By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
October 7, 2014
WE have just celebrated the
liturgical memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7). It’s this
celebration that has made the whole month of October the month of the
rosary. Let’s hope that we appreciate the true value of this prayer.
I still remember my
childhood days in the province when we were “forced” or at least
“pressured” to say the rosary with Lola and Mama and other siblings
who were “caught” at the time of this prayer. We did it kneeling down.
Of course, I didn’t quite like it, but neither did I feel mistreated.
Filial obedience played a big role in this.
Since I could not escape, I
just played along, but wondered why this prayer was so important it
had to be that way. In a sense, I was both there and not there, my
mind alternating between praying and getting distracted. Pretension
It was only late in my
youth, while I was already separated from the family to study in
Manila, and therefore quite independent but aware I had to fend for
myself, that I realized how important this prayer was. For a start, it
gave me a tremendous calming effect.
To a person who was
extremely excitable and sensitive as I was – though I would also know
how to cover these traits – the rosary was most welcome. It gave me
time and space to breathe and consider things more calmly.
But I soon discovered other
more important aspects of this Marian prayer. I realized the value of
vocal prayers. What I tended to take for granted actually contained
precious ideas. I somehow discerned a certain beauty in them, far
removed from merely physical beauty and transitory worldly pleasures.
And so to prevent me from
falling into mere mechanical praying, I would focus on some phrases of
the prayers, one at a time, and try to understand and fathom their
meaning and figure out how they can affect my life.
That’s when I relished the
reality of God being a father to me, of what my attitude should be
toward him, what I can expect from him, what I ought to ask from him,
etc. Also, that Mary is such a wonderful mother who is a most worthy
model to follow, the most competent teacher with respect to the
virtues I ought to develop, etc.
More importantly, the rosary
would start to give me a global picture of the redemptive life of
Christ which I used to take for granted. Even a cursory meditation of
the mysteries of the rosary would elicit all kinds of insights and
considerations that I felt were very useful to me. I could use the
youth-speak of ‘cool’ to describe them.
With the rosary, I get the
sensation that I am seeing the different parts of the life Christ
through the eyes of Mary, the one who understood perfectly the life of
Christ and conformed herself to it is the most intimate way.
In other words, the rosary
helped me to be a practical contemplative right in the middle of the
world, teaching me how to see things through the eyes of faith and
devotion. It inculcated in me a living piety that knows how to be
lived right in the midst of the secular world.
This, to me, is the greatest
effect of the rosary. It is indeed an effective means to instill a
supernatural outlook in us, a handy tool to ask for special favors
through our Mother’s intercession, a good way to spend time and know
more about Christ and about her.
If there are pressures to
bear, problems to solve, challenges to face, and even special
intentions to pray for, the rosary is a good companion. Even when we
get visited by insomnia, the rosary helps us go to sleep.
Especially these days when
we are buffeted with all kinds of tension-causing predicaments, the
rosary is a good antidote. It puts our mind and heart in their proper
place, firmly rooted on Christ and oriented toward him. It makes us
conscious of our human and Christian duties.
The rosary can be done
anytime, anywhere. It need not be finished in one seating. And with
the new technologies which enable us to follow it while listening to
its recording, it can be done quite easily, even while we are driving.
It’s good to spread this
devotion as widely as possible, first in the family, then in the
neighborhood, in schools, parishes, offices, etc. We can also organize
pilgrimages to shrines of our Lady. All these can only have good
effects on us all.
as death slowly over takes a 4 year old girl
October 6, 2014
October 5th, 2014. This is
an update of the Stunted Girl previously written about and posted here
on this site, www.philippinebasicneeds.com. Six months ago, I
‘purchased / leased / rented’ this girl from her parents for a pick
axe. Took her in, properly fed her and clothed her.
I had known her since birth
and in fact if you look at the original video on this site, you will
see her family living in a shack and the mother breast feeding this
girl as a baby. She was offered to me to be adopted and I did look
into it via a US and Manila based attorney who said the Philippine
government would not allow a foreign adoption in this type of case.
Since then I have fed her
and clothed her every trip back to Catbalogan. But after I leave the
mother sells off the clothes and dresses the girl in rags again. Same
as for her older brothers, also mentioned on the
www.philippinebasicneeds.com site, and you can read about it in the
New Pants for Street Kid post.
By the time I arrived in
February of 2014, it was obvious the girl was not only stunted in
growth, but also struggling simply to survive. No longer happy and
laughing, she was about 42 months old and weighed 20 pounds. This is
why I took temporary possession of her. When I am there, the parents
are respectful and do what they are told to do. Of course it helps
that I feed the girl’s older brothers too. But then as soon as I go,
the past way of life is resumed and it is business as usual.
Currently, the girl weighs
about 15 pounds. FIFTEEN POUNDS / 6.8 kilos and she is now 4 as of
August 10th. Even considering a possible scale error, she has not
grown in the past 6 months and she has lost weight as she was weighed
on the same scale. She has a chronic lung infection as does her
mother. I have tried to get TB testing done but all I hear are
She was hospitalized 2 weeks
ago for a week or so for IV medications and at that time the doctor
said she had pneumonia. She is covered under the national health plan
called PHILHEALTH, but…… if the hospital pharmacy has no medications,
as they often claim, then the fact she has any ‘insurance’ coverage at
all is moot as there are no medications in the hospital pharmacy.
Therefore, patients and their families must buy, daily, any prescribed
medications at local pharmacies and they are not reimbursed by
PhilHealth. So the father comes to the charity people that run the
charity for me asking for money.
Money cannot be given
directly to him or his wife and it will be divided into food and
alcohol and then medications. So the family that I have running the
charity has to go and buy the medications and then deliver to the
nursing staff. And you can buy only 1 day worth of medicine, as if you
give more than one days medicine to the parents, they will sell the
medicine to other families in the hospital who may have a script for
the same medications. Then tomorrow they say the medicine was stolen
and they need more.
As of now, the girl is sick
and eats little even though the charity has proper food. The mother
has no faith in the hospital doctors so she is taking the girl to a
local witch doctor who is claiming the girl has been poisoned. While I
doubt the poison theory, I can say that in the past 2 years several
under 5 yrs old kids have ‘died at night’, suddenly all living in 100
meters of this girls shack, and the kids are simply buried by local
custom with no formal authority looking into the death.
During my February 2014 trip
when I took the girl, I treated her for active pneumonia and
intestinal parasites and worms. But when I left the parents again took
her. Why? Well even though anyone can see she is better off with me or
the family that runs the charity, where she eats well and sleeps clean
and dry and will one day go to school, she represents MONEY to the
The family is professional
beggars who have used their children as street beggars for years.
Again, in looking on the www.philippinebasicneeds.com site you see One
Eyed Victor and the story on how I paid to have his eye removed. He is
one of this girl’s older brothers. While yes it is good to have his
eye fixed (see the pictures on the site), by fixing his eye, it
lowered his earning potential as a street kid begging for money. I do
have questions and never got any answer as to just ‘how’ One Eyed Vic
got his eye damaged. Was it intentional to increase his begging
earnings? What about this girl? Why failure to thrive? Why stunted
when her brothers are not stunted? We may never know why or how the
girl not only became as she is today, but more so, why is it allowed
Interestingly, this same
mother has two older daughters who she took to Manila as young teens
to find employment as house maids. She of course was supposed to get
their money and of course that never happened and the Manila social
workers eventually took possession of the two sisters, now, 16 and 19
and warehoused them until the older girl turned 18 and then shipped
both back to… you guessed it, this same mother as the older one did
not qualify for assistance anymore and as now an adult, she was told
to accept responsibility for the younger sister.
I have again renewed my
efforts to get this girl proper medical evaluation and treatment.
However I do not see long term success as long as the parents are
still the primary care givers. The local DSWD (welfare people) office
staff are aware of the situation, but to them, this is but 1 of many
such cases. Limited budget and limited resources, they do not seem to
be much actual help in rescuing this child, named Jessa Mae, which I
seriously doubt, will see her 5th birthday.
Any ideas? Let me know.
Angels and men
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
September 29, 2014
WE have just celebrated the
feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (September 29).
That of the Holy Guardian Angels is on October 2. It’s good that we
pause and focus our attention to a very important part of our
spiritual reality that we often take granted.
Angels exist. They are real.
We need to say this now since angels, if they are ever referred to
nowadays, are often considered as mere figments of our imagination
that at best can be used as literary and sentimental devices.
Obviously, faith is needed
to believe in angels. They are creatures whose presence goes beyond
what our senses can perceive.
They can however assume
sensible forms as mentioned several times in the Bible. But
essentially, they are pure spirits.
In this regard, it might be
good to cite that episode when Christ met Nathanael for the first
time. (Jn 1,47-51) It’s a concrete example of Christ mentioning
angels, thereby confirming the existence of angels not only by the
highest authority we can have, but the very source of authority
When the faith of Nathanael
was stirred when Christ told him something mysterious, Christ told
him: “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig
tree? Amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of
God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Besides, testimonies of
saints and many other men and women through the ages are abundant
regarding their encounters with angels, as well as demons. Angels
exist. They are real. It’s good to be aware of this reality and
conform ourselves to it accordingly.
As spirit, angels are pure
intelligence and will. That’s what we have in common in them. That’s
why we are also spiritual in nature, except that ours is fused
together with our materiality.
As pure spirits, angels are
not subject to space and time as we are. Their knowing, willing and
loving, which are the spiritual operations, are done in an
instantaneous and intuitive way. And the God that they know, will and
love is held in a definitive way.
In our case, our knowing,
willing and loving go through stages. There is some kind of
processing, of sensing and apprehending, then judging, then reasoning
Though angels are angels and
men are men, two different creatures that should not be compared
unfairly, there is also good reason that we should try to be angelic,
in the sense that, like angels, what we know, will and love should be
done and held in an intuitive, definitive and conclusive way as much
Thus, some saints are
described as angelic because their thinking and loving approximate the
way angels know and love. They only had God in their mind, heart and
intentions, and in their senses, words and deeds. Everything else was
always referred to God.
Obviously, the difference we
have with the angels has to be maintained, in the sense that our
knowing and loving which have God as the primary object, the beginning
and end, should be incarnated, materialized and translated into deeds,
and not just kept in the spiritual level, in the world of ideas and
In other words, we have to
strengthen what we have in common with the angels, but doing them in
accordance to our nature which is a blend between the spiritual and
In this regard, we have to
sharpen our intellectual, willing and loving powers, seeing to it that
they are firmly grounded on God and clearly oriented toward him. We
have to be wary of our tendency to be entangled with the material
dimension of our life to the point of making the material, temporal
and worldly as the leading principle of our life.
But we also have to make
sure that just as we have to strengthen what we have in common with
the angels, we also have to strengthen what makes us different from
them. We have to consider our materiality and temporality as important
as our spirituality.
We as man are a union of
body and soul, constituted both materially and spiritually. While we
make a distinction between the two, in our life they are meant to be
together. While there is a temporary separation of the two at our
death, there will be a reunification at the end of time with the
resurrection of the body.
We have to foster a great
devotion to the holy angels, making that devotion a source of many
practical resolutions, freed from sheer sentimentalism.
challenges DOE and ERC to disclose true reserve power
A Press Statement by the Trade
Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa)
September 24, 2014
The Trade Union Congress of
the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa) challenged both the Energy
Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Department of Energy (DOE) to disclose
their power supply data.
If the ERC which is supposed
to be the independent power regulator has not spoken about an
impending power shortage in 2015, even as the DOE is all over the
place announcing a 300 megawatt deficit that can climb to 800
megawatt. Perhaps the ERC is aware of the existence of other sources
We stressed the importance
of correct data in undertaking power policy. If DOE has incorrect
data, then the wrong arguments are being advanced and that’s is why
false solutions which are very expensive such as gas turbines, power
barges, and generator sets are now being prioritized.
TUCP-Nagkaisa pointed out
that the DOE proposal of contracting P12 billion of capacity – 300
megawatt genset or power barge with another 300 megawatt as reserve –
will translate into easily a 50-centavo per kilowatt hour increase to
be borne by all power consumers nationwide for two years. This will be
an additional burden that workers and consumers can ill afford.
On the other hand, the
TUCP-Nagkaia said that here are perhaps other more cost-effective
solutions such as the Interruptible Load Program.
We are not comfortable with
the ILP because it smacks of Meralco consumers subsidizing business
and malls running their own generators to power up their
airconditioning and electricity powered operations. However, it might,
in the short run, be the least cost solution and power barges which
are so expensive. It’s just like buying 15 reserve tires when all you
need is 1 for your car.
There is 1,300 mw of ILP out
there. The question is who is campaigning for ILP participants to come
on board to address the power crisis. Or is the DOE leaving the
negotiating to Meralco? We can safely assume that it is being left
entirely up to Meralco and that the DOE is again abdicating on its
responsibilities. What has the DOE has done? Have they requested the
President and the economic cluster of the cabinet to campaign with the
potential ILP participants to open themselves to the ILP?
factor in ILP using diesel at P45 per liter as costing the consumers
only an additional 10 centavos per kilowatt hour. You will have the
added advantage that the 10 centavo increase will only be for the
months you actually use ILP which can be as little as 3 months. Also,
only customers in Luzon will be burdened, sparing Visayas and
TUCP-Nagkaisa has also
advanced the adoption of corporate-wid – and not just voluntary –
demand-side management (DSM). Raising airconditioning by 1 degree will
result in less demand for power and free up capacity.
We are looking at DSM where
industrial operations will be compensated for running at off-peak
hours. Why doesn’t ERC and DOE look to a solution that will not bring
up power rates and that will lower carbon emission.
“But the first thing is to
get the data right. Even now TUCP suspects that a lot of available
power is being concealed. Take the retail suppliers who are providing
the power needs of big industrial and commercial power users. Only 60%
of the total capacity they have is under take-or-pay contracts with
these large users. Where is the rest of the 40%? Are they just waiting
for ERC to lift its current cap on prices in the WESM? And there is no
more cap they will bid in?”
TUCP has conditionally
supported the grant of emergency powers as long as it does not
increase power rates. We warned that an increase in the price of power
is sure to create an inflationary domino effect. Power is not a “stand
Take the matter of workers
disposable incomes which are constantly being erode by high price of
power. A 24-month period where power rates are jacked up by 50
centavos per kilowatt hour which does not yet factor in additional
generation, transmission and distribution charges is sure to wreak
havoc on the already meager salaries of workers. It will surely
trigger an increase in the prices of basic goods and services, we will
be left with no other response except to seek an increase in wages.
green party supports protest against mining in the Philippines!
A Press statement by the
September 17, 2014
Partido Luntian, an emerging
national green political party operating in 9 regions, 27 provinces
and 52 major cities nationwide, expresses its solidarity and support
for the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and other anti mining advocates in
their weeklong campaign to protest continued mining operations in the
Philippines within the context of the Mining Act of 2005.
The emerging green party
stands firm on its position of “minimizing mining” in the Philippines.
We are pushing that “...mining be accorded least priority among the
options for land use and revenue generations; with a minerals
management regime that prioritize local community development and
appropriate income for the government, equitable distribution of
benefits and shared responsibility among all stakeholders”
Current mining in the
Philippine is not contributing to sustainable development. According
to Kalikasan Muna Zambales Movement Convenor and Party Central Luzon
Chapter Chairperson Hilary “Padz” Pangan, “Zambales is now one of the
poorest province in the country, yet with the most number of mines!”
“What we have in the
Philippines is unsustainable extraction of our finite natural
resources. We oppose this especially so that it has not brought better
economic development”, adds Pacencia Milan, Ph.D., Eastern Visayas
Regional Chapter Party Chair. Dr. Pacing is part of VEAM (VISCA
Environmental Movement) in Baybay City, Leyte and together with other
academic institutions successfully opposed mining by pushing their
city council to passed a local ordinance for a moratorium of mining in
Baybay City. “While in other areas where mining has happen; like in
MacArthur, Leyte and in many other communities nationwide, citizens
are opposing mining such as the black sand mining in MacArthur as it
destroys their rivers and rice fields”, she adds.
“Our current mining system
threatens our food security and promotes further conflicts within
communities. It threatens the tri-people of Mindanao” declares
Abdullah “Aby” Pato, Party Central Mindanao Chapter Chairperson who is
also Lead Convenor of Task Force Food Sovereignty from Kidapawan City.
He explains further that the mining operations in Columbio, Sultan
Kudarat is causing massive erosion impacting on critical catch basins
such as the Liguasan Marsh, a biodiversity-rich ecosystem and home to
many species endemic to the marsh.
As members of the ATM
protest the International Conference hosted by the COMP (Chamber of
Mines of the Philippines) and march in the historic Mendiola to bring
the opposition of a growing number of local communities against mining
to the doorsteps of Malacanang Palace, we voice our solidarity with
them for this struggle.
We continue to commit
support for the passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB)
that will rationalize, nationalize and fundamentally reform mining
focusing it and minimizing it to a point that it serves directly our
national green development goals and acting only as last resort after
optimizing on mineral recycling and only in areas where a complete
natural resource valuation and proper land use assessment will show
that it does not compete with the use of land for food security and
forest and marine conservation.
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
September 8, 2014
WE have just celebrated on
September 8 the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the mother
of Christ, who is both God and man. Therefore she rightfully could be
called also as the Mother of God.
She is also our mother,
because Christ, before his death, gave her to us through St. John to
be our mother. “Behold your Mother,” he said. It would be good if we
get more aware of this truth and act accordingly, developing a deep
Marian devotion that would always of full of practical effects.
That is why I like that
Latin Marian aspiration: “Beata Maria Virgine, mater Dei et mater
nostra.” (O Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God and our mother).
It’s an exquisite, heartwarming reminder of the truth of our faith
that we all belong to the family of God, despite our huge and
Her birthday, of course, is
a great occasion for joy. It’s a big family celebration where all the
children from all corners of the world gather together, spiritually
and morally more than physically, to be with their mother, greeting
her and showing her our filial affection.
We may not get along well
among ourselves, divided as we are in our cultural and social
conditions, not to mention our political and economic views. But on
this anniversary of the nativity of our common heavenly mother, we
rise above these differences and unite ourselves with the sole purpose
of making our mother happy.
Obviously what would make
her most happy and what would comprise as the best gift we can give
her on her birthday is when we make another renewal of our promise to
love God above all things and to love others for love of God. This
would make her most happy, since this will be the fulfillment of her
fondest desire for us.
Her birthday, of course, is
a good occasion to pause and reflect again more deeply on the
importance and relevance of our Mother Mary in our lives. She is the
most privileged person, all full of grace from her conception to her
death, assumed to heaven body and soul and crowned as queen of the
She is truly a mother who never stops in taking care of us, of
interceding for us before our Father God, especially when we have
something serious to settle with him.
She is our unconditional
advocate and defender, ever willing to put a good word on our behalf
before the divine seat of justice. She will always try to soften God’s
justice and to gain for us his mercy. She is the very channel of grace
from God to us.
We can also take the
occasion of her birthday to reflect on the significance of birthdays
in general. A birthday is always a happy event, since it is a
celebration of life, a great gift from God, completely gratuitous. It
is the vehicle that bears and carries all the graces and blessings
With one’s birth, it’s like
God is all willing to go through an adventure with us that would be an
exciting, suspenseful interplay of God’s love and our freedom to love
him return or not. He is giving us everything, even raising us to be
children of his, made into his image and likeness.
We are all free to uphold
that dignity or mess it up beyond recognition. Still God, with is ever
powerful, wise and merciful providence, would do everything, including
the very mysterious ones, unknown to us, to draw us to him even while
respecting our freedom. Evil would not have the last word. It’s God’s
love and mercy.
These truths of our faith
should be in our mind whenever we celebrate the birthday of someone.
That spontaneous joy we experience when someone is born is due more to
these truths than the mere physical appearance of the baby.
These truths may not be
explicitly articulated, but they are there deeply embedded in our
consciences. That’s why it’s good that from time to time we sit back
and reflect on the significance of birthdays, and update our
consciousness to these fundamental truths.
Better still, we can make
use of the initial human reasons for joy to arrive at the more
fundamental theological reasons behind one’s birthday. God never
suppresses our humanity. He is always respectful of it and continues
to enrich it with his graces.
It is more for us to discern
the abiding workings of divine providence in our life and cooperate
with it as best as we can. Mother Mary can help us greatly in this.