Tuesday, February 22, 2011

EDSA Questions, Whatever

Is the 1986 EDSA People Power relevant to Occidental Mindoro? Are we, people of Occidental Mindoro, able to nourish and flourish the seed and richness of such great historic event and spirit? All I know is there are college students today, when asked questions such as these, would automatically quip, “Whatever!”

On the other hand, is Ferdinand Marcos for you (based on whatever and whichever information you have) a deliverer from under development or a dreaded dictator, or both? All I know is there are a lot of politicians that learned a lot from him because they went through the same channel.

To describe in a sentence or two the political stint of Marcos, he began his career with the murder of Julio Nalundasan, his father’s political rival, in 1935 and ended with the assassination of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. in 1983. Though he denied his participation is said killings, many people believe that he had a personal hand on these. Those who gathered at EDSA 25 years ago today believe that his entire political life was based on fraud, deceit, and plunder, and his two decades as president have come to epitomize the worst excess of autocratic rule.

Though Marcos and his local allies allegedly masterminded election frauds such as ballot switching and despite his generally perceived notoriety, his first term as head of state was not a bad one. He allocated a large sum of budget for improvement of infrastructure such as buildings, streetlights, recreation centers, among many projects. Based on such performance, especially infrastructure, therefore Marcos was re-elected to a second term.

Under Marcos, the heydays of clannish system in Philippine politics began. This is exactly the same situation we are experiencing in Occidental Mindoro today. The clannish political system still exists. And that was no longer Marcos’ fault. It’s my fault as a voter and as a citizen. It is our fault. To many, especially for those who benefit from a politician, it does not matter if his/her patron is a bureaucrat- capitalist as long as s/he delivers visible projects such as infrastructure.

After the so-called EDSA Revolution, almost all national, provincial and municipal officials were replaced by President Corazon Aquino as Officers in Charge (OIC). Peter O. Medalla, Jr., became the province’s OIC Governor. Unlike in Oriental Mindoro, where high tension situation ensued between OIC-Governor Benjamin “Chippy” Espiritu and the incumbent Hicoblino Catly, the transition between Madalla and Arsenio Villaroza became peaceful. Villaroza was a political ally of Marcos and served as governor from 1960 to 1986.

Medalla is a protégée of Vice President Salvador Laurel and at the same time one of the officials of United Democratic Opposition (UNIDO) in the province. Remember that Aquino and Laurel, though the former was a Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) bet, as part of agreement then of the two political parties, both campaigned under the Lakas-UNIDO coalition. In the 1988 regular election, Medalla became Governor together with Josephine Ramirez (now Sato), a lawyer by profession, as Vice Governor. And the rest became history for the San Jose born lady politician.

Try to imagine the fundamental events, the current issues that we are facing today in the province, the socio-political, economic and cultural realities in the province, and ponder on these questions: Are we ready to honor the memory of EDSA by pursuing transparency in governance regardless who will be side swept in the process? Are we learning and spreading its lesson by amplifying the voice of the silent majority than the authoritative voice of the politicians? Are we pursuing initiatives for change without political leanings? Are we actively living the values of EDSA in our community, work places or whatever we do here at Facebook? Do we have inspiring and deepening commitment to such spirit by focusing on the things that unite us instead of those that divide us?

And answering “Whatever” to these questions would lead us to nowhere as a people …

(Photo: Google Images)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Friends Augustine & Jerome

Saints Jerome and Augustine never met – not unlike many of our Facebook friends today - but they developed a cordial respect for each other despite their serious differences in views and opinion as extensively presented here. As a scholar, St. Jerome was best known for his exegetical studies chiefly to his revisions and translations of the Bible. Some early theologians said that Jerome missed being a theologian by not applying himself in a consecutive and personal manner to doctrinal questions. In his controversies he was simply the interpreter of the accepted ecclesiastical doctrine. On the other hand, in Augustine, inferiority in breadth and originality of view is most evident.

The lengthy discourse of the two great Church’s doctors started when Augustine, in a friendly manner, criticized Jerome for some phrases of the latter’s translation of the bible. During those days, letter delivery was a haphazard process and letters were considered public domain, just like our modern-day social network shouts or tweets or anything posted in our walls that can be viewed by others. Augustine’s letter took almost 10 years before it landed on the hands of Jerome. It had been read and copied along the way. In fact, it would seem, according to the book “If Augustine Were Alive” by Theodore Tack, OSA, that Jerome got one of the copies and wasn’t even sure it was from Augustine. Jerome wrote a rather blistering letter in reply which reached Augustine in just few months. Jerome was over assertive in his every conviction and because of this he and his former friend, Rufinus, parted ways over doctrinal differences.

How Augustine of Hippo replied to Jerome of Bethlehem is admirable: “I shall most gratefully receive a rebuke offered in such a friendly way … If I receive your correction calmly as medicine, I shall not be pained by it … And even though because of natural or personal weakness I cannot help feeling saddened … it is better to put up with the pain while the abscess on the head is being healed, rather than not be cured so as to avoid the pain.” Indeed, as friends we must be willing to accept correction live by it, as well as praise and appreciation.

Despite the fact that these two saints never met, they have the highest respect for one another and their succeeding exchanges showed real friendship despite occasional misunderstandings and contrasting opinions. That was because both Augustine and Jerome clothed themselves with humility. Many of our “friends” during our discussions here at Facebook are not doing the same. Many are getting worse everyday and not changing their ways!

Pride attacks our humility like in a deadly, senseless war. Pride is the most fundamental enemy not only of humility but of friendship. As one of the 7 Deadly Sins, Pride can be categorized into 3 demons, err… dimensions: pride of material possessions, pride of origins and pride of personal talents. Pride makes us rude and arrogant, negative qualities that we all hated in an acquaintance.

In his “Sermon 137” (nos. 3, 9), Augustine reminded us that, “Pride lurks even in good works, seeking to destroy them.” But many proud Facebook users, boastful as they are, hate quotes of wisdom from men and women of faith like Augustine and Jerome…

(Photo : Googleimages)

Friday, February 11, 2011

All About Love, Almost, Again

To you young lovers out there, behold! I am in no way a certified lover of romantic stories or movies neither I’ve never been into buying chocolates and roses when I was a teenager. As I grow old, I become a learner. By the way, this entry is a follow-up to my last year’s V-Day post that can be revisited here.

To be honest, even today, I still grapple with the concept of love and romance or its combination, romantic love. All I know is love elicits reaction that cannot be equaled by and compared to any other human emotions. And ultimately, this is expected to lead us to being with one flesh to someone and guide us to marriage. It can also be an experience of learning for our next encounter with it. It can make us fearless and courageous to commit ourselves to another human being, to borrow the familiar tagline of DWRR 101.9, “for life”. As such, if you’re a girl and your friend curiously asked you this between giggles, the day after your honeymoon: “Have you already lost your virginity?” you will answer back madly (perhaps shyly or proudly): “Hell, no! I voluntarily gave it away!”

Many young people who were steadies somewhat confused between “feeling good” and “falling in love.” (I have reservations with the term “fall in love” but I explain that later.) Lovers or sweethearts struggle to change the other by setting rules taken from each other’s “likes and dislikes” lists, aiming for the relationship to last. They work hard to be comfortable and compatible with each other. But most of the time, young lovers end up with a break-up because such “rules” are broken by either or both of them a consequently lead to limbo, of losing one’s own identity. Love, romantic or otherwise, can be defined radically like this: “When two unselfish people who are deeply aware that love or romance is not for personal excellence nor beauty and aesthetic value that are hinged on commercialism.” So, selflessness has a huge and workplace because humanity by and large is taken with romance and romantic love. Selflessness make love gets stronger everyday.

Every time I hear the old song “When I Fall in Love” being played, I often wonder why there is such English phrase “falling in love”, where in fact true and genuine love is not something to “fall” into. True love is not the bottom of a cliff but the roots and branches of a life-giving tree near it. “God is love”, this strong statement also shows us to whom, aside from each other, to cling to when the relationship is on the rocks. But believing in love as well as God is not enough. And you will be able to find them most of the time in the most turbulent flight of your life. Truth to tell, love comes your way even if you do not find it.

On the occasion of Valentine’s Day on Monday remember that when you love, you cling to each other, to other people, to community and to God roots and branches…

(Photo from Googleimages)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Not Apart, But A Part*

The saddest news story that I’ve stumbled upon the net in the last few days happened in Sidney but I had a feeling that some sectors in Philippine society would like to push the issue of legalized euthanasia for public debate sooner or later. Though it happened some years ago, not unlike the Reproductive Health Bill, this issue will ultimately take the center stage, stir public debates and will haunt us as Filipino believers and citizens in the years to come. Like a tsunami from far away seas that ripple down to foreign shores.

The tragic drowning of a toddler diagnosed with Rett syndrome, a disorder that often leaves patients with severe physical and intellectual disabilities, found a “great irresponsibility”, according to a lengthy investigation of authorities, on the part of the parents of two-year old baby named Maia Comas. Two months before her death, her parents, 36-year-old Pablo Comas and 31-year-old Samantha Razniak were very disappointed with the diagnosis which stated that their daughter having said incurable but non-terminal disease.

Ms. Razniak rattled government social workers by telling them: “Do you understand that she will grow into a young woman and have the mind of a 2 to 10 year old. The head, hands and feet all stop growing. I don’t want to see my daughter become a monster, to become ugly… I’d rather her die now than die slowly.” She continued by saying, “I want to get on with my life and not see all this ugliness – clinics, home disabled people, doctors.” Mr. Comas felt much the same. He once asked a social worker: “Why do they keep children with these disabilities alive? It doesn’t seem fair on the children.”

Why am I imparting you this? On Friday, February 11, 2011, the 19th World Day of the Sick will be commemorated. Catholics celebrate the event along with the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes. In his letter to the bishops of different dioceses, Fr. Luke Moortgat, Executive Secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Health Care, encouraged them to establish diocesan and parochial commission for the handicapped, sick, elderly and dying. He added that, “This will surely serve as strong motivation for us all to care more for those who are now the most forgotten and neglected in our society”. This could be materialized by organizing the so-called 1% Movement from the ranks of professionals geared towards caring for said neglected sectors of our society.

Like Maia Comas, regarding children with incurable diseases, the clergy and lay people are requested to organize the preparation and administration of the sacrament of confirmation for the children with terminal illnesses that could also be a little sign of concern of parents who suffer much.

In his Message Pope Benedict XVI emphasized this challenge:”Dear brothers and sisters, for this World Day of the Sick, I also invite the political authorities to invest more and more in health systems that are a help and a support for the suffering, above all the poorest and the most needy …” But remember that the recently declared over-all champion when it comes to serving the sick is none other than Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997; beatified in 2003; feast day September 5) who was found on the streets washing the wounds of the lepers. And this is what she taught us that, “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”

BXVI also invites us to reflect on the mystery of suffering, be sensitive to the sick, care especially for those who suffer, both individuals and society must join hands towards this end. The social teaching called Spe Salvi (No. 38) has this to say : “A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through ‘com-passion’ is a cruel and inhuman society."

Just as cruel, irresponsible and selfish as the parents of a that lovely cherubim from Australia named Maia…

(*From the title of CBCP-ECHC Letter. Photo: AP)