Overcoming the 'tambay'
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
October 17, 2016
IT'S all understandable, of
course. Young people like to enjoy life. I was also like them when I
was at their age. Even if they carry some heavy personal or family
problems, they like to have fun every time they have the chance.
Outside of my chaplain's
office, I see young students, all boys, sitting on the floor,
invariably engaged in what I consider as mindless chatter, pulling
each other's leg, laughing or simply idling away time, with looks that
can only show purposelessness. I call this the 'tambay' lifestyle,
very common in many places.
I presume it's their break
time, and you just have to let them be. Like little children, they
should not be over-supervised. Their classes would take care of that,
since discipline and meeting the academic requirements would always be
the order of the day there.
And yet, at the back of my
mind, I worry that if they are not properly attended to, this 'tambay'
lifestyle would harden and become the permanent feature of their
character. When I was at their age, I already worried about how to
fill up my time more fruitfully and meaningfully. I exerted some
effort, though I must confess that the motivation was not quite right.
Self-interest fueled most of that effort.
It was only later in life
that I discovered the proper motivation for working or studying or
simply filling time. Only God, the love for him and for neighbor, can
be the appropriate motive. But how can you transmit this truth to
these young ones?
I remember that in my case,
I had a regular chat with a priest who taught me many things. I first
went to see him because I had a problem with my philosophy classes in
school. He was very helpful in clarifying my doubts and answering my
But besides those, he taught
me how to pray, to study the doctrine of the faith more deeply, to
appreciate the value of sacrifice, the sacraments, the virtues, etc.
What I learned was that I can only study and work properly if the
motivation is precisely the love of God and neighbor.
That was when I could always
find something to do, and I pressured myself to fight against my
laziness, excessive love for comfort and pleasures, etc. I learned the
importance of time – that it is the occasion for us to attain the
ultimate purpose of our life. I realized it was a crime to waste time.
It was not easy. And even
until now, I sometimes have to exert some extraordinary effort to do
things properly and to fill up my time. All of us have to contend with
our weaknesses and the many temptations around. One has to wage a
constant struggle to be able to use time properly.
But how can I transmit these
precious lessons to the young ones? Yes, as chaplain, I say Mass for
them everyday. There I can say something in this regard during the
homilies. But that would not be enough. I also give some talks and
classes, conduct retreats and recollections, but then the effects and
results are long in coming. These need a more personalized and abiding
It's good that many of the
students come for a personal chat with me. There I get to know them
more closely and have the chance to encourage them. They need a lot of
clarification and motivation.
Trying to explain what
loving God and others is, what it involves and how it impacts on our
use of time is not easy, especially when it has to touch on an
essential part of it, which is suffering and the need for the cross.
Christian charity has endless facets and practical implications.
We have instituted a
mentoring system so that each student is followed up closely. And
obviously, the task of monitoring the developments of this system can
be demanding. I am more and more convinced that more than anything
else, what are needed to keep things going are the spiritual and
Without these means and when
we rely only our human resources and natural powers, we can only
achieve so much. Worse, we can be deluded into thinking that we are
doing right, when in fact we would be doing wrong.
I hope and pray that while
the general character of the young – their attitude to take things
easy and to have fun – should be respected, the seed of a more
responsible use of their time, talents and other resources would be
sown, take root and start to grow.
We need to
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
October 14, 2016
IS it possible to experience
God, to feel his presence, to know his will and to participate in his
own life? To all these questions, the answer is a loud yes.
Not only is it possible, but
also, first of all, it is God’s will. Besides, he has endowed us with
the power that would enable us to achieve these feats.
God as our Creator and
Father always intervenes in our life. He is never away from us even if
we fall into the state of sin. We only lose him definitively in hell.
But in our whole earthly sojourn, he is in us, right deep in the core
of our existence.
That’s because he is the
giver and maintainer of our existence. For as long as we exist, God is
in us. Our existence does not depend on our biological constitution
alone, nor on food and air and health only. Even before these things
become indispensable to us, it is God who gives and keeps our
And since we have been made
in his image and likeness, he links with us through our intelligence
and will, through our thinking and loving, and thus he comes to us as
objects of our innate desire for truth, goodness and beauty.
That’s why we have to be
most careful in the exercise of our spiritual faculties – how we are
thinking, judging, reasoning, loving, etc. These human operations have
to be firmly grounded on God, and not just made to be mainly dominated
by the twists and turns of our bodily and natural conditions.
Our thinking and willing,
our knowing and loving should be properly engaged and not allowed to
just drift anywhere, and especially when they are given only at the
instance of our instincts, emotions and passions. They have to be
properly inspired and directed.
The need to experience God
has become an urgent necessity these days because the spiritual and
moral health of our life, taken individually and collectively, depends
on this fact and on no other.
Pope Emeritus Benedict
emphasized this point sometime ago. In an address to some lay
faithful, he said the following:
“How do we reawaken the
question of God so that it becomes the fundamental question?...The
question of God is reawakened in meeting those who have a living
relationship with the Lord. God is known through men and women who
know him. The way to him passes, in a concrete way, through those who
have met him.”
This is just but natural.
God is not just an idea, a theory, a philosophical or theological
term. Christ is not just a historical figure nor an object of
curiosity. God is alive. In fact, he is the very foundation of reality
and of life itself. It’s not in his character to stay away from us or
to hide from us or to play hard to get.
Thus, the Pope Emeritus said
that God should be the central point of reference in our thinking and
acting. He warned that ignoring God will harm our humanity. “A
mentality that rejects every reference to the transcendent has shown
itself to be incapable of preserving the human,” he said.
“The spread of this
mentality has generated the crisis that we are experiencing today,
which is a crisis of meaning and of values before it is an economic
and social crisis,” he added. How true!
God actually engages us
every moment of our life. This is what providence is all about. We
have to learn how to correspond to that continual divine governance,
by learning how to pray, how to know and follow his will, how to offer
whatever we are doing to him, how to live in his presence all the
time, how what we are doing at the moment fits in his plan, etc.
For this we need to study
well the doctrine of our faith, to have recourse to the sacraments, to
develop the virtues, and to commit ourselves to a certain plan of
continuing piety so that whatever may be the circumstances of our
life, we can manage to be with him always.
To live with God is not an
impossibility. Nor is it meant only to some gifted if not strange
people. It is for all, though we need to help one another, since to
achieve that condition involves a lifelong process with endless
stages, aspects and possibilities.
To experience God should be
second nature to us. With the proper attitude and skills, with the
relevant plans and virtues, this is always possible. Nowadays, the
world needs people who have direct experience of God!
Be like an eagle,
not a hen
Fr. Roy Cimagala,
October 10, 2016
YES, let’s be like an eagle,
soaring quietly high up in the sky, having a good, extensive view of
the things on the ground, and not like cackling barnyard hen whose
flight is low and is mainly done to escape something or to boast to
the whole world that it has just laid an egg. The hen, of course, has
a very limited view of things.
The other thing about the
eagle is that in spite of the tremendous altitude that it can climb,
it has a sharp vision that can see even a running rodent on the ground
and has the agility to swoop down quickly to catch its prey. That’s
really quite a combination. This can never be said of the hen.
I know that it is unfair to
compare a hen with an eagle. Each one has its own nature and purpose
for being. But for our sake, we can compare ourselves to them because
as human beings, we have the choice to assume the qualities of an
eagle or those of a hen.
To be like an eagle can mean
to think big instead of being contented with small, petty things. It
can mean to take on more and more responsibilities, instead of being
contented with what we are having at the moment.
We can always do more. With
our spiritual nature, the possibilities for growth and improvement are
infinite. This simply corresponds to the fact that the demands of our
own sanctification and the needs of other people about whom we should
always be concerned are also infinite.
To be like an eagle can mean
expanding our generosity instead of simply being self-satisfied with
our current state of charity. It can mean pushing ourselves up to the
next level in every aspect of our life. We should never be contented
with the status quo, no matter how good it already is. Let’s remember
the saying that “the good is the enemy of the best.”
It can mean to be always
zealous in any endeavor we do, instead of simply being complacent and
lukewarm. It can mean to be a maximalist rather than a minimalist,
contented with a passing mark.
That’s what happens when one
is in love. He is not contented with doing things just to get by. He
does things to the best of his abilities, always seeking new frontiers
of creativity, effectiveness and efficiency. That’s simply because
love is giving not only things but his own self without measure.
That’s love most intrinsic law. It’s given without measure.
We need to learn to adopt
this kind of lifestyle. It’s not going to be easy, of course. Many
things have to be resolved and mastered. We have to contend with our
tendencies to be self-centered, to be attached to things, to be
materialistic, complacent, cold or lukewarm, etc. But with God’s
grace, our full trust in God’s ways matched with our efforts, we can
enter and flow in this amazing dynamics of true love.
Truth is for this love to
develop and grow, we do not need some special moments and
opportunities to trigger it. Any occasion, any event, no matter how
small and, humanly speaking, insignificant can be a golden privilege
to live heroism that is inseparable from loving.
Another reason why we have
to be like an eagle in our spiritual and moral life rather than just
be like a chicken is that when we have an outlook and lifestyle that
can be characterized as big-hearted, eager to do big things without
neglecting the fine details, and magnanimous, we can more easily
handle the many weaknesses and temptations that will always hound us.
A person stuck in petty
things is an easy target of his own weaknesses and the temptations
around. He tends to be lazy and narrow-minded, unable to develop the
resistance to bear things and the strength to move forward.
A phenomenon that is getting
common nowadays is that of many smart people with impressive
accomplishments but who are unable to escape the bad allurements of
the world and the subtle tricks of the devil.
And that’s simply because
they have stopped growing and moving forward. They get self-satisfied
with what they have already accomplished, showing in effect that all
that effort was not really for God and for others, but simply for
themselves, a clear contradiction to what loving is supposed to be.
We need to alert everyone
about this danger. That’s why it’s good to keep in mind this
comparison between the eagle and the hen.
Let us journey
together in support of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations
A press statement by the Philippine
Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP)
September 22, 2016
We, the 135 leaders of the
clergy, religious and laity from the five federations that comprise
the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP)* have successfully
convened the 5th Ecumenical Church Leaders Summit on Peace from
September 20-22, 2016 under the theme “Celebrating God’s Work for
Peace: Journeying with the GRP-NDFP in the Continuing Struggle for
Peace”. We converged in Davao City from all corners of the country to
draw strength from each other as we celebrated the first successful
round of talks between the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
(NDFP) after years of impasse. The positive atmosphere that resulted
from the recent resumption of the formal peace talks was carried into
the positive mood of our summit and our joy for the growing ecumenical
participation in supporting the GRP-NDFP Peace Process.
In our gathering, Fr. Joel
Tabora, SJ, President of the Ateneo de Davao University, reminded us
in his keynote address of the Biblical imperatives and our Christian
duty to work towards the common good and accompany the poor in seeking
Our optimism was
strengthened by the sharing of Undersecretary Nabil Tan, Office of the
Executive Secretary, on the government’s renewed commitment to peace
and to the GRP-NDFP negotiations and the negotiations with the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
We were also encouraged by
the input of Attorneys Angela Librado and Antonio Arellano of the GRP
Peace Panel regarding the serious commitment of the Panel to engage in
principled dialogue with the NDFP. The clear commitment to peace has
also been observed in the willingness of government to honor previous
agreements and through the concerted effort invested in achieving the
release of detained NDFP consultants.
Mr. Luis Jalandoni, NDFP
Peace Panel Chair, reminded summit participants of the indomitable
spirit of the Filipino people through the centuries to persevere in
the struggle for a just and lasting peace in the country. The presence
of the NDFP Consultants, Mr. Rey Claro Casambre, and the recently
released Mr. Ariel Arbitrario, Mr. Lando Genelsa, Mr. Alfredo Mapano,
and Mr. Porferio Tuna, Jr. brought depth to the discussions and
strengthened the determination of participants to further support the
We admire the resolve of
both the GRP and NDFP to transcend differences, willingly explore
substantive issues and implement working methods that will accelerate
the talks. We also appreciate the decision of both parties to declare
indefinite unilateral ceasefires towards a possible bilateral
The Royal Norwegian
Government and Caritas Norway through solidarity messages from the
Special Envoy to the Peace Process, Elisabeth Slattum and Program
Coordinator for Asia, Aron Halfen, reassured the Summit of their
common resolve to persevere in the journey with the PEPP and with the
GRP-NDFP Peace Process. They highlighted that a political settlement
of the armed conflict through principled dialogue is both possible and
attainable, even though difficulties and obstacles are to be expected
along the way.
We were inspired and
challenged by the presence of our Lumad sisters and brothers who kept
us attentive to the reality on the ground. Their contributions have
shown that peace must be tangible and manifest not only through the
silence of arms but even more through food on the table, clothing,
shelter, education and access to the means to meet other basic needs
and for them to live in their communities without fear or threat. They
also underscored the reality that the road to peace is long and
arduous, fraught with dangers, but for the sake of the people,
especially the most vulnerable, it must be pursued with all our heart
The Summit concluded with a
workshop to consolidate the commitments and concerns of the PEPP, and
plans for how these can be presented to both the GRP and the NDFP, and
to the Filipino people:
• We support and affirm the
intention of both the GRP and the NDFP to meet in Norway on October
6-10 for the Second Round of Formal Talks focusing on Comprehensive
Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, while also defining the
terms for a common Ceasefire Agreement and General Amnesty for
• We invite support and
goodwill from the Filipino people for the Peace Talks between the GRP
and NDFP which we consider are sincere and thorough and that as a
Nation we should stand vigilant against those whose intentions are to
spoil the Peace Process to protect their personal or vested interests
against the interests of the Filipino people.
• We call and demand both
the GRP and NDFP to respect their existing agreement on Respect for
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, putting a stop to the
practice of manufacturing false charges against clergy, lay people,
indigenous people and other human rights defenders who are serving the
poor and marginalized.
• We call for the removal of
all armed groups and the dismantling of existing para-military groups
that divide and terrorize the communities of our Indigenous Peoples.
• We call on all our
Christian communities – at the local, regional and national levels –
to expand our peace constituency and to continue pushing for the
completion of the peace talks and the implementation of any peace
• We offer and render our
services and resources to both panels to help in attaining a just and
lasting peace in the country.
“And with our feet fitted
with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians
6:15), we will journey together till peace based on justice reigns in
Davao City, Philippines,
22nd day of September 2016.
Morality and the
ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
September 15, 2016
IN the heat and passion of
our political exchanges, as in the many other fields like in sports,
entertainment, social issues, etc., we should try our best to be sober
enough to keep a firm grip on what would constitute as moral and
immoral views and to resist the strong temptation to fall into all
kinds of rationalizations to justify certain positions that we hold,
either individually or as a group.
Nowadays, especially in the
political field, a lot of rationalizations are made. Many people are
of the view that because of a certain problem that is widely
considered as raging and harmful to a large sector of the populace,
certain drastic measures can be made.
In theory, of course, these
measures can and even ought to be done. Serious problems that affect
the lives of many have to be met with forceful, vigorous and hopefully
But for all this theoretical
practicality of this radical and even extreme approach to such
problems, morality should never be sacrificed. We don't do evil so
that a certain good may be achieved.
That the end never justifies
the means is a classic moral principle that will never go obsolete.
Violating this principle can only trigger a vicious cycle of hatred
and revenge that would divide people into unfair and inhuman
categories and would perpetuate the law of Talion, a tit-for-tat kind
of culture where mercy has no place in the pursuit for justice.
Violating this principle violates the very nature and the law of our
Nowadays, many people,
including our leaders, appear to be unclear about what is moral and
what would make a human act, personal or collective, immoral. In the
case of the extrajudicial killings, for example, many would justify it
because the intention is supposed to be good, or it has lowered down
the rate of criminality, or it is supposed to be an expression of a
strong and relevant political will, or that there were more EJKs in
the past, etc.
Others mouth a new moral
doctrine about a certain justifiable collateral damage when there is
some kind of undeclared war.
These are pure
rationalizations. Forgotten is the objective evaluation of the
morality of the act itself. It seems that even our leaders do not know
anymore where the sources of morality have to be taken. That one has
to consider the object of the act, the intention and the circumstances
is not anymore done.
Things now seem to depend
only on a certain idea of political effectiveness based on some
statistics, popularity and acceptance of at least a simple majority of
the people, or profitability. It seems morality is now measured by
Aside from EJK, other
immoral acts are now being justified. Detraction is one, as shaming by
exposing the hidden faults of some public figures is made. The
Catechism says that especially in the media, “the information must be
communicated honestly and properly with scrupulous respect for moral
laws and the legitimate rights and dignity of the person.” (Compendium
Vengeance is another. And
all forms of insults and personal derision are hurled. Fallacies are
now the new logic. There are now all sorts of misinformation and
disinformation glutting the media.
Among the collateral victims
of this new culture are the very principle of human rights, the
standing of God, Church and religion itself in society, basic decency
and courtesy to all including offenders.
A certain build-up of
fanaticism, a culture of simplistic black-and-white categorization of
people, can be observed, with its corresponding wave of hatred against
those who choose to be different from the majority.
We need to go back to the
basics of morality. We have to assess human acts, especially those
with public character, according to their objective morality before
considering them in their political, social or economic contexts, etc.
As said earlier, the sources
of morality are three: the moral object, the intention of the subject
who acts, and the circumstances which include the consequences. As the
Catechism would put it:
“An act is morally good when
it assumes simultaneously the goodness of the object, of the
intention, and of the circumstances...It is not licit to do evil so
that good may result from it...On the other hand, a good end does not
make an act good if the object of that act is evil...Circumstances can
increase or diminish the responsibility of the one who is acting but
they cannot change the moral quality of the acts themselves.”
This is the new challenge we have.
Human life is
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
August 28, 2016
Nowadays, when the value of human life has been greatly reduced, we
need to recover its true worth by revisiting the pertinent Christian
doctrine about it.
It cannot be denied that in many parts of the world, an open anti-life
culture is taking place and it’s slowly coming also into our country.
Abortion is legal in many countries. Euthanasia is fast gaining
ground. Summary and extra-judicial killings are getting rampant. Of
course, there is now a creeping wave of terrorism in many places.
We need to reaffirm the truth that human life, no matter how deformed
and depraved in its earthly condition, is always sacred, because it’s
a life that has a special and very intimate relation with God, its
No one can just put it away on his own volition or that of another or
even of the state. It’s a life whose death can only come properly by
God’s will. This usually takes place through natural causes –
sickness, old age, etc.
Though God can allow death to occur due to human volition, such event
is clearly against his will and would constitute a grave sin. Our
Christian faith also teaches that if some evil is allowed to happen,
it’s because a greater good can also be derived from it.
We should be quick to discern God’s designs when some evil takes
place, so we avoid falling into a vicious cycle that sin usually
generates. In this, we should try not to be scandalized by evil, not
by affirming that evil is not evil but rather by acknowledging evil in
the context of God’s merciful and wise providence.
From there, we can start to perceive the good God has in mind for it.
This effort may be aided by our legal and juridical system, some
conventional wisdom that we have accumulated through the ages, etc.
But we should also be aware that these elements are never perfect.
At best, they can lead us to divine wisdom but can never replace it.
In fact, the way things are now, we may have to do a lot of purging,
since many distortions if not errors insofar as the moral law is
concerned may already have contaminated these systems.
Human life is sacred because it is always a life intimately linked
with the very life of God. And that’s because we have been made the
image and likeness of God, children of his, endowed with faculties
that would enable us, together with his grace, to enter into the very
life of God.
Thus, the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches
that “from its beginning human life involves the creative action of
God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator,
who is its sole end.” (466)
In another point of the Catechism, we are told that “of all visible
creatures only man is able to know and love his creator.
He is the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own
sake.” (CCC 356) In other words, our life somehow reflects the life of
That is how each one of us is designed by God. The full realization of
that original design may be thwarted by the many manifestations of our
sinfulness. Just the same, in spite of such condition, we also know
that God became man to save us and has given us all the means so we
can be what we ought to be, according to God’s providence.
This brings us to the conclusion that human life is always sacred no
matter how sinful it is. God is so in love with man that he cannot
abandon him. He will do everything to bring him back to him while
respecting man’s freedom. That’s why in Christ, God is made to die,
which is the greatest proof of one’s love for another.
We need to counter the attack on human life by spreading this
fundamental truth about us. That may sound quixotic, but with faith in
God’s powers and with our persistent effort, we know that the good and
the truth will always prevail.
In this regard, St. Paul gave us a relevant piece of advice: “Purge
out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are
unleavened. For Christ our pasch is sacrificed.” (1 Cor 5,7)
This will certainly take a lot of time, effort and suffering. But we
need to convince ourselves that this is all worthwhile. We should
pray, offer a lot of sacrifices, and do whatever we can, individually
or with others, to do a battle of love to uphold that human life is
Statement on the
President’s campaign versus illegal drugs, criminality and corruption
Ecumenical Bishops Forum
August 22, 2016
We laud President Rodrigo
Roa Duterte on his serious campaign versus illegal drugs, criminality
and corruption, his election campaign promise which he will do in
three to six month-time of his term. The promise is getting fulfilled.
Even before President Rody
formally assumed office, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has
started rounding up known illegal drug users and pushers in Metro
Manila. Today, more than one month after the President’s inauguration
on June 30, hundreds had been killed, hundreds more were arrested and
jailed, and thousands voluntarily surrendered. All of them are said to
be small time users and pushers, and, as human rights advocates say,
are poor people.
However, on July 5, the
President unexpectedly named five former and incumbent police generals
who are illegal drug protectors. This was followed by an announcement
on August 7 of 159 local government officials (mayors, former mayors,
and former vice mayors) incumbent and former police and military
officers, and incumbent and former judges who are linked to illegal
drugs trade. He claims more names will follow.
The big time drug lords, the
President says, are in other countries like China and Mexico from
where they direct their operations, and it is difficult if not
impossible to run after them.
The PNP chief, Police
General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, claims that crime have gone down,
indicating that most crime are drug related. Thus the war on drugs is
also a war against criminality.
This may be true as far
petty crime such as bag-snatching, child molestation, rape, rape with
homicide and murder, “akyat bahay” theft, hold-ups and the likes are
concerned. Big crimes such as bank robberies, pyramiding scam, illegal
recruitment, cyber-crimes, break-in in malls and the likes continue
Steps in curbing corruption
in government have been started. Among the measures are the signing of
the Executive Order on Freedom of Information which covers the
executive department and the order to shorten the processing of
applications in government offices. More serious and lasting measures
still have to be done.
Given the number of days in
office of the new administration, its campaign against illegal drugs,
criminality and corruption may be considered a success thus far. We
congratulate the President for this, and pledge our support for his
sincere efforts to address the present situation.
While we believe and support
President Duterte’s war on drugs, there is a need for deeper analysis
why the drug problem is thriving and who benefit from this. There is
also need for the present administration to examine the correctness of
its approach in eliminating this menace. The extra-judicial killings
that are happening, we believe, won’t solve that problem but
exacerbate it as most of those killed are small time and poor people.
The suspected five police generals and government officials seem to be
getting a special privilege; they remain very much alive.
We wish to caution the
President, then, to respect the human rights of the people. Life which
came from the Creator is precious; it has to be preserved as much as
possible. The campaign can continue without violating people’s rights
and keeping all actions within the parameters of the law.
We bid the President success
in his drug campaign in particular, and in his administration in
general. His success is the Filipino people’s success.
Issued and signed this 22nd
day of August, 2016:
Very truly yours in Christ,
BISHOP ELMER M. BOLOCON,
MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS S.
IÑIGUEZ, JR., D.D.
BISHOP FELIXBERTO L. CALANG,