Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope, people thought he would be a tough one, rigid and traditionalist, concerned with the institution of the Church, putting the Church in a defensive mode. They even ridiculed him intending the pun, “German Shepherd” for a German Pope who they thought would be on the guard, and nothing of the sort of the charismatic and revolutionary John Paul II, his predecessor. Not long after Pope Benedict XVI was made Vicar of Christ, he wrote his very first encyclical, and it was “Deus caritas est” – God is love. Nothing can be more charismatic of the faith and revolutionary for the world than this very basic but essential confession of faith that God is Love. The Pope affirmed the very nature of God, the heart of God, the most basic truth about God, that God is Love. God has loved us with the passion of eros, a love that keeps on loving and keeps on desiring the good of the beloved. God has loved us with the depth of agape, a love that is self-giving, that shares life to the beloved in a self-gift. Jesus exemplified the love of God, eros and agape.
Today, we hear Jesus declaring the two greatest commandments: Love God and love our neighbor. It is interesting to note that Jesus’s summary was not a prohibition, but rather an imperative. The Law of God is not restraining. The Law of God is enabling. The Law of God enables the good that disables the bad. The Law of God fulfills the best of us, and leaves no room for the worse in us.
The question of the law then is how to love. Jesus tells us, “first of all, love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Love God first, foremost and fully. Last Sunday we were told, “Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar; and give to God what belongs to God.” The roman coin bore the image of Caesar, and so it had to be given back to Caesar. But we asked, what bears the image of God? We recalled Genesis which said that men and women are created in the “image and likeness” of God. So what do we give to God? Our very selves, our whole selves. We are made in the image and likeness of God, and we owe everything to God. What we should offer to God then is the gift of ourselves.
A total gift is also what is asked by the greatest commandment. To love God is to give him total allegiance, total control of our lives. The prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola exemplifies this:
Take and receive, O Lord, my liberty. Take all my will, my mind, my memory. All things I hold, and all I own are thine. Thine was the gift; to thee, I all resign. Do thou direct, and govern all and sway. Do what thou will. Command; and I’ll obey. Only thy grace, thy love on me bestow. These make me rich. All else will I forego.
“You shall love the Lord you God with all you heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” There is however a twin to the love of God. Jesus tells us, “Love your neighbor.” If we truly love God, we cannot but love our neighbor. The First Letter of John puts it in this way: “If anyone says, “I love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar; (in the Bible, the devil is the father of lies) for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 Jn 4:20) Benedict XVI writes that love can be commanded because we have been loved first. Not that love can ever be forced. Not that one can ever be commanded to love. It is rather because being loved enables and transforms the beloved to also share and give love. The Pope wrote, “God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing. He love us, he makes us see and experience his love, and since he has “loved us first,” love can also blossom as a response within us.” I can love because I have been loved. The more I love, the more I grow in the love given me. A popular action song puts it rather simply but clearly:
Love is something that you giveth away, giveth away giveth away. And it come right back to you. It’s just like a magic penny. Hold it tight and you won’t get any. Spend it. Lend it. Give it away. And it comes right back to you.
Love grows through love. And this love is not simply a feeling. It is rather concrete. The first reading from the book of Exodus reminds us of the corporal works of mercy:
- To feed the hungry;
- To give drink to the thirsty;
- To clothe the naked;
- To shelter the homeless;
- To visit the sick;
- To ransom the captive;
- To bury the dead.
And we should add the spiritual works of mercy:
- To instruct the ignorant;
- To counsel the doubtful;
- To admonish sinners;
- To bear wrongs patiently;
- To forgive offences willingly;
- To comfort the afflicted;
- To pray for the living and the dead.
By these, we love our neighbor just as our God has loved us.
On a final note, although love of God and others are part of our very being, sometimes, we neglect and refuse to do so. Maybe because at times, we only look at ourselves, and love only ourselves. One popular ballad seems to be the anthem of many: “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” Me, myself and l. We tend to trust ourselves alone, seek to please and pleasure ourselves alone. We relate with each other in view of our selfish interests. Come to think of it, there is nothing wrong with loving ourselves. But we have to look at the bigger picture. If we look at the two greatest commandments, where do we find ourselves? In the love of God and in the love of neighbor. True love of the self is love of God and love of neighbor. Relating this to previous Sunday’s Gospel, we should remember that we are created in the image and likeness of God. If we love ourselves, we also should primarily love God of whom we are but an image. If we love ourselves, and if we love God, we should love others, who like us, are made in the image and likeness of God.
And if we all love ourselves in this way, putting God above all else, yes above all power, above all fame, above all wealth, above all treasures this earth has ever known, if we relate with one another in love, not in arrogance, or violence, or competition, or distrust, or discrimination, we will see a world transformed. And the love and good will we give, we receive back.
God is love. God has loved us. Since we have been loved first, then we are able and are called to love one another. What could be more basic and revolutionary at the same time?
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
I read this from the website dedicated to the late Cardinal Francis Van Thuan. It is worth sharing - as a prayer for our politicians, as well as a hope for renewed politics and social life. Hopeful reading.
8 "beatitudes for politicians"Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, proposed the moral guidelines on May 3, 2002 at a conference in the northern Italian city of Padua.
Echoing the eight beatitudes preached by Christ in his Sermon on the Mount, Cardinal Thuan said politicians needed a similar set of rules that leave room for the faith in their profession.
- Blessed the politician who well understands his role in the world.
- Blessed the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
- Blessed the politician who works for the common good and not for his own interests.
- Blessed the politician who is true to himself, his faith and his electoral promises.
- Blessed the politician who works for unity and makes Jesus the fulcrum of its defence.
- Blessed the politician who works for radical change, refusing to call good that which is evil and using the Gospel as a guide.
- Blessed the politician who listens to the people before, during and after the elections, and who listens to God in prayers.
- Blessed the politician who has no fear of the truth or the mass media, because at the time of judgment he will answer only to God, not the media.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
The Most Reverend DAVID WILLIAM V. ANTONIO, DD
Auxiliary Bishop of Nueva Segovia
Titular Bishop of Basti
Born on December 29, 1963
Ordained Priest for Nueva Segovia on December 1, 1988
Appointed Bishop by Pope Benedict XVI on July 15, 2011
Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Nueva Segovia on July 15, 2011
Ordained Bishop on August 26, 2011
Thanks be to God for the ordination of Bishop David William Antonio at the Conversion of St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral in Vigan City, Philippines. Bishop William is auxiliary bishop of Nueva Segovia, assisting Archbishop Ernesto Salgado.
I am personally thankful to God for the gift of Bishop William to the Church not only in Nueva Segovia, but in the whole of Northern Luzon. Then Fr. William was our baccalaureate mass presider when we graduated at the Immaculate Conception Minor Seminary. I too had to the blessing of having him as formator, professor and rector at the Immaculate Conception School of Theology. When I was ordained for the Archdiocese, I had the privilege of working with him at the Chancery, and in the Steering Committee of the Priests' Assembly. I am here in the US working for a Licentiate degree in Systematic Theology very much through his prodding and support.
God has favored his people in Nueva Segovia with the gift of this new bishop, whose person is remarkable.
Bishop William chose as his episcopal motto "Ut vitam habeant" - "That they may have life, and have it more abundantly." from John 10:10. His choice reflects his approach to life and ministry - both are to be a gift of life for others.
Here is his coat-of-arms, and the explanation, courtesy of the Nueva Segovia Chancery:
The Motto, “UT VITAM HABEANT” (“…That they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”), is taken from the Gospel of St. John 10:10, where the Lord Jesus speaks of himself as the Good Shepherd. This figure represents the primary image to which the new Bishop and every Bishop must constantly refer. Chosen to shepherd the Lord’s flock, he is a pastor, a servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God (LG 21). The Bishop is a caring pastor who, configured to Christ by his holiness of life, expends himself generously for the flock. He knows his sheep by name (John 10:14), walks ahead of them (John 10:4), leads them to verdant pasture and lays down his life for them (John 10:15).
“UT VITAM HABEANT” expresses too the core-mission of Jesus, namely, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God or God’s salvation, understood essentially as a “New world or universe” liberated from all evils and filled with abundant life-blessings for all of humanity and the whole of creation. This is the same mission entrusted by the Lord to His Church until the final consummation of this kingdom at the end of history; a mission which the Bishop firmly commits himself to.
The Marian Symbol (Marian Monogram with a Crown) at the top portion speaks of the significance and influence of the Blessed Mother in the spiritual life and ministry of the new Bishop. It likewise calls to mind the institutions of learning, religious congregations and communities dedicated to or under the patroness of the Immaculate Conception of Mary – all of which have been instrumental in the bishop’s formation, education and ministry.
The Black bird with Bread on the right side reminds us of St. Benedict of Nursia, acknowledged as Father of Western Monasticism. It signifies the Bishop’s devotion to the saint as well as his interest in the monastic spirituality of Saint Benedict.
The Fleur-de-lis against a black backdrop on the left portion of the shield is reminiscent of St. Dominic of Guzman, whose devotion to the Blessed Mother, especially to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is legendary. As a symbol of purity and chastity the fleur-de-lis is an iconographic attribute of Virgin Mary. St. Dominic is the patron of the parish/town where the new bishop was born and raised.
Laudetur Iesus Christus. Semper laudetur.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
(Arlington National Cemetery)
First of all, I would like to greet you all a happy and meaningful memorial weekend. And tomorrow most especially, a happy and meaningful Memorial Day. Not being native of this great country, here only as transient (aren’t we all transient though?) it comes necessary for me to seek to know what the holidays, celebrations and traditions are about. I hope it would not be redundant for me to share what I have found out regarding the celebrated Memorial Day.*
I learned that Memorial Day marks the start of the summer vacation season, (and Labor Day its end). It is hence the day many begin prepping and putting to work their grills with hotdogs and burgers and steaks. It has also become a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events.
Over and above these, of course, I learned that this is a hallowed day. Now a federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May, it was formerly celebrated every 30th of May, honoring Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War. It was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, hence its old name, “Decoration Day”. After the First World War, the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war. Today, it commemorates all men and women who died in military service to the United States. What began as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation after the civil war, by the early 20th century, Memorial Day became an occasion for more general expressions of memory, as many people visited the graves of their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not.
It is for me striking to note that this holiday is not just born of historical nostalgia, but that this holiday is hallowed (made singular, exceptional and yes, holy) by the memory of those who have lived and died in military service of the country, and by extension, all who have lived and died in service of the country. I find it striking to note that the remembrance is not of war, of triumphs over enemies, or of military strength and might, but a remembrance of valor, of bravery, of sacrifice. What is remembered is the sacrifice of men and women who loved and gave their life in service. I find it also striking that for many, this holiday, I know not only because it is a long weekend, has become an occasion for family reunions and homecoming. The remembrance of the dead becomes a celebration of life. The remembrance of sacrifice becomes a celebration of relationships which gives meaning to sacrifice. The remembrance of the loss of life of those who have died becomes a celebration of the gifts we have and enjoy now, so hardly earned through their sacrifice. And although not many of us had known, much less seen and interacted with these men and women in the flesh, we know we are one with them in our common values and aspirations. The reality of their absence becomes a celebration of presence. The nobility of men and women in the past makes us trust the goodness of men and women in the present.
There is indeed something powerful in remembering, in memory. Of course, some would be selective of memory, trying to obliterate those that are hurtful, and painful. But memory and keeping memory heals, renews, restores, unites, challenges, inspires. Memory, I would like to believe is a gift from God. What we do in the Mass is a memorial of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. And in our remembrance, we do not simply wax nostalgic of his sacrifice. Rather we become one family of God as we remember. We are called to be in solidarity with one another as we celebrate, to be in solidarity with all else in the world who celebrate this memorial of Jesus, to be in solidarity with all for whom Jesus lived, suffered, died and rose again. And further, as wonderfully ritualized in the order of the Mass, when after recalling the Institution Narrative in the Consecration where and when the bread and wine become Body and Blood of Jesus, we are called to profess the mystery of faith, to proclaim the mystery we celebrate.
St. Peter in the Second Reading (1 Pet 3:15-18) reminds us of the character of this profession of faith that we are to make - “Sanctify Christ as the Lord of your hearts.” Christ suffered for us to lead us to God, to put death to the flesh and lead us to life in the Spirit. Because of this, we have hope. Therefor be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for our hope (need to have to confidence to speak of our faith, ergo, the need to study our faith). But do so of course, not with arrogance, but with gentleness and reverence (humility and charity). We will encounter opposition, so we are called to keep our conscience clear so that when we are maligned, those who defame our good conduct themselves may be put to shame. Suffer patiently. It is better to suffer doing good if that be the will of God than doing evil (which is often more comfortable and accepted, and tolerated, and has become the statistical norm.)
In the Gospel (Jn 14:15-21), as Jesus was nearing his suffering and death, he tells his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In effect he was telling them, and us too, as he was about to leave, “when you remember me, remember me in obedience. To remember me is to keep my commandments.” The commandment of Jesus of course is, “Love one another as I have loved you. Love with a love that is willing to lay down your life for the beloved.” In love, Jesus is present – in love that is not merely affection, but love that is committed and obedient to God, love that is based on the truth of God, and keeps the truth – the truth that only in God can we have true life, true peace, the truth that only love that sacrifices and desires the true good of the other can bring true joy, true fulfillment, the truth that I am fulfilled only when I do not fulfill myself but when I seek the good of the other, the beloved. That is why we do not celebrate selfishness and arrogant self-preservation, or do we? No, we rather celebrate selflessness, for what is noble is bravery in sacrifice.
We often long for the nobility of the past, we long for heroic men and women to lead and guide us. We long for the prosperous and peaceful past and sometimes, looking at our present situation, realizing the dire state we are and could be in, we are tempted to despair and lose hope. Jesus in the Gospel tells us as he assured his disciples, we are not alone. He has not left us orphans. We are never forgotten by God. We say we remember the sacrifice of Jesus, but more than we can remember, God remembers. We are perpetually in God’s memory. Jesus asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is with us. And with the Spirit, Jesus is with us, the Father is with us. This assurance calls us to a renewed hope for the future, and a strengthened vitality for the present.
This weekend, as we remember the men and women who lived and died in service of the country, let us remember too that our collective remembrance is a challenge and inspiration to ourselves be of service. In these difficult times, the temptation is to save ourselves. That will never work. As they say, we are all in this together. And as we are reminded of the faithful presence of the Holy Spirit in us and in the Church, let us be mindful of the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of the love, the power to take on the challenge of the memory of our faith – to love Jesus by obeying his commandment, to make him truly Lord of our hearts, our relationships, yes, of our country, and of all created reality.
*Memorial Day facts and meaning had been drawn from internet articles.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Napansin ng pastol na dumarami na ang tupa at humihirap nang ihanap ng luntiang pastulan. Marami namang pastulan, pero mahirap puntahan. "Bakit ako magpapakahirap? Ano kaya ang dapat kong gawin?" napaisip ang pastol. "Bawasan ko kaya ang mga tupa? Pigilan ko kaya ang kanilang pagdami? Ang hirap alagaan ang ganito karaming tupa."
Ang Panginoon ang aking pastol
Pinagiginhawa akong lubos.
Handog niyang himlaya'y sariwang pastulan.
Ang pahingahan ko'y payapang batisan.
Hatid sa kaluluwa ay kaginhawaan.
Sa tumpak (matuwid!) na landas, siya ang patnubay.
Madilim na lambak man ay tatahakin ko.
Wala akong sindak; siya'y kasama ko.
Ang hawak niyang tungkod ang siyang gabay ko.
Tangan niya'y pamalo, sigla't tanggulan ko.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
P-Noy, sabi mo, "kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap." Did you merely state a fact you are just willing to accept...?
Mr. President (Aquino), you said it yourself - "kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap." Is the government doing enough to curb corruption, prosecute offenders, restore lost government (people's) money, revamp corrupt systems and agencies, and many other things that need to be done? Are you and your people doing enough? A lifetime is surely not enough to eliminate corruption, yes. But that was your mandate. Deliver.
Did you merely state a fact we all know too well? Are you appalled by this fact and are doing your utmost best to stop corruption and restore morality in government, and thereby deliver the genuine and true need of the Sovereign Filipino People? Or are you after all like the rest who had accepted the fact, allowed themselves to be swallowed by the system and again let down our hopes for a government, a country that is truly walking in the "daang matuwid" which is "matuwid" in the sense of "righteous"?
From Wikipedia (Yes, I know, it is Wikipedia. But there are other reliable sources for this too.)
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Come on. It is quite clear.
The article that should raise the questions:
National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests (NSSM200) was completed on December 10, 1974 by the United States National Security Council under the direction of Henry Kissinger.
The basic thesis of the memorandum was that population growth in the least developed countries (LDCs) is a concern to U.S. national security, because it would tend to risk civil unrest and political instability in countries that had a high potential for economic development. The policy gives "paramount importance" to population control measures and the promotion of contraception among 13 populous countries, to control rapid population growth which the US deems inimical to the socio-political and economic growth of these countries and to the national interests of the United States, since the "U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad", and these countries can produce destabilizing opposition forces against the United States. It recommends the US leadership to "influence national leaders" and that "improved world-wide support for population-related efforts should be sought through increased emphasis on mass media and other population education and motivation programs by the U.N., USIA, and USAID."
Thirteen countries are named in the report as particularly problematic with respect to U.S. security interests: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. These countries are projected to create 47 percent of all world population growth.
The report advocates the promotion of education and contraception and other population control measures. It also raises the question of whether the U.S. should consider preferential allocation of surplus food supplies to states that are deemed constructive in use of population control measures.
Some of the key insights of report are controversial:
- "The U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries [see National Commission on Materials Policy, Towards a National Materials Policy: Basic Data and Issues, April 1972]. That fact gives the U.S. enhanced interest in the political, economic, and social stability of the supplying countries. Wherever a lessening of population pressures through reduced birth rates can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resource supplies and to the economic interests of the United States. . . . The location of known reserves of higher grade ores of most minerals favors increasing dependence of all industrialized regions on imports from less developed countries. The real problems of mineral supplies lie, not in basic physical sufficiency, but in the politico-economic issues of access, terms for exploration and exploitation, and division of the benefits among producers, consumers, and host country governments" [Chapter III-Minerals and Fuel].
- Whether through government action, labor conflicts, sabotage, or civil disturbance, the smooth flow of needed materials will be jeopardized. Although population pressure is obviously not the only factor involved, these types of frustrations are much less likely under conditions of slow or zero population growth" [Chapter III-Minerals and Fuel].
- "Populations with a high proportion of growth. The young people, who are in much higher proportions in many LDCs, are likely to be more volatile, unstable, prone to extremes, alienation and violence than an older population. These young people can more readily be persuaded to attack the legal institutions of the government or real property of the ‘establishment,' ‘imperialists,' multinational corporations, or other-often foreign-influences blamed for their troubles" [Chapter V, "Implications of Population Pressures for National Security].
- "We must take care that our activities should not give the appearance to the LDCs of an industrialized country policy directed against the LDCs. Caution must be taken that in any approaches in this field we support in the LDCs are ones we can support within this country. "Third World" leaders should be in the forefront and obtain the credit for successful programs. In this context it is important to demonstrate to LDC leaders that such family planning programs have worked and can work within a reasonable period of time." [Chapter I, World Demographic Trends]
The report advises, "In these sensitive relations, however, it is important in style as well as substance to avoid the appearance of coercion."
I am posting a paper by I have pasted the whole article. To break the long paragraphs, I separated some lines.
Contraception: Genuine Solution or Foreign Machination?
(Some Notes on the Reproductive Health Bill/RH Bill)
David Michael M. San Juan De La Salle University-Manila
“Forget na lang the land reform/ forget the debt moratorium/
forget na rin the behest loan/ but don’t forget the condom.”
(“Just forget the land reform/ forget the debt moratorium/
forget the behest loan too/ but don’t forget the condom.”)
– From Gary Granada’s satirical song
“Kung Alam Mo Lang Violy” (“If You Just Knew It Violy”)
Monday, May 16, 2011
"What could define God [is a conception of divinity] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God. They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible." - Stephen Hawking
Although this statement was made by Hawking as a refutation of the existence of God (the God "most people would think of" "with whom one can have a personal relationship"), this same statement makes all the more the Christian revelation of God more resplendent, unique and awesome.
That it "seems most impossible" given "the vast size of the universe and how insignificnat an accidental human life is" is precisely the point. The nature of God is love. God in his love became man – Jesus Christ – to show us the depth, breadth and height – actually infinitesimal. How can a God so great be mindful of an insignificant human life? The Psalmist (Psalm 8) asked this a long time ago –
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set
above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praiseb
because of your enemies,
to silence the
foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beingsc
him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds,
the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
majestic is your name in all the earth!
But God has loved us, and continues to love us, and has made us the crowning glory of his creation with his divinity shared to us - the dinivity of love.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Ambition - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
Theres The Rub
By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The text of the article:
MANG NESTOR used to scavenge in Smoky Mountain before the mountain of trash there was razed down. Driven to live in Bagong Silang, he tried to make ends meet doing this and that, but found it the hardest thing in the world with two kids. Though his wife helped by cooking and hawking food, his family was in constant want. His dream of being able to send his kids to school to help them escape his lot in life remained just that, a dream.
They lived austerely. During his kids’ birthdays, he worked longer hours to try to get them some noodles, but not always successfully. He could not comprehend how people could throw away food so easily, masasarap pa naman, in fastfood and restaurants. It was such utter waste.
What he particularly minded was that there was no toilet where he lived. To relieve yourself, he said, you had to hike for 20 minutes to the nearest public toilet and line up for your turn. A pretty trying experience when you’ve got to go, and which the more desperate solved by settling for the tabi-tabi. A brutish life, with no relief in sight.
But relief did come in the form of a newly opened Gawad Kalinga village in Bagong Silang. Mang Nestor’s was one of 30 families that got awarded a home in that village, a tiny house by the standards of the rich and middle class but a veritable palace in the eyes of the beneficiaries. It had of course the most wondrous thing in the world: a toilet. Or a CR, as Mang Nestor, like other Filipinos, referred to it. Nowhere did the term “comfort room” take on the most literal meanings.
This was one of the things shown in the Hope Ball in Las Vegas where I was last weekend, a fund-raising activity by Fil-Ams that managed to raise enough funds to build homes for 150 more families. A couple of things ran through my mind when I saw this, quite apart of course from the epic contribution GK has been making to solving poverty in the Philippines over the last several years.
The first was to get a glimpse of the ugliness and monstrosity of corruption again. Or to get a new appreciation for President Benigno Aquino III’s “’Pag walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Corruption is not abstract, it is concrete—and cruel. Corruption is far more wasteful than throwing away barely touched food in Jollibee and Mang Inasal while the street children sniff rugby to forget their hunger pangs. The other side of things like the AFP spending P800 million to procure bond paper, a city hospital overpricing Mongol pencils 5,000 times, and a governor diverting P25 million to his kid’s wedding is a horde of Mang Nestors who have to hustle their way through life to treat a daughter to some pancit during her birthday or trek a mile or so to relieve themselves of their stomach’s contents and their soul’s cares.
Corruption isn’t just monies being lost God knows where, it is food being taken away from the mouths of the hungry, it is roofs being taken away from the desolate, it is comfort being taken away from the anguished and bereaved. Corruption crushes. Corruption kills. The corrupt and the desperate are to each other as cause and effect. Truly, where there are no pillagers, there are no paupers. Truly,’pag walang corrupt, walang mahirap.
The second thing that flashed through my mind was the grandness of spirit shown by the movement Gawad Kalinga—yes, it is a veritable movement now—and the hope it is giving us. GK’s professed goal is to eradicate poverty in this country by the next decade. That may seem like an impossible dream, a quest more admirable for the scale of its aspiration than for the possibility of its realization. Yet when you come right down to it, why should that be so impossible? Why should that be so quixotic?
Ambition, Shakespeare said, should be made of sterner stuff, and you can’t find sterner stuff than the tears of gratitude and joy streaming down the faces of those who have not only been given houses but communities to live in, who have not only been given a roof over their heads but a gladness in their hearts. You can’t find sterner stuff than the 30 families who have been plucked from utter want who now live like human beings in a spot of Bagong Silang, the 150 families who will live like human beings in other spots of Bagong Silang courtesy of what the Fil-Ams raised in just one event in Las Vegas, the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of families that will live like human beings over the next several years in other Bagong Silangs in this country, in other New Births or New Days or New Lives in this country.
I don’t know how Manny Pacquiao’s fight will turn out (he was due to make a pitch for Gawad Kalinga earlier today), but I do know that somebody else has already won a far more magnificent fight for the country and will continue to win far more magnificent fights for the country in the coming years.
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff, and none comes sterner than the spirit shown by the people who have dedicated themselves to this. Men and women, young and old, Pinoys and Fil-Ams who have worked tirelessly, eagerly, joyfully to bring the vision of the Philippines freed from want a little closer to reality. It is the exact opposite of the baleful spirit of corruption. Corruption in the end is selfishness, an inability to see beyond oneself or one’s family, an overriding need to secure self and family beyond all others, at the expense of all others. Either the men and women of Gawad Kalinga have gone past that or they have extended the meanings of self and family to include the farthest of the far, the poorest of the poor. They too are self, they too are family, walang iwanan, you don’t leave them behind, you don’t leave anyone behind. That is grandness.
That is ambition.
Osama’s no Martyr, but the Man Prevailed - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
The text of the article:
Osama bin Laden is no martyr. He is certainly no Che Guevara, whose fate at the hands of the Central Intelligence Agency was strikingly similar to his. But one cannot escape the fact that he succeeded in unleashing a chain of events that led to his nemesis, the United States, becoming a diminished power compared to what it was in the halcyon days of unilateralism at the end of the last century. One cannot but acknowledge that in the duel between Washington and Osama, the latter was, at the time of his death, far ahead on points.
Soon after the US went to war against the Taliban in pursuit of Osama in October 2001, I penned a widely published analysis that at the time provoked controversy. However, it anticipated the course of the titanic struggle between a global power and a determined fanatic over the next decade. I am reprinting part of that essay below:
"In the aftermath of the September 11 assault, a number of writers wrote about the possibility that that move could have been a bait to get the US bogged down in a war of intervention in the Middle East that would inflame the Muslim world against it. Whether or not that was indeed bin Laden's strategic objective, the US bombing of Afghanistan has created precisely such a situation…
The global support that US President George Bush has flaunted is deceptive. Of course, a lot of governments would express their support for the UN Security Council's call for a global campaign against terrorism. Far fewer countries, however, are actually actively cooperating in intelligence and police surveillance activities. Even fewer have endorsed the military campaign and opened up their territory to transit by US planes on the way to Southwest Asia. And when one gets down to the decisive test of offering troops and weapons to fight alongside the British and the Americans in the harsh plains and icy mountains of Afghanistan, one is down to the hardcore of the Western Cold War alliance.
Bin Laden's terrorist methods are despicable, but one must grant the devil his due. Whether through study or practice, he has absorbed the lessons of guerilla warfare in a national, Afghan setting and translated it to a global setting. Serving as the international correlate of the national popular base is the youth of the global Muslim community, among whom feelings of resentment against Western domination were a volatile mix that was simply waiting to be ignited.
The September 11 attacks were horrific and heinous, but from one angle, what were they except a variant of Che Guevara's "foco" theory? According to Guevara, the aim of a bold guerilla action is twofold: to demoralize the enemy and to empower your popular base by getting them to participate in an action that shows that the all-powerful government is indeed vulnerable. The enemy is then provoked into a military response that further saps his credibility in what is basically a political and ideological battle. For bin Laden, terrorism is not the end but a means to an end. And that end is something that none of Bush's rhetoric about defending civilization through revenge bombing can compete with: a vision of Muslim Asia rid of American economic and military power, Israel, and corrupt surrogate elites, and returned to justice and Islamic sanctity.
Yet Washington was not exactly without weapons in this ideological war. In the aftermath of September 11, it could have responded in a way that could have blunted bin Laden's political and ideological appeal and opened up a new era in US-Arab relations.
First, it could have foresworn unilateral military action and announced to the world that it would go the legal route in pursuing justice, no matter how long this took. It could have announced its pursuit of a process combining patient multinational investigation, diplomacy, and the employment of accepted international mechanisms like the International Court of Justice.
These methods may take time but they work, and they ensure that justice and fairness are served. For instance, patient diplomacy secured the extradition from Libya of suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, and their successful prosecution under an especially constituted court in the Hague. Likewise, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, set up under the auspices of the ICJ, has successfully prosecuted some wartime Croat and Serbian terrorists and is currently prosecuting former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, though of course much remains to be done.
The second prong of a progressive US response could have been Washington's announcing a fundamental change in its policies in the Middle East, the main points of which would be the withdrawal of troops from Saudi Arabia, the ending of sanctions and military action against Iraq, decisive support for the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state, and ordering Israel to immediately refrain from attacks on Palestinian communities.
Foreign policy realists will say that this strategy is impossible to sell to the American people, but they have been wrong before. Had the US taken this route, instead of taking the law--as usual--in its own hands, it could have emerged as an example of a great power showing restraint and paved the way to a new era of relations among people and nations. The instincts of a unilateral, imperial past, however, have prevailed, and they have now run rampage to such an extent that, even on the home front, the rights of dissent and democratic diversity that have been one of the powerful ideological attractions of US society are fundamentally threatened by the draconian legislation being pushed by law-and-order types…that are taking advantage of the current crisis to push through their pre-September 11 authoritarian agendas.
As things now stand, Washington has painted itself into a no-win situation.
If it kills bin Laden, he becomes a martyr, a source of never-ending inspiration, especially to young Muslims.
If it captures him alive, freeing him will become a massive focus of resistance that will prevent the imposition of capital punishment without triggering massive revolts throughout the Islamic world.
If it fails to kill or capture him, he will secure an aura of invincibility, as somebody favored by God, and whose cause is therefore just…
September 11 was an unspeakable crime against humanity, but the US response has converted the equation in many people's minds into a war between vision and power, righteousness and might, and, perverse as this may sound, spirit versus matter. You won't get this from CNN and the New York Times, but Washington has stumbled into bin Laden's preferred terrain of battle."
I take no credit for originality of the thoughts expressed in this ten-year-old essay. Many others who had studied the history of insurgent movements and imperial responses could have written the same thing then and anticipated the general thrust of events over the next decade.
Unfortunately for the world, hegemonic powers never, never learn from history, and Washington did stumble into Osama’s preferred terrain, with all the consequences of this move motivated by imperial hubris: thousands of lives lost, loss of credibility, loss of legitimacy, and a significant erosion of power.
*Inquirer.net columnist Walden Bello is a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines and a senior analyst of the Bangkok-based institute Focus on the Global South.
*end of article*
Monday, May 2, 2011
I would have preferred for him to have been caught alive, and brought to trial. This I think would be serving justice. Just killing him does not serve justice - or yes, if justice is simply lex talionis. But justice is about truth and goodness, for peace and right order.
Bin Laden is dead. But not quite dead.
Killing the enemy does not destroy the enemy. Physically dead, yes. But in our minds and in our hearts he still is an enemy. And as long as he holds us in our hurt, anger and desire for vengeance, he has not been defeated. He actually, athough already dead continues to win over us.
He can no longer plot and scheme terroristic acts, but as long as we glory in feeding our desire for vengeance, as long as we glory in violence, unless respect of human persons becomes a reality in everyone, terror continues to be schemed and plotted in our hearts.
Bin Laden is dead. Let us keep what he seemed to have become a symbol of - vengefulness, violence, terrorism - dead.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Let us reflect on the Paschal Mystery with Filipino Theologian, Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ. Please find three other earlier posts.
We are in grace-filled days. May we receieve the graces of these most holy days.