Tribute to LALA: A
Lumad Activist, Artist, and Fighter
BEVERLY L. LONGID, National
September 18, 2023
It is with a heavy heart
that we receive the news of the passing of our colleague and fellow
Indigenous Peoples activist, artist, and fighter, Kaerlan “Lala”
On behalf of Katribu
Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, we extend our
deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the grieving family,
relatives, tribe, and cherished friends who are mourning the loss of
Kaerlan "Lala" Fanaguel. According to the military's report, Lala
was among the six individuals killed during an encounter between the
47th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the New People’s
Army in Bilar, Bohol, last September 7.
We recognize and acknowledge that the right to self-determination
and the pursuit of justice in the face of oppression are fundamental
principles that guide the paths of many. We hold in high regard
Lala's decision to join the New People’s Army (NPA). It was a
conscientious, difficult, and mature choice made in response to the
relentless threats and harassment he endured from the state. In his
eyes, the conventional avenues for seeking justice appeared
insufficient to address the escalating attacks on the Indigenous and
Moro Peoples. We pay tribute to his unwavering dedication,
particularly to the Lumad to which he belonged.
Lala, a native of Barangay Poblacion, Malapatan in Sarangani
Province, had previously served as the secretary-general of PASAKA
Pasakaday Salugpungan Kalimudan (Confederation of Lumad
Organizations in Southern Mindanao). He was also a former council
member of Katribu, a national alliance of Indigenous Peoples
organizations in the Philippines; Kalumaran Mindanao-wide
organization of Lumad; and the Sandugo, an alliance uniting Moro and
Indigenous Peoples organizations. In these roles, Lala diligently
led various activities and protests both in Davao and Metro Manila,
tirelessly working to shed light on the challenging circumstances
faced by Indigenous Peoples in his region.
The escalating acts of plunder, militarization, bombings, enforced
disappearances, criminalization, and the unjust labeling of
Indigenous Peoples leaders and activists as terrorists have only
fueled the flames of the ongoing armed conflict. In light of this,
we fervently advocate for a sincere and collective effort to address
the root causes of this conflict. It is our hope that, through such
concerted endeavors, we may pave for a future that is more just and
equitable future where the suffering endured by many may find its
acquittal of Maria Ressa in Philippine tax evasion case
A press statement by the
International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)
September 16, 2023
Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) welcomes
journalist and Nobel Prize recipient Maria Ressa’s acquittal from a
Philippine tax evasion case. The decision was promulgated by the
Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 157 on September 12.
“Ressa’s acquittal serves
not just a victory for Philippine news website Rappler, but also for
journalism and democracy at large. This legal triumph proves the
politically motivated character of the charges, which sought to
silence those who were critical of the grave human rights violations
of the Duterte administration,” said Peter Murphy, Chairperson of
the ICHRP Global Council.
“While we welcome this
development, in no way does it absolve the Duterte government of the
crimes it perpetrated against the Philippine press. It must be
remembered that his administration was openly hostile to the media,
resulting in countless attacks on journalists and on press freedom,”
It should be noted that
while Ressa and Rappler have emerged victorious on their fifth and
last tax evasion case, Rappler still faces two charges – an appeal
on its closure order before the Philippine Court of Appeals, and a
pending appeal on a cyber libel case before the Philippine Supreme
Court. Under Ressa's leadership, Rappler was consistently critical
of Duterte’s policies, especially his infamous “war on drugs”. This
attracted the administration’s ire and prompted a string of legal
attacks intended to silence and intimidate all journalists critical
of his brutal regime.
Ressa’s acquittal is a
small but important victory among the numerous cases of attacks
against the press under the Duterte government. As documented by
INVESTIGATE PH, his government saw the killing of 23 journalists,
the shutdown of free-to-air broadcasts by media giant ABS-CBN, and
the threat to sue Philippine Daily Inquirer journalist Tetch Torres-Tupas
over her report on 2 indigenous peoples who were the first to be
charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
This war on dissent has
continued with no let up under the Marcos Jr. government. Some of
the prominent cases include the brutal slay of broadcaster Percy
Lapid on October 3, 2022, the ambush which led to the killing of
editorial cartoonist Benharl Kahil on November 5, 2022, and Rappler
journalist Frank Cimatu’s conviction of cyber libel on December 14,
“We call on the Marcos Jr.
government to cease forthwith its abuse of the judicial process and
its entire policy of political repression. It must actively put a
stop to the attacks not just on press freedom but also on anyone who
is critical of its policies. The Philippine government should stop
making trumped-up charges against those who are defending the rights
of the oppressed people. ICHRP will continue to keep watch and
expose the Philippine government’s human rights and international
humanitarian law violations,” concluded Murphy.
CARMMA condemns DepEd’s
whitewashing of Marcos dictatorship in Matatag curriculum
A press statement by the Campaign
Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA)
September 11, 2023
Allow us to reiterate a
basic historical fact: the two-decade rule of President Ferdinand
Marcos Sr. is a dictatorship. The culpability of the crimes against
the Filipino people during that dark and bloody period in our
history rests primarily on the Marcoses.
We at the Campaign Against
the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law flag and condemn in the
strongest possible terms the Department of Education’s shameless
scheme to whitewash and distort our history with its September 6,
2023 memo to change “Diktadurang Marcos” to “Diktadura” in the Grade
6 Araling Panlipunan curriculum of the newly-launched Matatag
It is now undeniable that
historical distortion and mass disinformation are being raised to
the institutional level. The Marcos Jr. administration is no longer
hiding behind its army of online trolls and spin doctors; education
is now miseducation. Semantically divorcing the Marcoses from the
term “dictatorship” – in a curriculum, no less – is obviously a
calculated and sinister plot to absolve the Marcoses of their
brutalities during their despotic rule, especially among our youth.
Who is ultimately
responsible for the murders, torture, illegal incarceration, and
disappearances of thousands of activists, among them youth leaders,
during martial law? Who signed the orders to dissolve Congress and
for the military to take over media outlets 50 years ago on
September 21, 1972? Who ultimately benefitted from the plunder of
our nation’s coffers, burdening Filipinos with debt that will be
paid by generations to come? The answer to these questions are
simple: the Marcoses.
Hence, the compound term
“Marcos dictatorship” is different from merely calling the period a
“dictatorship” alone. How would the people and particularly the
children know who was responsible for the plunder and atrocities of
martial law if Marcos is not named? He cannot be Voldemort, he who
must not be named! The Marcos dictatorship is a truth that cannot be
and should not be denied. It is a truth as well that the people rose
in defiance against the Marcos dictatorship that eventually led to
their overthrow in the 1986 People Power uprising.
This brazen assault on
truth at the cultural level goes hand-in-hand and with the huge
so-called confidential and intelligence funds being greedily gobbled
up by Department of Education Secretary and Vice President Sara
Duterte – the spending of which, cannot be scrutinized publicly, and
will most likely be for surveilling, harassing, and threatening
educators and students who will defy this directive to distort
We call on all
freedom-loving Filipinos, especially our teachers and students to
denounce this deplorable ploy by the Department of Education to
distort history and miseducate the youth. We enjoin all to continue
holding the Marcoses and their cronies and allies accountable for
their crimes against the Filipino people. Remembering is resistance,
and we will never forget.
Marriage, divorce and
the gender issue
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
August 18, 2023
THAT part of the gospel
where Christ was asked about marriage and divorce and that also
talked a little about man being created man and woman (cfr. Mt
19,3-12) gives us an occasion to clarify certain points that have
become today’s hot button issues due to some ideological
We cannot deny that these
days some ideologies are redefining things that are clearly set
forth by our Christian faith and that can be clearly validated by an
objective analysis of our human nature. One is that marriage can
only be between one man and one woman, and that it is exclusive and
is meant to be a lifetime commitment.
Why is that? It’s because
for marriage to be true marriage, true love should be involved, a
love that includes the use of the body and not just a spiritual love
that can and should be given to as many persons as possible.
It’s an exclusive kind of
love because once the body is given to another, it cannot be shared
with anybody else. And if true love animates it, then everything is
involved, and so there is a lifetime commitment involved.
Divorce is therefore a
no-no. What can happen instead is what is known as nullity of
marriage. That’s when it can be proven that the marriage was entered
into with some impediments. Thus, marriage should be entered into
with full knowledge of what it is and what it entails.
Marriage is also between a
man and a woman because it is meant mainly for procreation, and not
just enjoyment of some conveniences and pleasures, though these can
also be reasons why people marry.
Of course, they should
also realize that marriage has its own burdens for which they have
to be ready to bear. It is also meant to raise a family where
children are formed to be real persons and children of God as we are
all meant to be – a tall order, indeed, but which can be borne as
long as those concerned tackle this responsibility with God’s grace
and their all-out effort.
Regarding the gender
issue, it’s kind of funny that nowadays some people are finding it
difficult to define what a woman is and what pronoun to assign to
those who think they are women when biologically they are men.
Of course, given our human
condition that is always a work in progress, to be consistent to
one’s gender at birth requires some effort and work. Masculinity for
men and femininity for women have to be taught and learned, knowing
that given our human condition that is replete with weaknesses,
inconsistencies can easily take place.
There can be same-sex
attraction which can happen to anyone anytime, but if one is guided
properly by a good understanding of our human nature and of our
Christian faith, one would know what to do. It’s when one prefers to
be guided simply by his own feelings and estimation of things that
he or she or they can get into error.
Anyway, we all know that
our human condition in this life requires constant vigilance and
struggle precisely because of our human weakness and limitations.
But we should try our best to follow the objective guide provided by
natural law, moral law and the spiritual and supernatural law
provided by our Christian faith.
In any case, charity
should always prevail, especially in situations when we have to deal
with controversial issues. Our differences and conflicts should not
be reason to set aside charity. It’s precisely in situations like
these that charity should be best lived.
Statement of the
IBP in support of the integrity and
independence of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
Integrated Bar of the
August 17, 2023
In a television interview
on One News Channel, a disbarred lawyer claimed that his disbarment
is part of Justice Marvic Leonen’s alleged vendetta against him. He
likewise claimed that he was targeted by Justice Marvic Leonen
because he is a BBM supporter.
Such claims are baseless,
malicious and untrue. The Supreme Court is a collegial body. It
takes at least one (1) division, or the Court sitting en banc to
render a valid judgment. Statements that give the impression that
Justices of the Supreme Court can be influenced by one Justice, or
that the Supreme Court’s decision is tainted by politics are most
unfair and contemptuous.
The disbarred lawyer’s
claim that he can re-apply or file a motion for reconsideration
“kapag namatay si Justice Leonen” is equally contemptuous.
More troubling is the
disbarred lawyer’s claim that some people in the Supreme Court
actually called him the day before his disbarment was announced to
the media. The call was supposedly to convince him to request Pres.
BBM to call the Supreme Court to withhold the issuance of the
decision ordering his disbarment. He insinuates that certain
personalities in the Supreme Court wanted to leverage his disbarment
for certain favors from the President. Such claims are malicious,
disrespectful and also contemptuous.
His tirades, insinuations
and accusations have no place in a civilized and democratic country
like the Philippines.
The Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) abhors such unprecedented conduct of a former
lawyer. The IBP stands by the Supreme Court as it continues to
discharge its constitutionally guaranteed procedures and
jurisdiction on matters relating to the discipline of errant members
of the Bar.
If there ever was any
uncertainty about whether this person deserved to be disbarred, his
television interview is clear proof that the Supreme Court made the
The IBP stands squarely
behind the Honorable Supreme Court, particularly the Court’s
integrity and independence in the discharge of its functions.
If privileged, never
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 25, 2023
WE are reminded of this
aspect of Christian life in that gospel episode where the mother of
the apostles, James and John, requested Christ to have her sons sit
beside him, one on his right and the other on his left, at the
Kingdom. (cfr. Mt 20,20-28)
Of course, mothers will
always be mothers. They will try to give the best for their
children. And so, Christ responded to her delicately that those
seats were already reserved for those whom God the Father had
In the meantime, Christ
reminded the mother and the two apostles if they were willing to
suffer with him, making them understand that heaven can only be
reached through the cross. And to the apostles’ credit, they readily
responded, “We can!”
We have to realize then
that any privilege, honor or praise given to us is a call for us to
be more generous in our self-giving to such an extent that we would
not run away from making the supreme sacrifice of giving our life
for God and the others, just like what Christ did.
Our attitude should be to
sharpen even more our desire to serve and not to be served. Christ
made it clear to the mother and the brother-apostles when he said,
“The Son of man has not come to be served, but to serve, and to give
his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20,28)
Reiterating the same idea,
he told them, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over
them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so is it
among you. On the contrary, whoever wishes to become great among you
shall be your servant. And whoever wishes to be first among you
shall be your slave.”
We should never feel
entitled. Christ himself was the first one to live by this
principle. Being God, he emptied himself to become man and to bear
all the sins of men by dying on the cross, all for the purpose of
saving mankind. (cfr. Phil 2,7)
He reiterated this point
when he lamented about the domineering sense of entitlement of some
of the leading Jews of his time while praising the poor widow who
put all that she had into the temple treasury. (cfr. Mk 12,38-44)
While it’s true that we
obviously are entitled to our rights, we should not feel entitled to
privileges and favors that are above our rights and needs. If they
come and we cannot avoid them, then let’s be thankful. But we should
immediately realize that when privileges and favors come our way, we
are being called to serve more.
Let’s be reminded that
these privileges, favors and blessings are meant for us to
strengthen our desire to serve and not to be served. But as it is,
we should try to avoid them, since they tend only to spoil and
corrupt us. We always have to be guarded against this danger.
We need to acquire the
mentality of a servant which is actually the mentality of Christ
himself. Let us readjust our human standards to conform to what is
actually proper to us as taught and lived by Christ. We usually look
down on the status of servants. This has to change! We should be
convinced that by becoming a servant we would be making ourselves
like Christ. Let’s say NO to entitlements.
Financial aspect of the
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
July 13, 2023
“WITHOUT cost you have
received; without cost you are to give.” (Mt 10,8)
These words of Christ
should be the guiding principle when considering the financial
aspect of the priestly ministry. It cannot be denied that this
financial aspect of a priest’s ministry can pose a very tricky
challenge to the men of the cloth.
We know that money and
anything that gives us honor and privilege have the tendency, if we
are not careful, to corrupt us. It is important that in dealing with
them, we have to take care of the purity of our intention which can
only be achieved if everything that we do is meant for the glory and
love of God and love and concern for everybody else. Otherwise,
there’s no other way but for us to fall into some spiritual and
Given our unquestionable
weaknesses and proneness to sin, we have to realize that we really
need to have accountability and transparency in dealing with
While it’s true that
Christ’s ministers are also men who have material necessities, we
have to be clear that our ministry should never be used mainly, or
worse, purely for some financial or economic gain.
As Christ clearly said,
given the completely gratuitous character of our vocation and
mission, we need to dedicate ourselves to our ministry also
gratuitously, without counting the cost.
This concern can be a very
tricky thing to deal with. Priests are no spiritual beings with no
need for financial support. We need money also. In a sense, we need
to earn, but seeing to it that such financial concern should be
pursued with utmost purity of intention.
In this regard, what can
be most helpful is to develop a strong conviction that we should not
create artificial needs beyond what we truly need to survive,
leading a decent life, and to carry out our duties properly.
If done properly, this
concern for the financial aspect of the priestly ministry can blend
well a lifestyle that can be both personally austere and yet
magnificently generous with respect to our dedication to the
We can truly live the
Christian poverty that practices detachment from earthly goods and
yet is unafraid and even creative and judiciously enterprising to
acquire whatever goods and money are needed to further sincere
spiritual and moral help to others.
This is, of course, easier
said than done. Thus, there is always that need for regular checking
or some kind of auditing to see if indeed the true spirit of
Christian poverty is lived while handling money in our priestly
Some signs that can tell
us whether we would already be deviating from the proper spirit of
Christian poverty are when we have some items that can be considered
already as luxurious or above the common standard of what is proper
for priests to fulfill their ministry. These items can be the kind
of cars that we use, the places that we go for our needed rest and
But with respect to items
directly related to liturgy and to apostolate, we can be as lavish
as we can to show how much we truly care for God and for others. In
this area, we should not be sparing or stinting. We have to give as
much as we can. And it is for this reason that we can ask also for
more donations and support from those who can.
What is to pray
June 22, 2023
CHRIST told us how to pray
properly. “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that
they will be heard because of their many words,” he said. “Do not be
like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Mt
In other words, we have to
pray sincerely, avoiding just going through the motions of praying.
We should see to it that that when we pray, we get to have an
intimate and direct conversation with God who is always with us and,
like a father, treats us with love and solicitude. He actually is
eager to talk with us always. Our problem is that we often ignore
him, something that we should correct.
This will require faith,
of course, since without it there is no way we can have a real
conversation with God. Even if our faith is not that strong, we
still can manage to strike a good conversation with God, precisely
by asking with all humility and importunity for that faith, echoing
what a father of an epileptic son told Christ, “I believe, but help
my unbelief.” (Mk 9,24)
And it’s interesting to
note that after Christ told his disciples not to babble when
praying, he told them the Lord’s Prayer which we usually refer to as
the “Our Father.” “This is how you are to pray…,” (cfr. Mt 6,9-15)
he said. It’s as if that prayer is the model prayer we have to
follow in any personal prayer we do. We should express the same
beliefs, attitude, intentions and petitions articulated in that
We therefore have to
realize that prayer is how we maintain and nourish our relationship
with God, and that relationship should be that of a father and a
child. Prayer keeps alive our desire for God, a desire to be like
God as we are meant to be.
We have to realize that
praying is to our spiritual life what breathing and the beating of
the heart are to our biological life. That is why St. Paul clearly
said, “Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for
this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes 5,17-18)
When we manage to truly
pray, we can also manage to protect ourselves from all kinds of
evil, and to heal whatever wounds and weaknesses we may have because
of our sins. A sense of holy invulnerability can come to us. We can
find peace and joy in spite of the drama of our life.
We have to be careful not
to convert our prayer into something that is meant only to foster
our pursuit for some self-interest that is separated from our desire
to be like God. That is why in the Lord’s Prayer, we address God as
our Father, and we express the desire that his kingdom come here on
earth and that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
And while we have many
things to ask because of our personal needs, we should not forget
that the more important thing to ask is forgiveness of our sins
which will always be given as long as we also forgive others.
We just cannot resort to
prayer during special occasions when we are faced with some
difficulty. Prayer is not meant to be the remedy of last resort. It
is what we have to do always, both in good times and bad.
Get to know who Christ
June 9, 2023
WITH all the antagonistic
questionings Christ received from some of the leading Jews, he
instead offered some clarification about who really was. “How do the
scribes claim that the Christ is the son of David?” he asked those
around him. (Mk 12,35)
And so, he himself also
provided the answer. “David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit,
said: The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I place
your enemies under your feet.’ David himself calls him ‘Lord’; so
how is he his son?” (Mk 12,36-37)
The problem with these
leading Jews was that they had a narrow if not wrong understanding
of the identity of Christ. They could not believe that Christ is
first of all God before he also became man. And that his mission is
not only something earthly and temporal – the liberation of the
Jewish people from bondage – but is something spiritual and
supernatural in keeping with the true dignity of man as children of
It is important that we
too have a good and correct understanding of who Christ truly is and
of the real mission he is carrying out with us. Quite often, even if
we already are Christian believers, we still have wrong notions and
attitudes toward Christ. We expect Christ to work under our own
terms instead of the other way around.
It’s good that from time
to time we ask ourselves the question of who is Christ to us. I
think that’s a very legitimate question to ask ourselves daily. If
Christ is truly alive and is actively intervening in our lives, we
should ask ourselves if we manage to see him and deal with him today
and always. We know all too well that very often we are good in
words only, but not in deeds, in theory but not in practice. We need
to close the gap.
Let’s remember that Christ
himself said: “I am always with you until the end of time.” (Mt
28,20) If we have faith, these words should never be considered as
mere bluff. They are true and operative. We have to learn to conform
ourselves to that reality and to behave accordingly.
Christ should not just be
a Christ of faith or a Christ of history, as some theologians have
described him. The Christ of faith and the Christ of history is one
and the same person, and he continues not only to be with us but
also to work with us, showing us the way how to live, how to work,
how to decide, how to choose, etc.
Christ is actually leading
us the way in our life so that we can reach our final destination.
He is never indifferent to us, even if we are indifferent to him. He
will always find a way to be with us always and somehow lead us in
his own mysterious ways.
But we need to be more
aware of his presence and more active in cooperating with his will
and ways. For this, we have to learn to discipline ourselves to be
able to see Christ everyday. He is actually in all things and in all
Our faith in him should be
such that we can contemplate him always. He has to enter in our life
not only intellectually and spiritually, but also emotionally and
physically. We have to wean ourselves from that stage where we think
that we are just living on our own. We are living with Christ, and
in fact, with everybody else.
On Slater Young:
Sexual fantasy and Christian morality
LANCE PATRICK C. ENAD**
May 17, 2023
About three weeks before the Slater Young turmoil broke out, an
interesting debate came out in Youtube between Matt Frad, a Catholic
influencer and Dennis Prager, an Orthodox Jew pundit. In the debate,
Prager argued that it was not in se immoral to sexually fantasize
about persons or to view pornography (PROVIDED that no exploitation
was involved -eg, annimated) so long as this was not acted out as
immoral sexual behavior. This is because the ethics of the Law of
Moses is in principle, behavioral. Frad, however, argued that such
was inherently immoral using of course the words of Christ in Mathew
5;28 and arguing that pornography damages the individual and
contributes exploitation (which although relevant, is really a
slippery-slope argument)-a position mainly based on Catholic
At the outset, it was too bad that Frad, as he admitted, was not
able to argue as well as he could have and was constantly caught off
guard by the sharp mind of Prager. The debate left the impression
that Dennis Prager seemed like the Ethics of Ancient Philosophy
(perhaps Aristotle) without the Christian Faith while Frad
represented Moral Theology (though he wasn’t able to argue very
Interestingly, in the said debate, Prager made a distinction between
lust and sexual desire -but that's not relevant as of the moment.
Nonetheless, it does bring to the table some interesting questions
in ethics and moral philosophy as well as some distinctions between
moral theology (or Christian ethics).
Christ, in Mt 5:28, said that “whoever looks at a woman lustfully
commits adultery in his heart.” However, it is important to note
that He preceded this with the phrase that “However, this I say to
you.” This notes that before he gave this new interpretation of the
Law of Moses (or to be theologically consistent, perfected the Law),
this was not how it was interpreted. Hence, Sexual Thoughts only
began to be recognized to be sinful when Christ revealed them to be
so. In other words, sexual thoughts are only sinful in Christian
Ethics or in Moral Theology but not in Moral Philosophy. This is
because the law of Moses which is the interpretation of the Ten
Commandments, are the privileged expression of Natural Moral Law or
Moral Law without yet the light of Christian Faith -hence Christ
gave the Beatitudes in his ethical teachings to supplement the Ten
Commandments (a subject perhaps more appropriate on another article
about a Christian Gentleman).
Thus, just as pride is a virtue in the moral philosophy of Aristotle
but a sin in the moral theology of Thomas Aquinas, Sexual Fantasy
insofar as natural moral philosophy is concerned, not inherently
wrong (although it can be under certain circumstances such as
exploitation) but is only a sin in Christian Morality.
In short, insofar as Moral Philosophy is concerned, there is nothing
wrong with Slater Young’s statement about men fantasizing about
women -so long as this does not involve trafficking or abuse or
other such circumstances. Slater Young’s statement is only wrong for
those who hold to Christian Morality -who profess faith in Christ.
Slater seems to be, at best, a cultural catholic rather than a
devout one -though rooting for him to be so.
The funny thing however, is this: will those (especially the woke
mob) who strongly reacted against Slater Young’s statement on the
basis of Christian Morality be also willing to profess the other
tenets of Christian Morality on perhaps -abortion, homosexuality,
divorce, etc.- and not just cherry pick? Christian Morality goes
beyond the observance of natural law but is calls even further into
self-sacrificing love as expressed in the Beatitudes.
**Lance Patrick Enad, A Cebuano in Manila, Bachelor of Philosophy,
Student of Theology.
Our need for the
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
April 7, 2023
IT’S Good Friday! The
mood, the atmosphere takes on a very dark hue. And despite the many
secularizing and paganizing elements around these days, somehow we
assume a most serious face as we commemorate, bring to mind, and
liturgically make present, the very passion and death by crucifixion
of the Son of God, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Yes, the readings are
long, (cfr. Jn 18,1-19,42) but thanks to God, we have learned how to
bear the experience and to make alive and be part of the very events
narrated in those readings. We try to draw meaningful and
spiritually vivifying insights from the prayers offered on this day.
The main lesson we can
derive from this celebration of the death of Christ is that we have
a great and essential need for the cross of Christ. We need to know
the purpose of the cross because the cross, through Christ’s
passion, death and resurrection, is where everything in our life is
resolved. Christ’s passion, death and resurrection is the
culmination of Christ’s redemptive mission on earth.
Yes, Christ preached. He
performed miracles. But in the end, he had to offer his life on the
cross because no matter what he did, our sins are such that they
simply cannot be undone and forgiven through the preaching of the
truths of our faith and the tremendous effects of the miracles.
Christ has to offer his life on the cross!
In other words, the cross
and all the suffering it involves are the consequences of our sins
which need to be forgiven and undone. And that can only happen when
with Christ, we go through the consequences of our sin by suffering
them with Christ on the cross. Thus, the cross of our sins has been
converted by Christ into the cross of our salvation. That’s how we
have to understand the cross and all the suffering it involves.
We should not be afraid of
the cross. In fact, we should be looking forward to have it if only
to help in Christ’s continuing work of our redemption. We need to
understand that unless we love the cross, we can never say that we
are loving enough. Of course, we have to qualify that assertion.
It’s when we love the cross the way God wills it – the way Christ
loves it – that we can really say that we are loving as we should,
or loving with the fullness of love.
We have to be wary of our
tendency to limit our loving to ways and forms that give us some
benefits alone, be it material, moral or spiritual. While they are
also a form of love, they are not yet the fullness of love.
We have to realize more
deeply that the cross heals what is sick and wounded in us,
resurrects what is dead, forgives what is sinful. There is no evil
in man and in the world that cannot be handled properly by Christ’s
cross. That’s why we should not feel at all hopeless when we find
ourselves in a deep mess, often created by our own selves, our own
The cross symbolizes all
evil and sin, and with Christ embracing it and dying on it, the
cross gets transformed from being a tree of death to a tree of life.
It effects our redemption. We should not be afraid of the cross. In
fact, we should learn to love it.
everything to us
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 22, 2023
“IF I testify on my own
behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies
on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is
true.” (Jn 5, 31-32)
These are words of Christ
that express his effort to identify who he really is and how he is
related to God and us. St. John the Baptist had already given his
testimony about him, and during his baptism in the River Jordan,
nothing less than a voice from heaven was heard, saying, “This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3,17) Besides, he did
so many miracles and his teachings were so sublime that one can
easily conclude that Christ must be at least some special person.
We need to strengthen our
belief that Christ is everything to us. He is the God-man that
offers us “the way, the truth and the life” so that we can recover
our dignity and ultimate identity as children of God, made in God’s
image and likeness, and meant to share God’s very life and nature.
We therefore need to
develop the instinct of always looking for Christ, making him alive
in our life and patterning our life after his. This business of
always looking for Christ is a basic duty of ours, a grave
responsibility, in fact. Without him, we would just be on our own,
relying simply on our own light and powers that, no matter how
excellent, can never accomplish our real ultimate need of our own
salvation, our own perfection as a person and as a child of God.
We need to look for Christ
so we can find him, and in finding him, we can start to love and
serve him which is what we are expected to do to be ‘another Christ’
as we ought. This has basis on what Christ himself said: “Ask and it
will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door
will be opened to you…” (Mt 7,7)
And finding him means that
we make Christ alive in our life. He is not just a historical
figure. Let’s remember that before he went up to heaven, he promised
the coming of the Holy Spirit who would bring to us everything that
Christ did and said. More than that, the Holy Spirit brings Christ
alive in us.
We just have to remember
that with Christ, it is not enough to know him. We also have to love
him. With Christ, to know him truly is to love him also. In fact, we
cannot say we really know him unless we love him too.
With him, these two
spiritual operations of ours merge into a unity, although they have
different directions. In knowing, the object known is in the knower.
It has an inward movement. The knower possesses the known object.
In loving, the lover is in
the beloved. It has an outward movement. It is the beloved that
possesses the lover. The lover gets identified with the beloved. The
lover becomes what he loves. When we love Christ, we are with him,
and become one with him.
For this, we need to
exercise our faith to the hilt. When we exercise our faith, we enter
into a reality that goes beyond what we simply can see and touch and
understand. With faith we can have hope in pursuing our ultimate
goal of becoming like Christ. With faith we can manage to live the
highest virtue, which is charity, with God as its object and others
as its unavoidable co-object.
likens us to God
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 14, 2023
THAT’S what we can learn
from that parable about a servant whose debt with his master was
forgiven but could not forgive the debt of his fellow servant. (cfr.
The parable was said
because St. Peter asked Christ how many times one should forgive his
neighbor. He was trying to be magnanimous when he asked if one
should forgive his neighbor 7 times, which in the culture of that
time meant many. Christ corrected him by saying, not only 7 times,
but 70 times 7, which means always.
In that parable, the
master clearly told the servant who could not forgive the debt of
his fellow servant that he should forgive the debt of his fellow
servant as he himself, the master, forgave servant’s debt.
“You wicked servant,” the
master told the servant. “I forgave you your entire debt because you
begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?”
Again, we have to remember
that since we have been created in God’s image and likeness, we
should try our best to be like God who has fully manifested himself
in Christ. How God is, how Christ is, should also be how we should
be. In short, we can only have that forgiving heart if we truly
identify with Christ.
That surely would require
grace which is actually abundantly and gratuitously given. But that
grace requires our human cooperation. We need to develop in
ourselves, no matter difficult the challenge is, the appropriate
attitude and virtues for this purpose.
We have to learn how to be
always forgiving. Yes, the requirements of justice also have to be
met, but forgiveness should always be given even while the
requirements of justice still have to be processed.
One may ask: why should
that be? Why should forgiveness be given even if the cause of
justice is not yet resolved? The answer can only be seen when we
consider who we really are. We are men and women, made in the image
and likeness of God. Regardless of how we are, whether sinner or
saint, that basic dignity of man cannot be erased.
This dignity of man is
alluded to in one of the psalms: “What is mankind that you are
mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made
them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and
honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put
everything under their feet…” (Ps 8,4-6)
Yes, we have the dignity
of being children of God, and not just one more creature of his. No
matter how much we misbehave, God, being a father, will do
everything to bring us back to him. And that’s what Christ precisely
did for us. He even went to offer his life on the cross, offering
forgiveness to those who crucified him.
God cannot forget and
abandon us just because of our sins. “Can a mother forget the baby
at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Is 49,15)
Indeed, God will do
everything to bring us back to him. And it’s up to us to show at
least some signs of repentance for our sins and to accept the
eternal mercy of God. If we do the same to one another, we obviously
would make ourselves like God as we ought to be!
our bishops and our ministries, instead, seek ways that shall make
statement by the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) on the red-tagging
of Bishop Gerardo Alminaza
March 6, 2023
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of
the Diocese of San Carlos City was maliciously red-tagged by SMNI
hosts Jeffrey Celiz and Lorraine Badoy in their program “Laban
Kasama ng Bayan” on February 22, 2023, calling the bishops’ peace
advocacy and appeal for the resumption of the peace talks between
the GRP and the NDFP diabolical and demonic.
These utterances are not
only malicious but are utterly despicable and malevolent. The SMNI
as a network and its hosts Celiz and Badoy are known to have been in
the business of badmouthing rights defenders, church peoples,
pastors and priests, peace advocates, and even activists. These
malevolent acts of willfully spreading lies through their media
platforms to serve their masters in high offices of the government
only promote devastation, that endangers the lives of the very
people that truly promote truth, justice, and peace. Ultimately,
these also belittle such meaningful efforts that would take us
closer to peace.
The lies that the SMNI
spread in bad mouthing people tell of the fullness of their heart as
Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth
Peace advocacy is integral
in the ministry of the Church. Jesus said, “Blessed are the
peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” The call for
the resumption of the GRP-NDFP Peace talks is a Christian imperative
with the end in view of resolving the roots of armed conflict and
ushering just peace in our land. Bishop Alminaza’s call to
peace-making and ministry is something that the people of the land
needed. Therefore, it should be heard and heeded.
Peace makers are children
of God. Calling Bishop Alminaza’s appeal for the resumption of the
peace talks, “diabolical and demonic” betrays Celiz’ and Badoy’ true
No amount of red-tagging
and badmouthing will deter peace advocates to pursue the path that
shall make for peace. The Church will never abandon her task in
peace-making no matter what, because her Master and Lord said,
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter
all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be
glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they
persecuted the prophets who were before you.”-Matthew 5:11-12
In this breadth, the
Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) fervently supports Bishop Gerard
Alminaza’s peace advocacy and call for the resumption of peace
talks. The call towards peacemaking is an action that is most needed
in our society, most especially when people’s safety and lives are
at stake. We vehemently denounce the bedeviling and outright
irresponsible and malignment by SMNI television hosts Celiz and
(Sgd.) THE RT. REVD.
Emelyn Gasco-Dacuycuy, IFI
(Sgd.) THE RT. REVD. Dindo
de la Cruz Ranojo, IFI
General Secretary, IFI
(Sgd.) BISHOP Emeritus
Joel E. Tendero, UCCP
(Sgd.) BISHOP Emeritus
Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr., DD.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 4, 2023
THE amazing gospel story
of the Transfiguration of the Lord (cfr. Mt 17,1-9) reminds us that
in the end Christian life involves a dual process of how to humanize
God and at the same time, how to divinize man.
And that’s because if
Christ was transfigured, with his face shining like the sun and his
clothes becoming white as light, we can expect ourselves to be so
transfigured also, since we are actually patterned after him. We
have some basis to conclude that the ultimate condition of our life
in heaven would look like that of the transfigured Christ.
For this to take place, we
have to follow the example of Our Lady whose faith enabled her to
conceive the very Son of God in her womb. She made God man. And we
can also say – and this is not a gratuitous affirmation – that God
wants to be born in each one of us, to be incarnated in each one of
us, precisely because we are meant to be his image and likeness,
sharers of his divine life and nature.
That God wants to be one
with us can be supported by the fact that God became man to recover
us from our state of alienation from him. He gave his all for this
to happen and continues to do so up to now and till the end of time.
Not only did he become man, he also assumed all the sins of men
without committing them, conquering them ultimately with his
passion, death and resurrection.
For us to incarnate God in
us, we should try our best to have the same faith as that of Mary,
that faith that was described at one point by her cousin, Elizabeth,
in these words: “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would
fulfill his promises to her!” (Lk 1,45) It’s a faith that shows
total and unconditional belief in everything God tells us through
Christ and now through the Church as always inspired by the Holy
To which, Mary responded
with her Magnificat that expressed what she glorified the most in
her life: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God
my Savior…” (Lk 1,46-47) We should also glorify the Lord in that
With God wanting to be
born and incarnated in us, we now have to learn how to divinize our
humanity. And for this, Christ offers us “the way, the truth and the
Christ not only showed us
the way of how to handle our human condition here on earth, nor did
he only teach us the whole truth about ourselves. He also instituted
the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, so that his very own
life, which is both human and divine, could also be possessed by us.
We have to do our best to
follow the very teaching and life of Christ. Our faith in him should
not only be a matter of profession, intention and nice words. It
should be expressed in deeds in a consistent and abiding manner. As
St. James said in his Letter, “What does it profit, my brethren, if
someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save
When we follow Christ and
Mary, we can develop a taste and even an appetite for the
supernatural life with God and of things supernatural in general. We
would be on our way to our own transfiguration and be like God
himself in our ultimate home in heaven since we are children of his!
Prayer sustains our
February 20, 2023
“HIS disciples asked him in private, ‘Why could we not drive the
spirit out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can only come out through
prayer.’” (Mk 9,28-29)
This is the concluding part of that gospel episode where Christ was
approached by the father of a boy possessed by a mute spirit. (cfr.
Mk 9,14-29) According to the father, “wherever the mute spirit
seized the boy, it threw him down; he foamed at the mouth, ground
his teeth, and became rigid.” It must have been a terrible sight!
But the father complained that when he asked Christ’s disciples to
drive it out, they were unable to do so. That’s when Christ
retorted, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How
long will I endure you?”
Somehow Christ was highlighting the need for faith for the disciples
to be able to drive the spirit out. “Everything is possible to one
who has faith,” he said. And then he asked the father of the boy if
he too had faith that the spirit can be driven out.
That’s when the father said the famous words: “I do believe, help my
unbelief!” He somehow captured the usual condition we have in
relation to our faith. We like to profess that we have faith, but we
also know that our faith is oftentimes wavering.
When Christ finally drove out the spirit from the boy, the disciples
asked why they could not do it. That’s when Christ made it clear
that “this kind can only come out through prayer.”
Somehow from this episode we can make the following conclusion: for
us to share in the very power of God, especially when we are faced
with extraordinary challenges and problems, we need to have a strong
faith. And for that faith to be a working faith, it has to be
sustained always through prayer.
In other words, to live our life with God and share in everything
that he has as we are meant to be, we need pray to keep our faith
going. Prayer should be a constant activity for us. It should be
like the very beating of our heart.
We have to realize more deeply that it is a basic need of ours to
pray. If we understand our life to be a life always with God, as our
Christian faith tells us, then we need to pray always.
Prayer is actually more important and necessary than the air we
breathe, the food we eat or the water we drink. We should do
everything to learn to pray always. On this, St. Paul clearly said,
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5,17)
In fact, in that Pauline passage, what went before and after it are
very interesting. St. Paul says that we have to rejoice always and
be thankful in all circumstances because that is the will of God for
us. (cfr 1 Thes 5,16.18)
We have to find ways of how to conform ourselves to this clear
indication of St. Paul. We have to learn how to pray always,
converting everything in our life, including those that we consider
as negative or bad elements, into an occasion, a means, a reason for
We need to go beyond that common understanding of prayer that pegs
it only to the recitation of some vocal prayers or to spending time
in some special places to do meditation or contemplation. While
these forms of prayer are important and, in fact, are indispensable,
they do not have the exclusive ownership, so to speak, of the ways
The truth about
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 13, 2023
THE Pharisees argued with
Christ asking him for a sign from heaven to test him. So, Christ got
exasperated and said: “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I
say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Then he left.
(cfr. Mk 8,11-13)
This gospel episode
reminds us that we should never dare to test God. We have to believe
God first if we want to know the truth about anything and
everything, especially about God, about Christ, and about us.
Human as he also was and
is, Christ could also feel exasperated when he was questioned about
something the proof and evidence of which are all over. He performed
miracles, his teaching was very sublime, he showed compassion with
everyone, mercy with sinners.
As St. Thomas Aquinas once
said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one
without faith, no explanation is possible.”
It’s always a question of
faith if we want to know the truth about God, ourselves and
everything else. Without faith, we would just be inventing things.
Even if we what we think and invent can appear convincing, without
faith we will always miss the truth of anything we consider.
Let’s remember that faith
is God, who is truth himself, the creator of everything, the first
and last lawgiver, sharing what he knows with us. It’s a tremendous
gift that would set us on the right path on the many confusing ways
of the world.
We cannot deny that we
often get entangled with our worldly ways. This is the real problem
of inflation that many people today complain about, but limiting it
to its economic terms only. That’s when people complain about high
prices and cost of production, because of some increase of money of
supply that is not properly spread out and shared by the people, or
without the corresponding productivity that money supply is supposed
Inflation in common terms
can be described as that phenomenon where there is a lot of hot air
in some persons or in some situation without the corresponding
substance that such air should come as an effect.
In terms of our spiritual
life and our relation of God, there can also be some kind of
inflation – the real and ultimate inflation, in fact – when
precisely things are done without faith and, thus, we can appear to
be making and producing a lot of things and yet miss the real goal
of our life. Christ articulated this phenomenon when he said: “What
does it a profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his
own soul?” (Mk 8,36)
We should take care of our
faith because that is the first means we have to establish our
relation with God and to truly get in touch with the true reality of
things, not just the reality of our own making.
Faith unites us with God
in whose image and likeness we have been made. It gives us the whole
truth about ourselves, about who we really are. It provides us with
all the means we need to face all the challenges of our life.
It is indispensable in our
life as we go through the drama of our earthly pilgrimage. With it,
we can manage to have hope even in our worst hopeless predicament,
as well as charity especially in those moments when we don’t see or
feel love around and instead hatred prevails.
What faith also does is to
enlighten our mind, enabling us to see and understand things beyond
the simply material, temporal and the natural. It lets us enter into
the spiritual and supernatural world to which we are poised.
attracts more customers
February 6, 2023
THIS is, of course, a
common phenomenon. When we do good, we will attract more customers
and favor-seekers. When we give some favors to some people, there is
always a tendency that more people will come begging for the same
favors. We need to be prepared to complicate our life.
This was classically
illustrated in that gospel episode where Christ went to Gennesaret,
and once the people recognized him, they immediately brought their
sick, begging Christ to heal them. (cfr. Mk 6,53-56) The people must
already have heard of the many miracles Christ performed, and so
they pursued him wherever he went.
It’s always good to do
good as much as we can. We just have to make sure that we also do it
with a certain prudence, otherwise we might be spoiling people and
end ourselves bankrupt, reduced to a miserable state that would need
help from others.
Doing good with prudence
is compatible with giving ourselves to others wholeheartedly. True
prudence does not undermine charity. It would make sure that charity
will go all the way. It helps sustain charity to the end.
We can only persevere in
doing good with prudence when everything that we do in charity is
done always with Christ in mind and in our heart. We should follow
his example. Yes, he was compassionate with everyone, but he also
saw to it that he had time to separate himself from the crowd in
order to pray and to have some intimate time with the apostles and
disciples, teaching them things and clarifying certain issues. He
also refused to stay too long in a place in order to go to other
Let’s make sure that our
prudence is not a mask for getting attached to the things of this
world. Christ wants us to be detached completely from the things of
this world, but such detachment is not so much a matter of how much
we have or do not have in possession as of a spiritual detachment
from the things of this world.
We can be a millionaire or
a billionaire and still be detached from the things of this world.
We should not be afraid to be rich in material things as long as we
are detached from them, showing such detachment by being completely
generous to the needs of the others and in giving glory to God in
This will require a
certain discipline, of course, given the obvious fact that we have
the tendency to get attached to the things of this world. In this
regard, we should clearly etch in our mind and heart the words of
Christ who said that if we want to follow him, we should deny
ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24) These are clear signs
Everyday, let us examine
our conscience to see if our charity which should go all the way is
also done with prudence. It’s a tricky combination to make. Thus, we
truly need to study things well and to pray hard, asking for grace
and light from God so we can be properly guided.
There will always be
difficult decisions to make, but as long as we make those decisions
in God’s presence, everything will always work out for the good,
even if in the short run, some mistakes or miscalculations may be
We should also be ready
for this possibility, and assume the Christian spirit of
sportsmanship, where we can continue to move on, ever hopeful and
cheerful, despite certain mistakes and defeats along the way.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
January 23, 2023
THAT’S true! Love and all
its different manifestations always work for unity among ourselves,
irrespective of our unavoidable differences and conflicts. In fact,
these latter conditions can occasion a greater and purer brand of
At the same time, hatred
and all its cohorts do nothing other than divide us. They inflict
wounds in us – mental, emotional, moral, etc. – with hardly any care
to bind those wounds. In fact, they tend to make those wounds fester
We are reminded of this
fact of life when in the gospel, some scribes, filled with envy,
suspicion and anger against Christ, made that clearly
self-contradicting accusation that “He is possessed by Beelzebul,”
and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” (Mk 3,22)
Of course, Christ was
quick to note the fallacy and clarified the issue by saying, “How
can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself,
that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up
against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of
him.” (Mk 3,23-26)
Clearly, when one does not
believe in God, the very essence of love, and is driven instead by
hatred, his reasoning can go off the rails. Even the simplest of
logic is thrown out. We need to do everything to always strengthen
our belief in God, the very cause, origin and pattern of unity amid
the vast and increasing diversity and variety of elements we can
have in this world.
Nowadays, we are seeing
the intriguing phenomenon of asserting what is right and moral as
wrong and immoral, and vice-versa. What is clearly an expression of
true freedom is now called slavery, and vice-versa. What should
clearly be considered as taboo is now regarded as a human right. The
forms of self-contradictions go on and on.
To correct this situation
or, at least, to deal properly with it, we need to take care and
strengthen our belief and our charity. We cannot take this duty for
granted, especially now when the world is sinking in confusion and
error as it distances itself farther from God.
And since we cannot avoid
having differences and conflicts among ourselves, our attitude
should be that instead of being afraid, irritated and stressed out
by them, let’s be welcoming to them and take advantage of them. A
lot of good can actually be derived from them, even if we are not
exempted from being pained and mortified by them.
Our differences and
conflicts, which by the way are unavoidable in our life, can
actually occasion genuine love and many other virtues to develop and
grow. They can purify us, smoothing out the rough edges of our
personality, and fine-tuning our views, opinions and preferences.
They can give rise to the
development of patience and compassion, and the pursuit for the
truth and justice is guaranteed to be more authentic even if it is
They can actually expand
our world of knowledge and understanding, and trigger the dynamics
of a more meaningful unity among ourselves, not in spite of but
rather because of our differences and conflicts. The unity we are
speaking of here is not uniformity, but one that is richly nuanced
and capable of accommodating everyone.
Love develops in us a
universal heart. Hatred makes us an isolated heart.
What the Sto.
Niño tells us
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
January 14, 2023
ON this Feast of the Sto.
Niño, we are reminded that irrespective of whatever status we have
in this life, it is always necessary that we be like children. Why?
Christ told his disciples
clearly: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not
enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one
child such as this in my name receives me.” (Mt 18,3-5)
Christ reiterated this
necessity of being childlike a number of times during his preaching.
“Let the children come to me. Do not prevent them, for the Kingdom
of God belongs to such as these.” (Mk 10,15) St. James, in his
letter, made the same affirmation. “God opposes the proud but shows
favor to the humble.” (4,6)
We can ask what it is in
children that Christ would want us to be like them? I suppose what
can come to mind are the qualities of simplicity, transparency,
complete trust to elders, etc.
It’s quite clear that we
all need to be childlike even as we grow in age and stature, and
even as we accumulate already quite a significant amount of
knowledge with our exposure to the world and to life in general.
Yes, children and heaven
are almost synonymous to each other. No wonder we feel like we are
in heaven every time we see children around. Every time a baby is
born, we are very happy because we somehow know that he just did not
come out of his mother’s womb, but rather from the very hands of God
who created him before the parents procreated him.
In spite of the many
limitations of children, what makes them always desirable is their
pure, innocent heart, incapable of malice, ambition, pride and
haughtiness. They are a source of many other good things.
Their heart is always
trusting in the Lord, just like a little kid is always confident
with his father. Faith and hope easily grow and acquire strength
when nurtured in a child's heart. It's this attitude that leads them
to go on and move on no matter what, for life to them could only be
an adventure of discoveries.
This feast of the Sto.
Niño also reminds us that we really need to take care of the
children, teaching them the basic virtues that hopefully will branch
out to more virtues until they can have a strong sense of religion.
Let’s remember that as a poet once said, the child is the father of
the man. How the child is trained and raised will determine how he
will be when he grows up.
How important it is
therefore to teach the children the basic virtues and values. The
teaching has to be done patiently and in a most gradual but
persistent way. For this purpose, parents may have to undertake some
study to know how to go about this most delicate duty. But, for
sure, all that effort and sacrifice involved would be all worth it.
Children definitely need
to be constantly accompanied. Especially these days when the
environment can be very confusing, it’s important that children are
closely supervised so that their inherent innocence can be kept even
as they get to know more and more things.
Let’s hope that we manage
to train children to be always God-fearing and loving of everyone
even as they unavoidably face all kinds of trials and challenges as
they go along in life.
The importance of
a healthy family life
December 30, 2022
WITH the Feast of the Holy
Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we are reminded of our duty to
make our family life as healthy as possible. And by healthy, we mean
that we animate our family life with the love that reigned in the
Lest we think that
animating our family life with love is something purely theoretical
if not impracticable, we have to realize that there are specific and
concrete things we can do to make our family life vibrant and
Obviously, a healthy
family life means that time is spent with the family. There have to
be customs and practices where the family can be together. It would
be good if, for example, all the members can take some meals
together, like dinner, after which a little family get-together can
This is important because
that’s the way all the members can truly know each other and monitor
developments as they come. Life offers endless situations,
conditions, challenges, trials, etc. Everyone in the family, but
especially the parents, should help one another go through these
varying circumstances properly.
With time together, they
can see each other’s strengths and weaknesses, peculiarities and
idiosyncrasies, and would be in better position to help in some way
for the proper growth of each one.
One of the things we can
do is first of all to teach everyone as early as possible to be
always thoughtful, mindful and caring of one another in the family.
This will require some training that ideally should start when the
children are still small. Of course, the parents take the primary
role in this regard.
Let’s remember that the
child is the father of the man. How the child is, how he is trained,
will show the kind of man he will be when he grows up. Thus, virtues
should be imparted and learned as early as possible.
Children, for example,
should be taught how to serve the others, how to deal with the
unavoidable differences and conflicts among themselves. They have to
learn how to educate their emotions and effectively blend the
different faculties and powers they have, so they can attain some
degree of inner harmony and move toward human maturity.
Most important, of course,
is to train them to develop a working life of piety. As early as
possible, children should learn how to pray and how to maintain an
intimate relationship with God that is also translated into their
proper relationship with others. Obviously, some practices of piety
have to be inculcated in them in a way that is most attractive and
that befits their conditions.
There has to be a way of
regularly assessing how each one is growing. It should be a way that
is clear about what criteria, standards and norms to use. With the
many confusing things that are at play in the world today, it might
be prudent to seek professional and expert advice in this regard.
What is clear also is that
to make family life healthy, we have to use both human and
supernatural means. Everyone has to be taught to use both reason and
faith, feelings and intelligence, study and work on the one hand,
and prayer, sacrifice, recourse to the sacraments, ascetical
struggle on the other.
The natural and the
supernatural, the material and the spiritual, the temporal and the
eternal have to blended properly!
No mercy for Joma
until every CPP-NPA-NDF member surrenders
A press statement by the
Eastern Visayas Peace Builders’ and Development Federation (EVPBDF)
December 19, 2022
The Eastern Visayas Peace
Builders’ and Development Federation (EVPBDF), a group of former
leaders and members of the CPP-NPA-NDF in Eastern Visayas, feel
pleased but unsatisfied with the death of Jose Maria Sison.
Pleased because he can no
longer advise whenever the communist terrorist group needs crucial
guidance on its ideological, political, and organizational disputes.
With the king of deception to lure patriotic Filipinos to take up
violent armed struggle gone, the CPP-NPA-NDF now is left with two
options -- first, the remaining leaders to advance the ultra-left
tendency and second, to return to the folds of the law. Ultraleft
tendency means more violent means to force the support of the
As former leaders and
members of the CPP-NPA-NDF, our lives were destroyed by the havoc
brought by armed struggle. We are extremely unsatisfied with his
peaceful death because it is not enough for the lives lost and
ruined due to the senseless violence instilled in the minds of
Filipinos. Joma should have rotten in jail and felt the agony of
His death is dishonorable
and should not be used by the communist terrorist group to advance
their ill intention of gathering sympathy from the Filipinos against
the government. If they want to bring Joma’s cadaver back to the
Philippines, the CPP International Department at the very least
should surrender first to our authorities. Upon surrender, they
should call on their remnants here in the country to lay their arms
down. Only then unity toward just and lasting peace will be
Beware of false
prophets and false Christs
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
December 14, 2022
WE are reminded of this
warning in that gospel episode where St. John the Baptist told his
disciples to ask Christ if he truly was the “who is to come, or
should we look for another?” (cfr. Lk 7,19)
And the response of Christ
was classic. “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the
blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the
deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news
proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at
me.” (Lk 7,22-23)
Since we are patterned
after Christ, we should expect that we would somehow share the
prophetic, priestly and kingly powers of Christ. This obviously
would be a work in progress in life, requiring a lifelong process
that would involve a lot of things.
While each one of us can
claim to be “another Christ,” if not “Christ himself,” we should not
forget that we cannot yet be definitively, fully and immutably
“another Christ” for as long as we are still living in this vale of
tears, where we are still being tested.
We may manifest our
identification with Christ to a greater or lesser degree. But we
should avoid claiming to be fully Christ already, since we are still
in some drama where we can expect some measure of success as well as
failure in our effort to be “another Christ.”
We should be wary then
when somebody would already claim that he is Christ himself.
Obviously, we should still love and care for him. He is still a
brother of ours. And if we have a chance to talk to him, we should
try to explain things to him calmly and charitably.
In this, Christ himself
warned us: “There shall arise false Christs and false prophets and
shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were
possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Mt 24,24) In another
instance, he said: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in
sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.” (Mt 7,15)
We have to be wary of
these characters because the world is now awash with false prophets
and false Christs. It even looks like we have an infestation.
Whether we look at the fields of politics, business, the sciences,
sports and entertainment, and yes, even in religion, we can readily
find dishonest and corrupt leaders, false prophets and lying
In this life, we can only
be disciples of Christ struggling, with God’s grace, to be like him.
We may strive as best that we can to identify ourselves with him to
such an extent that we can say “I am like Christ,” but we can never
replace Christ himself. The fullness of our identification of Christ
which we are expected and empowered to be, can only take place with
and in Christ, but never replacing Christ.
As disciples and
ambassadors of Christ, we can only do things always in reference to
Christ and in the name of Christ, and never just on our own. And
like Christ, we do things with humility, patience, charity and
mercy, compatible with being precise in our teaching. We would know
how to blend the exclusivity of truth with the inclusivity of
We would know how to be
both active and contemplative, bold and yet knowing how to pass
unnoticed, teaching the truth always in charity.
The State of
Human Rights in the Country, A State of Brokenness
A press statement of the National
Council of Churches in the Philippines on the International Human
Rights Day 2022
December 10, 2022
“Speak up for those who cannot
speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31:8-9, NIV
For the National Council
of Churches in the Philippines, the state of human rights in our
country is in a state of brokenness. When human rights are denied
and violated, God’s image is also violated in us, as we are created
in God’s image. It is therefore our continuing duty as Christians to
claim, restore and defend whatever rights have been denied and
December 10, 2022, is the
74th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The
Declaration recognizes dignity and rights as inherent and
inalienable to all human beings. The Philippines was among the 48
countries that voted for the Declaration and has its principles
enshrined in our Constitution.
However, the full
enjoyment of human rights by the Filipino people remains elusive.
Prices of food continue to
soar especially on agricultural products that were affected by
various policies on import liberalization including that of the Rice
Tariffication Law. Thus, many families are going hungry each day, as
prices of basic commodities shoot up, and people continue to suffer.
Sadly, the solution of the
government under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is to resort to more
borrowing despite a P12.1 trillion debt that it inherited from the
Duterte administration, and to come up with highly dubious financial
schemes like the much-criticized Maharlika Wealth Fund.
Meanwhile, the climate of
impunity continues to worsen. According to the University of the
Philippines Third World Studies Center, there have been 127 deaths
connected with the war on drugs from July 1 to November 7 this year,
mostly attributed to state security forces.
President Marcos Jr. has
also inherited his predecessor’s machinery against legitimate
dissent like the Anti-Terrorism Law and the Anti-Terrorist Financing
Law. Thus, the constriction of civic and democratic spaces continues
and there are more vicious patterns of attacks against human rights
defenders. According to Karapatan, 937 human rights defenders have
been killed since 2001.
The practice of filing
trumped-up charges against activists, and human rights defenders,
including among church people, continues in many parts of the
country. Rev. Glofie S. Baluntong, of the United Methodist Church
who has been serving our Mangyan sisters and brothers on the island
of Mindoro for many years, has recently been falsely charged with
violation of the Anti-Terrorism Law.
The other church people
who are facing trumped-up charges and are currently detained are
Pastor Jimmy Teves, a lay pastor of UCCP; Rev. Nathaniel “Dodo”
Vallente, of the UCCP, a peasant advocate, and, Aldeem Yanez of the
Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), former NCCP Vice Chairperson
for Youth and a composer of hymns.
The Rural Missionaries of
the Philippines (RMP) and the UCCP Haran and UCCP Fatima in Bohol
are facing cases related to the Anti-Terrorism Financing Act.
Meanwhile, the NTF-ELCAC
continues its red-tagging overdrive of various individuals and
groups including churches and church leaders. They conduct smear
drives and disinformation in online and offline spaces. The military
also “visits” communities and parishes only to sow fear in the
people, branding activists, church leaders, and organizations as
supporters or members of communist terrorist groups. Recent subjects
of their attacks include the UCCP, and Bishop Emelyn Dacuycuy of the
IFI Diocese of Batac, Ilocos Norte.
Rev. Edwin Egar, UCCP
pastor, and Karapatan Southern Tagalog Interim Officer was visited
by elements of the 59th Infantry Battalion of the AFP. He was asked
to surrender and was also told that he was a target of a search
warrant. He and his wife, Rev. Julieta Egar, and former barangay
captain Ronald Ramos, a UCCP member, filed for a writ of amparo
against several ranking military officials.
We thus call on the
government of President Marcos, Jr. to follow all international
human rights standards and to heed the various recommendations made
by member states during the 4th cycle of the Universal Periodic
Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Councils. Especially
recommendations calling for a stop to red-tagging, a review of the
Anti-Terrorism Law, and even the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC.
As bearers of Christ's
love and righteousness, we fervently call on the churches for
continued prayer and action in championing and defending human
rights, especially of those who are poor and oppressed and to be
united in restoring wholeness and the image of God in all of us.
December 10, 2022
Rev. Felipe B. Ehican, Jr.
Rt. Rev. Joel O. Porlares
Dr. Gay B. Manodon
Ma. Kay Catherine F.
Ms. Minnie Ann Mata-Calub
Acting General Secretary
heaven by doing good on earth
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
November 16, 2022
THAT parable Christ told
his disciples about a certain nobleman who was in a journey to
obtain a kingship somewhere and leaving his servants with certain
amounts for them to do business with (cfr. Lk 19,11-28), gives us
the precious lesson that the way to heaven is through the path of
generosity and fruitfulness in our earthly affairs.
The parable was occasioned
when the people thought that with Christ speaking to them, the
Kingdom of God would appear there immediately. It was meant to tell
them that the way to heaven was to take care of their earthly and
It was meant to tell us
that our earthly affairs are actually designed by God to bring us
back to him, and it would be up to us to follow that design or not.
Of course, knowing how we are, there is always the tendency to
follow simply our own designs rather than God’s. And that’s
something we have to be wary of and to correct.
We should be very clear
about this basic truth about the world in general or about the whole
of nature that has been created by God. We need to realize that as
God’s creation, the whole world of nature has been imprinted with
God’s laws that are meant to give glory to God and to lead us also
to him, giving him glory as well. In other words, depending on how
we see the world, it is actually a pathway to heaven, to God.
Everything that we
discover and make use of in the world should lead us to ask
ourselves whether what we are discovering are truly in accordance to
God’s will, to his true designs of the world, and whether we can
discern how they can be used to give glory to God, which is a matter
of loving him and serving the whole of humanity.
We have to be wary of the
danger of discovering and using things simply in accordance to our
own understanding of them and also to our own interest only. This is
a common and abiding danger that we have to be most wary about. We
have to do everything to avoid and overcome that danger.
Thus, we have to develop
that strong and deep attitude of always referring things to God
before we put our hands on them. That way, we would be putting
ourselves on the right track that hopefully will lead us to God and
to see and use things the way they should be seen and used.
This attitude, of course,
would require of us to be guided always by our Christian faith,
instead of just being guided by our human estimation of things. And
for that faith to be effective in us, we obviously need to be
humble. Without humility, there is no way faith can have any effect
Everyday, we should be
keenly aware that we need to be fruitful and productive. That’s
simply because even from the beginning of our creation in Adam and
Even, this has always been God’s will for us.
We should be looking for
God always in everything that we get involved in. In all the things
that we do or handle, we should be conscious that all those things
are for God, rather than being interested only on what are there in
those things that are for us.
Let’s always remember what
Christ himself said: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his
righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mt 6,33)
Tall tales on
human rights situation expected from PH gov’t on 4th UPR
A press statement by
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights on the 4th
cycle of the Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights
November 14, 2022
There is nothing new with
the Philippine government’s report on the human rights situation in
the Philippines, when it is subjected to the 4th cycle of the
Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council.
We expect the tall tales
and big words – “transformational reform,” “real justice in real
time” – which are empty rhetoric. The same words were used during
diplomatic briefings, statements, and reports to the UN Human Rights
But facts, experiences and
implementation of policies on the ground reveal the realities.
According to the UP Third
World Studies Center, from July 1, 2022 to November 7, 2022, 127
individuals died in Marcos Jr.’s drug war. Majority of them were
killed by state agents, despite the Philippine National Police’s
claims of “bloodless” anti-narcotics operations under the Marcos Jr.
There is almost no
successful prosecution and zero final convictions of perpetrators in
the sham drug war of former President Rodrigo Duterte. The drug war
review panel has been reporting investigations on a number of cases
– but then again, investigations on extrajudicial killings incidents
since 2016 can barely be considered as “real justice in real time.”
Karapatan agrees with
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan, in his
statements in September 2022, that the Philippine government has not
demonstrated that it has conducted or is conducting national
investigations on the thousands of cases of extrajudicial killings
in the drug war that mirror the probe previously authorized by the
ICC’s pre-trial chamber. And hence, the ICC chamber should commence
investigations, despite the Philippine government’s refusal to be
subjected to such.
Karapatan documented 442
civilians, mostly peasants, indigenous and Moro peoples killed
during the Duterte administration’s counterinsurgency campaign. At
least 222 of them are human rights defenders. Ten civilians have
been reportedly killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines during the first three months of the Marcos Jr.
administration, while four defenders have been forcibly disappeared.
According to a report in
June 2020, the Task Force on Administrative Order 35 mechanism,
which has been mandated to solve cases of political violence in the
form of extra-legal killings (EJKs), enforced disappearances (ED),
torture and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty and
security of persons, handled 385 cases since 2001, with 270 cases of
extrajudicial killings, 28 cases of enforced disappearance, 7 cases
on international humanitarian law, and 80 cases of torture. During
the said period, Karapatan has documented 1,953 extrajudicial
killings, 252 enforced disappearances, and 1,570 victims of torture.
In the TF’s ten years, it
has attained convictions in only 13 cases, that is about only 3% of
the 385 cases. It was also cited that in at least 127 cases,
perpetrators have been cleared through acquittals and dismissals in
court, or through dismissals by the Ombudsman, or through dismissals
or provisional dismissals by the prosecution. This number comprises
33% of the 385 cases being handled by the AO35 IAC, while the rest
continue to be under investigation.
Injustice and the climate
of impunity clearly prevail, and the Marcos Jr. administration
perpetuates it by continuing Duterte’s draconian policies. There
have been no reversals of police memoranda on the drug war, nor is
the administration backing down on the existence and operations of
the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
To date, there are 842
political prisoners in the Philippines, with 15 of them arrested and
detained under the current administration. The government continues
the practice of filing trumped up charges against political
dissidents through spurious search warrants, planted evidence,
perjured testimonies and inaccessibility of due process, and thereby
putting more human rights defenders in jail.
Red- and terror-tagging,
along with the use of terror laws, have become the default responses
of the government against any form of dissent and criticism. Freedom
of expression and press freedom remain in peril, with journalists
among those killed in the first months of the Marcos Jr.
administration. There is gross disregard of international
humanitarian law as bombings, forcible evacuation and forced or
coerced surrenders of poor civilian communities continue.
All these occur amid an
intensifying economic crisis and the pandemic affecting the poorest
of the poor, with high inflation rates, unemployment and
underemployment rates, dirt-poor wages and decreased public funding
for social services.
The Marcos Jr.
administration cannot hide behind empty platitudes, nor can it be
window-dressed by a Joint Program with the UN. It cannot sugar-coat
the dire lack of effective domestic mechanisms for redress, nor can
it spin tales using a religious fundamentalist network, trolls, and
disinformation machines. The bare, glaring realities are there.
In this 4th cycle of the
UPR on the Philippines, we expect various States to once again call
for an end to the killings and all human rights violations. We
expect stronger demands for justice and accountability. We expect
stronger advocacy for the issuance of standing invitations to UN
Special Procedures. We call on the UN Human Rights Council to walk
the talk in their recommendations in the UPR, and finally pave the
way for the long overdue independent investigation on the Philippine
human rights situation.
November 6, 2022
THAT gospel episode where
Christ was asked about marriage and divorce (cfr. Lk 20,27-38) gives
us an occasion to clarify the true nature and purpose of both human
sexuality and marriage. It’s a clarification that, I believe, is
most urgent these days, considering the widespread ignorance,
confusion and error these aspects of our human life now suffer.
Our main problem with
respect to our understanding and attitude toward human sexuality is
that this has been reduced to a purely biological and human aspect
of hormones, passions, urges, instincts, sensual stimuli and genital
activity, and a naturalistic sense of decency and nothing more.
This is giving it an
incomplete, inadequate if not distorted and dangerous treatment. We
need to bring it to the terra firma of its true nature and
character, its authentic beginning, purpose and end, away from the
swamps and marshes of the sensually, if not genitally, dominated
Sexuality is reduced to
sex. Worse, sex is made the end-all of our sexuality. All other
considerations are made secondary, and even ignored, ridiculed and
finally rejected. Thus, there is that growing, headlong drift toward
an erotic and pornographic culture, at first hidden and later open.
Because of this
phenomenon, sexuality is not anymore inspired by reason, let alone,
by faith and love. Instead, the savagery of the passions and urges
is given free rein, with the matching fruits of all kinds of
anomalies and perversions.
Many people are abandoning
even the basic natural idea of masculinity and femininity. That our
sexuality is first of all a gift from God, meant to enable men and
women to complement each other not only for human development but
ultimately for the final communion among ourselves and with God, is
As to marriage, there is
no doubt that we need to revisit its true nature and purpose, since
this basic human and Christian institution is now besieged with so
many misconceptions and malpractices.
There is a need to realize
and appreciate more deeply that marriage, not only as a natural
institution but also and especially as a sacrament, is a path to
sanctity not only for the husband and wife but also for the family,
and from the family, for the society and the Church in general.
We need to see the organic
link among these key elements: the marriage between man and woman,
and the family they generate, as well as the society of which the
family is the basic cell and the universal Church of which the
family is considered the domestic church.
Seeing that link, we would
appreciate the strategic role that marriage plays in the life of men
and women in the world. We would appreciate the tremendous potential
good that marriage can give to all of us.
That is why everything has
to be done to make marriage achieve its fullest dignity. And that
means that we have to purify and elevate the love that is the very
germ of marriage to the supernatural order.
That love has to develop
from simply being natural and body-emotion-world reliant to being
more and more spiritual and supernatural, driven by grace rather
than by merely natural forces.
With the sacrament of
marriage, the love between husband and wife is already guaranteed to
have all the graces needed to make that marriage reach its fullness.
What is needed is the faithful and generous correspondence of the
parties concerned to those graces.
The art of holy
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
October 9, 2022
YES, there is such thing
as the art of holy insistence. This was shown, for example, in that
story Christ told his disciples about someone who went to his
friend-store-owner in the middle of the night asking for bread
because a friend of his just arrived and was hungry. He was refused
at first by the store-owner, but due to his insistence, he was given
what he asked for. (cfr. Lk 11,5-13)
The lesson Christ wanted
to impart to his disciples in this particular gospel is encapsulated
in these words of his: “And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and
to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
And the reason why such
insistence is recommended is because God is always a father who can
never be indifferent to the needs of men. He may ask us for some
requirements or choose to test us for a time, but he in the end will
always give what is best for us. This point was articulated by
Christ in a most dramatic way when he said:
“What father among you
would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a
scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know
how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the
Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
This truth of our faith is
also highlighted in that gospel episode about a Canaanite woman who
begged Christ to drive the demon that vexed her daughter. (cfr. Mt
15,21-18) Christ at first did not respond favorably. He even sounded
harsh on her. But due to the faith-driven insistence of the woman,
Christ finally gave in.
We should just be
insistent in our petitions to God. No matter how hard or even
impossible our requests would seem, we should not hesitate to go to
God to present such petition. God will always listen and answers us
in the way that is best for us, which may not be the one we like or
We should never think that
we are bothering God by asking for some favors. Our prayers will
never go unnoticed with God who is all generous with us. In fact, he
will give us much more than what we may be asking for.
So, let’s just be
insistent and persevering in our prayer. Besides, doing so will
eventually give us new lights, insights and impulses that will leave
us amazed at the goodness and kindness of God, his mercy and
all-embracing love. It will rekindle or at least fan into a flame
our dying fire of love for God and for others.
When we persevere in
meditating on the words of God found in the gospel, for example, we
would be astonished at how old familiar passages and ideas acquire
new meaning and open to us practically a whole new world of insights
that can inspire us to action and different initiatives.
And if God seems to ignore
us, we have to realize that he is simply testing us for a number of
reasons – to strengthen our faith, to purify our intentions, to grow
in the other virtues, etc.
belief in angels
September 27, 2022
WE might wonder why on the
Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, celebrated on
September 29, the gospel reading used is about the vocation of
Nathanael as one of Christ’s apostles. (cfr. Jn 1,47-51)
As that gospel narrates,
Nathanael who was praised by Christ as a man with no guile since he
said that famous line, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
referring to Christ, finally came to believe in Christ when Christ
told him that Christ saw him under the fig tree. That was when
Nathanael recognized Christ as the “Son of God, the King of Israel.”
The only reference to
angels in that gospel episode was when Christ said, “Amen, amen, I
say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man,” addressing these words
to the bewildered Nathanael.
So, the thought can come
to us that the reason Nathanael came to recognize Christ was because
he must have seen some extraordinary things while he was under the
fig tree. And the possibility of angels ministering to the Son of
God who is also the Son of Man must have taken place there.
Whatever may be the case,
we cannot deny that there must be some relation between being
transparent and simple like Nathanael, even to the point of being
childishly impertinent, and the capacity or the privilege to see
some extraordinary events.
It’s always worthwhile to
remain simple and humble like children because, as Christ himself
said, the things of God are hidden from the wise the learned and are
revealed instead to the little children. (cfr. Mt 11,25)
In any event, it is also
important that our belief in angels and archangels grows strong and
abiding. In fact, we have to popularize their devotion. The
archangels, for example, are great allies that we can count on
especially during our difficult moments. They are so close and so
identified with God that we can refer to them as God’s organic or
vital extensions of his own self, if we may describe them that.
Remember what Christ said
about angels in general? It was when he talked about the angels of
little children whom the disciples wanted to shoo away from Christ
for being a disturbance. “See that you do not despise one of these
little ones,” he said. “For I tell you that their angels in heaven
always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Mt 18,10)
Angels, to be sure, are
real beings. They are not fictional, figments of our imagination,
projections of what we like to have. They are pure spirits who have
entirely identified themselves with God. They are not God
themselves, but creatures of God who upon their creation have chosen
to be with God for all eternity.
And among them are the
archangels. They are especially chosen by God to undertake some
special tasks. They help us in our constant struggle against
temptations and sin, in receiving some special messages from God and
in healing some difficult sicknesses.
It’s important that we be
aware of the existence of these very powerful archangels who, for
sure, would be most willing and most happy to help us in their own
way. We just have to enliven our faith in them and develop the
International Day of Peace in the context of the 50th year of
A statement by the
Citizens Alliance for Just Peace on the 50th year of Martial Law
September 21, 2022
Today, September 21, 2022,
the world will observe the annual International Day of Peace.
Forty-one years ago, in 1981, the United Nations issued the
“declaration on the right to peace” which affirmed peace as a sacred
right of all people and a primary prerequisite for the material
wellbeing, development and the progress of countries. The UN also
emphasized that the preservation of the right of peoples to peace
and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental
obligation of each state.
While this year’s theme,
“End racism. Build peace.” is not directly related to the internal
armed conflict in our country, the United Nations´ message of ending
discrimination and intolerance resonates in our context in terms of
the rampant red-tagging and vilification often directed towards
critics of the immediate past administration and even under the
current dispensation. Many government officials especially those
involved in the National Task Force To End Local Communist Armed
Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) have resorted to demonizing human rights and
peace advocates as “communist terrorists” instead of nurturing a
culture of dialogue and principled negotiations.
In the Philippines,
September 21, 2022 is also the 50th anniversary of the imposition of
Martial Law by the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. In those
dark years, many fell victim to human rights violations. Many others
also died defending our democratic rights. Marcos Sr. imposed
Martial Law to “nip the communist insurgency in the bud,” however,
it only fanned the flames of the armed conflict between the
government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s
Now, 50 years later, and
after succeeding administrations intensified their respective
counter-insurgency programs aimed at defeating the communist
rebellion, the armed conflict has continued to rage particularly in
the countryside causing internal displacement in the most vulnerable
communities. This long-running conflict only mirrors how deeply
embedded are its roots in social and structural injustice.
This is compounded by the
Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA), with its vague and broad
definition of terrorism. Red-baiting is now paired with terrorist-labelling.
The draconian law grants police and military personnel the power to
detain suspects “for investigation” without a warrant or charge up
to 24 days. Moreover, the ATA virtually negates the accountability
of law enforcement agents for violating the rights of suspects.
The NTF-ELCAC and the ATA
have brought about stepped-up political repression against the
political opposition, trade unionists, community organizers,
journalists, artists and writers, peace and human rights advocates
and ordinary people. This includes red-tagging of social activists
including church people and churches; attacks on indigenous
communities and their schools; and harassment of humanitarian aid
groups and their workers. Sadly, the wielding of both the NTF-ELCAC
and the ATA continue under the administration of President Ferdinand
Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte.
It was thus a breath of
fresh air when Sen. Loren Legarda called for the resumption of the
GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and a review of the ATA at the Senate
floor. Her speech is a call for sobriety, unity and openness amidst
an atmosphere of hatred and war that is being pushed by war mongers
even among her colleagues.
Let us mark the
International Day of Peace and the 50th year of Martial Law on
September 21 with the call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace
talks. Peace is a continuing aspiration of our people. Calling for
the ways of peace through principled negotiations is to reject a
militarist solution, of martial rule in any guise.
Thus, the Citizens
Alliance for Just Peace, the biggest network of peace advocates in
the country, enjoins the public in this historic occasion by calling
on the GRP and NDFP to return to the negotiating table and together
put an end to the increasing human rights violations and the loss of
lives as a result of this conflict and arrive at a just and enduring
peace in the country.
Issued and signed on this
day, 21 September 2022.
Archbishop Emeritus Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D.
Revd. Rex B. Reyes, Jr.
Convenor, Pilgrims for Peace
Ms. Karen Tanada
Convenor, Waging Peace
Mike Pante, Ph.D.
Act for Peace
needed to pray
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
August 2, 2022
“JESUS made the disciples
get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, while
he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain
by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.” (Mt
As can be clearly seen in
this gospel passage, even Christ had need to pray. As God, we can
say that he had no need to pray. As man, of course, he had to. But
Christ is one divine person. When he prayed, we have to understand
that he prayed both as God and man.
This consideration can
only mean that prayer is an essential and indispensable element in
God and man who has been created in God’s image and likeness. We
need to realize that prayer is an essential and indispensable
element in our life. Without prayer, we would actually violate our
We need to understand that
we need prayer more than we need air or water or food. Prayer is
what connects us and likens us to God. Prayer is what makes our life
a life with God as it should be. We should, therefore, cultivate a
life of prayer, making prayer like an instinct, such that whatever
we are doing, whatever situation we may be in, we should be praying.
To be sure, prayer can be
done anytime, anywhere. Praying is not simply a matter of reciting
some vocal prayers or participating in liturgical prayers. It is not
only a matter of meditating on some truths of our faith. All of
these are very important, of course, and highly recommended. They
are the basics to learn if we wish to develop a working life of
The ultimate prayer is
when our very consciousness always has God in Christ through the
Holy Spirit as its core. This may be described as contemplative
prayer which will have its definitive state in heaven when we see
God face to face and when our identification with him becomes
perfect. This is when we will have the beatific vision.
We have to understand that
it’s when we pray, that is, when we truly pray and not just going
through the motions of praying, that we would be engaging ourselves
with the most important person in our life, God himself. He is
absolutely our everything, without whom nothing and no one has any
It’s when we pray that we
manage to relate who we are, what we have, what we do, etc. to our
ultimate end which, to be sure, is not something only natural but is
also supernatural. Nothing therefore can rival the importance of
prayer. In other words, prayer is irreplaceable, unsubstitutable,
indispensable. It’s never optional, though it has to be done freely
if we want our prayer to be real prayer.
The absolutely important
thing that makes prayer real prayer is when we manage to give all
our mind and heart to God in whatever thing we do or in whatever
situation we may find ourselves in. That’s why St. Paul once said,
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5,17) That’s simply because our
whole life has to be a prayer, since it is meant to be in constant
and intimate relationship with God.
So, even our work and all
our earthly concerns can be made into prayer as long as we have the
proper motive and frame of mind.
solidarity groups denounce Myanmar junta’s execution of four
Statement by the Burma
Solidarity Philippines (BSP) on military junta’s execution of
activists in Myanmar
July 29, 2022
We, members of various
civil society and solidarity organizations belonging to the Burma
Solidarity Philippines (BSP) coalition, today join the world and the
international community in strongly condemning the illegitimate
military rulers of Myanmar for its ‘barbaric’ execution of four
pro-democracy activists and extend our deepest condolences to their
families and heartfelt solidarity to the peoples of Burma/Myanmar in
their continuing quest for genuine democracy, peace, and social
community, particularly the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN), must hold the junta accountable for its casual disregard
for human life and for its continuing violation of human rights as
part of its crackdown on dissent after illegally seizing state power
from the democratically elected civilian government in February
Among the four who were
sentenced to death after series of secretive military trials were
democracy campaigner Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Jimmy, and former
lawmaker and hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, an ally of ousted leader
Aung San Suu Kyi, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. All 4 were
accused by the junta of aiding ‘terror acts’ which reportedly
stemmed from helping the protest movement sparked by last year's
military coup and bloody crackdown on nationwide protests.
Solidarity movements like
the Burma Solidarity Philippines (BSP), have been calling out the
ASEAN to swiftly act to de-escalate the political crisis which has
now become a full-blown human rights crisis, and ‘to save the
peoples of Myanmar’ from the onslaught of its errant member Myanmar
under its coup rulers.
The military junta in June
announced that it will resume executing prisoners with 113 more who
have been sentenced to death, although 41 of those were convicted in
absentia, according to the Assistance Association for Political
Prisoners (AAPP), a non-governmental organization that tracks
killing and arrests of activists in Myanmar. At the same time, 2,120
civilians have been killed by security forces since the military
takeover according to AAPP.
The execution of the 4
martyr-activists in Myanmar is a clear indication that the military
rulers of Myanmar have zero intent to heed international appeals to
even try to implement the five-point consensus it has committed to
achieve with the ASEAN last year calling for dialogue among all
concerned parties, provision of humanitarian assistance, an
immediate cessation of violence and a visit by a special envoy to
meet all parties.
The execution is just
another proof of the junta’s absolute savagery in ruling the country
and the people through lies, impunity and massive human rights
violations. The international community, including the ASEAN, must
instead ensure that the junta will not be accorded any semblance of
Certainly, the execution
of activists is a death sentence to democracy in Myanmar and may
derail any attempts to peacefully resolve the crisis but we hope
that this would serve as an eye-opener for those who have been
treating the junta with kid gloves. Another dialogue initiative,
without a clear framework for exacting accountability from the
military rulers will only mean condoning and becoming complicit of
the junta’s murderous actions.
We call on the ASEAN and
the international community to help in amplifying the demands of the
peoples of Myanmar for the immediate return to democracy,
investigation of crimes against humanity, release of all political
prisoners and those who were tortured and illegally detained, and
protection to human rights by applying more pressure to the junta.
Today, the Burma
Solidarity Philippines stands united with the peoples of
The cost in
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
July 27, 2022
CHRIST said it clearly. To
pursue the kingdom of God, we should be willing to rid ourselves of
things that can cause us some drag in that effort, or to sell off
what we have at the moment to get the real thing.
Thus, he said: “The
Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a
person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that
he has and buys that field.” Reiterating the same idea, he continued
to say, “Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching
for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and
sells all that he has and buys it.” (Mt 13,44-46)
There will always be some
sacrifice involved in pursuing our ultimate goal which is to be with
God, our Creator, in whose image and likeness we have been created,
and in whose life we are meant to share. In this regard, let’s try
to be generous, not sparing in our effort. It’s all worth it!
We have to be wary of our
tendency to get attached and trapped in the things of this world at
the expense of our real treasure. We have to remember that it is
actually the best deal we can have to “sell off” what we have in
this world to be able to get the real thing.
Some words of Christ can
be relevant in this regard. He said: “Everyone who has left houses
or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or
fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will
inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19,29)
All these Christ-dictated
indications do not mean that we have to hate the things of this
world. The things of this world are also God’s creation and
therefore are good. God created them in such a way that they become
pathways for us to go to God. They too deserve to be loved in a
certain way. They are means to get to God, and not the end itself.
Thus, we should be careful not to get entangled with them.
How important therefore
that we realize that our first priority should be God and our
relationship with him which should be sustained with the constant
effort to know, love and serve him! We should be ready to throw away
everything else that can stand in the way.
We have to make some
adjustments in the way we order our objective needs. We have to
distinguish them from our subjective likes and desires that can only
be the product of some personal or social preferences. In this we
have to employ the appropriate means, the relevant programs and
operations. We should be demanding on ourselves insofar as this
matter is concerned.
We have to do some drastic
effort here because we cannot deny that nowadays, there are just too
many things that can seduce us and take us away from God.
We need God first of all,
and, in fact, all the time. He is our most important objective need,
much more and infinitely more than we need air, food, rest,
pleasures, etc. For without God, we are nothing. But with him, we
can have everything. That is why, St. Teresa Avila boldly said: “He
who has God lacks nothing. God alone is sufficient.”
Act of Terror and Brutality
execute four pro-democracy activists
A press statement by the
Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
July 25, 2022
The Asia Democracy Network
and its members all over Asia condemns the execution by the Myanmar
Junta of four Myanmar activists. The four activists – former NLD
lawmaker and hiphop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, democracy campaigner Kyaw
Min Yu also known as "Ko Jimmy ", activists Hla Myo Aung and Aung
Thura Zaw – were executed by the Myanmar Junta for their roles in
the anti-coup protests, an act which the Junta deemed as "terror
acts". All four were sentenced to death by hanging in closed-door
and largely unfair trials held sometime January to April this year,
with their exact date of execution kept secret.
Such brutality is an
escalation of the Tatmadaw's reign of brutality in Myanmar,
something which has already claimed the lives of more than 2,100
since the coup started, according to Assistance Association of
Political Prisoners (AAPP). We ask the international community to be
more resolute in their actions regarding the situation of democracy
in Myanmar. This hesitance to act only provides the Military Junta
to claim more lives and enact more suffering to the people of
Myanmar whose freedoms continue to be held captive. We send our
condolences to the family of the four victims, and we pledge our
resolute effort and solidarity with pro-democracy forces in Myanmar
who continue to work to attain freedom from the Tatmadaw's