Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year-ender Blog: 2010

In the first twelve months of its existence, this blog is witness to events that took place in the internet, and somehow, it contributed to the advocacies that it entail, such as the fight against the Culture of Death, the promotion of Catholicism, the Unity of Christians, the defense of the Faith, and social awareness among others. I just browsed my first-ever post, and I remembered that this blog would celebrate its first year anniversary on January 19, 2011! Unfortunately, I would be in the middle of my Preliminary examinations....

Anyway, I just can't imagine that I have survived a year of blogging stuff...most of it are dedicated to the aforementioned advocacies. I only have one wish for the next year: that this blog may continue a good run and may be instrumental to fellow netizens who look upon it, because I am now challenged to provide you better posts. I'm also happy that I got more than a thousand views in it (but actually, 97% of it were mine.... hahahaha). And so I offer this Year-ender prayer:

another year came and went. 
Another year written in the annals of history. 
We have experienced as a People 
and as a Church 
upbeat moments, 
sorrowful setbacks, 
times of uncertainty, 
and tragic confusions. 
We pray that 
by Your Unending Grace, 
Your Omnipotent Love, 
Your Comforting Presence, 
be ever-present in the year to come, 
as it was this year. 
We ask You this, 
and all our prayers, 
with the Motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, 



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rizal's Concept of God

Cesar Montano, portraying Rizal in Marilou Diaz-Abaya's film "Jose Rizal" produced by GMA Films. Here, Rizal uttered his last words (which were one of Christ's last words): Consummatum est! (It is done!)

Since today is Rizal Day, I would share to you a letter that somehow proves that Jose Rizal, one of the most talked-about Filipinos of the Spanish era, is a Theist--and a Catholic one when he was executed. Wanna see the link? Click here and judge for yourself.

Rizal, Dapitan, 9 January 1893 || To Fr. Pablo Pastells
Rizal explains his concept of God.  Note: This letter is a composite of the English translation of the Epistolario Rizalino by the National Heroes Commission / National Historical Institute (which is incomplete) and that of Fr. Raul J. Bonoan, S.J., The Rizal Pastells Correspondence(Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1994), pp. 161-165  
Dapitan, 9 January 1893
Very Reverend Father Pablo Pastells, S.J.
My very Reverend Father,
I have read attentively your precious as well as profound letter of the 8th ultimo [= December, the last or ultimate month - rly] and I remain very grateful to you for the interest you continue showing me.
These days I have examined my beliefs and their foundations; I have reviewed what little has been left to me by the shipwreck of faith,as my dear Professor Fr. Sanchez would say, or the solid bases that have remained firm despite so many tempests. I should like to be most sincere, the most accurate possible in the definition and exposition of my ideas because I esteemed Your Reverence very much not only for what you are, not only for what you have been to me in my adolescent years (to me always a loved and sacred memory)[Bonoan speculates that Pastells may have been Rizal’s spiritual director or confessor in past years. - rly] but also because Your Reverence is one of the few persons who, far from forgetting me in adversity, has extended his hand to me with so much benevolence.
I reply then with pleasure to your question and I shall un-bosom myself sincerely so that Your Reverence may see if everything has been lost or if there is still something left that may be useful.
I believe firmly in the existence of a Creator more than by faith, by reasoning and by necessity. Who is He? What human sounds, what syllables of language can enshrine the name of that Being whose works overwhelm the mind that thinks of them? Who can give Him an adequate name when a little creature hereabouts with an ephemeral power has two or three names, three or four surnames and numerous titles and epithets? We call Him God, but this only recalls the Latin Deus, the Greek Zeus at most. What is He? I would attribute to him all the beautiful and holy qualities that my mind can conceive in infinite degree, if the fear of my ignorance did not restrain me. Someone has said that each man forms his God according to his image and likeness, and if my memory does not fail me, Anacreon [It was Xenophanes – rly (from note found in the Bonoan translation] said that if a bull could imagine a god, he would imagine a horned bull bellowing in a superlative degree. Notwithstanding, I dare to believe Him infinitely wise, powerful, good. My idea of the infinite is imperfect and confused on seeing His wonderful works, the order that prevails among them, their magnificence and overwhelming extent, and the goodness that shines in everything. The lucubration [laborious work - rly] of a poor worm, the last creature on the little ball of the earth, however crazy they may be, can never offend His inconceivable majesty. His thought humbles me, and makes me giddy. How many times my reason tries to raise my eyes towards that Being as many times it falls stunned, dazzled, crushed. I am overtaken by fear and I prefer to keep silent to being the bull of Anacreon.
Permeated with this vague but irresistible sentiment before the inconceivable, the superhuman, the infinite, I leave its study to brighter minds. I listen in suspense to what the religions say and incapable of judging what exceed my strength, I content myself with studying Him in his creatures, my fellow creatures, and in the voice of my conscience which can only proceed from Him. I try to read, to divine His will in what surrounds me and in the mysterious inner sentiment that I feel within myself whose purity above all things I try to maintain in order to act according to it. Many religions pretend to have that Will condensed and written down in their books and dogmas but aside from numerous contradictions, from the varied interpretation with respect to the words, from many obscure points.  [The older English translation of the Epistolario ends at this point as they had an incomplete manuscript.  What follows is from the Bonoan translation. (Note: the paragraph numbering system of Bonoan is not used.) - rly] Is it possible that he who makes the sun rise for all and the air to blow everywhere to give life, he who has endowed everyone with intelligence and reason for life here on earth, has also hidden from us what is most necessary for our eternal life? What shall we say of a father who heaps candies and toys on his children, but gives food only to one of them, educates and rears him alone? And what if it so happens that this chosen one refuses to eat while the others die looking for food?
But I do not mean by this that I completely disregard what the sacred books, religious precepts, and religious dogmas have to say. On the contrary, these books are, in the final analysis, the insights of men and whole generations put down in writing, the knowledge of the past on which the future is built. Most of these religious precepts are condensations or formulations of the precepts of the natural law; as such, they are for me God's word.
When there arises a conflict among them, I decide in favor of that which is most in conformity with nature's law; because for me nature is the only divine book of unquestionable legitimacy, the sole manifestation of the Creator that we have here in this life clear, perennial, living, powerful, capable of overcoming our blunders and errors, incorruptible, one that cannot play false in spite of human caprice, with its laws constant and unchangeable in all places and for all times. Your Reverence will object that the page we possess from this book is of little value and that, while we can achieve perfect knowledge of our planet; however we could only have an imperfect knowledge of the Creator, just as we can have no perfect knowledge of the sculptor from a small statue or sketch. I agree, but ex ungue leonem [we know the lion by its claws - Bonoan] and at least the path we pursue is a sure one and universally apt for uniting all inhabitants of the earth into one single religion. And who knows but that the weak mind of man might well explode like Sirius and Aldebaran [two brilliant stars – from note by Bonoan - rly] if we propose to it too great an object?
Therefore in the light of the knowledge of the past and present, I weigh things, try to determine their causes and the finality of their activity, and strive to follow the direction they take. I see in everyone an inborn desire to know; I see the world outside full of colors, qualities and incentives that nourish this desire; I see misery as the chastisement of ignorance, well-being as the prize of knowledge. And I come to the conclusion from my humble reasoning that the Creator desires man to perfect himself by growing in knowledge. Reflecting on the mysterious sentiment of sympathy, its dynamism and transformations, I become aware of the impulse that commands us to love one another, and I take as God's word the religious command that everyone must love the neighbor as himself. Seeing how freedom when overrated destroys and ruins the principle of life in a living thing which can subsist by itself, seeing the daily lesson in all creation of how weak creatures-from nestling birds to young lions in the den-are given support and protection, but as soon as they can get on by themselves, freedom and room for action; I find justification for the precepts of charity and respect for the rights of others. At first glance, after a superficial examination, we get the impression that the law of struggle holds sway and it is might that wins the day. But after careful study, when we contemplate the skeletons of gigantic monsters now gone from the face of the earth, when we read in history the epitaphs of great and mighty empires which lived off the life and freedom of humanity, when we see how the cat lives on as the tiger disappears, how shopkeepers increase in number as conquistadors vanish; we become better aware of the principles of peace, the triumph of the mind and the law of universal harmony -- harmony which follows the world in its rapid course, demanding life for all and freedom for all' Those who consume more than they produce incur the hatred of the world, and victory belongs only to the one who seeks the perfection of others as well as his own.
These are the fundamental principles of my religious ideas. I admit they do not constitute a complete system, because in spite of all the studies we have done, we are still in the slow process of reading from this grand book. But these principles have the advantage of being open to all, of constituting legitimate divine revelation, and of being able to unite one day all consciences, without resorting to quarrels, anathemas and bloodshed. There are no anathemas and prohibitions, but a free forum for discussion; no miracles as proofs, but facts and experience give their verdict. There is no fear of apocryphal accounts or forged manuscripts: death is the fate of everything that does not conform to nature.
Regarding the immortality of the soul and life eternal, how can I believe in the death of my consciousness, when everything around me tells me that nothing is lost but things merely change? If the atom cannot be annihilated, is it possible for my consciousness which rules the atom to be annihilated? To deny eternal life, one would have to come back from the other side of eternity, and this return would be itself a confirmation of life eternal.
Regarding redemption, I have stronger faith in this matter than many of those who perhaps take me for a heretic. I believe in the redemption by the Word which has been decreed from all eternity.  Humanity can fall three or even a thousand times on life's bitter road, but it will always find salvation. And the greater the crisis, the greater the victory will be. In the end humanity will rise again triumphant and glorious, for the work of God cannot perish.
Basically, my religious ideas are perhaps in agreement with yours (I hope you do not mind the company); but if the road I have taken is a great shock to you, I ask for your pardon in the name of the God who has made beauty to consist in variety within unity. Perhaps it will not be so bad a thing if we differ a little bit even as we worship the same Creator. My ideas may be erroneous, but at least I am convinced and sincere, arising as they do from my humble judgment and my heart. Come the day for offering sacrifice, I shall approach the altar with the product of my own efforts, a faith truly my own, the best I can offer. Others will offer hecatombs [An extravagant offering of animal sacrifice to the Greek gods - rly] they have bought or borrowed, foreign ideas, well-studied positions, imposed beliefs -- all stereotyped offerings, more precious and worthy than my own. But he to whom these are directed will be the judge. I submit myself to his judgment.
Let us put aside the religious question and please accept a small gift which I am sending through the kindness of the Fathers. I have nothing here, there are no stores selling art objects. Nonetheless, I owe you so much I thought I ought to send you a small token, however poorly executed, of my gratitude. It is a small statue of St. Paul in an attitude of prayer. If you wish, you can have someone who knows about ceramics to bake and harden it. This would make me happy, for you would remember me always in your prayers.
Concerning the improvement of health conditions in this town, I think the problem ought to be taken seriously. This year, unfortunately, there is a lot of work to be done and I doubt if there are enough workers available. It will be necessary to ask a good number of people to work for some months, and spend some amount of money to build a perfect network of canals and drainage facilities, to disinfect some mangroves and raise the ground at some places. This is not a matter for ten or twenty Pintakasi [Patrons; benefactors of projects – rly (from footnote of Bonoan)] alone, and it will not suffice to dig two or three canals which will fill up after the first few rainfalls. This is a matter of the greatest importance; it concerns the health of the people, on which depends their economic as well as moral well-being. We will need brick, lime, labor and money. I am sure you could do something if you tried; but unfortunately Your Reverence is far away and busy with so many things while out here we lack labor and materials. I am willing in every way to do anything I can for the service of the people. Please do tell me what to do.
We are in good health here. Don Ricardo will write Your Reverence and I presume that in his letter he will thank you for asking me to convey to him your best regards. The Fathers are well.  Father Sanchez has progressed much in his study of the language. We shall meet one day to talk about the formation of the tenses of Tagalog verbs.
A man from Calamba has come here to look over the farmlands with a view to moving to this place the townspeople of Calamba who have been dispossessed of their homes and properties. He was greatly pleased with the lands in Libulad and Duhinob and is now writing Calamba inviting them to come over.  These people are hard-working, peace-loving, but cognizant of their rights; and I have no doubt but that if they are granted some concessions, they will give life to this District. They ask that for at least three years while they are building their town and starting to cultivate their fields, they are exempted from the requirement of personal service. [Mandatory labor required of citizens in Spanish times – rly (from a footnote by Bonoan)] In effect, in the first few years, they need all their resources for one massive effort to clear the forest, build their homes, plant, look for their food, and acclimatize them to the place.
It will be a big help also if the authorities in Laguna don’t place any obstacle to this emigration. His Excellency the Governor can issue a decree to this effect, as Don Ricardo has already said. If this plan pushes through, I will have no difficulty whatsoever remaining in this District forever.
My best wishes for a happy new year and many happy returns on your feast day. I remain always your devoted and loyal servant. Respectfully yours,
José Rizal 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Since it's Christmas time (and 2011 is fast approaching), I feel that I should make my Personal Statement and Official Stand to the ever-growing conflict on House Bill 96, more known as the Reproductive Health Bill, and this is what I wrote in the Facebook Wall of the group "I Oppose the RH Bill":

We need more professionals to keep this country afloat. We need more priests to offer God's graces to the people. We need more soldiers (both on the Regular and the Reserve forces) to defend the Motherland from any threat to its existence. We need more educators to teach the young what is morally right. We need more athletes who would give pride to this country in the field of sports. 

We are against the Culture of Death because it destroys the potentials that the unborn may possess from within. We are against the Reproductive Health Bill in its current form for it prevents us from having competent professionals, fruitful vocations, military manpower, quality education, and having the Gold Medal in the Olympics. But most of all, we are against its present stand (that is concealed within its loopholes) because it will threaten the State's progress and social bearing to herself and to the world. 

Monday, December 20, 2010


Siya ay parating!
Maghanda at magbantay
sa pagsilang Niya!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Haiku of the Pink Candle

In joy we await
the birth of our God and King
with perseverance.

Hail! The New Adam
born in a lowly manger:
let us adore Him!

Hold fast, weary hearts!
Our God has come to free us
from our sin and death.

Victory is near
for the vigilant faithful:
salvation has come.

Arise, Christ's Vicar!
Lead His Body to Himself,
your Founder and Strength!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Santa Claus' Christmas Wish

(Translated from the original Filipino Christmas story of Francis Raymund Gonzales)

"They're going to boycott you," a voice behind him broke the silence of the room.

He didn't turn to the source of the message. He just continued to stir sugar into his coffee. Oh no; he have put too much sugar. Now he knows why: he is somewhat affected even if he had heard it before.

"Rudolph, where did that came from?" the old man asked his friendly pet.

"It's in the Internet. It says here that the people would start a campaign of not patronizing you anymore this December. What's worse about it is that Catholic priests will spearhead this against you."

Taking a deep breath, he does not want to show his pet that he knows all these things. The eastern winds whispered this to him a month ago--and the western a week ago--and the south about two hours ago. He does not want to admit that this is what makes him a little less jolly for a couple of days now.

"Santa," Rudolph continued, "a group of deers suggested that we would just pick places where there are still no actions made against you. According to some collected information, you are popular in Japan. So that means, we could conduct a mission there."

It looks like that he doesn't want to talk to his pet anymore, so he pushed his back against his soft chair. Rudolph also noticed that his master does not want to talk about the topic in hand, so he left the room.

A deeper breath was all that Santa Claus could do. It looks like Santa Claus, the most popular symbol of Christmas in the world, is hesitant to stand up and move. Despite the many years of giving joy to children, he knew that one day there would be people who would complain and hate him.

He also knew the reason why they are pulling him down: someone made a private message to him on Facebook telling him that he was stealing the spotlight from the Infant Jesus; instead of centering the celebration to the Messiah, he himself was the reason of the happiness of the children and the commercialization of Christmas. That is why he ignored Rudolph when he involved Japan. Yes--the Land of the Rising Sun. Christmas is popular there, however, he was the reason behind it. He is THE icon of Christmas in a foreign land. He overlapped the Messiah in the importance of the Japanese; and he is disappointed of it.

Suddenly, he thought of something. He rung the tiny bells to call his reindeers: "Dasher! Dancer! Prancer! Vixen! Comet! Cupid! Donner! Blitzen! Rudolph! Ready the sleigh! We'll go visit someone!"

That night, they went to a cathedral in a nearby town. Santa walked inside the dark, cold, hollow place, and in a nook, he saw a lighted image of Jesus in the manger. There is no other image there. He thought that someone forgot to put this in the right place. He was astonished that there were no lights in it! It seems that a light from above the cathedral that illuminates the image is guiding him to where he was standing.

With guilt from within, he humbly prostrated in prayer upon reaching the image:

"Master, first of all, I would like to thank You for this night that I could visit You. Everything that happens is according to Your will for those who love You--even the campaign of ousting me at this time. May Your will be done. For a long time of reading every child's wish every Christmas, I realized that I am also a child in Your presence; and I have one wish to tell."

The face of the image of Christ looks peaceful, and His eyes are looking towards the light from above.

And Santa continued: "Master, I wish that every man would understand that I am not here to form a barrier against You. I have a happiness that I want to share to others; and You know that You are my true happiness. I am doing this not only because I want to make children happy every Christmas Eve, or to make the family happy in their Santa Claus decorations, and all other reasons. I am here to remind them that if they feel the goodness and happiness I bring, I hope that they would realize that there is a more infinite Goodness and Joy, for You have said: 'No servant is higher than his master." They may not see You in their merry-making, I hope that they may feel You through me while they decorate their homes in my image. I am just like a clown in a birthday party who brings happiness to all; and You are the birthday celebrant. As a clown, the only thing I could give to You is my duty to bring happiness. I ask for Your forgiveness if there are people who misunderstand my intentions for Christmas."

The light vanished, and someone went inside--the sexton. Santa and his reindeers also vanished.

"Mama! Mama! It's beautiful! Can we buy it?...Please...."

It's Christmas shopping again in a mall. Shining lights and figures of angels are everywhere--of course, also those of Santa Claus. But there is something new in their inventory. It seems that the Infant Jesus was satisfied  and He granted Santa's wish that night. Indeed, that is a new figurine--and one of the most meaningful to display this Christmas: an example of humility and of submission that despite of one's popularity, it is God alone who should remain, and it is God alone who should be glorified.

That was the figurine of Santa Claus kneeling in front of the Christ Child.

(Francis Raymund Gonzales is the Overall Moderator of 100% Katolikong Pinoy Online Ministry. The story is the third installment of the "Ningning" Christmas series, which could be viewed here.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Prep Time: Gospel Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent

First Reading: Is. 11:1-10 
Responsorial Psalm: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. Ps. 72: 1-2; 7-8; 12-13; 17
Second Reading: Rom. 15: 4-9 
Gospel Reading: Mt. 3:1-12 

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Everything that is a one-shot ordeal takes time to perfect; most especially if it's crucial. As we all know, Advent is a time of preparation that every Catholic, and generally every Christian, should take into consideration. No one knows how soon would a situation become a conflict or a disaster; so much more that no creature knows when our Creator would return in glory. For this reflection, we shall stress three points that are both spiritual and practical in approach: 

1. the reason of preparation; 

2. the importance of unity in planning; and 

3. its personal approach in my part. 

Why Prepare? 

In the readings for this week, emphasizing the First and the Second, it was written how the Emmanuel would look like and how His rule would be; just as in the Book of Isaiah: "...the Gentiles shall seek out, for His dwelling shall be glorious." We must remember that Christ did not die for the Jews alone: HE ALSO DIED FOR THE GENTILES; FOR CATHOLICS; FOR OTHER CHRISTIANS; FOR THE HUMAN RACE. Thus, His salvific act is made for ALL. Moreover, metaphors made this reading more hopeful; that in the Kingdom of God, there is no predator and no prey; no oppressors and no slaves. Jesus Christ is this shoot that came from the stump of Jesse, who is the father of David: hence, the title "Son of David" is attributed to Him. On the other hand, St. Paul wrote that man has to struggle not only in order to survive, but also in order to gain and maintain God's grace in us. He makes us endure sticky situations and encourages us to be hopeful because He wants us to trust Him and to love one another, even those who scrutinize our faith. 

So what is the connection between preparation and the basic concepts of equality and hope? Simple.We prepare because we have to realize that at the end of it all, everyone should participate and cooperate. Another thing: we prepare because we anticipate and because there is a possibility that something may happen; and if taken positively, anticipation and possibility are attributions of hope. 

Planning as a Whole and Preparing as an Individual 

For example: you are part of a basketball team. You are in a deadlock with your opponents and you only got 30 seconds in the fourth quarter. Your coach is that of Jaworski--a playing one--and he asked you to pass the ball from him to you, then to your other teammate in order for the latter to take a three-pointer and win the game. Would you do it for your team, or do the outside shot yourself? (Besides, you're not sure if it would hit the basket.) 

Another example: you're in a combat zone and your squad is to accomplish a maneuver to the enemy. Your squad leader told you in the briefing that if he gets injured or killed, you are to take command. What happened is that this squad leader becomes a casualty and needs to get evacuated ASAP. Would you abort the mission or continue it? 

The decisions you make would alter the course of these situations. Of course, you have to assess yourself before you decide: YOU HAVE TO THINK FIRST BEFORE YOU DECIDE. That is why in any profession, planning is the most important part of every routine so that everything would go smoothly. In Filipino, importante ang pagpa-plano para hindi bara-bara ang trabaho. 

Going back to our topic, preparation is not just a communal thing: it is also an individual responsibility. We always look forward to Christmas by buying gifts and food, decorating the house with Christmas lights, playing the songs of the season (which is more likely about love than the usual carols that we sing), thinking about Santa Claus and his reindeers, about new clothes to wear, about our ninongs and ninangs, about having a blue Christmas...the list goes on. But IS IT REALLY PREPARING? In the outside, yes; but this "preparation" is not the same when you prepare yourself within for this wonderful solemnity where God became man in the humblest form. Can you imagine that? How are we going to celebrate Christmas if we ourselves don't know that the reason why we celebrate it is Jesus Christ Himself? Without Him, these "preparations" mean nothing. 

We prepare as a community because we want to prepare ourselves as individuals, and vice versa. Sounds confusing, eh? Personal relationship with God must be backed up with our social relationship with others so that we may strike a balance between our ego and our role as social creatures. As we see in the examples earlier, before an action is to be executed, men should plan together, AND AT THE SAME TIME, ask one's self if he is prepared for the task ahead. We, therefore, should condition ourselves as a complimentary to our brainstorming.  

In a Personal View 

Honestly, as I write this blog post, I seem to feel reluctant and unworthy to continue because I committed the same mistake as everyone else: I HAVE FAILED TO THINK DEEPLY FOR A PLAN. Anyway, I view what I am writing as a reflection for myself. In the Gospel Reading, St. John the Baptist warns the people to turn back to their evil ways and wickedness for, at that time, salvation is near in the person of Christ. But his statement is a twofold message: he warns of the consequences of not repenting; and with it, invites people to prepare for the coming of the Lord. If we could analyze this in a personal perspective, only a good mentor could point out the obvious right and wrong that his apprentice made, and it is up for the latter how to set himself to his master's standard. Now, let's do some syllogisms: 

  • Failing to plan is planning to fail.
  • Preparing is planning. 
  • Therefore, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. 
We always plan for things, yet we fail to prepare ourselves for the task; and I admit I am one of them.(Take note that the word planning is a term used when a group of people is preparing. Nevertheless, they are synonymous with preparing, which is a more personal word.) Maybe, the reason behind this is because we preoccupy ourselves, bypass others, or worse, we have no time to pray. See? The failure one does in preparation affects his relationship with God AND neighbor and backfires to himself. 

We sometimes fail to appreciate our mentors when they scold us; how much more if we fail to put God in our plans? After you read this post, you'll surely close that tab and forget what i wrote here. But before doing so, analyze yourself: If you feel guilty of the things that failed because you are unprepared for it, you are with me at the same boat. But what is good for our faith is that we put it into action (which really speak louder than words), though in the smallest of things. At bilang mga Pilipinong concerned sa iba, sinisikap nating makabawi sa ating kapwa kung may pagkukulang tayo. 

We still have two weeks before we celebrate our Lord's birth. His blood relative reminds us that it's not too late to get out of that PC set and prepare yourself for Christmas. Better yet, simply remember that preparing for the best (and even the worst) takes time to polish; yet every failure is a lesson to make better plans. Therefore, these preparations, no matter how long would it take, will be effective if we concentrate on it, and of course, ask for others' help. There is always a prep time for crucial moments of our lives. We are always challenged to make a plan of action for every single one of them or suffer the consequences.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When Randomnity Strikes: Florentino Shirts, Anyone?

Just thought of something....

What if Catholics in the Philippines (and other religious people against the Reproductive Health Bill) counter the perennial statements "Damaso", "Pass the Bill", "Get your Rosaries out of our ovaries!" and others with shirts containing statements like "Florentino", "Kill the Bill/Kill Bill 96", "You were once a fetus, too!", and all other catchy, humored, and spirited stuff?

Friday, November 19, 2010

NU 107 Will Never ****** Die!

This has been the final theme of NU 107. Notice the once red, black, and white logo became gray, white, and black, respectively; representing the end of an era. It gives the creeps to those who see it.

Two weeks ago, NU 107 went off the air...forever; and Pinoy Rock would never be the same again.

Personally, I'm no hardcore rock fan, and I didn't went there; but this news of the Home of NU Rock saying goodbye struck everyone. I first heard of it through Claude 9 of UST Tiger Radio who is the pioneer Radio Production Head of Tomasian Cable Television (TOMCAT, the TV and Radio station of the University of Santo Tomas); and he is actually my friend and mentor at TOMCAT, who was also a staff of NU 107 before he worked at 99.5 RT to this day. He emphasized this during our Sembreak Workshop at the said organization, quoting, "...Next year, the Home of NU Rock would become the Home of NO Rock" [sic].

As I write this post, I am watching some clips from YouTubers who attended the Last Goodbye of the station; and Claude 9 was right: it was devastating to the jocks and fans alike. As I was watching, I felt that I would like to crap bricks. As I am writing, I can't help but creep out to how the participants felt. THEY WERE CRYING, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! There were sobbing inside the booth and out; and the last song they played as NU 107 before the compulsory Lupang Hinirang was also appropriate: E-heads' "Ang Huling El Bimbo". Ending this dramatic scene was the playing of the Philippine National Anthem; some hands were on the chest, others clinched high while singing.

The aftermath was even more devastating: rock fans all over the country are just waiting for the signal of a revolution--a rock revolution, that is. For now, their only beacon is RJ Underground Radio 105.9, the sister-station of RJ 100 and DZRJ Radio Bandido. I tell you: even I still feel this void in my identity, just as everyone  has experienced.

As what was said, just as Rock could never die, "NU 107 will never (censored) die!"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sacrilege! Shameful apathy!

(The following entry is the Editorial of the Oct. 29, 2010 issue of "The Varsitarian": The Official Student Publication of the University of Santo Tomas. The entry could also be viewed here.)

Last October 1, Intramuros tourist guide Carlos Celdran staged a shocking, stupid, and shameful stunt all in one when he disrupted Holy Mass at the Manila Cathedral, where Apostolic Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams and Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales were present. Styling himself as the “new” Jose Rizal and dresssed in the national hero’s characteristic European attire, he broke up the solemn Mass and carried around a placard with the inscription “Damaso,” a reference to the friar-character in Rizal’s novels, and shouted at the bishops and clery on the altar, “Stop involving yourselves in politics!” He was referring to the Church’s opposition to the Reproductive Health bill, several versions of which have been refiled in the new Congress, as well as criticism of President Aquino’s statements during his US trip that he’s in favor of “responsible parenthood,” or some form of birth control.
Even if he clearly does not agree with the Church, Celdran could have just let his mind known by a letter to the editor: after all, the Church representatives only made known their stand when they were interviewed by the media. But arrogantly enough and without regard for religious sensibilities, Celdran did the brazen act of desecrating the Church, her priests and liturgy. As a result, he landed in jail for committing a crime against religious worship, a violation of Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.
But what was more alarming was that many Catholics did not condemn Celdran’s “shameful deed,” as described by the Manila clergy.
Even more terrible was that at the time of Celdran’s detention, about 6,500 people, apparently Catholics, had immediately supported a Facebook fan page calling for his release. Moreover, feminists rallied in front of the building of the Church’s episcopal conference in Intramuros with obscene placards directed at the bishops such as, “Get your rosary out of my ovary.” Even harlots would not use such language!
In what planet are Celdran and his supporters living? Perhaps they should repeat their stunt in a Muslim mosque or an Iglesia ni Cristo service. Let’s see if they would not get lynched.
Celdran’s arrogance was not only an affront to religion; it was an insult to the national hero. Even if Rizal was a Mason, a liberal secularist, and an anti-cleric, he would not have disrupted the Holy Mass and cursed the clergy. In his distasteful, unseemly blog, Celdran styles himself and those opposed to the Church’s stand on population control as “the new Jose Rizal.” What megalomania! Even the diehard Rizalista would not make such a claim. Apparently Celdran and his ilk have been making the fantastic claim inside the Mandaluyong sanatorium.
The apathy of many Catholics to denounce Celdran’s outright assault of the Church is a reality check on the Church both as a hierarchy and as people of God: Catholics are woefully ignorant of the Church’s teachings. The Catholic Church and her leaders have failed to educate Catholics on the teachings of the Church.
This problem may also stem from the failure of schools, particularly Catholic schools, to impress upon the students the position of the Church on issues such as the RH bill, which goes against the Church’s teachings on the basic right to life.
Closer to home, has UST, which prides itself as the Catholic University of the Philippines and a Pontifical University no less, done its job in teaching the Church’s pro-life stand as it confronts issues such as population control?
In the University, a minimum 15 units of theology subjects are mandated. Despite this, a study of former Arts and Letters Dean Armando de Jesus last year revealed that many Thomasians are “religious but not moral”––a finding which implies the tendency of Thomasian students to support the RH bill.
To be sure, this disturbing situation in the academe should force the Institute of Religion, the office in charge of the theology subjects, to start rethinking its curriculum and method of instruction, particularly SCL3 (The Social Teachings of the Church) and SCL9 (Marriage and Family).
All of the subjects are treated in an abstract manner, without reference to pressing issues of the day. For example, the chapter on natural family planning in the Marriage and Family textbook does not really explain why there should be family planning at all, it does not explain the geopolitcal context that has forced couples more and more to limit their family size. The discussion does not reveal the population-control mindset that occasions the discourse on family planning, whether natural or contraceptive.
Moreover, the chapter does not explain really why natural family planning is best. It does not even make reference to the natural law that underpins the Church’s moral teachings.
Theology professors appear to be ignorant of the issues around the RH bill and population control, considering that these issues are pressing to young Thomasians who have impressionable minds. Corollarily, UST doctors and bioethicists have largely evaded the issues. Most UST doctors, who receive perks from drug companies some of which produce contraceptives, don’t even go out of the way and explain to the public the side effects and risks of chemical contraceptives.
The Church, her leaders and teachers should tell Catholics that alleged overpopulation is not the cause of the poverty in the country but corruption, mismanagement and poor public policy. As columnist Atty. Jose Sison, a loyal Thomasian, said, “overpopulation” is the wrong term to use for the congestion of Metro Manila and urban centers, which is a migration and development phenomenon. In any case, he said it is wrong to blame the poor people for their poverty: the corruption and mismanagement of public officials are the culprits.
World-class economists such as Simon Kuznets and Jacqueline Katzun have denied any negative correlation between population and economic growth. Meanwhile, Nobel-winning economists Amartya Sen and Gary Becker have recommended that funds for birth control would be better used in directly addressing poverty.
Moreover, the RH bill is draconian and violative of human rights. The version by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman bill forces employers into providing contraceptives to workers under their collective bargaining agreements. How can UST, a Catholic institution, offer contraceptives to its employees?
Catholics should understand that natural family planning teaches husbands to respect their wives’ body cycles. It teaches trust, discipline and fortifies the family as an institution contrary to the RH bill, which advocates shortcuts, fosters irresponsibility, and weakens the family. Therefore, natural family planning humanizes us while artificial methods, which RH bill espouses, make us look like sex-starved rabbits.
House Bill 5043 carries a provision in which a spouse can get a vasectomy or ligation without the consent of the other spouse, which is tantamount to legalized treachery.
In addition, the bill also wants to muzzle the opposition by providing a provision that punishes those who allegedly spread “disinformation.” In addition, foreigners who speak against the bill may be deported. (What if the Pope visits the country and calls population-control measures anti-life? Can Lagman kick the Supreme Pontiff out of the country?)
Catholics are duty-bound to study the many anti-life and anti-human-right provisions of the RH bill and uphold with conviction the stand of the Church against it and other social-engineering measures of the state. Thomasians and other Catholics should rouse themselves from their apathy. Let the biblical injunction be their guide: “If you are neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why Pray for the Dead?

(Part of the completion of this blogpost is credited to the Oct.31 episode of "KATEKS: Katesismo at Apolohetika"--a 60-minute apologetics program aired at Veritas 846 every Sunday from two to three in the afternoon.)

Most non-Catholics question our sentiment to our departed loved ones--most especially during the First and Second of November. They often rant that the dead cannot make up for their salvation; all Christians admit to that--especially us Catholics--in which we believe that we will lose our free will upon death. But, they ask, why bother praying for them? What is the use of it? 

According to what I heard to Bro. Marco Evangelista, the principal host of KATEKS, we Catholics believe in the power of prayer more than the Protestants and the Evangelicals do. One good example is that of Judas Maccabeus, when he discovered that some of his fallen comrades were found to be wearing amulets and anting-antings of all sorts, which fall under the sin of idolatry. Afterwards, he ordered his men to collect money as a sin offering to their acts, hoping that they may be cleansed from their sins (2 Mac. 12:38-45). The non-Catholic would of course demand more Scriptural references; besides, they do not have that in their Bible. 

One good verse about the power of prayer is what St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians (6:18-20):

"With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must." (NAB)

Verse 19 should be like this in Filipino:

"IPANALANGIN [din] NINYONG ako'y pagkalooban ng wastong pananalita upang buong tapang kong maipahayag ang hiwaga ng Mabuting Balitang ito." (MBB Catholic Version)

See? Even Paul, who is considered to be a great preacher of his time was ASKING PRAYERS from them; so that he may fight the good fight, finish his run, and preserve the faith (cf. 2 Tim. 4:7) which was the mission he accomplished in his martyrdom.

The Apostle James also wrote on how powerful prayer is (5:14-15):

"Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven."

It is stated here that the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is based on prayer and the hope for total recovery of the disabled recipient.

By praying for others and ourselves, we are hopeful that what we pray (combined with good intentions, of course) would be answered accordingly by God. So the bottomline of these three verses is that we Catholics hope for the better.

After answering about the power of prayer, they would soon ask: Why those who are living? Common sense! A non-Catholic--preferably an anti-Catholic--with this kind of counter-argument contradicts and debunks his first statement about the that could not do anything in their free will. But to make things Biblical, St. John's letter states that all sins are wrongdoings and that there are sins that are either mortal or venial (1 Jn. 5:16-17). For the case of both, we pray because we want to make our little part in leading the sinner in a state of metanoia, and later on, in a state of sanctifying grace, before it's too late. Again, we Catholics are hopeful that all sinners would turn away from their wickedness in this lifetime. But what if they didn't? what if he only saw death coming, and his last words were "My God, forgive me"? Would he be saved?

All Christians believe that souls would be destined between two places: Heaven or Hell. Those who are Heaven-bound basically followed what Jesus said in Matt. 7:21--which is the hard way up; while those who are Hell-bound should have been following the examples Jesus stated in Matt. 5:22, or those who were practicing those that are listed in Rev. 21:8; and as v.27a says: ...nothing that is impure will enter the city..."--this is the easy way down.

But what about those who die with a limited state of grace? of those who failed to confess their sins and do penance to them? Isn't it unfair that they would be denied of eternal happiness with God just because of that unrepented sin, which under certain circumstances, is but a grain of sand compared to the coastline of the soul?

This is where Purgatory, for us Catholics, comes in. Repeating 1 Jn. 5:17, "...all wrongdoing is sin, BUT THERE IS SIN WHICH DOES NOT LEAD TO DEATH." In a nutshell, Purgatory is a state of temporary imprisonment and purification, which term is Anglicanized from the Latin purgare--to clease, purify, or purge. To politicize, Purgatory is a correctional system that God created out of immense love; wherein souls are held as prisoners until they served their sentence: ["Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny" (Mt. 5:26)], which may last for centuries--or even millenia! It is said to be a foretaste of Hell, though the tortures and torments they receive is worth sanctifying. Literally and spiritually, they--the Church Suffering--are dependent prisoners who only hope in the mercy of God and the prayers of the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant. It is a hurting truth that souls should be purged first before they would be permitted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven:

"...NOTHING [that is] IMPURE WILL ENTER THE CITY...." (Rev. 21:27a)

Friday, October 22, 2010

SK vs. Parish Youth Min Part 2: How Catholics (and Atheists) react

Along with Part 1 of my blog was a discussion on 100% Katolikong Pinoy's Discussion Board on Facebook about the matter that is left dangling since my last post. The verbatim discussion could be viewed here.
The first who commented (we call him DK here) said that the situation depends on the circumstance it currently has; and it seems to be inevitable that such situation (i.e., "...may Hudas sa grupo [sic]...pera-pera lang yan....") exists.
The next comment (from Philip) replied that he sees an "inaction in both [the SK and the Parish Youth Ministry]"; furthermore, he pointed that the SK is merely "a breeding and training ground for future clowns" and the PYM is "more...with hormones than with the Faith of the Church." I asked the guy who said this on who is better aside from his point-of-view; his answer was that the Youth Min was better, though, according to him, it does not mean the latter was doing their mission--and there are still things that they should go through.
And a series of arguments--rational and irrational--follows:
DK: talo pa ni philip ang Judge ah...hehehe...nalibot mo na ba lahat ng simbahan boi?!? bka pag nkakita ka ng malupet na PYM maging katolikong sarado ka..hahahaha

none of the above kp dyan.. .wala kang hustisya! hahaha

DEPENDE PDIN ANG SAGOT DYAN!!hahah..hindi kasi ntin magegeneral yan e.
Philip: @DK, I know what I am talking about. How about you have you seen it all? It doesn't mean someone can't prove something the other side of the coin is correct... That's a fallacy in argument... Isn't it DK that your group FRC Youth is a part of that? And if indeed I see a PYM doing their objectives well that will not make me reconvert to being a Catholic...

What's the point of your argument is to debase me to bring yourself up. That didn't help DK because I see you way down below?
IJR (me): How do you see him way down below?
DK: to bring my self up?!?! Lolz.. im done with that thing mr.know it all.. stop judging people na halos case closed na.. at wala nang pag asa yung tao.. .tumingin ka nga sa salamin.. .

i didnt saw it all, but ive already seen a better PYM and a bulls*** one.. kaya DEPENDE ANG SAGOT KO.

Philip whote: And if indeed I see a PYM doing their objectives well that will not make me reconvert to being a Catholic...

dahdahDK replied: nakita mo ba ang salitang "baka"???

you see me down below?! yah, yan din ang binubulong sakin madalas ng dimonyo.. .pero salamat sa mga taong itinataas ako pinapadamang mali ang dimonyo. SALAMAT SA INYO.
Remar (a Catholic pinch-hitter): In my own observation, Parish Youth Ministry. . .in fairness sa kanila. . . hekhek. .:p
Philip: dk yes you are bringing yourself up... your arguments and words does but isn't it wonderful to think that you have not even changed a bit... but gone far worse...

so if even a really awesome PYM comes... to change you and your bad habits... nothing will happen...
IJR: (I was misunderstood on whom the post was addressed) How do you say so? Could you tell us how come you know these things?
Philip: Ian that last comment of mine is for dk alone...

for other people i see much hope... ok?
DK: Lolz.. .look at the mirror philip. hahaha
Philip: yes... and i see a happy person looking back...

one who can stand up for what he believes and will not tolerate liars and pretenders...
DK: liars and pretenders? look at the mirror philip... hahahaha...
Philip:rotfl... i am happy with who i am because i don't lie even to myself or to others just to look good...

or pretend that i am happy or make myself look sad or emo so that others will love me...

have you tried that dk... looking at yourself?
DK: sino nag sabi nyan? bitter lang yan.. Lolz.. nyahaha... .

r u happy?! oh common' tanda mo na.. .wag na tayo mag lokohan.. nyahaha
Philip: yup i am happy if you can't deal with it...

that's your problem...

c'est la vie....
Kuroro (another pinch-hitter): DK at saka si Hapon
parang sa friendster pa ito huh?!

sa thread:

DK: hahaha .. as someone said to me .. ill rest my arguments with philip.. . ^_^
By this point, I called it quits. As of the moment I am currently writing this post, there are no updates yet.
To analyze, it is still the townspeople's discernment who is more felt in making the youth more useful in society, especially if their children are willing to give their time, talent, and effort to their community. But according to Fr. Abraham Arganiosa, a Somascan priest, apologist, blogger, and educator, the Church and the State must not compete in the betterment of the youth; instead, must work together for this purpose. Fr. Abe also suggests that the SK must be depoliticized so that it might function on their duty: to make the youth aware of the social concerns of their respective barangays, and to cooperate with the local Church in terms of moral and spiritual concerns.
In conclusion, every minor in a certain community should not just be aware of their personal--sometimes hedonistic and utilitarian--concerns. Instead, they should also be knowledgeable of their environment and how could they help; for the adults and elders, then, they should guide--NOT restrict--the young on how they progress in their service in the community, even if it means to widen their idea of service from a personal aspect to a mutual one.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

SK vs. Parish Youth Min Part 1: The Synopsis

In a certain barangay, there are officials who, in their own limited power, keep the peace and maintain privacy in their neighborhood. These men and women--the Kapitans and Kagawads--are essential for this task. They also have a youth arm: the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). Their role is uncertain and unknown based on social knowledge. But basically, they should be the voices of the youth in their barangay and the role models of their generation.

But is it still working?

What happens now is that people engaging in politics at their young age end up politicians or wasted people; based on the circumstances. What happens is that the members of the SK in almost all barangays in the country are mere figureheads and unsung, trying-hard personality wannabes whose functions are either disregarded, used for formality, or not essential in the community.

On the other side of the coin, the Church, particularly in most parishes in the Philippines, is booming with young blood who are already serving Christ with their gifts and skills: particularly as choir members and Altar Knights. Some take it further: the two factions of the group Couples for Christ (the Gawad Kalinga arm and the Foundation for Family and Life) established their own youth groups, who are interested to imitate the Lord in terms of chastity among others; without compromising their trends and culture. And aside from the YFC and YFL, respectively, other parishes create a Youth Ministry that coordinates with all the youth within the vicinity of the parochial territory so that they may be evangelized early on.

Does the Church fill in the gap that the SK--and the Barangay council--oftentimes fail to do so?


As we see it, SK chairs and councilors have become dysfunctional, nowadays. The people in the community rather entrust their children in the life of prayer than in the life of governance and politics. Anyway, they might comment, the SK people do not act on their own; or if they do, will it benefit their well being? Some SK members do not even know what are their roles and responsibilities; why did they nominated themselves; and why are they elected in the first place. It only seems that it is better to tap the youth into holiness and not into unnecessary responsibility.

(Check out for Part 2; to be posted soon.)


Heads' Up!