Qualified mea culpa

ALLOW ME to stress that although we look at the clergy with critical eyes, we have all the respect for the Catholic Church and for all religions and beliefs.  We maintain that as public personalities, bishops and priests must not be spared from our collective expressions of rikna and nakem.  We love the church, and that same love causes us pain when she is betrayed, and with neither shame nor remorse, by the very people she was entrusted to.

I will be the first person to ban comments that employ Argumentum ad Hominem (Attack against the person).  I would not even allow name calling here.  Happily, so far, I think no one has gone overboard.  We are very level-headed in our discussions, although I understand that some readers may be very close to the church, and so their emotions may get into the way.

We look forward to the day when  we can really look up to our bishops and priests for moral guidance, in word and in deed.  That end cannot be achieved if we decide to be silent when we can choose to speak.  That we are having these arguments already points to these shepherds’ failure to unite their flock.  Their actions cause confusion and division, and poor we should not be faulted for airing out our frustrations.

And yet all the things I write I write not out of malice nor ignorance.  My sources are reliable.  My analysis comes not from thin air but from careful discernment and reflection.  Truth to tell, I come from a family deeply immersed in the Catholic faith.

Just the same, my apologies for the hurt.

The Christmas gift I cannot give

A BISHOP I know pretends to champion social justice, but, right in his own backyard is brewing unrest.

“His true colors now show,” say a group of parish workers.  “He is a moneymaker.”

For instance, he announced that he will celebrate masses in all parishes this Christmas season, and, with over 30 parishes in the diocese, and with the standard Php3,000 stipend the bishop gets per mass, the figures easily translate to Php100,000.  The amount does not include enveloped gifts and the customary bananas and eggs in shiny wrappings. Continue reading “The Christmas gift I cannot give”

Church unwittingly endorses vice

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I visited the Catholic Church in Batac recently, and found this among the souvenir stuff they were selling at the parish office.  While I would not say that smoking is evil and that smokers are baaad folks, I feel uncomfortable with this apparent endorsement of the vice.  I would appreciate your thoughts on it. Continue reading “Church unwittingly endorses vice”

Why the National Anthem must precede invocations

Illustration by Ronaldo "Ronmac" Macalma, my student and favorite cartoonist
Illustration by Ronaldo "Ronmac" Macalma, my student and favorite cartoonist

Yesterday, your  karikna was invited to speak in a seminar-workshop in the University.  As the Opening Prayer came before the Philippine National Anthem, yet again, I was reminded of this article written (and sent to me) by Manuel Quezon III, explaining why it should go the other way instead.  Quezon III–grandson  of the illustrious Philippine Commonwealth president–is a journalist, political pundit, and historian.


Country first always

WHICH should come first in a public ceremony: an invocation, or the national anthem? To any Filipino before the 1990s, the answer would have been as simple as it would have been instinctive: obviously national anthem first, then invocation. This was the way it was always done; this is the way it is done elsewhere. Even the Vatican City State has a national anthem, and the Pope stands at attention at the playing of the anthem of his state with that of any state he happens to visit, and only afterwards proceeds to invoke God and bless the people, after the state rituals have been concluded. This is the way things should be. But somewhere along the line, and I believe it began only within the last decade and a half, things have changed in our country. Continue reading “Why the National Anthem must precede invocations”

Academicians critique priest’s book on Aglipayanism

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FR. ERICSON JOSUE is one of few Catholic priests I admire. Besides being bright and hardworking, he is humble and sensitive. We have known each other since our early teens (when he was still so lanky while I was then too fat), and I have always held him in high regard.

While other priests were busy attending parties, grooming expensive dogs, and constructing an ostentatious swimming pool in the Bishop’s Palace, Ericson had been busy writing books. Only in his early thirties, this son of Pasuquin has already published his second research output. “Out of the Depths”, which came out last December, tackles the phenomenal rise and eventual decline of Aglipayanism.

Well-meaning scholars must be given support and due recognition, and so I encourage my students and friends to read the book, if only to generate intelligent and enlightened discourse, a rarity in the Church (and government) these days.

Here, allow me to share excerpts of an interview conducted by students with Professor Fides Bernardo A. Bitanga, who teaches Sociology of Religion in the Mariano Marcos State University. Bitanga is also the new Editor-in-Chief of Sabangan, a social sciences publication in MMSU.

Continue reading “Academicians critique priest’s book on Aglipayanism”

Most Meaningful Christmas Greeting

My Uncle Erning, an Iglesia ni Cristo diakono, visited our home today. Conscious about being sensitive to the religious beliefs of others, I would usually say ‘Happy Holidays’–a greeting more safe. (For those who don’t know yet, INCs don’t celebrate Christmas.)

But when I kissed Uncle Erning’s hand, he smiled at me and greeted me with a voice most joyful and sincere: Merry Christmas, Anak.

So there. The warmest Christmas greeting I received came from a man who does not even believe in Christmas. Most INC members I know are very fiery in the expression of their beliefs. But there he was, my Uncle Erning, realizing that it was not about himself, but about our family’s happiness.

He greeted me… and it was not cliché.

Christmas accomplished.

Mom’s reaction

My mother’s reaction: You were very disrespectful to the bishops. You should respect them because they have sacrificed their lives. I am not going to buy any copy of the Ilocos Times anymore.

Herdy’s Riknakem: 1) I don’t think I was disrespectful. I was just offering honest observations; 2) Bishops live very comfortable lives. But yes, everybody has a cross to bear; 3) Thank you for bearing with me; 4) Okay, Mom, if you don’t feel like buying a copy, you can check the online version instead.