Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region

insight 48


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Manganese, Copper… and other questions

Movie making from Waray’s olden history should begin now

Electric Vehicles will end Climate Change

How could the 'Maguindanao massacre' been allowed to happen?

OB listing by the military in Northern Samar exposed

Message of MGen. Arthur I. Tabaquero during the signing of Manifesto Against Violence

MGen. Arthur Tabaquero’s response to the open letter of Atty. Kathrina Castillo

Press Statement of the City Government of Catbalogan on cityhood issue

Where will a Tacloban HUC get its water supply?

Military terrorizes residents of San Jorge, Western Samar and San Jose de Buan, Samar




Condoms a dead man walking

April 12, 2010

“…it is still being foisted as a means to combat the dreaded HIV-AIDS, hyped now to become an epidemic, giving the impression the condom is the last resort…”

Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral continues to distribute condoms and to amend her justifications for doing so, depending on her audience. I have already lost track of how many layers of rationalizations she had cleverly done.

She’s a smart lady. I wish to congratulate her, not for what she is doing in this particular case, but for being shrewd. Remember that our Lord also praised the unjust steward not for his misdeed but for his imaginative effort to secure his future once he is dismissed for wasting his master’s goods. (Lk 16,1-8)

This is, of course, a most tricky situation, since we can easily go overboard. But we just have to learn to handle this circumstance, since it’s part of what our Lord said about being “wise as serpents and simple as doves.” (Mt 10,16)

Still, we have to be clear and prompt in distinguishing between right and wrong, good and evil. Everything, for sure, will have to be done with utmost charity, delicacy and refinement, especially in the grey areas. But the distinction has to be made.

In the episode of the woman caught in adultery, our Lord showed mercy, but told her to “sin no more.” There is mercy, but that mercy is not supposed to overturn the moral law.

This is the law that governs us all, since it is universal and immutable. I hate to say this, since I feel it’s so basic it should be presumed at all times. But as we all know, the world is now so flung in confusion that even the moral and ethical one-plus-one needs to be explained.

In this issue of the condoms, a ridiculously simple question that does not deserve a front-page treatment, the crux is first of all, as it should be in everything else, whether it is morally right to use it, let alone, to distribute it indiscriminately.

The moral test is basic and indispensable. When something fails that test, it cannot go first base, much less, expect a home run. It is disqualified right at the start. It’s dead in the water. No practical advantage can displace this requirement.

That it is still being foisted as a means to combat the dreaded HIV-AIDS, hyped now to become an epidemic, giving the impression the condom is the last resort, the ultimate redeemer, etc., is converting that piece of latex into a dead man walking, taking a longer route, past its due execution and interment.

This is stretching things beyond the limits. The condom is an ant made to posture as an elephant. It’s a blind, long shot and dangerous measure. Even its practical effectivity is seriously, that is, scientifically, put to doubt.

You don’t solve a serious moral problem with a mere prophylactic. And we cannot appeal to the argument that Cabral, being a public official, need not bother too much about morals, since she is limited to the practical aspects of the problem. She is just doing her job. Leave her alone. That’s a flat no.

That’s why I feel uneasy when some Church officials gave the impression they were playing footsie with Cabral in this issue. I was disturbed to read in the papers recently that some personnel of the social action group of the Bishops’ Conference were doing just that.

Cabral went to town telling everyone she was happy the Church finally gave some approval to the condom project. Or that in this issue, there is an area of shared interest between her and the Church.

Of course, we may have to take that news with a grain of salt. The media cannot be fully trusted to reflect the objective reality on the ground. Still, it can cause a degree of apprehension.

It’s not a question of whether the Church should cooperate with the government in a particular project. That cooperation should always be presumed, but always in the way that’s in keeping with our faith and morals.

In the agora of public opinion, the Church’s distinctive contribution is precisely the moral and ethical aspect of a given issue. Once that test is passed, the Church not only respects but also fosters the variety of views and options everyone is free to take.

We may have to look more closely into the qualifications of these Church officials. Clearly, good intentions and past heroic acts are not enough. Competence, doctrinal fidelity and tested prudence should be upheld.

With all the sex scandals hounding the Church now, we have more than enough problems without getting enmeshed in this condom ruse.





The essence of Araw ng Kagitingan

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 9, 2010

Apart from knowing that the reason for the nationwide holiday on April 9 is because of the commemoration of the "Araw ng Kagitingan" (Day of Valor), the young people of the Philippines must realize the significance of this occasion.

On April 9, as the whole country celebrates the Filipino gallantry, bravery and heroism, the country pays tribute not only to the war heroes many of whom gave up their lives during World War II but also to the veterans who fought in the name of freedom.

Bataan was the last province to surrender to the Japanese invaders during the War. The Battle of Bataan saw local forces alongside American allies engaging in war against the Japanese. After the Fall came the infamous Death March--a long and difficult walk from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac that the captured Filipino and American soldiers were subjected to. For many, it was fatal; almost 10,000 fatigued and starved warriors perished along the trail.

The march, involving the forcible transfer of 90,000 to 100,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese in the Philippines from the Bataan peninsula to prison camps, was characterized by wide-ranging physical abuse, murder, savagery, and resulted in very high fatalities inflicted upon the prisoners and civilians along the route by the armed forces of the Empire of Japan.

Beheadings, cut throats and being casually shot were the more common and merciful actions – compared to bayonet stabbings, rapes, gutting (disembowelments), numerous rifle butt beatings and a deliberate refusal to allow the prisoners food or water while keeping them continually marching for nearly a week (for the slowest survivors) in tropical heat. Falling down, unable to continue moving was tantamount to a death sentence, as was any degree of protest or expression of displeasure.

As a fitting tribute to the heroism of these Filipino heroes, a 60-foot cross was erected on Mount Samat in Pilar, Bataan. It is now a World War II military shrine called the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor). Completed and inaugurated in 1970, the Dambana ng Kagitingan consists of the Colonnade and the huge Memorial Cross. The Colonnade is a marble-capped structure with an altar, esplanade (walkway) and a museum.

These days, the Filipinos are not being required to do the same act of heroism, the best proof of patriotism and love of country. All that is asked is for the Filipino youth to be guided by the gallantry and valor of the World War II Veterans.

Nowadays, the Filipinos are fighting another kind of war, that of selecting and electing the political leaders of the country in May 2010. The challenge is for the youth and the Filipino people as a whole to shift their paradigms of resignation and indifference, of helplessness and indifference into awareness of their opportunity and responsibility to make a difference by voting the right leaders transcending self-serving interests into the noble purpose of nation-building, from the myopic ambition of selfishness to the magnanimous care and genuine concern for others.

It is hoped that the Filipino youth and all Filipinos for that matter will look up at the Filipino veteran as their guide in choosing the right leaders who will lead the nation towards unity, peace and progress.





Sex education for children, YES, of course!

April 7, 2010

A text message from a radio announcer in a city in Region VIII (Eastern Visayas) asked me on March 24 this question: “may I ask ur commnt pls r u n favor 2d stand of d new educ sec, mona valisno dat sex educ should b taught n schools so d studnts would learn rsponsble fmily planning”.  My reply: “I am in favor that sex education should be taught now in hischls and colleges. Even for Grave V and VI. Since 1964, I’ve been observing that boys and girls already knew what to do with sex during their elementary days.  In my own case, I already knew a lot at age 6. THANKS to my teacher parents and my Catechism tutors in Basey.  Neighbor children of my age then learned about sex, frm people in the streets.  Thanks for your query.”

The same announcer asked on March 25: “Can I ask ur commnt pls? wht can u say bout GMAs statmnt dat she wants mguindanao msscre case b  resolvd by june 30? labi n na baga ngmingaw man ine n kaso?”  My reply: “PGMA’s decision is a result of leadership in crisis, lack of wisdom, absence of veritable desire and will to put an end to a problem in the acceptable shortest desirable time.  Things like the Ampatuan’s must not be prolonged in the name of conscientious justice.”

Back to the subject matter in the first paragraph here, in both rural and urban areas, everywhere I went around the Philippines between 1962 and 2010, there were children, mostly boys, of primary education years, who exchanged thoughts about what humans of opposite sexes talk about their sexes, even more seriously than adolescents and adults do.  The exchange would always take place after they get entangled in children’s games that develop into a verbal tussle fanned by dissatisfaction over what one or others did during their games.

In some cases, boys and girls, while resting from a hide-and-seek or touch-and-run game, chat about what one’s parents do and whose parents do better in sex.  Very seldom would an adult who chance to hear their tsismis ever stop them from discussing further that matter.  Instead, there are instances when the adults fuel up further the argumentation by teasing the boys and girls one after the other.

In my childhood days, adults were always the parents of the arguing children.  When they join the discussion, and the discussion worsens into an altercation, an imbroglio occurs between the parents.  When only the male parents would decide to settle the issue between themselves, streets soon become an arena of warring men, each with a long, sharp-bladed weapon (sundang or sansibar) or sometimes the other armed with a sugob or bulos (both meaning spear) or with a pakang (the spined backbone of a pawikan (green turtle), and very, very rarely would there be fisticuffs – although, very, very seldom would the exchange of stashing blows, hacks and thrusts leave any trace of blood from either of the protagonists, which makes the whole scene funny and entertaining, but not welcome.

Some of my male classmates in Grade IV used to find time to mimic what male adults do to satisfy themselves sexually.

Between years 2004 and 2010, in a neighborhood in Tacloban highly urbanized city, two young girls who have failed to get a second year high school education got pregnant.  Their impregnators were also young boys.  Asked once, one of the two girls confided that she and her boy knew what they were doing, and that even if they knew so much about the government’s family planning thrusts, their poverty, or simply, their being part of an abandoned social microcosm, cannot do anything but live with life, whether as a risk or in abandon.  The younger girl is pregnant for the second time, with another boy.  Her fist pregnancy failed into a mere fetus, mostly blood.  No, the pornographic movies and video tapes had nothing to do with what forced them to do sex.  It was not even pure lust and craving for libido.  Theirs was an effect of a government that always fails to look down the level of the hopeless in society, and that prefers only the educated to get close to an employment opportunity while feeding the hapless only once or twice in 365 days, or that is blinded by the so-called global demand for this or that which necessitates the continued emergence of superstructures in Metro Manila while crop lands could not be irrigated and human communities could not be saved from flash floods or mere flooding brought about by a brief rain.

Between 2000 and 2004, I had worked with a small group that looked into the plight of minor women – some of them aged 11, some from the island barrios and towns, whose poverty and the unemployment of their parents, or the absence of veritably reliable livelihood sources for their parents, forced them to be pliant to enticements for greener pastures in Metro Manila, where they would end up as sex slaves or characters of forced labor.  Some of the young women were forced to earn a living from prostitution because police officer so and so threatened them to and because the government was never around to protect or save them when they needed it.  They knew so much about sex before they reached 10 years old, from the elder and older people who talk about sex and even do sex while others are knowingly watching from somewhere.

And there are other worse stories, becoming worst.  The government cannot do so much.  Its eyes and hands are focus on “other top priorities”.  The “untrained” locals have to be left to themselves to manage their own problems – inescapably, that’s what the abandoning government is trying to tell.

Yet, I endorse sex education.  One that should not only be catered to high school students, but also to pupils in the primary and elementary schools.  But, the first requirement should be that the Department of Education should be able to convince us all that it is ready with that which it sees is a solution to the problem that is supposed to be addressed by sex education.  Readiness has measures in management and in advocacy.  If this is not available at an appreciable level, then the DepEd’s thrust still lacks so much.

My mentors in my childhood were correct in their approach.  Parents should not leave their children alone with their peers.  Teachers should keep their pupils always busy.  Society should make time profitable and precious to all, including those below 6 years old.  The DepEd should present its curriculum first to the public for scrutiny.  Clean.

And yes, keeping busy is the answer.  When one has nothing to do, he or she begins to do things that should not be done.  There’s wisdom in this that someone had said a long time ago: an empty mind is a devil’s workshop.





EASTER MESSAGE of Bishop Leonardo Yuzon Medroso

April 4, 2010

For today’s Easter Message, I take liberty in sharing with all readers this piece which 71-year old Bishop Leonardo Yuzon Medroso wrote in year 2008 ---

As the light of the Paschal Candle pierces through the murky night of Holy Saturday, ushering on its break the lilting mood of the Easter Vigil that exudes in the song of the “Exsultet”, the people of faith plunges once again into the deep darkness of the Liturgy of the Word to carefully listen to the words of promise and of hope. It is in this holy darkness that the word of God starts again dispelling the chilling fear of death that has for so long terrorized the heart of man, slowly filling it up in an ever increasing intensity with the message of ‘God cares’ and ‘God saves His people’, that soon would blare into the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus, bursting into songs of jubilation and “alleluia”. For Christ is Risen! Christ is truly risen! HAPPY EASTER.

But back to reality. Is it really possible to celebrate a happy Easter in the midst of all these social turmoil and political mess? At times we begin to wonder if it remains reasonable to be optimistic about this country. The fact is that many of us have become cynical, refusing to believe that change can still take place, refusing to hold that a better life is still possible. In fact, some people have long given up – they chose to look for greener pasture elsewhere. Can the citizens of a morally shaken country such as ours capable of genuinely greeting each other with greetings of “Alleluias” and “Rejoice, for Christ is risen”?

The answer is why not? After all the Church sincerely believes that the answer to our sad plight goes beyond socio-economic analysis and political maneuverings. For the start our Church believes that this deep Easter experience of the risen Christ would give us the stubborn hope that blossoms best in moments of darkness and ambiguity; that it would give us the needed courage to pick up again the communal problem of searching for the truth that we have temporarily left off; that we can readily face up to the moral problems, political ambiguities, and social illusions, that have through these years tightly gripped the soul of our country. The experience of Easter could give us the hope to extricate ourselves from the sad situation that we are in, the time when work is scarce, when families are so poor they can no longer live with dignity and little pride, when the greed of those in the corridors of power has drowned away all their shame and decency, when corruption has become “our greatest shame as a people” (CBCP, “Reform Yourselves and Believe in the Gospel”).

This hope is dynamic, alive, vigorous. It pushes us to action. It is alien for people of hope to say that the event of our times is inevitable. A Filipino Christian, whose spirit is soaked with the Easter experience, plunges himself into action, for he knows that at the heart of this topsy-turvy nation of ours rests the love of God. Easter has taught him that God has overcome the world. As Jesus said: “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33).

By action here is meant concrete involvement in the unfolding of our history.

Christians who possess the seed of hope in their hearts cannot be passive or indifferent bystanders in the drama which we call “everyday life”. “We can open ourselves and the world and allow God to enter: we can open ourselves to truth, to love, to what is good” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 35). “Even when we are fully aware that Heaven far exceeds what we can merit”, the Pope says, “it will always be true that our behavior is not indifferent before God and therefore is not indifferent for the unfolding of history” (35). Even when we seem powerless before the enemy, “our actions engender hope for us and for others…” (35). In other words, the more we engage actively and constructively in the efforts to improve society, the more we make alive the hope that is in us. Conversely, the more indifferent we are, the more cynicism destroys our capacity to dream for a better, renewed life.

And when we act, when we actively involve ourselves in the unfolding of history, the element of suffering becomes all the more unavoidable. Being a consequence of our finitude, suffering is already inevitable, but it can swell into horrifying levels when we labor for truth and justice. We can perhaps minimize it by leading a life of utter indifference. We can close our eyes from falsehood and tyranny, and spare ourselves from hostility.

But is this the Christian option? The Holy Father says, “It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love” (37). And with a rather stunning emphasis, he repeats at least three (3) times in the encyclical that the capacity to suffer for truth and justice is an essential criterion, the very measure, of humanity (cf. 38 and 39). To abandon this capacity would destroy man himself. “Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well-being, or else my life itself becomes a lie” (38).


That’s the full text of the bishop’s article.

* * * * * * * * * *

Bishop Leonardo Y. Medroso
Bishop Medroso

Born in Ormoc City, Leyte on November 6, 1938, bishop Medroso was ordained priest on March 30, 1963 with Palo, Leyte as his first assignment.  At age 48 years and 1 month on December 18, 1986, he was appointed bishop of Borongan, Eastern Samar although his ordination as bishop thereat would come four months later, on March 17, 1987.  On October 17, 2006, he was appointed bishop of Tagbilaran, and on December 14 of the same year, he was installed as such church authority in that city of Bohol, an island province in the center of the Philippine archipelago.  A priest for 46.9946.9 years and bishop for 23.0322.9 years as of the last entry on a website that features him, he is very much a pride of the Yuzon and Medroso families in Ormoc, in Leyte and around the Philippines where he has been of service to the Filipino community, for the glory and kingdom of God.

The bishop from Ormoc, a few days after the death of President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, had commented that Cory deserves to be canonized as a saint.  His comment was featured on a national television.

Ah, yes, some had asked why my own family “became” close to the good bishop, as noticed when he solemnized the wedding of my elder son, Engr. Pacifico Niño Medroso Dela Torre, to Mercury Drug-Rizal Avenue branch (Tacloban) pharmacist Gay Casimero Oliva on September 20, 2003.  The bishop is the first cousin of my wife, Cione.  He gave his big picture that was taken upon his assumption as Bishop of Borongan to his other first cousin, Alexander Paune Medroso, younger brother of Cione.  That picture had been on display at the home of the mother of Alex until her death on May 27, 2007.  Cione now keeps that color photograph.  The bishop had visited his uncle, retired master sergeant Timoteo Parilla Medroso, Cione’s father, once, when he was then living at Paterno Extension, on part of what many years later on became the RTR or “freedom” plaza in Tacloban.  We used to visit the bishop in Palo when he was yet priest there.  When he became bishop of Borongan, Alex frequently visited him there.  (Mercury Drug would remember him for long.  He endorsed the necessity for that corporation to open a drug store in Borongan, years before it became a city.)

* * * * * * * * * *

Today, April 4, 2010, the Deloria families in Basey will celebrate the Easter Sunday in barrio Roxas (known erstwhile as Shamrock”).  The affair will be marked by the organization of a new Deloria Clan and adoption of programs – such as livelihood and scholarship – for the benefit of its members.  Organizer Jun Deloria Distrajo, formerly a very active and well-traveled band player and singer, will also invite the members, of whom 750 are voters, to join the Deloria reunion at the U.P. in Diliman, Quezon City come May 15, 2010.  Other Delorias who are living abroad and those from other parts of the Philippine Islands will be attending the May 15 reunion.





An Article by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Who were the massacred journalists? - Part 4

Daddy's Little Girl
Mayang Reblando

More than anything else, he was my Daddy.

So much goes into that simple statement. My Daddy, Alejandro "Bong" Reblando was my hero, my strength, the best of all my bestfriends. He was my mentor and my protector. He was the angel sent from above. He was indeed the number one man in my life. He is my inspiration

My daddy showed me what life was all about, and he showed me that at a very young age. He explained well to me how life really is. I knew and understood essential basics – because he cared to inform me – while so many of my friends were still just trying to understand what life is really all about. I was daddy's little girl who sat on her daddy's lap and mingle with him as if I am not her daughter but instead his friend. He taught a lot of things that, for sure, will always be my treasures. He guided me in every decision I made and loved me the way I love best. Daddy told me at an early age all about that money too – that everything he gave to me is not simple money, but it is the fruit of all his hardworks.

As I flashback the memories when he was still alive, he never ever left me behind. When I need someone to fetch me late at night after a long program in school he's always there even he already fell asleep in our house.

I remember one night; I'm too much eager to have a facial with him but was never been able because there are a lot of customers waiting. As I sat on the car I was silent, and without saying a word he knew how I felt – sad. Instantaneously he comforted me and heaved a joke, by then I was relieved.

That's the way my daddy was. He was intuitive. He somehow knew what to say and what to do, even in those times when you had not spoken. You could always count on one important thing, although the words were not expansive. They were the right words.

Most of you knew that he is a strong, talkative, friendly, God-fearing, generous, helpful, kind, respectful and reserved. You'd probably be surprised to know that he was also one of the funniest men I've ever met, and that his artistic ability was tremendous. These were not necessarily traits that he displayed to his friends – he came from a time where humor and art were not always the way to survive.

He was born right in this city, where he lived all his life, during the great depression. My grandparents impressed upon him the seriousness of life and of supporting oneself, and finally the importance of providing for the family. There was no time for the finer qualities of life in those early years for Bong Reblando.

Probably due to that early upbringing, "Bong" was an icon to many of you. He was well known in this city for his works and contributions – to his attitude and skills, and by all of you who are here today. The family name is as entrenched in the town as the town is entrenched in the family. My brothers, sister, mother and I went the same church as our father, and we shopped at the same stores as he.

My hero has passed on now, and he leaves my family and me to carry on the family name. We are proud of him, of all that he was, and all that maybe he would have liked to be if times had been different.

We are mostly proud to say this one thing: Of all that he was – He was our great Daddy.

I won't say goodbye to you deh, but instead I'll say "we will see you when we get there."

Congratulations for entering the Kingdom of God and we are all happy knowing you're safe there and having a smile marked on your face.

I love you so much.

+ + + + + + + + + +

How Will I Forgive?
By Mayang Reblando

Everyone tells me that I need to forgive.

That all the pain in me must go.

That I need to be free and just live.

But no one knows the memories hold.


I was hurt throughout my years.

I was put down day to day.

I hold back all of my tears.

And hope that they soon will fade away.


It's hard to forgive a person who killed.

A person who took away a very precious life,

But the truth that lies within him won't be revealed.

So right now all things cause me strife.


I won't forgive the man that killed.

For I have never felt this way.

Until my father's life was taken away,

And his life couldn't go on any further.


My father was young and in love,

And he had a future for me.

I was his special gift sent from above,

But the life I live he won't be able to see.


Till this day I am unable to forget.

The day that causes me so much sorrow,

But the only thing I do regret,

Is when I wake up without you tomorrow.

(About the author: Mayang Reblando is the daughter of Alejandro "Bong" Reblando, one of the 32 journalists who were killed in the Maguindanao Massacre. Her article "Daddy's Little Girl" was written and read by her during Bong's burial in December 5, 2009. Her poem "How will I Forgive" written in January 15, 2010 was also a tribute to her father. The author has given permission to the AHRC in publishing them)




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