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


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! 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, 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!


AJ & The Rina Look



AJ & The Rina Look

First, a little history, mine.

We go back some 40 years. Sometime in 1965, I was in college, and I visited Manny Alkuino in his room which was across mine at the Velasco’s Dorm in Los Baños, Laguna, the Philippines, and I saw a copy of Rudolf Flesch’s book How To Write, Speak & Think More Effectively. At that time I was already a voracious reader and I already was cultivating on my own my talent for writing. I borrowed the book and read it and Manny saw that I liked it so much that he said, in so many words, ‘If you like it so much, it’s yours.’ It was mine from the first time I held that book in my hands. (Thanks, Manny.)

If you didn’t know, Flesch’s book is for creative writing, creative thinking and speaking. What’s speaking doing with creative writing and creative thinking? Think of creative speaking. Flesch says you should write as you speak.

Flesch taught me how to think of more things to say when I’m stomped – Writer’s Block. To prevent writer’s block, whatever you have, or are thinking, don’t do the usual: If you’re not inspired, don’t despair because, you may not know it, but you also have The King MiDAS Touch! that you need for creatively working with any idea, concept, topic, subject, item, assignment, campaign, artwork whatever. Arithmetic is My Dear Aunt Sally, right? Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract. MDAS. Add the i (you), and you have King MiDAS; I add the word King so it’s easier to remember. (While the idea of adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying in creative writing comes from Flesch, the name ‘King MiDAS’ for the concept comes from me – I just invented it a few minutes ago as I was writing this part of this post; I wasn’t even thinking of inventing anything. That is to say, the invention of ‘King MiDAS’ is itself the proof that it works.)

So you have a topic, or an idea of a topic. You are your own king, so MiDAS it. Multiply it. Or Divide it. Or Add to it. Or Subtract from it. Inject the i there, the you. Try it – it works! For instance, you are thinking of writing about cell phones. Don’t talk about cell phones. Subtract from the cell phones – talk about a brand; subtract from the brand – talk about Siemens; subtract from Siemens – talk about Siemens A65; subtract from Siemens A65 owned by neighbors or friends – talk about your own Siemens A65. To be interesting, always talk about your own experience, the i in MiDAS.

While I just invented the idea King MiDAS today, I have actually been using it since I met Rudolf Flesch 40 years ago. So, with the royal loyal company of King MiDAS, I have never had any writer’s block for 4 decades of writing. (Of course you need practice. The only way to learn is to do. That’s from a teacher – me. I have credentials – I passed the Teacher’s Exam and taught high school and college.)

Aside from the idea I call King MiDAS, Flesch also taught me to change perspective, and to doubt statistics as a science (it’s all logic and, you know, figures don’t lie but liars will figure). He taught me readability – the bad use of long words, except when you want to impress, or except if you have mastered the language and your subject matter and you can be long-winded and yet interesting.

Flesch also taught me one practical advice to avoid writer’s block: Begin anywhere but begin! And continue until you run out of space, time, ink or ideas. Then leave that draft alone, no matter how bad it looks (it looks very bad of course). Don’t forget to do background research. Research means trying out the idea itself if it is a process or technology, at the same time reading, asking people, observing, surfing the Internet, taking down notes. Later during the day, or the next day, go back to it and MiDAS it all over again. I’m sure you’ll find gold at the end of the rainbow. This website alone is proof of that.

About this website, AJ & The Rina Look

On 17 October 2006, I created The World According To Worp, having been inspired by Erin MJ’s own website, which she calls, in WordPress of course, I having been led there by a photo note in Erin’s Flickr account. On my 7th post, I searched in Flickr for a ‘ridiculous’ photo and found and liked Une Chanson Enivrante’s shot which she titled ‘Ridiculously and irrationally naïve.’ Another of her image is also illustrative (above); she titles it ‘Save the horse?’ UCE is actually AJ, Alaina Jacobsen from Winnipeg, Canada. If you read again ‘Ridiculously and irrationally naïve,’ a good acronym for it is Rina, right? The Rina Look is what you see as the very logo of this website, which is AJ with her ridiculous and irrationally naïve look.

The Rina Look will help you be creative as it does me.

If you’re interested in learning more about creativity, how do you acquire The Rina Look so that you can be more creative than you already are? Why, learn from Rudolf Flesch, of course. Not only having your own King MiDAS.

If you need more proof of my having learned from Rudolf Flesch, I invite you to visit the American Chronicle and browse all my 15 articles published there so far. Click this:

or simply click the first link, American Chronicle, that you see on top of this website, to your right. Or click on all those links – except WordPress, they’re all me. Don’t forget I’m 66 and self-taught in writing and editing and blogging and a novice in HTML.

So, how do I do it? Example: I think of a topic, any topic that I pluck from thin air, no holds barred, and just that one, that of which I already have something to say, or something I believe in, or something I am interested in in the first place. It has to be personal. I’m doing it right now, as I write this, and I suddenly think corn meal (I don’t eat it – it’s for poultry & livestock.). Shall I write about how to grow corn or how to cook a meal using corn, or shall I think (write) of corny jokes? I decide on popcorn. And that leads me to think of movies. And that leads me to think of Filipino movies, a dying industry if not already dead. And that leads me to think of local telenovelas, daytime and nighttime soap operas and fantasy series, an industry that is enjoying a rebirth, a Renaissance. And that leads me to think of Captain Barbell, the local counterpart of the American Captain Marvel of Marvel Comics of long ago and far away. That leads me to think of how Captain Barbell’s plot is weak, with not enough characterization and with poor transitions or changing scenes from one chapter to another, or episoding; and that leads me to think of writing about quality, say about how the Filipino computer programmers have learned how to do computer animation that startles the uninitiated, of whom there are millions. And that’s as good as written. All I have to do is fill in the gaps, the missing details. I do that all the time. I did it with this post. That’s how I write.

When I’m reading – and I read a lot, and I read everything – I read with an open mind but with it closed to the pornographic and the dirty minds, dirty mouths and dirty pens – and invite my subconscious to pick up something, anything, and pretty soon something comes up, something to write about. It’s a habit now. What about you? You can’t cultivate a habit unless you start with it, and nurture it. Begin anywhere but begin!

I have been doing this for the last 31 years since my good friend Orli Ochosa gifted me with his copy of Edward De Bono’s book Mechanism Of Mind sometime in 1975. In that book, published in 1968, De Bono explains his discovery of a mental process we are all capable of, which he calls lateral thinking, which is essentially exploring the horizon of possibilities East, West, North, South of the Border, the border being your topic. He tells you to open your mind; you don’t say No even to a No statement; you say Yes even to an impossibility, impracticality, absurdity, insanity, irrelevance, incongruity, inconsistency, even to the contrary notion. If you can accept that, you can be creative at will, not only accidentally or once in a blue moon.

When you’re brainstorming, whether alone or in a group, listen to every word and shut your mouth! Just say ‘Po’ to each idea, says De Bono, emphasis on the possibilities, potentials of an undiscovered gem in an ore, a silver lining in a cloud, a solution to a Gordian Knot. Alexander the Great’s solution was a master stroke, if you will pardon the expression: He cut it with his sword. That was after he failed to untie the Gordian Knot the first time. Did you realize that what Alexander did was make a paradigm shift? He didn’t say there was no solution to it, that it was difficult to solve if not impossible. According to Wikipedia, when first he tried, he failed. As I see it, Alexander was a genius; so, since he couldn’t solve the problem, he changed the problem! The new problem? How to set free the oxcart from the knot, not untie the knot. Again, according to Wikipedia, there is one other legend of how Alexander set the oxcart free from the Gordian Knot – he pulled the knot out of its pole pin. Either way, I say, Alexander was being creative, having an open mind. If he closed his mind to the compelling logic of the requirement to untie the Gordian Knot, we wouldn’t have a wonderful legend or myth like that.

The lessons with De Bono and Alexander the Great are exactly the same: Switch off your logical mind – stop thinking critically – and switch on your illogical mind – start thinking creatively.

Help yourself with an old, color magazine.

Creative thinking can be simply triggered.

When Orli and I were copywriters of Pacifica Publicity Bureau in Makati in 1975 with Nonoy Gallardo as our Creative Director, Nonoy took us copywriters and artists out of the office into secondhand bookstores or corners where we bought years-old issues of color magazines. Why? Because we wanted to read. Because they were cheaper. Actually, what we did was browse or scan the pages and ogled at the pretty faces and figures in those photographs and admired the brilliant copy (headline, teaser, text, and tagline), and envied the expressive designs and layouts, In other words, we were picking up new ideas from those old magazines while we were relaxing. Relaxing is the thing. Browsing is relaxing even if you have a purpose other than merely browsing.

I advise you to read and read books. When you read a book, look for something to appreciate, something you like, even if it’s difficult to do so, and then you’ll find your reading becomes pleasurable. Me, I always think that whatever I read I can pick up something ‘good’ or ‘bad’ from there to write about, to open my mind to any new thought or good feeling.

And yes, I avoid like the plague reading all those major Manila newspapers – except Philippine Star – they are all so negative, so critical you’ll never be creative if you continue to read any of them. And much of their English is dull, if not mediocre. If you want to read news and views written brilliantly, read the New York Times; if you want to read a magazine that will help you write much better, read the Reader’s Digest. Also, I avoid TV newscasts and talk shows here as well as in the United States for the same reason – they love gossips, crimes, innuendos, prejudices, voyeurism, divorces, family quarrels over wealth, executives stealing from their own companies, reality shows, amazing videos (where people die horribly), and life of the rich and infamous.

I read about (and watch) the trials and triumphs of Tiger Woods and Maria Sharapova, knowing that I learn from them more than just winning and losing in golf and tennis games.

When I was very active in the Catholic charismatic movement, I used to read all the Bible versions I could lay my hands on and compare translation to translation. It widened my perspective of biblical teaching, not necessarily that I grasped their messages but enough to appreciate them more.

If reading or browsing doesn’t work for you, take a walk. Talk to someone, anyone. Remember: You have to distract yourself. When you’re distracted, that’s the most creative time for you!

I watch the CSI shows on TV, all 3 of them: CSI Miami, CSI New York and CSI Las Vegas. I like CSI Miami most of all – I can identify with the persona of the lead character, Lt Horatio Caine (as portrayed by David Caruso), as his grappling with the physical and mental challenges of crime scene investigation is something I love. Horatio Caine gets me. But don’t get me wrong. The very act of crime investigation is all logical, isn’t it? It’s all critical thinking. Right. But don’t you realize that in CSI the critical thinking (investigative) takes an inspired leap (creative thinking) once in a while, and that mental leap – in fact, 2 leaps in 1 show, as there are always at least 2 dead bodies in 2 different crime scenes – is what makes it all worth watching? And what’s the proof that it’s creative, or productive thinking? The critical thinking that follows proves it, when it is seen in CSI that everything fits.

In an older universe, in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly thinking alone, Erle Stanley Gardner’s lawyer Perry Mason was brilliant because he could make a creative leap every now and then in each case he solved. The same was true in an even older world, in the late 1880s, of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes: The creative leap comes, and when critical thinking is laid to bear on it, crime solved. You want to solve a crime nobody has been able to solve? Take a creative leap. Don’t think logically – think differently. Think out of the box of critical thinking, out of the box of logic, out of the box of reason.

Faith is a creative leap. I believe what helps me be creative all the time, more creative in fact at 66 than at 55 than at 44 than at 33, is that I have learned to let go and let God. I don’t worry myself to death about problems anymore; I let my problems worry about me. So my mind is figuratively a tabula rasa (tabula, tablet, rasa, erased), a blanked mind. When I switch on to my tabula rasa mode of mind, it becomes ready to accept a creative act. That’s when I take a leap of faith.

Filipinos, Barbarians, Pirates


February 16, 2006

Filipinos: Barbarians, pirates, incapable of civilization!1902. Stalemate at the US Congress. Then a learned gentleman, a Congressman from Wisconsin, Henry Cooper, thunders his appeal for reason and faith, reason from American laws and tradition, and faith in the barbarians, pirates and savages who have given the world its first genius of a peacemaker by the name of Jose Rizal: he had died gladly and willingly for his country. Cooper tells his fellow lawmakers:

On the night before his death, he wrote a poem. I will read it, that the House may know what were the last thoughts of this ‘pirate,’ this ‘barbarian,’ this ‘savage,’ of a race ‘incapable of civilization!’

Another excerpt from my book indios bravos!


The challenge to freedom. I say there are three freedoms: of the body, of the mind, and of the spirit. Gandhi’s challenge to the British rulers was for bodily freedom (political and economic independence); Rizal’s challenge to the Spanish conquistadors was for all three (political, intellectual, and spiritual independence).

Another excerpt from indios bravos! Jose Rizal as Messiah of the Redemption

The intellectual mess we are in


January 27, 2006

The intellectual mess we are in. Nicky, Right now, 1337 hours 26 January, my wife and I are watching Straight Talk Cito Beltran interviewing Panjie Lopez and Susan Calalay at ANC. And right now I’m reading your editorial ‘Have we betrayed Rizal?’ I’m happy with them, I’m unhappy with you.

Yes, as Susan says, ‘Change must come from within.’ Yes, as Panjie says, ‘We want to show the other side, the positive side. We want to shift focus, we are creating a whole new world for our children.’

Sorry, but I find I must disagree with you. No, we have not betrayed Rizal. What we have done is betray ourselves. When we denounce the government, we are denouncing ourselves – we are the government.

Apathy is something we learned from (a defense mechanism against the abuses of) the Spaniards (read again his ‘Indolence of the Filipinos’), and even Jose Rizal failed to awaken us from our ‘profound lethargy’ (his exact words). The Filipinos awakened long enough to drive the Spaniards out, but not long enough to drive the Americans out. Our apathy is historical, ancient. And no, we did not do anything about the corruption in government except to intensify it from the first Republic to this one. Who was it who said, ‘I prefer a government run by hell by Filipinos then run by heaven by Americans!’ That’s what we got – be careful what you wish for, you might just get it. And no, corruption is not to be blamed on the corrupt – it must be blamed on the corruptor, who is us.

About the current political mess we are in, we brought it to ourselves and nobody else. Why, don’t we know how to get out of it? We do, but the noisy among us who can catch the attention of the media do nothing except complain. We are willing tools of those who are out who want in.

About the translation of Rizal’s valedictory poem, I have just published a book based on my own English translation; I titled my translation ‘Adios, Beloved Patria’ – if you’re interested, you can go to The one you are quoting from is that of Alzona and Abeto (1961) – in my blogsite, you can see if it belongs to my Top 10 English translations or not. In my book, Rizal’s ultimate poem has a surprising one-word message: Love. Love your friends. Love your enemies! What greater love has a man than to die for his friends – and enemies? And I like that commandment because it’s impossible to love your enemies. God must be a sadist. That is, if in the first place you think it’s impossible. That is, if all you do is hate your enemies because it’s easier – no sweat.

No, Nicky, Rizal did not die to liberate his country from Spanish colonization. He was not after independence, or political liberation. Rather, he was after spiritual liberation. He died hoping to set his countrymen free from the tyranny of the friars as masters as well as set the Filipinos free from their own tyranny, the tyranny of their own inferiority complex which they acquired from and was nurtured by the Spaniards themselves for so many centuries. His fight can be summarized in three words, and these are his own words: Education, education, education.

You can call it imperialism, but globalization is here, and it is an irresistible force and we are not an immovable object. So, what do we do? We compete. We compete with our best. We rise to the occasion. You can derail the meeting of the WTO, but that is all we do. And not again. Nothing positive.

Bad Philippine politics is not practiced by the politicians – it is practiced by the small men, the men in the street, and the men with money. The ones who cater for special favors, the ones who beg for jobs, the ones who buy public works contracts, the ones who will pay anything so that they can get what they want. These are the real politicians, the real corruptors. We have seen the enemy, and it is us.

It is time to stop complaining about corruption, about the Philippines being #2 among the corrupt countries in the world – why, the amount stolen by our politicians is nothing compared to the amount stolen by only one head honcho in the United States! And yet you don’t call the United States #1 in corruption. What about corrupt morals? The United States exports war – war can never be justified. Abortion too.

I no longer look at the Noli as if it were the best novel any Filipino in any language can write. It is not. It is very funny, yes; it is excellent satire, yes. In that sense, it is probably the best novel the Filipino has ever written. But it is also history, as Rizal said it is, but it is bad history like his annotation of Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Pilipinas is good history. I don’t know about you, but I am a Roman Catholic (again), and I am sorry to tell you that the Noli is not a fair presentation of things Catholic. Rizal mistakes the practices of the Catholics with Catholicism. The excesses of the friars (and their flocks) are not the excesses of Catholicism; they are wrong practices arising from correct theory (dogma). Yes, there were Popes who were dupes, as someone said, but they were following their own dictates, not the dictates of Catholicism. If you blame Catholicism for the bad practices of Catholics, then you must blame government (policies) for the corrupt practices of government (persons).

You are wrong when you say that what we have today is ‘a government that is totally rejected by most Filipinos.’ In fact, most Filipinos don’t care! (I care – I’m pro-GMA, no matter what: ‘He who has no sin, let him cast the first stone!’) That’s precisely why we need such movements as your Karangalan. That’s precisely what Rizal was complaining and did something about – he wrote the Noli. On my part, I have written a book invoking the spirit of Rizal: indios bravos! Jose Rizal as Messiah of the Redemption. If you didn’t realize it, Karangalan is part of the continuing Rizal revolution. My book says I am an active part of that revolution. What Rizal wanted to do was redeem the Filipinos from the sins of the Spaniards and from the sins unto themselves. And I have only one message in my book: Redemption is a do-it-yourself thing. You cannot shout at a corrupt government to redeem you, not even a good government. If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. In that sense, I agree with the raison d’etre for Karangalan.

Why are not the youth coming forth to prove Rizal right in saying they are the hope of the fatherland? Because we adults have not shown them good examples except to march in the streets and carry placards and denounce people. That is not positive. The youth are discouraged by their elders saying one thing and doing the opposite. Who wants to listen to denunciations everyday? We have not given our youth the alternative of thinking better than we do. Our schools do not teach them creative thinking, only critical thinking. So I’m not surprised that after they criticize, they go their way and you will find them in Internet cafes playing games. (By the way, better than doing drugs!)

We do not have to die like Rizal to sacrifice for our country. It is enough that we do the best we can whatever we are supposed to be doing. That is heroism enough. But we are not teaching this to our children, to the youth. We are not teaching this to our teachers. Our teachers don’t have time to learn to think creatively because they are out in the streets demonstrating. We have to will ourselves to do something positive.

We have betrayed ourselves. And only we can right the wrong we have done. If only we will. Panjie is right; she is doing what she can, like buying organic. Like not lying. And Susan is right: she is doing what she can, like not cheating in business. All we have to do is do things right, whatever we are doing, and we will be all right. Social transformation cannot happen overnight. Even the greatest teacher in the world couldn’t do it. Otherwise, it’s ningas cogon, a fast burn. That’s why I too believe in what Karangalan is doing: a slow burn.

Frank A Hilario