Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No to Reproductive Health Bill (HB5043)

To: Congress of the Philippines

We strongly oppose the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill (HB5043) for the following reasons:

1. AS EMPLOYERS, we do not want to be compelled to provide free reproductive health care services, supplies, devices and surgical procedures (including vasectomy and ligation) to our employees, and be subjected to both imprisonment and/or a fine, for every time that we fail to comply. (Section 17 states that employers shall provide for free delivery of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices to all workers more particularly women workers. (Definition of Reproductive Health and Rights Section 4, paragraph g, Section 21, Paragraph c and Section 22 on Penalties)

2. AS HEALTH CARE SERVICE PROVIDERS, we do not want to be subjected to imprisonment and/or a fine, if we fail to provide reproductive health care services such as giving information on family planning methods and providing services like ligation and vasectomy, regardless of the patient's civil status, gender, religion or age ( Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Paragraphs 1 to 5 and Section 22 on Penalties)

3. AS SPOUSES, we do not agree that our husband or wife can undergo a ligation or vasectomy without our consent or knowledge. (Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Paragraph 2)

4. AS PARENTS, we do not agree that children from age 10 to 17 should be taught their sexual rights and the means to have a satisfying and "safe" sex life as part of their school curriculum. (Section 12 on Reproductive Health Education and Section 4 Definition of Family Planning and Productive Health, Paragraph b, c and d)

5. AS CITIZENS, we do not want to be subjected to imprisonment and/or pay a fine, for expressing an opinion against any provision of this law, if such expression of opinion is interpreted as constituting "malicious disinformation" ( Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Paragraph f and Section 22 on Penalties)

6. We also oppose other provisions such as losing our parental authority over a minor child who was raped and found pregnant (Section 21, a, no.3)

7. We also do not agree to the provision which reclassifies contraceptives as essential medicines (Section 10) and appropriating limited government funds to reproductive services instead of basic services (Section 23)

Thus, we urge you to immediately stop deliberations on the bill and stop wasting taxpayers money.


The Undersigned

click here to add your signature

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary

Today, we celebrate the birth of the Holy Mother of God, Mary Immaculate.

From the earliest of time, we read from Genesis 3:15, God as he cursed the snake, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel." And all of Israel from then on waited for the birth of this man who will destroy the serpent – and of course, waiting for the woman to give birth to this promised savior.

At the appointed time, the woman who was to be the Mother of the Savior was born to her parents, Joachim and Anne. She was named Mary. Also in the appointed time, the woman was visited by an angel, whose announcement she lovingly accepted. And also in the appointed time, the woman, gave birth to a son, who was named Jesus. The rest, as they say is history – salvation history.

The birth of Mary brings us to reflect on our own birth and the life.

I would like to believe, as the Good Book attests to, that each of us is born for a specific purpose. In fact, the Good Book attests too, that God has called us even before we are born – we are dedicated to a unique and special role. Not that we are predetermined fatally, but that our birth is with purpose and it is our choice to fulfill that or otherwise.

It is pretty difficult to recognize and take hold of this purpose that God has for us, in the most concrete. This is evidenced by the difficulty many encounter in choosing a career, a profession, a state in life.

A little help from our enlightened peers might help. Frederick Buechner, an ordained Presbyterian minister once said, the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Our quest for our purpose, or calling, if you want has two dimensions then – where we find our deepest gladness and the world’s deep hunger.

Our purpose in life which maybe manifested in a career, profession or state in life is first of all where we find our deepest gladness. The advice of many parents is proper – kung saan ka masaya, suportahan ta ka. Jesus said in the Gospel, where your heart is, there your treasure will be. In an increasingly financially difficult world, in an increasingly commercialized and secularized world, in a world where more and more the norm is material progress, this comes as a great challenge – does our choice of profession bring us deep personal joy, fulfillment and peace? Joy is not simply cheer. Fulfillment is not simply accomplishment. Peace is not simply security. Financial progress, career heights, a fat bank account, and accumulated wealth do not always bring deep, true, lingering gladness. The first measure then of our purpose in life is deep personal joy, fulfillment and peace.

Second, our purpose in life which maybe manifested in a career, profession or state in life is to be based, on the world’s deep hunger. Our purpose in life is not only for our selves, but also in response to the world’s deep hunger. Cliché as it may be, still it is true, no person is an island, no person stands alone, each person’s joy is my joy, each person’s grief is my own. Our pursuit for purpose, and for deep gladness should also take into consideration the world’s deepest need. The problem arises when in pursuit of personal happiness, a person closes his or her eyes to the suffering of other people. Worse, when in pursuit of personal happiness, a person causes the suffering of other people, even myriads of peoples. We are reminded, that our purpose in life is tied not only in our personal happiness, but in our contribution also to alleviating the poverty of the world, of quenching the deepest thirst of peoples, of filling the hungers of peoples.

The place God calls us to is the place where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

May our commemoration of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary bless us.

Friday, August 29, 2008

... for good men to do something

From Gov. Ed Panlilio’s Speech
at the Escaler Hall, Loyola Schools, November 22, 2007:
I don’t think that God meant me to endure five seminaries just to become a Governor or some other public official. I love my vocation, and at the end of this temporary detour into politics, I shall desire nothing more than to have my priestly faculties once again, and be a shepherd of the faith anew. A personal glory shall be that day when I shall hold aloft the transubstantiated body and blood of Christ, recalling my first mass after my ordination. It is from this vantage point that I say that I really do not encourage the entry of priests or ministers to the electoral arena. It would be utter presumption and even a complete falsehood to maintain that only the clergy posses the moral superiority to lead the nation. A layman with the proper motivation and popular support can lead any province to glory, in the same manner that an elected priest with less than honorable intentions can bring the province to its knees. Every believer has a divine mandate to do good and cast out evil. For the sake of the beggar out in the street, for the sake of the baby who is fed with rice water, for the sake of the sick patients in our public hospitals, for the sake of every Filipino who persists in the hope of a brighter horizon, I ask you to help us prove that we are essentially good, and that we uphold the common good.

For goodness and uprightness in government

I received the following statement through e-mail. I believe in good governance. I believe in principled politics. I believe in putting God and goodness in government. I believe in Gov. Ed Panlilio's sincerity. And so I pass on this statement:

Kaya Natin! Statement on the Recall Movement of Gov. Eddie Panlilio (Pampanga)

We, the founding members of Kaya Natin! A Movement for Genuine Change and Ethical Leadership strongly oppose the move to recall Governor Eddie Panlilio of Pampanga. We believe that this attempt to recall him is politically motivated and would only serve to benefit the vested interests of a few politicians in Pampanga.

While we are aware that there are escalating problems in Pampanga such as the continuing conflict between Gov. Panlilio and the Provincial Board, the unresolved issue on the striking BALAS Quarry Workers and the calls for the resignation of the current Provincial Administrator, among others, we believe that a genuine effort to resolve them will be more beneficial to the
Kapampangans than a political exercise the will further polarize and divide the community. We also recognize that there are members of the civil society, church groups, business organizations and supporters of Gov. Panlilio that have expressed disappointment with his performance during the past year. Thus, while we continue to support Gov. Panlilio's crusade to promote good governance in his province, we also believe that he should listen to the voices of these groups and work at immediately addressing and resolving these growing concerns in order for him to become a more effective governor.

As current local government leaders, we believe that all these issues arise as a result of the changes and reforms being implemented in the province. Reforms do not come easy. It requires continuing engagements between the provincial leadership and the other stakeholders in the locality. We do believe that given time, Governor Panlilio's initiatives will ultimately result to better delivery of basic services to his constituents.

In light of all these, we urge the people of Pampanga not to support the recall initiative. We ask the Kapampangans to give Governor Panlilio a chance to fully serve his term and continue the reforms that he has began. Moreover, we ask all Kapampangans to be patient with Governor Panlilio because we believe that despite the current situation, he is at the moment still the best person who can govern the province in an effective and ethical manner. Should there be a need, the members of Kaya Natin are willing to help organize and/or facilitate a dialogue between Governor Panlilio and disgruntled members of the civil society, business groups, people's organizations and his former supporters in Pampanga.

Finally, we sincerely hope that this movement to recall Gov. Panlilio will be put to rest at the soonest possible time so that we can unite towards working for a better Pampanga and ultimately, a better Philippines.



Naga City


San Isidro, Nueva Ecija

Sunday, August 10, 2008

ARMM Elections

We pray for truth, goodness and justice to triumph at the ARMM elections tomorrow.

God bless ARMM. God bless the Philippines.

A Priest's Prayer on Sunday Night

From Straight from the Heart, a compilation of various prayers gathered and edited by Fr. Ladra:

Tonight, Lord, I am alone.
Little by little the sounds died down in the church.
The people went away and I came home, alone.

I passed by people who were returning home from a walk.
I went by the movie house that was disgorging its crowd.
I skirted cafe terraces where tired strollers were trying to prolong the pleasure of a Sunday holiday.
I bumped into youngsters on the sidewalk. Youngsters, Lord, other people's youngsters, who will never be my own.

Here I am Lord, a body made like others,
arms ready for work, a heart meant for love,
but I've given you all.
It's true you needed it.
I've given you all, but it's hard, Lord.
It's hard to give one's body; it would like to give itself to others.
It's hard to love everyone and to claim no one.
It's hard to shake a hand and not want to retain it.
It's hard to inspire affection, only to give it to you.
It's hard to be nothing to oneself in order to be everything to others.
It's hard to be like others, among others, and to be other.
It's hard always to give without trying to receive.
It's hard to seek out others and to be, oneself, unsought.
It's hard to suffer from the sins of others, and yet be obliged to hear and bear them.
It's hard to be told secrets, and be unable to share them.
It's hard to carry others and never even for a moment be carried.
It's hard to sustain the feeble and never be able to lean on one who is strong.
It's hard to be alone, alone before everyone, alone before the world, alone before suffering, death, sin.

Son, you are not alone, I am with you, I am you.
I needed another human instrument to continue my Incarnation and my redemption.
Out of all eternity, I chose you., I needed you.
I need your hands to continue to bless.
I need your lips to continue to speak.
I need your body to continue to suffer.
I need your heart to continue to love.
I need you to continue to love.
I need you to continue to save.
Stay with me, son.

Here I am Lord, here is my body, here is my heart, here is my soul.
Grant that I may be big enough to reach the world,
strong enough to embrace it without wanting to keep it.
Grant that I may be a meeting place, but a temporary one,
a road that does not end in itself because everything to be gathered there,
everything human leads toward you.

Lord, tonight, while it is all still and I feel sharply the string of solitude,
while your people devour my soul and I feel incapable of satisfying their yearning,
while the whole world presses on my shoulders with all its weight of misery and sin,
I repeat to you my "yes" - not with a burst of laughter,
but slowly, clearly, humbly, alone, Lord, before you,
in the peace of the evening.

(Michael Quoist)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

From worry to hope...

A reflection for Sunday, August 10, 2008:

Why Worry?

There are only two things in life to worry about:

Whether you are well
or whether you are sick.

If you are well,
then there is nothing to worry about.

But if you are sick,
there are only two things to worry about:

Whether you are going to get well
or whether you are going to die.

If you get well,
then there is nothing to worry about.

But if you die,
there are only two things to worry about:

Whether you are going to go to heaven
or whether you are going to go to hell.

If you go to heaven,
then you have nothing to worry about.

But if you go to hell,
you'll be so busy shaking hands with all your friends,
that you won't have time to worry!

So, Why Worry?

(from a poster)

Come to think of it however, there are really a whole lot of things to worry about, be afraid of, be anxious about.

We worry about dwindling vocations. We worry about problematic priests, and religious. We worry about unbecoming church leaders. We worry about dwindling catholic participation. We worry about enrollment. We worry about a changing culture. We worry about problematic students. We worry about revenues. We are anxious of the future. We are anxious of the worsening global climate. We worry about the worsening politics. We worry about the shady deals of some government people with business interests, foreign nationals, and even rebels. We worry about food security, prices of commodities, and fuel cost. We worry about our personal health. We worry about strained relationships. We worry about family. We worry about our work and ministering. We worry about lack of time. We worry about various problems, difficulties and deficiencies.

There is enough, actually, a lot of things to worry about. And it would not be new if we find people, or even ourselves overwhelmed by these.

The disciples in today’s Gospel were definitely worried. They are at the middle of the sea, there was a storm, strong winds and waves were tossing the boat about. And Jesus was not with them. They might have been really frightened.

And then Jesus came walking on the water to them. And when he had gotten into the boat, the storm stopped, the winds and the waves became calm. The message is clear. The Christian is not to be perturbed by strong winds and raging waves of trials and difficulties. There is hope amidst the storm. Jesus is with us, he will never leave us. He will never forsake us. The Christian motive of hope is Christ himself.

There is a song, courtesy of the Jesuits Manoling Francisco and Johnny Go, entitled Far Greater Love. The song drives home the message of today’s Gospel episode.

*** **** ****

In between the storm of the lake and the fright of the apostles, and the stilling of the winds and waves, is an important episode. The disciples saw Jesus and they thought he was a ghost. And so they were all the more terrified – a storm, winds and waves and a ghost walking towards them. But Jesus introduced himself to them saying, “Do not be afraid, it is I.” Peter in his characteristic impulsiveness asked Jesus to call him and make him walk on the water if it was really him. The Lord called Peter and Peter walked on water. But when he saw the big waves and felt the strong winds, he was frightened and he began to sink.

We see here the fragility of belief. There is a potential of doubt even in the most sincere of believers, and there is a potential of belief even in the most stubborn of doubters.

This could also happen to us. Even when we think that we trust God, sometimes the big waves of circumstances and difficulties distract us. Sometimes our personal insecurities and deficiencies confuse us. Sometimes we lose sight of our hope, instead be overwhelmed by circumstance and engulfed by our limitations. When these times happen, we pray to have the courage and urgency of Peter, to cling to the Lord and plead, “Lord, save me.” And mabilis pa sa alas kwatro, the Lord will come to the rescue.

The call is for us not to allow circumstances to distract us, and our limitations to overwhelm us. We are to pin our hopes not in luck, or even in other people or ourselves. Instead, we look up to him who walks on water, who is above all chaos, and allow him to guide our lives.

But when we allow Jesus to guide us, we should not expect to have a comfy and smooth sailing. Expect the otherwise instead. Jesus does not promise to take the storms away. Life is never meant to be easy. Suffering is redemptive. Amidst the storm, we are to look for Jesus and let him in our boat. Walking to Jesus, we can walk on water even amidst strong winds and waves. And when we start sinking, let us be quick to ask the Lord’s help. A reflection of a friend is worth recalling here – we are far safer with Christ in a storm, than without Christ in the calm and quiet.

There are a lot of things to worry about. But we are not to be paralyzed by these, because we have the Lord Jesus with us. We are ruled by a love far greater than the troubles of this world and the limitations of our hearts. But the Lord will not take away all the troubles and difficulties. He instead assures us that he is with us.

With the Lord with us, is there room for worry? Why worry? Trust in the Lord and he will help you. (Proverbs 20:22)

Far Greater Love

Music by: Manoling V. Francisco SJ
Lyrics by: Johnny C. Go, SJ

Who would have known this would be a history so torn with wars?
The sky seems grayer in our hearts.
It's grayer in our hearts.

I could have sworn it would end in misery,
but the world is turning still,
and we're also learning, somewhere
hidden out there, something's greater than our hearts

The storms of life may shake our ground,
a greater peace still dwells in our hearts.
The dreams we build may fall apart,
A deeper hope still runs in our hearts.
Fear no harm, we are ruled by a far greater love,
a far greater love

Who would have known life would be such a mystery?
For the world is yearning still and our hearts keep burning.
We dare to believe there's something greater than our hearts (REFRAIN)

We're never alone.
All else may go wrong,
still will there be a love far greater than our hearts

(listen to the song)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Wishful thinking?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Different perspectives on the SONA

It's a marketplace of interpretations:

As PGMA views it (Text of the SONA)
All lies... (Fr. Joe Dizon)
SONAmbulism (Manolo Quezon)
Glory be! (Blackshama)
State of the Kingdom Address 2008
SONA 2008: A Mother's Hope (A Parent's Reaction)
Sana (Conrado de Quiros)

God bless the Philippines

Darnel and Wheat

One of the oldest and most baffling questions of man is the presence and prevalence of evil in the world. The parable of the darnel and the wheat (the parable, the explanation by Jesus)attests to this – in the world, there is both good and evil. But in the end, the good will triumph and the evil will be destroyed.

At first glance, this comes as a strong warning. True enough. We are called not to side with evil, and instead be with the good. In the Star Wars parlance, we are called not to side with the dark side, but to be with the light.

But more than a warning, the parable is a message of hope – that no matter how seemingly the evil triumphs now, it will not be so for all eternity. Goodness will eventually win. God will triumph over evil. There is a song by the Jesuit Music Ministry entitled “Far Greater Love”. The lyrics put it well: Who would have known it would be, a history so torn with wars, the sky, seems grayer in our hearts. Who would have known life would be such a mystery, but the world is turning still, and our hearts yearn and believe that something is greater than our hearts. The storms of life may shake our ground but a greater peace still dwells in our hearts. Fear no harm, we are ruled by a far greater love. We’re never alone. All else may go wrong, still there will be a love far greater than our hearts.

This is at the core of the second encyclical of Benedict XVI, SPE SALVE – On Christian Hope. The Pope reminds us that in hope we are saved. And this hope is no other than Jesus Christ. The Christian should then not be fazed by difficulty, nor crushed by the trials of life. The Christian should trust that Jesus has won eternal life for us, and that is our destiny. But the Pope takes this further – he reminds us that hope is not only an attitude or internal disposition. It is to be “performative”.

Our lives should mirror the hope of a better life, of the triumph of goodness, of eternal life. Our life should not be a submission to the forces of life, but to be a witness of a hopeful struggling to do good and to overcome evil.

In the face of evils, Christians may not be silent, may not be complacent. Definitely, it would be a herculean task – real difficult and enormous. But we cannot, may not and should not disregard this task. Our life should not be a submission to the forces of life, but to be a witness of a hopeful struggling to do good and to overcome evil.

We begin with ourselves. In the final analysis, all evils of the world are rooted in acts of individuals. Repeated, condoned and unchecked, they took root and became structures of sin.

The fundamental challenge for us is to look into ourselves, and to confront the evil in us. We are to be discerning of what is good and what is evil. We are to be careful not to support the scheming of the evil, or in our careless disregard, be perpetuators of evil as well. We are to be, as the Gospel tells us, “innocent like doves, but smart like serpents” (Mt 10, 16). We should never be overconfident. We are to be always cautious. The Apostle Peter warns us, “Be sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.” (1 Peter 5, 8-9)

There is a story about an old man giving an advice to his grandson. The old man told his grandson, “There are in each one of us two wolves struggling against each other – one good, the other evil.” The grandson anxiously asked, “Grandpa, who will prevail?” The reply came, “The one you feed.”

The words of St. Paul are a fitting reminder: Do not let evil defeat you. Instead, conquer evil with good. (Rom 12, 21)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

System loss etc.

Received this through e-mail:

Pakibasa po ng malaman nyo electric bill natin!

Bilib ako sa commercial ni Juday, biro mo naipaliwanag niya in 30 sec ang masalimuot na system loss na yan..:)

Tama si Juday sa kanyang paliwanag ng system loss, pero kung tayo ang bibili ng yelo at ayaw talaga nating mabawasan ang yelong binili, siempre magdadala tayo ng styrofoam ice box o Coleman..

Ang tawag diyan ay increase the efficiency. Kung baga sa mga distribution utilities ayusin nila nang husto ang electrical network, pati na ang mga substation and step-down transformers para nagooperate sila sa maximum efficiencies. Kung lumang-luma na, palitan o di kaya imaintenance. Tapos, ireduce, at kung maaari ay alisin, ang mga administrative inefficiencies, tulad ng wrong meter readings, pilferage ! at kung ano ano pa...

At alam ba ninyo na hindi lang meralco ang nagpapasa ng system loss? Pati ang TRANSCO na government owned at siyang nag me maintain ng power grid. Balak ipasa or naipasa na ng TRANSCO ang 2.98% ng system loss nya sa meralco.. at shempre kanino pa ba naman iyan sisingilin ng meralco..

Ngayon alam na natin kung bakit natunaw ang yelong binili ni Juday.. pero part pa lamang yan ng equation kung bakit mataas ang singil ng ating koryente, kunin ang electric bill.. at heto ang component ng ating electric bill...

Generation charge
Tax on Generation charge
Transmission charge
Tax on Transmission charge
System loss
Tax on System Loss
Distribution, Metering and Supply charges
Lifeline rate subsidies
Tax on distribution, metering and supply charges and lifeline rate
Local franchise tax
Universal charges

I-add mo lahat yan at yan ang total electric bill mo... pero napansin nyo ba sa isang electric bill 5 tax ang babayaran natin?

Para lalo nating mapansin, ganito ang flow ng kuryente bago dumating sa bahay naten..

Ang napocor or IPP ang mag po produce ng koryente...bago pa makaalis ng planta ang koryente, magabayad na tayo ng tax na 51 cents /kwh.

Ang kuryenteng iyan ay padadaanin ngayon sa TRANSCO, papunta sa distribution utility natin gaya ng meralco.. Muli tayong bubuwisan ng gobyerno, this time 11 cents/kwh Pag nakarating sa meralco ang kuryente, muli sisingilin tayo ng buwis ng gobyerno, ng distribution tax at franchise tax...

At dahil magbabayad tayo ng system loss muli na naman tayong bubuwisan ng gobyerno... ng system loss tax..

t eto pa ang kwela sa lahat, after i total ang iyong electric charges.. papatawan kang muli ng tax.. t! his time yung 12% e-vat. Imagine 5 Tax na binayaran mo, yung tax na yun eh bubuwisan pang muli ng isa pang tax...

Ang alam ko po sa batas bawal ang double taxation... pero sa ginagawang ito ng gobyerno.. cguro naaayon na sa batas kase lampas na sa double eh (sarcastic lang po)

At upang madagdagan pa ang sama ng loob nating mga filipino... Ang napocor, ayon sa batas ay kinakailangan mag imbak ng supply ng coal na tatagal ng 5 taon.. pero ano ginagawa ng napocor... sasairin nila yung supply nila ng coal upang tumagal lamang ng isang taon, at dahil paubos na, mapipilitan silang mag conduct ng emergency purchase na di na dadaan sa bidding.. or kung dumaan man, dahil sa ikli ng time table, walang makakapag bid.

SO si napocor bibili ng coal, hindi sa lowest bidder, kundi sa kanilang preferred suplier.. ang masaya pa neto, anlaki na ng patong.. higit pa sa doble ng actual price ng coal sa market. Idagdag pa jan ang arkila ng mga barko na gagamitin sa pag tatransport ng coal... na shempre muling pagkakakitaan ng mga napocor
executives.. .

Sobra na nga pinapataw na tax sa atin ninanakawan pa tayo ng gobyerno natin..:( ansaya ng buhay sa pilipinas no?
God bless the Philippines.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Prayer during the Year of Jubilees, Ilocano

Kararag iti Tawen dagiti Jubileo

(makararag iti amin a Misa iti Tawen dagiti Jubileo)

Santissima Trinidad, Ama, Anak ken Espiritu Santo, gubbuayan ti amin a biag ken kinasanto
Daydayawendaka gapu iti panangitedmo kadakami ni San Pablo,
napinget nga Apostol ken martir gapu iti ayatna ken Kristo.

Kas iti panangpabilegmo ken San Pablo, ikkannakam met kadi ti naun-uneg a pammati, napadegdeg a namnama, ken gumilgil-ayab nga ayat para ken Kristo nga Apomi tapno kas ken San Pablo, maiwaragawagmi a sitatalged, “Saan nga siakon ti agbibiag, nu di ket ni Kristo ti agbibiag kaniak.”

Kas iti panangibaonmo kenkuana, tulongannakami nga agbalin nga apostoles nga agserbi iti Simbaan iti natarnaw a puso, mangsaksi iti kinapudno ken kinapintas daytoy a Simbaan,
iti baet ti kinasipnget ti tiempomi.

Agyamankami, Ama, Anak ken Espiritu Santo, Apo ti Pakasaritaanmi
Bayat iti panangrambakmi iti sagutmo a Simbaan Lokalmi, ti Nueva Segovia.

Bayat iti panagdaliasatmi kadagiti lawag ken sipnget ti biag-simbaanmi, dawatenmi nga akayennakami iti dalan ti panagbalbaliw, tapno maaddaankam ti napabaro a puso,
Ken nauneg a panagbalbaliw, tapno iti wagas ti panagbiagmi maiyannurot met laeng iti Ebanghelio
Ken tapno itrabahomi iti pannakawayawaya manipud iti basol ken dagiti istraktura ti basol a mangtaginayon ti kinapanglaw, pannanggundaway ken kinaawan ti hustisya.

Dawatenmi ta iturongnakam iti dalan ti pannakapabaro, tapno ikomitmi ti aminmi a mangitrabaho iti panagbalin dagiti istraktura ti basol nga istraktura ti grasya ken pannakawayawaya

Ken tapno itrabahomi ti pannakapabaro ti istraktura ti Simbaan ken Kagimongan tapno iwardasda ti pudno a kinatan-ok ti tao, agserbida iti pagimbagan ti amin, ken idiayada kadagiti tattao ti parabur ti pagarian ti Dios – biag nga awan pagkuranganna.

Dawatenmi ta pabilgennakami a mangikomit manen ti aminmi iti napabaro a panangiwaragawag ti Naimbag a Damag babaen ti napabaro a katesismo, iti naisangsangayan a wagas para kadagiti agtutubo ken babaen kadagiti nadumaduma a sangal ti media, babaen ti napabaro a panagrukbak, ken babaen ti napabaro nga apostolado para iti kagimongan, social action.

Dawatenmi ta idalannakam nga agmisyon iti kagimongan, ken kadagiti kakabsat a saan pay a nakaam-ammo ken Apo Jesus, wenno nakurang pay ti panakammoda kenkuana, wenno kadagiti saan pay a nalitup ti pannakaikamengda iti Simbaan a binuangayna.

Manangaasi nga Ama, idumogmi dagiti ulomi a sibababawi bayat iti panangikompesar ken panangsangomi iti kinamanagbasolmi, kasta met iti kinamanagbasol dagiti istraktura a dakami met laeng ti nangipasdek – sapasap a kinapanglaw, nakillo a politika, bumabbaba a moralidad, ken saan a napauneg a relihiyon.

Espiritu ti Ayat, padegdegem kadakami ti gagar ken tibker ti pammati, pagbalinennakam a pudpudno a Simbaan Lokal, ket isagutmo kadakami ti napabaro a gagar a mangitungpal iti misyon ti napabaro a panangiwaragawag ti Naimbag a Damag.

Managayat a Jesus, italekmi kenka amin a gandatmi tapno agbalin kam a napudpudno a senyal ken instrumento ti Pagariam bayat iti panangtuntonmi ti grasya daytoy a tawen ti Jubileo, baben ti panangibabaet ni San Pablo, Apostol kadagiti Gentil, ken ti panangkadkadwa ti Inam a ni Maria, Apo Caridad, isu nga intedmo kadakam nga Inami.

Daydayawendaka Dios Ama, Dios Anak, ken Dios Espiritu Santo ita ken ti agnanayon. Amen.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Let us be on our way"

Archbishop Ernesto Salgado invites us all to a pilgrimage to the St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral during the duration of this Pauline Year.

Remember that on the eve of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a special Pauline Jubilee Year commemorating the bimillenium of the birth of the Apostles to the Gentiles. He then called for a series of liturgical, cultural and ecumenical events as well as pastoral and social initiatives. In addition, he also asked that special attention should be made to penitential pilgrimages to the tomb of the Apostle, as well as in places and churches dedicated to St. Paul.

In response, the Archdiocese has set up a year long celebration. Last June 28, 2008, the celebrations were officially launched, and the pilgrimages declared open with the opening of the Jubilee door at the Cathedral.

The Holy Father, through the Apostolic Penitentiary has granted a plenary indulgence for pilgrims to the Cathedral during the Jubilee Year. This is if the pilgrims come with the right intention of seeking God's mercy through the intercession of St. Paul, performing acts of piety (the usual requisites of confession and prayer for the Pope, and prayers to St. Paul) and following the spirit of the Jubilee - conversion, renewal, evangelization and mission.

A plenary indulgence is the total remission of punishment due to sin already forgiven in confession.


Masterpiece - this was how one described Manny Pacquiao's amazing display last Sunday. The country was ecstatic at this awesome victory.

For many, it was a welcome relief from the plagues of social and personal life. One even said, that it was like forgetting one's problems even just for that moment - momentary bliss. And after that, return to difficult life. Another said, that it was an encouragement to continue battling against life's vicissitudes, and an assurance that in the end, we will get a knockout victory.

I agree. But I was disturbed looking at the bloodied face of Diaz.

Does it have to take another person bloodied and slumped on the canvass to claim victory? Does it have to take for many to be exploited, manipulated, overcome for one to succeed and be rich? Does it always have to be homo homini lupus for one to be victorious - wolf to other men? Does it have to be always a battle for the survival of the fittest?

No, I do not dislike Manny Pacquiao. He stands for the Filipino spirit of determination and passion for greatness. But I am worried of the culture that feeds even in sports like this - one of violence against the other.

Violence is as old as humanity. Even the Bible attests to this - remember the story of Cain and Abel. But violence is not the basic instinct of man. Life is. Goodness is.

If we are to overcome and knockout, not other people, but personal and social maladies. If we are to seek victory, not at the expense of other people.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A month of fruitful love

For our family, this month is a month of fruitful love - 4 wedding anniversaries:

June 18, 1983: Uncle James, my mother's younger brother and Auntie Helen

June 20, 2004: my younger brother, Winchile and Terefil

June 27, 2000: my eldest sister, Che Vicky and Koko Gerry

June 27, 1971: Papa and Mama.

I especially offer my masses and prayers for them, that God may sustain them in the bond of marriage, that Jesus bless their family and friends, that Jesus who loved his Church to the end, will always fill their hearts with love, that Jesus may keep joy and hope alive in their hearts.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

No supermen...

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday, and also World Day of Prayers for Vocations. Please pray for us priests. We are chosen and ordained by God, endowed with a special grace of the priesthood, but we too are human, and no supermen.

Many expect us to be all the ideal that we could be. Well, they have the right to, since we are to be transparent witnesses. But we too have difficulties.

I identify with these verses of the secular song, Superman. For me, these express our struggle - as we live our mission to bring God to humanity, and humanity to God, through our life and ministry, in spite and despite of our vulnerable humanity.

It may sound absurd
but don't be naive
Even Heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed
but won't you conceed
Even Heroes have the right to dream
It's not easy to be me

Up, up and away, away from me
It's all right; You can all sleep sound tonight
I'm not crazy, or anything

I can't stand to fly
I'm not that naive
Men weren't meant to ride
With clouds between their knees
(yes, meant for heaven, but struggling to live for heaven while inescapably human and this-worldly)

I'm only a man in a silly red sheet (white sheet?)
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me (and trying to bring out the better things in all, and to lead all to the really better things)

It's not easy to be me.

Any priest would identify with these lyrics. Even with the sacra potestas (sacred power) conferred by Ordination, after a long day of ministering - giving the sick and dying hope of healing and life, admonishing the sinner to repentance, comforting the sorrowing, counseling the doubtful and troubled, encouraging the struggling, feeding the spiritually starving, praying for the living and the dead, offering humanity's prayers to God, ministering to all, we too need healing and rejuvenation, understanding and forgiveness, comfort and counsel, encouragement and nourishment, prayers and intercession.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday

Christ once and for all died for all of us. By his death we have life. We are no longer slaves of sin and death. We are no longer subject to the evil one. The wages of sin no longer have a hold over us. We are redeemed – in fact, paid in full.

But the world and humanity saved by Christ still lives in sin, in poverty, in corruption, in manipulation, in exploitation of people, in war, in discrimination, in a state apparently anything by saved.

Why do these happen? Because we have never really taken to heart the message of the Cross. The Cross is God’s offer of love – by it he showed us his great love. The challenge for us is to allow this love to change us – to make us lovers like Christ – selfless, sacrificing. The challenge for us is not to allow selfishness to take hold of us, not to allow greed to conquer us, not to allow self-centeredness to rule us.

Our remembrance, celebration and reflection of the Paschal Mystery continues. We shall see tomorrow that for Christ, it does not end with the Cross. The Cross is the way to salvation, to glory. The sure way. The only way.

Unless we love like the man on the Cross, we may have everything of this world, but we will never be truly glorious and victorious.

By Your Cross...

Yesterday morning, we had our parish recollection. I was sharing on the victory of the Cross as the victory of Jesus over sin and death. One of the participants asked, “Father, if Christ triumphed at the cross, then why does evil seem to triumph?”

The question is for sure very real – did Christ really triumph over sin and death?

If we look at the cross, and we find Jesus crucified, what appears to us is a scandalous death of an innocent man, condemned to death unjustly, killed at the cross while being mocked – all these, after he had offered his life for the people, healing their sick, expelling demons, feeding the hungry, even raising a couple of dead people back to life, announcing daily a message of hope in a loving God.

But this precisely is the triumph of the Cross of Jesus – that amidst the evils of this world – all consequences of selfishness, self-centeredness – Christ shows the triumph of selflessness, of sacrifice for others, the triumph of love.

Not even the powers of the Roman conquerors or the influence of the religious leaders of his time, indeed, not even death and the evil one could ever hinder Jesus from showing love – love in all its glory. Not even the ugliness of the cross could obscure the beauty of love.

Monday, March 17, 2008

To the once lover...

When we love, we give something of ourselves – indeed even all of ourselves. The mystery however is that the love we give completes us more than it completes the beloved. When our love is unreciprocated, or even scorned, it may feel like we lost something. But is that not the price of loving – giving? And the more we love, even if it may be unreciprocated or even scorned, we may be hurt and feel wanting – but we grow in the capacity of loving. That may be the wisdom of Alfred Lord Tennyson's lyrics - “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” The reward of loving is loving itself.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Earthen Vessels

We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
(2 Cor 4: 1-11)
As a Presbyterium (Community of Priests) of the Archdiocese, we had our Lenten Recollection last March 10. Fr. Tony Calautit led our reflection on the Spirituality of the Earthen Vessel. The above passage was our guide.

True enough, we, priests are like earthen vessels - we are made of humble matter, gathered, kneaded and molded by the Great Potter, to hold treasures of untold value. Formation, intensive and rigorous may be adequate but never enough. We are and shall remain earthen vessels - vulnerable, weak, sinful.

Our venerable seminary confessor once said, "when God called you, he called all of you - your strengths, your weaknesses, your idealisms, your vulnerabilities, your saved nature, and your fallen nature - all of who you are, your total humanity - unique goodness and even your weakness."

First in the Spirituality of the Earthen Vessel then is humility - to accept our vulnerability, frailty and sinfulness, and rely not on our own efforts but to cooperate with the grace of God - so that the power of God may be at work in us.

But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan's messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was:

"My grace is all you need,
for my power is greatest when you are weak."

I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ's power over me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12: 7-10)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A bus, a Church, 100+ couples, and more

My sister, who dropped by my office this morning told me how amused she was at the bus parked in front of the Cathedral - it was marked, "JUST MARRIED".

I checked it out myself, and got amused too. It was a whole bus for a wedding car.

I found out that there was ongoing in the Cathedral, a Mass Wedding. It was sponsored by the Cathedral Parish, the City Government and the Balikatan sa Vigan as part of the Women's Month Celebrations of the City of Vigan.

More than a hundred couples sealed their marriage before God. They sealed their commitment to love each other, be for each other, "to be one heart and one soul, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health" until death do them part.

I think this is one noteworthy way of celebrating women.

Marriage is not just a social institution. It is not just a practical legality. It is not just a canonical requirement. Marriage is for life and love, commitment and communion. Marriage is for women as it is for men, for children, for family, for the Church, for society, for humanity.

Monday, March 3, 2008

We're all in this together

Received through e-mail:

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. "What food might this contain?" the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning :
"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr.Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him,
"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr.Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said,
"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap . . . alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.

The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.

But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.
We are all involved in this journey called life.
We must keep an eye out for one another, and be concerned.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Moral guidance, a call for discernment and formation

Our pastors, the Catholic Bishops have spoken.

The statement may come as a disappointment to some, especially those who want a direct call for the president to resign. It may come as a relief to the president and her men, who obviously have been panicky since the scandal surfaced. But like anything else, we see things according to our own perspective - and interests.

It may not call for the president's resignation, but it definitely does not condone corruption and incompetence in the government.

For every Christian, indeed for every Filipino, it is to be taken as it is - a moral guidance from our Bishops to seek the truth and restore integrity in these times of restlessness and confusion.

The Bishops clarify what they have called for, also through the CBCP President - communal action:
For the long term we reiterate our call for “circles of discernment” at the grassroots level, in our parishes, Basic Ecclesial Communities, recognized lay organizations and movements, religious institutions, schools, seminaries and universities. It is through internal conversion into the maturity of Christ through communal and prayerful discernment and action that the roots of corruption are discovered and destroyed. We believe that such communal action will perpetuate at the grassroots level the spirit of People Power so brilliantly demonstrated to the world at EDSA I. It is People Power with a difference. From the grassroots will come out a culture of truth and integrity we so deeply seek and build.
True enough, what we need is the formation of our consciences - as individuals, as communities, as a Church, as a nation. A regime change would not necessarily result to the end of the systemic ills of corruption and selfish exercise of power, and the cultural imbalances in politics and social life. What is needed is a real change of heart - attitudes, paradigms, directions. One avenue is communal discernment towards formation of consciences towards liberation from the enslaving structures of political and cultural imbalance - like what Freire says of education - a practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.

We look forward to our own Archdiocese' concrete response to the CBCP's moral guidance.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Portrait of a hero

February 17, in the year 1872, Fr. Jose A. Burgos was executed at Bagumbayan, Manila. He was among those who courageously stood for the rights of the Filipinos. This cost him his life. In a way, Fr. Burgos was a martyr for freedom, for justice, for righteousness.

In 1910, a monument was erected in Vigan - Plaza Burgos, featuring among others, a tall marker and a statue - in his honor.

Here are some pictures of the monument, 98 years after:

Rather surprisingly, no one seem to have remembered at least the day and the event, much less the significance. The statue is visibly chipped. The colors have faded.

A couple of modest bouquets however show that there were some who remembered.

Today more than ever, we are in need of Fr. Burgoses - both from the masses, and from the ranks, both of the Church and the State.

The forgetfulness however is not a good sign.

Friday, February 8, 2008


To put the world right in order,
we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order;
to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life;
we must first set our hearts right.
- Confucius

The Season of Lent, which started on Ash Wednesday, 40 days of Retreat in preparation for the celebration of the central mysteries of our Faith - the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus affords us time to look into ourselves, our lives, our priorities.

The Readings from the Scriptures of the Sundays of Lent (a good 5 weeks) lead us into this.

Let us make the most of the Season, by faithfully attending to the Holy Mass, prayerful reading and reflection on the Scriptures (Scripture reading guides, given for free, are available at the parish offices. There are also some copies available at the Chancery, first floor of the Arzobispado), more intense sacrifice and works of compassion.

The turbulent times in our society - government, politics and communities, the incessant turmoil in our hearts are signs enough that we need a new sense of meaning, a new sense of purpose, a new sense of direction, a renewed life. We begin where else, but within ourselves?

Friday, January 18, 2008

The National Emblem