Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Preacher’s Business

   Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for bringing Bible lessons door to door.  We call it ‘Field Service’.  I enjoyed field service which included conducting Bible study, door to door magazine distribution and street witnessing which means handing out Bible tracts in busy streets, while riding in jeepneys and busses, when busses didn't have television and passengers had time to read.  

   In 1994 when my daughter was in high school I bought a pre-owned 1990 Nissan Sentra and put a taxi franchise on it.  After a year of operation, car dealers offered bargain prices because the shapes of the cars were changing into 1996 models.  I sold the Nissan Sentra.  I used the sale money to put a down on three cars.  The daily income of each car paid the car loans and left a lot for my personal expenses.

   The taxis left the garage at 5:30 am every morning.  After they have all gone, I can go to my field service.  I was thankful for the business that allowed me to have all the time for preaching and still be able to support my daughter.  As it says in 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him that no matter what we ask according to his will, he hears us.”

   I knew it was God’s will to have the good news preached.  It says in Romans 10:14, “However, how will they call on him if they have not put faith in him? How, in turn, will they put faith in him about whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?”

   Some years flew by and my business was closing.  The taxis have started to need more maintenance and repair.  It broke my heart to sell the taxi units.  I not only lost my business, I needed to work a full time job which means I lost time for field service.  I wondered why God allowed my business to close when it was helping me do his will.

   I was hired as Administrative Assistant in Ayala Avenue, Makati City, an 8-5, Monday to Friday job.  I did my preaching on weekends instead.  After two years in my new job I was promoted to Administrative Manager.  I earned as much as I did with the taxi business minus the struggle within the oppressive Philippine transport system which got me fighting corrupt police and dishonest drivers.

   I loved that new job.  I came to work in a suit.  Working for the Manila branch of an international interior design firm allowed me to be creative.  I made good friends in the company.  For the first time in years I was happy.  I realized that God wanted me to preach but not at the expense of my own happiness.  What a loving God indeed!  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Widow of the Living

   “Every nation in the world has a divorce law, except the Philippines and the Vatican City, which has no procedure for divorce.  In these two countries, laws only allow annulment of marriages.” – Wikipedia 

   Annulment in the Philippines cost an arm and a leg.  Only the rich, celebrities and those remarrying to foreigners can afford to annul a previous marriage.  The rest, the Filipinas who have been abandoned by their husbands, are simply calledmga viuda sa buhayor ‘widows of the living’.  They are single mothers who in legal documents are listed as married.  If they should, by sheer hard work, build a house or any asset for that matter, the missing-in-action husband can pop up and claim part ownership.  Unfair! But then it had been said “All is fair in love and war.”

   Celia was good looking, smart, confident and hard working.  She was a widow of the living.  She raised her children by herself.  The children’s father came in and out her door like a vacationing tourist.  Each arrival brought excitement and hope.  Each departure left disappointment and a broken heart, mostly hers.  

   The widow of the dead gets sympathy.  The widow of the living gets blame.  Her parents blame her for marrying a loser.  Her children blame her for not holding on to their father.  Society blames her for not finding someone better.  She blames herself for all of the above.

   As such, a widow either of the living or dead has only one to turn to - “A father of the fatherless and a protector of widows is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalms 68:5) That same God gave the first wife to the world’s first husband, saying “That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)  Adam and Eve had no father and mother but they were so advised to emphasize the importance of the marriage vow. 

   Job lost his health, his wealth and all his children but not his wife.  Everything he lost were returned to him but God did not allow Job to lose his wife who could, just as well, have been replaced. (Book of Job)

   The story of Adam and Job shows how much God values the wife.  The next time you see a husband who has abandoned a wife look very close and you will catch a vacuum in there no one can fill. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cat Stevens' Legacy

Cat Stevens
   Cat Stevens was recently inducted in the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  He wrote songs that characterized the 60’s, an era when the teens awakened to the social issues and took to the streets to change the system.  That was when the Filipino college teens fought side by side with Berkeley students and other nations in the six o’clock news, singing the same songs, chanting the same slogans in different languages.  The protests were national but the issues were global, anti-war, freedom of speech, anti-corruption and pro-poor concerns.  

   Cat Stevens’ popular song Father and Son romanticized the struggle 

“All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside…
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it. 
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them you know not me.”  

and leaving home

“Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away”.  

   Thousands of Filipino college students of that era dropped out of school and left comfortable homes and caring families to donate their life and future to the struggle for National Democracy, as it was called at that time.  A lot of them died fighting for the change they wanted for the Filipino poor.  Most survived but did not manage to finish their college education, that ship has sailed.  

   The change did happen but was not accomplished solely by protesting.  The Vietnam War ended by some stroke of political fate.  The US Bases were removed from Philippine land by the Pinatubo Volcano eruption, something that probably took a hundred years to build up to.  The corruption in higher places was dealt with by Martial Law and the local police corruption was reduced by vigilantism called 'Sparrows'.  However the poor remained poor and the rich took their hidden wealth abroad.

   Cat Stevens probably had not planned on his song altering the lives of teens worldwide.  He sang it at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction with the same moving rendition that moved a generation some forty years prior.  The survivors of that generation now senior citizens listened and looked back for a few minutes on the glory of the 60’s when teens did not aspire to be drug dealers but dreamed of a heroes burial in people’s war fashion with the coffin draped in red flag and the funeral march attended by the masses they were fighting for.  

See also the following articles:

   Leadership, dated March 2013
   The Chicken, dated March 2013
   Jocar - In Memoriam, dated June 2013 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Eat Bulaga Scholarship

   Another episode of Eat Bulaga brought Cherie to tears.  It was the episode where they announced the 30 EBest scholars for 2014.  The winners came from all over the country, from the remote provinces to the shanties of Metro Manila.  

   Cherie was touched by the students' strength of character.  One worked in building construction so he can finish high school.  It is not legal to hire child labor, in construction worst of all.  But if it would keep the boy in school then it is actually doing the boy a favor.  That boy graduated with honors and moves forward to a college education courtesy of Eat Bulaga.

   Another student walked kilometers to get to school each day.  Another one did home work by candlelight.  At least one worked as a housemaid to finance her high school education.  These are students who accumulated medals and awards for academic excellence despite the poor living condition and no clear hope of getting to college while children of other nations are paid to stay in school as the following news article says.

By Katie Ash on October 20, 2008 12:18 PM

   "Students in cash-incentive programs in both Washington and Chicago got paid last week, according to an AP article. It'll be awhile until we know whether or not these plans are actually working, although teachers in Washington say that they've seen less tardiness since the program has been in place." 

Another article says:

    “The Merit Award Bursary Program was started in 1996 by a group of Toronto residents. They felt it was important to support and encourage high school students to stay in school.  The Merit Award Bursary Program provides bursaries to senior high school students as an incentive to stay in school, recognizing those who demonstrate a commitment to their school work, extra-curricular activities and communities.” 

   The 30 scholars of Eat Bulaga, most of whom are Valedictorians, half of whom are girls would rather starve than quit school.  They earned their top grades without the best of school supplies, without owning a computer and not enough books but they make do by maybe using the public library, borrowing books from better situated classmates, managing their time between house chores, earning a living and school work.  Cherie who never had to do without can’t imagine how these children can be so strong, so mature, resourceful and responsible.  

   These are the Filipinos of the future, the pride of their parents and someday the pride of the nation.  Eat Bulaga can’t carry millions on its shoulders but right now 30 is greatly appreciated.