Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Learning According to Guitton

Around a hundred of neophyte congressmen who will be part of the House of Representatives for the first time will be having an actual experience of what is going on in the session hall on July 8, 2010. It will be an initial learning process for them for they would learn about the protocol in the plenary, the proceedings during session and the behavior expected from a member of the Lower House in the coming 15th congress. Of course boxing champ Manny Pacquiao of Saranggani and TV host Lucy Torres-Gomez are expected to join other greenhorn solons.

In Occidental Mindoro, the only first-time politician who won for a seat in the Provincial Board is Marilou C. Ignacio coming from the province’s second district composed of northern towns of Lubang, Looc, Paluan, Abra de Ilog, Mamburao, Sta. Cruz and Sablayan. Ignacio is the wife of former board member Randy Ignacio now detained at the Mamburao Provincial Jail. Randy and I are friends and we worked as community organizers for a national environmental project years before he entered politics. But that is another story. Mrs. Ignacio do not have any background whatsoever in politics much more in legislation. But I am sure he will be around sooner or later to lend her a helping hand.

And as I write this piece, around thirteen young boys from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro today joined the ABS-CBN’s controversial morning show over Channel 2 called “Showtime”. The group called “Road Boyz” performed a dance number inspired by a ballgame Sepak Takraw or “Sipa”. Road Boyz is headed by certain Rolex Tolentino, Jr. who hailed from Brgy. San Roque. It is their first time to perform outside of their home province and on a national telecast. But the Pandurucan boys did not make it to qualify for the weekly finals. Anyway, my congratulations for our homegrown kids for a nice try and effort. Certainly it was a learning experience.

I was only two years old when the book “A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work” by Jean Guitton was published where the author expounded on,- among other human endeavors, learning. Poor me for I haven’t read this book when I was in college, when I was young. Anyway, on pages 44 and 45, I came across with these words : “The flair of genius consists in detecting and keeping an eye on particular things that contain a potential universal and which through accumulated analogies can greatly enlarge our knowledge.” There are two ways of learning according to said French author and Catholic philosopher : the one, the way of temptation, sends you scurrying over the surface in endless agitation, and disorients you by making you believe that everything is different from everything else; the other, on the contrary, leads you back to the circle and makes you realize with serene delight what resemblances the varied elements of experience possesses among them.

And ultimately, no matter how we fared or whatever is the result, feel glad to every fruit of our good deeds. The ultimate thing to do is what the God-inspired author of Ecclesiastes taught us : “Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice his own works; for that is his portion”…

(Photo of Jean Guitton softlinked from 3.bp.blogspot.com)

Friday, June 11, 2010

When Jetmatics Rained

Hundreds and thousands of jetmatic water pumps engraved with surname of the two most powerful political couple rained all over Occidental Mindoro just days before the elections and majority of my province-mates sees nothing wrong with that. Is this in a way connected to something called water politics or hydropolitics coined by John Waterbury is his book “Hydropolitics of the Nile Valley” published in 1979? .

Hydropolitics is politics affected by the availability of water and water resources, a necessity for all life forms and human development. As we all know, fresh water is a fundamental requirement of all living organisms, crops, livestock and humanity included. The access to water is a basic human right and a prerequisite for peace. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated in 2001, “Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and, therefore, a basic human right. Contaminated water jeopardizes both the physical and social health of all people. It is an affront to human dignity.” Now, tell me,- is this the same motivation behind the distribution of those water pumps last elections?

According to the World Health Organization or WHO, each human being requires a bare minimum of 20 litres of fresh water per day for basic hygiene; this equals 7.3 cubic meters (about 255 ft3) per person, per year. Based on the availability, access and development of water supplies, the specific usage figures vary widely from country to country, with developed nations having existing systems to treat water for human consumption, and deliver it to every home. Here in our place, the island villages of Iling and Ambulong in San Jose town are in dire need of potable drinking water that the in-coming municipal administration have promised to address.

When I first saw a jetmatic pump engraved with such a family name, I cannot help but remember these words from St. Bernard of Clairvaux : “Every one must drink from his own well.” Or to paraphrase it, “from our own jetmatics.” So, we do have to rely much on politicians for our individual need for potable water. Speaking of that observation of St. Bernard, the Peruvian theologian and regarded as founder of Theology Of Liberation, Gustavo Gutierrez wrote a book called “We Drink From Our Own Wells”. According to Gutierrez, “Spirituality is like living water that springs up in the very depth of the experience of faith.” We, as true Christians, are the wells and jetmatics that are always connected to our water source which is the Lord. Not the political lords,- mind you, but Yahweh.

You may ask : “So, let's get rid of politics and politicians and make our own well and drink from it?” Not exactly. I am not saying that the development of our province or community depends only in our own hands as ordinary citizens. Or the world’s salvation depends on our efforts where world leaders (political, business, religious, etc.) are excluded. I am not saying that we must change everything all by ourselves. We cannot do alone that gargantuan task. Simply because governance and democracy are always about participation. A work both for the governors and those who are being governed. A poor farmer proudly told me while watching him minding his newly-bought jetmatic water pump : “At least, the money I used came from my pocket. This is a product of my labor…” So, why not drink from our own (not given by somebody else) jetmatic,- err, wells?

Yes, let us drink from our own wells (or jetmatics) because God’s love that is revealed in Jesus sets us FREE,- meaning without any pressure, to work in the service of His kingdom…

(Photo from SSC File)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Breakfast, Revolution and Jesus

I was invited by Mr. Dominciano "Par Doms" Bagatsolon and Hector Aragones to attend a Breakfast Meeting and the Brotherhood Christian Life Program (BCLP) at the Sikatuna Beach Hotel in San Jose last Saturday,- May 29, 2010. The BCLP is an initial formation series given to prospective members of the Brotherhood Christian Businessmen and Professionals or BCBP whose mission is to be “committed to living out Christian values and being change agents in the marketplace…through a process of on-going personal conversion, a commitment to professional excellence, community and nation-building, practice of justice and integrity and responsible care…”

Before his talk, our guest speaker told us that having been into the BCLP, we, the participants, are advised to pray for spiritual guidance and make every session a “happy event”. And he emphasized two main things : “Be an empty vessel” and “Be your self.”

Our speaker is a former seminarian and a 19-year BCBP veteran, a well-traveled and experienced executive from a globally-known business establishment. Our main man from Cavite rendered the topic : “Who is Jesus” and made mention about the impact of Jesus on man’s salvific history and many more. I learned new insights from him and he is brilliant in almost all aspects of public speaking. He delivered his lecture nice and clean, except for his failure to broaden a certain term,- that to me, has a larger meaning thus needs further reflection and elaboration.

I have no problem when he,- during his talk, said that Jesus is the only person ever pre-announced, whose coming split history; the only person whose reason for coming is to die, the one who is no ordinary “good man”; and so on. But he said that one of the misconceptions about Jesus is his being a socio-political revolutionary. With due respect to our speaker, defining a “revolutionary” as the one who fights the government, a militant, a rebel or an insurgent; the one causing, bringing and favoring violent changes,- is a short-sighted if not one-sided definition of the word. Pardon me again but I am just trying to be honest with my self. For me, a revolutionary is the one with dynamic vision, an active participant for social transformation, the one who aspire for a complete change through entirely different cause. Through peaceful or other means. The one who is in no way indiffrent in thoughts and in deeds.

Jesus was an initiator of active non-violent struggle during his time. In fact, he even “revolutionized” that old concept of “revolution”. He taught us that revolutions need to be bloodless and a sacrifice (or doing something sacred)like our very own EDSA revolt. With my definition of the word “revolutionary”, I firmly believe that,- contrary to our speaker’s view, Jesus is also a socio-political revolutionary during his time. And let us remember, Jesus clearly died or was killed on political ground(s) because the powers,- both civil and religious, feared him, his teachings, his values and influence. Also, during his time, crucifixion was the punishment for political activities specially rebellion.

Some say that Jesus was killed because he disappointed people’s hopes of a political-military messiah. Maybe. But based from all appearances, it was his conflictive or revolutionary activity which paved the way towards Calvary. This what I’ve learned from the book that changed many of my perspectives in life. A book written by the late Filipino liberation theologian named Fr. Carlos H. Abesamis entitled “Third Look At Jesus”. I am sorry for not being an “empty vessel” or tabula rasa this time.

I do not have formal study on Christology but I think it is almost impossible to examine Jesus objectively. Our perception of Jesus has a lot to do with our own hidden agenda, our political stance whether we are activists or reactionaries or otherwise. Even the corrupt and greedy politicians in our midst have their own perception of Jesus in accordance with their subjective views and vested interests. Myself included. But we all agree, regardless of our political affiliation and beliefs, that the dominant model for the Christian is that of the mission and the actual experience of Jesus himself in the world.

Jesus, no doubt, was a disturber of the status quo of every person and every community or society. He is a question mark by his words and lifestyle of the existing religious, social and political order of his time and ours, in almost every aspect. In sum, a true Christian has a sense of political responsibility and obligation to responsibly participate in the election processes, be fully and reliably informed concerning political issues. He/she has the responsibility to criticize the government,- its policies and its agents, in the light of the gospel and Law of God including to support just and humane policies and to oppose those policies and particular decisions which are unjust or inhumane.

So, whenever we are having a bountiful breakfast (lunch, dinner or brunch) let us always remember that not only food can also be part of our spiritual salvation but food is a life-and-death issue in a world,- the Philippines and the other impoverished Third World countries, where millions of children, men and women are malnourished and hungry while in the Holy Eucharist, we believe that Christ is present under the appearances of foods like bread and wine.

This reminded me of the controversial Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, author of “The Eucharist and Human Liberation” when he said that in Third World countries “the central act of Christian liberation is the celebration of the political act of liberation by God”. For Balasuriya, every repetition of the Eucharist should signify a new commitment to the struggle for justice. He said that many of us tamed the Eucharist, distorting its revolutionary implications into a time for re-affirming the status quo. There are people indeed like Balasuriya who believe that the true celebration of the Eucharist is an act of revolutionary politics. People that are moved by love of God and of neighbor.

By the way, next Saturday, our BCLP topic is about Spirituality after having of course our breakfast on that same table…

(Photo from Reuters)