Thursday, December 17, 2009

Are there more Filipina women looking for a spouse overseas than local Filipino men wanting to marry them?

Hope the title doesn't sound insensitive, but its the first question that came to my mind when I did a Google search on "marriage" and "Philippines." Search results were primarily on mail-order-brides, foreign fiance visas and international match-making agencies. I know a simple online search is insufficient and I don't know any reports or statistics to support my initial inquiry but if my assumption were true, then it's a heartbreaking reality that many Filipina face in their legitimate search for a mate. Let's just hope Im wrong.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Manny Pacquiao and Broken Marriage Vows

Instead of joining other reporters and showbiz talk shows on giving endless (and annoying) coverage or analysis on Manny Pacquiao marraige woes, Joey De Leon offered a fictional anecdote that will surely tickle our thoughts regarding a serious marital issue our Pamabansang Kamao has got himself into:

Reporter: “Ah Pacman, sino ba talaga ang dapat sisihin o i--blame dito sa issue tungkol sa iyo at sa isang pretty actress?” 

Pacman: “Palagay ko, ‘yung pari na nag-refereenoong ikasal kami ng asawa ko.”
Reporter: “Bakit mo naman nasabi ‘yon?”
Pacman: “Kasi, ang advice niya sa’kin noon — para daw maging successful ang pagsasama namin eh ilagay ko raw sa gitna naming dalawa si Kristo.”
Reporter: “Sinunod mo naman ba?”
Pacman: “Oo naman … medyo na-wrong spelling lang nang konti.”

Though celebrity scandal can be a bit interesting and amusing, we all need to be reminded that real life effects of infidelity and broken marriage vows are not. The grief and pain families specially children experience are no laughing matter. The best response is to pray for those who are hurting and also look in the mirror to examine our own lives. If you're married, may this be a teaching moment that preserving the sacrament of your marriage should be the greatest fight of your lives. Remember, "what God has joined together, let not man separate.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christian Worldview and Kids

Teaching Christian worldview to children can be a challenge, because parents are required to find creative ways to simplify profound Biblical truths or respond to questions like “Why can’t I see Jesus?” or “Why is hell hot?” that test our knowledge of basic fundamentals of Christian faith.

For our kids, we've found movies an effective way to introduce worldview. We teach our 5-year-old daughter the concept of “opposites” by showing her characters that are acceptable and unacceptable, and we're training her early to find messages behind what she sees onscreen. We had one of our best moments as parents of young children when our daughter said the other day, “Every time I see a bad person in a movie it reminds me of how good God is.”

How about you? How do you teach your children or teens Christian worldview?

(Originally posted on The Point blog)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tunay na Mukha ni Santa

Di ko alam kung paano minana ng Philippines ang paniniwala kay Santa Claus pero karamihan ng mga bansa sa buong mundo ay may sariling version ng Santa o naniniwala sa isang “gift-giver” tuwing pasko. But do you ever wonder kung anong tunay na itsura ni Santa Claus? Click here to find out and more importantly try to read who the real Santa Claus is - Saint Nicholas, a former bishop from Turkey who loves children and witnesses Christ’s love for others.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Remembering Primitivo Mijares and His Message to Maguindanao

I still can't get over thinking about the fate of the 57 Filipinos brutally murdered in Maguindanao. Makes one think how can a person commit such atrocity. I'm just glad that charges have been filed against Mayor Ampatuan Jr., the prime suspect of the crime. I hope and pray that justice will be granted to all victims of this horrible murder.

The massacre reminded me of another politics related crime - the mysterious disappearance of Primitivo Mijares. The former right-hand aid to Ferdinand Marcos turned star witness and whistleblower against the martial law regime. I always admire Mijares' bravery to speak out against a dictator and his mysterious disappearance has always intrigued me since I learned about it many years ago. Mijares, also a former journalist, withdrew his support from Marcos and testified at the US Congress exposing the Marcos' abuse of power during martial law. He also authored the book "The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos" that revealed more details of corruption and human rights violations of Mr. and Mrs. Marcos. As a result, Mijares' young son was abducted, tortured and killed allegedly as a form of revenge or a warning sign for his revelation. Primitivo Mijares later on also suddenly disappeared and was never to be found to this date. Marcos was suspected as the mastermind of his disappearance and the murder of his young son. Both cases were never brought to justice.

I got a big surprised last year when I ordered a used copy of Mijares' "Conjugal Dictatorship" from an independent book seller on Amazon. The book has been out of print for many years so the book was a rare find.  When I got the book in the mail, I discovered the copy has a personal signed message from Mijares himself dated Nov. 27, 1976 addressed to the original owner of the book. Thought I'll post a photo of his message online - I think of it as a reminder of hope and prayer for the restoration of personal freedom and democracy to all affected by the Maguindanao Massacre and victims of all unresolved cases of political violence in the Philippines.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Smart Moves

I just read that Senator Escudero is backing out of the presidential and vice presidential race and will be supporting the candidacy of Senator Aquino. If this is true, then I say, smart move. He should seriously consider joining the Liberal Party.

Governor Santos-Recto and husband Ralph Recto recently joined the LP, smart move. What would really be a smart move would be if former Senator Recto admits to the public that the additional 2% VAT he pushed through Congress has accomplished nothing but add to the people's burden, as former Senator Osmena had contested. What would be a smart move on Senator Aquino's part, then, would be to get Osmena back in his senatorial slate by all means possible.

Bad move on the part of Senator Villar. Senator Legarda is history. I don't believe she can accomplish anything anymore. She has lost credibility in the eyes of our youth. She should consider going back to broadcast journalism, as well. Still another bad move on Senator Villar's part is getting Governor Marcos on his senatorial ticket. Old politics. Trapo politics. Being wise and being street wise are two different things. Senator Villar will be fortunate if he gets 30% of the vote.

There are a number of old horses in Congress. They should retire. That would be an accomplishment for them.

Senator Aquino will be the next president of the Philippines. Senator Roxas will be vice-president. Come 2016, we will see a new kind of politics in Philippines history. We will have an electorate that is wired differently. By then, the 18-40 voters will have a much different life and world view than the dominant one today. "Mar" Roxas, "Chiz" Escudero, "Ate V" Santos-Recto and "Kiko" Pangilinan are the personalities to watch. These smart people will be our performance-driven leaders in politics.

Escaping the Mindanao Massacre

Its sad to hear the massacre that occured in Maguindanao province recently that killed about 46 people including journalists, children and pregnant women. Though its bad news, I am gratetful for the people who reported it via traditional and non-traditional media to make it known around the world the human rights violations that takes place in the Philippines every election season - ensuring the 12 journalists murdered in the massacre not die in vain.

Most Filipinos around the world may be busy working and taking care of their families. A tragedy like this can easily escape our attention. But Filipinos should be made aware of the evils of human rights violations and the need to do something more than watching the news. Surely knowing about the massacre does not solve the human rights crisis in the Philippines, but it is certainly a first step.

Remember to pray for all who are affected by this tragedy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: Fireproof Part 2?

Christian News reports a followup to the movie Fireproof will explore the topic of fatherhood. Fireproof starred Kirk Cameron as a firefighter. The 2008 independent movie was produced by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georiga which plans to start filming Courageous this spring. It should hit theaters a year later, telling the story of four fathers in law enforcement who go through a tragedy together. Fireproof made more than $33 million on a budget of about half-a-million. The movie had limited screening in the Philippines but was a big hit to those who saw it specially in the evangelical christian community. As I said in my previous post about the movie, I think its one of the best dramas I've seen recently and meets the common "melo-dramatic-tear-jerking" formula Filipinos never tires to see on TV and movies everyday. Will Courageous meet the same expectation? Abangan na lang ang susunod na kabanata.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Moon: Now Showing in the Philippines

Do you plan to watch New Moon, second of the Twilight films scheduled to open this week in the Philippines and worldwide? If so, I highly recommend you read BreakPoint's insightful guide on the movie that will be helpful to you, kids and parents alike.

As Christians, we shouldn't shut away or lose ourselves in the art of cinema. Instead of criticizing Hollywood or all non-Christian themed films as evil or simply thinking "its just a movie" or "just for entertainment only" I believe we should be master and train our eyes to see movies in different perspective - as a new way of delivering beauty and truth found in scriptures to our world hungry for meaning and purpose.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Free Hugs Manila

My friend Jim alerted me of this video shot in Manila in 2007. Thought the video is interesting because Filipinos are not a hugging culture (my personal opinion) specially sa mga machong pinoy. Maybe times are starting to change now. Share the love, share a hug...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Doomsday Philippines

Salamat sa Hollywood blockbuster movie na "2012" naging malaking hype na naman ang usapan tungkol sa apocalypse o end-of-the-world. Ayon sa movie, base sa ancient Mayan calendar December 21, 2012 daw ang katapusan ng mundo. Last year naging usapan din ang "Doomsday email" na nag-predict na July 18, 2008 diumano ang katapusan ng Pilipinas. Obviously walang katotohanan ito. Ang totoo, ang apocalyptic thinking ay manifestation ng lack of faith at anxieties ng tao sa mga uncertainties ng buhay. Ang mga kalamidad tulad ng Ondoy, tsunami, lindol at hysteria sa man-made global warming ay nagpapaalala kung gaano ka-vulnerable tayong lahat. Ang pananaw sa mundo bilang random at walang sovereign creator ay nagdadagdag din sa anxiety kaya't marami ang madaling maniwala at nakakahanap ng kasagutan sa mga ancient text at manghuhula sa katapusan ng mundo.

Mabuti na lang at ang dapat malaman ng madami... only God offers the real solution. Christians know that true faith in Him cast out all anxieties dahil may kapayapaan at pananalig tayo na sya lang ang may hawak at may alam sa future natin at ng ating mundo. Sa halip na mag-focus sa end-of-times, mag-focus na lang sana tayo sa nag-iisang Creator of time.

Click here for further reading.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Romeo Jalosjos' Fantasyland

I thought it was a joke but the Inquirer reported that convicted child rapist and unrepentant former congressman Romeo Jalosjos is set to finance the development of a billion pesos world-class theme park in Dapitan City, Mindanao - sounds very “Michael Jacksonish." I don’t know what to think of this news but it may have the potential to make it in the “only-in-the-Philippines” record list. To put some light humor on the Romeo Jalosjos theme park seriously named “Gloria’s Fantasyland” (yes, you heard that right) the catch... is only 11 year old girls and below are allowed to enter the park. Funny?

I recommend Carlo Ople's blog post on Jalosjos to learn more about him and what the Arroyo administration did to his case.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Whats Wrong With Kindness?

I was not surprised to see many Filipinos around the world working together to help other Filipinos affected by the recent typhoons. It proves that human beings are generally kind and generous specially in time of great need. This reminds me of how human goodness or kindness counters the basic worldview of evolutionist that says survival of the fittest is the ultimate good for the species or eliminate the weak members of the species for the common good. Fans of Charles Darwin have a problem because they don't have a strong argument of the altruistic nature of human except they say that people do "good" to others so that others will do the same good to them which will increase their chances for survival.

Fortunately Christianity offer a better and stronger explanation. While all humans are born with the capacity to sin, we are also capable of caring for others because God created us in His image. Not only we compete with our neighbors for survival but we can care for them and even willing to sacrifice our lives for them.

(Click here for further reading)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why is the Philippines Poor?

Why is the Philippines poor is in the minds of many Filipinos around the world. Im posting a column written by Nestor Mata verbatim that provides good answers to this intriging question. My hope is that the Philippines becomes a praying nation and every Filipinos to think biblically and have the integrity to live out what the bible teaches.

In these times of economic instability and other multitudinous national problems, not a few Filipinos are wondering why the Philippines is poor. But someone else says that we can still reverse the path of economic decline and moral decadence through prayer.

I got two messages sent through the Internet, one from a Dr. Arsenio Martin of Fort Arthur, Texas, USA, who posed the intriguing question "Why is the Philippines Poor?", and the other from Jesuit Father James Reuter who offered prayer as "our only hope" for national salvation.

Here are excerpts from Dr. Martin's message: "The difference between the poor countries and the rich ones is not the age of the country. This can be shown by countries like India and Egypt that are more than 2000 years old, but are still poor. On the other hand, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, only 150 years old, are rich and highly developed countries.

"The difference between poor and rich countries does not reside in the available natural resources. Japan has a limited territory, mountainous, inadequate for agriculture and cattle raising, but it is the world's second economic power. It is like a floating factory, importing raw materials from all over the world and exporting manufactured products.

"Another example is Switzerland. It does not plant cocoa, and yet is has the best chocolates in the world. In its little territory, the people raise animals and plant the soil only during four months of a year. Not enough, and yet they produce dairy products of the best quality. It is a small country that transmits an image of security and order, and the world's strongest and safest place in the world.

"Executives from rich countries who communicate with their counterparts in poor countries show that there is no significant intellectual difference among them. Race or skin color is also not important. Immigrants labeled lazy in their countries of origin are the most productive in rich European counties.

"What is the difference then? The difference is in the attitude of the people, framed along the years by education and culture and flawed tradition.

"On analyzing the behavior of the people in rich and developed countries, we find that the great majority following these principles in their lives: Ethics, Integrity, Responsibility, Respect for laws and rules, Respect of the rights of other citizens, Work loving, Strive for savings and investment, Will of action, Punctuality and Discipline.

"In poor countries, only a minority follow these basic principles in their daily life. The Philippines is not poor because we lack natural resources or because Nature has been cruel to us. In fact, we are rich in natural resources. But we are poor because we lack the correct attitudes. We lack the will to comply with and teach these functional principles of rich and developed societies.

"If you love your country, let this message circulate so that many Filipinos could reflect about this and change their attitudes and ACT!"

Here are excerpts from Father Reuter's message of what he calls "the only hope" for the Philippines: "The signs are clear. Our nation is headed towards an irreversible path of economic decline and moral decadence.

"It is not the lack of effort. We have seen many men and women of integrity in and out of government, NGOs, church groups and people's organizations devote themselves to the task of nation-building, oftentimes against insurmountable odds.

"But not even two People Revolutions have made a dent in reversing this trend. At best, we have moved one step forward, but three steps backward.

"We need a force far greater than our collective efforts, as a people, can ever hope to muster. It is time to move the battle to the spiritual realm.

"It is time to claim God's promise of healing the land for His people. It is time to gather God's people on its knees to pray for the economic recovery and moral reformation of our nation.

"Is prayer really the answer?

"Before you dismiss this as just another rambling of a religious fanatic, I'd like you to consider some lessons we can glean from history.

"England's ascendancy to world power was preceded by the Reformation, a spiritual revival fuelled by intense prayers.

"The early American settlers built the foundation that would make it the most powerful nation today - a strong faith in God and a disciplined prayer life. Throughout its history, and especially at its major turning points, waves of revival and prayer movement swept across the land.

"In recent times, we see Korea as a nation experiencing revival and in the process producing the largest Christian church in the world today.. No wonder it has emerged as a strong nation when other economies around are faltering.

"Even from a purely secular viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense. For here there is genuine humbling and seeking of God through prayer, moral reformation necessarily follows. And this, in turn, will lead to general prosperity.

"Yes, we believe prayer can make a difference.

"It is our only hope!"

(, June 7, 2008)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Purple Spots and Resilience

About three weeks ago our 5-year-old daughter started to complain about a red “bug bite” on the bottom of her foot. We didn’t give it too much attention because we thought it was just a simple mosquito bite that usually goes away. Until a few hours later she was in excruciating pain and her leg was swollen and almost covered with purple spots.

A rush to the ER revealed that Isabelle has Henoch-Schonlein purpura, or HSP. It’s a rare condition where the blood vessels get inflamed, usually after a viral infection, causing bruise-like spots to appear on the body and joints to swell. HSP could last for a few weeks or a few months, it usually attacks children, and there’s no known cause or cure for it. It’s not seriously life-threatening but it’s painful and could affect the internal organs -- children who had it showed signs of kidney problems later in life. So far, lab and blood results of my daughter showed everything is still within normal range. No medication was prescribed except lots of liquid, rest, and Ibuprofen for the daily pain.

This is what my family has been learning these past few weeks: As we care for Isabelle and watch her condition, we are also learning an important lesson on resilience. It’s true what many say, that children are resilient: They easily bounce back from pain. My daughter would cry every night because of the throbbing pain in her legs, but once the pain was gone, she was back to her fun, spirited self as if nothing had happened -- no “woe is me” nor dwelling on the past. There are many children who are in a worse or more painful condition than my daughter. My heart goes out to them and their families, but it’s comforting to know that these children possess the same resilience I saw in my daughter. I think God created all children this way . . . which means that all of us adults are capable of being resilient as well. For me or anyone else who tends to forget this innate human quality, Christ offers a word of advice: “. . . be like children” (Matthew 18:3)

(Originally posted on The Point blog)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Aid for the Philippines

(This article was originally posted on The Point blog)

Recently, countries in Asia Pacific were hit with massive typhoons that caused widespread flooding and left thousands dead or homeless. I’m closely following this story because as some of you may already know, I am originally from the Philippines, which is one of the countries severely affected by the tropical storms. None of my immediate family was hurt by the devastation, and only a few friends and extended family members of mine reported home and property damage. But many are not so fortunate.

A situation report by the UN’s Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs revealed that almost 1 million Filipino families were affected and displaced by three consecutive strong typhoons, are faced with serious health and sanitation problems, and need immediate aid. If you’re interested in helping, please visit my personal blog, The Living Rice, and click the “Donate” link located on the top right side of the page to donate via PayPal. Your donations will be received and distributed by Pagasa Lambat Ministries, a Christian worldview ministry in the Philippines.

Donations will go toward the following:

1. Replenishing emergency food bags.
2. Helping local churches replace small equipment they lost in the flood, including guitars, chairs, teaching materials, and the like.
3. Helping relocated families by providing school uniforms, shoes and school supplies for their children.
4. Helping relocated families cope with social and economic pressures by conducting parenting and container gardening seminars.
5. Helping pastors and teachers who lost their capability to generate supplemental income due to the storm and flooding by providing small-scale financial assistance for a month.

Please visit the ministry’s website for photos of their relief efforts. And thank you for your help.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sino ang Tunay na "Biggest Loser?"

Isa sa mga TV show na pinapanood ko ngayon ay ang "The Biggest Loser." Ngayon ko lang sya pinanonood dahil kilala ko yung isa sa mga contestant. May auditions na rin for "Biggest Loser Asia" at posibleng magkaroon ng ilang contestant from the Philippines. Pero sino ba ang tunay na "biggest loser?"

Lahat tayo, we put a lot of time and money to stay fit and slim. Ako nga sanay at habit na ang pag-woworkout para magkaroon ng konting muscles ang katawan at mamaintain ang proper cholesterol levels. I wake up early, mostly before sunrise to go to the gym, spend $10 per month for gym membership, subscribe to Men's Health magazine and stopped eating white rice on week days. This is important because we should treat our bodies as God's temple. But do I put the same discipline into maintaining my spiritual health? Im guilty na minsan di gaano.

To stay spiritually healthy, we must have spiritual disciplines. This means we study and pray over the Bible, share our faith, get involved in church, and fellowship with other believers. Gaya ng regular physical workouts para maging healthy, kailangan nating lahat ang spiritual workout so we can live out our personal relationship with Christ. When we fail to do this and draw near to Him, we’re the biggest losers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Smart Move: Godly Leadership, Part 4

Senator Escudero just left the Nationalist People's Coalition. Good for him. He just learned a very valuable lesson in Philippines political reality show.

What would be a smarter move is if he decides to sit out this coming elections.

Then again, the smartest move he can possibly make is to endorse the candidacy of Senator Aquino. He then should join the Liberal Party - the party that will go down in Philippines history as the transformation party of Decada 2010 - and be identified with and among the Filipino Reformers who changed the course of our history.

Come 2016, after another brilliant (and it has to be nothing less than brilliant) senatorial stay, he could compete for the standard-bearer position in LP's presidential convention. Even if he proves unsuccessful, he would have better than even chances of landing the vice-presidential spot, depending on how effective Senator Pangilinan's performance will be.

And finally, he should call it "all in" come 2022. By then, he will only be 52 years old; still at his prime. And if he is dead serious about serving the Filipino people no matter what, he would have by then secured his place in Philippines history and would be leaving a legacy that will benefit future generations of a grateful nation.

The first step toward acquiring godly leadership qualities and abilities is to ask God for wisdom. King Solomon did it which proved pleasing to God. This is the urgent step Senator Escudero needs to take. Wisdom requires knowledge of God's word, will, and ways. Therefore the second step is to acquire wisdom by diligently studying the Bible, the source of the Christian religion. The third step is to apply what has been learned - allowing chips to fall where they may. Finally, the fourth step is easy because a person automatically becomes what he or she believes in. That step is to just be honest and true to oneself.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Filipinos most lovable people on earth - Father Reuter

I love what the ailing 93-year-old Family Rosary Crusade TV host, Ramon Magsaysay and Catholic mass media awardee Father James Reuter has to say about the people he served for more than 7 decades.

“I had been asked on many occasions why I have been in the Philippines for 71 years and my answer is, the Filipinos are the most lovable people on the whole face of the earth... I find the Filipinos I talk to are closer to God and it really touches me when people come to me. I am always wishing that I was so close to God as they are. I am far closer to God (through) the people here in the Philippines... I learned from actual experience here in the Philippines that if you truly give anything you will receive so much. So I would say it is a blessing to be here. And it is a blessing to help those who are in need,”

And finally...

“For everyone in the Philippines, right now the test is to help those who are in need, to help those who need help. It is not enough that we are grateful for the gifts that God has given us but we have to reach out to others as far as we can.”

Any faithful servant of God nearing the end of his/her life reminds me of the verse below that best sums up Fr. Reuter's service to God through the Filipino people.

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness ..." (2 Tim 4:7, 8)

Wanted: Godly Leaders, Part 3

After reading what Smartmatic’s international sales director had to say about the automated system that will be put in place to tally the upcoming election votes, I must say that I am more confident that we will get an accurate final result. Having said that, I still would insist on an audit report from a leading accounting firm that will certify to the fair presentation of tally reports to the Comelec.

Six months to go. I still say that this presidential election is between Senator Villar of the Nacionalista Party and Senator Aquino of the Liberal Party. I still say that we are going back to a two-party system. Most Filipino politicians are attracted to party resources and not to political platform or ideology. Therefore, the NP will get more of the balimbings. The LP, on the other hand, will get the progressives. I still say that Senator Aquino will win by a comfortable margin. 50% to Villar’s 40% with the remaining 10% divided among the standard bearers of the soon-to-be marginalized political parties.

Senator Escudero will find himself alone and abandoned by the people he thought will be there for him until the end. It will expose his lack of feel for the nation’s political reality show. His is a case of overconfidence. There is still time to back-out and salvage a possible Roxas-Escudero rivalry in 2016.

No one really believes in Senator Legarda anymore except political pundits. And no one really believes, either, that former President Estrada stands a chance of winning except for party loyalists.

Like Ramil, voters may change their minds a few times during survey season. At the end of the day, however, my prediction: Senator Aquino will prove that he is the better man, the one who can be trusted to work for the well-being of the Filipino. Our people will see both Ninoy and Cory in his personality.

A godly leader has certain qualities: wisdom, discernment, faith, loyalty, humility, integrity and courage. He also possesses certain abilities:

1. A godly leader has the ability to form a mental picture of a desired end. He sees what others may not, and his vision becomes his guiding light. He is a visionary.

2. A godly leader has the ability to perceive the different parts or details of a whole. He understands how something comes or holds together so that he can readily offer alternative solutions or corrective courses of action when problems come up. He is insightful.

3. A godly leader can communicate effectively. He has the ability to articulate and explain a vision, a concept, or an idea in such a way as to be clearly understood. He is a communicator.

4. A godly leader knows how to inspire his people so that they develop the attitude of performing to the best of their abilities. He helps them reach their full potential. He is a motivator.

5. A godly leader provides a sense of security. His commitment, competence, and confidence earn him the respect and trust of his people. They know that when the going gets tough, he will not quit on them or point his finger at them, but will keep on fighting for their well-being. He is an energizer.

6. A godly leader has the ability to rally his troops without having to make promises or resort to manipulation. His people sees him as someone who has no pretense. This kind of leader says what he means and means what he says. He provides his people with no false hopes. He is the real deal.

7. A godly leader leads by example and he is consistent. His people know just what they can expect of him. He is always at his best.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is the Philippine DSWD hoarding relief goods?

Is the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) hoarding relief goods intended for victims of typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng inside its warehouse? According to a DSWD volunteer, Ella, a big yes and she's spreading the news about it all over cyber space.

My initial reaction was "hindi naman siguro" then naging "huwag naman sana." This is a serious allegation and its best to follow this report faily and get both sides of the stories first before jumping into any conclusions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ang Kama ng mga Tunay na Lalake

Naunahan ko yata ang Hay! Men! Ang Blog Ng Mga Tunay na Lalake (there are some graphic materials on the site) sa pag post tungkol sa bagong kama na designed para sa mga lalake... pang katuwaan lang.

"After years of catering to women," says the Wall Street Journal, a bed manufacturer introduces the first-ever bed specifically designed for men. It has "'muscle-recovery properties' and cooling technology" to adjust to a man’s body heat. It also has "built-in TVs, iPod docking stations, wine coolers, safes and other guy-friendly gadgetry" in its bed frame. It’s a dream come true for many real men who feel neglected by the mattress industry. However, wives seem less enthusiastic about this expensive piece of furniture. The question is -- is this bed for the ultra-masculine man who has it all or the macho man who’s sleeps alone or lonely at night? You decide if it’s pathetic or worthwhile.

(Adapted from The Point blog)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wanted: Godly Leaders, Part 2

Now that Ondoy and Pepeng had left our shores and we are focused on rebuilding our national life, various government leaders say that it will take anywhere from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars to get our people back on their feet and repair the damages. As usual, our trusted public servants are getting ready to move us two steps forward and three steps back with their guess work ethic.

Now is the time to shout at the top of our voices, “Enough is enough!”

As I have said in previous blogs, I see a window of opportunity for us, Filipinos. I see the resurgence of a two-party system - latest surveys are proving me right - which will make it easier for the voting public to be able to judge who the better candidates are among those running for various offices. This will be good for us - - an opportunity to be able to cast an informed vote; an opportunity to be able to raise our spirit and say, “This vote is for you, Bayan Ko.”

Next year’s presidential elections will be between the Nacionalista Party and the Liberal Party. Politicians from the ruling party are beginning to abandon ship. Many have already decided they will become Nacionalistas. They are the opportunist-realists. Many more from the soon-to-be-marginalized political parties who tend to be practical idealists will join the Liberal Party. 80% of those who participated in recent surveys is telling us that this wind is blowing strong and the times, they are a-changing. So, at the end of the day, two political parties will remain standing.

What the electorate need to demand from both the Nacionalista Party and the Liberal Party is their platform. How will they address the pressing issues of the day?

  • How will they stop corruption in governments?
  • How will they reduce our national debt?
  • How will they balance the national budget?
  • How will they create jobs?
  • How will they improve our justice systems?
  • How will they address the problem of squatting?
  • How will they address the problem of exploding population?
  • What form of Federalism might be good for us?

Looking into the character of party key leaders is as important as sizing up their respective standard bearer. So, the electorate need to consider the leaders of both parties and ask, “What public good have they done?.” And how do Gilbert Remulla and Peter Cayetano measure up to Jovito Salonga and Franklin Drillon? Are they more knowledgeable, more innovative in the way they think, more politically skillful, or not?

Then, of course, the voting public need to zoom in on the character of Villar and his running mate as compared to Aquino and Roxas. Which tandem has the qualities of godly leadership that we need? Which combination possesses wisdom, discernment, faith, loyalty, humility, integrity and courage?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is the Philippines a Victim of Climate Change?

According to the Philippine Star, President Arroyo called on rich countries yesterday to provide funds for rehabilitating areas affected by tropical storm “Ondoy” and typhoon “Pepeng,” saying the country had been a victim of climate change. She said that in seeking foreign help, the country will stress that it is “not a culprit of climate change” and added “We are a victim. We are not a climate maker but we certainly are a climate taker.”

GMA's cry for help to other countries was commendable and I hope many will respond to her call. But I question her for pointing a finger at climate change. How can she back up her claim with scientific facts when the hysteria over global warming has been discredited by many in the scientific community (read related article here)?

Wish GMA could have been more real. Beside the naturally strong winds and rain, there's also deforestation and garbage pollution has that has been causing severe floods and tragic landslides in the Philippines almost every year, but who's pointing a finger at these possible man-made culprits?

Wanted: Godly Leaders, Part 1

We realize that the suffering many of our people recently experienced was initiated by the record-breaking rainfall poured out by Ondoy and the strong winds hurled by Pepeng. But it could be argued that it could have been meaningfully minimized if not for the incompetence of many of our government leaders with regards to disaster preparedness and response.

This appalling condition in our government many would say is due for the most part to corruption, abuse of power and insatiable greed on the part of those who are currently in leadership positions. Make no mistake about it, these are sins that just recently caused loss of life and property.

Our country is in desperate need of leaders who are truthful, good and righteous. In other words, we are in need of godly leaders. But how can we identify them? How do we measure godliness?

First, lets try character. In my book, a godly leader possesses certain qualities. Like:

1. Wisdom - The quality which enables a person to apply knowledge according to God’s will. A wise person is, of course, knowledgeable; but it does not necessarily follow that a knowledgeable person has acquired wisdom. One must learn how to apply knowledge in a way that is pleasing not to people, whether poor or rich, but to God.

2. Discernment - The quality which enables a person to distinguish between good and evil, between right and wrong. A discerning person applies testing before coming to a conclusion.

3. Faith - The quality which enables a person to live in the certainty of God's statutes, promises and directives. Faith believes God and acts upon His word.

4. Loyalty - The quality which enables a person to remain true and devoted to God, country and fellowmen.

5. Humility - The quality which enables a person to do what is pleasing to God, instead of what is self-pleasing or acceptable to other people. It is what makes a person able to regard others more deserving than him or herself.

6. Integrity - The quality of wholeness and of consistent uprightness. It is that which enables a person to deal with others in all honesty. It is the state in which a person could say, "I've got nothing to hide.” His or her life is characterized as being transparent and beyond reproach.

7. Courage - The quality which enables a person able to confront danger or difficulty without wavering. A courageous person never chooses the path of least resistance. The highest degree of courage is seen in the uncompromising person who stands alone but refuses to submit to the pressures of humiliation, pain or rejection.

In a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being of no character at all and 10 being the perfect godly leader, how would your guts rate the following presidential aspirants:

· Joseph Estrada

· Francis Escudero

· Gilberto Teodoro

· Manuel Villar

· Benigno Aquino III

· Eddie Villanueva

· Bayani Fernando

· Richard Gordon

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hearing the Call of the Great Flood

Ate, tubig! Dali, may tubig!” I was upstairs trying to finish writing a long-delayed book when I heard this shout from my sister down below. I rushed downstairs and saw water seeping through the door. ‘Where is all this water coming from?’ I asked, fearing that the Marikina River, about a kilometer from the back of the house, has overflowed. ‘From out front,” she said. True enough, the water that came rushing was mainly from the street outside. This means that the water was rushing down from some mountain higher up. The sight startled me.
But there was no time to lose. Within minutes, the water rose to knee-high. We grabbed some food from the fridge, carted up a precious charcoal portrait of my parents and other paintings, salvaged what we could of the electrical gadgets from the kitchen, and tried to lug the chinaware and other breakables starting to spill out of the cabinet. By this time the water was up to my chest. Then the fridge started to float, banging itself against the table and chairs whirling round the living room. We tried to get it up the winding stairs but couldn’t since we were only two tiny women. The one man in the house is my grandnephew, but he was out in school taking his exams. He himself got trapped and had to sleep on the third floor of his school building that fateful Saturday night.
In less than an hour the water hit the ceiling of the first floor and started to seep through the second floor. I realized I could do nothing from hereon and got on my knees to pray. Then a man knocked on the glass of the bay window in my study and asked if they could get in. There were two women with him standing on the roof of my dirty kitchen, one holding a baby. They swam through the flood from the house at the back of mine. I fumbled with the lock of the emergency exit in the bay window but the key has gotten stuck. We got the baby through an opening in the window of my bedroom instead and the three swam to the terrace on the side of the house and got inside. It turns out that their grand lola was still in their house, waiting frightened on the second floor. He went back to fetch her but she wouldn’t hazard swimming through the floodwaters. We figured it was best that she stay put. If the water rose and we all had to evacuate and rescue comes I gave my word we shall not leave without her.
From the study I watched agonizingly as the river swelled, the flood rising inch by inch, up the wall fence. Frantic calls for help were made. I managed to reach the head of the Office of Civil Defense, Anthony Golez, and asked for a boat, a helicopter, whatever. He said sorry, it was not possible for them to help. We tried whoever else we could reach with the remaining batteries of our cell phones. All too soon the cell phones went dead. We have done what we could.
I sat down behind my desk and swept the room longingly with my eyes. Maybe it was my way of saying goodbye to the things I love, -- the books that have meant much to me and those I have yet to read, picked up from my various travels; the pictures and paintings, and especially the portrait of my parents done so lovingly by an artist friend. In the event the water finally engulfs us I figured I could manage to take my computer. All the rest will have to go. I put the most important books on the topmost shelves and thought of how everyone could get evacuated, -- baby, lola and all.
Inside, in that place where the battle between hope and despair is waged, my faith in the Lord of wind and rain was being tried. I knew that this was nature striking back against all our environmental sins. God does not suspend natural laws he himself has built into creation. We violate these laws at our own peril. Still, I also knew he could stop the rain if he wanted to. I confess the shadow of a half-doubt began to creep when I felt the firewall slightly move with the swirling force of the waters. I prayed that the concrete wall at the back, which served as buffer against the raging current from the river, would not give way. I do not think I have ever implored the Almighty as earnestly and anxiously and tearfully as I did at that moment.
Mercifully, the rain stopped. The water crawling up the roof of my dirty kitchen halted to a standstill. Rescuers came on board a makeshift raft. We did not relish staying the night at the clubhouse as a temporary evacuation shelter. We decided to stay put in the house and trust that the worst is over. We cooked some rice and broiled fish over a stove made out of an old tin can of biscuits, with newspapers as fuel. We chuckled over the ingenious improvisation, glad and thankful just to be alive.
Darkness covered the waters of the deep. Somehow I felt I was being invited to enter the depths of ‘somewhere I have never traveled’, -- the immense and fearful mystery of life and death, but also the forlorn helplessness of the poor in our land who always get buffeted by the wild winds of both nature and misfortune. I went to bed thinking of the castaways swept from the river banks, clinging for dear life on some tree or an old tire, or washed away by the floodtide along with the rubbish and rusted tin roofs of what used to pass for their houses. But tiredness and aching arms numbed and stupefied the mind for any more such thoughts. I went to sleep like a log.
Morning was eerily calm. It was also strangely beautiful. Along the river drifted a solitary man on a ragtag raft of banana trunks tied together. From a distance it all looked so picturesque, with the treetops visible on the surface of the now placid waters that have begun to subside. I learned later that many dead bodies were found floating on that river, some swept from as far away as Tanay.
It is now the ninth day since the Great Flood. Mud four inches thick had been cleared from the house. The yard is still full of mud, with mounds of things and furniture piled up in the muck waiting to be cleaned and sorted out. Life is moving on, and I am trying to make sense of what has happened to us.
For the first time, I was a flood victim. I thought this sort of thing happened only to those without means to live in decent places. I was, suddenly, on the receiving end of a thousand kindnesses from friends, kindly neighbors from Couples for Christ, and my own evangelical church who sent food and water, helped clear the mud and debris, checked the electrical wirings and in many other ways reminded me of God’s tender mercies in a time of great testing and vulnerability.
The poor have no access to such help. Even now, thousands are in evacuation shelters, with no homes, no families to go home to, no friends and relatives with resources to tide them over. In short, no social capital like those of us who are middle class and able to pull ourselves by our own bootstraps without waiting for government to dole out help that is too little and too late.
I asked God what all this means for me. So far, the one thing clear is that I am being asked to share in the ‘fellowship of his suffering’, in that great mystery of solidarity where the sorrow and degradation of one human being is the sorrow and degradation of all. Whether we are aware of it or not, we live in the presence of one another. The presence of the vast poor among us says as much about the rest of us as the kind of government we live under.
In a small way, I now know what it must be like for those who are swept to the margins, forced to live precariously in cities with no thought nor place for them, squatting dangerously along esteros, river banks and other waterways. Comfortable people tend to see them as obstructions, clogging our life systems. The truth is that it is a horrendous scandal that so many have nowhere else to go.
There is something very wrong with a society where almost everyone ‘turns away leisurely from the disaster’ as the poet W. H. Auden put it. In our vast carelessness and indifference no one anticipates the coming catastrophe until calamity crashes upon us. It is estimated that about 20 to 25 typhoons batter the country every year. But those whose business it is to prepare for such eventualities, like the National Disaster Coordinating Council, have no plan in place. In its stead is mere technical reflex, like releasing water, uncoordinated, from all four major dams all at once, without thought for the hapless people along the waterways.
It is worth investigating why, after weeks of rain even before Ondoy, no one in Napocor or the National Irrigation Administration who have charge of these dams ever thought of releasing water before it reached critical level. Why did they have to wait until another typhoon came? My own experience gives me the impression that besides environmental degradation, the one decisive factor that made this flooding so devastating is the uncalibrated release of dam water, coinciding with the heaviest rainfall we have seen in forty years. I have lived where I am for nearly 20 years. All through that time typhoons stronger than Ondoy have come and gone. But the Marikina River had not overflowed the way it had in this recent deluge. This disaster is man-made.
To me, the biggest disaster of all is when we once again miss our historical cue, failing to hear the call of what this means to us as a people. One call is that we must change our timeline as a culture; transcend our present-orientedness and anticipate the floodtide of the future. For all who do care that this country should have a future and a hope, we must see to it that all our do-gooding is such that it finally puts an end to the unconscionable helplessness and uprootedness of our people. As a German poet puts it,
“Make it so the poor are no longer
despised and thrown away,
Look at them standing about, --
like wild flowers, which have
nowhere else to grow….”

----- Melba Padilla Maggay, Ph.D., President, Institute for Studies in Asian Church And Culture