05
Apr
08

in prison, in person

Selections from my Franciscan essays (hover cursor over link for source or click for full article)
‘Revolution in Prison. Senator Antonio Trillanes in jail & in denial’

July 23, 2003: Some 321 armed soldiers led by Army Captain Gerardo Gambala and Navy Lt Antonio Trillanes took over the Oakwood apartment tower at the Ayala Center in the City of Makati and demanded that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resign (‘Oakwood mutiny,’ Wikipedia). Knock on wood.

***

August 5, 2006: Since then, ‘Oakwood’ has become synonymous with ‘mutiny’ (Alexander Martin Remollino, bulatlat.com). So, the story of the Oakwood Mutiny tells me that dissent will get you history and put you on the pages of Roget’s Thesaurus – not to mention put you high up there in the clouds and give you a magnificent view of the landscape. Landscape, if you’re using your eyes only, on top of the tower. Mindscape, if instead you’re using your head, even inside prison.

***

March 07, 2008: ‘In denial: Trillanes refuses to participate further in mutiny trial’ (Michael Punongbayan, newsflash.org). March 13, 2008:Magdalo soldiers want Arroyo, et al to testify’ (Julie M Aurelio, inquirer.net). Knowing him as a Magdalo leader who believes in the moral bankruptcy of GMA, I’m surprised still-in-prison-for-rebellion and-now-Senator Antonio Trillanes doesn’t want to participate, but he wants GMA to participate. What’s this, ‘Ladies first?’ That tells me that dissent will get you ungentlemanly conduct and dreadful logic.

***

I know of two ways of using your head: being logical (critical thinking), and being inspired (creative thinking). Trillanes is stuck one way or the other. He forgot that iron bars do not a prison make? That tells me the Magdalos need more practice using their heads, not only their mouths.

***

April 02, 2008:Nine Magdalo soldiers plead guilty to coup d’etat charges’ (gmanews.tv). That tells me that some Magdalos have had good practice using their heads both ways. We should all do that. Full thinking is a good exercise of the brain cells. That tells me those in the opposition to GMA like Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Representative Joe de Venecia don’t know a good exercise when they see one.

***

(1) The brave, historical Magdalos betrayed the Philippine Revolution – according to their rivals, the Magdiwangs. They had their President Andres Bonifacio executed, after charging and trying him for treason (Philip Bowring, June 12, 1998, iht.com). Either way, a record that leaves much to be desired, doesn’t it?

***

This is what happened. During the Tejeros Convention of March 1897, the delegates elected Emilio Aguinaldo President and Andres Bonifacio Director of the Interior, a slap on the face and a kick in the ass. Bonifacio withdrew from the convention and formed his own government, and fighting broke out between the Aguinaldo and Bonifacio troops. Bonifacio was arrested (countrystudies.us). And the rest is history. Revolutions devour their own children.

***

In parallel, the changing of the pleas of the nine Magdalos constituted a betrayal of the Oakwood Mutiny – the nine had had a change of heart; in late 2004, they had apologized to GMA for their participation in the Oakwood Mutiny. Ouch. Asst Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon said, ‘Trillanes and his group are still in denial that the coup d’etat did happen … He is not man enough to face the consequences of his action’ (DJ Yap, April 03, inquirer.net). Double ouch.

***

The Magdalos declared us Filipinos independent of the Spaniards, but not of the Americans. From the frying pan into the fire. Some leaders think they know better than the others; remember the prophetic words of Manuel Luis Quezon? ‘I prefer a government run like Hell by Filipinos rather than run like Heaven by Americans!’ Any which way, Hell is assured if you betray the people; Heaven is assured if you don’t.

***

(3) The brave, historical Magdalos lost the war – the Revolution. When the Magdalos realized that they had been betrayed by the Americans with the help of some Filipinos, it was too late. Capitulation devours her own children too.

***

Duh. They who forget the past are bound to repeat it. The modern-day Magdalos had not learned from their historical forebears. The Magdalos of our time continue to think Independence, not Unity; they continue to think Revolution, unfortunately of the insane kind. An anagram of Magdalo is this: Mad goal.

***

The image displayed above is my Photoshop CS3 mosaic of the Magdalo flag of 1897 worn as armband by the Oakwood mutineers of 2003, more than 100 years after that flag had failed to unite the Filipinos in the struggle against a common enemy. My mosaic is my message that the modern Magdalos are all thinking pieces, not thinking patterns. They continue to think like surgeons: Cut off the diseased parts, and that will solve the problem. They do not search for the cause of the disease to cure it. They are elitist, not holistic in their thinking. They continue to think that some parts are greater than the whole.

***

True revolutions are not waged with smart swords or smart bombs or smart helicopters; true revolutions are waged with smart words and smart brains and smart hearts. Mahatma Gandhi was a true revolutionary that Lee Kwan Yew could not be; Jose Rizal was a true revolutionary that Andres Bonifacio did not wish to be; John Paul II was a true revolutionary that George W Bush is hard put to be. Peace is the only way to the true Revolution.

***

Was Henry David Thoreau a true revolutionary? He was. Is Trillanes a true revolutionary in the image of Thoreau? He would be. Trillanes has quoted Thoreau saying, ‘Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison’ (gmanews.tv).

***

Senator Trillanes, you are inspired to cite Thoreau there, but being in prison is the least of my worries about you. I’m worried that you have not shown any vision of the Philippines that we would all love to have, only a vision of the Philippines without GMA. And if you had that vision of a greater Philippines, pray tell us what sacrifices would we have to make to get to the Promised Land? What would be the guarantee that when GMA is out ASAP, the new leaders will lead us to Paradise ASAP and not to Perdition ASAP?

***

I’m worried because you insist on a change of the highest government official, but I know that a change of the head is not a true Revolution, only a revolution of the presidential chair. ‘Give me a chair to stand and I will move the Earth.’ Archimedes couldn’t, George W Bush can’t do it.

***

The Magdalos and Joseph Estrada and even some clergy led by Archbishop Oscar Cruz accuse the GMA administration of being morally bankrupt. Aren’t we all? Logic tells us that if the Filipinos are massively bankrupt in their ethics unlike any other nation, then that is a gargantuan historical failure of none other than the Roman Catholic Church. Don’t blame me, a Roman Catholic, for telling you.

***

But all that is by way of the critical thinker. I’d rather be a creative thinker. A true Revolution is personal. It begins and ends with a person. And folks, the right-thinking Magdalos have shown us a good example.

***

November 29, 2007: Walking out of his court hearing on the Oakwood Mutiny, Senator Trillanes declared a revolt at the Manila Peninsula Hotel (see my ‘Manila Rain-Walk. The day Senator Trillanes called a 5-Star Revolt, Peter Parcel drank coffee & the bride danced,’ November 30, frankahilario.com). Among other people, the revolt invited soldiers in an armored personnel carrier that crashed into the lobby and soldiers spraying tear gas and automatic fire. The revolt lasted 6 hours.

***

March 07, 2008: In prison, Trillanes decided not to attend the hearing of the coup d’etat case against the Magdalos and to forgo his testimony in the defense of his group, ‘after much reflection,’ he wrote, claiming in a letter that it is because the trial has become a ‘travesty of justice’ (Michael Punongbayan, newsflash.org). That is also volition, and you can’t take that away from Trillanes. Trillanes insists on his own kind of Revolution.

And so do I. The Philippines needs a Revolution, and that Revolution starts with you. With me. It is a product of our own volition.

***

We can learn from Army Chief Yano who said after the nine Magdalos changed their minds and instead pleaded guilty:

It is more of putting an end or closure to their case so that they can move on with their lives and be with their families again and see their kids grow up and hope that with the available legal remedies they can still experience how to be a civilian or soldier again in the near future.

‘So that we can move on with our lives’ – is that too much to ask of Your Revolution, Senator Trillanes?

Revolution in prison? No. Revolution in person? Yes. I should say, the Revolution starts with the leader, the one who says we need a Revolution. A change in the head would be a good beginning.

30
Mar
08

Crucifixion of Oscar Cruz

Selections from my Franciscan essays (hover cursor over link for source or click for full article)
‘‘Public Sinners’ As Communion Of Church & State’

christ-crucified-348.jpg March 30, Sunday, Manila time. It’s the week after Holy Week and I understand some well-meaning Filipinos want to crucify Lingayen-Dagupan (Pangasinan) Archbishop Oscar Cruz for condemning our President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). Both are Catholics, one the former President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the other the current President of the Philippines. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Two heads at loggerheads are no better.

***

Where else in the world but in the Philippines where you can witness real-life crucifixions? As a Filipino, I’m not surprised. In another sense, those who would be crucified invite it upon themselves. It’s the tongue. ‘From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing’ (James 3: 10, New American Bible).

I wouldn’t want to be the one crucified, so I wouldn’t want to nail anyone on the cross, even verbally. I couldn’t even entertain the thought of watching Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ, although I’ve heard and read that it’s great. But I’m a writer, so I write. I’m safe as long as I watch my speech.

***

In the time of Jesus Christ, before the court of Pontius Pilate, the priests were inciting the people, who then demanded, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ (Luke 23: 21, New American Bible). It was the priests who were inciting the people to betray Christ. Christ is The High Priest. Today, it is the people demanding that a high priest be crucified. Tongues and times haven’t changed much.

***

They could not have chosen a more perfect target for crucifixion: Lingayen-Dagupan (Pangasinan) Archbishop and former CBCP head Oscar Cruz. In fact, ‘Cruz’ means ‘cross’ in Spanish, the language of the Spaniards. (You know a cross, of course, the one they nail you on alive if you were bad, or thought to be bad, and leave you there to perish in your own time. At other times, they would burn you at the stake. A choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.) I remember, the Spanish friars were historically the first to crucify the Filipinos. History repeats itself even to those who remember. Now we’re making history ourselves – we’re crucifying our own kind.

***

In fact, it is Archbishop Cruz who has been calling for the President to be crucified. This Catholic priest has been doing that publicly since I can remember. Would you believe 2004? And Oscar Cruz has been careless with his idiom as Jesus Christ has been careful with his metaphor. Why do you associate with public sinners? the people asked Christ in reproach. Because it is the sick who needs a doctor, Jesus said. That’s a parable. I would not associate with public sinners, Oscar Cruz said. I would deny them, including GMA and her family, the sacrament of Holy Communion. That’s not a parable. Then he denied that he would deny them. (I forgive everyone in the Black & White Movement for not associating with public sinners, for none of them is Christ.)

***

Whether you’re a Catholic or not, I want to tell you that when I go to Mass – and that happens about 3 times a year – I am almost always the one left on the pew when almost everyone stands up to receive the Holy Eucharist. I’m not ashamed; I don’t fidget in my seat. Why? Because I know two things. One is that you need to confess and be sorry for your sins, that is, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (that is, Confession and Penance), before you can receive the Body of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Two is that I confess here and now that I had not gone to confession before.

***

To me, you are a public sinner if you receive Holy Communion in the public eye of the Church (the people) but you have not confessed your sins to a priest. So, if Archbishop Oscar Cruz would not associate with public sinners, he would have a problem – in one Catholic church alone in a single celebration of the Mass, there are too many of them to avoid!

***

Norman Bordadora reports that Archbishop Oscar Cruz said he would not give Holy Communion to ‘public sinners’ when asked if he would give the sacrament to GMA or members of her family (‘Lawmakers want prelate punished,’ March 30, inquirer.net). He said what he said. Having said that, the Archbishop made the Southern Tagalog alliance in the House composed of 28 congressmen very angry. Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez, their leader, said the alliance had asked the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to censure Oscar Cruz, one of them. Would they?

***

If it is true that the priest would not deny the public sinner the blessings of Holy Communion, that would deny the credibility of the media who reported the incident. It’s not that I believe in Oscar Cruz less but I believe in the media more. So, shouldn’t we the people instead be reproving Oscar Cruz and be shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’

***

Still: Should a priest be in the first place in the political arena slugging it out with the politicians? Isn’t there a separation of Church and State?

No, Archbishop Cruz would tell you, according to Santosh Digal (February 28, cbcpnews.com):

There are no directives from the Vatican telling Filipino Catholic bishops to keep out of the country’s politics … In fact, the opposite is true, says Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz. Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes says that the Church should ‘pass moral judgments even on matters relating to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls require it.’

So, Archbishop Cruz is in his proper element, and I agree with him. Except that his language does not agree with me.

***

‘The ethical dimension of a government’ – yes. The virtual dimension of the real. I myself do not believe on the doctrine of the separation of Church and State. What would be your moral basis without a moral basis? When Archbishop Cruz uses the term ‘public sinners,’ inadvertently, he is using the language that connects the physical with the metaphysical world. ‘Public sinners’ is a concept that is by itself a good example of the concept that you cannot separate the Church from the State.

***

‘Public’ refers to the people, and there is no government without the people, so the people are in fact the Government, the State. What is the physical proof of that? We Filipinos have two historical proofs of that. On February 25, 1986, People Power I (also called the EDSA Revolution) occurred, the people changing their national leader by ousting Ferdinand Marcos. That is a mighty exercise of Government, the only exercise that matters. On January 20, 2001, People Power II occurred, the people changing their national leader by ousting Joseph Estrada. That is another mighty exercise of the power of the State, who is none but the People. (When the Filipinos are good, they show the world. Now, some people have been trying another mighty exercise of People Power, this time against GMA, but the people are not with them. Sorry about that.)

***

‘Sin’ is not a human invention like a ‘lie’ is a human invention. ‘Sin’ belongs to the spiritual world as a ‘lie’ belongs to the material world. And yet you cannot separate the two.

Wikipedia says Oscar Cruz is a vocal critic of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.’ Bishop, you can disagree without being disagreeable. As a Christian, you can be a vocal critic of the Sin, but never of the Sinner. You have to distinguish the act from the actor. Otherwise, God would not have forgiven Paul of Tarsus because he didn’t know what he was doing! ‘I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do’ (Romans 7: 15, New International Version).

***

Archbishop Oscar Cruz knows about media and language. He has published a great many books, including Media In Our Midst and Call Of The Laity (cbcponline.net). He has his own website, ‘Viewpoints,’ http://ovc.blogspot.com, which he started in December of 2004.

As a Roman Catholic, this is what I believe about media: It is not right to separate the Church from the State. It is only right to separate princely language from unpriestly language. What is the message I’m trying to put across? The crucifixion by language that is a cross.

26
Mar
08

think new mantra

Selections from my Franciscan essays (hover cursor over link for source or click for full article)
‘PS,’

‘PS comma’ is how to read my little title; it’s a mantra born in my mind just this morning, March 24, Manila time. It is a new mantra for creative thinking; reminiscent of Edward de Bono’s ‘Po’ (no comma), I’m offering it as a mind-blogging phrase for you to mine your gray matter and come out with copious ideas. The service is free – it comes from you; you help yourself.

***

Contrary to grammatical rules, my comma is not meant to indicate a pause, a temporary stop; instead, my comma is meant to be a prompt, to indicate a request to finish a silent ‘and?’ and a silent ‘so?’ and a silent ‘however?’ and a silent ‘nonetheless?’ and a silent ‘nevertheless?’ and a silent ‘but?’ and a silent ‘for?’ and a silent ‘nor?’ and a silent ‘yet?’ and a silent ‘or?’ Silence means ‘Yes?’

***

If nothing else, ‘PS,’ reminds you to relax, to be not serious. I’m not serious when I’m brainstorming, and that’s exactly why I’m creative! No Writer’s Block whatsoever.

***

Of course, my ‘PS,’ comes from ‘PS, I love you’ – which I have explained earlier in ‘A Thinker’s Faith. Rebel Thinker Writes, ‘PS, I Love You’ (frankahilario.com) – where I first presented ‘PS’ as a mantra for creative thinking. If you have ever written a letter, you already know that ‘PS’ means postscript, that which is done after writing, something you remembered to say after you have written your complimentary close. As I use it here, ‘PS’ means prescript, that which is done before writing. This morning I came up with the comma after ‘PS’ and that I will explain in a little while.

In Hindu and Buddhist practice, a mantra is ‘a sacred word, chant, or sound that is repeated during meditation to facilitate spiritual power and transformation of consciousness’ (Encarta Dictionaries 2007). A mantra is a ‘mental device, instrument of thought’ (iivs.de). Often, a mantra is only 1 or 2 syllables (buddhanet.net), but it can be a series of syllables (well.com). My ‘PS,’ or ‘PS comma’ is 4 syllables, so number is not a problem here.

***

Now, why am I offering ‘PS,’ as mantra? Because I had a flash of insight. Because it’s a very simple way of reaching any level of consciousness in creativity. ‘OM’ as mantra to reach the ‘7 levels of consciousness’ (swamij.com) is too serious for me, but you get the idea. Saying ‘PS comma’ is in fact fooling around with the mind, about which I have already written (‘PC Fools. The Rebel Writer Writes Of Slaves & Masters,’ frankahilario.com). With ‘PS,’ you are in fact trying to seduce yourself into a mental state of creativity, if fleetingly – and that’s all the time you need! Believe me. Been there, done that.

***

‘PS’ – noon today, when I was trying to collect notes on the acronym, I thought of Sony’s PlayStation and, surfing, clicked on Wikipedia. And now, here is a lesson in creative thinking from my Serendipity X and their Wikipedia on the subject of Sony’s PlayStation (PS). The head note on the PlayStation section says (en.wikipedia.org):

The current version of this article or section is written in an informal style and with a personally invested tone. It reads more like a story than an encyclopedia entry.

Very funny. What Wikipedia does not encourage is exactly what I do encourage because that’s how I write: personal, fervent.

***

So, according to the watchdogs of Wikipedia, an encyclopedia entry should be written in a staid, no-feelings-seen-no-bias-shown manner. Boring. That’s why nobody reads the encyclopedia. And yes, I now understand Wikipedia doesn’t want to be read either! That is to say, like all the other encyclopedia makers, they don’t want their sentences to be relaxed; they are not trying to impart knowledge on the reader – they are merely trying to impress him with their erudition.

***

Now, repeat after me, say ‘PS,’ – what I’m trying to do is get you to relax. You can’t be creative if you can’t relax. ‘PS comma’ is a non-threatening, low-cholesterol, high-energy diet that when you get a taste of it in your mouth you’ll want to experience it again and again. It’s a highly consumable non-consumable. This is a case where you can have your cake and eat it too.

***

‘PS comma’ – yes. Don’t underestimate the comma. We are told by the English Language Centre Study Zone of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada: ‘The comma ‘is one of the most important punctuation marks in English’ (web2.uvcs.uvic.ca). Aren’t they all?

***

Look at my strange-looking title again; today, I have come up with a Writer’s Unblock, a radical use of the comma, as the comma in ‘PS,’ is a come-on, an invitation to a dance of the mind, an encouragement to come up with 13 new blades of ideas where none grew before. The comma in ‘PS,’ means, in brief: ‘What else?’ The comma asks you: ‘What else can you see? What else can you not see? What else is there? What else is not there? What else can be done? What else can not be done? What else do people say? What else do people not say? Etcetera.

***

In my previous essay, ‘A Thinker’s Faith’ that I uploaded yesterday, I gave you 30 examples of how to use ‘PS’ as a device for creative thinking, accompanied with a colon – ‘PS:’ An unfortunate incident, I realize that now. As a device for thinking, the colon is not really a come-on to start with but a warning to stop and think more logically, which was not my intention. To begin to think logically is to stop to think creatively.

***

And now let me put to the test my ‘PS,’ mantra, and try to generate as many entry points to begin to write as many creative essays as I can from a bit of unpromising news. ABL Lorenzo reports on the uncertain situation on the supply of rice for us Filipinos (March 24, gmanews.tv):

The government is looking to boost spending on rice to ensure a sufficient supply of the staple, Finance Secretary Margarito B Teves said. ¶ The country’s economic managers, the finance chief said, would be meeting with Agriculture Secretary Arthur C Yap to discuss measures to prevent a rice shortage and keep prices under control.

Applying now my mantra, I can write at least 13 different happy/sad essays (I prefer happy) on the basis of only those 2 sentences I have quoted of the discouraging news.

***

So: With ‘PS,’ as my mantra, I can generate 13 beginnings of 13 essays on the basis of bad news. Watch out when I work that magic spell on some good news!

***

So: Look at the title of this little essay on my own creative mantra again. It suggests an engagement yet to be consummated, doesn’t it? I like my mantra to be like that. What else? Listen to the Beatles sing their greatest song, ‘PS, I love you.’ This one is a standing invitation to a dance. RSVP.

23
Mar
08

association, word dissociation

Selections from my Franciscan essays (hover cursor over link for source or click for full article)
‘A Writer’s Faith. Rebel Thinker Writes, ‘PS, I Love You’’

a-writers-faith-248.jpg This is Chapter 4 of my book Rebel Thinker Writer’s Guide For Non-Dummies (Chapter 3 is ‘Serendipity X,’ frankahilario.com). This new chapter is about how I can teach you to start writing with a great idea when you have no idea to begin with in the first place!

***

I want the best for you. And how am I going to give you that? Today, I shall give you a mantra, the likes of which you’ve never seen before – and neither have I, since I just invented it today – the magic of which you don’t have to imagine after this. I was creative without the mantra, but now that it’s here, I might as well employ it to enjoy it more myself.

***

A mantra is a word, a chant, an incantation, or a magic spell. So, let me create some atmosphere, as in a circus. I imagine great writing is a great circus act where there is always magic.

***

We’re into science, but since I’m writing about creative writing, we can learn from being creative even from those in the arts. ‘The Artist’s Way’ is the million-dollar technique that Julia Cameron teaches in her book of that same title; Julia’s way to creativity is for you to write in your journal at your ‘best’ time of day, and to be religious about the habit. The book is a million-copy bestseller (artistswayatwork.com). The lesson? Creative writing is yours if you want it.

***

What’s in a name? That which we call blogging by any other name would be journaling. Journaling by itself is getting to be a habit in religion, with Ms Luann Budd, Professor of the San Jose State University in California encouraging the youth to write their own spiritual journals, coming out with her book Journal Keeping: Writing For Spiritual Growth (Karen Anne C Liquete, Manila Bulletin, March 19, 2008, E-1; read more of it here in journalkeeping.org). With Luann, learning to write has just become essentially learning to grow in the Holy Spirit – a most creative way. The lesson? Creative writing is as spiritual as you make it.

***

I like Luann’s metaphor of the RAM (random access memory) for the brain, because if your computer’s RAM fills up, your Windows freezes and you can’t do anything until you stop everything and start all over again – Reboot!

***

I must say, with serendipity, Luann Budd has discovered a new entry point to writing in a manner creative, and that is spirituality, in which traveling the road is re-creative.

***

That book was published in 2002. I just surfed and found in amazon.com that there are other journaling-for-spiritual-growth books out there. This one targets the youth, since Luann has a Youth Ministry for New Life Covenant Church in San Jose, California. I can see that before this decade ends, any number of journaling young readers will come out with their own books that will surprise the world.

***

Me, I’m 68 and anyway I’m too lazy to keep a journal going, even if I can easily type everything on my laptop computer – I’ve been typing for half a century now, starting with my laptop typewriter, and I’m a touch-typist and the fastest I’ve seen. You don’t need the computer to come out with a great idea. (To come out with a great essay? That’s a different story.) I know because I’ve never run out of ideas since high school just a little more than 50 years ago; I know I’m crazily, happily creative – so I’d like to share with you my technique for generating one after another ideas for the beginning of a great article (even if it’s only a tentative title, or theme, or topic, or theory, or assumption, or subject, or focus). That is to say, what I always do is this: To generate ideas, I make one paradigm shift after another.

And how do I do that? The process I’ve already called ‘Serendipity X,’ my fooling around with ideas to come up creative. I play with my mind like my mind plays tricks on me when I’m sleeping: I’m flying, I’m dying, I’m having a wet dream, I’m doing this or that which I do not do when I’m awake – and most of the time I enjoy my dreams. Your mind is creative when you allow it to be. If you have doubts that my Serendipity X works, my creation of the mantra itself should be proof enough.

***

First, let me tell you about Ray Bradbury, who prompts his creative instincts using word association, working with unrelated words that don’t make sense being simply listed one after the other, and then he makes sense of it all by linking the words in a story out of the blue, even out of this world. Like listing the words crocodile blue cause road trick mat shine like that and making up a story going like, ‘It was a blue crocodile that caused a road to sag and a trick to run, that is, to make the mat shine’ – you’re beginning to get a hang of it.

***

Come to think of it, although I have given it neither a name nor described it as a teachable, workable method till now, my creativity technique is the exact opposite of Ray Bradbury’s word association – I shall describe it here as word dissociation, where with a group of related words (ideas for the article), I change perspective and the thought that comes out is (ultimately) sensible but has been neither directly suggested nor made obvious by any of the earlier ideas.

***

Thinking more, writing better, how to make writing about technology a little more creative, popularizing science: I am enthralled and enthused by it all. It is not only the science, not only the sense, but more so that seduction, that attraction, and in the proper atmosphere even that fecal attraction – and that’s not bullshit. You can make excellent compost using horse manure, or fish feed out of poultry manure. And I can teach you how to make an excellent essay out of unattractive information that others would rather pass by. Your feat is my faith.

***

I don’t understand music, but I understand that song. And that just happens to be the mantra I promised you: ‘PS, I love you.’ You see, this title of a song is also an acronym. It means, ‘Paradigm shift, I look over you, the obvious.’ Paradigm shift because to move from a critical to a creative mode, you have to change your point of view – already, the comedians do that, each joke being a fillip of the mind. I look over the obvious (that is, the logical) because that brings you back to the need to suspend your belief in the workings of the logical mind (critical spirit) and anchor your faith in the creative spirit. You have to believe!

***

That brings us to Edward de Bono’s device for creative thinking, the ‘Po’ (see also my ‘To All The Dummies In The World. Or, De Bono Debugged,’ frankahilario.com). In a brainstorming session, with others or with you alone, you say ‘Po’ and change the mood so that everyone accepts even outlandish, crazy ideas to help you come up with a brilliant one. I first read about ‘Po,’ thanks to my good friend Orli Ochosa’s gift to me of de Bono’s book The Mechanism Of Mind, in 1975. I thought it was one man’s great contribution to the art of creative thinking.

***

Some 33 years later, I’m going to make my own contribution to creative thinking, beginning with science writing. Today, March 21, Good Friday, marks a death, the end of the earthly existence of a Great Mind Above All Others, that of Jesus Christ, which set off a paradigm shift from death to life. I’m glad to announce that today marks a birth, that of a humble sound, ‘PS’ (derived from ‘PS, I love you’), which I hope will at will start a paradigm shift from a despaired mood of thinking called critical to an inspired mood of thinking called creative, from life to more life. The difference is like this: If you call for truth, you are critical; if you call for fruit, you are creative. Beyond truth, PS is beyond Po; it is also much simpler – almost, yes, literal.

PS is my new theory; PS is your new practice.

***

I look at science writing as fulfilling a need, but not simply filling a real or imagined lack of knowledge.

***

And where does change begin? With the one who wants change to begin.

***

To make the poor pay attention to you, pay attention to them first.

***

Teach a man how to memorize, and he’ll have a word for a day; teach a man how to learn, and he’ll have knowledge for a lifetime.

***

The need for books is nothing compared to the need for learning.

***

It takes a village to know a leader.

***

Everything is relative; so is ambition.

***

If you cannot relate to the need, you cannot relate to the people.

***

Is capital the problem or the entrepreneur himself? I know of someone back home holding 100 titles of land himself and cannot raise capital.

***

It takes a villager to know a village.

***

Why insist on teaching in the national language when English is the universal, intellectual, commercial language? Unless of course you don’t want the people to learn more than they already know.

***

The problem with economists is that they are always after the maximum and expect that to be sustainable!

***

Communicator, remember that you are not talking to the farmer alone – you are talking to him and his family. Are you listening?

***

If you make borrowing easy, you make paying difficult.

***

Communication is too serious a matter to be left to scientists alone.

***

As a writer, your vocabulary is not a problem if already it includes curiosity.

***

Borrowing from Marshall McLuhan, remember that the technology is the message.

***

You cannot learn science in a vacuum – if people are not relating to your science, you are not relating to the people.

***

If the people are not relating to the website, the website is not relating to them.

***

We get the youth that we deserve.

***

Ask the eternal question: ‘What’s in it for you?’ Translation: ‘What’s in it for them?’ Remember, the media people have to be taught too.

***

Are you sure empowerment is the answer? Using Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you must then first help satisfy the people’s physiological needs, then satisfy their safety needs, then satisfy their needs of love, affection and belongingness, then satisfy their needs for esteem, and then and only then satisfy their need for ‘self-actualization.’ Otherwise, you’re simply irrelevant.

***

Remember also: Bullying sometimes come from the experts in an atmosphere called consultancy.

***

If you look at intelligence only one way, then intelligence is not one of your virtues.

***

‘PS, I love you’ is all about thinking creatively, not simply thinking critically. In your writing, always think to be productive, not counter-productive. Think to be constructive, not destructive. At the very least, think to be inventive, but not invective.

***

In the arts or sciences, working in any mass medium, your greatest contribution to society is your thinking, which is ultimately reflected in your essay, editorial, commentary, column, blog. The writer’s fate is writing; this writer’s faith is writing the best.

16
Mar
08

waging a revolution

Selections from my Franciscan essays (hover cursor over link for source or click for full article)
‘Grey-To-Green Revolution. 2 Launchings, 2 Models, 2 Tactics’

cane-tent-city-294.jpg Outside, the scenery was drab; inside, the scene was subdued. Nothing unexpected was expected in the old auditorium. Even humor seemed out of place.

***

Early this week, some 250 delegates from the countryside and the cities were in attendance that first day of a national conference set March 12-14 in the City of Batac in northern Philippines, and the first thing MMSU Professor and Emcee Josie Domingo said was, ‘Ladies & gentlemen, we’re making history!’ Far at the back of the PhilRice-NTA auditorium, I heard her loud and clear. I also noticed nobody did clap. I didn’t. It seemed a hyperbole worth not a laugh but a cold shoulder.

***

I said nobody noticed. We were about to launch the Grey-to-Green (G2G) Revolution in the country and nobody was excited. I wasn’t. It must be that history is in the head, not in the eyes. History is not in the sight but in the foresight, more in the hindsight. You don’t see history – you view history. You don’t take a photograph of history with a flash bulb but with a flash of insight. Later, not sooner.

***

Or perhaps the delegates were (I know I was) thinking about the 15th of March, the day after the conference, the ides of March, the day Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated, ‘a day of infamy’ (Jennifer Vernon, 2004, nationalgeographic.com). Would the first days of the launching prove to be in fact the last days of the National Sweet Sorghum Program of the Philippines, as in the case of the imperious Caesar who was slain by those who called themselves ‘the liberators’? Perhaps, sweet dreams must die.

***

Today, March 15, the ides of March, as I begin to write this, I realize we were making history, even if nobody else noticed. We were in fact launching a Revolution, even if nobody called it that – and with a crop hardly anyone talked about in the Philippines until last year. And the place where the unofficial declaration of the Revolution was made was as unpromising as can be: It is the auditorium of the complex that houses one of the stations of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) as well as accommodates the National Tobacco Administration (NTA), and it is located within the campus of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU). When you declare a sweet sorghum revolt in the land of rice and tobacco, what do you expect? I can imagine blank stares and empty thoughts.

***

Most of the delegates had been to conferences before. Officially titled ‘First National Sweet Sorghum RD&E Review and Planning Conference’ – where R is research, D is development and E is extension – the Batac conference was sponsored by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (DoST-PCARRD), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and MMSU. That was a motley group that seemed unlikely to agree on one agenda, much less a modern-day Revolution.

***

ICRISAT scientist Belum Reddy came for ICRISAT Director General William Dar. CHEd Executive Director William Medrano was in attendance. And so were Executive Director Pat Faylon and Crops Director Joy Eusebio, both of PCARRD. MMSU President Miriam Pascua was there. Provincial Agriculturist Norma Lagmay came for Ilocos Norte Governor Michael Keon. As National Team Leader for Sweet Sorghum as well as MMSU VP for Planning & External Linkages, Heraldo Layaoen was in effect directing the whole show. DA-BAR Assistant Director Teodoro Solsoloy attended for Director Nicomedes Eleazar. DA-BAR Consultant Santiago Obien came, being the brains behind the conference. I came with the brains.

***

Have you ever heard of a revolt launched with so many distinguished individuals armed only with seeds of an undistinguished crop foreign to a country? Sweet sorghum was going to change the lives not only of the Ilocanos in the Ilocos Region but other Filipinos in the quiet countryside as well as the noisy cities of the Philippines. The City of Batac was silently challenging Imperial Manila, raucous as ever, to behave intelligently. Cities now in competition, the crop of Manila were sour grapes; the crop of Batac was sweet sorghum.

***

I heard the Father of ICRISAT’s sweet sorghum Belum Reddy call it the ‘Wonder Crop.’ ICRISAT Director General William Dar already calls it a ‘Smart Crop.’ I shall now call it the ‘Sweetheart Crop.’ We are referring to the same species: sweet sorghum. A witness to history made this week, I assure you Miracle Rice was never as good as this.

***

Yes, Miracle Rice happened in the Philippines, in the municipality of Los Baños, Laguna. And yes, the Sweetheart Crop happened in the Philippines, in the City of Batac, Ilocos Norte, at the campus of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU). Miracle Rice gave birth to the Green Revolution in Asia; it was wrought by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The Sweetheart Crop is giving rise to the Grey-to-Green Revolution declared by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The Green Revolution happened in the time of President Ferdinand E Marcos, the Grey-to-Green Revolution is happening in his birthplace. Another heroism, another time.

***

At the city plaza is a huge sign that says, ‘Batac, Home of Great Leaders.’ A leader is an initiator, a guide, an inspirer, a commander all rolled into one. Ferdinand Marcos was one; I call him the Benevolent Dictator. During his presidency, inside what he called The New Revolution: Democracy, science flowered in the Philippines. I know that personally: I worked as the Chief Information Officer of the Forest Research Institute, which he created by presidential fiat; he created many others, including the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) and of course the MMSU, which he named after his father. Gregorio Aglipay was another great Bataqueño; he was a Catholic priest who joined the revolutionary movement called the Katipunan (Society) against the Spanish colonizers. Katipunan General Artemio Ricarte was yet another; when everybody had been stilled or stopped, he never quit, fighting the American invaders until he was captured. And in contemporary times, Santiago Obien built the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) from scratch paper in the 1980s to a world-class institution in the 1990s that Asian governments have come to respect and IRRI has come to recognize as a rice force by itself. In achieving such a feat, Obien almost single-handedly elevated rice science management in the Philippines. Batac should be prouder still.

***

If you visit the Ilocos Region in March, you will note that almost all of it is dry, drab, grey. The soils are poor in health and starved of moisture. They have been in such a poor state for ages. They are perfect for what I now refer to as the official launching of the Grey-to-Green (G2G) Revolution in the Philippines. Sweet sorghum is perfect if you want to go from grey to green because this crop has multiple uses (see my ‘The Smart Revolution,’ frankahilario.com) and it thrives even on impoverished soil, which makes it indispensable in greening the earth to mitigate climate change. With sweet sorghum, you grow your crop, you replenish the earth.

***

In fact, the G2G Revolution was born and raised in Patancheru, India, within the campus of ICRISAT, with William Dar as Captain of Team ICRISAT (see also my ‘Al Gore Of Science, frankahilario.com). Sweet sorghum coming to the Philippines is like William Dar coming home to Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur. In 2000, Dar became the first Filipino (and the first and only Asian) to be the leader of ICRISAT, one of 15 centers for agricultural research that the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) advocates for and administers. Belum Reddy is the Principal Scientist on Sorghum Breeding of ICRISAT; with the innovative leadership of William Dar, Team ICRISAT has successfully diffused the technology to a private investor so that now thousands of Indian farmers are growing sweet sorghum canes for Rusni Distillery (see my ‘To Harvest The Sun,’ frankahilario.com), and everyone is harvesting from inspired inputs and learned labors. Science with a human face.

***

The distillery model was the one launched at the campus of MMSU with Undersecretary Mariz Agbon representing Secretary Arthur Yap. This model could be like the one Rusni Distillery has put up in India in collaboration with Team ICRISAT. The crusher will be producing ethanol in large scale. The theme adopted for the Batac conference emphasized the big-scale model: ‘Synergizing linkages for a commercially viable and sustainable bioethanol industry in the Philippines.’ Big is beautiful.

***

The village model was the one launched at the village of Bungon within the city limits of Batac. Farmers own the crusher, and they would be turning the sweet sorghum juice not into ethanol but into jaggery for sale as well as for products that the markets of food, feed, forage, fuel and fertilizer would demand in small to medium scale. The theme adopted neither mentions nor implies village-scale sweet sorghum-based income generators, but these did come up during the conference anyway, as they should. This crop is for both gas and cash. Sweet sorghum is for the capitalist with his ethanol distillery as well as for the small farmers with their village-level multiple products. Small is beautiful.

***

The distillery model makes sweet sorghum a capitalist crop, the capitalist with his big dreams. The village model makes sweet sorghum a farmer’s crop, the farmer with sweet dreams.

***

In June last year, I called sweet sorghum ‘a rich man’s choice of a poor man’s crop’ (‘ICRISAT & The Profits Of Boom,’ frankahilario.com). Along the same lines, now I’m thinking of these creative areas as my reason for calling sweet sorghum a Sweetheart Crop for the big businessman as well as the small farmer:

(1) distillery for bioethanol and by-products of processing
(2) jaggery for sweet products
(3) grains for feeds, forage or foods
(4) bagasse for fuel or organic fertilizer.

***

On the second day, participants were divided into separate workshop sessions. I joined the Information, Education & Communication (IEC) group; with my friend Rudy Fernandez, we had 2 writers. Josie, yesterday’s announcer of the Revolution, was with us. With her firm but gentle guidance, we agreed that IEC was a small part of a bigger thing we could conveniently call Social Mobilization, which was composed of 5 parts: Advocacy, Networking, Community Organizing, Capability Building, with IEC in the middle connecting people (with apologies to Nokia), tying up everything. That to me was a minor achievement. We of the IEC did not look up to ourselves, did not assume that we were entitled to a separate agenda.

***

It was Josie Domingo who gave our session’s report, as our Chair Marlowe Aquino had left for abroad. She was too serious for me. If I had made the report, because we would report last, I would have joked:

I admire all of the previous groups’ reports. They were all excellent. But, you know, as good as you are, we IEC people will cover all of you. (Pause.) We will all be on top of all of you! I hope you’ll like it.

***

Thinking along these lines, I can see in my mind’s eye that in the global challenge called climate change, rising above all will be sweet sorghum, the champion.

07
Mar
08

hero, heel

Selections from my Franciscan essays (hover cursor over link for source or click for full article)
‘The Fractured Hero. Lozada’s Logic & Performative Contradiction’

jun-lozada-wc-270.jpg Rodolfo ‘Jun’ Lozada (JLo to me) is the new folk hero of my country, the Philippines, a fractured culture. In his own eyes. And in the eyes of his family. But which family? He has publicly admitted keeping more than one, so I don’t know.

***

JLo is the newest folk hero also in the eyes of the Black & White Movement, inspired by Cory Aquino (our once-housewife President, Time’s Person of the Year for 1986), and in the eyes of some priests, some preachers, some brothers, some sisters, some members of civil society, some businessmen, some professors, some students, some schools, some media, some leftists. Some company! If they swoon over the fractured logic of JLo, what can I say about their learning on Western Philosophy in college? Not much.

***

Suppose they don’t really accept Lozada’s logic but he is their hero anyway, they applaud when he opens his mouth anyway: what do I make of that? That shows the Philippines is a land of opportunity, and you find opportunists everywhere, especially in Manila. I think they’re making JLo a sacrificial lamb. Opportunists do that to you; they want you to be their hero, not they.

***

I’m worried about the high school students, especially the girls, who have made JLo their favorite male performer in a major role, their movie star, their celebrity. JLo asserts that he loves his country, and that is why he has come out in the open and has been speaking against the powers-that-be. JLo, somebody’s patriotism is the first refuge of somebody’s scoundrels.

***

When provoked, everyone will say he loves his country. But, JLo, your patriotism must not be at the expense of logic. I don’t begrudge you all those hysterical girls who adore you, maybe even want to kiss you passionately on the lips, but all those girls will fail in Western Philosophy and make their own lives miserable. I’m a teacher; I don’t want to fail anybody. (And yes, I got a perfect grade of 1.0, Excellent, in Western Philosophy, at the University of the Philippines, a tough act to follow.)

***

There are 3 ways of looking at the HullabalLozada, so much fuss about so much cash, the political storm that has wreaked mayhem in Imperial Manila (thank God the havoc is confined there), the furor over the 329 million-dollar national broadband project (NBN) between China (ZTE) and the Philippines. To mix metaphors, the philosopher-scholar’s verdict on the performance of JLo in a starring role can be viewed in any and all of these:

(1) It’s a performative contradiction – a philosophical view: ‘Do not do what I do, do what I say!’ A teacher’s delight.

(2) It’s a logical positivism – another philosophical view: ‘You don’t have to be logical, just positive!’ A critic’s delight.

(3) It’s a Lozadian Search & Replace – a scholar’s view: ‘You don’t have to be realistic, just consistent!’ An advocate’s delight.

***

You don’t understand? I don’t understand JLo either, but let’s give the truth a try. He says he’s after the truth, and so are we. We owe it to ourselves, and our children. And after this exercise, I pray the truth will set us free!

***

(1) JLo’s Performative Contradiction

You are guilty of performative contradiction.’ I did not say that; Fr Ranhilio Aquino did. Fr Ranhilio is a lawyer; he said that first in his March 3 open letter titled ‘Why I Cannot And Will Not Support Calls For The President’s Resignation’ (gov.ph). The vociferous Philippine media are afraid of that letter, and did not report it, not even a teeny-weeny bit mention of it. The mass media ignored a 3-page letter coming from the Dean of the Graduate School of Law of San Beda College. What’s the matter – they have no respect for the law? Or no respect for San Beda? I checked and I learned that San Beda is a college run by Benedictine monks, one of the leading Catholic educational institutions in the country, whose mission is ‘to produce men and women who are fully human, wholly Christian and truly Filipino’ (sanbeda.edu.ph). ‘Where are the Christians when you need them most?’ I asked earlier (‘The Stonecasters,’ frankahilario.com). Now I know where to find one.

***

‘Performative contradiction’ is a mouthful, but, JLo, you have said more mouthfuls than anyone alive in this country since the Americans invented free speech. You have been making the rounds of schools too. Fr Aquino says that when you assert that you are searching for the truth about GMA and at the same time insist that GMA resign, you are guilty of performative contradiction. Perform, act, do; contradict, deny, disprove. That is because you are condemning her as guilty even while you (are saying you) are looking into whether she is guilty or not. With your performative contradiction, JLo, GMA is guilty until proven otherwise. A damaged logic.

***

If you my reader still do not yet quite understand what the philosophical term means, I offer my examples of the logical crime of performative contradiction:

We’re earnestly searching for the truth.
We’re rummaging for proof of her guilt.
We’re looking for someone to pin her down.
We’re combing for evidence against her.
We’re scouring for clues of her crime.
We’re going to check a lead on her.
We’re assiduously investigating.
Those are 7 counts against her.
Ergo, she should resign.

It would be funny were it not pathetic.

***

The exact words of Fr Ranhilio are these:

When one protests his earnestness in search of the truth, and at the same time presses for the resignation of the President, one is guilty of ‘performative contradiction.’

In other words, JLo, not only that you (embracing your advocates) have prejudged the case, not only have you sentenced the accused, but you are also calling for the carrying out of the sentence on the wife and not on the accused because she happens to be President of her country and you don’t like her face either. You know that the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

***

(2) JLo’s Logical Positivism

JLo is very logical and very positive about it all; let us understand his logical positivism.

But of course, JLo insists. He knows that for every crime, there must be some punishment. That’s logical. JLo is positive that the First Gentleman (JMA) is guilty of corruption; he is not accusing GMA of the same crime, but he positively wants GMA to resign as President of the country anyway. That’s JLo’s logical positivism. It must be that at the university, they don’t teach logical positivism like they used to.

***

(3) JLo’s Search & Replace

Consider this part of the Lozadian script:

JMA is sick.
JMA is not an innocent one.
JMA’s silence means guilt.
JMA is slick.
JMA is untruthful.
JMA is not to be trusted.
JMA is shamefaced.

In Word 2003, if you want to change a name that occurs 7 times for instance, from JMA to GMA, it’s best you use Search & Replace: Press Ctrl+H, type the name of the one you want to replace (JMA), press Tab, then type the name of the one you want to replace it with (GMA), press Enter. Done! It didn’t take a minute, did it?

After you do a Lozadian Search & Replace, what do you get? This is the new Lozadian script:

GMA is sick.
GMA is not an innocent one.
GMA’s silence means guilt.
GMA is slick.
GMA is untruthful.
GMA is not to be trusted.
GMA is shamefaced.

I take it that that’s what JLo wants to do: Search for the truth (JMA )and replace with GMA, so that the innocent-until-proven guilty becomes guilty-until-proven-otherwise. Then replace GMA with JLo. Brilliant. Wrong.

***

The HullabalLozada is all about searching for the truth and at the same time replacing the one on whom the truth is being searched for, based on the presumption of guilt of the one not being accused. Fractured logic. If you are reading this and you are not a Filipino and you find it a difficult act to follow, remember we in the Philippines have to live with it all these days of our lives!

05
Mar
08

hope, hype

Selections from my Franciscan essays (hover cursor over link for source or click for full article)
‘The Audacity Of Hype. Barack Obama Runs Scary, GMA Runs Scared?’

obama-change-rp.jpg Writers and candidates and the opposition could all learn from front-running US presidential hopeful Barack Obama: He started campaigning when he was only in Grade 3, and started hyping himself in 1995 through a book, even before he became Senator. Now he’s hyping himself as the only hope of his country. When you dream big, you have to hype yourself to be up to it. That’s scary.

***

My President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is being hyped by the individuals & those united in their opposition (the Intuit Opposition) as the Philippines’ only obstruction to peace and prosperity in my country. When you dream big, you have to hype yourself against somebody bigger than you are. But like GMA, the Intuit Opposition don’t scare me, I’m afraid.

***

In 1995, as a creative writer, Obama authored Dreams From My Father: A Story Of Race And Inheritance, an autobiography, published by Three Rivers Press (480 pages, reissued 2004). Some 11 years later, in 2006, he wrote Audacity Of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming The American Dream, also published by Three Rivers Press (375 pages). Both books are bestsellers; they show that language is a necessary tool for winning people to your side, even if all you have done as Senator is write 1 book and 0 legislation. More than a picture, a book is worth much more than a thousand words if you know how to write. Obama knows. Look at the titles of his books, and you will know he has the gift of language. Look at his campaign slogan: ‘Change we can believe in.’ If you have the gift, flaunt it.

***

In the Philippines, the Intuit Opposition, I’m glad to say, are not one bit of Barack Obama. The Intuits don’t have dreams from their fathers – only GMA has, from her father Diosdado Macapagal, who became a good President of his country. What the Intuits have in common with BO is the audacity of hope of becoming President, except they don’t have BO’s gift of gab. What they have is the gift of grab.

***

The Black darling of TV hosts Oprah Winfrey herself says Barack Obama has ‘an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth’ (BBC, news.bbc.co.uk). Nowadays, truth scares me. Truth, ah, how many crimes have been committed in thy name! That is when we invoke the truth, we invoke the truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God. But God, when you’re running determinedly for President of the United States of America, or when the determined Intuit Opposition are going against you as President of the Republic of the Philippines, truth is not enough. Or you haven’t heard of The Rotary 4-Way Test:

Of the things we think, say or do:
1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL TO ALL concerned?

***

The Intuit Opposition are daydreaming! And they would be accuser, judge and executioner. What is the truth about Jun Lozada’s allegations? To force GMA to resign for the alleged sin of someone else (her husband) is not Rotary fair, not Rotary goodwill, not Rotary beneficial, not Rotary better.

***

In 1970, when he was in Grade 3 and living with his American mother and Indonesian foster father in Jakarta, Indonesia, in an essay on what he would like to be when he grew up, his teacher Fermine Katarina Sinaga says Barack Obama wrote that he ‘wanted to be President,’ that ‘he wanted to make everybody happy’ (March 25, 2007, Kristen Schamberg & Kim Barker, ‘The not-so-simple story of Barack Obama’s youth, chicagotribune.com). The early boy gets the worm?

***

In the Philippines, the Intuit Opposition want to become President and want to make everybody happy – everybody except GMA, except Vice President Noli de Castro, except those who believe in her, except those who believe in the rule of law, except those who believe that the Intuit Opposition is all Metro Manila noise barrage, except those who do not believe in trial by publicity, except those who practice Christianity by neither casting the first stone (nor the second, nor the third, nor the last).

***

Combine a finesse of language with an unfinished ambition and you have a candidate who may yet be the first Black American President of the United States of America.

Combine the lack of finesse of the Intuit Opposition with their unfinished business and you only have ambition (and dirty linens) hanging in the air.

***

In the US, according to Ali Gharib (February 29, ipsnews.net), Obama is winning, ‘driven by fervent youth support and a coalition of African-American voters and middle-class whites.’

In the Philippines, youth groups have intensified calls for the ouster of GMA (pinoypress.net). The youth are driven by fervent adult support I call here the Intuit Opposition and a coalition of the willing to believe that to accuse him is to prove her guilt. My God! The Intuit Opposition have neither the gift of gab nor the gift of logic.

***

Obama’s inspiration for his second book, Audacity Of Hope, is ‘a leftist black nationalist preacher, Jeremiah A Wright, who preaches African-American unity through antipathy toward whites’ (March 26, 2007, ‘Obama’s identity crisis,’ Steve Sailer, amconmag.com). That’s scary. Obama borrowed the title of that book from one of Wright’s sermons. Everybody steals. He has been likened to him, but BO is not an original like JFK was.

***

I don’t know of the inspiration of the Intuit Opposition, which includes the Black & White Movement, except now I can see their lack of respect for the Rotary knowledge of good and evil, which is certainly not black & white.

***

When Obama became in 1990 the first African-American Editor of the Harvard Law Review, Random House gave him a book contract. ‘Originally, he intended to write a disquisition on race relations, but the puerility of his theorizing discouraged him’ (Sailer as cited, my italics). So Barack Obama wrote instead about Barack Obama: Dreams From My Father.

***

The puerility of the theorizing of the Intuit Opposition in the Philippines should discourage anyone from supporting them. Else, one of them better write Dreams Of Empire From My Father while the Intuit iron is hot, and it may become an Obamian bestseller. That would be entrepreneurship.

***

Obama is pro-choice, that is, if I get it right, he believes that the right of the individual takes precedence over the right of anybody else, including the rights of the families of the mother and the father, including the right to life of an unborn baby. Sorry, BO, but a million women’s need each to have an abortion does not pass the Rotary test a million times.

***

In fact, BO fears for the rights of individuals in ‘an assertively Christian nation!’ Read on:

Democrats, meanwhile, are scrambling to ‘get religion,’ even as a core segment of our constituency remains stubbornly secular in orientation, and fears – rightly, no doubt – that the agenda of an assertively Christian nation may not make room for them or their life choices.

***

It looks like Barack Obama equates religion with substance, instead of things hoped for; it seems BO equates religion with evidence, instead of things not seen. And does he see himself as someone who would supply the need of Americans for a sense of purpose, instead of them seeking it for themselves?

Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds – dropping off the kids at school, driving to the office, flying to a business meeting, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets – and coming to the realization that something is missing. They are deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness are not enough. They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives, something that will relieve a chronic loneliness or lift them above the exhausting, relentless toll of daily life. They need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them – that they are not just destined to travel down a long highway toward nothingness.

It seems to me that Barack sees the need of Americans for their God to say He cares about them, and not that His people care about Him and therefore obey His commandments:

I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember to keep holy the Sabbath.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

God, help us because we’re helpless.

***

In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites. But I was made to understand that such religious samplings required no sustained commitment on my part.

Religion to Obama’s mother Ann Dunham was only an object of anthropological study. Religion is not a serious matter; religion is only theory, not practice; or, if practice, not best practice.

Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its wellspring, just one of the many ways – and not necessarily the best way – that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives.

I am glad to report that religion in the Philippines is a matter of theory and best practice. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) are not calling for GMA to resign (newsflash.org). Their explanation? They are not into politics. No, of course not! The CBCP are not throwing any stone at anybody. But they are not telling anyone not to cast aspersions or throw stones at somebody called GMA. The CBCP are not perfect either.

***

Religion was not a reliable standard of truth to Obama’s mother. And he believed her to be right:

And yet for all her professed secularism, my mother was in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I’ve ever known. She had an unswerving instinct for kindness, charity, and love, and spent much of her life acting on that instinct, sometimes to her detriment. Without the help of religious texts or outside authorities, she worked mightily to instill in me the values that many Americans learn in Sunday school: honesty, empathy, discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work. She raged at poverty and injustice.

***

I understand it was Obama’s mother’s instinct and not some higher authority or force that was the determiner of what is kindness, charity, love – and he adored her for that. Her values were perfect for him:

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It is only in retrospect, of course, that I fully understand how deeply this spirit of hers guided me on the path I would ultimately take. It was in search of confirmation of her values that I studied political philosophy, looking for both a language and systems of action that could help build community and make justice real. And it was in search of some practical application of those values that I accepted work after college as a community organizer for a group of churches in Chicago that were trying to cope with joblessness, drugs, and hopelessness in their midst.

How can you work for a group of churches when you believe in secularism? I don’t know. Ask Barack Obama, the individualist:

My work with the pastors and laypeople there deepened my resolve to lead a public life, but it also forced me to confront a dilemma that my mother never fully resolved in her own life: the fact that I had no community or shared traditions in which to ground my most deeply held beliefs. The Christians with whom I worked recognized themselves in me; they saw that I knew their Book and shared their values and sang their songs. But they sensed that a part of me remained removed, detached, an observer among them. I came to realize that without an unequivocal commitment to a particular community of faith, I would be consigned at some level to always remain apart, free in the way that my mother was free, but also alone in the same ways she was ultimately alone.

***

To Barack Obama, it is the church that is the agent of change in society; if I understand Catholicism at all, it is the individual who is the agent of change himself (embracing herself).

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It was because of these newfound understandings – that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved – that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized.

I say, if you do not suspend critical thinking, your religious attachment will wash away with the first rainy day that comes your way. While faith does not erode reason, reason erodes faith. Science and religion don’t mix. Liberalism and Christianity don’t mix. Either I didn’t know that Christ came for economic and social justice, or I don’t know your Christ.

***

In my country the Philippines? Same banana. The Intuit Opposition are speaking of economic and social justice, but not of Christ, not of being Christians.

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Yesterday, March 4, I was accosted on the campus I was visiting by two boys, not too young, one with a cell phone with a camera, and that one asked me if I didn’t mind being on video for a class assignment. History. Ah. 3 minutes? He was going to ask me only one question, and it was: ‘What is Christianity?’ I thought, this is not coincidence. I said, more or less, thinking fast:

Christianity must be about Jesus Christ and the commandments of God. You must obey at least the two greatest commandments. The first is to love God. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. I’m not sure of the exact words. Now, some people are condemning some people. What did Jesus Christ say to the mob when he was accosted with the woman caught in adultery? ‘He who is without sin, cast the first stone.’ We are all sinners! Do not condemn! That is Christianity.

As I spoke to the cell phone, I showed I was a little angry and increased the volume of my voice. I was thinking of GMA and the Intuit Opposition. I was thinking of renewal.

***

Renewal is what we all need. What is the answer to renewal? Barack’s Republican opponent in 2004 was Alan Keyes, and he had the answer that Obama rejected:

His (Keyes’) argument went something like this: America was founded on the twin principles of God-given liberty and Christian faith. Successive liberal administrations had hijacked the federal government to serve a godless materialism and had thereby steadily chipped away at individual liberty and traditional values. The answer to American renewal was simple: Restore religion generally – and Christianity in particular – to its rightful place at the center of our public and private lives and align the law with religious precepts.

I find that I agree with the opponent of Barack Obama, that Keyes is talking more sense than BO is making. I want to tell the Intuit Opposition that the answer to Philippine renewal is simple: Restore religion generally – and Christianity in particular – to its rightful place at the center of our public and private lives and align the law with religious precepts, not have the religious precepts align with the law. Morality must be above the law. Morality is what the Rotary 4-Way Test is all about. BO fails the Rotary test; so does the Intuit Opposition in the Philippines. Nobody is perfect. Now don’t tell me you are the savior of my country!

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His wife Michelle says of him: ‘Barack Obama is the only person in this race who understands that before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation’ (ipsnews.net). Yes, Ma’am! Including the souls of Barack Obama and the Intuit Opposition.

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Why have I written what I have written (try ‘The Stonecasters’ and ‘An Inconvenient Troth’), and why am I writing this, and why am I writing more after this? You see, I have the audacity of hope.