Saturday, July 26, 2014

Treasure Finders

Have you ever heard of treasure finders named Paul and Peter?

Well, I remember the times when some of my town folks were lured into treasure hunting. That was after Rogelio Roxas allegedly found the Golden Buddha in 1971. Many people even believe that some portions of Yamashita treasure were buried somewhere here in Occidental Mindoro waiting to be unearthed or already have already been taken. Certain rumor circulated in Lubang, just a year or two after Hiroo Onoda surrendered, that a couple of Japanese nationals allegedly stayed in the island for quite some time and suddenly vanished along with their digging tools.

The story of Roxas and the Golden Buddha and the two stories in our Gospel reading this Sunday, July 27, 2014, are in some ways similar. They are both about a man and they found something very precious and of great value. Be it treasure or pearl, as we can read from Matthew 13:44-46.

The first story tells us about a man, probably a farm tenant, cultivating or digging the field until he found something beyond expectation or by accident. He is not sure whether the previous land owner have forgotten about them or perhaps the owner is now gone. In no time he did realize that the treasure has been there for very long time. He knows that he found something precious and he must keep it.

The second parable is the same yet different. Our man did not find it accidentally. He had been searching for it for a long time until he finally got it. He, merchant as he is, was looking for something real and authentic. Indeed, he knows exactly that he is hunting for fine pearls.  

Know what did they do after finding those precious things? Whether by accident or by tedious hunt, they have the same reaction: selling all they had, giving up everything else in order to get the treasure or the pearl. Many of us may think, “WTF! Did they really give up everything just for some treasure?” We may think that they are nuts, but for them, what is more important is an eternal and perpetual Return of Investment or ROI!

Jesus’ opening words in both of the story is this: “The kingdom of heaven is like…” Jesus is trying to show us here what's the worth of the Kingdom of God and what it’s like being part of this kingdom. Tellingly, the two parables lead us in knowing that Jesus is our greatest treasure.

If you would allow me, I would like to call the first one Paul and the other one Peter. Paul, not unlike our first man, found Jesus unexpectedly and on the contrary, Peter was already familiar with the Son of God. Paul (nee Saul), a former exterminator of his future Lord’s followers, found the greatest treasure on the road to Damascus while Peter discovered Jesus, after venturing on many spirituality and religious beliefs, when he journey with Him through thick and thin and finally found his pearl of great price. Ergo, Paul and Peter were both treasure finders who gave all their “T”s,- Time, Treasure and Talent, to get those divine treasures and in the end transformed by their find.

Me? My transformation is still being uploaded for I am still a freebie trying to open my search engine to find for Jesus rather than be stumbled upon the net or Googled by Him.

I am still a murky scavenger in this social garbage heap hoping to be a transformed treasure finder. Just like the treasure hunters in my place way back then...

(Photo: The Clipart Wizard)

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Right before typhoon Glenda hit the country at around 6:00 in the afternoon last Monday, President Benigno Aquino III delivered a televised speech defending the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Glenda crossed the Bataan-Zambales area Wednesday afternoon before exiting to the West Philippine Sea later in the day. Many municipalities were submerged with flood especially the coastal barangays and those near riverbanks. Classes at all levels were suspended and major thoroughfares across Occidental Mindoro were cut. Low-lying areas in San Jose are submerged with water. All over the country, Glenda has left at least 38 people dead with initial reports indicating damage to infrastructure and agriculture could be extensive.

No less than Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato, a staunch Aquino ally was, according to reports,  personally invited by the President to witness to the Chief Executive’s airing of 14-page, 23- minute speech. As one of her constituents, I am deeply honored seeing her with the president along with few selected officials and personalities personally handpicked by the president.

But while there are groups who believe that Aquino is liable for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for authorizing the creation of DAP where key provisions of which have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the president’s local political supporters are right behind him in justifying his handling of the 149 billion DAP.

Upon seeing Congresswoman Ramirez-Sato on television right there when PNoy delivered his speech, these questions suddenly came to mind: Does the president, like in his home province Tarlac, have a pet project here in Occidental Mindoro under DAP? If yes, what and where specifically are those projects? Our people would be very happy if somebody from the concerned offices would educate us on this. Budget secretary Florencio Abad and even President Aquino himself claims that the DAP was designed to stimulate the economy but the people of Occidental Mindoro have no idea how it worked here, how we are benefiting or about to benefit from it or how it would help our local economy.

Pardon me but the first thing that came to my mind last Monday when the president speak about DAP is not the boosting of local economy here in Occidental Mindoro. What I immediately realized are the big allocations of money and transfer of funds among government agencies and the freezing of millions of pesos of money in some institutions’ coffer. Like the payment by the Bureau of Customs of its P2.8 billion debts to the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. and the payment by DepEd of its P4.1 billion debts to the Government Service Insurance System or GSIS, among others. My brain maybe selective but that’s how it worked that night.

While I believe that there’s nothing wrong with using the savings of the executive department to stimulate economy (assuming that Malacanan people are not lying and in good faith) the so-called power of the purse or the national budget belongs solely to the Congress. And being a veteran legislator, our representative definitely knows that. Any realignment of budget to other projects not provided in the General Appropriations Act or GAA should still pass through Congress in the form of supplemental budget.

They, the Aquino supporters here in my place, said that DAP and PDAF are different. They say, “Sa PDAF ni Napoles may kurapsyon. May mga pulitiko at mga bogus na NGO na nakinabang, samantalang sa DAP naman ay walang pandarambong na nangyari. Hindi naman kumita dito si Abad at si PNoy!” Sorry but I am into opinion that the DAP and PDAF  are one and the same in terms of demonstrated lack of respect for public funds, social and government institutions and the Constitution. Remember, not all unethical acts and scandals are categorized as corruption!

But I am not into PNoy’s impeachment, to make myself clear. For me, it’s just a waste of time and resources since impeachment is just a political process and in the end it is only the politicians, its main players, would play the numbers game. On the other hand, I am also not in favor of the filing of TRO against the recent Supreme Court’s ruling on DAP for it would result to more constitutional and legal vacuum if not chaos. But I’ll reserve that for another blog entry.

Now that typhoon Glenda is gone, DAP is expected to storm the nation if the president and his supporters overly assert it…

(Photo: Rappler)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Of The Lover’s Dictionary and Loom Bands

I was in Manila for an official travel when my daughter Anawim (or Shida) who just graduated from college last March asked me to buy her a book. She texted me while I was at SM North. After receiving her text message I went straight ahead to National Bookstore’s customer service booth and inquired about “The Lover’s Dictionary” written by David Levithan. The clerk who was sitting in front of the computer looked at me and threw me an intriguing smile. At the corner of my eye, I saw the cashier standing nearby giggling at us. The one facing the computer monitor then called somebody through the intercom and said, still smiling, “So may stock pa. Dadalhin mo ba dito o siya ang pupunta diyan sa puwesto mo?”  The one at the end of the line probably asked how s/he could identify me so the woman at the customer service retorted, “Lalake. Hindiii…. May edad na!” I did not hear what the response was over the intercom but there’s a sudden burst of laughter which I hear from point-blank range. Sensing that the ladies see “The Lover’s Dictionary” as material for young-adult readers and not for a middle-aged man like me, I told the customer care woman with an explaining smile, “Hindi po sa akin ‘yan. Sa anak ko. Pinabili lang.” Without a word and the smile in her face now gone, she entertained another client next to me. To cut the long story short, I got my book and said my thank you. She smiled again but it’s different this time. It has, as I can feel it, being daughter of her father herself, a drop of admiration.

Here’s another story: While in a passenger’s van on my way to Sablayan for work last Monday, I noticed the lady sitting beside me, aged 25 or so, looked at the rubber accessory at my right wrist then turned her eyes to mine and again, just like the women at the National Book Store at SM North, she threw me very a silent but intriguing smile. Probably she thinks that I am either crazy or already experiencing second childhood. Wearing loom band is a fad today among children and teenagers that’s why some of my friends keep teasing me about the bracelet I am wearing for almost a week now. But I am not giving a heck and I will wear my loom band as long as I like. Sophia (or Pipay) my youngest, 10 years of age, crafted it herself and gave it to me as a gift the day I was celebrating my 22nd year of marrying her mother. Tellingly, I even stumbled upon Philippine News Central a picture of Pope Francis wearing loom band bracelets, reportedly given by poor neighborhood kids during an audience at the Vatican. Ako pa kaya!

This latest craze was invented by a father named Cheong Choon Ng in 2011 reportedly to impress his kids. So, loom band’s origin can be rooted in a relationship among family members, so to speak. 

Lover’s dictionary and loom band. Parenting for me, is sort of a dictionary that gives meaning to little things, book or bracelet, banding them together in a loom called Love….  

(Photo; Squido Craft)