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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Danger of Slavery (2013-04-30)

Father Patrick Langan, LC
John 14: 27-31a

Jesus said to his disciples: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ´I am going away and I will come back to you.´ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for granting me the opportunity to be with you. There are things in life, Lord, that attract me, but you attract me more. I hope in you, and I love you. Maybe I don’t really understand what it means to love, and maybe I don’t love the way I should, but I do love you.
Petition: Lord, help me always to remember who I am, where I come from, and where I am going. 

1. Activism: In today´s culture, many people believe, almost religiously, that what they do will eventually make them someone. They believe that from doing flows being, since their activity defines them. This makes it easy for them to be exploited. In nineteenth century America, a slave was often not told his birthday, so he could never really know who he was. He was just made to work. This same temptation exists today. Many people work such long hours — some as a means of escape from difficulties or responsibilities at home; others for the satisfaction they feel seeing a job completed; still others, just to earn more money and to be able to afford a more comfortable life. However, these are all manifestations of the same slavery.

2. My True Identity: With his example, however, Christ shows us a different way of life, a way that goes against the current. First I have to be. Then my doing will flow from my being. Christ says again and again: I am the Son of my Father. Now I will act accordingly. When Moses asked God of the burning bush who he was, he said, “I AM who AM.”
Who am I? What defines me is my relationship to God. Just imagine this: I have the privilege of being a child of God! God has loved me so much that he has adopted me as his child! This is something worthwhile. This is who I really am, and I should act accordingly, as Christ taught me.

3. True Peace: Christ´s great peace comes as a consequence of meditating on and living out who I really am. When I meditate, I discover that I am God’s creature. Suddenly, I find the strength to face reality. Others will be unable to exploit me, and I will stop exploiting others because I am – and they are – children of God. My dignity derives from this fundamental truth: I was created in God’s image and likeness. I came from God, and he is inviting me to return to him and be happy with him for all eternity.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I have the bad habit of focusing on my doing. That is why I am always anxious. I want to be like you, Lord, seeing first who I am and letting my activity flow from that. This will bring me peace. However, Lord, I need your grace. Help me to live as a true son or daughter.

Resolution: Today, I will do two kind acts to someone who is troubled in order to help them experience God’s love for them.


If you're one of the grunts of the Philippine Army of Commerce and High Finance that marches into Makati every morning, ask yourself this question: Do you honestly believe that the country's premier centre of cosmopolitan living functions with people like you in mind?

You, the above-average Makati boy or girl makes from Php 12,000 to Php 60,000 a month. Let's assume a middle figure of Php 35,000 a month (which is still high but considers the fact that this forum is accessible primarily by people like you - you know who you are). At the unreal exchange rate of Php45 to the USD, this amounts to less than US$800 a month or US$11,600 a year (including bonuses). Less, taxes, you probably take home about Php 30,000 a month. 

Because of the nature of the traffic in Manila, distance is irrelevant so we will measure your commute effort in terms of travel time (you probably drive daddy's car). Your commute takes from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours if you still live with your parents, 1 hour to 2 hours if you rent, and 1.5 to 2.5 hours if you've purchased your own home. This translates to Php150 to Php250 worth of fuel consumed a day - 17% of your monthly cash inflow.

Compared to you, your car gets luxury accommodation. A day's parking slot close to your office (it's too hot to walk more than 50 metres outdoors in that costume your employers make you wear to work) sets you back at least Php 150 a day - 13% of your earnings.

A lunch meal plus drinks that can keep you sufficiently fueled for an afternoon's work costs Php140. Add something that passes off as breakfast about every other day (most days, you don't have the time to eat much less prepare it in the morning) Php50 per meal or Php150 a week. And then that occasional Starbucks latte, at Php70 a cup, say, thrice a week, or Php 210 a week. It all adds up - 18% of earnings spent on food and beverages at work.

Manila's corrosive atmosphere and decrepit roads exact their toll from your vehicle everyday. You probably think of your car as a kind of a penis-extender, so you probably spend about Php200 a week on commercial carwashes including waxing, buffing, and vacuuming. But the really necessary maintenance work (unless Daddy takes care of it) - notably wheel alignments every two months (which abnormally high tire replacement rates will cover if you don't perform this) - can cost anywhere from Php500 to Php1,000 a month (specially during the wet season when floods wreak havoc on those automatic transmissions). Let's discount air conditioner breakdown for this one (car air-conditioning is an absolute necessity - remember the work costume?), such an occurrence will put you in debt for the next several years. Anyway, car maintenance - 5% of monthly earnings.

How much of your income does being a Makati boy cost you? It works out to an estimated 53% of your income plus 20 to 25% of your waking hours spent on the road. 

How much more does your personal life set you back? Groceries (Php1,000 a week - a lot more if you eat dinner out), electricity (you use an air conditioner - Php1,000 a month). 17% of income.

You're left with 30% disposable income or about Php9,000 a month. Not bad. But we haven't counted rent and auto payments yet, have we? Thank god we're Filipino and have our parents to subsidise those so we can spend the money on bars, discos, driving ranges, and designer clothes instead. 

Where do you think all that money earned from poor saps like you gets re-invested? Golf courses and more exclusive residential enclaves?

Still feel like you're a genuine article in these "happenin" places? Consider this: Makati and its cousins, Ortigas, Alabang, and Greenhills are world-class reality suspensions. If only we could put all of them in an island and make like another Singapore with the rest of the country treated as its bread, fruit, and cheap labour basket. It is a closer reality than one thinks. 

Entering one of the satellite residential enclaves of these capitals of commerce is just about as challenging as securing a visa to visit America. The security outposts of any of these "villages" are the equivalent of consulates and embassies where every visitor is looked on with a presumed intent to make trouble. "Visitor's visas" are granted in the form of passes that are obtained in exchange for a temporary surrender of one's driver's license (which you have a legal right to decline). "Multiple entry visas" are extended for a fee of up to Php1,000 for a year's access privilege (of course on the condition that you are endorsed - call it "petitioned" - by a resident). Even the neighbourhood parish church reserves prime weekend wedding and baptism slots for residents.

These enclaves are served by their own guest workers that are subject to rigorous security control procedures - body and luggage searches - the works. They levy their own taxes in the form of association dues on their residents; money far better spent than the taxes we pay the national government. Public service is first-class: a security force better-equipped, trained, and disciplined than our police force, grade-A asset management, first-world environmental policy (within the perimeter at least), and community-spirited (among themselves) residents who support and are compliant with the rules and regulations of the association. 

What is the point of all this? We have three of them actually: 
  • We are all victims of marketing and promotions genius all underlain with strategies that capitalise primarily on what is undoubtedly the most debilitating colonial mentality in the Third World.
  • We are third-class citizens in our own country with an aristocracy that has all but established their own sovereign states within our borders.
  • We deserve each other.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Why PH is backward economically, mentally

8:50 pm | Sunday, April 28th, 2013
The picture in the Inquirer (Across the Nation, 4/27/13) showing Team PNoy senatorial candidate Sonny Angara bowing and kissing the hand of Catholic Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, while pledging not to support a divorce bill in Congress, shows why the Philippines is among the social and economic laggards in Asia and the world.
The Philippines is still living in the Dark Ages when the state was subordinate to the Church. Historians characterize the Dark Ages as the period from the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity in 313 AD to the Renaissance. It was a period of stagnation during which the Roman empire broke down, and civilization was crushed by the barbarians. “The ideals, law, language and prosperity of Rome were absorbed by the Catholic Church,” according to Destination Europa on the Web.
Today, however, all modern states are secular. The Philippine Constitution mandates the “separation of church and state.” This is different from the Spanish regime in which Catholicism was a state religion. Catholic doctrines governed the law from birth to marriage to death. Thus, “marriages are made in heaven,” as preached by the Church.
Now birth certificates must be issued by the state to be valid, and also marriages must be licensed by the state to be legal. Marriages that break down in violence, hatred and family discord are certainly not made in heaven.
The right to choose one’s partner or to change him or her is an individual right, and no other entity, not even the state, has the right to tamper with it. The Philippines is backward economically because it is backward mentally.
spokesman, Movement for Truth in History
(Rizal’s Moth), mfalmario@yahoo.com

Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor of the Church : Holy Spirit‏

Holy Spirit
Father Patrick Langan, LC
John 14: 21-26
Jesus said to his disciples: "Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, "Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name-- he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for granting me the opportunity to be with you. There are things in life, Lord, that attract me, but you attract me more. I hope in you, and I love you. Maybe I don’t really understand what it means to love, and maybe I don’t love the way I should, but I do love you.

Petition: Lord, a lot of images distract me. Help me do something about this.

1. The Danger: It is easy to forget you, Lord, especially with all the images that are around me. Every image I harbor in my heart, every emotion I abandon myself to leaves its mark. These can come from the radio, the Internet, songs, novels… anywhere. They seem to swamp my mind and make it easier to forget you. These images and emotions can also impoverish, degrade, limit and reduce my ability to extract from life its magnificent content, usefulness and happiness. You remind me that I should use everything only in as much as it helps me to reach you, my final goal.

2. The Gift: On the other hand, I know you have sent us the gift of the Holy Spirit. As you promise in this Gospel, he will never stop reminding me of you. All I have to do is let his projector fill my imagination with images, with thoughts, with insights. Of course, I also have to use the world’s media correctly and in moderation. Holy Spirit, I know you are near; take possession of my soul and make it all your own. Guide my every decision so that I choose what is right and reject what is evil.

3. Accepting the Gift: When I do forget, the Holy Spirit will remind me of all that Christ has said. All of the emotions and thoughts you inspire, Holy Spirit, will enrich my ability to live enthusiastically and forcefully. You will fill my mind with great and powerful images. All I have to do is open myself to you.
“The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. […] To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2729).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I have the option of letting myself be consumed with thoughts of anger, lust and power—thoughts that will make me grow old and become a more intense version of myself, closed in on myself. Help me take the steps to avoid these temptations. Allow the Holy Spirit to animate my mind and my soul.
Resolution: I will clear my mind by filling my thoughts with God and his things. 



What does one make of a fervently and outwardly religious people that elects for their president a man who is the antithesis of everything that the Church supposedly stands for? It highlights the question of whether the benefits derived from religious activities justify the aggregate time and resources spent by Filipinos attending to these (includes Sunday masses, holy days of obligation, saints' feastdays/fiestas, pilgrimages, etc.). If we, as a people choose to spend time and effort being Christians, then don't we owe it to ourselves as investors of this time and energy to ensure that we benefit from some return in the form of improved spirituality, sounder moral and ethical sensibilities, higher self-esteem, and simplicity of ideals? In short, are we not just better Christians but better people as a result of our devotion to such activities?

If anything, the Philippine Roman Catholic Church teaches us to distinguish between right and wrong by referring to Catechism rather than to our hearts. There is enough evidence to show that this is not working. The heart still rules human behaviour and where this is stifled by a repressive approach to guidance whether through religion or politics, an outlet will be found. Philippine society's venues for such outlets are predictably devoid of any authoritative guidance and our elections have become one of such venues.

The Catholic Church has reduced Filipinos to a guilt-ravaged people and the chaos that continues to engulf the country is a manifestation of an entire people's struggle to come to terms with this guilt. It is a guilt that Filipinos cannot understand because it emanates from a conscience that was nurtured by negative re-enforcement -- behavioural queues burnt into the psyche by fear of punishment and anticipation of reward rather than simple appreciation of personal fulfilment. One side of us clings to religious sacraments as a validation of our continued compliance to the black and white rules of our formal Catholic training and the other side gropes around for an alternate code ethics to deal with the real world of grey areas and a constant information deluge from other cultures. Spiritually, the Filipino is like a computer that is shoddily programmed to deal with situations that are not applicable to its environment. Anyone who's used such a computer is familiar with the annoying if not disastrous results.

We are still in the agonising process of developing such an alternate code of ethics, an effort the Catholic Church will have nothing to do with. Ironic, because such stubbornness on the part of the Church will be the ultimate cause of its slide to irrelevance. The Church's inability to prevent the fortunate election of President Ramos (a Protestant) and the unfortunate election of President Estrada are two signs that this is underway. This is compounded by its increasing identification with the Establishment as a power broker in Traditional Philippine Politics as demonstrated in its role in the two Edsa 'revolutions'. 

What is uncertain is what might eventually replace the Catholic Church as a moral Pied Piper for the Filipino people. It already exercises little control over wayward sects such as the supposedly Catholic El Shaddai, which, in the days leading to the Edsa II 'revolution' organised a rally that attracted more participants than any of the mass actions conducted by pro and anti-Erap groups alike. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fifth Sunday of Easter : They Will Know Us by Our Works‏

They Will Know Us by Our Works

Father Alex Yeung, LC
John 13:31-33a, 34-35
When Judas had left them, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once.  My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are here with me. I am privileged to have this private audience with you. Aware of my weakness, I hope in your mercy and love. I open my heart now to you, to the wisdom, mercy and good news of your Gospel, for through it you wish to guide me home to rest eternally with you in heaven. Thank you for your boundless love. Take my weak, poor love in return, as it is all I have to offer you. 

Petition: Lord, help me to imitate you by accepting and forgiving others. 

1. This Is How They Will Know You Are My Disciples: Nowadays, words alone are empty; they need to be backed up by actions. All too often we have experienced that zealous politician or marketer who makes promises that we instinctively know are too good to be true. We want to believe the good they promise, but experience has taught us to have a healthy sense of skepticism. Unfortunately, this contemporary disbelief of “too good to be true” could also be said of Christianity. Christians are to be known by their love for one another. In my marriage, with my children, and in my social circle, am I known for my Christ-like love? In particular, am I capable of accepting others as they are, of seeing their way of being in a good light? Though I set high standards, do my spouse and children truly find rest, light and solace in my company? 

2. Love Has High Standards: The film “Love Story” had a classic line: “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” As Christians, though, we are aware of our weak nature and tendency to sin. We need to ask pardon – frequently. More often than not, the souls we hurt are those closest to us: our spouse, a child, a parent or in-law. The disciples, too, had their squabbles with each other. The love that bound them, exhorted them to make peace with one another as Christ makes peace with his Church: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Is my love great enough to overlook the weaknesses of those who hurt me and turn my wounded ego to compassion and pardon? To err is human, but to forgive is divine. 

3. Love Is from the Heart: Christ told his disciples, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). This applies as well to harboring grudges in our hearts. Love goes beyond kind words and actions to the very heart of man: to our thoughts. Although it may initially cause distress to our will to think well of those who have hurt us, it is truly therapeutic! Our Lord said, “From the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy” (Matthew 15:19). Likewise, a heart that actively looks for the good in others will form the habit of speaking well and acting kindly towards those who naturally are displeasing. Thinking well of others renews our faith in God’s mercy. If we are merciful, how much more we can expect Our Lord to be patient and merciful with us! 

Conversation with Christ: My Jesus, your life is witness of love to me. You forgave your enemies and even prayed for them. My love is to mirror your love, but I realize I can love so much more than I have loved until now. Help me today to increase my love and let go of those remnants of egoism that hold me back from a Christ-like love. 

Resolution: Today I will make a list of those souls immediately before me for whom I can do a hidden act of charity. I will pray for them, speak well of them, and look for a significant way to serve their needs as I would if they were Christ himself. 

The Absence of Common Sense

Courtesy: Corbis.com

The Absence of Common Sense
Manila Bulletin 09 April 2000 

AN admired Filipino economist, based in New York, surveyed the economic situation here and dolefully intoned: ''What ails the country is that Philippine society is intellectually bankrupt.'' Take, for instance, the national debates, she pointed out.

"They are droll and unintelligent, focused on the trivial or the irrelevant." When the issues are of some significance, it's the wrong arguments that prevail, the wrong side wins. Logic and common sense take the backseat to political arguments and the views of the poorly-educated. There seems to be some bases for her disenchantment. 

Consider the EDSA People Power TV debate during its last anniversary celebration: "Is the People Power revolution still meaningful?" The TV audience voted it was no longer meaningful! And the winning argument articulated by a former Marcos' boy was: "Are you better off now after EDSA People Power?" as if the one magical event in the world's struggle for freedom in which the Filipinos were the acclaimed heroes had something to do with the contour of the stomach, instead of the shaping of the soul. 

No change needed

Listen to the vacuous debate on increase of fuel price and the jeepney strikes. Almost everyone wants to repeal the law of supply and demand and annul the OPEC. How untidy has been the bishops' choice of causes to champion. They hardly know they are playing tail to the leftists' kite. Mercifully, other uninformed crusaders had joined them in maintaining that the 13-year old Constitution is so perfect it needs no change whatsoever. They don't know that the Constitution has never been meant to be everlasting. All Philippine Constitutions and most constitutions in the world had gone through some amendments within the first five years of its ratification. Times change. Lessons must be learned. The present Constitution was drafted in the shadow of martial law. Among others, it's now clear, presidential election is most expensive, with no guarantees of great leaders. A parliamentary system immediately saves the country one costly election and with the parliament members electing the premier from among themselves, it prevents the less qualified from becoming head of state. 

Simple common sense tells us that if you charge MRT commuters fares they can't afford (initially P40) they would continue to ride the buses and the traffic congestion on EDSA, sought to be solved by the MRT, remains unsolved. Smarter administrators would have charged only P10 and thus drive all the buses out of EDSA, free at last from traffic. Of course, you could later gradually hike the fare to reasonable level when the buses have gone and save the country hundreds of billions lost daily in the world's worst traffic mess. 

A weird culture

Intellectual bankruptcy includes inability of our bright boys to come up with the correct formula for solving our economic crisis for many, many years now. The bright boys of our neighbors had recaptured their tigerhood in no time at all. Here's no center to our economic planning. For instance, our experts still have to recognize mass unemployment as the most afflicting and dehumanizing of our problems, translating into, among other things, the lack of purchasing power of the people and hence making it illogical for producers and investors to set up new factories or increase production when nobody is buying. 

Nor have we researched on the latest thinking among UN planners: "The defect even in IMF development programs is the setting up of projects that enrich only a few and don't focus on job-creation. The most effective way of fighting poverty is with jobs. Mass low-cost housing, a million a year, by Japanese firms using their surplus steel and materials, BOT, 30 years to pay, 3 years grace period addresses dramatically unemployment. Even squatters can afford P1,200 monthly amortization, 30 years term. 

There's a weird culture in our midst: our jocular regard for our national problems, great crimes, villainous scams and calamities. Note that Filipinos are notorious for making fun, creating a joke of their misfortunes. The cellulars are full of them now. In other countries inhabited by serious and sensitive people, they mount crusades, indignation rallies or nationwide relief campaigns to meet such crises. They would weep or stomp their feet, or explode in anger, or demand punishment for the criminals or misfits. Here we tend to laugh at scams, crimes and natural calamities, as if they are part of the usual TV noon comedy shows, the Pinoy's daily diet. 

It's very hard to be intellectual if you aren't serious. And so far the clear evidence is that we are not a serious people. Worse, we don't like to think. 

US sailors' case

Recently there was the incident of US Visiting Forces Agreement soldiers mauling a taxi driver. This time most of the columnists huffed and puffed against the Americans and the VFA. They demanded full application of Philippine laws including a sojourn in our dirty jails (which the American soldiers fear more than anything under the laws). To give up jurisdiction is to give up sovereignty, was their battlecry. A popular columnist TV-host titled his column: "No Settlement in Sailors' Case!" barking his order like a master sergeant. 

Never mind that the VFA exempts minor cases from Philippine jurisdiction. Lawyers know that everyday criminal cases are settled through the process of affidavit of desistance, among other ways. And precisely, when the parties submit to that kind of settlement, they submit to the jurisdiction of our court or the fiscal office that makes the final ruling on it. Little knowledge of law is quite dangerous. In fact, to forbid the US soldier to enter into the usual procedures of settlement is to offend due process. It's one rule for the rest of the population and another for the VFA US soldiers. 

The larger issue missed by the noisy denouncers is national interest. What's good for our country. Those who would make foes of the Philippines and the US, our oldest democratic ally, are correct. There's a link between the US military bases and the VFA. But we seem unable to learn the lesson of the past. Our macho decision, or the macho decision of 12 senators to boot out instantly the bases was the costliest decision ever made in the post war era here: 80,000 Filipino workers in the bases immediately lost their jobs; billions of dollars' worth of military equipment and ordinance, anything not nailed down, were shipped back to the States, even if not needed by them. (The US could also respond boorishly and pettily when treated boorishly). 


Also, there's the $500 million yearly from US military bases budget specifically to buy locally-produced goods; billions in dollars of military weapons, including planes and ships, under the military assistance program; the millions of dollars' worth of scholarships in top US universities for Filipino soldiers. Apart from these, the closure of US Consulate in Cebu City forcing thousands from Visayas and Mindanao to spend millions to come to Manila for their visas; stricter requirements for issuance of US visas. We also witnessed the massive economic dislocation in Central Luzon. There was no softening of the shock or a leeway for the 80,000 terminated workers to look for another means of livelihood. The term of the "magnificent" senators was for the US bases to move out immediately, rejecting the US plea for a three year phaseout. A sensible procedure. 

Up to this day we lose money daily needlessly from the decision to oust the bases: Everyday we spend millions for years now to patrol China Sea near Spratlys. The US Fleet, partly based in Subic, used to do it for us for free. Now we are negotiating to get billions' worth of naval ships and helicopters and planes to convince the Chinese we mean business in Spratlys. In the first place, the Chinese would never have thought of loitering to the Spratlys if the US military bases were still here. 

Such goodwill

The judge in Cebu has more brains than all those pundits crying for the pound of flesh from the US. She dismissed the case after the US soldiers made an open court apology to the mulcting taxi-driver. She refused to place ideology above national interest. She would not join those who would want to be the last communists in the world. What is the most important item in the VFA exercises is re-establishing the goodwill between the Philippines and the superpower old friend. Many good things for the country could be gotten from such goodwill. As there were from the US military bases. 

With the benefit of hindsight, the anti-bases crusaders would probably know the answer to these questions: How come the smarter countries in the world like Japan, Germany, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, etc. have never asked the US to remove their military bases from their countries and in fact had asked them to stay put? What do they get from the bases? How many billions of dollars did they save in their national defense budgets. How come none of these smarter people think they are diminished because of the presence of US bases or the VFA, and only the Filipinos feel reduced? 

Oh, the Filipinos are a special people, would be the answer of their fellow-simpletons. 

Source: http://getrealphilippines.com/legacy/agr-disagr/10-comsen.html

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Supernatural Secrets

Father Steven Reilly, LC

John 14:7-14

Jesus said to his disciples: "If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ´Show us the Father´? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it."

Introductory Prayer: Father, how empty is the life that doesn’t know the joy of Jesus your Son. I have come to this prayer today to know you and your Son better, to love you more and to imitate your perfections. Thank you for this time of prayer.

Petition: Father, help me to be aware of your presence in my soul.

1. The Father and Jesus Are One: The liturgy gives us a second look at this Gospel passage. The great truth that Jesus is sharing with Philip is that as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus and the Father are one – they are inseparable. We worship Christ. We don’t merely honor him as the best of men; he is the God-man whom we adore. What Jesus is by nature we are empowered to be by grace. With our baptism, we became adopted children of God. Brought into the family of the Trinity, the divine persons dwell in our soul as in a temple. Do we realize the dignity we have been given?

2. Doing the Same Works As Jesus: Herein lies the possibility of doing the works of Jesus. If he lives in us, he can work through us. What an opportunity to cooperate with grace! When we are loving, kind and disciplined, we aren’t merely being good. These good deeds are more than just good; they have an eternal value. After all, they are the “works of Jesus.” We receive the reward for his works. Such is the generosity of the Master whom we serve!

3. Ask and You Shall Receive: The name of Jesus is powerful. He commands us to ask in his name for the things we need so that in granting them to us, the Father may be glorified. When we kneel before the tabernacle, we must approach the Lord with total and absolute confidence. He knows that our faith will grow when we experience his power in action: “Ask and you shall receive!” (Matthew 7:7-9).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, what a consoling thought is it that the Holy Trinity dwells in my soul. I am a child of God! Help me to do the works of God! I ask this in your name.

Resolution: Because God dwells in my soul I will try to treat others as he would treat them. 

Lead up to fiesta elections: Has Philippine democratic politics changed at all?

April 23, 2013 by


From the little window through which I take stock of the landscape of issues that describe the lead up to the May 2013 elections, I’d say — surprise surprise — things haven’t changed much. A lot of developments have supposedly further liberalised and democratised democracy as it is practiced in the Philippines. The two new key gateways ordinary folk could supposedly take to joining the mainstream politics and political discourse of the Philippines that have been traditionally dominated by politicians affiliated with oligarchs and their dynasites have been fully-utilised; i.e.,
(1) the party list system has, in principle, allowed “marginalised” sectors within Philippine society to bid for a piece of the country’s lucrative power pie; and,
(2) the Net (of which social media is a subset) has turned millions of people into content publishers effectively breaking the monopoly highly-capitalised print and broadcast media companies have had on information dissemination.
Have these “new” tools supposedly meant to “empower” the powerless done the job?

Consider the party list system. Many will agree that this avenue for the society’s “marginalised” masses has been fully perverted beyond recognition. Groups within the ranks of the self-described champions of these marginalised folk — the communists — are now at each others’ throats exhibiting the very same talangka behaviour they once all loved to gleefully point out in the “reatcionaries” they love to wax rhetoric about. The centroid of all this Leftist internal mudslinging apparently is senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros formerly of commie front Akbayan who is widely believed to have betrayed her Leftist cause to sellout to the Establishment “Team PNoy”. 

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr in a blog post already goes at length into explaining why Akbayan has lost its claim to the right to be called a “party list” organisation, highlighting how it might fail to convincingly respond to three key questions on the matter: “Is Akbayan marginalized and underrepresented? Are Akbayan’s nominees marginalized and underrepresented based on what is required under the law? Can a group claiming to represent the marginalized be an integral member of the reactionary ruling clique?” Bayan, of course, is just another one of those commie groups. But now that elections are in the air, even the best of buddies will not think twice about stabbing the other in the back.

Even candidate Teddy Casiño uses clever words to muddle things for us: “Leftist but not communist?” Perhaps. But no amount of clever wordsmithing can seem to hide his consistent failure to outright denounce communism despite claiming to have disavowed himself of its “armed struggle”.

Classy indeed. George Orwell’s Animal Farm was dead spot-on. When pork barrel funds beckon, Leftists conveniently forget their ideology of destruction in order to reshape themselves into whatever form it takes to partake of the Establishment’s gold.

Then there is the social media scene. It is advocacy-by-retweet and action-by-Like. Harmless at best. A nice hangout scene for armchair political hobbyists. Whereas blogs in the early 2000s forced old-time netizens to structure their thoughts in coherently-articulated blog articles, publishers of content on today’s social media platforms propagate with very minimal insight-added-value — the equivalent of serving as mere added-cost middlemen in an inefficient supply chain that brings food from the farmgate onto our dining tables. Today, we get a lot of information literally from the tweets of little birds, much the same way as Filipinos buy their cigarettes tingi (one stick at a time) from little boys and girls hawking their wares in the traffic-choked streets of Manila.

Worse, many social media “activists” have turned to the very practice that blights the National “Debate” in the Philippines, donning costimes and engaging in circus stunts to amass zombie-like followers using persuasion techniques reminiscent of cult leaders like Jim Jones. Put these shocktivists side by side with the loathsome trapos who we love to hate and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell them apart.

Indeed, things haven’t changed. At the top of the food chain remains the traditional folk from which true power originates — politicians who control the gold and publishers who produce original rich content. The proverbial pyramid may look the same but those that inhabit its pinnacle may no longer be recognisable. The new Leftists-turned-sellouts will go on to become the new trapos (traditional politicians) as certain former “radicals” now scrambling for senate seats are demonstrating. And the old traditionals of Media, whose abilities to publish what is supposed to be published is increasingly hindered by the agendas of their owners, will see their credibitlity and responsiveness slowly chipped away by more agile and more savvy wielders of modern media business models.

Timing is king. In that most recent of journalism scandals currently rocking the chattersphere, the tables have turned for publishing behemoth Inquirer Group. They have for now turned from being a source of rich content on which bottomfeeders feast, to a hapless — and clumsy — disseminator of content produced by a new breed of increasingly powerful digital producers. It’s not really “crowdsourcing” when you are too quick to believe what you crowdsource.

There is no substitute for basic thinking. That simple principle hasn’t changed at all.

[Image courtesy Behance.net.]

What national language?


So where has this drive to institutionalise the national language gotten us so far? A fatter Filipino dictionary? Granted, a national language is a good thing (we just have to figure out why in practical terms) and there has been a significant increase in the number of Filipino-language publications and television shows. (Ok, let's just use the word Tagalog for purposes of conciseness from here on that's what Filipino essentially is, isn't it)

But let's analyse the quality of the information that reaches the majority of the people. Ask the average Filipino to name any Tagalog publication. What comes up? Abante. A Tagalog TV show? Palibhasa Lalaki (or whatever; they're all the same). Tagalog books? You'll get any one or two of hundreds of titles of those cheesy romance novelettes sold at every corner store. Tagalog material of an academic or literary quality above cheese and sleaze languishes in the dusty Filipinana sections of libraries and the low-customer-traffic areas of bookstores and on graveyard or early morning television timeslots.

The road taken by our education officials is increasing Filipino youth's exposure to and awareness of the national language, i.e. force-feeding. Thus the thesis of this blurb, at least 50% of communication skills training classroom time spent on mastering Tagalog. Endless hours memorising talasalitaan words that average four syllables each to express concepts that one-syllable English words completely cover. There was also a massive and half-witted language re-engineering project to come up with Tagalog words like salumpwitï for chair even if the equivalent silya was already in wide use.

And for what? High-quality material Filipinos could use to advance commercially, technologically, socially, and politically are all written in English. So now we have a workforce with language skills at half the level of what they could have been (i.e. mediocre in both English and Tagalog). It explains why Philippine industry is staffed by workers who are timid during meetings and conferences and do not develop and maintain nor follow standard operating procedures manuals. Information is not transferred and passed on efficiently resulting in slow learning process that characterises the people as a whole. 

Unlike our more prosperous neighbours, our islands are home to a huge population that our economy is unable to employ and feed. Still, we have no choice but to think of our vast pool of labour as a resource if we are to move forward. That is the road that India has unwittingly taken as large numbers of Indian engineers now churn out and export high-quality software and IT services to the world. After having all but squandered our land's natural resources and inflated our salaries to uncompetitive levels (given our dismal productivity levels), we now have only our 80 million-strong people to show for. And information technology and knowledge work is their brightest hope.

But let's face it. Tagalog is not a technical language. A search for the Tagalog translation of a simple word like keyboard would leave most Filipinos scratching their heads. At best, Tagalog translations of technical words are hopelessly cumbersome. For example, the best translation of the word torque would be pampihitampuwersa. At six syllables against one, isn't the choice clear?

So if we think of education as an investment, then we should seriously consider the returns on this investment. Measured in terms of urgency and, yes, the potential to fill our pockets with dollars and pesos, the rationale behind the time we continue to invest in Tagalog training which (we presume) is to develop national identity and preserve our cultural heritage doesn't quite stack up to the need to enhance the employability of our workers at the moment. In the first place, 50 years worth of efforts to develop a national identity hasn't added up to much. Filipinos still leave in droves and don't come back. And once out of the country, we fail to develop even the remotest semblance of true ethnic solidarity in our respective adopted countries. So what's the point? 

Make no mistake. Our bilingualism is definitely an advantage. We simply need to re-evaluate or re-define Tagalog's place in our educational system so that it performs as a true asset. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Anti-Pinoy Sentiments in Singapore?

April 21, 2013 by

Unlike other multi-national fastfood restaurants like Macdonalds and KFC which hire mainly Singaporeans and even the disabled and elderly, Jollibee Singapore intends to hire their fellow pinoys to fill up jobs in their latest Singapore venture. The Filipinio fastfood chain will be opened in Q1 this year but locations remained unknown.
Singaporeans are encouraged to boycott Jollibee Singapore to send a message that foreign businesses which hire foreigners first are not welcome in Singapore, and, businesses which targeted the Singaporean market share and profit off Singaporeans should prioritize job opportunities for Singaporeans first.
jollibee opens jobs for filipinos in singapore 
I wouldn’t say that this is really a sentiment directed against Filipinos or Filipino companies, but rather, it might be based on sentiments of Singaporeans who want to be prioritized for jobs in their home country.
Just why it seems important for Singaporeans to be prioritized for jobs in fast serve food chains is beyond me.  I would imagine that Singaporeans, for the most part, target jobs in either IT Firms, Banks, and Communications companies.  After all, this is why they’ve opened up their job market to thousands or millions of Pinoys — a large number of whom perform jobs the average Singaporean wouldn’t want to do.
Then again, maybe it is the influx of our less intelligent, less cultured, and less well educated countrymen that has got The Real Singapore in a fit.  Or is it?
I think the last sentence gives a clue:
The PAP government has announced that it plans to increase Singapore’s population to 6 million by 2020, it is no surprise why they are now welcoming any unskilled foreigners simply to make up the number. Over the past decade, the PAP government has bent forward pandering to businesses’ appetite for cheap foreign labor. This has in turned resulted in a depression of salaries especially for the bottom 20% income earners who see their salaries stagnated over the past 13 years despite charting record GDP that the Prime Minister is so proud of. Foreign professionals, managers and engineers have also taken up jobs of Singaporeans who are seeing more retrenchment in the guise of restructuring, and salary growth below inflation rate.
I think it’s a better bet to think that Singaporeans are finding it difficult to come to terms with Filipino professionals who are just as good or even better but will work at a fraction of the pay that their Singaporean counterparts receive.
Thing is, the sentiment to keep foreign workers out from higher paying jobs isn’t at all unique to Singpore.  People in the US have similarly raised a howl over the inundation of “migrant workers” from Mexico and everywhere else.
In any case, there seems to be a response from the Singaporean government and that is to somewhat tighten the inflow of foreign workers.  In a press statement, the Ministry of Manpower said Foreign Worker Levy rates (read that as the amount of money paid to hire a foreign worker) would be increased and Dependency Ratio Ceilings (read that as the percentage of foreign vs. Singaporean employees) would be decreased.
I think it might yet be another indication of the OFW Bubble Bursting — if you looked at it together with Saudization and other similar developments.
The OFW Bubble Burst, of course, isn’t going to happen because the demand for cheap labor (which we are at this point) has shrunk or is shrinking to the point of being almost non-existent.  The thing is, it’s still a pretty safe bet that the countries that we’ve been sending OFWs to for decades will definitely continue to need manpower.  However, what is different these days may be that “OFW job sources” may be looking into ways of cutting the already low cost of using foreign workers.
A couple of years back I learned that some OFWs being sent to Saudi were going for as low as $300 a month and a former employee of mine vetted this, saying her husband recently left of a job paying $250 a month!
What the frick? That’s like P10,000 a month, if at all you can send it all home and it’s a pittance, really, for being away from your family!
It is perhaps this situation, Filipinos hiring themselves our for extremely low pay and being seen as a threat to the local job seekers in the countries they are working in, that has had politicians here in the Philippines mouthing “job creation” as the solution.
All in all, what this really spells out is a tougher time for people who seek jobs abroad and as for Filipinos in Singapore, I don’t think it will help much at all if their fellow OFWs there are seen as a nuisance of sorts online.
Take the case of a certain Carlos R Pestano III whose behavior was put on the spotlight in the Singapore Seen Stomp:

Here’s an excerpt from that article:
Seagate Technology has apologised on their facebook page for comments made by one of their engineers who called some Singaporeans ‘rotten’ and ‘bitter’.
In a post on their facebook page, Seagate made it clear that they were aware of the offensive comments and apologised for them. They also promised to look into the matter immediately and take the ‘necessary disciplinary measures where needed’.
More than ten STOMPers had written in over the insensitive comments, which had been posted on his personal facebook page. According to his facebook page, the engineer is a Filipino working in Singapore.
Here are some STOMPers’ comments regarding the incident.
STOMPer Angry bird wrote:
“Look at this proud Pinoy FT working in Seagate calling us locals ‘rotten’.
“Should we send him back to where he belongs?”
Jazz wrote:
“As you can see in the screenshot taken below on his profile page, it shows his comments on Singaporeans on facebook, viewable by everyone.
“He is listed as a member of Seagate, a Process Engineer at Seagate Technology International (W1).”
“He refers to Singaporeans as ‘rotten locals’, calls us ‘bitter’, and says most of us are ‘working under us (Pinoys)’.”
Samm also commented:
“Look at this Filipino’s remarks about Singaporeans.
“I came across a photo on facebook.
“A Filipino working in Seagate, based in Singapore, is making racist remarks about locals.
“I do not condone his language used because they are offensive and mean.
“It will just stir up more angst between the foreign talents and locals here.”
Rinna wrote:
“This is really disturbing.
“This Pinoy guy should get fired by Seagate.”

Freedom of Expression


Our Gaze Fixed on Christ

Father Steven Reilly, LC

John 14:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father´s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way." Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Introductory Prayer: Father, how empty is the life that doesn’t know the joy of Jesus your Son. I have come to this prayer today to know you and your Son better, to love you more and to imitate your perfections. Thank you for this time of prayer.

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me a greater intensity in my relationship with you, the Way, the Truth and the Life!

1. Follow Me, I Am the Way: Remember the olden days, when you would stop in a gas station and ask directions? “Follow me” was the easiest way to give directions. Something like that is happening in the Gospel today. To Thomas’ question, “How can we know the way?” Jesus gives himself as the answer. We know the way with infallible precision. A personal and passionate relationship with Christ is the sure way through this confusing world. Let us keep our relationship with Jesus always on our spiritual GPS. Whenever we have a doubt, we should ask ourselves, “How would Jesus act in this situation? What is the path he would follow?”

2. Believe in Me, I Am the Truth: Jesus gives his followers a truth so rock solid, that nothing can shake them. Just as he is the Way, he is also the Truth. “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:12). With the Truth of Jesus, we have the answer to basically any question we need to ask. What a comfort it is to have Jesus as the Truth in this world of jaded souls and in this climate of relativism.

3. Come to Me, I Am the Life: “He’s the life of the party” is a compliment of high regard in certain circles. He’s the spark plug, the guarantee for an entertaining evening. If he’s not there, a deflated feeling hangs in the air and everybody wonders if there isn’t a better way to be spending their time. A life lived with Jesus is never dull. He is the “Life” of more than just a party. The Christian with an intense relationship with Christ is completely fulfilled — he is never bored, nor is he boring.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you are the Way, the Truth and the Life. I thank you for giving me the great grace of my Catholic faith. Help me to share with others the immense joy of this personal relationship you have given me.

Resolution: I will speak to someone today about having a personal relationship with Christ.