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abel d soto
abel soto TRUE FILIPINOS will really find it more than alarming that Senator Bongbong Marcos's campaign for his father's burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani has received the support of 204 congressmen. Well, on my part, I find it really disturbing—and ridiculously funny!

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the key players in the first EDSA Revolution, Senator Gregorio Honasan, and the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo endorse it as an "act of statesmanship" to honor a "World War II hero, commander in chief, patriot." They urge us to "move on" and get rid of "this culture of anger, hatred, vindictiveness, and recrimination." They want the Filipino people to forgive and forget. (This sounds applicable to Lacson, too!)

Well, they could go tell this to the marines and pray that the marines won't drown them.

I really don't know what brand of wine or drug Enrile, Honasan, and Arroyo got intoxicated with for them to think that the Filipino people are already in the pits of delusion and confusion so as to regard as a hero the man who unleashed forces of evil against his own people never before seen in this country, pragmatically wiping out our country's promising young people and future leaders. Mariel Francisco was so right when she wrote that "our efforts and energies are expended on uprooting the political culture of Imeldific consumption, sycophancy, non-accountability, and greed that have infected even the lowliest barangay councilor."

Well, I will not be surprised anymore if one day our dear elected representatives of the Filipino people will want to erect a monument to Imelda Marcos in Rizal Park. (Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!)

*

The strikes and slams have come from people from all walks of life, and I do not deem it necessary anymore to add more to these brickbats. I am referring to the result of Willie Revillame's latest cavort, which was to bring into an act of appalling humiliation a six-year-old boy named Jan-Jan in his show a few weeks ago.

Just in case you are one of the millions of Willie's defenders and will still have the guts to ask, "So? What's wrong with that?!" Let me just tell you what's wrong with Willie.

A good television host should make his audience laugh with him and not at their expense. I really cringe everytime I witness the way Willie treats his guests, turning them into slavering recipients of dole. The brand of laughter Revillame advocates we witness and read about in the papers. For him there should be none of the late Cory's funeral procession being aired on his show because it spoiled his show's fun and enjoyment. And we witnessed once more the kind of laughter Revillame fuels on in his audience by the way he treated Jan-Jan.

But then again, I am not surprised anymore why a lot of people find nothing wrong and abominable in Willie's frame of mind and his different idea of fun. When you've gotten used to sights like this, or worse, when you're a part of the wheezing crowd, you're conscience just becomes calloused—calloused enough to even have the guts to ask, "So? What’s wrong with that?!"

*

The separation of church and state is a perennial issue that has remained unresolved, at least here in the Philippines. And this issue comes back to life everytime the church and the state disagree on a very crucial matter that is of importance to the redemption of the soul and that of society.

The issue on the Reproductive Health Bill has refueled this issue on the separation of church and state. And I can only make a deep sigh of exasperation about it and say to myself, "Here it goes again . . . ."

If the church is really serious in its pronouncement that it is part of the it's mission to transform society into a saved and saving community, then it is high time for the church to capitalize on the power of the pulpit and maximize its use for socio-cultural change, for the pulpit is used too little for this noble purpose, which the church says is a great part of its mission.

The crux of the matter here is how much enlightenment and teaching can a regular churchgoer squeeze in a highly debatable and complex issue like RH, more so if the priests hardly have the time to rest from parochial management and find the time to bother to read and study the RH Bill. Beyond ten minutes there is no salvation; soon after, the community snores.

Another intelligent observation that I think merits discussion in light of this issue is the confusion between "teaching" and "commanding." Imagine an arrow "commanding" points to governance and its thrust is obedience. Education and obedience are certainly two different bananas. We have what we call in the academe as "Instruction as education" and "Instruction as command." In the light of ecclesiastical learning, teaching is, unfortunately, viewed as governance and as a command. The gist of the matter here is this: commands direct, they do not necessarily educate. This is also the very reason why some people are confused if what the Church calls its "official teachings" is, for the most part, teaching or governance.

Are the bishops and the clergy commanding or teaching? Oh well, this question bears a lot of teaching for its answers, isn't it?

*

Angelos Reyes's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is another insult to life, love, and learning. It is a slap to what heroism is all about. That someone is idolized by his/her family or even friends and companions at work during his/her lifetime here on earth is not enough reason for him/her to merit burial in the LNMB.

"An idol is different from a hero," Mariel Francisco wrote. "Idol" is a misused word these days. Lest we have forgotten, "the word means 'a false god'," Francisco reminds us. In this context, the answer to whether or not Ferdinand Marcos should be buried at the LNMB is a already a score settled, loudly and clearly.

*

In Theology, mercy is given to those who deserve and ask for it. In the Philippines, mercy (as dispensed by or applied to Merci) is given to the high and mighty, to those who voted for PGMA.

This is almost second nature to the Philippine justice system, specifically in the office of the "Ombudscam," I mean Ombudsman.

Well, one would not anymore wonder why. The dictum "Follow the leader" explains why the office of the Ombudsman was labeled as the office of the Ombudscam by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

*

So what do we learn from all this montage of realities in our country today?

There is a lot. Here are some that I feel merit to be mentioned, which I take from the book of Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, entitled, "Called To Question":

• We create a false dilemma and call it holiness; the sacred versus the secular; God versus the world; spirituality versus worldliness. We look for Jesus in the temple, but never on the crowds.

• We have to remember the truism that "Consciousness commits."

• If there is a problem in society and in spirituality today, it may be that we do not do enough to form Christians for resistance to evil. We form them for patient endurance and for civil conformity. We form them to be good but not necessarily to be "holy." In doing so, we make compliant Christians rather than courageous ones, as if bearing evil were more important than confronting it. We go on separating life into parts, one spiritual, one not.

• It bears mentioning that the truth, I think, is that what we don't name, we enable. We become blind to the evils in which we live and breathe and call our culture. We take the unacceptable as natural. We take injustice for granted. We call sin normal. But if and when we begin to call "evil" evil, then we ourselves will begin to confront the problem.

• The concept seems clear enough when the protest is a public one. Public protest is part and parcel of being Filipino. But there is a double-edged sword embedded in the principle of protest. If and when the evil—the clear and intentional harm of one by another—is more private than public, then, somehow or other, the justification of dissent begins to waver. The more difficult decision comes when the passion for justice conflicts with the practices of the church or society itself. Then what does spirituality demand: obedience, conformity to the system, or obedience to the spirit of the gospel?

• The soul struggles in these in-between times with feelings of frustration, feelings of infidelity. Is the problem in the system or is it in the self? Are we too bold or not brave enough? Does virtue lie in endurance or in indignation? Is it better to wait for time to change things or can time possibly change anything if the change doesn't first start with us?

Unless we begin to be the church and society that we want, that church and society will never come. Should we still ask why?


[About the author. Abel D. Soto took up his certificatory double major course in Creative Writing and Performing Arts at Centre for Arts Foundation, Inc. in Quezon City. He also finished the Managing the Arts Program at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City. He is a resident of Bacolor, Pampanga.]

-Posted: 9:13 AM 4/7/11 | More of this author on eK!
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