Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
July 10, 2019
WE have to be familiar
with the so-called pro-choice position that is now becoming the
prevalent ideology affecting many countries and especially the young
ones, the so-called millennials. We need to be familiar with it so
that we can be better prepared to deal with it, since it is now
invading our own country. In fact, there is now a strong
foreign-funded pressure to instil this kind of liberal pro-choice
view on us.
The pro-choice position,
of course, refers to the so-called life-issues, like abortion,
population control, same-sex marriage, divorce, euthanasia, etc. It
has an eminently moral question that we need to be clear about.
We need to understand that
there are moral principles that derive from the very nature of
things, and especially of our own. And they have a universal
applicability, going beyond our natural and artificial differences
in race, culture, religion and other categories.
In a nutshell, the
pro-choice position can be expressed in the following words as
expressed by many of its advocates and followers: “I am pro-choice,
even if that means abortion. I am also for same-sex unions, and I
also support legalizing divorce. What people want to do with their
lives and their body should not be controlled by other people’s
“If you do not want
abortion, don’t get one. If you don’t want to marry one of the same
sex, by all means, don’t. Don’t divorce if that’s what you prefer.
But to take away other people’s choices because you don’t agree with
them is evil and wrong. The terrible thing is that many people can
only imagine a world where their religion is absolute. What
It’s incredible that this
view can be held even by very educated people, and people who are
even products of Catholic schools and other very prestigious centers
At least two possibilities
can explain this disturbing phenomenon. One is that these schools
are not anymore teaching morals and are just focusing on technical
things. And two, that the students may be taught morals but are not
internalizing them. Of course, there are still many other possible
With this pro-choice
position, one is practically saying that there are no absolute moral
principles with a universal applicability, that everyone is
absolutely free to do whatever he wants to do. In other words, one
makes himself his own lawgiver, if not his own god. He cannot be
told and taught anything. He has to be left alone. He can do
anything he likes.
It is amazing that many
people with this position do not realize that they are going against
even the very basics of common sense. We are never alone. We can
never be alone. We have to live by certain laws. We cannot escape
the fact that we have to submit to certain do’s and don’ts.
Abortion is not about
exercising the right over a woman’s body. Whether one is a believer
or not, abortion is simply killing a human person. A fetus inside
the mother’s womb is not just a clump of cells. A fetus just cannot
be but a baby.
And the so-called same-sex
marriage is a contradiction since marriage can only be between a man
and woman. It is not meant only for good-time, for giving in to what
our flesh desires. It is meant for procreation, for education and
upbringing of children and family, and the good of society.
Divorce simply goes
against the very nature of marriage. It is rejecting one’s
commitment of love however the marriage may go. The concerned
parties in marriage promise “to have and to hold, from this day
forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness
and in health, until death do us part”
Let’s hope that families,
churches, schools, offices and the government units help in
clarifying these moral life issues both with clarity and charity
always. Hardly anything is gained when we start fighting.
Failure to investigate killings demands UN action
A statement by the International
Commission of Jurists (ICJ), urging the UN Human Rights Council to
take action on the reported human rights violations in the
July 3, 2019
The ICJ today joined other
NGOs in urging the UN Human Rights Council to take action on the
The joint oral statement
was delivered by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) on
behalf of OMCT, Amnesty International, the International Commission
of Jurists (ICJ), Franciscans International, Swiss Catholic Lenten
Fund, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH),
FORUM-Asia. It read as follows:
“In March 2019, the UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that several sources
“estimate that up to 27,000 people may have been killed in the
context of the campaign against illegal drugs since mid-2016.”
including of children, carry on, and President Rodrigo Duterte and
his administration continue to explicitly encourage these acts. In
June 2019, the scale and seriousness of the reported human rights
violations prompted 11 UN human rights experts to call on the
Council to establish an independent investigation into such
government officials at the highest levels against politicians,
human rights defenders, journalists, and several Special Procedures
mandate holders have also been rising.
At the 35th, 36th, and
38th sessions of the Council, Iceland, on behalf of a group of
States, explicitly called on the government “to take all necessary
measures to bring killings associated with the campaign against
illegal drugs to an end and cooperate with the international
community to investigate all related deaths and hold perpetrators
In light of the failure of
the government to effectively investigate and bring to justice those
responsible, we urge all States to support the adoption of a
resolution on the Philippines at this session, mandating the OHCHR
to monitor and provide regular updates on the human rights situation
to the Council, as the first step toward establishing an independent
international investigation into extrajudicial killings and other
human rights violations committed in the government’s ‘war on
Such a response is all the
more important given the Philippines obligations to uphold the
highest standards in human rights as a member of the Council.”
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
June 28, 2019
SOMEONE sent me an article
that was proposing for the abolition of the priesthood. The reason
behind are the many clerical scandals that have been plaguing the
Church for years now, mostly in the US and other countries but also
– at least a few cases – in the local scene.
Of course, my immediate
reaction was that while it is unfortunate to hear about these
scandals, abolishing the priesthood is not the solution at all to
the problem. Rather, it will make things worse.
And that is because
abolishing the priesthood is practically like abolishing the Church,
or worse, abolishing Christ in our life, since the priest, in spite
of his unworthiness, is the sacramental representation of Christ,
head of the Church.
Abolishing the priesthood
is like throwing the baby together with the bath water. Yes, we have
to do something about what is wrong in these scandals. It may be a
long, painful process, but it is all worthwhile. But what we cannot
do is to abolish the priesthood.
The priest, of course,
should be constantly aware of his sacramental identity and try his
best to live up to that dignity. He should be keenly aware that with
his ordination he is conformed to Christ as head of the Church, and
not just a member of the Church capable of participating in the one
sacrifice of Christ to his Father for our salvation.
His priesthood, which is
called ministerial or hierarchical, is different from the common
priesthood of the lay faithful of the Church that is based on his
baptismal status, not only in degree but in essence. The priest acts
“in persona Christi capitis,” in the person of Christ as head of the
As such, he renews in the
whole course of time till the end the very sacrifice of Christ, and
everything else that is oriented to that sacrifice of Christ. He
makes present the whole redemptive work of Christ.
The lay faithful who have
the common priesthood do not have the power to renew this sacrifice.
What their priesthood empowers them is to offer their whole life as
a sacrifice to God, doing so by uniting their sacrifice with the
sacrifice of Christ as renewed in the Mass that is celebrated by the
Of course, human as we
are, the priest will always have his own share of shortcomings,
weaknesses, and yes, sin. This should not surprise anyone. Even
Christ was not spared of Judas, one of his original apostles. But
like anybody else, and in a sense, even more than anybody else, the
priest should really take extreme care of his spiritual life.
The priest should be
keenly aware that the lay faithful depend on them. How he is somehow
determines how the lay faithful will be. If he is faithful to his
identity as another Christ head of the Church, then the lay faithful
will also most likely be like Christ as they should.
But such state of affairs
should not make the priest feel superior to the lay faithful, but
rather should keenly feel the duty to serve them, as Christ loved
and served all of us by offering his life on the cross. Like Christ,
he should have the attitude of wanting to serve and not to be
served. (cfr. Mt 20,28)
He should never feel
privileged, assuming the mentality of entitlement or falling into
the anomaly called clericalism. Rather he has to assume the mind of
Christ, a servant and a willing sacrificial lamb for all of us.
He has to continually wage
a personal spiritual struggle to keep his priestly identity intact.
For this, he has to continually purify himself and renew his
Of course, it would be
most helpful if the lay faithful will also help in making the priest
a priest through and through, totally living out his sacramental
identity as Christ head of the Church.
How can I look
after my children during a divorce?
One of the biggest worries
that couples who are considering or going through a divorce have is
the worry about the impact it will have on their children. Divorce
can be a stressful process for all involved, especially if you don’t
agree on certain aspects. You’ll want to do all you can to minimise
the impact on your children, so these issues have to be dealt with
carefully and sensitively. Above all, you must remember to put the
In this article, we’re
going to go over some of the biggest questions about divorce and
How will my children cope with divorce?
A relationship breakdown
can have a big emotional impact on children, even if it doesn’t
initially seem like they’re affected. It can lead to feelings of
sadness, anger, bewilderment, anxiety, loneliness and more. Children
can also feel like they are the cause of the issues between their
Children can also become
confused, wondering if the separation is temporary. Younger children
may even cling on to the hope that their parents will suddenly get
back together, even after long periods of separation.
It’s important to be aware
that children may try to hide their feelings or may even tell each
parent something different, depending on what they think that parent
wants to hear. Parents can sometimes believe that it’s not having
much impact on their children when, in reality, the situation is far
worse than they think.
How can I help my children through a divorce?
Always try to give your
children as much reassurance as possible and try to clearly explain
what is happening in a way that they can understand. Try to avoid
changing the family routine and encourage them to still have a
relationship with both of you. Make them aware that it’s ok to talk
about their feelings with you and how they feel about the other
parent so that they don’t feel like they have divided loyalties.
What you should never do
is be critical of the other parent in front of the child, or do
anything that will undermine their relationship with said parent.
Never ignore your children’s feelings, and even ask older children
for their advice on the situation. Above all, never involve the
children in your battles with the other parent or try to use your
children against your partner.
How do I ensure my children’s interests are put first?
The simple answer is to
remember that, regardless of what has happened between you and your
partner, you will still need to work together as parents in the
future. It does children no good to see their parents constantly
fighting. So your first responsibility will be to minimise conflict
with your partner and support each other in the future.
It may be useful to
discuss a parenting plan with your partner.
What if we don’t agree about our children?
With such an emotionally
charged situation, it’s unsurprising that parents may not agree with
arrangements regarding children. As mentioned earlier, ensuring that
putting children first is always on your mind, is the key to
maintaining a friendly and civil relationship with your partner.
This will allow the practicalities of childcare to be discussed
freely. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that smoothly.
If you can’t come to an
agreement over your children, mediation or collaborative law (in
which each parent hires a solicitor who will sit in with you on a
series of ‘four-way meetings’ between you, your solicitor, your
partner and their solicitor) may be introduced. It may also help if
you attend counselling sessions or family therapy. Going to court
should always be a last resort.
Even if you already agree
with how you will handle the arrangements around children, it’s
still important for parents to get expert legal advice from a
law solicitor, to help understand their position and consider all
the options available to them.
Conduct an investigation into the killings of activists, and take
genuine steps towards addressing the violence
A joint press statement by
the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and
Front Line Defenders
Bangkok, June 21, 2019
The Asian Forum for Human
Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and Front Line Defenders
strongly condemn the unabated killings and violence against
activists, human rights defenders, and civil society organisations
in the Philippines, particularly those of Leonides ‘Dennis’ Suquena,
Ryan Hubilla, Nelly Bagasa, Nonoy Palma, and Neptali Morada earlier
this month. FORUM-ASIA and Front Line Defenders urge the Government
of the Philippines to immediately conduct a transparent
investigation into these killings, to take genuine steps towards
addressing the continuous violence, and to provide justice for all
On 2 June, labour union
organiser Leonides ‘Dennis’ Sequena was gunned down by unidentified
men in the province of Cavite. Ryan Hubilla and Nelly Bagasa,
members of the human rights network Karapatan, were killed on 15
June. Hubilla, along with other Karapatan members had earlier raised
concerns about being subjected to state surveillance. On the same
day, Nonoy Palma, a member of a farmers' group was killed in
Bukidnon province. Two days later on 17 June, the former campaign
leader of the leftist group Bayan, Neptali Morada, was gunned down
in the Bicol region, also by unidentified individuals.
The ongoing ‘war on
drugs’, which has resulted in an estimated 27,000 extrajudicial
killings, has further exacerbated the culture of violence in the
country. Human rights groups have long expressed concern that
tactics used in the ‘war on drugs’ are now being used to target
political activists, human rights defenders and other critics of the
Government, in efforts to instil fear and stifle dissent.
These killings continue to
occur within an environment of impunity, where both police officers
and civilians overwhelmingly escape accountability for extrajudicial
killings. The normalisation of the violence has gone so far that
even the former police chief responsible for the operationalisation
of the ‘war on drugs’, Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa, will take his seat
as an elected Senator in July 2019. Of the killings against
activists and ordinary individuals within recent years, only a few
have led to criminal prosecutions or convictions.
organisations have also raised concerns over the heightened use of
red-tagging and terrorist-tagging. In such cases, individuals
appear, with their name and organisational affiliation, on lists
drawn up by the security sector. Having your name appear on such a
list basically declares you to be a legitimate target for harassment
and violence from both state and non-state actors. Many of these
killings have been conducted under the cover of the country’s
counter-insurgency programme, with very little transparency.
Security sector officials behind these actions continue to face
little to no accountability for their actions.
FORUM-ASIA and Front Line
Defenders call on the Government of the Philippines to address the
rise in the killings, including through acknowledging its role in
the continuous violence, taking steps to provide protection, and
ensuring accountability. Ahead of the 41st session of the UN Human
Rights Council, FORUM-ASIA and Front Line Defenders reiterate their
call to States to actively support a resolution establishing an
independent, international investigation into the extrajudicial
killings in the ‘war on drugs’, and mandating the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor and report on the situation
in the country, including the targeting of activists, human rights
defenders and civil society.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
June 5, 2019
IT’S really a matter of
faith, of how strong our faith is. With faith, we know that whatever
be our condition and situation in life, God is always there and will
never abandon us. He is there to help us. He actually takes care of
It’s this faith that
springs and strengthens our hope and charity, which is the essence,
purpose and fullness of our life. With faith, we can manage to be at
peace all the time, to experience joy and awe even in the midst of
our unavoidable earthly suffering, and to go on and move on despite
To battle our fears,
worries and sadness, we need to strengthen our faith and live it to
the hilt. And let us allow it to educate all our human powers and
faculties – our intelligence and will, our emotions and passions,
our memory and imagination, etc. Let us take time and learn the
relevant skills to achieve this ideal.
Let us remember that we
are a composite of body and soul. And since our soul is spiritual,
it has its life and origin in the Spirit of God himself. We need to
develop our life following the ways that would reinforce the unity
of the composite parts of our life in their proper order. We have to
realize that our life is mainly spiritual and supernatural, not
simply material and natural.
That way, we remove
ourselves from being entirely dependent on merely human, earthly and
temporal factors. We allow ourselves to be governed by a much
powerful agency that can effectively cruise us through our life’s
ocean of mysteries. Faith enables us to cope with the reality of our
life that includes the spiritual and the supernatural.
With faith we will never
feel alone. We will always feel accompanied by God, by his angels
and saints, all helping and interceding for us. With faith, we know
that everything that happens to us, good or bad, has a reason and a
purpose, and all of them working for our own good. (cfr. Rom 8,28)
We really have no reason
to fear, nor to wallow in worries, anxieties and sadness. Let’s
remember that these unfortunate states are fertile ground for the
enemies of our soul, especially the devil, to take advantage of us.
About the only reason to
fear, worry and be sad is when we lose our faith, when we lose touch
with God. We have to pray and pray so that our doubts and fears
would not undermine our faith.
What also helps is to
develop a sporting attitude in life, because, to be realistic about
it, we will always have frustrations, disappointments, mistakes,
failures, sins and defeats in our life. But we just have to learn
how to move on, just like a good sportsman.
We should always be
cheerful in life, and strive to show it even externally with smiles
and happy, warm and encouraging dispositions. Even in our grief and
mourning, we should manage to learn how to be serene, knowing that
suffering and death have already been redeemed by Christ and are now
endowed with redemptive power.
Let’s not waste time and
energy by falling into the grips of fears, worries and sadness. When
we notice that we are having some languid moments, it can be a sign
that our faith is not working, and that we are succumbing to the
laws of the flesh and the world, if not, to the tricks of the devil.
We have to extricate
ourselves as quickly as possible from that predicament. The ideal to
have is to be always cheerful and eager to do things, no matter what
the cost involved.
We should be doing a lot
of good, constructive work, rather than stuck in the mode of ruing
and brooding, sinking in self-pity, etc.
Statement of ICRC
President Peter Maurer following visit to the Philippines
4 June 2019
his visit to Bualan spring, ICRC President Peter Maurer met
community leader Datu Caloy Amer, who let the organization
improve the water and sanitation facility on the land his
family owns. (ICRC/Alecs Ongcal)
The remarkable resilience
of the Filipino people became clear to me when I first visited after
the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. I returned this week to
listen, to discuss, to offer support and encourage action as the
country again embraces challenges and assists those in need.
This second visit affirms
my view that the suffering people endure in natural and manmade
disasters is universal. People lose loved ones. People lose their
homes. Individuals and whole communities face an uncertain future.
In my interactions with
conflict-affected people around the globe, their questions are
strikingly similar: When are we going to be safe from fighting? When
can I rebuild my house? How can I earn a more stable income? Where
can I get clean water today? When can I be reunited with my loved
The 2017 devastation of
Marawi City brought the Philippines’ armed conflicts to the global
forefront. But for decades, many more communities in Maguindanao,
Basilan, Sulu and portions of eastern Mindanao have been forced to
flee their homes multiple times. Sporadic clashes deeply affect
these families’ livelihoods, their ability to put food on the table,
and their ability to send their children to school. It is a life of
instability and uncertainty, and many people are living it daily,
often long after the news headlines move on to another crisis or
In my visit to Marawi City
this week, I saw a community dealing with the physical and
psychological impact of conflict. I met a family of a missing person
that hasn’t lost hope that news about their relative will arrive
soon. I also saw how people we are assisting are making the most of
that support, for instance a mother that has opened a small business
selling food. I observed firsthand a people that will not let the
conflict of 2017 defeat their spirit. Local Red Cross volunteers I
met have been unrelenting in their support to the displaced people.
In my discussions with
high-ranking officials, I felt a commitment and resolve to find
effective, long-term solutions to humanitarian issues of concern,
despite considerable constraints they deal with. The people need to
be able to count on the authorities to be responsive to their needs.
I see indicators of hope,
fortitude, and of shared determination to rise from the ravages of
the conflict in Marawi and other areas in Mindanao still affected by
sporadic armed fighting.
Nevertheless, in talking
to victims, responders and authorities, I can see that the work is
not yet done. Though responding to humanitarian needs due to
conflict is the work of the International Committee of the Red
Cross, I believe equally that all members of society have a shared
responsibility to provide reprieve to those affected by fighting.
We all need to do more in
our respective roles. We need to do better at addressing the
consequences of conflict, but also, we need to do better in
preventing or reducing those consequences.
The ICRC has long
experience in dealing with conflict situations, as an impartial and
neutral organization. We offer our varied expertise and support.
Together with our partners in the Red Cross, we will strive to reach
and assist those affected by conflict, no matter who or how far they
The ICRC will continue to
promote principles of humanity and maintain our positive
collaboration with the Philippine authorities at national and local
levels, as they have the primary responsibility to address
humanitarian concerns of their people.
If our common aspiration
is that no person suffering the consequences of conflict is left
behind, then let’s all get to work.
COMELEC: Heed the President’s advice to junk Smartmatic
A press statement by the
National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL)
May 31, 2019
National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) calls on
the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to heed President Rodrigo Roa
Duterte’s advise to “dispose” of Smartmatic.
NAMFREL has taken note that the conduct of the automated elections
since 2010 is not without the participation of Smartmatic, a foreign
company. The conduct of Philippine elections, automated or not,
should be left at the hands of Filipinos.
The President’s pronouncement opens up the opportunity to look for
other election technologies. It should be noted, however, that
Republic Act No. 9369 (RA9369) or the Automated Election Law
prescribes that the automated election system “x x x must have
demonstrated capability and been successfully used in a prior
electoral exercise here or abroad.” This provision effectively
prevents local systems developers from participating in the
development and supply of an automated election system. RA9369 needs
to be revisited and amended to open up opportunities for local
technology providers to supply locally developed election solutions
that protects the secrecy of the ballot and ensures transparency of
the vote count.
NAMFREL has proposed going back to manual voting and counting.
NAMFREL clarifies that it does not mean going back to the old manual
vote counting process. The proposed process involves the following:
1) Manual voting using ballots with blank spaces per contest where
the voter writes the names of this choices and the ballot to be
dropped in a ballot box,
2) Computer assisted vote counting using laptops and LCD projectors
to publicly display the progress of the vote tally, thereby doing
away with the tally boards pasted on all four walls of school
classrooms that served as voting precincts.
3) Electronic generation of the election return based on the
computer assisted vote count followed by printing of the election
returns. The contents of the printed copy of the election returns
may be compared with its electronic counterpart displayed via LCD
4) Electronic transmission of election returns to the corresponding
city/municipal canvassing server, and
5) Automated canvassing and consolidation of election results
through the ladderized canvassing hierarchy.
It is high time that the Philippines’ IT talents are harnessed for
our elections. While our IT community works on the appropriate
responsive technology, interested stakeholders should push for the
law to be amended.
NAMFREL calls on election lawyers, IT experts, election reform
organizations, and other interested groups to come together and work
with the COMELEC to look for the appropriate responsive, election
We are not God’s
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
May 28, 2019
WE are children of God,
and not his puppets or robots. The freedom he gives us is real
freedom because it can even enable us to go against the true nature,
source, meaning and purpose of freedom itself. We can use it – or
better said, misuse or abuse it – to go against God himself.
While it is true that God
is always on top of things, he allows us to use our freedom the way
we want it. Remember those famous lines in the Book of Ecclesiastes
that articulate this truth: “There is a time for everything, and a
season for every activity under the heavens…” (3,1)
Even if he is on top of
everything, he does not treat us as his puppets or robots whom he
controls. He treats us as his children, for that is how he has
created and designed us. We are supposed to be his image and
As such, his dominion over
us is a dominion of love. It is a dominion that is akin to that of
the parents over their children, but much, much better than that. In
fact, it is infinitely better.
There is some forcefulness
involved there, but one that is not coercive. There is obedience and
docility involved also, but one that does not compromise freedom.
When we obey God and follow his will and ways, we do it because we
want it and we know that it is good for us. Yes, there is some fear
involved, but not of the servile kind, but rather of the filial
This dominion of love
comes as a result of the abundant and gratuitous outpouring of God’s
goodness over us – his grace, his blessings, his inspirations, etc.
He is full of compassion, slow to anger, quick to forgive.
He provides us with
everything that we need, especially the things that we most need in
our quest for true happiness, our ultimate salvation, our
fulfillment as image and likeness of God, children of his.
It is because God loves us
first that we learn to love him and others in return. It is this
love that enables us to live and use our freedom properly. And this
love-inspired freedom leads us to our true joy where truth, beauty
and everything that is good for us are integrated.
This love-inspired freedom
makes us realistic with the realities of our earthly life where
there will always be mixture of good and evil, successes and
failures, joy and sorrows, health and sickness. It’s not afraid of
suffering. In fact, it welcomes suffering. Neither does it spoil us
when we happen to have good things in life.
We understand that freedom
as the freedom of the children of God, where we are willing to unite
our will with the will of God. We would never feel that we are
enslaved or tied down by God.
conditionings that our earthly life entails will never be regarded
as limitations. They would be assumed willingly and lovingly. They
would be regarded as means and occasions to further our development
as a person and a child of God, despite the cost, inconveniences and
sacrifices that they may involve. In short, they are seen as what
would enhance our freedom, not what would deter it.
To be sure, God does not
want us to be mere puppets and robots of his. He wants us to be like
him, full of love and goodness. We just have to understand that for
our freedom to be true freedom, we have to live and exercise it
always with God’s will and ways in mind.
That is why we need to
develop a close relationship with him who actually initiated an
intimate relationship with us. It was he who started that
relationship. We just have to try our best to correspond to that
relationship, in spite of our weaknesses and mistakes.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
May 17, 2019
WE have to understand that
our life here on earth is meant to be a life with Christ. And that’s
simply because, as Christ himself said, he is “the way, the truth
and the life.” (Jn 14,6) He said that no one goes to the Father, no
one can go to God, from whom we come and to whom we belong, except
For Christian believers,
human life is not just anyone’s life. It is by definition a life
with Christ who is the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our
damaged humanity. And even if one is not a Christian believer, he
somehow knows that his life is not just his own. There are at least
many ‘stakeholders’ or persons unavoidably involved in his life –
his parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, society in general, etc.
Christian believers should
realize that we have to continually keep company with Christ whom we
have to know, love, serve and identify ourselves with. And one way
of knowing him, the first step before we can love, serve and
identify ourselves with him, is to read and meditate on the gospel,
or the whole of Sacred Scripture, that contains the life and
teachings of Christ.
But there is just one
important qualification in this business of reading and meditating
on the gospel. We should not just read and approach it as if we are
just reading a book, a novel, a play, a historical document.
It has to be read with a
living faith that should involve our whole being, and not just our
intellect or feelings. It has to involve our whole being that
includes the whole gamut of the spiritual dimension and the
supernatural destination of our life.
I remember Opus Dei
founder St. Josemaria Escriva saying that in reading and meditating
on the gospel, one has to make himself as one more character in any
episode of Christ’s life as narrated in the gospel.
He certainly did not
simply mean that we imagine ourselves to be physically present in a
particular episode. This attitude would simply confine us at best to
a historical and cultural impression of Christ that is by definition
limited in scope and relevance. We would miss the living Christ.
We have to use all our
human faculties and to be animated by faith, so that we can have not
only a certain nearness to Christ but also can manage to discern the
spirit of Christ which will always be relevant whatever period and
situation we may be in the timeline of the world.
Let’s remember that
Christ’s words and teachings as contained in the gospel are living
and eternal words. Not only do they have a universal scope insofar
as our life and salvation is concerned, but also have particular and
unique messages for each one of us.
Thus, the letter to the
Hebrews describes God’s word as revealed by Christ as “living and
active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division
of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the
thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (4,12)
Reading and meditating on
the gospel with faith would truly enable us to live our life with
Christ irrespective of the historical, cultural differences, etc.
between his earthly life and ours. It validates what the Catechism
says about how our life can be a life with Christ. The Catechism
“Christ enables us to live
in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us…We are
called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members
of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our
The Catechism continues:
“We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’
life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize
them in us and in his whole Church…”
legitimate becomes immoral
April 24, 2019
WE have to be careful with
this possibility that, sad to say, has become rampant nowadays. It
cannot be denied that we are aware of the many blessings we have,
and the many rights of our human condition. We have all kinds of
talents, we have intelligence and freedom, and varying degrees of
wealth, resources, power. We have the right for rest and comfort and
some amount of bodily pleasure.
We obviously can use and
enjoy them. We just have to make sure that these legitimate things
do not become immoral as when we allow them to lead us to sheer
self-indulgence, with God completely out of the picture. That’s when
what is good can become bad.
This danger is always
present in our life and we should do something about it. We should
not allow God’s blessings and the rights we have to simply be
spoiled and to spoil us because we feel they have nothing to do with
No, sir! God is and should
be the beginning, the center and end of all these blessings and
rights. They are supposed to lead us to God, to give glory to him,
and not just for us to wallow in our shameless pleasure. We should
not forget that these things are God-given. They are not simply and
exclusively our own.
We have to remember that
without God in their use and enjoyment, there is no other
alternative but to fall into sin, into some self-entrapment that
alienates us from God and others. We would soon lose the sense of
balance, restraint and moderation, prudence and propriety, and start
our wayward ways. We would just feed our bodily and worldly
pleasures while starving the soul. The animal in us dominates.
Without God, we would
easily fall into some form of addiction and many other anomalies,
like pride, vanity, greed, self-righteousness, rash judgments, etc.
We should be quick to feel something is wrong when we realize we are
enjoying things without God and simply by our own selves. We should
correct that predicament just as quickly.
In other words, just like
in anything else we do, we should have rectitude of intention when
exercising our rights and enjoying our endowments. To be sure, such
practice does not undermine the enjoyment of what is legitimate in
On the contrary, it would
enhance such enjoyment, purifying it and elevating it to the
supernatural order which is proper to us as children of God. It
would affirm the dignity proper to us as persons and children of
With God, we would know
how to use and enjoy them with measure, with self-discipline and
control. We would avoid being fully at the mercy of our worldly
curiosities and other bodily impulses and urges.
Again, let us spread this
caveat around. More than that, let us teach everybody the ways and
means of how to rectify our intentions when exercising our rights
and enjoying the blessings God has given us.
Let us remind ourselves of
the importance of developing a life of prayer, to such an extent
that we truly have an abiding contemplative spirit, when we would be
always aware of God’s presence, and see him in everything and in
everyone, and get to know his will and follow it as faithfully as
This should not be
regarded as alien to our human nature. On the contrary, this is what
is essential and integral in our nature. Without God, we as human
beings would go on a limb. Sooner or later, we would get into
trouble that is made worse because we might not even know we are in
It would be good if right
there in the family, this basic skill of praying is taught and
lived, and the small ones would already be initiated into the ways
of prayer and prudence.
situation of civil society in the Philippines
A Statement of the Aktionsbündnis
Menschenrechte - Philippinen (AMP)
Cologne, April 9, 2019
In a letter to the
Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government Eduadro
Año and the Secretary of the Department of National Defense Delfin
Lorenzana, the Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte - Philippinen (AMP)
expressed its deep concern about increasing attempts by the
Philippine government to discredit civil society organizations,
including a number of long-standing partners of our network, by
denouncing them as front organizations of the communist New People’s
Army (NPA). These accusations frequently have deadly consequences
since human rights defenders who work for organizations alleged by
the security forces to have ties with the communist insurgency are
at particular risk of becoming victims of extrajudicial killings.
On March 30, 14 people
were killed in a single day in police operations in the province of
Negros Oriental. The victims were described by the provincial police
director of being communist rebels and accused of owning illegal
firearms. Local human rights organizations and Bishop Alminaza of
the Diocese San Carlos however maintained that they were peasants,
members of farmers organizations, habal habal drivers and church
workers respectively. Eye witnesses described the killings as
executions with the victims being cornered and unarmed, drawing
comparisons to the ‘drug-style’ killings in the Philippines’ brutal
war on drugs.
Ever since the breakdown
of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in late 2017,
harassment, defamation and murders of activists, including land and
environmental rights defenders, who are wrongly portrayed as state
enemies, communist rebels or terrorists, increased considerably.
While this defamation of
civil society actors is nothing new in the Philippines, the Duterte
government has also taken other steps to systematically hamper their
work. In February, a delegation of the Philippine government which
had toured Europe had accused several NGOs of acting as fronts for
the NPA. These include Karapatan, one of the leading human rights
organizations in the Philippines, the Rural Missionaries of the
Philippines (RMP), an inter-congregational organization of church
people working with rural poor communities, the independent think
tank IBON Foundation, and ALCADEV which runs independent indigenous
schools in Mindanao. In meetings with the EU and the Belgian
government these NGOs were accused of diverting funds they had
received from them to the communist rebels. In late March, the EU
Delegation in Manila released a press statement that it had so far
not been able to verify the allegations but would conduct a
financial audit of one of the accused NGOs.
Since the AMP and its
members have worked with these organizations for many years, we can
attest that the accusations are unfounded and aimed at silencing
voices critical of the government.
In November 2018, the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published a memorandum
which mandates NGOs to disclose detailed information on their
funding sources, current and intended beneficiaries, and amount of
funds.3 Based on an undisclosed points system, organizations will
also be assessed whether they pose a risk of money laundering or
financing terror. If an organization is deemed to be ‘high-risk’, it
will be subjected to ‘enhanced monitoring and supervision’ measures.
Unlike some other
countries, the Philippines so far has no specific NGO law intended
to impede the work of civil society organizations. The AMP is
therefore concerned about these recent administrative measures which
seem to be designed to complicate the registration of NGOs and to
limit their access to foreign funding.
The widespread defamation
of NGOs, the increased violence they suffer as well as these new
attempts to obstruct their work are part of a systematic crackdown
against civil society in the Philippines. The Aktionsbündnis
Menschenrechte - Philippinen therefore calls upon the Philippine
- Immediately investigate
the killings of March 30 in Negros Oriental and to bring possible
perpetrators to justice,
- Take all necessary steps
to protect human rights defenders from harassment, violence, and
killings and protect their freedom of association in accordance with
Article III, Section 8 of the Philippine Constitution,
- Direct the Philippine
security forces and all government agencies to refrain from making
statements that stigmatize human rights defenders, especially
statements that suggest that defenders are members of the New
- Immediately rescind SEC
Memorandum Circular No. 15 (2018),
- Guarantee the right of
all civil society organizations to seek, receive, and utilize
funding from national, foreign and international sources without
We also call on the
European Union to:
- Publicly declare its
support for all human rights organizations in the Philippines,
especially those on which it has received accusations,
- Consider the withdrawal
of the trade preferences given to the Philippines under the
Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) unless the government takes
immediate steps to protect civil society actors from further
harassment and violence.
[The Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte -
Philippinen (AMP – Action Network Human Rights - Philippines) is an
initiative of seven major German church-based agencies and human
rights organizations to promote advocacy and information work in
Germany and the EU regarding the human rights situation in the
Philippines. Member Organizations of the AMP are Amnesty
International Germany, Bread for the World – Protestant Development
Service, International Peace Observers Network (IPON), MISEREOR,
Missio Munich, philippinenbüro e.V. im Asienhaus, and the United
Evangelical Mission (UEM). The main focus of the network lies on the
core human rights issues of extrajudicial killings, enforced
disappearances, and fabricated charges against political activists.]
Commemorate the valor of
the Filipino people! Defend our sovereignty!
A Joint Press Statement by
Tanggol Kasaysayan & ACT for Sovereignty
09 April 2019
Tanggol Kasaysayan and ACT
for Sovereignty join the Filipino people in commemorating the valor
of Filipino martyrs this April 9 who fought to defend the
sovereignty of our country. This is in honor and recognition of our
people’s deep-rooted history of fighting for freedom and for the
promotion of people’s welfare. On this day, we remember the
suffering and sacrifice of patriotic Filipinos who struggled to
frustrate foreign attempts to steal and colonize our territories.
As we commemorate the
Philippine Day of Valor, we recognize that we are still confronted
with threats and challenges to our sovereignty. We remain to be
bound to unequal military pacts with the United States of America
through the Mutual Defense Treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement, and
Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which are skewed in favor of
foreign interests and leave our country susceptible to attacks from
countries antagonistic towards the US government. Meanwhile, China
is relentless in its aggressive take over of islands within our
shores in the West Philippine Sea as it continues to assert the
unrecognized 9-dash line and as China makes itself known as a new
global superpower. Through the establishment of artificial islands,
China utilizes our sands and the soils from our mountains to create
a network of defense for the expansion of its naval bases.
China further chains the
Philippines through the funding of various projects in the
Philippines. Using the classic template for a skewed contract in
favor of China which it has used in other economically struggling
countries, the Philippines has pawned off its natural resources and
rights to govern critical infrastructures in the country in exchange
for huge business loans. Ridiculously high interest rates, shorter
lengths of repayment plans, exclusively granting project contracts
to Chinese corporations who employ only Chinese workers – these are
just some of the unfair provisions in the loan contracts that the
Duterte regime blindly agreed to in the interest of ‘Build, Build,
Build’. Several projects are t be funded by these onerous loans,
which include the Chico River Dam project, the construction of
Kaliwa Dam, and the reclamation of parts of Manila Bay. Should we
fail to repay these debts, China reserves the right to claim our
natural resources and to control important public infrastructures to
the detriment of the lives and livelihoods of the nation.
The anomalous relations
between the Duterte regime and the Chinese government should be
exposed. We must learn the lessons of our history – the People must
fight for the country’s independence and sovereignty at the first
instance of threat against it.
These lessons can be
observed as we commemorate the Philippine Day of Valor.
Unfortunately, even these learnings are in danger of being relegated
to oblivion as the state neglects its duty to strengthen our
historical consciousness. The state has abandoned its role in
propagating and cultivating patriotism. Through the continuing K to
12 program, Philippine History has been removed from High School
curriculum and, in tertiary education, it has been transformed from
learning about events from the past towards varying interpretations
of history, which runs the risk of diluting our understanding of our
identity as a nation.
It is high time for us to
once again assert the valor of the Filipino people. We shall put
into practice the lessons of history about our tradition of
resistance against foreign domination. It is time to forward the
interests of the people as basis for all international relations.
Our national sovereignty and the security of future generations
shall take primacy over accumulation of profit and other financial
gains for the few from entering anomalous contracts. These, however,
will only be made possible by a people with vast and deep historical
consciousness who can elevate our commemoration of days like these
to reliving the lessons of the past in the face of threats against
the welfare and future of our nation. These can be guaranteed
through the unity of the Filipino people in advancing a society
where the interests of the majority trumps those of the few and
those of foreign invaders.
Learn from the lessons of
Commemorate the valor of the Filipino people against
Fight for Philippine
freedom and sovereignty!
The big problem
of the rich
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
April 2, 2019
WHAT is the big problem of
the rich? Christ spelled it out when he said, “It is easier for a
camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to
enter the kingdom of God.” (Mt 19,24)
The big problem of the
rich, in short, is his attachment to his wealth such that he cannot
give himself fully to God. He may give the appearance that he is
giving a lot, but if it is not the whole of himself, then it is not
total self-giving which God deserves and expects from each one of
Let us always remember
that God wants the whole of ourselves. He wants our entire heart,
not a divided heart. He wants to be everything to us, the first and
the last, the Alpha and the Omega. He wants to be given priority
over everything else, including our own life.
This is not selfishness on
his part, an act of ego-tripping. It is simply in recognition of the
basic truth that everything, including our life, comes from him and
also belongs to him. We have no right whatsoever to expropriate as
our own what actually comes and belongs to God.
We need to understand that
our intelligence and will, our freedom and rights that enable us to
be and to do what we want, and to be rich in many ways, also come
from God and belong to him. They can only be properly exercised when
used in accord with God’s will and ways.
And to be rich here does
not mean only those with a lot of money and resources. It can mean
those who are well-endowed in the other aspects of life – power,
fame, health, intelligence, luck, etc.
We need to remind
ourselves constantly that even if we can say we are the owners of
such wealth, resources, talents, power, fame, and indeed of our
whole life, we actually are at best only stewards who have to give
account to the absolute owner of all these things that we possess.
We have to continually
fight against the tendency and the constant temptation to think that
all these things are simply are own, that we are their absolute
owners. This is not going to be easy, of course, because even within
ourselves we have the villain that will always push us to think that
That is why we really
would need to make use of strong and constant measures to see to it
that we are properly detached from whatever form of human and
worldly wealth we can own and possess in this life.
It is not that we avoid
acquiring wealth in this life. The acquisition of wealth can be an
expression of the productivity and fruitfulness that is also
expected of us. But we need to always rectify our intentions, seeing
to it that everything we do in this department is always for the
glory of God and for the common good of the people.
This should be shown in
the way we live our life that should be marked by the qualities of
simplicity, austerity, humility, generosity, magnanimity, honesty,
We need to be spiritually
strong and tough such that we would be willing to lose everything
that we may have acquired with great effort in just an instant. We
have to constantly remind ourselves that with God we would already
have everything. “Solo Dios basta,” as St. Teresa used to say.
Let us never forget that
wealth in whatever form, if not related to God, is the worst
corrupting agent we can have in life. Everyday, we should devise a
plan of protecting ourselves from the strong attraction of wealth
that would take us away from God and from others.
Freedom is not
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 22, 2019
MY father wrote the
valedictory address I delivered during my high school graduation
more than 50 years ago. I still remember the opening lines, a play
of words that continue to intrigue me even up to now. “Freedom is
not free,” I said, trying to sound dramatic. “You have to pay for it
or it buys you out.”
I indeed agreed to that
affirmation at that time, but I did not quite capture the richness
of its content until I went through many experiences these past 50
years that simply validated it.
Yes, we have to pay for
our freedom to be true freedom. In fact, the price is quite high,
because it involves nothing less than giving away all we have to
gain it. We have to give away many ‘freedoms’ to gain the real one.
It is indeed a paradoxical
thing. To be truly free, we need to be lose our own ideas of freedom
that simply are expressions of what our body wants, what the
external conditionings would lead us to, etc. True freedom can only
come when we manage to unite our mind and will with God’s.
That is when freedom will
truly serve the cause of truth, charity, mercy, justice and all the
good things proper to us as creatures of God made in his image and
likeness and, with his grace, are adopted children of his, meant to
share the very life of God.
It is this freedom that
would clearly put us on the right track toward our final destination
which is heaven. It does not get entangled with the things of this
world, though it would know how to use them. It is one that can
prefer to enter by the narrow gate if only to reach its ultimate
goal, rather than by the wide gate the opens up to the by the many
allurements of this world, but eventually would lead to our
perdition. (cfr. Mt 7,13-14)
It is a freedom that needs
to be constantly guarded and guided to make sure it comes from the
right source and goes to the right destination. It has to be
properly inspired and motivated, as well as properly oriented.
Otherwise, as we have been warned in the gospel, it can simply give
an opening to self-indulgence, thus imprisoning us into our own
world. (cfr. Gal 5,13)
It is a freedom that
requires real and total detachment of self and of the things of this
world so that we can have the one that gives everything. Christ
articulated this point when he said: “Seek first the kingdom of God
and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
We have to be wary of
being deluded by the charms of the many forms of false freedom we
have in this world. To be able to do this, we have to be ready to
follow Christ’s indication to deny ourselves, carry the cross and
simply follow him. (cfr. Lk 9,23)
Yes, genuine freedom will
always involve sacrifice. A freedom in this world that does not
involve sacrifice is simply not true freedom. It would be a freedom
that would set us up for inhuman slavery even as it dishes out a lot
of perks and privileges for a while. We have to be most discerning
of the tricks of false freedom.
What is more, we can
somehow distinguish between genuine and fake freedom, since the
former is usually done gratuitously, without any strings attached,
without any condition, without counting the cost nor expecting any
reward. As they say, it is done freely despite the steep cost. It is
what identifies us with Christ.
Fake freedom usually has
ulterior motives. The intentions are not pure. It usually likes to
flaunt itself. It will sooner or later corrupt our soul.
“Louder for the
People in the Back”: Indie vs. Popular Filipino Music
JESCA C. CANTO
March 18, 2019
Our lives revolve around
music. It has indeed played a major role in shaping people’s lives,
most especially to those who are blessed with the gift of music and
are able to share their unique sounds that led them to pursue their
passion for it.
In the Philippines, it is
widely known that we have outstanding performers in the field of
music that even some are fortunate enough to have their talents
recognized by either local or international scenes, and we are
fortunate enough to go around the world to perform on the biggest
stages. Because of this, many artists are inspired to strive and
attain that same goal. Even more so when their music is something
that catches people’s attention because of the messages they convey.
But as the years go by, the music industry in the country has become
more political in terms that it has a tendency to be more of a
business in making money than what music is supposed to be; an
expression of art at its proper form.
In today’s digital age,
music has become more accessible to many whether through online
streaming sites or downloading them through music applications like
Spotify. It has also given the opportunity to let people share their
music, especially those starting out as local indie artists who want
their work to be recognized in simple ways such as posting their
music on websites like Soundcloud, or promoting their performances
in small gigs at local bars.
These indie artists have
one goal in common; to express what words cannot say through their
passion for music. With this access, many of these artists have
published their songs in the form of covers and even unique
compositions online. By means of publishing their work, their
talents get discovered and are easily shared through word of mouth
via social media. None of which would also have happened if it
weren’t for the love and support that their fans have been giving
them that pushes them to continue doing what they do best.
But even through the small
success of these indie artists, in reality, it is difficult for most
of them to pursue music and get the recognition they deserve. Today,
as much as they want to make their music known at its best quality,
it is being surpassed by what the popular music industries promote.
The Filipino masses are innately attracted to anyone or anything
that’s famous, most especially when they are seen in their famous
movies and soap operas.
entertainment industries use this attraction to their advantage, in
which it influences them to waste their money on artists who are
already famous for their acting career and have them take a chance
on making music, whether or not they can actually sing and hit a
good note. Later on, you would be surprised that music industries
are actually promoting a poor quality album that is filled with
auto-tunes and shallow lyrics sung by a person who just so happens
to be already famous, rather than investing their time and attention
on promoting indie artists who produce songs that have a much deeper
In line of the
inappropriateness of promoting such artists in the field, most if
not all Filipinos tend to be attracted to the loudest thing, but not
necessarily the best thing, especially when it comes to music. Their
attention is more on songs that do not have much essence, than those
that do. It shows how Filipinos have such a skewed definition when
it comes to the quality of the songs that they listen to, simply
because of the influence that some artists have garnered through
media that is not anywhere related to music.
These indie artists,
however prominently talented they are, are being overshadowed by
songs from inadequate persons in the industry who are only doing it
for their additional source of profit.
Ever since its start in
the early 1970s, Original Pilipino Music (abbreviated as O.P.M.) has
always been prosperous and it never fails to captivate the hearts
and emotions of the people, especially through the way it is
arranged and the true implications of the lyrics.
Filipinos nowadays tend to
say that OPM is dying, or dead even, because all they see and hear
are from our entertainment industries are so-called artists
lip-syncing to international songs and not even promote what is
ours. Others even say that it’s dying because the quality of
Filipino music artists they promote today are shallow or just a copy
of international celebrities. But little do they know that these
indie artists are the ones keeping it alive by giving what’s unique
and sustaining the true meaning standards of OPM, and it’s saddening
that not many people appreciate them.
Music in the Philippines
has become more of a subject of business than of Art. But even if
that is the reality of the industry, it is satisfying to see that
here are still thriving artists who still push themselves into
pursuing their music knowing that the music business in the country
is a hit or miss.
As someone who is
enthusiastic for her love and support for Filipino music, it is
great to perceive that little by little prosperous and authentic
music is being distinguished by its unique quality over other the
qualities being promoted in the media, and that people are sharing
and promoting these indie artists that deserves to be heard and be
proud of. But at the end of the day, the most important purpose
music can achieve is to unite its people amidst its differences.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 12, 2019
IF we want our life to be
good, we need to develop a keen sense of transparency and
accountability. These traits assure us that we are on the right
path. That is to say, we have nothing bad to hide, and more, we are
seeing to it that we are responsible for what God has given us,
making these God-given gifts fruitful and productive.
A good sense of
transparency will help us develop and sustain our integrity in life.
It means that everything that we do is good, that is, morally good.
This sense of transparency can only take root when it is based on
our faith in God who sets all the laws in our life, and therefore,
all that is good for us.
Besides, God actually sees
everything. Before him, nothing can be hidden. We therefore have to
adapt a lifestyle that would make us do everything in his presence.
In fact, we are not simply meant to do things in his presence. It is
more to do everything for God’s glory. Thus, when we do things
without God in mind, let us be warned that we are already doing
We should not base our
sense of transparency on human, natural and worldly criteria alone.
These latter standards do not capture all the good that is proper to
us. At best, they may just be silent about the finer nuances and
consequences of what is generally good for us. We have to remember
that many mysteries shroud our understanding of things.
But what is bad is that
our human laws and worldly standards have started to go against
God’s will. This, of course, can be due to our limitations in truly
understanding God’s law. But it can also be due to our sinfulness
and malice. Nowadays, I believe it is the latter that has led us to
make laws that are openly against God’s law.
We can try to do something
about this problem by teaching the children to be transparent
always, first to God, then to their lawful authorities: their
parents, teachers, elders, etc. And with the adults, let us remind
them often of the importance and the great many benefits that a
working sense of transparency brings.
The same with the sense of
accountability. This has to be inculcated in the children as early
as when they can be understand it. In the gospel, many are the
references that talk about this need for accountability. One is the
parable of the talents where a master gave his three servants
different amounts to do business with while he went away. (cfr. Mt
25,14-30) The master asked for an accounting when he returned.
We even have to account
for the words we speak, as attested in this passage of St. Matthew’s
gospel: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account
for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be
justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (12,36-37)
St. Paul in his Letter to
the Romans also said that “each of us will give an account of
himself to God.” (14,12) And in his second letter to the
Corinthians, he said: “For we must all appear before the judgment
seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he
has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (5,10)
We have to prepare for
this judgment when we have to give account of what we have done with
what God has given us. Let’s remember that God has given us
everything that is good to us, even the way to recover our dignity
as children of God once we lose it due to our sins. He has given us
life, talents, the theological virtues, mercy, etc.
We should be ready to face
God to give an accounting of our life with eagerness, not with fear.
discriminating ACT members in election service!
A press statement by
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
March 6, 2019
Over the last few weeks,
teacher-unionists under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
have reported alarming cases of disinformation in various regions,
where some local officials of the Department of Education (DepEd)
have been declaring the ineligibility of ACT union members to serve
as part of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in the upcoming
midterm polls. This is yet another attack against teachers’ right to
self-organization and a dirty attempt to persecute ACT.
In Central Luzon and
Eastern Samar, DepEd officials have purportedly been announcing in
meeting with school heads and in teachers’ seminars that ACT members
are prohibited from being part of the BEI for the 2019 elections. In
Laguna, a document that made rounds among teachers detailed the
qualifications of BEI members, which explicitly noted that members
of the “Allegiance of Concerned Teachers” are not qualified.
The outright singling out
of ACT members in election service has no legal basis. No law or
policy allows for the wholesale disqualification of BEI members –
especially not on the grounds of their affiliation to any
organization, as such would be a case of political discrimination
prohibited by the law. Furthermore, barring teachers from serving as
poll workers is a violation of R.A. 10756 or the Election Service
Reform Act (ESRA) which states that public school teachers shall be
prioritized in election service.
This is a vicious attack
against teachers’ economic rights. For underpaid teachers, the
P6,000 honorarium they receive as workers during elections is a
significant addition to their scant income. The accordance of a just
compensation to the difficult and perilous job they take on every
elections is a product of their determined and consistent effort to
push for the enactment of the ESRA, and to prohibit them now from
participating as BEIs is to deny them of their hard-earned victory.
This is a malicious strike
against teachers’ right to unionize, a clear attempt at
union-busting. Such efforts are aimed at forcing teachers to
dissociate themselves from our union by stifling their work and
As the surveillance and
harassment suffered by our members continue to intensify, another
dirty tactic of vilification and persecution is employed by the
state in a futile attempt to enfeeble us and our organization.
We call on DepEd to
clarify this issue involving their local officials. DepEd must state
for the record if there is such a national order to discriminate ACT
members in election service. If so, how is this related to the
meeting mentioned by retired DepEd Region 3 Director Torno which was
supposedly held between DepEd and the National Police Commission on
the government’s counter-terrorism campaign? The central office
shall effect measures to correct the unlawful and misinformed
pronouncements of its local officials.
We also urge the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to take urgent action to resolve
this issue. As the commission with the exclusive authority to
appoint or disqualify BEI members, we urge you to provide
clarification on this matter.
We demand the immediate
termination of all acts of terrorism launched by the state against
us in the form of surveillance, harassment, intimidation, and
terrorist-tagging of our organization and our members. ACT
Philippines and ACT unions are legal and legitimate organizations of
teachers, administrative staff, and advocates who have consistently
lobbied for and advanced the rights and welfare of education
workers. Such are not acts of rebellion or terrorism, but are mere
exercises of democracy.
The state, instead of
subjecting teachers to intimidation and repression, should honor and
dignify teachers for their unparalleled commitment and sacrifice in
the fulfillment of their vital role in people’s education amid dire
Spending a Good
Seminarian LANCE ENAD,
February 28, 2019
Guerranger OSB tells us that the principal effect Lent should have
in us is the renovation of our spiritual lives. In this sense, a
person who comes out of a well spent lent should be a better
catholic, a person who loves God more, a person more identical to
For most of us, spiritual
perfection is the work of a life time. If we at least try to conquer
a particular vice or defect and to acquire a particular virtue or to
make a particular resolution for each lent, we would at least have a
stable growth in our spiritual life – in the spiritual life, mind
you, according to St. Augustine, not to move forward is to move
It is a pity though how
lent is almost not noticed nowadays and how the spirit of lent is
chocked by the thorn bushes of the world. That is why it is
interesting how in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (Tridentine
Mass), lent is preceded by Septuagessima season – a prelude to lent
– so that the faithful may be better prepared to spend a good lent.
In line with this, here
are some things useful to spend a good lent.
Root out a vice or
defect. Catholic Spirituality would tell us that each of us have
a predominant fault – which is an obstacle in our spiritual life.
Lent would be high time to remove these so as to advance in the
spiritual life. If for example, one has the vice of intemperance in
eating or drinking, lent would be the time to confront this, to
purge ourselves of this vice, this capital sin which lead us to much
graver sins. It would be a mistake to think that one would give up,
let’s say, drinking in lent, and would return to unrestrained
drunkenness after lent. A man with the vice of intemperance taking
lent seriously should come out of it a man who has, or at least is
sincerely trying to have, the virtue of temperance not only for this
particular lent, or for this particular liturgical year but for the
rest of his life.
Acquire a virtue.
St. Augustine tells us that virtue is just another form of Charity –
here I do not mean philanthropy but Charity, the theological virtue
that has God for its object, that is, the Love of God. St. Francis
de Sales also tells us that the devout life – the spiritual life –
consists in loving God. In this sense, the renovation of our
spiritual life would mean that we would love God more, that we will
acquire more virtues – not for their own sake but because they are a
means to prove our love for God. For instance, a young man, may use
this lent to acquire the virtue of chastity – he would have to do
some spiritual reading, a lot of prayer, a lot of mortification, a
lot of devotion to the Mother of God during this season of lent to
acquire this virtue so threatened by the world today. It is to be
noted that virtue for us is not merely the fruit of personal
struggle alone but virtue is not possible without the grace of God.
If each person, at least in a city, decided to acquire a virtue each
year, that city would probably become a city of saints.
Prayer and penance.
Lent would be the time to form the habit of prayer or for those with
this already, to intensify their prayer. The spiritual life is not
possible without prayer. Prayer, apart from being the great means of
salvation and spiritual perfection, is the means by which we acquire
graces. Without grace, the spiritual life is not possible. Lent
would also be the time to acquire or to strengthen the virtue of
penance. There are so many reasons to do penance (something I
discussed at length in my other essays). It would, perhaps, suffice
to say here that lent is the best time to unite ourselves to our
Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross by means of penance and that the
penance, along with prayer, is a pillar of the spiritual life.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 20, 2019
WITH new scandals
assailing parts of the Church today (mainly in the US), we are
reminded that we are into another round of crucifixion time for our
Mother, the Church. We should not be surprised anymore by this
development. But we should be prepared to handle this predicament
properly and learn some precious lessons.
The life of the Church
cannot help but reflect the life, passion, death and resurrection of
Christ, its founder and its body into which we, Christian believers,
are incorporated. Yes, we cannot escape the curse of sin in our life
as well as in the life of the Church as a whole.
Like Christ, the Church
has to bear all the sins of men, including those committed by its
temporal leaders. Christ did all he could to sanctify us. He
preached, performed miracles, instituted the sacraments and founded
the Church, etc. But in the end, due to our hard-headedness and all
kinds of weaknesses, he just had to offer his life to save us. The
Church cannot do no less. She has to suffer the same fate.
It is, of course, painful
to experience all these scandals, but we should not over-react to
the point of making things worse. These scandals, a consequence of
human weaknesses that can afflict even our Church leaders, are
actually a call for another conversion, which is something that is
meant to be a continuing, life-long process for each one of us.
Something very good can be derived from these scandals.
We just have to focus more
on what we can gain from these scandals in terms of what can favor
another conversion rather than on getting hooked on their purely
negative aspects. Of course, there will be elements that will rub it
in on us. Some sectors of the media will have a field day in this.
But this should also be expected.
We just have to be ready
to react to all this properly, as shown by Christ himself. And that
is simply to suffer together with Christ – a suffering that is in
accordance to the will of the Father. In a sense, the suffering
caused by the scandals is another concrete way of identifying
ourselves more intimately with Christ. In a way, it is a welcome
In the meantime, we have
to do the continuing task of cleaning up our own selves and the
Church as an institution. We cannot deny that weaknesses,
temptations and sins will always hound us. We have to identify more
clearly the deficiencies in Christian life that give rise to these
scandals and come up with the appropriate measures to address them.
Offhand, we can take
another review of how the formation of priests and seminarians is
done. What improvement can be made in that department? How should
priests be more effectively accompanied in their ministry so that
their spiritual life would remain healthy as they carry out their
And since transparency is
also a goal to be pursued, how should this be done without
compromising the basic human rights of all the parties involved? How
should Church authorities handle cases where the legal rights of
persons are involved? Justice, charity and mercy should go hand in
These, I suppose, are some
of the things that have to be looked into if only to minimize the
cases of scandals that can unnecessarily disturb the people in
general. It cannot be denied that the Church authorities have to
install appropriate means and structures to be in step with the
rightful expectations of the world.
It’s about time for the
Church authorities to air out the hidden dirty closets. Transparency
and accountability should be lived strictly. It certainly will be a
very painful and unpleasant task, but it will definitely be for the
common good, and will give due glory to God!
LANCE PATRICK C. ENAD, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 15, 2019
February 17 this year, in
the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (Tridentine Latin Mass)
Septuagesima Sunday –seventy days before Easter. The two Sundays
after this would be Sexagesima Sunday (sixty), and Quinquagesima
Sunday (fifty). These three weeks are a prelude to lent –in Latin,
Quadragesima (forty). On that day, in the extraordinary form, the
Gloria and the Alleluia are omitted, and purple becomes the
Liturgical color. This season though is not yet lent but is a means
to prepare for lent.
In the Parable of the
sower, we see the seeds that are sown into the thorny bushes. They
grow yet the thorns choke them. As we know, the seeds are the word
of God and the thorns symbolize the world and all the things opposed
to our salvation and sanctification. In this we can see the purpose
of the Septuagesima: Lent is a very important season and that we
ought to prepare ourselves for it to make the most out of it.
On the feast of Epiphany
there is the tradition of announcing the movable feasts for the
year. In the announcement of the date for Ash Wednesday, the cantor
says “the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.”
This shows how the church has regarded lent as a very important
An authority no less that
Dom Prosper Guerranger O.S.B., in his magnum opus, “the Liturgical
year” that the Church wants us to make the most out of lent, a
season of penance, that it may produce its work in our souls: “the
renovation of our spiritual life.”
distractions, the comforts, and the pleasures of the world render us
indisposed to enter into the season of penance. Perhaps, before we
know it, lent would arrive and it would catch us off guard. The
Church invites us, therefore, to prepare the soil for the sowing. We
ought to remove all that could impede or make difficult our
observance of lent.
Dom Propser Guerranger
O.S.B. tells us: “Now, the Feast of Easter must be prepared for by a
forty-days’ recollectedness and penance. Those forty-days are one of
the principal Seasons of the Liturgical Year, and one of the most
powerful means employed by the Church for exciting in the hearts of
her children the spirit of their Christian vocation. It is of the
utmost importance, that such a Season of penance should produce its
work in our souls – the renovation of the whole spiritual life. The
Church, therefore, has instituted a preparation for the holy time of
Lent. She gives us the three weeks of Septuagesima, during which she
withdraws us, as much as may be, from the noisy distractions of the
world, in order that our hearts may be the more readily impressed by
the solemn warning she is to give us, at the commencement of Lent,
by marking our foreheads with ashes.”
Although Septuagesima has
been abolished by the liturgical reforms. The values behind it,
however, remain valid. The devil, the flesh, and the world remain
opposed to our salvation and sanctification no matter how these are
almost no longer mentioned. We need to prepare ourselves to lent.
Lent should be the time for those who do not have a spiritual life
to live one, for those who have, to advance. We need to pay
attention to the affairs of our soul, to our spiritual life. These
would not be possible of we are distracted and choked by the thorns
of the devil, the flesh, the world, and all those opposed to our
sanctification. Let the remaining weeks be a time to prepare for
lent so that lent this year would be the best lent we ever had.
needed to understand global human rights situation
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
January 23, 2019
After two world wars, the
first world elite realized the necessity of a global human rights
movement, and cooperated with each other to bring that about. The
Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a product of this
imagination and determination not to allow past rights violations to
recur. Subsequent UN conventions all followed from this imagination.
Unfortunately, today, that
imagination is no longer manifested in the first world. The
political elite in developed countries is now dominated by a narrow
perspective that does not consider the conditions of the third
world, where life is truly nasty, brutal and short. The first world
is willingly turning a blind eye to the massive loss of human rights
in the third world. Their attitude is almost cynical. This is most
clearly noticed in the bilateral ties first world countries have
with developing countries, all but ignoring human rights concerns.
It is also visible in current UN forums, including the Human Rights
Council. As Human Rights Watch noted in a statement earlier this
month, when states with poor human rights records were joining the
Council as members, “The Human Rights Council should not be a place
where violators come to seek shelter. It should be a profoundly
uncomfortable place for rights violators; a place where they know
they will be held to a higher standard and put under the spotlight
for their abuses. Membership has its consequences.”
There are several probable
reasons as to why the first world has become so indifferent to the
human rights violations in the third world. One reason may be the
end of the Cold War. When the Cold War prevailed, there was a fear
of a territorial shift in favour of Communist opponents. This threat
no longer exists, with the elite in the first world and former
Communist countries now sitting at the table together. The first
world is therefore willing not to make any fuss about the suffering
of the ordinary folk living in these countries.
The economic crises
affecting the first world could be another reason for its myopia.
With first world countries all preoccupied with their own problems,
and an increase in isolationist practices, there is little united
leadership toward human rights issues shown by the first world.
Aside from any other
reasons, it is necessary to note that there is something radically
wrong with the imagination and leadership regarding human rights in
the third world. It is ironic that while today the first world knows
more about the third world than ever before with the advancement in
world communication networks, this very knowledge that the world
possesses may be producing negative results. It seems as though the
more the problems of the third world become known, the more
pusillanimous and insular the first world becomes. Perhaps the
feeling is that it is not within our power or capacity to deal with
such horrendous violence and human rights abuse.
The result of this
attitude is that people in third world countries who are fighting to
improve their rights are today more isolated than ever before. As
governments of third world countries are fully aware that the first
world is turning a blind eye to the human rights violations in their
countries, they are emboldened to attack their poor and marginalized
communities. The present global impunity for human rights abuse
creates political leaders who violate the rights of their own people
without any fear or shame.
The few fine individuals
and intellectuals in the first world who are concerned with global
human rights situation are disoriented due to a lack of support in
their own countries. Critical discourse is therefore necessary
regarding the Human Rights struggles throughout the world. American
lawyer Gary Haugen has captured this situation marvellously in his
book, The Locust Effect. In spite of a few who are making strong
efforts, the general situation of the first world is that it does
not care about the global human rights situation anymore.
It is this that needs to
become the focus of discussion among those who care for the lives
and rights of everyone, in order to fire up new imagination on this
LANCE PATRICK ENAD,
January 18, 2019
In his book, “True
Devotion to Mary,” – which every serious catholic should read – St.
Louis de Montfort explains that True Devotion to our Lady is
interior, tender, holy, constant, and disinterested.
Perhaps, we who labor for
our salvation can use these characteristics for our benefit. It
seems that these characteristics can be used as a checklist for
devotion in general.
True devotion is holy.
First, this would mean that true devotion (to the Blessed Sacrament,
to the saints, etc.) would lead us to God. True devotion to Mary,
for example, would lead us to a deeper relationship with Jesus
Christ. Second, this would mean that true devotion would lead us to
abhor sin thereby loving God more. A person habitually in the state
of mortal sin, for example, who prays the rosary devoutly every day,
would one day either give up mortal sin or the rosary.
True devotion is interior.
This means that true devotion comes from the heart and does not
consist merely of reciting prayers and waving hands.
True devotion is constant.
This means that true devotion is not impulsive but is stable. A
person who has a devotion to our Lady, for example, ought to have a
fixed program for his devotional acts and should be faithful to
that. This could mean praying the rosary every day.
True devotion is
disinterested. This means that a true devotee does not have -or at
least is trying to do away- with self-serving motives but is
selfless in doing his devotions and is motivated by love.
True devotion is tender.
This means that true devotion entails childlike confidence. True
devotion to our Lady, for example, means childlike trust in our
Moreover, St. Louis de
Montfort continues to explain that True Devotion to Our Lady,
consists in the imitation of our Lady’s virtues. I suppose this
applies to all other devotions. Devotion to the Sto. Niño for
example, would consist in imitating the virtues of our Lord in his
childhood –meekness, humility, obedience to the Father, and all
those virtues a good meditation on the Childhood of Our Lord will
tell us. The Sto. Niño is also viewed as a symbol of the Christian
Faith in our country. Devotion to the Sto. Niño then would compel
the devotee to study the faith, to be firmer in their conviction to
live and die in the catholic faith.
Let the words of St. Louis
de Montfort be an examination of conscience for us. Are these
characteristics present in my devotion? Am I trying to imitate the
virtues of the Child Jesus? Do I study the my Faith? Do I read the
catechism? If by the end of your examination you find out that your
devotion fails to meet this, resolve to try hard –an harder if
needed- to meet this aided by the grace of God. By the end of your
life, having done these things, you would have been a better person
–that is, more identical to Jesus Christ-, a better catholic, a
virtuous person, and, by the graces God bestows upon you because of
your devotion, a person meriting a canonization.
PATRICK ENAD, email@example.com
January 15, 2019
Holy days, have always
been, at least on paper, sacred times. In these holy times, anything
that could be a distraction from the worship of God is to be avoided
–hence we abstain from work (although with exceptions) on Sundays so
that we can spend the day for God, with our families, and for rest.
We see in the catechisms
and in the preaching of many saints, especially St. John Mary
Vianney, the phrase “desecration of Sundays.” St. John Mary Vianney
often preached against it. Being the pastor of the village of Ars,
he lamented how people worked on Sundays and neglected to come to
Mass. On Sundays too, dances were held in the town –dances which
fostered immorality and other occasions of sin.
Obviously, Sundays and
holy days are days for our Lord. Holy days are especially set apart
for the worship of God, for doing good works, for the family.
Anything that would be an obstacle to those would be an abuse of
these sacred times. Any sinful act or vice on these days –parties,
or street parties, dances, etc. that endanger purity, that are
occasions of sin- would be a desecration of these sacred times.
It is rather lamentable to
think how Cebu City on the feast day of the Sto. Niño instead of
being filled with grace, becomes a cesspool of sin, vice, and
immorality. While we supposedly enthrone the Christ Child, the City
becomes a pit of sin –so many souls that are in the darkness of
mortal sin commit still more on this day and perhaps so many souls
on that day, lose the grace of God.
You, Christian Reader,
redeemed by Jesus Christ, would you tolerate how God is offended on
the time that should be for him? On birthdays, we always try to be
nice to the celebrant. On the day of the Lord, why is it that we
offend God all the more. It is like how those engaged in theNi
demonic mock God at 3am and how we remember the death of Our Lord at
3pm. God is offended, what is your reaction, Christian soul?
For this reason, it is
important to give some advice on how to celebrate the feast of the
Santo Niño well.
(1) Attend / assist in the
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is Sunday, you are obliged to assist
in the Most Holy Sacrifice. Offer this mass for the salvation of
souls, for the conversion of sinners, especially for those who will
have the misfortune of committing a mortal sin on the feast of the
Sto. Niño. Offer this mass as a reparation for each time God is
(2) Pray the Rosary. This
is a powerful weapon for our times. The Rosary is a meditation on
the life of Our Lord. If you pray it every day, Sinulog would be a
great day to pray all the mysteries. If you don’t pray it every day,
it is high time to begin. Commend your soul and the souls of your
loved ones to our Lady so that you will always be kept in the grace
(3) Holy hour. So many
graces flow from an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
Spend an hour before Jesus. Offer it in reparation for the sins
committed today and in homage to the Sto. Niño.
(4) Read the Bible. Read
the Gospels. How fruitful it is for us to read the life of our Lord!
While so many people do not think of God on that day –and so many
even offend him-, you reading the Bible make it one person less.
(5) Preparation. Prepare
yourself for the feast day of the Sto. Niño. Pray the Novena and
meditate on the Childhood of Our Lord.
Sinulog, before it is a
festival, before it is a time for culture, is a time for God, a
sacred time- we ought not to forget that.
statement that human rights groups are enemies of the state
A press statement by
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
January 10, 2019
Only tyrants and human
rights violators consider human rights defenders as enemies, to
justify their killing and other worse violations against them. It is
actually those in government who order, encourage and perpetuate
extrajudicial killings, illegal or arbitrary arrests, rape, torture,
and other grave violations, as well as those who engender impunity
and poverty and promote the sell-out of our country’s patrimony, who
are considered by the people as their enemies.
We reiterate - Duterte’s
sham drug war and its consequences cannot be justified by the
government’s inability to resolve criminality and its distorted and
unscientific analysis on the roots of the problem of the illegal
drug trade. As long as the government sees that the solution to
social woes is through its kill, kill, kill approach, as long it
does not nip corruption in government in the bud by being complicit
in the entry and proliferation of illegal drugs in the streets, as
long as it doesn’t solve the root causes of poverty, it will always
face criticism and opposition from the people.
Human rights defense is
not the sole purview of human rights groups. Every day, every hour,
several communities and individuals uphold and defend their
individual and collective rights. The people are defending our
rights. As long as Duterte continues to disregard these rights, he
will be made accountable by the people.
Hey, sex is
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
January 1, 2019
THAT’S right. Sex is
sacred. We should not play around with it. It is serious business,
infused with a very serious mission. We should not trivialize it.
Of course, it is easier
said than done. The naked truth is that given our wounded condition
and the current state of affairs, sex for mere pleasure exercises
such tantalizing influence on all of us that we find it hard to
resist its allurement.
Why, even highly respected
people including some cardinals, bishops and priests are accused of
some sexual shenanigans. Of course, these are just accusations and
allegations. We have to presume innocence of the accused until
proven guilty. But that such accusations are made can only tell how
problematic sex is to us.
Also, the other day, a
niece of mine who works in a hospital was distressed in telling me
that she had to handle a case of a 12-year-old girl giving birth.
It’s now common among teeners to have boyfriends and girlfriends. We
can only imagine the extent of this problem that is yet to be
We cannot exaggerate the
fact that nowadays, this problem regarding sex has become a real
scourge and a case of infestation. Pornography is rampant and easily
accessible. Sexual sins are not anymore confined in the mind and in
the intentions. They are deeds and it seems that they have become
the new normal. You meet at random a man in the street, and most
likely he is afflicted with some sexual aberration.
This is the reality on the
ground. Just the same, no matter how bad things look and actually
are, there is always hope. We just have to be realistic in carrying
out the duty of proclaiming the sacredness of human sexuality and of
helping people in developing and living the virtue of chastity.
In this regard, we should
try to explain with gift of tongue and in ways adapted to the
concrete conditions of the persons concerned, why sex is sacred. We
should avoid doing it in such an idealistic way that would scare or
turn off people rather than help them gradually not only to have a
correct understanding of the nature and purpose of sex, but also
start being serious in living a chaste life.
This is, of course, no
easy task. We need to be tough, persevering and constantly creative
in carrying it out. There are many fronts to face. On one hand, we
have to proclaim, to be positive, to highlight the beauty of sex
according to God’s plan and its benefits to us if lived in true love
On the other hand, we have
to teach people how to defend themselves against the temptations and
how to handle their weaknesses. We have to be adept in teaching them
the spiritual and supernatural means as well as the human means for
We need to remind everyone
that sex is part of our God-given nature and is entrusted with the
most delicate and intimate mission of cooperating with God in the
creation of another person. Trivializing it and misusing it is
actually an act of going against our nature. We dehumanize ourselves
by doing so. By misusing it we become more like dogs than human
The art of prayer and
self-discipline, interior struggle and spirit of mortification have
to be taught. Frequent confession and regular spiritual direction,
where brutal sincerity is a must, should be encouraged. All these
done in a friendly and confidential manner.
Last but not least is the
great help that a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the
mother most chaste, can give us. The Marian devotion is a strong
shield against sexual temptations.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 14, 2018
IT was nice to learn about
Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926) who, as the Wikepedia puts it,
“was an Italian lawyer who has been beatified by the Roman Catholic
Church. He was a former satanist who returned to the Christian faith
and became a third order Dominican, dedicating his life to the
Rosary and the Virgin Mary.”
Other sources provided
some more information about him: he was orphaned early in life, he
was involved in the nationalist movement of the time that was
anti-Catholic, he became a Satanist in his 20’s, he went into the
occult, attended in séances, experimented on drugs, participated in
orgies... There’s a lot more, but let’s spare ourselves from more
But since all these did
not give him peace, but rather a lot of problems including
psychological and emotional ones, leading him to depression, he
sought some relief and eventually was led back to the Catholic
faith. Later, he became so deep a devotee of the Holy Rosary that
St. John Paul described him as a man of the Rosary during his
His story, for sure, will
elicit very reassuring responses from us who often wonder how we can
become a saint as we should when we are hounded always by our
weaknesses, temptations and sin itself. Sometimes, we think that to
become a saint is impossible and that stories of saints are more
fantasy and fiction than real. Or at best, saints are very special
people who never went into really bad things.
Somehow, his story reminds
us that God and his grace can take on anything we can mess ourselves
in. There is always hope. As St. Paul said, “where sin has abounded,
the grace of God has abounded more.” (Rom 5,20) His story calls to
mind that as said in the Book of Ezekiel, God does not take delight
in the death of the wicked but in his salvation. (33,11)
The writer Oscar Wilde
also put it so succinctly: “Every saint has a past, every sinner has
a future.” In other words, we really have no reason to fear and to
worry too much over our delicate condition here in this world.
But for all that, we
should also be careful not to fall into the opposite side, which is
presumption, or tempting God. That is to say, we can fall into the
trick of the devil who can suggest to us that since God is very
powerfully merciful and can forgive us our sins no matter how grave
they are, then we can just go on sinning, or exert no adequate
effort to avoid sin and temptation.
We have to be wary of the
wiles of the devil who is good in the rebound if at a certain moment
his initial attempts to tempt us fail. Tempting God by putting him
to some test, or by presuming that he will forgive us anyway no
matter what, is a grave sin and represents a big success for the
Remember the devil
tempting Christ himself. “The devil took him to the holy city and
had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the
Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: He
will command his angels concerning you, and they will life you up in
their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: Do not put the Lord you God
to the test.’” (Mt 4,5-7)
This is what tempting God
is all about. When we are tempted by the devil, or by the world, or
by our own selves, let’s never put God to the test by rationalizing
that since God is all merciful, he will always forgive me if I fall
to this temptation, or that he will not mind if I sin.
A Statement of
Unity on the Respect, Protection and Fulfillment of Human Rights in
Human Rights Congress
06-07 December 2018
Leong Auditorium, Ateneo de Manila University
We, human rights advocates
from government and civil society organizations, coming from diverse
geographic locations, ethnicities, sectors, and ideological
positions, on the historic occasion of the 70th year of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, hereby unite these urgent
circumstances with the following points of solidarity:
1) We affirm and uphold
the fundamental human rights of every person, as enshrined in the
Philippine Constitution, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and
other human rights instruments as well as the role of the State in
protecting and fulfilling these rights as duty-bearers;
2) We recognize the
complexity and intersectionality of human rights with other basic
and cross-cutting issues such as poverty, gender, climate change,
peace, and migration;
3) We are alarmed at the
worsening human rights situation in the country, exemplified by the
thousands of lives lost and damaged in extra-judicial killings; the
extension of Martial Law in Mindanao; and the militarization of
Marawi City and the country sides;
4) We condemn and
continued undermining of the democratic institutions and instruments
that protect human rights, such as the Commission of Human Rights,
the justice system and media;
5) We denounce the
strengthening of a culture of impunity, especially among armed duty
6) We deplore the
glorification of violence against actors such as government critics,
women, and the church as a State discourse, and the silencing of
human rights defenders.
Thus, it is with one voice
that we call on the State to immediately and comprehensively act on
1) Focus its efforts on
addressing basic issues of poverty, inequality, and the people’s
lack of access to State services such as justice, education, health
and decent employment;
2) Ensure the
accountability of public officers and duty bearers, starting from
the highest echelons of the State, in upholding, respecting,
guarding, fulfilling and monitoring human rights in the country;
3) Protect the human
rights of all, especially of the most vulnerable, the invisible and
the marginalized such as the poor, the indigenous peoples, women,
and children, and their right to live in dignity and to nurture
their ancestral domains and resources;
4) Safeguard human rights
defender coming from government, civil society organizations,
educational institutions, faith-based groups, farmers, sectoral
leaders, artists, environmental activists, and journalists;
5) Defend and expand
democratic spaces and sites for discussion and dissent, instead of
6) Include multiple and
diverse voices and positionalities in governance, policymaking and
7) Empower local
communities as safe spaces for human rights to be enjoyed;
8) Dismantle the culture
of impunity among the police, military, and para-military and
vigilante groups, and enforce respect for the rule of law in
9) Strengthen, not weaken,
national and international instruments for the protection of human
10) Apply the full, speedy
and just force of the law in arresting, investigating, and charging
and convicting human rights violators;
11) Promote a just,
humane, and lasting peace in Mindanao that is based not on
institutional violence such as terrorist tagging, torture, and
illegal arrests but through the immediate lifting of Martial Law,
the resumption of peace talks; the full rehabilitation of Marawi
City; and grounded, comprehensive, participative, and
In turn, we recognize our
role as human right advocates, and hereby commit to:
1) Oppose the
legitimization of State violence and war against the poor,
exemplified by the sham “war on drugs”;
2 Fight the culture of
silence, fear and stigma that prevents the reporting and
documentation of human rights violations;
3) Harness the power of
governance and elections to institute genuine change, and challenge
political leaders to deliver a rights-based platform to their
4) Increased vigilance,
courage, unity of thought and action, openness to engage in
partnership with like-minded stakeholders, within and outside the
country, and including State actors, to advance human rights and
increase the ranks of human rights champions.
To these principles we
agree and commit ourselves on this 7th day of December 2018.
Human Rights Congress Participants
with dishonest wealth’
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 2, 2018
VERY intriguing words of
Christ, indeed! (cfr Lk 16,9) We need to go slow, keeping a good
grip on our reflex reaction, to know what Christ really meant by
them. Otherwise, we can easily misinterpret these divine words.
To be sure, Christ did not
say that we should generate our wealth in a dishonest way. “No
servant can serve two masters,” he said. “You cannot serve God and
mammon.” We should avoid dishonesty.
What Christ really wanted
to say was that since we cannot avoid dishonest wealth given our
wounded and sinful condition that often leads us to be dishonest, we
just have to make sure that we use that dishonest wealth properly
while trying to eliminate dishonesty wherever it is found.
In another part of the
gospel, he already warned his apostles, and us, about the naked
reality of our life in this world. “I am sending you out like sheep
among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as
doves.” (Mt 10,16) In short, we have to learn to deal with this
condition. We are not yet in Paradise.
Christ wants us to know
how to cope with this ugly condition of our life here on earth, and
even convert it into something that is good, purifying and
redeeming. What usually happens is that the so-called “good people,”
or those who want to follow Christ or who want to be holy, get so
idealistic that they would be at a loss as to how to deal with the
ugly reality of our earthly sojourn.
Thus, he made this
reproach: “The sons of this age are more shrewd in dealing with
their own kind than are the sons of light.” (Lk 16,8) These words
were spoken after Christ in a parable commended the shrewd manager
who made some arrangements after he was given notice of being fired.
Of course, using dishonest
wealth properly can be done in many ways. One could be that it has
to be returned to where that wealth rightfully comes from. If that
is not possible anymore for one reason or another, then it can be
used to atone or to make up for whatever damage the dishonest way of
acquiring may have caused.
Thus, in that episode of
Christ meeting the rich chief tax collector Zaccheus, Christ again
commended the rich man for what the tax collector did with those
whom he may have cheated. (cfr Lk 19,1-10)
“Lord, I give half of my
possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of
anything, I will pay back four times the amount,” said Zaccheus. And
Christ answered: “Today salvation has come to this house, because
this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek
and to save the lost.” (Lk 19,8-10)
Or that dishonest wealth
can be used to do some good or to promote the common good of
society. In all of this, we should try our best to undo any
practice, system, structure, culture or lifestyle that generates
this dishonest wealth.
We have to be realistic in
dealing with the actual realities of our life. This does not mean
that we have to make compromises in our morality. In fact, given the
unavoidable unpleasant things in life, we have to be most clear and
sharp in distinguishing between what is good and evil, what is moral
Only in this way would we
know how to deal with dishonest and sinful practices in this life.
It would be good to review the principles to guide us regarding the
distinction between formal, that is, intentional cooperation in
evil, on one hand, and material cooperation, on the other hand. We
need to be experts in the latter, given the facts of life.
LANCE PATRICK C. ENAD**
November 29, 2018
In the battle of ideas
between so-called “conservative” and “liberal” Catholics, I am
inclined to think that most points of disagreement are questions on
emphasis and that the fundamental and mutually exclusive points of
disagreement are very few.
If some of you were born
and raised during or before the 60’s, you might notice that there is
a big difference in how priests behaved then and now. Many would
perhaps recall that they always ran around in the sotana and that
they were rather somehow austere. It would be rare to find a priest
today running around in the sotana or even the clerical shirt and
seem to behave like everyone else.
It is, I suppose,
providential that the sex abuse controversy in the U.S. exploded
during the year for the clergy and the consecrated life. This event
seemed to be cataclysmic enough to evoke reaction from the Church –
which I hope is one of troubleshooting and purging. This invites us
to review our theology of the priesthood.
In my conversations with a
local theologian with an international caliber, we spoke of the
theologies on the priesthood – sacerdos and presbyter, St. Alphonsus
de Ligouri, St. John Chrysostom, Vatican II. He mentioned how lofty
Chrysostom’s theology on the priesthood is – set-apart, sacred,
special- and how these ideas can be dangerous since they foster
clericalism. He also noted the shift on the theology on the
priesthood after Vatican 2.
He noted that there are
things that are not necessarily mutually exclusive and how some
seemingly disagreeing thoughts are matters of emphasis.
Here, I would like to note
that the theology of the priesthood before Vat. 2 has been widely
influenced by the thoughts of Chrysostom or similar to his. To my
liking, this school of thought seems to emphasize in the priestly
life a deep kind sanctity necessary for priests – which I believe,
take its roots from the Old Testament, from the demands of the
priestly life imposed on Aaron and his sons. Hence the 1917 canon
law powerfully insists that “Both the interior and exterior life of
clerics must be superior to the laity and excel them by the example
of virtue and good deeds.” “The rite of ordination before the
liturgical reforms then would also emphasize phrases like “imitate
what you handle (the sacred).” We can see here that this kind of the
theology of the priesthood somehow emphasizes this necessity of the
sanctification of the priests and that this kind of thought,
although with some disadvantages, disciplined priests back then,
gave them a solid spiritual and ascetical program.
It is not my intention to
discuss and convince you, dear reader, to adhere to the same
thoughts on the priesthood I am seem to prefer since I am still
praying and studying about that. Nor do I wish to present a
comparison and contrast between one school of thought and another.
What I do wish to tell you is that no matter which wing you wish to
side, provided that it has nothing against the Faith, there are
things which need to be emphasized if we wish to reform priestly
Prayer, Penance, a solid
ascetical life, etc. need to be emphasized. St. Pius X, the first
pope to be canonized since the council of Trent, after St. Pius V,
used to say that the two necessary qualities of a good priest are
outstanding holiness and solid doctrine – these need to be engraved
No matter if you want to
emphasize that the priest is a shepherd, or that a he must smell
like his sheep, or that a he is so special since only he can
transubstantiate, only he can act in the person of Christ – not
mutually exclusive- we need to emphasize the need for priests to be
holy, very holy. A priest preaching a retreat to us seminarians once
told us: “better a holy husband than a bad priest.” A nun giving a
talk to seminarians once said: “being just a priest and a holy
priest are two different things.”
For the six years of my
seminary life, to my despair, these things are not really
emphasized. To my despair, I hear seminarians openly and pleasurably
having impure conversations. To my frustration, I have heard that
some seminarians were living in mortal sin for months, that they had
no regard for the spiritual life. To my sadness, I hear of priests
keeping mistresses or boyfriends – hopefully false. Sadly, it seems
that some priests pray the office no more, do not do mental prayer,
and do not studying. Sanctity and Solid doctrine need to be
emphasized no matter which camp you are in.
If we want to avoid sex
abuse scandals and anything that may disfigure the Church, we have
to continually remind ourselves of these things.
Patrick Enad y Caballero is a seminarian in San Carlos Seminary
College, Archdiocese of Cebu, Philippines. Instaurare omnia in
Statement on the
9th year of the Ampatuan Massacre
November 23, 2018
Hustisya (Victims United
for Justice) joins the families of the victims of the Ampatuan
massacre, in the continuous call for justice nine years after one of
the worst massive attacks on journalists and civilians in our
Nine years of the pain and
suffering is immeasurable for all of us who seek justice. This is
doubled by the fact that however prominent this case may have been,
it has also become one of the stark realities of injustice and
impunity in this country – that, the powerful can simply take away
the lives of many, and it will always be easy for them to get away
We join you in remembering
the 57 civilians, 32 of whom were journalists. Let us together
recite and cry out their names. We refuse to accept they are mere
figures. They have names, their lives were gruesomely taken away
from them. They deserve justice.
As in the words of a
daughter, Reynafe Castillo, “Siyam na taon na ang nakaraan subalit
nananatiling buhay sa alaala ko ang karumaldumal na pangyayari sa
Ampatuan massacre. Mga bangkay na walang mukha dahil sabog ang bungo,
naaagnas at nangangamoy, iyong amoy na dikit sa buong katawan mo
(Nine years have passed but the gruesome Ampatuan massacre remains
alive in my memory. Bodies without faces because their skulls were
crushed, decomposing and, the kind of smell that sticks to your
We remember the continued
disappearance of Reynaldo Momay, Reynafe’s father, the 58th victim
of the Ampatuan massacre, whose body has yet to be found after the
“I remember myself opening
the cadavers one by one, looking intensely as I look for my father.
My husband and son were with me along with our relatives. Fear was
out of sight at that moment. All I know, I want to find him and give
him decent burial and to have closure,” recalled Reynafe, lamented
Such is the same sentiment
of the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killing under the
Macapagal-Arroyo regime, only to be insulted and mocked by the
comeback of then wheelchair-riding and now catwalking former
president and current House speaker Arroyo. The Ampatuans, a known
ally of Arroyo, remain a powerful warlord family in Maguindanao and
in Mindanao. Zaldy Ampatuan enjoys favorable conditions even while
Both the hands of the
perpetrators – the Ampatuan’s private armies and state forces which
were enabled and allowed by the government to act as protectors of
landlords and warlords – and that of the Ampatuans and Arroyo are
both filled with blood of the victims of the carnage.
We are in solidarity to
the families of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre. Nine years
after, the killings continue, more brazen and brutal. The more
recent victims of killings, from the Noynoy Aquino regime to the
Duterte regime – activists, farmers, indigenous people, victims of
the drug war, civilians and rights defenders – now join you as you
cry for justice.
It is true, that families
of victims sound like broken records as we gather, cry for justice
and remember our loved ones every year. But we will not simply let
go of this plight as long as the killings continue. We shall
continue to do so, knowing this is how many will hear their plight,
and to speed up the attainment of justice. One day, justice will be
on the side of the victims.
Ipagpatuloy ang laban para
sa katarungan sa mga biktima ng Ampatuan Massacre.
The diabolic in
the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
LANCE PATRICK C. ENAD*
November 15, 2018
Coming home from the
seminary for a short break allotted for the Solemnity of all Saints
and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, I was surprised to
see a very popular series in Netflix – the Chilling Adventures of
Sabrina. The advertisements were everywhere and I found the trailer
Like most movies nowadays,
it came advocating for transgenderism, it was somehow sexualized, it
appeared to normalize sinful behaviors like adultery, it somehow
made courtship without heading towards marriage a normal thing, and
most of the filth you find in films nowadays. Setting that aside, as
though this moral decline is an inevitable reality we have to face
-as though-, the series overall was charming. There are however,
some concerns that must be noted because of its clear relationship
with the diabolic.
No doubt, the series was
influenced by Satanism –this is quite clear in the blasphemous
lines, in the scenes when almighty God is mocked, in the scenes
where Holy Mother Church is mocked. Nevertheless, I feel that these
things I will mention are things serious Catholics –all should be-
1. Demons are lauded when
their names are mentioned. Outside the context of exorcism, one
should be cautious with mentioning demonic names. It would be
interesting here to note that most horror movies mentioning demonic
names are actually real demonic names. According several notable
exorcists (Fr. Chad Ripperger being one of them), demons are exalted
whenever their names are mentioned.
One of the exorcists of
the diocese I’m from would even go as far as never using the names
of the demons even if revealed when exorcising since he still
believes it gives them some sort of honor even in the context of
exorcism. In the series, there was a liberal and almost natural
mentioning of demonic names –“for the love of Lucifer,” “praised be
Satan,” etc. This somehow inclines me to think that this series’
involvement with the diabolic and satanism is not merely for the
purposes of making this series but may even run deeper -to an
2. Demons are afraid of
the Most Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the countless
casual mentioning of demonic names in the series, never was there a
mention of the name Jesus Christ or the Blessed Virgin Mary. There
are statements who clearly allude to the God of the Bible –“the
false God”-, or to Holy Mother Church –“the false Church”- but they
would never dare to mention the Holy name of Jesus. This made me
consider many things concerning the series and the diabolic.
For one who comes from the
Archdiocese of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Cebu), I am particularly
happy. It is an honor to be under his banner. This also brought to
mind some particular benefits of the devotion to the Holy name of
Jesus. It was said that a recitation of the Jesus Prayer is already
enough to burn demons –Blessed be His Holy Name!
3. Nudity. There are
considerably sexualized scenes in the series portraying immoral
sexual behavior or plain nudity. This brought to mind a talk given
by Ven. Fulton Sheen concerning the Diabolic. In it, he mentioned
that one of the signs of the diabolic is the love of nudity. It is
particularly interesting that he mentioned that a friend of his who
was a hospital chaplain witnessed some mentally ill and possibly
possessed people stripping themselves when he comes with the Blessed
Sacrament. He also recounted the story of our Lord expelling demons
from a man in the Gerasene territory. This should make us consider
that perhaps we are truly dealing with the diabolic here.
4. Absence of Love. The
relationship between the followers of the “Church of Night” and the
“Dark Lord” is by no means a relationship of love- it is slavery. It
always seemed to be more of a business deal rather than a covenant
of love. It is only in our Lord Jesus Christ that we can have a
relationship of love –a love affair- with God – a loving (Agape/
Caritas) relationship with Love himself- Jesus Christ. This brings
to mind very powerful words of Reinhald Schneider, addressed to the
Father, mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI in his book ‘Jesus of
Nazareth’: “Evil lives in a thousand forms; it occupies the
pinnacles of power… it bubbles up from the abyss. Love has only one
form –your Son.”
In light of all this, what
ought we to do? Perhaps we could begin by reverent mentioning, by
means of ejaculatory prayers, the Holy name of Jesus as we go about
our occupations. One prayer I would recommend would be the Jesus
prayer although the name of Jesus is itself a prayer already.
We could also begin to
form a habit, a virtue that compels us to make acts of reparation
whenever our Blessed Lord is offended or when the Devil is lauded.
We should remove from us all occasions of sin especially sins of the
flesh –which according to Our Lady of Fatima is the most successful
means the devil uses to bring souls to hell, to remove us from the
love of God and to enslave us.
I don’t believe I am in
the position to tell Catholics not to watch the series. What I will
say is that there are some serious things –diabolic- involved here.
This should be enough to warn us to be cautious with anything
related to the devil and this should hopefully encourage us to
deepen our love for our beloved Jesus.
Patrick Enad y Caballero is a seminarian in San Carlos Seminary
College, Archdiocese of Cebu, Philippines. Instaurare omnia in
Sensing the Sacred
November 7, 2018
It has been rather alarming that in recent years, if I'm not
mistaken, there seems to be unhealthy practices connected to the
solemnity of all Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful
I have noticed, at least in the cemetery my relatives rest, that
there are some families who have been accustomed to stay in their
family mausoleums all throughout the day – some would even go as far
as spending a night or two in there. That does not seem to be a
problem. The problem comes when those two holy days and those holy
places we call cemeteries are used for social activities – when
mausoleums become places for picnics, for idle talk and gossip, for
boisterous laughter, and for some, used for drunkenness -"tagay."
To some, these activities seem commonplace and not at all
disturbing. It is, however, important to remember two important
phrases: Sacred Time and Sacred Place.
Sacred time. It is rather important to insist that the Solemnity of
All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed are times
of prayer, times to offer suffrages for the souls in purgatory.
Turning these times into times of social gatherings, picnics,
boisterous laughter, levity, and drunkenness does not help in
creating an atmosphere of prayer. I believe the saints who want us
to join them and the souls in purgatory who want us to pray for them
are pleased to find us acquiring virtues of silence, fasting, and
temperance during these times and I’m sure they would be
disappointed to find us wallowing in vice and all sorts of things
that do not contribute to the spiritual life. These times are also
times to sober up and meditate on death and realign our lives to the
path of salvation if we find ourselves in the path of perdition or
to persevere in the way of perfection if we find ourselves in this
Sacred Place. In the rites of the Church, there is a distinction
between a mere blessing and a consecration. Houses are blessed;
churches are consecrated. Rosaries are blessed; Chalices are
consecrated. One of the places that is so important it deserves a
consecration is a cemetery. They are not sanctified by just any
priest but always by a bishop or his delegate. The Church has high
regard for the place where the bodies of the faithful departed rest
as they await the resurrection on the last day. Knowing this should
bring to mind the sacredness of cemeteries. These are not just yards
where we can have a barbecue, where we can set up an inflatable
pool, where we can gossip and talk idly, or where we can have a
drinking session that would probably end with each one getting a
hangover or vomiting all over the place. We do not do profane things
in holy ground. We do not do picnics in holy ground. We do not do
social gatherings, get-togethers, or parties on holy ground. Keep
sacred places holy.
True enough, family, the meeting of relatives who are far away from
each other for the rest of the year is important. Drinking too plays
a significant role in our culture as much as picnics, get-togethers,
and family reunions do. This, however, is a matter of ordering our
values. Do we consider picnics, excursions, get-togethers, reunions
more important than God? Do we consider these more important than
the very reason we celebrate all saints and remember the dead? As
far as I’m concerned God, the sacredness of times and places are of
greater value, of greater importance compared to our get-togethers,
picnics, et cetera – these are no doubt important for us Filipinos
but should not be more important than the observance of sacred times
and places. Our time for bonding and socializing should not dim the
primacy and centrality of God.
*Lance Patrick Enad y Caballero is a seminarian in San Carlos
Seminary College, Archdiocese of Cebu. Instaurare Omnia in Christo!