Saturday, February 26, 2011

Remembering EDSA 1: Have we come a long way?

Or should I say: are we there yet? 25 years have gone by. Today the Philippine Inquirer has bannered its front page with the momentous replica of its Feb 25,1986 edition: Marcos Flees! A curious thing I noticed however is one tiny but interesting detail. The newspaper costs two pesos at the time, now it is at 18 pesos or an increase of 900 percent. Just where has the "spirit" of EDSA 1 gotten us? Maybe the power people has an idea.The SWS has been tracking self-rated poverty (SRP) levels for quite a time, and its data shows an SRP of 66% in May of 1986.

Now, The same organization says that the SRP annual averages during 2001-2009 ranged between 49 and 63. Hmm.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

say "hi!" and turn the other cheek

Sunday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
February 20, 2011

Many years ago, Nikita Krushchev was reported to have said the following while on a visit to the United States:

“I’ll tell you what the difference between Christians and me is, and that is if you slap me on the face, I’ll hit you back so hard your head will fall off.”


In today's Sunday Gospel Jesus instructs His disciples to "offer no resistance to one who is evil". "When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well". It is apparent that Jesus is inclined to giving instructions that are most difficult to follow, at least to a world attuned to strictly secular values like Krushchev. Maybe if I were among the crowd, I might respond: Lord, would it be fine if I just duck my head? I have heard of an interesting explanation offered to explain the response of "turning the other cheek". If someone strikes you on your right cheek, the tendency is for your face to turn to the right and then you turn it back again facing front. However if you turn the other cheek in the opposite direction, your assaulter will be in an unlikely position to strike you again on your cheek with his right hand. His physical position would put him in a dilemma, for striking a person with the back of the hand is interpreted as a challenge among equals and not as a humiliation. So, turning the other cheek appears to be a subtle form of self-defense against a second blow. How interesting. There are actually many interpretations offered for this phrase - some of them literal and some metaphorical.

I remember once while traveling on a train in Australia with my family, I was confronted by a rather huge and mean-looking man who was obviously drunk. He looked at my shirt and then stood squarely in front of me and stared at me quite menacingly. I happened to be wearing a fun tshirt which was emblazoned with the words "I do my own stunts". I whispered a short prayer and said "hi!" with the most congenial smile I can muster. Thankfully the guy broke into a grin, replied “howdy mate!” and then gave me a roman handshake. He then sauntered off to the far end of the train and dozed off. (whew!)

The Gospel also tells us that if you greet your brothers only, it is nothing unusual as even pagans do the same. So I think it is better (and much safer) to say "hi" to strangers rather than "what's your problem, dude". Our kids now laugh every time we recall that incident. The world today is so full of confrontation and so lacking in charity. The Gospel is a timeless reminder that love conquers all and that all those who strive for loving in perfection will be children of the heavenly Father. If only Krushchev knew.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

FIDELITY play-dance-skit

CFC play-dance-skit presentation @Holy Family Parish Kamias QC.
Parish Organizations Night Competition. Feb 11, 2011.
First Prize Winner! Yey!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Beats me

Later this year, our manufacturing plant is transferring from its current Metro Manila location to one of the PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) locations in the South. We are building a new and larger facility at the new location.

One of the PEZA registration requirements was to get a clearance from the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) which indicates that our company had no pending labor cases. Fine. It was a reasonable requirement and I had no problem with it since I knew for a fact that we had no pending complaints against us. The only thing is, I found out we had to get three clearances: one from the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), another one from the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), and yet another one from the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC). All three agencies are under DOLE. Strange, we were required to get the same clearance (of no pending labor case) from three agencies under the same department. I decided to personally attend to it today since we had a tight schedule, and besides the messenger might get lost in the perplexing web of bureaucracy.

First stop was the NLRC office at Quezon City. Not much of a hassle, but I had to pay a processing fee of 515 pesos and there was an additional requirement of an affidavit attesting that our company had indeed no pending labor case. I will have to go back armed with the affidavit before the clearance gets released. It was an unusual requirement though. Why should I need to produce an affidavit to the effect, if they will verify the same from their docket of pending cases anyway?

Next stop was the DOLE building in Intramuros, which houses both the NCMB and the BWC. The NCMB was pretty much straightforward, all they required was the letter request and they would release the clearance in two days. The BWC however, required much more. I was attended to by one courteous personnel who asked me to wait awhile as he had to go to another room to attend to something. It appears that a major Jollibee delivery took place and he was charged to distribute the snacks. I waited patiently in the room which happened to have five BWC personnel at their desks. They seem to be in a relaxed mood, there was no busy atmosphere, and some chatted away. I happened to be the only outsider in the room waiting to be served, but the amazing thing is that while I cooled my heels, I appeared to be invisible to those five government workers. I swear no one as much as glanced in my direction, it's as if I did not exist at all. Thankfully, the guy reappeared in about 15 minutes. He said I should come back and give a photocopy of our company's registration under DOLE rule 1020. I have no idea what on earth that is, so that will be another adventure. Further, it beats me why three agencies, under the same department, require varying requirements for the same, same clearance stating basically the same thing.

That's Philippine bureaucracy for you.

The crisis in Egypt: all about bread?

Bread Is Life: Food and Protest in Egypt

"...Whoever ends up seeing the nation through to its next phase would do well to keep bread high on their list of priorities.

In the last few days, soaring food prices have been cited as one of the proverbial straws that led Egyptians to take to the streets in frustration over Murbarak's 30-year rule. It wouldn't be the first time that food has been a catalyst for social upheaval in the northern African nation. In 1977, what came to be known as the Egyptian Bread Riots broke out after the state ended its subsidies of basic food staples. Hundreds of thousands of poor Egyptians took to the streets; scores were killed and hundreds were injured. Thirty years later in 2007 and 2008, as food prices soared and food riots swept cities across the globe, panic over a disruption in the supply chain of flour and bread in Egypt again unfolded into deadly protests."

Here is an interesting comment by Vasumurti:

...According to Buckminster Fuller, there are enough resources at present to feed, clothe, house and educate every human being on the planet at American middle class standards.

The Institute for Food and Development Policy has shown that there is no country in the world in which the people cannot feed themselves from their own resources.

Moreover, there is no correlation between land density and hunger. China has twice as many people per cultivated acre as India, yet less of a hunger problem. Bangladesh has just one-half the people per cultivated acre that Taiwan has, yet Taiwan has no starvation, while Bangladesh has one of the highest rates in the world.

The most densely populated countries in the world today are not India and Bangladesh, but Holland and Japan.

Many of us believe that hunger exists because there's not enough food to go around. But as Frances Moore Lappe' and her anti-hunger organization Food First! have shown, the real cause of hunger is a scarcity of justice, not a scarcity of food.

You can say that again.

On to the numbers game in the House

RH bill OK’d at House committee level

Choosing Life, Rejecting the RH Bill

Bishops call faithful to act together Vs RH Bill

CBCP may pull out of dialogue with MalacaƱang

San Pablo Bishop calls for province-wide march in defense of life
The bill has been retitled: "An act providing for a comprehensive policy on responsible parenthood, reproductive health and population development and for other purposes". My what a kilometric title, even as "for other purposes" was added as if the overreaching and pretentious title was not enough. Committee Chairman Espina said the committee tweaked the bill to include in the title “responsible parenthood,” to "give recognition to what is being pushed by the Catholic Church and Malacanang". But of course it takes more than "tweaking of the title" to really incorporate genuine responsible parenthood in a legislation. They can call their pet anything they want, but a dog is still a dog, and will remain a dog. It is a wonder how on earth one can even legislate responsibility in parenting, and more wonders if they even have an idea of what they are talking about. The term responsible parenthood was actually coined by the Church, taking off from the landmark Humanae Vitae encyclical of Pope Paul VI. In that encyclical, the Pope stated the principles.
Responsible Parenthood

10. Married love, therefore, requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today, rightly enough, is much insisted upon, but which at the same time should be rightly understood. Thus, we do well to consider responsible parenthood in the light of its varied legitimate and interrelated aspects.

With regard to the biological processes, responsible parenthood means an awareness of, and respect for, their proper functions. In the procreative faculty the human mind discerns biological laws that apply to the human person.

With regard to man's innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man's reason and will must exert control over them.

With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

Responsible parenthood, as we use the term here, has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.

From this it follows that they are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. On the contrary, they are bound to ensure that what they do corresponds to the will of God the Creator. The very nature of marriage and its use makes His will clear, while the constant teaching of the Church spells it out.

In short, responsible parenthood concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, in the decision of married couples to have children. It is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time. The decision is based on four factors: physical, economic, psychological and social conditions.

If the sponsors were really honest, they should have simply titled the bill as "An act providing for state-funded artificial contraceptives"; or "An act mandating sex education in all schools from Grade 5"; or "An act providing for whatever".

Espina says the bill will go into plenary this month. Going by the proceedings in the committee, there is a real possibility that the process will be reduced to a numbers game, without any real emphasis on an understanding and considerations of the (de)merits of the bill. Perhaps that is why Lagman is "overwhelmingly confident" of the passage of the bill. But is the RH bill really the solution to poverty?

In other news, the Philippine economy was reported to have posted a record growth of 7.3% in 2010 - its fastest in two decades. Strange, but no one seems to have felt the record growth. Meanwhile, investigations are ongoing on the alleged plunder of billions of funds in the military.