Our government authorities were greatly alarmed recently by what happened to a Filipina domestic helper named Joanna Demafelis in Kuwait. She was abused and brutally killed by her employers and her body was placed inside a freezer. This somehow led to the suspension of the deployment of Filipina domestic helpers in Kuwait by no less than President Duterte.
We are living in a sick society. Our society’s illness is not just skin deep; it has seriously infected the very soul of our nation. Despite all our pious claims to be the only Christian nation in the Far East, we are considered to be the second most corrupt nation in Southeast Asia. Graft and corruption is like a cancer that is eating up the moral fiber of our nation. Indeed, our country has become “the sick man of Asia”.
Pearl and I were among millions on Epifaño de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) during those four days of February 1986. We went there not to take pictures, but to take sides with our people who suffered so long and now determined to put an end to a well-entrenched Marcos Dictatorship. Today, however, the splendor that is EDSA seems to be over, leaving a bitter taste of betrayal.
The whole Christian world is now in the season of Lent. It starts with Ash Wednesday that falls significantly on a Valentine’s Day this year.
The month of February has been regarded as love month. Specifically, February 14 has been designated as Valentine’s Day in commemoration of the life of St. Valentine. As to who exactly was St. Valentine is still a mystery up to these days.
The celebration of National Bible Week this month of January is an affirmation of the power of God’s Word to renew life and transform society. Prophet Isaiah declared that whenever God’s Word is spoken we would never be the same again. We read in Isaiah 55:11 God saying, “My word that I speak will not fail to do what I plan for it; it will do everything I send it to do.”
In January of every year, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Vatican sponsor a worldwide celebration of a Week of Prayer for Christian unity. This activity is founded on a living hope that people on bended knees can be more loving and kind, more open-minded, compassionate, and considerate with one another and therefore they can unite more easily for a common good.
January 9 is the Feast of the Black Nazarene. Year after year devotees from various places and from all walks of life flock to Quiapo Church to join in the celebration. They say this is their panata (vow) before God for the miraculous healing and other blessings they received. Since God answered their prayers and gave them what they wanted, they ought to fulfill their panata (vow) not only to thank God but in order to receive more blessings from God.
Year 2018 has come! Whenever another year comes, we always consider it a new year. And so, we greet each other, “Happy New Year!” But as we end one year after another it seems that the word new remains an unfulfilled dream. Things remain the same or even worse. The lives of ordinary people are not getting better, despite claims to the contrary. Prices of basic commodities are going up, while the value of human life is going down.
The story of Jesus’ birth recorded in Matthew 1:18-25 is one of the most controversial texts in the Scriptures. But I do not intend to deal with its controversial aspects and much more its mystical elements. What I would like to stress in the writer’s assertion that Jesus’ birth and the things that happened surrounding his birth and growing years have something to do with his becoming the savior of his people.
Of all the Gospel writers, Luke is apparently the most down-to-earth in terms of describing the events and narrating the whole story of Jesus’ birth (cf. Luke 2:1-21). It begins with the journey of a poor couple, Mary and Joseph, who, according to the Biblical records, were not officially married at that time. They were on their way to Bethlehem from their own hometown of Nazareth to fulfill an imperial decree that all people should register not for election purposes (election at that time were not necessary), but for taxation purposes.
November 30 is Bonifacio Day. It is a day to remember a man who offered his life in the pursuit of genuine freedom for our country and people. This man is no other than Andres Bonifacio, the Great Plebian, who was unfortunately betrayed by his own fellow Filipinos in the course of a shameful struggle for leadership in the revolutionary movement against the Spanish colonizers. Historians are saying that he was the first Asian to rise up against the tyranny of Western colonization.