Friday, May 04, 2007

Will the Filipino bishops undo an Arroyo wrong?

(Archived Article: August 2006)

When the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) announced its position not to endorse the new impeachment charges filed against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last July, it opened the floodgate of speculations as to the nature and extent of the Church's relationship with the administration. Arroyo has relied on the Catholic leadership to back her hold on power and to counter a string of corruption, scandals and persistent allegations that she cheated her victory in the 2004 elections. Back in early 2001, the Catholic Church was instrumental in the constitutionally anomalous ouster of Joseph Estrada and in Arroyo's succeeding as President. In turn, she practically adopted Church teachings on population planning and even gave in to Church pressures against the death penalty. Despite the backing of the Church however, Arroyo's presidency has been shown in periodic surveys as the most distrusted and disliked, with double figure negative trust ratings and with more than half of the population, the masses in particular, wanting her to either resign or be removed.

In spite of a wickedly efficient propaganda machinery, her administration is perceived as the worst ever. Gloria Arroyo, who took up Economics as undergraduate course in Harvard University, has largely mismanaged the economy and public resources. Never before has a large percentage of Filipinos felt so hungry since, perhaps, dictator Ferdinand Marcos' time. Data from a top independent survey firm show an alarming trend of double-digit incidence of hunger in over straight years. Corruption in government ballooned to unprecedented levels such that since Arroyo's ascent to power, Transparency International has consistently rated the Philippines with having endemic corruption. Violations of human rights are back to, or worse than Martial Law levels, 25 years ago. The gory deaths of two university coeds add to the hundreds of extra judicial killings recorded in only five years. Amid all these crises, the Filipinos have been waiting for the Church leaders to beckon them to a moral but decisive course of action.

The least the bishops should really do now is to collectively declare support for the impeachment in order to boost its chances of passing through the administration-controlled Congress. The more ideal move, though, would be for the Catholic Church to join in the clamor for Arroyo to step down, as it so loudly and boldly did against then President Joseph Estrada. But as the CBCP, the official organization of Catholic episcopacy, chose to remain lame and tolerant towards a publicly pious regime but which runs the country like hell, any sensible Catholic can't help but question and suspect.

It is perplexing how the wise fathers can continue to believe Arroyo's virtual reality of good governance and moral leadership. Is it that in the Church's calling to influence state policies affecting morals, they have elected to regard the stifling of basic political freedoms as necessary collateral damage? Or is the CBCP simply afraid to admit that the EDSA II Revolt, which deposed her predecessor, was a debacle of grim national proportions? Or are the bishops perhaps amiss with the spirit of humility such that they refuse to atone and undo their Arroyo wrong?

Not since the Spanish colonial era has the Catholic Church in the Philippines enjoyed the kind of influence it wields under Mrs. Arroyo's reign. Is it not enough that the devoutly religious Filipinos have tolerated the blurring of the divide separating the Church and the State? Only a month prior to the impeachment issues, the Church lauded the repeal of the death penalty in an unusually hasty action by Congress. When its leader Rev. Angel Lagdameo restated a few days later that the CBCP will not stand to support another impeachment nor will ask Arroyo to resign, the bishops have invited seemingly valid suspicions that the Church is as power hungry as the President it helped install. It is either that or in the crusade to save the unborn and the capital offenders, the Church in the Philippines blindly refuses to break its pact with the devil.


TO any non-Middle Eastern, the 2006 conflict in the Middle East bordered on the insane and wickedly fanatic. While both sides claimed righteousness of cause, Israeli air strike bombs and Hezbollah artillery rockets targeted each other’s civilian areas killing hundreds of civilians, maiming and injuring thousands and displacing nearly a million Lebanese and Israelis. Triggered by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, the conflict is but the eighth major Israeli-Arab war over the central, single issue of Palestinian-Israeli claim to a land no more than 10,000 square miles wide. An attempt to make sense of the carnage by studying the history of the conflict would show an unending inertia of aggression and disputes extending long before the creation of the Israeli state.

Middle East tensions have almost always involved the Palestinian-Israeli issue, with the Arab countries somehow ganging up on Damascus, and with Israel “protecting itself” with border incursions using United States-supplied military arsenal. But predating the 1948 partition is an incomprehensible timeline of incessant colonization, aggression and conflicts 3,000 years in the making. The Hebrews or ancient Jews, engaged in constant warfare with neighboring tribes that included the Hittites and Philistines. Ancient and medieval imperialism by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Macedonians, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Ottoman empires effected cycles of expulsions and attempts at return or immigration. Even the Christian Crusaders tried to claim a piece of the land during the short-live Kingdom of Jerusalem. London’s partiality towards the Arabs during the British Mandate and the World War II Holocaust fostered the modern-day tension over the land variously called in history as Palestine or Israel. It appears that the momentum of history has predisposed the land along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River to perennial wars and tensions and its peoples, to persisting displacements and clashes of religions and traditions. Even the origin of the name Palestine—Syria Palestina, named after the Philistine tribes, which was used by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to rename Judea (Israel) as an insult to the then conquered Jews—assured the region of resonating discord and hostilities.

If indeed the Middle East is the birthplace of civilization and the past provides us a clue into the future, then the continuity of human existence may largely depend on forging lasting peace in the region. Excluding divine intervention (whether the Jewish, Islam or Christian God), only sincere intent and resolute global efforts can resolve the Palestine issue once and for all. The United Nations (UN) some 60 years ago worked to give a “promise land” to the stateless Jewish people. In the latest conflict, the UN successfully brokered a ceasefire that led to the formal cessation of the war within two months after it began. It is time the world body take the next step, which is to define the boundary of a Palestinian state and thus lay down the foundation for lasting peace and settlement in the region. It sure would be a tall order and much will depend on the UN Security Council members and on the Mid-East players themselves. In any such scenario, the world can only hope that the God of Reason and Sanity work a miracle of compassionate coexistence among the Israelites and the Muslim Arabs.


What is it about sports teams that draw spectator crowds, make diehard fans of us, or even drive us to play their sports? We strain our vocal chords and hearts out cheering and routing for chosen teams. Our kids go wild in fervent full support for the Princeton Tigers, the Portland State Vikings, the UCLA Bruins or the Florida Gators. In fact, the popularity of college sports team activities somehow correlate with the well-being and satisfaction of college students in regard their collegiate experience. A study revealed that the active presence of sports team activities is common to a number of the top 10 American colleges based on the quality of student life and most number of happiest students.

We are all quite aware of the obvious benefits of team sports. They inculcate team sportsmanship, contribute to good health, develop physical and overall confidence, help improve one's problem-solving abilities and sharpen the mind. Engaging in team sports helps drive our kids to be achievers as it teaches our kids to set goals and to strive to achieve them. Despite carrying some inherent physical dangers, team sports are a great way to boost our physical, mental and social skills.

But what drives us to support these sports teams by rendering not only our physical, cheering presence but also our commercial loyalty when we take heed and oblige to their players' various product endorsements. Why, professional players have been made doubly millionaires by the staggering marketing success of products they endorse to their fans.

Flags, miniature or otherwise, are zealously raised and waived by fans of the opposing sides at crucial or do-or-die events. Do the symbols of team flags inherently charge us with devotedly passionate emotions? Is there indeed psychology in sports team colors that make loyal following of its spectators?

Or is it a case of the magic of mass media working together with the influential corporate patrons to somehow manipulate our psyche to becoming loud and fanatical supporters of sports teams? Or maybe it's mass hysteria at work in great sports events. We can only stand aghast at incidents of platforms and stadiums giving way and harming or killing thousands of highly charged and animated international football fans.

Whether it be in college basketball or football, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, Minor League Baseball, or even in the World Series, we all sometimes ask ourselves what makes us indefatigable and loyal followers of sports teams.

But whatever factor or factors contribute to our love for team sports, the popularity trend of sports teams seems here to stay for a long while. Patronizing our favorite sports teams provides an exciting and social avenue for rest and recreation. Meanwhile, sales of admission tickets and World Cup memorabilia never seem to drop.


A romantic relationship provides women and men the best opportunity for spiritual growth. Every romantic relationship is an adventure in emotional and spiritual growth and as well, a shared expedition into human intimacy. A relationship does not aim--and cannot possibly—fix us. It has almost become a trite idea, but the fact that a relationship beautifully requires us to grow is just about the only thing constant in a healthy relationship.

A relationship will always entail work from each participant's end. With the effort will come excitement and challenge. At times, a relationship will offer pain and frustration, which will in turn provide ample opportunities to make us understand our hurt, wounds and generally, more about our inner self.

The road to a healthier relationship in romance and intimacy begins with a solid inner foundation right inside ourselves. Anyone who seeks a healthy relationship should be prepared for one—he or she should be able to accept his/her oneself, as well as the other person. A healthy relationship begins long before the onset of a relationship with another person. A healthy intimacy or romance actually begins with our relationship with ourselves. Unless we are able to progress to a state of recovery during the period of emotional healing, we will have no chance of forging a healthy relationship. Let me emphasize though that recovery is not a yes or no, black or white process. We should not aim for a perfectly healthy relationship but instead, strive and hope to gradually become healthier in our relationship interactions. Perfection in this life is not possible; progress or improvement, however, very much is.

Let me also note that there is nothing shameful or bad about being in a relationship that fails to meet the criteria discussed in this series. Progress in recovery means we are able to love ourselves by gradually doing away with the needless tendency to judge ourselves and feel ashamed. We should realize that each and every one of us needs to decide the path we will take and what works for us. No one really has the right to tell someone what is the better path to take; for that matter, no one should judge the correctness or propriety of someone else's path.

For instance, you could be in a relationship that works for you on a certain level—say, financial security. You should be the best person to decide if the payoff you get is worth whatever price you are paying for. It is no doubt your call and choice because it is you who will have to live with the consequences of your decision. You will be responsible for yourself and you will live with your choices so it is best to learn to have peace with yourself. Bear in mind that living your life according to the value system of another person is acutely dysfunctional.

If you aim to be in a healthy relationship, you need to start with loving yourself. Love of one's self is said to be the greatest of all because unless one is able to love, respect and honor one's self, a person will never be truly happy and at genuine peace. No amount of love and respect from the other person could fill in the inner void borne out of lack of internal self-love.

We also need to be emotionally honest with ourselves because otherwise, we cannot have the capacity to be truly honest with the other person. Emotionally honesty leads one to learn to process such issues as old wounds without feeling like a victim. Unless one is able to see oneself honesty and clearly, he or she cannot possibly see the other one clearly as well.

It is also important to anchor your romance based on realistic expectations and to hold a perspective that empowers the participants in a relationship. We need to put some energy into redefining romantic relationship different from the ideas and expectations we picked up in childhood so that we do not react defensively and personalize the behavior of the other person.

For all of us, the primary commitment should lay in one's self. Our primary responsibility should be ourselves because we need to be able to manage our own selves before we can help others. We are each responsible for our own lives and if we permit ourselves to give away the power over our selves, then we are giving away the power over our lives. We could then become the victim of our co-dependency such that we could end up feeling like other people's victim. We need to empower ourselves by perceiving reality as it is and from there, make the best of the available choices. By empowering ourselves, we would be able to improve the quality of our lives.

If we decide to enter into an interdependent partnership or relationship with another person who is equally open to growth—then our commitment to self will serve the relationship. As long as our commitment to be and become all we can be is served by a relationship, then it is very important to be committed to working through the issues that arise. To sacrifice your higher good in the name of commitment to a relationship is co-dependent and an act of dishonesty to, and disrespect for, one's self. Commitment to a person is important—but in a healthy relationship, it comes second to the commitment to self.

To summarize, in a healthy relationship, the other person serves as a teacher, as one is for the other. Seeing a relationship as a joint adventure in growing and learning to love is the key to forging healthy intimacy with another person. It sure will not be easy because it will take some effort, energy and the proper perspective. Nonetheless, it can be the most wonderful, incredible adventure of your life.


On Arroyo's Failure as President and Economic Leader:
For expediency's sake, Arrobo should either step down or be removed.
She won't do the former, for sure. She's been holding on to power like a big leech. What should people expect, anyway? She co-conspired in the unseating of a hugely popular and majority-elected Erap so she could take his place.

But for the Philippines' goodness' sake, we need to see a Malacanang without her un-rightful occupancy. For the expediency of genuine democracy, genuine good governance, rule by mandate from the people and yes, economic well being.
You keep harping that the reason you oppose an opposition victory in the May 14 elections is the supposed lack of sustainable economic development plan. Again, the Senate has limited role in the economy of the Philippines. The coming polls involve a fight for half of the Senate and doesn't include a race for the presidency. For want of better arguments, you keep raising a largely irrelevant point.
Arrobo has been up there for six years--by virtue of a virtual coup--and the general economy has only worsened under her mismanagement. With or without recognition of the need for economic reforms, she has dismally flopped in improving our economic state. Arroyo must be the problem.

By electing to continue supporting a fraud and a flop and dismissing the other great minds of Philippine politics, you are gravely underestimating the capacity and intelligence of the Filipino race.
The stark reality of the Philippines shows that she has failed in leading the country. Her drum-eaters keep portraying her as an intelligent leader, an economist of Harvard origins. However, her undergraduate course in that supposedly prestigious institution did little to make her improve our lot.
The way I see it, her level of economic expertise is not enough to make her succeed in combining Presidential greed, First Family's corruption and governance of the country.
Madam Arrobo is a tall, tall disgrace to the name and legacy of her father, former President Diosdado Macapagal.

Posted May 13, 2007 in CHIZESCUDERO.COM "Latest SWS Survey" forum

On PGMA as the Opium of the Blind:

I can't believe there are still those who opt to remain blind and continue to believe in the propaganda lies of Arrobo.
They say religion is the opium of the masses. I say Arrobo is the opium of the pathetic few who keep their minds close to the glaring, obtaining truth in this land.

Posted in Sat May 12, 2007 3:17 pm in CHIZESCUDERO.COM "Latest SWS Survey Forum


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