Friday, July 31, 2009

Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino Dies

One of my personal heroes passed away, former Philippine President Corazon “Cory” Aquino lost her battle from colon cancer today. Cory Aquino was the widow of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and will be remembered as an icon of democracy when she led a popular peaceful revolt in 1986 that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos who ruled the Philippines for 20 years. My boss Chuck Colson who was a personal friend of the Aquinos while they were living in exile in Boston described Cory in his book God & Government, “Cory Aquino, in her calm, firm, common-sense manner – just the opposite of a glib, polished professional politician – seemed to embody democracy. She was a housewife pressed into politics by the need of her nation.”

Indeed she was. Abiding to a higher power, and guided by her Catholic faith, she peacefully resisted and spoke against the immoralities of an oppressive government. She was doing more than overthrowing a corrupt ruler but also restoring and fulfilling a peaceful and democratic system that ruled the Philippines since it was founded. With minimum resistance she fought a good fight and brought justice and freedom back to the Philippines because her faith was unshakable and in maximum submission to Christ.

Thanks Cory! You will never be forgotten.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why I Went to Protest the Philippine President Outside the White House

Mga 40-50 people din kami sa labas ng White House kanina to stage a protest while President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) meets with Pres. Obama were in the White House. It was a fine day to hold a protest against GMA for US-based Filipinos like me like me to voice our concerns of corruption, human rights violations and Charter Change in the Arroyo administration.

My wife and kids were with me to witness the event. May mga press, plakards, speeches, songs and prayers for Filipinos specially those victims of human rights abuses. Tanong nga ng isa sa mga organizer ng event sa akin kung bakit ako nandito at kung ano ang galit ko kay GMA? Sabi ko wala, then I continued to say something like this, "I'm here to support Filipinos and ask for what is best for the whole country. I also came to help show Filipinos around the world to choose to be aware of what's going on in our home country and be involve in whatever capacity to help the Philippines."

Indeed it was a nice day, though GMA is still in office, wala akong galit kanino man at ilang mga kababayan natin sa US ang nakapag-protesta against human rights abuses, expose the administration's immoralities and demand moral accountability from GMA. I believe what I witnessed today are part of fulfilling our Christian duty to be willing to stand for justice and in defense of a higher law.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Washington Times Editorial on Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's visit with Pres. Obama

On Thursday, July 30, Philippine Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) will finally meet U.S. Pres. Barak Obama for the first time. Unfortunately, GMA has been plagued with criticisms for human rights abuses, extra-judicial killings, corruption, and her pursuit of a charter change (CHA-CHA) to prolong her presidency has dipped her popularity rating down to 26%, a record low to any Filipino president.

I confirmed an invitation to attend a protest organized by the Filipino-American group at the White House while their meeting is going on. Whether I make it to DC or not, the protest will call Pres. Obama to not support GMA's leadership and make sure he stays true to the words he gave during his inaugural speech, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit, and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history"

The Washington Times has an interesting editorial on GMA's visit to the White House which supports the problem with their meeting. Click here.

(Image from The Washington Times)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Should Christians Stay Out of Politics?

Balita ang annoucement ng ex-priest at Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio na tatakbo siya bilang Presidente ng Pilipinas. According to the Philippine Star:

It’s a message that he couldn’t ignore because it came from God himself, said priest-on-leave and Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio of his decision to run for president in May 2010. Panlilio said that while in deep prayer, he said he “felt” God sending his message of approval for his bid to lead the country.

“Noong nagpasya po ako na i-offer ang aking sarili (When I decided to offer myself) I felt at peace. I’m doing this not for me, not for myself. I felt God wanted me to go on a higher service... After a period of discernment, I said God is calling me to run for the presidency,” Panlilio said.

Ang announcement ni Panlilio na tumakbo ay isang magandang conversation starter on whether or not Christians should stay out of the dirty world of politics?

Tulad ni Eddie Villanueva, naniniwala si Panlilio na ang kanyang desisyon ay isang divine calling at hindi political career move. UPDATE: Well, if you think about it, every politician say they were called by God.

Naniniwala ako na Christians should be in politics and not out of it. Lalo na ngayon na madumi ang pananaw ng marami sa politica, lalo nang kailangan ng mga politico na may Biblical worldview at tunay na takot sa Diyos para maging ilaw sa mundo ng politics.

Sabi nga ng isang political columnist “because politics can protect the weak in the cause of justice... it can be a noble profession; and because the oppression of the weak is an offense against the image of God, politics is an urgent calling.”

Isa ngang honorable job ang politica at bagay ang mga kristiano sa trabahong ito. Dapat o maganda sana kung nangunguna ang mga kristiano sa pag-uphold ng justice at pagprotekta sa mga mahihina nating kababayan. Ang problem ay nabahiran na ng corruption at greed ang politics at karamihan ng politico ay may stereotype na corrupt, madaya, buwaya, magnanakaw, etc. Kailangan ng sino manng balak tumakbo ng tapang at lakas ng loob.

I think Panlilio is a better candidate than Bro. Eddie dahil may executive experience sya. Di ko alam ang track record niya bilang politician o pari, pero umaasa ako na susubaybayan at pag-aaralan ko sya bilang candidato at sana rin maipresent nya ng husto ang kanyang sarili sa mga Pinoy para malaman kung karapatdapat nga syang maging lider ng bansa.

(The deadline for overseas absentee voting registration is August 31st. If you're in the US, click here for more information and how to register.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Organ Trafficking Still Prevalent in the Philippines

According to a recent report (embedded video below), organ trafficking is still prevalent in the Philippines. In fact a World Health Organization reported that 400 kidneys were sold in the Philippines last 2008 ranking the country 5th in the world organ trafficking "hotspot." At least 40% of the kidney recipient were foreign nationals taking advantage of poor Filipinos struggling to make ends meet. It is said that donor are paid from $2000-$3000 per kidney. This is a serious problem, thus the strict implementation of the Anti-Trafficking Act or RA 9208 is urgently needed.

Organ donation is perhaps one of the greatest selfless deeds a person can do to someone. But the organ should be given freely and should never be coerced or bought. God designed human life to be sacred and valued. The selling of organs is not only unethical but it's a violation of the dignity of the donor and treats human life into something God never intended to be - a commercial commodity.

Further reading: The Human Trafficking Project Blog

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Travelling Filipino Congress

The news report of 100 Philippine congressmen vying for a coveted spot in President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s entourage to her trip to Washington DC to meet President Barrack Obama is an indication that being a member of the House of Representative is indeed one of the best jobs in the Philippines. A member of the House gets to travel or “jet set” not once, or twice but 51 times with GMA (since she took office) to rub elbows and met with top political royalties all costing tax payers at least P3 billion of travel expenses. Though, they all deserve the benefit of the doubt, its hard to ignore the billions of pesos spent on business travel alone at the expense of the poor struggling Filipinos - I heard jeepney fare right now is 7 pesos. The last travel members of the House took was last May to see the Pacquiao-Hatton bout in Las Vegas which reported at least 50 lawmakers missing their scheduled congressional sessions. This trip could be a case of déjà vu if not questioned or challenged by public. With that said, do theses House of Representative member deserve benefit of the doubt or not?

Here are some punchlines from The Professional Heckler:

President Arroyo will finally meet with US President Barack Obama at the White House on July 30. She will be the first leader from Southeast Asia to visit Washington under the Obama administration… after earning the distinction of being the first leader from Southeast Asia to be snubbed thrice by the same administration.

Some 100 congressmen are vying for slots in President Arroyo’s entourage in her July 30 trip to Washington DC. Not everyone will be allowed to leave though… lest the president be accused of smuggling crocodiles.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Tim Tebow: The Philippines is in his Heart

Filipinas Magazine July issue has a feature on American quarterback, Tim Tebow. Tebow plays for the Florida Gators and was the first sophomore to receive the Heisman Trophy award in 2007 - the highest MVP recognition in college football, he is also set to be one of the top NFL draft pick for 2010. The article talked about his life, his near death or abortion birth and his Filipino connection. Despite of his success in his sport he never turned his back from his Christian faith and the people of Cotabato, his birth place. The kids in Cotobato who calls him "kuya" every summer is blessed to have him as a big brother. He sets a good example of excellence in your vocation, humility, community service and faithfulness in Christ. Below is an excerpt but you can read the entire article here.

Every summer, when schools are on break, Tim goes to that barangay (barrio) in the Philippines where his dad had set up his mission. There, as a virtual unknown and away from the media spotlight, he walks the streets of Cotabato and visits the markets of Digos with the Holy Bible in his hand to preach the gospel of Jesus. He saddles homeless kids on his shoulder in the slums of Sarangani and plays kuya (big brother) to them while handing out candies and chocolates. He bathes in cold water just like the natives do, and runs errands for volunteer doctors and nurses who perform surgeries on indigent patients in makeshift operating tables.

A world away from their home in Jacksonville, Florida, that faces the Atlantic, Tim finds himself in a different playing field in the island of Mindanao that is nestled in the Pacific. “It is a much different ballgame,” he says. “There, I hear no roaring chants from fans rooting for a touchdown, but deafening silence as people desire to receive the words of Jesus that I preach about. I see none of those eyes of adulation when we win games, but eyes of faith of people searching for Jesus who I talk about,” Tim relates. “You kind of find out from the get-go, what sets faith apart and what a game is just about.”

With all his outstanding achievements in football, Tim will definitely emerge as the top NFL draft pick of his 2010 class as soon he steps out of college. But he has set his sight and his heart on other things, too—that little orphanage of more than fifty children in Mindanao that his father had founded. “Those kids make me more grounded and help me put things in proper perspective,” he says. “At the end of the day, what matters may not only be about scoring a touchdown, but also winning the future of those kids who do not get the opportunity to receive that touch of hope and love that you and I may have the means of giving.”

For further reading on Tim Tebow

(image from Filipinas Magazine)

Speak Louder, Paris Jackson

(I originally posted this on The Point blog)

Definitely Paris Jackson's emotional speech was the highlight of Michael Jackson's memorial on Tuesday. As a Michael Jackson fan myself, I was touched by that brief moment and really felt the loss the Jackson kids were experiencing. However, maybe it's just me, but I felt a little uncomfortable with the entire Jackson family when Mrs. Jackson and Janet Jackson were coaching her to speak louder and holding the microphone up to her mouth. It was like the whole family was staging the moment for the entire world to see MJ's little 11-year-old daughter.

I'm sure the family only has good intentions for MJ's kids, but part of me felt a little sorry for the children because we all know the damage the public spotlight can do to celebrity kids. My hope for Paris, Prince and "Blanket" is that they won't turn out that way. That's why, during Michael Jackson's life, he worked so hard to preserve the privacy of his kids, which the entire Jackson family may have forgotten when they all got up onstage.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Filipinos are one of the Happiest People in the World

Good New Pilipinas reported recently that Filipinos are one of the happiest people on Earth according to the 2009 Happy Planet Index (HPI) published by the New Economics Foundation. The Philippines ranked 14th, up 3 places from last year.

Costa Rica is the happiest place in the world, followed by Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guatemala, Vietnam, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Brazil and Honduras. You can see the complete list or report here.

You will notice that developing countries ranked top on the Happy Index while the so-called economic super powers such as the France (#71), United Kingdom (#74) and the United States (#114) ranked low.

It means that economic growth or superiority does not translate to happiness. Yet, we all make the mistake of holding our government and ourselves meet that standard to be properous. What's important is discovering that neither wealth nor government can ever be the source of true happiness.

For further reading, click here.

(image from Good News Pilipinas)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Filipino Christian Blogger: Say "No" to Transformers 2

I'm sure Transformers 2 is a big hit in the Philippines. Since its premiere, Transformers 2 attracted millions of moviegoers around the world (including the Philippines) making it earn an estimate of $170 million worldwide. But is the movie worthy of its blockbuster status? In my opinion, NO!

Indeed, the movie is full of robots and exciting action sequences that everyone may enjoy. But Transformer 2 is not a family movie. I can’t blame parents who brought their children to see Transformers because the film is heavily marketed to them. However, I blame the movie executives and director Michael Bay for filling the movie with profanity and sexual references not appropriate to the audience they’re marketing the movie to.

The irresponsibility of Hollywood to its global audience is reflected in the movie. Not only the film lacks a good intelligent plot, the film also exposes children to crude oral sex jokes, metallic sex organs, repeated F, S and A-hole words, butt shot of a scantily clad woman to name a few. Spending your hard earned money and 2 ½ hours of your lives to this movie is not worth it. Transformers 2 is a decepticon, a garbage in disguise and people specially young Filipinos should stay away from it.