Friday, June 28, 2013

Oath Takings

It was June 27, 1992 when I married a former classmate and just yesterday, June 27, 2013, my principal, Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano took his oath for his second term of office as mayor of the biggest municipality, as far land area, in the country and the only first class municipality in Occidental Mindoro. Because of the oath taking ceremonies, I spent my 21st wedding anniversary not with my wife but with my co-employees at LGU-Sablayan, the five newly-elected and re-elected members of the legislative board who have also sworn-in to office, namely Celso Salgado, Obet Dawates, Lhuz Ani, Manny Tadeo and Philip Urieta, their relatives, friends and visitors from all over, who witnessed the affair including barangay officials. While enjoying the socialization and solidarity part of the occasion where food, song and spirit were served at the Sikatuna Hotel Function Room in San Jose, my wife was minding her thesis back home. It’s about child-rearing and academic performance of her pupils, by the way.

Technically speaking, vows and oaths are not the same. A vow is usually used to describe a mutual promise to your wife (and husband) like in my case. An oath, specifically oath of office is usually more of something we swear to do for a group of people. Both events for me do not have much difference and the formal definition is pretty much the same.

Three pastors and a priest led the opening ecumenical prayer yesterday. Oath taking usually ends with the words “So help me, God”. Indeed, an oath usually signifies our hope and admittance that we can do nothing without the intercession of the Almighty. Not unlike a marriage vow. An oath of office is a prayer, a promise and a covenant, both to the Lord and to the laws of the land and the Constitution. We make our public officials take an oath because of the substantial consequences of their tasks and duties ahead. During oath takings, society makes the person on the stand call God as their witness that they will tell the truth. The administering officer is just a conduit to the oath. Oaths give us, witnesses and the general public, important assurance or hope and reliance to God.

Ms. Memviluz Baurile of DILG-Occidental Mindoro rendered her speech that no doubt fully graced the oath taking. She is the head of a DILG’s provincial cluster of towns which includes Sablayan. The oath taking ceremonies conjoin with the Comprehensive Development Planning Workshop initiated by our Municipal Planning and Development Office (MPDO) which was attended by Vice-Mayor Andy Dangeros, Councilors Nancy Landicho, Ruben Dangupon, Conchita Dimaculangan, Obet Lim and Glenda Aguilar. Municipal Administrator Alfredo R. Ventura led the recitation of Pledge of Commitment of public servants and likewise shared some inspirational insights to us employees during the inaugural ceremonies.

Yesterday was Mayor Ed Gadiano’s second oath of office as local chief executive. In his Inaugural Speech he thanked his partners in the local government for making our town on top of the map in various socio-political dimensions. He, too, enumerated what we have accomplished in past three years, honors and awards that can be summed up by winning the Regional Gawad Pamana ng Lahi for the municipal category given by DILG Mimaropa, and the readiness to the challenges ahead. He openly declared that under his watch he will strive to make Sablayan the economic and political center of Occidental Mindoro. I need not to enumerate the achievements garnered by Sablayan in just three years under the leadership of those in the executive and legislative branches of the local government unit. But one thing I am certain, in his previous term, Mayor Ed did not lie under oath!

So, needless to say, I came home late last night and greeted my wife a happy anniversary and gave her a comforting shoulder massage while narrating what happened in the short but meaningful ceremony capturing its solemnity and lightness. 

She gave me pleasant words and a smile that downs  me through the years and then, ... we had our moment…

(Photo : Anjhun Manzano File)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Spurs' Filipino Coach

My mother, more that 70 years of age, is wooing for the Miami Heat only because Erik Spoelstra is half Filipino and not because of LeBron James and company or the team’s stats, philosophy, tradition, performances, and so forth and so on. To her, those are just collateral. I, first in the brood of 5, am a solid Spurs die hard, by the way.

But I do understand my mother. I know she’s envy of Elisa Celino of San Pablo City, mother of Coach Spo. My mother been a basketball fanatic since Crispa-Toyota days but none of her 4 boys have played or been involved even in small time leagues such as school intramural. Her eldest is not into sports but he was a sportswriter and a gymnasium barker way back in college. Like my mother, many Pinoy NBA fans root for Miami because of Spoelstra’s family roots or his Filipino-ness.

My mother and other Filipinos who cheer for Heat mainly because of Spoelstra’s bloodline have forgotten that there’s an “erstwhile” Filipino from the ranks of the coaching staff of San Antonio Spurs and he is Arthur “Chip” Engelland. Engelland stayed in the Philippines for more than 9 years and became part of the national basketball program and training pool for the Philippines men's national basketball team from 1980 to 1986. The team also used the names Northern Consolidated Cement and San Miguel Beer. Chip Engelland specializes and is in-charge of San Antonio’s shooting skills.

Who said that sports and politics should not be mixed? Chip Engelland’s fate to reach Philippine soil can be traced back in 1980 when President Ferdinand Marcos appointed Ambassador Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco to become the project director for basketball in the Philippines. The goal is to keep the country competitive in international competitions. Though this action was criticized by many especially the nationalists, Cojuangco opted to scout for national players and coaches abroad, particularly in the US. Along with the top Filipino amateur cagers, the Philippine Team made it internationally with 8 naturalized Filipinos in their line-up but the program did not get the support of the Filipino people. Our homegrown talents, as expected, were overshadowed by their American team mates. The pool’s top brasses limited the number of the “naturalized” dribblers into just three and along with the comeback duo of Jeff Moore and Dennis Still, Coach Ron Jacobs added a new player in Chip Engelland, Spurs' assistant coach today.

In 1984, Engelland was cheered and loved by Filipinos when he competed in the PBA when players from the training pool are allowed to play in the professional league as guest team, an all-amateur team called Northern Consolidated Cement (NCC). Chip Engelland traded stories and developed long lasting friendship with Allan Caidic (another favorite of my mother next to Ramon Fernandez), Hector Calma and Samboy Lim and the rest of his Filipino friends. I am sure of that.

Chip Engelland had been part of Philippine sports history no doubt. In 1985, he was part of the guest team which bagged the 1985 PBA Reinforced Conference championship. Chip Engelland became once a Filipino who represented the Philippine basketball team and captured the 1984 ABC Club Championship and the 1985 Jones Cup championship and the 1985 World Cup for Champion Clubs at Gerona, Spain.

Surely I made my mother remember Spurs’ Chip Engelland but failed to convince her that her Heat will be doomed tomorrow and Engelland would finally get his second ring…

(Photo :

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Our Homegrown Fathers

Tomorrow is Father’s Day but I will not be writing about my or somebody else’s biological father but about some diocesan or homegrown priests from our province. We call our priests “father”, remember?

Majority of our homegrown priests are at present experiencing crisis either in their ministry or vocation. But I would not name names neither go into details for I am not in a position to do this, not because I am afraid of ex-communication or afraid of being accused as a deserter from my faith, or even worse, of sacrilege. They are men who in their childhood days were already exposed to the smell of the Mangyans, have crossed Occidental Mindoro rivers and mountains long before they have learned to read the Bible and entered the seminary. Decades ago before we call them “Father”, before they were ordained.

Their present experience or predicament lead me to think what Jesus warned the first priests and the kind of life they must anticipate. “Not only will they expel you from the synagogues,” He warned, “anyone who will put you to death will claim to be serving God”. (Jn. 18, 1) From my personal reflection, “death” here does not only concern biological death but death of morale and or of dying hope and of ministry. As promised, all of these will pass and the Lord will surely “overcome the world” but “Take courage!” (Jn. 16, 33) Just hang on, Fathers. Hang on to the Cross!

Your former or present parishioners, majority of them, in the silence of their prayers and tranquility of their actions are behind you especially in this troubled moment of your ministry. Their friendship and love, including those of your family and friends, would remain for the graces of your ordination have sustained us. If you hang on to the Cross, we will provide you ropes, and yes, even nails!

Seriously, we understand how you feel because this is beyond expectation or imagination. Indeed it is necessary being one with your priest brothers as a presbyterium under the staff of direction, authority and correction of the bishop. Indeed what a grace it is for a bishop to advance the mission of his priests and not to sideline or isolate them. Ministry-wise and even personally, no son is heavy to lift simply because he is his father. A true father’s heart, as displayed in the Story of the Prodigal Son, is an oasis of love and understanding. Every father possesses authority and intelligence balanced with care and affection.  

Clerical intrigues and politics are two of the factors that corrodes a Church according to findings through the National Congress of the Clergy held last July 5-9 2004. In Workshop II : Spirituality and Lifestyle of the Filipino Clergy of the Congress it is reported, “This situation [of clerical intrigues and politics] creates a demoralization process that, sooner or later, becomes the fertile ground for mistrust, manipulation and disillusionment among leaders of the Church themselves. The disunity of the Church ensues and, at the end, it is the body of Christ that breaks down.” That Congress initiated by the former Chairman of the CBCPs Commission on Clergy Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales aimed at pastoral and priestly renewal participated by 4,000 priests coming from all over the country should have already forewarned our particular Church here in Occidental Mindoro. Certainly no good father would let differences among his sons left unsettled. Through immediate dialogue, which is the only way of resolving conflicts as far as the Church is concerned, everything must internally be patched up. A good father would not let a little spark among his sons left unattended or what we would figuratively reap is a destructive fire.

But I still expect that our own vision of “Father’s” Day will come soon. We are praying for a future that all the priests in our diocese will be united once more as “a truly Christian community united in worship, service and witness of Christ” as stated in the Vicariate’s Vision. This will be the time when our diocese institute systems concerning the growth of the priests where the lay and religious can share their particular charisms, collaboration and participation.  

With my best lessons in life gained from them when he was already gone, my late biological father, Manuel Sr., would surely not mind greeting said priests, specially the elder ones, a Happy (Note the quotation marks) “Father’s” Day!...

(Photo: FaithWorld)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Damaso Armas

"Damaso". Iyan ang pakutyang tawag ng iba sa mga pari lalo na noong kasagsagan ng debate sa RH Bill.  Sa paglagda ni P-Noy sa Republic Act 10591 o ang "Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act” na isang batas hinggil sa regulasyon ng baril, marami ang natuwa. Nagbibigay din ito ng pahintulot na mag may-ari ng baril ang mga mamamayan na, “whose nature of work may pose danger to their lives” kabilang ang mga pari. Naalala ko tuloy ang lumang pelikula ng yumaong si Ramon Zamora noong 1983 na pinamagatang “Dalmacio Armas.” Direktor nito si Carlo J. Caparas at na-serialize sa comics section ng pahayagang People’s Journal at idinibuho ni Mar T. Santana. Kaya lahat ng mga paring may baril (na mayroon naman talagang pari na may baril sa tunay na buhay) ay tawagin ninyong “Damaso Armas” kung gusto ninyo!

Hindi tuwirang ipinagbabawal ng Simbahang Katoliko ang pagma-may-ari ng armas o baril sa mga layko o maging sa mga pari. Sabi sa Catechism of the Catholic Church o CCC, “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm [2263-2265].  Isa lamang ang malinaw sa bagong batas na ito para sa akin: Pinagtitibay ng  kasalukuyang pamahalaan na ang mga aktibong pari ay mga mamamayan din ng bansa na may mga karapatan sa ilalim ng Saligang Batas, sa kabila ng prinsipyong sinasabi ninyong Separation of Church and the State. Katulad ng paglahok (pagkandidato) sa halalan ng mga aktibong pari na hindi naman bawal sa alinmang batas ng pamahalaan ngunit ang mismong batas ng Simbahan ang nagbabawal.

Nagsalita na ukol pagma-may-ari ng baril ang ilang Obispo na miyembro ng CBCP at sabi nila in brief and in chorus, more or less ay ganito: “No, thanks.” Ewan ko kung ano ang masasabi ninyo dito. Pinag-dedebatehan pa rin kasi ito sa sirkulo ng mga Katoliko sa buong mundo. Sa katunayan, ang CBCP bilang isang collegial body  ay silensyo pa sa isyu sa pagkakaalam ko, pati ang mismong Canon Law bagama't may mga organisasyong pan-Simbahan ang nag-aadbokasiya kontra sa paghawak ng baril, legal man o ilegal, ng mga mananampalataya. Ipinauubaya ito ng Batikano sa mga lokal na ordinaryo at partikular na Simbahan.

Siyanga pala, noong 2006 sa India, isang Fr. Jacob Augustine ang nag-apply para magkaroon ng lisensya ng baril na umani ng pagbatikos sa media. Katwiran ni Fr. Jacob, kailangan niyang proteksiyunan ang kanyang sarili kaya dapat lamang na mag may-ari siya ng baril. Isang layko ang bumatikos sa desisyon na iyon ng pari. Si Joseph Pulikunnel, lider ng kanilang pamayanan, ay nagsabi na ang pagkakaroon ng baril ay, "unbecoming of a priest.” Sabi pa ni Pulikunnel, "Jesus never protected himself with arms. And when Roman soldiers came to arrest him, he restrained his disciples from drawing out their swords." Katulad daw ng kasal, limitado lamang ang karapatan ito sa mga walang orden at hindi para sa mga pari. Maliban na lang kapag sila ay aalis na sa pagka-pari. Habang pari pa sila, maliban na lamang yaong mga chaplain ng pulis o military, bagama’t may karapatan daw silang legal na magka-baril ay hindi sila pinahihintulutang gamitin ang karapatang ito.

Kung ako lang, ang mga paring nais na legal na magka-baril  ay hayaan na lang kung gusto nila. Pero hayaan din ang mga walang baril na mas nanaisin pa ang mapahamak sa baril kaysa sa maging responsable sa pagbaril at pagkamatay at pagka-lumpo ng kapwa.

Huwag lamang “mabuhay sa baril” katulad ng mga gangster. Ibig sabihin ay huwag gumamit  ng dahas para mabuhay. O umasa sa dahas para matamo ang mga ninanais. Ituring natin na isa lamang ang baril sa mga gamit na pang proteksyon na dapat tayong maging responsable kasama ng pag-iingat, dasal, pag-iwas at iba pa, para ipagpatuloy ang ating misyon sa buhay at sa pamayanan ng Diyos.

Si Hesus man ay nag-utos sa Kanyang mga alagad na lumabas at bumili ng mga espada (Lukas 22:36). Utos na sinunod ng kanyang mga alagad. Pero ang tanong, ilan kaya ang susunod sa paninindigang ito ng mga obispo na hindi dapat mag may-ari ng baril ang mga pari? Ambot.

Hayaan silang legal na mag may-ari ng baril alinsunod sa batas na nabanggit pero maging ehemplo lang sana natin si Gabriel Possenti na sa Ina ng Hapis at sa Krus kumukuha ng tapang at hindi sa baril. Hindi kagaya ni Dalmacio Armas…

(Photo : Saint. Bartholomeow. com)

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Pasukan na naman sa Lunes. Maraming kabataan mula sa ating lalawigan ang luluwas ng Maynila o sa alinmang siyudad at sentrong bayan upang mag-aral. Kapag tayo ay nasa ibang lugar, sari-saring tao ang ating makakadaupang palad. At kung mayroong mga kaibigan at ka-eskuwelang tapat ay mayroon din mga mapagbalatkayo. Sa klasikong nobela na “Florante at Laura’ ni Francisco Balagtas, may bahagi doon na naglalahad na buhat sa Alabania siya ay tumungo ng Atenas upang mag-aral. At sa blog entry na ito, ang buhay-estudyante lang ni Florante ang ating iikutan.

Malimit, kung sino pa ang ating mga kababayan ay siya pang mahirap pakisamahan. Kahit itanong niyo sa mga OFW. Si Adolfo marahil ang kauna-unahang jeproks sa literatura ng Pilipinas dahil sa katangian nitong tila “laki sa layaw.” Sa Saknong 202 ng “Florante at Laura” ay mababasa ang tinuran ni Florante kay Aladin, “Ang laki sa layaw karaniway’y hubad, sa bait at muni’t sa hatol ay salat”. Ang taong laki sa layaw din, batay sa isang awit ni Mike Hanopol na sumikat noong ako ay hayskul pa lang, ang tawag ay “jeproks”. Mapanghamon ang mag-aral o mamalagi sa ibang lugar. Maraming tukso. Katulad ng sinasabi sa awit na nabanggit ng Pinoy Rock icon na mga kabataang, “asal ay gahaman, malakas sa inuman, istorbo sa daan.” Simple lang ang habilin sa mga batang luluwas para mag-aral: Kailangang maging choosy sa kaibigan at huwag isiping in their company lamang mare-relieve ang inyong homesickness.

May ibang katangian ang pagiging jeproks ni Adolfo. Kahit hindi man siya ang jeproks ni Mike Hanopol, si Adolfo ang mapanibughuing jeproks ni Balagtas. Hanggang sa pinagtangkaan pa ni Adolfo na patayin si Florante sa isang palabas sa kanilang paaralan matapos baguhin nito ang orihinal na diyalogo ng drama. Kung ating sineryoso ang pag-aaral natin noon sa obra maestra ni Balagtas, maaalala natin na ang palabas (na isang trahedya o kuwentong malungkot) ay tungkol kay Reyna Yocasta. Magkapatid ang ginampanang papel nina Adolfo (Polinice) at Florante (Eteocles) at doon pinagtangkaan ng una na paslangin ang huli sa pamamagitan ng pagtaga ng kalis ng may ikatlong ulit. Mabuti na lamang at nailigtas si Florante ng isang ka-klase. Dahil dito, bumalik si Adolfo sa Albania at naiwan sa Atenas si Florante upang ipagpatuloy ang kanyang pag-aaral.

Sa bawat bagong yugto ng buhay ay hindi lamang mga Adolfo kundi may mga Antenor din tayong masusumpungan. Mga kaibigang karamay natin sa panahong naroon tayo lalo na sa mga pagkakataon na may mga hindi magandang pangyayari sa ating mga iniwan.

Kagaya ni Florante, sana sa huli ay makatulong sa ating paglago bilang tao ang ating mga napag-aralan: “Araw ay natakot at ang kabataan sa pag-aaral ko sa anaki’y nananaw; bait ko’y luminis at ang karunungan, ang bulag kong isip ay kusang dinamtan (Saknong 215).” Lahat din ng asignatura ay pagsumikapan nating maipasa : “Natarok ang lalim ng pilosopiya, aking natutunan ang astrolohiya, natantong malinis ang kataka-taka at mayamang dunong ng matematika (Saknong 216).” Hindi tayo makatutulong bilang magulang kung hahayaan nating maging jeproks (laki sa layaw) ang ating mga anak!

Kaalinsabay ng pagiging matalino, dapat din tayong maging mga Aladin at Flerida na may pananagutan sa ating kapwa lalo na sa mga nangangailangan…

(Photo: Power House Facebook)