Friday, October 30, 2009

UN committee to RP: Pass reproductive health bill !!!!!

UN committee to RP: Pass reproductive health bill !!!!!

MANILA, Philippines – Voicing “serious” concern over inadequate reproductive health services and information, low rate of contraceptive use and difficulties in access to artificial methods that contribute to teen pregnancies and high maternal death, a United Nations panel urged the government to pass the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. The UN panel likewise urged the Philippines to ignore the meddling of the Catholic Church in state affairs. The UN panel of course, can always meddle.

A report released this October containing the concluding observations on the Philippines of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the government should “adopt as a matter or urgency the Reproductive Health bill awaiting approval by Congress and ensure that the bill reflect the rights of children and adolescents as enshrined in the Convention [Convention on the Rights of the Child].”. The report added that "the right of the unborn from the moment of conception, as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, does not need to be discussed.". This is because the UN Committee is still clueless whether a child grows out of a fertilized egg at conception.

“The UN Committee remains seriously concerned at the inadequate reproductive health services and information, the low rates of contraceptive use [36 percent of women relied on modern family planning methods in 2006] and the difficulties in obtaining access to artificial methods of contraception, which contribute to the high rates of teenage pregnancies and maternal deaths,”. The report also urged the government to strengthen formal and informal sex education for girls and boys with focus on the prevention of early pregnancies. The UN Committee cited the success story in Britain (read it here), where sex education is mandatory for kids starting at age five, while contraceptives are absolutely free and readily accessible, yet teenage pregnancies and abortions continue to increase. Oops...wrong example, the red-faced UN spokesperson quickly added. What the UN Committee further emphasizes is "strengthening of HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns". Take for example the success story in Thailand (read it here), which embarked on an aggressive promotion of free condoms, yet HIV cases rises by cumulative figures each year. Oops...wrong again...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Building a church

Tucked somewhere among the remote hills of Antipolo is this modest church which serves as a venue for an ongoing CFC Christian Life Program where I was invited to deliver a talk yesterday. It is located in the Lower Antipolo area where the last stretch leads one through bumpy, rough roads. Having been accustomed to well-appointed churches and formation centers in the city, I was quite awestruck by the bare simplicity of this church and its verdant surroundings. The building is quite unfinished, unpainted and unfurnished. The lower floor serves as the main church-cum-formation center, while the upper floor serves as the priests' modest quarters. The parishioners are mostly from the nearby relocation settlement areas, composed of former squatters who were forcibly relocated from the city. CFC has established GK communities in the area, started around 6 years ago. I heard that more displaced settlers have been recently hauled into the site by the government, poor victims of the recent Ondoy storm devastation. These are people that need the most pastoral care.

I did not get to talk with the parish priest although an incoming assistant priest dropped by and we had the chance for a little chat. It appears they are missionary priests from the Augustinian order, and I guess they chose the right assignment. God bless them. They may have bare facilities, but they certainly know how to build the church.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The economic formulae for solving environment problems

Environmental woes blamed on RP’s huge population

MANILA, Philippines — An economist from the University of the Philippines has tagged the country’s robustly growing population as one of the factors that worsen environment-related problems.
Ernesto Pernia, former chief economist for the Philippines at the Asian Development Bank, said the environment problems that recently led to hundreds of casualties would not have been as worse had the country’s population been contained. “Nobody has mentioned the population issue as one of the factors contributing to the country’s environmental problems...
Pernia said that with the country’s population already nearing 100 million, a zero population growth rate would be ideal.
[Per capita income is the total income of the economy, usually measured in terms of gross domestic product [GDP], divided by the country’s population].
The fact that population growth was already faster than the GDP growth meant that per capital growth had already been declining, Pernia said...

What a neat economic lesson from a chief economist from UP (wow!) .

PROBLEM: Environment problems = growing population


STEP 1 - Population growth x zero = Lower divisor for GDP,

STEP 2 - Lower divisor for GDP = Increase in per capita income !

STEP 3 - Increase in per capita income = Less environmental problems,

STEP 4 - Less environmental problems = Less people,

STEP 5 - Less people = Less casualties !!!

Absolutely brilliant !!! Who wuda thunk it? According to Pernia, "Nobody has mentioned the population issue..." (oh, but the incorrigible Rep. Lagman did), and we have to be extremely grateful for such an elegant, no-brainer, economic solution.

But wait --- there's another step.
STEP 6 - Less people = Less economists = Less problems !!!

Friday, October 23, 2009


All I know about it is that it seems like an ecclesiastical structure for flexible dioceses with no geographical boundaries. It is supposed to be called Personal Ordinariates, Personal Ordinates, Personal Ordinarinates,... whatever. Patrick of CMR says he simply cannot say this term three times in a row with a blood alcohol level of .04 or above. On the other hand I simply cannot say it three times in a row without suffering a nosebleed. At any rate, I had to understand what it really means after the Vatican announced that "the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church...".

It's a good thing I had my friend Doctor G. to supply some enlightening information. Here goes.
Apostolic Constitution

First of all, the announcement speaks of the promulgation of an "Apostolic constitution." An Apostolic Consitution is the highest level of decree issued by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It will be a formal charter establishing the canonical terms and conditions upon which the "personal ordinariates" which it creates are to come into being and to continue to exist within the Roman Catholic Church. Now as to the personal ordinariates: they are an amalgam of two already existing structures in the canon law of the Church: personal prelatures and military ordinariates.

Personal prelatures and Military Ordinates

A Personal prelature is an institutional structure of the Roman Catholic Church which comprises a prelate, clergy and possibly laity who undertake specific pastoral activities. Personal prelatures, similar to dioceses and military ordinariates, are under the governance of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. These three types of ecclesiastical structures are composed of lay people served by their own secular clergy and prelate. Unlike dioceses which cover territories, personal prelatures - like military ordinariates - take charge of persons as regards some objectives regardless of where they live. Opus Dei is an example of a personal prelature (and the only one to date), established by Pope John Paul II in November 28, 1982 thru the apostolic constitution Ut Sit. On the other hand, an example of a military ordinariate is the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines or MOP. It has jurisdiction over all military, police and coast guard personnel, their dependents, and the civilian employees of all branches of the armed forces.

Canon Law

Personal prelatures were made a feature of the 1983 Code of Canon Law after they were established by Pope Paul VI following a recommendation by the Second Vatican Council. Canons
294-297 deals with this feature. Here is Cann 294 to wit:

Can. 294 After the conferences of bishops involved have been heard, the
Apostolic See can erect personal prelatures, which consist of presbyters and
deacons of the secular clergy, to promote a suitable distribution of presbyters
or to accomplish particular pastoral or missionary works for various regions
or for different social groups…

So there.
Again we welcome our Anglican brethren to Rome Sweet Rome.
And again from Patrick, here’s the refrain from the ditty ‘Romeward Bound’,
with his apologies to Simon and Garfunkel and Anglicans everywhere.

Romeward bound,
I wish I was,
Romeward bound,
Rome - where TAC's escaping,
Rome - where fear's allaying,
Rome - where my Lord lies waiting,
Patiently for me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Adorn?? Excuse me

Atheist ads to adorn New York subway stations

A coalition of eight atheist organizations purchased a month-long advertisement campaign that will place their posters in a dozen busy subway stations throughout Manhattan.

The advertisements ask the question, written simply over an image of a blue sky with wispy white clouds:

"A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?"

Silly question. I take the question to mean: Would you be rather be good without God, or good with God? If that advertisement had any sense in its snarky intent, then why do these atheists need to mention the word "God" in relation to being "good"? I was under the impression that these atheists laid superior claim to reason. A saner and more consistent statement for them would be - "A million New Yorkers are good, period. Are you?". But then, good at what? Posting advertisements that make sense? Nahh, I can't buy that and neither can the rest of the eight million New Yorkers.

The atheists further said they were not "forcing issues, they're just getting ideas out there,". Hmm, by spending $25,000 just to get the ideas out there? Man, there's still an economic crisis out there! Haven't these good atheists considered that the good thing to do at this time is to spend all that money to lend aid for the severely afflicted people in New York?

Now they go on to say that their ads are "not poking fun at religion and not being outright nasty".

Aw c'mon. A more credible statement would be - "our ads are poking fun at ourselves and we're just being outright crazy".

Welcome home Anglicans!

If you build it, they will come...

The Holy See took the ecumenical imperative to new heights with the result that the reunion of Christians --at least in one limited area of schism -- ensued. From the
Vatican website:
With the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion. In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy...

According to Levada: "It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith."...
Meanwhile, an early response from the Anglicans.

Today’s announcement of the Apostolic Constitution is a response by Pope Benedict XVI to a number of requests over the past few years to the Holy See from groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and are willing to declare that they share a common Catholic faith and accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church....

The announcement of this Apostolic Constitution brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution...

This is a great, great reason for Roman Catholics and their Anglo-Catholic friends to rejoice over.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Now na

Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective
-Valdimir Nabokov
Police to step up security in other malls

Food, evacuations readied for typhoon

Evacuation teams ready for 'Ramil'

Prepare evacuation plan, local execs told

Miriam pushes for National Flood Management Commission

All of which is just fine, except that all these should have been done eons ago.
Why do I get this feeling that most of our tragedies are inevitable outcomes of 'accidents waiting to happen'? The nation is already deeply suffering, but all the more, our future generations will feel the greater brunt of past neglect and complacency.The meaning of the word 'proactive' sorely needs to seep into our nation's consciousness.

As in now and pronto, please.

Friday, October 16, 2009

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time –Year B

- Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA
Mission Sunday

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time –Year B – (18th October, 2009)
(Isaiah 53.10 -11:Hebrews 4.14-16:Mark 10.35-45)

Once when I was working in Nigeria in one of the newspapers there appeared an advertisement which read ‘Advertisers for Jesus Christ wanted’. I was sorry Iater that I had not replied to find out what qualities they were looking for. Normally when we see advertisements in the newspaper, on radio or television it’s about some product or event etc. But surely advertisers of Jesus Christ are not just advertising a product but the most important Person who ever who lived. Besides don’t we expect an advertiser or a disciple of Jesus to actually live according to the values of Jesus? As St.Augustine once said ‘I would rather see a sermon lived than preached’. So it is more important to advertise Jesus by our lifestyle and not just by claiming to be a follower of his.

Jesus is the greatest missionary of all time. He came to witness to the Father, a God of total love, compassion, gentleness and forgiveness. Sadly many Christian Churches including the Catholic Church at times have not advertised or witnessed to the God Jesus came to witness to.

The Church is missionary by its very nature and so we are all called to witness to Jesus and to the Holy Trinity by our way of living. For some their calling is to be fulltime or ‘professional missionaries’ – those who leave their own countries and witness to Jesus wherever they minister especially in places where Jesus had previously not been heard of. Those like members of my own Society of African Missions work in many African countries and elsewhere. In times of civil conflicts just as in the more recent ones in Liberia and Ivory Coast they stayed there in loving service ministering to the needs of these unfortunate people. They are trying in very difficult situations to put into practice the call of Jesus to loving service. But we are all called to be missionaries by our very baptism calling? So whether we are priests, religious, married people or single, each one of us is called to be missionary wherever we live.

Today in Ireland we celebrate Mission Sunday whose theme this year is REACH OUT. So let’s do just that. We can reach out wherever we are to whomever we wish and the wonder is that by reaching out we come to see that no one is out of reach!

The late and great Archbishop Helder Camara of Recife in Brazil and champion of the poor and marginalized once described Mission as a refusal to be locked into the problems of the little world in which we exist. To quote him: ‘Mission is always looking outwards, reaching out beyond ourselves, our home, our community, our parish, our diocese, and our nation. Mission is opening oneself to others as brothers and sisters, discovering and encountering them, sharing their joys and sufferings. It is to discover and reach out to them’.

The situation in the gospel today is similar to this. Jesus had just been speaking about his coming suffering and terrible death in Jerusalem in the passage just prior to this. Yet two of his closest disciples are only focused on themselves and want the best places in his kingdom. They are not concerned about Jesus or others but only about their own interests. Reaching out to others is not their priority. The other ten apostles become angry with them when they heard about this, most probably because the 2 got their request in first.

Here and throughout his gospel, one of the aims of Mark’s is to show us the disciples in their very human condition. He paints a very realistic picture of them, showing their petty ambitions, their frequent misunderstanding of who Jesus was and what he was about. Eventually they would all abandon him. Mark shows these disciples, warts and all. And he was right. The twelve were not a company of saints, they were very ordinary men, people like you and me. Yet these were the very men Jesus chose as his missionaries. It was only after the resurrection that they came to realize who Jesus really was as the Messiah and what he came to do. This surely is very consoling for us who try to follow Jesus. Often we fail to live up to our Christian calling. Three years with Jesus didn’t change them much before his resurrection.

The other more marvellous reality was that Jesus did not give up on these disciples despite his frustrations and efforts to educate them about what he was about. Neither will Jesus give up on us. No matter how often we fail, he will stand by us. We need to remember that it is a lifetime’s work and it takes a long period to have Jesus transform us to be true disciples.

When the 2 disciples and then the other 10 air their ambitions, Jesus in one of the most important statements in Mark’s gospel today says that the Son of Man had not come to serve but to be served and to give his life as a ransom for many. He is teaching his disciples and each of us what the essence of Christianity is about – loving, humble service of others. Here Jesus is shifting the centre of gravity in religion and redefines the way that leads to God.

I am sure that you here today are trying to do that daily – nurses, doctors, parents with families and ageing parents, schoolteachers etc. Rarely will there be fanfares for your work but God certainly sees and appreciates your daily efforts.

“Lord Jesus, may we always ask for the gift of humble, loving service of others. In that way we will have the peace and joy you wish to give us now. Amen”.

(Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA. 20th October, 2009)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Odds and Ends - 10/12

6 cops hurt in hostage-taking drill

MANILA, Philippines -- Six cops were slightly hurt when an accident marred a hostage-taking drill of the Manila Police District (MPD) late Monday afternoon...

As part of the scenario, a team of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) was supposed to conduct an assault on a group of hostage takers holed up inside the building. He explained that the SWAT team set off a flash bomb to start the assault but unfortunately, the explosive was blasted inside the building which had all its windows shut...

...but the MPD director, Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, maintained that nobody was hurt in the mishap...

“The windows of the building should have been left open to lessen the impact and the flash bomb should not have been set off inside the building,” Magtibay remarked.
[First, it is good to know that nobody was really hurt, according to Supt. Magtibay. Well, just maybe a little red-faced. Hahaha.]
Don't pocket relief funds, officials told

MANILA, Philippines - Rep. Satur Ocampo of the party-list group Bayan Muna appealed to corrupt officials and politicians involved in relief and rehabilitation efforts not to pocket funds intended for typhoon victims.
[Siyenga naman. To all the corrupt officials and politicians, at least sit out the rehab efforts before you resume your corrupt ways. *sigh*]
‘Across-the-board’ passing mark urged for typhoon-hit students

MANILA, Philippines – An "across-the-board" passing grade for all students affected by recent typhoons has been proposed by a senator on Monday.

Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero said this should be given to affected students in elementary, high school, and college levels since their schools were no longer "usable" and they could no longer catch up with their lessons.
[Fair enough for the students. But what grade to we give to the government officials responsible for their calamitous acts of negligence and corruption that fed this tragedy? How about an "across-the-board" failing grade to the entire government?]

Monday, October 12, 2009

Now I lay me down to... zzzzz

A Catholic Answers Forum poster asks:

Is it a sin to fall asleep during prayer?

Here are some of the responses:

...It's also a pious tradition that if you fall asleep while saying the Rosary your Guardian Angel finishes it for you. I'd imagine they do so with other prayers as well.

So I doubt it's a real problem. On the other hand, it's preferable to remain conscious while you're praying, if you can. If you know that praying in bed = falling asleep, for example, sit up in a chair or kneel at your bedside instead.
No, not at all!! Jesus says himself: "Come to me you who are weary and heavy-laden and I shall give you rest." ;-)
Is there a better way to fall asleep than with a prayer on your lips?
Not saying it's a sin, but not ideal either, if your main prayer time every day ends up with you falling asleep.
If your child fell asleep in your arms while she was telling you about the joys an anxieties of her day would you take it as an affront? If the analogy holds that God is our heavenly father, then falling asleep while in prayer cannot be sinful. It sound like you keep busy and are tired at the end of day and find peace in prayer. Good for you.
St. Jerome said that we should read the Bible until our head nods and touches the pages... Also didn't a young man fall asleep and fall out of a window while St. Paul was preaching? They [also the apostles] fell asleep in the garden with Jesus right in front of them...
And here is my response:

"Is it a sin to fall asleep during prayer?"

Yes, but only if you're driving a car...otherwise, it might be a good thing too, as you can't commit sin while sleeping ;-)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

To lack in one thing is to lack everything

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time –Year B
October 11, 2009
(Wisdom 7.7-11:Hebrews 4.12-13:Mark 10.17-30 )

"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?...
… all of these [commandments] I have observed from my youth."

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,

"You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."

At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions...

This Sunday's Gospel takes on more significance as we commiserate with our compatriots who lost all their possessions in the recent massive floods. Investments that took a lifetime to build were lost in just a fleeting, ill-fated moment. For the very rich who can easily replace their possessions, the burden of sadness is almost nil. For the ordinary worker who labored everyday to invest in modest material possessions, the burden of despair may be very difficult to bear.

One cannot be faulted for longing for and building up material possessions through honest hard work. In the Old Testament, it was acceptable to possess riches as long as one shares it with the community, especially the poor. In the New Testament, Jesus simply commands: Love God above all, and love your neighbor as yourself. It is not forbidden to attain material goods, what is forbidden is to prioritize material goods above God and neighbor. The well-intentioned questioner in today’s gospel misses this point. He may be sincere, but he must realize the grave danger of a wrong attitude towards possessions.

Indeed as Jesus says in Mat 6: 20-21:"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.".

Material goods will come and go, but in the end it will be just our bare selves before God. When the wheat is separated from the tares, no amount of prior material possessions or lack thereof will matter.

This reminds me of the Christian who used to tease his Taoist friend about their funeral customs. In playful banter, he asked the Taoist: "When do you think your dead will rise up and eat all those food you offer?" The Taoist gamely replied: "At about the same time when your dead rises up to smell your flowers.".

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Honesty is such a lonely word

Pope: RP needs ‘honest’ political leaders

MANILA, Oct. 7, 2009— Pope Benedict XVI said the Philippines’ continuing struggle from poverty signals the imperative need for upright political leaders.

Speaking to new Philippines Ambassador to the Vatican Mercedes Arrasitia Tuason, the pope urged public officials to rediscover the real ethical foundation of their political authority.

“The struggle against poverty in the Philippines calls for honesty, integrity and an unwavering fidelity to the principles of justice, especially on the part of those entrusted with positions of governance and public administration,” Benedict XVI said...

Honesty, integrity and an unwavering fidelity to the principles of justice. Got it.
The Pope calls for those qualities in our political leaders and I cannot agree more.
Note that he didn't mention the need for a Law degree, a Masters degree, PHD, a Harvard education, or an IQ of 130++. Our sad history shows we've had an overdose of these lofty qualities in our political leadership while we've had an underdose of honesty, and look where we are now: flooded with poverty. Likewise, American businessmen cannot agree more. Their biggest concern is... you guessed it right: corruption.

Meanwhile, the four prominent presidentiables figured out in a presidential forum lately.
The four laid bare their ideas on pork barrel, the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), Charter change, peace in Mindanao and other issues concerning local autonomy. All four of them delivered intelligent responses, but then again - who among them is being honest? Remember, ALL political leaders in the past looked very good while delivering their political promises. Planning is one thing, acting honestly on it is another.

Speaking of plans, urban-planning expert Felino Palafox Jr. says there is this Metroplan - or the Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Planning Project. This was conceived more than 40 years ago to prevent -- what else but destructive flooding. It seems that National government agencies have been shall we say, less than honest, in approving subdivision plans that conform to land use criteria. And to think that there are about 32 (!) signatures to obtain just to have a development project approved! Read it here.

So it appears we blame "acts of God" too much.

On a different note, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman still sings the same boring tune.
He said that aside from climate change, uncontrolled population growth is equally to blame for last week’s floods in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

Yeah, right. Blame uncontrolled population growth for ALL of our problems: lack of education, healthcare, corruption, trade deficits, heavy debt servicing, unemployment, inflation, global crisis, typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and yes - massive floods.

Maybe Lagman is right after all, as there really is an uncontrolled population growth... of dishonest politicians.

As Billy Joel used to sing: Honesty, is such a lonely word...and mostly what I need from you

Monday, October 5, 2009

On catastrophic floods and the Good Samaritan

...Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

That is the last verse in todays Gospel of the Good Samaritan.

Much exegesis has been done on this parable, but it still bears emphasizing - especially at these unfortunate times - that the good Samaritan took the extra mile after he had already helped the victim.


" The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ "

We have heard of the heroics and selfless sacrifice that many good-hearted people have extended to the victims of the recent catastrophic flood. This post does not intend in any way to downplay those acts of charity. These good-hearted people can only be the same people who can see beyond momentary relief. Long after relief goods have been given to these poor victims, there will still be the next day, and the next, and the next.

Will there be adequate food, clothing and shelter - long after the floodwaters have receded?

Will the next catastrophic flood be averted?

Will our poor countrymen remain living dangerously?

On hindsight, the robbers' victim in the parable may have escaped harm if adequate law enforcement on the road to Jericho were in place.
On the same note, people devastated in NCR may have escaped harm if the environment were respected and immaterialistic urban planning were in place.

Sure, good-hearted people will always be there to lend a helping hand when disaster strikes, but we have to remember that our tropical country is prone to more than twenty (!) typhoons each year. With this in mind, it appears that the good Samaritans might be waging a losing battle against the more plentiful and powerful robbers, false priests and levites. If those three questions are not answered and acted upon, our poor people will always be stripped, beaten, and left half-dead - like the robbers' victim on the road to Jericho.

It is a time for conversion.

It is a time to “Go and do likewise.”

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Peace amidst the storm

First of all, we give praises and thanks to the Lord for steering super-typhoon "Peping" away from the still grief-stricken Metro Manila.
The German Jesuit Alfred Delp, who was executed by the Nazis, once wrote:

"Bread is important, freedom is more important, but more important of all is unbroken fidelity and faithful adoration".

here was this story of a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace.

Many artists tried.
The king looked at all the pictures.
But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.

Which picture won the prize?

The king chose the second picture.


“Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all these things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”

Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amidst the storm.

...When the oceans rise and thunders roar

I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Living dangerously

Year, after year, after year.

RP to evacuate by force those in storm's path
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine police said Thursday they will forcibly evacuate residents refusing to leave their homes in the direct path of an approaching strong typhoon.

The order for a "pre-emptive evacuation" was handed down by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro "in line with our zero casualty target", said national police spokesman Leopoldo Bataoil....

"We will first appeal on them to leave but if we see that they are in immediate danger, we will forcibly carry them to evacuation centers," he said.
I caught the explanation of Secretary Teodoro on TV Patrol earlier tonight. He said the government will pre-emptively evacuate families especially the children to avoid further casualties. The adults who won't cooperate and elect to remain in vulnerable areas will be warned that the government could not guarantee succor when the storm comes, because of the extreme difficulty of conducting rescue operations that than cope with the expected super typhoon.

The move of Sec. Teodoro is definitely reasonable enough and deserves to be pursued in the interest of preventing another round of massive loss of lives.

At first glance one would easily deride the crazy stubbornness of people who refuse "pre-emptive evacuation", until you realize that these people choose to gamble their very lives to protect properties that took lifetimes to build. The term "washed-out" takes a new meaning these days, and it not only refers to the material aspect. Most of these people live near creeks, waterways and riverbanks that pose a clear and present danger to life and property every time typhoon comes, yet choices are severely limited for the very poor. Extremely dangerous, yes, but the daily lives of the poor are already precariously dangerous - with or without typhoons. There is always the daily epic struggle with hunger, sickness, neglect, and acts of nature. Among these, the acts of nature maybe the least feared by these poor people. One would hope that these poor people should be "forcibly carried" from grinding poverty to a life of basic decency, because they are living dangerously - year, after year, after year.