Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Filipinos, South Koreans & Kim Jong II

My colleague Stephen Reed made some good and interesting talking points about North Korean leader and dictator Kim Jong II. His thoughts is in response to the report that he launched 2 test nuclear missiles last Tuesday prompting another diplomatic confrontation between North Korea and other world "superpowers."

Reed ask, "Is it ever appropriate to ask for God to remove a true tyrant from the scene?" He noted that even the great Christian theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer agreed "after much spiritual wrestling, that having Hitler gone was the only way to save many other souls."

Korean fever invaded the Philippines in the 1990's. South Korean telenovelas and pop music is very popular (remember F4, Meteor Garden and Sandara Park?). Koreans are also the number one tourists in the Philippines. In addition, it's a fast growing expatriate population in the country. Records show that there are 115,400 Koreans, a 115% jump since 2005 and an estimated 10,000 Kophinos—children of mixed Korean and Filipino descent living in the Philippines.

Knowing that many South Koreans have special ties and have embraced the Philippines as their second home, I wonder how they feel now knowing that the "evil" leader of the country next door to them is just a "button away" from starting a nuclear crisis that will first affect their original homeland?

Let's pray for our Korean brothers and sisters to comfort them during these times and ask the Lord to work in His many mysterious ways, finds a peaceful solution to remove Kim Jong II from power and creating fear among its people and the rest of the world.

(image from

Monday, May 25, 2009

Halili-Kho Video Sex Scandal

The video sex scandal involving Philippine actress Katrina Halili and celebrity doctor Hayden Kho is a good illustration that our sins have consequences. Also, news about sexual abuse and the degradation of women should remind us that human beings are created in God's image. It is from this "being in God's image" that gives us dignity and separates us from other of His creation. Women in particular has a special divine purpose on Earth and deserve their dignity to be respected and protected, it doesn't matter who they are, what their past is or the image they portray in public.

Halili and Kho made bad choices and are now paying the consequences. If accusations about Kho is true, he clearly violated Halili as a person and robbed her of the dignity God has given her - he should be held accountable for his actions. For all of us, the best way to respond to the sex scandal is to pray for everyone involved, learn God's perspective on the situation and answer the question, "how now shall I live?" For starters, refuse to view or pass the controversial sex video to others.

(More editorial on the topic from a political perspective posted on The Philippine Star, May 23rd)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Re: Circumcision: The Rite of Passage for Filipino Boys

I appreciate all the numerous comments I receive regarding my recent blog post on circumcision. Clearly, opinions about this topic is diverse. But I agree with a comment made by Kevin in Manila, I do not personally consider circumcision of Filipino boys a human rights abuse. I think referring it so is a bit of a stretch. Although some will argue that circumcision is another form of genital mutilation and is harmful to young boys, I personally don't feel that way. In the Philippines the reason many (not all) get circumcised is to make the child look more like dad. Choosing to do it early or late in a boy's life is a choice parents make on their own due to past experiences, practical or cultural reasons.

In tune with the objectives of The Living Rice blog, I posted the original article to highlight the final authority on this topic, the word of God. Ancient Jews practice circumcision as a sign that they belong to God. Now, such sign is no longer required by God because Christ has finished the work for us on the cross. As I said in my original post, the principle that matters to God more is the "circumcision of the heart" and not the body. St. Paul said it well, “It doesn't matter if you are circumcised or not. All that matters is that you are a new person” Galatians 6:15 (CEV). And that's what all men and parents should be more concerned about.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Circumcision: The Rite of Passage for Filipino Boys

Bob Martin, author of Live in the Philippines web magazine and an American national living in Mindanao posted his perspective on the practice of circumcision in the Philippines. Circumcision, Filipino-style is very different compared to Western societies. It is considered a rite of passage for boys and is commonly done in their pre-teen or teenage years. So when my wife brought up the question "is Jordan getting circumcised?" Instantly my mind went on flashback mode and with my memories, there's no question, my newborn son is getting circumcised! He can get the rite of passage ritual in some other way.

I don't think the tradition is not related to religion because majority of Filipino boys Muslim, Christian or whatever are expected to be circumcised at their pre-teen age - in Biblical times, boys are circumcised on the 8th day from birth. I don't know how this tradition came about but every Filipino boy has his own story or experience of this coming of age ritual. The rite of passage aspect is real and there's an element of masculine pride a young boy experience when he goes through with it. Traumatic or not, the procedure is part of every Filipino boys life and whether it make him a better man in adulthood is totally up to him.

God made several references on circumcision in the New Testament as a symbol of what a person's heart should be under the new covenant through Jesus Christ. True masculinity is not measured by an external scar but by how one live his life in submission to God and love for others. Thus, for Filipino boys, what matters most and the right rite of passage is not on the body but the "circumcision of the heart."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The New Tatay

In case you're wondering why I havent been blogging lately? It's because my wife and I just welcomed our second child Jordan Joaquin Bruce, born May 6th in Arlington, VA.

Things have been fun and sometimes hectic in adjusting to our growing family and fulfilling my enhanced role as the official tatay of our home.

I'll be back VERY SOON.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Nat King Cole Sings "Dahil Sa Yo"

Thanks for my online friend Rob Angeles of Social Media Philippines, I discovered this Nat King Cole's rendition of the timeless Filipino love song "Dahil Sa 'Yo" (Because of You). He performed the song during his concert at the Araneta Coliseum in the early 60's. Coincidentally, his daughter Natalie Cole also held her concert at the same venue last March.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Unleash the Manny Pacquiao in every Filipino!

(originally posted on by Michael Cho)

What I draw from this fight is a reaffirmation that Filipinos are amongst the best in the world not just in boxing but in any field. Manny, Charice, Arnel, Dado, as well as the tens of millions here and abroad are thriving to create a better Philippines. Filipinos are one of the smartest, most talented, hard working, industrious, creative, artistic, dedicated and religious people in the world. The natural resources in the Philippines are also amongst the best in the world, it truly is a paradise.

We have a diaspora of ten to twelve million that have left our country not necessarily seeking an easier life, or more money, or fame, they are seeking is a fair and level playing field; where they are measured and rewarded for their abilities, strengths, dedication, smarts, talents, and potential – instead of their surnames, relatives, relations, connections, and affiliations. The world is evolving far beyond stamping-out corruption to creating a meritocratic democracy.

Our people have all found success in the four corners of the world in all fields except in our own country. It would be a gross understatement to say that our country has underperformed relative to other countries; considering all our talent and resources. Any fifth grade student will tell you it is because our country is festering in corruption. Some even defend it as a system of wealth redistribution or a zero sum game. It is not as simple as stealing from Peter and giving to Paul. When you steal from Peter and give it to Paul both Peter and Paul lose. It even destroys everyones humanity and human spirit. Humanity is our will to share and cooperate. Human Spirit is our drive, passion to succeed, will to thrive, survive and compete. MLK said that “Injustice to one is injustice to all”.

Our success abroad is a testament of what the Filipinos can do if given a fair chance. If we all achieve ten percent of our potential, the Philippines would truly become the envy of the world. We would be beyond comparison. We just need to create and maintain a fair and level environment. We always tell your kids that “it’s not about winning or losing but how you play the game”. That is so true in life if we all had a fair playing field we would all be inspired to “participate”, try, work, invest, live better, stronger, and do more.

Let’s unleash the Manny Pacquiao in every Filipino!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Amazing Manny Pacquiao!

Congratulations to Manny Pacquiao for making Filipinos around the world proud once again! The Pacman beat and knocked out a visibly disoriented Ricky Hatton in Round 2. "Pacman dethroned Hatton of his International Boxing Organization light welterweight crown. It’s Pacman’s fifth world title, joining the elite company of Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Floyd Mayweather Jr. who are also 5 division champs."

Agreeing with Rico Hizon, our Pambansang Kamao is respected by everyone because: 1. He works & trains hard as a boxer. 2. He is magnanimous in victory! 3. Never trash talks. 4. He loves his mother, wife & kids. 5. He is humble. and 6. Prayerful.

Reports say that during the Pacquiao-Hatton fight, near 0% crimes were committed in Metro Manila because majority of Filipinos are glued to theirs TV screens. What a good way to prove Pacquaio's positive influence to the Filipinos and his knockout punch a real crime stopper, literally!

May he remain a top athlete, an inspiration and a Godly humble human being to everyone.

(image from

Friday, May 1, 2009

'Quarantine lawmakers returning from Vegas'

Siguradong madami na namang politician ang makikita natin sa laban ni Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton sa Sabado (US time). According to this report 50 members of the House of Representatives flew to Las Vegas to watch the fight. I remember during the last fight, in addition to the always present Chavit Singson we saw Vice President Noli de Castro doing what seems to be an early campaign photo opt with the boxing champ. Sino kaya sa mga politicians or presidentiables ang magpaparamdam sa TV?

Ibig sabihin, madaming politicians ang wala sa Labor Day at kasalukuyang absent sa kanilang mga trabaho.

Bakit nga ba kailangan pang pumunta sa Las Vegas? Napakagastos o luho naman yata nun. Kahit pa sabihin nilang personal travel expense yon, mga Pinoy pa rin ang nagpapasweldo. Lagi ko nga sinasabi na dahil elected officials sila they are called to live up to a higher moral and ethical standard because of God's divine appointment given to them to uphold order and justice among His people. This includes being a bit more responsible and accountable with their financial expenses.

Siguro nga good idea yung i-quarantine silang lahat sa kanilang pagbalik. In addition to the swine flu virus, i-check na rin kung siguradong personal money ang kanilang ginamit at kung may natitira pa silang dangal na ihaharap sa kanilang mga constituents.

(image from