and going back to the basics
JAIME ARISTOTLE B. ALIP,
December 20, 2021
The sun always comes out
after a storm. The adage is true, as slowly, the country is moving
from a pandemic to an endemic mindset. All regions are now
classified as minimal to low-risk from COVID-19, and over 40 million
Filipinos (almost 40% of the population) have been fully vaccinated.
Herd immunity is becoming a reality, as the Government eyes a second
mass vaccination drive to raise the number of fully inoculated to 54
million before the year ends.
Truly, we have a lot of things to be grateful for as the Christmas
season approaches. Public transport capacity has expanded, the
economy is reopening, and quarantine requirements had been relaxed.
Already, economists and multilateral agencies have raised the
Philippine growth forecast for this year and 2022.
COVID is still around, yes, but we are learning to live with it. As
a social development practitioner and financial inclusion advocate,
I propose going back to the basics to sustain these gains. Finally,
we are on our way to rebounding from the deep economic contraction
in 2020. The challenge for us is to push the momentum towards full
economic recovery and social renewal.
Microfinance and Financial Inclusion
Going back to the basics means revisiting our roots. Nowadays, the
term “microfinance” is almost passé, having been swallowed by the
broader phrase “financial inclusion.” But microfinance practitioners
should rally behind the fact that microfinance is the heart and soul
of financial inclusion, since the industry pioneered the
transformative vision of making financial services accessible to
poor people. Much remains to be done to reach the unserved and
underserved. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the situation,
with more people becoming poor, and the poor becoming even poorer.
While digital transformation among microfinance providers -- as well
as the rise of fintechs -- have improved access to financial
services, the digital divide remains a challenge among the poor
Why is there a need to focus on microfinance? From a developmental
perspective, any improvement in capital markets reaching the margins
is a good thing. A lot of research has examined the positive impact
of microfinance on peoples’ lives and its positive benefits to the
country’s economy. At first glance, microfinance seems
counter-intuitive given its goal of facilitating poor people’s
access to much-needed financial services and integrating them in the
formal financial system. In a manner of speaking, the goal is to
‘graduate’ them from microfinance, and therein lies the rub.
Microfinance has a long way to go. Because the problem of the poor
is more than just access to financial services. Poverty eradication
advocates and microfinance advocates understand this. Giving
financial aid is crucial, but beyond that, the poor needs financial
literacy, capacity-building, marketing support, and a gamut of
services that will allow them to be productive members and
change-agents in their communities.
And how does microfinance relate to financial inclusion?
Microfinance -- the extension of financial and other support
services to low income groups -- is a very important economic
conduit designed to facilitate their inclusion in the formal
financial system and assist the poor to work their way out of
poverty. Financial inclusion aims to give everyone access to banking
and other useful financial tools, while microfinance seeks to ensure
that the use of those tools leads to positive benefits for the poor.
Simply put, microfinance aims to address more than the problem of
access; its ultimate goal is to give impoverished people an
opportunity to become self-sufficient. And that is why microfinance
is more important than ever.
Rural Development and Agricultural Financing
We also need to revisit the crucial role of microfinance in the
rural development process. Agriculture remains the backbone of the
Philippine economy, and 75% of poor Filipinos live in rural and
agricultural areas. The way is clear, as we should go where we are
needed – that is, towards providing financial support to help
farmers, agricultural workers and agri-preneurs. Agricultural
financing will help us make a dent in the country’s poverty
situation while also contributing to our food security. The latter
is especially important, as the COVID pandemic has disrupted the
food supply chain, which is everybody’s concern.
The Philippine Statistics Authority has reported that the
Philippines’ value of production in agriculture fell by 2.6% in the
third quarter of 2021. The drop was attributed to the decline in
production of crops, livestock and fisheries during the quarter. The
provision by the government of agricultural credit, the opening of
the economy and the relaxation of rules on travel and community
quarantine have given breathing space to farmers and fishers, but a
lot remains to be done to help them recoup their losses from this
year’s typhoons and the pandemic.
To respond to this need and also given its background, the Center
for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually-Reinforcing
Institutions (CARD MRI) has always prioritized support for
agricultural and agribusiness endeavors. Its approach is holistic.
CARD MRI provides microcredit, microinsurance, capacity-building,
and market support to farming families, giving priority to poor
women in rural areas. Its agri-loan program finances agricultural
production and related activities, e.g., acquisition of farm
equipment, poultry and livestock, fishery products, crops, fruits
and vegetables production, seedlings and ornamental plants
production. In addition, the CARD Crop Assistance Program (CCAP)
assists clients whose agricultural business has been damaged by
natural calamities. It also implements a credit-with-education
program as part of its agri-loan product, and links clients to
individual and institutional buyers. Its business development
services include trade fairs for agri-preneurs and facilitation of
their clients’ partnership with industrial buyers. CARD MRI has a
long-standing partnership with the LBP, IFC, BPI, BDO, PNB, and
other commercial banks for the provision of microcredit to poor
people in rural areas.
Why Advocacy is Crucial
Be that as it may, and despite its outreach of 7.8 million clients
nationwide, CARD MRI is just one industry player in an ever-growing
sea of low-income agricultural families needing support.
Thus, we need to intensify our advocacy and place microfinance,
financial inclusion, and yes, agriculture, at the forefront of
policy debates as the country braces for the 2022 election. A
vibrant agricultural sector is the key to faster economic recovery,
and our next batch of leaders should be made cognizant of this, as
well as the crucial role that the microfinance industry plays in the
country’s development and in combating poverty.
Microfinance is important because we need more than just
institutions providing financial aid to the needy; we need a
transformative relationship that goes beyond access to banks or
credit provision. The government must ensure that those who are
marginalized even by the digital revolution are served. And we need
to stay the course, because when there are a lot of challenges, the
only way to go is forward.
We are now on the right track to economic recovery. Even with the
threat of new COVID variants emerging, the Philippines -- like the
rest of the world -- can move forward. We can do this if we will
just go back to the basics, and not lose sight of our poor brethren.
What really is
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
November 25, 2021
“HEAVEN and earth will
pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Lk 21,33)
With these words of
Christ, we should feel the need to know what exactly is God’s word.
Why will it not pass away?
The simple answer is that
God’s word is not just an idea, a doctrine, an ideology. It’s not
just a strategy, a culture or a lifestyle. Of course, God’s word
involves all these, but unless we understand God’s word as Christ
himself, the God who became man to reveal to us all that we need to
know, all that we need to do to be God’s image and likeness as God
wants us to be, we will miss the real essence and character of God’s
We have to realize that
the word of God cannot be separated from God himself. That’s because
God is so perfect as to be in absolute simplicity. As such, God has
no parts, no aspects, no quality or property that are distinct from
his very being. His word and his being are just one. There is no
distinction at all in him.
Of course, from our point
of view, we cannot help but to describe God according to our own
terms and ways that cannot help but make distinctions between the
essence of a being and its properties and qualities. But in himself,
God does not have distinction between his essence and the properties
that we attribute to him.
Of course, this is a
mystery, a supernatural truth that our reason cannot fully fathom.
That is why we need to have a strong faith to be able to accept this
truth. And once we accept by faith the absolute unity between God
and his word, then we will realize that reading and meditating on
the gospel is actually having a living encounter with God through
Thus, St. Jerome, a father
of the Church, once said that to read the Scripture is to converse
with God—“If you pray, you speak with the Spouse. If you read, it is
he who speaks to you,” he said.
Only when we realize that
God’s word is Christ himself and that reading it is like having an
encounter with Christ can God’s word truly be as the Letter to the
Hebrews described it: “Alive and active. Sharper than any
double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the
Of course, we have to be
that good, rich soil referred to in that parable for God’s word to
take root in us and be fruitful. Otherwise, no matter how powerfully
effective God’s word is, if the reader of that word does not have
the right condition, that word would have no effect. It would fail
to produce fruit, “thirty, sixty and even a hundredfold,” as Christ
That means that we should
handle the word of God with great faith and piety. We should not
just treat it as some literary or historical or cultural reading. We
have to realize that we are listening to Christ and that what we
hear from him should be taken very seriously.
That means that we have to
involve our whole being when reading God’s word. It should not just
be an intellectual affair, though we have to make full use of our
intelligence and all our other faculties when reading and meditating
An urgent call
for the full transparency on the sale of the Malampaya natural gas
A press statement by the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
November 24, 2021
The Malampaya Deepwater
Gas-to-Power Project under Petroleum Service Contract (“SC”) No. 38
is a vital resource in the country’s energy mix. The project employs
deepwater technology to draw natural gas that fuels three gas-fired
power plants and provides 30% of Luzon's power generation
requirements. Data from the Department of Energy (“DOE”) indicate
that given the present production level and continuous decrease in
reservoir pressure, the drop in supply is expected by 2022. SC 38
will expire in 2024 with no certainty of an extension. Only through
further exploration will the extent of Malampaya’s life is
It is thus with deep apprehension and concern that the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines view the latest developments surrounding the
ongoing divestment being done by two parties, Chevron Malampaya LLC
(“Chevron”) and Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (“SPEX”), the
operator, under the Joint Operating Agreement (“JOA”) of SC 38.
There have been numerous allegations against the assignment of
Chevron’s 45% interest to a subsidiary of Udenna Corp. and the
ongoing divestment of SPEX’s 45% in favor of another Udenna
subsidiary. The assignment of interests, which will ultimately
enable Udenna to takeover the Malampaya facility is allegedly
detrimental to national security and interest. Regarding the
transfer of Chevron’s 45% interest to Udenna’s subsidiary, UC
Malampaya, a criminal complaint was filed with the Ombudsman on 18
October 2021 against officials of the DOE, Udenna, Chevron, SPEX,
and the state-owned Philippine National Oil Corporation (“PNOC”) and
its subsidiary PNOC-Exploration Corporation, alleging among others:
• Udenna’s subsidiary is financially and technically unqualified to
be the as- signee of the interest;
• The DOE and PNOC grossly and inexcusably neglected government’s
right to match Udenna’s offer to buy out Chevron’s 45% interest; and
• Officials of the DOE and PNOC criminally conspired with the
private respondents to give unwarranted benefits to Udenna and its
subsidiary causing undue injury to the government arising from the
questioned sale transaction.
In light of the strategic importance of the Malampaya energy
resource to national security and economic interest, the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (“IBP”) supports the ongoing Senate Committee
on Energy’s investigation in aid of legislation on the interest
divestments to the Udenna subsidiaries. The ongoing Senate
investigation will determine if the DOE was transparent in
determining the financial and technical qualifications of the Udenna
companies to acquire the 90% interest in SC 38. In the meantime,
while the Senate investigation is ongoing, the IBP calls on the DOE
• rescind its approval of Chevron’s transfer of its 45% interest in
Malampaya to Udenna’s subsidiary, UC Malampaya; and
• hold in abeyance, its approval of SPEX’s transfer of its 45% to
another Udennna subsidiary, Malampaya Energy XP.
The IBP also calls on the DOE to thoroughly review, study, and
consider the extension of SC 38 in favor of the original Malampaya
consortium – SPEX, Chevron, and PNOC EC. In this way, the original
consortium will be able to conduct further exploration on SC 38 in
light of the forthcoming depletion of the Malampaya natural gas
field. The extension will also incentivize the original consortium
to continue operating SC 38 with their proven technical and
financial track record in petroleum exploration and development in
contrast to a buyer with no proven experience in operating a
highly-technical and capital- intensive operation.
In the event that Chevron and SPEX proceed with their plans to
divest their respective interests in Malampaya, the IBP calls for
PNOC to exercise its right to match any offer laid before Chevron
and SPEX under the JOA. The IBP believes that PNOC being a
state-owned petroleum company has the mandate and wherewithal to
raise funds for acquiring the controlling interests in Malampaya. A
PNOC takeover of SC 38 will be financially advantageous to the
Philippine government since Malampaya is a producing field with an
existing infrastructure for other petroleum discoveries. In view of
this, the IBP calls on Philippine legislators to review and amend
the possible legal restrictions imposed by various legislations on
PNOC-EC as a government-owned and controlled corporation, such as
Republic Act (“RA”) No. 9184, “Procurement Law”, and RA 10149, “the
Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations Governance Law”.
Malampaya’s 500-kilometer gas pipeline to mainland Luzon is a vital
link to the possible development of potential natural gas resources
in the Recto Bank, located within the disputed West Philippine Sea
maritime area. With PNOC assuming control of the Malampaya
operations, the Philippines can be assured that its energy resources
will be protected from any possible foreign interference inimical to
national security and interests. To fund further exploration and
development, a buyer who is not technically and financially capable
of operating Malampaya may tap companies from foreign countries
having adverse interests in the West Philippine Sea dispute. This
will place our strategic energy resources and infrastructure in the
hands of hostile foreign interest.
Finally, the IBP calls on the Office of the Ombudsman to
expeditiously resolve the complaint against the officials of the
DOE, Udenna, Chevron, SPEX, and PNOC in light of the fact that this
matter is of utmost economic urgency since the Malampaya field is
nearing its depletion and the DOE appears to have no viable
alternative to replace a major source of power for Luzon. The DOE
must exercise transparency in evaluating transactions in relation to
critical energy resources and ensure that developers are financially
and technically competent. In this way, the government can forge a
sustainable balance in creating a stable investment climate and
establishing good governance practice in the management of the
country’s energy resources.
Hope on the
horizon: Amidst COVID, microinsurance protects the poor
JAIME ARISTOTLE B. ALIP,
October 26, 2021
With 2,643,494 recorded
cases and 39,232 deaths as of October 8, 2021, COVID has wrought
unprecedented hardship for the Philippines – despite the adoption of
stringent lockdowns since the pandemic started in 2020. The spikes
in COVID cases, especially the recent surge caused by the Delta
variant, not only placed pressure on the national health care
system, it also hampered plans to expand health insurance coverage
due to the ensuing economic challenges. It highlighted the insurance
gap in the Philippines, where penetration stands at around 1.71
percent of GDP.
But there is a silver
lining. With the health crisis came an increase in insurance
awareness and greater demand for health insurance. Even those from
low-income groups now understand the need for financial protection
against unexpected shocks, recognizing that an illness or death in
the family could bring them deeper into poverty. Last May, the
Insurance Commission (IC) reported that the number of lives covered
by microinsurance products in 2020 hit 50.35 million, an 11.56
percent increase from 45.13 million in 2019. Amidst the COVID
pandemic, microinsurance has become a lifeline for Filipinos, even
those with low income and limited access to mainstream insurance
Clearly, the government
needs to support microinsurance and facilitate protection coverage
to the most vulnerable sectors. This is crucial, especially during
Poverty alleviation is
central to our development agenda, as outlined in “AmBisyon Natin
2040” and the “Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.” This involves
building people’s socioeconomic resilience through the provision of
universal and transformative social protection, including insurance
mobilization. Unfortunately, health insurance under PhilHealth, with
its limited coverage and benefits, remains inadequate, while
mainstream insurance companies have failed to penetrate the
low-income and poor market segment.
Enter microinsurance. As
the name suggests, this pertains to affordable insurance products
intended for the poor and low-income families. These are usually
offered by mutual benefit associations (MBAs) which must register
with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and apply for
license from the Insurance Commission (IC) as a non-stock, nonprofit
association and insurance provider in line with Sec. 404 of the
Revised Insurance Code. The IC laid down the policy framework for
microinsurance fifteen years ago, through Memorandum Circular
9-2006, which introduced Microinsurance Mutual Benefit Associations
(Mi-MBAs). These are member-owned and governed microinsurance
providers that offer insurance to members, pay claim faster (within
a few days from the date of claims notice), and distribute products
using the social distribution network of partner microfinance
institutions (MFIs). This Circular regularized previously informal
MFI and NGO arrangements in microinsurance provision, and Mi-MBAs
eventually became key drivers of microinsurance development,
providing simple, affordable, and accessible microinsurance products
to low-income families.
The 2010 National Strategy
and the Regulatory Framework for Microinsurance facilitated further
growth of the microinsurance industry, with rural banks, thrift
banks, and even mainstream insurance outfits and fintech companies
becoming players. Within this ecosystem is a niche for Mi-MBAs, led
by the Microinsurance MBA Association of the Philippines (MiMAP),
which presently covers 62 per cent of the microinsurance market.
A total of eighteen
Mi-MBAs under MiMAP have a combined outreach of 7 million individual
members nationwide, majority of whom are micro-entrepreneurs, small
farmers and fishermen. As microinsurance coverage is extended to the
members’ families (with 4 as average family size), MiMAP currently
insures 28 million Filipinos. The Mi-MBAs provide basic life family
microinsurance plans and a range of optional life plans that include
coverage for health and retirement. In 2019, the mobilization of
such membership accumulated a total of P4.81 billion in
contributions and premiums, paid P1.43 billion in claims benefits,
and reserved P1.95 billion in refundable equity value to members.
These Mi-MBAs have significantly contributed to greater financial
inclusion and financial literacy for poor and low-income Filipinos.
Mi-MBAs are crucial to
financial inclusion, as they are community-based organizations able
to penetrate hard-to-reach and frontier areas where conventional
insurance providers dare not go. During this period of pandemic,
Mi-MBAs helped in alleviating the plight of the poor and those most
vulnerable to economic shocks. Even as they suspended the collection
of contributions and extended the grace period for payments, Mi-MBAs
continued to pay claims benefits. Under very difficult operational
and business circumstances during the first five months of community
quarantine from March to August 2020, Mi-MBAs paid a total of 27,657
death claims worth P613.54 million, 667 of which are COVID-related
Since Mi-MBAs are
non-stock, non-profit microinsurance providers that operate for the
exclusive benefit of their members, they are exempted from paying
tax on corporations, tax on life insurance premiums and documentary
stamp tax under the Insurance Code and the National Internal Revenue
Code. Unfortunately, not all Mi-MBAs are able to avail of these
exemptions as tax authorities vary in their interpretation of the
applicable provisions. MiMAP reports that some of their members have
been issued notices of tax deficiencies, while others were denied
tax exemption status. Many Mi-MBAs, in fact, are still waiting for
the BIR ruling on their application for tax exemption.
This is sad, since Mi-MBAs
already operate on very thin margins because of their restricted
capacity to spend only up to a maximum 20% of their contributions
for administrative and operating expenses. The situation exacerbates
their resource constraints, inhibiting them from optimizing or
upgrading their management information systems.
It behooves the government
to ensure that Mi-MBAs enjoy the tax exemptions granted to them
under the law. Mi-MBAs, after all, are managed by grassroots
organizations composed of low-income families. Their members and
target clients are also poor, mostly belonging to the informal
sector. They provide necessary financial services to the most
vulnerable, contributing to poverty alleviation and financial
inclusion. Mi-MBAs could serve more Filipinos if they can fully
enjoy their tax exemptions, which could help them digitize their
operations – a necessity given that mobility and face-to-face
interaction are greatly limited by the pandemic.
Tax Reduction for Non-Life
Tax rules also impede
market development with respect to non-life insurance. Usually, as
the market matures, a more diverse range of products is expected, to
serve broader customer needs and to diversify insurers’ risk
portfolio. This is not the case here, because general taxation for
the non-life insurance sector reaches as high as 27 percent, one of
the highest in Southeast Asia. This discourages insurers from
offering complex products, such as disaster and agricultural
insurance, both highly relevant to the low-income population. The
tax on nonlife insurance products, including crop insurance, should
be reduced to 2 percent, or the current rate imposed on life
insurance products. Cutting the tax on non-life insurance premium
will significantly raise the number of private insurance offerings.
There will be no need for government to subsidize agri-insurance
because the regime will be market-driven.
Microinsurance has come a
long way in the Philippines. From a coverage of less than three
million low-income Filipinos in 2007, the number has surged to more
than 50 million last year. Microinsurance MBAs, in particular,
significantly contribute to poverty alleviation, financial inclusion
and literacy by providing affordable and relevant risk protection to
poor and underserved households. But millions of poor families
remain unprotected and vulnerable. With natural disasters always a
possibility given climate change, and the threats posed by the COVID
pandemic, we should find ways to support the growth of the
microinsurance industry. As the 2022 election draws near, those who
aspire to be the country’s next leaders should champion financial
inclusion for the poor, and include microfinance and microinsurance
in their battle-cry. Their campaign to provide affordable and
relevant risk protection to millions of Filipinos from low-income
families would serve them well come election time.
On the proposed
directive in barring cabinet members from attending the hearings in
A press statement by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
October 5, 2021
It is the objective and
purpose of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to uphold the rule
of law, improve and assist in the administration of justice and
foster and maintain high ideals of integrity, public service and
conduct. This call to service is engraved not only in its By-Laws
but in the very Rules of Court (Section 1, Rule 139-A).
In view of the brewing
conflict between the Executive and the Legislative branches of the
government, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines calls for calm,
sobriety, and unity among the said two (2) branches of government
and its agencies, and for the same to cooperate and work together to
combat corruption and abuse.
It is imperative for our
government to fight corruption, wherever it maybe, and to assist,
rather than obstruct, any investigation that seeks to identify the
root of corruption and the perpetrators behind them.
Corruption is measured not
just in the billions of pesos of our taxpayers’ money lost to
government malfeasance, but more importantly, in the deficiency of
effective healthcare and medicine that could have saved the lives of
many of our countrymen, as well as financial assistance to
households and businesses in distress due to the pandemic.
A transparent government
is one of the hallmarks of a truly republican state. The only way to
succeed is for all branches of government to work together in
combating corruption and abuse.
We call on the President
to heed the words of the Supreme Court in the case of Senate vs.
Ermita (G.R. No. 169777, April 20, 2006) which provides as follows:
Ultimately, the power of
Congress to compel the appearance of executive officials under
Section 21 and the lack of it under Section 22 find their basis in
the principle of separation of powers. While the executive branch is
a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot frustrate the power
of Congress to legislate by refusing to comply with its demands for
We thus urge the President
to reconsider his decision to bar his Cabinet from attending the
Senate investigation on the alleged irregularities in the Department
of Health (DOH) spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic program.
It is only by granting our Congress free access to information that
we can empower them to formulate policies that fully reflect the
will of our people.
The true nature
and purpose of marriage
October 1, 2021
THERE is no doubt that we
need to revisit the true nature and purpose of marriage, since this
basic human and Christian institution is now besieged with so many
misconceptions and malpractices. What the gospel once narrated about
some leading Jews asking and testing Christ whether divorce was
lawful (cfr. Mt 10,2-12) is now being played out even in our own
With all the forces and
elements now undermining the true nature and purpose of marriage,
there is an urgent need to clarify and show the real face and beauty
of this human, natural as well as supernatural institution.
Countries and nations,
supposedly developed and quite rich, are now legalizing forms of
marriage that really have nothing to do with marriage. Same-sex
unions, divorce, civil marriages among Catholic, temporary unions
and cohabitations are not only spreading but are also getting
There are those who are
quite convinced, and wrongly convinced, if I may say, that marital
problems can be solved by legalizing divorce. We need to talk a lot
about this issue.
Our problem is that we now
have a world culture that has lost the capacity to think deeply and
thoroughly. It’s an ethos that is held captive by the quick and easy
way of thinking and reacting, dominated mainly by worldly values
like convenience, practicality, popularity, etc.
The full and global
picture of who and what we are is ignored if not ridiculed. This, of
course, determines our proper attitude and praxis about marriage and
the other institutions related to it—family, education...
The spiritual and
supernatural dimension of man is set aside. Instead only the
material and social aspects are considered. The dynamism of today’s
world, now heavily dependent on new technologies, has made people to
be thinking, studying and praying less, and to be just more
practical, if not more self-absorbed and self-seeking.
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 crucial and 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 mere 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.
Angels are real
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
September 28, 2021
ON the Feast of the
Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (September 29), we are
presented with that amusing gospel episode about the calling of
Nathanael. (cfr. Jn 1,47-51) We might be wondering how Nathanael’s
vocation is related to the existence of angels.
My personal take on this
question is that Nathanael, whom Christ described as a man without
guile, must have been enabled to recognize Christ as the Son of God,
the King of Israel, through the help of the angels.
When Christ told him, in
response to Nathanael’s question about how Christ knew him, that
Christ saw him under the fig tree before Philip came, some angels
must have been involved in that event.
We can somehow support
that speculation by referring to the fact that at the end of gospel
episode, Christ told Nathanael, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will
see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on
the Son of Man.” What Nathanael was doing under the fig tree must
have something to do about who the Son of Man is, and about heaven
In any event, our faith
tells us that angels are real and that they are our great ally,
helping us in all our needs, from the most trivial to the most
important. Yes, angels exist. They are real. We need to say this now
since angels, if they are ever referred to nowadays, are often
considered as mere figments of our imagination that at best can be
used as literary and sentimental devices.
Obviously, faith is needed
to believe in angels. They are creatures whose presence goes beyond
what our senses can perceive. They can however assume bodily forms
as mentioned several times in the Bible. But essentially, they are
pure spirits. As such, they are readily available to help us, since
they are not limited by time and space.
We have to develop and
popularize a devotion to angels, especially to the archangels. They
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)
Our guardian angels, for
example, are very helpful to us in our task of navigating the most
tricky spiritual and supernatural realities. When there are strong
temptations, or when some unknown evil spirits seem to bother us, or
when we are undertaking a spiritual and supernatural project like
coming up with an apostolic initiative, our guardian angels make
themselves available to help us in any way.
It’s important that we be
aware of the existence of these very powerful angels 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 appropriate
Many great saints have
benefited from the help of the angels. It would be good if we train
ourselves to develop an intimate relationship with them. To be sure,
only good things can come out of such relationship!