Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wars of Religion

Wars of religion are never entered into. If memory serves and history is accounted for - there are wars that go beyond the pale of the conventional spectrum of conflict: unlimited, unrestricted wars.

Conversely, to think of peace is to think about people in human terms.

Religion ought to enable us to more closely reflect in our common humanity what makes the human family better belong. What commits to war and what commits to peace.

Christianity is not lacking in violent history.

Historically, where conflicts between Christians were the most terrible, it was always very much politically concerned. In those days, religious war was less an existential contradiction than a political pretext. So much was prevented by those conflicts... 

Indeed, through whatever door it gains entry into the times - war seeks no other greater inspiration than violence. Once the killing starts, war becomes its own appearance upon our world.

These days, I hold to the view that keeps with the memory of those days: religion must never again be used as a weapon against other people.

Wars of religion fought by any which religion burns with the same relentless hate that burned our world in times past - and makes no promises it shall ever change.

In my remembrance, Christianity is not compatible with war and never was.

To me, all war is - is political. Religion can be political at times. But religion is also deeply human. War is not human and never was human. No terrorist claim will convince me otherwise.

The division in Islam and the divisions in Christianity arose from issues apart and distinct - but seems afflicted with the same vulnerability. This vulnerability - to the spirit of war - appears the same, and it exploits it the same also.

I do not know how these divisions will ultimately find their way again back into unity. I do know that unity is eternal. And were these divisions to remain in the domain of war, no nation will be able to contain its appearances as wars upon the earth. For in this day and age, war is not what it once was. 

Nations are in spirit made simpler. For we on earth must live out a more complex reality.

All nations answer to the one, same human accounting - and, as its own labors of Country, allows the space for its peoples - oppressed by war - to build up the earth and to better their times. That war may flee where none pursueth.

The maturity of the peace of nations must be helped by religion. 

For matters of religion must necessarily involve greater realities.

Peace be upon Korea

A divided peace rules over Korea, one enforced by two States and preserved by force of arms.

Let us try to imagine this division, my brother and sister Filipinos. How it must hurt the soul of the Korean nation. 

For it is a division that runs deep into the soul of their nationhood...

This division is not so much a geographical division but a spiritual division, straddling the land of an ancient people; a ripping apart that must be quite painful to the soul of the one Korean nation.

Where once Korea was a single soul gathered together under one rule, there now arises from this one nation, a lineage of two States - with two totally different attitudes of rule.

If we, as a nation ourselves, should faithfully dwell in kinship with Korea, we should bear in mind that in the midst of their hopes, their struggles, and their successes - unification is and shall always remain a spiritual ambition of the Korean soul - North and South.

Politics deal with what is for now...

As we know however, there are truths more enduring than politics... that rests within nations.

Might there be a rapprochement between the two "Koreas" that shall not involve the further pain of more war and shed tears between the two who are actually one? I don't know. I hope so.

The important thing to consider at this time is the hurt. We know this hurt also. The pain of the tyranny of war. If Korea hurts, she pines... And if she pines, she must be a longing for nothing else but to be whole again. Pain is good in this light - illuminated by memory, borne by remembrance.

For while Korea hurts, she hopes.

It is my personal hope that Korea's hope bears her true and that her hurting leads not to more anger or frustration in her people, but to gentleness and a spirit of quiet perseverance...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thoughts in the Raw

I hate it that the BBL issue is getting helplessly conflicting. One can not despair though. When things get this way, I think it is becoming more and more a leadership crisis than a legislative one. And when we talk of leadership we look to Malacanang... or to each ourselves...

I use this blog to store my thoughts and read back to them when I can... So about the BBL, another thing I haven't really written about is the "expansion" clause. It should be removed. Even if the Philippine Republic does federalize... (maybe we will, maybe we won't), it introduces into the national thinking, a kind of competition that is unsuited to the keeping of the broader peace. What if every province had the ability to eat each other up? If Congress hasn't already done so, they should rethink this clause.

I can not fully oppose the BBL like I fully oppose separatism and armed insurrection. The BBL for all its controversy represents a significant investment in peace reform - whether it prospers or not is another question altogether. I can not however, overlook how much effort, funds, and futures have been put into the crafting of the draft law. It has to be given a chance. 

The Rohingya people might themselves possess a history of conflict we presently have little to no understanding of... We have to make sure this history of conflict does not come into our shores unresolved.

Unresolved if not by them - by us - this nation we know as our own. We have nothing to do with the baggage of their past - from Bangladesh, to Myanmar, or with the Rakhine - though we can represent something of their future...

I think we as a nation have a moral and spiritual obligation to help human beings in need, especially those who are under threat of being unjustly and summarily relieved of their lives and liberty.

We as Filipinos must always remember we started out as people in the shadow of death. Both Islam and Christianity as our major religions are familiar with the plight of the human minority - all three Abrahamic faiths started out as exceptions and as contradictions before the face of the world.

I do not know how we as Christians, Muslims, and Jews got to be so fully assimilated to the rule of war... I recognize our beginnings and know through my own remembrance that what we do to each other can sometimes be so terribly incompatible with the memory...

Anyway, since we are in truth obliged to help them - we have to also make it clear that our helping them does not mean that we favor them over their enemies nor grant symbolic asylum to hatreds of any kind. As we too have an obligation to Justice and to do justice - it is the plight of their common humanity more than anything else that we must immediately recognize.

In any case, we are now also obliged to help ourselves understand the plight of the Rohingya people. If ASEAN has a capability of declaring and acting upon a region-wide humanitarian crisis, this would be a good example of one of those, I think. 

Ayayay... para bagang ganito:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The President I Want for 2016

I want to vote for a President who is principled more than partisan. 

I think partisanship is the root cause of a lot of this administration's shortfalls. That this present administration could have been way better were it not for its aggressive dedication to partisanship in the blind. 

I want the next President to be principled and his or her party platform built on firm and coherent party principles. Ones I can easily understand and identify with.

I want to vote for a President who has a vision; who is able to speak of his or her vision simply and transmit it readily - through action - to the heart of the nation.

I want a President who can see far, knows where we as a Country ought to be and make me believe we are headed in the right direction. I want to be able to freely share in his or her inspiration.

I do not want a President whose only vision is winning the Presidency.

I want a President who is a dedicated teacher of the human art; a believable human citizen, an advocate of peace, student of happiness, and proponent of human progress and the advancement of the national wealth; a compassionate soul - full of love for Providence, People, and Planet. 

I do not care for experience and I don't think our Constitution does either since it only prescribes a single 6 year term. No one comes to the Philippine Presidency with any experience. Only heart.

So I want a President with heart; who leads with his or her mind but thinks with his or her heart. One that is a speaker for the lives and good of all our citizens - a lover, seeker and reconciler of truths. 

The elections next year, 2016, shall be - to my thinking, a pivotal elections... There is a palpable sense that shall grow - of how important 2016 is. We should be ready for it more than be fearful about it.

Good, Better, Best

This is my thinking: 

There are good administrations, and there are better ones. 

Every administration we, the people, duly elect into office in an election is honest and sincere is a good administration. 

Depending on political as well as personal skill and acumen, each these administration as a whole may choose to capitalize on the mandate that we, the people, invest in them and make their legacies more than good. 

There are good administrations therefore, and there are better ones. 

The best ones however, we realize only in retrospect. For the best gift the nation with memories much like fine wine; theirs are legacies that tastes better with time.

We have had 15 administrations including this one, some would say we still have much to experience. Let us not think of our lack of experience though as an excuse to fail in our civic duty to vote responsibly.

For without responsible voting, we will be stuck with administrations ranging only from bad to worse.

Think about it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thoughts in the Raw

I believe in the unjust judges, unjust laws principle. 

That naturally, a just society crafts just laws. But how just a society is depends not on its laws but on the measure it gives to its laws. Law magnifies justice and justice magnifies law. But everything in the system depends on what we put in.

This principle is quite similar to the thought behind the "broken windows" principle. That the tipping point between order and lawlessness are found in the little things... 

The BBL is a means to achieve a dedicated end. It is a means, not an end; meant to produce the conditions that favor the establishment of a meaningful, durable, equitable peace in the ARMM region.

The BBL is not a guarantee of peace in Mindanao. Any mutually agreed upon version of this Basic Law still has to produce what the Basic Law promises to produce.

If a final version of the BBL passes Congressional muster, the responsibility of proving the worth of the BBL will pass from Congress to the constituent peoples of the BPE - their leadership especially. The proof of the Law shall be what the Law produces - as a means to a dedicated end.

Take our 1987 Constitution for example. Consider how our own Constitution remains dependent still on the political will residing within the Republic to materialize its ambitions. The BBL through the BPE will more or less encounter the same kind of proving.

The proving of the BBL will not be whether it passes Congressional muster or not. It will depend on how the Basic Law is allowed to take root among its constituent peoples in the ARMM region.

This is why my stand on the issue is resonant with the Catholic Church's stand - Give the BBL a chance. For it is but one question upon a path of many others. Give the journey a chance to begin. From there, many other answers need to be found. From there, the issue of the BBL will meet up with the Mamasapano issue.

Thus, give Congress enough time to address valid concerns about the quality of the Basic Law as well as surmount all legal and constitutional challenges about it

Because this much is true - Peace in the ARMM can be a cornerstone of a broader peace in Mindanao and therefore, a more perfect peace right across our Republic.

The vision we are working towards is worth the risk - so let us be careful.

The fire in Valenzuela is horrible. I have been a fire victim myself but my experience is dwarfed and humbled by the experience of those who have lost friends and loved ones in Valenzuela. May God lead the souls of all those who perished into His safety and the hearts of all those who grieve for them into His solace.

This fire is the 3rd worst in our national memory. Adequate measures should be enacted so that both the City and the BFP may proactively ensure that fire safety is one of the foremost capability concern among business establishments. How can we lose 72 citizens in the way we lost them in Valenzuela just like that?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Peace be upon Nepal

The earthquake in Nepal was a major event. It claimed the lives of so many Nepalese, leveled much of their homes, and reclaimed much of their standing cultural structures.

We in the Philippines have had our last major quake in the early 90's. I remember it well. I was at my grandmother's home during that time. It was around mid-day. I remember when the tremors came. It was a fear that intensified as the quaking intensified to a point where standing up became difficult... I also remember the decision point in the midst of the shaking: To lead myself and our kasambahays out of the house and into the backyard. We were fortunate the house withstood the event.

Though this major disaster in my nation's history claimed the lives of many of my Countrymen and Countrywomen also, for the intents and purpose of this message, I would not compare this quake to the one in Nepal

What is comparable, in my thinking, as regards my own Country's history is Typhoon Yolanda.

Both events exposed glaring inefficiencies in our governments. 

Both are turning points in the national memory. These turning points presents our remembrance with answers - not questions. They bring forth into our national consciousness truths that need to be acted upon; truths shall remain to bother us until they are acted upon.

When we think about them, we think we know them - because as nations we do.

These events, the mega-earthquake in Nepal and the super-typhoon in my Country are physical evils. By themselves these events have neither will nor capacity conquer the human spirit. How we respond to them is more important.

So may both Nepal and my Philippines commit ourselves to remember to rebuild well.

Remembering the End of World War II in Europe

Every May 8 is the remembrance event of the defeat and banishment of the greatest single conflict to wrack the soul and soil of Europe and her nations. 

It's a bit belated but I would still like to extend my well wishes to Europe in commemoration of VE Day 2015.

The Cold War that followed just right after WWII was a completely different kind of war than the one that preceded it... no less dangerous but quite in a league of its own. 

Every right remembrance of war in order to profit us whenever we may recall their moments must be rooted where the silence was first broken by gunfire so that their commemoration may oblige us to reflect upon numbers of days since... and also the memory those terrible days contain.

One might remember VE Day by its celebratory nature only but there is little profit in it. 

Were one to take for granted these days the peace that in commemoration is observed by events that mark the end of a war, take as the focus of one's remembrance the divide that had existed between the victorious and the vanquished and forget that commemoration should connect the heart from peace to peace, it would profit one very little nor one's community very much.

One does not remember Armistice Day in that way: T'was from silence to silence contained; the terrible cost of the road that led apart from peace and away into war being from silence to silence observed.

Thus, this day's commemoration should return one to a deeper recollection of those darkest days that led Europe off in seach of VE Day, for days without number they were, days without substance and life - when most of the world was in rubble and most of our humanity were in tears...

That our remembrances may bless and together bear for all of Europe especially on this day, a greater desire for robust unity and a more perfect peace.

The epicenter of my remembrance of VE day is Warsaw.

Love then - to all the nations of Europe. 

Love to Russia and the Ukraine both. 

If the past showed your States anything - it is that all free nations have a right to live their lives and their labors of Country free from war also.

This is a right I believe Russia shares equally with the Ukraine. 

And so may permanent solutions be found. 

I salute Chancellor Merkel for her bravery and humanity, President Putin for his forthrightness and candor, both of whom met on this day in behalf of the hope for a greater peace in Europe.

I salute all the Nations of Europe including Russia for their contributions to the betterment of our world and pray - in commemoration of VE Day - for a greater dawning of peace in Europe - one that might begin in the Ukraine and with Russia - so may the ceasefire hold.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Are we a nation of strangers?

It is said that a Nation is a community of strangers.

While it remains true that each and every citizen within our Nation may never come to fully get to know each other on a deeper, personal level, we are not a community of strangers. That is my argument.

The one Nation that is ours is a community of communities.

Life here is a gift and a right possessed by both individuals as well as communities.

As individuals here live lives distinct, so do our communities live also.

As individuals have rights, so do our communities possess rights distinct also.

And while it is true that as citizens it is impossible for everybody here in the Nation to connect to each other in stronger, more personal bonds of friendships - each of our communities, we may be assured, know each other. Think about it.

We are individuals within a community of individuals who are themselves individuals within a community of individual communities all of whom fall into the one fold - the Nation.

Interdependent human community.

The strength of our kin and kith ties are all bound up and embraced within a system of "weak ties". This may only become apparent if we dismiss the thought that we are a "nation of strangers" and attempt to understand the life and reality of our national communities.

We, the people, are all - in the Nation - at the very least, "civic acquaintances" - known to each other at the very least, through the life and reality of our particular communities.  

These communities may be tribal, religious, economic or other cause-specific affiliations, private as well as public of whose foundation is inherently our political community and its subdivisions - from barangay, city, province and their particular regions also. 

Each these communities represent us - reflecting many of the things we commonly understand as human beings. As each of our personal "acquaintances" may be developed into full-fledged friendships - so too may the (formal) connections between communities within the Nation be deepened, through the workings of the Republic, to incorporate stronger (informal) bonds and therefore, more effective relationships. 

This I believe is the reason for their many different Leagues and Councils. As an aspect of the term I use - Executive Coherence, this specific dimension is the horizontal dimension - horizontal coherence.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Poverty in the Nation

The poor of the earth has always remained upon the earth since ancient times. The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 26:11, "the poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me."

There is a kind of poverty inherent in the human condition.

We each came to our life in pain of death; the most feeble and vulnerable of all of God's creatures. For all men and women are born to this earth stripped of our original freedom.

As babes, none of us can even make the choice to live. Somebody had to make the choice for us. In this way, every human being upon this earth begins life poor.

This is the poverty of our human condition.

It is an evil impressed upon the memory of our beginnings as a characteristic of our exile.

At its roots, it is a physical and not a moral evil.

There is also a kind of poverty inherent in the human social condition.

The kind of poverty we must live through from our birth and the kind of poverty we live with in and among ourselves as we go through life though distinct proceed from each other.

Both of these are evils rooted in the physical characteristic of our exile and are therefore, in their basic forms - transient by nature.

In ideal national conditions, as each of us grows into bodily and spiritual maturity, we gain in wealth what we shed in poverty.

This is so because our Nationhood itself is intended for the purpose of providing adequate means for our humanity to transform the poverty of the human condition into the Wealth of Nations.

To think therefore, that somehow poor people causes poverty in the Nation is erroneous.

(Neither my citizenship inform me through my humanity nor my religious conviction inspire me through my faith that this is so...)

The poor is not the cause of poverty in the Nation.

To unravel the evil of poverty, we must begin again along the lines of a new thinking - and accept that there are poor people - millions of them - in this Country.

Accept that poverty is a moral problem that is national in scope.

And that the poor of this Nation neither caused this problem nor desire for this problem to persist.

Furthermore, if we are to perceive poverty in the Nation as ugly, then let us think it ugly not because of what many others see as repugnant in the physical evils abiding with the lives of our Lord's poor.

For these evils are but an indication of a deeper moral question rooted in the spiritual maturity of our culture. Indeed, more ugly and repugnant is not to address this issue.

So we pause for doubt.

There are poor people in the Philippines. Of course, there are!  

There is also crippling poverty in the Nation. So much so that the Republic itself finds it perplexing how difficult it is to move our poverty index up even a slight notch.

So much so that many in the Nation have seen and considered the widespread phenomenon of poverty in this Country to be a grave concern of State, able to affect matters of national security.

There is poverty and there is poor people in the Philippines.

The poverty is a large part of the problem. The poor people are not.

In fact, the poor are fundamentally part of the solution.

Poverty as a moral evil is a social justice issue. 

As with all issues concerning Justice, it is not the presence of evil that is the problem.

To fail to act on it is.

Poverty that persists in the way that it does in the Philippines nowadays feels unnatural. It is seems in no way an evil that is transient any longer but one that seeks to dwell with the people.

From the evil of poverty arise many other evils that cause more misery and suffering among our people, most especially in the least of our people...

Evils such as human trafficking and other criminal trades that exploit despair as well as violent forms of dissent that in turn cause more weakness, bitterness and discontent in the Nation.

This in itself breeds conditions not suitable for the larger successes Country must aim for.

2015 is the Year of the Poor

Reflection on the current state of poverty in the Filipino nation

Every President of the Philippine Republic after the Commonwealth period from Roxas to BSAIII has been engaged in poverty reduction and national stabilization efforts.

To be fair on all of them, it must be said that each of them had worked to address the problem of poverty in the Country and contributed in varying degrees toward durable solutions meant to address the same.

While some Presidents were more successful than others, to honor them all as their lineage within our Republic will profit us most in this reflection.

If we were to look closely at the lineage of our Presidents from Roxas to BSAIII, it shall be worth our while to notice significant efforts have also been made by previous administrations toward national stabilization right alongside poverty alleviation.

This is so because our internal divisions directly coincide with our poverty rates. The more fragmentation we suffer as a Nation and as a Body Politic, the more persistent the poverty among us tends to become. And the longer this divided state of affairs persist, the worse off the plight of the poorest Filipinos tend to likewise become.

Our nationhood can endure a lot of ruin. In the sense that our capitalist economy, faithful to its original form, may absorb many failures in favor of even only a few successes in behalf of giving opportunity to all but war makes us poor indeed. This is what I have noticed.

Most of the present Aquino administration's efforts at curbing graft and corruption in the Republic are also efforts directly connected to poverty reduction. Kung wala ngang kurap, walang mahirap.

This platform is clearly laudable to a great extent of our people but not uncommon to the lineage of our Presidents, one in which President Noy has been modestly successful - if not for the current state of our politics.

The political atmosphere of the Philippine State is stormy and uncertain during most days. I will not blame the President alone for the current state of our formal politics in the State as he too is wont to endure this weather of our own making...

Our political culture is something I think we all are responsible for. But the burden of our politics must always fall upon the shoulders of all worthwhile political parties in the Nation who consider themselves loyal to Constitution and State - to lead the change for the better.

In the political sense, the work of climate change in 2016 here in our Philippines is to make the climate within our Republic Sky more certain of itself and less a reflection of the uncertain climate patterns that now persist in our external world - we all have a stake in it.

That the ball may be carried forward from this administration to the next with greater efficiency.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Note by Miep Gies

Starshine, none of us can walk away from the life we must live...

In our lives we are the heroes and heroines. Strangely enough, there will also be times when we seem to play the villain or villainess in our own epic tales as well...

Each human life never being one that is absolutely good nor absolutely evil; the story of our lives itself - to be real - must be able to brook the shadows in between. This is why it is never a good thing to judge the final merits of any one life while the story is still being told. It is simply presumptuous to do so.

Now as all these tales go, the story must always be told in behalf of the protagonist - as a record of either our victory or our defeat in the myth of our own making.

In the background of our lives, if we pay close attention, there are other heroes and heroines at work.

There are other "heavies" in the landscape of our human experiences at play as well.

While the role of bad people and their influence in our lives are significant, if our focus is on victory, then our focus should be on the good ones and their influences. Think about it.

(I think a certain movie Jedi said this to his Padawan once: Your focus determines your reality?)

To recognize the sources of good influences in our lives is therefore, paramount to the life of the hero and the heroine. Often influences that are benign in our lives are quite subtle, quite calm, and almost invisible. But invariably, the sources of all that is good in our lives are other heroes and heroines too.

In the life of Anne Frank, this was also true.

For there were indeed heroes and heroines too in the period in which Anne Frank lived, terrible and dark as it was... Miep Gies is one of these heroines in the story of our Anne.

Through this post I wish to share with you, an important thought from Miep.

This thought is from the book, "Anne Frank, The Biography" by Melissa Muller and it has certainly contributed to my own thinking about one of the defining events of the 20th century, an event to which I have a personal affinity to in the person of Anne Frank, herself a heroine in my own life.

The influence of the good in human history is subtle and often almost quiet.

Were it not for these influences however, we would be living a reality that is always far worse...

Above the constant din of the world, these guiding lights are ever present. If these influences are to be found and had, Starshine, as in those quests of old, they must often be bravely sought...

A Note by Miep Gies

Over the past fifty years, ever since the publication of Anne Frank's diary, I have been asked again and again how I found the courage to help the Franks. This question, posed sometimes with admiration and sometimes with disbelief, has always made me uncomfortable. Yes, of course it takes courage to do one's duty as a human being, of course one had to be prepared to make certain sacrifices. But that's true in many life's situations.

Why then, I keep asking myself, do people ask such a question? Why do so many hesitate when the time comes to help their fellow human beings?

It took me a long time to understand. Most children are told by their parents from an early age on: "If you are good and well-behaved, everything will work out for you later in life." The logical reverse of this philosophy is: Anyone who gets into trouble must - must - have behaved badly and made some serious mistake. It's that simple. Everyone gets the life he or she deserves; it's that simple. If we really believe this, it's easy to go on minding our own business and to decide against helping people in need. But is it that simple?

My life taught me better. I learned early that people could find themselves in trouble without necessarily having done anything wrong. I was born in Vienna and was five years old at the beginning of World War I. My mother kept telling me that I was a good little girl, that she loved me, and that she was pleased with how I was doing at school.

When I was nine, we did not have enough to eat. I still remember the hunger pangs distinctly, the piercing pain in my stomach and the unpleasant fits of dizziness I had to try to overcome. And I shall never forget the shock when my parents sent me to Holland. A relief action to help starving children had been organized. On a bright and bitter-cold December day in 1920 my parents took me to a train, hung a big sign with a strange name on it around my neck, said good-bye, and left me. They had no other choice, of course, but I did not understand that till much later. I was extremely underweight and suffering from tuberculosis, and I felt terribly lonely. What had I done to deserve being so sick and alone? Hadn't my mother always assured me that I had done nothing wrong?

So I experienced as an eleven year old how quickly people can find themselves in difficulty - and through no fault of their own. That, I knew from personal experience, was exactly what was happening to the Jews in World War II. And therefore it was only natural for me to help as much as I could.

When we are shocked to think that six million children, women, and men were driven to their deaths and we ask ourselves, "How could such a thing happen?" we should keep in mind the indifference of normal human beings the world over, good, hard-working, God-fearing individuals. Of course, it was the Nazi regime that was responsible for the mass murder, but if not for the apathy of people not just in Germany and Austria but everywhere - basically decent people, no doubt - the horrible slaughter could never have assumed the proportions it did.

When, as actually happens even today, young people come to up to me saying they can not believe that Hitler could have murdered the Jews for no reason at all, I fear this remark reflects precisely the view that no such thing could befall truly innocent, blameless people. Then I tell them about Anne Frank and ask them if this child, this young girl, could conceivably have done anything that could justify the cruel fate she suffered,

"No, of course not," they answer, usually quite mortified. "Anne Frank was innocent."

"Just as innocent as the other six million victims," I then add.

Thus, Anne's life and death have special meaning for all those who are subject to prejudice, discrimination, and persecution today. Anne stands for the absolute innocence of all victims.

I should like to use the publication of this biography of Anne Frank as an opportunity to clear up another common misunderstanding. It is often said that Anne symbolizes the six million victims of the Holocaust. I consider this statement wrong. Anne's life and death were her own individual fate, an individual fate that happened six million times over. Anne cannot, and should not, stand for the many individuals whom the Nazis robbed of their lives. Each victim had his or her own outlook on life; each victim occupied a unique, personal place in the world and in the hearts of his or her relatives and friends.

In their racial madness, Hitler and his accomplices tried to claim just the opposite: they portrayed the Jews as a faceless enemy even as they annihilated six million individuals, extinguished six million individual lives. Most of humanity did not even want to know what was happening.

Anne Frank was only one of the Nazis' victims. But her fate helps us grasp the immense loss the world suffered because of the Holocaust. Anne has touched the hearts and minds of millions; she has enriched all of our lives. Let us hope she has also enlarged our horizons. It is important for all of us to realize how much Anne and all the other victims, each in his or her own way, would have contributed to our society had they been allowed to live.

To my great and abiding sorrow, I was not able to save Anne's life. But I was able to help her live two years longer. In those two years she wrote the diary that gives hope to people all over the world and calls for understanding and tolerance. It confirms my conviction that any attempt at action is better than inaction. An attempt can go wrong, but inaction inevitably results in failure.

I was able to save Anne's diary and thus make her greatest wish come true. "I want to be useful or give pleasure to people around me who don't really know me," she wrote in her diary on March 25, 1944, about one year before her death. "I want to go on living, even after my death!" And on May 11, she noted: "You've known for a long time that my greatest wish is to become a journalist someday and later on a famous writer."

Through her diary Anne really does live on. She stands for the triumph of the spirit over evil and death.

Amsterdam, January 1998

(Anne Frank, The Biography by Melissa Muller pp. 303-306)

Thank you, Miep... Via con Dios.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Pacquiao-Mayweather Fight

Truly, it would have been great if Pacquiao won. It was a bit sad it turned out the way it did. More sad than the fact that the Pacman lost is the controversy that clouds the fight.

I'm only relying on second hand information at the moment as I have missed most of the fight last Sunday and I am no expert in the sport of boxing but many pundits say the match fell short of expectation. 

I myself know that that expectation is huge. I can imagine the pressure both Manny and Floyd must have felt. They both must've known they had to deliver a good fight that night. Maybe even exceptional one. 

Betting as well as paying fans were put off by the fact that Manny admitted to having a bum shoulder... Like I said, the expectation about that night was huge. I have no idea how the politics of boxing works but I know from being a Filipino how much this Country expects of our People's Champ - a lot. The burden of living up to his national fan base must have weighed heavily on Pacquaio's decision making... 

I did not bet money on either of them but I wanted very much for Pacquiao to win. Manny wasn't able to deliver this time but he's still a champion in my eyes. Manny Pacquiao will always be a champion.

Floyd won. The Money Team proved its worth. They say Mayweather mostly ran around the ring and that Manny was the more aggressive fighter. Some say the match in Las Vegas last Saturday night killed the sport of boxing... Questions that need answers. That's all it is... 

My guess is all these hint at a rematch.

It was hard to underestimate Mayweather from the beginning. There is no doubting what his undefeated record indicates - Floyd is a great athlete. I respect him for that now. That he held back on trash talking Manny Pacquiao is something I also respect and appreciate. 

There is no substitute to winning in sports. Congratulations to Mayweather for his win! 

Also true is this: Good sportsmen and sportswomen who never quit know that losing is just learning and learning are steps toward winning. This is truth I can respect: You play to win.

These fights come few and far between, if there ever is a rematch - and I think there will be, I'd still root for Team Pacquiao. But I will have more love for Floyd Mayweather also. I hate that I missed most of the fight last Sunday... but I can tell you this, I will not miss out on the rematch.

God bless the Philippines and God bless America.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sa Puso ang Galing

Si Manny Pacquiao,
tunay na Pilipino,
tapat sa tao...

Ang Pilipino -
maka-Diyos, makabayan,
parang si Pacman -

- sa puso
ang galing.


One for Pacman

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Reprieve for Mary Jane

We have won a reprieve for our Mary Jane. Let's make it count.

Kudos to our President BSAIII and his Indonesian counterpart, President Joko Widodo, to our DOJ, DFA and its Indonesian counterparts, to civil society from both our nations, and to the God of all nations.

Everything led to everything in the right way because of everybody who cared and prayed and labored to bring about this opportunity... the important thing now is to make it count.

Let us keep in mind there is still work to be done to obtain for Mary Jane that hoped for commutation of sentence. Other things may happen from there. But we have to get there first.

We have to continue to watch and pray and help in our own ways.

Let us also pray for the eternal repose of those eight who were executed early Wednesday morning. Let us remember their grieving relatives... and let us be humbled.

But for the grace of God go we, my brothers and sisters... Let's give thanks and make it count...

Salamat po sa Diyos at salamat sa ating laht!

Update 20150505tue: My thoughts still return to the 8 who were executed Wednesday morning last week. Let us please pray for their souls. Learning about the stories of some of the ones besides our Mary Jane was as hard as it was sobering. I think a few more should have been spared. 

There really is no right way of killing a person.

Even through human institution, taking a human life is always an evil. Perhaps an evil weighed against a greater evil but an evil still... There truly is nothing good about it. If not for the safety it stands to gain for the community, capital punishment would have been an outright sin.

Perhaps capital punishment has lived out its usefulness in our days, perhaps not. One thing is for sure though, a person once dead can not be wished back to life again.