Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aquino's SONA

I didn't get the chance to catch it live, but the transcript of President Noynoy Aquino's 1st State of the Nation address is posted online here.

As expected, there were varied reactions. Some legislators pledged support. Some, like the militants, noted here that 'there was no mention of any concrete plans or policies to address the issue of human rights.". Forces loyal to the previous administration commented that "much of it was spent blaming the previous administration for the many problems, but...the figures that were mentioned were misleading”. They were actually preparing for a "counter-SONA" to refute Aquino.

At any rate it would be premature to judge the new administration's concrete plans on the basis of this SONA alone, and it is quite understandable that it is couched in general terms at this point. President Noynoy has been in the hot seat for only three weeks, and detailed action plans should take more time in the making. As far as the nitty-gritty is concerned, one should feel especially interested in the fiscal policy details. Aquino's SONA has hinted at a policy of "public-private partnerships" to deliver social services, which a solon found "dangerous". The president also talked about pushing a "Fiscal Responsibility Bill", which would require legislators to identify funding sources for bills. It has been noted that P104.1 billion is still needed for the many laws have already passed but whose implementation remains pending because of "lack of funds". Hmm, what's the point in expending legislative resources cranking out all those laws if there is no money to implement them.

The brief situationer is that Aquino's government has inherited a budget deficit of P325 billion for 2010, while the debt stock has already ballooned to P4.4 trillion. On this note I remember Noynoy's campaign promise not to impose new taxes while seeking to improve the delivery of social services. Already, DOH Secretary Ona has asked for an additional P9 billion to increase the reach of basic PhilHealth services for the poor. The other departments are expected to follow suit, noting urgent requirements. It is going to be a agonizing tightrope of belt-tightening, running after revenue, strictly prioritizing and controlling expenses while targeting the biggest bang in the bucket for every peso spent. Tough, very tough. It beats me why so many people are so eager to become president...

Meanwhile, congressman Lagman has re-filed the RH bill on the very, very first day of Congress. The bill seeks to appropriate gazillions of taxpayers money so that the government can buy and distribute the full range of contraceptives for free.



Sunday, July 25, 2010

Keep on knocking

"When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it - but all that has gone before."
- Jacob Riis
I just arrived late last night after a work-related, 3-day industry convention at the northern mountain city of Baguio. It was a very draining yet thankfully productive exercise. At one point in the workshop, our committee comprised of five were tasked to draw up IT strategic directions for the year, which we had to present to the plenary the next morning. Our group was basically discussing and intensely arguing on for about three hours during the night but we could not finalize anything. It was very frustrating and I was tempted to move for an adjournment. However, in the next 30 minutes our ideas suddenly jibed together and we were finally able to get a consensus on our presentation. Looking back, I knew it was not exactly the last 30 minutes that led to our results, but the previous 3 hours of continuous discussions that went before.

This Sunday's Gospel (Lk 11:1-13) teaches us the value of persistence when we lift up our petitions to God. Indeed we should keep knocking until the door is opened, yet the reality is we really need countless doors to be opened. We can never live meaningfully without continuously knocking because without Him, we can really do nothing. That is why St. Paul teaches us to pray unceasingly. We must never feel frustrated. He asks us to pray day and night, in joy and in sorrow, at work and at play, without intermissions or adjournments.

Here is an excerpt from Henri Nouwen's "Living a prayerful life", which relates beautifully why we need to maintain a constant, "fearless" conversation with God.

To pray unceasingly, as St.Paul asks us to do, would be completely impossible if it meant to think constantly about God...To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God...

Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts -- beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful -- can be thought of in the presence of God.Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves as from a self-centered monologue into a God-centered dialogue...

So the next time I participate in a convention, I must remind myself that it is not "work-related". Instead, I've realized that when we consider everything we do as "God-related", every moment in our lives takes on a profound significance. It should make no difference whether it is 1 minute, 30 minutes, 3 hours, or even a lifetime. It just feels good to keep on knocking, because every knock counts.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What was Martha preparing?

An old fisherman took a young man as a passenger in is boat. On one of the oars was written the word PRAY. On the other oar the word WORK. The young man said mockingly:

"You're out of date, uncle. What does anyone need with prayer, if he works?".

The old man said noth
ing, but he let go of the oar on which "pray" was written, and rowed with the other. He rowed and rowed, but they only turned round and round, and made no progress.

The young man understood.
Lk 10:38-42 (at the home of Mary and Martha)

I understand that this story that occurred in Martha and Mary's home has sparked numerous discussions for proper interpretation since time immemorial. Spiritual or temporal? Which weighs more? Under what circumstances? It is worth noting that the story itself revolved around an argument when Martha complained to Jesus: "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself t
o do the serving?". Much has been said about proper priorities although I noticed that an interesting matter has been left out in all the discussions. What could Martha have been preparing in the house so much so that the texts say that she was "burdened with much serving"?

The common staple in those biblical times was bread, fish, lamb/goat's meat,and fruits. Meat would have required time-consuming tenderizing, so my bet goes with the bread and fish. Fish would be quick enough to broil or steam although it would require some cleaning preparations. I would say 30 minutes tops, although the serving itself would still be a separate daunting task. Take note from the texts that the disciples were with Jesus at the time, so there were at least 13 hungry people to serve, possibly even more. It was therefore a tall order.

Today, with the many choices of convenience food available, a similar situation would have been more manageable. For example when my kids' hordes of YFC friends suddenly drop by our house, we just order pizza. In our weekly prayer meetings with our charismatic group, I take charge of the snacks and I usually serve my personal version of easy-to-cook noodle dish like this "pancit luglog" with bread - the recipe of which I posted in my blog. I do have a passion for cooking and thankfully, my wife appreciates it (I think).

Anyway, such modern food conveniences were of course not options to Martha at the time. However, it is apparent there would have been ample time for everything. It leaves us no doubt when Jesus said "Mary has chosen the better pa
rt". Nothing suggests there was a dire need to eat pronto. We could glean however, that Jesus only admonished Martha gently in a sort of affectionate manner that is common among intimate fellowship: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things". In retrospect, Martha should have joined Mary at the feet of Jesus to listen to the Word first. There should be enough time later on to prepare the food. After all, when it comes to crunch time, we all know that Jesus can multiply food.

I would also like to share something from my 5-year old son when we ask him to pray before meals.

"God is
good, bless the food. Bless the hands that made this food. Bless us O God, Amen".


Attacking the Church

Catholics angry as church puts female ordination on par with sex abuse

Uh-oh. The liberal press is having a field day gain. One just has to read the headlines to get
an idea where the rest of the article spins. Just who are those 'Catholics' mentioned in the article who are

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, called the document "one of the most insulting and misogynistic pronouncements that the Vatican has made for a very long time.

Vivienne Hayes, the chief executive of the Women's Resource Centre, said the decision to raise women's ordination to the level of a serious crime was "appalling".

Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: "We are sure that the vast majority of the general public will share in our abject horror at the Vatican's decision to categorise the ordination of women as an 'offence' in the same category as paedophilia – deemed to be one of the 'gravest offences a priest can commit'.

Barbara Doris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap) said it was tackling the issue the wrong way round. "Defrocking a predator, by definition, is too late," she said. "Severe harm has already been done.".

Oh you mean those 'Catholics'. I see.

Now let's see what the Vatican Document really says.

Modifications made in the Normae de gravioribus delictis


Delicta Graviora

"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has revised its procedures for handling priestly sex abuse cases, streamlining disciplinary measures, extending the statute of limitations and defining child pornography as an act of sexual abuse of a minor.

Vatican officials said the changes allow the church to deal with such abuse more rapidly and effectively, often through dismissal of the offending cleric from the priesthood.

As expected, the Vatican also updated its list of the "more grave crimes" against church law, called "delicta graviora," including for the first time the "attempted sacred ordination of a woman." In such an act, it said, the cleric and the woman involved are automatically excommunicated, and the cleric can also be dismissed from the priesthood.

Vatican officials emphasized that simply because women's ordination was treated in the same document as priestly sex abuse did not mean the two acts were somehow equivalent in the eyes of the church.

"There are two types of 'delicta graviora': those concerning the celebration of the sacraments, and those concerning morals. The two types are essentially different and their gravity is on different levels," said Msgr. Charles Scicluna, an official of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation.

Sexual abuse of a minor by a priest was added to the classification of "delicta graviora" in 2001, and at that time the Vatican established norms to govern the handling of such cases, which were reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The norms affect how church law treats sex abuse cases; civil law deals with the crime separately.

The latest revisions, approved by Pope Benedict XVI May 21 and released July 15, for the most part codify practices that have been implemented through special permissions granted over the last nine years and make them part of universal law.

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said publication of the revisions "makes a great contribution to the clarity and certainty of law in this field, a field in which the church is today strongly committed to proceeding with rigor and transparency."

The norms on sexual abuse of minors by priests now stipulate:

-- The church law's statute of limitations on accusations of sexual abuse has been extended, from 10 years after the alleged victim's 18th birthday to 20 years. For several years, Vatican officials have been routinely granting exceptions to the 10-year statute of limitations. Exceptions to the 20-year limit will be possible, too, but the Vatican rejected a suggestion to do away with the statute of limitations altogether, sources said...

etc, etc...

So there. At any rate, attempted ordination of women is already covered in canon law. Canons #1024, 1381-84. It merits latae sententiae - automatic excommunication. 'Attempted ordination' is a proper word, because any action of women ordination is just that: an attempt.

Fr Z, again, is right on the button:

...Another thing you will perhaps will see in the press, secular and Catholic, are criticisms of the list of crimes. They may complain that, for example, trying to ordain a woman is not nearly as horrible as abusing a minor and it shouldn’t simply be lumped in with other sins, as if they all did they same damage. In a sense, they are right, especially from the perspective of the victim of abuse. But they are wrong from another perspective. Critics might assert that pouring the Precious Blood down the sink or selling a Host or pretending to ordain a woman is a "victimless" crime, bad to be sure but really not that bad. They are wrong. There are still victims: the whole Church suffers because all the crimes involved attack who and what the Church is.

The crimes do belong together when seen in the correct perspective. All of the crimes here involve sacred things...


It is patently false that the Church didn’t see the abuse of children as a crime.

It must also be remembered that the Church regards abuse of children as a grave sin, and a heinous crime for that matter. As such, it places the unrepentant offender in a state of mortal sin, having automatically severed his communion with the Body of Christ. So is attempted ordination of women. In this sense Fr Z is right: they all involve attacking the Church. Sadly, attacking the Church seems to be a trendy pastime, in oh so many ways.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Overpopulation: One more time

My good friend Manny Amador has posted an incisive piece in response to a recent editorial (propaganda, rather) in the Sun Star entitled: Two-pronged war against poverty.

Obsolete Thinking — Again!

Manny is spot on as usual.

His piece brings to mind the way Inquirer columnist Antonio Montalvan III debunked the overpopulation myth in his article.

They’re at Malthus again

This whole issue is getting to be boring (yawn).

But there is an interesting discussion going on at FB.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Odds and Ends 7/15/10

Ateneo University appoints new president

MANILA, July 14, 2010— Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University has appointed a new president who is set to take over the helm of the academic institution early next year.

Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, SJ was elected during a special meeting of the university’s board of trustees last June 29, 2010 as next president of the Ateneo de Manila, according to a memorandum circulated to the university community.

Villarin, who holds a doctorate in Atmospheric Physics from Georgia Institute of Technology completed his Bachelor degree in Physics magna cum laude at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1980 and M.S. in Physics in Marquette University, 1991. He finished his STB in Theology summa cum laude from Loyola School Theology, also in 1991. Ordained priest in April 1991, Villarin took his final vows as a Jesuit in January 2005.

Congratulations Fr Villarin. Such great credentials much worthy of a great Catholic institution. It remains to be seen however, whether such credentials are enough to crack the whip on Ateneo Theology professors who publicly advocate against Catholic Theology.

Bishops tell DOH chief Ona: Avoid Onan's sorry fate in the Bible

MANILA, July 15, 2010— Two Catholic prelates have advised Health Secretary Enrique Ona to learn the lesson on Biblical character Onan, who was punished by God for practicing withdrawal to prevent conception...

Catholic bishops said that in the Church today, the practice of preejaculatory withdrawal during intercourse, which the church opposes, is also known as “Onanism.”
The reminded Ona that Onanism is against the Holy Teaching.
“So the better thing to do for Mr. Ona is to review (the Scripture). It’s clear that God don’t allow onanism,” said Oscar Cruz, retired archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan...

Secretary Ona earlier expressed the government’s support for the use artificial contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually-related diseases. The chief of the Department of Health also vowed a “population policy that prevents abortion and unwanted pregnancies."

Ona. Onan. Hmm, just one letter off. In the Scriptures, Onan was slain by God for his grievous misdeed, although I am certain the Bishops were not alluding that DOH Secretary Ona is bound to be physically slain if he leads his department to propagate millions of Filipino Onans. Definitely not. The bishops were alluding to a fate much worse.

Singapore needs 100,000 workers as economy sizzles

SINGAPORE – Singapore will need 100,000 new foreign workers this year to keep on track an economy enjoying a stunning rebound, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in remarks published Thursday.

Rich but worker-starved Singapore has historically rolled out the welcome mat for foreigners, whose numbers rose dramatically in the boom of 2004-2007.

But with one in three of the five million people living on the tiny island now a foreigner and citizens complaining about competition for jobs, housing and medical care, the government has been looking anew at its open-door policy.

Nonetheless Lee said the need for more overseas labor was unavoidable despite efforts to slow the influx after complaints from citizens facing tougher jobs competition during last year's recession.

"If we don't allow the foreign workers in, you are going to have overheating," the Straits Times quoted him as telling Singaporean media during an ongoing visit to the United States.

Well, well. Mortality rate: 2.2. Total fertility rate: 1.22. What do you expect??

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Here is the BFAD position which led to the DOH delisting of the abortifacient drug POSTINOR in 2001. the light of recent developments, I am posting it here for reference purposes. It is quite lengthy bit to cut it down to the chaste, you can only disagree with the BFAD findings if:

1 - You disagree that life begins at conception, and;
2 - You choose to ignore the constitutional provision that "The State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception." (sec. 12, Art. II)".
BFAD vs Postinor

Republic of the Philippines

Department of Health



Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

10 October 2001



Department of Health



In the Matter of Levonorgestrel 750 mcg Tablet


BFAD Registration No. DR-XY26140

Dear Mr. Secretary:

This is in response to your directive contained in your communication dated June 13, 2001, requiring this Office "to take all appropriate actions in the immediate recall of POSTINOR and the consequent cancellation of its CPR and to prohibit its further use, dispensing, sale and distribution in the local market," if proven to be abortifacient, following a letter-complaint of ABAYPAMILYA FOUNDATION through its President, Ramon A. Pedrosa dated May 08, 2001, seeking the recall of the above Certificate of Product Registration on the ground that Levonorgestrel 750 mcg Tablet is abortifacient, hence, illegal under existing laws and the Constitution.

By way of antecedents, this Office received on 23 April 1999 an application for registration for Levonorgestrel 750 mcg. Tablet filed by EURO GENERICS INT'L. PHILS., INC., the drug's importer. Among the documents included in the application is the printed drug insert which reads as follows:




Each tablet contains 0.75 mg. Of Levonorgestrel [d)-)-13-beta-ethyl-
17-alpha-ethinyl-17-beta-hydroxygon-4en-3-one), a totally synthetic

The inactive ingredients present are lactose and starch.


Levonorgestrel (Gedeon Ritcher LTD-EGIP) is believed to act to
prevent ovulation, fertilization and implantation.
It is not effective
once the process of implantation has begun.


Levonorgestrel (Gedeon Ritcher LTD-EGIP) is an emergency
contraceptive which can be used to prevent pregnancy if taken within
72 hours (three days) following unprotected intercourse or a
contraceptive accident.

As an emergency contraceptive, Levonorgestrel (Gedeon Ritcher LTD-
EGIP) is indicated following any unprotected act of sexual intercourse,

When no contraception has been used

When a contraceptive method may have failed, including

  • Condom rupture, slippage or misuse

  • Diaphragm or cap dislodgement, breakage or early removal

  • Failed coitus interruptus

  • Miscalculation of periodic abstinence method

  • IUD expulsion

  • missed regular oral contraceptive pills for three or more
    days in a cycle

In cases of sexual assault

The drug is manufactured by Gedeon Richter Ltd. of Hungary. It is licensed to Schwarz Pharma and is distributed in the Philippines by Zuellig Pharma Corporation.

Following the standard evaluation and testing procedures provided in BFAD rules and regulations, Certificate of Product Registration No. DR-XY26140 was issued for Levonorgestrel 750 mcg Tablet (Postinor) on April 24, 2000.

Pursuant to Par. 2.2.4, Section 2 of AO 66, S. 1989, we notified the following interested parties of the instant letter-complaint:

    1. Drug Association of the Philippines (DSAP)

    2. Chamber of Filipino Drug manufacturers & Distributors

    3. Filipino Drug Association, Inc. (FIDA)

    4. Philippine College of Pharmaceutical Medicine (PCPM)

    5. Philippine Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA)

    6. Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP)

    7. Association of Drug Industries of the Philippines (ADIP)

    8. Philippine Association of Pharmacist in the Pharmaceutical Industry (PAPPI)

    9. Philippine Medical Association (PMA)

    10. Philippine Obstetrical & Gynecological Society

    11. Philippine College of Surgeons

The above parties were invited to give this Office written submissions within thirty (30) days, on the issue of whether or not the above named drug should be recalled and delisted from the Bureau's registry of drug products, based on the grounds cited by ABAYPAMILYA FOUNDATION.

Of the parties notified, only the following sent position papers:

    1. Schwarz Pharma Philippines, Inc., through its Country Manager,

      PEDRO D. MIRANDA, JR., on August 01, 2001;

    2. Philippine Medical Association, through its President,

      GIL C. FERNANDEZ, M.D. , on August 20, 2001;

    3. Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (Foundation), Inc., through its President, CORAZON T. LIM, M.D., on August 27, 2001; and

    4. Philippine College of Pharmaceutical Medicine, through its President,

      NERISSA CINCO-CALIMON, on August 14, 2001; and

The complainant, ABAYPAMILYA, subsequently filed its own submission on September 28, 2001.


In its letter-complaint, ABAYPAMILYA states:

"Studies about Levonorgestrel reveal that it is an abortifacient. Levonorgestrel operates to prevent a fertilized ovum from implanting into the uterus and thus aborts a pregnancy that has already began. It may be noted that implantation of the human embryo takes place around the 6th day after fertilization, with the human embryo now being a multi-cellular structure known as a blastocyst."

Part I

The complaint dated May 8, 2001 included a paper written by JOHN WILKS (Annex "B" of letter-complaint) stating that "conception is the beginning of a pregnancy, taken to be the precise moment that a spermatozoon enters the female secondary oocyte, resulting in the formation of a viable human zygote."

The paper of WILKS cited the medical textbook of MOORE & PERSAUD which states that, "Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm . . . unites with a female gamete or oocyte . . . to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

Citing the WILKS paper, complainant goes on to say that, "abortifacient drugs or devices are defined as those whose action is operative after conception has occurred."

The meaning of conception and fertilization is, we believe, the key in determining the legality of the registration of Levonorgestrel 750 mcg. Tablet. Stated another way, the answer to the question -- "When does human life begin?" determines the answer to the final question -- "Is the action of Levonorgestrel in the woman's reproductive system directed against a new human being as to characterize the drug as abortifacient?"

FIRST, on the question of "When does human life begin?".

1. Dr. CORAZON T. LIM, M.D. of the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS) wrote this Office:

"When does life begin? Majority believe that life begins at fertilization."

DR. LIM cited an article entitled "Life Begins at Conception," by PAUL A. BYRNE, M.D. (Neonatologist, American Board of Pediatrics, Sub-Board of Neonatal Prenatal medicine of the American Board of Pediatrics) published in VITAL SIGNS, September-October 1993, where Dr. Byrne wrote:

"Many textbooks on human embryology state that a new human life begins at conception (See e.g. Langman, Medical Embryology, p. 3 (1963): 'The development of a new individual commences with fertilization;' Thomas, Introduction to Human Embryology, p. 52 (1968); 'Fertilization is significant in that new life is created . . .'; O'Rahilly, Developmental Stages in human Embryos, p. 9 n. 1; 'the initiation of new life occurs at that moment when fertilization is completed by fusion of the two sets of chromosomes.'

"I have never read a medical text or heard of any doctor writing or stating that what exists at conception is not a new human life."

She also cited DR. JEROME LEJEUNE, (Medical Doctor, Doctor in Science, Professor of Fundamental Genetics for over 20 years, and discoverer of the genetic cause of Down's syndrome) who had stated that it is important to understand the meaning of fertilization as the beginning of a human being.

2. NERISA CINCO-CALIMON of the Philippine College of Pharmaceutical Medicine referred to the textbook by MOORE & PERSAUD, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (pp 2-18) which states that "a zygote is the beginning of a new human being (an embryo). Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm . . . unites with a female gamete or oocyte . . . to form a single cell called zygote."

3. The product licensee, SCHWARZ PHARMA PHILS., INC. does not go by the above definitions of conception/fertilization. Instead, it cited Emergency Contraceptive Pills: Medical and Service Delivery Guidelines (Consortium for Emergency Contraception, October 2000) wherein it is written:

"Data from studies of high-dose oral contraceptives indicate that the two ECP regimens described in these guidelines do not cause abortion; that is, they do not interrupt or damage a pregnancy, defined as beginning after implantation has occurred."

Grounded on such "definition" of pregnancy, it is the position of SCHWARZ PHARMA PHILS. that when Levonorgestrel acts to prevent implantation, as it admittedly does, there is nothing interrupted because prior to implantation, pregnancy has not begun, that is, no human life has begun to exist.

4. Central to the submission of ABAYPAMILYA FOUNDATION is a letter dated August 28, 2001 (Annex "A") addressed to this Office by Prof. Dr. DIANNE NUTWELL IRVING, M.D., M.A., Ph. D. of the United States (with Curriculum Vitae included.)

Dr. IRVING wrote:

"The major issue concerns when a new living human being begins to exist. Scientifically, there is no question whatsoever that this occurs at fertilization - in vivo, or in vitro. By the time of implantation, the living human embryo is approximately already 5-7 days old. This is not a 'religious', 'prolife', or subjective 'belief' or 'opinion', but rather it is an objective scientific fact that has been known scientifically for over a hundred years, e.g., with the publication of Wilhelm His' (the 'Father of Human Embryology'), Anatomie menschlicher Embryonen (Leipzig: Vogel, 1880-1885).

Dr. IRVING also cited MOORE & PERSAUD (6th ed.), "a zygote is the beginning of a new human being." She further cited LARSEN, Human Embryology (1997), "In this text, we begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual . . ." ; O'RAHILLY & MULLER, HUMAN EMBRYOLOGY & TERATOLOGY, "Fertilization is an important landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed. The ill-defined and inaccurate term pre-embryo . . . is not used in this book"; and CARLSON, HUMAN EMBRYOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY, (1994) which states in particular that, "Human pregnancy begins with the fusion of an egg and a sperm."

We note Dr. Irving's statement that "the scientific experts who are the experts on the issue of when a human being begins to exist, and on subsequent early human development from fertilization on, are human embryologists. Although many attempt to cast even the scientific issue in 'subjective' terms, it needs to be realized that in the science of human embryology these scientific experts are professionally required to follow definitions of terms according to an International Nomina Embryologica Committee (INEC). This international committee meets every 3-5 years to examine, update and clarify which human embryological facts are scientifically demonstrated, accurate, and acceptable for human embryologists worldwide to employ in their own research, teaching and textbooks. In other words, these scientific definitions are not arbitrary, nor are they 'relative'. And among human embryologists globally there is 100% consensus on these objective scientific facts. If other scientists and physicians are not aware of these scientific facts, that is more a reflection of their lack of knowledge and/or credentials, rather than a reflection of any 'confusion' on these scientific facts."

5. Mr. JOHN WILKS, Pharmacist from Australia, as addressed to this Office a paper dated August 22, 2001 (Annex "B", with Currivulum Vitae) wherein he traces the historical perspective and origins of what he calls the "embryological error" which spawned the dissociation of conception from fertilization, and its re-association with implantation. He wrote:

The origins of this embryological error can be traced back to the text Obstetric-Gynecologic Terminology, published by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) in 1972.

In this text, conception was specified to be "the implantation of the blastocyst." Conception was not, according to this revised definition, one and the same with fertilization. Consequently, pregnancy was re-defined as "the state of a female after conception and until termination of the gestation."1 As a consequence of this new definition, any interference with the viability of the human embryo, from the time of its creation until the time of implantation, was no longer an abortifacient action. According to this 'new' definition, no pregnancy (apparently) existed; hence no abortifacient actions are possible.

Having re-defined conception, which began the process of dismantling the continuum of fertilization, conception and pregnancy, a further reworking of pregnancy was initiated and approved at a meeting of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), in 1985. The Committee on Medical Aspects of Human Reproduction was asked by FIGO to "develop an accurate definition of pregnancy."

That --

As a consequence of the ACOG action in 1972, and the subsequent redefining of pregnancy in 1985, there has been an increasing trend in the deviations from definitional orthodoxy. Some examples of the re-defining of pregnancy are:

"The prevention of pregnancy before implantation is contraception and not abortion." 2 (Glasier 1997)

Mr. WILKS emphasized that --

These statements are, in the strictest sense of the word, non-sense. A woman is pregnant because fertilization has been completed and conception has occurred, not because implantation has taken place. Implantation is, from both a time and developmental perspective, separate to conception/fertilization. Implantation of the human embryo takes place around the sixth day after fertilization3 with the human embryo now a multi-cellular structure known as a blastocyst. As Mosby's correctly states: "Pregnancy - the gestational process, comprising the growth and development within a woman of a new individual from conception through the embryonic and fetal periods to birth.4

I respectfully draw your attention to another example of meaning manipulation. Those who seek to promote postcoital birth control re-name the human embryo a "pre-embryo",5 a "fertilized ovum"6 or a "fertilized egg."7 Again, these are non-sense terms without any basis in science. They are ideological definitions only, fully in conflict with contemporary embryology. To recall: "Human development begins with fertilization, a process during which a sperm unites with an oocyte (ovum)." (Their emphasis).8 This distinction in terminology is critical. The full range of bioethical issues linked to the morning-after pill is centred upon this point."

This Office took time in going over the compendium of medical writings-standard textbooks and medical journals, including the submissions addressed to this Office by the above named resource persons both, Filipino and foreign authorities whose respective professional background in the medical and pharmaceutical community (See Currivulum Vitae, Annexes "A-1", "B-1" and "C-1") sufficiently qualify them to speak on this issue with authority. We likewise considered the paper cited by the SCWARZ PHARMA, product licensee.

This Office can only rely on the objective and scientific fact generally accepted in the medical profession that "life begins at conception and the moment of conception is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life." This fact was earlier recognized by the framers of the present 1987 Constitution, as gleaned from the Record of the Constitutional Commission (Vol. 4, p. 668, pointed out in Annex "B" of the letter of ABAYPAMILYA to the Secretary of Health dated May 08, 2001.) According to the Constitution:

"The State . . . shall equally protect the life of the mother

and the life of the unborn from conception . . . "
(Article II, Sec. 12)

thus, expressly recognizing the right to life from the moment of conception.

According to noted Constitutional authority, FR. JOAQUIN BERNAS, S.J. who was part of the 1986 Constitutional Convention:

"The intention is to protect life from its beginning, and the assumption is that human life begins at conception, that conception takes place at fertilization."
(IV RECORD of the Constitutional Commission 799, cited in Bernas, J., The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Manila: 1996 ed., p. 78)

Part II

With the above fact in correct perspective, we now consider the question of whether or not Levonorgestrel 0.75 mg. has an abortifacient action.

The drug insert submitted to this Office by the applicant, EURO GENERICS INT'L. PHILS., INC. indicates that Levonorgestrel inhibits implantation:


Levonorgestrel (Gedeon Ritcher LTD-EGIP) is believed to act to
ovulation, fertilization and implantation. "

So does the product literature attached by SHWARZ PHARMA to its written submission to this Office:


Levonorgestrel is an emergency contraceptive preparation that can

prevent conception if it is taken within 72 hours following unprotected

intercourse. It is a progestogen inhibiting the implantation of the

ovum into the endometrium
, stimulating the motility of the oviduct and

increasing the viscosity of the cervical mucus."

We note that standard medical textbooks already refer to the anti-implantation effect of certain drugs. This is pointed out by Dr. IRVING as follows:

"It is also an objective scientific fact that the use of many 'contraceptives' can be abortifacient, including the 'morning-after pill', or 'emergency contraception', as stated by Moore (a member of the INEC9):

"Keith Moore and T.V.N. Persaud,10 The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th ed. -- use this edition only) (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998), pp. 45, 58, 59, 532)

"Inhibition of Implantation: The administration of relatively large doses of estrogens ('morning-after pills') for several days, beginning shortly after unprotected sexual intercourse, usually does not prevent fertilization but often prevents implantation of the blastocyst. Diethylstilbestrol, given daily in high dosage for 5 to 6 days, may also accelerate passage of the dividing zygote along the uterine tube (Kalant et al., 1990.) Normally, the endometrium progresses to the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle as the zygote forms, undergoes cleavage, and enters the uterus. The large amount of estrogen disturbs the normal balance between estrogen and progesterone that is necessary for preparation of the endometrium for implantation of the blastocyst. Postconception administration of hormones prevent implantation of the blastocyst is sometimes used in cases of sexual assault or leakage of a condom, but this treatment is contraindicated for routine contraceptive use. . ." (Annex "A", p. 3).

DR. CHRIS KAHLENBORN11 confirms these facts in his paper, The Morning After Pill: Analysis of Mechanism of Action & Side Effects, (Annex "C" and "C-1"). Dr. KAHLENBORN writes:

"All the evidence to date supports the contention that emergency contraception does not always inhibit ovulation and that it unfavorably alters the endometrial in regard to implantation. In addition, the reduced rates of observable pregnancy over the expected rates in women who receive hormonal EC in the ovulatory or post-ovulatory phase point to an abortifacient effect. Thus, the available medical evidence suggests that an abortifacient effect is likely one of the significant mechanisms by which EC reduces rates, even if given prior to ovulation."

So does Pharmacist, Mr. WILKS, as follows:

" . . . the levonorgestrel [LNG] approach clearly has an anti-developmental impact on the endometrium.

"Work by Kubba et al (1986) specifically referred to levonorgestrel, noting its ability to change "the nature" of the hormonal receptors within the endometrium.12 Dr Rabone (1990) reported that levonorgestrel caused a reduction in the number of estrogen and progesterone receptors within the endometrium. As Dr Rabone reported: "The concentration of these receptors is critical for the normal development of the endometrium to a stage that will support implantation.

"Simon and co-workers have also reported that altered estradiol/progesterone ratios (E2/P), which will occur with high doses of levonorgestrel, are associated with the impairment of endometrial receptivity." (Annex "B", pp. 8-9)

To us, what is of great concern is simple fact pointed out by Mr. WILKS that:

" . . . the levonorgestrel-only post-coital dose is equal to taking 40 to 50 standard once-a-daily progesterone-only birth control pills."

(Annex "B", pp. 9-10).

The same facts were presented to us by local medical doctors who submitted their written responses to this Office:

1. The Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society Foundation, Inc. (POGS):

"These potent progestogens such as Postinor do not prevent fertilization but inhibits implantation by decidualizing the endometrium rendering it non-receptive to implantation. In this case the so called Postinor is considered abortifacient."

2. The Philippine College of Pharmaceutical Medicine:

"Human development begins at fertilization, when a sperm units with an oocyte to form a single cell, a zygote. A zygote is the beginning of new human being. When you prevent this new human being from being implanted in the uterus, pregnancy is terminated and ABORTION occurs.

"Postinor can therefore be considered as abortifacient. The use of abortifaciens is illegal and not allowed in the Philippines."

3. The Philippine Medical Association(PMA) :

"It is the firm view of the PMA that intentional abortion is or assisted abortion directly or indirectly or in any manner whatsoever is criminal in nature. In view henceforth, condemns the use of drugs or medicines or any device for purposes of inducing abortion.

"Henceforth, if Postinor is indeed found to be abortifacient, then the PMA supports the call for recall and delisting from BFAD's registry of drug products."

The Consumer Act of the Philippines (RA 7394), one of the laws enforced by this Office, prohibits the importation of drugs which are dangerous to health. It states:

ART. 89. Mislabeled Drugs and Devices. -- A drug or device shall be deemed to be mislabeled:
i) if it is dangerous to health when used in the dosage, or with the frequency of duration prescribed, recommended or suggested in the labeling thereof;

ART. 15. Imported Products. --

a) Any consumer product offered for importation into the customs of the Philippine territory shall be refused admission if such product:

x x x

2) is or has been determined to be injurious, unsafe and dangerous.

x x x

ART. 18. Prohibited Acts. -- It shall be unlawful for any person to:

a) manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the Philippines any consumer product which is not in conformity with an applicable consumer product quality or safety standard promulgated in this Act.


Even as this Office had notified interested parties and invited written submissions before resolving this issue pursuant to the procedural guidelines contained in Adm. Order No. 66, s. 1989, the same Administrative Order states in paragraph 2.3:

"2.3 -- This procedure of review and evaluation does not preclude however the BFAD from submitting a recommendation to immediately ban a drug and all products containing it in cases where there is a clear finding of serious or lethal toxicity constituting undue risk to public safety. In which cases, the BFAD shall submit its finding and recommendation, together with records of substantial evidence to the Secretary of Health for immediate action."

We therefore find that Levonorgestrel 750 mcg marketed as Postinor is not registrable in the Philippines. We recommend:

1. That Certificate of Product Registration No. DR-XY26140 dated April 24, 2000 issued to EURO GENERICS INT'L. PHILS., INC. be cancelled;

2. That the Department prohibit the further importation, use, dispensing, sale and distribution in the local market of Levonorgestrel 750 mcg - Postinor;

3. That all existing inventories of the drug in any warehouse, enclosure, pharmacy, whether public or private, be immediately reported and delivered to the Department, through the BFAD, for immediate proper disposition.


Director (Sgd.) 1/10/01


Tatum HJ, Connell EB. A decade of intrauterine contraception : 1976 to 1986. Fert Steril 1986; 46(2): 173-192

Glasier A. Emergency postcoital contraception. NEJM 1997; 337:1058-1064


Larsen, op.cit., p.19.

Mosby's, 5th ed., op.cit., p.1309

Grimes, loc. cit.

Harper C, Ellerston C. Knowledge and perceptions of emergency contraceptive pills among a college-age population: A qualitative approach. Family Planning Perspectives. 1995; 27:149-154

Ashraf H, McCarthy M. UK improves access to "morning after pill". Lancet 2000;356:2071


Moore, op.cit., pp. 14 & 531

International Nomina Embryologica Committee, an international committee that meets every 3-5 years to examine, update and clarify which human embryological facts are scientifically demonstrated, accurate, and acceptable for human embryologists worldwide. to employ in their own research, teaching and textbooks. In other words, these scientific definitions are not arbitrary, nor are they 'relative.' And among human embryologists globally, there is 100% consensus on these objective scientific facts. If other scientists and physicians are not aware of these scientific facts, that is more a reflection of their lack of knowledge and/or credentials, rather than a reflection of any 'confusion' on these scientific facts. (Dr. Dianne Irving, Annex "A", p. 1)

Annex "A-3" herein.

Author, Breast Cancer: Its Link to Abortion and the Birth Control Pill, New Hope, Kentucky: 2000.

With reference citations detailed by Mr. WILKS in ANNEX "B."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The real neighbor

(Lk 10:25-37 - The Good Samaritan)

A man appears before St. Peter at the pearly gates. "Have you ever done anything of particular merit?" St. Peter asks.
"Well, I can think of one thing," the man offers. "Once, on a trip to the Black Hills, out in South Dakota, I came upon a gang of high-testosterone bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen. So I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker.
I smacked him on the head, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring and threw it on the ground.
And I told him: "Leave her alone now or you'll answer to me!'"
St. Peter was impressed: "When did this happen?"

"Just a few minutes ago."

There was this other unusual incident which happened on my tour of Barcelona. There I was happily strolling in the vicinity where stands one of Antonio Gaudi's famous architectures. I was by myself taking short clips with my videocam when three casually-dressed Spanish ladies approached me. What could these ladies want with me I wondered, as I quickly dispelled the crazy thought that they may have been attracted by my good looks.They started talking to me in rapid Catalan as one grabbed my arm and the other stretched her hand with palm upwards, while the third pointed a sharp-looking object at me. Oh my God I prayed, this is a stickup even as I protested: "No hay! no tengo dinero!". Suddenly a very tall Spaniard in a business suit interfered, warding off the three intrepid ladies: "que pasa! que pasa!!". The three would-be robbers scampered out of sight as they were intimidated by the over six-foot tall Spaniard in the business suit with matching briefcase. I uttered my profuse "gracias, gracias" to him even as I quickly walked away from the scene. After a few steps I glanced backwards to get a good look at my knight in shining suit, but he was nowhere to be seen anymore. He had vanished just as quickly as he appeared.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is a most popular parable with an enduring message. It is a parable that was Jesus' answer to the legalistic question: "Who is my neighbor?". On deeper reflection, it becomes apparent that Jesus has turned the question upside down. It was not anymore a question of "Who is my neighbor", but more a question of "How am I as a neighbor?". The question is about our own persons, and not about how we categorize people. Today's modern translations say "the Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight". Exegetes would assert that the original Hebrew texts portrayed a stronger emotion. Upon seeing the wounded man left half-dead, the Samaritan felt his heart wrenched open, with a Hebrew reference to a mother's womb and maternal care. The original texts actually convey that the Samaritan was viscerally moved by compassion and love. His heart was wrenched open. It did not matter who he was helping. It can be a stranger, a relative, a town mate, a countryman, a foreigner...and yes, it can even be a naive tourist strolling around taking pictures. For all its lessons, the parable of the Good Samaritan eventually points us to love rightly and to become more like Him - who loved us all first.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On (not) accepting donations from PAGCOR

Bishop Soc to Aquino: Oppose casino gambling

MANILA, June 14, 2010— Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Monday has made his first public appeal for President-elect Benigno Aquino III: stop the opening of more casinos.

In a pastoral letter dated June 14 but was released to the media today, Villegas, known to be closed with the Aquino family, said that gaming is not in the country’s best interests.

Archbishop Cruz asks Aquino to abolish Pagcor

Cruz seeks FOI passage to know bishops getting Pagcor money

MANILA, July 6, 2010— Archbishop Oscar Cruz is seeking for the passage of Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill to trace the bishops receiving donations from a state-run gambling firm.

Cruz said that once the measure is approved, it would be easy to get necessary information from the controversial Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

One thing that he would like know, he said, is the name of bishops allegedly receiving donation from the agency which is prohibited by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

CBCP may discuss gambling in plenary

MANILA, July 7, 2010—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines might include in their agenda the issue of alleged prelates receiving donations from gambling in their meeting this week.

Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, CBCP President, said there is a possibility that the controversial issue will be discussed if it will be raised during their plenary assembly as a matter of concern.

The bishops’ meeting will be held on July 10 to 11. The Catholic hierarchy meets twice a year, I January and July, where they discuss internal concerns and issues with national import.
Odchimar, though, expressed confidence that majority of their members are adhering to the CBCP’s “consistent” stand on gambling.

“Most of the bishops (believe) that it would be better for us not to receive donations and much more not to ask donations from Pagcor since we know what the source of donation is,” he said.

“As often been stated, the end does not justify the means… that is the prevailing sentiment of the bishops because of the evil effects of gambling,” Odchimar added.

Those last two statements of CBCP President Odchimar indicates where his inclinations are and where the wind is blowing. It is interesting though when Bishop Odchimar says "most of the bishops believe...", which leads us to conclude that there are variances among the bishops on the matter of receiving donations from so-called "tainted" sources. As an example, it is of common knowledge that the late Jaime Cardinal Sin and Bishop Francisco Claver (who recently passed away, may he rest in peace) are in favor of accepting donations irrespective of their sources. Mother Teresa perhaps epitomized the position on this aspect when she was reported to have stated : "I know where the money has been and I know where it's going".

It is a complicated area in ethics that gives rise to many questions on the principles of material cooperation, yet the tipping point of the matter lies on the element of scandal (see Catechism #2284-87). Scandal in this particular situation can swing both ways, and it is normally within the judgment of the local ordinary (the diocesan bishop) to decide in accordance with the particulars within his diocese. It remains complicated however, because bishops still have to evaluate the larger repercussions of their local decisions on a national scale. That explains why the bishops are elevating the matter to its national conference.

There are complicated pros and cons to be sure, and I am not about to second-guess the bishops and the CBCP on this one. It would be interesting to see what happens next. It would be helpful if the CBCP comes up with a pastoral document that illuminates the issue. Certainly as CBCP President Odchimar says: "the end does not justify the means". There can be no question about the end - which should inarguably be about material works of charity to the needy. The real difficulty lies in evaluating the morality of the means (accepting donations from gambling proceeds). It is also important to note that any decision that is arrived at would be subject to reference with similar circumstances, meaning that the decision would have its repercussions on the church's acceptance of donations in general - not only those directly associated with gambling. Tough, tough. Let's pray that our bishops be guided.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Odds and Ends 7/7/10

Antagonizing the press
by Armando Doronilla

"...This behavior does not come as a surprise, because of Luistro’s background as a street campaigner. He is a cleric and was chancellor and president of De La Salle University. His appointment as head of the Department of Education immediately raises the issue of whether clerics should ever be elected or appointed to public office, given the explicit constitutional mandate separating Church and State."

Poor Armando Doronilla. What a pity he is not aware that Luistro is NOT a cleric. Either that, or he does not know the simple fact that a cleric means a member of the clergy, in other words a person ordained to the Sacrament of Holy Orders. DepEd Chief Luistro is not a member of the clergy, but a member of the De La Salle Brothers - a religious LAY organization whose apostolate is education. So Doronilla is taking off from an erroneous premise when he raises the issue of "clerics..appointed to office, given the explicit constitutional mandate separating Church and State". It never ceases to amaze me that the even the remotest issue concerning the Church and State likely brings up the issue of "separation of Church and State", without an understanding of what it really means. It then remains a mystery what "explicit constitutional mandate" (really?!? explain please) Mr. Doronilla is referring to.
DOH chief to promote reproductive health

"MANILA, Philippines - New Health Secretary Enrique Ona vowed to promote reproductive health and to expand the membership and benefit packages of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) in the next three years.

According to Ona, he received five orders from President Aquino, foremost of which is the expansion of PhilHealth coverage.

Ona said the Department of Health, under the Aquino administration, would also promote reproductive health as a means to ensure the health and welfare of the family.

To do this, the department would conduct an information campaign on responsible parenthood by giving all possible options to achieve family size based on one’s desire and capacity."

The term "Reproductive Health" seems open to many definitions as well, much like "separation of church and state". At least the UN is much more specific in its definition, emphasizing "safe and satisfying sex life" (huh?).
For DOH Chief Ona, it all boils down to conducting an "information campaign on responsible parenthood by giving all possible options to achieve family size based on one’s desire and capacity". Pretty much sounds like teaching family planning methods. I doubt if responsible parenthood can actually be promoted by DOH if all they do is teach parents to be informed about "all possible options" of family planning methods. I believe the use and purpose of contraceptives are common knowledge enough (although NFP is not) , and family planning should not be so much an issue of cost either. Condoms cost P4 a piece. There are birth control pills that cost about P40 for one cycle/month. Sending text messages average 10 to 20 pesos per day. A bottle of gin - a daily favorite among the menfolk in the iskinitas - costs P120. NFP does not cost anything. It appears more an issue of promoting the right attitude and discipline. I sure hope DOH can teach and promote that. Good luck.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mission not impossible

Last Wednesday our Parish Pastoral Council officers were formally inducted in the church during the evening Mass celebration. My wife and I were reinstalled as couple coordinators of the Parish Family and Life Ministry, together with the rest of the PPC Executive Committee. We hadn't planned on being inducted as Family and Life Ministry coordinators this time, after all my wife and I have already served the council for the past three years. It was challenging work not without its share of hardship and frustrations, and I really felt there were other more capable couple parishioners who could do the work much better than we can. It just so happened that our colleagues elected us again (more like forced us) and the parish priest encouraged us to stay on. It was strictly voluntary work but alright, alright...maybe just one more year.

In this Sunday's Gospel (Luke 10:1-12;17-20), Jesus sent out 72 of His disciples as laborers to seek out and work for the "abundant harvest". The directive came out with a lot of explicit instructions: "Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals,...eat and drink what is offered...do not move about from one house to another...give your peace..shake the dust..". Jesus also made it clear up front that the mission was fraught with danger: "Go on your way and behold, I am sending you like lamb among wolves". This makes one wonder how on earth those 72 disciples could have developed eagerness for a daunting mission that gave them uncertain prospects, great danger, and zero provisions. In our office I am bound to complain that top management is expecting more and more from my department and yet my budget gets reduced more and more each year. But just imagine if you had no budget and resources at all, and yet you were tasked to deliver the most significant results for the entire company. In essence, that was what the 72 disciples were tasked to do - at first glance. We only see through it all towards the end of the narrative, when Jesus revealed: "Behold, I have given you the power to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you."

It appears that the disciples had enough resources after all - Jesus' empowerment by itself was much more than enough. They had reason enough to be eager, and they had reason enough to rejoice that they were empowered. Our Lord made them realize however, that the real reason to rejoice was because "your names are written in heaven".

In this day and age, maybe we are all placed in a position similar to what the 72 disciples experienced a long time ago.The contemporary circumstances may be different, but in essence each of us are involved in the same mission one way or the other. The mission may be easy, it may be hard, it may produce the results we want, it may not, it may involve frustrations, and it may even involve danger. All of these should be secondary, for there is more than enough reason to rejoice when our names are written in heaven.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Odds and Ends 7/1/10

Federer adds injury to insult Berdych

Roger Federer is as great a champion as tennis and indeed modern-day sport has ever seen -- his achievements will still litter the record books in 100 years' time -- but yesterday at Wimbledon he suddenly 'cracked', just as other great multiple winners have cracked. More often than not it happens in the blink of an eye in front of an unsuspecting and disbelieving throng unprepared for such an outcome.

Federer was also unprepared, if his untypical testy press conference is any guide, when he unveiled a hitherto unsuspected back problem and occasional pain in his right leg. Switzerland's finest is normally a fairly gracious loser, not that he's had much practice to be honest, but Tomas Berdych deserved a tad more credit than he got from the departing champion.

"It is disappointing to go out in the quarter-finals but he played solid and I could have gone out in the first round as well," said Federer afterwards. "It's been tough for me accepting I didn't play the way I thought I could. Last week my leg started hurting. I had a good rest over the weekend and felt good playing on Monday but then in the second week my back started hurting. Today I couldn't play the way I wanted."

Well, the awesome, super-duper Federer is human after all. A gracious loser, he ain't.

Charice sings perfect anthem

MANILA, Philippines - For once, there was no controversy regarding the singing of the national anthem.

The National Historical Institute (NHI) gave international singing sensation Charice Pempengco a “perfect” score for her rendition of “Lupang Hinirang” at the inauguration of President Aquino at the Quirino Grandstand yesterday.

And finally, the National Anthem was sung live without any controversial aftermath.

I am aware that we have a law to the effect that the anthem must be sung to the prescribed tune and cadence, but it seems strange. What if you get just one note or timing off? Could that land you into jail?

The US national anthem has been sung to so many creatively soulful renditions, and we have yet to see if any of those caused any deleterious effects on patriotism or the sacred patrimony of the nation. I think the best thing to do under the circumstances is just to playback a pre-recorded, 100% faithful soundtrack of the National Anthem, just to be safe.

Btw, it seems while Charice Pempengco got an "A" for the song, she got an "F" for the gown.

Aquino told: Reconciliation, don’t pick on scabs

MANILA, Philippines—As praises were heaped on President Benigno Aquino III for his inaugural address, a senior lawmaker criticized the newly-inaugurated leader for continuously “picking on the scabs” instead of working towards reconciliation.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said the speech was full of motherhood statements and did not mention the needed specific actions.

“President Benigno Aquino III delivered a campaign speech, not an inaugural address,” Lagman said over the phone.

“He forgot that he had already won. He should heal the wounds of the recent electoral contest, instead of deliberately picking at the scabs,” he added.

Aw, shut up.