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Monthly Archives: October 2010

The country’s “Science and Nature City”: a mixture of nature, faith, and history (Los Baños, La Laguna)

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If the beaches of Puerto Galera and Boracay are popular names during the scorching days of summer, Los Baños is king during the rainy days due to its soothing hot baths.

Thus the town’s name in Spanish; it is literally translated as “The Baths” in English.

The numerous hot springs located at the foot of Mount Maquiling usually comes to mind when the name Los Baños, a first-class urban municipality in Laguna southwest of Calambâ (or 63 kilometers southeast of Manila), pops up in conversations. Geothermally heated groundwater deep from the Earth’s crust produces these hot springs’s. It is said that Monte de Maquiling, which is actually a dormant volcano, will not explode anymore because the heat which is supposed to fuel its explosiveness is channeled through these hot springs that are now converted into popular resorts for short-time vacationers. Also, the sulfuric content of the waters are said to have healing properties for various ailments such as arthritis. And this was discovered by a friar.

Before the coming of the Spaniards, what is now known as Los Baños used to be known as Maynit, the Tagalog word for hot (that term is now spelled as maínit). Maynit was then a part of the ancient lakeside kingdom of Bay until 1589 when a Franciscan, Fray Pedro Bautista, discovered the place. Upon the discovery of the Maynit’s hot springs, he had them examined by fellow Franciscan, Fray Francisco de Gata, who was an expert in medicine. That is how they discovered the hot springs’ medicinal properties whereupon they established a hospital there for the natives (that hospital serviced the sick up to the last century).

Years later, San Pedro Bautista was martyred together with twenty-five other Christians in Japan. He was later declared as a saint. The people of Los Baños should take pride that it was founded by a saint.

Monte de Maquiling (Los Baños side).

Strangely, while the natural waters of Los Baños are hot —enough to boil an egg for about half an hour—, the five streams coursing through it (Dampalít, Saran, Pilì, Mulauin, and Maitím) are not.

Below are more photos of my visit to Los Baños’ town proper (población) two months ago (8/10/2010).

One can enter the town proper here...

...or here.

Railroad to Manila.

Bahay na bató.

Gallo lagunense.

Town plaza. At the right is the municipal hall.

Municipio.

All the names of Los Baños' barrios/barangáys are inscribed on this rock situated on the town plaza.

A colorful entrance to the Kainan sa Dalampasigan, a restaurant on top of the waters of Laguna de Bay. It is right behind the municipio.

Kainan Sa Dalampasigan (Dine by the lakeshore).

The ancient lake: Laguna de Bay.

A view of neighboring Calambâ, beyond those hills.

To the right is a part of Los Baños. Beyond is the town of Bay from where the name Laguna de Bay comes from.

Fronting the lake is a park and recreation area.

Morning exercise for the local police right beside the lake.

This park was named after the National Hero's big brother.

The municipal hall. The current town mayor is Anthony Genuino of the political group Bigkis Pinoy.

Railway going to Manila.

Los Baños Central School (elementary campus).

Los Baños Central School (high school campus).

Magtaním ay di birò, maghapóng nacáyucô...

The national road, southbound towards the rest of La Laguna's more rustic towns.

Aside from the town’s many hot springs resort, not to mention Mt. Maquiling, Los Baños was also known as the site of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, commonly known by its initials UPLB. The school is one of the University of the Philippines System’s six constituent universities. First known as the College of Agriculture in 1909, UPLB became a full-fledged university in 1972. It’s location is strategic and so conducive to learning: nestled at the very foot of Mt. Maquiling.

University of the Philippines Los Baños (entrance).

Speaking of Mt. Maquiling, tucked somewhere in the forests of the mountain is the The National Arts Center of the Philippines (NACP), a haven for young and aspiring artists. Indeed, the mythical splendor of Mt. Maquiling’s forests is also conducive to the spirit of learning and inspiration for these young artists. The NACP also houses the Philippine High School for for the Arts. The school provides scholarship for young gifted Filipinos whom it wishes to mould into great artists someday.

The National Arts Center of the Philippines.

Aside from the UPLB and the NACP, the picturesque town of Los Baños is also the site of the famed International Rice Research Institute, the Philippine Council For Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development, the eco-tourism site Pook ni María Makiling, the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, and various other institutions dedicated to nature, eco-tourism, and the environment. As such, this historic town was declared as the Philippines’ Science and Nature City under former President Joseph Estrada’s Proclamation No. 349 on 17 September 2000.

Paciano Rizal Shrine

“Él es mucho más fino y serio que yo; es más grande y más delgado, no es tan moreno, con una nariz fina, bella y aguda, pero tiene piernas curvadas.” —José Rizal’s description of his brother in a letter to Ferdinand Blumentritt—

Indeed, this town is even made more historic because this is where José Rizal’s brother Paciano breathed his last.

The mysterious Paciano Rizal (1851-1930) was the second of eleven in the Rizal/Mercado brood. He was a disciple of the controversial and martyred priest, Fr. José Burgos. It was from Paciano who Rizal imbibed much of the martyred priest’s nationalist/secularist ideals.

It was Paciano who, in a way, “recruited” his younger brother into joining Masonry by secretly sending the latter to Europe (without their parents’ knowledge!). Although not much has been written about Paciano’s association with The Craft, it should be carefully noted that Paciano worked with Fr. Burgos in the Comité de Reformadores, an organization which had many Masons in its roster (it should come as a surprise as to why Fr. Burgos, a Catholic priest, worked with such a committee at all). The said organization was also backed up by the liberal Governor-General Carlos María dela Torre, himself a high-ranking Mason.

It is therefore safe to conclude (as concluded by many other scholars) that Rizal’s early notions of liberal-mindedness was from his Cuya Paciano. Paciano was Rizal’s first “bridge” to the liberal tumult of 1872.

After Rizal’s execution, it was written that Paciano escaped to Cavite to join the rebellion against Spain. Many historians even wrote that he reached the rank of a general and saw action in Santa Cruz, La Laguna. Later, during the American invasion, he was captured somewhere in the province. Subsequently, after American subjugation, he lived a life of peace in his modest Los Baños enclave.

Paciano Rizal Shrine. This is where Paciano lived his last years. The house was designed by renowned architect Andrés de Luna, the son of painter Juan Luna.

This is where Paciano is buried. The remains of his sisters Trinidad and Josefa were also transferred here a few decades ago.

Descendants of Paciano Rizal.

Paciano's bedroom.

The Rizal family tree.

The house/shrine's floor plan. This house used to be a nipa hut.

A bust of Paciano.

Iglesia de Inmaculada Concepción

It is sad that this centuries-old church no longer bear its original features because it was bombed beyond recognition by the Americans’ careless and almost useless carpet bombing in the area during World War II. Although there were indeed Japanese soldiers that had to be annihilated, it was not really necessary to bomb churches. Such frenzy in bombing various churches in the country —from Intramuros to Antipolo to Los Baños— leads a critically thinking mind to suspect that there could have been (and must have been) a hidden agenda, and that the so-called “liberation” of the Philippines from the Japanese Imperial Army is only part of a veiled attempt (and a good excuse) to destroy the Filipino identity. Collateral damage, so to speak. But that’s for another blogpost.

The previous war also explains why only a few Filipino houses (bahay na bató) are left in Los Baños.

The church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception no longer carries the sterling qualities and architecture that is known of Filipino churches during the Spanish period. However, despite its small size and the apparent lack of expected Filipino architectural aesthetics, its modernity —most especially its interiors— still hold a distinctive flavor which could not be compared to churches found in other countries. It still is Filipino. Also, it has a “mini cupola” situated right above the retablo, something rarely seen in both old and modern churches.

Iglesia de Inmaculada Concepción.

Liceo de Los Baños stands right in front of the church and is actually within church vicinity.

Come, let us adore Him!

View of Laguna de Bay from up the church tower.

The steel steps towards the bell tower are so wide apart from each other. And it's a dizzying sight looking down. Good thing I didn't tag my daughter along.

A view of the town and Monte de Maquiling from the church tower.

Liceo de Los Baños and Laguna de Bay from up above the church tower.

Nope, these two bells aren't from the Spanish times.

Upon descending the church tower, I was able to see the old Spanish-era bells; they were right below the steel stairway, cobwebbed and all.

The words Nuestra Señora de Aguas Santa de Maynit are inscribed onto one of the bells. It refers to the Virgin who is the patroness of this town. Maynit was the old name of Los Baños. Maynit means hot, pertaining to the town's numerous hot springs. I could not make anything out of the year due to heavy rust.

The bells beneath the steel steps.

A list of the church's early donors solicited by Doña Sofía M. Villegas.

Although it was bombed during the last war and has been disfigured beyond original recognition, this church still stands proudly today.

Thankfully, Los Baños still has the rural flavor that many aficionados of things pastoral will surely love. It can be said that Los Baños is the divisoria of La Laguna’s urban and rural side: the towns north of it are fast beoming clones of Metro Manila; the towns to its south remain rustic. Los Baños features both. Truly, Los Baños is an odd mix of old and new, of faith and anti-faith, of religion and science, of arts and commercialism, of rural and urban. But above all, Los Baños’ propensity for being a haven of some of the country’s most diverse flora and fauna is one treasure that it has to protect, conserve, and respect not only for the sake of eco-tourism and nature itself but also for the sake of future Los Bañenses.

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Without the Galleon Trade, there would have been NO Bahay Kubo

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♫ Bahay kubo, kahit munti
Ang halaman doon ay sari-sari.
Singkamas at talong, sigarilyas at mani
Sitaw, bataw, patani.
Kundol, patola, upo’t kalabasa
At saka mayroon pang labanos, mustasa,
sibuyas, kamatis, bawang at luya
sa paligid-ligid ay puro linga. ♪

Did you know that the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade (1565-1815) virtually introduced all these vegetables into Philippine soil?! Therefore, without the Galleon Trade, there would have been no ♫ bahay cubo, cahit muntî… ♪. And worse, our Filipino diet today would have been found severely wanting.

The above stunner is just but one of the Galleon Trade’s countless blessings to our country! And because of these blessings, the Philippines was created, was given life, was given identity. The Philippines was given POWER. It was at the very center of the world’s first foray into globalization.

“How can anybody bad-mouth a medium that brought us such bounty?” (Nick Joaquín)

¡FELIZ DÍA DEL GALEÓN!

After almost 200 hundred years, a galleon ship docked on our shores once again! Behind us is the galleon ship Andalucía which arrived at Pier 13, Port of Manila (10/06/2010).

We are not overpopulated

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The Philippines today has a population of more or less 90,000,000 individuals. Through the years, mass media have been sounding the alarm that the country is on the brink of disaster due to an unchecked population.

But is the country —or for that matter, the whole world— really overpopulated?

Below is an excerpt from a report by the prestigious Population Research Institute:

According to the U.N. Population Database, the world’s population in 2010 will be 6,908,688,000. The landmass of Texas is 268,820 sq mi (7,494,271,488,000 sq ft).

So, divide 7,494,271,488,000 sq ft by 6,908,688,000 people, and you get 1084.76 sq ft/person. That’s approximately a 33′ x 33′ plot of land for every person on the planet, enough space for a town house.

Given an average four person family, every family would have a 66′ x 66′ plot of land, which would comfortably provide a single family home and yard — and all of them fit on a landmass the size of Texas. Admittedly, it’d basically be one massive subdivision, but Texas is a tiny portion of the inhabitable Earth.

Such an arrangement would leave the entire rest of the world vacant. There’s plenty of space for humanity.

RH bill peeps, think again. You are being exploited by the conspirators against life.

The Philippines, as well as the whole world, is not overpopulated as what you are made to think. Don’t let Metro Manila’s congested and polluted cities fool you. What you see is congestion, not overpopulation. Travel around the country, and see for yourselves the truth. There is just an imbalance in the natural order of things.

To state it more clearly: the rich have notoriously more than what they really need; the poor, lesser. That is the enemy.

Click here for more info!

What would have been Rizal’s stand on the RH Bill?

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Quae visa placent. —St. Thomas Aquinas—

The website Rational Hero is actually a play on the initials RH which stands for Reproductive Health. The website, launched late last year, is a venture of controversial tour guide Carlos Celdrán, Manila Times journalist Ana Santos, Elizabeth Angsioco of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, and Ryan Tani of Filipino Freethinkers.

The founders of the website Rational Hero, erroneously using Rizal's name to forward their propaganda against the Church (and not just to clamor for the RH bill's enactment into law).

At first glance, one would think that the website is just one of those numerous online sites attributed to or honoring the national hero José Rizal since it bears his familiar photo as well as the tag “Rizal alive in every Filipino”. However, upon further browsing, one will soon realize that the website is all for the support and passing into law of the controversial, divisive, and hotly debated Reproductive Health bill which originated from Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagmán (brother of slain leftist leader Filemón “Ka Popoy” Lagmán). And this website is using Rizal’s name to help further its cause. Worse, many articles in the said website attack the Church itself, and not just about the Church’s stand against the said bill.

Disturbingly, this website is toying around with, nay, taking advantage of Rizal’s well-known battles against the Church, a battle that is already history, and even before Rizal was executed, was already history. Nevertheless, the idea of using Rizal’s former bias against the Catholic Church seemed to be —especially among today’s youth too drunk with intellectualism and a high for romantic adventurism— an ingenious catapult for Celdrán and his group.

If they ever know anything about Rizal’s retraction, then it is obvious that, despite the overwhelming evidence of the document’s veracity, they deny it. Thus, they continue praising Rizal’s anti-Catholic stance to the highest heavens. And this they use to their benefit. They deny that Rizal died a Catholic, that he was deeply sorry for the troubles his novels had caused, and that he was even given a Christian burial (more on this in a future blogpost).

But what if Rizal were alive today, would he even support the controversial bill?

Let us, for argument’s sake, consider Rizal still steadfast to his Masonic beliefs. Let us pretend that Rizal is still anti-friar. Would he join Celdrán et al?

The answer will be in the negative.

No, Catholic or not, Rizal would not even dare support such a bill. He is too rational to commit such stupidity. And why? The way Rizal wisely admonished Pío Valenzuela in Dapitan against the inevitable failure of a bloody revolution (or should I say, rebellion), Rizal will definitely admonish the proud members of Rational Hero. To him, the RH bill will be rubbish and downright evil.

Deism was perhaps the greatest effect of Masonry to Rizal’s mind. For a brief period, Rizal left Catholicism and embraced the idea of natural religion. Rizal believed that through reason and observation of the natural world alone, one can determine that a supreme being created the universe without the need for either faith or organized religion.

When he was in Dapitan, he had a healthy debate (through mail correspondence) with one of his spiritual advisers, Fr. Pablo Pastells, S.J. In the exchange of ideas about the existence of God and of God himself (as compiled and translated by Fr. Raúl J. Bonóan, S.J. in The Rizal-Pastells Correspondence), Rizal wrote:

Even so, I venture to think of him as infinitely wise, mighty, good (my idea of the infinite is imperfect and confused), when I behold the wonders of his works, the order that reigns over the universe, the magnificence and expanse of creation, and the goodness that shines in all.

Unable to pass judgement on what surpasses my powers, I settle for studying God in his creatures like myself and in the voice of my conscience, which only can have come from him. I strive to read and find his will in all that surrounds me and in the mysterious sentiment speaking from within me, which I strive to purify above all else.

It can therefore be gleaned that, even without Christianity in his life, Rizal’s belief in an unknown deity was based on a reasonable reflection of nature. And when we speak of nature, it should be observed that all elements that make it up is filled with harmony: everything in it, from predator-to-prey “relationships” to procreation to speciation, cannot exist without the existence of harmony. And this harmony is based on a metaphysical thread called “unity”. This unity means that every real being is either uncomposed or composed of parts, i.e., if it has no parts, those parts must be united in order for that being to exist, whereas when a composed being falls apart, that being ceases to exist.

Contraceptions prevent life. Therefore, it is anti-life. To make it more simpler, it goes against the natural order of things, something that a deist like Rizal will fight against. In the metaphysical sense of the word, there is no “unity” in the prevention of the creation of life. There is no unity, no harmony, no naturalness whenever man’s baser instincts prevail over the creation of something that is natural, i.e., life.

Furthermore, Rizal’s only child died during birth. Just imagine the grief, the pain of an expectant father whose hopes had died on the day he was expecting it. And after such a traumatic experience, do you even think that Rizal would have opted for “pro-choice” methods? No, I don’t think so.

A newborn human life is supposed to please the senses, our lives. But nowadays, not anymore. In yesteryears, pregnancy is a celebration, a preparation for blessing. But today, the mere mention of pregnancy engulfs the mind with fear. How twisted.

In closing, these proud self-styled “heroes” are merely shaming Rizal by invoking on his name that is clearly anti-Rizal.

Rizal alive in every Filipino? I reckon not. Just ask Willie Revillamé.

Ban Carlos Celdrán from Intramuros!

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If you believe that tour guide Carlos Celdrán should be banned from ever entering Intramuros (“the holy of holies”) forever because of what he did last Thursday, then please do join this Facebook campaign:

Ban Carlos Celdrán from Intramuros!

In the previous century, Intramuros was ruined by the US' unnecessary carpet bombing. Early this century, a homosexual zealot profaned the Walled City's only Minor Basilica. Enough with these desecrations!

¡Un abrazo!

Celdrán’s comedic act and the RH Bill’s empty orgasmic promises

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I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
—Romans 12:1-2—

Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God.
—Evangelium Vitae—

My good ol’ “friend” Caloy is at it again.
But this time, he hit it BIG time.

For argument’s sake, let’s say that I’m a semi-celebrity like Carlos Celdrán. And since I’m a semi-celeb wielding what petty knowledge I have about advocacy and what heroism really is all about, what I will do is pull up a stunt in order for me to be talked about, just like many desperate petty celebs do to make it big, to get noticed, to skyrocket to celebrity status, to be the cream of the public eye.

If I were sincere with what I am fighting for? I will fight for it tooth and nail, but fair and square, with a sincerity that will be (and should be) respected not just by onlookers but even by my most bitter and scornful of enemies.

Sadly, it seems that respect for one’s self —especially for others— was far from the holier-than-thou mind of Celdrán when he pulled a rather wacky publicity stunt yesterday at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros. Dressed like Rizal, Celdrán interrupted an ecumenical service being administered by both Catholic and Protestant leaders. Moving up to the altar, he drew up a placard which bore the name “Damaso” in reference to the unlikeable friar in Rizal’s first novel, obviously mocking the Catholic hierarchy present at that time.

With that large frame of his, it would have been better for Celdrán if he had dressed up as Padre Dámaso himself instead of Rizal. Más bagay.

It was a stunt that would have made Celdrán’s idol, himself a Catholic convert, turn over in his grave in the Luneta.

In what he thought was a heroic act, Celdrán belted out against the Catholic presbytery in frustration: “Stop getting involved in politics!” He was promptly arrested by the police who were present.

To Celdrán’s “heroic” mind, his arrest must have been his shining moment. Overnight, he became a hero to many a sex-starved individual belonging to an asinine generation who, having just read a couple of lines or pages from, say, Sartre or Marx or Hume, picture themselves as all-knowing intellectuals. These WASP-educated youngsters —misled by a secular adventurism foolishly supported by an equally WASP-controlled State— still cling to, and celebrate, the riveting pleasures guaranteed by the Sexual Revolution brought upon by an erroneous Occidental shift in our country’s extrapolitical affairs (way back in 1898), a shift that was to become a sad turning point for our country’s mangled history.

The bone of contention: contraception

If we may use a bit of Joaquinesquerie here, Celdrán had “gone for lost” because of his zeal for the passing into law of the highly polemical House Bill 5043, otherwise known as the Reproductive Health Bill, that is still hanging on for dear life (no pun intended).

In response to an unbridled poverty, hunger, and depleting natural resources, RH Bill advocates claim that curbing the population is the answer. The proposed law claims to uphold and promote a “responsible parenthood, informed choice, birth spacing and respect for life in conformity with internationally recognized human rights standards”. Furthermore, aside from claims (if not pretense) of a concern for “sustainable human development”, the bill mandates the State to guarantee the Filipino people a “universal access to medically-safe (sic), legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors”.

For just a brief moment, let us ignore the humorous saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In fairness to the RH Bill, its ultimate end —or what is not “skin-deep” to most of us— is to at least alleviate (if not get rid of) poverty, to promote sustainable development, and generally a better life for all, especially the children. For RH Bill and pro-choice champions, it’s simple mathematics: in order to eliminate all human plight, it is necessary to curb the population to maintain some sort of balance, to sustain a natural equilibrium, of a planet (or, in our case, a country) whose natural resources are hardly replenished. A “manageable” population will bring about prosperity, education (and perhaps land) for all, healthy individuals in a world free from food shortage, etc. These advocates who subscribe to the Malthusian theory of population have been led to believe that “the power of population” is far more superior to “the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man”.

But the bottomline is this: RH Bill is all for population control.

Population + Economy = ?

Now, the million-dollar question: will population control do us any good more than the harm raised by those who fear it? Let us then observe two superpowers, China and the US, where the issue of reproductive health is not even an issue.

When we speak of population control, we should look no further but to our “heavily populated” neighbor, China, whose notorious one-child policy has raised more concerned eyebrows than inspired admiration. Although China is now considered as a superpower, its questionable population-control practices hardly had anything to do with its rise to economic stardom, if at all.

In today’s globalized community, to say that a country has risen from the ashes of poverty is to embrace free trade, a liberal democracy that goes by the name of capitalism. That is the norm, the standard. In recent years, China’s gradual shift from a government harboring a state-controlled means of production to one that now endears itself to a McDonald’s-and-Starbucks culture made capitalist-minded scholars to declare that China, at long last, is at par with the US (officially, we now have two modern empires in our midst that will soon be textbook material for future generations).

With regards to China’s case, we should not even talk about the US anymore, arguably the source of all this modern-day reproductive health hullaballoo, and whose many states have even legalized abortion. Just take a look at what happened to their economy during the last three years. Up to now, it is still trying to wheel itself out of economic danger. Obviously, a controlled population was not able to save them from the brunt of a self-defeating economic system which itself had imposed in many a military-weak country (the Philippines included) all the world over.

Warring against the Church

Since time immemorial, the Catholic Church has been up in arms whenever the issue of birth control is raised. But this is not just about pills and condoms and IUDs and anal sex. The issue is more about life. And the sanctity of it.

On 25 July 1968, Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) was promulgated, reaffirming the Catholic Church’s stand against artificial methods of family planning as well as abortion. Since this encyclical was against all types of artificial family planning, it became controversial especially to Catholics who were already compromising in their morals and who were already practicing a contraceptive lifestyle (the Sexual Revolution vis-à-vis Rock “music”, drugs, and Pop Culture as a whole). And not only the Catholic flock but the Catholic hierarchy were divided: almost 50% of American and European bishops were against the ideals of Humanae Vitae.

Years later, on 25 March 1995, Pope John Paul II issued perhaps the longest encyclical letter ever written in history: the Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). It, too, was met by the same hatred and scorn.

Ridiculously, those who point out that the Catholic Church is blind to the poverty surrounding her, as caused by a ballooning population, are shooting themselves on the foot. For if they accuse Church leaders of being inconsiderate towards the RH Bill (which actually has visible loopholes and vagaries to an impartial, considerate, and discerning eye), have they, even for a few seconds, flipped open some pages of the abovementioned encyclicals?

Going back to today’s asinine youth, who seem to claim to have a monopoly of good results (if not the truth), whose laughable ad hominems against the Church make them just that: laughable — in chorus they now sing Celdrán’s infamous words to the priests and the bishops: “Stop getting involved in politics!”

But are they?

If they have been thinking more instead of letting their emotions carry them to comedic heights, have they ever stopped to think that it is the government who is getting involved in Church, nay, metaphysical matters? The Church is entrusted to protect the sanctity of life; the government has breached it. By proposing the RH Bill, the government has tread upon holy grounds, a terra incognita not understood by secularized minds in the government. In effect, the government has declared war against the Church. It was they, not the Church, who made the first volley of shots. CBCP or no CBCP, the Church was merely on the defensive end.

The life covenant

But what really, then, is this life, or “pre-life”, that the Church has sworn to protect?

Anti-Catholics say that there are two main reasons why the Church opposes contraception: because the priests are not married, thus they do not have to live with the economic consequences of a family man, and; the Church want all the Catholics they can have in the world.

Seriously, this is but childish riff-raff.

There is a deeper cause, something sanctifying, amorously metaphysical, logically loveable, even Biblical, philosophically addicting to the extreme.

The reason? Covenant.

This is something I learned during the course of my early married life. It is no secret to close friends and loved ones that my marriage to my wife Yeyette did not start out well. We were young, very young. The marriage was unplanned because the pregnancy was unplanned. Indeed, we committed the usual mistakes of a promiscuous youth (as promiscuous as today’s RH Bill adherents).

When I eloped with my wife, I was a rabid and proud atheist. As the years progressed, my marriage to my wife changed it all. Little by little, during my reconversion to the Catholic Church (aided by books written by yesterday and today’s top theological minds such as Scott Hahn and Patrick Madrid), I realized that our marriage —or marriage as a whole— is actually not a mere social contract (involving the exchange of goods and services) but a covenant, an exchange of persons.

This “marriage covenant” is consummated through a sacred act, a marriage union which nowadays is being belittled, commercialized, trivialized, and treated as mere pleasure stuff. It is called SEX.

Ironically, the anti-Catholic novel, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, knows more about the sacredness of sex than do these anti-Catholic kids drooling behind Celdrán’s nondescriptive swagger.

Now, whenever this sacred act called sex is enacted and renewed, God uses it to give new life. This marital act shows us the mystical life-giving love of this marriage covenant in a very different way. In various covenants found throughout Holy Scripture wherein God’s love is transmitted and shown, it is only through the covenant of marriage where that love becomes more powerful, more feasible, more real. So visible is this power of love from God that it communicates life: a baby inside the mother’s womb!

“Go forth and multiply,” was God’s first commandment to Adam and Eve. This commandment was actually to image God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the Santíssima Trinidad, the “Divine Family”). In the sacred act of sex, the couple becomes one in the covenant of marriage. This “oneness” to which they transform into becomes so manifest, so real that, nine months later, they will have to give it a name.

Therefore, this sacred act, this natural union created by God for man and woman, is thwarted every time contraceptives are used. And that is where the Catholic Church’s ire and indignation comes from. Long before Brown and those people behind him conceptualized “sacred sex”, the Church has already been its most fiercest defender because it already deciphered sex’s “mystical properties” a long, long time ago.

Therefore, contraceptives are, no matter how one puts it, anti-life.

The child miracle

Whenever news of a saintly apparition or perhaps a divine healing is reported on TV, one thing comes to mind: miracles. But miracles happen every day whenever a child is born. Why is this fact so trivialized and given taken for granted?

This I realized when me and Yeyette almost had our first son Momay aborted in late 2003. Thankfully, it never happened. But since then, the way we looked at babies has never been the same.

Having children is the ultimate goal in enacting the marriage covenant. Through marital sex (which is sacred), we fashion a new life, thus we “image” God in the process. The use of contraceptives and other abortifacients inhibits this both sacred and natural act.

And since we arrived at the word natural, why, pray, tell, do we have to put a stop to something natural, i.e., pregnancy?

Before we go off on a tangent, let us go back to the miracle of a newly created life. RH Bill implies that it protects life as well. But it is virtually impossible not to view this implication in a twisted way since it is self-contradicting. All elements within the context of the RH Bill advocate the use of contraceptives. The existence of “it’s all up to the married couple” clauses have already been presupposed simply by the existence and dominance of all these anti-life chemicals, methods, and devices in the said bill.

Whereas Holy Scripture speaks highly of life, RH Bill treats it matter-of-factly.

Nowhere in Scripture will one find an admonition for too much children. On the contrary, virtually every verse in the Holy Bible which has a mention of children spoke of them as only and always a blessing! There is no verse at all which cautioned married couples about the expenses of children outweighing their worth. In the Bible, no blessing was pronounced over those who had perfect spacing between their children, or those who had planned each conception, etc. Even fertility was something to be prized and proud of. It was never considered a curse, a stigma, something that is aberrantly thought of today. It was God who opened and closed the womb. Only He, through marital sex, has the full rights over it, for it is where life is created. And with each new life, a blessing…

A miracle.

To all Christians/Catholics (and those of other denominations, cults, and theists): have you ever asked yourselves if the RH Bill reflect how God saw children?

The logic of this all

In view of the foregoing, one can safely say that all unnatural methods of birth control during sex abort the creation of life. Thus, it is a violation of the natural law. Although one can say that condoms are far more different from clinical abortions —since the former prevents the formation of life, while the latter terminates an already existing life inside the womb—, it is all the same: they both prevent life.

Even if pro-choice proponents point out that human life commences somewhat later than at the moment of conception, one must at the same time recognize that the human fetus is ordered by nature to become an intelligent, free being, an individual fashioned in the image of God. If we deprive even the creation of a human person through marital sex, then we are depriving him or her the right to exist.

I think of my four kids: Krystal, Momay, Jefe, and Juanito. These lovely children of mine would not have existed if I had used artificial methods of family planning. And I will not dare, nor do I have the stomach, to look back to such a possibility of them having not existed at all, a “what if” in my personal history.

What is to be done?

The enemy to poverty is not the Church. Also, the topic of “overpopulation” should be looked into with a more prying mind because, truth to tell, it is virtually a myth. Do not allow congested and overpopulated cities to deceive you. All the problems we have right now which we thought is the result of an overpopulated world is but an imbalance in life brought about by the greed and lust for power by a select few.

And this is true. Otherwise, there would not be militants outside the city streets protesting against the wily powers-that-be, stinking drunk with power and oil and land contracts. All this “politicking” is a subtle war against the Church which has become a poster boy for scapegoating and romanticized attacks by an equally drunk-with-knowledge youth.

Sex is not the culprit here. Uninhibited sex is. And that is exactly what RH Bill is after. Wittingly or unwittingly, it tends to belittle sex as something that is almost routine, like brushing one’s teeth.

If you do not want to have children because you cannot afford to have another mouth to feed, there is a solution for it without having to go through those artificial methods: do not engage in sexual activities. If you claim that it cannot be as simple as that because of the overpowering considerations surrounding your lifestyle, then you have already determined the problem.

We fought for too much freedom, a freedom that we claim can never exist under the Church. So now we got what we want. And this freedom spawned a freak called Pop Culture. And through mass media, Pop Culture has been toying around with man’s baser instincts. Too much freedom has debased human sexuality to a mere plaything. A few years back, you would see semi-naked and naked women only in illicit beer houses and night joints. Now you see semi-naked women gyrating on noontime TV programs in both ABS-CBN and GMA. I won’t be surprised anymore if, say, ten years from now or so, TV dancers will be without clothing anymore. And Celdrán with them, doing the most obscene (perhaps with a placard this time of DOÑA CONSOLACIÓN).

What RH Bill does not tell us

Digging “skin-deep” into the issue now, one should realize sooner or later that the youth are actually being exploited, the same way me and Yeyette were exploited years ago. We all grow up, bound to be curious about sex, about our bodies.

Nothing wrong with that.

But with this youthful curiousness, this innocence, comes a vulnerability with which these conspirators against life are after. And they use the mass media to glamorize sex, to captivate these young people into doing the things that only a couple bound by God’s covenant are ought to be doing.

And to be safe, these conspirators against life subtly create a “sex industry”, for like military matters, sex is BIG BUSINESS. Imagine the millions and perhaps billions of money it would generate for these conspirators.

Also, RH Bill does not, and will never, inform you that many contraceptives are actually abortifacients. They cause early abortion.

Finally, RH Bill, even if enacted into law, will sooner or later show its hollow face. For in reality, contraception is already a failure. Why? Because many Filipinos, like other nationalities, have been using contraceptives long before RH Bill was even framed. The rate of unplanned pregnancy, especially among teenagers, has been rising steadily over the last 30 to 40 years. Many such cases end either in abortion or single parenthood.

Finally, RH Bill, again wittingly or unwittingly, will only promote promiscuity, something that is against the natural order of things. Besides, all promises of contraception, since it was invented during the latter half of the last century, never came through. Instead, we have more promiscuity, therefore more unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, more broken families and single parents, an alarming rise in sexually transmitted diseases, sexual crimes against women and children, pornography (that is being, bit by bit, accepted into the mainstream!), abortion trauma, etc.

So this is the kind of society you want? =(

As for Celdrán’s supporters, look at your “hero” now. He still dons his Pepe Rizal suit, smiling whenever there is a photo op for him. What has he done for you? He only created more fame for himself. And he has paved the way for a much sicker society, a society of sex-starved individuals who will one day rape their own children, notwithstanding pet dogs and goldfishes.

If only Rizal were alive —he who died a Catholic, he who died having repented from his immature ways— he would have slapped Celdrán for having maligned his memory.

Yet you call Celdrán your “new José Rizal” just because you claim that he had the balls to defend the freedom of the human genitals from what is supposed to be sacred?

Before I end this rage, let us, again, for argument’s sake, imagine that the Muslims are also against the RH Bill, and that they are the most vocal, more vocal than the Catholic Church…

Will Carlos Celdrán have the same “balls” to invade a Muslim mosque?

I will bet my life that he wouldn’t dare do so. Whatever “balls” he may have will instantly turn into wrinkled grapefruits if he dares to step inside a mosque.

Cowards like him will only attack a weary institution, such as the Church, which has been in constant attack and bullying ever since Jesus Christ was executed.

In closing, Carlos Celdrán’s stunt proved nothing for pro-RH bill advocates. Why? Because his crazy heckling last Thursday inside the Manila Cathedral failed to sway the beliefs of those who are against the RH bill. He only angered them even more. Thus, his childish prank only made the already divided parties more antagonistic against each other. What kind of heroism is that? He not only maligned the Church; he also placed our national hero in a very bad light.

Rizal would have killed himself if he were to see this travesty inside this cell who is desperate to be tagged as a hero. We need more comedy, Caloy. Please.

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