TO LIGHT A FIRE!
Part 1 of this forthcoming series of articles was written more than a year ago. It is re-printed at the tailend of this article as Part 1 thereof. Several recent noteworthy events and circumstances led me this New Year to decide on writing an extended commentary in relation to those events.
My last blog on December 8 last year was triggered by a Franciscan priest-friend of mine. He had been extremely bothered by the frontpage news about a diocesan priest in Lubao, Pampanga who had elevated PGMA’s sufferings from the intense media criticism of her electoral aspirations to the House Speakership, up to the same level of self-sacrifice as those of Our Lord Jesus Christ during His crucifixion. Incidentally, I suspect that many more of our Catholic priests and bishops may have had similar if not even more agitated reactions to such a gross comparison.
At the end of the previous year, the newly elected President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, His Excellency the Most Reverend Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar came out with a press release urging our voters to make use of the coming national elections as a rare opportunity to boot out our current coven of corrupt politicians. Incidentally too, the spoken-for spokesperson of Malacañang soon after complimented the good Bishop for his reminder and added the more significant spin that allegedly PGMA had not felt alluded to by the Bishop’s pre-election message as perhaps the most obvious political croc in this corrupt caboodle.
And so last Sunday, the last day of the Christmas Season, I decided to take this renewed re-entry into our fast heating-up cauldron of political commentaries, soon after having read the column pieces of a) Federico D. Pascual Jr. of Postscript (“It’s still the same bad world out there”); b) William M. Esposo in As I Wreck This Chair (“Why for over 40% of voters 2010 is Its NOY or Never”); c) Fr. Manoling M. Francisco, S.J. in God’s Word Today (“Mary, the Star of Bethlehem”); d) The PDI Editorial (Sources of Hope); e) former Supreme Court Justice Isagani A. Cruz in his Separate Opinion; f) Fr. Jerry M. Orbos, SVD (Working and praying in 2010); g) Patricia Evangelista’s Method to Madness, and lastly h) former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s World View (“A Time of Tests”).
If I still had some indecisiveness in tackling as a single topic such a vast and complicated array of political matters with moral/religious ramifications, it must have dissipated like the firecrackers’ smoke of the New Year’s Eve after I tediously had to listen to the rambling Sunday homily of a religious priest (not a Franciscan nor a Jesuit). He started off, supposedly as an alter Christus, by repeating a TV advertisement’s joke about three other “Kings” who came with the Magi to greet the newborn child Jesus, namely Chowking, Tapaking and some other kinky King my ears and the sound system mercifully failed to register.
And while listening that evening to ANC’s Maria Ressa skillfully guiding a most interesting discussion on TV (Numbers Game) among a very distinguished and surprisingly sober panel of political partisan spinmasters and political survey professionals, I was also led to choose the unifying theme for my own series of articles.
Thus let me introduce that binding thread by recalling, imperfectly I’m afraid, the following elocution piece chosen for me during my Freshman high school days by my Jesuit Scholastic mentor, the future martyr in Mindanao, Fr. Godofredo Alingal, S.J. – a piece written by his fellow Jesuit and the future founder-organizer of our Christian Third Force’s Light a Fire enterprise against martial law.
Jewels of the Pauper
(by Horacio de la Costa, S.J.)
There is a thought that comes to me sometimes as I sit by my window in the evening, listening to the young men’s guitars, and watching the shadows deepen on the long hills, the hills of my native land.
You know, we are a remarkably poor people; poor not only in material goods, but even in the riches of the spirit. I doubt we can claim to possess a truly national literature. No Shakespeare, no Cervantes has yet been born among us to touch with immortality that which in our landscape, in our customs, and in our history, is most original, most ourselves. If we must need give currency to our thoughts, we are forced to mint them in the coinage of a foreign tongue. For we do not even have a common language.
But poor as we are, yet we have something. This pauper among the nations of the earth hides two jewels in her rags. One of them is our music. We are sundered one from another by eighty-seven dialects; but we are one people when we sing! The kundimans of Bulacan awaken an answering chord in the lutes of
We are again one people when we pray! This is our other treasure, our Faith. It gives somehow, to our little uneventful days, a kind of splendor as though they have been touched by a king. And have you ever noticed how they are always mingling our religion and our music? All the basic rites of human life – the harvest and the seedtime, the wedding, birth and death – are among us, drenched with the fragrance of incense and the coolness of music.
These are the bonds that bind us together. This is our soul that makes us one. And as long as there remains in these islands one mother to sing Nena’s Lullaby, one boat to put out to sea with the immortal rowing song, one priest to stand at the altar and offer God to God, this nation may be conquered, trampled upon, enslaved, BUT IT CANNOT PERISH! Like the sun that dies every evening, it will rise again from the dead…
-- o --
Somewhere up there Horacio Dela Costa may be sheepishly grimacing over that so prophetic last line of his piece written circa 1940. For just about a year later, Japanese troops inexorably invaded our shores to wreak havoc on our people and to subjugate our nation. The damage inflicted by them to our nation’s Christian soul became apparent in 1945, when in turn we were just as cruel and barbaric in our vengeance on helpless captured Japanese soldiers.
And so some 65 years later, too many among the present generation such as Patricia Evangelista are now the young-turned-cynical too soon. They are eloquent proof of the continuing havoc, both moral and physical, being inflicted on our people but with FAR MORE SERIOUS DAMAGE, than during the Japanese invasion. And the saddest part of it all is the UNDENIABLE FACT that this moral and physical strangulation of our people almost to the point of asphyxiation, has gone on and on under the governance of our leaders 99.9% of whom are our fellow Filipino Christians including many PROMINENT CATHOLICS who have long been nurtured in the Roman Catholic Faith at the Ateneo, La Salle, San Beda, U.S.T., Letran and Assumption College too… among others.
Thus on April 30, 2008 I wrote the following piece, (slightly re-edited) now Part 1 (by hindsight) of this series.
TO LIGHT A FIRE!
Whereto and Whatnow
I must confess that for sometime now I have refrained from filling up this blogspace.
It was not so much because of time and duty constraints. It was more out of a feeling of near hopelessness about the deeply rooted malaise and crises of all sorts gripping our nation. For it looked like practically everything had gone from very bad to much worse particularly during the last few months.
But hope I must, regardless of how bleak and frightening are the economic, political, moral AND religious crises confronting our people. Most distressing is the fact that consistently all the most credible Opinion Surveys indicate that almost two out of three of our citizens, whether rich or poor, in the cities or the countryside, emphatically blame the top national executives of the government for such a terrible and still worsening state of our nation.
Consider that all this obviously widespread national condemnation of our benighted leaders, have been confirmed repeatedly by our National Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as by practically all major and credible newspaper and other media editorials, opinion writers and bloggers. And yet a substantial number of our most prominent Catholic bishops still habitually and publicly exalt a top government official who, by COMMON SENSE, by universal democratic principles, and by established management rules of governance, must be held accountable, nay CULPABLE, for allowing our nation to become such a near hopeless basket case.
Furthermore, in addition to gracing such widely publicized photo-ops officially as Catholic bishops in their full episcopal regalia while praising that official so extravagantly for supposed excellent moral qualities and good governance, these bishops also blithely dismiss even the most credible, persistent and documented accusations of corruption and mismanagement against this official, her relatives and associates. WHY, for heaven’s sake? Simply because impeachment attempts, Senate investigations and judicial proceedings even in our Supreme Court have been shamelessly sabotaged and/or immorally stymied by subservient and similarly corrupted political allies, appointees and underlings in government.
In short, the national consensus is that there is a pandemic crisis of truth vis-à-vis mind-boggling corruption all the way up to the highest levels of our government!
Providentially, last April 17 in Washington, D.C. Pope Benedict XVI recently explained to leaders of U.S. Catholic institutions that a true understanding of the real roots of any “crisis of truth”, must point to its underlying crisis of faith. Thus Papa Bene re-affirmed the Gospel by inferring that LOGICALLY and historically especially for Christians, a BETRAYAL of their Christian FAITH must be the real and primary factor underlying the habitual lies, the enormous thieveries or the shocking immoralities of those who have solemnly sworn to uphold the TRUTH but instead do exactly the opposite with shameless impunity.
And so these betrayers of the public trust must have been for some length of time, without real Faith in God. Thus MAMON and his demons inevitably lure them into enslaving their own selves under their personal idolatries and addiction to endless political power and illicitly enormous wealth, rank selfishness and inordinate pride as well, such that for them no lie is ever too obvious, no “hypocriSHE” ever too shameless.
Thus I recommend that our Catholic leaders such as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her crony government officials and favorite bishops read the editorial piece in the April issue of The Catholic World Report (CWR) written by its Editor George Neumayr, which succinctly submits that moral disorders and many other institutional disasters inevitably follow in the wake of mendacity and falsehood, because “drawing back from truth does not attract people but alienates them.”
EDUARDO B. OLAGUER
NOTE: Part 3 should follow soon, God willing. It will dwell on Bishop Odchimar’s message to our voters, and in relation to the Postscript article of Fr.(?) Federico Pascual, Jr., and those of Fathers Jerry Orbos, SVD and Manoling Francisco, S.J. And Part 4 will be in relation to the opinion articles of William M. Esposo and Justice Isagani A. Cruz vis-à-vis Senator Noynoy Aquino and PGMA. I shall tackle the PDI editorial and Tony Blair last in Part 5.