Sunday, April 24, 2016

Prince, The Jehovah's Witness

   In the 80’s Gloria’s sons were in their early teens.  They were both fans of Michael Jackson.  She heard them putting down Jackson’s rival, named Prince.  They were in the Philippines and got very vague and confusing Hollywood gossips.  At that time Jackson was the guy of good report.  Prince was the guy nobody could figure out.  

   Then in 1984, Purple Rain happened.  From what she’d been hearing, Gloria was intrigued, she went to see it at a local theater, by herself.  Then a few days later, she went to see Purple Rain again.  Then, she got a Betamax copy.  

   Unfounded rumors about Prince’s persona continued, while Jackson was a Jehovah’s Witness, he can’t be bad.  However, in the exact same year, 1984, the Thriller single came out.  Jackson lost his religion.  In 2001, Prince found his, the exact same one Jackson lost.  

   “Prince joined the Jehovah's Witnesses in 2001…Prince said that he did not consider it a conversion, but a "realization"… He attended meetings at a local Kingdom Hall and occasionally knocked on people's doors to discuss his faith.  Prince had needed double hip-replacement surgery since 2005 but would not undergo the operation unless it was a bloodless surgery because Jehovah's Witnesses typically do not accept blood products.  The condition was caused by repeated onstage dancing in high-heeled boots.  Towards the end of his life Prince regularly walked with a cane in public engagements, leading to speculation that this resulted from not having the surgery.”

   “As a Jehovah's Witness, Prince did not speak publicly about his charitable endeavors” 
   In 1996, the love of her life gifted Gloria with 6 CDs of Prince, Graffiti Bridge, Purple Rain, The Gold Experience, Around the World in a Day, The Beautiful Experience, The Black Album.  Below is a cover of an album released after Prince became a Jehovah's Witness.   
   Prince died on April 21, 2016.  Gloria’s friends extended their condolences to her.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The God of the Poor

   So, what’s a former student political activist doing preaching with Bible in hand?  Somewhere along her nationalistic journey, she found preachers who gave her a copy of the Bible and offered her a free Bible study. 

   In the course of her study, which lasted almost three years, she learned that the Heavenly Father she prayed to in Catholic school, actually has a name, Jehovah.  Then she read that Jehovah is pro-poor of all nations, not just the poor of Israel.  Below are some of the Bible text that convinced the activist, who was trained to sell socialism as the only hope for the Filipino poor.

“If you lend money to anyone poor of my people, someone who is dwelling with you, you must not become like a moneylender to him. You must not charge him interest.”

The best way to exploit the cash-strapped poor is to offer a loan then squeeze them for life. 

“You are to sow your land with seed and gather its produce for six years.  But the seventh year you should leave it uncultivated and let it lie fallow, and the poor among your people will eat of it,”

Jehovah set up the rules to allow the landless get to own the landowner’s farm every 7th year.  

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you must not reap the edge of your field completely and you must not pick up the gleaning of your harvest.  Also, you must not gather the leftovers of your vineyard or pick up the scattered grapes of your vineyard. You should leave them for the poor and the foreign resident. I am Jehovah your God.”

Aside from the 7th year provision, every harvest provided for the poor in a process called ‘gleaning’, which means gathering leftover grain or other produce after a harvest.  

“You must not defraud your fellow man, and you must not rob. You should not withhold the wages of a hired worker all night until morning.”

Note that withholding the wage overnight is linked to defrauding the laborer.  In today’s labor system, wages are given out every two weeks or 15 days.  If a company has footprints in several states, employing for example 200 thousand, the wages from day one to fifteen would accumulate a load of money in interest that the companies get to keep when the employee receives his pay without interest.  This money keeping is exploitation on top of exploitation.

“When evening came, the master of the vineyard said to his man in charge, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last and ending with the first.’ When the 11th-hour men came, they each received a de·narʹi·us. So when the first came, they assumed that they would receive more, but they too were paid at the rate of a de·narʹi·us. On receiving it, they began to complain against the master of the house and said, ‘These last men put in one hour’s work; still you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!’ But he said in reply to one of them, ‘Fellow, I do you no wrong. You agreed with me for a de·narʹi·us, did you not?  Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last one the same as to you.  Do I not have the right to do what I want with my own things? Or is your eye envious because I am good?’ In this way, the last ones will be first, and the first ones last”

Some would say that the Exodus and Leviticus are Mosaic Laws that have become obsolete when Jesus amended most of them.  The Matthew 20:8-16 is quoted from Jesus’ teaching and seems to be a further advancement to the above mentioned Mosaic labor laws.  The verses shows that God prefers to give “to each according to his need” and not simply according to the hours worked.  

See also:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Leaving without Moving

   It was said that the best thing one can do for the family is to make the co-parent happy.  That sounds easy, but marriage is difficult even when there is genuine deep love.  Mutual respect, a common religion, intellectual compatibility, financial stability and being blessed with genetically beautiful and intelligent children, having all of those do not guarantee a happy marriage. 

   There is no divorce law in the Philippines.  The premise of the anti-divorce law is to keep the family together.  That argument worked well in the past decades.  However, in this age of information and technology, it’s hard to be ill-informed about the options open to couples in other countries.  The funny thing is that, even if there is a divorce law in the Philippines, the deeply ingrained culture of staying married for the children’s sake would keep it together. 

   The unhappily married man’s recourse would be to cheat and keep another family tucked away somewhere.  His other option is to suffer and make everyone else feel it.

   I know of unhappily married Filipinas who found a way to jump ship without anyone noticing.  They are those who work until late, till they are cross eyed in exhaustion.  Then, they come home to dutifully bury themselves in house chores.  They pretend that working themselves to death is their lot in life.  As a result, their homes are clean and presentable.  Their children are intelligent and disciplined.  Their bedroom is dark and cold. 

   These women take pride in providing for their family, some better than their spouse.  With or without education, they find a way to support the family, thinking that if they earned enough, the spouse might be emboldened to leave.  The opposite usually happens.  He sits back and enjoy the privilege.

   While the rest of the world is turning, the Philippine family life has stood the test of time.  Mothers who wished their daughters would have a different life, decades later, found their daughters in their own shoes.  My mother once advised me “If you’re not happy, leave.”  The pull of culture is stronger far than we.  My mother died seeing me stay unhappily married.  But unlike her, I left without actually moving out.  It's called 'open marriage, Philippine style'.  It's when both husband and wife discretely enjoy 'other partners' while at the same time keeping a happy family facade.  That lasted 25 years before I got the courage to be truthful and actually walk out.  

See also:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Federalism, Explanation of Benefits

   What exactly is the ‘federalism’ that has been proposed by politicians but not clearly explained?  “Leading examples of such a political system, or federation, include Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Switzerland or the United States…it is often perceived as an optimal solution for states comprising different cultural or ethnic communities.”  

   The states of the US already had their own governments when the U.S. civil war ended and the US Constitution was written. The US Constitution "did not need to define or explain federalism.”  The Philippine constitution, however, would have to undergo a “charter change” to effectively transition to a Federal government.  Every time charter change was proposed, it was opposed by politicians and protesters saying that it would be used to perpetuate the current leadership in power.  The opposite is true.  History proves that the leadership has remained in the same families anyway, even without the charter change.  Charter change was the only thing that could effectively pass the anti-dynasty law, which would limit the families of politicians from acquiring government positions.   

   Why is Federalism “an optimal solution” and why does the Philippines qualify?  The Philippines has provinces with extremely diverse religions, cultural or ethnic communities, different languages even, and separated by sea or mountainous terrain making it difficult and expensive for the national government to manage efficiently.  

DSWD on buried rice
   Federalism gives the provincial government the power to solve their own problems using their own tax collection without the absolute control currently exercised by the national government.  The messed up distribution of the food and 500 fishing boats donated to the Yolanda victims would not have happened if the Tacloban local government had the authority to distribute the donations.  Instead, the donations were locked up in warehouses and allowed to rot by DSWD.  "The wooden boats are now stockpiled at the vicinity of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENRO) at the Government Center. In 2014, DMCI turned over the boats to DILG."  It's human nature, politicians can’t be expected to sympathize with calamity victims of another region or province.  Worse, they could use their power to deprive assistance to a region they perceive as political or personal enemy.

   “To try to have a national solution to all problems…you end up with solutions that are more effective in some provinces, and less effective in others.  To allow states to create solutions to their own problems, using policies and laws that work best in their province, means that each province can come up with its own solution, making government more efficient.”  Fishing regions don’t share the problems experienced by mountain dwellers.  Metro Manila provides better education than remote provinces because the Department of Education can’t oversee the needs of the entire archipelago so that the children in remote provinces have school rooms in dire disrepair or no school at all.  The current system leaves all the money in the hands of the central government awaiting any genius who can come up with a 'pork barrel graft', or wasteful spending of budget like the uninhabited rows and rows or condominium buildings along the coastal road initially called Pabahay ni Cory in the 80's, the AFP/PNP housing project, or the mismanaged unwanted housing like the 'Bayan ni Juan' relocation project.   

   “One of the first proponents of federalism in the Philippines is University of the Philippines professor Jose Abueva who argued that a federal form of government is necessary to more efficiently cater to the needs of the country despite its diversity... Aside from Abueva, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. is a prominent supporter of federalism who, since 2001, has advocated for federalism…Federalism will also hasten economic development since resource and financial mobilization is upon each states' or provinces' discretion without significant constraint from the central government.”

   Who oppose Federalism and why?  Politicians from the central government use national laws to exploit the natural resources and mines of provinces. 

   The people of the Cordillera region have not benefited from the mines in their mountains.  “On March 3, 1995, Republic Act 7492 otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act was passed into law. As a law liberalizing the mining industry… At present and due to the liberalization of the mining industry in the country, mining companies continue to target the Cordillera region for the extraction of gold, copper, silver and other minerals…”  The president of the Philippines in 1995 was Fidel Ramos.  

   On July 6, 2012, to preserve the existing mining monopoly, President Benigno Aquino III superseded Republic Act 7492 with Executive Order No.79 which says "No new mineral agreements shall be entered into until a legislation ... shall have taken effect."
   The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), a partnership and free trade agreement between Japan and the Philippines was signed in on September 9, 2006 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  In effect, JPEPA gave Japan the right to fish in our seas, while our small boat fishermen do not have the capacity to fish in Sea of Japan.

See also:
The Iron Lady   
Reshaping the Philippines  
The Ladies of the Palace