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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...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA): Why America is NOT the enemy!

April 30, 2014
by benign0
So America’s awesome military is now well on its way to staging a triumphant return to the shores of its bosses’ hapless former colony. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) “highlights” the recent meeting between Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III and US President Barack Obama. However, reports abound that many Filipinos supposedly aren’t happy with the deal which, in practice, works around constitutional bars against many forms of US troop deployment within Philippine territory. While the rhetoric surrounding this negativity may be loud, it is old and lame.
Left without US military assistance, the Philippines is a largely helpless and defenseless nation.
Left without US military assistance, the Philippines is a largely helpless and defenseless nation.
Militant group Gabriela (supposedly a champion of “womens’ issues”), for example, expressed fears that the increase in US troop deployments to the Philippines will result in an increase in crime around areas where they are stationed. According to Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan “the country could see a rise in women and child abuse cases as a result of the 10-year defense deal that will allow greater US military presence in the country.”
“They will still violate and go around the provisions. Tayo pa rin ang dehado.”
Ilagan said aside from a possible rise in cases of human rights violations, the defense pact can also cause damage to the country’s environment.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares shared Ilagan’s sentiment against the deal. “Ang daming nangyaring krimen noong panahon ng bases – rape, child prostitution, illegal drugs, human rights violations – mayroon ka bang nalaman na isang Amerikanong na-convict?”
Ilagan seems to conveniently forget, however, that many of the most heinous crimes in the Philippines are perpetrated by Filipinos themselves. Indeed, it is likely that crime that can be directly attributed to American military personnel is statistically insignificant. Indeed, the most recent high-profile crackdowns on child abuse in the Philippines were, in fact, initiated by foreign law enforcement agencies. This is another example of the way Filipinos are motivated by foreign pressure first before any self-initiative. Left to their own devices, local law enforcement agencies will have likely left that cancer to fester right under their noses.
Ilagan should also consider the tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of Filipino lives that were saved and relieved of their misery by the awesome might of the US military back in late 2013 after super typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. If there were “victims” of “human rights violations” supposedly perpetrated by US troops in the past, as Ilagan points out, maybe that bit of math will put things in a bit more perspective for the honourable party-list “representative”. Perhaps Ilagan should, instead, spend her days going after her colleagues in government who make a killing syphoning off money intended for the rehabilitation of the disaster areas.
More to the point, the country is currently reeling from a vast corruption scandal, the scale of which investigators and observers alike are only beginning to understand. Though top members of the Philippine Senate have been implicated (and many more have yet to be revealed) in this appalling case of national plunder, many Filipinos doubt that any of these officials, most of whom are backed by large, powerful, and wealthy political machines, will ever see a day in prison.
Suffice to say, there are other, more pressing things Filipino “activists” should be worrying about than, say, American GI’s on Philippine soil. Perhaps they should keep the heat on pork barrel thieves and murderous Mindanao warlords like Andal Ampatuan rather than on a country and its government that, according to recent research, Filipinos love. In short, the Filipino people’s enemy is not America — it is themselves and the government they’ve built for themselves. It’s high time our so-called “activists” figure that out.
[Photo courtesy UPI.]


Fr. Shay Cullen

Now that Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII have been canonized Saints, I suppose I can now say that I walked with a saint, I talked with a saint and I photographed a saint. Just as thousands have done during his many travels and his public appearances.

It is a beautiful thing that both were declared Saints together. Saints are not expected to be perfect. We can be saints too by living out the gospel message in all its simplicity as best we can.

We don't have to have heroic virtue, just live so we can reach out and help others in need and share what we can with those who have less, to love like the Good Samaritan without seeking any reward. We can be undeclared saints especially by helping the orphans, widows, victims of abuse and exploitation, the poor and the oppressed and to do our best to make this a more just and loving world where human rights and the dignity of every person is respected and cherished.

The canonization of two Popes at the same time by two living Popes is a first in the history of the church. Traditions are changing quickly and Pope Francis is doing this to unite the traditional conservative Catholics who hailed Pope John Paul II as their champion of conservative teaching and practice. He was a charismatic leader but he put the brakes on the reforms of Pope John XXIII who convened the first Ecumenical Council and brought wide-reaching reforms into the church that not all could easily accept. 

Pope John XXIII through the Ecumenical Council in 1962 brought the church into the modern world and enabled it to share the gospel message and values to the world in way that challenges the forces of evil and frees the human spirit to act for justice and have a sense of community with all people. Both tried to do that in their own way. Pope Francis will try do it his way respecting the best of the previous Popes.

It was in 1981 when Pope John Paul II came to the Philippines and I was assigned to photograph and write about his visit. He had a hectic schedule. I made travel arrangements to be in the places where he would be. 

Saint Pope John Paul II from Poland was not adverse to positive political outcomes of strong solidarity by the Catholics of Poland. He supported those that were organizing trade unions and staging non-violent demonstrations for freedoms and human rights in Poland. After all, the social teachings of the church were already strongly established in Papal teachings. Solidarity eventually won elections and soon the communist state collapsed. Many hoped he would speak for the poor in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda held sway over a brutal regime that oppressed the poor and the church and plundered the public treasury at will. Yet Marcos was claiming he was a democratically elected official but the cemeteries were overflowing with victims of his death squads.

It was a stifling hot February day, 1981 in a slum area of Manila when I stood side by side with Saint Pope John Paul II.  A small stage had been set up on the side of the road and roped off. I took a taxi and walked the rest of the way. My Press card got me through security. The people had gathered and strangely there were no politicians, bishop or priests or an official delegation waiting to greet the Pope. The media had not arrived either.

I stood around alone by the little stage and after a while, some vehicles came through the crowds. The vehicles stopped and out stepped Pope John Paul II and he was escorted by his security people to the small stage. The bishop, press, officials were nowhere to be seen. Apparently there was a huge traffic jam nearby.

It was an amazing scene. He was dressed in a simple white cassock and skull cap and only a few of his staff were there, gone were all the glitter pomp and ceremony of Rome. He stood alone calmly with a smile and gave a light wave to the clapping crowd. Nothing seemed to perturb him. I stood within three meters and greeted him with "welcome your holiness”.  I didn't know what else to say. He just smiled and nodded. I was perplexed standing around with a Pope almost alone inside the roped enclosure.

I was perplexed standing beside him waiting. I forgot to take lots of photographs after about eight minutes, with sirens wailing, the vehicles arrived through the crowd and a horde of church and civic officials rushed to the stage and got on with the official welcome. John Paul gave a speech that applied the beatitudes to the people of Tondo, “Blessed are the Poor”, he said, and he encouraged them to pursue the social teachings of the church. It was a warning to the rich cronies of Marcos to respect the dignity of God's children. Children brought flowers, then they all boarded the cars and drove away in a convoy.

It was not the first time I had met and walked with living saints. Those who have dedicated their lives to the unselfish service of the sick and helpless, those risking their lives defending human rights and the poor, those dying in the struggle for justice and the rights of the oppressed are martyrs and saints and I walked and worked with many of them. They live heroic lives of virtue and self-sacrifice, they will stand proudly with the two Popes in God's kingdom.  [shaycullen@preda.org]

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

Children of the Light

John 3:16-21

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know my needs better than I do. I turn to your Spirit to teach me what to ask for in this prayer. I want to fulfill your holy will over my life. I love you, Lord, and I place all my hope in you.

Petition: Lord, increase my faith in the power of the Resurrection.

1. God Loves the World: The tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean countries in 2004 and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 provoked many people to question God’s goodness. How could he, if he is good, have permitted such a catastrophe? But what does our faith teach us? That God loves the world, so much that he sent his only Son. Evil in the world is real and present, and such massive casualties show that nature herself cooperates with the power of death. But that power is being broken. The first decisive blow to the chain that binds the world was Christ’s death on the cross. The execution of Our Lord was the greatest act of moral evil history can ever see, but through God’s power, it has become the source of eternal life for us all, as we now celebrate in this Easter season. Through the power of the Resurrection, we are journeying towards the ultimate defeat of suffering and death.

2. Sin Is the Worst Evil: The physical evil brought by a natural disaster is terrible. But sin is worse. This Gospel reading reminds us of souls who consciously choose evil. The irony is that people make this choice pursuing some form of self-fulfillment. Instead of fulfillment, they encounter the emptiness of a life that carries with it the burden of self-imposed condemnation. They live in darkness as opposed to the light. If we knew someone who freely chose to live in a darkened cave, we would think that person nothing short of insane. But where are the dark patches in our own lives?

3. Christ Leads Us Towards the Light: Christ’s body had been physically destroyed through the evil decisions and cruelty of men. When the risen Lord appeared to the apostles in the Upper Room, his new life of glory pointed in a new direction, and they were flooded with the vision of where we are heading. Through our life in the Church, we are heading to a renewal of all things in Christ, in which death will be no more, and where every tear will be wiped away. The physical evil of natural disasters and the moral evil of sin may try to challenge our faith. But they are the last gasps of a defeated enemy. Let us take heart! We are headed to the light, where Christ is King and Lord of all.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I long to live in the light. Banish from my soul all darkness of sin or disbelief. At times I struggle to see the pattern of your divine plan. But through my faith, I know that you are love and mercy and you are guiding us towards the light that will never end.

Resolution: I will renew my spiritual vision of the world by frequently lifting my mind up to God during the day. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Benefits of Coconut Water

1. The best thing about this beverage is that it contains Zero Cholesterol. It contains minerals like Calcium, Manganese, İron, Zinc, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium and Potassium. It also contains vitamins like Riboflavin, Thiamine and Vitamin C. All these nutrients make coconut a very potent health drink. It is more nutritious than milk, as it has less fats and no cholesterol.

2. Research studies suggest that Cytokinins (kinetin and trans-zeatin) in coconut water showed significant Anti-Carcinogen ic and Anti-Thrombotic and Anti-Ageing Effects.

3. It is used as intravenous saline fluid in many developing countries and has saved many lives.
The reason that it's possible to be used that way is its composition, which is quite identical to Human Blood Plasma.

4. Coconut water, by its very nature is an İsotonic Beverage. That is, it has the perfect balance of electrolytes in it, which is good for our body due to its right PH Levels.

5. It is an excellent Energy Drink for the old and the sick, who find it difficult to process solid food. It is a Natural Fluid designed to Sustain Life.
Note: When my dogs are sick, I give them coconut drink. The dogs get well.

6. It is better than many processed baby milk products, as it contains Lauric Acid which is an important ingredient of Mother's Milk. This natural beverage can effectively treat Disturbance of the İntestine in İnfants.

7. Anti-Ulcer Properties: Both coconut milk and coconut water exhibit potent anti-ulcer activity against chemicals such as indomethacin, a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID).

8. Blood-Pressuring Lowering Properties: When human subjects consumed coconut water for two weeks, it was found to lower blood pressure in 74% of the experimental group, reducing it by up to 24 points (mmHg) systolic and 15 points (mmHq) diastolic.

9. Anti-Alzheimer’s Properties: in an animal model of ovariectomy-induced menopausal changes, coconut water appeared to prevent the decline of brain estrogen (estradiol) levels, as well as the associated accumulation of Alzheimer’s disease associated β-amyloid (Aβ) plaque in their brains.

10. Anti-Bacterial Properties: Three novel antimicrobial peptides have been identified in coconut water which exhibited inhibitory activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.

11. Anti-Gastroenteritis Agent: When sodium is added (ideally sea salt) coconut water has been determined to be an ideal rehydrating agent in countries where medical supplies are not freely available, and where, say, cholera and other severe forms of gastroenteritis persist.

12. Ultimately, coconut makes for an excellent alternative to Sports Drinks, which are increasingly comprised of synthetic ingredients.

13. Its water is also a very good source of B-Complex Vitamins such asRiboflavin, Niacin, Thiamin, Pyridoxine, and Folates. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.

14. C​ancer sufferers testify that they take coconut drink to COOL their bodies after their chemotherapy sessions.

The Limit of Evil

John 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said  to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in your grace and your love for me.  This is why I come before you now. I know that through this meditation I can experience your love and be filled with your grace, so that I might fulfill my role in your plan of salvation. You know that I am weak and am sometimes tempted to lose heart. But I know I can count on your generous graces to bolster my courage and love. For my part, I will strive to spend this time with you well.

Petition: Jesus Christ, let me know your heart.

1. Touch His Heart: In this passage, Christ puts himself within touching distance of Thomas’ finger and hand. He invites this apostle, struggling with doubt, to reach into his side and come into contact with that Sacred Heart, filled to the brim with mercy. Not only could there no longer be any doubt about the Savior’s resurrected body, there also could no longer be any doubt about his mercy which he promised in the forgiveness of sins. With Thomas, then, let us come within touching distance of this heart of Christ and peer through his open side to see the heart that so loves all souls.

2. Allowing Him Touch My Heart: Not only do we want to touch Christ’s heart, we also want to invite the Lord to touch our hearts. Just like the lepers who presented their disfigured flesh for Christ to touch and cure, so we present our disfigured souls, asking him to touch and to cure. Saint Faustina would say that all that is necessary is for us to leave the door of our heart ajar and God will do the rest. Let us present to his “sacred finger” what in us needs to be touched by his grace, especially through the sacrament of reconciliation.

3. Thirsting for All Hearts: In Christ, the greatest thirsting love is too often met by the most outrageous ingratitude and affront on the part of souls. The Sacred Heart made mention of this in the pangs of his heart voiced to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. He explained to her that his sharpest pain was due to people’s ingratitude. Let us endeavor to bring his thirsting heart into contact with souls, though our prayers, sacrifices and apostolic efforts.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for the example of love and mercy you give us through your appearance to the disciples and your kindness to St. Thomas. May my heart always be full of gratitude and remain close to your loving, merciful touch.

Resolution: I will pray that someone I know may experience God’s mercy in the sacrament of confession. If possible, I will help someone directly to make this happen.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Philippine Labor Day rhetoric: the same old bullshit

April 26, 2014
by benign0
So it’s “Labor Day” again this 1st of May in the Philippines. What do the usual suspects who champion the workers’ “fight” have to offer this time in terms of rhetoric? Considering that they’ve milked the easy ones dry — anti-Americanism, anti-imperialism, anti-incumbent-government, higher wages, more jobs, etc. — what else is there?
There is much labor has to offer. Unfortunately, their activists are not among the brightest bulbs in the room. The workers’ “issues” these usual “activists” have worn thin over decades of moronic militantism revolve around entitlement. The battle cry has always been all about what the Filipino worker is entitled to. Nowhere in the labour ideology does the notion of value proposition come up, as in:
What exactly does labor have to offer to earn these “entitlements” they demand?
Communism is the Nirvana of the labour plight. Look closely at how communism works and you will find a system geared singularly towards rewarding on the basis of entitlement. No surprise then that the world’s communist regimes have all but collapsed or are muddling along in degeneracy. When you reward temper tantrums, guess what, you get an unproductive lazy brood of princes and princesses who will be bugging you for dole outs for the rest of their wretched lives.
To this day, the only value proposition Filipinos have to offer to the world’s industrialists is cheap. A very precarious situation, indeed. If cheap Filipino labour suddenly disappears from the face of the earth, hey, no problemo. Advanced nations will manage to find solutions to overcome such a setback and certainly will be able to explore alternative sources. I can have faith in civilisations that’ve survived the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, rebuilt from innumerable wars, pulled themselves together after being nuked, re-invented themselves after being flooded by Asian automobiles and electronics, and keep their noses up despite their politicians.
On the other hand, one wonders whether a society such as ours that had more than enough forests, minerals, rainfall, natural beauty, and exceptional command of the planet’s primary language of knowledge and learning yet remains dreadfully impoverished can prevail. After flattening our forests and kneeling in prayer as our population ballooned to an enormous size, we now talk as if the world owes us a “decent” buck.
It’s quite tragic, actually. With a bit of imagination our so-called “activists” could’ve come up with something a bit more original for a change to enliven the debate surrounding the plight of Filipino workers. Instead all we see is the tired old script; all the lumang tugtugin.
Then again, the real underlying issue surrounding the conditions of Filipino workers has less to do with rhetoric or ideology, and more to do with economics. At the end of the day, where there is an enormous supply that utterly dwarfs demand, guess what, supply gets treated like crap. You can’t repeal that fundamental law of nature. Certainly no amount of legislation will change the maths.

The World Awaits Our Witness

Mark 16:9-15

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either. But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you in heaven forever. I need to dwell more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others to heaven with me.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace of a profound apostolic zeal.

1. A Saint Who Is Sad Is a Sad Saint: “When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.” From these lines of scripture we can see the power our emotions can exercise over our faith. Melancholy can affect our trust. Perhaps we have been hurt by others and our sorrows are as real as those of the disciples. But let us not get accustomed to our tears; rather, with the courage and help of Our Lord, let us put aside past resentments and pain. After all, if his love is enough to convert our hearts, what grounds do we have to think that it is not powerful enough to convert the hearts and lives of those who hurt us? Humanity will not be converted by the distressed. We should be willing to give the world a joyful witness to the Resurrection, for the source of our joy is in the Lord, not in the hands of our adversaries.

2. Rebuked for Unbelief and Hardness of Heart: We may be a bit scandalized at Our Lord’s apparent lack of understanding and sympathy towards his disciples who were mourning his tragic loss. Sometimes though, a good shaking-up is required to slough off a melancholic spirit and to switch us from an inordinate self-love and self-pity to a concern for others. In moments when we begin to despair and feel suffocated by our sufferings, St. Paul reminds us to have hope: “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). We must never allow anything to rob us  of our trust in Christ. He is faithful to his promises.

3. We Are to Be Witnesses to His Love: Despite their unbelief, Our Lord did not retract his gift of redemption or lessen our responsibility for the mission. “It is not to a dull everyday routine that we return.… We need to imitate the zeal of the Apostle Paul: ‘Straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14)’”(John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 59). Our encounter of faith with the Risen Lord cannot be kept solely for the private sphere of our life. Rather, it needs to draw us to be zealous in proclaiming him to others. The sense of Christ’s command—“Go into the whole world”—is to proclaim him to as many others as possible.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I have taken away from this meditation the lesson that it is time for me to wake from my slumber to fulfill your words. I must “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” Help me to realize that my past sinfulness and disbelief do not excuse me from this mission.

Resolution: The next time I find a person struggling or in turmoil, I will offer to pray with them—or at least for them if they decline. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Thanks for the Memories

On his death bed they asked him where he wanted to be buried and he said. "Surprise me." Enjoy.
Do you remember Bob Hope? You'll enjoy this.

I had forgotten that he lived to be 100, and also didn't realize it has been over 10 years since he died.
Always enjoyed him, his movies, and his show. He touched a lot of lives during his life.
Thought you might enjoy a bit of memory touching, so sent it along to you.
Enjoy and recall a neat comedian.
For those of you too young to remember Bob Hope, ask your Grandparents and thanks for the memories. WHAT A WONDERFUL E-MAIL.
This is a tribute to a man who DID make a difference.
'I still chase women, but only downhill.'
'That's the time of your life when even your birthday suit needs pressing.'
'You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.'
'I don't feel old. In fact, I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.'
'I ruined my hands in the ring. The referee kept stepping on them.'
'Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it's called at my home, 'Passover.'
'Golf is my profession. Show business is just to pay the green fees.'
'I have performed for 12 presidents but entertained only six.'
'When I was born, the doctor said to my mother,
Congratulations, you have an eight pound ham.'

'I feel very humble, but I think I have the strength of character to fight it.'
'Four of us slept in the one bed. When it got cold, mother threw on another brother.'
'That's how I learned to dance. Waiting for the bathroom.'
'I would not have had anything to eat if it wasn't for the stuff the audience threw at me.'
'I've done benefits for ALL religions.
I'd hate to blow the hereafter on a technicality.'
Give me a sense of humor Lord, give me the grace to see a joke,
to get some humor out of life, and pass it on to other folk.
To the person receiving this, the grace to pass it on to others.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery” ...  Winston Churchill

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mar Roxas’s Wack Wack suspension: another giant leap to a modern Philippines!

April 24, 2014
by benign0
Another giant leap for the lot of ordinary Filipinos who have long suffered under the culture of impunity perpetrated by their elected “leaders”! In a resolution issued by the Board of Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, the Philippines’ Secretary of Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas was reportedly suspended as member of the swanky club.

A club member, who asked not to be identified, said the board met Monday night and voted to suspend Roxas for two months after an investigation of the April 6 incident when Roxas purportedly screamed at club employees who insisted that he pay the green fee of a guest.
“Five [directors] voted to suspend him for two months while only one voted to simply reprimand him. Three [other directors] abstained from the vote while one was absent from the meeting,” the member said.
Roxas had earlier apologised for the incident. However, he also denied allegations that he viciously berated and cussed at club employees. Roxas reportedly said that the “unfortunate” incident will form “part of [his] reflection for this Lenten season”.
Fortunately for Mar, he does not have only the Church to turn to in this sudden time of need for absolution. Members of Philippine Congress had this week chimed in to lend their support for the embattled sidekick of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone bizarrely used the now infamous incident in Tacloban where Roxas raised the issue of partisan politics in a meeting with Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez to buttress testimonials in favour of Roxas’s character….
“He always keeps his cool and equanimity. That was very evident in his now famous meeting with the mayor of Tacloban City shortly after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck. The video footage that was apparently secretly taken shows that he did raise his voice,” he said.
Errrmmm, yes, he did not raise his voice, further highlighting the revealing banality of the way he weaved politics into a crisis meeting that, at the time, could determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of lives of typhoon victims. Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr, for his part, pointed out that “Mar remains a most humble, down-to-earth person in the P-Noy Cabinet.”
All consistent of course, considering that these are all products of the popular vote — a direct reflection of the national character that they’d so quickly defend the actions of an erring crony. Whether rich or poor, Filipinos, after all, are renowned for their misplaced arrogance — often taking every opportunity to one-up the other in a hilarious race to some sort of social golden fleece.

Coincidentally, Mar Roxas is billed “Mister Palengke” in his own personal website. A fitting title for a politician with a growing track record of palengkera behaviour.


benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

Constitutional Reform: What it Looks Like from the Outside

April 24, 2014
by BenK
The idea of ‘charter change’ is nothing new to outsiders, but being able to observe and discuss the movement as a serious idea rather than cynically dismissing it as the same old limited-focus canard that gets floated every year is a refreshing change of pace.
So what’s different about ‘charter change’ now, as opposed to every other time since the FVR era that the idea has been mentioned? Primarily, it’s the timing: not counting the Arroyo initiative at the beginning of the legislative session – something that was anticipated from the moment she announced her intention to run for Congress – the movement has gotten off the ground much sooner than anyone would have guessed. This is largely seen as an indictment of Aquino, and although opinion is still somewhat divided, the balance of the assessment tilts towards it being an appropriate indictment of his administration. From the external perspective, he was elected in a reasonably (for this country, anyway) non-controversial way, with relatively strong support on the back of a generally favorably-regarded pedigree and the promise – though an unspecific one – of cleaner government. In the intervening six months, he has accomplished nothing substantial, has not delineated any specific objectives, and his government appears as polluted by corruption and incompetence as any the Philippines has ever had. With calls for ‘charter change’ coming from a number of directions, the impression is that a significant proportion of the country – perhaps equal to the proportion that originally supported Aquino – is at this early date already fed up with the direction of things under his stewardship. The wide-ranging “mainstream” discussion of ‘charter change’ beyond the traditional sphere of the ineffectual opposition, Aquino’s own stubborn and logically-flawed resistance to even considering the idea, and the demagogical dissent aired by the Establishment-backed leftist rebellion and their self-appointed mouthpieces tend to reinforce this impression – the conventional regime is on the back foot, quickly losing popular support, and as a result, is being viewed with a degree of apprehension that would have seemed unjustified from the international perspective half a year ago.

Another factor that encourages more serious attention from the international community to ‘charter change’ this time is the context in which it is being presented by its advocates: rebranding, as it were, ‘charter change’ as ‘constitutional reform’, a concept which is not only a more accurate characterization of the effort, but which signals a more open mindset willing to examine changes in a more comprehensive and less prescriptive way. Previous ‘charter change’ efforts tended to focus on specific concerns, for example term limits under FVR and a shift to a parliamentary system under GMA, and as a consequence the term ‘charter change’ has become associated, correctly or not, solely with the idea of altering the system of national leadership, and has developed a negative connotation both inside and outside the country. ‘Constitutional reform’ signals a more sober approach and one that indicates a potentially less unstable transition when the transition finally happens; from either of the two important foreign perspectives, the political and the economic, anything that reduces the instability risk is appreciated.
The Road Ahead: What the International Community is Looking For
The energetic movement towards constitutional reform is a positive first step, but it is only the first; whether the momentum can be sustained and the actual work of comprehensive reform begun will be the next milepost to pass. Assuming that is accomplished, the outside observers with political and economic interests in the Philippines will be looking for three primary objectives to be met:
1. Serious action against corruption. Although some Filipino constitutional reform advocates bridle at placing “corruption” at the top of the list of problems that need to be solved, from the global point of view that is exactly what the Philippines needs to do. That is part of why Aquino initially gained favor with outside observers – his own personal record and acknowledgement of the issue hinted at potential progress. His performance, however, has not impressed; he is now either regarded as not having an understanding of – and as a result, no ability to develop a strategy for – the complex interrelation of systemic, economic, and social factors that cause corruption, or among his harsher critics, regarded as being a garden-variety Philippine trapo.
The “grand formula” for constitutional reform – economic liberalization, Federalization, and a Parliamentary system – is generally regarded as being one decent framework for approaching the problem of corruption, because it addresses, one way or another, many of the underlying causes of corruption except for the social ones. In that respect, there is cause for concern; Philippine society is considered undisciplined, and unless that is directly addressed – an area in which Lee Kuan Yew’s experience in transforming Singapore can serve as a useful guide – there is an apprehension that political and economic solutions will be significantly compromised.
2. A legislative agenda to back reforms. This primarily applies to economic liberalization, the current problems of which do not entirely lie in the country’s flawed Constitution. Loosening protectionist restrictions in the Constitution is only one part of the solution; that will only provide opportunity for economic development and foreign investment, but not the competitive advantages that will attract investment and make development happen. Improving the business environment will require the same comprehensive focus on the systemic, economic, and social conditions in the country, and will be a long-term effort. The favorable optimism with which the rest of the world will look at constitutional reform will quickly evaporate if the necessary follow-through is not apparent.
3. Development of legitimate political parties. Regardless of what final shape the system of government takes, strong political parties that, ideally, represent a clear majority and relevant opposition at any given time are the political “system that transcends the system” and confer a strong measure of political stability on the country, even if (as is currently predicted) the Philippines endures a period of “growing pains” that may see a number of different governments in a relatively short period of time, particularly under a Parliamentary system. A Parliamentary system or even a much more formalized Presidential system will help to develop stable parties, provided that any system chosen is built in such a way as to prevent as much as possible the electoral opportunism that characterizes Philippine parties now.
And finally, it is worth mentioning that the point of view towards what they suppose are Western intentions towards the Philippines from otherwise well-meaning reform advocates is for the most part erroneous and more importantly, an unnecessary diversion of intellectual effort that needlessly confuses the issues. It is no secret that the US and its sphere of influence – and presumably, the Chinese sphere as well – sincerely desires constitutional reform in the Philippines and has a number of ideas of what would likely work best for the country and the corresponding international interests. From the Western perspective, at least, there is a simple reality that the Filipino people should consider: the ability of this country to affect what the US bloc does or thinks is pretty close to zero at this point. The US will, as it always has, react as the opportunity presents itself to whatever the circumstances on the ground in the Philippines are at any given time; for the Philippines to insist on a fair input into how that relationship is managed, it must do so from a position of its own strengths and value to the outside world. The best way to achieve that position is for the country to get its own act together, and to continue the momentum towards constitutional reform that has already begun.

Why Colonial Mentality is a Bogeyman

April 24, 2014
by ChinoF
I once blogged about colonial mentality, stating that seeing it as a problem is a myth. After more thought and encountering further opinions on the subject, I still think it is a myth – a dangerous one. I’ve seen so many discussions where others fiercely blame it for many of the problems of the Philippines and that foreigners are the reason why the country is messed up. But I realize that it’s all a decoy meant to throw us off the course we must take to truly fix our broken nation.

White is Beautiful?
Some often cite the popularity of skin-whitening products as proof of the effect of colonial mentality. But now, someone is debunking this explanation. The Wikipedia entry on Colonial Mentality, indirectly quoting Maria Bernadette L. Abrera of the UP College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, has this to say:
Love for white skin has often been attributed to colonial mentality. But a UP researcher considers this idea a myth.
Love for white skin has often been attributed to colonial mentality. But a UP researcher considers this idea a myth.
Many Filipinos believe that the idealization of fair skin had its roots during the Spanish colonization. Actually, fairness of complexion was attested as a characteristic of the upper class women and appears as the standard of beauty among the Austronesian peoples of the pre-Hispanic Philippines. The desire for white skin is definitely not a result of colonial mentality during the Spanish rule.
If people say white skin is better, it does not include only Caucasians: Asians, including Chinese, Koreans and Japanese have white-skinned people as well.
And there is another issue, a common analogy used all over the world: the color white is a symbol of cleanliness. The darker, the dirtier. Isn’t that why we sometimes use, “Ang puti ng labada” (the laundry is white) instead of “ang linis ng labada” (the laundry is clean)? I don’t think you can say that this laundry phrase comes from colonial mentality; that would be stretching it.
Creation of an Historical Decoy
Some Filipinos believe that shedding colonial mentality is the way we can move forward. However, after I analyze it, I realize that it is based on a lot of myths and misconceptions. Hatred of colonial mentality is red herring – it distracts us from the real problems. Yet why are we concerned with colonial mentality? What is it that causes people to violently hate it?
One reason is how biased and propaganda-riddled our history education is. We have many biased and history books in our schools that influence our views one way or another. Two major writers of these were Teodoro Agoncillo and Gregorio Zaide.
Not all of these can be trusted. Pick carefully.
Not all of these can be trusted. Pick carefully.
Both writers are biased in my view. Firstly, Agoncillo had leftist views, and his writings were staunchly anti-foreign. He promoted peasant culture and the bahay kubo, and divestment of modern influences to reach the “real Filipino culture.” What he failed to realize is that the bahay kubo is common with Vietnam, Thailand and other Southeast Asian cultures, and is not uniquely Filipino.
Gregorio Zaide was anti-Spanish and pro-American. Because his history books were common and became official, he may have been influential in causing even the post-American era young people to chase after American culture (even if American commercialism was already doing that). He may have even taught that Rizal and cohorts wanted independence from Spain, when this is clearly false. Rizal and cohorts wanted the Philippines to be a province of Spain, similar to how some would want the Philippines to be a state of America. Such twisting of history has led to wrong perceptions and growth of anti-foreign hate campaigns.
The net effect of these two historians’ work may have been to promote demonization of anything foreign. Although Zaide promoted America, Agoncillo’s attitude of anti-foreignism became very strong in Filipino culture. Somewhere along the line, the notion of colonial mentality came in to define the “evil” left by our former colonizers.
The Manipulative Media Monster
We always see this slogan, “Kaya din natin,” (we are also capable), “We Filipinos can do it too.” That’s the basis of colonial mentality – Filipinos think of themselves as inferior and look at their colonizers as superior. But hold on; where did this attitude come from? Who told us this?
Perhaps the answer is, the Filipinos never felt inferior before. Perhaps they never did. Until someone gave that idea. Who’s that someone? Local mass media.
Exactly what Pinoy mass media is
Exactly what Pinoy mass media is
Media depicts Filipinos as downtrodden, depressed, oppressed and inferior… but point to the wrong causes. They conditioned the minds of people with an inferiority complex and diverted the blame to those who are actually not to blame (because the real culprits actually own the media companies). It’s also a play on the victim mentality of poor people in order to get viewers for garbage shows like Wowowee. And it helps in resistance against solutions… solutions such as bringing in foreign investment to create jobs.
In the end, colonial mentality has been used as red herring, just as the use of Villar by the Yellow faction during the election and the use of GMA by media today has led Filipinos on wild goose chases.
What see on TV and radio (even local media) drives us into a love-hate relationship with foreign ideas. We see a lot of skin-whitening products because they are the major sponsors of the shows. As I stated above, what is passed off as colonial mentality is merely commercialism. They are actually part of a new health and wellness fad that uses white skin as a sign of health. The pseudo-patriots or even leftists jump at this to point an accusing finger at “colonial mentalists,” but themselves wear Levi’s jeans and Lacoste shirts while doing this.
Media is also hypocritical in depicting foreigners. They copy American concepts and shows, but portray people from other countries as cruel and inconsiderate. The notion taught is that people from abroad are all bad apples. Media portrays foreigners as robbers and spoilers of our “nation’s wealth” and takes advantage of it to draw attention away from who is actually robbing and spoiling our nation’s wealth.
What to Do?
Of course, I agree that Filipinos have to believe in themselves and work to solve the country’s problems. But it’s not the colonial mentality thing that’s holding them back. It’s not lack of belief in themselves. It’s the lack of means. Such means have been limited thanks to the lack of economic opportunities here.
OFWs go abroad, get separated from their families, get abused and all that. Some people may be blaming foreign countries for taking OFWs. But the cause of the OFW phenomenon is lack of opportunities at home. There are just no jobs. And the way to generate jobs, which is to bring the companies here, is being blocked by those using colonial mentality as one of the excuses to oppose foreign investment and want to maintain a monopoly over business in the country.
I do agree that there are some things not worth taking from foreigners. For example, Orion has mentioned that the primadonna style of sports from America is being imitated by our basketball stars – and thus they lose to foreign basketball teams. Americans also introduced the idea of racism. While Spanish played sports, drank and joked with indios, Americans forbade their kids from playing with the natives. Then they open up after WW2 by declaring the natives their “equals.” We also have rampant consumerism and commercialism that comes from America. These are the things we must practice discernment on.
A Japanese American. Are they loudly complaining about colonial mentality as we are?
A Japanese American. Are they loudly complaining about colonial mentality as we are?
One other effect of hatred of colonial mentality is not just diversion from the true sources of corruption. The most harmful effect is that it is dividing Filipinos. Some Filipinos are quick to raise a finger and point to other people, blaming them for colonial mentality, while the thieves do their worst under their noses.
It also looks to me that hatred of colonial mentality reflects the mentality that nations SHOULD be enemies. It’s like, ang Pinoy, naghahanap talaga ng away (Pinoys are really looking for a fight). It’s like the teenage gangster picking a fight in the street to try and prove he’s superior to get over his inferiority complex. We’ve been taught that we are oppressed by other countries, so we should pick a fight by blaming them for our problems.
Let’s get rid of this fixation on colonial mentality as a problem: it isn’t. The real problem is that our own corrupt countrymen, who have power both politically and in the media, are duping us. They’re most likely using this to draw attention away from them and divide the Filipinos so that they’re busy witch-hunting the “colonial mentalists” while the kurakots get away.
As stated in other articles here in GRP, let us embrace the good parts of our lineages, which includes “colonial” influences, and forge a real identity with them. And, let us focus on the right goals.