin, sa unti-unti, dahan-dahan, simple at madalas na hindi napapansing mga hakbang. Saan o kailan man ito ginawa.
Katulad ng mga unang hakbang ng isang musmos sa andador na gawa sa yantok Mindoro…
(Photo from Anngaleon.blogspot.com)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Two priests came to visit their bishop who is suffering from cancer. When they inquire about his illness,- the result of medical tests and other diagnosis, the old prelate said, “I exactly do not know. All I got from my doctors are euphemisms.” As they walk out of the room, one of them unknowing ask the other, “Have you ever heard of cancer of the euphemism before?”
I really do not know if this anecdote really happened but it is indeed “torturous” to imagine that euphemism is part of the human anatomy. Euphemism is a part of every language that as we all know is a substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit. Like “reasonable restraint” and “acceptable mental anguish”, words from the statements of Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato when asked if the Morong 43 were tortured by the men of the 2nd ID of the Philippine Army in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr., stated in a news report that such statements, “...seem to be taken right out of a Guantanamo torture manual.” Reyes also said that blindfolding and handcuffing prisoners for 36 hours are a violation of the recently signed anti-torture law or the RA 9745. In Guantanamo, torture was euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques”.
But even before the Iraqui war, the dreaded Gestapo during the World War II, also employed a thing called “refined interrogation techniques” and became the favorite euphemism of their officers then. They call it “Verschaerfte Vernehmung”, an insidious German phrase. Regardless of the term they use, the Nazi secret police indeed practiced torture in the eyes of the civilized world. Because torture in whatever name degrades the humanity of a person whether he is a rebel or a soldier.
The military must now define “reasonable restraint” and “acceptable mental anguish”. Does it mean, in plain English, being tied and forced to assume stressful bodily position, electric shock, prolonged interrogation, denial of sleep and rest and deliberately prohibiting your detainees from communicating with their relatives?
Since 9/11 torture once again placed at the center stage of international debates. But the first thing we must do is to call it by its proper name. According to Edward Peters, professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania : “Now that torture is visibly and terribly back on a number of agendas, historians and everyone else must call it by its proper name and face it for what it is, for a denial of human rights is now tantamount to a denial of humanity.”
And torture is more lethal than cancer for it denies the dignity of man…
(Photo from www.bulatlat.com)
Saturday, February 13, 2010
It is the subject of the million topics from all countries and cultures all over the world as well as of poetry, telenovelas, homilies, commercials, advertisement, television talk shows and books. Especially during the so-called Love Month and especially tomorrow, Valentine's Day.
I do not intend to exhaust the topic of love but I just would like to openly emphasize that : “The purpose of life is to learn how to love”. However good or troublesome, love and life are very private things to confess or to discuss, others may say.
First of all, everybody needs love regardless of profession, belief, race, age, nationality or creed : newborns (including those who are still in their mothers’ womb), politicians (including their supporters and publicists), the priest who solemnized our marriage, the Mangyans and the land grabbers, the farmers and the loan sharks, the fishermen and the pirates, those working in the flesh trade and their pimps, herbalists and health professionals, beggars and almsgivers near the cathedral’s main door and even those who sell flowers at Dangwa and their clients, including the room boy of the hotel where we spent the night with our loved ones on V-Day. Including the waiters in the restaurants where we are having a date.
On a personal note, now I can comprehend why my wife is still madly in love with me. She loves me despite the awful, stupid, mean, crazy, bad and selfish things that I do. She loves me even when we fight over not brushing my teeth when I go to sleep. To tell you, I do not exactly wish to compare my wife to God but like God, her love for me is unconditional. And because of this, now I already learn how brush my teeth three times a day and even floss at least twice every month. Like my God, my wife does not love me because I am handsome (truly I am!) neither because I am good or nice but simply because I do love her too. She somehow made many changes in my life. Like my God, my wife does not need those positive qualities of me (especially my being handsome, if I may repeat) in order to love me. Not even when I lie (repeatedly) about my looks!
Seriously, like our beloved wives, God loves us no matter what. “The purpose of life is to learn how to love” , according to one writer on spirituality named Thomas Hart, author of “Hidden Spring : The Spiritual Dimension of Therapy”. Loving is not a skill we are born with even if you are as cute as mine when you are a toddler. Loving is a skill we must learn,… like,- you’ve guessed it right, lying about your (self-proclaimed) handsomeness. No matter how we lie sometimes, we must learn how to love.
We learn love by being loved. None of us has been or is loved perfectly. Like all of us, my family is not perfect, my friends are not perfect,- so do my bosses, my children, my neighbors, my community, etc. That is why after three years of being engaged, I immediately (during our time it was!) married my wife because I do not want to waste my youth and time or my whole life finding and waiting for a perfect woman or a perfect love. I was thirty then but we didn’t let loose the still imperfect love that me and wife are sharing for more than eighteen years now.
From “being loved” let us go to “by loving”. Like blogging, loving takes time and practice. Mistakes (in my case it’s my grammar and my speling) naturally come our way. But I did not give up on loving (read : blogging) just because of those errors. Up to now, only few relatives, friends and co-workers read my blog. Well, that is based only on the lack of on-line comments from my posts. But I would not give up as long as there are people who would tell me they are my readers but finding it hard to post a comment. As in blogging or writing and in loving as well, mistakes or frustrations are to be expected. And not unlike blogging (at least for a trying hard blogger like me), loving is so important to human life. Loving is life’s essence. Love is so wonderful and well worth the effort and time, troubles and mistakes in order for us to learn and do it well.
“Love one another” is Jesus’ supreme command. He said it over and over again like a broken record in a variety of stories and images because He knew how hard it was.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all, even if loving is most of the time a “dis-ease”…
(*With apologies to the musical program over Bambi-FM with (almost) the same title. Photo from www.gadget4all.com)
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
ABS-CBN been showing news reports and even did series of stories on HIV/AIDS for almost a week now. The message is this : the number of Aids patients in the Philippines is increasing at an alarming rate. Since the newly appointed Secretary of Health Esperanza Cabral went public with the recent information on said virus, as expected, media sensationalized it. I was horrified not because a was in a high risk situation but because when a news or a social concern is sensationalized such this,- chances are, our attention to such issue would not last long. Long enough to encourage authorities to push for better or alternative prevention programs.
By the way, in the late 80s, there was a rumor that the first ever Filipino to have admitted to have contacted with Aids but later have given face to the disease, previously came to San Jose as sex worker and some of our politicians became her clients. But the truth behind this rumor is not established. It's just a whole damn lie. I mean, about the lady working here in San Jose, but not the truth that some of our politicians frequently visit our red light districts or the place in Brgy. Pag-Asa commonly called as “Gitna”. “Then”, I should have added.
The recent the news on TV reminds me of an elderly churchgoer who once remarked, “That (Aids) is God’s punishment!” Such remark is to say that there is a causal connection between the sickness and the sinful sexual act. But that is not so. I mean, the cause-effect model, because there are individuals with Aids who did nothing sexual to acquire it. Like hemophiliacs and small children. Our thinking that Aids is God’s punishment is contrary to the gospel’s image of God and the message of joy.
True, in Jesus’ time, sickness and suffering were seen as God’s punishment but Jesus unmasked this kind of notion by saying : "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (Jn. 9:3). And remember, His resurrection crumpled down, like deck of cards, the so-called cause-effect relationship between suffering and God’s punishment. The suffering of Jesus is in no way His Father’s punishment.
In the biblical times, the “responsibility to inform” is being advocated, similar to what public figures advocate today with respect to Aids. Leprosy in Jesus time is what Aids is today. If leprosy was suspected, a person went to the priest and seven days later a judgment was given. Such illness resulted in economic isolation, neglect and despair. Luckily, Aids is not as detectable as leprosy if we only use our naked eye. The Gospels, by the way, tell us that the Son of Man associated with lepers. And what would Jesus would say to Filipino Christians today? This is just a wild guess : “If you are informed that someone from your community has Aids,- go to his apartment, play, chat and dine with him or her and be his/her friend and neighbor.”
I was not able to explain this to that old woman : “Aids is a natural occurrence and not God’s punishment.” Not only Aids. Every human suffering confronts us with the question of the meaning of our existence and presents us with an opportunity for self-examination. And consequently we will realize that all God’s commandments are meant for joy and liberation.
Yes, including the sixth commandment…
(Photo from www.unaids.org)
Thursday, February 4, 2010
My youngest child Sophia, 5, will surely miss Santino, the “miracle boy” from the television series entitled “May Bukas Pa” (lit. “There Is Still Tomorrow”) for the show will be going to end this Friday. I have no choice but to follow said telenovela since my wife and I decided to cut our cable TV subscription last year due to some household austerity measures. Since then, I kissed CNN, HBO and Basketball Channel goodbye. Pipay (as we fondly call her), her elder sister Anawim and myself have been following (I do not have any other choice for ABS-CBN is the only available channel here in San Jose) the show since day one. We watch "Santino" together, except of course when I am out for meetings, trainings and other advocacy and job-related works during its airing time. Well, that is “Santino” for you.
"Generativity" is a term coined by the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson in 1950 to denote "a concern for establishing and guiding the next generation." Generativity can be expressed in literally hundreds of ways, specially when you try to "make a difference" with your life, to "give back," to "take care" of your community and your planet.
There was a time when the show lost focus on the miracle boy’s story, his eargerness to find his biological parents, and instead lump together stories of other people, that obviously made just to parade the network’s “galaxy of big stars”. At first, I was turned off but as every sub-plot goes on, I began to realize something. This is what I re-learned from the story of Santino : To move beyond ourselves and our own concern, to become involved in the crucial issues of the day, to have an impact of the wider community in which we live. Forget about its poor cinematic effects especially the animation, the excessive portrayal of violence and evil deeds, poor acting by some of the supporting casts and incredible scenes. Let us just focus our lenses on Santino’s sense of mission : the call to self surrender. Self surrender is a state of being called “love” by us, Christians.
In short, Santino reminded me and hopefully taught my teenage Anawim that faith is not a private matter. That it makes sense in life to trust and rely on her and other people’s experience in order to help our needy neighbor. For me, this is generativity in its simplest form. This “Faith is not a private matter” lesson we have (re-) learned from Santino reminds me of Adi Maronilla, Jr, the 7 year old “boy wonder” from Victoria, Oriental Mindoro who said : “Faith is an action word.”. Maronilla is said to have an IQ of 144. But let us now go to Santino’s Bro, AKA Jesus.
Jesus is a life giver. Like Santino, the real-life Bro, wherever He go, He generated life. Jesus listened to stories told by all the people who crossed His path. He healed them of their illnesses, entrusted them with responsibility, suffered with them, encouraged them to love and offered them hope. The beautiful parable of the vine and the branches (Jn. 15:1-10) is a call to generativity. One of my favorite authors and a theologian named Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ once said : “God will have the last word in our lives as indeed God had the first, and it is the same word : ‘LET THERE BE LIFE.’” If we are united with Santino’s Bro, we will continue to generate new life.
Even when Santino is gone and Zaijan Jaranilla become a grown up man …
(Photo from ABS-CBN Website)