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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Traveler's Guide

If on the great Journey of Life,

travel with thy equals or thy betters;

If there are none,

travel alone.

From "The Fool," The Dhammapada

"Strange English Words"

I don't know whether my friend Anthony Herron crafted this himself or sourced it from elsewhere, but this article I got from him via email will surely interest students of language. A related work is Richard Lederer's widely distributed essay, "English is a Crazy Language," which can be viewed here. For "Poems on the Absurdities of English" go to this site.

An overview of strange words in English is a difficult one, as there is no firm standard whereby to judge if a word has entered the language (particularly with regard to foreign words and neologisms -- newly invented words) or departed the language through disuse.

For the purposes of this article, any word which has appeared in a recognized general English dictionary published in the 20th century or later is considered a candidate.

The dictionaries included as reference sources for this article are:

• OED - The Oxford English Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• WNID - Webster's New International Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• MWCD - Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• OSPD - The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• TMD - The Macquarie Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• RHUD - Random House Unabridged Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)

Strange spellings

Most people are aware that the letter y can serve as both a consonant and a vowel. However, cwm (pronounced "koom", defined as a steep-walled hollow on a hillside) is a rare case of a word using w as a vowel, as is crwth (pronounced "krooth", a type of stringed instrument). Both words are in MWCD. They derive from the Welsh use of w as a vowel. The word cwm is commonly applied to Welsh place names; cwms of glacial origin are a common feature of Welsh geography.

Arguably, however, both these examples may belong in 'Words of Foreign Origin', as they are actual words in the Welsh language which have been absorbed in the local forms of English. See 'coombe' as the south-west English equivalent of 'cwm'.

The longest word without repeating any letters

"Uncopyrightable", with fifteen letters, is the longest word in English in which no letter is used more than once.

5 vowels in a row

There is only one common word in English that has five vowels in a row: "queueing".

6 consonants in a row

The word "knightsbridge" has six consonants in a row, as does "latchstring".

5 vowels in alphabetical order

There are several words that feature all five vowels in alphabetical order, including "facetious" and "abstemious".

Strange pairs or groups of words

EWE and YOU are a pair of words with identical pronunciations that have no letters in common. Another example is the pair, EYE and I. However such word pairs are often dependent on the accent of the speaker. For instance Americans might well believe that A and EH form such a pair whereas other English speakers might not.

Strange pronunciation

The most notorious group of letters in the English language, ough, can be pronounced at least nine different ways.

"UFF" tough, enough
"OFF" cough
"OW" bough, slough
"OH" though, dough
"OR" thought Pronounced "AW" in American English
"OO" through
"UH" thorough Pronounced "OH" in American English
"UP" hiccough variant spelling of "hiccup", though the latter form is recommended in both British and US

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Knowledge

knowledge.jpgHe who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool - shun him.

He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child - teach him.

He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep - wake him.

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise - follow him.

- Persian Proverb; see a slightly different version in Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker's Quote Book (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publicadtions, 1997); reprint, (Valenzuela City, MM: CLC, n.d.), p. 220.

Body-Piercing, Anyone?

Got these photos from my mail. Good for Ripley's... Eeeyayyy...!










[Sectarianism is] a narrowing down of the ground of acceptable Christian fellowship and cooperation due to a broadening of what is considered orthodox doctrine. It is therefore my (or my group's) refusing to allow for diversity in others and demanding conformity with all my views, as if my view (in full detail) alone had divine sanction. It is the notion that I, or my own specific group alone has a market on the truth, to the exclusion of others.

- Rex A. Koivisto, One Lord, One Faith: A Theology for Cross-Denominational Renewal (Wheaton, IL: BridgePoint, 1993), pp. 44-45

Arguing About the Holy Spirit

From time to time, my inbox gets choked with forwarded threads of online discussions, one of which is from a Yahoo!Group created by members of the church I am affiliated with. One of its hot discussions concerns the Holy Spirit -- on whether the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian personally or representatively ("through the word only," some might add).

While the participants' zeal for their religious convictions is commendable, their dwelling on the "indwelling issue" is to me pathetic. For with all their show of scholarship and their belief in the "timeliness" of the issue, I see mootness in their discussion -- perhaps relevant only to a small circle of theologians and would-be theologians, but largely irrelevant to a larger, strife-torn and distressed world crying out for the Spirit who, they perceive, has forsaken them; or to a great body of meaning-seekers disillusioned with churches which the Spirit seemed to have abandoned.

It is beyond me why they split hairs over whether the Spirit indwells personally or representatively when  parties on either side of the issue after all believe that the Spirit does work somehow in the life of a Christian. It looks odd to me that some Filipino Christians would assume that a theological issue as this which was imported from the USA must necessarily be an issue in the Philippines. It looks odd to me, too, that a few American authors would be quoted in defense of a particular view and seem to be regarded as having the final say on the matter. These, I think, simply reveal the fact that some Filipino Christians have not really broken free from a Christianity that may be best described as a "westernized franchise" (to borrow from Ed Lapiz).

I find it strange that some preachers can be so sure about their positions on issues concerning a Being as inscrutable as the Holy Spirit. I find it blasphemous that some Christians would consign God to a theological prison walled and barred by their incontestable interpretations of certain sacred texts.

Actually, what I am more interested in is not how well these Christians can make good use of their Greek Lexicons and Bible Commentaries but how well their scholarship can put the Sacred Text (which is "Greek" to many) to more practical application -- especially in establishing a loving company of believers more passionate about community development than sectarian debates.

I'd rather see preachers doing a little more soul-searching, asking themselves whether the Spirit they have so spiritedly been arguing about has truly transformed their lives for the better; or whether the power of their logic or inferences is as strong and inspiring as their personal and collective testimonies.

I'd prefer to know how far these fellow Christians have devoted their lives in an honest-to-goodness assessment of the spiritual state of their own churches, and how far they have gone in helping turn, as it were, cemeteries and deserts into bustling cities and fertile farmlands.

The "Partisanship" of Language

language.jpgLanguage is not a neutral system of signs and symbols. Language is always partisan to the values, perspectives and rules of of those that wield power. Using a language means bending to its power.

- Timoteo D. Gener, "Every Filipino Christian a Theologian: A Way of Advancing Local Theology for the 21st Century," in John Suk, ed., Doing Theology in the Philippines (Manila: OMF Literature, Inc., 2005), p. 17.

Monday, January 28, 2008

World Clock

Peter Russell's "World Clock" is an effective reminder of how fast time passes and how all-encompassing change is on this earthly plane...Click here to see it. Again, thanks Anthony!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


"Stability in the stormaxlucadoitunes.jpgm comes not from seeking a new message, but from understanding an old one. The most reliable anchor points are not recent discoveries, but are time-tested truths that have held their ground against the winds of change. Truths like:

My life is not futile.

My failures are not fatal.

My death is not final.

Attach your soul to these boulders and no wave is big enough to wash you under.

- Max Lucado, Six Hours One Friday: Anchoring to the Power of the Cross (Portland , OR: Multnomah Books, 1989), p. 174.

The TFT Commentary

Last Friday, I received a three-set, six-volume commentary on the Bible as a gift from Eddie Cloer, general editor for the Truth for Today (TFT) Commentary and director of the Searcy, Arkansas-based TFT World Mission School (WMS). With all six hardcover books averaging 574 pages, each book costs $26.00.

The three sets are on "The Life of Christ" (© 2003)" "Acts" (© 2001), and "Revelation" (© 2002) all authored by David L. Roper, and all using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) as Scriptural text. Having been familiar with thtft.gife writings of Roper mainly through the TFT's monthly periodical I have been receiving for some years now, it was no surprise for me to note the scholarlship and readability of the author's style as I thumbed through each book.

I especially liked Cloer's humble spirit expressed in his Preface to "Acts 1-14":

The author of a commentary does not intend for his comments on the sacred Word to be regarded as infallible; he knows that he is subject to mistakes as is everyone else. Consequently, we must admit at the start that perfection is beyond our reach. This commentary is not perfect, and no commentary ever will be.

Along this thought, I venture to say that like any other commentary on the Bible, the TFT series is not without bias for or against a particular theological discourse or religious tradition -- which determines both its strengths and weaknesses.

The TFTWMS belongs to a long line of religious tradition known in church history as "Restorationism," particularly that which has been advocated by the Churches of Christ, the conservative wing of the American-born and bred "Stone-Campbell Movement" (SCM). This is evident from some sections of the Commentaries where some doctrinal distinctives of the group are emphasized -- a capella music in Christian worship (see commentary on Rev. 5.8), the salvific nature of baptism (see discussion on Acts 2.38), and the weekly Communion (see notes on Acts 20.7). The "non-charismatic" (i.e. non-existence of the miraculous gifts today) bent of the mainstream Churches of Christ can also be easily detected throughout the commentary on Acts.

Avoiding the frustratingly literalistic and highly speculative hermeneutic of those who interpret the Book of Revelation with the Futurist and Historical approaches, David Roper helps the reader unveil some mysteries in this apocalyptic New Testament book using what he styles as "Select-Wisely" (i.e., eclectic) approach, which marries the Preterist and Symbolic views.

Taken altogether, the commentaries are a good read, especially for the heirs of the Stone-Campbell Movement.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Prejudices and Preconceptions"

prejudicetshirt.jpgprejudicetshirt.jpg"Prejudice is an unreasoning and biased opinion formed on unjust grounds. It is an adverse and unfair judgment, sometimes hastily made, concerning an individual, a group, a race, a culture, a religion, an issue, usually formed without sufficient knowledge. It is also an attitude of hostility. Preconceptions are prejudicetshirt.jpgopinions formed prior to knowing the facts or without personal experience. (69)

Tragically, a person could be harboring prejudices and wrong preconceptions about anything without realizing it. Prejudice could also develop as one lives closely with a person or group of people... (70)

Sometimes, it's easy to think that our way is the only logical and proper way of doing things. This is being ethnocentric. Ethnocentricity is believing that one's own nation, culture, or group is intrinsically superior. We could become insensitive and start to impose our way on others, even backing it up with Scriptural texts! For instance, we cannot judge a native tribal lady as immodest, promiscuous and sinful, because she is only wearing a skirt made from the bark of a tree with nothing on top, which is their native costume. She is just as modest as the lady from our "modern civilization" who covers herself from the neck down to her knees...In Nepal, Dhal-Bhat (rice and lentil soup) is normally, but skillfully, eaten by using one's hand, not with the spoon-and-fork or bowl-and-chopsticks! Different but not wrong!" (71)

- Manzano, Jojo. 2002. Missions is for Every Church. Manila: OMF Literature.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Prayer

"1st International Conference on Cordillera Studies"

Uniigorot.gifversity of the Philippines Baguio (UPB), through its Cordillera Studies Center (CSC), will host the "First International Conference on Cordillera Studies" on February 7-9, 2008.

Click here to know more about this historic event.

Origins, Truth and Clarity

"Our analysis of the spectrum of positions on origins has indicated that clarity, despite its seductive attractions, is only to be had at the extremes. There is great clarity in the belief that God created the world in six days and then told us about it in Genesis. There is great clarity in the belief that everything is the result of mindless matter and blind chance. But how much truth lies in either of these positions? Scienorigins4.jpgce has established beyond a reasonable doubt that the world was not created in six days, but science has not established that there is no basis for believing that there might be a mind or purpose behind the universe. And surely human experience, which includes, of course, religious experience, testifies with competence that the world contains more than mindless matter and blind chance. Religion certainly cannot dispute the reality of both matter and chance, but it does suggest that the world has more in it than this.

Neither of the extreme positions at play in the origins debate is completely false in any simple sense. But, in their simplistic reductionism they surely lose much that is important...

Truth and clarity balance on the fulcrum of the mystery that lies at the heart of our existence... [T]his mystery should be embraced with humility -- not ridiculed by those with an overly optimistic view of science, nor wielded like a club by those who believe they have some sort of divine "shortcut" to the truth or privileged filters to remove error."

- Karl W. Giberson and Donald A. Yerxa, Species of Origins: America's Search for a Creation Story ( Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002), p. 240.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ba Gua

Anthony Herron, himself a Ba Gua expert, says he isn't as fast as this guy...

1st 1000 Hits

As of yesterday, this blog recorded a total of 1022 views since its construction last 22 December. Thanks for visiting my blog, and for your encouraging comments...

Christianity and Culture

"The Willowbank Consultation on Gospel and Culture, held in Bermuda in 1978, acknowledged that human beings are creatures of their culture, and that everything we think, say and do is conditioned by culture. Thus, the gospel has also been conditioned by history and the culture in which it was written. There is no such thing as a 'pure gospel,' that is, a free-floating Word somewhere that is not somehow incarnated in a human culture and language." - Melba Padilla Maggay, "Towards Contextualization from Within: Some Tools and Culture Themes," in John Suk, ed., Doing Theology in the Philippines (Manila: OMF Literature, Inc., 2005), p. 37.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"Don't Watch 'The Golden Compass'"???

"Just a warning not to let our children watch this film in the cinema. It will corrupt their minds."
golden.jpggolden.jpgOh, no, not again! I whistled as I read this message in my last mail. The guy who wrote me was referring to the movie, "The Golden Compass" which, according to an article linked to the said email, is an anti-God, anti-Christian propaganda.

I shook my head at the warning, seeing it as another misguided attempt to "shield children from the darts of the Devil." For while the obvious atheistic intent of Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy (the first of which was the basis of the film's creation) is beyond question, it is questionable whether boycotting the film is the best defense against the perceived anti-God theme of the movie. For all we know, blacklisting certain artistic and literary works would just generate curiosity among people, especially the young. Can we not take our cue from the futile attempts of some very religious folks not too long ago to stop their own people from watching (enjoying, might be a more fitting term) the Harry Potter series? Too, is not the lesson clear from the failure of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei's fatwa against Salman Rushdie and his publishers to stem the proliferation of The Satanic Verses all over the globe?

Further, are we so naïve as to think that banning the movie will stop it from ending up before the inquisitive eyes of our children, given the various avenues through which media invades our lives? Oh yes, you can prohibit our children from watching the film "in the cinema," but you can't stop cable television, internet cafes, ipods, etc. from parading the show to them.

Is it not better for us parents to first strive to get ourselves acquainted with the trends in popular culture (thanks to cultural critic Delfin Tolentino Jr. for this important point), watch movies as this with that background, and guide our children in a fair assessment of these and other cultural items?

I wonder if it is not possible for us to watch "The Golden Compass" with a critical eye without demonizing the whole film and all those who produced it?

I wonder, too, whether those who are so conscientious and vociferous in barring their children from watching "The Golden Compass" are as passionate in warning their children of the manipulative intent and content of TV noontime shows like "Wowowee" or the highly popular talkshows of Kris Aquino and other showbiz stars? Would they be as militant in warning their children of the hidden political agenda behind books (like the "Left Behind" series) of right-wing religious fundamentalists? Have they been religious in educating their kids about the morally crippling effects of getting hooked on smuts or about the desensitizing influence of computer games and movies awash with violence?

Hmmm... Didn't someone say consistency is such a jewel? The warning reminds us again that simplistic solutions to our moral/spiritual/social troubles will just feed fuel to the flame of our often unreasoned judgment.


DONNA FREITAS: A lot of people are extremely worried about your agenda, that you are “selling atheism to kids.” And I’m wondering, given your work talking about the democracy of reading and imagination, how do you respond that kind of accusation?

PHILIP PULLMAN: Well, I’ve been telling stories for 30… nearly 40 years now. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s no good telling a story that preaches. People don’t read stories that do that. Children don’t enjoy them. Nobody remembers them. They’re not enjoyed. My agenda is not to convert anyone to any particular point of view. My agenda is to make them feel, see, enjoy, delight in, be beguiled and amused by the story I tell, which is about two ordinary children in extraordinary circumstances. That’s my agenda. I’m telling a story. I’m a storyteller. If people go away from the book or put the book down and think about things more deeply than they did before, that’s good. I trust the reader. I trust the audience. I trust them to have the sense to see what the qualities are that the book is championing, if you like. I don’t think anyone can read this book and think that it is intended to rob children of happiness or to rob children of anything to do with wonder and delight and so on. I think the qualities the book celebrates  are those such as kindness, and, love, and courage, and courtesy, too, and intellectual curiosity – all these good things. And the qualities that the book attacks are cold-heartedness, tyranny, closed-mindedness, cruelty – the things that we all agree are bad things. Do I have an agenda? I have the agenda of every storyteller which is to make the reader turn the pages and read on to the end of the book.  And I hope that when they’ve read the book, they will feel a little bit better for doing so. They might, well, as one of my great heroes, Samuel Johnson – the great Dr. Johnson – said: “The true aim of reading is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.” And that’s my agenda.

From "The World's Fastest Indian"

Here are some inspirational quotes from the lips of "that old bloke" Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins) in the unforgettable film, "The World's Fastest Indian."


"You know danger is the spice of life and you've got to take a risk every now and again... You know that's what makes life worthwhile."


"If you don't follow through your dreams, you might as well be a vegetable."

"If you don't go when you wanna go, when you do go you'll find you're gone."

The Fighter and His Critics

"It was Theodore Roosevelt who said... 'it's not the critic that counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."


Another British Lottery Scam

lbs.jpgGot another scam letter from UK. See more of these lottery scams here. lbs.jpg

60 Merriman Road
London SE3 8RZ
Ref. Number: BTL/491OXI/04
Batch Number: 12/25/0304
Ticket Number: 564 75600545-188
Serial Number: 5388/02Date: 19-01-2008.

Attn: Winner,

BRITISH LOTTERY, officially bring to your notice the draw result of the 2008 BRITISH LOTTERY-wheel E-game which was conducted at our international corporate office complex in The United Kingdom.

Your e-mail address attached to ticket number 56475600545-188 with serial number 5388/02 drew lucky numbers 7-14-18-31-45, which consequently won in the 1ST category, you have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of 1,000,000.00Pounds (ONE MILLION POUNDS STERLING).CONGRATULATIONS!

The selection process was carried out through random selection in our computerized email selection system(ess) from a database of over 250,000 email addresses drawn from which your Email was selected.

Due to mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your winning information confidential until your claims have been fully processed and your money remitted to you. This is part of our security protocol to avoid multiple claims and unwarranted abuse of this program by some members of the public.

For the release of your winning, kindly contact your claims officer at the The National Lottery Head Quarters via bellow informations:

Mr. Anthony Campbell
Payment and Release Order Dept.

Phone: +44-701-112-9582,

Fax : +44-707-505-5521lbs.jpg


Furthermore, should there be any change in your address, do inform your Claims officer as soon as possible.Complete the form below and send it to the claims officer via email:

Full name:........................................................
Date of birth:.....................................................
Marital status:.................................................
Lotto Batch Number:......................................
Lotto Reference Numbers:............................
phone Number:................................................
Country of Residence:...................................

Select mode of collection of winning prize:



Upon completion of the above form,you will be directed to contact the courier company or paying bank in charge of transfer of winning funds to winners

Congratulations once again from all members of our staff and thanks for being part of our promotions program.

Yours Sincerely,
Mr. David Brant
Executive (International Sweepstakes).lbs.jpg

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Butch Dalisay on "Fiction"

“Good fiction… invites us like a shop with an ever-open door, where no clerk or saleslady will bother us while we poke around the corners and maybe even handle the merchandise, and we can always leave if nothing strikes our fancy, or return some other day for a closer look. Even so, we feel responsible for our choices or our purchases, and the good shopper will always spot the best offerings of the place. And usually, though not always, the shopkeeper knows what and where they are.

"…through fiction, we best make sense of our lives by stepping away from them – by momentarily becoming strangers unto ourselves, by exploring more interesting alternatives to what we already know or most likely would do, and, ultimately, by giving ourselves a new reason to hope and believe that life indeed follows a plot we can direct – if we only knew what it was.”

- Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr., The Knowing is in the Writing: Notes on the Practice of Fiction (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2006), pp. 10-11, 13

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

new must-have, must-read book @ UP Baguio!

Below is an emailed announcement from the widely known author and inimitable professor Dr. Delfin Tolentino, Jr. of the University of the Philippines-Baguio. I am quoting the message in toto as there is nothing substantial that I can add to it… Those of you who go gaga over great tomes and are near Baguio better not miss this book launching!

♥ ♥♥

"The College of Social Sciences and Cordillera Studies Center of the University of the Philippines Baguio invite you to the launching of the book CORDILLERA IN JUNE: ESSAYS CELEBRATING JUNE PRILL-BRETT, ANTHROPOLOGIST, recently published by the University of the Philippines Press. The book launch will take place on 24 January 2008, Thursday, 4:00 p.m., at the UP Baguio Multipurpose Hall.

A festschrift in honor of Dr. June Prill-Brett, Professor Emeritus at UP Baguio, the volume collects nine essays by leading scholars in Cordillera/Indigenous Studies from the Philippines and abroad. The authors include Julius Mendoza and Lorelei Crisologo-Mendoza (University of the Philippines), Susan Russell (Northern Illinois University), Villia Jefremovas (Queen’s University ), B. Lynne Milgram (Ontario College of Art and Design), Deirdre McKay (Australian National University), Padmapani Perez (Leiden University), Dana Kim and A. Terry Rambo (Khon Kaen University), and Melanie Wiber (University of New Brunswick). Among the topics covered in their papers are alterity and cultural existence, feasts of merits in the Cordillera, ritual tradition and innovation, agricultural commercialization, women and microfinance, legal pluralism, ethnic representation, and social and ecological phenomena.

The editor, B.P Tapang, was Associate Professor of Economics at UP Baguio until his
retirement in 2005.

We hope that you will attend the Baguio launching of what we consider as one of the
most important contributions to Cordillera Studies in recent years.

Thank you and best regards.

Dean, College of Social Sciences

Director, Cordillera Studies Center


Delfin Tolentino, Jr.
Director, Cordillera Studies Center
University of the Philippines Baguio
2600 Baguio City
telefax (6374-4425794)If mail sent to my institutional e-mail address bounces ack, please send your mail to

Monday, January 14, 2008

N.T. Wright on Neo-Gnosticism

The radical dualism embodied in the “Gospel of Judas” has a good deal in commtom_wright.jpgon with the equally radical dualism embodied in the dispensationalist fundamentalism so popular in many parts of North America, and now expressed famously in the Left Behind novels. The main aim in both, after all, is to escape from this wicked world and go off to a different one, namely “heaven,” rather than (with the New Testament) to seek for God’s kingdom to come on earth as in heaven…

When applied in right-wing terms, this selective neo-Gnosticism can justify everything from the so-called “prosperity gospel” (if I am a faithful Christian, God will make me rich; I belong, after all, to his elite) to the idea that the American people possess a “manifest destiny” to bring order to the rest of the world…

When appjudas.jpglied in left-wing terms, selective neo-Gnosticism can justify everything from blatant syncretism on the religious front to complete disregard for classic moral norms…

Underneath both right and left, it is all the same religious belief, far more in tune with ancient Gnosticism than with classic Christianity: what matters is not the outward world, the wider community, or even the outward physical human being, but the supposed spark of true “identity” that lies within the individual.

- Nicholas Thomas Wright, Judas and the Gospel of Jesus: Have We Missed the Truth About Christianity? (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), p. 130-133.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Dr. Dele Roberts" : Another Nigerian Scammer

Since 1999, I've been receiving emails from scammers who would pose either as billionaires dying of cancer nigeria.gifor other serious illnesses, heirs of a murdered political figure, ex-Muslims who were just converted to Christianity and who wish to share their wealth for the cause of world evangelism, or somebody who lawyers for another person who wishes to bequeath a large part of his multi-million-dollar treasure hoard to the less fortunate ones in a third world country like the Philippines. Of course, all of them would eventually demand from me a "token fee" of 200 to 500 USD to finish the deal, or that I fly to some place in Europe or Africa to meet them or their representatives and ink a mutually profitable once-in-a-blue-moon transaction.

This time, it's a "Dr. Dele Roberts" who wrote me to say,

Attention:Honourable Beneficiary

You have received this message in furtherance to a confidential communication received from our esteemed customer: Barr. Usman Bello (Senior Advocate of Nigeria)

He has instructed that the sum of US$100,000.00 be paid to you through our International Interswitch Automated Teller Machine Card (ATM). He informed us that the payment is for your assistance as a consultant in a previous business transaction which was later concluded successfully. This instruction must be carried out in accordance to the provisions and signed memorandum between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the customer

Although Barr. Usman Bello is presently on a long vacation with his family. He insisted that you must be contacted and notified immediately to confirm his email message to you last month, where he made this known to you personally. Therefore you will receive your ATM card from the Central Bank of Nigeria with a value of the sum of US$100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars only).

The Central Bank of Nigeria will issue the ATM card in your name as beneficiary. I have sent in the statutory application in your favor to the Accounts Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Please find attached an ATM ID FORM for your endorsement.

I expect to receive the endorsed form from you as soon as possible to facilitate issuance of the ATM card accordingly.

The details contained in this email correspondence are strictly confidential.

Your cooperation is required.


Dr. Dele Roberts

Director Foreign Operations

Central Bank of Nigeria

Upon reading it, I immediately knew the whole thing was a scam because the name has appeared in the list of various anti-scam websites, and the catm-card-issued.jpgontent of the letter also bore striking similarities with other mails received by a lot of people all over the world (see more of these Nigerian scam letters here). Besides, I don't remember ever doing any consultancy work with a barrister named Bello.

When I did not reply to his message, he sent a follow up email to which I replied finally, having decided to play his game so I could use his mails to expose him in my blog haha.

To convince me that he was for real, he attached a scanned image of an ATM card bearing my name as it appears here. As expected, he informed me that I would need to send him 500 USD for the "insurance fee." I wrote back and told him:


I had thought the ATM Card was a gift. I'm sorry but I don't have that amount of money. You see, right now I have difficulty making both ends meet and I can't even send even 10 dollars to anyone.

Thanks anyway.

Then last night, he called me up through my mobile phone. And yes, he surely sounded like the good Nigerian students in some universities here whom I got the chance to chat with. As the reception on my phone was not good, I couldn't quite make out much of what he said. I managed to catch his offer to give me a "30% discount" though. I am to remedy 350USD and send to him ASAP via Western Union. Tell you what, I said, what if you send me the ATM Card first so that when I get to withdraw my money, I'll refund all your expenses? His voice rose a bit and he said something about the difficulty of processing some documents, etc. I told him there is no way I could raise the said amount and suggested that he email me again regarding the transaction's additional details. Soon enough, I got this new mail from him:



To: scott saboy

Date: Jan 12, 2008 5:58 AM


Dear Scott,

I understand your situation as explained.

But my advise to you as a friend is that sending the US$350 is the surest way that will lead you to buy milk and other food items for your kid for the rest of their lives.

The value of the ATM CARD is US$100,000 and with proper investment, I do not think you need to work for the rest of your life.

Just think about this and try raising the money through a loan or anything so that the ATM CARD will be sent to you immediately and before the end if this week your life will never remain the same again.

Do your best and do not let this opportunity pass you by.

Dr. Dele Roberts

Hmm... He's such a smooth con-artist, isn't he? And he really thought that I, a"third-world ignoramus nincompoop," had really fallen prey to his wiles!

But with this post, there is no doubt as to who is laughing.

On a more serious note, though, I think this scamming business over the internet is a good subject of study under the rubric of Cultural Studies.

On Revolutions

The world takes notice of genuine revolutions because they threaten radically to change the status quo and to put into political practice some ideal model of society. They treid.jpghereby become laboratories where new ideas are tested, producing disastrous as well as exciting results. In this sense it may be other countries that benefit most from revolutions, being able to emulate their most durable achievements without having to go through the traumatic swings and roundabouts which revolutions go through to reach them. The whole world learned much about egalitarianism, rationalism, and citizenship from the French revolution, and about workers’ power and female participation from the Russian, and the expectation of what citizens should be entitled to expect from their governments was forever changed as a result. But it was the ideas and images exported by these revolutions that was influential, not the experience of their long-suffering participants. – Anthony Reid, “The Unitary Heritage of the Southeast Asian Revolutions,” Elmer A. Ordoñez, ed., Toward the First Asian Republic (Manila: Philippine Centennial Commission, 1998), p. 183.

Letter from 2070

My good friend Gemma Goliat of WVI emailed me this powerful slideshow by Ria Ellwanger. See more pps files here.

[slideshare id=75485&doc=letter-written-in-2070-water-crisis3209&w=425]

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Change and Churches

There is no more cruel taskmaster than bad theology. But good theology can free people from the fear oflynn-anderson.jpg change. For example:

if your security rests in the church,

if we see restoration as reproducing carbon copies of “the first-century” blueprint,

if we feel that we have already completed the restoration task,

if we believe our salvation rests on the accuracy with which we duplicate the blueprint;

then we will see no reason for change. In fact, we will actually fear change, lest it put our souls at risk.

Tragically, in some quarters, the views just outlined are bedrock assumptions. This is one reason good theology must precede strategy.

But, on the other hand,

if we see Jesus himself as the blueprint for all people in all times,

if we view the restoration as restoring men and women to Christ,

if this ongoing mission is compelled by gnavigating.jpgratitude to our gracious God;

then, rather than fearing change, we will eagerly pursue any change that glorifies him more authentically and more effectively restores people to him. And we will more clearly understand what must and must not be changed.

Clinging to a past church model or method, however, wonderful it may have been in its heyday, is not a sign of faithfulness. Rather, faithfulness to Jesus’ mission requires us to explore every possible model for “doing church” and to continually come up with new methods to restore people to God.

- Lynn Anderson, Navigating the Winds of Change: How to Manage Change in the Church (West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing, Inc., 1994), pp. 64-65.

It is well with my soul...

Countless Christians have found comfort in Horatio G. Spafford's "It is Well with My Soul." Although I've already read Kenneth Osbeck's notes on the tragic circumstances surrounding the composition of this song, I found additional insights in Al Maxey's recent online article on this inspiring hymn.

Highly Recommended: Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace:366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1990; reprint, Manila: Back to the Bible, 2000), p. 202.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Ultimate of All Cages

" is not enough to teagle.jpgake away external restraint in order to free a man. The external restraints are mere challenges to the strength from within him -- which is the true stuff of his freedom. Lacking the stuff of freedom, no amount of elimination of external human restraints would help. It is not the cage but the bird's inability to break open the cage that keeps the bird a prisoner. All right, the cage can be torn down, and it must be torn down if it must as soe cages are unnecessary, even unjust. But the true freedom of the bird is in its capacity to fly after the cage is gone. If it does not have the power to fly when the cage is gone, its own weakness is its own built-in cage -- the ultimate of all cages." - Florentino H. Hornedo, "The Philosophy of Freedom," Saint Louis University Research Journal 3 1972): 478.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

History of Balbalasang

by Gus Saboy, 07.10.96

[See snapshots of Balbalasang @ See also
Historical accounts of early foreigners who crisscrossed the length and breadth of the Cordillera region reveals that Balbalasang was a mountain settlement that existed before the Spaniards set foot on the island of Luzon.

In 1877, a team of Spanish engineers and military personnel conducted a survey of the forbidding mountain borderlands of the eastern part of the province of Abra. This survey was ordered by Governor General Domingo Moriones as part of the plan of the Spanish government to connect the Cagayan region with a road linking the Ilocos region cutting through the provinces of Abra and Kalinga.

The survey party started out in March that year with one army engineer, two officers and 40 soldiers from Bucay, Abra passing through the mountain range of Mt. Lamonan where the group encamped. They finally reached the headwaters of the Saltan River and rested in the village of Balbalasang.
The report, bolstered by other eyewitness accounts of the existence of Balbalasang by succeeding foreign discoverers of this primeval human settlement, gives credence to the fact of Balbalasang as a sedentary community long before the Spaniards stepped into Philippine soil.

Later documents of foreign writers reveal that Balbalasang was visited by writers and anthropologists, foremost of whom were Hans Meyer (1882), Alexander Schadenberg (1887), and the American anthropologist Fay Cooper Cole (1902) at the start of the American occupation of the Philippines.

The location of the primitive Balbalasang village, however, is not the present site where the “modern” village now stands. The old Balbalasang settlement, now abandoned, is located about one kilometer downstream of the Saltan River at a riverside bluff hemmed in by the Maatop Creek and the Saltan River.

The Spaniards who were engaged in their road construction project established their garrison at Binolgan (or Vinungan) some two kilometers up the pine-forested mountain to the northeast of present Balbalasang village. Another outpost was established by the Spanish troops on a hillside promontory at Docligan overlooking the confluence of the Mapga-Tapao Creek and the Saltan River. This is now the site of the Community Picnic Park being developed by the Balbalasang barangay government.

When the Philippine Commission through Act No. 1876 on August 18, 1912 created the Mountain Province as a distinct political territory, Kalinga was among these seven sub-provinces created along the ethnic groupings of the people in the Central Cordillera mountain range. The province was to be reorganized into five sub-provinces. Kalinga was later organized into municipal districts and among these first four municipal subdivisions was Balbalan.

For Balbalasang, this political administrative set-up was pivotal in its historical development. For when Lt. Governor Walter Hale, an American politico-military administrator who first served as Lieutenant Governor of the defunct sub-province of Amburayan, was assigned to Kalinga, he appointed Presidentes (municipal mayors or administrators) and Juan Puyao, a Kalinga Banao tribal chieftain form Balbalasang was appointed as the Presidente of the Balbalan municipal district.

At the time that Puyao assumed the municipal administratorship, the political territory of Balbalan – aside from its present barangay composition – included some barangays of the present municipalities of Pasil and Pinukpuk. But Lieutenant Governor Hale had special admiration for Juan Puyao for his magnetic personality as a leader and uncompromising stance in his administrative decisions.

Puyao was a native of Balbalasang who, through his strong and visionary leadership among his people, saw not only the future progress of his fellow tribespeople but also the whole municipality of Balbalan. Puyao had, first of all, sought the re-settlement of the people of Balbalasang from its old site to where Balbalasang is presently located. At the time of its nascent development, Balbalasang was among the far-flung villages allotted the so-called “Settlement Farm Schools” in the Mountain Province. These settlement farm schools had a triune curriculum that offered vocational, agricultural and academic work from the first grade to the intermediate grades. Thus, came the Balbalasang Settlement Farm School which was built in the new village of Balbalasang.

In 1925, American missionaries scouting for missionary outposts in the Mountain Province learned about Balbalasang from students studying in the La Trinidad Settlement Farm School at La Trinidad, Benguet. These students who were mostly from Balbalasang used to drop by at Bontoc in the Boys’ dormitory of the Anglican (Episcopal) Mission for accommodation. The students who were now oriented to the Anglican faith had asked these American missionaries to visit Balbalasang.
In 1922, an American Episcopal missionary, the Rev. Edward B. Sibley, set foot for Balbalasang to look for a land on which they would build their church in relation to the expansion program of the Episcopal Church in the Mountain Province. In June 1925, the American Episcopal Bishop of the Philippines, Governor Frank Mosher,* visited Balbalasang together with other American missionaries and established the Anglican Mission in the place named, The Saint Paul’s Mission. Juan Puyao’s leadership was demonstrated once again when he and the leaders of Balbalasang donated to the Anglican Church the premises on which the church properties are located.

Leaders come and go. So do religious missionaries who had prepared the people of Balbalasang for full leadership of their people. Father Leonard Wolcott, Father Arthur Richardson, Father Alfred L. Griffiths and the indefatigable and intrepid woman missionary-nurse, Miss Charlotte G. Massey, who founded the church clinic and at the same time served as a Deaconess of the Church were among the illustrious missionaries who had served and made Balbalasang not only a bastion of Christianity but also a microcosm of modern civilization in the Cordillera Region. In 1946, after bowing to the wishes of the people, the St. Paul’s Memorial High School was established, furthering the educational growth of the community. Today, Balbalasang ranks high in literacy among the villages in the Cordillera region – and for that matter, the Philippines – with professionals of various fields from the village serving in all levels of both government and non-government sectors.

In 1973, Congress enacted a law declaring a portion of the Balbalasang peripheral forests as “National Park” and the village of Balbalasang a “National Tourist Resort.”

Origin of the Name “Balbalasang”

Interpreted in literal terms, “Balbalasang” in the Banao dialect is a woodland dominated by a cluster of trees called “Balasang.” In Banao orthography, repetition of the first syllable of the word (in this particular case, “BAL”) denotes multiple number. So, Balbalasang means an area where there are many Balasang trees.

The Balasang is a terrestrial tree with heights ranging from six to fifteen meters of pinnate simple leaves. Its young leaves are light red, and its flowers bright red and willowy. The long, willowy flowers arranged around the tree like the flowing hair of a woman measure up to one meter in length. Significantly, these trees are only found within the Balbalasang region but at present, it is now an endangered species with only a few trees seen in certain places. The flowering season of the Balasang tree is on the dry months of the year (i.e., February to May).

The Legend

Legend has it that a beautiful maiden (balasang) once lived in what is now known as Balbalasang. In the ancient Banao times, beautiful maidens were the prime and price objects of courtship by dashing young warriors who return triumphantly from war with a number of human heads as trophies from headhunting exploits.

One day, the maiden found to her disheartening that her warrior lover married another lady in a far away village. In the depth of her despondency, she transformed herself into a beautiful tree. That is why this tree was called “balasang.” The tree multiplied in a certain region which was to be called “Balbalasang.”

* Thanks to fellow yBalbalasang Romy Tangbawan, an editor for Arab News, for correcting the typographical errors (Moser for Mosher, Alfredo for Alfred).