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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"No mamaid na ugale, mamaid tako abes"

One of the joys of blogging is that you get to meet new friends in this limitless cyberspace, folks who happen to relate to a particular theme you yourself are passionate about. In exchanging thoughts with them, your life continues to be enriched by their wisdom.

One of these friends is manong Martin Apopot who now lives in the US. In one of his mails, he quoted a song which says, "no mamaid na ugale, mamaid tako abes" (when our tradition/culture perishes, we also perish).

I was quickly reminded of this quote while watching a Lang-ay 2008 Festival video footage shared by Rafael Manuel, Jr. via YouTube (see below).

Without devaluing the men and their role, I have to say that the video impressed me with the fact that women in these highlands have always been at the forefront in the preservation or enrichment of our indigenous knowledge systems and practices. And, of course, in the defense of our natural resources against unwanted capitalistic incursions.

And the children too. I couldn't keep myself from crying for joy seeing all these kids in their heart-warming performance of the tadek/sagni (native dance). Shame on you, these kids know our native culture better than you do, I kept telling myself.

That these kids did well during the street dancing parade speaks well of their parents and other older kakailyan who trained them. These kids issue a solemn challenge to a parent like me -- continue teaching your children to look back to and take pride in their roots. These kids embody a message of hope -- hope that the best of our native culture will continue to be passed on to our children's children, hope that our native culture will continue to help enrich our collective, national heritage.

Sung Myung Moon

01 May 1954. Sung Myung Moon establishes the Unification Church. For a little backgrounder on Moon, visit this site.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lang-ay 2008

Thanks to Rafael Manuel Jr., we who did not have the great fortune of participating in or experiencing firsthand the 2008 Lang-ay ("get together") festival in Bontoc can at least enjoy it via YouTube. Salasalamat etád !!!


"Poor Philippines"

A good friend in Cebu, Chito Cusi, sent me this provocative article -- not your usual pass-it-around-or-die/get jinxed chain mail:

Dear Friends,

Here is a good article sent by Dr. Arsenio Martin of Fort Arthur , Texas..

Enjoy reading.


The difference between the poor countries and the rich ones is not the age of the country:

This can be shown by countries like India & Egypt, that are more than 2000 years old, but are poor.

On the other hand, Canada , Australia& New Zealand , that 150 years ago were inexpressive, today are developed countries, and are rich.

The difference between poor & rich countries does not reside in the available natural resources.

Japan has a limited territory, 80% mountainous, inadequate for agriculture & cattle raising, but it is the second world economy. The country is like an immense floating factory, importing raw materials from the whole world and exporting manufactured products.

Another example is Switzerland, which does not plant cocoa but has the best chocolate in the world. In its little territory they raise animals and plant the soil during 4 months per year. Not enough, they produce dairy products of the best quality! It is a small country that transmits an image of security, order & labor, which made it the world's strongest, safest place.

Executives from rich countries who communicate with their counterparts in poor countries show that there is no significant intellectual difference.

Race or skin color are also not important: immigrants labeled lazy in their countries of origin are the productive power in rich European countries.

What is the difference then? The difference is the attitude of the people, framed along the years by the education & the culture & flawed tradition.

On analyzing the behavior of the people in rich & developed countries, we find that the great majority follow the following principles in their lives:

1. Ethics, as a basic principle.
2. Integrity.
3. Responsibility.
4. Respect to the laws & rules.
5. Respect to the rights of other citizens.
6. Work loving.
7. Strive for savings & investment.
8. Will of super action.
9. Punctuality.
10. and of course...Discipline

In poor countries, only a minority follow these basic principles in their daily life.

The Philippines is not poor because we lack natural resources or because nature was cruel to us. In fact, we are supposedly rich in natural resources.

We are poor because we lack the correct attitude. We lack the will to comply with and teach these functional principles of rich & developed societies.

If you do not forward this message nothing will happen to you. Your pet will not die, you will not be fired, you will not have bad luck for seven years, and also, you will not get sick or go hungry.

But those may happen because of your lack of discipline & laziness your love for intrigue and politics, your indifference to saving for the future, your stubborn attitude.

If you love your country, let this message circulate so that many Filipinos could reflect about this, & CHANGE, ACT!

Monday, April 28, 2008


28 April 1611. The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas - Catholic University of the Philippines, reputed to be Asia's oldest existing university, is established by Miguel de Benavides with the blessings of King Philip II. Originally named Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario and later Colegio de Santo Tomas, it officially became a university on 20 November 1645. More about the school here.

According to a UST discussion group, the school's alumni include former presidents (Emilio Aguinaldo, Manuel Quezon, Sergio Osmeña) national heroes (Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Mariano Gomez, Jose Apolonio Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora), and famous media personalities and/or writers (Francisco Sionil Jose, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Bienvenido Lumbera, Cirilo Bautista, Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta, Eugenia "Eggie" Apostol, Ramon Francisco, Isabel de Leon, Lourd Ernest Hanopol de Veyra, Lito Zulueta, Jullie Yap-Daza, Nerisa Guevara, Michael Coroza, Jose Wendell-Capili, Nick Joaquin, Angelo Suarez, Carlomar Daoana, Vim Nadera, Rina Jimenez-David, Arnold Clavio).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Reading the Scriptures: Our Most Fundamental Mistake of our most fundamental mistakes in the reading of scripture, particularly of the New Testament, is to assume that the structures and the systems it describes are as sacred and authoritative as the principles it affirms. Not only is this wrong, it is idolatrous, even blasphemous, to use the word of God to affirm and maintain human privilege. It was wrong in the interpretation that God approved and encouraged chattel slavery, it was wrong in the maintenance of a climate in which the persecution of the Jews could be regarded as biblical, and it is wrong, unequivocally wrong, in imposing first-century social standards on the participation of women in the life of the church simply to preserve the abstraction of the authority of scripture and the preservation of a status quo favorable to those already in power. 143

- Peter J. Gomes. 1996. The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Deconverting from Sectarianism (1): Introductory Note

I noted in one of my previous posts that I shall be writing a series of articles on my experiences with and critique of sectarianism in the Christian faith. This first installment suggests how readers may profit from these essays, gives a bit of an idea on the religious or theological standpoint I am speaking from, and provides a definition of sectarianism.

Different Readers

I am aware that my readers come from different philosophical/religio-cultural backgrounds so let me first consider how this series may be of use to them.

To a postmodernist skeptic, these articles may come simply as useless musings about myths. However, I say this can still serve her/him some for, if nothing else, it can illustrate how a theological metanarrative relates to certain ecclesiastical mini-narratives, and how the latter work in the lives of some who claim to have fully discovered the true nature of the proverbial elephant.

Those who consider themselves religious but not necessarily Christian may be able to use these writings to reflect on parallel discourses and experiences in their own religious environments. They may even be encouraged to share their own religious experiences and thus strike up a productive sharing of spiritual thoughts.

The once self-assured and active but now confused and/or disillusioned believers may find here a sense of encouragement in their continued quest for meaning. They can take these writings as an account of a fellow struggler in the faith who daily grapples with the same existential questions many others face, who can relate to those striving to transcend the canopy of historical accidents that has veiled their vision or somehow walled their world for a time, and who has been disillusioned over the rank sectarianism in Christianity but who just can't give up his faith in the transforming and uniting power of the Cross.

Other Christians who find themselves in a religious tradition different from what I have been exposed to may still be able to extract insights from this work which can help them see certain religious issues from a different yet familiar light. For as William Carl Ketcherside, one of my best-liked Christian scholars (and an ex- "wing commander of a narrow sect," as he liked to put it), wrote:

...there is a kinship in our state which makes what is said about one fragmented movement relevant to all of the others. We may not all be in the same boat but we are all in the same ocean....

Even though the doctrinal disagreements in one party have little relationship to those in another, at the center of our faith all of us are closer than we sometimes admit. It is as the spokes get farther from the hub that they tend to become farther apart.1

Former churchmates may find here reflections of a friend and brother on the same issues they have been struggling over with. This is for those who have begun to realize that certain "ungetoverable facts and truths" they have been taught may not really be nicely wrapped packages delivered straight from the throne of God but may actually be personal and cultural impositions of fallible powers-that-be. This seeks to encourage them to consider other possible reasons why, aside from simply being "worldly," a number of their members have defected. Hopefully, they will also be urged to reflect on the ceaseless intramural fightings in their respective fellowships and somehow do something more to help build a loving community of faith. In this way, their call for fellowship does not become the very ear plug of those they preach to.

Of course, I suppose that there are some former churchmates who might view a voice of dissent or call for reform like this as outrageous for being presumptuous. Well, I'd say even those who clapped with glee when a "false teacher," "wolf in our midst," "antiChrist" like me has finally left their chosen little flock can still profit from what I have to write here -- if nothing else, an entertaining series of rants by an oddball (or a loose cannon, if you please).

A Personal Backgrounder
Let me now draw up a short personal background which might shed light on my possible biases, the limits of my knowledge, my method of interrogation, the scope of my discussion, and the tenor of my critique.

I belong to a clan of the Banao tribe in Kalinga Province deeply rooted in the Episcopal/Anglican faith. Proof of this was the ordination of my uncle, the late Theodore U. Saboy, as "the first Kalinga Anglican priest."

I was christened a Catholic by a family friend, the noted Belgian priest Mike Haelterman, but ended up growing in a strong Baptistic/Evangelical community in Tabuk (now a city) from elementary to high school. I was baptized at age 12 by Donald Taber, a pioneering (Fundamental) Baptist preacher to the Mountain Province and Kalinga. Then I became an active member/lay preacher in a (1611 KJV/Benny Abante wing) Bible Baptist Church in Baguio City for a little over a year in college.

While in college, I started reading voraciously about the so-called "American Restoration Movement" and I was persuaded to join the (amillenial/non-charismatic/a capella) Church of Christ. I did voluntary preaching for this group immediately after my baptism. After earning my double degrees in secular school, I forsook my earlier plan to take up Law and instead studied at the Philippine Bible College (PBC) for my Associate in Theology (ATh) degree. I would receive my diploma 10 years later (the college at that time was reeling from a disastrous power struggle that left it unable to offer enough subjects for a bachelor's degree).

In my 12 years of association with this group, I found myself shuttling between full-time (about four years of intermittent ministry) and part-time preaching. In 2005, I resigned from a permanent government position being desirous of ending my protracted struggle over whether I was truly meant for full-time preaching or not. Shortly thereafter, my growing questions about some inconsistencies in the teachings and practices of the Church of Christ and my realization that I was not really meant for a sometimes money and numbers-driven evangelistic project led me to leave the ministry. Following a six-month ESL teaching in China, I was forced to return to the Philippines. A few months later, I tried to reconnect with the local Church of Christ in Baguio where I again eventually taught and preached in a voluntary capacity while earning my keep as an ESL teacher elsewhere.

In February of this year, I gave up my teaching post and preaching schedules at the college and the local congregation to yield to the wishes of a few self-styled "guardians of orthodoxy." They had been agitating for my "disfellowship" due to what they perceived as my "dangerous" and "liberal" convictions and teachings (more on this in the next few articles). At the same time, I also posted my goodbye letter to a global online discussion group largely composed of PBC alumni.

Although I have distanciated myself from the CoC as an institution, I still maintain good relations with many of its members here and abroad. These fine Christians have steered clear of or forsaken a legalistic, sectarian mindset so characteristic of many in this fellowship. This is to say, of course, that the brand of sectarianism I am about to critique is not characteristic of all Churches of Christ in the Philippines or elsewhere. Also, my critique shall not be limited to sectarian CoCs; other groups will be implicated in this study.

Defining Sectarianism

Sectarianism can have many connotations and pervades every secular and religious ideology, as well noted by anthropologist-poet Robin Fox and Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit in their respective essays on this topic.2 It does not only hug the hallowed walls of a church building or a temple -- it also struts the august halls of a legislature or judiciary, the polished rooms of academic institutions, the busy kitchens of fastfood restaurants, and the damp floors of public markets.

In this series, I employ the term following the definition given by Evangelical theologian Dr. Rex A. Koivisto:

[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. 3

This definition relates to Margalit's description of sectarianism as a "mode of operation and a state of mind" which he explains thus:

The operation is that of splitting the party rather than splitting the difference. The state of mind is that of keeping your principled position uncompromised, come what may. Sectarianism is a disposition to view any compromise as a rotten compromise.4

Although in its original context the above quote may have referred primarily to sectarianism in politics, it certainly fits into the religious context being presently considered.

By "sectarians" I therefore mean those who claim, implicitly or explicitly, to have a corner on the truth or have every religious or biblical truth figured out; who believe only their group has the right to wear the name "Christian" and that only they are heaven bound; who criticize and condemn other Christian groups for not agreeing to every minutiae of a particular set of doctrines and practices that their religious party advocates; who require that unity be effected by conformity to the inflexible theological grid they have drawn up; who feel that they have fully "restored the one, true church" in our time and that their ecclesiastical system is in no need of doctrinal and/or moral reform; or who maintain that their (borrowed) religious ideology needs no contextualization and is to be imposed upon every stripe of culture.

In short, sectarians are enamored with the language of exclusivism.



1 William Carl Ketcherside, The Twisted Scriptures (DeFuniak Springs, FL: Diversity Press, 1992), 71.

2 Robin Fox, "Sects and Evolution," Society 41 (September/October) 2004: 36-46; Avishai Margalit, "Sectarianism," Dissent (Winter) 2008: 37-46. Available online @

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

4 Margalit, 39.

♦ Related Articles:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Quotes from "Kingdom of Heaven"


You are not what you were born, but what you have it in yourself to be. - Godfrey of Ibelin

A Knight's Pledge/Chivalry

Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath. - Godfrey of Ibelin

True Religion

I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What God desires is here [head] and here [heart] and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not. - hospitaller


You see, none of us choose our end really. A king may move a man, a father may claim a son. But remember that, even when those who move you be kings or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God you cannot say "but I was told by others to do thus" or that "virtue was not convenient at the time." This will not suffice. Remember that. - King Baldwin IV

Folly of Religious Wars

I have given Jerusalem my whole life. First, I thought we were fighting for God. Then I realized we were fighting for wealth and land. I was ashamed. - Tiberias

Fighting over what is "Holy"

We fight over an offence we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended. What is Jerusalem? Your holy places lie over the Jewish temple that the Romans pulled down. The Muslim places of worship lie over yours. Which is more holy?... The wall? The Mosque? The Sepulchre? Who has claim? No one has claim. All have claim! - Balian of Ibelin

- "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005),

directed by Ridley Scott and written by William Monahan

Thursday, April 24, 2008


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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cordillera Day

24 April 1980. Kalinga pangat (tribal chief) Macli-ing Dulag is killed by government troopers led by Lt. Leodegario Adalem in Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga-Apayao (now Kalinga). The cold-blooded murder of Dulag all the more solidified the opposition of the indigenous peoples in the area to the Chico River Basin Hydroelectric Dam Project. Five years later, the 1st Cordillera Day celebration was held in Belwang, Sadanga, Mountain Province.

For a complete historical backgrounder, see Windel Bolinget's article in For a discussion on the conflict over natural resources in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, read this United Nations University report.

Related post: "Remembering Ka Ambo on Cordillera Day"

Re: Tinglayan

Reinalyn, a new visitor to this blogsite, learns from friends of Tinglayan's allure (presumably Mt. Patukan or whitewater rafting) and wishes to know more about the place.

I suggest she and other interested local and foreign tourists get in touch with Tinglayan Tourism Officer Noel Macaiba (mobile phone # 09276844072 - posted with permission).

Recommended sites:

♦ Official Tinglayan LGU website -

Guided Tours -,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Blue Beauty"

Got these Power Point slides in my mail early this year. Real or not [see] these images are truly beautiful. Happy Earth Day!

[slideshare id=29173&doc=blue-beauty-23206&w=425]

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ridvan Festival

21 April- 02 May 1863. This period marks the duration of Bahaism's mother festival, the Ridvan ("Paradise"). Ridvan was the garden where Mirza Hoseyn 'Ali Nur publicly declared himself a manifestation of God -- the Baha 'Ullah ("Glory of God") -- thus kicking off a new religious sect, the Bahai Faith.

Natural Environment & Human Responsibility

We have no liberty to do what we like with our natural environment; it is not ours to treat as we please. "Dominion is not a synonym for "domination," let alone "destruction." Since we hold it in trust, we have to manage it responsibly and productively for the sake of both our own and subsequent generations.

- John W. Stott, Issues Facing Christians Today: New Perspectivfes on Social and Moral Dilemmas (London: Marshall Pickering, 1990), p. 121.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New Image Header: Balbalasang

My blog's new image header is a photo of Balbalasang which I took in 1995 as part of my documentation for my undergrad thesis on the Bodong (peace pact) as practiced by the Banao tribe, dubbed "the most peaceful tribe in Kalinga." The Banao tribal territory is home not only to the province's cleanest river, Saltan, but also to one of the country's 38 national parks, the 1,338-hectare Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park (BBNP).

As more and more local and foreign tourists experience what I call the "Balbalasang Mystique," this village is gradually becoming a worthy rival of both Sagada and Banaue [see related article here] as a tourist mecca in Northern Philippines.

Personally though, my primary concern is not about Balbalasang's becoming the top tourist destination in the Cordillera. In the first place, I don't think there is a need for competition because all the tourist spots in the region have their own unique allure. What we need is to encourage sharing of best practices among various stakeholders in the care of our remaining forest reserves.

What I'm more interested in is how the Banao tribe will be able to sustain its communal strategy in balancing socio-economic development and environmental preservation. Showcasing the richness of ethnic/cultural heritage and natural resources without commodifying them is a tough call. I sometimes wonder if it is at all possible for us to promote the Balbalasang Mystique and at the same time avoid burying that mystique under a load of grave mistakes that crass commercialization engenders. But if the Sagadanians and the people of Palawan have managed to keep the beauty of their environs even in the face of ceaseless tourist influx, maybe the Ibvyanaos can do the same across the next decades.

Presently, the community-based forest and wildlife management of the BBNP has been a much-lauded effort. This is attested to by the following excerpts from two reports made in 2003 by the the DENR's research and development arm, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB):

An inventory of the mammals of Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park (BBNP) in Kalinga Province, Luzon conducted in 2000, 2001, and 2003 documented the presence of 31 species, including 12 species of bats, one insectivore, two non-native pest rodents, 12 native rodents, and four large mammals. The two species of non-native rodent pests were found only in agricultural habitats and in town. Sampling was conducted at six locations from 925 m to 2,150 m, in habitats ranging from agricultural areas, pine forest, and lower montane forest to lower mossy forest. We found that bat species richness decreased slightly with increasing elevation, but species richness of native small mammals (shrews plus rodents) increased. Ten species of non-flying mammals were recorded at 1,950 m and 2,150 m, representing the highest species richness documented at a single location in the Philippines. Many of the small mammals represented species and genera that are endemic to the Central Cordillera of Luzon. Though some remained poorly known, it is likely that all of the species in the area were represented by large and stable populations, due to the highly successful traditional forest and wildlife management practices of the local Banao community. Even large mammals such as deer and wildpigs were common due to careful local management. Future conservation efforts should reinforce this successful, traditional management.*


We provide information on the amphibians and reptiles of Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park (BBNP) based on field surveys we conducted on several localities in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2003. We recorded a total of 51 species of amphibians and reptiles from the area. Baseline data on species richness, habitat and altitudinal distribution, and natural history are presented. The nerpetofauna exhibited high levels of endemicity and included at least 13 species that are potentially new to science (nine frogs of the genus Platymantis, three scincoid lizards of the genus Sphenomorphus, and one snake). We suspected that additional species await discovery after more thorough inventories have been completed especially targeting the low elevation forests of these vast mountain ranges. part from these exciting new discoveries, another significant outcome of our survey work is the rediscovery of five "lost species" from the Cordillera Central mountain range including Platymantis cornuta, Rana igorota, and Sphenomorphus luzonensis, all of which have been considered previously as either rare of in the verge of extinction. Our data suggest that these species are fairly common within the national park. We provide accounts for these species and point out possible new areas of biological studies. The high species richness and endemism of the herpetofauna of BBNP is an indication of the overall excellent condition of its forests.**

Below are some of my shots on various sceneries in the Banao area in 1995:

[slideshow id=1945555039033040977&w=426&h=320]

1st Photo: "Most Peaceful Tribe" Marker

Last Photo: Deer domesticated by former Barangay Captain Brent Banganan & family


* Lawrence R. Heaney, et al. "Preliminary Report on the Mammals of Balbalasang, Kalinga Province, Luzon." Available, Accessed, 20 Apr 2008.

** Arvin C. Diesmos, et al. "Preliminary Report on the amphibians and Reptiles of Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park, Luzon Island, Philippines." Available,  Accessed, 20 Apr 2008.

David Koresh

19 April 1993. Branch Davidian leader Vernon Wayne Howell aka "David Koresh" and 75 of his followers die in the cult's ranch in Waco, Texas thus ending a 51-day siege by a composite team of US government forces. Day 1 of the siege claimed the lives of four government agents and six cult members. For more details online, go to Crime Library & The Rick A. Ross Institute.

"Why Women Outlive Men"

Dwyer & Michaels say that in the US, women outlive men by seven years. This photo shows why (caption lifted from the same site):

While the plywood and 2x4s are fairly obvious, what you can't see is the back seat, which contains 10 bags of concrete at 80 lbs. each. They estimated the load weight at 3000 lbs. Both back tires exploded, the wheels bent and the back shocks were driven through the floorboard. The car, with Florida plates, was headed for Clanton, AL where the couple presumably planned to build a new house.

And these photos also give us some more insights on this phenomenon (thanks again, Anthony :>):

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Campbell-Owen Debate

13-21 April 1829. A landmark debate on the "Evidences for Christianity" brings excitement to Cincinnati, Ohio. The disputants who reportedly conducted themselves in the most gentlemanly manner were Robert Owen -- skeptic, socialist, and father of cooperativism -- and Alexander Campbell -- Christian reformer, scholar and co-founder of the the Stone-Campbell Movement. See the full text of the debate in Dr. Hans Rollman's website.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

PTs, Pittance, Pity

Another therapy schedule for my (functional) scoliosis, lumbarization, and sacralization (translation: back problems) gave me a greater appreciation of the kind of work physical therapists do. I marveled at the patience of Terry Fetalvero, an intern at the University of Baguio PT unit as he methodically did the therapeutic ultrasound on me, massaged the nodules (muscle spasms) in the region between my shoulder blades, assisted me in my neck stretching and hamstring exercises, applied hotpack and TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) treatments from my nape to the small of my back, and had me go through a 15-minute spinal traction.

During most of each 2-2 ½ hour therapy session I'd snore off to sleep, thanks to the lagaflex prescribed by a good friend Dr. Nick Suero (those in Baguio with bone-related problems who wish to engage the services of this respected orthopedic doctor may see him at Notre Dame or Benguet Lab-SM). Each session gives me much relief and makes me want to lie in bed the rest of the day and the days thereafter. But there are classes to teach, books to read, articles to write, kids to care for... -- "miles to go before I sleep...miles to go before I sleep."

Occasionally, Terry and I get to talk about his profession. He once said that at times it gets really "toxic" (a term in PT lingo which I understood to mean being physically taxing primarily due to the overwhelming number of patients to treat in a day). One thing good about him and his colleagues in the rehabilitation room, though, is that they never forget their sense of humor. As I sometimes laugh with these PTs, I'd wonder how the thousands of Filipino caregivers in the US, Canada, UK and other countries have been coping with homesickness, back-breaking work and whatever stressors there are that come with their jobs. I'd wonder how many mouths are depending on their hard-earned pounds, euros or dollars. I'd wonder how many of them ended up weeping as they fell prey to street crime, illegal recruitment, and physical and verbal abuse by their bosses or peers. I'd wonder how many success stories have been formed, and how many dreams have been shattered...

Many in the country take PT, Nursing and other related courses hoping to find greener pastures (where the water bill is higher too, as Frank Mihalic once wryly noted) mostly in western countries. Many a columnist or policy maker in the country has harped on this brain drain phenomenon and some of them have been critical of doctors who would go to the extent of studying nursing to qualify them for work as caregivers abroad. But come to think of it, it's easy dismissing the pains of people whose tsinelas (flip-flops) you have never worn because you've always strutted along well-paved streets in your classy shoes; it's easy casting stones at people when you haven't really experienced their having to nearly eat stones as they start scraping the bottom of the barrel.

With the rising prices of rice and other commodities as well as the low salaries even for the most dedicated form of work performance, many of us can't help setting our sights on working in any of the 1st world countries where, though you may be compelled to wipe asses and clean toilet bowls to survive, you get better chances of earning more money and helping your family and friends back home. Call that pathetic, but for a PT here who gets a pittance for a toxic day that would be practicality. Call this unpatriotic, but for the feisty OFW it may be the ultimate sacrifice.

I don't have the time, money or interest for schooling in any of the medical and allied courses, but perhaps one of these days, even with an achy breaky back, I'll find myself once again being swept by the river of necessity into the ocean of diaspora where 8-10 million Filipinos are either frolicking or are struggling to keep themselves afloat.

And most likely, skilled and smart people like Terry will be there -- PTs who won't have to content themselves with a pittance from our government or from some private company, nor suffer being regarded with pity by friends abroad.

More power to the PTs!!!

Reading Scriptures: A Transaction

"Reading Scripture" ... is not as simple as most Protestants would like to believe. Reading is a transaction, and by no means a neutral transaction. A text does not simply "say what it says," despite the rational good intentions of a sensible reader like Alice in Wonderland. We read more like Humpty-Dumpty than we would care to admit, for in reading it as a matter not only of what is written there but what we expect to find there, what we bring to the text, and what we take away from it. Reading, then, is hardly a clinical or neutral affair. There is that bewildering battery of text, context, subtext, and pre-text with which we must contend, which we in fact do automatically and subconsciously. 131

- Gomes, Peter J. 1996. The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Father Joseph Damien

15 April 1889. Joseph de Veuster, popularly known as "Father Damien," dies a leper in the island of Molokai where he lovingly ministered to a leper colony for about 16 years. April 15 is Hawaii's "Father Damien Day." [More about him here.]

In his article, "The Price of Sacrifice," Evangelical theologian Ravi Zacharias writes a touching piece about this celebrated Belgian Catholic priest. The following is an excerpt from this essay:

Joseph Damien was a nineteenth-century missionary who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. Those suffering grew to love him, revering the sacrificial life he lived out before them. But even he did not know the price he would eventually pay.

One morning before he was to lead their daily worship, he poured some boiling water into a cup when it swirled out and fell on his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more water on the same spot. No feeling whatsoever. Damien immediately knew what had happened. He walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, and no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. You see, he normally greeted them, "My fellow believers." But this morning he began with, "My fellow lepers."

Money-Making Scams

Here are two good sites that expose several deceptive get-rich-quick, work-at-home online ads :


Money Illusions

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Urban Legend: "Dr. James Dobson vs. Petition 2493"

Another urban legend material appeared in my mail about "Petition 2493" which supposedly seeks to stop all religious broadcasting in the USA. Here's the text of this hoax which has actually been circulating in cyberspace for the last five years:

SUBJECT: No more Joel Olsteen, TD Jakes, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, or Charles Stanley ???

Please, if you don't wish to participate, return this email to whoever sent it to you so they can at least keep this email going, or forward it to some one you know who will wish to participate.

Dr. Dobson is going on CNBC to urge every Christian to get involved. I hope you will sign and forward to all your family and friends.

An organization has been granted a Federal Hearing on the same subject by the Federal Communications Commission ( FCC) in Washington , D.C.

Their petition, Number 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the gospel of our Lord and Savior on the airwaves of America . They have 287,000 signatures to back their stand! If this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped. This group is also campa igning to remove all Christmas programs and Christmas carols from public schools!

You as a Christian can help! We are praying for at least 1 million signatures. This would defeat their effort and show that there are many Christians alive, well and concerned about our country. As Ch ristians, we must unite on this. Please don't take this lightly. We ignored one lady once and lost prayer in our schools and in offices across the nation. Please stand up for your religious freedom and let your voice be heard.

Together we can make a difference in our country while creating an opportunity for the lost to know the Lord.

CLEAN UP THE MESSAGE, and forward this to everyone you think should read this.

Now, please sign your name at the bottom (you can only add your name after you have pressed 'Forward'). If hitting the Forward button does not work for you, then cut and paste this message into a new email letter.

Don't delete any other names, just go to the next number and type your name. Please do not sign jointly, such as Mr. & Mrs., each person should sign his/her own name.

Please defeat this organization and keep the right of our freedom of religion. When you get to 1000 please e-mail back to:

Lisa Norman

This is just one of the countless false information being bandied around among Christian churches which the gullible believe and pass along (see a related article by Greg Hartman in Dr. James Dobson's website). If you're interested in some more "Christian" urban legends (e.g. CEO of Proctor and Gamble making a pact with the Devil, the Siberian hole to hell, etc.), go to Rich Buhler's site.

The Bible: Easily Reverenced than Read

Bound in its authoritative black leather and gilt-edged pages, with, in some editions, the words of Jesus printed in red, the physical artifact of the Bible has a certain aura. Add to this the powers attributed to it, with its designation as "holy" and therefore suitable for use in oath-taking and in sanctifying proceedings both civil and sacred, and the Bible is much more easily reverenced than read." 6-7

- Gomes, Peter J. 1996. The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

"Public Forum: New Trends in Philippine Writing"

It is always an inspiration for an aspiring literary writer like me to listen in to discussions of established authors. This is especially so during the four-hour public forum on "New Trends in Philippine Writing" held at the UPB last Friday afternoon where some of the Filipino literary greats were. The speakers were National Artists Bienvenido Lumbera and Virgilio Almario, as well as three other major authors and noted professors Charlson Ong, Vim Nadera Jr., and Jun Cruz Reyes. These famous writers and other associates of the UP Institute of Creative Writing are in Baguio for the 6-13 April "47th UP National Writers Workshop."

Hoping that I will not misrepresent any of the speakers in any way, I'd like to share with you some info/insights I gathered from the discussions:

Reyes: Philippine Literature Alive and Well

Jun Reyes started out by noting some of the gaps or issues in Philippine Literature like the great number of potential but untapped writers in English or Filipino in this era of globalization, or the unpopularity among the larger number of Filipinos of the country's canonized literary works. Nevertheless, he affirmed that Philippine literature is not dead -- it is simply transforming according to the demand or need of the times.

As a blogger, I was especially attentive to his allusion to some statements of a fellow writer who advised bloggers to (please) edit their posts (for "why should you have us read your drafts?") and, for those who are bent on celebrating their angst and imposing their writing upon others, to consult a psychiatrist instead. Goooood points. Will keep the advise in mind.

Ong: Trends in Content and Style

Drawing from his vast experiences as a literary editor, Charleson Ong apprised the audience on the current themes or content of fiction --from OFWs, Filipinos' marriage to foreigners, ethnic or local culture, to gender issues. He observed that many rising writers today dwell on speculative/futuristic narratives and that the social realism characteristic of Protest Literature in the 1960s and 1970s has now given way to the surrealistic. He also noted that as to style, not much has changed even in blogging where works of fiction still follow the narrative format.

Nadera: Rise of Regional Writings

Vim Nadera showcased the development and recent resurgence of regional literary organizations and writings (see his related article here) as well as other newfound means of popularizing literary texts. The latter includes UP Likhaan's -- and the world's first -- "text-a-poem contest" and UP Diliman's Ikotula passenger jeepneys that display poetic lines as they round the streets of the campus. The poetic jousts Balagtasan and Bukanegan are still alive and well, he said, and are keeping their themes abreast with the times. (See an analysis of the Filipino's inductive and intuitive reasoning based on versed debates in this article.)

Almario: Return to our Roots

Virgilio Almario tied his talk to Nadera's topic and to the UN declaration of 2008 as the "International Year of Languages." With one language dying each year, the declaration's importance cannot be brushed aside, he said. He added that this is especially significant to the Philippines which has 100+ languages (see list of the Philippines' 171 languages and 4 extinct languages here), which translates to 100+ "repositories of knowledge and culture that form part of our national culture/identity."

Believing that language finds its greatest use in literature ("Ang pinakamatayog na paggamit ng wika ay sa pamamagitan ng panitikan"), he hoped for the continuation of the resurgence in regional writings and for the rise of young writers who will not content themselves with just aping western literature but will strive for greater creativity in their work. He ended his speech by reading a short poem entitled Inday Djutay (Little Inday) which he appropriates to mean a call for a return to our roots.

Lumbera: Return to our Oral Tradition

Bienvenido Lumbera focused his talk on the Philippines' oral tradition ("tradisyong pabigkas"). He mentioned that three of the greatest works in Philippine Literature were spread through oral tradition -- Gaspar Aquino de Belen's Pasyon, Francisco Balagtas' Florante at Laura, Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere & El Filibusterismo.

He further informed his audience that the Pasyon was originally recited or sang to or over a dying person to help her or him cross over to the regions beyond, and that the Pabasa (singing of the Pasyon) was used to educate those who couldn't read.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Billy Sunday's "Greatest Crusade"

08 April-19 June 1917. Former Chicago White Stockings great William Ashley "Billy Sunday" holds his best known evangelistic crusade in New York. The $113,000 love offering collected on the last day of the campaign was donated to the YMCA and the Red Cross. Click here for an alternative site about one of the Christian faith's greatest preachers.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Gallant Igorots of Bataan

While watching on TV some of our remaining WWII veterans who joined yesterday's 66th commemoration of the "Fall of Bataan," I was reminded of the stirring accounts of heroism in Bataan which I have come across in my readings, one of which is the gallantry shown by fearless Igorots who fought alongside American troopers. Let me quote lengthily from W.H. Scott's essay, "The Origin of the Word Igorot":

...the greatest prestige won for the name of Igorot was their military conduct in the defense of the Philippines against Japanese invasion. As one Igorot told his compatriots during the controversy, "Allow me to repeat General MacArthur's tribute to the Igorots in a communique dated February 22, 1942, and let you feel for yourself if, after reading it, your blood will not tingle, and your eyes well in tears, and it will make you proud to be an Igorot."

This is the communique:

During a recent enemy offensive, the 20th Japanese infantry made an attack on a position held by a single Igorot company. To a man, the Igorots died in their foxholes, without flinching or thought of retreat, but exacting a tremendous toll from the Japanese. To restore the situation our high command ordered an immediate counterattack by a tank unit supported by infantry. The infantry soldiers were Igorots, eager to even the score for their lost tribesmen.

The bamboo jungle and the heavy, irregular terrain of the section of the front were almost impenetrable and apparently made it impossible for the tanks to operate. Without a word, the Igorot commander hoisted his men to the tops of the tanks in order that they might guide the machines through the matted morass of underbrush, the thickets and trees. The exposed Igorot soldier on the top of the tank served as the eyes of the American driver. The guide signaled the driver with a stick, and with an automatic pistol fired continuously as the unit closed with the enemy. Bataan has seen many wild mornings, but nothing to equal this. No quarter was asked. Always above the din of the battle rose the fierce shouts of the Igorots, as they rode the tanks and fired their pistols.

When the attack was over, the remnants of the tanks and the Igorots were still there but the 20th Japanese Infantry was completely annihilated.

In recounting the story of the battle to an assembly of his officers, General MacArthur said: "Many desperate acts of courage and heroism have fallen under my observation on many fields of battle in many parts of the world. I have seen last-ditch stands and innumerable acts of personal heroism that defy description, but for sheer breathtaking and heart-stopping desperation, I have never known the equal of those Igorots. Gentlemen, when you tell that story, stand in tribute to these gallant Igorots." 60-65

- Scott, William Henry. 1993. Of Igorots and Independence. Baguio City: A-Seven Publishing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Spirit of Bataan

Bataan has fallen, but the spirit that made it stand -- a beacon to all the liberty-loving peoples of the world -- cannot fall! - Voice of Freedom, 01 Apr 1942

- Source: Sonia M. Zaide, The Philippines: A Unique Nation (Manila: AllNations Publishing Co., Inc., 1994), p. 330.

Fall of Bataan

09 April 1942. Following an all-out, relentless air, land and sea assault launched six days earlier, the Japanese imperial forces finally overwhelm the gallant defenders of Bataan thus ending a gory three-month battle. The next day, the surrendering Filipino and American forces of Bataan under the command of General Edward P. King would start facing the horrors of the "Death March."

Recommended Reading: De Viana, Augusto. 2001. Apples & Ampalaya: Bittersweet Glimpses of the American Period in the Philippines (1898-1946). Manila: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House.

Augustine, the Bible & Women

Augustine left us with a difficult heritage. A religion which teaches men and women to regard their humanity as chronically flawed can alienate them from themselves. Nowhere is this alienation more evident than in the denigration of sexuality in general and women in particular. Even though Christianity had originally been quite positive for women, it had already developed a misogynistic tendency in the West by the time of Augustine. 145

- Armstrong, Karen. 1994. A History of God . London: Mandarin Paperbacks. Original edition, London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1993.

International Women's Day

This International Women's Day I pause to salute all the women out there who have made this world a better place in whatever capacities they may have found or placed themselves in. I especially salute those who, though doubly taxed by having to manage domestic and office work, can still "skate" themselves gracefully through the heavy traffic in the virtual streets of our earthly existence. I wish to see more women taking greater roles in governance processes and in ecclesiastical circles. I wish for more constructive dialogues between the advocates of matriarchy and the guardians of patriarchy. I wish that we don't have to make Venus and Mars collide and so incinerate the earth.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Climate Change & Health

You may share Rush Limbaugh's skepticism of Al Gore's depiction of the "fragile" earth, but as the world celebrates World Health Day this year with the theme "Protecting Health from Climate Change," I'd say watching this 11-minute video is worth your time as it at least reminds us of our being stewards of our own lives and of the little corners of the earth we have made our homes.

Hillary's "Forgiveness Chart"

Got this one from Bob Dole's book of humor:

At a National Prayer Luncheon, Hillary Clinton once said, "In the Bible it says they asked Jesus how many times you should forgive, and he said seventy times seven. Well, I want you all to know that I'm keeping a chart."

- Source: Bob Dole, Great Political Wit: Laughing (Almost) All the Way to the White House (New York: Broadway Books, 1998), p. 120.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

"John Keating" on Finding Your Own Voice

You must strive to find your own voice... and the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, 'Most men live lives of quiet desperation.' Why be resigned to that? Risk walking new ground. (61)

....[it is] difficult for us to maintain our own beliefs in the presence of others... there is a great need in all of us to be accepted, but you must trust what is unique about yourself, even if it is odd or unpopular. As Frost said, 'Two roads diverged in a wood and I -- I took the one less traveled by,/And that has made all the difference.' (87)

- "John Keating"

- Kleinbaum, N.H. 1989. Dead Poets Society. New York: Hyperion.

LDS Church Founded

06 April 1830. Joseph Smith, Jr., in partnership with five followers (Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Samuel H. Smith, and David Whitmer), organizes "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," one of the many restorationist sects that originated from the USA. The founding of this church occurred 10 years after "the Father and the Son" supposedly appeared to Smith who was then 14 years old. The LDS Church, whose official name was adopted on 15 April 1838, is the largest of the five or more "Mormon Churches" that had sprung from Smith's religious movement.

- References/Recommended Readings:

Gordon B. Hinckley, Truth Restored: A Short History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1979), p. 32.

Donald Platt, Counterfeit (Mandaluyong City, MM: Alliance Publishers Inc. & OMF Literature, Inc., 2001 reprint), pp. 9-59.

♦ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Church History in the Fulness of Times: The History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1993), p. 67.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Notable Quotes from King's Birmingham Letter

Our Interconnectedness

...I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states... We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. (660)

Creating "Tension"/Awakening our Fellows

Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for non-violent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. (660)

Justice, Individuals & Groups is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Neibuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals. (660)


We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.(660)

The Limits of Endurance

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.(660)

Just and Unjust Laws

An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. (662)

Time & Social Change

...time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. (664)

Oppression (2)

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself... (665)

Being Extremists

...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice of for the extension of justice? (666)

The Church & Its Moral/Social Obligation

There can be no deep disappointment where there is no deep love... I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful... In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society... Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." (668)

- Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail," in Pamela J. Annas & Robert C. Rosen, eds., Against the Current: Readings for Writers (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1998), pp. 657-671.

Yancey on King

Philip Yancey's short yet powerful biographical sketch of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is worth re-reading on this 40th year anniversary of this freedom fighter's death -- Philip Yancey, Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church (New York: Random House, Inc., 2001), pp. 19-68.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Re: Sadanga

A fellow Igorot, Martin Apopot, made a very interesting comment on the late Gus Saboy's article on Sadanga. He wrote:
Having been born in Sadanga, I am happy to learn that she has been called once as a land of the Kadangyans. No doubt, she is very rich culture wise, but economically, 42 yrs after this article was published, Sadanga is still struggling to move higher in the class category in the province. She is still a 5'th class municipality and will probably continue to be so for many years. The term kadangyan in Sadanga today is not so much what it means forty years ago. Many children of kadangyans today are illiterate and are the ones left out to mend on the farm they inherited from their parents. Those that have moved out early in search of greener pastures are mostly the ones that have better life. I wonder if the author of this article is aware of what Sadanga has become now and what is his/her comment. Despite all these, Sadanga for me is still no doubt the best place to live because of the inherent hospitality of its people, its culture and its beautiful sceneries. That is why even after 15 yrs here in the U.S, am still rooting to go back and live in my birth place as soon as my financial status allows.

It is lamentable indeed that even after several decades of existence, many municipalities in the Cordillera are still under the stranglehold of poverty. One wonders where all the Internal Revenue Allotments (IRAs) and the pork barrel funds have been funneled into.Or what happened to all those Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs) and Barangay, Municipal, and Provincial Development Plans (B/M/PDPs) crafted by some of our brightest economic planners and politicos gone. Or where all those social mobilization and community organizing projects have taken us. There is no question that many of the programs, projects and activities of Government Organizations (GOs), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Private Organizations (POs) that have been implemented in the region have elevated the socio-economic status of certain local government units or communities. But it still remains a puzzle why such a coveted status has evaded many other communities in the Cordillera across the years.

One reason I am republishing Gus Saboy's decades-old articles is to encourage fellow Igorots to engage in a critical comparison of the "then and now" using the featured communities as starting points for discussions, and hopefully challenge everyone to do something about some of the issues pressing upon us.

What Mr. Apopot says about the kadangyan of Sadanga is also true of the kadangyan of Bontoc. Gone are the days when those of "royal blood" owned most of the filfilig (mountains), kapayepayew (fields) and kafaafaangan (residential lots). Gone are the days when the ili (village/community) depended on the elite for their survival. Many of the pusi (poor) of old are now the baknang (rich). Although the old folks of Bontoc still recognize the elevated status of the kachangyan, the latter's influence over the whole society has practically gone, as it were, down the wanga (river). Well, fortunes change and changes force us to dance to the tune of unpredictability. Perhaps, in the end, we come down to the realization that, as D.O. Flynn had put it, "The haves and the have-nots can often be traced back to the dids and the did-nots."