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Love’s Labor Found

Love’s Labor Found August 4, 2019 Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Luke 12: 13-21 Someone in the crowd said to Je...

Sunday, July 29, 2007


These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you

ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan.


ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his
sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty-one.

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Would you repeat the question?

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition
notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an
autopsy on him!

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


“My dream,” wrote Rizal to a Spanish governor-general, “was my country’s prosperity . . . I would like the Filipino people to become worthy, noble, and honorable.”

On another occasion Rizal also wrote: “I would like the Filipinos to be Brilliant, Enlightened, Intelligent, and Progressive.”

Ever since Rizal was executed by the religious morons in the 19th century, the same religious morons carried on with power and authority to be in charge especially of the system of education in the Philippines. Indeed, we were taught in our schools, colleges, and universities to believe and to have faith in the holy bible that clearly states: “Love not this world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not with him.” John 2:15. Jesus, the loving son of God also preached: “If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

Thus, as the Sick Man of Asia, even the Knights of Rizal continue to ignore what Rizal was saying to all Filipinos more than a century ago. Only people in foreign countries believed, followed, and substantiated what Rizal was saying. After Rizal’s execution, the president of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Pre-history, - Dr. Rudolph Virchow, said: “In him we lose not only a true friend of Germany and German science but also the man who had the knowledge and the energy to introduce modern ideas and thinking into the Philippines.”

Poch Suzarathe


The calling of a convention in Paris dubbed “European Assembly” at this particular time and under very dubious circumstances is both a farcical show of questionable authority and an arrogant display of hypocrisy on the part of the organizers and their Manila-based supporters. It defies reason and insults the intelligence of those who have been seeking for truth, justice and fairness. And that includes Sir Hilario G. Davide, Jr. whose very own demand for Regional Commander Sir Paras to explain himself regarding allegations of plagiarism and racism lodged against the latter has been unceremoniously quashed.

If one were to use a vulgar expression the message being sent to the Paras/Quiambao critics seems to be something like “up yours!” Come to think of it: the exercise, given the scandalous issues and events associated with Sir Paras is, we hesitate to say, itself a vulgarity. Why? Three reasons:

First, it gives the wrong message. If the esteemed leaders in Manila were principled men, they would not have agreed to the calling of such a meeting at this time as it would give the notion that everything is all right in Europe . In truth and in fact the organization is in shambles thanks originally to the questionable appointment of Paras and Manila’s subsequent failure to act on the 24-hour "ultimatum" issued by Supreme Commander (presently on leave) Sir Hilario Davide to Paras way back in September 19, 2006. Since then over 7,000 hours have elapsed and Paras remains untouched. On the contrary it appears he has created more controversies in the ensuing period. The overall situation confirms not only a weak international leadership, it suggests someone other than the duly elected ones is running the organization and doing so like a bully. Again we hesitate to say it, but we submit a moral backbone is painfully missing.

Paras is a non-nominated appointee whose strongly protested appointment is believed to be purely political traced to a personal affiliation with Sir Rogelio Quiambao, a former Supreme Commander and now a member of the Council of Elders. The appointment bespeaks of a similar surprise appointment in 2005 of Sir Chito Collantes as Deputy Regional Commander for Canada. Sir Collantes is also linked closely to Quiambao. As a matter of historical note that single event marked the beginning of the turmoil in Canada that continues to this day. Dejavu – this time in Europe .

Second, the calling of the Assembly is a vulgarity because it negates the conditions that in reality are indicative of an urgent need on the part of the organization for a major self-examination. When as a result of the Paras controversy some 25 distinguished Knights of Rizal in Europe terminated en masse their membership in utter disgust one does not celebrate. The family is hurting. The brotherhood lost from its ranks valuable and very distinguished members like Order of Sikatuna Maginoo recipient Dr. Fritz Hack-Ullmer and Sir Frederik Ullmer, direct descendants of Rizal’s very close friend Pastor Karl Ullmer of Welhelmsfeld, Germany. These people are avowed Rizalists both by blood and by action. It also lost the support of no less than the Blumentritt family. Many others just silently left. The eventual formation of a new Rizalist organization as an ultimate demonstration of protest should have caused the Supreme Council to do everything it could to restore honor and dignity or at least apply damage control. Alas, instead they have gone to Paris to “have fun, fun, fun”.

Third, the calling of the European Assembly is a vulgarity because it underscores not only Manila’s defiance of reason but it also reveals its inability to manage an international organization. Once again, it draws attention to a mentality that is colonial, retrogressive and so limited it cannot grasp the depth of the concerns and the capabilities of an advanced, open-minded and culturally diverse society of Rizalists. It clings on to an archaic concept and trait only Filipinos understand. It is called “kayabangan”.

What a shame.

Source: Order of the Knights of Rizal, Scarborough Chapter, Canada

Friday, July 20, 2007


Statement of the Philippine Hierarchy
on the Novels of Dr. Jose Rizal

Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo

  1. Among the many illustrious Filipinos who have distinguished themselves in the service of their country, the highest place of honor belongs to Dr. Jose Rizal. And justly so; for Rizal possessed to an eminent degree those virtues which together make up true patriotism. He loved his country not in word alone but in deed. He devoted his time, his energies and the resources of his brilliant mind to dispelling the ignorance and apathy of his people, and combating the injustices and inequalities under which they labored. When these salutary activities fell under the suspicion of the colonial government and he was condemned to death as a rebel, he generously offered his blood for the welfare of his country.
  2. But although his love for his country was great, it was not a blind, unreflecting love. It was not the inordinate love which so often passes for patriotism, whereby one regards one's native country as perfect beyond criticism, and attributes all its ills to the tyranny and greed of strangers. Rizal's balance of judgment saved him from this pernicious error. He clearly saw and boldly proclaimed the fact that while the Filipino people suffered from colonial rule, they were as much the victims of their own vices and defects. In dedicating his novel, Noli Me Tangere, to his beloved country, he addressed her as follows:

    Desiring your health which is also ours, and seeking the best means of restoring it, I shall do with you what the ancients did with their sick; they brought them to the steps of the temple that all who came to invoke the god might stop to suggest a remedy... I shall lift a portion of the bandage which hides the disease, sacrificing all to the truth, even my personal pride, for us a son of yours I am not exempt from your defects and weaknesses.1

    Thus, while Rizal was fearless in denouncing the evils of the colonial administration of his time, he was no less fearless in pointing out to his countrymen "our own mistakes, our own vices, our supine and culpable acquiescence to these evils."2
  3. It will not be out of place in this connection to suggest that the affectionate realism with which Rizal regarded his country and his people should characterize our own attitude towards Rizal himself. The fact that he is our national hero by no means obliges us to approve of all that he said or did. As one of our most illustrious senators said on the floor of the Senate a few days ago: "I do not say that Rizal did not make any mistake, did not commit any error in judgment or in the appreciation or in the presentation of facts or in the criticism which he had launched. You can always find passages in his works that are perhaps objectionable. And if I were to be given time and opportunity, to discuss page by page these different passages I could say that I will also differ from many statements which he made."3 We believe that those who try to make Rizal out as a paragon of all virtues with no human failings do him a great disservice; for by departing so obviously from the truth, they only succeed in casting doubt on the very real and truly great qualities which he did possess.

    Let us therefore by all means honor Rizal, but for the right reasons: first of all, for his unselfish devotion to his country, and secondly, for the depth of insight with which he examined and analyzed our national problems. Rising above petty passions and prejudices, he disengaged from the concrete complexities of his time ideas regarding the function of government, the well being of society, the dignity of the individual, the necessity of popular education, the native traits and possibilities of the Filipino character, and the special mission and destiny of our nation under God; ideas which, because of their universal and timeless validity, are applicable even in our own times. Would that our leaders of today and our people as a whole might put into practice more faithfully the patriotic teachings contained in the writings of our national hero!

    But men cannot put into practice teachings with which they have but slight acquaintance and which they do not thoroughly and rightly understand. Hence We cannot but approve and applaud in principle the desire of many that the writings of Rizal be more widely circulated and read, and even introduced as reading matter in the public and private schools of the nation. We can think of no more effective means, after the formal teaching of religion, to develop in our youth a sane and constructive nationalism and the civic virtue, so necessary in our times of subordinating individual ambitions to the common good.

    Nevertheless, in this our respect and esteem for Rizal and his work, we ought to follow the affectionate realism he taught us in the love he had for his country. We need not be blind to his errors. To err is human. He had his human failings like the rest of us; and while he showed great wisdom and courage in returning to the true Faith before his death, we cannot ignore the fact that he did lapse from that faith. The historic fact of his retraction shows that he himself, in conscience, in the face of death, did not approve of each and every one of his previous statements.
  4. Some of Rizal's most cogent insights into the political and social order are undoubtedly contained in his two novesl, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo . Certainly our outstanding national hero wrote these books inspired by a most ardent love for our country whose "dear image presented itself showing a social cancer,"4 which he dared to expose in the hope of finding a remedy for it.

    We wish to make it clear that insofar as these novels give expression to our people's desire for political freedom and a social order based on justice they are not at variance with the practical applications of Catholic doctrine to the exigencies of the social milieu as it existed at the time. The Catholic Church in itself, as distinguished from the human and fallible individuals who compose it, is not, never has been, and never will be arrayed against the legitimate political and social aspirations of any people. If it were, it should not be what it is called: Catholic, that is universal. Hence it follows that the clear and even forceful expression of such aspirations can never be injurious to the Catholic Church. The aims and objectives of that Church, being supernatural, are also supranational; between them and national aims, provided these are in conformity with the principles of morality, no conflict is possible.

    Moreover, the same God who created nature, restored it by grace; to Him both the supernatural and the natural order owe their being; hence, as Pope Leo XIII says, "If we would judge rightly, the supernatural love of the Church and the natural love of country are twin loves sprung from the same eternal source, since the author and causes of both is God. Whence it follows that there can be no conflict between these two duties."5

    We may even go further and assert that history has repeatedly exemplified that the Gospel,. which is the divine mission of the Church to preach and propagate, has for its proper effect to make the individual conscious of his dignity as an image of God and as one who is adopted by our heavenly Father as a filial participant in His own exalted nature. Furthermore, it renders the citizen conscious of his rights and responsibilities within the society which gave him birth and of the freedom, both political and social which is necessary for the exercise of these rights and responsibilities. Thus the Gospel of Christ contributes to the foundation of a true and solid basis for the development of a balanced, dignified and really forceful nationalism. Pope Leo XIII made this clear in no uncertain terms two years after the publication of the Noli Me Tangere:

    The Church does not condemn the desire that one's nation should be free from foreign or absolute rule, provided this freedom can be won without injustice. Nor does she reprehend those who wish to bring it about that states should be governed in accordance with their own laws, and the citizens be granted the widest possible scope for increasing their prosperity. The Church has always shown herself a most faithful supporter of legitimate civil liberties.6
  5. Now, according to Rizal himself, the object of his novels was to expose in terms of fictional narrative the actual evils which then afflicted Philippine society.7 This "social cancer" was, in his opinion, largely due to the decadent state of the religious order and to some practices of the Catholic religion. Hence the larger part of these novels is devoted to castigating dissedifying priests and to satirizing what he deemed to be supertitious observances and practices of the Church.
  6. Did Rizal attack only the abuses of certain priets but never contradict Catholic doctrines? No. When in May 1889, Dr. Tavera told Rizal in Paris "that he (Tavera) tried to defend him (Rizal) before Fr. Faura explaining that, in the attack upon the friars, the stone was thrown so high and with such force that it reach religion," Rizal corrected him saying: "This comparison is not quite exact; I wished to throw the missile against the friars; but as they used the ritual and superstitions of a religion as a shield, I had to get rid of that shield in order to wound the enemy that was hiding behind it."8 The interpretation, then, of Dr. Tavera was not exact, according to Rizal himself. He did attack the shield, that is, not only the superstitions which sometimes, due to ignorance, creep into religious practices, but the ritual itself of the Church, which are sacred acts of Catholic worship. And he acknowledged this at the end when he wrote: "I retract with all my heart whatever in my works, writings, publications and conduct has been contrary to my status as a son of the Catholic Church."9

    Furthermore, there are passages in the two books where it is not anymore the novel's characters but the author himself who speaks. And among these passages, there are many which are derogatory to Catholic beliefs and practices as such, aside from the criticisms leveled upon unworthy priests.10
  7. In these two novels we find passages against Catholic dogma and morals 11 where repeated attacks are made against the Catholic religion in general, against the possibility of miracles, against the doctrine of Purgatory, against the Sacrament of Baptism, against Confession, Communion, Holy Mass, against the doctrine of Indulgences, Church prayers, the Catechism of Christian Doctrine, sermons, sacramentals and books of piety. There are even passages casting doubts on or covering with confusion God's omnipotence, the existence of hell, the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity, and the two natures of Christ.
  8. Similarly, we find passages which disparage divine worship ,12 especially the veneration of images and relics, devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, the use of scapulars, cords and habits, the praying of rosaries, novenas, ejaculations and indulgenced prayers. Even vocal prayers are included, such as the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Doxology, the Act of Contrition, and the Angelus, Mass ceremonies, baptismal and exsequial rites, worship of the Cross, the use of holy water and candles, processions, bells and even the Sacred Sunday obligations do not escape scorn.
  9. We also find passages that make light of ecclesiastical discipline ,13 especially in what concerns stole fees, alms to the Church, alms in suffrages for the dead, authority of the Pope, excommunication, education in Catholic schools, Pontifical privileges, Catholic burial, the organization of nunneries and monasteries, Confraternities, Third Orders, etc.
  10. These are the actual findings from a serene and impartial reading of the two novels. Much to Our regret then, We feel it our sacred duty to come to the conclusion that these works, as any other of their kind, fall under Canon Law 1399 of the code of Canon Law which establishes:

    By the law itself are forbidden...

    ... 2 Books of any writers defending heresy or schism, or tending in any way to undermine the very foundations of religion;

    ... 6 Books which attack or ridicule any of the Catholic dogmas, or which defend errors condemned by the Holy See, or which disparage divine worship, or strive to overthrow ecclesiastical discipline, or which have the avowed aim of defaming the ecclesiastical hierarchy or the clerical or religious states;...

    Evidently, some , not all, of the clauses of this law affect clearly the novels we are studying. This is indeed a matter of concern to all of us, dear children, and We are the first to regret that the books that were written by our foremost national hero inspired by the most genuine patriotism, have included such substantial defects in their religious aspect as to render them objectionable reading in such sense that only with due permission obtained from ecclesiastical authority may these books be read by Catholics. This permission, however, is readily granted for a justifiable reason, whenever the person concerned has sufficient knowledge of the Catholic doctrine in question.

    This does not mean, however, that each and every portion of the novels falls under this law. Those portions which do not contradict the content and practices of the Catholic Faith are evidently not affected by the law.
  11. This being the fact, to make the two novels in question compulsory reading matter in our schools, as proposed in the Senate Bill No. 438, is tantamount to forcing our Catholic youth to read doctrinal attacks against their religion without making it equally obligatory for them to read the answer to such attacks. Is this being fair to Catholics? It is true that our government allows the teaching of religion in schools. But this does not do away with the unfairness of the proposed law, because while the government would impose the obligation to teach the anti-Catholic side, as contained in the novels, it merely does not oppose the study of the Catholic side.

    Or will the government in the same manner make compulsory the reading of the Catholic doctrines contradicted in those novels? But in that event would not the principle of separation of Church and State be at once invoked against such remedial reading?

    As in the case of a certain biography of Rizal, we see here the same tendency to discriminate against Catholics in this Catholic country. When there is a point of attacking the Catholic position, the government seems to have the right even to spend the people's money in support of the attack, in the name of patriotism, culture, history, or for any other noble purpose. Should Catholics wish to defend their side in the same manner that it is attacked, the spectre of clericalism, bigotry, obscurantism, reaction or the like is invoked, and the wall of "separation of Church and State" is hastily rigged to block our way.
  12. Let us be sincere and straightforward. In order to imbue our youth with patriotism, is it necessary to make them read that confessionals are made so that we may sin"?14 In order to teach our youth love of country is it necessary to expose them to jeers at Catholic worship, or to say of stole fees that "divine justice is not nearly so exacting as human", to say "novenas, responsories, versicles and prayers have been composed for those who lack original ideas and feelings" and that "the Church does not gratuitously save the beloved souls for you nor does it distribute indulgences without payment?"15 In order to teach our youth high political and social ideals, is it necessary to make them read that the idea of Purgatory "does not exist in the Old Testament nor in the Gospels; that neither Moses nor Christ made the slightest mention of it; and that the early Christians did not believe in a purgatory?"16 In order to teach our youth civic virtues is it necessary to tell our girls that "there is a mystery (of corruption) that is hidden behind the walls of a nunnery; that it is a thousand times better for them to be unhappy in the world than in the cloister; that girls who are beautiful were not born to be brides of Christ?"17 Does patriotism and nationalism consist in these assertions and many others like these repeated again and again in multifarious ways throughout many of the chapters of these novels? If not, then it is evident that the political and social principles of Rizal are not inseparable from those passages which we consider objectionable from the point of view of our Church. Therefore, statements against the Church contained in the novels should never be considered indispensable parts of the ideals we want to teach our youth.

    We view with alarm any obligatory reading of these objectionable passages for they can be easily exploited by those who hate the Church as an opportunity, under the guise of patriotism, under the cloak of the spirit of nationalism, to imbue, with legal sanction (that is, by law, to be enacted by Catholic legislators) the minds of our youth with ideas which are inimical to their religion.
  13. Religious conscience is formed by one's belief in and adherence to the teachings and the laws of one's own faith. Catholic conscience, then is guided by Catholic teachings and the laws of the Catholic Church. We are aware that in our country, there are many baptized Catholics for whom Catholic teachings and laws have little meaning. But on the other hand, there are millions of Filipinos, from all levels of life, from the farmhand to the learned professional and academic professor who take the Church as the guide of their conscience.

    Once they become aware that there are portions of the books which are against the teachings and laws of their Church, they will consider contrary to their conscience compulsory reading of the novels in their entirety. It will not be sufficient to say that prominent and learned Filipinos consider these portions of the two books as attacks only on some disedifying priests and not as attacks on doctrines of the Church. While these millions of faithful Catholics respect their political leaders and follow their political and social leadership, they (the faithful Catholics) still consider the official pronouncements of their Church as the guide of their faith.

    It is in their name that We want to appeal to our legislators not to legislate against the conscience of these millions of their countrymen who have a right to their freedom of conscience as much as anybody else. If we want to teach our youth to love, as Rizal did, the freedom of their country, let us not disregard one of the fundamental freedoms of our people, viz., their freedom of conscience.
  14. There is a serious danger here of confusing the issues: patriotism and faith. The two issues are so intimately mixed up in Rizal's novels that all our efforts to separate them in this delicate question might be misinterpreted. Were it not because of Our Pastoral duty bids Us forcefully at this moment to speak, We would rather prefer to keep a prudent silence on the matter, as Our predecessors did. But since We ought to speak, allow Us to sum up Our mind in the following brief, precise statements, that We offer to you, dear children, for your guidance. And We present these to all Filipinos, especially to the law-giving bodies of our Government, for calm study and fair consideration. They are Our expression of the Catholic stand concerning the novels of Dr. Jose Rizal, NOLI ME TANGERE and EL FILIBUSTERISMO:
    1. We, the Catholic Philippine Hierarchy, in Our name and in the name of millions of faithful Filipino Catholics, wish on this occasion to restate our unshakable loyalty to our fatherland, as well as to the lawfully constituted authorities of the country.
    2. Faithful Catholics wish to be second to none in love and veneration for our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, whose patriotism remains for us a noble inspiration.
    3. We assert that he is our greatest patriot and our greatest national hero, not however for what one day he wrote against our religion and which at the end he retracted "with all his heart", but for what he did on behalf of the welfare of our country.
    4. The novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo were doubtlessly written as an expression of Rizal's ardent and generous love for our dear Philippines, and there are many beautiful passages in them showing this; and we are in favor of propagating these passages and encouraging our young generation to read and learn them.
    5. But unfortunately these novels were written when Dr. Jose Rizal, estranged for a time from our faith and religion, did contradict many of our Christian beliefs.
    6. This in no way implies that we must reject him in order to remain loyal to our faith. It only means that we have to imitate him precisely in what he did when he was about to crown the whole work of his life by sealing it with his blood: we ought to withdraw, as he courageously did in the hour of his supreme sacrifice, "whatever in his works, writings, publications and conduct had been contrary to his status as a son of the Catholic Church." A dying person's last will is sacred. Taking into account Rizal's last will, we must carry out for him what death prevented him from doing, namely, the withdrawal of all his statements against the Catholic faith.
    7. It is our conviction that to disregard our national hero's last will expressed in his Retraction as well as his Last Farewell, is, far from revering his memory, bringing it into contempt.
    8. It is true, as the Explanatory Note to the proposed Bill No. 438 - 3rd C.R.P. says that "to praise Rizal without taking the trouble to study that which elicits our praises is to be hypocritical". Hence we suggest that a Rizalian Anthology be prepared where all the patriotic passages and the social political philosophy of Rizal not only from these two novels but from all the rest of his writings, letters, poems and speeches be compiled. It is not only in the two novels but also in his other writings are the patriotic teachings of Rizal to be found. In order to compile an Anthology of the kind we suggest, we have already organized a committee which is making the necessary studies.
    9. Our objection then to the Bill proposed is not an objection against our national hero nor against the imparting of patriotic education to our Children.
    10. Our Constitution (Art. 3, Section 1 (7) guarantees the free exercise of religion. The Supreme Court of the United States has decided that the American school children belonging to a certain sect cannot be compelled to salute the American flag because said act is offensive to their religious belief. (West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319, U.S. 624). On this basis, We believe that to compel Catholic students to read a book which contain passages contradicting their faith constitutes a violation of a Philippine constitutional provision.
    11. We, the Catholic Philippine Hierarchy maintain that these novels do contain teachings contrary to our faith and so, We are opposed to the proposed compulsory reading in their entirety of such books in any school in the Philippines where Catholic students may be affected. We cannot permit the eternal salvation of immortal souls, souls for which We are answerable before the throne of Divine Justice, to be compromised for the sake of any human good, no matter how great it may appear to be. "For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?"18

Given this 21st day of April in the year of Our Lord, 1956. Manila, Philippines

For the Philippine Hierarchy:

Archbishop of Manila
President, Administrative Council

1 Noli Me Tangere (Nueva Era ed.) p. (3)
2 Letter to a Friend, March 1887; in W.E. Retana, Vida y Escritos del Dr. Jose Rizal, (Madrid, 1907), p. 126
3 Dr. Laurel, Speech of Sponsorship of Sen. Bill No. 438.
4 The Social Cancer (English version of Noli Me Tangere, by Charles E. Derbyshire, 2nd. ed.), p. l vii.
5 Encycl. "Sapientiae Christianae", 10 January 1890; Denzinger, Enrichiridion n. 1936 b.
6 Encycl. "Libertas, praestantissimum", 20 June 1886; ibid n. 1936.
7 In the letter cited in note 2.
8 R. Palma, Pride of the Malay Race, pp. 115-116.
9 J. Cavanna, Rizal's Unfading Glory, p. 52.
10 Noli Me Tangere (P. Sayo Book Store, Manila, Nueva ed. 1950) pp. 54, 55, 57, 74, 75, 76. 157, 159, 163, 234. In El Filibusterismo (Manila Filatelica, Manila, 1908) pp. 232, 233.
11 Noli, ibid. op. cit., against Confession, pp. 26, 183, 191, 231, 232, 233, 277; Baptism, p. 263; Communion, p. 171, 183; Holy Mass, 74, 119, 159, 171, 183; Purgatory, 67-70; Hell, 69-70; Miracles, 178, 258; Catholic Catechism, 93; Catholic Religion, 74, 113, 171, 263, 317; alms to the Church, 26, 75; Catholic priesthood, 171; Catholic preaching, 162, 169, 171, 183; scapulars, cords, blessed habits, 83, 157, 258; books of piety, 231; Indulgencies, 74, 82-84, 272; education in Catholic Schools, 273-274; also cf. 74-76, 113, 160, 165, 263, 288. In El Filibusterismo, ibid. op. cit., Communion, p. 206, Holy Mass, 140, 207, Hell, 139; Miracles, 26-27; Catholic religion, 278; alms to Church, 140; Preaching, 206; scapulars, habits, etc. 207; Most Holy Trinity, God's omnipotence, two natures in Christ, 207, 232.
12 Noli , ibid. op, cit., against veneration of images, 32-34, 234, 307; devotion to saints, 54, 307-308; Angelus, 275; Processions, 55, 158, 201-202; Holy Water, 159; Church worship, 159, worship to the Cross; 220; Church bells, 65; Candles, 74; Novenas, church prayers, 74, 84; Sunday duty, 76.
In El Filibusterismo , ibid. op. cit., veneration of images, 75; processions, 75, 110, 207; Holy Water, 234; Ritual Blessing, 40, 233; Veneration of relics, 66; Novenas, Church prayers, 110, 207.
13 Noli , op. cit., against excommunications, 191, 200, 214; 252; stole fees, 26, 74-75; 34; Pope's authority, 55, 98, 182, 189; education in Catholic schools, 38, 42, 145, 274; Catholic burial, 28, 43, Monasteries of Nuns, 321, 332.
In El Filibusterismo, op. cit., stole fees, 140; education in Catholic schools, 88, 95, 213; Catholic burial, 62-63, 288.
14 Ibid. op. cit. p. 280.
15 Ibid. pp. 106-107.
16 Ibid. p. 97.
17 Ibid. p. 483

Sunday, July 1, 2007


As the rubbish truck approached, dozens of people surged towards it, running through knee-high garbage to reach the fresh treasure.
Smokey Mountain
Picking over rubbish earns people a measly, erratic income
They scrambled onto the tailboard and roof of the truck even before it opened its rear gate to pour out its stinking cargo.
The near-destitute people began foraging amongst the detritus for morsels.
They were after empty plastic bottles, scraps of metal or paper - all of which can be recycled by the sackful for a few cents.
Welcome to Smokey Mountain, the rubbish dump for central Manila.
If anyone wants to know what poverty means - and the enormous task ahead, if this country is to achieve the poverty-busting UN Millennium Development goals - they could do worse than visit Smokey Mountain. One of the women who works there, who gave her name as Bilma, said she tried to feed five children on what she could make.
"I work from sunrise to sunset," said Bilma. "Sometimes I make enough money, but sometimes I make nothing at all."
The Philippines' capital has enormous contrasts.
Shacks stacked on top of each other stand out from the financial district of Makati skyline along the polluted Maricaban River in the slums on 9 July 2005
Manila is a shocking contrast of rich and poor
I drove past a glittering shopping mall full of the latest fashions from Hong Kong and Paris.
Ten metres from the mall I saw a small boy, maybe seven years old, returning from school in his uniform.
He was struggling to get himself and his schoolbag through the door of his home - a shanty structure that was little more than a dirty wooden box balanced precariously on the sidewalk.
About 40% of Filipinos, or more than 30 million people, live in abject poverty. Most of those are in rural areas.
It is a testament to how poor the countryside is that many still pour into dreadful urban shanties for a "better" life.

Debt deals
The powerful Speaker of the Philippines House of Representatives, Jose de Venecia, said there was no hope of his country reaching the UN goal of halving extreme poverty unless its foreign debt was reduced.
"The debt repayments and the government payroll take up 90% of the budget," he said, speaking in his 27th-floor home in Manila's elite Makati district. "That leaves just 10% for schools and hospitals, water and electrification projects."
This nation is always ranked high in the hierarchy of corrupt governments and corrupt societies
Journalist Vergel Santos
Mr de Vanecia has proposed a new scheme for trying to reach the development goals - not just for the Philippines, but for all the 100 most heavily indebted nations.
His "debt for equity" proposal involves converting half of the debts into equities, which would be used by creditor nations to invest in projects aimed at achieving the UN goals.
Thus, for example, if the Philippines owed France $100m a year in debt repayments, Paris would, on a voluntary basis, forego half the repayments in exchange for a $50m-share in development projects. The money for those projects would be found by the Philippines government.
Debtor nations would thus spend some of the money they would have spent on debt, on development. The scheme is imaginative but to agree to it, creditor nations may want tough conditions and to closely monitor the development projects involved.

More resources
The mayor of Manila, Lito Atienza, told me he could solve the problems of the urban poor "today" if he had the resources.
Mayor Lito Atienza
Manila's mayor says a better business climate is key
He cited the Baseco area of the city, near Manila port, as an example of what could be done. Slum clearance was achieved there, he said, when the area was redeveloped.
But I drove around Baseco and saw people living in appalling conditions - houses that were little more than shacks on the edge of the road.
"I didn't say we have solved the problem," Mayor Atienza replied. "I said we have started to do something about it. Yes, there are a still a lot of shanties all over that area. I am just citing one specific area where we are succeeding in at least reducing the problem."
The mayor said improving the climate for business was the key to ending poverty.

Filipino social critics, and ordinary farmers and teachers I spoke to, said the problems of poverty in the Philippines had little to do with a lack of government resources.
They said most people were poor in this country because of the extremely unequal income distribution. Journalist Vergel Santos added that corruption in ruling circles was another major factor.
"Just look at the lopsided income distribution," said Mr Santos, "and there are surveys - fairly independent ones - saying this nation is always ranked high in the hierarchy of corrupt governments and corrupt societies."
There is some evidence of progress. Near Smokey Mountain there is a modest government-sponsored housing project where some 20,000 people, many of them former rubbish pickers, now live.
Father Ben Beltran, a Catholic priest who works in the new housing estate, explained how the project had been achieved:
"You have to have a dream, and believe that it's not your destiny, that it's not God's will for you to be impoverished like that. We marched on the street and forced the government to rehabilitate the dump. That got us to where we are now," he said.

By Mark Doyle
Developing World Correspondent in Manila


By Adrian E. Cristobal

(Yesterday, we honored once again the eternal memory of Jose Rizal with familiar rhetoric when it would have been better if more of us would read him. To this day, there are those who firmly believe that he retracted his writings. There are also those who believe that he was against the Philippine revolution—without bothering to read what he had to say about it. Let us not only read him but read him attentively. Whatever our conclusions about his retraction and ideas about revolution, at least we shall have a basis for them.)

The death of Elias achieves revolutionary significance the moment society is recognized as a creator of victims in order to execute them. Elias had been condemned even before he was born, and it only remained for society to carry out the death sentence. The civil guards fire at Elias under the mistaken impression that he is Crisostomo Ibarra. The mistake makes an important difference: even the most unjust society makes a pretense of legality. But in this instance, Ibarra is the condemned man. But in executing the wrong man, society has shown that aside from being arbitrary, it is also inefficient: it loses its last refuge, that of order. This marks the moment which makes revolution a moral and logical necessity.

Society makes victims and then silences them—as criminals. The logic is clear: the victim, at a certain point in his calvary, consents to crime and thereby cancels his legitimate grievance. No longer purely the victim, he can no longer pose his innocence against an unjust society. This demonstrates that Ibarra, who "became" Simoun, Kabesang Tales, who became "Matanglawin, " and Balat, Elias's uncle and husband of Sisa, deserved to die. Something in them, something which yielded, softened the legitimacy of their protest.

Elias never yielded. Until his murder, his protest retains a fidelity to origins. As a personal recourse, revenge gives the apologists of an unjust society the right to say: " You pretend to be on the side of justice but you resort to violence as we do. You are a hypocrite, while we, we have our laws and institutions which authorize us to try and convict." In rejecting revenge, Elias proves his wisdom and underlines the moral accent of his protest: the victim, at the precise moment of his rebellion, will not compromise his innocence.

This is not an easy bargain. Elias's bitter family history provides enough occasion for cynicism and violence—more than Ibarra's or anybody else's misfortunes. Since his grandfather had been falsely accused of arson, Elias's family had always been injured and insulted. His grandmother was a prostitute, yielding, if unwillingly, to the corruption of the times, his grandfather, by hanging himself, succumbed to injustice. (Under the morality of the times, suicide was also a sin.) Elias's father impregnated a woman out of wedlock. All society had to do was wait until this family of "criminals and sinners" prove themselves deserving of punishment.

But we know that Elias rejected revenge. He chose to keep his grievance rather than kill Crisostomo Ibarra, the descendant of Don Pedro Eibarramendia, the persecutor of Elias's grandmother and thus the author of Ibarra's cursed destiny. Elias would not visit the sins of the father on the son. As he said to Old Pablo, the outlaw: "I am ready to give up my search for the rest of the family in whose hands my own suffered. I propose to leave for the North and live among the non-Christians of the mountains. I am all alone. Come with me. I offer you a home and I shall be as a son to you as you shall be a father to me." The fatherless victim wants a father in a land of innocence.

Having rejected lex taliones, Elias now faces the temptation of exile, a different form of suicide. This is paralleled by Maria Clara's flight to the cloister, where women are virtuous because they are dead. But this is also impossible, for Fray Salvi pursues her in the sacred, though not sacred, secrecy of the convent. This is also the flight of Sisa to madness, and in the end, Ibarra himself combines madness with murder. But what flight can ever alleviate the totality of human suffering?

Elias rejects revenge, rejects exile, and, having spared Ibarra, tries to enlist the support of this illustrado in struggling for a just society. The result is the following interview:

"My friend, you and I cannot effect and cannot accomplish changes," said Ibarra.

"Yes, alone, we cannot. But suppose we work with the people? Suppose we listen to their grievances and become an example to the rest in spreading the idea of true love for the fatherland?"

"The people ask for the impossible. There is need for waiting."

"Waiting means suffering."

"But if I begin to ask for these things [reforms], those in power will only laugh at me."

"But if you have the support of the people?"

"That I shall not have! I shall not take by force what the government deems unfit to grant. Never! If I see the people armed against the government, I shall go over to the side of the government…"

Elias argues that there has been no liberty without fighting and Ibarra replies, "The truth is that I have no desire for such liberty." Ibarra believes that the people should first be enlightened and that's why he's building a schoolhouse. And yet he knows of a schoolmaster who failed to educate his pupils in the right spirit because the authorities and the parents themselves prescribed the rod and the catechism as the proper curriculum. To Elias's insight that institutions are too harsh and oppressive, Ibarra replies that these are necessary to cow the people and keep them out of mischief, unwittingly admitting that the government must protect itself against the people. Elias believes that there can be no light without liberty and Ibarra believes there can be no liberty without light.

Elias now faces the fulfillment of his promise to join Old Pablo, outlaw chief and potential revolutionary, in spite of his reservation that in a revolution, the first to suffer are the weak and the innocent—unless, perhaps, all the people are in revolt. But he doesn't live long enough to make the fatal plunge because in an insurrection contrived by Fray Salvi (Maria Clara's ravisher) in order to frame Ibarra, Elias is killed instead.

We arrive at the threshold of the matter. Before us stands brightly the sacrificial nature of Elias's death. Society fails to make the victim a criminal and in killing him commits the definitive crime, the murder of the innocent, providing in turn the ethical foundation of revolution.

Elias provides the "objective condition for revolution," Crisostomo Ibarra is able to escape into exile and to return after seven years to make revolution as "Simoun"—but he is doomed to fail. He fails because the meaning of Elias's sacrifice is lost on him. He predicates revolution on the rescue of Maria Clara from the convent, deliberately devising the corruption and destruction of the unwary, the nonbelligerent, the dupe, to realize his project, since for him all are complicit with an unjust society. As Simoun, he sees revolution as an end in itself not as a means to achieve a greater end.

In making Simoun's revolution fail, Rizal "anticipated" Albert Camus's words in The Invincible Summer:

On the one hand, action is self-discipline because of the grandeur of the objects it pursues. On the other hand, these same objects serve as pretexts for permitting any act that will impose them with certainty. No doubt, the action contained within the bounds imposed by respect for freedom and a sense of justice runs the risk of failing and of being destroyed. But if revolutionary action renounces this risk, the guarantees with which it sought to surround itself can easily be forced in lies, dissimulation, cynicism, in short, its own negation.

"Lies, dissimulation, cynicism"—the negation of the ethics of revolution.

More than a century separates the two moralists of revolution: Rizal and Camus.

After he blesses the soul of Simoun, the good Father Florentino, the native antithesis of the friars Damaso, Salvi, and the rest, apostrophizes:

Where are the youth who will consecrate their golden hours, their illusions and enthusiasm for the welfare of their country? Where are they who would generously shed their blood to wash away so much shame, so much crime, so much abomination? Pure and spotless the victim has to be for the holocaust to be acceptable!…Where are you, youth, who will incarnate in yourselves the vigor of life that has fled from our veins, the purity of ideas that have been soiled in your minds and the fire of enthusiasm that has been extinguished in your hearts… We wait for you, O youth! Come, for we await you!

He then carries the iron chest which contains Simoun's fabulous fortune to the cliff (where the idealistic Isagani, who foiled Simoun's plot to blow up the church where a wedding was to take place, used to sit to "fathom the depths of the sea") and consigns it to the Pacific with these words:

May Nature guard you in her deep abysses among the corals and pearls of her eternal seas! When for a holy and sublime end men should need you, God will draw you from the breast of the waves… Meanwhile there you will do no evil, you will not distort right, you will not foment avarice…

In our present understanding, revolutions destroy an unjust society, but for Elias, as Rizal portrayed him, revolution is based on the very principle that society is based on. In the context of Elias's time, this society was supposedly based on Christian principles, but it acted against them. Elias concluded: We are all living under a sacrilegious society.

Elias does not mean a religious revolution, however. To the people of San Diego, the question is where is God? "Oh, if God only existed!" is their lament, for certainly He is not in the church where the frailes, notably Damaso, preside.

There is only one acceptable society, founded on the dialogue between man and the state, between authority and freedom—under God. And if such a society does not exist, it must be made to exist. Ergo: Revolution. One destroys but never reforms a sacrilegious society.

Elias is a rare bird, indeed. Perhaps, he's only real in Rizal's novel, unlike Crisostomo Ibarra, who studied abroad, imbibed liberal ideas, returned to the country to institute reforms, and when thwarted, went into exile and returned as a provocateur (in alliance with oppressors) with a sentimental but ruthless agenda for revolution.

In criticizing the corrupt and abusive people of our times, the late Sen. Claro M. Recto sarcastically said they were not even like Simoun. But who knows now?

Wouldn't we rather pine for Elias, who, as Old Pablo believes, "shall never perish"—even if only in the imagination? As Elias's body went up in flames, Sister Rufa thought that the rising smoke came from a kaingin, the clearing. She couldn't have known its significance, being a minor character in the novel, but Rizal could have meant it as symbolic of the phoenix.

Indeed, Elias must not perish.

One is tempted to say that Rizal could be examining himself through Crisostomo Ibarra by starting, like any illustrado, as a reformist. Spain, after all, had her liberal intellectuals, and the Indios Bravos, though in exile, were beyond the reach of the oppressive clerico-fascist society. They wrote satirical pieces, the best of which was Rizal's Noli/Fili. For his writings, he was martyred as a subversive, filibustero.

He is, finally, Elias.