Friday, October 31, 2008
First timers in any city are always in for big surprises.
I have always wanted to be in Cagayan de Oro city ever since I learned – of all places, in Vancouver, BC, Canada, ten years ago that the Philippines, through GenSan and CDO was actually, then, the world’s top exporter of tuna.
My friends were then taking me for a stroll through the port area of Vancouver and we happened to pass by the fish market. As we were approaching one of the stalls, a tall, white and lanky Canadian man, suddenly called out to us in perfect and very polite Tagalog, “Ano ho ang hanap nila?” I was stunned. After the initial shock, I engaged the man in conversation and asked him how come he spoke so good Tagalog. “Matagal ako tumira sa Batangas at saka sa Mindoro,” was his answer. But that was not the best surprise. As we made known our desire to buy some “sock-eye salmon” for me to bring home to California, he quipped: “I bet you didn’t know that the Philippines is the number one exporter of tuna in the world!”
Indeed, I didn’t know … just as I didn’t know – up till now – that Boracay’s beaches are actually better, if not, on the same footing, as the best that Bali in Indonesia, and Pattaya in Thailand, could offer, at least if we are talking about their natural, pristine state. Once, when my siblings treated me to a cruise from Los Angeles to Encinada, Mexico, I bumped into a group of Caucasians who have been to Boracay. The conversation veered towards the topic on beaches. One of the men asked me point blank: “Have you been to Boracay?” “No, I haven’t unfortunately,” I answered. And then he asked me, “Then what are you doing here in Encinada?”
There was hardly anything worth anyone’s while in Encinada. It was pathetic, just as it was pathetic to see Caucasian tourists back in Monterey in California, to wax so enthusiastic and appear so surprised to ogle at nothing but the gently rolling surf where enterprising marketing experts have put up a sign that said: “The Restless Sea.” Dozens of them were having their picture taken alongside the sign. Coming as I do, from a country surrounded by sea everywhere, I could not understand how so many people could be so enamored by the sight of something so ordinary as the rolling surf glinting in the morning sun by the seashore.
I write as I await my flight back to Manila at Lumbia National Airport. The airport itself is nondescript, a little too small for a city that prides itself now as the gateway to Mindanao. But the location of the airport itself is welcome sight to travelers. Nestled on a plateau surrounded by undulating hillocks, covered with bright green and lush foliage all around, it clearly reminded me of how blessed the place and the people who live there are with relatively rich vegetation all around. I was told that the only setback to the airport sitting on hills was the fact that on foggy days, flights have to be diverted to Cebu a little further north. I thought the airport itself was just a little better and bigger than the one in Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental.
My five day stay in CDO was a welcome respite from the monotony of first semester classes, teaching, preaching, and celebrating Masses daily for others. A national seminar-workshop of counselors under the auspices of the Philippine Guidance Counseling Association, Inc. was what brought me there. When I came, it was surprising to note that the whole city was abuzz with visitors as several national events were being held there. All the hotels were booked solid and all the humble “motorelas” (what is known in the north as tricycles) appeared poised and ready for the influx of riders.
The first day saw almost 800 of us cramped in the biggest ballroom of Grand Caprice Hotel, attached to LKK (Lim Ket Kai Mall). The 2nd and 3rd days saw us, still cramped and uncomfortable, in various rooms of Capitol University, a privately owned university that appeared to be the closest competitor to the other Jesuit owned school, Xavier University.
The whole short stint that made me see nothing more than hotel, school, audio-visual rooms and listen to speakers, was, honestly, an enlightening experience. It was good to see a city with a lot of gold, albeit devoid of glitter usually associated with it. I saw it in the mostly courteous and honest taxi drivers I happened to associate with. Although not all were such, my experience with two of them, who were both locals, was enough to write off what appeared to me as less than honest dealing shown by one who happened to be from the Tagalog region up north.
I saw gold, too, in the relatively better preserved greenery in the city. I saw gold in the smart, courteous, and unassuming service provided by hotel staff and orderlies who dutifully made the rounds of the rooms. Whilst the room I had was not the best in terms of comfort as compared to what one finds in the US, for example, or even in other wealthier Asian neighbors, I could not have asked for more in what simple things they could offer. I saw gold too, as I strolled leisurely at the Divisoria area in what they call the “night café.” There was music. There was mirth. And there was gentle soothing massage over at the park from blind women and men, who were there, each night, providing a cheap way to instant relaxation and stress-relief with their agile hands and fingers.
They say travel makes for a good teacher. One learns a whole lot more in shorter a time, than one can learn poring through books and sitting through lectures. This trip to CDO was no exception, as was my trip a few months ago to Pagadian City, also in Northern Mindanao.
The world we live in is caught, for the most part, in a culture of having rather than being. If the mad rush for skin whitening lotions and concoctions is a sign of anything, I believe it has to do with that passionate search, for form, and not necessarily for substance., for appearances, and not for the essential invisible realities that matter the most in the long run.
We see manifestations of such everyday … from the bombastic grandstanding antics of the “trapos” (traditional politicians) whose tribes seem to increase by the day, to the mostly and primarily cosmetic changes that seem to characterize all the projects associated with that much hated pork barrel funds of the so-called honorable congressmen and senators.
The list is legion. Time and again, the police engage in token busts and token arrests to show they do their work. Occasionally, one hears of arrests being made, of shabu factories being raided, and small-time criminals facing the long arm of the law. But one wonders why no big fish are ever apprehended, and why only small fry land in jail at all. And if high profile and big fish criminals land in jail, why, they get pardons and reviews faster than you can utter “I am sorry for what I did.” One high profile criminal even went through the charade of presidential pardon, but who never ever even accepted he was guilty of anything! How on earth does one pardon anyone who professes innocence?
Whilst it is true that not all that glitters is gold. All that glitters nevertheless can pass off as gold for many people, at least for a while. In a world where appearances seem to count the most, ingesting drugs that produce temporary and erstwhile self-esteem via the right and desired color and skin tone, takes primacy over the big possibility of harmful, and permanently debilitating health issues associated with such drugs. In one media report after another, we have been apprised of individuals who succumb even to death on account of their overweening desire to acquire that much coveted body form, and skin color and complexion. Gold is mistaken for the superficial glitter.
I have seen a lot of glitter in my numerous trips all across the United States and Europe, especially in cities like Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City, and New York. But one does not have to go too far to see gold, sans the glitter, sans the glamor. I saw it in many varied, simple, and humble ways at Cagayan de Oro, the city of golden friendship. And how I wish the same were true all over this country, whose image has been so torn and tarnished by so much shallow politicking, a whole lot of divisive political posturings of “trapos” who, while claiming to do public service, only have the glitter and the glamour that come from it primarily in mind.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
A Trip Down the Fabled 6th Street
Austin is weird for many reasons. It seems to be a very educated city, given the presence of 60,000 university students. But it is weird also owing to the very same students making it possible for several blocks off 6th street coming to life at night, what with all its live musicians giving free rein to creativity and popular culture in all its bars and night clubs that sit right next to each other on 6th Street. It is weird on account of the fact that its capitol building towers 15 feet higher than the capitol building of Washington, DC. It is weird in the sense that it is very much an American city but where it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear individuals code shifting in the same breath between English to Spanish, with absolute ease. It is weird on account of the fact, that, whilst remaining to be a relatively livable city, it is home to a number of big commercial successes that America is replete with. Michael Dell started his own business enterprise that now is a household name all over the world. Austin, too, is home to Matthew McConnaughey, Sandra Bullock, and Kevin Costner, among others.
Wells and Domestics?
A quick look-see the first evening I was in Austin over at 6th Street gave me a feel for the local thrills of Austin by night. A brief stop at a local watering hole revealed a group of African Americans providing entertainment to patrons, seated, standing, or lolling about while nursing a bottle or a mug of either a beer that comes from a “well” – that is, tap beer, or what they call “domestics” or locally manufactured beer brands. They were singing the signature southern “blues” with that special rhythm that is at one and the same time, jazzy and emotionally fuzzy – at least to me.
Individuation and Self-Differentiation
“Keep Austin weird,” for me, is a lesson on individuation. It appears to me a telling lesson on the need for individuals – and communities and cities, for that matter – to define themselves, not in terms of comparing themselves with others, not in terms of what others are, or are not, but in terms of what they want to become.
The city, for me, offers a good illustration of what it means to have a solid self-identity in a world that seems to be dead bent on making everyone follow the bandwagon dictated by the forces of globalization, postmodernity, and the uniformity and mediocrity that both seem to engender, ultimately.
It stands at least for me, as a model of a city and people who would rather assert themselves in terms of their own vision, rather than defining themselves on the basis of how they are similar to, or different from, other cities.
Self-Differentiation at the Bottom of Many Issues
Back home, I see a different picture. The political circus that provides a never-ending telenovela-like story to a people already telenovela crazed, is almost something that would make anyone want to laugh or cry – or both at once – at the mere sight of the pathetic system that makes for the best reason why there is so much dysfunctionality – and massive poverty – in Philippine society. With politicians whose best vision rises no higher than the pathetic level of a politics of pillage and plunder, personage and patronage, with everyone trying to outdo one another, not exactly for altruistic motives, where individualism is understood as trying mutually to destroy each other, healthy self-differentiation goes out the window of political opportunism.
With a more than just lively opposition, waiting to pounce on the next opportunity to lunge for the throat of their political enemies, precious little energy is left to do what they love to mouth all the time – public service – never mind if most of that same public service is really self-serving on the long and short haul.
The same principle is pretty much at work everywhere – yes, including religious communities and church congregations. What we all love to call as “pastoral ministry” or “mission work” is oftentimes tainted with a whole lot of personal issues unacknowledged, unaccepted (that is, denied), and therefore, unprocessed. How else does one explain the all too common tendency to undo what the previous one did, or to simply ignore the achievements of the administration that one replaces? How else does one explain the build and destroy syndrome, that seems to be the hallmark of parishes and catholic schools everywhere in the country, where things that an earlier administration has put up are summarily destroyed by succeeding administrations?
Self-differentiation – or the patent lack of it – seems to be at the bottom of so many of our problems as a people and nation. Far too many of us are caught up in the burning desire to define who we are in terms of what others are, or are not, or in terms of what others have, or have not, achieved. It is self-definition at the cost of healthy individuation or healthy self-differentiation.
Classical Christian spirituality calls this pride – a certain inability to define, let alone accept, one’s own God given uniqueness and personal dignity. Where pride reigns, where lack of proper self-definition is the rule of the day, a lot of mutual self-destruction won’t be far behind.
Austin teaches me a lesson or two to bring home to the place I call home, by choice, by decision – for better or for worse. Keep Austin weird. Keep oneself healthily self-differentiated, without falling into the trap of either joining the bandwagon, or trying mightily and futilely, to use a phrase popularized by Kahlil Gibran, “to build a wall by trying to destroy a fence on the other side.”
Y’all take care now … and keep Austin weird!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
PIEN’ D’UMANITA IN FONDO ALL’ANIMA
I write as I listen to the soothing music and the soul-stirring lyrics of an Il Divo hit entitled “Nella Fantasia.” They sing of a dream, very much like the dream of Martin Luther King of yore. They dream of souls who live together in peace and in honesty, and who are always free (sono sempre libere) like the clouds in the sky (come le nuvole che volano).
Even as I write, I share the growing anger and frustration of so many people, hapless and helpless victims – as much of nature’s wrath shown in typhoon Fenshen (Frank in our local nomenclature) – as of a culture of greed, selfishness, corruption, and a sore lack of professionalism in many, many aspects of our communal lives, in and out of government. People grow angry and desperate even as the owners and management of Sulpicio lines keep on doing what they are best at (having become experts in it as three other ships they owned figured in almost identical accidents over the two past decades) – deflecting responsibility and dumping it on others every step along the way, to the total disregard of the suffering and the grief of thousands of relatives of the more than 700 people that perished in the capsized so called unsinkable ferry (which by the way is all of 24 years old!), the M/V Princess of the Stars.
How very true the gently lilting tune and lyrics of this Il Divo masterpiece do ring for us now! Io sogno d’anime chi vivono in pace e onesta come le nuvole che volano, pien d’umanita, in fondo all’anima … I dream of souls who live in peace and sincerity like the clouds in the sky, full of humanity deep within!
I take it the writer of the song expresses what we all need to be reminded of in our times – the pressing need for hope – at a time when we are enveloped by what Robinson (2004) refers to as “contours of hopelessness.”
Hopelessness and cynicism takes many and varied forms and disguises in this country and beyond. It shows in the desperation of so many who peg all their hopes on the lotto, whether the illegal (jueteng) or the legal variety (STL or small town lottery). It shows in the way so many are now willing to make a fool of themselves by submitting to the antics of TV hosts during noontime shows, doing as they are told, gamely trying to keep up with the pace just to get a lucky break somehow. It shows, too, in the many ways just about everybody tries to cut corners just to make a few more bucks on the sly, capitalizing on the ignorance and desperation of so many who don’t and won’t know any better. It shows in how traffic aides and policemen everywhere try to show a semblance of being hard at work, safeguarding the common good, by inventing traffic violations at every turn, every corner, and every intersection.
The latest tragedy of M/V Princess of the Stars highlights the growing menace of this lack of dedication to the call of professionalism in our basic services like mass transport. Whilst it was immediately attributable on the short haul to the fury of typhoon Fenshen (Frank), a whole lot of other potential and real factors surely came into play that made it a tragedy that, on the long haul, could have been preventable – if all the needed safeguards, safety procedures, and a great dose of good, old prudence were applied.
For one, prudence would ordinarily dictate that in a country of more than 7,000 islands, surrounded by open seas and turbulent straits in between islands, setting sail while knowing that they were on the path of a raging typhoon would be inadvisable. Secondly, cutting corners on maintenance seems to be the run of the day all over the country. Two big trucks stalled two days in a row at EDSA in
Last June 17-19, I was in
The reception was held in the main road of Pagadian, at a third floor restaurant that could be reached via a very narrow staircase, and an equally narrow main – and only – door. Apart from being narrow, the door opened in, not out. Given the number of guests that easily could have been 150 to 200, that staircase, and that narrow doorway simply jutted out like a sore thumb, when one looks back at the repeated tragedies that befell similar establishments in Quezon City – fires that gutted every burnable material and killed scores of people who were trapped in narrow doors that also opened in.
One would think that given the experience, and given the fact that the city is not yet that crowded, city planners and city authorities would be a little more armed with lessons well learned from experience. But no! … One contour of hopelessness in this country is just to raise up one’s hands in surrender, and follow the bandwagon called “kahit ano, puede na” mentality (anything goes).
Cynicism: Tell-tale Sign of Desperation
We’ve heard it before … all the hand wringing and the finger-pointing … all the blaming and the brazen denials of people from both sides of the fence. No one seems to admit responsibility to anything. For the next two or three months, I expect a lot more of the same in the frenzied media. There will be a lot of post-mortem analyses of the tragedy. There will be a lot more of accusations and counter accusations. But unless I got it wrong in the past 52 years of my life, literally nothing will come out of all this “sound and fury.” When the tears of the sorrowing have dried, and enough telenovela shows have been shown to wet viewers’ eyes again, and more showbiz personalities hug the center stage of people’s attention, the tragedy will most likely lie buried together with the hundreds of those who died uselessly, needlessly, and quite preventably.
Given the reality of an election-crazed nation gearing up for national elections, already with so many wannabes campaigning without really trying too hard (nor admitting that they do, what with all the billboards and commercial advertisements that hog the airlanes and the humongous commercial towers all over the country), the Filipino people with such short memories will most likely forget sooner than we can reasonably expect.
The miners and loggers, in the meantime, have all the reasons and the data to deflect responsibility for the flooding and all the topsoil that came cascading down valleys that used to be high and dry in decades past. Owners and operators of all the floating coffins in the archipelago are having a heyday trying to parry every imaginable blow from all fronts. National leaders and politicians who fiddled while Rome burned, figuratively – while watching the bout of the only pride the Philippines can reasonably boast of – Pacquiao, will be very busy talking of “national interest” when they get back to their constituents. It will all be a similar story of something “full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing.”
In the end, it is poor Juan de la Cruz, who is left holding an empty bag. It is he who still has to nurture the last vestiges of an eroding hope for a country that seems to have successfully earned the moniker (for the nth time), of being the most corrupt nation in southeast Asia. In the end, it is he – not those who give privilege speeches – who will move this country forward, albeit so slowly, but definitely surely. It is Juan de la Cruz - the likes of Manny Pacquiao, and so many nameless individuals who, by their dedication to work and family, have consistently saved the whole country from total bankruptcy. The gambling lords, jueteng lords, and all those who lord it over others in this status-conscious country, who surrounded Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas have only themselves to blame if the adulation of people all go to Manny Pacquiao. He comes home with hard-earned and honestly earned money. And what he has promised to dole out in charity for the typhoon victims, is money that did not come from pork barrels and other perks that come with lofty offices that in the
In the final analysis, it is each one of us nameless and faceless individuals in the stage called life that has to keep the music playing, and the flag of hope flying. It is each one of us who, in the long run, can keep more than just the music playing, in and through our performative hope, that runs deep … in fondo all’anima!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
In writing, as they say, less is more. In life things may be just a wee bit different, depending on the situation. Sometimes, getting more is definitely a plus in every way; sometimes getting less translates to being more. The key word, of course, has to do with either having or being. And the focus on one or the other spells the difference between merely being satiated or being truly satisfied. Not all the filled are really full, as our experience teaches us. Being filled is really having more and more, but being full is being plain and simple, being satisfied, being happy, not primarily with what one gets, but being happy with what one does have. It is about being what one ought to be; a condition, not of want, but of never being in want despite the lack, despite many things always falling short of expectation.
I write this piece whilst I am traversing the Pacific – whilst the plane goes north, and then veers toward the west, in order to go the east! I have not been good at any time with directions, but there is something curious about how northwest airlines charts their flights from the US mainland towards what they call the orient. As I write, the plane skirts above the Pacific northwest, traverses the Russian Kamchatka peninsula, and then eventually will find its way towards Korea and onwards to Japan. Whilst it is true that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, obviously, in a world that is round, the best and shortest path from California to Tokyo, Japan is not to draw a straight line right across the Pacific, but to more up north where the globe tapers off, and traverse the distance therein.
But this makes me veer off course the chosen topic …
I write because there is not much else to do. I cannot sleep on planes, generally. I have just finished watching two movies, the second of which bored me stiff. The seat, with all the squirming and the turning around a very limited area, after some hours, does become – excuse me – a pain in the butt. Add to that a growling stomach that, after what is passed off as dinner fare a few hours ago, has been burnt and digested, with the next meal still hours away.
All airlines all over the world and especially in America, are losing a lot of money on account of the skyrocketing prices of oil. Given the fact that about 40% of their operational expenses go to jet fuel, all airlines simply have to be very creative in finding ways and means to make more money. Today, I have been had, in a sense. I had to shell out an extra 50 dollars for me to be assured of an aisle seat. The worst thing that can happen to me is to be wedged for 12 to 14 hours in between a few rows of seats, or worse, to be at a window seat, and having to squeeze oneself out of those rows every time one has to relieve oneself.
There is more and more of less and less in what airlines offer the economy passengers. Having been travelling to and from both sides of the Pacific since 1984, and having boarded several airline companies in all those years, I surely have enough data to work with informally in terms of assessing what once was, and what now is reality.
For one, the choice of preferred seats is no longer free. Exit seats and even aisle seats are not there anymore for the asking. No … they are there for what they call a modest fee. Snacks on board domestic flights all over the continental US are there, too, for a modest price. And don’t even think of changing your flight date unless you are prepared to pay more than a tenth of the whole round trip ticket price.
I predict that if the rise in oil prices goes unabated, blankets and pillows will be the next to go. Already, the food carts have been made less heavy. Winglets in many airplanes have been added to boost lift. American airlines has begun imposing a one-luggage limit per passenger, and even charging 25 d0llars on that one bag allowance. All other airlines will follow suit in the next few coming months, and the old weight allowance of 70 pounds will be pared down to about 50-60.
There is more and more of less and less … In Israel, they were forced to develop a state of the art desalination process because the old supply of fresh water, the “Sea” of Galilee’s level is falling faster than the price of oil rises all over the world.
Happily, things are changing ever so slowly in terms of consciousness. In many airports, one begins to see signs that remind people to get only what they need. Two things that by and large, the American society wastes so much of, are paper and water. Paper, incidentally, takes so much water to produce, and water is something that is fast becoming a “casus belli” ( a case for war) in many places all over the world. The much coveted Golan heights in Israel that links Israel with Syria has not been a disputed territory only in terms of military strategy. It sits right on top of what was once their only precious water reservoir – the Lake of Galilee!
But despite the reminders, the whole world is still pretty much wasteful all over. Old habits die hard, and the most difficult habits to eradicate are those that cater to our tendency toward more and more creature comfort. SUVs in the US are in for a rough ride ahead. People are going to be forced to say good-bye to them, not because of what Al Gore said, but because the trip to the fuel pump is getting to be more and more painful to consumers.
Flying and traveling is indeed, educational and formative. But so is the reality of human experience. With more and more of less and less becoming the order of the day, perhaps the whole world will eventually learn the hard way, how to be satisfied with less and less, do without more and more stuff, and become more in the long run. In this case, then the high school and college composition teachers were right all along … Less is more!
NW 027 – SFO to NRT
June 6, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I saw it in Athens, over at Piraeus port, a sign that was as striking as it was incongruous … a sign in both English – and – hold on to your seat – in Tagalog! The sign says: “Please do not take away chairs from here.” But that was not all. Below was a Tagalog translation of the same thing in big, bold letters: “Sa Tagalog: Bawal alisin at ilipat ang mga silyang ito!” Hmmm …
This morning as I was boarding a flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul en route to San Francisco, over the Northwest counter, another sign reminded me of what I saw in Athens: For Manila flights only! Apparently, there are check-in counters and there are check –in counters … some for the regular guys and one for Filipinos! Hmmm …
A friend from Dubai once told me something similar. A sign in some of the shops at Dubai airport said once in English and in Tagalog: “Shoplifters will be prosecuted.” Translation in Tagalog right below it said: “Bawal magnakaw dito.” Hmmm …
My friend jokingly told me. Well, that sign is placed there for other nationalities, not me.
Four years ago, I was invited to do the invocation at the Philippine Independence Day celebrations at Marriott Hotel in downtown Washington, DC. I was privileged to have been seated together with former consuls who worked for some time in Manila, and other personages who had business to do with Filipino Americans. One of them asked me at some point: Father, could you please tell me which among the many groups who claim to speak for Filipino Americans we need to deal with directly? I could not give a ready answer. For around me were a multiplicity of groups all with fancy names each one of them representing a group, a cause, a party, and a convocation!
Fast forward to Jerusalem … over at Renaissance Hotel, the first day we were there, there were not too many signs other than what told people where to go, in what section of the restaurant to go to, depending on which group one belonged. The next day, a sign was placed conspicuously at the buffet table: “Please do not take food out of the restaurant.“ Hmmm … Of course, there were Filipinos checked in at the hotel, and that, of course, included me. Whoever took food out of the restaurant should be easy guess work for you. And your guess will most likely be not too far off the mark.
Back track to Madrid’s Barajas international airport. We were just walking off the tube towards the arrival area. The plane was full of mostly Caucasian travellers. Who do you think would the guardia civil stop on his tracks and to check on his passport? Well, it was me. I did not take offense, but surely, you would agree with me that there is something about being Filipino that would sometimes make you at least suspect we are being profiled. No one else was stopped on his tracks but me.
When we had to navigate our way to the new, huge, and sprawling airport terminal to get to where our flight back to Washington-Dulles international airport was, at the security check, what do you think would the airline staff at the gate would do, but to thumb through my passport and pass his fingers through the US visa page as if to check whether my visa was genuine or not?
Are we set apart, distinguished, renowned, or are we being treated differently? Your guess is as good as mine.
The trip that took me from the third world, to the new world and to the old world and back to the third world in less than a month’s time has taught me some precious insights. In the US, big wholesale shops like Costco, Sam’s club and others have begun controlling the number of bags of rice they can allow people to buy, something that never happened before. Apart from the obvious fact that prices have risen drastically, supply is carefully monitored. There are unverified media reports that a number of business people are hoarding the rice, too!. So what else is new? Many Chinese businessmen in the Philippines, including Chinese tourists in the country have been at it before original sin was discovered!
But despite the rising costs of fuel, America’s love affair with the automobile has not gotten any less intense. The world famous freeways and expressways and turnpikes (and a whole lot of other fancy names for the same thing) that made America the trendsetter all over the world are all getting clogged, like they do in all parts of the world. Slow moving traffic is no longer the monopoly of third world countries. At the capital beltway, I-495, rush hour traffic could be a bore. The same is true in the beltway around Baltimore, the I-695, with some very young and very impatient drivers learning to do the swerving technique that Filipino drivers have long been famous for. And let us not speak about LA!
I write this blog piece aboard a Northwest flight from the Midwest, en route to SFO. The more than four hours trip from O’Hare to Minneapolis/St. Paul and on to San Francisco is devoid of any meal that once upon a time was the hallmark of all US airlines. No … each one buys snacks or meals for oneself. All they give now is a drink. People allergic to peanuts can at least rejoice. No more signs of peanuts in the air. No tiny pretzels, no nothing! The trans-Pacific flight from Tokyo to SFO and back can boast of the barest minimum to keep body and soul together. You won’t die of starvation, but you won’t alight from the plane satisfied either. Almost all airlines seem to have become very creative in making more money to offset for the rising prices of oil which accounts for more than 40% of the airlines' operating costs.
The experience of Europe and Israel was another eye opener. Americans and the rest of the world whose currency is pegged to the dollar now feel poorer as compared to the Europeans. The buying power of the dollar has fallen. Whilst officially the exchange rate is something like 1.6 something for every Euro, the reality in Europe is far different. In effect, every Euro now almost costs two dollars! That means that a simple essential lunch that in America would cost people no more than 10 dollars, could amount to something like 16 dollars or more, especially in Israel. There, our guide was boasting that the NIS (the New Israeli shekel) is among the top 15 strongest currencies in the world. Well, I believe them. But after our stay there, where we were literally forced to eat and buy where they wanted us to, I did not have to wonder why their economy is damn good. It almost seemed like we were being fleeced every step along the way, including the use of toilets for minor necessities that would set you back by 50 cents or a dollar in some places.
Pilgrimages are a Christian long standing tradition. Back in the day, they used to walk and go through rough uncharted – even dangerous – territory. That, indeed, is the root word of pilgrim – the name of this blog – per agrum. It means exactly that – to go through the fields – for a deeper reason and purpose. This pilgrimage on my 25th has been a grace-filled event. It is so primarily because it is gift … given to me and made possible by friends who believe in the gift of priesthood, and the ministry it can offer them. Whilst I shelled out something, what they spent for me towers higher than what I eventually could contribute.
This blog entry, like my first issue of Pilgrim Pathways, is for them. I acknowledge this singular grace from God, as part and parcel of the graciousness that God has always shown me, and has been showing me since I got ordained 25 years ago. I acknowledge this as gift, along with so many other gifts I have received and continue to receive, albeit unworthily. I am filled with gratitude. I end with something I heard so often in Greece – a word that all of my readers should very easily understand: Eucharisto. Eucharisto. Eucharisto.
NW 675, June 3, 2008
37,000 feet above sea level
Monday, June 2, 2008
My pilgrimage began with some work to do … a recollection to preach to Fil-Ams in Hayward, Northern CA, a 50s era once progressive city that sits nestled below, or on the foothills of the now brown and barren heights of the Bay area. That was May 3, Saturday, just two days after I arrive from a rather long and tiring trip that took me from the cramped NAIA to Tokyo’s spacious and quiet airport of Narita. (Actually it is not anywhere near Tokyo, but it belongs to another Prefecture which is some two hours away by train from Tokyo city proper).
The topic and the reason for the recollection is not new to me. I have seen the issue everywhere I was asked to work with and for Filipinos whether home grown or raised some place else in this whole wide world. I saw it two years ago as I preached in New Jersey. I saw it in Italy, in Rome in particular. I saw it in Baltimore, Maryland. I see it back home where I am based. I see it in every institution, every organization made up of Filipinos (which includes me, by the way).
The issue whereof I speak is unity, the capacity to feel a sense of oneness and belongingness to a bigger group, to a greater body, to a greater whole. How many times have we heard of big groups including convenanted communities breaking up after some time? How many times have we seen otherwise very successful groups being fractured, fragmented and divided after so many years of untold success?
This is I think part of what James Fallows unflaterringly calls a “damaged culture.” This for my part is what I refer to as the unevangelized aspects of our culture that still needs to see the light of Gospel good news.
The day after, May 4, I preached to almost all Masses and presided over three of the Sunday Masses. The best was reserved for the 12:30 Mass which was the Filipino Heritage Mass. The best of our culture was on parade and on display. It was kind of incongruous to hear Filipino songs being sung by a Filipino American musician, all to the beat of Brazilian drums and Brazilian rhythm. I could not join the singing of “Salamat sa Iyo, Panginoong Jesus” as I could not accept the hybrid of melody and rhythm that were worlds apart from each other. (It was accompanied by blaring jazzy trumpets).
The second part of the working tour brought me to Northern Virginia. I was asked to do a refresher talk on pastoral planning to the core group of leaders of the Fil Ministry of NOVA.
I was back again to a situation and place that I was treading on for the first time!
My pilgrimage began with things familiar and things unknown – pretty much uncharted terrain that frightens, as much as it bewilders and challenges me. I am back to what I have learned to accept over the past 25 years as a priest. Things are both the same and never the same. The French have a beautiful way of putting it: “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.” The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Life being what it is, a perpetual journey, it is both new and old. Forrest Gump was right. “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna git.” Take it from me … I have been there, done that … One could be very much up there in people’s estimation many years, and something happens, or someone spreads false rumors about you and you’re down there in the gutters (at least in some people’s estimation). You could be looked at highly for some time, and some people who do not know Joseph take the leadership and you suddenly become a pariah of sorts.
The talks I gave both in Northern Virginia and in California were pretty much reminiscent of what I gave two years ago in Jersey area. And the questions are all very familiar … how to mould our people into one, how to make them see the bigger picture and the greater whole … It all sounds old and yet so new.
Following (Some) of the Footsteps of St. Paul
I am privileged to antedate the international year of St. Paul in some respects. We did the pilgrimage trying to follow where St. Paul trod. But the intrepid missionary is impossible to duplicate. We did it in relative ease and comfort. What made my hair stand on end is to see that little harbor where Paul landed in Pergamum, a harbor so tiny from my vantage point one could not even see the tiny opening that was enough only for small boats that Paul must have used in 58 AD.
Another place that really got me all excited was Ephesus. The big theater where Paul spoke to 37,000 people is still very much extant and in a high state of preservation. The arena could ordinarily contain only 25,000 but the crowds swelled because it was Paul who spoke. Tiny man though he was, according to reputable tradition, he was a mighty man with a stentorian voice, and a powerful message.
The highlight of Ephesus, of course, was Meryemana, the house of Mary Virgin and Mother, that is, the house of St. John where he took Mary after the crucifixion. We were privileged to say two Masses in a row in that holy place.
Friday, April 4, 2008
February 11, 2004
I thought I should be less formal and tell you my thoughts, news, and views by way of a letter – or at least, one that looks like one. Been raring to tell you a whole lot of stuff … To sum it all up, for a starter, I thought I’d tell you that there is a big difference between being an occasional “tourist” in America, and being a more or less long-time “resident,” which I have sort of become over the past 7 months.
America looks different from a visitor’s point of view, especially if all one sees are airports, resorts, theme parks and the relative comforts of some relative’s or acquaintance’s home. But when all that “fun” takes a back seat to the reality of a complicated weather system during winter, having to drive around in less than ideal conditions, (and using a less than “new” car), trying to keep afloat owing to so many checks and security measures adopted by a government that has become more than paranoid after 9/11, having to assure oneself through hard work that one’s meager funds would extend all the way to the end of the course, having to deal with an occasional (though rare, I must say) case of very subtle racial discrimination (or some level of non-acceptance owing to differences in culture and ignorance more than bad will), all you have is a very real longing to be back where you have gotten most used to – the familiar sights and sounds of home that perchance one has taken for granted in many ways.
I believe that those of us who have opted to stay here really are caught in a love-hate relationship with America they have chosen to call home, whether they realize it or not. (The home-grown kids and young adults are a different story). There sure are a lot of advantages about being here: a steady source of livelihood that assures one a decent living for less stress and less effort on the whole; a relatively greater possibility of a healthier lifestyle; affordable housing and education, financial security, to name just a few. But I believe that in exchange for such “essentials” a whole lot more is expended in terms of high prices to pay: the separation from kin that is the hallmark of Filipino culture; the loss of that support structure that is the close-knit extended family system that Filipinos hold on to, especially in these past years of political turmoil after political turmoil; a sense of identity as a Filipino that one need not be defensive for back home, nor feel touchy about.
I must tell you that I basically enjoy preaching here in the U.S. Since they are generally straightforward, they give you feedback and tell you their appreciation or their reservations, as the case may be. One of my avid listeners and admirers happens to be a four-term senator for the federal government, and former secretary of health during the term of Ronald Reagan. She religiously and dutifully attends the First Friday Mass and all-night adoration where I have to deliver two homilies, and an occasional extra talk during the course of the night.
In the Philippines, I have learned to be a bit wary of people who come up to you after Mass. While 99 per cent of them would do so to commend you and congratulate you, or at least ask for some clarifications about what I said in the homily, occasionally, you get to have some crank who comes up to argue with you. Invariably, they would start by asking what appears to be an innocuous question. But it would not take long for you to realize they have come not in search for the truth, but in search of an argument. They have come to convert you to their brand of truth. They have an axe to grind against something the Church teaches, and something I have said in the homily that supports it. A Filipina lady came up to me after Mass at World Bank in D.C. the other week. She starts out by asking me if she could ask a question. Why yes, I said. Then she began perorating. I think that many people are unaware about something that you should be preaching about, she said. What about? I asked. So many people do not know that they have to do their morning offering everyday. I told her I am not sure about whether everyone, everyday ought to pray the Morning Offering. What I do know is that all Christians have to have a daily prayer routine which may or may not include the formula she was talking about (I am familiar with this as this prayer is said daily in most parishes in the Philippines.) At that point she became agitated and began insisting that I teach everyone the absolute need to recite the Morning Offering everyday. There was “passion” in her eyes, and as a trained observer of human behavior, I knew that there was even a tinge of anger and disappointment.
There is simply a whole lot for me to share about the reality I see here in America – the fact that it is so multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious. It is also a fertile breeding ground for so many newfangled teachings and religions. In America, you can sell anything and everything provided you are market-savvy and you know how to tickle your potential buyers’ ears and make inroads into their hearts. What else explains the fact that “gurus” from India who find it so hard to even have a decent following in their own country suddenly become “proprietors” of big, booming economic empires here in the U.S.? What else explains the fact that New Age doctrines and practices use the American society as springboard to get to the rest of the world? How does one explain the fact that here an endless variety of sects and new religions thrive?
Intelligence alone is not sufficient for anyone to get by in life with a perfect sense of balance… By no means. There is a whole lot of psychological deficits in people’s lives that traditional and mainstream religions like Catholicism are ill equipped to cater to. Given the nature of the Catholic Church as both institutional and charismatic, with the former as mistakenly being seen as the essential and more important aspect, individuals with “object relations” deficits of whatever type or intensity, or people with relational deficits in childhood, as in the case of individuals who never quite learned to bond with a parent in childhood, are perfect candidates for conversion to such warm and cuddly and artificially caring (at least initially) religious groups. The proverbial search for the “father figure” whom one ironically may have rejected growing up as a child, comes back to haunt the individual, and the emotional deficit, more often than not, is supplied for by a guru who preaches a very person-oriented brand of a very deep spirituality – the very thing that is lacking in the person’s life. Spirituality is basically a relationship in its essence, and unfortunately, this is not the kind of thing that the institutional Church seems to be a great model and preacher of, at least in the minds of so many whose knowledge of the Church is so superficial.
I feel very sad that so many fall for the antics of these false prophets who capitalize on the “emotional illiteracy” and the various forms of psychological deficits of so many whose attachment to what appears to be a primal authority father figure that is the institutional Church is, indeed, tenuous, and intermixed with so much “parataxic distortions” that the very same people who fall for them are not even conscious about.
This is, indeed, a big challenge for pastors and educators like us. Incidentally, I have always wondered why the institutional Church, contrary to her tradition, does not emphasize the Church as mother! There is so much of patriarchy in current theological thinking, which needs to be balanced by a lot more of the maternal element especially in the area of pastoral theology.
Incidentally, the problems some religious face vis-à-vis authority figures, the relational problems members of various congregations face, the crises they find themselves into… why, even the squabbles and “tampuhans” within our covenanted communities - all these could use a little more help from the science of psychology. Too bad, Freud has been getting a very bad rap all these years (for right reasons, I must say), but too bad, too, that people have thrown the baby with the bath water. A lot of later followers of Freud who revised his theory have a lot to say about us and about our complex human behavior without subscribing to his deterministic and patently sexual instinctive/drive theory. There is a whole lot to be investigated in each one’s “object relations” in infancy and childhood which may well stand at the bottom of so many of our issues as priests and religious, and as ordinary Christians. Over here in the US, I am fascinated by a parish priest who, true to that category we refer to as “soft-liberals,” always has to say something negative against the Vatican, the Holy Father, his bishop. He laments the fact that unfortunately, when a priest gets promoted and puts on the miter, his head disappears. (He means the guy ceases to think rightly once he puts on the miter!) Poor Church... People are confused because of the so many direct and indirect attacks against orthodoxy, mostly coming from confused pastors.
I have a lot more thoughts to spare a penny for. I end with a few funny vignettes. Three young adults woke up at dawn to steal money from a 7-11 store. They succeeded. They got all the money from the register. But the following morning, they were collared. Reason? It just snowed the night before and all the police needed to do was to follow their tracks in the virgin snow. Simple? Another… a 21 year old man shipped himself to Texas by air, putting himself in a wooden box and was delivered right before his mother’s doorstep. He said he wanted to save money on the plane fare. He spent more than a thousand dollars for the shipping. The cost of the actual plane fare first class to Houston? 400 something dollars! Only in America! The founder of the Atkins diet, that which tells you to eat as much meat and fat as you like while avoiding carbs has been dead for well over a year now. Now reports are saying he died overweight at 72. The diet has become the latest craze all over the U.S. Even fast food joints like Subway have began offering stuff like “Atkins-friendly wraps” and the like. People go gaga avoiding carbs like pasta, bread, potatoes, etc – exactly what a decade ago they were saying they should stuff themselves with! In a country where 130 million are overweight, and 60 million are pathologically obese, one long-standing obsession has to do with the great big diet debate. In the last three decades that the debate has see-sawed from one extreme to the other, in the meantime, the average amount of calories people here are ingesting everyday has steadily increased – and counting.
A group has filed a suit against the fast-food industry. Guess who make up that group? The obese who complain that their obesity was due to the fast-food chains who have been serving high-fat, high-salt, and high cholesterol food all these years! Only in America!
Doctors here now are no longer the supercilious and proud people they once used to be.
Their incomes have shrunken considerably, partly because they have to pay unbelievably high malpractice insurance rates, in many cases to the tune of a hundred grand a year. Few doctors now want to be ob-gyn who deliver babies. That is where most litigations happen.
The presidential primaries as they call it here, are in full swing. Over here, it is mostly politics of ideas, not personalities. Over there it is a different ballgame altogether. Whatever the outcome over here would be, life is expected to remain pretty much the same; the engine of capitalism and rugged individualism gets the upper hand, in the long run. In our case in the Philippines, unfortunately, the single greatest obstacle to national progress has been politics plain and simple, abetted by the Church’s anemic evangelization that, for all its sound and fury during PCP-II, never quite took off the ground as expected.
Well, to end this, maybe I need to ask you pointblank as did that lady after my Mass … do you do your Morning Offering everyday? If we are to follow her way, the solution to all the world’s problem is this and only this: people ought to do their morning offering!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
As a priest, pastor, counselor, teacher, and preacher, I uphold the passionate search for truth in justice and charity. As a teacher of moral theology, when faced with moral dilemmas, such as what the nation is confronted with now, I counsel and uphold the process of moral discernment, especially if what we are tempted to do is another action that has enormous consequences on our total well-being as a nation and people, on issues that pertain to the common good, and on our basic sense of trust and mistrust on institutions, including the Church. Whilst I am sympathetic to calls for moral reform, I am wary of knee-jerk reactions that may come, not from a careful, prudent, and objective reading of events, but from a carefully calibrated and orchestrated media blitz that may stand in the way of due process. I don't ask you to believe all that is contained in what is enclosed. All I ask for, as I always say, is sobriety.
As a moral theology professor, I often speak of the need for all of us to be media prosumers, at the very least ( and not just consumers), if we cannot be media purveyors. In this age marked and marred by so many tempting and seemingly cogent calls of the so-called "media moment" - full of memorable sound bytes and quotable slogans, that end up reducing basically complex events and realities to "one liners" and simplistic issues of "right versus wrong," where media can tend, not only to report events, but also, to create events; where individuals can be made or unmade, reduced to being despiccable non-entities, or catapulted to near divine status, one would be well-advised to pause, and perhaps choose to follow the beat of a different drummer.
I am one with you all in condemning corruption in the strongest possible terms. My personal suspicions resonate with much of what is being noisily touted over the air lanes and the world of print. I am one with you in my desire to get to the bottom of things, uphold moral truth, and I cry passionately for justice, on behalf of the voiceless and countless poor who only stand to lose the most if things go on as before, if the same elitist, exploitative political system goes on its merry way.
But my passionate dedication to truth is not the only value I uphold. I also value the common good. Faced with a moral dilemma as I personally am, given the tempting calls before me of what we have, unfortunately, gotten a bit too much used to doing, that is, mount another people power, no doubt with very valid and legitimate concerns, I am led to weigh "goods" and weigh "consequences." I want the truth alright. I want justice too. But when faced with the far ranging consequences that another people power would most likely cause, I am held back. I want truth, but not at all costs. I want justice, but whilst we all should work together for it, in the spirit of performative hope, I am not too sure, another people power would guarantee both. For last thing I heard is, those issues are as old as Adam and Eve - with their hemming and hawing, with their denials and deflection tactics, with their basically gross act of disobedience to God. That I am sure, you are willing to concede, is also what is basically at stake, and at the bottom of all this brouhaha.
I am not a politician. I am, as our Bishops say, not supposed to tell government and civil leaders what to do. But I am not about to pass off my right, privilege and moral duty to enlighten the people of God, (or at the very least, those whom I encounter somehow in both the physical and cyber world). So, one with our pastors, I offer what I feel is our line of expertise - moral guidance to assist us in the process of discernment. And I would like to echo what the Bishops taught last 26 February. They defined the basic moral issue at stake - the culture of corruption on all levels of our sick society. They called everyone to task: the President, the Senate, the so called "opposition," the Media, and all of us individually and collectively. We are all in this together.
I support the passionate pleas for truth of all sectors in our society, yes ... including all those who happen to ride on the issue because they really are after something else. As a psychotherapist, I know -as everyone else does- what immense damage ulterior motives that are sugar-coated with seemingly innocuous and even valid intentions and concerns, can do to oneself and others. Declared intentions are always good. But the underlying motives beneath those declared intentions that we ourselves may not be aware of, are ultimately more damaging in the long run. I support truth. The Church supports truth. Right now, with too many declared and undeclared intentions and motives from both sides, with both sides guilty of doing so called dirty tactics, with ultimate goals as many as there are groups in the rainbow coalition of forces asking for change, I know I would be well advised, not to jump with the bandwagon of powerful forces, who have already decided on what truth to uphold and to claim, or whose truth to side with.
This is the reason why I call for sobriety. The media frenzy does not support sobriety. They can tend to be inflammatory, like the fiery speeches of those who have stuck their necks out a bit too prematurely with one side or the other. I see lurking dangers. I sense danger in the rapid erosion of trust in institutions. The Senate does not trust the Supreme Court. The legislative department does not trust the Executive. The list can go on. In such an unfolding scenario, given the fractious disunited, and even wrangling picture projected by the only institution that ought to remain trustworthy - the Church, then, precious little shred of human - lesser - hope, remains for us. We might as well throw the rule of law out the proverbial window forever! And then people power becomes the end all and be all of our political lives. It becomes the supreme arbiter of all our political immaturity and a testament, perhaps to what we have for so long been maligned with - a damaged culture.
Thanks for bearing up with this lengthy piece. You owe it to your children and grandchildren to be committed towards helping make this country rise up to the challenges of our mostly self-inflicted problems. We all are part of the problem. We all can be part of the solution
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I WOULD LIKE TO APPEND AN ARTICLE THAT IS WORTH REFLECTING ON. WHILST I DON'T AGREE WITH EVERYTHING HE SAYS, THERE ARE THINGS THAT OUGHT TO MERIT OUR CLOSE SCRUTINY.
By Alito L. Malinao
The role the Church must play
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has been pilloried for refusing to join the mob calling for the resignation of .
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
It has been my quiet desire to write something on the current political situation of our country. I would like to share a few lines with you. I beg the indulgence of my foreign readers who may not be aware, let alone interested, with what's going on in the Philippines these days. I address myself to fellow Filipinos here and abroad.
February 27, 2008
To all Filipinos Everywhere:
I used to think that corruption and criminality in the
thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get any worse than this?
Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my TV to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not men. They are caricatures of men - too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these so-called “honorable” crooks lambast each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and appalling that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at its worst!
I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like "Honorable", "Senator" , "Justice" , "General" and worse, "President." Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. Their motto? "Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich."
It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat, and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!
I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family's, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation's coffers. Just like others in my lot, I
have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.
And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone's morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own "pag bad ka, lagot ka!" slogan. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it's all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?
And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. "Love (of power) is blind" takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband's financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.
They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the
But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the
Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good. We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray, too, including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of our desperation in ridding our nation of these vermin. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!
I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion "right from the sandbox" till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and pass on your family name with pride and honor.
I call on educators and teachers, we always underestimate the power of your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real, worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future and it would be largely because of you, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.
I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see. But neither let this make you cynical, because we need your idealism and fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that gave you your ancestors and your heritage.. Use technology and all available resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.
Remember that there are a few handfuls who are capable of running this country. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. I voted for Atty. Martin Bautista and his team and I sure hope they will run again. Do your utmost to excel in your chosen field. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.
For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the
We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.