ALL CHURCH-LOVING PEOPLE: READ!

Here is today’s column of Mr. Condrado de Quiro’s in the Philippine Daily Inquirer – entitled “Healing.” For a long a time, we have been saying that true conversion in the Church requires, not only going back to the institutional Church, but to the Church founded by Christ. The Church Hierarchy has lost its credibility, not because so many people criticized it, but because many who have promised to follow the Lord have immediately followed him to Resurrection without passing through Calvary.

Mr. De Quiros’ column is a wake up call to all Church-Loving people. Surely, some people in the Church will shoot the messenger before reflecting on the message. We hope that instead of reacting negatively and violently to Mr. De Quiros’ columns, we will be reflecting how much we have given up for the Lord.

To Mr. De Quiros, allow me to share this article to all my priests/brothers/sisters-friends, not to insult them, but to give them a little nudge. To all my priests/brothers/sisters-friends, read on and let’s prove to the Lord that we have followed him through the Calvary and Resurrection…

There is The Rub of Mr. De Quiros –

Theres The Rub
Healing

By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:26:00 01/26/2011

I REMEMBER again a friend telling me how Catanduanes, which used to produce the highest number of seminarians in the country, suffered a precipitate fall in numbers in that respect in the 1990s. The culprit? The introduction of Cable TV. Or there seemed to have been a strong correlation between the one and the other. Suddenly the world opened up before the prospective recruits, and the prospect of living a life of much self-denial seemed less appealing.

I don’t know how true my friend’s story is. I do know that when he told me that story, I remembered Oscar Wilde’s witticism that the best way to resist temptation is to yield to it.

I remembered this after I read that Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales is blaming Hollywood for the increase in marital infidelity and gay and “live-in” relationships among Filipinos. It’s a materialistic and hedonistic culture it has been spreading, he says. “People are now seeking pleasure, money, sensuality and sexuality. Those are now the new gods.”

The solution, he says, is to go back to the fold. “We should go back to … a culture that has fear of God and values life.”

Well, I don’t know that we really need to look beyond ourselves to find the origins or cause of the things that plague us. Certainly, I don’t know which one gives Filipinos a more ferocious encouragement for materialism: the Hollywood movies that extol the vice of avarice, or at least that do not offer a condemnation of it, or the bishops who do not offer a resistance to it, or indeed who demonstrate, if not preach, the virtue of it. Rosales seems to forget the extent to which they propped up the most materialistic leader to have led this country (to perdition) since 1986 for the most materialistic reasons. I doubt Hollywood has produced anything more damaging to values.

Just as well, I don’t know which one gives Filipinos a more resolute encouragement for extramarital infidelity: the Hollywood movies that depict easy dalliances, or glorify their pleasures, or the congressmen and other officials who maintain kabits, if not regular harems (one president did, in Wack Wack), and indulge in their pleasures. In fact, I don’t know which one gives Filipinos a more convenient excuse for blithe partnerships, though “live-ins” often have more commitment in them than marriages: the ease of getting into them or the difficulty of getting out of marriages. Lest we forget, divorce is illegal in this country, no small thanks to the Church. Infidelity is probably far more the rule than the exception—no small thanks too to a macho culture—but like kabits, which are frowned upon in public but tolerated in private, the Church does not particularly seem to mind it so long as couples remain married.

While at that, the Church doesn’t particularly seem to mind priests, and even bishops, who have lovers, and get them pregnant, so long as they remain married to the Church. I doubt if “Desperate Housewives” offers more titillating fare.

But it’s true enough that Hollywood contributes to spreading materialistic values. Though there’s Hollywood and there’s Hollywood. There’s the Hollywood of the Oscars, which most Filipinos shun, and there’s the Hollywood of the blockbusters, which most Filipinos patronize. Of course there’s also the Hollywood of “Brokeback Mountain,” which won the Oscars, a magnificent movie that gives whole new insights into love. I leave the gays to argue that they were not born into evil, whatever their religious superiors say, and what they feel and do is not evil, it is human.

But it’s really more than Hollywood, it’s American culture itself. It’s a culture that, until only very recently, was symbolized by Wall Street, the proud tower of wealth, the shining glory of success. It’s a culture that extols acquisitiveness and consumerism. Arguably it has spawned a drive and initiative that have created mind-boggling abundance. On the other, it has also sparked a need to own more and more, which, like drugs, is really a want that has turned into a need. As every Fil-Am who has been swept by it knows very well, it’s not just the sheer pleasure of owning things that makes it desirable, it’s also the status it confers. That is how success is defined by how big your house is, by how grand your car is, by how trophy-like your partner is. That is how you are defined.

But even here, I don’t know that we can entirely lay our own brand of materialism at the door of Hollywood, American culture, or external influences. We do quite well enough on our own to define success by the amount of wealth and power one wields, to see importance by the pomp and ceremony one regales the world with. You don’t need to look far to see that. The Church itself is wealthy beyond belief, with its rolling lands, with its magnificent structures, with the constant stream of gratuity coming its way for charity, which in this case truly begins at home.

Indeed, you see that in the way the bishops—and cardinals—surround themselves with the finer things of life, appearing before the world in their tall hats and shiny robes and cassocked feet, waving an ornate staff, a staff of power. All this to announce the power and beneficence of God, a God who, if I recall right, was born in a stable for the animals, fished and did carpentry work to earn a living, even as he preached, and kept the company of a ragged crowd, which included a well-known prostitute. It’s not just capitalist America that drives Filipinos down the materialist road, feudal Philippines does too, with the Church at the head of the procession.

Go back to the fold, says Rosales, that is the antidote to materialism. Yes, but which fold?

If I recall right too, Jesus once offered this wise advice: Healer, heal thyself.

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A BEAUTIFUL LIFE INDEED!!!

I am posting and sharing with you Mr. Peter Applebome’s article in The New York Times on the life of Maurice Mannion-Vanover. He was a young man of twenty who was diagnosed with AIDS when he was born. His story is one which encourages us to continue living meaningfully despite of a situation which we may think hopeless. Read on and find for your self how Maurice touched me in a very special way.

Here is his story…

Against All Odds, a Beautiful Life

By PETER APPLEBOME
Published: January 23, 2011

From left, Tim Vanover, Kindoo Mannion-Vanover and Tim Mannion at the funeral of Maurice Mannion-Vanover, who died at 20.

Some things we know for sure — a little boy dealt a seemingly impossible hand, the two gay men who decided to give him a home and a life, the unlikely spell cast by the only horse in Montclair.

Beyond that, well, it was what you could never quite know as much as what you could that drew 500 people, friends and strangers, to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Saturday to ponder the lesson in grace and resilience, the parable of good lives and deeds outside the prescribed lines, in the remarkably long and way-too-short life of Maurice Mannion-Vanover, dead at the age of 20 on Jan. 14.

Few people begin life with so many strikes against them as Maurice had when he was born with AIDS on Sept. 11, 1990, to a crack-addicted mother in a hospital in Washington. There were physical and developmental issues severe enough that his twin sister, Michelle Reed, lived only 20 months. Deserted by his parents, he got his first break in 1993 when two men, intent on caring for a baby with serious physical needs, agreed to take him in.

The two, who came to be known as the Tims, Tim Mannion and Tim Vanover, were told he would probably live six months. But, to everyone’s amazement, he began to thrive. He gained weight. His T-cell count steadily increased. In 1996, they adopted him, becoming the first gay couple in Washington to adopt a child. A year later, they adopted a second son, Kindoo, eight years older. When Tim Vanover got a new job in New York, they moved to Montclair in 1998.

Eventually, the family of two white gay men and two black children became two men, two children and one horse, Rocky, short for Rockefeller. The Tims bought Rocky, a 4-year-old cross between a Morgan and a quarter horse, for $3,500 in 2002 and gave him to Maurice on Christmas Eve.

Montclair, a densely populated suburb, isn’t exactly horse country, but they had a double lot with an old carriage house near downtown. And Maurice had fallen in love with horses, almost transformed by their presence. Atop a horse, seemingly glued to the saddle, the slender child seemed to blossom, his back straighter, his eyes brighter, as if on top not of a horse, but of the world.

To say this was a blessing for Maurice is an understatement. But it wasn’t just for Maurice. Before long, everyone in Montclair, certainly every kid, knew about the house with the horse and the incredibly lucky kid who owned him. And before long, the intersection of Union and Harrison was a mecca for children and a magnet for passers-by, invariably greeted with a wave from Maurice and often a greeting from Rocky, who trotted up to view neighbors each day on their way to work.

It’s not as if everything went smoothly. Far from it. Maurice’s health could be precarious, like the heart condition that almost killed him in 1998.

Rocky sometimes got free, galloping down busy Harrison Avenue, where the New Jersey Transit buses go, then eating some of the neighbors’ flowers. And the Tims — stout, outgoing Tim Vanover and thin, more reserved Tim Mannion — broke up, but only as a couple, not as Maurice’s fathers, choosing to live together and continue to raise him.

None of that affected Maurice, who became a fixture in his neighborhood and church, a Buddha smile always on his face, the iPod — full of Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf, “The Lion King” — seemingly permanently attached. He graduated from a special-education high school, traveled to Central America, Europe and Africa with his fathers, volunteered at the church food ministry. On Dec. 12, he became a black belt in tae kwon do. He wanted to live on his own and become an elementary school teacher’s aide.

And then on a trip to Toronto in January with Mr. Vanover, he got sick. Then he got sicker. There was pneumonia, sepsis, acute renal failure. “It’s time,” he said several times, seemingly in his normal, slightly Delphic voice. No one knew quite what he meant, but it didn’t occur to anyone it meant that this was all the time he had. But it was.

Making sense of it all goes far beyond the known facts of Maurice, the Tims and Rocky the Horse: the way his beloved dog, Hunter, keeled over and died a few hours after Maurice passed on; the way Rocky took Mr. Vanover’s head with his own and drew it close to him, as if sharing grief in a hug. Before the funeral service, Rocky, the Tims and Kindoo walked to the church in front of the hearse. Maurice’s priest and friend, the Rev. John A. Mennell, recalled his incandescent smile, his cut-to-the-chase greetings, his unerring instinct for doing the right thing, if not always the proper one.

He recalled the day Maurice was helping with the collection plate.

You can do better,” Maurice said amiably to one congregant. It was the story of his life. You can do better, he said, and without quite knowing it, everyone did.

WRITINGS ON THE “WALL”

With the advent of “Facebook,” people who can very well meet face to face choose to communicate on their “walls. What should have been a private matter is now for everyone to see. Reactions from people, even from complete strangers, are then inevitable.

Below is an anecdote on how Facebook’s walls can affect people around us. The anecdote has a universal theme which we can identify with. “Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan ‘wag magalit.”

A pastor of a small Christian denomination sought his community’s help to build the pastor’s quarter. He campaigned hard so people would contribute any amount for this worthy endeavor – after all, Christian communities must take care of their pastors.

However, after months of campaigning and soliciting both on the pulpit and the net, the pastor found time to “shout out” at his FB’s wall. He updated his friends of the latest happenings in his life.

He wrote, “Wow, finally I got my latest iPod series of IO” (the series is imaginary).

A fellow pastor from another Christian community commented in the first pastor’s wall, saying: “Hey, Bro, a new series will come out next month. I’ve just ordered mine…”

The exchange of comments was quite innocent. However, unknown to the two pastors, a member of the first pastor’s community read their respective FB walls since they were broadcast to all their friends. This member has been working hard to bring more people to contribute for the first pastor’s quarter. While many extended help and money, the expenses in building the quarter seemed to balloon… and now, this writing on the walls!

This member of the first pastor’s Christian community shrugged her shoulders, telling herself, “Could it be the gadget?”

Are you a Filipino?

I watched Matanglawin over ABS-CBN 2 last Sunday (November 7, 2010). Atom Aurollo, who was pitching in for Kuya Kim Atienza, featured and toured Guam and its culture and life. He observed how Guam’s locals, the Chamorros, were so different and at the same time similar with Filipinos. Atom’s tour brought me back to the memories of my Dad, who was a Filipino overseas contract worker in Guam. I remember how Guam was both kind and cruel to my father (but that’s another post).

What caught my attention in this Matanglawin episode was how a Filipino claimed his race. Atom was then walking around a marketplace where both Chamorros and Filipinos were found. Some were sellers and others were buyers. As Atom went around the marketplace, he sought out his fellow Filipinos. At one point, he chanced upon a man who looked like a Chamorro, but also has Filipino features. Atom tried to say something to identify the man’s race, when the man said: “I am a Filipino!” and smiled and shook Atom’s hands.

This man’s claim of his Filipino ancestry made me think if we too can be proud of our race whenever we find ourselves among other races. For Filipinos who have not yet gone out of their country, like me, being proud of one’s race may not be a “big deal” question. But for those who have been outside the country, and who witnessed how other races respect their laws and their way of life, and how government took care of their people, could they be proud of their origin and say: “Yes, I am a Filipino”?

Some say the Filipino is a flawed race. With its vast natural resources and talented people, why does the Philippines remain a third world country? With its facility in language, why does she remain a second class citizen of the world?
Do you agree with this? Please send in your insights.

A SMALL STEP

Last September 21, 2010, I took a bus  from a station in our house in Santa Rosa City, Laguna. The said bus exhibited no trouble. However, when it reached the Susana Heights Exit at SLEX, and after the conductor collected our payments, the said bus suddenly stopped. The conductor said it has some trouble, “may naputol daw.” The conductor asked us to alight from the bus. I and some other passengers asked the conductor to contact their office in Biñan to send another bus, but he did not mind us. I even offered my phone for his use, but he insisted that we take the passing buses from their company. At first, we refused to do so because those buses were also crowded and we would have to stand from Susana Heights to LRT in Pasay. But the conductor did not contact the Biñan office. Thus, we had to bear the hassle of standing from Susana Heights to our destination for almost an hour because of the traffic. To make matters worst, he (the conductor) insisted on collecting full payments despite the inconvenience to the riding public. I must also add that I just recovered from flu then, and I had to bear the long ride, standing while carrying my bag. As a result, I got a relapse and suffered all the more.

I would have not complained if this was the first time. Unfortunately, this was not the first time. Two months ago, I experienced the same modus operandi, and upon search from the internet, I found that this is a modus operandi among bus drivers and conductors in that company.  And so, I decided to file a complaint at the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB). I filed my complaint through LTFRB’s customer service and finally the same was heard yesterday at the LTFRB Office in Quezon City.

To facilitate this, I filed a leave of absence to attend this hearing. An officemate told me not “to make patol” na lang on this case. But I cut her short because I was doing this for the many senior citizens who take this bus from our place. I was also thinking of my mother who might endure the same ordeal.

When I attended the hearing yesterday, I must say that I almost gave up and wished I did not file the complaint. I had to wait for a long time and I thought it was a waste of time.  To my dismay, the bus company sent no representative. I remembered my officemate and thought she was right. However, when I started recounting again to the hearing officer my ordeal, and after telling her my reason why I filed the case, I realized that I did right.

I cannot complain and do nothing. If I want change, I must be the change that I dream of. And, so I will file the formal complaint for all the “lolas and lolos” taking this bus. This is a small sacrifice in exchange for the convenience of our senior citizens.

theinsighted was born

theinsighted was finally born. And his first few words – “Cogito ergo sum!” Remember his birthday – October 30, 2010. Meet him as he unfolds.

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