Saturday, April 5, 2008

View from a mountain

Some years ago,  a news item buried in the inner
pages of a bulky broadsheet reported that
Adventists schools in this country prohibit
their students to render homage to the
Philippine flag. I wondered about the
accuracy of that news item and if the
Department of Education would do
something about it.

Then a couple of years ago, I met
Mr. Daniel Dial,president of the Mountain
View College, at a concert sponsored by the
Adventists and I invited him to my radio
program “Krus na daan” to talk about that
school ensconced in the mountains of
Valencia city,Bukidnon. Last year, he
invited me to be the commencement speaker
for the 2 9 March 2008 graduation
ceremonies, the college’s 74th, which
I happily accepted. I remembered that
disquieting news item and wanted
to see for myself if it was true.

There were several ceremonies one of which
was the Consecration that took place
on the evening of my arrival. To the famous
march of Verdi’s Aida, the graduates,
splendid in satin academic robes, entered
the circular chapel in solemn procession.
After the main speaker delivered his two-hour
homily, heavily focused on the life of Christ
according to the four evangelists, the lights
were dimmed and the master of ceremonies
asked the students to light candles. The effect
was spiritually uplifting and as the students
were asked to kneel in prayer, their parents
and teachers were called to form a circle
around them and with hands clasped,
they also knelt in prayer. The soft glow of
candle lights and prayers piously chanted
could have touched the heart of the
most cynical Catholic.

Precisely at that sacred moment, an
imponderable thought shook my
entire being-- this congregation and
others like it are the backbone of
the Philippines! This is the burgeoning
middle class,dynamic, hard-working,
disciplined and entrepreneurial that has
kept this country afloat. Why look for super
heroes, the country’s salvation is found right
here, in the chapel of Mountain View College.

Strikingly, the 2008 class hymn and philosophy
is taken from a psalm of King David--
”Here I am Lord, send me!” Yes, indeed!
Send me to make a difference and save the
Philippines, Lord! – was the electrifying
plea that boggled my mind.

Somehow, I felt that the young Adventists,
their parents and teachers, all kneeling
in fervent prayer, were not extending
the philosophy of David’s psalm to local
Philippine conditions. My lightning revelation
was interrupted by Dr. Myrna Dial, Daniel’s wife,
who whispered that eighty-five percent of the
graduates were going to seek greener pastures
in foreign lands and that once, when she
asked a class roomful of students how many
would stay behind, only two raised their
hands. Well, there are economic imperatives
to consider; families hock land and livestock
just to send their children to school after
which the eldest is expected to be the
family breadwinner. With such constraints,
a Filipino, patriotic or not, is compelled
to join the overseas labor force.

I do not think the Adventist students were
prohibited to pledge allegiance to the
Philippine flag, at least not at Mountain View
College but, there was definitely a disconnect
between being a good Christian and a good
Filipino. On day two, during an idyllic lunch
aboard a bamboo houseboat on the placid
Lake Apo, I told Dr.Daniel Dial and my
Adventist friends that I had an observation
I wanted to share with them.#



Johnny Workentine said...

The article must have been wrong.

Adventists are not SO picky about what they pay homage to:

gemma cruz araneta said...

Dear Mr. Workentine,
I was informed that the Jehovah Witnesses, not the Adventists, consider the national flag a graven image.

rhoen said...

You may want to visit our official church website at and find out more about us.

thanks, gemma for this wonderful piece. i came from MVC, too!