Let PEACE Begin With Me

peaceLast holiday season we got invited by a family friend to a Christmas cantata at her church. After the wonderful evening of singing with a great choir and watching well produced skit plays we had a sumptuous dinner at the house of one of our close friends who were likewise invited to the event. What a great way to end a wonderful and memorable event for all of us. Memorable in the sense that beyond the usual perfunctory yuletide theme of peace it packed a message that surprisingly kindled a spark that lingered a bit longer, certainly longer than the exit from the car park 🙂 – let peace begin with me.  With the tragedy of the massacre of the innocent children of Sandy Hook still fresh in our memories, how proper and fitting the message could be, as if shaking you up and saying – why don’t you do something ?  Come to think of it, are we not sick and tired of all the gang wars, drug wars, religious wars and all the violence and senseless killings that never ever resolve anything ?  And hey, I will not be arguing about control here. Where I live I can’t own a handgun unless I am a member of a gun club nor a rifle unless I have a license to hunt. These licenses aren’t rights but privileges subject to passing mandatory government safety courses and extensive background checks. I can only carry my handgun when I travel from my house to the gun club – nowhere else. I have no right to lug the gun around for self protection. Perhaps numbers could speak for itself. The metropolis where I live with a population of some 4M has less than 100 murders in a year. This could sound laughable, but my wife and my ex-wife (if I had any) will have to affix their signatures of approval on my application for a firearm license. Absence of such approval with result in rejection of the application.

war casualtyGovernments and religious fanatics who live for prophetic fulfillment are the main reasons why the killing continues. It somehow justifies their existence, of protecting people from the imaginary evil that supposedly lurks everywhere threatening to take over. Maybe our brains could overpower the machinery that perpetuates this paranoid thinking. Maybe we can focus on minding our own business, be less adversarial and be a bit more patient, tolerant of the simple mistakes of others. Maybe we could be less envious and hateful of the success of others. Maybe we should stop feeling too special demanding extra attention from others. Maybe we could tame our egos and start mingling with people and genuinely enjoy their company. If I start behaving this way, I could probably make my home and workplace a bit more peaceful 🙂

Here’s one man who started a simple handshake to an enemy of his country…

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Democracy at the Crossroads

images_church_stateIt is utterly shocking to learn that women could be banned from wearing trousers in Sudan. In Egypt, women resort to the use of fake hymen to “restore” their virginity before marriage so their future husbands don’t divorce them. The re-virgination is also a way to prevent their very own family from embarrassment and avoid the dreaded and feared “honor killing” on them. The Egyptian government wants to ban the product and punish those who import and sell them to the public. We Pinoys cringe at the thought of such restrictive and oppressive practices of other cultures and pride ourselves with the freedoms we enjoy in our country. Yet for a long time we harmed ourselves the opposite way, by our government’s inaction and lack of political will to confront the most serious threat to our country today, the problem of overpopulation and its tragic consequence of poverty. At last, after more than a decade of debate, the RH bill is finally put to law. There is reason to rejoice. The approval of the RH bill in both legislative houses is an epiphany, a profound pronouncement to the world that Pinoys live in the present and not the medieval times. The approval is well timed to complement the country’s plan towards economic prosperity. Today, Pinas’ economic numbers are solid and the country is now an acknowledged emerging “Tiger Cub” economy of Asia poised to break out in the next 3 decades as the 16th largest economy in the world. The government needs to create a long term plan to ensure that the momentum gained is maintained and sustained in the long haul.

THE CHURCH AND STATE

church_stateThere is no doubt that a large population creates a strong consumption economy but it is only strong when such population collectively contribute to “creating” the economy and not becoming a wholesale encumbrance, a liability to the government. Creating human beings isn’t the goal. Rather, creating human beings that won’t wallow in abject poverty and sub-human conditions should be the goal. A country’s exploding population that outruns economic growth exacerbates poverty. At some point it has to slow down, not totally stop and prudent population control strategy is the right approach. The RH bill will provide the much needed sex education to prevent teen pregnancy and help parents right size their families, to that which they can financially support. This kind of strategy is a necessary ingredient to any country’s social program, that is if such country believes that it no longer exists in the medieval times. It took 14 years for the bill to get passed. In the the end the state was able to sail through turbulent waters – the church’s incessant meddling and fear mongering. The reason for the separation of church and state in the constitution is express and unambiguous – to guarantee and maintain the secularity of government in the context of democracy.  In short, the law of the land not the law of religion is in force to rule the country. Unless we are prepared to run democracy with its core principles intact, we better return it to the Americans.

RH BILL MOMENTS

RHThe RH bill created a passionate debate amongst Pinoys where the pro and con supporters take a stab at the issue whenever they can, sometimes in a humourous, satirical fashion. I watched Ann Curtis diss Andy Eigenmann who in the movie A Secret Affair played the role of the slutty woman who was desperately trying to snatch lover Derek Ramsey from her – “ I wish the RH bill was approved long time ago so a slut like you could have been prevented to come into this world “. It sounded a tad gaudy and clumsy but hey, we hear the point 😉 Of course who could have missed that Iskul Bukol moment in the Senate when Sen. Sotto, a staunch opponent of the bill, asked what he thought about contraceptives for men said “ Is there such a thing ? If so then it’s the women’s turn to protest about it “ 😉 I have never been a fan of Sen. Miriam Defensor. This pugnacious and scrappy lawmaker, an outspoken supporter of the RH bill, is an acquired taste for most people but I thought she put the kibosh on the accusation of heresy when she compared herself to Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th century astronomer whose theory that the earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around as believed by the Catholic church was condemned as heretical. Science proclaimed Copernicus’ discovery to be true, years after he posited his theory. Copernicus body was reburied in 2010 and proclaimed a hero 500 years after lying in an unmarked grave. He was never given a Christian burial because the church denounced his work until the day he died. You can trust I am with you on this one Miriam 😉 And who could forget Cong. Manny Pacquiao, who said that the 2 minute slumber he experienced from that Hulk Hogan punch courtesy of Marquez made him appreciate the sanctity of life even more, hence his NO vote for the bill. He obviously forgot the Incredible Hulk punch he delivered on Ricky Hatton’s head in 2009. It laid the poor guy motionless on the mat for 4 minutes. 😐

LOSING WITH DIGNITY

loserIn the aftermath of the bill’s approval, it is not uncommon for people to be disappointed when the result isn’t what they expected. But that’s the essence of democracy lest we forget – the rule of the majority takes precedence. The CBCP is extremely upset with the result. How dare the flock lend a deaf ear to its leaders ?

“I never thought of losing, but now that it’ s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life”. Muhammad Ali

Perhaps the bishops and cardinals must ask themselves the question – why have we failed ? What did we do wrong ? The result is crystal clear. It is not Pnoy nor the legislators. The church has clearly failed to connect with its people. In retrospect, the church, along with its anti RH bill supporters trumped their chance to win with their lame, fear mongering tactic of labeling contraceptives as abortifacients. In a way, they shot themselves in the foot with such idiocy. This scare tactic was meant to garner support from the bottom of the social ladder, the impoverished and the most ignorant among us. Contraceptives are already legal and available at the pharmacies to those who can afford a doctor’s prescription. When the government proposes to make contraceptives available to the poor – free to those who cannot afford, all of a sudden they’re abortifacients ! Since when ? If they are dead serious about their abortifacient pitch, why not lobby to take these pills out of the drug store shelves NOW ?

The CBCP’s call for civil disobedience and the exhortation to Catholic voters to defeat the pro RH politicians in this coming election is a clear violation of its statement of faith, a throwback to its mission as mediator and pacifier of men and a clear insult to the democratic processes and principles it must uphold, respect and promote. It is tragic that the church has engaged in the game of dirty politics to compensate for its shortcomings. It has failed to understand that genuine faith has to come from the heart – not coercion. Sadly is has behaved like the church of the days of the Inquisition, intent to destroy and burn those who contradict its views. It has refused to accept defeat in a democratic exercise blaming the heretics for the failure and not itself. Poor loser is such a heavy word. There is dignity in defeat. My wife’s response to the RH bill was bluntly simple – ” they could enact any law they want but the decision still rests with the woman, right ?

Archbishop Tagle said it best :

“It is tragic and unfortunate but we do not take it as a defeat of truth for the truth shall prevail. We call on all Filipinos to work towards healing, and journey together humbly and justly as children of God.

Now that’s the mark of a truly enlightened leader. I wish there are more church leaders of his mold.

No Requiem for Manny Pacquiao… Yet

No, I didn’t watch the Pacquiao – Marquez 4 fight this time around. The loss to Bradley left a lingering sour taste in my mouth. I felt that the Pacman has lost a step or two watching his last 2 fights but still has enough fuel in the tank to pull a decision with Marquez. The 6th KO wasn’t what I expected though. It was devastating for his fans to watch. Is this the end of the Pacman’s storied career ?

THE BRADLEY FIGHT

bradley-pacquiaoI was speculating that the 4th fight with Marquez could be another yawner like the Bradley fight, where the Pacman rested like an exhausted bull for 2 minutes then gored Bradley with impunity in the last minute of every round. He did damage but the strategy failed to impress the judges, at least 2 of them. It was untypical of the Pacman DNA, where he is known to gobble up his opponent at the sound of the bell. The last minute barrage strategy was a bit of a surprise. The Pacman was clearly conserving his strength with such economy of movement. Might it be that he was nursing his inflamed calf which had been bothering him with cramps in the late rounds since Mosely fight ? With the Bradley fight, the Pacman fought good enough to win on points but the strategy was plain unimpressive, so un-Pacquiao like that the perception altered the already precariously Alzheimer-laden brains of 2 elderly judges to full dementia. It was a gross decision. It was like – “well, he didn’t, look like Manny Pacquiao at all so I gave the win to his opponent” kind of thinking.

The 4th fight with Marquez

pacquiao-marquez4In the judges’ book, Pacquiao was winning the fight until the lucky punch in the 6th round. It was startlingly vintage Paqcuiao out for a quick kill and looked well on his way to exact a stoppage on Marquez. Perhaps the Pacman wanted to end it early because he didn’t want the leg cramps to bother him in the late rounds. Had it gone for 2 more rounds, Marquez, who looked like he was fighting on pure instinct because of the punishment, could have been a goner had he not served the asteroid like punch. But that’s boxing and I admire the Pacman for being a gracious loser. A lucky punch can happen as long as the clock is still ticking. It’s not over until its over. Is Pacquiao’s career over ? Not quite in my opinion. Although the KO was devastating, it wasn’t like the Hatton loss. Hatton was overpowered and totally outclassed by Pacquiao from the opening bell. Hatton retired because he found out he couldn’t compete with the best, the elite of boxing, being KO’d by both Pacquiao and Mayweather. Hatton better quit giving lame advice to Manny to hang up his gloves. Give Pacquiao the respect he deserves.

TO FIGHT OR NOT TO FIGHT

philippians Manny Pacquiao has to do some serious soul searching for his next step. Only he knows his body and skills best. The hunger for revenge for his wounded pride must not be the sole determinant to a go fight decision. I disagree with him when he said that “boxing is my job and what I do for a living“. Not quite. Being a member of the congress is his day job lest he forget. With his new found faith, he should not make a mistake of etching the inspirational Philippians 4:13 verse (I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength) on his back or boxing trunks like what mindless other boxers do. Knocking out your opponent’s brain for fame and fortune isn’t glorifying God at all. At this point in his life where he had seemingly accomplished his boxing goals, Manny should convince himself of the true reason why he needs to continue or quit fighting. It has to be for his and his family’s sake – not the fans, not Freddie Roach nor Bob Arum.

PLAGIARISM

faceboolPlagiarism is defined as “an act or instance of closely imitating the language or thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of the author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author”. Sen. Tito Sotto’s pertinacious refusal to apologize for allegedly plagiarizing quotes of U.S. president John F. Kennedy to embellish his senate speech on the pitfalls of contraception was for the most part, consistent of his understanding ( or misunderstanding) of what plagiarism means. Sotto explained that he took some ideas from the article, put his own spin on it, expressed the thought in another language hence no longer a instance of the original, therefore the act does not necessarily smack of plagiarism. He further added that the owner of the article should be proud because ” imitation is the highest form of flattery”. Not entirely wrong, woefully out of context but can’t argue much at such Iskul Bukol logic can you ?

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AN UNTITLED POST

I am back after a long recess. My brain is a little rusty. The reason for twiddling my thumbs and procrastinating for my comeback post was insanely simple – I couldn’t drum up a good title. I am serious. One thing I’ve learned is that a long lay off makes you lazier to write. Maybe the excellent summer weather or the relocation of my office to another city had to do something with it. I had such a terrific summer that I couldn’t muster enough gusto to write. I am disappointed that I could only whip up a measly 10 posts or less this year. Driving 1.5 hours one way ( more depending on traffic) may have contributed to my remissness. My early morning ritual at the driveway is like going to an excursion or fishing trip. My laptop bag, gym bag for the workout , lunch bag plus the usual 3 fruit a day combo, my holy trinity of fruits – banana, apple and orange – my tall coffee mug filled with extra large brewed java, a breakfast to go cereal bar takes me a couple of trips back to the house before finally slamming down the trunk of the car. At the height of summer I would have to throw my golf clubs in the trunk every now and then. After work a short trip to the driving range or a quick 9 hole at late twilight ( 5pm) at the nearby golf course extends my work day until sunset, except that in summer the sun sets at 930pm here. I had to watch TV too. Blogging had to take a back seat.

It’s autumn , getting a little colder therefore things move a little slower. No more golf, no more fishing, no more picnics, no more backyard bbqs. People seem to have a bit more time to recoup and focus on things they have missed during the busy summer season. You see I have a whole slew of topics I’d like to blog about but they’ve been sitting idle in my smartphone’s memo pad for months. I have no excuse for not having any ideas to blog about. It’s just plain laziness.

WARRING POLITICIANS

When I did my last post in April, Barack Obama was president. I was kinda speculating that in my comeback post he might not be the president and a republican would take over. I’m glad Obama won. I’m not American so I can’t vote but Barack Obama bailed out Wall Street and that’s the reason why I still have a job. I work for a Wall St. bank outside the US of A. Like the US auto workers who were bailed out by Obama, I would have no second thoughts of voting for the man. If he saved my job – he gets my vote. Prove me figging wrong – or can you ? No brainer eh ? Politicians fulfill the saying – you cannot establish a reputation by telling people what you are going to do. Yep, all the crap talk and the lies included. I shake my head knowing that Mitt Romney unequivocally opposed the bailout of the auto industry, yet in his campaign he trotted around GM, Chrysler and Ford counties asking for their votes and promising the world – a glaring testament to the two-facedness of politicians at its best on display here.

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EDUCATION POLICE

When we coin an odd sounding term like “Education Police” we immediately conjure thoughts about the state and it’s cane wielding cops chasing after truants and drop-outs, making sure they get back to the classroom. In a communist regime perhaps but as we all know, communism is no longer cool these days, if not totally dead. In this era of global democracy where people have the liberty to educate themselves to their own liking, the idea of Education Police unexpectedly sprung up in democratic South Korea on a completely different mission – to prevent students from killing themselves from studying too much. In the land of Hyundai, Samsung and LG, competition for good jobs is tightening up that families are willing to bet their houses so their kids can get to the elite universities. Shades of Pilipinas eh ? You can’t get a good job in Pinas nowadays if you’re not from the elite schools . I heard stories of security guards rejecting applicants right at the door if they’re not elite school graduates. Tough competition like Korea except that we don’t have global giant corporations like Hyundai, Samsung, LG to show for. We are twice as many in numbers as the South Koreans making jobs even harder to find. In short, we’re behaving like the South Koreans but we don’t have the industrial infrastructure to show for and we are increasing our population with total abandon as if hoping that one day, mannah will fall from heaven to quench our hunger and thirst permanently. I am completely befuddled by people who totally miss a crucial point in the population control debate, that in order for a country to be progressive, it has to produce a population of potential taxpayers and not freeloaders, wanderers and hobos.
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Weekday Musings

There are times when we dread changes, especially those we can’t control and we are faced with a decision to opt out or bite the bullet. One such life changing event is when your office decides to move out of town and you are given the choice to tag along or part and seek employment elsewhere. The company promises a hassle free departure, without prejudice much like uncontested divorce, should you decide to part – so they say. Commuting 100kms return daily could be a bitch but your hands are tied when you’ve spent many years with the company. You could jeopardize your retirement in case you decide to leave for the sole reason of convenience. I have to make a crucial decision. I sure will my miss my express train and my crossword puzzle ( need to print the online version now 🙂 ) I would be spending on gas this time, a bit more than my monthly train pass. But I could look at the positive side of things. I may miss my downtown walks and gigs with my officemates but I would be working in the suburbs where the air is fresh and golf courses are mere minutes away. I won’t need to pay for parking at the train station and bundle up myself from head to toe in winter. With a good jacket I could just climb into the heated comfort of my car and drive to my office. As they say, you can’t have everything you want in life. It is always a balancing act between the pluses and minuses. We shall see.

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An Un-Christmas Post

When I was about 10 years old growing back home in Pinas, I always wondered how Santa Claus managed to sneak into our home on Christmas Eve to deliver my wish list. Santa was spot on too. He never erred in providing the stuff we eyeballed at our window shopping trip at the nearby city a week or two before Christmas Day. Being the curious cat I spied on my aunt who I discovered was tasked to procure the gifts that me and my siblings wanted. No wonder why she always seemed to know what Santa can and can’t give 😉 One day I revealed to my siblings what I felt, that Santa wasn’t real and our parents were the real Santa. Despite being the eldest, I didn’t gain any converts. When we all woke up that Christmas Day, all my siblings had their gifts by the tree delivered by Santa. Mine was nowhere to be found. Sensing that I was about to cry, my auntie told me to look around the house as Santa might have misplaced my presents. Alas, I found my presents in the kitchen area, near the garbage bin. My parents warned me that Santa was upset with me because I questioned his existence and if I continued to disbelieve he may not come the next year. Heck, I was interested in the presents more than anything so I shut my mouth.

Last week my daughter told her friend, ” since Santa never gave you an American Girl doll maybe you can leave your wish letter at our Christmas tree. You see Santa gave me one two years ago.” I interjected – ” Not quite girl. Santa only gives the gifts directly to the requester’s home not elsewhere. That is Santa’s golden rule.” 😉 But come to think of it, with the proliferation of the internet nowadays, googling ” is Santa real ? ” could just be a few keystrokes away isn’t it ? I tried and found a slew of fuzzy answers ranging from no, yes, well it depends, maybe but, and what not. Unless young kids venture into the more complex encyclopedic websites , which could be way beyond their league in terms of comprehension, answers.com doesn’t seem capable of giving a definitive answer.
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