Monday, December 29, 2008

Over par and over the top

The Pinoy blogosphere is in an uproar over the recent fracas in the fairway involving a 27-year old small-town mayor, his Cabinet Secretary father and their bodyguards on one hand, and a 14-year old boy, his 56-year old father and his 18-year old sister on the other hand. As in any harsh conflict, there are two sides on the issue. The first side of the coin is narrated in a first-hand blogpost here, while a direct interview on the contending side is reported here.

It’s amazing how two directly-involved, first-hand accounts paint completely different versions of the same incident. As both of them cannot be truthful at the same time, it is obvious that one or the other is plainly lying through the teeth. One’s emotions will certainly tend to side with the kid and his quite elderly father, as a cursory glance on numerous bloggers’ entries and comments shows that public sympathy definitely goes this way. Which is not surprising, as one pictures the one side wielding guns and goons in a shameless and overpowering display of violent arrogance - against a hapless 14-year old kid and a 56-year old father. The mayor allegedly screamed: "Hindi nila kami kilala! Sabihin mo nga sa kanila kung sino ako!" - as he and his bodyguards reportedly proceed to beat up the kid and the father a second time. The DAR Chief however, denies this and says that it was the De la Pazes who “ganged up on him” (JR, his mayor-son). Lets see whose nose grows.

It started out as an altercation on golf etiquette. Simple fairway right-of-way and good manners. I can imagine the internal script that goes with the scenario:

"HEY, you do not have any golf etiquette, YOU @###$$!!!"
"REALLY?? It’s you who do not have any etiquette, you rude son of a @#&&#$!!!"
"Why you…"

It seems far-out to talk about golf etiquette when you see blood spilling after a misunderstanding on its meaning. These kinds of incidents make me wonder how far humankind has matured in its sense of civility, coming from its feudal or early mankind roots. I guess some things never change, from the prehistoric jungle setting to the modern, "civilized" setting. Maybe the title of this post should be: from golf swing to fist swing, or vice-versa.

I was just writing about the Beatitudes on my recent post. I guess some people never heard of the Sermon on the Mount, either. Or maybe they are just prone to quarrel violently over a dispute on the meaning of humility.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A sign of contradiction

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Jesus is presented at the temple (Luke 2:22-40)

Mary and Joseph went to the temple to fulfill a Jewish ritual. Jesus, being
a firstborn male, must be consecrated to God. Here Mary and Joseph encounter
the two prophets Simeon and Anna. Simeon prophecies that Jesus will
stand as a sign of contradiction.

The Gospel accounts of Jesus' preaching indeed presents an emphasis on struggle, conflict and final reversal of status, contradictions that were often unsettling to its hearers, then and now. They appear in stories and parables depicting the first shall be last; those who exalts themselves will be humbled; those who humble themselves will be exalted; the hungry will be filled; the rich will go away empty... This theme of reversal may have had its most dramatic expression in the Beatitudes. Christ is God's light that enlightens people, but it also blinds, confuses and leads to opposition. It moves people to look at the world and their values in a new way.

But there was also a joyful element in what He proclaimed. During his ministry, Jesus calls those who suffer in his name to leap for joy (Lk 6:23). The 70 disciples whom Jesus sent out, returns with joy. Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit at what they had done. Heaven rejoices when one sinner repents. Zacchaeus welcomes Jesus with joy and repents. At Jesus triumphant entry to Jerusalem, the whole multitude of disciples praise God with joy. Following his ascension, the disciples return to Jerusalem with great joy. It is not suprising then, that Paul calls joy the second fruit of the Spirit and places it between love and peace (Gal 5:22). Joy is difficult to describe. While it can be manifested as an outward sign of happiness, it is more often interior - a deep sense of well-being. All of us can probably name a person who, while struggling with suffering, adversity and pain, has also experienced profound inner joy and peace. If God's kingdom had a future dimension, his parables also proclaim that God's reign is already active in this world, here and now.

Thus, in today's Gospel, the prophet Simeon declares:

"See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes in Israel.
He shall stand as a sign of contradiction,
while a sword will pierce your own soul.
Then the secret thoughts of many may be brought to light".

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I went to the mall today for some last-minute gift shopping. Driving on the way, I was caught in some traffic and I noticed these homeless families by the roadside. I took some quick pics with my camera phone.

I wonder what this Christmas season means to these poor families. Gift-giving would be farthest from their minds. A decent meal and a warm abode might be all that they aspire for, but they cannot find it in this world. This world has shut them out and there is no room for them. May they experience the true meaning of Christmas sometime, somewhere... and may we all find room in our hearts to experience and share the true joy of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Do you trust me?


..."Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
(Lk 1:26-38)

In spite of Mary's deep devotion to God, it must have been a startling and fearful experience when the angel Gabriel appeared to her: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus...".

Today it is easy for us to say that it is natural for Mary to accept outright without any deliberation, as it is obviously an honor to be chosen as the mother of the Messiah. Mary had free will to decide either way, but consider putting yourself in the place of Mary at the time. Do you think anybody would really believe that the child was conceived of the Holy Spirit? Wouldn't it be more likely that ill-thinking people will surmise it was borne of an affair with some Roman soldier who were then frequently roaming Nazareth? Mary was then engaged to Joseph. Others might even conclude that Mary and Joseph had gone too far in their relationship with each other and had disobeyed the law of God. In either case, was there not the possibility that Mary could be charged and stoned for fornication?

And what would Joseph think? He would know that he was not responsible for Mary's condition. What would he say? Would he still be willing to marry her? Was she willing to give him up if it would come to that? And what about the child? If these difficult thoughts crossed Mary's mind at the time and made her waver, no one can probably blame her.

Mary was a meditative woman, at least twice we are told that she kept certain things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19, 51). But she did not take very much time to make up her mind here. She answered forthrightly: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
Her decision was to submit to God's will and to trust Him with the consequences. By her obedience, Mary becomes truly the "Mother of God', the "Mother of the living", and the model of our faith.

Submission to God's will, almost always involves some risk. But many times in the bible, God tells his followers from Abraham down to the apostles: do not be afraid. God is always there to work out all the details together, and it is our choice to believe Him if we want to enjoy His peace and power.

Today, God is asking each one of us the same question: "Do you trust me?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


A bit of news from UK...

Teenage pregnancies go UP (despite free contraception and sex education for five-year-olds)

"The number of teenage pregnancies leapt last year, despite all Labour's efforts to increase sex education and contraception among children and the young.

...The sudden rise may have inspired a series of new efforts by ministers to intensify sex education and persuade more girls to use contraception...

In October Schools Minister Jim Knight ordered that primary school pupils should for the first time have compulsory sex education from the age of five..."
Lets see, it's still not working so there is a need to further "intensify sex education". Right now sex education in Britain is already compulsory from the age of five. I say intensify it further - make it compulsory from the age of two! If that still won't work, from the age of one!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Priest held up (again)

Priest held up on his way to Mass at Quiapo Church

MANILA, December 15, 2008—A Catholic priest became a victim of a holdupper on his way to officiate Holy Mass in Quiapo Church. Fr. Genaro O. Diwa, director for Liturgical Affairs of the Manila Archdiocese, was on his way to celebrate Holy Mass at Minor Basilica of the Black Nazerene in Quiapo, Manila, when he was held-up and carted away his cell phone. The priest told to the holdupper that he is a priest. The robber replied, “So what? I want your cell phone.” Diwa handed over his cell phone without further argument for fear of untoward incident. The incident happened recently around the vicinity of Quiapo Church. According to the priest, he has lost several cell phones in the past to robbers. The latest was his sixth.
My footnotes:

- Is it right for the priest to just surrender his cellphone to the robber? Shouldn't he have resisted gallantly?

If one is under duress or under threat of personal danger, forced material involvement in an evil act is excused. Material involvement in an evil act must be wilfull for it to be considered as a sin.

- Was it right for the holdupper to rob a priest?

No, and it is not right to rob anyone for that matter, priest or otherwise.

- What should the holdupper do to gain forgiveness for his sin of stealing?

He cannot make amends by contributing 10% of the cellphone proceeds to the church.
He should return the cellphone, ask forgiveness from the priest, take a confession, and mend his ways.

- What should the priest do?

Pray for the robber, as all of us should. And next time, avoid isolated passageways while walking to the church. It's a pity that this is already his 6th cellphone that was stolen. Consider acquiring a cheap, old, outdated, basic functional cellphone that no one will even consider stealing. A solid, used Nokia 5110 will do just fine.

- What I'd like to see?

The next time the priest is accosted by a holdupper who says “So what? I want your cell phone.”
The priest should say "Son, you can try and get it." and strike a pose like this

Sunday, December 14, 2008


3rd Sunday of Advent

"This was the testimony of John when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, "Who are you?"...
(Jn 1:19-27)
A popular fictional anecdote is told as to when the Pope once decided to switch places with his driver. The driver reluctantly agreed as the Pope had a little fun driving around the Vatican, with the driver taking the passenger seat for a change. The Pope soon breached the speed limit unknowingly, and in a little while a Vatican police patrol flagged down the vehicle for overspeeding. The cop, needless to say, was greatly surprised when he saw the occupants of the overspeeding vehicle, and so he decided to call and consult his chief. 

Cop: Chief, I have a problem. I pulled over this very important person.
Chief: Just give him a speeding ticket! I don't care even if he is as important as the mayor, governor, senator, whatever.
Cop: Well, you see, he's more important than those people.
Chief: More important??
Cop: I don't know, but he's got the Pope driving for him!
..when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, "Who are you?", John recognized the truth and did not deny it. He said, "I am not the Messiah"...

John the Baptist did not deny who he was, he was clear on his role and identity.

And they asked him, “Then who are you?" Elijah?”
And he answered, “No.”
Then they said to him, "Tell us who you are, so that we can give some answer to those who sent us. How do you see yourself?"
And John said, quoting the prophet Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord,’”...

The authorities were wondering who was this person that on his own initiative has begun to preach? The Messiah is the name the Jews gave to the expected Savior. They also expected the Prophet, but it was not clear whether or not the Prophet would be someone other that the Messiah. It was then believed that the the prophet Elijah would reappear before the Messiah's arrival. It was John who awakens the expectation of the Savior, but the Jews were confused with mistaken identities. At these times, it is easy for us to say that the saviour was Jesus, but in those days, they who were hearing John found it difficult to imagine what this savior might be.

Today we are called to a commitment in preparing for the second coming of our Lord and Savior, in making straight His paths. We cannot do that without identifying with Jesus Christ and seeing Him in one another. We must see Him in the poor, the prisoner, the sick, the driver, the policeman, and in each end every one around us. In this 3rd Sunday of advent, we are reminded not to mistake our identity and the identity of our neighbors. Otherwise, we may not recognize Him when He comes.


cross-posted at CatholicFriends

Saturday, December 13, 2008


The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has just released Dignitas Personae (Dignity of the Person), the first "instruction" on reproductive technology in more than 20 years. The 33-page instruction updates a 1987 document, Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life), which then asserted the integrity of the human embryo.

Full text---
This instruction of a doctrinal nature is expressly approved by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. It therefore falls within the category of documents that "participate in the ordinary Magisterium of the successor of Peter" (Instruction Donum veritatis, n.18), and is to be received by Catholics "with the religious assent of their spirit" (Dignitas personae, n. 37).

A short excerpt with respect to those questioning the beginning of life:

As is known, abortion is "the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth".45 Therefore, the use of means of interception and contragestation fall within the sin of abortion and are gravely immoral. Furthermore, when there is certainty that an abortion has resulted, there are serious penalties in canon law.46. 43 The interceptive methods which are best known are the IUD (intrauterine device) and the so-called "morning after pills". 44 The principal means of contragestation are RU-486 (Mifepristone), synthetic prostaglandins or Methotrexate. 45 JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 58: AAS 87 (1995), 467. 46 Cf. CIC, can. 1398 and CCEO, can. 1450 § 2; cf. also CIC, can. 1323-1324. The Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law declared that the canonical concept of abortion is "the killing of the fetus in whatever way or at whatever time from the moment of conception" (Response of 23 May 1988: AAS 80 [1988], 1818).

And a short excerpt to guide Catholics who profess to stand "in good conscience":

57 Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 73: AAS 87 (1995), 486: "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection". The right of conscientious objection, as an expression of the right to freedom of conscience, should be protected by law.
Thus, the instruction enshrines the embryo not only as a human being but also as a whole "person" with all the "philosophical and legal consequences that such recognition might entail", according to Bishop Rino Fisichella, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It also reprises the Church's condemnation of in vitro fertilization and the "eugenic mentality" arising from advances in genetic engineering, saying: "In the attempt to create a new type of human being, one can recognize an ideological element in which man tries to take the place of his Creator."

The instruction comes at a time when:

- US president-elect Barack Obama, who is to take office on January 20, is expected to act quickly to reverse an executive order by President George W. Bush banning embryonic stem cell research. Obama also promised to immediately sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act, which removes restrictions on abortion.

- French bioethics law is set for review next year.

- Hybrid Human-Animal Embryo Research is being challenged in The UK.

- The Philippines RH bill (HB 5043), which aims to coercively promote abortifacients, is being deliberated in Congress.

May the dignity of the person prevail. Amen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On the Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8

Short history

Doctrines are defined formally only when there is a controversy that needs to be cleared up or when by the magisterium the faithful can be helped by particular emphasis being drawn to some already-existing belief. The definition of the Immaculate Conception was prompted by the latter motive; it did not come about because there were widespread doubts about the doctrine.

It was clear in the first centuries that only a perfect holiness, including absence of sin, was fitting in view of the dignity of her role. By the 8th century belief that Mary’s holiness was both flawless and immense was firmly established throughout the East, and it was in that century that the feast of her conception was first celebrated liturgically. In the West the belief grew more slowly, but by 1099 St Anselm could write: “It was fitting that she be clothed with a purity so splendid that none greater under God could be conceived.”

The belief in the Immaculate Conception was initially met with theological difficulty. If Christ was the redeemer of all, as the Scriptures affirm, he would have been the redeemer of Mary too. But then how was it possible that she was conceived immaculate and therefore was not in need of redemption? St Thomas Aquinas, unable to resolve the difficulty, concluded that Mary was conceived in original sin but was cleansed from it before her birth.

The decisive argument came from the Franciscan John Duns Scotus (1264-1308), who reasoned that Mary too was in need of redemption, but she was redeemed from the moment of her conception through the merits of her Son’s death on the Cross many years later. Duns Scotus laid the foundations of the true doctrine so solidly and dispelled the objections in a manner so satisfactory, that from that time onward the doctrine prevailed.( more on Catholic Encyclopedia - Immaculate Conception) .

While theologians continued to debate the question for several more centuries, by the end of the 17th century there was practically universal agreement on Mary’s immaculate conception. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was officially defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. When Fundamentalists claim that the doctrine was "invented" at this time, they misunderstand both the history of dogmas and what prompts the Church to issue, from time to time, definitive pronouncements regarding faith or morals.

The dogma

In the Encyclical Ineffabilis Deus by Pope Pius IX:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

...Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Its Pacquiao by TKO

The entire Filipino nation must have watched this much-awaited, grand boxing event of the year. It was a match where Manny Pacquiao was the definite underdog against a much bigger, taller, and more experienced boxer, the celebrated Golden boy of boxing - Oscar DelaHoya. The betting odds were decidedly against Manny. Most boxing experts predicted a gross mismatch in favor of DelaHoya. They were in for a great shock. After the first two rounds which Manny Pacquiao clearly dominated, it was apparent that the Manny Pacquiao that DelaHoya now faced was an entirely different boxer from what he expected. Manny expertly bobbed and weaved, displayed elegant footwork, and unleashed crisp, jarring combinations. The eighth round saw Manny punching at will the hapless and badly bruised DelaHoya. By the end of the eighth, the outcome was evident. DelaHoya failed to answer the bell for the ninth round. Manny had won by TKO.

Manny deserved to win. When DelaHoya was interviewed after the match, he never offered any excuses except to say that he had lost to a great fighter. I noticed it was a vastly different Pacquiao. This time he moved gracefully with deft footwork, weaving in and out, left to right, and throwing combinations with blinding speed. It was understandable if DelaHoya's gameplan was upset. Manny had prepared very well. It was Manny's gameplan that worked, and it was obvious that he trained and prepared very hard for this defining moment. DelaHoya said he trained and prepared very hard too. I believe him and he is an awesome fighter, though I believed it was Manny who trained and prepared hard correctly. That spelled the big difference.

I can't help but make the connection to today's Gospel. John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for the Lord. The call for for the Lord's coming takes a lifetime of preparation. It is an on-going process of conversion to the way of Life by following Jesus. If Pacquiao had Roach as an excellent trainer, we have the Catholic Church that Jesus himself instituted to train and guide us to the one true path of salvation. The Church guides us to the correct way of preparation, where we can not lose if we choose to prepare to win.

By the way, Manny Pacquiao is a staunch ProLife advocate. During Humanae Vitae's 40th anniversary at the UST grounds, he exclaimed on the stage: "Kung nag-contracept ang mga magulang ko, wala nang Manny Pacquiao ngayon !" (If my parents used contraceptives, there won't be any Manny Pacquiao now !)

Mabuhay ka Manny Pacquiao!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

We invite You to our homes and our hearts...

Saturday, Week 1.
A beautiful prayer from 'The Advent Wreath Prayer Guide' of the Filipino Family City Foundation, Inc.

Jesus, You ask us to tell others that You are coming to make us better persons. We can do this not only in words, but in actions. Help us to be like You, loving and caring to our brothers and sisters, obedient to our parents and teachers, generous and forgiving to those around us. In this way, when people look at us, they shall see the goodness and beauty that we see in You.

O Lord, as we reach the end of our first week of Christmas preparation, we thank You for letting us know You a little better. We learned that the word Advent means "coming" and stands for your coming. We invite You to our homes and our hearts, our families and our communities, our nation and the nations of the world.

We learned that Advent starts four weeks before Christmas and lasts until Christmas Eve. That is why there are four candles on our Advent wreath. We pray, Lord, that the spirit of Christmas will live in our hearts.

We learned that the candles stand for Christ, the Light of the world. He is our guiding light. We continue to offer Him our hearts, which we hope are now more loving than they were a week ago.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Love means never having to say ...?

Thailand’s ambassador protested yesterday comments by deputy presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez and Sen. Richard Gordon on the political turbulence in Bangkok, saying they insinuate the Thais lack political maturity.

Read the story here, and here.

Gordon said it was not his intention to brand the Thais “politically immature,” but he added that even if he said so, there is nothing wrong with it since the Philippines is a free country. “Assuming for the sake of argument that I did say that the Thais are politically immature, this is a free country and every citizen is entitled to an opinion,” he said.

For his part, Golez denied saying the Thais lack political maturity.  He said last week the turmoil in Thailand was unlikely to happen in the Philippines -
 “because our people have reached a high degree of political maturity whereby our people respect due process and the rule of law.”


Both Golez and Gordon refused to apologize.
Whatever Gordon and Golez meant and said in effect, it certainly resulted in the Thai envoy getting offended personally and in behalf of his countrymen.
Was the Thai envoy being overly sensitive to a fault, at the point of being unreasonable and overbearing?
Was an apology from the two gentlemen in order?
How much would it cost either way?


Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Arrest order sought vs Bolante runner

MANILA, Philippines—The House Committee on Agriculture Tuesday resumed taking its turn at questioning Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, and said he might have violated the budget department’s rules when he realigned part of the P728-million fertilizer fund to officials who were not on the list of beneficiaries that he had earlier submitted….

In Iloilo City, Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo expressed dismay over the inquiry into the purported diversion of the P728-million fertilizer fund to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign supporters.

“I can sense the feeling of many people—one of disappointment that the truth did not come out as expected,” Lagdameo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the sidelines of a forum on corruption and governance…Last month,
Lagdameo and several other bishops issued a statement on the alleged worsening graft and corruption in government, which, they said, was the biggest culprit and major cause of our nation’s poverty and hunger.”

Tuesday, Lagdameo said government employees and officials should be reminded to be honest.

“I’m appealing to all responsible people to be true in their service of the government, to put uppermost the good of the country,” he said.

Lagdameo said that if graft and corruption could be cut by just one-half, “there will be more people fed and more students entering college.”
Note: I just highlighted parts of Bishop Lagdameo’s statement above, there is no need to emphasize and explain further.


Why P728-M fertilizer fund was a scam

CoA finds P173-M "excess amount" in fertilizer fund

The 728M scandal is far from being an isolated case, to put it mildly. Like the
many corruption cases before it, the investigation appears to be headed to the usual oblivion where some initial noises are made, no satisfactory conclusions are reached, the major players remain scotfree, and all is forgotten.

According to
this, the challenges to national development in the Philippines are graft and corruption, which are manifest in many various forms including bribery, kickbacks, embezzlement, vote buying, cronyism, and nepotism… the magnitude of the problem, is staggering.

Meanwhile, pro-administration legislators are busy gathering signatures, pushing for a
charter change that will eventually prolong the terms of office of those in power. Meanwhile also, many of them are pushing for the immediate passage of HB 5043, the touted piece of legislation that is supposed to "help" this country out of poverty.

God help us.