Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On Noynoy and the RH bill (2)

Part 1 of this series here.

Certainly, no single candidate will fit one's ideal of a perfect match for the presidential slot. That is why it can be argued that one may choose to vote for a candidate that most fits the Catholic position consistent with traditional moral theology with regards to "proportionate reasons".

When Noynoy Aquino has announced his candidacy for the presidency, he has captured the imagination of the Filipino electorate longing (for sooo long) to be inspired with a leadership defined by moral integrity. The Catholic hierarchy was likewise elated with the prospect it seems, but took pause when they found out that Noynoy was an active supporter of the RH bill. There were initial efforts to ask Noynoy to reconsider his position, but now the cat is out of the bag. The latest news report declares:
Aquino defies Church, backs controversial bill.

Let us take a closer look at that news report. Here Noynoy was quoted as follows:

"Whatever they say about my position on the RH bill, I am sticking to it despite the pressure from certain quarters. If I get the support or not of the Church and pro-life groups [for my presidential bid in 2010], it is secondary for my advocacy to get everybody educated on reproductive health,".

Uh-oh. Someone needs to tell Noynoy that even the Bishops and pro-life groups are not against "everybody [getting] educated on reproductive health" per se. What is opposed is mandatory (emphasis on mandatory, please) sex education starting from grade 5 that would force imparting "values" consistent with promoting the contraceptive mentality to ALL schools, public and private. Even Catholic schools, of course. Is this the kind of "advocacy" that Noynoy is resolutely "sticking to"?

Noynoy goes on by saying he is not "comfortable" that the government will provide a specific budget in support of artificial family planning. You bet, Noynoy, that the bill you are supporting will provide a specific budget for artificial family planning. HB 5043 classifies contraceptives as "essential medicines" and being so, simply guarantees that it will have a specific budget. I am actually horrified that billions will be used to purchase contraceptives, money that otherwise could have been budgeted for real (emphasis on real, please) essential medicines that cures actual diseases. Too bad Noynoy feels only "uncomfortable" with the thought. In his scheme of things, his "uncomfortable" stance translates to: "it doesn't look good, I really don't understand it, but I'll support it anyway, whatever they say about my position on the RH bill...". How nifty. Doesn't exactly sound like the courage of conviction though. I wonder what it takes for his feeling to run from discomfort to horror? Maybe a bolt of lightning will do the trick. It proved effective for Saul on the road to Damascus.

Now comes the stunner. After defying the bishops, Mar and Noynoy seek advice of Apollo .

What the??? The same "Pastor"
Apollo Quiliboy, the founder and leader of "The Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name", a Philippine-based church. Among his teachings are : Jesus Christ is the Almighty Father (One God); Salvation is through the Appointed Son of God (who else but Quiliboy); and that "No one comes to the Father except through Apollo C. Quiboloy". No kidding. And why on earth would Mar and Noynoy seek the advise of the self-appointed savior of the world? Hint: Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel Zamora says of Quiliboy-- "I believe his group is already bigger than other religious organizations that are perceived to be more influential in national politics.".

Uh-oh. I guess I have to study more deeply the moral theology behind "proportionate reasons".

Monday, September 28, 2009

After the deluge

Nothing beats a word of comfort, a hug, a helping hand, and a hot bowl of "lugaw".

Thank you brothers and sisters!

The mother of all rains

On Sept 26 Saturday, super typhoon Ondoy dumped 341mm of rainfall in six hours. That is close to the 15.4-inch (39.2-centimeter) average for the entire month of September, more rains than hurricane Katrina ever brought to the United States in 2005. Luckily, our house is situated at an elevated area in Teachers Village, QC. The most we suffered were leaky roofs in a few areas. The rest of Metro Manila was not as fortunate. In fact it was horrible.

The morning after, I went to my sister in law's house in Congressional Village. It is a gated, upscale subdivision. Her newly constructed house was submerged chest-deep in flood waters, but now it has receded. We helped clean out the place. This is a picture of her back wall, the bottom part of which collapsed under the force of the rampaging floods. Her house was wet, dirty and slightly damaged, but it was intact together with her belongings. Others were not as fortunate.

This is what remains of one of our CFC member's modest house after the storm. Absolutely nothing was left. except some wooden frames and bits of roof. This scene is to be repeated countless times all over Metro Manila. /

Lord Jesus please help all the victims of typhoon Ondoy. Dear Lord we beseech thee. Extend your healing hands to those in pain. Shelter them from further harm. Clothe and feed them. Comfort them O Lord. Let them not lose hope. All in Jesus name.... AMEN.

For ways to help, click here or here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Road sights and random thoughts

ften enough, I have told my children (specially this little tyke) just how lucky they are, so as to impress upon them how grateful they should be with what they have. I mean, just to have decent food, clothing and shelter. I know a lot of parents do this. So when we happen to pass by indigent people on the streets, I point them out and rub it in to my kids.

On the way to the office yesterday morning, I got stuck in traffic precisely beside this homeless persons. Oblivious to their surroundings, these folks catch a restful sleep amidst all the heavy noise and pollution. After a day-long effort, they just plop down their tired bodies wherever a bit of warmth can induce slumber. I

imagine though, that they sleep more restfully than most people I know who have cozy bedrooms...oops, the traffic is moving.

What a stressful day in the office, whew! On the way home I got stuck in traffic (again), precisely at a point where I see this remarkable enterpreneur on the street. His disability does not prevent him from trying to eke out a living. I am wondering if he might have endured less stress during the day than I did. Notice the strategic location, the nifty umbrella, the store and transportation all rolled into one. Notice also the obiquitous politician's banners on the posts. "SAVE MONEY", huh? Homeless people, the daily struggle for survival, and politican's banners. Hmm, there is a poignant statement somewhere here. Got to tell this to my kids when I get home. Oops, the traffic is moving. /

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 we go...

Just as I was saying that the courage of conviction requires humility and the readiness to face consequences...

Romulo backs Noynoy

Son says Romulo ought to face ‘consequences’

Quit if you can't support admin bet


Revillame not being eyed as VP for Villar


Well, that last item takes some courage too...
and a bit of wry humor, I guess.

Mandatory Sex Education: the RH Bill way

Tell me it aint' so...

picture source

Voters Guide, NOT!

Agonizing over the decision whom to vote for in the coming elections?
Here is a handy voter's guide from the Curt Jester :-)

Voter's Guide for Cafeteria Catholics
by Jeff Miller (reprinted with permission)

This voter's guide helps you cast your vote in an manner consistent with the beliefs that you already hold. It helps you avoid choosing candidates who hold opinions opposite of your own and to avoid just voting with an alleged Catholic conscience as dictated by a male hierarchy.

On most issues that come before voters or legislators, the task is selecting the most effective strategy that justifies your own opinion. The task can include selectively using magisterial teachings to comply with your personal magisterial teaching.

But some issues concern “non-negotiable” moral selections that do not admit of exception or compromise. One’s position either accords with those principles or does not. No one endorsing the wrong side of these issues can be said to act in accord with your moral norms.

This voter's guide helps you to identify your five issues involving “non-negotiable” moral suggestions in current politics, and helps you narrow down the list of acceptable candidates, whether they are running for national, state, or local offices.

You should avoid to the greatest extent possible voting for candidates who endorse or promote concepts against your view of things. As far as possible, you should vote for those who promote policies in line with your world view.


These five current issues below concern actions that are intrinsically evil and must never be promoted by the law. Intrinsically evil actions are those which fundamentally conflict with your own moral view.

1. _________________________
2. _________________________
3. _________________________
4. _________________________
5. _________________________

Simply fill in the blanks. Suggestions are minimum wage, national healthcare, War for oil, etc. You might consider adding a traditional Catholic moral suggestion such as abortion. Remember your definition for reducing abortion is not limited to actually passing laws to restrict abortion but can easily include economic issues.


Conscience is like an alarm and when it goes off do as most of us do and hit the snooze button and send your conscience back to sleep.


Please do not keep this voter's guide to yourself. Read it and fill out your five moral suggestions. Then give this voter's guide to a friend, and ask your friend to read it and pass it on to others. The more people who vote in accord with your moral compass the better. After all who has the greater teaching authority - the Bishops in union with the Pope or yourself?


Now for the REAL Voters guide for SERIOUS Catholics, click here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the Courage of Conviction and Humility

On the Courage of Conviction and Humility
(posted for

When Kruschev pronounced his famous denunciation of the Stalin era, someone in the crowd at the Congress Hall hollered; "Where were you Comrade Krushchev, when all these people were being slaughtered?"

Kruschev stopped, looked around the hall, and said: "Will the man who said that kindly stand up!!!".

Tension mounted in the hall. No one stood up.

Then Kruschev said: "Well, you have your answer now, whoever you are. I was in exactly the same position then as you are now".

A Catholic politician in the Philippines has actively supported a pending legislation that would require the government to promote contraceptives and heavily subsidize them out of public funds. Now he has suddenly been thrust into the limelight as presidential timber in the coming elections. The Bishops have admonished him to reconsider and renounce his support of anti-life legislation. On the other hand, his pro-choice liberal supporters strongly urge him to ignore the clergy and stand fast to his principle. If he heeds the Bishops, he could lose face among his liberal supporters and be accused of not standing up for his convictions to gain political expediency. Either way, he could lose face. But what does his conscience tell him?

Major decisions always carry serious consequences. In Kruschev’s era, lives may be at stake. In today’s political arena, projection of public reputations leading to outcomes of elections may be at stake. If a public figure exhibits inconsistencies, then his political ambitions may be lost. But “for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mk 8:36). Would one rather protect his reputation before the public but lose his reputation before God? How should one’s inconsistencies be viewed? Shouldn’t one rather be inconsistent with ones self rather than be inconsistent with the Truth?

That is why the courage of conviction comes with humility. Today’s Gospel (Mk 9:30-37) is a precise lesson in humility. The Apostles were arguing among themselves who was the greatest. They have preached the kingdom of God, performed miraculous cures, and have expelled demons. Yet they still lack the most important quality of all: humility.

One can never have the courage of conviction without humility. External appearances do not have any bearing with true courage and conviction, rather: “the things that come out from within are what defile.” (Mk 7:23). We must face the truth with courage and humility that comes from the inside.

A story is told of Abraham Lincoln who was then accused of being two-faced. Lincoln indicated his very plain, homely face and replied: “If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time –Year B – (20th September, 2009)

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time –Year B – (20th September, 2009)
(Wisdom 2.12,17-20: James 3.16-4.3: Mark 9.30-37)

Once I was working in a certain country and shortly after my arrival a man was introduced to me as Architect Chambo. After that I met many different people. Some were called Engineer X or Accountant Y. Nearly all the others who were ordinary workers were introduced simply by their names without any title. In that country the title obviously meant a lot to most of these people. It would have given them a certain status. They certainly would have been seen as the important people in the society. Some would have expected preferential treatment. Sometimes they would call the unemployed to do menial jobs for them while paying them very little.

A lot of people tend to define and evaluate people in terms of the job they do. Hence, if they learn that a person is a doctor, their estimation of that person goes up. But in learning that a person is an ordinary worker their estimation stays earthbound. This is unfair and rather silly. There’s something more important than the job, namely the kind of human being behind the job.

The mistake that the apostles made was to put the job or position first. In their eyes the one who was greatest was the one who had the highest position. They obviously thought that Jesus would set up an earthly kingdom and so each wanted to get the top position in his kingdom. But Jesus told them that that his kingdom was not about seeking honour and glory for oneself, but about serving others. In fact, he was very direct when he told them: ‘if anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all’. Jesus was really saying in the gospel that it’s not what I do but what I am that is important. One’s self-worth should not depend on the work one does. It’s possible to possess an attitude of self-worth and accomplishment regardless of what one does for a living.

I remember hearing that in a certain office many years ago where there were 4 clerks and two typists, one of the typists asked the 4 clerks in turn to take a typewriter up to the next floor but each in turn refused saying it was a job for the office boy and not for them. They felt it was too menial a job for them. Obviously the felt that it would demean them in the sight of the others.

In the second reading we hear that wherever there is jealousy and ambition of the wrong kind there one finds disharmony and disunity and all kinds of harmful things being done. False ambition is very damaging to the unity of a community. It springs from jealousy and selfishness. And it can result in all kinds of ugly behaviour.

In the gospel today we heard of Jesus going through Galilee with his disciples instructing them. He was telling them that the Son of Man would be delivered into the hands of men; that they would put him to death and after three days he would rise again. But they did not want to hear that kind of talk. Their minds and ears were closed to it. Yet is not this a very human reaction? Are we much different ourselves? Very often we hear only what we want to hear. Which of us, indeed anyone, understands the mystery of suffering, of hurting, and dying? Especially when it involves the innocent. Even with our faith, even with the promise of rising from the dead, a rising which we believe has been fulfilled in Jesus it is good for us to be honest and say that many, perhaps most of us, still struggle why we have to suffer, especially some more than others. The writer C.S.Lewis wrote in his book The Problem of Pain "God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pain".

Today’s gospel reading makes us wonder what on earth possessed Jesus to chooses the ones he did to become his disciples? Self-seeking calculation had them quarrelling about which of them was the greatest. They are truly small time glory seekers. The scene is not edifying. They were driven by selfishness and false ambition. Jesus did not abolish ambition. Rather he defined it. For the ambition to rule others he substituted the ambition to serve others. Where do we stand in all of this? What kind of ambition motivates us?

We are still amazed at the kind of fragile and flawed human beings that Jesus chose to be his disciples. Before the resurrection they were generally of weak quality. Yet after the resurrection what an incredible change. They proclaim a most profound message and established a faith-community that has spread throughout the world down through the present day. Does it not show what is possible for each one of us if we call upon the Holy Spirit to help us?

Today we see the various people that God still calls to do his work. We don’t mean only priests and religious. What more precious task could be entrusted to a human being that bringing another into the world and introducing them to God? What of so many who look after ageing relatives, those who visit people in hospitals, prisons and those living alone who need help etc.? Any humble loving service done for another is greatly appreciated and rewarded by God. It also allows us to do whatever we can to make the world a better place to live in.

"Lord Jesus, help us not to judge others by titles or by the money they earn etc. but to serve others in humble loving service as you did. When pain and suffering come our way, help us to trust that you will see us safely through the pains, sufferings and tragedies of life.

(Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA. 15th September, 2009)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Catholic schools seek women’s law exemption

Catholic schools seek women’s law exemption

MANILA, Philippines — Insisting on their religious and academic freedoms, Catholic educational institutions are seeking exemption from a provision in the new Magna Carta of Women banning the dismissal of unwed mothers from employment or school.

Monsignor Gerardo Santos, national president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), said the CEAP would ask that a provision on such an exemption be inserted into the new law’s implementing rules and regulations...

Santos insisted on the Catholic schools’ right to have an unwed pregnant student or employee go on leave “after due process,” or to enforce other disciplinary action.

I am no big fan of the Magna Carta for Women, although I think this particular provision protecting unwed mothers from being dismissed from employment or school deserves some merit.

First of all, it is unlawful to terminate unwed mothers in the workforce. Articles 279/282 of the Labor Code allows termination only on the basis of authorized and just causes. However, the company might have a morality clause in the rules or in the contract of employment, and such a clause may be cited as a basis for terminating unwed mothers. While I am all for safeguarding the sanctity of marriage, dismissing unwed mothers is far from being a charitable pastoral tool towards this end. What the unwed mother needs is fraternal correction, moral guidance, opportunities for conversion, compassion, and a decent livelihood to support herself and the person she is nurturing in her womb.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On Noynoy and the RH bill

I am terribly disappointed that Noynoy, my promising presidential candidate of choice, turns out to be an active supporter of the RH bill.
Church leaders put pressure on Aquino

Cebu archbishop 'dismayed' with Noynoy

Noynoy anti-life, group claims
My good friend C.D. now poses the question:

"Do we blacklist the only candidate who offers a ray of hope just because he supports the RH Bill?"

The question might be rephrased this way:

Is it morally permissible, considering proportionately good reasons, to vote for a candidate who actively supports the RH bill?

First of all, the RH bill (I have read it in its entirety) contains morally objectionable items from the Catholic Church's point of view. Among these, the active promotion of contraceptive use, conscience violation clauses, and mandatory sex education stand out. To be sure, not ALL items in the RH bill are objectionable. For example, the provisions on maternal health and child care may be considered as positive clauses. However, the bill's sponsors stand pat and do not have any intention of weeding out those objectionable items. Therefore, the current RH bill being pushed in Congress, in its present form, is unacceptable.

To actively support the RH bill is tantamount to going against core Catholic teaching. Noynoy is on record as not only supporting the bill but of actually standing as one of its sponsors early on. Thus, to vote for Noynoy, knowing that he supports a bill that goes against Catholic teaching, could be considered equivalent to indirect complicity in the approval of the RH bill. Yet since politics cannot be reduced to single-issue factors, an argument might be proposed that voting for Noynoy would bring about a proportionately intended good that overcomes foreseen evil. Assuming then that there are no other likely candidates that fit the bill of the perfect ideal, is the "proportionately intended good" enough justification to vote for Noynoy?

We must understand that the justification of "proportionate good" cannot be applied whenever non-negotiables are involved. From the Catholic perspective, these non-negotiables are: the protection of life in all its stages; recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family; and the protection of the right of parents to educate their children. In the public sphere these non-negotiables translate to hot-button issues such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), cloning, gay-marriage, and the parents' rights. Note that these issues are *directly* against the non-negotiables. Here is where it gets tricky. While the RH bill does not explicitly promote abortion, it promotes the full range of contraceptives (including IUD's, pills, injectibles) that are considered as "chemical abortion" or "abortifacients" by the Church. The main contention of RH bill opponents is that such devices prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg (life, in other words) in the womb. I agree. This means that by promoting these types of contraceptives, the RH bill might be considered in violation of the the first non-negotiable: the protection of life in all its stages. The RH bill proponents sidetrack the issue of contraceptives being abortifacients, and instead refer to them as "legal, safe", "essential medicines". So, it is not only a moral debate, but a medical and scientific one as well. Separately, the mandatory sex education clause of the RH bill would also run into problems with the third non-negotiable: the protection of the right of parents to educate their children. Again, this is a contentious issue, as the RH bill supporters claim that the bill only mandates age-appropriate RH education that espouses informed, responsible choices. From whose perspective, one might ask. The definite thing here though, is that there is no opt-out provision in the bill's mandatory sex education proposal which definitely treads on the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit.

Let me clarify that I am merely offering an opinion here and would stand correction. The RH bill itself violates the first and third non-negotiables, albeit indirectly as may be argued. Indirect because abortifacient contraceptives may be considered as indirect abortion, while the elements and guidelines of mandatory sex education is still subject to deliberation. At any rate, directly and actively supporting this bill (as Noynoy does) constitutes direct material cooperation in evil. On the other hand, *voting* for Noynoy in this case would constitute remote, indirect material cooperation on the part of the voter, and if coupled with serious proportionate reasons, may be considered morally licit. Let me emphasize here that if the bill were explicitly pro-abortion, voting for its sponsor/active supporter would be flat-out morally illicit, period. That is why in the U.S., voting for McCain would be considered by many conservative Catholics as morally acceptable as opposed to voting for Obama, although McCain is not really purely Prolife because of his support for ESCR and restricted abortion.

In simple layman's terms the moral position would find the RH bill unacceptable (and it must continually be opposed), but it would be acceptable and pragmatic to vote for Noynoy IF - by voting for him the intention is to prevent a foreseen greater evil from transpiring. God knows we've had more than enough. By all means we should pressure Noynoy into reconsidering his position on the RH bill. Also, we could always oppose the RH bill even if it passes (God forbid!) the legislature and GMA by challenging its constitutionality all the way to the Supreme Court.

This position must not be taken as a condemnation of Noynoy being a proponent of the RH bill. After all, when a person assumes a position with the right motivations with full integrity, it makes the person good, yet it does not guarantee that his resulting actions are objectively good. An examination of conscience though, is in order.

Lastly, it can be said that a conscientious vote should strive for the best candidate that would bring about the greater moral good, as long as the non-negotiables are not violated. Is Noynoy "the only candidate that offers a ray of hope"? No offense meant but this is a presumption that is still open for debate. Besides, it is too early to rule out further developments because the platforms as well as the candidacy landscape are still to be finally cut. Going forward, it is plausible that there may be one, two, or even zero alternative, ideal candidates to speak of. In this regard while it is a Christian responsibility not to shirk away from the responsibility of voting, when there are no viable options for grave reasons, abstaining from voting may well be considered also as a conscientious choice. Maybe not pragmatic, but still conscientious. As for me, there's still time to wait and see.

Either way, it's going to be a tough call for Noynoy. This early, he has already chosen Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, a staunch RH bill endorser, for his senatorial slate. If he backs off from the RH-bill, he would alienate his close colleagues and liberal supporters. On the other hand if he does otherwise, he would alienate the bishops and the conservative pro-life bloc. This would be a litmus test of his statesmanship, but more importantly, this would be a litmus test of his faith. Let us pray for him.

(update - 9/28)
Aquino defies Church, backs controversial bill

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The land of the free

What's happening over at the land of the free and the home of the brave?

MSNBC Airs Ad for Adultery Website: 'Life is Short. Have an Affair'

"Live is Short. Have an Affair."

So ends a truly disgraceful television commercial for the "married dating and affairs" website

Jack Black Leads a Prayer to the Devil at the 2009 MTV Awards

The MTV Awards once again earned its reputation for tawdry entertainment by broadcasting Jack Black praying to the devil. The comedian, who was hawking a heavy metal video game called Brütal Legend, asked the "Dear Dark Lord Satan" to bless the rock star nominees with "continued success in the music industry."

Pro-Lifer Murdered. Where's the Outrage?

A pro-life protester was shot and killed this morning [September 11] in front of a Michigan high school.

So...where's the outrage?...

Sorry. No outrage. Now if you want to place an ad honoring traditional marriage, or praising God in an MTV show, or extolling prolife causes...

Brace yourself.

Monday, September 14, 2009


President’s office budget OK’d in 5 minutes

MANILA, Philippines — The proposed budget of the Office of the President for 2010 swiftly breezed through the House of Representatives, with the committee on appropriations approving it in less than five minutes on Monday.

At the start of the hearing at 9:30 a.m., Tawi-Tawi Representative Nur Jaafar moved to dispense with the presentation of the budget and the hearing, except for the budget of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group. The move was approved by the committee.

Sorsogon Representative Salvador Escudero followed this with a motion to approve the budget, which was agreed by the committee...

Representative Teodoro Casino of Bayan Muna party list who arrived about 20 minutes after the approval of the budget was surprised at to learn about the development. He said he intended to question the OP on the President’s trips abroad.

[Moral of the story: The early bird catches the worms.]

NPC has yet to pick presidential bet - Legarda

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Loren Legarda today (Sept. 13) said the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) has yet to decide who to select between her and Sen. Francis Escudero as NPC's standard bearer in the 2010 polls.

[Get that. The party that declared Noynoy was "not at all a threat to its candidates", has yet to decide its candidates.]

Speaker wants vote on RH bill fast tracked

With only a month left for the third regular session, Speaker Prospero Nograles is asking lawmakers to prioritize the debates over the controversial reproductive health bill so a vote could finally be reached...

Lagman is still hopeful that the bill will be passed this September, claiming that the bill already have “superiority in numbers and superiority in arguments.”

[“He does not care for flowers. Calls them rubbish, and cannot tell one from another, and thinks it is superior to feel like that.” - Mark Twain]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

24th SUNDAY of ORDINARY TIME – YEAR B – (13th September, 2009)

24th SUNDAY of ORDINARY TIME – YEAR B – (13th September, 2009)

(Isaiah 50.4-9: James 2.14-18: Mark 8.27-35)

In a certain town a young girl came rushing home to her family and almost out of breath with excitement said that the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the local church had blood flowing from the heart. Before long many others had heard of this and soon the church was so full of curious people that others could not go in. Then it turned out that a leak from the roof had fallen on the red paint of the heart of the statue and caused what seemed to be blood to flow. Once this became known the church emptied almost as quickly as it has filled up. The previous Sunday at the three Masses the church was only a quarter full.

This incident is important because it highlights the fact of how many people expect God to act. It seems that they are more comfortable with a God of signs and miracles because, after all, God is God. Yet God nearly always comes to us in very ordinary ways and is present to us in the events and people of our daily lives and especially in times of suffering. This doesn’t sound too exciting, does it? Yet that is the way God chooses to reveal himself to us nearly all the time if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Today’s gospel incident is the Central Point of Mark’s gospel. Jesus reveals who God really is and what God is about. The disciples had shortly before returned from their missionary activity. They had seen a number of miracles. Now Jesus asks the very important question, ‘Who do people say I am? What have they been saying about me and how have you described me to them? What witness were you giving to them of me?

In answer to Jesus’ question Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, replies ‘You are the Christ’, that is the Messiah. Even though Peter declares his belief in Jesus as the Messiah, he has no idea what that implies. But now Peter obviously feels really good about his reply and is delighted when Jesus praises him. But as soon as Jesus talks about suffering greatly, being rejected and put to death, even though Jesus adds he will rise again from the dead after three days, Peter refuses to accept this. Obviously Peter heard about the suffering part but not about the resurrection statement. Jesus says to him: ‘Get behind me ‘Satan’, that is ‘do not be an obstacle’ in my way, which is what the word ‘Satan’ means. Talk by Jesus of suffering and death was too much for Peter.

Like all Jews of the time they believed that the Messiah to come would lead them to conquer all invading political powers like the Romans. But Jesus did not conform to that image. Thus Peter betrayed Jesus not so much from cowardice but because Jesus contradicted Peter’s idea of God which was not that of a suffering God but that of a triumphant, all powerful and majestic God. At that time neither Peter nor the others could accept, let alone even think, that Jesus could suffer. Jesus makes a threefold disclosure: that the Messiah must suffer, that his disciples must be prepared to share his suffering, and that his and their suffering will lead to glory.

What is our image of God? Who is God, who is Jesus for me/us personally? We may prefer to have a God of bleeding or moving statues or of extraordinary signs but Jesus is saying to us very clearly that this is not who God is.

Jesus as man learned this lesson the hard way. During his short public life people saw his miracles yet still rejected him. At the foot of the cross, the religious leaders said that if Jesus came down from the cross they would accept him. But he knew better and did not. If he had done so they would have been looking for more and bigger miracles.

He tells Peter very clearly that Jesus, that God is a God of unconditional love for us and that all true love involves suffering, because love is more concerned with the other’s happiness than with one’s own. Jesus led by example and his total love for each of us was shown by his terrible suffering and death on the cross. People got rid of Jesus since his demands to love were too much.

Jesus reveals to us that if we are to accept him as our Lord, we must accept his way of suffering, as part of our own way of life. It is easy for me to accept God when life is easy and enjoyable. But when suffering and pain come along will I then be faithful, trusting that God really loves me and cares passionately for me? We have to make the faith our own for it to be truly alive and influential in our lives.

So when I see a woman pushing her husband around in a wheel chair because he is paralysed and she is faithful to him now in this difficult time of his life or see a man taking care of his wife who has Alzheimer’s disease or a family accepting and loving their son as he is dying of AIDs etc. am I not seeing Jesus the Christ still in action in our world? Is not this what discipleship truly means and reveals to others who God is too whether they see and accept it or not.

‘Lord Jesus, help us not to seek a God of the extraordinary but a God in the very ordinary experiences of daily life. Wherever there is love, surely you are there. Amen.’

(Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA. 8th September, 2009)

Friday, September 11, 2009


Infant Left Untreated Because of U.K. Health Rules

London, England, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA).- Doctors in England ignored a mother’s pleas for help and left her extremely premature baby to die because he was born two days before a hospital guidelines’ recommended cutoff age for providing medical treatment.

In October 2008 Sarah Capewell, 23, gave birth to her son just 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy, almost four months early.

She told the Daily Mail that doctors ignored her pleas to save Jayden, her newborn son. They said they were following national guidelines which say babies born before 22 weeks should not be given medical treatment.

Capewell said doctors refused even to see her son, who lived for almost two hours without any medical support. She reported that he was breathing unaided, had a strong heartbeat and was moving his arms and legs. However, medics refused to admit him to a special care unit.

They said they would have tried to save Jayden if he had been born two days later, at 22 weeks into pregnancy...

“I kept asking for the doctors but the midwife said, ‘They won't come and help, sweetie. Make the best of the time you have with him’,” Capewell told the Daily Mail.

She cuddled her son and took photos of him. He died in her arms less than two hours after his birth.

Ah, what a difference two days make. In this case, it spells the difference between life and death.

The doctors would rather follow "national guidelines" that spells it so. The guidelines probably determined that a baby below 22 weeks is not a human being and therefore not entitled to any medical care whatsoever, despite the pleadings of the mother. A life is at stake but they have to be rigid with the guidelines. Never mind if that "thing" was breathing, had a strong heartbeat, and was moving its arms and legs. No, it can't be human. It's two days short.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

House moves to fast-track debates on RH bill

House moves to fast-track debates on RH bill

MANILA, Philippines—The House of Representatives will hold plenary debates on the reproductive health bill in a bid to fast track discussions of the controversial measure lounging in the chamber for months now.

Speaker Prospero Nograles said he has instructed Majority Leader Arthur Defensor to “simplify the plenary debates” on House Bill 5043 or the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2009 “to avoid personal divisive emotional matters.”

Defensor said he would meet the opposing parties on Monday to agree on a timetable and procedures of the debates.

The bill is now in the period of interpellation on the floor...

According to Defensor, instead of having a long list of lawmakers interpellating the sponsor, only the panel members of each side would be allowed to speak on different topics of the bill.

And according to this same news item, there are about 50 (?) legislators who are anti-RH bill. Supposedly, if each one of them would be given the chance to interpellate one by one, then time will run out as Congress adjourns. Its persistent supporters will just have to reintroduce the bill in the next Congress, if they are so inclined. Meanwhile, would the anti-RH congressmen agree to a "simplified" plenary debate to "fast-track" discussions? No problem I guess, as long that all salient arguments are entertained and that each congressman is not denied the right to express positions for or against. Good luck.

At any rate it is quite amazing that so much legislative resources are devoted to the RH-bill, considering the doggedness and passion that its sponsor-legislators devote to it. If only all our legislators work just as hard in pushing "priority" bills that really matter. Recently, 16 such bills were signed into law by PGMA, and the
astonishing thing about it is that there are no (meaning nada, zilch) funds to back up these laws. With respect to this RH bill, an astute commenter notes that the cost of RH facilities alone to support this bill amounts to an astounding 24 billion pesos.


OBAMA: Now kids, listen up: stop the bickering and games

President Obama, speaking before joint Congress to push his pet health bill:

"Well, the time for bickering is over," he said. "The time for games has passed. " "Now is the season for action.".

Maybe he thought he was still talking to the schoolchildren.
Let's put it another way:

"C'mon kids, stop it. Stop all that noise and silly bickering. You there, sit down. And quit arguing among yourselves, you don't make any sense. I've had enough of these games, you hear that? Behave. I'm your teacher and messiah. Listen to me. ".

"Now move!"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Man arrested after running on court to kiss tennis star

NEW YORK (AP) — A man was arrested at the U.S. Open after running on the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium to kiss Rafael Nadal following his victory Tuesday night.

When Nadal completed his win over Frenchman Gael Monfils, the spectator ran out of the stands and approached the Spanish star on the sideline before security guards intervened...

"For me, it wasn't a problem. The guy was really nice," Nadal said.
"He said, 'I love you,' and he kissed me."

Escudero-Legarda camp: Aquino ‘not a threat’

MANILA, Philippines — The Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC) said Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was “not at all” a threat to its candidates.

[yabang neto ah]
New book focuses on pseudo-Catholic colleges and organizations

Hamden, Conn.- Dr. Anne Hendershott, a former faculty member at the University of San Diego has recently released her new book, Status Envy: the Politics of Higher Education, in which she explains that Catholic higher education is distancing itself from Catholic teaching in order to keep up with its secular counterparts.

[You mean to keep up in basketball. I know.]

It's about time

A land teeming with natural beauty,
where tierra, flora and fauna are richly abundant,
subjugated by the Spanish for over 300 years,
forcefully taken and occupied in turn by the Americans,
overrun by the Japanese,
finally claiming independence after being raped and pilloried for centuries,
establishing a government "run like hell",
languishing for 20 years under dictatorial rule,
languishing for the rest of the years as well,
facing the 21st century as a third-world country woefully crippled,
fate has been so unkind,
to the land of the morning,
the time must come...

And it's about time.

Here's the famous quote of Manuel L. Quezon way back in 1935:

“I prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos to a government run like heaven by Americans.”

MLQ3 points out that all too few recall the essential sentence that came next:

“Because, however bad a Filipino government might be, we can always change it.”

And that's pretty much the thing we have been trying to do ever since, with very little success.

Maybe the time has come indeed. Things and events have an uncanny way of falling into place.

Throughout the generations, we were trampled upon by a succession of colonizers.

Worse, we were trampled upon by our very own who make hell for their fellow Filipinos.

Sobra-sobra na talaga. Yes, maybe the time has come. As we used to say in college:

"Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?"

Sulong NoyPi !!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time –Year B – (6th September, 2009)

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time –Year B – (6th September, 2009)
(Isaiah 35.4-7: James 2.1-5: Mark 7.31-37)
by Jim Kirstein, SMA

One time I was watching a football match on television. With me were two friends, both of whom smoked about 50 cigarettes daily. Several times they had been warned to give up or at least reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked. But they just didn’t hear or want to hear this. Then the younger one aged about 50 got a slight heart attack. His doctor offered him a clear choice, to give up smoking or die within 6 months. That shocked him and he immediately did what he said he thought he could never have done. He stopped smoking. At that moment the doctor’s warning opened his ears to hear in a way he didn’t hear before. Sad to say my other friend didn’t want to hear the doctor’s advice and he died not too long afterwards of a massive heart attack. By the way this is not an anti-smoking campaign on my part!

In the gospel today Jesus meets a man who is deaf and also has an impediment in his speech. It is his friends who bring him to Jesus. We note the sensitivity and gentleness of Jesus. He takes the man apart in order to cure him. He deals with the man in a very personal and caring way. He doesn’t want to embarrass him. He didn’t treat him as if he were just another case, but rather as a unique individual. He shows him great respect.

But more than a physical healing Jesus allows him to go back into society freed to participate in all social and religious activities. At the time of Jesus deafness and the inability to speak were seen as punishments from God. In healing him Jesus gives him back his religious and social rights and so the man ceases to be marginalised.

Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. We need God to touch our ears in order to be able to hear his word and we need him to touch our tongues in order to be able to profess our faith. Do we pray for this? We must remember too that every time we listen to God’s Word at the Eucharist we open ourselves up to this possibility if we allow it to influence us. We also touch the Body of Christ and allow him to touch us in Holy Communion.

It goes without saying what wonderful gifts are those of speech and healing. It is good to reflect how well we use them. Today we know that many people are lonely and have a great need to be able to speak to someone. It maybe an elderly person, a child with a problem, or someone who needs a shoulder to lean on. How good are we at listening to others?

In the text neither the man nor his friends get a name suggesting that the man stands for all of us who need to have our ears opened by God to hear what keeps us enslaved and to free us from things that harm us. A community open to and really hearing the word of God must show solidarity with those who suffer physically and socially.

In the gospel text we see too that Jesus has crossed the borders from the land of the Jews into what was known as pagan territory e.g. Tyre and the Decapolis . He did this to bring the Good News to non-Jews, saying that God wishes to heal and care for all peoples irrespective of religious or other labels. Maybe it is an invitation to us to cross the borders to those who do not belong to us socially or religiously, like refugees from other lands or people from other religions.

The word ‘Ephphatha’ means ‘be opened’ and recalls the sacrament of baptism. It is a beautiful and simple part of the baptism liturgy when the priest touches the ears and mouth of the newly baptized and prays that soon that the word of God will be heard and proclaimed.

So how do we hear? Have we really heard his message yet? For example, the Second Reading from James speaks about the way we treat different people in our society. Do we show more respect and honour to those well off, the educated, the rich compared to how we treat the poor, immigrants? Are we totally free of discrimination in the areas of race, religion, sex, class, occupation etc? Our attitudes to these questions will show how much we really have heard the Word of God.

A certain man belonging to the nobility or upper classes decided to become a Catholic. His mother who was a devout Anglican herself had no problem with his becoming a Catholic as such but what bothered her was the idea that he would now have to worship on the same level, in the same seats as their servants who came from the lower classes. Class distinction leads to double standards and should have no place among Christians. Christians need to challenge these false standards, and not allow themselves to be lured into conforming to them.

Although Jesus tried to restrain the man in today’s gospel from proclaiming everywhere he went what had happened, he didn’t succeed. All who heard it were full of admiration and they said of Jesus: "He has done all things well." Wouldn’t be great if that could be said of us? At least, we hope we are getting closer to this behaviour in our daily lives.

If we are really excited about the Good News of Jesus Christ and about having the Christian vision of life, then we would want to do exactly the same, above all by our way of living. Most of you do this when bringing up your children in the faith and teaching them to live by Christian values by trying to live as true followers of Jesus. Do we need to be more conscious of our vocation as Christians?

"Lord Jesus, open our ears to hear and respond to your Word and to witness to it especially in our behaviour and attitudes. Amen".

(Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA. 1st September, 2009)


Japan first lady’s quirky personality

Says she met Tom Cruise in previous life

TOKYO — Japan’s next prime minister might be nicknamed "the alien," but it’s his soon-to-be first lady who claims to have had a close encounter with another world.

Miyuki Hatoyama, a former actress and wife of Yukio Hatoyama—who will likely be sworn in as Japan’s prime minister on Sept. 16—promises to become one of Japan’s most colorful first ladies ever.

She says Tom Cruise was really a Japanese and they have met in a previous life. She claims her soul has traveled to Venus on a UFO.

[Oh yeah. I heard his previous name was Tomiyuki Cruisama.]

Palace tells Singson to behave

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) Malacañang advised Deputy National Security Adviser Luis "Chavit'' Singson on Friday to conduct himself well in the face of accusations he recently beat up his live-in partner.

"We advise Undersecretary Singson to behave accordingly as an upright citizen and to submit himself to due process of law,'' Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said at a news briefing.

[A high government official beats his common-law wife black and blue, and Malacañang advises him to "behave". It's like he was caught dipping his hands in the cookie jar. I wonder what Malacañang does if her pet government officials really, I mean really, "misbehave".
I suppose they will to be made to stand in the corner.]

Arroyo use prayer to deal with low ratings

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo turns to prayer if she feels down over her consistently low approval ratings.

"If it does, she has not shown it,'' Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Friday when asked if the low approval and trust ratings bothered the President.

And thanks to her "strong faith'' and a prayerful life, Arroyo has managed to deal with this, and focus on her job, Remonde told reporters at a Malacañang news briefing.

"She finds strength and solace in her very strong faith as a person. As we all know, the President is a very prayerful person. She attends Mass and makes confession every day,'' he said.


Pacquiao aiming to conquer political ring

MANILA - Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao declared Friday he was determined to run for Congress next year despite a previous election defeat and a looming bout with three-time world champion Miguel Cotto.

Pacquiao, popularly known as "Pacman", told reporters he had enough time to train for his fight against Cotto in November and then campaign for a seat in the lower house, with national elections slated for May next year.

"It (my election campaign) will still push through. Nothing has changed," said Pacquiao, who has set up his own party, the People's Champ Movement.

[Then there was this previous interview on Pacquiao's political plans.]

REPORTER: Manny, pag ne-elect ka sa Congress, anong BILL ang ipo-propose mo?
MANNY: BILL? Anung BILL? Yung tomotonog tuwing tapos ng rawnd nang bukseng?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A written explanation for tardiness

A production floor employee sent in this written apology to his supervisor who demanded a written explanation for his tardiness (unedited, below). Reading the explanation, I found it hard not to sympathize with the person. I also found it hard suppressing a few laughs.

"I am verry sorry for my tardiness. it was a honest mistake on my part but not intentioned to done.

Due to the verry bad weather condition, day after the noted late "tardies" on August 5, 2009, it became hard for me to get a ride back home. And some part of my way home are verry traffic and same are high tide so that I got home late. Anyway, my calltime a day after noted late is 1200nn to 945pm. I got home around 1200mn but its not all reason why I got late, its because my alarm clock wasn't rang so that I got late to wakeup but still I move fast and get my things. Without taking a bat I still go to work thinking of my commitment to [our company] my first and last job...

Thank you very much for your kind consideration and understanding."

Thank you too for making my day.

Please Do These Three Things

Please Do These Three Things
by Ron White

I am extremely leery of any quick-fix solution or overnight formula for success. In my opinion, they don't exist. With that said, the following formula is one that I have shared with members of my family to encourage them to break through the rut they are in and experience success. Therefore, if I would share it with my family, I must believe in the principles. I suggested that they begin to regularly do these three things:

1. Surround themselves with positive people who believe that this life is not all there is. Personally, I find this at my local church. This e-mail goes out to thousands of people all over the world. I know we don't share the same faith in all cases. This message is not about my faith; it is about you finding a group of people who regularly meet together and have a belief that there is more to life than what we see. This is the first step to a positive outlook on life.

2. You must exercise weekly in order to stimulate endorphins and maintain an energetic life. The exercise of walking to the kitchen or curling 12 ounces does not count as exercise. I run a mile twice a week, and two to three days a week do strength training. This is nothing difficult, but it makes a major difference in my attitude.

3. You MUST educate yourself through reading. The average CEO in America reads four to five books per month. The average American reads one book per year, and 60 percent of us don't get past the first chapter! Make a promise to yourself to read at least one book per month. Read anything!

Regardless, of what you read… develop a passion for reading and learning, and you will see your attitude and outlook on life begin to change. Any person who faithfully invests their time in these three areas may not break world records in levels of success. However, everything in me believes that they would see dramatic improvements. I believe in those three things so much, I encouraged my family to invest their time in these areas.

—Ron White

Reproduced with permission from the Ron White Ezine.
To subscribe to Ron White's Ezine, go to
Copyright 2009 All rights reserved worldwide.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


GMA signs 16 new laws - while traveling abroad

MANILA, Philippines - President Arroyo signed 16 Congress-approved bills into law while in the air, literally, flying home from her latest visit to the United States early last month.
The trouble with the laws she signed is that they do not affect large numbers of Filipinos. They are what congressmen call local bills. They actually serve the authors’ political purposes.

One of the 16 laws, Republic Act 9683 declares Sept. 18 of every year a special non-working holiday in the city of Bislig, Surigao del Sur.

Another, Republic Act 9684, renames the Tumana Bridge in Marikina City as Gil Fernando Bridge.

The third, Republic Act 9685, renames the New Washington Road in Aklan as Jaime Cardinal Sin Avenue.

The fourth names a portion of a road in Camarines Sur as Gov. Felix Alfelor Sr. National Highway.

Eleven of the laws seek to establish new or split existing engineering districts in Ifugao, Sorsogon, Cagayan de Oro City, Sultan Kudarat, Misamis Occidental, Albay, Cebu, Zamboanga Sibugay, Malabon and Navotas, Nueva Vizcaya, and Tarlac.

Funds are required for the establishment or splitting of these engineering districts. Thus, the titles of the laws include the phrase, “and appropriating funds therefore.”
Interviewed by The STAR last Wednesday, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said there are no funds in the proposed P1.5-trillion 2010 budget for these laws.

“It is Congress that will appropriate the necessary funds. But if they provide funds, they have to take away money from agencies since they cannot increase the President’s budget proposal,” he said.

Most likely, Andaya said the new statutes requiring appropriations would be added to the innumerable list of “unfunded laws.”

“It will require hundreds of billions of pesos to fund these laws, which we cannot afford to do,” he added.

Let's see. Hours upon hours of legislative time and resources, millions upon millions of taxpayers money, deliberating, discussing, and enacting 16 inutile and worthless bills. No wonder the Philippines is in such a rut.

Tama na!!

Bangon NoyPi !!!