Category Archives: Personals

No. Why Should it?

2:40 am. Another long post.

One of the more annoying episodes of my growing up years happened at the height of the conjugal dictatorship. (No, it’s not about Voltes V. That’s another story.)

It was a week or two prior to Easter Sunday, and li’l religious me was watching a segment of Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth. The younger generation would probably be more familiar with that ghastly Jesus manga so here’s a brief description of Zefirelli’s work. Produced back in 1977 by British-Italian collaboration, the movie is considered a cinematic Diatessaron or harmonized gospels narrative, and told the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his death. The movie was quite long, with a running time of over 380 minutes, and in the year I watched it, RPN-9 cut the movie up into four parts, with each part played on a Sunday, with the final and fourth part to be broadcast on Easter Sunday. Note that this was back in the day of no cable television, and when Holy Week came around, stations signed off on Good Friday and Black Saturday. We didn’t have any newspapers on those specific days either. (I initially thought they called it Black Saturday because the TV was, well, blacked out.) The movie is considered a cinematic masterpiece and, despite my loyalty to the second commandment, I still consider it my favorite Jesus movie.

So why do I attach it to an annoying episode in my growing up years? It happened on the night the third part of the movie was supposed to be shown. I distinctly remember the narrator, who I think was Robert Powell, the same actor who portrayed the blue-eyed Jesus, saying, “And now, Jesus of Nazareth, Part 3…” I enjoyed the first two installments and had already settled down to enjoy the third. There was the introductory score, the list of actors and actresses, and the beginnings of the story for the week. Things took a wrong turn when the movie was suddenly cut off and the scene replaced with what looked to me like the local concert at the park. The image of Jesus on the screen was replaced by (horrors!) Imelda Marcos herself, for all appearances ready to croon to her crowd of admirers. With her on stage was the late Rico J. Puno and I was right when it turned out they were going to have a concert right then and there.

Needless to say, I was mad. To think that someone would preempt a religious program, during the eve of Holy Week no less, in favor of questionable singing skills! I’m talking of Imelda, not Rico. I was mad, I was frustrated, I was powerless. The words of my late grandmother, who was an avowed Marcos fangirl, didn’t help: “Huwag kang magagalit! Huhulihin ka ng mga sundalo!” (“Don’t get mad! The soldiers will arrest you!”) So I did the only thing I could think of. I switched the darn TV off.

In time I got my own DVD set of the movie and the station eventually played the whole movie so it wasn’t a total loss but the initial thrill of watching a masterpiece was gone.

That annoying episode came to mind with the latest development in the United States about how some media outlets cut off or interrupted President Donald Trump’s live speeches for “fact checking” his lies.  One headline on the local front, courtesy of Philstar’s Interaksiyon asks, “Can Philippine media interrupt live speeches to fact-check?”

My answer: No, why should it?

Now,  I am certainly not suggesting that what happened with President Trump is on the same level as what the FFL did. My mind just paralleled the two. Imelda’s act was preempting an already scheduled and, in my humble opinion, a much better program. Can the government do that? In certain cases, yes. Should the government do that? Not all the time. In the case of the US media outlets, they interrupted a speech by their own president. Whether he was lying was beside the point. Besides, who says he was lying? The same media outlets.

Back to Imelda: At the height of their power, the Marcoses controlled the media. Newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasts were censored to favor the administration. The government’s TV station wasn’t the only government TV station, if you know what I mean. Trump doesn’t have that luxury, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some in the media would want him taking over so that they can then legitimately blame him for it.

I certainly have no love lost for President Trump. Do I believe he was a better candidate than Hilly? Perhaps. Is he better than Mr. “Trunalimunumaprzure”? Again, perhaps. Or maybe they’re all evil anyway and it’s battle for who’s the lesser evil. I am not worried about their personalities. What I am afraid of is giving too much power to an entity and unintentionally creating a monster in efforts to combat a less dangerous monster. It’s quite easy to say that the media will do it for the purpose of “fact checking.” But what about if the media just plain doesn’t like you?

Isn’t it the job of the media is to report the news, not make it? Isn’t it their job to report the news as much humanly possible in toto, and not nit and pick in order to form a “narrative.” (I understand that there are cases wherein the media must give a report despite not having all the facts. It’s quite different when the media reports without wanting to know all the facts, or disregarding the facts altogether.) Isn’t that what happened with the pope and his so-called “endorsement” of same-sex marriage? After the release of that particular news, people were reacting to what the headlines claimed the pope said, rather than react to what the pope actually said. If it were the intent of Big Brother Media to confuse people, it definitely succeeded.

Since I’m not American and Donald Trump is not my president, allow me to provide an illustration closer to home. The few times I’ve tuned in to our own President Duterte, I get very frustrated with his ramblings and mutterings. He certainly does not act like a statesman but more like a drunken grandfather who finally has lost any sense of which way is up. (Is that what Americans feel about President Trump?) Would I favor the media to just interrupt him mid speech and present instead their own version of what’s going on? No, definitely not. Would I prefer that they go over his “speech” afterwards with a fine tooth comb and provide useful information either for or to the contrary? Yes, of course. They would then be doing their job. Would I want him censored? No. I can switch off my TV or watch something else—like the Twilight Zone—and that would be me exercising my right to not listen to someone exercising his right to free speech. But that would be just me and not some entity making the decision for me. Get the drift?

As someone else has already put it, we should be against “proactive censorship…fact checking people mid speech to the point of turning off the broadcast because the media arbiters decide that the people aren’t capable of interpreting the message of their elected national leader.”

“Nasaan ang Pangulo?”

This is a long post. As some of you may know, I only sleep four hours at night. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed. Four hours later–whoop!–I’m awake. (OK, you didn’t know that. Now you do. Please spare me your medical advice.)

What do I do when I wake up? Sometimes I read a book, other times I try to make sense out of life. So here I am, making sense out of life at 1:53 in the morning of Tuesday, November 3, in the aftermath of Typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni). One of the biggest news so far is on the “missing president.”

As always, the issue has brought the political divide of the nation to the forefront. Allow me to provide a simple breakdown of the responses:

Those adoring his administration responded as expected. The more bone-headed among them challenged the critics by asking questions like, “Eh kung andiyan ba si Digong, mawawala ba ang bagyo?” “Nasaan naman si “useless” OVP Leni?” (I will add a sic to that last statement since I know Leni to be the VP, not the OVP. She’s not her office, get it?) “Eh nung panahon ni Pnoy, puro press release, libu-libo naman ang namatay; kay Digong konti lang ang namatay. Diba?” I find it funny that those who asked, “Eh kung andiyan ba si Digong, mawawala ba ang bagyo?” perhaps unwittingly confirmed that he was neither there nor needed.(My personal opinion: Those who take this route of interaction should be lumped together with the more fanatical anti-president members of society. They should all be locked up in a room where they can throw verbal feces at each other to their hearts’ content; the rest of us love our IQs.)

The more level-headed responded by saying that he was monitoring the situation from Davao. (The president goes back to his hometown for the weekends.) I wish I could say more but there really isn’t anything more to say. Presidential Spokesman Roque’s statement, “Linggo naman yun,” is so “out there” it doesn’t even deserve more than a one-time mention. (What was he talking of exactly? Was it the president’s absence or the timing of the briefing?) He was monitoring the situation from Davao? I’ll take your word for it.

Those critical of the administration used the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo to express their disappointment at the president’s absence, particularly from the “1st high level briefing on the super typhoon.” There were the usual insults, calls for his resignation, and sadly, even death wishes from the mentally obnoxious.

The more level-headed simply called for command responsibility and accountability–the president is the leader of the nation and his presence was needed. At the very least his presence should inspire the nation that whatever else the storm may bring, he and his men were on top of the situation and could be relied on to do their job. Also, we live in the twenty-first century. Given that he was in Davao, couldn’t he have at least joined through online means? His face on a monitor is better than his face nowhere to be seen. I would have cheered if the president appeared on nation-wide TV before the arrival of the typhoon and said something like, “My fellow Filipinos, rest assured we are here; we are on top of the situation.” No rambling, just straight to the point assurance.

My takeaways:

I guess it’s a sign of maturity that we don’t react unnecessarily and allow our emotions to get the better of us. Similar to the case of the Pope’s so-called support for gay marriage, we have to make sure we react to the contents of the story and not react to the media’s reaction. (Is that re-reaction?) It also pays not listening to or reading only one source of info.

The government (I abhor too many acronyms; I’ll just use “government”) appears to have been more prepared now than the time Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines. While the numbers may still go up, the latest updates pegged the death toll at sixteen, with two million affected in twelve regions (mb.com.ph). I understand many LGUs were also up to task and were a big factor in weathering the storm, no pun intended.

My feeling on the matter: I honestly don’t think the Incumbent’s presence or absence mattered much in that area. To his detractors, whether he likes it or not, his so-called absence just showed that his government, with the right people in place, can run without him. Or we can take the high road and credit him for putting the right people in place. I’ll take the high road, thank you very much.

Now that the storm is gone, all eyes will be on the rehabilitation of the affected areas. Will we have a repeat of the Haiyan fiasco, where billions donated by concerned countries were allegedly wasted? I focus on this because the rehab is something we can control, unlike the typhoon. This is where we can and should be vigilant as it is easy for cash and kind to be diverted. Cash more than kind, since who wants another dozen cans of sardines, right? (That’s what I got from our barangay during the COVID heyday, by the way. Not that I’m complaining.)

Let me add to the prayer list from a previous post: Let us pray that the Lord will direct the rehab–that he will move in the hearts and hands of those in authority and those delegated with the rehab efforts–so that the help needed will reach those in need of help. Let us pray for the greatest of them to the least of them that they will not succumb to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life and instead love and concern for neighbor will prevail.

Pray that President Duterte and his administration will have an increased sense of accountability. Public servants can never have too much accountability. While I acknowledge that actions do speak louder than words, words do still matter.

We can only imagine what those most affected by the typhoon must be going through. Knowing that they only have so much to go around, pray that they will be able to rebuild their lives. I will repeat, let us help where and when we can.

And let this sink in, folks: Nasaan ang Pangulo? He was right where God in his sovereign wisdom put him.

Blessings, all!

Romans 13, Again.

(Image courtesy of Vectorstock)

I saw an FB post yesterday, which got me thinking on the matter of Christians’ duty to government in light of Romans 13, its use and [apparently growing] misuse. I paraphrase the post’s author’s last sentence: How should the Christian contribute? I very much appreciate the post and the sentiment behind it. Here is my take on the815534 matter.

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Before continuing, a disclaimer: I understand that there are those in this country who will agree wholeheartedly with whatever the President does and says. For them, he can do no wrong. On the other hand are those who will disagree wholeheartedly with whatever the President does and says. For the second group, the President can do no right. There is a third group, the sane ones in the middle. It is to this third group, and particularly to fellow believers in the group, I wish to share my thoughts. Now, back to the matter at hand…

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Speaking as a minister, the Christian’s privilege and duty is to pray. It is a privilege–we get to talk to our Heavenly Father and pour out our hearts’ contents. We know he listens and we are comforted that he already knows our burdens even before we open our mouths. Those apart from Christ do not have the privilege of such a Fatherly audience. It is our duty–we are called to pray for others and also ourselves. We are to do so selflessly, seeking the salvation and welfare of those around us. We are given this privilege and duty so that we are reminded the ultimate purpose of prayer is not to get whatever material blessing we want from the Lord but to have our wills aligned with his. He is our Master, not our personal Genie. Yes we as his children ask the Heavenly Father for our needs. This is a given but there is also the implication that, for reasons of his own, he will not give us everything we ask. Our being content in what he has given and being satisfied with answered prayer (whether the answer is yes or no) should be embedded in our Christian identity. It’s connected with honoring God, forgiving and seeking forgiveness, drawing on his help in times of temptation. It’s part of our growing up and being made in the likeness of Christ.

Of course, the whole of scripture is not just limited to the Prayer the Lord Taught His Disciples (I hesitate to call it the Lord’s Prayer, but I digress). The Scriptures are not just a collection of our favorite go-to passages and “mutterings of piety,” or words some people utter when they wish to project a certain type of holiness. The Scriptures rather are filled with passages which demand our attention, study, and application, even passages which mandate us to get out of our comfort zone and do what is difficult but necessary.

On such passage is Romans 13, particularly the section on submission to the government, which sadly has become a favorite go-to passage and muttering of piety . Now more than ever (at least to my mind) it is being bandied about as a “be-all-end-all” reply mostly by people extremely loyal to this administration on one hand, and those who refuse to rock the boat on the other. (Between those two extremes are myriad shades of gray, but again I digress.) The underlying impression given is that we are to totally submit to the authorities because they are ordained by God for the purposes of maintaining society. But does submission mean blind obedience? Does it mean bowing in agreement to everything the authorities do and say, even when the things they do and say don’t make sense? Does it mean just keeping silent when you witness all kinds of anomalies going on? Are we to just pray for those in authority and hope to God they suddenly do the right thing? The answer is no.

(As an aside, some pastors demand the very same thing, don’t they? Ever heard of “touch not the Lord’s anointed” auto-applied to these so-called men of the cloth? Whenever I hear that, it is highly tempting to “touch” them even more.)

Moving forward: Fellow believers we are not living in the days of Paul, where everyone was expected to bow to the emperor. We are not living in a communist country where free speech is non-existent. We are living in a nation which is Christian, or because of how deeply Christianity has settled on our national psyche, at least pays lip service to Christian principles. Despite our misnomer as a Christian nation, we still as a nation fear God. We also live in a society where people still hold on to democratic principles. As a nation we are neither the best examples of Christians nor of democracy, but we are what we are and we have what we have. One of the things we have is the use of any legal means at our disposal to remind our leaders why they are called to lead, and that they are answerable to a higher authority. There is the element of complaint–lets stop denying it–but this is not merely complaining (or “pagiging reklamador“). It is certainly not rebellion. It is exercising our God-given right to use democratically recognized free speech to air our grievances to a government which itself is mandated by democracy to listen to its constituents. I believe what makes it difficult for some to swallow is that many of those who “complain” do so not only out of concern for themselves but for the greater good of the nation. People complain because they are tired of incompetence. People complain because they are tired of indifference. People complain because they are tired of irrationality. (If you hear or read about senior citizens being made to line up in the heat of the sun just to get their financial support from the barangay, do you “just pray?” If you hear or read about how the government’s left hand seemingly neither knowing nor caring what the right hand is doing, do you “just submit?”)

Here’s the clincher–for many admittedly, maybe prayer is the only thing they can do. It could be out of fear, out of indifference, it could be because of any number of things, even denial (thanks, Pr. Eyriche). It doesn’t mean that just because some are limited to only pray then everybody should be limited to only pray. There is a place for praying, there is also a place to air our concerns, and there is always a place for action–godly, legal, ethical action.

Apropos the last paragraph: Sec. Duque, of the Department of Health came out recently to announce that we are already on the third wave of the pandemic, which surprised a lot of people, this writer included, because all the while we thought we have yet to finish with the first wave. Due to his latest pronouncement, many on social media are again calling for his resignation. Is the call for his stepping down as health secretary godly, legal, and ethical? The answer might surprise you. (The alternative is of course, to submit and accept that we are in the third wave. “Sumunod na lang kayo!” Sound familiar?)

Remember, fellow believers, that as Christians our eternal spiritual identity should take precedence over our earthly national or ethnic identity. While airing our grievances is a right, it should not be that for which Christians are primarily known. Which means before we air our grievances:

  1. We should pray in thanksgiving in line with our identity with the Lord Jesus Christ
  2. We pray for God’s mercy for ourselves and for others, particularly those in authority (As an illustration: I remember an anecdote by John Piper: He was once debating an atheist who said some nasty things about God. Piper prayed to the Lord to forgive the atheist for his words; he also prayed that the Lord would forgive him (Piper) for getting angry at the atheist’s attack on God.)
  3. We pray for wisdom that we don’t fall in line with those who blindly condemn those in authority. As I said in the beginning, there are those who will always find nothing right with the actions of those in authority. Let us not follow their example because that is a road which will lead to ruin. Government officials are neither angels nor devils. Let us deal firmly and kindly with them as the fellow bearers of the imago Dei that they are.

In the midst of praying, let us not forget our national identity so when we do air our grievances, we should do so in the spirit of Christian love for neighbor. Will airing our grievances change the world? No, but little by little, it does effect change in our society. We have seen the results of using social media to bring about some measure of change. Maybe that is God’s intent all along–to effect change through the prayer and action of his people.

In the meantime, how do the rest of us contribute?

  1. Are you a Christian doctor? Love the Lord your God in prayer. Thank God for medicines and for our progress against the virus, however slow. Then love your neighbor and do your duty in the areas of care, healing, and medical information (as I’m confident most of you are already doing).
  2. Are you a Christian teacher? Love the Lord your God in prayer. Thank God there is still something new to learn out there. Then love your neighbor and do your duty in the areas of broadening the minds of your students and giving them the desire to know more (as I’m confident most of you are already doing).
  3. On a broader note, are you a Christian “ordinary citizen”? Love the Lord your God in prayer. Thank God we still have a country. Then love your neighbor and do your duty by continuing to pay the right taxes and practice the spirit of bayanihan, including staying at home (as I’m confident most of you are already doing).
  4. Are you a Christian (insert your profession here)? Love the Lord your God in prayer. Then love your neighbor and do your duty in the areas where God has called you to serve (as I’m confident most of you are already doing).

I could go on but I believe you get it.

So let us be obedient to the government. We stay home when told because to do otherwise is to invite something worse happening to our country. Some of us are allowed to go out for necessities, as long as we follow the guidelines. Let us not abuse that allowance. Let us be good citizens of the Republic of the Philippines. More so, let us be good ambassadors for our God and Savior.

Are we mere sign-posts?

My year-end takeaway from reading the December 1866 issue of Spurgeon’s Sword and Trowel.

“When a minister obtains this revival he preaches very differently from his former manner. It is very hard work to prFeature-6-Signpost-which-way-to-goeach when the head aches and when the body is languid, but it is a much harder task when the soul is unfeeling and lifeless. It is sad, sad work—painfully, dolorously, horribly sad, but saddest of all if we do not feel it to be sad, if we can go on preaching and remain careless concerning the truths we preach, indifferent as to whether men are saved or lost! May God deliver every minister from abiding in such a state! Can there be a more wretched object than a man who preaches in God’s name truths which he does not feel, and which he is conscious have never impressed his own heart? To be a mere sign-post, pointing out the road but never moving in it, is a lot against which every tame heart may plead night and day.” (Emphasis mine.)

(Photo credit: Care Management Matters UK)

Post-Easter Sunday Musings 20180402

My birthday’s coming up. It’s quite funny how people measure their age as they get older. No, I’m not talking about the number of years per se. I’m talking about how they relate their age to some other numbered everyday object. I’ve heard people going into their thirtieth year saying, “At least I’m still in

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This is how somebody somewhere feels today.

the calendar.” (Thirtieth birthday, thirty-or-so days in a month. Get it?) People who reach forty are happy that they’re still “in the thermometer” (Celsius, not Fahrenheit.) I wonder what people reaching their fifties and sixties say? Key in Hawaii-Five-O theme music.

I say to myself: I’m not as young (and naive) as I used to be but I’m not as old as I could be. I have the best of both worlds. To those celebrating their birthday, welcome the first day of the rest of your life.

(Filed under: YOLO.)

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My wife and I last Saturday took a break from our housecleaning to visit a mall-based chiropractor clinic. The cost of getting basic treatment was a bit out of our budget so we didn’t push through. I did so want to get my joints “cracked.” The folks at the clinic were kind enough to inform us that they do basic “cracking” but I would need to have a medical certificate from a certified practitioner for the more complicated stuff. For the record, “cracking” is the term I use for chiropractic adjustment, as seen in this video.

(Filed under: I’m Willing to Try Something New.)

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I got some new books, or rather, I’m staring at some books which I either purchased or received as gifts from within the last six months. While I look forward to reading them—I’ve been looking forward for six months, with at least one of the book—my main concern right now is where to put them!

A partial list of the books:

  1. The World of the New Testament by Green and McDonald (editors). This one I’ve had longer than the other books I’ve been talking about. I’ve speed-read through most of it and now the time has come for me to sit down and
    seriously engage the authors. Quick note for my readers: If you want to sound intelligent (if you aren’t already), do not say, “I’ve read this-and-that by so-and so.” Instead say: “In my latest conversation with so-and-so…” even if you never really had an actual conversation. On a serious note, it is expected that one should actively read a book by asking critical questions while reading. It takes some getting used to but it is definitely worth it. Of course some books make up the exception…
  2. Systematic Theology, Volumes I & II, by Douglas Kelley. I’m still waiting for Volume III but seeing as I have barely touched beyond twelve pages of Volume I, I’m glad III’s not out yet.
  3. Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions (2nd ed.) by Winfried Corduan. I rarely get to visit Dr. Corduan’s website but when I do, I always find his writings interesting and satisfying to read. (Here’s an example.) I had the old version of Neighboring Faiths but convinced myself to get the second volume.

    bty
    This is my DJ look. Maybe I have a radio career in my not-so-immediate future? (Headphones courtesy of my Beloved M.
  4. The Westminster Collection of Christian Meditations by Ward and Wild.
  5. Biblical Counseling and the Church by Kelleman and Carson. I’m way too behind on this particular volume. Sad.
  6. Classical Islam by G.E. von Grunebaum.
  7. 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About World War II by Frank E. Vandiver. A non-theology book. I like history and I enjoy war history. Like I enjoy a good horror story or two.

(Filed under: So Many Books, So Little Time.)

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If you haven’t seen Disney’s The Lion King, go watch it. Here’s a preview.

What’s New? Mostly, Same Old, Same Old

A lot has happened since I last updated the information on this website. I’ve also gotten some comments that I haven’t been “home” for the past, well….months. The answer is simple: I’ve been busy. Busy with a lot of what’s been happening since I last updated… You know what I mean.

I am writing this in the middle of the afternoon on a very typical Thursday. Here is a rundown of what’s been happening (and yes, that’s the last time I use those particular words in this post):

Work: I still work at the same place. I teach theology courses at an esteemed Bible college and while the work load didn’t actually get bigger, I find myself struggling more and more to be as happy as I was in my first year here. Please don’t

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I am not this guy. No, I’m not.

get me wrong. The problem is with me and not with the institution. We know that no institution is perfect but the reason behind my increasing doldrums is that I have not elevated myself on a professional level. Perhaps teaching the same thing over and over may make you so used to the subject that there is little reason to level up. One temptation for teachers, in a general sense, is knowing that they will always be more knowledgeable than their students. It is so easy to give in to that temptation and not want to improve. (My beloved M continues to remind me, ever so lovingly, to finally take my PhD studies. I think it’s time I started listening more intently.)

 

Ministry: I have been ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the church where I minister. I will be forever thankful for the vote of confidence from the leaders and members of that small congregation. The church work comes with its share of challenges, like any ministry, and I can say that I don’t feel any doldrums with ministry as I do (even a little) with work.

Personal: I have just recently come from a vacation-cruise, supported by the kindness of my in-laws. The cruise had a lot of hits and misses but for the most part was satisfactory. If the reasoning for a vacation was just to “get away from it all,” then the cruise did help me get away from it all. One particular miss is related to the on-board food. My beloved M would agree that, while  we enjoyed a particular dish here and there, we never had a meal on the ship wherein we enjoyed the meal itself.

Another miss would be the lack of anything much to do on board. Or maybe that is the purpose of a cruise–you ride the ship to get somewhere where activities abound. Even the library was a bit disappointing.

The two stopovers were pretty good. The one at the Land of the Rising Sun beats the one at the Land…with no nicknames according to this website. But overall, the stops were enjoyable. Visiting a new culture or country is always an eye-opening adventure. And always a chance for a little shopping.

To go full circle, perhaps I really do need to level up. Stay tuned.