Thursday, March 27, 2008

The making of a sermon

Last Sunday, the priest saying Mass reminded
us that Easter is more important than
Christmas and although Jesus Christ became
man on Christmas day to save us,when He rose
from the dead on Easter Sunday, He proved
His divinity beyond any doubt; no human being
had/has ever risen from the dead.(Coincidentally,
on the way to Mass, that was exactly what my
mother was telling us.)

Sadly, I was certain that most of those
gathered there for Easter Mass were
listening but not hearing the priest’s homily;
neither were they transfixed by the awesome
significance of Christ rising from the
dead. Sermons (now called homilies), speeches at
commencement exercises and various commemorations,
even privilege speeches in the august halls of
Congress have been reduced to mere rituals-
decorative, rhetorical and occasional. At best,
the audience is deceptively attentive yet
stone deaf, and at worse, noisy and
shockingly rude.

Frankly, I am always curious about what a speaker
has to say and if he is a priest,pastor
or minister,I want to know if he is able
to connect God’s teachings to my life as a
member of the Church and a citizen of this Republic.
As early as the XVIth century,when Christianity
first came to our shores, the Spanish missionaries
knew that the vital connection had to be made,
profoundly and urgently, lest their efforts at
evangelization fail.

During the Holy Week, I made my own private pabasa
of Seromones of Padre Francisco Blancas de San
Jose,(edited by Jose Mario c. Francisco,SJ,
Pulong:Sources for Philippine Studies, Ateneo de
Manila University, Quezon City), a Dominican who
arrived in 1595, probably aboard a galleon, via
Mexico. He was assigned to Bataan where he
lived for ten years. To make that vital connect
to the native psyche, Padre Blancas de San Jose
had to learn Tagalog and some Chinese, compile
Tagalog words into a glossary and figure out
Tagalog grammatical construction and write
a book about it. Those valuable tools for
evangelization outlived their author.

Not content with grammar books and glossaries,
Padre Blancas de San Jose had to learn native
concepts of the Almighty, the afterlife,
kinship, political and socioeconomic hierarchies,
values like good and evil,punishment and reward.
He also analyzed songs, legends and myths, and
what we now call performing and plastic arts.
Only after acquiring that vast socio-
anthropological experience and body of knowledge
did the padre feel he could touch the lives of the
natives, make them internalize Doctrina
Cristiana and transform them into thinking
Christians. Needless to say, it helped that the
inhabitants of Bataan were rounded up,
by the colonial authorities, in "reducciones"
or hamlets. However, I do not cease to
wonder whether our present day preachers study
the multifarious features of modern Philippine
society as painstakingly as Padre Blancas de
San Jose scrutinized XVIth century Bataan.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

from Lydia M. Padilla-Rinne

TERVE from Finland, meaning Mahuhay to you!!!

I read your article on Hannibal Lim through website.
A member whose pseudonym is "ZA4TEZA" has been
keen and kind to forward some of your articles.

Thank you so much for your insight and giving
us more knowledge of the past which in my
high school days we did not know about.This is
part of my everyday learning,as my mother
Aurelia said:I should learn something everyday
by reading or listenening to experiences of other

Keep up the good work of enlightening us with
your articles and writings.GODs blessings on
you and your loveones,especially your
parents,hoping they are still alive.
with Love & Prayers
Lydia Padilla-Rinne & mother Aurelia
Manila High School BATCH 1962

from js(doebrook)

After reading your article I want to respond about the Koreans.
I cannot believe Filipinos are giving preferential treatments to Koreans after all the brutalities they have done during the war in the Philiipines.
Now the Koreans are here in our country investing in small businesses, prospering and again abusing the Filipinos.
But does our Philippine government as well as the Filipinos know the Koreans? After the 2nd World war, Korea and Taiwan both colonies of the Japanese Empire were placed under the mandate of the United Nations. I am not going into details of the separation.
I was 16 years old when the Japanese Army invaded the Philippines in December 8, 1941.
In 1942, I joined an American guerrilla force operating in Bulacan Military Area. The Koreans and Taiwanese in the Japanese Army were only permitted to carry bayonets without a rifle. The raping and abuses of the Filipinos were mostly done by these Japanese soldiers armed with bayonets. In my experience during the war the atrocities done by the Japanese Army were committed by the Koreans and Taiwanese who were also abused and ill- fed by their Japanese colonizers.

from Leonora Enriquez

Thanks for sharing your observation. This situation happens all the time . Some of our kababayans assist foreigners first because they are given tips or lagay. I was in line to withdraw money from my mother's bank account . This was at the PNB Olongapo city branch. I stood in line for almost 2 hours . I see some people going in and out of the teller cage all the while thinking they were employees by the bank. But they were friends of the teller and she assist them first because she gets some tip from the withdrawal. This people going in and out are the runnres of the account holders. I was so upset that I demanded to speak with the manager. It did not do me any good because I found out that he is also doing the same thing. He assisted me but he is also assisting other "clients" at the same time. It was very disgusting. It is true to every government agency that I dealt with because when my mother pass away in 2006 I had a hard time processing her paperworks because I refuse to give lagay . I believe this is the root of the problem. Most people do not take their jobs seriously and no pride at all.

from Adelbert Batica

That was one great article! Hard-hitting, pero magnifico. But yes, there are some of us who need a spine to stand up to foreigners. You know, if you were writing for a newspaper in Mexico, the more "appropriate" vocabulary to use over would have been coj...s. But course.
On my last trip to Cuba, I had an excruciating experience with waiting in line for almost three hours outside the office of the government-owned cellphone company. I had gone there to help my host's daughter get a cellphone (which is a tough one to get in Cuba, since its purchase of cellphones was, and I believe still is, highly regulated). To buy the cellphone, she needed a permit from the Ministry of the Interior that had an officer assigned at the same location for the purpose of issuing permits. As their customer at their "casa particular", I did have a legitimate business with them, and had to sign an endorsement for the cellphone puchase.
But to backtrack a bit, we waited three agonizing hours for that brief moment with the Ministry of Interior officer and the cellphone sales personnel. There was already a long line of people, locals and foreigners alike, waiting to purchase or load a cellphone. As we got to what looked like the end of the line, we asked the question which is SOP at any waiting line all over Cuba: "Quien es el ultimo?" ("Who's last [in line]"). A lady in front of me said, "Usted, senor." A security guard stood nearby keeping a close eye on us. Other than the long wait, it was quite an illuminating experience. Mind you, a three-hour wait is long, and in between, I had to take a restroom break, and eat a snack (courtesy of an enterprising vendor who had his wares ready a few feet from us). I think I must have lit a few cigarros in between, also. And get this: during that three-hour "episode" I never lost my place in the line. All the customers in line make sure nobody broke the line or cut in. helped that a security guard was close by.
I even traveled all the way to visit Santiago de Cuba (a 12-hour bus ride from Havana) and the Church of our Lady of Cobre, and as usual - there were lines at the bus stations, museums, and other attractions. Never did I experience anybody cutting in, whether foreigner or local. And yes, asking "Quien es el ultimo?" didn't make me uncomfortable.

my reply

Dear Mr. Ellett, Sr.,

There were indeed other Cebu Pacific counters that
were closed and Mr. Jeweish Batiduan did take the
Koreans to other counters, as I had mentioned in my
article, BUT, only after I had called his attention.
He brought them to counter 20 which was closed and
unattended and then to counter 26 which was at the
extreme end of the line of counters and eventually
opened for Laoag, which was why I caught up with him.

In my opinion, it is as simple as "first come,first
serve" and if you have to attend to an impatient
group, for efficiency's sake do open another counter,
by all means. It's commonsense , isn't it? ( Am not
even saying common courtesy as that has become a very
rare commodity.)

Have a glorious Easter.

from Ken Ellett, Sr.

Jewish Romulo C Batiduan was just probably doing what his management and owners have told him to do. So any criticism needs to be directed to the owners and not him. Those stepping in front of you are probably regular group agents that are there every day. Normally airlines have a separate window for them. They bring many customers to the line and actually reduce a line length from the many that they serve from standing in line with you..

It is probably that there is a lack of windows available that the group agents are pulled in front of you. This is a basic airline management problem that they need to recognize and find a solution to. You are certainly not the only one that is disturbed with this practice with this airline. It is a shame that their management do not realize that all the good things that they try to build for the line is eroded by this practice that gives you a poor view of them. Experiences like this live on far beyond any good that the airline can do

Friday, March 21, 2008

Looking for a spine

Whenever you see a Filipino missing this vital
part of the human anatomy,(I am referring to the
spinal column ) don’t you feel pained and anguished?
That was how I felt some days ago,15 Marchtobe exact,
while I was lining up at Cebu Pacific counter 21
(which had an “Open” sign)at the domestic airport.
As instructed,I arrived two hours before boarding
time, was armed with the proper IDs and had braced
myself to go through rigorous security measures,which
turned out to be disappointingly lax.

There were two ladies before me , one was
already checking in when I arrived.Surely, she was
an OFW as she had several cardboard boxes securely
tied and properly labeled.It took some time for the
Cebu Pacific agents,( there were two of them, a
young lady and young man), to weight all that
stuff and the queue was getting longer.Suddenly,
from the end of the line, a Korean-looking man
with a bunch of passports went directly to the
counter to check-in and before addressing the
male agent he half turned and said a blanket,
“Sorry..” to all those patiently waiting in line;
four other Korean-looking males joined him as soon
as they saw that the Cebu Pacific agent had
ignored all the Filipinos quietly and patiently
waiting in line.

What was going on? Isn’t anyone going to call
the attention of the Cebu Pacificagent and complain
about such arbitrary goings- on? I approached the
counter to politely ask , “ Bakit nauuna sila (the
Koreans)? Di ba, kanina pa kami nakapila rito?Bakit
inuna mo sila?” I did not even rate an answer.
The Cebu Pacific agent completely ignored me even
as I told him ( very calmly ) that I would have
to report his behavior to the airline head office.
Couldn’t he have told those Koreans to wait in
line just like every body else?

Do you think a group of Filipino travelers
could have pulled that stunt at any airportin Korea?
They would probably be shoved back to the end of the
line and reprimanded publicly with ugly words. How
could this young Filipino ticket agent be so
spineless? It was depressing, to say the least.

I went back behind the yellow line and suggested
to the lady passenger who was ahead of me to check
in as it was rightfully her turn. At this point,the
female Cebu Pacific agent motioned to me (rather
feverishly) to approach the counter so she could
check me in, ignoring the passenger who had come
before me. Obviously she had missed the point;why
should she attend to me first just because I was
upset at her wimpy co-worker who all but groveled
at the sight of those aggressive foreigners? I
had to remind her:“Nauna siya [the lady passenger]
sa akin, dapat siya ang asikasuhin mo.” By this
time, the wimp had whisked his impatient Koreans
to counter 20 then to 26,safely out of the
firing line.

When it was my turn, I asked the female Cebu
Pacific agent for the name of her coworker who had
treated Filipinos so shabbily but, she said she
barely knew him. However, she did not realize that
I was booked for Laoag the counter of which had
opened in the meantime. It was precisely number
26, from where the spineless one had dispatched
his dear Koreans. I had to check in there because
passengers going to Laoag had to be weighed with
their luggage. So, I caught up with the wimp after
all and could ask for his name-- Jewish Romulo C.
Batiduan. Yes, his first name is Jewish.I hope the
Easter bunny brings him a set of sturdy vertebrae
which he badly needs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Treacherous grounds

The glaring issue we are too horrified to face
even if it is hitting us between the eyes is treason.
It is so despicable and so painful that it is hard to
imagine that treason may have been committed against
the Filipino people. Has the future of the
Philippines been compromised, the Constitution
silently violated, and our institutions eroded by
those who would foment and protect their personal
gains ?

An economist friend explained that the sell- out
has been going on for decades, right under our noses.
Haven’t I noticed how our fledgling industries were
always nipped at the bud and never allowed to
flourish? Haven’t I heard siren songs about how much
cheaper it is to import staple foods than pamper
indolent farmers? Haven’t I heard plaudits to
consumer-led growth, the strong peso and the service
sector? This friend said I should stop looking at the
trees and try to get a perspective of the forest, or
rather, the dense wilderness surrounding us.

To illustrate his point, he said the
astronomical overpricing in the ZTE, National
Broadband Network, the Cyber Education project, North
and South Rail was allowed by the proponents as an
exchange for something China badly bneeds. My
economist friend emailed a copy of Mr. Barry
Wain’s article ‘Manila’s Bungle in the South China
Sea” (Far Eastern Economic Review, Jan/Feb 2008) .This
revealing article is a must read.

Mr. Wain (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies,
Singapore) extensively quotes a Mark Valencia, an
independent expert on the South China Sea. The article
contends that: “ Presumably for higher political
purposes..,” the present dispensation has agreed to
joint surveys with China in areas that include parts
of our legal continental shelf where China does not
have legal claims-- our sliver of the Spratlys and
precious Malampaya, our gas- producing field off
Palawan .

By agreeing to joint surveying, our government
implicitly agrees that the Chinese claims have a
legitimate basis which is quite dangerous because
China has always affirmed “historical” ownership of
almost the entire South China Sea.
So, if the present dispensation, no matter how
indirectly, appears to give credence to China’s
“historic claim,” we not only put our position in
jeopardy but also that of fellow ASEAN members. The
articles describes the administration’s behavior as “…
a stunning about-face” because in 1995, the
Philippines kicked up an international fuss when the
Chinese moved onto the submerged Mischief Reef on the
same underlying “historic claim” to the area.

According to the Wain article, to date the details
of those agreements with China remain unknown, and
almost nothing has been disclosed about progress on
the seismic study, which should be completed in the
next few months. China’s demands for resources seem
bottomless and as an emerging power, it seems to have
succeeded in persuading this government to tailor
our national plans to China’s requirements, when it
should be the other way around.. The Arroyo
administration may find China’s offers impossible to
resist so we should remain vigilant through
“communal action” , “interfaith rallies” or even
Senate inquiries. There should be transparency and
accountability at all times so the present
dispensation will not be accused of tiptoeing on
treacherous grounds.

from Art Carolino

I enjoy reading your written articles. You bring out lessons from History which most of us tend to disregard and forget. Your role should be duplicated. It should be preserved. Lest we forget.

Thank you!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dear Ms. Araneta,

Well written article on Gen. Vicente Lim.

Keep up the good work.


Fiorello S. Adriano, MBM, FICD
PMA Class 1970, Flying School 72-A

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cannibal Lim's legacy

At West Point, where Vicente Lim was the first
Filipino graduate, he was called “cannibal” because
of his skin color. That was in 1914 when the majority
of Americans knew next to nothing about us, except
what they had seen or heard at the St. Louis World
Fair. Born in Calamba in 1888, Vicente Lim was an
impressionable ten year old lad when the First
Republic was established in Malolos in 1899, and when
the Philippine Revolutionary Army had to defend it
against American invaders. Last 24 February, the City
of Manila celebrated the 120th birthday of this
Filipino hero and martyr.

Fresh from West Point, Vicente Lim was sent to
Europe during World War I as 2nd lieutenant in the US
army. Upon his return to Manila, he joined the
Philippine Scouts, then the Philippine army and by
1940, he was Chief of Staff. When the Philippine Army
was incorporated into the American Armed Forces on
July 16, 1941, Vicente Lim was promoted to Brigadier
General, the top–ranking Filipino officer under
General Douglas MacArthur.

However, he did not always agree with Gen.
MacArthur. Cannibal Lim opposed MacArthur’s National
Defense Plan for the Philippines and as it turned out
he was right, subsequent events proved the plan
useless. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lim was
placed in command of the 41st Philippine Division
which led the rear guard action against the Japanese
in Abucay, Bataan, but was ordered to surrender to
General Homma on April 9, 1942. He became a prisoner
of war, survived the infamous Death March, and on
June 6, 1942, was admitted to the Philippine General
Hospital for treatment of injuries from where he
conducted secret guerrilla activities.

In 1944, Gen. Lim received orders to join
General Douglas MacArthur. He could have figured
prominently in the Leyte Landing, but sadly enough,
enroute to Australia he was captured by the Japanese,
incarcerated and brutally tortured in Fort Santiago
and the Bilibid prison. The Japanese drained his blood
(for transfusions to their own soldiers) after which
Vicente Lim was beheaded. Like many of those who
perished in February 1945, his remains were never
found. General Lim is listed in the Tablets of the
Missing at the Manila National Cemetery and was
awarded, posthumously , the Legion of Merit and the
Purple Heart.

Lim and MacArthur never agreed on the officers
corps. The latter concentrated on training reserve
forces while the former insisted that a "half-baked”
officers corps is “an agent for abuse and corruption.
He was right; a “fatal tradition” had crept into the
Armed forces, a distorted “utang na loob” which Lim
said was meant “to help each other right or wrong”.
He also wrote that “... the minute you put in
favorites, relatives, and compadres, then this army
will bring down the government…” How prophetic! ” No
matter how crooked and weak the President ,” Lim
said, “ ... as long as the army is strong, honest, and
free from politics, the nation will stand.”

His analysis of Philippine democracy is relevant
today: "The principal defect of our national defense
is not the training or lack of finances, but the
great and dangerous defect of democracy which has been
implanted into the minds of the Filipino people. We
have a nationally wrong conception of democracy. Our
democracy in the Philippines is unilateral. It is only
for benefit, for freedom, for Rights, and only for
the comfort and happiness of each individual member of
the nation. That is the common belief, and I venture
to say 99.9% of our people believe in that kind of
democracy.” He said that Filipinos should be
cognizant of their obligations and duties and must be
willing to sacrifice for the good of the State , in
the same measure they enjoy “ personal democracy”.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

A peek at EDSA 1

In February 1986, from across the Pacific Ocean ( I
was then living in Mexico) there were disquieting
reports of restlessness in the Philippine Military
attributed to the RAM-YOU (Reformed Armed Forces
Movement-Young Officers Union), a somewhat covert
group of idealistic officers. I was sent to Manila by
a Mexican news daily to cover what turned out to be
the last days of the Marcos regime.

Upon arrival in Manila, some friends from the
Left suggested that I attend Cardinal Jaime Sin’s
press conference at the Archbishop’s Palace in
Mandaluyong and that I should ask the Cardinal’s
staff to get me an appointment with the RAM. What an
astonishing troika, I thought, clerico/ military
fascist/ Left, a political slogan come true. Could
Marcos survive that?

The day after the Cardinal’s Press conference I
received a phone call and was told to go to the
Ministry of Defense Office at Camp Aguinaldo where a
certain Capt. Rex Robles would be waiting for me. The
anti-Marcos RAM, holding office at the Defense
Ministry? They will never believe this in Mexico, I

Rex Robles turned out to be a mustachioed,
youngish gentleman dressed in a flowered shirt and
tan slacks of the finest twill. He was relaxed,
expansive and when I introduced myself he offered his
hand and confirmed his identity. Somehow, I felt he
expected me to comment on his sartorial informality
so I obliged and told him that I had expected a
military rebel to be dressed in general issue
fatigues, with at least a light hand gun tucked in
his waistband. Obviously, the message was that the
RAM was in absolute control of the situation . As
soon as we were seated, an aide brought in two
steaming hot , luscious mouth-watering Giant Siopaos
from Ma Mon Lluk, which I found impossible to resist,
deprived as I was of such delicacies in Mexico city.

After the interview, Capt. Robles regaled me
with stories about how First Lady Imelda Marcos would
invite the RAM to Malacanang when she heard about
demoralization in the ranks due to lack of equipment,
uniforms, boots, starvation pay and poor living
conditions. Mrs. Marcos gave them lessons on
self-reliance, Rex said rather significantly. Perhaps
he was just being facetious but the message was clear
enough, the Marcos government was neglecting a vital
sector of his support network.

In retrospect, the demands of the RAM-YOU then
were no different from those of the Oakwood, Bicutan
and Peninsula Hotel mutineers. Yesterday, the Armed
Forces conducted a Unity Walk from the EDSA 1 shrine
to Camp Aguinaldo. Reportedly spontaneous, the march
did not include any significant civilian elements, in
contrast to what happened at EDSA during those fateful
days in February, twenty-two years ago.