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.


A Different Sort of Wackiness (Wacky Wednesday 08262015, part two)

This is intentionally going to be a simple post. (And note, included picture isn’t mine.)

This morning’s chapel service sparked a series of reactions when the speaker gave two positive instances of what is known as the Insider Movement or IM.

By way of background, the message was based on Peter and John’s questioning by the Jewish leaders in Acts 4 and I believe the sermon/message started out well (“those rooted in Christ should expect persecution”) and reminded everyone (or me at least) that one of the privileges of ministry is for us to do things so that our enemies see Christ in us. I just wish the speaker provided a more proper segue from persecution to the second half of his message.–examples of Insider Movements activity.

Insider Movements may be defined as “popular movements to Christ that bypass both formal and explicit expressions of Christian religion” (Kevin Higgins, 2004). The term covers people or individuals who come to [move to] Christ, but without the expected set of activities–identifying with Christ, making a public declaration of one’s faith, etc–in order to be more effective in outreach. In other words, applied to the Muslim religion, a Muslim may come to faith in Christ but still identifies himself as a Muslim and does so for the purpose of “evangelizing” other Muslims, particularly those in his family group.

To his credit, the speaker never commended IM as the sole way of evangelizing. I agree when he said that it was “an approach” to missions work, but certainly not the only one. The two stories he presented were positive cases from people who see IM in terms of practicality. I am in no position to either commend or condemn their actions, certainly while absent more information. There was one instance in the second story (which involved the army general) which kind of resonated wrong with me. Can a Christian submit to or publicly state the Shahada, or the “coming to faith statement of Muslims–“There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah”?

I appreciate the speaker challenging the thinking of his listeners and offering examples of what is becoming (if it hasn’t already) a very polarizing issue among Christians in general and missions workers in particular. I also applaud, if they can be verified, accounts of people of the Muslim persuasion positively affected by the works of Christian missionaries, particularly in building up of communities. It is also admirable how our missionary brothers and sisters are seeking ways to reach out to non-Christians. These are topics certainly worth further study and discussion. However, knowing what I do about Islam, Allah, and Mohammed, as well as everything those terms stand for, I can never in good conscience recite the Shahada, because doing so would be a personal compromise regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ. (Mohammed is the last messenger/prophet of Allah and, given that the latter supersedes the former, that would make Mohammed greater than Christ, resulting in Mohammed’s message nullifying Christ’s perfect work.)

(If only Mohammed’s message was to repent and turn to Christ…)


A few resources on Insider Movement:


Step by step, thinking…

The Personal Blog of D Eric Ohsan

Lefthanded Shepherd

Thoughts & Reflections of BJ Villanueva

John Nery | Newsstand

A journalist in the Philippines

Starstation Computer Art

2D Graphics & 3D Meshwork


What's for dinner?