Another Academic Year Has Ended

(Featured images are not mine.)

  • Well, almost. As I type this we still have about a few days to go, and several activities to finish, before we officially close the academic year.
  • I’m trying my best to edit this blog but…see below.
  • I’ve been away from this blog so long, I’ve forgotten how to add a new post. I’ve also forgotten how to add images, edit and reset widgets, etc.
  • Reformation conference. Go there.


A View of the Elections (Part 2, I Think)

I have had several “offline” reactions to my post about “presidentiables” (is that even a word?) so I decided to give a sequel. This time, my post will be in two segments. In the first, I will focus on just two candidates and my musings behind their decision to run and, in the case of the second candidate, not run. In the second segment…well, just read on. (Again, included pictures are by others.)


If the Philippine Presidential Elections were an animal, it would be a very weird one. Something

Get thee behind me, Whoeveryouare!
Get thee behind me, Whoeveryouare!

along the lines of the strange beast John saw in Revelation 13. It was so horrible because one could not make heads or tails of it. Was it a feline? Was it ursine? Below is a snapshot showing why it is weird.


MDS is a late-entry in the foray we call the Philippine Presidential Elections. Reactions to her announcement to run can be summarized into three kinds: First is elation on the part of her fans, both the sensible and the rabid, who are just beside themselves with joy that their idol has finally decided to take another crack at the presidency. There are many who believe that MSD was deprived of a victory by FVR, whose win was brought about by the machinations of the CCA incumbency.

Second is expected disappointment from non-fans. Included in this camp are naysayers and others who continue to accuse her of being brenda (short for brain damaged) and who would be plain happy to see her lose. I was doing part-time work in college during the ’92 elections and I can still remember the various comments in reaction to her running. There was even a discussion revolving around a so-called medical report about her mental stability. (For the record, I don’t think there was any truth to that medical report. But I don’t think truthfulness matters much in the elections.)

Apropos the second point, fresh in the memory of many people are her respective defenses of JEE and GMA, both known to be corrupt. Birds of a feather, so they say.

Third, incredulity. Perhaps a subset of those who are happy with her decision to run again are confused that she would choose to run with FEMJr. I would not be surprised if she lost a few voters because of her association with, and unashamed defense of, the son of a former dictator. Mix in those who, based on reaction number two, are nodding their heads in self-congratulation for being very astute.

My personal thoughts on MDS:

  • I firmly believe that she could have done something had she won in her first presidential bid but now she is way past her prime. Now she strikes me more as a windbag than anything else—a has-been who should learn to keep her mouth shut fifty percent of the time. Her antics in the legal field are more comedic than inspiring.
  • Her quasi-admittance to having cancer makes everything feel all wrong. Let me explain. First she says that she had Stage IV cancer. That is not something to sneeze at. All of the ones I heard who had Stage IV cancer never made it two weeks after announcing they had cancer. Then she announced that she beat her cancer. Two possibilities: Either she’s really as good as she thinks she is (and others say she is) that even the C is afraid of her, or she never really had Stage IV cancer. I’m batting for the latter.
  • Apropos the last point, granting it is Stage IV C that she had, isn’t it a little scary then to elect her to the highest office of the land? What if she succumbs to her illness after she wins and after she’s been sworn in? With current crop of those seeking the vice-presidency, with the sole exception perhaps of MLG-R, wouldn’t the thought of her dying in office cause more than a little worry?
“No, I am not. But maybe I will.”

Meanwhile, RRD has repeatedly stated that he will not run. And, kudos to the man, he has reaffirmed his not running (sort of) despite the rather imbecilic methods to which others have resorted in an effort to convince him otherwise. I won’t go into a lot of detail here since I have already covered in my last post the reasons why I am not in favor of an RRD presidency. Let me just add this: With the way things are going in the realm of Philippine politics—lies, half-truths, more lies, and entertainment in the name of more half-truths being the name of the game—I would not be surprised if RRD would make an about-face and declare his candidacy despite the deadline of the COMELEC. I recently read somewhere that should MDS be disqualified, she can name RRD as a replacement. He would still be “qualified” since she beat the deadline. Que horror!


Here’s the second segment.

Just the other day, I told a group of acquaintances that, taking everything into consideration, I probably would not vote for a president in next year’s election. I didn’t expect a wild reaction and didn’t get one but one person posited a query: If the elections would just boil down to a choice between two people—MAR and JCB—would you still vote and who would you cast your vote for?

To which I sheepishly replied that I would favor JCB over MAR.

A few days after that exchange, and after thinking things over, I realize that the answer should not be so simple. I said I would favor JCB over MAR but that answer assumes that we have to vote for someone. Again, as I have mentioned before, two things go against MAR: his wife and his lackluster track record. There is nothing we can do about his wife, and should that even be a factor in our decision-making? (Maybe yes, maybe no. I’ll reserve that topic for a future post.) It’s the lackluster part that gets me. How come he never achieves anything, no matter where he is placed? Is it because he is really unfit for the job, or is it because he has a buffoon for a PR assistant?

Maybe it’s just the cynic in me (which means it’s all me) but right now, I would prefer to be saddled with a corrupt individual who knows how to curb and control his and others’ corruption (takes one to know one, and all that).

Good grief.

A Wednesday Conundrum, of Sorts 20151021

PS. Doc Brown will arrive tonight. that’s right. Fans of the blockbuster movie series, Back to the Future, have been eagerly awaiting this day. If all goes well, Doc Brown and Marty McFly will be arriving in a few hours’ time. BTTFIIdate

Ooh-la-la! (Only fans of the movie will get that last exclamation.)


In other news, the conundrum of the title comes from my beloved M’s “discovery” of Serenitea diaries for 2016. (I originally called them “planners.”) They look good on the inside but my preference for all things ebony makes me think twice when I consider the outside. (Not bad looking but not black, either.)

And my wife has such lovely hands.

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So, should we or should we not? That is the question.

Meanwhile, you can visit Serenitea by clicking here.



Lord’s Day Musings 20151018

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1)

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about the so-called Pastor Appreciation Day (elsewhere called Clergy Appreciation Day) and I have this to say on the subject. It relates happiness with joy and I believe is appropriate when we consider those who the Father gave us to be our ministers and little shepherds. It is good that congregations show appreciation for their pastor.

I have always maintained that it is easy to make your pastor happy. Do not criticize him unnecessarily, do not make him do things he is not called to do, do not treat him like one of the hired help. Come to church regularly, attend the prayer meetings and other activities religiously, raise his salary (he will love that!).

What is a lot harder (and what will really make your Pastor Appreciation Day shine) is to complete his joy by growing in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The passage above (Paul writes something uncannily similar in his epistle to the Philippians) shows the relation between what a person professes with how that person walks–having fellowship with the Father, walking in the light, confession of sin and hatred thereof, etc.–a connection that, while known, is sadly missing in many people’s lives.

As a pastor, I would be very happy to be treated to a dinner or to have my birthday remembered. But happiness is fickle, and if the church is hardheaded and shows unwillingness to grow in Christ, all the birthday parties in the world will never compensate for the feeling of failure the pastor will surely get.

Et Tu, Brut?

(The title is an allusion to the so-called last words of Julius Caesar. So-called because it is unclear whether or not he actually said those words prior to his death by assassination.)

Messianic Aspirants
Aspirants. This photo copyright by somebody else.

So we come again to one of the most contested, if not the most colorful, events in Philippine local history. I am not talking about Christmas, although the holiday can vie for being a close second. I am referring to Philippine presidential elections, which as of this writing is about seven months away.

What contributed to the writing of this particular post was the Inquirer news article about a couple of “Messianic” aspirants to the highest office in the land. I have noticed since the day I was first legally old enough to vote, that wild and wacky personas would vie for the position of PotRP, standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder with the non-wacky and almost wacky. The opening of the filing of candidacy seem to draw everyone out of the woodwork. I have two minds about the whole issue.

On the one hand, I am thankful for the fact that the electoral process in the Philippines is free–or as free as it is going to get for the most part. Gone are the days when the entire archipelago would be under the threat of guns, goons, and gold. Of course, I am not naive, and I recognize that the threat of the three Gs is still in effect somewhere, hovering like a hungry bat over some unfortunate sector of the populace. A good many of our citizens, though, will exercise their right to vote, without any fear that a wrong name on the ballot will be the equivalent of a bullet in the head, or worse. Concurrent with that line of thinking, even a vote boycott by some individuals would still be seen as the presence and exercise of freedom and not the opposite.

On the other hand, I am quite sickened with the idea that the freedom in our electoral process has not, for the most part, produced ideal candidates. In an ideal situation, a person should be losing sleep trying to decide between two or more intelligent choices, who whatever their plan and platform, would be individuals whom you know have different but equally selfless, nationalistic, and viable plans (emphasis very much mine) for the good and future of the country. (One candidate may favor improving agriculture, another may concentrate on improving technology and education, while still another might want to banish Kris A and those like her to some godforsaken island.) In the end, losing sleep would be worth it.

The reality is however, far from bright. You look at the roster of candidates and you go, “That’s it?” And

From Wikipedia. The first line is already redundant, don't you think?
From Wikipedia. The first line is already redundant, don’t you think?

I am not even considering yet the presence of nuisance candidates. These are the wackos (and I am not even trying for a better word here) who come out during the election season and whose only value is to provide [shudder] entertainment–anybody old enough to remember the dancing presidential candidate a few years back?–to the rest of us. Again, in an ideal situation, do we even need entertainment of this sort? Shouldn’t the Commission on Elections declare as unqualified and dismiss these individuals even before the ink on their COC’s have dried?

Is all this the result of having a too lax set of requirements for presidential aspirants? The image on the right is a capture from the Wikipedia page about the President of the Philippines. You only have five requirements which qualify about half the population. There is no educational limitations, aside from the ability to read and write. No other restrictions, meaning the office of president is open to anyone. Would you grant CEO status to someone just with that?

Or is this the result of frustration with the current setup that anyone can dream (foolishly, in my opinion) that he or she alone can have the wherewithal to “save the nation?”

Or is it the result of something else?

Squeeze Me In, Please

It’s near the end of another term at the college and that means, after all the brouhaha regarding the students’ grades, as well as preparation for next term, I shall be able to reintroduce myself to my personal library and read or re-read  a few tomes. My beloved and I have recently agreed not to purchase any moVoyagere books until we have finished all the new books that have been recently purchased, and there were a lot. The question before us is, how do we resist the call of those pages? How do we turn our backs on the publications that seem to call out our names? (Bibliophiles will know what I mean.)

Below is a list of a few books I wish to read before the month is out. The key word here is “wish.” I don’t see myself finishing these books as early as I want, but maybe it’s for the best.

As someone, somewhere once said, and which I now paraphrase: “So many books, so little time.”

Looking through the Keyhole

There is nothing immoral or voyeuristic about the title so please keep your Victorian sensibilities at bay. I am merely using the title as an illustration of my point in this post. A person looking through a keyhole will only see a little bit of something on the other side of the door. He may or may not guess what that something is but, unless he has a key by which to unlock the door, he will only see a portion and not the whole.

I invite you to look at the keyhole and see if how much we can understand what lies beyond.

A year or two after Edsa Dos I got into a conversation with a cab driver while on my way from work. The first half of the ride had been pretty boring but things perked up a bit when the driver started talking about politics. Note: I normally do not initiate talks with cab drivers unless there is a very good reason to do so, such as having my life in imminent danger because of a very sleepy cabby. And I will certainly not choose politics as the topic. However I will not refuse a conversation if the cabby starts it.

So we talked about politics and why the Philippines was where it was socially, economically, and politically back then. We talked about Marcos and how he was as a dictator. We discussed his good and bad. We talked about Corazon Aquino and discussed her good and bad. (This was a very long ride.) We got to Ramos and also talked about his good and bad. We mentioned Estrada and that’s when the you-know-what hit the fan. The guy was obviously an Estrada fan, while I was far from even liking the guy. However, I pride myself in at least trying to be partial. And this is what I told the cab driver:

“One of the many problems with Filipinos, and particularly when it comes to Estrada, is that we have a very distorted sense of accomplishment. I did not vote for Estrada but I acknowledged him as president because that is how democracy works. Whether I like it or not, he is my president. He is our (the nation’s) president. I prayed for the guy. It was not like in other presidential races wherein the winner has a very narrow margin of victory. Estrada was backed by a very clear majority. (Incidentally, I prayed for the guy, not because I liked him, but because the Lord commands it.)

“He was found to be performing acts worthy of impeachment and was thus put on trial. The problem is that, in his case, we never finished the trial. We never had a proper closure. Instead of finishing the trial the way it should have been concluded–with a verdict of either guilty or not guilty–we let a few noisy people on the streets dictate the shift in power and allowed a very eager-beaver to become the commander-in-chief. (Look where that is leading by the way.)”

And there is the problem, folks. That is what we see through the keyhole. What happened to Estrada was merely a small sampling of the many things going wrong with this country. If I may list them down, in no particular order:

First, we never finish what we started and what is worse, we are already satisfied in that. It is almost like we are a culture who loves to be seen doing something but not accomplishing anything. Going back to the Estrada presidency: if were properly convicted back at his impeachment trial, chances are he wouldn’t be doing any jail time. We are a very softhearted people. But now we will never know, will we? There were good and justifiable reasons for the impeachment trial. His constant refrain that he was being exploited by his “friends” cannot hold water. The impeachment was good. The ending wasn’t. But concluding the impeachment properly would have brought closure to the whole issue. Ever wonder why the guy is still willing to (God forbid) run for office?

Second, we are never good at what we do anyway. Of course there are exceptions but really, what have we accomplished that has taken the world by storm? The EDSA Revolution is almost a joke. Proponents would say we gained freedom but the problem is we haven’t defined what it really was we were free from and what it is we are free to. (Apologies for the bad grammar.) Have we ever seen anyone really convicted? And suffering for what they did, post conviction?

Third, and this hurts the most, we never learn. If we want an explanation for this, please just look in the collective mirror.

We look through the keyhole and we see a small sampling of failure. Is it any wonder that there is a bigger sampling of failure on the other side of the door.

(By the way, the cab driver and I never even got to Gloria Arroyo.)

PS I am not in any way suggesting that there is nothing redeemable about the Philippines. When the horizon shows the possibility of another tainted presidency…It’s just that I don’t see it. Yet.

Elections 2016

Note: Posted picture is copyright by somebody else.

I took advantage of our school’s one-day holiday yesterday to have my biometrics completed at the QC COMELEC office. My beloved M wanted me to get the biometrics thing over with, so I wouldn’t have to face any difficulties in the future. It would be crazy to be disqualified if you could have avoided it, right?

One good thing about the exercise, surprisingly, was that it took me under an hour to get everything done. The procedure–getting my “mugshot,” fingerprint scan, and signature scan–took all of two minutes. What added to the experience time-wise were: asking three different people where the COMELEC offices were, looking for and walking to the said offices (I was parked near the main gate and the offices were near the back of City Hall), standing in line for about five minutes (before a nice lady told me I didn’t need to stand in line), picking up ready-to-claim IDs for three of my relatives/acquaintances, and staring at everybody else who were there for the same reason I was.  Did I get my voter’s ID? No. (Umasa ka pa.)

The traffic while going home gave me time to think: Elections are about eight months away. While I believe It’s never too early to consider who to favor in the presidential race, I think it’s too late to hope for somebody else to come along and add their name and agenda to the ring. In short, I still don’t know who to vote for and the current crop of contenders don’t make me want to vote at all.

(In the succeeding paragraphs, names have been changed to protect the innocent, meaning I’m protecting my little innocent self from any possibility of a libel suit.)


I believe JCB’s problem is that he announced his intention for higher office rather early. I even read somewhere that he was already hoping for the presidency the minute he began his term as veep. If he had announced his intention, say, a week after GPL announced hers, he wouldn’t be in the mess that he is in now. Being an early contender meant that he would be a living target for the administration, which certainly would prefer a party member to continue the legacy of the BSA presidency. A late announcement would mean that the enemy (i.e., the current administration) would have less time to prepare attacks against JCB’s person. While I personally do not favor JCB as president, him being saddled with a lot of corruption issues and all that, I have the distinct feeling that [shudder] he may well be our next commander-in-chief. I cannot prove beyond my feelings of course, but, the way things are now, he is it. I don’t think it will be a landslide, but he doesn’t need one. On a positive note, he has administrative experience, something which the office of the president needs but sorely lacks. Just look at the present occupant. On the other hand, we said the same thing about JEE, and look where we ended up. Will a JCB presidency be bad for the nation? At this point the answer ranges from a resounding yes to a quiet maybe.

Like JCB, RRD has administrative experience. But RRD is frightening, period. I began hearing of this man almost two decades ago from a church friend. The stories told of him–his above the law approach to criminals being the main ingredient–would leave you wishing that all government officials were like him. Until you realize that his methods, if true, do not respect human rights at all. I shudder to think, if he could “level up” his methods on a national scale, where would that leave the nation? Mention of RRD reminds me of a discussion I had back in college. The topic was the death penalty and whether or not we should impose it in the Philippines. Everybody, including me, agreed that the death penalty should be re/instated, until we got to the question, “What if it’s your dad who’s being tried for capital punishment?” In RRD, we see a man who seemingly operates above the law. His alleged ways of getting rid of those who thwart the law garner applause from the masses, but I believe the applause is more from a self-righteous attitude than anything else. And what are the guarantees that what he “did” for Davao can be translated into a nationwide achievement? He is the proverbial Lee Kwan Yu wannabe, and from what I’ve seen of the man, RRD has a Messiah complex. But it’s a pakipot kind of Messiah complex. Is he or is he not running? Not that I’m voting for him, anyway.

GPL has recently thrown her hat in the ring, and her decision to run with FJGE has been met with a mixture of reactions. (See this article.)  Admittedly for a lot of people, GP’s advent to the presidential race is seen by many as a breath of fresh air. My only worry about her is her lack of experience. I’ve told my beloved that I would seriously consider GP if she were running for VPoRP intead of PoRP, because in my opinion, she just is not ready for the highest office of the land. And I am not alone in saying that her “Twenty Points” leave a lot to be desired. (See this article.) As for administrative experience, does being the head of the MTRCB count? I know that that was not all she did prior to her senate stay, but… And let’s not even mention her remarks in connection with the INC debacle.

Lastly, MAR (whose initials actually spell his nickname). I’ve already expressed my [ugh] disgust over a possible KMS first lady-ship should MR run, but using that alone as a reason for not voting for the man would be unfair. (Or maybe not, he did choose her, after all.) My continuing reaction to him: Why is he saddled with so many questions as to his accomplishments or lack thereof? I could be wrong here but it doesn’t seem that he accomplished anything while being the head of whatever agency the PoRP puts him in. All I can say at the moment is that, his wife aside, he has the makings of a good man, but not a great man. My dad, who has a quasi-superstitious way of looking at an MR presidency, probably it the nail on the head when he remarked MR has no “star power.” I find it hard to disagree–there just isn’t anything about MR that makes him any more than what he is now.

So who’s left?

“And the people bowed and prayed, to the neon gods they made…”

To Bloc or Not to Bloc?

(Freaky Friday, 08282015)

Typing this using hands connected to a brain still looking for its morning coffee rush. The post therefore should be read as a gut-reaction type of rant.

Religion can be a dangerous thing. I am not the first one to say that and I am probably not going to be the last. The issue not only has to do with the nature and essence of religion and its practices but also with the how religion itself is viewed. It can be polarizing to even those in the same camp. (Some of my fellow Christians would agree with me when I say that Christianity is a religion; many more will disagree and say some insipid thing like, “It is not a religion. It is a personal relationship with Christ” [emphasis mine]. I do not limit the polarizing to just the above example, though, since the polarizing effect can be witnessed in even similar expressions within a given religion. Ask questions like, “What is ministry?” and you will see what I mean.

Synapse switch at this point. What follows may or may not be a good segue from what came before.

A particular danger is when certain elements of a particular religion stretch the limits of their religious freedom and demand from others (meaning, anyone except those in their own camp) courtesies which they themselves are hard put to extend. Anyone who has seen the news certainly knows the most recent goings-on at the DOJ, where (if reports are to be believed) around two thousand Iglesia ni Cristo members have rallied to express their (fill in your particular synonym for “contempt” here) towards Sec. de Lima. In their eyes, her involvement in their church’s internal affairs warrants a huge rally and perhaps even minimal impairment to government vehicles.

I neither like nor dislike the justice secretary. Granted, there are things that she has done that should elicit applause from the nation. There are also things that she has done that make people, at the very least, scratch their heads in bewilderment. Her recent rendition of That’s What Friends are For is a good example. (I’m sure there are better examples of when the justice secretary made people shake their heads and wonder what in the world is coming to; singing badly certainly does not affect a nation’s well-being.) Having said that, I do stand with her regarding the INC case. Not to repeat everything that’s happened, but there is enough that has happened to warrant police, yes perhaps government, involvement. Issues of kidnapping and illegal detention have cropped up. She is merely doing her job here, folks.

I neither like nor dislike the INC. (I cannot and will not say the same about certain individual members, though.) And I am pretty much sure there are decent and godly fellows in their ranks and perhaps they too are wondering what their co-members are doing. If reports are true, the fact that many INC members joined the rally because “their ministers instructed them to” should cause any decent religious person to quake in their boots. Ministers are called to lead their members to greater heights of godliness. When ministers (and I’m using the word very inclusively here) demand from their members things which the Bible demands (e.g., holiness, love for neighbor, etc.), members are duty bound to obey. But when ministers, whether out of a sense of boredom or whatever, demand from their members things about which the Bible is silent, members should be more circumspect. Instigating people to rally is a case in point. (I mean, OK, the members have massed in front of the DOJ offices. Then what?)

The lesson is here is for any religious group or entity: We can become so full of ourselves that we fail to recognize that we live in a society where we have God-ordained checks and balances (Romans 13). Failing to recognize those checks and balances, coupled with any religion’s potential bloated sense of self-worth and self-importance, leads to anarchy.

I am sure that is dangerous.

Time to get my coffee rush now. 


As usual the included picture isn’t mine.


Pilgrim Shepherd

Thoughts & Reflections of Bj L Villanueva

John Nery | Newsstand

A Journalist in the Philippines

Starstation Computer Art

2D Graphics & 3D Meshwork


What's for dinner?

Pilgrim Shepherd

Thoughts & Reflections of Bj L Villanueva

John Nery | Newsstand

A Journalist in the Philippines

Starstation Computer Art

2D Graphics & 3D Meshwork


What's for dinner?

Pilgrim Shepherd

Thoughts & Reflections of Bj L Villanueva

John Nery | Newsstand

A Journalist in the Philippines

Starstation Computer Art

2D Graphics & 3D Meshwork


What's for dinner?