Pia Cayetano meets with members of the 'Abilidad, Hindi Edad
Coalition' after delivering her co-sponsorship speech on the
Anti-Age Discrimination Bill at the Senate on Tuesday, June 10.
Stop Age Discrimination!
A co-sponsorship speech by
Senator Pia S. Cayetano, 10 June 2014
SB No. 29 under Committee Report No. 38 entitled, Anti-age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 2013
Abilidad, hindi edad.
Mr. President, this is the battle cry of Filipino workers in the
country and beyond our shores, who have made a strong stand against
age discrimination in the workplace.
Our Constitution mandates that the State shall promote equality of
employment opportunities for all. Yet, whenever I go around the
country, people would walk up to me and share stories about how they
couldn’t land jobs despite their ability and willingness to work. As
it turns out, age discrimination was the culprit.
And true enough, if any senator here would open the classified ads to
check what jobs are available, he or she would see age requirements
specified for jobs that can be performed by both the young and old.
Age discrimination is one of the biggest barriers to employment in
this country, and yet there is no law to prohibit it. There is none in
our Labor Code; and until recently, it was not even on the policy
radar screen of the Department of Labor and Employment.
Mr. President, Senate Bill No. 29 under Committee Report No. 38
entitled, An Act Prohibiting the Discrimination on the Employment of
Any Individual on the Basis Merely of Age, seeks to precisely do that.
Its provisions apply to all employers including national and local
governments, labor contractors and even the trade unions themselves.
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization and
other major labor groups such as the Trade Union Congress of the
Philippines, Federation of Free Workers, Alliance of Progressive
Labor, Partidong Manggagawa, and PSLINK, a federation of government
unions – have expressed full support for the passage of a law to
prohibit age discrimination in the workplace. They have even formed a
coalition – the “Abilidad, Hindi Edad” movement. In Mandaluyong City,
a member of that coalition, Councilor Jesse Cruz, filed a resolution
against age discrimination that was unanimously approved by the city
Ladies and Gentlemen, while we respect the prerogative of an employer
to choose the best fit for his or her company, their discretion is not
absolute. It must be tempered with the principle of fairness and equal
opportunity for all. Ability, rather than age, should be the test.
Unless the State intervenes through legislation, the exclusion of
capable workers will continue. How can we obtain an inclusive growth
when millions of Filipinos cannot even get past the security guard in
order to submit their resumes?
Moreover, Mr. President, the passage of Senate Bill No. 29 as
recommended in the report of the Senate labor committee will ease the
way for our overseas Filipino workers, mga bagong bayani, to get jobs
in our country, instead of constantly leaving because they are too old
to gain a foothold in our own workforce.
Kasama po natin ngayon sa gallery si Sheron Lumage, isang dating OFW
na mula sa Saudi Arabia. Isa siya sa hirap na hirap makahanap ng
trabaho sa kabila ng masigasig na pag-aaplay sa iba’t ibang kompanya.
Ang dahilan kung bakit di siya matanggap? Edad, hindi dahil sa kulang
Sheron, Mr. President, is only 38 years old.
The approval of Senate bill No. 29 will enable the Philippines to join
more than thirty other nations recognized around the world for
upholding the ILO’s convention on equal employment opportunities for
The enactment of Senate bill No. 29 will signify to our workers that
their skills are needed, and their productivity as gainfully assured
individuals is valued, by the State, and our society as a whole,
regardless of age. The sad truth, ladies and gentlemen, is that age
discrimination also affects younger workers – who are sometimes
discriminated against because of youth and appearance.
None of us are getting younger, Mr. President, although with today’s
technological advances, we can look much younger than our actual
years. However, the legal remedies for those seeking to work because
they have so much to offer in terms of skills and experience cannot be
cosmetic in nature – given the far-reaching implications that age
discrimination has on our economy and the financial capacities of
every Filipino household.
To be discriminated against due to a natural and unstoppable process
of ageing is to impose another glass ceiling that is even just as, or
even more difficult to break, than that of gender.
And if you are a woman who offered the prime years of her life looking
after the family, the burden of finding work after the age of forty
gets even heavier, thus forcing many of our female kababayans to risk
their lives and honor as domestic workers in the Middle East.
Age discrimination is also one of the factors why so many of our OFWs
choose to remain in war-torn Syria or are hesitant to leave Libya
despite the DFA’s Alert Level 3, despite serious threats to their
We need to pass this law, Mr. President, to level the playing field
and bring hope to those who have, due to age and nothing else, been
unfairly excluded from the job hiring process.
Let this be the Senate that will finally put an end to age
discrimination in the workplace.
Maraming salamat po!
There’s more fun
ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
June 3, 2014
I COULD not help but laugh
out loud while listening to a venerable 79-year-old Monsignor tell the
story of how he discovered his vocation. I had great fun, and it made
me more convinced that fun is actually part of God’s plan for us.
He said that ever since he
was a kid, he was already exposed to parish life, since his parents
were very active in the church activities. He became an acolyte which
was no mean feat at that time since it required great discipline. One
had to memorize Latin prayers and do complicated moves.
That early, he already toyed
with the idea of becoming a priest himself. But there was a big but.
He found the priest of the parish, an old Spanish priest, too serious,
too ascetic for comfort. He thought he could not measure up.
“He was always in cassock,”
he said of the priest. “He wore it even in his bedroom such that I
never had a chance even to see his feet. I only saw his head and
So the young boy thought
priests must be a different kind of people. “The priest was not like
my father,” he said of his impressions at that time. His desire to
become a priest waned a bit.
Then a Filipino priest
replaced the Spanish one. Still the Filipino priest was always wearing
the cassock the whole time. The boy found the new priest to be too
serious and too rigid also.
He was about to give up with
his priestly desire when one day he went with the priest and others to
a certain place. It was very hot that day, according to him, so hot
that the priest took off his cassock. That was the first time he saw
how a priest looked like without a cassock.
Not only that, he saw the
priest go to a bush to take a leak, and that was when he finally
realized that priests are also like everybody else. That erased
whatever doubts he had that he too could become a priest.
Looking at the Monsignor, I
was convinced that he had gone light years away from those childhood
ideas of priesthood and yet remaining childlike in his simplicity and
outlook in life. I was convinced God sometimes plays games and tricks
with us to convey his most sublime will for us.
The whole story reminded me
of what the Book of Proverbs once said: “Playing in the world and my
delights were to be with the children of men.” (8,31)
There definitely is fun to
be with God. In fact, there’s more fun with him than with anybody or
anything else in the world. Living with God, fully dedicating
ourselves to him never lacks moments of exquisite joy, fun and
pleasure. Life with God is never dull or boring. It is full of
adventure and excitement and fun.
Yes, living with God also
has its big share of suffering due to our sin. But if we consider the
whole message of the Christian gospel, we know that everything will
always turn out for the good. So there’s really no serious and
permanent reason to be sad or troubled or disturbed.
We have to learn how to be
game and sport in the drama of our life here on earth. Problems,
difficulties and contradictions just offer us occasions to have
excitement and suspense, knowing that no matter how things end humanly
speaking, we would always win if we strive to be with God.
St. Paul said it. “For those
who love God, all things work together unto good.” (Rom 8,28) As a
consequence, we have reason to be hopeful and optimistic. We can even
afford to face the drama of life with humor and elegance without
neglecting the requirements of continuous self-giving and sacrifice.
It’s a matter of choice.
St. Josemaria Escriva also
narrated the funny story of a juggler who wanted to become a cleric.
Since he was poor both money-wise and intellectually, he felt inferior
to the other aspirants who were endowed with great talents.
Not knowing what to give our
Lady on one of her feasts, he thought that at the middle of the night
he would get to the chapel in secret and do his juggling before her
He did it, but his superior
caught him in the act. But before calling his attention, the superior
saw that the image of our Lady was smiling and even moved to wipe the
sweat from the juggler. He let the juggler finish his act.
Filipinos do have a
role in fight for democracy in Hong Kong
By DANILO REYES, AHRC
May 15, 2014
this article was first published in the May 4, 2014 issue of the
I am a Filipino but I see myself a Hong Konger.
If we are to take the guidelines of Hong Kong Unison, a non-profit
organisation advocating for the protection of the rights of ethnic
minorities, a Hong Konger is any person who sees Hong Kong as their
home. One is a Hong Konger "because we are part of it, we care and we
have to make ourselves heard."
This sense of identity of our self – not only of our ethnic,
nationality and country of origin – but of how we see ourselves as we
live, work and stay in Hong Kong is important. The people in Hong Kong
are in an ongoing struggle for the democratisation of its electoral
system. The universal right to elect the leader of one's choice and to
stand for election is a dream here.
So, what can ethnic minorities, notably the Filipinos, contribute to
the realisation of this dream in support of the Hong Kong people?
Firstly, it is important that we have to first understand our 'self'
as a Filipino and our relation to this territory and its people. This
sense of identity of our self as a Hong Konger is very profound. It
gives one a sense of an inclusive social and political environment not
only of us into Hong Kong, but into the hearts and mind of its people.
They must be informed somehow that we do care for this place.
Hong Kong is our home. We are not transients in this territory. In
fact, many of the domestic workers have lived, worked and studied
longer than some Filipino residents. This is certainly true in the
case of myself and my family. Regardless of one's condition of stay,
one can play a role to compliment both Filipinos and the people of
As of February this year, the total number of Filipinos in Hong Kong
is 178, 716 of this number 14,088 are Residents.
Secondly, why we must care about the Hong Kong people's aspiration for
democratisation? We may be a minority and small in numbers; however,
we have invaluable insights and ideas to offer: the Filipino people's
collective experiences in the democratic struggle; the lessons we have
learned from this that only our 'self' can articulate. We have lived
Hong Kong is not a democratic territory; rather it is part of China.
But I never experienced and understood, in a profound way, what a
democratic institution means until I started living here nine years
ago. I had to leave the Philippines at the height of targeted attacks
against Filipino activists to continue my advocacy here.
In fact, historically, the link of the Filipino democrats and the
revolutionaries in this place could be traced back to the Spanish
colonial period in the Philippines; to its contemporary period from
Marcos rule to present day. Many Filipinos have used this territory as
a base to advocate democracy and the protection of rights back home.
Here, in a territory where the leaders are selected by a few members
of the few Hong Kong elite, through an election system known as a
functional constituency, we can express ourselves freely and associate
with whomever we chose without repercussion. Here we have a sense of
protection. In the Philippines, on the other hand, our elected leaders
are unable to protect the citizens who put them in office and worse
still, even engage in and justify the harassment and killing of
Thirdly, here the Hong Kong people have what the Filipinos do not:
democracy in its substance. In the Philippines, while we do have
universal suffrage and our electoral processes are democratic our
public institutions remain undemocratic 28 years after the People's
Power Revolution. Our dreams and aspirations continue. Living in this
place we have concrete experience of democratic ideals.
While we have learned much from Hong Kong and its people, in the
Philippines we have what the Hong Kong people do not: universal
suffrage. Our contribution then to the people of Hong Kong is to offer
our insights. We have lived and experienced how democratic
institutions functions in this territory; and how societies like ours
can deteriorate if institutions are not democratic.
So we do understand and share the concerns of the Hong Kong people
that unless democracy is realised here, a threat to the core value of
the rule of law is imminent. The dreams and democratic aspirations of
the people of Hong Kong are also our dreams. Their loss is our loss.
This is our home.
I urged Filipinos to join the ongoing debate on the democratisation in
Hong Kong. Joining this discussion, like the forum, titled: "Democracy
and Minority Rights," hosted by the Hong Kong Unison at the City
University in April might be the first step.
Let’s all be Marian
May 8, 2014
WE have to count our
blessings! In spite of how the world today is plunging headlong toward
secularism and worldliness where God has hardly any place or is
treated more as an ornament than for what he truly is, we still have
certain practices that lend themselves easily to deep popular piety.
One of them is the “Flores
de Mayo.” In practically all the parishes of the country in the month
of May, little girls, with a generous sprinkling of little boys too,
usually donning white dresses with angel wings and halos as props, go
to their respective chapels and parish churches to offer flowers to
our Lady, Mother of God and our Mother as well.
It’s a very beautiful and
moving sight to see these children making their baby steps in
developing a Marian devotion, and on the side learning how to pray and
continuing their study of the catechism of the doctrine of our faith.
I have often wondered why
this practice has survived up to now, considering that the world, if
not occupied with very absorbing worldly affairs, is beset with all
sorts of problems, some of them crying to heaven for immediate relief,
and theoretically should weaken people’s devotion and piety.
I have no other explanation
than that it’s a working of the Holy Spirit who makes use of a local
custom already deeply rooted in our culture. There’s also what I call
a certain Filipino temperament that seems to be quite receptive to
truths of faith and practices of piety.
I know that there are people
who consider these traits of ours more of a weakness than a strength.
Still the fact is hardly anyone is complaining, at least loudly. How
can the little children, with their parents and elders, be faulted if
they want to have such devotion to our Mother Mary?
This heart-warming custom
should remind us that we too, all of us, in fact, should try our best
to develop a deep Marian devotion, making use of this Marian month of
May to make a few more steps in that direction.
Mary is indispensable in our
life. She is not just a kind of decoration in our life of faith and
piety. She is no mere incidental or optional character in our
spiritual life. She is integral to our faith, and therefore, somehow
And this is mainly because
Christ himself, on the cross just moments before his death, gave his
mother to the disciple John – “Woman, behold your son...Behold your
mother” – a gesture that the Church interprets as Christ giving his
mother actually to all of us also.
We can somehow understand
why Christ did so. Being the epitome and the very pattern of our
humanity, his mother must also be our mother. That’s because what is
his is also ours, even as what is ours, including our sinfulness, he
made also as his own, a divinely-initiated exchange generated by pure
love. And this principle applies well to our relation with Mary.
Besides, Mary has all the
qualities of a mother to the max. She was and is always caring,
understanding, ever willing to defend the children before the justice
of the father. As a woman and a human person, she embodies all the
virtues proper to us.
All of this wrapped up in a
motherly fashion that is alien to showiness and self-seeking. She
knows how to pass unnoticed even if she also knows how close she is to
God, how effective and powerful her appeals are before God. When Mary
speaks, God listens. When Mary asks, God grants.
This was how the saints have
looked at Mary. Thus, in their most intense trials, they managed to
remain calm, because they knew Our Lady was with them, reassuring them
that everything, including their sufferings, was worthwhile.
In this age of rapid
developments, we should make an effort also to deepen our devotion to
our Lady, our Mother. She will do nothing to hinder us in our
legitimate pursuit for progress.
But she will make sure that
we remain childlike before God and before her, full of faith and
trust, able to keep our spiritual and supernatural outlook in spite of
the worldly things we are immersed in.
This is important if we do
not want to get astray in our worldly affairs. And since we are not
little kids anymore, somehow disqualified to do “Flores de Mayo,” we
can always do many other things to mature in our Marian devotion.
We can pray the rosary, the
Angelus or Regina Coeli, do a pilgrimage, etc.
Lord and master of
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
May 6, 2014
THIS is what we ought to be.
As much as possible we should avoid becoming slaves of the Internet,
helplessly dependent on it, totally at its mercy, already losing
effective dominion over our instincts, passions and our other
weaknesses that this new technology can mindlessly if sweetly
stimulate all the way to our destruction.
This is now a major concern,
since even a cursory look around can yield abundant pieces of evidence
of men and women, boys and girls, young and old, healthy and sick,
completely blown away by the dizzying freefall of its deceptive beauty
One can see a sharp rise of
couch potatoes, tied to laziness, idleness and complacency, swallowed
up in a sinkhole of inanities and trivialities, willing victims of the
urges of pride and vanity, self-seeking and self-assertion, lust and
There is some kind of
addiction afflicting many of the people. Many are practically
defenceless and clueless to the tricks and traps of the Internet. In
its wake are left the debris of disorder, anguish, frustrations,
To be sure, this new
technology gives us a lot of advantages. For these, we have to be very
thankful. But we should not forget that these good things always come
with a price, and in fact, a high price, because if misused and
abused, they can spoil us into a rotten pulp much more than what
illicit drugs can cause. It can be a Trojan horse.
The harm inflicted by its
misuse is of the spiritual type, not just of the body. And if we
believe that the spirit is the one that in the end gives life to the
body, so once it is impaired if not rendered practically dead, then
the body actually suffers tremendously, irrespective of how good and
healthy it may look based on the appearance alone.
We have to ring the alarm
and warn everyone of this present and clear danger. More than this, we
have to set about teaching and helping everyone on how to use the
I believe this is an issue
that cannot be handled by giving out platitudes alone or occasional
reminders, etc. It has to be taken like the bull by the horns. We
should not take it for granted, or lightly. This is a very serious
issue that affects all of us irrespective of our political colors or
The aim is to equip everyone
adequately by clarifying the true nature of freedom and how it can be
lived properly with respect to the use of the Internet. “All things
are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful,” St. Paul warns. (1
Cor 6,12) “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by
Alas, not many realize the
wisdom of this truth of faith. For many, freedom is, as they say, what
comes naturally, that is, what their passions, feelings, curiosities,
etc., urge them.
We need to disabuse
ourselves of this false and dangerous understanding of freedom. More
than that, we need to acquire the appropriate attitude and skills to
live the true nature of freedom and its consequences.
A basic requirement for this
is faith in God that is nourished through prayer, sacrifice or
self-discipline, study of the doctrine of our faith, especially with
respect to morality, recourse to the sacraments which are the ordinary
channels of God’s grace, lifelong development of virtues, and the art
of spiritual or interior struggle and warfare.
There’s always a great and
indispensable need for us to grow and mature spiritually. Now is the
time to realize more deeply that this particular need has to be
attended to first of all and always, and never to be sacrificed in
exchange of some immediate, practical but very perishable benefits
that the Internet and other worldly things can give us.
We need to develop our
spiritual or interior life, nourishing it always with the truths of
our faith and the many and endless acts of hope and charity. Only in
this way can we have dominion and mastery over our earthly affairs.
For some practical
guidelines, it might be helpful to determine and limit our time of
going to the Internet. Let’s avoid going to it at the instance of our
whims. Definitely, it should be made to compete with our time for
meals, family gatherings, work, and especially our prayers and other
We need to practice
temperance, restraint and moderation always. We have to keep close
guarding of our senses, both the external and internal.
Touched by John
Paul the Great
ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 21, 2014
YEAR 2014 is fast becoming a
very special year for me. There actually are many reasons for this,
and all of them leave me profoundly thankful and nervous. But among
the reasons is the most gratifying fact that two men, very close to my
heart, will be raised to the altars in this Year of the Laity.
One is Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, successor of Opus Dei founder, St.
Josemaria Escriva, who will be beatified in Madrid on September 27. He
ordained me to the diaconate in Rome on January 28, 1991. It was his
first time to ordain candidates to the priesthood, since he was just
consecrated bishop a few weeks earlier that year.
The other is Blessed Pope John Paul II who will be canonized saint on
April 27. By an extreme stroke of luck and, I believe, a pure bolt of
grace, I was chosen as one of those to be ordained priest by him in
Rome that year on May 26, Trinity Sunday.
The moment I was told I would be ordained by Pope John Paul II, I
literally froze in disbelief. Spontaneous and strong flow of prayers
came a little later. I stammered in thanking God for the great gift,
then I started to trace what brought me to that life-changing event.
I don’t think I was a particularly religious person when I was a kid.
All I had in mind was to play and be naughty, just like anybody else
among my friends. But my mother saw to it that I prayed the Rosary
with her and some of my siblings who happened to be caught by her at
She it was who instilled in me, among many other things, love and
veneration for the Pope. My lola and the teachers in grade school,
mostly nuns, did the same. And I just developed that love to the point
that whenever I saw a picture of Pope John XXIII, the Pope at that
time, I felt good and holy and somehow urged to behave.
The nuns in school encouraged me to enter the seminary, but when I
brought the idea to my father, he said, no way. And so I forgot about
priesthood and pursued what everybody else among my friends was
pursuing. At that time, all I wanted was to become rich and all that
But I met Opus Dei while studying in college in Manila. And my life
changed, made a sharp turn. Well, that’s now history.
My love and fascination for the Pope grew even more. When Pope Paul VI
visited Manila, I happened to stay just a few houses from where the
Nunciature, where he stayed, was.
I remember standing the whole day right in front of the Nunciature
together with the crowd just to have a glimpse of him. And when I had
those glimpses, it was as if I was floating on air with joy. Prayer
when infused with joy became effortless.
Then entered Pope John Paul II in 1978. At that time, I was already a
professional man, working in some office, but also into deep
philosophical and theological studies. It was he who sort of
challenged me to take more seriously my Christian formation.
I found him irresistibly stimulating and engaging. I was sure his
presence, his words, even his mannerisms were all so soaked with a
certain charism that I just found myself insatiably devouring his
writings and any piece of news about him. I knew I was learning a lot
and growing interiorly.
When he visited Manila in 1981, I volunteered to be part of a press
team. That enabled me to see him at close range. It was in Baclaran
church, his first stop after arriving at the Manila airport, when I
had the first chance almost to touch him if not for the security who
stopped me at the last split second.
Then I was asked to go to Rome for ecclesiastical studies. I actually
did not seek the priesthood. I simply was called to it, and I just
said, yes, after a little reflection.
I still vividly remember every moment of that day of my ordination.
What struck me most was that he started it very tired. He just came in
from a trip and he already had serious health conditions. But as the
event went on, I noticed he became very alive. At the end, he talked
to me as if he knew me all along.
I have no doubt he is truly