Government’s priority, Money or People?
A Statement of the
Ecumenical Bishops Forum on the militarization of Lumad communities
October 1, 2015
“When the King is concerned
with justice, the nation will be strong, but when he is only concerned
with money, he will destroy his country” (Proverbs 29:4, Today’s
The country is indeed being
destroyed. Our lumad who belong to the indigenous peoples are getting
harassed, intimidated, threatened and killed. Their leaders are being
extra-judicially exterminated because they defend their ancestral land
and protect their people. The perpetrators, the military and their
paramilitary forces, use as an excuse the pretext that these leaders
are New People’s Army combatants or supporters.
The people are asked to
leave their communities; otherwise they will meet the same fate.
As a result, the people had
fled their communities. About 700 Ata Manobo tribes from Talaingod and
Kapalong, Davao del Norte and San Fernando, Bukidnon sought refuge in
Haran House of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)
in Davao City. Almost 3000 from Surigao del Sur had evacuated to the
sports complex in Tandag City for fear of their lives.
Why are they being driven
out of their ancestral lands? The reason is money. Big foreign mining
corporations want to exploit the resources of the lands known for
their richness in gold, nickel and copper. The military wants to make
sure that that happens. However, they could not freely enter due to
people’s resistance. Hence, the militarization of the area had to
Money has become more
important than people!
As pastors of the flock, we
are appalled by this priority of our government. Our officials had
neglected these mountain people for decades now – no social services
like schools, hospitals, water, electricity and other basic
With the support of churches
and non-government organizations, they managed to help themselves.
They built their schools and they learned how to read and write. They
are taught basic hygiene. They are able to practice their culture.
They are happy with their lives.
However, with the coming of
the military and the paramilitary forces, they are now in deep
trouble. They closed down their schools and turned them into barracks.
They threatened and killed their teachers who they plan to replace
with soldiers as para-teachers. They are forced to leave their homes,
their lands and their livelihoods.
Rep. Nancy Catamco, chair of
the Committee on the Indigenous Peoples in the House of
Representatives, accompanied by the military, the police,
representatives from the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples and
the Department of Social Welfare and Development, visited the refugees
in Davao city in order to “rescue” them who she claimed were
“kidnapped” by UCCP pastors and other church people who are influence
by the left.
Criminal cases were later
filed against 15 individuals including UCCP pastors for kidnapping,
human trafficking and holding people against their will, but the Davao
City Prosecutor dismissed the cases saying that they had no basis and
The refugees are not used to
life in the city. They say that they don’t need pity; they need
justice. They want to return to their homes, the lands and their
livelihoods to once again earn their living with dignity. But they
have a firm demand before they go back: disband and disarm the
paramilitary units and pull out the military from their communities.
In other words, stop militarization in their area.
We support the just demand
of the lumad. It is their right to go back to their own homes and be
assured to live in peace. This is the least that the government can do
– leave them in peace.
“Soon the wicked will
disappear; you may look for them, but you won’t find them; but the
humble will possess the land and enjoy prosperity and peace” (Psalms
Issued and signed this 1st
day of October, 2015.
Beauty in the
Beast: The hugot of the Pinoy’s joy
By ROBERT Z. CORTES,
September 10, 2015
Some nights ago, I missed my
flight to Chicago. I've lived in Manila for more than 20 years, and
I've been going to the airport quite regularly all that time, but this
was the first time I've ever missed a flight due to traffic. In the
car, I wondered out loud to the friends who were with me what the news
would say the next day.
The day after, CNN reports
"Downpour causes monstrous traffic jam in Metro Manila." I actually
used that very same word – monstrous – to describe the EDSA gridlock,
when I wrote to my dissertation adviser to explain why I'd be missing
a rendezvous with another professor in Chicago.
Indeed, there was no other
word more apt.
From where I was – feeling
so helpless as the clock was ticking nearer and nearer to the flight
schedule, and I wasn't even halfway to the airport 3 hours after
leaving my home in Pasig – I saw before me a colossal snake with
scales of glittering red lights on one side, of blinking yellow on the
other. The beast was gorging itself on the Filipinos' patience and
For a while I felt I
understood why road rage happens. I even thought for a second that
suicide in this country would be perfectly justified. It was
inevitable in this hellish traffic, I thought for moment.
But it was only a fleeting
thought. For in the car with me were people who didn't succumb to the
"inevitable." They made a choice to be serene. The two people in the
passenger seats were either sleeping like overgrown babies or laughing
at the whole absurdity of the situation when they were awake.
Admittedly, they were irritatingly cheerful at times, but I guess
that's better than being irritatingly grumbling.
As for the driver of the van
– well, what can I say? The whole time, he was sympathetic to my
difficulty yet patient with what we obviously could do very little
about. He taught me – who was more than a decade older than him – that
one always has a choice in these situation: to be either impatient or
calm, a hell to others or a source of peace. I learned we can be
virtuous in any situation, including the negatively superlative
traffic of EDSA.
When I realized all this, I
took out my rosary and, like a child, prayed as my mother had taught
me. I glanced to my right and glimpsed Our Lady of Guadalupe on the
huge LED board seemingly looking and smiling at me. "Nice touch for
your birthday," I thought (it was Sept. 8) – and I meant both the
traffic and her image.
I also did some bit of
mental prayer as I had learned from St. Josemaria. Having finished 30
minutes of it, I began praying to Blessed Alvaro whose anniversary of
beatification – a ceremony where I was present last year – is fast
approaching (Sept. 21).
Having gone to all my "heavy
duty" intercessors, and realizing that no miracle would lift the van
to the airport in time for my midnight flight, I decided instead to
lift up my will and unite it to God's. I prayed, "Thank you, Lord, for
this chance to offer up something significant to me for whatever You
want this to be offered. I ask not to know, but to love, your will."
And, as always happens in these situations, I was filled with peace.
Some hours later, I read
something similar in Bl. John Newman's "Meditations and Devotions".
"My...perplexity may be the necessary means of some great end which is
quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain...He knows what he is
about... I trust thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I – more loving to
me than I myself. Deign to fulfill thy high purposes in me, whatever
they may be – work in and through me. I am born to serve thee, to be
thine, to be thy instrument. I ask not to see –I ask not to know – I
ask simply to be used."
I went to bed that night
filled with peace and thankful for the little blessings, instead of
thinking of the inconvenience this entire experience spelled and would
spell for me. I was thankful for the Shell toilet that was available
just when my bladder was near bursting; when I came out there was a
long queue to the toilet. I was thankful that we made it back home at
1 a.m. instead of 3 a.m.; I knew there were still people trudging
their way home in those wee hours of the morning. I always have a
choice to be grateful.
I am definitely not
fatalistic, and like every Filipino, I expect the government that
takes one third of my salary to give us back the service that we
deserve. Nevertheless, I also believe that we need to always maintain
the characteristic Filipino goodness and joy in difficulties such as
these. This experience has reminded me once more where the Filipino
gets it – the hugot, as they now say. It is in prayer and abandonment
to God's will.
There is where one finds
beauty in the beast.
The next day, I found myself
enjoying breakfast with friends, laughing Pinoy style, over the
silliest considerations. At some point, I told them about my devotion
to Fr. Joseph Muzquiz who is my intercessor for things connected to
the U.S. I explained to them that his intercession was weird: that he
stops things from happening and gives me something better in return
(I'd see that in retrospect, of course). It's what I call "negative
I told them that, ironic as
it may seem, I believed this was Fr. Joseph's favor to me. I mean that
the delay was made for me to have more days with friends, more
productive moments of work, a better schedule over all in the U.S.,
and still make it to the interview with the subject of my dissertation
on Sept. 14. I added that to "up the ante" for this intercessor, I was
going to ask him to help me rebook my ticket for free. This was
important for a cash-strapped student like me.
I called Asiana Airlines and
told them my situation. A very nice lady spoke to me on the other end.
She said, yes there's a flight available for Chicago at midnight 2
days after. She emailed the new ticket with no questions asked.
I intend to be in the
airport by 8 hours before the flight instead of the usual 3 hours.
Sure, there is beauty in the beast, and I'd appreciate it when it's
there. But I have no desires of seeing it any time soon.
[Robert Z. Cortes is a PhD student in Social
Institutional Communication at the Pontifical University of Santa
Croce, Rome. He has an M.A. in Ed. Leadership from Columbia
The proper attitude
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 9, 2015
Boys will always be boys.
Given any chance to play sports, their reaction is always lightning
quick and wholehearted. In fact, I sometimes get the impression that’s
where their heart really is. Classes are a poor second, or a third or
I just remembered the
opening of an annual intramural Olympiad in a boys’ school, and the
environment suddenly changed mood. More movement, more laughter, more
color. The boys seem to be on auto-pilot, guided by instincts
otherwise hidden during normal schooldays.
Through it all, I somehow
detected unmistakable traces and signs of growth and development.
There was more self-confidence, better teamwork, an increased daring
to show their talents and gifts, or as they say, to strut their stuff.
It’s true that while their
education requires some controlled environment, they need to be
unleashed from time to time, asking them to do things on their own.
That’s where we can see
whether degrees of maturity and sense of responsibility have been
gained or not. That’s where we can see who are the leaders and who the
followers. That’s where we can see their strengths and weaknesses.
I saw their cheer dance
competition and their artwork exhibit – I could not be in all events –
but I was already floored to see their creativity and artistry that
truly widened my perspectives. It’s indeed a blessing that can come
only from God.
It’s always moving to see
them try their best to be more human and Christian, to become more
mature and responsible in spite of the many demons they have to face.
Human weakness and miseries, temptations from within and without hound
them as they do everybody else. But their struggles have a peculiar
They’re still awkward and
prone to try flying without knowing exactly where they would land.
They’re still into a grueling process of self-discovery, a very
crucial stage where they need the most help that should not be too
intrusive, which they resent.
It’s in sports where a
common language is instantly spoken and understood even between staff
and students, and practically by all. Barriers seen in classrooms and
workshops seem to get dismantled in the gym. And everyone enjoys and
looks forward to it.
That’s why sports has to be
given its proper place in school life. It may not be the most
important element, but I would say it’s an indispensable auxiliary
component. For it can also be a terrific school of many virtues.
But it has to be infused
also with the proper spirit. Otherwise, it can degenerate into a
network of vices and inhuman attitudes – greed, lust, vanity,
frivolity, etc.– that can become formidable since with sports this
network gets extremely enjoyable and addictive.
Everyone needs to be
reminded that sports has to serve our true dignity as persons and
children of God. It cannot be an excuse for us to indulge in animality
and savagery. Competition need not be an exercise of pride, envy and
It can be a healthy occasion
to build a realistic attitude to life, for which one realizes the need
for discipline and preparation, hardwork and focus. It can be a good
learning moment for the interplay of the basic social principles of
the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity.
Competition tells us we are
not alone. We need to be with others. It tells us we have to work for
a goal, each one contributing whatever he can and always doing it in
an effective tandem with others.
Competition is a driver of
development at least in the personal and social aspects of one’s life.
It pushes one to go to the limits of his capabilities not only in the
technical aspects but especially in the more human ones – magnanimity,
gracefulness, patience, optimism, etc.
That’s why it is important
to make everyone understand the true nature and purpose of
competition. If one knows what competition really is and is for, he
will always come out a victor whether he wins or loses in a game or
Defeat, according to General
George Patton, is not due to losses but to the destruction of the
soul. It’s when one surrenders to discouragement, pessimism, despair.
That’s why it is important
that everyone learns to compete properly, correcting him whenever the
spoilers of the true status of competition come. How essential is it,
therefore, that the young ones be immediately reminded and encouraged
whenever they show signs of misunderstanding it!
Of course, the very
fundamental principle of sports and competition is one’s love for God.
Outside of that, forget it.
Barbarians at the
(Or the attack against marriage and the family)
By ABRAHAM V. LLERA
August 18, 2015
On Feburary 16, 2008,
Cardinal Carlo Caffara, Archbishop of Bologna, after a Mass celebrated
at the tomb of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, granted an interview to Tele
Radio Padre Pio.
In that interview, Caffara
revealed that Sister Lucy of Fatima fame told him that the final
battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage
and the family.
Sister Lucia did not specify
when this final battle will take place, but perhaps the vision Pope
Leo XIII had on October 3, 1884 may be related. Just after celebrating
Holy Mass on that day, Pope Leo XIII collapsed as if dead. After he
was revived, he recounted a vision of Satan approaching the throne of
God, boasting he will destroy the Church if given the chance to.
The Lord reminded Satan that
his Church is invincible. Satan then replied, “Grant me one century
and more power of those who will serve me, and I will destroy it.” Our
Lord granted him 100 years.
The Lord then allowed the
Pope a vision of the events of the 20th century: wars, immorality,
genocide, and apostasy on a large scale. Alarmed by the spine-chilling
vision, the Pope sat down and wrote the prayer to St. Michael, the
same prayer the faithful pray today in times of distress.
Many believe that we are now
in the midst of those 100 years.
Before the Irish people
voted on May 22, 2015 to allow same-sex unions, 20 countries have
already embraced same-sex unions either by legislation or via court
decisions. Ireland was the first to do it by popular vote. These 20
countries are: The Netherlands (2000); Belgium (2003); Canada (2005);
Spain (2005); South Africa (2006); Norway (2009); Sweden (2009);
Argentina (2010); Iceland (2010); Portugal (2010); Denmark (2012);
Brazil (2013); England and Wales (2013); France (2013); New Zealand
(2013); Uruguay (2013); Luxembourg (2014); Scotland (2014); Finland:
(signed 2015, effective 2017).
Then on June 26, 2015,
SCOTUS – The U.S. Supreme Court – voted 5-4 making same-sex unions
legal in all United states.
Why did same-sex unions
suddenly crop up in our discussions? Because same-sex unions is the
weapon the Devil is using to destroy marriage and the family. By
rejecting the God-mandated man-woman dichotomy of marriage, and by
replacing it with the sterile man-man or woman-woman abomination, the
Devil hopes to strike right at the heart of God’s plan for mankind and
for all of Creation.
There’s only one reason why
God instituted marriage: procreation. Malachi 2:15 is very clear: God
instituted marriage so that godly offspring may result. But why would
God want babies to be born? God has only one reason: to fill heaven
with human beings. Now why would God do that? Because God wants us to
share eternal happiness with him.
But, then, the Devil,
forever malevolent and desiring nothing but the fall of man, will not
have anything of that. That’s why he’d do everything he can to lead us
away from our eternal destiny. His weapon of choice: same-sex unions,
the very thing we see unfolding before our very own eyes today.
Priestly spirit of
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
August 9, 2015
It’s nice to know that many
dioceses in the country are adopting the so-called Standard Living
Allowance (SLA) plan for their priests and, of course, their bishops.
It’s an effort to take care of the basic needs and sustenance of the
clergy whatever their pastoral assignments and personal conditions may
be. We indeed have to take care of them who are selfless in bringing
Christ to the faithful.
The appropriate structures and systems of the plan are being put up.
Some period of experimentation is now underway. The learning process
has started with obvious cases of some kinks and snags being ironed
All these are good. But let’s remember that the structures and
systems, no matter how effective and efficient they are in theory,
would come to nothing if they are not animated by the proper spirit of
poverty that we, clerics, are supposed to live. As St. Paul puts it:
“The written code kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor 3,6)
We should then understand that this whole business of establishing the
SLA is not just about money and sustenance and of how Church finances
can be allocated with greater equity. It is, first and last, a matter
of reinforcing the priestly spirit of poverty that is very crucial in
the priest’s identity, dignity and ministry.
We have to understand that without this proper priestly spirit of
poverty, the priesthood is compromised or at least distorted, no
matter how showy a priest struts his stuff. He will end simply being a
performer, a user, a bureaucrat, instead of the sacramental
representation of Christ as head of the Church, a dispenser of the
In the Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, issued in 1994,
some description of this priestly spirit of poverty is made (n. 67).
Priestly poverty is pictured as an image of the poverty of Christ that
has a salvific scope. It is the way to make one totally available to
the things of God, of Christ, and the needs of the people.
“A priest could hardly be a true servant and minister of his brothers
if he were excessively worried with his comfort and well-being,” it
says. With respect to the created and earthly goods, the priest can
use them but “with a sense of responsibility, moderation, upright
intention and detachment, precisely because he has his treasure in
heaven and knows that all should be used for building the Kingdom of
The directory encourages the priest to lead “a simple life and avoid
anything which could have an air of vanity, voluntarily embracing
poverty to follow Christ more closely. In all aspects (living
quarters, means of transportation, vacations, etc.), the priest must
eliminate any kind of affectation and luxury.”
It’s sad to note that many people have been turned off by the way some
priests comport themselves in public. Rightly or wrongly, they have
claimed that some priests have luxury cars, ostentatious manners and
are always thinking of money to the extent that people brand them as
“mukhang pera,” converting their priesthood into some kind of
This does not mean that priests should look and smell like beggars.
Far from it. They, in fact, should be elegant, decently attired and
easily distinguishable as priests who can readily be approached by
anyone. As much as possible, they should not be mistaken as
‘habal-habal’ or jeepney drivers or some misplaced celebrities, etc.
I suppose it would be good if regular lifestyle checks can be made by
the proper church authority so that the appropriate suggestions,
corrections, solutions and remedies can be made promptly, avoiding
scandals that can really be harmful to the life of the Church, not to
mention the priests concerned themselves.
What can be helpful is when priests themselves have regular spiritual
directions to which they should have recourse with all freedom. We
should not forget that the greater the responsibility one has, the
greater also is his need for guidance and discipline. The moment this
principle is forgotten or taken for granted, the incidence of all
kinds of anomalies would just be a matter of time.
The directory also says that a priest should be a friend of those most
in need, reserving “his most refined pastoral charity for these, with
a preferential option for all poverty, old and new, tragically present
in our world, always remembering that the first misery from which man
must be liberated is that of sin, the root of all evil.”
All of these indications about priestly spirit of poverty have to be
lived with naturalness and discretion, knowing how to pass unnoticed,
without ever screaming to the world, “I am poor.”