Friday, April 25, 2014

Me and John XXIII

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli or John XXIII was the Pope when I was born and on October 27, celebration of the Divine Mercy Sunday, together with John Paul II, he will be canonized saint by Francis I. By the way, John XXIII, John Paul II and Francis I, all three of them became Time’s Magazines Persons of the Year. John XXIII was featured in January 4, 1963, just 9 days away before my first birthday, but before that, on January 3 1962, barely 20 days before I was born, Blessed John XXIII ex-communicated Cuba’s Fidel Castro. John XXIII died June 3, 1963 due to stomach cancer one year and five months after I gave my first baby cry inside a house near the Pandurucan River. Pope John XXIII is best known for convening the second ecumenical council at the Vatican, known as Vatican II.

Once in my life I also dreamed of becoming priest. I passed the entrance examination and been qualified in a certain seminary so my father and I went to Manila to enroll me only to find out that we have no enough money to cover the expenses such as school fees and board and lodging. I went back to San Jose aboard the Occidental Liner full of childish frustration. But later I realized that the priestly vocation is not really for me. I became a vagabond and a truant, lazy college student until I finally quit schooling. A became a bum and a street gang member. After 5 years or so, I moved to another school and decided to be more serious with my studies. Right after I finished my tertiary education at Occidental Mindoro National College (OMNC) in 1989, I joined a human rights NGO based in Laguna established by activist nuns and priests and was initially tasked to initiate things related to world peace and nuclear disarmament particularly the campaign against the US Military Bases in the Philippines.

Well, Blessed John XXIII, according to reports, made an unusual foray into contemporary politics during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. With the United States and the Soviet Union was on the brink of nuclear war, John had an impassioned plea over the Vatican Radio: "We beg all rulers not to be deaf to the cry of humanity." The Pope is a peace advocate par excellence.

John XXIII and John Paull II will be canonized on Sunday. The two soon-to-be saints have certain things in common. They both traveled freely across the oceans breaking a century-old tradition at the Vatican. They were both active in world affairs and as I have told you a while ago, they both became beacons and voices of restraint and reconciliation during the cold war and they both build bridges to other religions, among other things.

It is said that Roncalli was always present and accessible to his people and he's a very cheerful man. When a reporter asked how many people worked at the Vatican, he replied, “Oh, no more than half of them.” But when I was a kid, I once mistaken him, from a magazine picture, for my favorite actor Telly Savalas AKA Kojak! Seriously, he chose the name John, by the way, after John the Baptist and because it was his father’s name.

As I age, the fire of aggressiveness, radicalism and militancy inside me have dwindled a little bit but I assure you that the fire within will not lost its flame unlike my childhood dream of becoming a priest. I look at things from both sides now, to paraphrase the lyric of that hit song of the 60's. I am trying to be level-headed in everything and be more objective in my views and opinions. Starting Sunday, John XXIII would be my personal patron saint as a blogger for he has virtues and qualities that I admire and wish to develop for the rest/best of my life.

And these words from him would be my guiding principle as a social communicator: "See everything; overlook a great deal; correct a little.”….



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pacquiao-Bradley II : Bible and Boxing

For Timothy Bardley, Jr, Manny Pacquiao’s fierceness and “fire” in the ring is gone. No less than Freddie Roach in an ABS-CBN report the other day said that “The Bible is getting in the way' of Pacquiao's killer instinct.” Roach says that the Pacman has become compassionate, refusing to finish the fight whenever he sees his opponents hurt. Roach said that the bible has affected the Pambansang Kamao’s mind set in his previous fight. But things have changed now according to Roach. He said, “What helped me a lot, was Bradley saying is that Manny does not have the 'Eye of the Tiger' any more, that he no longer has hunger to win. Bradley has motivated Manny. Manny feels embarrassed by those comments and he's ready to go.” Pacquiao with all humility responded to his opponent’s harsh comment with these words: “That is why I pray for that [fire].” Feel embarrassed and be angry but do not hate.

According to Roach himself assuring us boxing fans that, “The thing is The Bible is getting in the way a little bit, but I showed him in The Bible there is violence, and there is payback," Roach said in Gareth Davies’ report to “The Telegraph.” See how apparently Manny influenced even Roach to become a preacher and a theologian which I also try to do in this blog post.  Of course, that is solely from my limited and poor perspective as a boxing fan and a communicator and not an expert on faith or biblical theology. So, do not rely on me much or be serious about this. Maybe this is just due to my lack of something to write as of this very moment or my excitement to the upcoming rematch.

Well, one thing is sure. The Pacquiao-Bradley rematch on Sunday (Manila time) is just a sleep away before the Holy Week. Certainly, in Jesus’ passion and resurrection, though many of His people expected retaliation and retribution, the Son of Man by example emphasized that there should be no payback. Violence is not allowed as God’s command and vengeance is unholy! But the fight is dubbed by GMA-7 as "Vengeance in Vegas" but "Vengeance is mine", says the Lord.

Pacquiao have already resurrected from that recent and fatal KO he suffered from his life-long nemesis his (almost) tucayo, Manuel Marquez, Jr. and his controversial lost to Bradley via scorecards before that. Manny resurrected because the Filipino people including his fans world-wide never abandoned the Pacman. Unlike Christ’s disciples who denied, betrayed, abandoned their leader to his fate. His fight against Brandon Rios convinced us that Manny indeed have risen. Though maybe, Bradley has his own reasons to say that the “fire” or the killer instinct in Manny is now gone. But a fighter should not be always a killer and that’s what we learned from the Jewish Carpenter. From my point of view, though boxing they say is a “hurt business” it is also a “sweet science”. And in that “sweetness” lies that we should not hate our enemies. We could be angry at them but we must not hate them. We must love our enemy to the point that we teach them a lesson by way of showing or making them feel our “sweetest love” by giving him instructions even to the point of giving body blows, exemplary footwork and tremendous flashing punches in bunches. Boxers cannot afford to spoil the rod, err…the glove. The preachers scattered around our champ for whatever reason should realize that the proper place for them now is certainly not at the Wild Card Gym.

Go, Manny, go as ever. Show Bradley that he’s the King of the Ring in his own rights and the King of Kings is behind him because he’s true to His commands, especially by being ever humble, on being as meek as a lamb even at the face of his most arrogant detractors and adversities. This made me remember the nasty remarks made by Floyd Mayweather, Jr. on Manny.

By the way, I trust Freddie Roach donning punching pads and not when he's holding a Bible in his hands. On the other hand, the pastors should also stay away from Manny at this final stretch of the training camp...

(Photo: Sports Illustrated)