Mary’s month of May. Mother of Jesus, Model of Mothers

Posted 13/05/2011 by frankahilario
Categories: Blogroll

Mary & Jesus wsMANILA – In the US of A, the month of May is significant in that it is Older Americans Month, and I have written about it to help senior citizens celebrate (see my "US, Unhappy Seniors!? Citizens & The Real Generation Gap," Age of Discovery! blogspot.com). I even suggested an Older Filipinos Month.

After that, Neneng, a long-distance friend and mother, made me realize that May is more important than just being for exalting Mothers on the 8th, than just bringing honor to the older adults by recognizing their achievements as well as their health needs for all of 31 days. "Please write about mothers," she said. What could I say? I was not a Marian as the National Hero Jose Rizal was (see my "Charice dreams. Knights of Rizal Pablo Trillana III believes, I act?" Creattitudes, blogspot.com). Was there anything new to say about an old topic? Then I thought about Mary as Mother.

For sure, in the Philippines, when we think of May, we think of the Flowers of May, Flores de Mayo, and associate these with Mary the Virgin Mother. Indeed, one of the many titles of the Virgin Mary is "Model of Mothers." Now then, more than the 8th of May as Mother’s Day, more than all senior citizens combined, the whole of May is the Merry Month of Mary, Mother of Jesus the Christ, who suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified because he would not worship or bow to the Roman gods. Mary the Mother suffered when Jesus the Son suffered; she suffered even more when he was nailed on the cross and left to die there, slowly – and she was watching, helplessly.

We are just beginning to look at Mother Mary as the Model of Mothers.

When the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary she was going to conceive and give birth to a son, her faith in God was being tested. The whole story is told in Luke 1: 26-45 (NRSV Catholic Edition). "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel told her in no uncertain terms: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God." Which was okay, really, but this was a stranger telling a young girl that according to the will of God she was going to bear a child without as much as even a hint of a love affair, and she and the messenger had just met! This was a woman being told she was going to conceive in her womb a son without the need of a man. Not humanly possible. Yet Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Here I am Lord, seed me!

If you were the young girl, what would you have done? What would you have said? You probably would have thought, what’s his name again? Gabriel was crazy, insane, a megalomaniac. Not Mary. Mary was already a model even before she was a mother.

At this point, I have this insight: If Mary were a Filipino and she lived in one of the slums of Metro Manila, today her poverty-conscious President Noynoy Aquino along with the gentlemen who believe in him, knowing that she is betrothed to Joseph and marriage is in her mind, and thinking that the Filipinos are multiplying too fast for the economy to catch up, and that he would approve of 2 becoming 1 but not 2 becoming 11, would tell her, "Go forth and do not multiply!" For more on the Multiplication Fable, also known as the Malthusian Theory, see my "Noynoy’s RH Bill. Couples for Christ & Frank’s Parable of the Talents," 25 March 2011, American Chronicle. Fable, I said – you know, where the animals speak as if they were people! In response, what would have Mary said? "Be it done unto me according to the Lord." God bless your Mary, gentlemen!

The willing student and would-be Mother was being instructed as well as informed by God:

And you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

Mary had no way of knowing whether what the angel told her was true. She could have chosen to not believe, but she chose to believe. Blessed are those that have not seen and yet have believed!

Accepting the word of the angel as gospel truth, nevertheless Mary was disturbed. She had to talk to someone, confide in her what news the angel had brought to her. She visited her relative Elizabeth in a hilly town of Judea. When Mary greeted Elizabeth who herself was pregnant by God’s grace, the child in her womb leaped for joy. At that point, the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth and she exclaimed, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." A lesson for mothers: Each mother should feel blessed with each fruit of her womb.

If Mary was an unexpectant mother, so was Elizabeth. She and her husband Zechariah, a priest, had been childless for years, as she was barren. Nevertheless, they had been praying for a child. When the angel appeared to Zechariah, "he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him" (Luke 1: 12). He lost the power of speech. Zechariah’s faith was like Joseph’s – reluctant. Elizabeth’s faith was like Mary’s: accepting. Elizabeth was old and barren but, at least in this instance, there was a male parent to unite with a female parent!

We now have 2 role models for a mother. Mary, young, innocent, with her full trust in God. Elizabeth, old, barren, with her whole faith in the Lord. God helps all mothers who have faith in God and in themselves.

When Elizabeth’s son was going to be baptized, the neighbors and relatives wanted the child named after his father, but she said no, he was going to be called John. Although infirmed, Zechariah confirmed the choice of name by writing it out. Mother knows better.

A decree from Emperor Augustus came, requiring everyone to be registered in the town proper. It was the time when Quirinius was Governor of Syria. In obedience to the decree, Joseph, to whom the Virgin Mary was betrothed, and who had accepted the fact that his wife’s pregnancy did not originate from him, brought his beloved with him. She did not object, even if she knew she was expecting a child anytime now. She had faith that Joseph would take good care of her in her condition. And yes, it happened that she gave birth to her firstborn, a boy, and they wrapped him in swaddling clothes, "and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" (Luke 2: 1-7).

The Virgin Mary, now a mother, what could she have been thinking as she looked down at her newborn son lying in that lowly manger – that the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer? No, she was thinking about the bright future of this boy. Didn’t the angel tell her?

Mothers always want the best for their children, don’t they? He will be great. He will inherit the throne of his ancestor David. He will be king forever. She had no way of knowing that there was a price to pay, and what a terrible price! It is good that mothers don’t know sometimes.

An angel appeared to some shepherds and told them of the good news (Luke 2: 8-14): "To you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord." If they visited, they would see a child wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger. Believing what they had heard, the shepherds did what they had been told. And they told Mary what the angel had told them. And "Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart" as before (Luke 1: 19). She must have been thinking: "What does that mean, ‘Savior?’ What does that mean, ‘Messiah?’" She knew soldiers of the Roman Army were there, everywhere, and so were the spies – enemies of the people. Was her son going to deliver them from their iniquities?

When the time came, according to the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary brought him to Jerusalem "to present him to the Lord" and offered as sacrifice a pair of young pigeons (Luke 2: 22-24). There was nothing to it; this was customary for a firstborn male. The rest of the story is told in Luke 2: 25-52 as follows:

At that time, there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, who was "righteous and devout" and to whom the Holy Spirit had revealed that before he dies, he would see for himself the Lord’s Messiah. And so, guided by the Spirit, when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus into the temple and Simeon saw the boy, he took the child in his arms and praised God, for "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

Simeon knew in his heart who the child was going to be. Joseph and Mary didn’t know what to say about what Simeon was telling them about their son Jesus. Simeon blessed them and then told Mary:

This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.

The heart of Israel will be pierced with a sword, and so will the heart of Mary! The Bible does not tell us how Mary took this prophecy, but it must have hit her hard, very hard. Who is the mother who would allow her child to be sacrificed for the sake of the lords of society?

After that, every year when Joseph and Mary went for the festival of the Passover, they brought Jesus along with them. When he was 12, they went as usual to the festival; when they were returning home, they discovered that Jesus was not with them. When they could not find him among their relatives and friends, they went back to Jerusalem and found Jesus in the temple, "sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions." Unlike Pontius Pilate, here was a boy who asked questions – and stayed for the answers.

Mother Mary wasn’t amused. They had been searching for Jesus for 3 days, and who is the mother who wouldn’t be worried? The boy had not told anyone about his intentions to stay. Boys will always be boys!

Mary: "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety."
Jesus: "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?"

Of course they didn’t know what he was talking about! He might as well have been talking Greek to them. Yet, while Mary didn’t know, she understood. As an obedient child, Jesus returned with his father and mother to Nazareth, and never again showed any disobedience. And Mary? The good mother that she was, she kept all those things and pondered them in her heart.

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor." Mothers are the first teachers of their children, so it must have been Mother Mary who taught Jesus what she knew – even including what he knew but Mary didn’t know he knew. Jesus couldn’t tell Mother Mary everything he knew, could he?

Then there was this wedding at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus and his disciples were invited, and so was Mother Mary; the story is in John 2: 1-12. When they ran out of wine, Mary said to Jesus, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to Mother Mary, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." Not minding what Jesus said, Mary told the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." You know the rest of the story: The water turned to wine. The son obeyed the mother anyway. Son knows more; Mother knows better! What kind of a son who refuses his mother’s request?

Mother Mary was there at the crucifixion; the story is told in John 19: 25-27. Together with her near the cross where the soldiers had hanged Jesus waiting for the inevitable was John, the author of the gospel, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus said to Mother Mary, "Woman, here is your son." And he said to John, "Here is your mother." After Jesus died and was buried, Mother Mary went to John’s home. The mother obeyed the son anyway. Mother knows more; Son knows best! What kind of a Mother who refuses his son’s last request? She knew in her heart it was the right thing to do.

My question now is: Why is it that Mary the Mother of Jesus was called blessed and yet she suffered much? My answer is: I don’t know. What I know is that, with Mary as their Model, just as Mary was, mothers will be given much blessings and much suffering. Like Mother Mary, mothers must accept both and treasure them and ponder them in their hearts. And blessed are the fathers who accept this – and woe unto them who do not!

Revolution in Prison.

Posted 03/04/2008 by frankahilario
Categories: change, coup d'etat, mutiny, peace, revolution

Senator Antonio Trillanes in jail & in denial

magdalo-flag-mosaic.jpg

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.

The nine mutinous Magdalo officers were: Captains Gerardo Gambala, Milo Maestrecampo, Alvin Ebreo, Lawrence Louis Somera, Albert Baloloy and John Andres; 1Lt Florentino Somera, 2Lt Kristoffer Bryan Yasay and 1Lt Cleo Dongga-as (Michael Punongbayan, April 03, philstar.com). The nine are all members of the Philippine Army. They pleaded guilty to the charge of coup d’etat against them before the sala of Makati City Judge Oscar Pimentel.

1897: Actually, those whom the mass media in the Philippines today call Magdalo (plural, Magdalos) called themselves Bagong Katipuneros (‘New Revolutionaries’) when they staged the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003 (Wikipedia). But the media preferred to call them Magdalos, in reference to the flag they displayed at Oakwood (see image). The Magdalos of the late 1890s was one of the councils of the Katipunan (literally, Gathering), the revolutionary society and government of the Filipinos against the Spanish colonizers; the Magdiwangs was the other council, both under Katipunan President Andres Bonifacio.

Well, the modern Magdalos forgot their history. And so, they made an unintelligent choice of a name, a historical blunder, and here are 3 reasons I say that:

(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.

(2) The brave, historical Magdalos made peace with the Americans, and then the Americans betrayed them. Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898; the declaration read in part (filipiniana.net):

This declaration, signed by several Filipinos and by Col LM Johnson of the US Army on 12 June 1898, announces that the Filipino people, under the protection of the United States of America, proclaim the independence of the nation from the Crown of Spain.

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!’ Ouch. 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.

Lt Col Bartolome Bacarro, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said about the nine Magdalos changing their plea of ‘Not Guilty’ to ‘Guilty’ – ‘But what is noteworthy is their courage to admit that they have committed something wrong and are ready to face the consequences of their action’ (Punongbayan, cited). Army Chief Lt Gen Alexander Yano said, ‘We admire the courage of these men. What made them decide to plead guilty was definitely a product of their own volition.’

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.

The Crucifixion of Cruz.

Posted 30/03/2008 by frankahilario
Categories: crucifixion, public sinners, separation of Church & State

‘Public Sinners’ As Union 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.)

This is what the good Bishop is denying; ABS-CBN reports (March 30, abs-cbnnews.com):

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said ‘public sinners’ should not be given the Holy Sacrament of Communion including, he said, President Arroyo. ‘I would not give communion to somebody receiving communion in public whom I know is a public sinner.’ Because to do so would be ‘like throwing the body and blood of Christ into the garbage.’

I understand that. If you didn’t know, we Roman Catholics believe that the bread becomes the Body of Christ when it is consecrated during Mass. On one hand, to receive it during Holy Communion with your soul dirty white, that is, without the benefit of Confession and doing Penance for your sins, is to commit at the very least a sacrilege. On the other hand, it is horrible if you are a Catholic and denied it because ‘Holy Communion is morally necessary for salvation’ (newadvent.org).

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!

And isn’t it that you are a public sinner too if you deny public sinners their Catholic birthright to receive Holy Communion as Archbishop Cruz would? Jose Rodel Clapano reports (March 27, philstar.com):

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz vowed yesterday not to give Holy Communion to President Arroyo, members of her family, and other known ‘sinners’ in the country. Cruz told the Newsmakers Forum held every Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza in Mandaluyong City that he will encourage the Catholic Church leadership, specifically the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), not to allow any publicly known sinners like Mrs Arroyo and members of the First Family to receive communion.

Almost like fire and brimstone in the bad old days.

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?

Suarez said his group was thinking of ‘elevating the matter to the Vatican if the CBCP will refuse to sanction Cruz.’ The Archbishop said he was misquoted. Suarez said, ‘Archbishop Cruz cannot claim that what he said was taken out of context or misunderstood by members of the media as that press conference, I believe, was videotaped.’

If Oscar Cruz is telling the truth, then the media who reported otherwise are lying, manufacturing the truth. That includes inquirer.net, and GMA News, who quotes Suarez as saying that Cruz set a ‘very bad example to Catholics by telling a barefaced lie to backtrack on what a multitude of people heard him say during a press conference.’ Suarez also said: ‘It’s the height of ecclesiastical arrogance for an Archbishop to be very quick in condemning others while turning a blind eye on his own mistakes’ (gmanews.tv).

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.

Now, does the Archbishop speak for the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines? Fortunately, no. Some bishops are for GMA to resign, some are for GMA to resist. So, is the CBCP a house divided against itself? Cher Jimenez reports (March 12, globalresearch.ca):

Archbishop Oscar Cruz … said that the division among the clergy is ‘not a question of faith and morals, where we are united, but of a judgment call on the ethical dimension of a government.’

‘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.

Auslogics BoostSpeed 4.1

Posted 27/03/2008 by frankahilario
Categories: Auslogics, speedy HP, tweaker

03/23/08 – Optimize your PC, clean registry, and block banners.

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I just installed Auslogics BoostSpeed and it fired up my new HP Compaq Presario C700 notebook tremendously. I also used the Tweaker, of course, as I am a speed freak. Now I don’t have to wait for Flock, Microsoft Word etc to load. Thank you, Auslogics!

I’m also a Beauty & Brains freak. My HP Compaq laptop is beautiful. Well, I needed a laptop and it might as well be beautiful. Now, you’re looking at a screenshot of my desktop background, from maria-sharapova.org (wallpapers), my favorite Beauty & Brains Maria Sharapova on top of my lap. When it comes to Beauty & Brains, I like it slow but sure; I like play. You could be so lucky!

 

Update: March 31, 2008

Amazing Auslogics BoostSpeed 4.1

I just registered today, March 31, my Auslogics BoostSpeed 4.1 full-version copy. Actually, I have been using the full version since March 26, Manila time, and I’m amazed at how fast my 6-week old HP Compaq Presario C700 notebook PC has become; it was already fast to begin with, what with a dual-core Intel T2330 running at 1.60 GHz with 1 GB RAM and 120 GB hard disk operating on Vista Home Basic.

Actually, Auslogics BoostSpeed 4 also gives you a whole new gang of data and information about your PC, reminding me of Norton Systemworks. But Norton Systemworks, with its optimizer and disk cleaner and all, never made any of my previous and my two current desktop PCs faster; in fact, it seems to me, it made them slower.

I am right now reading C/Net’s (download.com) statistics on downloads for Auslogics:

80,990 Auslogics BoostSpeed 4.1
1,929,286 Auslogics Disk Defrag 1.4.13.296
299,461 Auslogics Registry Defrag 4.17
35,057 Auslogics System Information 1.1.8
11,515 Auslogics Visual Styler 3.1.13

Not listed is the Auslogics Disk Cleaner that comes with Auslogics BoostSpeed 4.1. It’s a great utility too.

All that C/Net data tells me that the majority of PC users don’t think systems, don’t think package, don’t think of wholes but think only of parts. 80,990/1,929,286 gives me 4.2% who think holistic, who know that if you want to improve a system, you can’t just tweak it in parts; you have to tweak the whole. In other words, at least 2 million guys out there should be downloading for the whole caboodle.

I also note the the C/Net Editors have not reviewed Auslogics BoostSpeed 4.1. Afraid of using and comparing it with the others as a whole?

Remember, guys: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Thanks, Auslogics!

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PS,

Posted 24/03/2008 by frankahilario
Categories: brainstorming, creative thinking, mantra for creative thinking, new mantra

who-else-what-else-248.JPG‘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:

(1) PS, what happens when you ‘boost spending on rice’ – and what exactly does the phrase mean? Given the same budget, when you boost spending on A, you inhibit spending on B, right?

(2) PS, how do you predict a rice shortage? Don’t tell me there is only one formula for computing. Whose formula are you going to use? Why?

(3) PS, where is the supply of rice coming from today, in and out of the country? Why not instead boost the growing of more rice on idle lands? (100 days and you have a harvest.)

(4) PS, what is ‘a sufficient supply’ of rice anyway? Why do we have an impending rice shortage now when we didn’t have such in the last 100 years? Is this the effect of Typhoon Milenyo?

(5) PS, how much are we spending now for rice, and how much for French fries? Or Shakey’s pizza? Or Kentucky fried chicken?

(6) PS, why are they saying ‘rice shortage’ – are they trying to scare us people? When was the last time there was panic buying in the Philippines because of a shortage predicted or suggested?

(7) PS, why can’t we simply import rice from Vietnam or China or India maybe? How much can we afford to import?

(8) PS, how do you keep the price of a basic commodity like rice under control? If you say you can do that, can you give a historical example? What happens to the growers of rice?

(9) PS, the country’s economic manager: Do they really agree on what to do? Why or why not? How much really can they do? What about the economic law of supply and demand?

(10) PS, what’s the relationship between the population of the Philippines and the impending rice shortage? Can you relate the two scientifically – and convincingly?

(11) PS, why can’t we eat corn instead? Or rice with corn? (It tastes nice, really.)

(12) PS, why can’t we stop importing corn and import rice instead? (The poultry raisers will get mad, I can imagine.)

(13) PS, why can’t we reduce the cost of producing rice by using less and less fertilizers and pesticides and still harvest more and more? (When scientists disagree, what is the intelligent farmer to do?)

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 a little engagement yet to be consummated, doesn’t it? I like my mantra to be like that. A tease. What else? Listen to the Beatles sing their greatest song, ‘PS, I love you.’ This one is a standing invitation to a dance. RSVP.

A Writer’s Faith.

Posted 23/03/2008 by frankahilario
Categories: creative thinking, Creative Writing, new mantra for creative thinking, writing focus, writing theme, writing theory

Rebel Writer Writes, ‘PS, I Love You’

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This is Chapter 4 of my book Rebel Thinker Writer’s Guide For Non-Dummies (Chapter 3 is ‘Serendipity X,’ which you can read at 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.

Luann says:

If we write about our problems, we may come up with solutions that never occurred to us until we wrote about (them). I think that our brains are a little like computers and problems can fill up our RAM and keep us from being able to process information. When we write about our problems, we are freeing up RAM. We can think more clearly about our problems.

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 serenpendity, 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.

The most important thing is to just start writing … (we’ll) figure out what (we) need to write about as (we) go. It’s funny how once we start keeping a journal, ideas for what we want to write about will come to mind as we are doing other things – like taking a shower or doing the dishes. The best way to start is to just begin – once we see the benefit it brings to us, we’ll want to continue the practice.

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.

Serendipity is accidental creativity; how exactly do I make Serendipity X, or incidental creativity, work for me? What’s my device? How do I summon my X Muse? What’s my technique?

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.

I admire him for his imagination and his language; I can’t forget his ‘Live forever!’

I had been to see Mr Electrico the night before. When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, ‘Live forever!(raybradbury.com)

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. You don’t get it? Don’t worry; I have many examples, below.

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.

In the title, I did write, ‘PS, I love you.’ It happens that that is one of the most likeable songs of the Beatles, and I like the Beatles; they did not originate the quotable quote, but, according to IanMotha:

It’s been said that ‘PS, I Love You’ was the greatest Beatles song, because in this song (is) everything the Beatles (used): their span, 7ths, minors, half steps and the Great vocal harmony between Lennon (and) McCartney.

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. Remembering that, for your PS practice, I give you now quite a number of examples of thinking with a mantra, each numbered paragraph being of two major parts, each one being a paradigm shift. The first part is your possible topic, or theme, or theory, or assumption, or subject, or focus transformed as a lack of (‘Lo’) – that’s the first PS. The second part is made up of questions and/or assertions that further change your point of view and should give you more ideas how and what to write about – that’s the second PS. That is to say, ‘PS’ is the device and ‘Lo’ is the trigger for the PS to happen. I guarantee it.

Remember, you are writing for the poor. You are a popularizer of science or technology in a specific society; you are going to write about the theory & practice of informational, or political, or economic, or social, or environmental, or natural science in that particular society such as about the lack of (Lo):

(1) Lo family planning. PS: Don’t look at me – I have 12 children, 1 wife, zero extra-marital affairs. We have a very small house, about 100 square meters floor space; that’s not overpopulation, is it? Look at the US and Japan; they have millions of poor, don’t they, and they are not overpopulated, are they? It’s a poor writer who blames poverty to the numbers, not the system. Rather, think about how the system can be changed and write about that. And where does change begin? With the one who wants change to begin.

(2) Lo access to media. PS: What about Lo appeal to media? Have you in fact written about your science (hardware or software) as a package that is as attractive to media as it can be? If the media are not paying attention to you, you are not paying attention to them. How about Lo appeal to the poor who are your target readers? To make the poor pay attention to you, pay attention to them first.

(3) Lo retention in memory. PS: Are you teaching them simply to memorize, or are you teaching them to learn how to do it themselves (hands-on), to learn how to think for themselves (heads-on)? 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.

(4) Lo books. PS: Is the need really for more books or is it for more people to want to know more? Is the problem lack of reading materials or the lack of a reading culture? Do you build a bigger library of books or a bigger library of CDs and more PCs connected to the Internet? The need for books is nothing compared to the need for learning.

(5) Lo credibility of the village leader. PS: What do you mean by credibility? Can you differentiate credibility from integrity? Is low credibility the problem at all? You’re assuming that those who question the credibility of the leader have credibility themselves, have integrity. It takes a village to know a leader.

(6) Lo ambition among the people. PS: When did low ambition of poor people get in the way of village growth or, for that matter, high ambition of rich people? It does not necessarily mean that the poor have low ambition in life. Everything is relative; so is ambition.

(7) Lo knowledge of the technology. PS: You are assuming that the people would wish to use your technology if they knew more about it. Write if you can about a technology that was adopted by more people after they learned more about it. Can you compare the new with the old? Is the technology coming from above, or from a need? If you cannot relate to the need, you cannot relate to the people.

(8) Lo capital. PS: Big businessman or small farmer, the problem may be lack of access to credit. How can the poor farmer have access to credit without collateral? Change the problem: Let the village be his collateral – in the person of a credit union or a cooperative. Is capital the problem or the entrepreneur himself? I know of someone back home holding 100 titles of land himself and cannot raise capital.

(9) Lo education. PS: Lack of education is a convenient excuse for failure to market science in a village. Failing to convince them of the value of your technology, you may have been talking to them in the wrong language – talking above their head, or not having understood their need at all. It takes a villager to know a village.

(10) Lo supply of affordable fertilizer. PS: Why not make your own organic fertilizer? Do you need to fertilize the soil at all? What about raising crops that do not need those fancy and expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides? You cannot equate your expensive taste with that of poor farmers.

(11) Lo feeds for poultry or livestock. PS: What about substitute ingredients in the feeds? What about not growing those imported species and instead raising native chickens and pigs? In business, they would call that reducing risk.

(12) Lo poultry manure for composting into organic fertilizer. PS: Do you need composting at all? Why not practice green manuring, that is to say, mix the soil and vegetation on top of the earth so that it makes an on-the-spot organic fertilizer? No additional expenses. For those who have the entrepreneurial spirit, they can market the green-manured soil as a different kind of fertilizer. Or a different kind of soil.

(13) Lo quality of produce. PS: Is the use of science-recommended planting materials the solution? What about postharvest handling? What about looking for a market for low-quality produce – such as transforming it into a consumer product where quality can be added? If you cannot solve a problem, change the problem.

(14) Lo rate of passing. PS: Are the teachers to blame for teaching poorly or the students for learning badly? 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.

(15) Lo germination percentage. PS: Is there an economic advantage where 95 seeds germinate out of 100 and where only 75 germinate? Is the seed the best way to plant the crop at all? This adage is not true: ‘Kung ano ang puno ay siya ang bunga.’ ‘The fruit is what the tree is.’ False. From seeds of sweet mango, you can get sour mango. That’s genetics and it’s not debatable.

(16) Lo high yield. PS: Why is it that plant breeders insist that farmers plant the highest-yielding varieties of all? If with a high yield the farmer becomes rich, why are there so few rich farmers? The problem with economists is that they are always after the maximum and expect that to be sustainable!

(17) Lo communication between science and clientele. PS: Are the communicators talking the language of the farmers and yet are not communicating at all? Do the communicators expect that after one article, one brochure and one visit, the farmer will wholeheartedly embrace the new technology? Communicator, remember that you are not talking to the farmer alone – you are talking to him and his family. Are you listening?

(18) Lo good moral character of farmer creditors. PS: Many farmers have so far refused to repay their loans. Are you sure it’s not the negative attitude toward borrowed money or toward borrowing from the government? If you make borrowing easy, you make paying difficult.

(19) Lo number of Internet searches about farming. PS: What about people’s knowledge of technical terms? What about the store of knowledge being difficult to understand even by other scientists, much less by the farmers themselves? Communication is too serious a matter to be left to scientists alone.

(20) Lo vocabulary. PS: If you want to be a good writer, the popular advice is that you should build a good vocabulary. They say that goes with public speaking, teaching. Not anymore, if you are computer literate, what with the dictionary and the thesaurus available online. Nowadays, I’m never off the desk using my new HP Compaq Presario notebook clicking on the shortcut icon for American Heritage (Microsoft Bookshelf 2000), which is a dictionary, and Encarta 2007 (Microsoft 2007), which has a thesaurus. You use the dictionary to find the meaning of a word; you use the thesaurus to find a synonym of a word; more importantly, to look for a related word in a particular field such as hammer & nail in carpentry and stock & scion in horticulture (see the Roget’s Thesaurus near you). As a writer, your vocabulary is not a problem if already it includes curiosity.

(21) Lo technology. PS: What do you mean by technology anyway? Do you know if the technology currently used has no competitive advantage at all? Do you know where it is different, where it is deficient? What does it mean for the user to shuck the old in favor of the new? What does the technology mean to the village where it is being introduced? Borrowing from Marshall McLuhan, remember that the technology is the message.

(22) Lo reading materials in the village. PS: If some people brought in more, will the villagers read more and the students learn more science? You cannot learn science in a vacuum – if people are not relating to your science, you are not relating to the people.

(23) Lo one-stop reference online. If you cause to be created the My Milky Way website, will farmers flock to the Internet and learn to raise goats for milk to drink or sell? Is My Milky Way using the language of the target villagers or that which technical people use to talk to each other? If the people are not relating to the website, the website is not relating to them.

(24) Lo interest of youth in technical courses. PS: Is the problem that of certain youth or that of the society itself because society looks down on graduates of vocational courses as belonging to a class lower than that of a secretary in an air-conditioned office? We get the youth that we deserve.

(25) Lo computers. PS: It’s lack of access, not lack of PCs. If people in villages lack access to computers, I attribute it to lack of imagination. And why is that? Some people don’t know how to package a proposal so that their village center or school will be computerized in almost no time at all and with very little expense and effort on their part. There are many local and international donors and funding agencies. All you have to do is learn how to ask.

(26) Lo mass media cooperation. PS: Are the media people educated on your art or science? Have they heard from your office or project at all? Have you related your product or service to them? 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.

(27) Lo people power to improve their own lives. PS: 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.

(28) Lo competence in implementing a project. PS: In the first place, what are your criteria for measuring competence? Has the project been initiated by the people or by the experts, then merely handed over to the people, expecting a miracle in management? If the student has not learned, the teacher has not taught.

(29) Lo confidence of villagers in themselves. PS: Lack of confidence comes from either ignorance or bullying. How to fight ignorance? Education. PS: How to fight the bullying, the prejudice? Good question! Remember also: Bullying sometimes come from the experts in an atmosphere called consultancy.

(30) Lo intelligence of readers. PS: That depends on how you look at intelligence – single intelligence (measured as intelligence quotient or IQ, as propounded by Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman), or multiple intelligences (measured as linguistic, spatial, musical, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, naturalist, existential, as propounded by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner). 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.

Grey-To-Green Revolution.

Posted 16/03/2008 by frankahilario
Categories: G2G Revolution, Philippine model, sweet sorghum

2 Launchings, 2 Models, 2 Tactics

cane-tent-city-294.jpg

L-R: Miriam Pascua partly hidden (MMSU President), Mariz Agbon (DA Undersecretary), Belum Reddy (ICRISAT Scientist), Teodoro Solsoloy (BAR Assistant Director), William Medrano (CHEd Executive Director), Joy Eusebio (PCARRD Crops Director), Santiago Obien (BAR consultant). Dark shirt, Pat Faylon (PCARRD Executive Director).

Outside the auditorium, the scenery was drab; inside, the scene was subdued. Nothing unexpected was expected within those old walls. 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, as when you wake up to reality, 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 was 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.

News on the successful Rusni-Team ICRISAT virtual partnership reached the Philippines last year; subsequently, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and even President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had been enthused into advocating sweet sorghum as the source of bioethanol as gasoline substitute for Philippine vehicles to help mitigate global warming. (See also my ‘GMA’s Indian Summer,’ frankahilario.com).

Now then, the G2G Revolution has crossed the seas and landed on our shores. This is the story so far, as I can see it in Numbers:
2 Launchings, 1 Program
2 Models, 1 Resource
2 Tactics, 1 Revolution.

2 Launchings, 1 Program

On March 12, Wednesday, within the PhilRice-NTA complex at the MMSU campus, Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur C Yap officially launched the sweet sorghum bioethanol program of the Philippines through his Undersecretary Mariz Agbon. My photo shows officials witnessing the ritual of crushing sweet sorghum canes using a big crusher run by a big tractor. The crusher used in the MMSU demo is in fact calibrated for sugarcane stalks, which are thicker than sweet sorghum; this inappropriate technology results in a lower extraction efficiency for sweet sorghum – not enough of the juice is pressed out by the rollers because their clearance is designed for thicker canes. Sammy Franco, Team Leader of the MMSU Sweet Sorghum Project, and who happens to be an engineer, now has a design of a new crusher in mind.

On March 13, Thursday, in the village called Bungon just outside the city proper of Batac, the same sweet sorghum bioethanol program of the Philippines was launched through former Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Montemayor, in his capacity as President of the Federation of Free Farmers of the Philippines, as they are interested in the village-level potentials of sweet sorghum. The crusher used in the Bungon demo is a smaller version of the MMSU crusher and also imported. When the delegates arrived at Bungon, the farmers were already cooking the juice from some sweet sorghum stalks they had earlier crushed. I dipped the makeshift bamboo ladle into the vat, waited for the liquid that stuck at the end to solidify and bit the deep brown substance – that was sweet. In fact, it was sweeter than sugar because I happen to believe that sweet sorghum is more fit as a farmer’s crop than sugarcane.

I attended both occasions mentioned above; the details are correct; my story is right: 1 program, 2 launchings. To understand how that could be right, read on.

2 Models, 1 Resource

History was indeed made last week in the unpretentious little City of Batac in northern Philippines with an exotic crop the scientists love to call Sorghum bicolor. The name of the species, bicolor, literally means two colors, referring to the colors of the grains of cultivars that range from pale yellow to dark brown (plantzafrica.com). That history made comprised these launchings:

(1) The sweet sorghum distillery model was launched, a pioneer in the Philippines.
(2) The sweet sorghum village model was launched, also a pioneer in the country.

With those launchings, the whole 3-day conference was intended to launch the sweet sorghum program for the Philippines, and that is exactly what happened.

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.

2 Tactics, 1 Revolution

The owners of the big distillery can take care of themselves, either supplying or accessing capital for the enterprise; but they still have to be convinced that sweet sorghum is worth the financial risk. The village model is designed for small farmers who need to pool their resources so that together they can have access to capital as well as management skills. One tactic they can employ is first to form a cooperative; as a matter of fact, the Bungon farmers have already done that, as the village head told us during the Bungon launching.

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’ (see my ‘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 making history, 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.

The ides of March for sweet sorghum? Close, but not quite. Plainly, communication was a problem during the Batac conference; problems with people, places, procedures and practices were noted and may remain for some time. Nonetheless, I have faith that the G2G Revolution in the Philippines, as initiated by Team ICRISAT led by William Dar in India and MMSU led by Heraldo Layaoen in Ilocos Norte, will succeed. In fact, Team ICRISAT is looking at the Philippine program as the Asian model for fuel – bioethanol for cars and trucks. And I, the eternal optimist, am looking at the Philippine program more than the Asian model for fuel – for the distillery and for the homes; it is The Sweetheart Species, the F5 crop: food, feed, forage, fuel and fertilizer. (To differentiate: Grains as component in the ration make feed; grains given as they come make forage). Thus, I see that sweet sorghum is on top of American corn (also F5 but is quite more expensive, as it has to be imported), and sweet sorghum is above Brazilian sugarcane (only F3 – cannot provide feed, cannot provide forage; even as food it is limited, as it has no grains).

We thank the advocates and the organizers for our participation in a historic event. As Belum Reddy repeatedly said, we thank William Dar above all for his vision, leadership, inspiration, including his instructions. We must remember to thank also the MMSU Nasudi Cultural Troupe for entertaining the delegates during the conference. They provided some refreshing moments and highlighted the talents of the students of MMSU as well as their mentors. I heard that just recently, a Nasudi member placed 1st runner-up in a national TV show open dance contest and I read that MMSU students placed 1st runner-up in the national cheerleading open competition. There is talent in dem dar hills!

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.


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