Saturday, July 26, 2008

Humanae Vitae Kuwarenta

Humanae Vitae Kuwarenta
Biyaya ng Buhay
Biyaya ng Pamilya

Parade Grounds

University of Santo Tomas

July 25, 2008

Manila, Philippines



God our Father,

In you we find the fullness of life and love,

And the truth that they belong together.

In you we find the meaning of marriage,

Of the human body,

And of out responsibility to be opne to life.

As we celebrate the anniversary of Humanae Vitae,

Pope Paul Vi's document on human life,

Bless your entire Church with a new generosity.

We rejoice that you are the Lord of our lives

and our freedom,

Of birth and death and everything in between.

Keep us strong in saying "Yes" to life

And "Yes" to you.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


DAVAO CITY—For killing a prized eagle, a farmer in Bukidnon is facing charges punishable by up to 12 years in jail and P1 million in fines.

It was no ordinary eagle that lumad farmer Brian Balaon felled with a rifle shot and turned into soup dish tinola—it was a three-year-old juvenile male Philippine Eagle, an endangered species and one of the world’s largest and rarest eagles.

On Tuesday, the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) in Bukidnon filed a criminal case against Balaon charging him with violating Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Conservation Act.

Its section 28 stipulates that those who kill critically endangered species, like the Philippine Eagle, risks imprisonment of a minimum of six years and one day to 12 years and/or a fine of P100,000 to P1 million.

Balaon, 22, was still under the custody of tribal chieftains in the village of La Fortuna in Impasug-ong town.

Balaon has admitted killing the eagle, named Kagsabua, on July 10 while it was perched on a tree near his vegetable farm. He said he thought it was an ordinary bird.”


Tsk-tsk. For mistaking a protected eagle for an ordinary bird, the poor guy has to pay P 1 million and stay in jail for up to 12 years. Now that is one VERY expensive bird soup dish right there. I wonder where he gets the 1 million to pay off the fine – surely, indigenous farmers don’t have that much cash. Well, his family left behind will have to pay off that one for rest of their lives, and it might not even come close. From the time of the killing of the bird, it took only 10 days to resolve the crime.

Swift wheels of justice there.

Meanwhile, The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) expressed outrage at the murder of Philippines news correspondent and radio host Bert Sison in Sariaya, Quezon, 100 km southeast of the capital, on June 30. In a separate statement, RSF said, "If this murder remains unpunished, as so many other murders of journalists have, it will be another defeat for the rule of law. Combating violence against journalists and human rights activists should be a priority for the government." Sison is the third bird journalist to be murdered in the Philippines in 2008.

No clue as yet to the killers.

On GK and Hope in the Lord

A very brief but insightful comment by an anonymous blogger in The Defense of the Real CFC:

"In the context of CFC and Gawad Kalinga [GK], I believe the basis for such hope is the faith that has been embedded in the heart of a CFC follower and the truth of Jesus fully revealed in the Catholic Church.... I refer here to the hope that is borne by volunteers who've committed to show the face of Jesus in poverty-stricken areas. "

which prompts me to respond:

I BELIEVE so too, and very emphatically. For everyone involved in GK, it is primarily an encounter with God who in Christ has shown us his face and opened his heart for us, so that we know we are redeemed through the hope that it expresses. This is the precisely the hope that Pope Benedict XVI expresses in Spe Salvi as the life-changing and life-sustaining hope. It is the hope for the Redeemer, that anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope. Social Doctrine must be appreciated in the light of its moral- theological nature, in what Tony Meloto says that GK should bring us closer to God. It is in this sense that the human promotion in the Church's social doctrine is integral to evangelization, and is tightly linked, as one cannot disassociate the plan of creation with the plan of redemption. And yes, we should always be wary of the evil one, who does not rest in seeking to subvert the good in GK.

In GK, it is not the face of Tony Meloto or Luis Oquinena, or anyone for that matter that shows. It is the face of Jesus.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI on the ultimate goal of ecumenism

Pope Benedict XVI gives a proper orientation on ecumenism, in his recent address to Christian leaders in Sydney on July 18:

"We must guard against any temptation to view doctrine as divisive and hence an impediment to the seemingly more pressing and immediate task of improving the world in which we live."


"The road of ecumenism ultimately points towards a common celebration of the Eucharist".

Christians have an immediate task of improving the temporal world, while not losing sight of the ultimate goal of uniting the Church in Christ. Social and spiritual work therefore cannot be at odds. A Christian community can not do one without the other and it is very difficult to determine where one begins and the other ends, much more to determine where one is overemphasized over the other. This is so because they are enmeshed together as a clear representation of the Catholic doctrine of Faith and Works. Working for the improvement of the temporal sphere in accordance to God's plan is something essentially unified and integral with evangelization as Catholic social doctrine affirms. To the Reformist, works are important in their sanctification but do not have any salvific value and is therefore, not essential to salvation. This is actually central to the division between Catholics and mainline Protestants, who hold on to the 5-Solas doctrine which caused the 16th century schism with the Catholic Church and continues to this day. This however does not mean that Catholics cannot work with Christians of different denominations in the immediate task of "improving the world". While recognizing the fundamental right of religious freedom, "Christians cooperate, together with members of other religions, for the promotion of human dignity and for fellowship among all nations."

"The more closely we strive for a deeper understanding of the divine mysteries, the more eloquently our works of charity will speak of God’s bountiful goodness and love towards all."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Leaping mass of tissue

The raging debate on the "Reproductive Health and Population Management Bills" can
largely be attributed to the contradicting premises adopted. It is curious that in the July 18th
issue of the the Philippine Star, such countervailing premises are highlighted in
stark contrast by two columnists on adjacent pages in the Opinion section. Ms. Ana Marie
Pamintuan's "Sketches" column on page 16 entitled "Passion", well, passionately aligns her advocacy towards pro-choice. Atty Jose C. Sison on the other hand, on page 17 of his "A Law each day" column entitled "A Bishop's courageous stand", picks up the cudgels for pro-life. The lawyer in him seems to adhere to divine law as well. As an outstanding example, it appears that it is near to impossible that the two columnists would be capable of coming to terms on the issue of abortion, precisely because they hold contrasting mindsets based on the fundamental premise on when life begins. Ms. Pamintuan frames the dissonance very adequately, as some excerpts from her column deftly illustrates:

"The Church, it must be emphasized, has been consistent in its stand on matters such as birth control, sex and the start of life. It toes the Vatican line and tells the government what it thinks on matters such as family planning and divorce."

The statement that the Church toes the Vatican line, seems to connote to the author that the Church has the option of NOT toeing the Vatican line. The Church and the Vatican are ONE and the same, and it is immaterial to talk about toeing the Vatican line. Anyway, Ms Pamintuan already stated that the Church "has been consistent in its stand", and so talking about "toeing" the Vatican line is pretty much superfluous.

"The Church teaches that sex is chiefly for procreation, that life starts in the womb right at fertilization, and that if the process would be controlled at all, it should be through the natural method. Those basic teachings go against a global culture that puts emphasis on sex for enjoyment and as an expression of deep affection, but rarely for making babies."

The contention that "those basic teachings go against a global culture" clearly espouses a relativist/pluralist mentality, a classic secularist approach to morality. The corollary is that the majority must always be right. The Catholic concept of what is objectively right for the common good is based on the divine and natural law, irrespective of whether such goes against the grain of popularity.

"The Church teaches that sex is chiefly for procreation, that life starts in the womb right at fertilization,...Concepts about the start of life are a matter of personal belief. There are women who believe an amorphous, tiny mass in the womb is no place for a soul, which is associated with life as perceived by Catholics."

Now we come to the heart of the matter. Pro-choice considers that a human being at the earliest stage of life is nothing more than an “amorphous, tiny mass” of human tissue. The Church contends that a new individual human being begins at fertilization, when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell. If the baby's life is not interrupted, he or she will someday become an adult man or woman. A fertilized ovum is a human being at an early stage of life. Personal beliefs to the contrary doesn't change that scientific fact. When birth control methods like IUD's, pills and injectibles prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus, it is the same as aborting a life. When pro-choice advocates usually emphasize the right of the woman to her body, they conveniently ignore the right of another live, human being to life. When pro-choice advocates refer to a timeline as to when the foetus becomes a human being, it is usually at the point of viability (as in Roe vs Wade) wherein it is acceptable to abort a foetus less than 11 weeks old. A typical 10-week old baby is illustrated here.

“When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:41).

Certainly not a “mass of tissue” leaping there.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pope welcomes World Youth

While the local scene is currently embroiled in a touchy conflict around a proposed national bill for "Reproductive Health", it is worthwhile to pause a moment and hear Pope Benedict's World Youth Day welcome message from Down Under. The full text is posted on the Vatican website here. The following is just an excerpt (the last paragraph from that message), but it is more than enough:

"My dear friends, God’s creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable. Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. This is the work of the Holy Spirit! This is the hope held out by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to bear witness to this reality that you were created anew at Baptism and strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation. Let this be the message that you bring from Sydney to the world!"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Response to "Are you a Catholic Writer?"

Dear Mr. John Neri,

I appreciated your insightful piece in your July 15, 2008 Inquirer column entitled "Are you a Catholic writer?".

Thus, allow me to react with a few comments.

You said: "On certain issues, I think the Church hierarchy in the Philippines has gotten it wrong."

"There is nothing controvertible, for instance, in the crisis of legitimacy that surrounds the President, like a pall of permanent exhaust."

The CBCP's position not to call for the resignation of PGMA amidst significant clamor is not an infallible position. We can thus call the bishop's position itself controvertible, because the bishops are merely stating an opinion (wise and prudent in my personal judgement as it were)
in a political matter best left for the secular system to address. It is understandable to say likewise that those who hold contrary positions (including you, I suppose) are merely stating their own opinions on the matter.

"The bishops’ position on population growth and the marital responsibility of Catholic couples continues to be based, mistakenly, on what the great theologian Bernard Haring characterized, with deliberate irony, as the absolute sacredness of the biological.".

On this matter, the bishops are not expressing an opinion, they simply faithfully echo the consistent and unchanging teaching of the Church Magisterium. The Church's position on contraceptives and the sanctity of marriage is universal, as exemplified by the encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio. They don't have a choice, otherwise it would constitute a heretical position that would sever their communion with Rome. On this matter they couldn't care less what the "great theologian" Bernard Haring (who's he?) has to say.

"But on other issues, I think the bishops called it right. On the conflict tearing the Couples for Christ movement apart, for instance, the hierarchy has sought to honor the original charism of the movement. That is only as it should be."

Again, certain bishops expressing their fallible position, and it does not necessarily constitute a universally accepted, official Church position. In fact your column admits that not all of them carry the opinion that the "original charism" should be honored. Vatican II states that the test of charism's "genuineness and proper use belongs to those who are appointed leaders in the Church, to whose special competence it belongs" (#12, Lumen Gentium). In the case of CFC as an international association of the faithful, the proper Church authority that tests its proper use of charisms is the Vatican through the Pontifical Council of the Laity (PCL). CFC has a standing recognition by the Vatican PCL. The mere fact that Vatican has retained that recognition to date despite the fact that it well aware of the controversy, is enough proof that CFC exercises genuine and proper use of charisms. Thus it is immaterial to talk about a need for honoring an "original charism", whatever that means.

In closing, I think you are on track to think that the Church and Catholic culture are eminently political, I suppose to the direction that any political activity concerning the common good must of necessity be the Church's concern. Lastly, I dare venture my personal interpretation what a "Catholic thinker" means. It is a philosophical disposition grounded on Faith and Reason, which are not only compatible but essential together, as Pope John Paul II so lucidly expounds in
in his encyclical Fides et Ratio.

Sincerely yours, more power, and God bless,


P.S. I don't consider myself an astute "Catholic thinker" either, and not any much smarter than your average person, definitely much less than your recent reader who has two degrees in Physics. I am just a stumbling yet persevering Catholic who holds fast to the deposit of faith.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

CBCP OKs (?) Condoms for married persons with HIV

CBCP OKs Condoms for married persons with HIV

I did a double-take on this one.
Married persons infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and those with full-blown Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) will be allowed to use condoms to eliminate the risk of infecting their partners, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said.

Fr. Edwin Corros, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI), however, said condom use should be "the last resort."

Last resort?

Before using condoms, the partners should try abstinence and faithfulness to each other.

Only if abstinence and faithfulness won't work?

He clarified that the Church is only allowing the use of condoms in order to save a life – the life of the patient’s partner. "But you see by using that (condom) we are not actually endorsing condom use. We would like to prevent deaths in the family."

Ok, a noble cause. Preventing death. But what kind? Spiritual or physical death?

"I also think that the person also has the right to express the love to his or her partner. So this is practical. (Besides) you cannot also be sure that using condom would be 100-percent proof," Corros said.

Then why recommend it at all? Certainly, the jury is still out on whether condoms are actually effective against HIV. As a "last resort" because it is "practical"? It is strange from a prelate''s point of view that practicality might be used to justify something which is inherently evil. Unless I have read Humanae Vitae incorrectly, which affirms that contraceptives are intrinsically evil, and that each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life, and that the unitive and procreative aspect of the marital act can never be separated. Could I be mistaken? I stand to be corrected. However, I wonder why news reports always attribute the statements of anyone associated with CBCP as an apparent official stand of the CBCP itself. For one thing, the good Fr. Corros statements (personal opinions?) are not featured in the official


Manila lifts 9-year contraceptive ban

Manila lifts 9-year contraceptive ban
"Family planning is a right", said Dr. Junice Melgar of Reproductive Health
Advocacy Network (RHAN). "We see this event as a concrete step. in lifting
the misery of poor women and their families in the city of Manila".

The United Nations Population Fund says there is serious need to promote
family planning in the country. Program officer Marian Ciscar believes
there is a need to increase informed choices given to the people.

“I think it has to do with the culture of Catholicism. But I myself come from a Catholic country, and I think we have to learn to separate family planning. It’s not a matter of faith. Family planning is a human right,” Ciscar said.
Not a matter of Faith. Human right, I see.
What about the right of unborn babies to life?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Church urged to stop extra collections

In a fresh twist on the perpetual issue on the separation of Church and State, this lawmaker from Iloilo turns the table around. In a Philippine Star news feature on front page, Rep. Janette Garin of Iloilo was reported as saying that the Catholic should do its share in providing relief for hard-up parishioners by doing away with burdensome second and even third collections.

“The church should try to regulate the second and third collections,” she told reporters who attended the weekly Serye forum in Quezon City. She goes on: “The first collection should already have been budgeted, whether a percentage should go to the priest, a certain amount for (church) management and an allocation for charity.”
Garin also proposed a significant reduction in the exorbitant fees charged by the church for weddings, christening, and funerals. “Many are not buried or baptized (because of the excessive fees). Many also do not get married because of the choir and decoration in church” which, she lamented, are pre-requisites. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol fuels the
fire, adding that "they do not expect any good word from the Catholic bishops, because they have always been critical of the administration. ".

Lawmakers meddling with church affairs. I must say this is a fresh though startling change in the uneasy relations between Church and State. The lawmaker from Iloilo is supposedly a Catholic, as reported by the news item, and she does have an inkling of what goes on in the Church, based on her snide remarks. One puzzling thing from her remarks though, is that one immediately wonders if the meaning of the word "voluntary" has ever seeped into her consciousness in a meaningful way. Also, one wonders if she is at all aware that most if not all Church dioceses offer cost-free sacramental rites for those who cannot afford it. Free mass weddings, baptisms, confirmations...these are standard projects of Church ministries for indigent parishioners. Most likely, the lawmaker wasn't aware of the facts in these church matters, though one might feel
that it should be second-nature for lawmakers to investigate first. It is shuddering to think of the implications of combining ill-considered opinions and lawmaking.

But maybe the Catholic(?) lawmaker from Iloilo is good at picking things to her liking, somewhat like choosing from a fastfood display, yes - a cafeteria comes to mind. Her final conclusion is a dead give-away, see how she high jumps to it:

“It all boils down to population, many are already poor”.

I knew it was coming.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rest for your soul

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Mat 11:25-30

The central verse in the Sunday Gospel, for which a cross-reference can be found in the book of Jeremiah:

"Thus says the LORD,
Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls." Jer 6:16

Way back during my High School Citizen's Army Training days, I could remember the time when we went on a camping trip. The campsite was in a mountainous area and we were dropped off about 4 kilometers from the site in the heat of the mid-day sun. With heavy backpacks, we trudged along in our uncomfortable fatigues. The extreme heat coupled with the weight burdening our backs was almost unbearable. It was utterly exhausting and many of us were at the the point of collapsing from exhaustion.

What just made it bearable was that we encouraged the slow among us, shared whatever little water we had, and made jokes all the way to relieve the stress. It also helped that we chose a good path. That way, we looked forward to reaching the campsite together and finally resting.

Could the verses above refer to a similar analogy of resting? A final relief from burden? Maybe.
But my bible pastoral edition notes say that Jesus means to give us the means of carrying the load, not removing the load altogether.

What load could those be at these times? It could be any of these: financial difficulties, family problems, problems at work, health concerns, conflicts with friends and relatives. Among these, financial difficulties seem to be the most prominent among all classes, from which all other problems simply emanate. For the very poor, it means grappling daily with the most basic necessity of food. For the lower middle class, it may well be the prohibitive cost of providing for education and healthcare. For the very rich, the challenge of amassing more wealth is at the root which permeates much more complex, graver problems. The latter ones are actually the most unfortunate. Whatever class or orientation one is in, all these problems likely envelop an all-consuming struggle that defines existence on a persistent daily basis, with no relief in sight, and no room for anything else. And as people rely more on their own isolated private capacities, the more unbearable it just becomes.

Scriptures tell us that if we come to Jesus, he will give the means of carrying the load, as his yoke is easy. He says it very plainly: I will give you rest. Very likely in a manner that we will now be in a position to even help others carry their load. How come? St. Paul in 2 Cor 9:11 gives a hint: "You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion".

Like that camping trip, it would be easier if we find space in our own trials to encourage the slow, share the water around, and seek the good path. Then all problems everywhere will just be simple inconveniences, all loads will seem so light, and yes - we can all make jokes about our "problems", because the real problem is when we cannot find Jesus in our lives.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tony Meloto Speech, ADMU Theology Class

I want to be a good Catholic

By Antonio Meloto
Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Theology Class Public Lecture
Ateneo de Manila University
July 1, 2008

There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Tonight is the first time that I will speak publicly about the upheaval that rocked Couples for Christ.

For over a year, I chose to keep quiet out of respect for long cherished friendships and refrained from adding fuel to the fire while emotions were high. What was an internal leadership transition within an organization I felt should not have been made into a public issue and prudence should have been taken not to drag the Catholic Church into the conflict. I must admit that it was tempting at times for me to speak out and defend myself but I listened to the voice within my heart that kept telling me “keep still, I will defend those who defend the poor.”

Now I understand how God shielded me by making me computer illiterate. The fight for control over CFC was being waged in the internet, while the struggle to ease human suffering was happening in the GK communities. During the most difficult moments, I went to the poor for consolation. It became clear to me that the poor are oftentimes the victim when there is conflict among leaders. When politicians fight, it is the poor who suffer. Ironically, when religious leaders fight it is also the poor who suffer, just like the CFC controversy where Gawad Kalinga became the central issue. My stand on this is clear; I will always be on the side of the poor. As a Christian, I believe that this is also the stand of Jesus. I have remained with CFC that is building the church of the poor.

As I turn the page to start a new chapter in my life, I want to make one thing clear. Contrary to allegations, I have not veered away from the Catholic Church and set aside my faith for social work. I have put my social work inside my faith.

It is my personal conviction that I am not a good Catholic if I do not love my country or if I allow my countrymen to remain poor even if I live a devout and decent life. Within our context, where 85 percent of our population profess to be Catholic, faith and patriotism must go together to address the twin sisters of underdevelopment — poverty and corruption.

Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ., comments on the reluctance before of the Church to address this issue in his new book The Making of a Local Church. “Economics, so the charge went, is outside of the Church’s competence. Not so much now. It is readily seen that if, faithful to Christ’s concern for the least of his brothers and sisters, we must feed the hungry, teach the ignorant, heal the sick, we can and must do something about the causes, not just the symptoms, of their hunger, their ignorance, their sicknesses.” When addressing corruption, which is a moral issue, the Church is also being accused by the powerful and those with vested interests, “of meddling in politics.”

Central to my being Catholic is Jesus’ love for the poor. He saw the world through their eyes. His world-view was from the bottom up. His value system was always skewed in their favor — the last shall be first, the lowest shall be raised to the highest. The challenge for me is to care for them in a manner that will help them rise to their highest potential. My piety and pity alone will not save them; the squatters need land, not alms… justice, not dole-out. Without land, they cannot build homes or produce food. Without decent homes, they have no dreams. Without dreams, they have no desire to study or work. It is terribly unchristian for Filipinos to be squatters in a country where there is so much land in the possession of a few.

One interesting issue raised about me was that I was talking too much about nation-building when I should be preaching about Kingdom-building. For me, there is no dualism: nation-building is Kingdom-building. We need to make every Filipino passionate nation builders. Our country needs more builders, not just more preachers. The Jesus of history that I know, before he became the transcendent Christ to us, was a carpenter and the builder of both a physical and a spiritual kingdom. His disciples followed his example and built the early Christian communities where believers shared their resources with one another and no one was in need. This was the inspiration to start the first Gawad Kalinga village in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City. Building sustainable GK communities is about values as well as economics. It is also about politics. It is our antidote to corruption by promoting servant leadership. Our slogan for leaders is “Una sa serbisyo, huli sa benepisyo” (First to serve, last to benefit! ).

What happened to us?

At the heart of Christianity is social justice anchored on Jesus’ love for the oppressed and the spirit of democracy is equality for all but looking at the vast social inequity in wealth and opportunity in our country clearly shows that we have been unfaithful to our core values and belief systems.

God is not about structures and rituals but about caring. Nation is not about politics but patriotism. Politics is competition for power; patriotism is giving up our lust for power, sharing our wealth and making heroic sacrifices for the weak to build our collective strength as a people.

We have not invested enough in building the church of the poor. We missed Jesus’ point of view and wisdom when he spoke about leaving family as a condition for discipleship. The poor not only deserve our attention but investing in them will catalyze economic activities, create opportunities, and build a safer environment for our children. Our greatest asset, our biggest market — the poor — are just waiting to be mentored, empowered, and harnessed as our engine for growth. The stones that were rejected will become the cornerstone for nation-building.

Knowing this, how do we face the future as Catholics in a country of immense potential but mired in poverty of spirit and body?

My personal response is simple: Gawad Kalinga — the Filipino expression of integral evangelization that seeks to build good citizenship on earth as it is in heaven. Being Catholic is my choice that demands conviction and action from me.

1. This is my anchor: faith in God, love for family, and pride in being Filipino.

2. This is my compass: Christ as the core of my conscience, my model of citizenship, and the source of commonsense. He is my navigator through controversy and conflict, the mirror to my soul, my companion and consolation.

3. I go to Church for mass and communion every Sunday but I strive daily to be in communion with the masses and those who want to see their lives improve. To many, going to church is an end. For me, being Catholic begins the moment I step out of the church.

4. To build solidarity, I am guided by Pope Benedict’s spirit of ecumenism in this country divided by religious intolerance and partisan politics. For me, Catholic fundamentalism is just as bad as fundamentalism that we deplore in other religion. Hypocrisy and bigotry in any language and form are unacceptable to me as a Catholic as they were to Jesus.

5. With all our imperfections, I am proud to be Catholic and I want to bring passion in the Church to serve God by serving the poor. There are rumors that I am doing all of these because I will run for public office. To set the record straight, this is not my desire or calling. I value the freedom to serve more than the authority to rule. To gain freedom, I will not seek political power or personal profit from business. Real power is in not wanting it. True wealth is in not loving money but sharing it with those deprived of a dignified life due to lack of it. To be free is not to put a price tag to one’s soul. To end, let me share with you my wish before I die. I want to see the Philippines as the first Catholic nation in Asia that will rise from third-world poverty and corruption. I will not rest until we put Fr. Damaso and Dona Victorina finally to rest.