Friday, April 27, 2007

A Bishop's Appeal for a CHAMP election

Hi there! TGIF! Sorry to miss you again last week. Anyway, what else is in the news, but politics. Oh yes, the Justice Secretary was at it again. Common, can’t he give the dead woman a break? Selling chicken for a TU win in Iloilo would be fine. But castigating Ms. Campbell? Tsk tsk.

And, indeed, ERAP is a unique prisoner. (One) proof to tell, just look at his “call for revolt” AD endorsing the GO candidates.

* * *

Last Sunday, Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez presided over a mass where part of it was the signing of a Peace Covenant among the candidates in the forthcoming polls in Calbayog. A good number of politicians attended the affair.

Aside from the presence (or absence) of certain politicians, many mass-goers would later comment on the homily said by the good bishop, wherein he called everyone to “prevent the many wrongdoings attendant upon every election (in our country) in our Diocese and in our city particularly, and to help bring about a truly meaningful choice of candidate”.

I consider the sermon was a follow-up to the appeal he made to all concerned during the Easter Vigil celebration. I was able to obtain a copy of that homily and I would like to share with you some parts of it.

To the CANDIDATES, THEIR PARTIES and SUPPORTERS, the Bishop told them to stop violence; not to cheat; not to buy votes; not to trivialize the campaign period and not to tell lies to destroy the good name of another person:

“You shall not kill. Those who want to serve the people should not grab power by hurting or killing the people they profess to serve. Killings and other acts of violence have regularly marred our elections. This is a national disgrace especially for a country where majority are Christians and practically all inhabitants believe in God.”

“To cheat is to steal public office. ‘You shall not steal’. A person who wins by cheating has no moral right to occupy a position stolen from another. Such person will have to answer before God for depriving the people of the services of the rightful winner.”

“Buying votes is a particularly degrading form of cheating. You do not start serving the people by corrupting them and degrading their dignity.”

“Educate the people during the campaign by explaining to them your platform and the issues involved. Do not be satisfied to be reduced to singing, dancing and clowning before the people.”

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. This commandment remains in effect and is not suspended during the campaign period. A person who destroys the good name of another will probably not mind doing evil to others. If the campaign remains on the level of issues much black propaganda and mud slinging will be avoided”

The Bishop went on to appeal to the VOTERS to vote intelligently; not to sell votes; beware of those who overspend during the election; and not to be cowed.

“Do not be fooled by appearances, words and promises. Study the issues involved, the platforms of the candidates and their past records. Vote for persons who ACT in a manner consistent with Christian principles. Vote honestly according to your enlightened judgment and conscience after carefully weighing the persons and issues involved.

Vote for the persons who can do the most good for the whole country.

Vote for the persons who embody the Gospel Values of justice, truth, freedom, love, peace, respect and for human rights and life.”

“Your vote, your honor. When you sell your vote, you sell your honor. You become nothing in the eyes of those who buy you. You harm your future and that of your countrymen. Do not allow yourselves to be corrupted by money or other immoral considerations into voting or not voting, or cheating for a candidate”

“(Beware of those who overspend during elections) They will surely seek to recover their expenses – with profit, at our expense.”

“Band together with your fellow citizens and seek the protection of law enforcers, the COMELEC and its deputies. There are no tyrants where there are no cowards.”

“Election time is one of those rare times in our democracy when people directly exercise political power, which is meant to serve the common good. Do not squander or barter away the exercise of this power. Use it to give our country and people a better life.”

Bishop Abarquez also addressed the COMELEC. He told them to do their work with impartiality, with competence, with honesty and with credibility. And he urged them to expose and neutralize all private armed groups. He also reiterated his appeal the teachers and the public school personnel to uphold truth and honesty; and the police and military to defend the life, dignity and rights of the citizenry.

* * *

This is it for now. Let me leave you with a few more lines from Bishop Abarquez’ homily: “Dear fellow Calbayonons, the elections are the key to good government. Credible elections will make for a credible government. Meaningful elections will make for a good government. These May 14 elections will show what kind of people we are, and will determine the kind of government we shall have. Let us all together make these elections truly CHAMP – Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful and Peaceful.”
* * *

Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lupang Hinirang

Hi there! It’s midweek. So, Pacquiao is it again. No question about it, he can certainly put things to a halt, politics notwithstanding. Now, as to the May polls, I mean his running for Congress, let’s see.

Talking about uniting the Filipinos. It’s indeed a hard job to unite a people scattered in an archipelago of 7,107 islands (is the number really higher if it’s low tide?) where each area has its own version of cooking the adobo, the pansit and yes, even the pinakbet. Certainly one way to “unite” the flock would be for pacman to have a fight on a regular basis.

* * *

I’ve said it in this column before and I’m saying it again, I never liked boxing. It’s such a pity to see those people earn money through such a bloody sport. But come to think of it, it’s a better option than that of some officials who earn blood money. Oops! Me and my mouth.

Let me refer to today’s title. What is this with the boxing ring that always makes the singers render the national anthem as if it’s a pop recording or a birit session? Last Sunday, somebody did it again! SeƱor Palma (my apologies, I can’t recall his first name, I mean the composer of our national anthem) must have turned in his grave - again - considering the way Geneva Cruz sang the Lupang Hinirang. And let us not forget the other singers before her who belted out the National Anthem during the other Pacquiao bouts and that of the other Filipino boxers. And what’s with the terno? Ok, the announcer was in a tux. And yes, there was once this singer who went onstage, err, the boxing ring resplendent in a terno to sing the national anthem. She loved the song so much she that missed a line or two. That’s on top of the pop (mis) interpretation of the national anthem.

* * *

This was supposed to be part of my column last April 4, a few days after April Fools’ day. Anyway, nothing big about it. For jesters and those who are into fun, April Fools’ Day is just that, a day, April 1 to be exact. Well, it’s a different thing for some politicians in our midst, everyday is April Fools’ Day. Oops, ang pikon laging talo.

* * *

Talking about politics. During the Holy Week, I had a short chika with a friend of mine who happens to be a priest. It’s odd, we ended not with a topic on how to make the week holier, but on how politics and vacationing in one’s hometown can be connected. Here are the types of bakasyonistas according to my friend:
  • The students who are in town every semestral break. In the case of some who study in Cebu, they are in town when the allowance runs out, or it’s the school’s intrams or there is much laundry to do.
  • The Balikbayan, on the average, it’s every two years, some at end of contract (normally two years), others, especially seamen, when their vessel happen to anchor in a nearby port;
  • and the other balikbayans who counted decades before comng home kay nagtirok pa, pero pag-abot 'Pinas parang sino (this line is from me).
Anyway, what do you call those who are home every three years? Not exactly 3 years, they do come home months before election, pang getting-to-know-you moments kumbaga. Yun lang!

* * *

Some election recollection (It’s my mom’s recollection actually). There was a time when our overburdened and underpaid teachers got the flak for the election results. You know, the losing candidates saying that they did not know how to count. I suppose our new breed of teachers are way, way different and better from some teachers of old. So what’s with the recollection? Forget about carabao or broken english (which sadly is a case in some of them) there was a time - election time - during the counting of votes, that a teacher simply counted or said the wrong or different name. When my mom or was it her companion tried to react, that teacher simply said: “siya man, baga an others”, or something to that effect. Of course I’m talking about an election many years ago. That teacher has since retired and is now with her creator.

* * *

Let me give you the second part of Kids in the church that I left you with last Friday:After the christening of his baby brother in church, little Johnny sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong.Finally, the boy replied, "That priest said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I want to stay with you guys!"
Terri asked her Sunday School class to draw pictures of their favorite Bible stories. She was puzzled by Kyle's picture, which showed four people on an airplane, so she asked him which story it was meant to represent."The Flight to Egypt ," was his reply .Pointing at each figure, Ms. Terri said, "That must be Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. But who's the fourth person?""Oh, that's Pontius - the pilot!"
The Sunday School Teacher asks, "Now, Johnny, tell me frankly do you say prayers before eating?""No sir," little Johnny replies, I don't have to. My mom is a good cook.
This is the best one.A little girl was sitting on her grandfather's lap as he read her a bedtime story.From time to time, she would take her eyes off the book and reach up to touch his wrinkled cheek. She was alternately stroking her own cheek, then his again.Finally she spoke up, "Grandpa, did God make you?""Yes, sweetheart," he answered, "God made me a long time ago.""Oh," she paused, "grandpa, did God make me too?""Yes, indeed, honey," he said, "God made you just a little while ago."Feeling their respective faces again, she observed, "God's getting better at it, isn't he?"

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, April 13, 2007

and the survey says ...

Hi there! It’s Friday the thirteenth. In case you read my column yesterday, the line about the doomsayers was on what they have to say about candidates campaigning on this day. Anyway, we are all too aware of some candidates who are into the supernatural when it comes to determining or seeking guidance for their fate (in politics). It’s odd there seem to be no feng shui experts and fortune tellers who went on TV to make some predictions (both dire and good) with regards to the forthcoming polls. It seems that they are sensible enough not to compete with the surveys. Time and again, survey results have always been controversial. As reported, some officials were fuming at the latest SWS figures. Well, if the result is not in one’s favor it will always be infuriating. But on the other hand, I (or the simpleton in me) think(s) that the result should have served as a reminder to do something with the campaign strategy and what have you. We must remember, (my apologies) Marcos took seriously the surveys in the late 60s where the results showed his eroding popularity and that of his wife. And the rest is, well, history. So what about the surveys? It’s complicated, though imperfect, they can be accurate. And the survey says …!

* * *

Some priests of the Diocese of Calbayog gathered in the city last Tuesday. They were in town for a simple celebration led by Bishop Isableo Abarquez. That celebration commemorated the 97th anniversary of the erection of the Diocese. Just in case you would be interested, it was Pope Pius X, now a saint (his image occupies a niche in the retablo of the Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral) who created the Diocese through a papal bull on April 10, 1910.

* * *

Let me continue my feature on the world’s happiest countries (the first part came out during the April 4 issue):

To produce the "Happy Map," White dug deep. He analyzed data from a variety of sources including UNESCO, the CIA, The New Economics Foundation, and the World Health Organization. He then examined the responses of 80,000 people surveyed worldwide.MONEY STILL COUNTS. Good health may be the key to happiness, but money helps open the door. Wealthier countries, such as Switzerland (2) and Luxembourg (10) scored high on the index. Not surprisingly, most African countries, which have little of either; scored poorly. Zimbabwe, which has an AIDS rate of 25%, an average life expectancy of 39, and an 80% poverty rate, ranked near the bottom at 177. Meanwhile, the conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis gave fellow Africans in Burundi, ranked 178, even less to smile about, despite their having a slightly lower poverty rate of 68%.

Capitalism, meanwhile, fared quite well. Free-market systems are sometimes blamed for producing unhappiness due to insecurity and competition, but the U.S. was No. 23 and all the top-ranking European countries are firmly capitalist—albeit of a social-democratic flavor.White says the only real surprise in his findings was how low many Asian countries scored. China is 82, Japan 90, and India an unhappy 125. "These are countries that are thought as having a strong sense of collective identity, which other researchers have associated with well-being," he says.

ARE WE HAPPY YET? White admits that happiness is subjective. But he defends his research on the grounds that his study focused on life satisfaction rather than brief emotional states. "The frustrations of modern life, and the anxieties of the age, seem to be much less significant compared to the health, financial, and educational needs in other parts of the world."

One of the study's intentions was to see how Britain, given media preoccupation with well-being, fared compared to other parts of the globe. His conclusion: "The current concern with happiness levels in the U.K. may well be a case of the 'worried well.'"

* * *

I got that article from Now a question: how many times was the Philippines mentioned in that article?

* * *

Now for the other Election tradition I mentioned in this column a few weeks back. A day or two before the election (depending upon the distance of their work area), before they report to their respective areas, in pairs, trios or small batches, these election servers (I’ll use that term, otherwise if I mention their positions or line of work, I’m dead – literally and figuratively – even if I’m not running for office) knock, not on heaven’s doors (to pray for peaceful polls?) but on the gates of the candidates’ (from both opposing camps) abodes. What for? Well, not to wish them good luck, but to ask for their allowance - not in kind, but in cash. Proof to tell: I know one person who has been in politics for quite sometime. And it happens every election. And his case is only one of the many.

* * *

Let me leave you with something to smile about this week, Kids in the church: A little boy was attending his first wedding. After the service, his cousin asked him, "How many women can a man marry?" "Sixteen," the boy responded. His cousin was amazed that he had an answer so quickly."How do you know that?""Easy," the little boy said. "All you have to do is add it up, like the Bishop said, 4 better, 4 worse, 4 richer, 4 poorer."
After a church service on Sunday morning, a young boy suddenly announced to his mother, "Mom, I've decided to become a minister when I grow up.""That's okay with us, but what made you decide that?""Well," said the little boy, "I have to go to church on Sunday anyway, and I figure it will be more fun to stand up and yell, than to sit and listen."
A 6-year-old was overheard reciting the Lord's Prayer at a church service, "And forgive us our trash passes, as we forgive those who passed trash against us."
A boy was watching his father, a pastor, write a sermon. "How do you know what to say?" He asked. "Why, God tells me.""Oh, then why do you keep crossing things out?"
A little girl became restless as the preacher's sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, "Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?"

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Bishop's Appeal

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! tomorrow is Friday the thirteenth. I still need to read or hear what doomsayers have to say about candidates campaigning on that day. Talking about superstitious beliefs, let’s take the one on taking a bath. Do you still remember how old folks would discourage one from taking a bath on certain days of the week or during celebrations or events throughout the year (like Holy Thursday and Good Friday, etc.), or at certain times of the day (like it’s evening so the spirits will be around; or not at 3 pm ‘coz that’s the time Christ died) which if you would take a close look (or count) and seriously consider, that would leave us with no more days when it will be safe to take a bath.

Last Monday was Araw ng Kagitingan. Of course, as expected, nobody noticed it (hmm, some TV networks did give a few seconds slot on the activities in Bataan). For the many, including me, that day was simply an addition to the already long weekend called the Holy Week, which sadly is spells as holi week, as in holiday, for many of our fellowmen, both believers (in God, or a god, or gods) and agnostics alike. Let’s not include the hotel and restaurant owners, they will always be able to strike gold even when there’s no holiday; or even when it’s a holy day.

Back to Araw ng Kagitingan. So, the veterans were honored again. I’m not privy to the comings and going of the Veterans’ Affairs, but from the looks of it, it seems that the annual testimonial from the president or whichever VIP is present in the annual commemoration, is all they’ll ever get. In their lifetime, if I may add. A few weeks ago, Neal Cruz in his PDI column recalled something like 1 billion pesos promised by PGMA for the veterans last year. I share Mr. Cruz’ concerns about what happened to that promise.

And Politicians galore. Last Sunday, during the Easter Mass, the Cathedral (okey, the mass goers) was a witness to a gathering of politicians and would-be-politicians (should I include has-beens?) of all shapes and sizes and political colors (now, that’s what made the gathering colorful) who are running for various positions in the May polls. Nope, there was no peace covenant to be signed, they were just there, including those whom you seldom see attend mass, at least in the last three years.

* * *

In his homily during the Easter Vigil, Calbayog Bishop, Msgr. Isableo Abarquez made an appeal for a peaceful election. Let me give you some parts of that homily which he delivered in Cebuano, Waray-waray and English:

“… yana nga ti-arabot nga Mayo 14, mag eleksyon na liwat kita. Hinaut nga magmaisog kita sa pagsaksi san aton Kristohanon nga pagtoo uban sa nabanhaw nga Kristo pinaagi san mga kandidato nga maghatag san kaupayan san bug-os nga katawhan diri lang sa pipila nga pinili sa katilingban. Sa aton ti-arabot nga eleksyon, do not allow yourselves to be corrupted by money. Vote for persons who morally, intellectually, spiritually and physically show themselves capable of inspiring the whole nation towards a hopeful future. Refuse to cooperate with, and resist singly and in collaboration with others, all efforts of cheating, intimidation and violence from whatever source, during the campaign period and at any stage of the electoral process.

TO THE TEACHERS AND PUBLIC SCHOOL PERSONNEL: I trust in your integrity. In the eyes of the young, you are the upholders of truth and honesty. Please do not destroy or let others destroy your name and profession. May you courageously resist bribes and pressures.

TO THE MILITARY AND POLICE: you are the guardians of peace and order. You owe your allegiance to the Flag and to your people not to any particular individual candidates or political group. I urge you to defend the life, dignity and rights of our citizenry. Never allow yourselves to be used as instruments of election violence and cheating.

TO THE COMELEC AND OTHER PEOPLE IN THE GOVERNMENT: you are public servants. No matter who appointed you in the office, you are the servants of the people, your utang na loob and loyalty should be directed to the people you are committed to serve. I urge you to resist all efforts to demean your dignity through pressures and intimidation of all sorts.

Sa tanan nga magserbisyo sa atong ti-arabot nga eleksyon: amo kini ang akong pahinumdum: “WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN.” In a conflict of loyalties and interests, the will of God must prevail over unjust command of earthly leaders…”

* * *

Congratulation and Best Wishes to Atty. Jun Hernandez and Lianne Aniban. They got married last Sunday. Fr. Ferdie Figueroa said the wedding mass at the CKC Chapel. Mayor Mel Sarmiento led the principal sponsors that included Atty. Oscar Hugo, Alan Diomangay, Roger Casurao, Ana Asis, among others.

They held their reception at the spanking Centennial Pastoral Center. Worth noting is the couple’s decision not to give out souvenirs (or party favors). Instead they donated the money to the Missionaries of Charity for whom Junjun serves as legal counsel, pro-bono.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The World's Happiest Countries

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s Holy Wednesday. As expected, Sir Ducat is bound to live in oblivion after his 15 minutes of fame. That’s granting the he isn’t released and again indulge in his favorite pastime. If I may rephrase that quote said after the attempt on the life of the late Pope John Paul II, periodically we have adults, even old men and women held hostage, some even die as captives (remember the Achille Lauro incident; the bombing of hijacked planes somewhere in the Middle East in the ‘70s; and some OPEC ministers being held hostage during a conference, to name a few), but seldom, or never do we hear children as hostages. The Ducat incident was all a stunt – whether it was political, ego-tripping, publicity or whatever, you fill in the blank.

* * *

It’s official, there will be at least 28 candidates who will run for the various elective posts in the local polls in Calbayog.

Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento of the Liberal Party and former solon Rudy Tuazon of the NP will square-off in the mayoralty race. Vice Mayor Ronald Aquino will run against Councilor Ariel Rosales in the Vice Mayoralty race.

The LP bets for the Calbayog District are: Ina Rabuya, Noel Sermense, Virgilio Porlares, Jimjim Uy, Julius Mancol and Danilo Bernate. They will face-off with NP’s Ann Sabi, Jojo Rosales, Martin Durmiendo, Glenn Mancol, Intoy Dean and Ogie Reyes.

For the Oquendo and Tinambacan Districts, the LP bets are Mon Uy, Nonoy Pasacas, Benjie Dean, Sonny Salurio, Onx Montealto, and Vergel Clemens. They will be running against NP’s Nestor Tamidles, Sylvan Ayong, Billy Martirez, Jocelyn Tan, Romy Durmiendo and Emmie Doroja.

* * *

(at the risk of plagiarism) Let me share this interesting article which I got from Rating Countries for the Happiness Factor, by Marina Kamenev. It’s a study pulled together from sources and surveys (which) found that good health care and education are as important as wealth to modern happiness.

Feeling sad? Researchers at Britain's University of Leicester reckon you might just be in the wrong country. According to Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist at Leicester who developed the first "World Map of Happiness," Denmark is the happiest nation in the world.White's research used a battery of statistical data, plus the subjective responses of 80,000 people worldwide, to map out well-being across 178 countries. Denmark and five other European countries, including Switzerland, Austria, and Iceland, came out in the top 10, while Zimbabwe and Burundi pulled up the bottom.

Not surprisingly, the countries that are happiest are those that are healthy, wealthy, and wise. "The most significant factors were health, the level of poverty, and access to basic education," White says. Population size also plays a role. Smaller countries with greater social cohesion and a stronger sense of national identity tended to score better, while those with the largest populations fared worse. China came in No. 82, India ranked 125, and Russia was 167. The U.S. came in at 23.

IT'S SUBJECTIVE. White's study, to be published later this year, was developed in part as a response to the British media's fascination with life satisfaction. A recent BBC survey concluded that 81% of Britain's population would rather the government make them happier than richer.Despite its often bleak weather, England ranked relatively happy at 41. "There is increasing political interest in using measures of happiness as a national indicator along with measures of wealth," White says. "We wanted to illustrate the effects of global poverty on subjective well-being to remind people that if they want to address unhappiness as an issue the need is greatest in other parts of the world." (to be continued…)

* * *

Congratulations to the 33 grantees of the Mel Sarmiento Scholarship Program (MSSP) who recently graduated (from High School and College) from TTMIST and CKC.

* * *

Harin! Nasering pa daw ak!!” So exclaimed my mom upon reading about Bayan Muna being number one in the surveys. I suppose the same goes with a good number of voters who witnessed what Mr. Ocampo went through.

* * *

This is it for now. Let me leave you with something to ponder upon this Holy Week. Here’s what I suppose is another way of understanding that well-known prayer Psalm 23:
The Lord is my Shepherd. That's Relationship!
I shall not want. That's Supply!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. That's Rest!
He leadeth me beside the still waters. That's Refreshment!
He restoreth my soul. That's Healing!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness. That's Guidance!
For His name sake. That's Purpose!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. That's Testing!
I will fear no evil. That's Protection!
For Thou art with me. That's Faithfulness!
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. That's Discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies. That's Hope!
Thou anointest my head with oil. That's Consecration!
My cup runneth over. That's Abundance!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. That's Blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord. That's Security!
Forever................ That's Eternity!

* * *

Have a Holy Week everyone! Ciao!


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