Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region


Paglambo Project: Promoting financial inclusion for Muslim communities

July 11, 2022

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has declared July 9 a regular holiday in observance of Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), one of the two greatest Islam holidays. Eid al-Adha marks the end of hajj, a key pillar of Islam that able-bodied Muslims must undertake at least once in their lives. This observance of an important holiday for our Muslim brothers and sisters is good for inclusive development. Islam is practiced by roughly five percent of Filipinos from a variety of ethnolinguistic groups, over half of whom live in Mindanao.

Beyond the observance of holidays, however, is a serious need for the government to address the poverty situation in Muslim communities. The three poorest provinces in the country are predominantly Muslim. Based on the 2018 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the poorest regions are ARMM, Region 9, Region 8, CARAGA, and Region 12. Four of these regions are in Mindanao, but the most impoverished is the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, which has a poverty incidence of 61.3 percent. This means that three out of every five persons in the region are poor. The situation is even worse in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Sulu, and Basilan, where nearly two out of every three people are poor.

Financially Excluded

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), about 7 in 10 adult Filipinos are financially excluded and do not have accounts, or access to much-needed financial services. Financial exclusion affects millions of Filipinos in the lower income class, the youth, the unemployed, and the less educated. Financial exclusion is also prevalent among senior citizens, migrant workers and their families, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, forcibly displaced persons, and others who are unable to get access to finance due to their religious beliefs.

There is a religious and cultural dimension to the issue of Muslim Filipinos’ lack of access to financial services which could help raise their productivity and standard of living. Sharīʿah (also spelled sharia) is the Islamic religious law that governs the day-to-day life of Muslims. The sharia prohibits interest charging, as this equates with usury (riba). It forbids speculative transactions involving risks (gharar), and avoids transactions on sinful things (haram), such as pork, alcohol and gambling. These tenets limit Muslims’ participation in the formal financial system.

A truly inclusive financial system necessitates sharia-compliant financial services for Muslims. This is problematic because there is only one Islamic bank in the country, the Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank. In the meantime, a few microfinance institutions (coops and NGOs in Mindanao) supported by Peace and Equity Foundation; the ASA Philippines Foundation; and the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) are filling in the gap, making banking, credit, microinsurance, remittance, and other financial services available to Muslim communities.

The Paglambo Project

The Paglambo Project is a sharia-inspired microfinancing program that CARD started in 2018. It resulted from a series of dialogues and learning visits between two Ramon Magsaysay awardees: the Dompet Dhuafa, an Indonesian non-profit organization, which won the Magsaysay Award in 2016, and CARD MRI, which won the Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 2008. CARD developed the Paglambo Project based on the Dompet Dhuafa’s successful Islamic microfinance and banking scheme in Indonesia.

Starting with only two units composed of clients from 56 Muslim families in Marawi, Lanao del Sur and Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, the Paglambo Project expanded quickly. Attesting to the urgent need for financing in the area, clients grew to more than 4,000 after only a year of operation. As of June 2022, the Paglambo Project has 54 units in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Zamboanga City, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi. There are now more than 76,000 clients, with a capital build-up of more than 164 million pesos. Their average loan repayment rate is very high, at 99.35 percent. In 2021, its unit in Kapatagan, Maguindanao had a 100% repayment rate despite the COVID pandemic.


The success of the project lies in its sharia-compliant financial products and services. For instance, it has an education loan program based on Islam’s Murabahah. The Murabahah concept allows the borrower to obtain money from the lender to buy goods for his business. The parties agree on the mark-up on the goods, thus, the lender gets a fixed profit based on the agreement. This eliminates the interest system, which Islam prohibits. A Kafalah Islamic contract was added to the existing financing contract, since many Muslim families also needed funds for their children’s school expenses.

Apart from designing financial products suited to the needs of the community, all staff are trained to observe cultural sensitivity. Courtesy calls to Muslim elders were made to introduce the program, as well as coordination with village leaders and local organizations. Communication was key, as attested by the manager in Kapatagan, whose unit clients grew because she was able to explain that the financial products under Paglambo is halal or in accord with the Islamic faith.

The Paglambo Project shows that financial inclusion in Muslim areas is possible via Islamic microfinance. The government can assist community-based organizations that deliver sharia-compliant products by putting up needed infrastructure to make hard-to-reach areas accessible. Apart from providing more funds for financial services targeting the poor and vulnerable, it could also set aside Islamic financing to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) offering halal products and services. Partnerships between public and private providers should be encouraged, to serve more Muslim communities.

Again, Eid al-Adha Mubarak to our Muslim brothers and sister! Wishing your families peace, harmony, happiness, good health and prosperity!





Make war to gain peace

July 10, 2022

THAT is not a smart-alecky statement. It has to be taken seriously, since in a sense it comes from Christ himself. Note what he said in the Gospel of St. Matthew:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.” (10,34-36)

But lest we think such statement is just a capricious, if not evil desire of Christ, he made some clarification. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (10,37-39)

It’s clear that Christ wants us to make war against anything that would prevent us from being with him. And it is only with him when we can have our true and lasting joy and peace.

We just have to make sure though that when we wage war as suggested by Christ, we do it not out of hatred against anybody or anything, since God loves everyone and everything that he created. We have to do it with the same love God has for everyone and everything. It’s actually a war of peace and love.

We have to understand that in this life we have to make war to have peace. And peace can only come about, at least in this life, as a consequence of some war. Our life here on earth will always be a war of peace. We should not be surprised by this phenomenon anymore. It should be a given.

The war we will be waging here on earth will be a constructive war, not destructive. It is a war to win our way toward heaven. It is a war to make ourselves “another Christ,” a new man, stepping out of the old man that we all are due to sin. Any obstacle along the way, including those who are very close to us but who compete with God for our love, should be fought and rejected.

We have to remember that we always have to contend with powerful enemies in our spiritual life. The first one would be our own selves, our own flesh that has been weakened by sin. There is such thing as concupiscence, a certain attraction to evil that leads us to have a lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

Yes, our Christian life here on earth will always involve some war, some struggle and effort, some combat. But all of this would be done in peace and for peace. The combination may sound incredible, but that is what Christ is showing and telling us.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace,” he told his disciples. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33) If by faith and effort, we do our best to stick with Christ, we know that victory is always assured for us. Peace is gained by making some war.





Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist

June 14, 2022

WE have to make sure that our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is always kept alive and strong. Let’s take advantage of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi) to check our faith in this most crucial truth. We know that we never do enough in this regard, since what we have before us is truly tremendous and overwhelming a mystery.

In the gospel of this year’s celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we are presented again with that story of the multiplication of the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. (cfr. Lk 9,11-17) We are made to understand that the mystery of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist goes far beyond what we can see and understand. We have to go strictly by faith.

It’s when we can capture this truth of our faith that we become Eucharistic souls. To be Eucharistic souls means to be a real person who is both grounded and oriented properly. Yes, we need to be Eucharistic in mind and heart, because the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is where we have our most precious treasure, our everything, our light, our purification, our salvation.

That’s where we have Christ not only in real presence, as in the Blessed Sacrament, nor as spiritual food, as in the Holy Communion, but primarily as our savior who continues to offer his life on the cross for us, as in the Holy Mass.

We need to be theological in our thinking to capture this reality and live in accordance to it not only from time to time, but rather all the time and everywhere, whatever our situation is.

We have to overcome the very common phenomenon of treating the Holy Eucharist as just a special part of our life that we may attend to in some special moments of the day or on Sundays and holy days of obligation only.

If we believe that God is everything to us, then we have to believe also that Christ, the son of God who became man, is also everything to us. That’s why he said he is “the way, the truth and the life, no one goes to the Father except through me.”

Now, if we believe in Christ as everything to us, then it follows that we have to believe in the Holy Eucharist also as everything to us, since it is the Holy Eucharist where the whole redemptive life of Christ is summarized and sacramentalized, that is to say, made present to us through time.

With the Holy Eucharist, we become contemporaries of Christ in his most supreme act of salvific love for us. But, alas, how many of us realize this, and among those of us who do, how many have the skill to turn this realization into a living reality?

We need to do a lot of catechizing and discussion if only to air out the many possibilities and practical considerations we can have to make the Holy Eucharist everything to us not only in theory and aspiration, but also in practice in our daily grind.

We therefore need to enkindle our Eucharistic amazement and to intensify our Eucharistic piety. In this matter, we can never overdo things. We should try our best that our Eucharistic piety continues to grow strong and deep.





What does Pentecost mean?

June 1, 2022

EVEN if Christ already died and ascended into heaven, his presence and mission continues to be with us, this time through the Holy Spirit. “I will not leave you as orphans,” he said. “I will come to you.” (Jn 14,18) It is the Holy Spirit who will make Christ present in us and who will involve us in the continuing redemptive work of Christ.

We have to understand that the Holy Spirit perpetuates the presence and redemptive action of Christ all throughout time, with all the drama, vagaries, ups and downs that we men make in our history.

It has been prophesied that God will pour out his Spirit upon all men. The Holy Spirit is intended for all of us. We are all meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit. But this divine will obviously has to contend with the way we receive and do things, and that is, that we take to this reality in stages involving a whole range of human means of teaching, evangelizing, etc.

We need the Holy Spirit because only in him can we truly recognize Christ. Only in him will we be able to have Christ in our life, to remember all his words and even to develop them to attune them to current needs and situations.

Only in him can we see things properly. Especially these days when truth, justice and charity have become very slippery, and people are left confounded and vulnerable to fall into scepticism and cynicism, we need to be in the Holy Spirit to be able to sort things out and stay away from the mess.

We need the Holy Spirit to be able to read the signs of the times properly. The world is getting very complicated, and we definitely need the Holy Spirit to guide us. We cannot rely anymore on our politicians and other leaders. We, including politicians and especially them, actually always need the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit acts on each one of us in different ways but always for the common good. St. Cyril has this to say about how the Holy Spirit comes to us:

“The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches.

“The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well.”

We have to understand that Christ’s redemptive mission is very much an ongoing affair, and he involves all of us actually in this business. Those words that he addressed to his apostles, giving them their mission, can be considered as addressed to us also. And we can carry out that mission because of the abiding work of the Holy Spirit in us. All we have to do is to correspond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

We need to be familiar with this Christian duty. We have to do apostolate, and we need to see to it that the zeal for it is always nourished, stoked and fanned to its most intense degree.

Yes, we are all meant to be “another Christ” through the Holy Spirit, with the lifelong concern for our sanctification and apostolate, taking advantage of all the occasions and situations in life to pursue those goals!





Why it’s difficult to believe in Christ

May 10, 2022

“HOW long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (Jn 10,24)

Perhaps we too can ask the same question. In spite of what we already know about Christ, we may still be harboring doubts as to whether Christ is really the one he presents himself to be.

I believe the simple answer is that to believe in Christ requires the grace of God. If we just rely on our human faculties, like our intelligence and common sense, we would actually not go very far. At a certain point, we would start to entertain doubts about who Christ really is.

And that is also simply because Christ, while truly a man, is first of all divine. He is a supernatural being. In fact, he is the Supreme Being who has no beginning and no end. While we can know him through his words and deeds as recorded in the gospel, he will always remain a mystery still to us. He overwhelms our capacity to know him.

With him, what we have to do is to believe first before we can start to understand him more deeply. With him, we need to have faith first before the operations of our intelligence and our other faculties do their thing.

Thus, both St. Augustine and St. Anselm enunciated the proper way to understand and believe in Christ. “Credo ut intellegam” (I believe that I might understand) was what they were saying. They made an appeal to follow first our faith before we start to use our intelligence. Or better said, we have to make our reasoning be inspired by our faith first.

We therefore have to see to it that we develop an operative faith. Our faith should not remain only in the theoretical, intellectual level. It has to be a functioning one, giving shape and direction in our thoughts and intentions, our words and deeds. In fact, it should shape our whole life.

The ideal is that we feel it immediately. Indeed, it should be like an instinct such that whatever we think, say or do, or whenever we have to react to something, it is our faith that should guide us.

We have to understand that it is our faith that gives us the global picture of things, since it is God’s gift to us, a gratuitous sharing of what God knows about himself and about the whole of creation. It is meant for our own good, for us to live out our true dignity as children of God.

It is a kind of knowledge that will lead us to our eternal life. It will make us relate everything in our earthly life, both the good and the bad, to this ultimate goal in life which is to be in heaven with God, a state that is supernatural. But it is a divine gift that we need to take care of. It is like a seed that has to grow until it becomes a big tree and bears fruit.

For this, we really need to have a living contact with Christ who is the fullness of God’s revelation to us. He is the substance, the content and the spirit of our faith. So, the first thing that we have to do is to look for him always whatever we may be thinking, saying or doing. Never mind if we do not understand him fully. We should just follow him!





The praises of womanhood


April 30, 2022

Dietrich Von Hildebrand, a christian philosopher, once explained that by nature women are superior to men. They are more gentle, they are more sweet, they are more beautiful, they have more charm etc. The only area perhaps in which men are more right than women is that men love women while women love men.

Such praises to women have been sung by the wise, since philosophy has begun. Admittedly, there are those who degrade womanhood. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that virtues -the paragon of moral perfection- are portrayed by women.

The four cardinal virtues of Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude are portrayed by women. Even Severinus Boethius expresses most eloquently his adoration to wisdom in person: Lady Philosophy.

The wise have always adored women. And if women are indeed better, the failure to adore them would be unwise.

After all, who else can be mothers but women? Who else can be wives but women? Who else can be daughters but women? Whose was the face that could launch a thousand ships but that of a woman? Who else can have men at their fingertips but women? Who else did God choose to be his Mother but a woman.

Edith Stein, a Philosopher, Student of Edmund Husserl, and contemporary of Hildebrand explained that the Woman is better. “Women,” she said, “understand not only with the intellect but also with the heart.” “Women naturally seek,” she continues, “to embrace what is living, personal, integral.” Most beautifully, she explains that “To heal, watch over, protect, nourish, and favor growth is her natural maternal desire” because “The soul of a woman is fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold.”

It seems, therefore, to be a great absurdity for some who pose under the guise of pseudo-intellectualism to hiss at women who prefer to be mothers, who prefer to be a wife, who prefer to perfect their womanhood in such noble a state. Women, they say, must have a career, must have glittering achievements. Women must not only be house wives, must not only be mothers, must not be homemakers because these, they say, degrade her womanhood. In short, to them, unless a woman is like a man, she does not have a life worth living. This is tragic considering how they think that to be fulfilled woman must be like a man.

It is interesting to note that the same pseudo-intellectuals hold it as unquestionable and absolute dogmatic truth that all the evils of the world are caused by the patriarchy. They further say that all evil actions are in substance misogyny. This they hold with religious assent and unquestioning faith.

How can it be, as these insist, that having a full time career, no time for family, no time to personally raise their children be more ontologically valuable for a woman that being a mother who raises and looks after the children -the future citizens of the earth and of heaven-? How is the task of raising up great men and women of virtue so demeaning and so worthless compared to working for a company, to working for some corporation? How can one say that being a mother and wife is so demeaning when studies have shown that a great majority of those who have problems in adulthood are those who did not have good family lives as children?

How can these be demeaning when these are the most perfect exercise of the characteristics endowed on a woman’s soul? “Woman,” says Edith Stein “naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning.”

And that women in top positions is not an issue here. One cannot but admire Margaret Thatcher who stirred Britain so well, or Catherine the great who reformed Russia, or Olga of Kiev who ruled a kingdom, or Teresa of Avila or Catherine of Sienna who reformed the Church. But let no one tell mothers, wives, and daughters that they do not have a life worth living simply because they chose a more domestic life.

Thus, Edith Stein beautifully puts it: “Each woman who lives in the light of eternity can fulfill her vocation, no matter if it is in marriage, in a religious order, or in a worldly profession.”

Let us keep these in our minds in this month of May, the month of the greatest woman who ever lived and will ever live.





Never doubt God’s love for us

April 26, 2022

“JESUS said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?’ He said this to test Philip, because he himself knew what he was going to do.” (Jn 6,5-6)

With these words, we should realize that we should never doubt God’s constant love for us, especially when we encounter difficulties and severe trials in our life. God allows these things to happen if only to test us, that is, to see if we also truly love him in return, a love that is expressed in complete trust in God’s will and ways.

Yes, we have to be clear that there in nothing in our life, no moment or situation where God does not test us. We have to explode the myth that consists in the thinking that there are times when we are freed from this test. Even in our moments of rest and recreation, we are being tested.

And that’s simply because the only purpose of these tests is to see if we keep ourselves always with God as we should. In this regard, let’s remember these relevant words of Christ. “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Mt 12,30) There is no neutral ground in our relationship with God. We are either for him or against him.

And being created in the image and likeness of God, we are meant to be always with God, much like what Christ himself said about the vine and branches. (cfr. Jn 15,5) Otherwise, we die in the sense of living a life that is not proper to us, like the branches that are separated from the vine.

So, we cannot overemphasize our need to do everything to always be with God. We know very well how easily we can think and live as if we can simply be by ourselves. Especially when life seems to be going well for us, we easily tend to take God for granted. We usually go to him only when we find ourselves with difficulties.

Yes, we have to understand that God’s tests us not only in our difficulties, but also in our good and easy moments of our life. In fact, the latter tests can be more difficult to tackle.

It’s always good to frequently meditate on what God has done for us, if only to enjoy the confidence he has put in us. This is to help us repay his love with our love. Thus, Christ told us, “Without cost you have received. Without cost you are to give.” (Mt 10,8)

For sure, with these words of Christ, we are strongly reminded to be generous, to give ourselves completely to God and to others, sparing and keeping nothing for ourselves, because God has been generous with us. He gave nothing less than himself to us. And he wants to share what we have with everybody else.

Thus, in Christ’s commissioning of his disciples that should include all of us, his believers and followers, he encourages us not to worry so much about what to have or what to bring. “Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep.” We need to develop a keen sense of generosity and self-giving that is also a result of detachment.





Investing to make a difference

April 20, 2022

The annual inflation rate in the Philippines rose to 4.0% in March from 3.0% in February. The increase in the prices of goods is at an all-time high as Russia’s attack on Ukraine sent oil and commodity prices soaring worldwide. In an environment where inflation risks are high, oil prices are surging and current macroeconomic forecasts paint a challenging picture, there is a popular Filipino proverb or salawikain that comes to mind:

“Kapag may itinanim, may aanihin.”

This gem of folk wisdom literally translates to “if you plant, you will harvest something,” but it actually means “your future will be the result of the effort you put in today.” Its message is the same as that of the classic Filipino tale, Si Langgam at Si Tipaklong, where the ant stacked up grains in anticipation of the rainy days while the happy-go-lucky grasshopper danced the day away. Unlike the frugal and industrious langgam, the tipaklong suffered when the rains came.

The question now is this: do we want to become ants or grasshoppers?

These uncertain times demand that we prepare for the rainy days. We need to be like the ant and allocate a portion of our present income for future needs, like the education of our children, sickness or emergencies, and even retirement, as there will definitely come a time that we will grow old and can no longer work.

Aside from savings, we can also make sound investments. While many Filipinos believe that the only way to make money is by working for it (either by being paid for one’s labors or by running a business), there is another way: by making your money work for you. This entails investing your money so that it earns more money.

Investments, Benefits and Risks

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) 2019 financial inclusion survey, only 25% of Filipinos have some sort of investment. An investment is an asset purchased with the hope that it will generate income or appreciate in the future. You invest when you buy an asset and sell it later, when its value has increased. You also invest when you put your money in ventures that earn interest over time. There are two key factors: time and appreciation. When you invest, you open up multiple income streams. You get something extra, aside from what you earn from work or business. It allows you to meet your financial goals faster. It also helps build wealth, because over time, you accumulate assets that increase your net worth.

Risk, of course, is part of investing. There is the risk of capital loss. There is also the risk of not meeting your expected returns. Knowing that there are risks should not stop you from looking into investment opportunities. Instead, you should learn and find the best ways to manage them.

Investment for Beginners

There is a wide range of investment opportunities available for beginners. Investment decisions are based on one’s goals (short, medium, or long-term) or risk appetite (conservative or aggressive). There are many options, but a beginning investor may look into:

• PAG-IBIG and SSS Investment Programs - The BSP financial inclusion survey shows that SSS (88%) and Pag-IBIG Fund (52%) are the most common types of investments for Filipinos. The SSS PESO Fund starts for as low as P1,000, while the Modified Pag-IBIG II starts for as low as P500, making them one of the cheapest investments for beginners.

• Stock Market – When you buy stocks, you buy shares in a company, giving you the right to a portion of the company’s value and income. Stock investments have high income potential. They are also considered to be the riskiest, thus, suited for aggressive investors. One needs to monitor business developments to invest and learn when is the best time to buy and sell stocks.

• Bonds and Mutual Funds – The risk-averse can try investing in bonds, which are debt obligations issued by companies. Bonds are low-risk but low-profit investments, paying a set amount over a certain period of time. Mutual funds are pooled from different investors and invested in various assets by professional fund managers.

• Variable Life Insurance - These are combined life insurance and investment products that are ideal for first-time investors.

Investing for Social Inclusion

The options above are commercial investment opportunities. There is another path which a beginning investor may consider. It is called microfinance, which is distinguished from traditional finance because of its social dimension. Microfinance is a form of impact investing. It caters to the poor and marginalized sectors, making sure that those who do not have access to banks would have access to much-needed financial services. Aside from the financial gain, microfinance measures the social impact of its performance.

Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) provide loans, savings, micro-insurance and related products to low-income groups, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). This is important, particularly in the Philippines, where 7 out of 10 adults are financially excluded. Thus, MFIs are crucial to the BSP’ National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI), which outlines a financial landscape with 4,450 microfinance non-government organizations and 23 mutual benefit associations targeting the unserved and underserved: the poor, the unemployed, MSMEs, and the informal workers, especially those living in rural areas and far-flung communities.

A beginning investor may look into MFIs as an opportunity not just to earn money, but to help others. MFIs, after all, enable income-generating activities that help people to break out of poverty. They are regulated by the government, with adequate safeguards imposed for the public’s protection. Let us look at CARD MRI, for instance. This is one of the biggest microfinance groups in the Philippines, with 7.9 million clients and 3,391 offices nationwide. It has a loan portfolio of P33.4 billion, with savings or capital build-up of 32.7 billion. It has more than 76 billion in assets, with a financial self-sufficiency ratio of 118%. CARD has maintained a loan repayment rate of 95.73% even at the height of the COVID pandemic.

Social impact investor and worldwide cooperative Oikocredit is also a case in point. For 46 years now, Oikocredit has been funding organizations that promote financial inclusion, agriculture and renewable energy. It provides loans, equity investments and capacity-building support to enable people on low incomes in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to sustainably improve their living standards. Oikocredit has financed 563 partners, with total outstanding capital of €845 million in 2021. Its partners served 32.2 million individuals and 770,000 SMEs. The network bolstered agriculture by assisting 542,000 farmers; it also provided 68,000 households with clean energy. Private and institutional investors can invest in Oikocredit via its network of support associations. One of the world’s largest financiers of the microfinance sector, Oikocredit has been financing partners in the Philippines since 1983.

Apart from the financial returns, microfinance also offers diversification benefits that are important in the current environment of slowing economic momentum. You can put your money in any BSP-registered MFI and watch it make a difference in the lives of others. CARD, for example, provides microfinance loans for household expenses, housing, education, and microinsurance. It helps micro-entrepreneurs by providing business loans as small as P1,000. Just imagine the multiplier effect of your investment on the lives of these people! Investment returns are good, yes, but at the end of the day, it is about human beings, about individual stories, and about families. Impact investing, after all, is really about the transformative power of hope.

By investing to make a difference, not only are you making your money work for you; you are making it work to help others and to build a better world. As businessman and author Robert Kiyosaki once said, “It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.”





Do we really believe in Christ?

April 7, 2022

IT’S a question that we have to ask ourselves, since there are many indications that even those who profess to believe in Christ do so more out of formality. They do not really know him, much less, love him, because if they do, they would be burning with desire to follow him and to bring him to others.

In the gospel, many of the leading Jews during Christ’s time were always skeptical of him. They even went to the extent of doing him harm, and eventually of putting him to death. (cfr. Jn 10,31-42) Some of the people, of course, believed in him, due to the miracles and the splendid preaching he did. Truly, Christ was and continues to be a sign of contradiction.

We have to understand 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, that is, we become like him.

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.

In knowing, the knower abstracts things from his object of interest and keeps them to himself. In loving, the lover gives himself to the beloved. In a sense, the lover loses himself and identifies himself with the beloved.

Of course, there are many things that we know but which we do not have to love, or even that we should not love. We can know a lot of evils, but we should never love them. If anything at all, our knowledge of them is just for the sake of prudence.

But whatever good we know, we should also love, otherwise we would fall into some anomaly of inconsistency. In whatever is good, we should not be contented with knowing it only. We should love it. Let’s remember what St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians in this regard:

“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (8,1-2)

And we can add that if one is known by God, he somehow already knows everything that he ought to know since God, who possesses him because he loves God, knows everything. In other words, he shares in the knowledge of God.

Since Christ is for us the highest good we can have, we should both know and love him to the max. We should not just know him and not love him, nor should we just love him without knowing him—or at least, trying to know him the best way that we can, since being God, Christ has aspects that are a mystery to us, that is, beyond our capacity to know him fully.

We can know Christ by studying the gospels and the Church’s teachings about him. But in order to love him, we should put this knowledge of God into practice, converting it into our life itself, to such an extent that we become “another Christ.”





Believe in Christ

March 31, 2022

“IF you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (Jn 5,46-47)

With these words, it’s like Christ is begging that we believe in him, for he truly is our savior, the very pattern of our humanity, our everything, in fact! It’s like he is trying to identify himself to us and how we need him. He should be the very center of our life.

We should therefore 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.

We have to understand that 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.’ 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 exercise our faith to the hilt. With it we enter into a reality that goes beyond what we simply can see and touch and understand. With it we can feel at home even with the mysteries which, by the way, abound in our life since we are not confined only to the sensible and material realities. Our world includes the spiritual and the supernatural.

But we also have to realize that with Christ, it is not enough just 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.

In knowing, the knower abstracts things from his object of interest and keeps them to himself. In loving, the lover gives himself to the beloved. In a sense, the lover loses himself in the beloved.

Of course, there are many things that we know but which we do not have to love, or even that we should not love. We can know a lot of evils, but we should never love them. If anything at all, our knowledge of them is just for the sake of prudence, so we can truly be with Christ and become “another Christ” as we should be.





We stand with Ukraine

TUCP supports the global call condemning Russia’s violent and abhorrent aggression of Ukraine
March 24, 2022

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), the country’s largest labor group, stands in solidarity with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters as well as our brothers and sisters in the international trade union movement in calling for the global condemnation of the abhorrent aggression of the Russian Federation against the people of Ukraine.

TUCP also urges the Philippine Government to reiterate its position condemning the Russian Federation’s unlawful acts of war – being against the principles of international law and undermining the sanctity of global peace.

“We stand with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he calls for the global condemnation of Russia’s actions. It has been exactly one month since the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, which has resulted to the unnecessary loss of thousands of innocent lives, and millions of homeless refugees seeking safety. This mindless war must be stopped,” said TUCP President Raymond Mendoza.

As of the writing of this article, there has been an estimated 977 civilian casualties, 1,594 wounded, and around 3 million Ukrainian refugees. Add to that the thousands of military casualties that increase as the war continues.

“TUCP stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement of Ukraine in calling for peace, reason, and restraint. We firmly believe that the way to justice is through peace. We cannot allow violence and aggression to dictate international and local public policy – democracy must always prevail,” added Mendoza.

“Moscow has claimed that the presence of its troops in Ukrainian soil is for the purpose of defending its “independent states under attack from Ukrainian Aggression”. But make no mistake, it is Ukraine which is under attack. It is Ukrainians who are being bombed. It is Ukrainians who are seeking safety in bomb shelters, desperately praying not to be hit by missiles. It is Ukrainians who are fleeing the country, entering foreign land homeless as refugees,” further said Mendoza.

The actions of the Russian Federation do not reflect that of a peacekeeping mission. These are acts of war, not only against Ukraine but also against democracy and the very fabric of the free world.

“In this day and age, there is no longer room for violence and war. This is, and should continue to be the era of truth, peace, and freedom. We will not stand idly by as this misguided aggression continues to trample our fellow human’s rights. And as Ukraine continues to fight for its integrity and sovereignty, we continue to call for justice through peace,” said the lawmaker.

In these trying times, may the spirit of brotherhood and democracy prevail.





God will always forgive us

March 23, 2022

NEVER doubt this truth of our Christian faith. As illustrated in that beautiful parable of the prodigal son (cfr. Lk 15,11-32), God is always ready to forgive us, no matter what sin we commit. All we have to do is just to go back to him in repentance, just like what the prodigal son did.

In life, anything can happen. We try to do what is good, but sometimes our idea of what is good can actually be bad. We just have to remember that even in our worst possible scenario, we can always count on God’s ever-ready mercy as long as we decide to come home to him.

We should always strengthen our faith in God’s mercy and compassion. Of course. We should also try not to abuse God’s goodness, even if we know that despite our best efforts we may end up abusing it just the same. But whatever happens, we should come home. Just come home to our Father God. That’s what matters in the end.

We need to strengthen our spirit of divine filiation—that God is our father who is all merciful and compassionate, who is all willing to do anything for us just to get us back to him. He knows that even if he has made us to be his image and likeness, that dignity often spoils us, and so we get into trouble.

This truth about our divine filiation is worth reiterating. It is what truly grounds us to the foundation of our life and nature, giving us the meaning and purpose of our existence. It’s a source of joy, confidence and serenity. It tells us what our filial rights and duties are.

More importantly, it tells us who we are and gives us an abiding sense that we are never alone, or worse, just on our own. It fills us with the conviction that we are children of God, that no matter what happens, God will always be with us and for us unless we reject him.

We have to be wary of our tendency to think that we are just on our own. That would be an attitude that can be suggested only by the devil who will always tell lies. Sad to say, many people are succumbing to this trick of the devil. That’s why many now fall into some deep despair when misfortune comes their way. They feel there’s no one else to run to anymore. We should do everything to strengthen our spirit of divine filiation.

Let’s always remember that God “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they return from their ways and live.” (Ez 33,11) And as shown by Christ, God does not wait for man to turn back to him. He takes the initiative to reach out to us, sinners.

In all the miracles that he performed, Christ was more interested in forgiving the sins of those involved than in healing them of their infirmities and predicaments. His love and compassion went beyond the concern for the bodily health of those characters. He focused more on their spiritual recovery.

We have to see to it that in proclaiming the gospel to the others, in our effort to present Christ to the others, we should not simply talk about the strictness of God’s demands and expectations from us, the high standard that he is setting for us. This will scare people more than attract them to Christ. We should always include God’s mercy in all our preaching and counseling.



◄◄home I next►►

InterServer Web Hosting and VPS