Ferddie's World

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

1st CFC-GK Quezon City Household Christmas Party at Casa Meloto

Two Monday evenings ago (December 12) my community household held its first Christmas party as a CFC-GK, Q.C. household. Sadly, unlike in the previous years my wife Odette couldn’t be there with us because she wasn’t feeling well and had to come home earlier from her office due to her condition. Still, the attendance of those present during this Christmas gathering was a strong testament to the resolve and dedication of those who remained faithful to what we believed as the genuine CFC mission and work with the poor through Gawad Kalinga (GK).

Potluck food abound

Now for the third straight year, the household’s Christmas party had been held at the Meloto residence in New Capitol Estates (NCE) II. As a term of endearment, we came to refer to it as “Casa Meloto”.

Like last year, Odette and I were assigned to bring vegetable salad. Like before, I we tried to bring in a good variety of food “adjuncts” to the leafy salad to give our brethren more variety and richness of choice for their individual salad preparations.

We all had our assignments and “specialties”. For example, Bro. Willy Bagsarsa is known for his specially crafted and all-time favorite “tuna kinilaw” (raw fish immersed in spicy vinegar). Bro. Gerry Santos utilized his cooking skills for a big warm pot of “shabu-shabu” which he mixed on-site bringing along several condiments to also allow the individual to choose how spicy he or she may want her soup to taste.

“Chef” Bro. Gerry Santos prepares the much awaited shabu- shabu

Brethren prepare for the thanksgiving prayer led by host Bro. Tony Meloto

Exchange gifts are properly labeled by Sis. Thelma Grana as Bros. Willy Bagsarsa and Omin del Castillo looked on

A variety of colorful fruits

Eating time!

Green and fruity salad, chicken, spicy shabu-shabu soup and kinilaw na tanigue (raw fish marinated in vinegar) were my favorites that night

Sisters Celes Naguiat and Lyn Meloto are all smiles

Everyone was quite “busy” with their gastronomic choices

The wives prepare for their yearly gift “grabbing”…este…“giving” tradition

While the men engage in a healthy colloquy

The game begins!

After the opening of gifts, what soon followed was a hilarious protracted series of gifts changing hands

Since my wife was absent, I had to play on our behalf. I didn’t exactly know all the game mechanics but enough to know that it was a wacky game that never seems to end! Just when you think you choose a gift you like, someone in the next round of drawing cards gets it again from you.

When the smoke cleared, I got a nice blue long-sleeved dress shirt, a set of salt and pepper shakers and a environmentally friendly plastic storage box (which was one of the gifts Lovey and I actually bought).

Bro. Steve Kruger led the closing prayer

As the gathering drew to a close, we again thanked God for all the blessings we had received individually and as a group. Despite the trials and difficulties we had to endure this year in relation with the establishment of CFC-GK, Q.C., this year was a test of strength of character and commitment to a cause to genuinely serve God by serving the poor.

We move forward to 2012 with renewed hope and resolve to continue the mission and vision of CFC-GK!

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

BIR Flag Raising Ceremony Talk: “Public Servants can be God-Fearing”

The Bureau of Internal Revenue or BIR.

In the Philippines, the said office often conjures up images of graft and corruption to many locals and foreigners alike. Imagine the look on my face when I was invited to speak before officials and employees of the BIR’s National Office during their flag ceremonies earlier this month. My anxieties arose not so much because of the perceived anomalies that the BIR was infamous for because I knew a lot of good people in that office, but rather how a simple civil servant like me could take this God-given opportunity and make the best out of it.

The topic, “Public servants can be God-fearing”, was in itself a challenging one. But as a public servant myself, it was something quite personal, extremely timely and relevant.

When the time came, I’d like to believe I delivered my talk with a calm spirit and a heartfelt conviction. The people roughly numbering a thousand in front of me were relatively quiet and attentive, at the very least; probably curious to what a long haired guy from the Office of the Ombudsman had to say. During my talk, pleasantly, I saw heads nodding, faces bright as if brimming with affirmation. Others were more pensive, but I knew if I got them thinking, their introspection may lead to self improvement which was always a good thing.

By the end of the program, I was deeply humbled by the numerous handshakes and laudatory remarks from both friends and strangers. One lady whom I didn’t know struck me with her comment. Smiling she said, “You made your message clear!” An objective I had imposed on myself earlier on.

That same message I share with you with this posting.

May it be a blessing to you and to everyone who reads it!

BIR Flag Raising Ceremony Talk

“Public Servants can be God-Fearing”

By Fernando M. Mendoza, Graft Investigation Officer II
Research and Special Studies Bureau (RSSB)
Office of the Ombudsman
December 5, 2011

When I first learned I was being considered to talk before you on a topic entitled “Public servants can be God-fearing”, I was a bit perplexed as to how to approach it. There was really no problem as to references as there tons of material on the subject. But with regard to dispensing one’s responsibilities as a public servant, I wanted to make my message to be crystal clear.

Typically, the term ‘God-fearing’ meant reverence for or obedience to the Almighty. Some define it at fear of the consequences of one’s disrespect or disobedience to God. In other words, it becomes a fear of damnation, a fear of the fires of hell.

Personally, I look at God very much like my own father. Someone I feared if I did something really wrong. But for much of the time, I saw him as someone I respected and obeyed, because I had faith and love for him.

The Book of Proverbs affirms that the fear of the Lord is the start of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1).

Psalm 128 declares:

“Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; Your children like olive plants around your table.

Behold, thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion: may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.”

Psalm 128

In which case, the prophet Isaiah was right in saying that this timor sanctus or ‘holy fear’ of the Lord is a treasure (Isaiah 33:6) and in effect, a reward in itself.

Surveys have discovered that many people hate their work. They don’t look forward to going to work; instead they are bored and tired of it. Many dream of winning the lottery so they shall never have to work another day in their lives.

But God didn’t create us to be bored and discontented by our work. He created us to serve him in everything we do, including our work. We can surmise from numerous biblical passages that the fear of God signified worship. Actually, the word “work” in Scripture is another term for “worship”. God wants us to enjoy our work because our work brings glory to God. In fact, it’s one way of worshipping the Lord.

Writing to the Colossians St. Paul said:

“Everything you do or say, then, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17)

Later, in the same epistle he wrote that we should be happy in our work putting our whole heart into it because we are not working for men, but rather for God. (Colossians 3:23)

To the church in Corinth, St. Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10: 31)

So finally, this brings me to a story I want to share with you this morning to emphasize the lucid connection of being God-fearing, to our work as public servants and how we can worship and glorify him by serving the public. It is entitled “What will my reward be?”

One day a fisherman was lying on a beautiful beach, with his fishing pole propped up in the sand and his soldier line cast out into the sparkling blue surf. He was enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and the prospect of catching a fish.

About that time, a businessman came walking down the beach, trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and decided to find out why this fisherman was fishing instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family. “You aren’t going to catch many fish that way,” said the businessman to the fisherman. “You should be working rather than lying on the beach!”

The fisherman looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, “And what will my reward be?”

“Well, you can get bigger nets and catch more fish!” was the businessman’s answer.

“And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman, still smiling.

The businessman replied, “You will make money and you’ll be able to buy a boat, which will then result in larger catches of fish!”

“And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman again.

The businessman was beginning to get a little irritated with the fisherman’s questions. “You can buy a bigger boat, and hire some people to work for you!” he said.

“And then what will my reward be?” repeated the fisherman.

The businessman was getting angry. “Don’t you understand? You can build up a fleet of fishing boats, sail all over the world, and let all your employees catch fish for you!”

Once again the fisherman asked, “And then what will my reward be?”

The businessman was red with rage and shouted at the fisherman, “Don’t you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your days sitting on this beach, looking at the sunset. You won’t have a care in the world!”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “And what do you think am I doing right now?”

There are many people who work extremely hard during their lives to achieve happiness. But what is the real reward that comes from working, in this case public service? The business man in the story never really satisfactorily answered that question. But we are public servants. Does that mean the moral lesson of the story does not apply to us? On the contrary, it does, more to us than to anyone else in society, because we chose a vocation of public service.

As God-fearing civil servants, let us remember that true happiness comes from serving God and not from accumulating wealth. Our ultimate reward is that God is glorified if we do our work well, and we are fulfilled as human beings – because that is what we were created to do. If you decide to glorify God in your work, you will not only be happy and fulfilled, God shall meet all your needs as well.

I wish everyone a fruitful, productive and God-filled week ahead! Thank you and may God bless us all!


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Close encounters with Asteriod 2005 YU55

Goldstone radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 taken November 7, 2011

If I’m not mistaken, sometime this morning, an asteroid named 2005 YU55 made its closest recorded approach to the Earth.

Discovered on December 28, 2005 by Robert S. McMillan of the Spacewatch Program at the Steward Observatory in Kitt Peak, near Tucson, Arizona, asteroid 2005 YU55 was expected to have passed by the earth (8 November 2011 at 23:28 UT) from a lunar distance of 0.85 (324,600 kilometers or 201,700 miles). This is said to be the closest known approach by an asteroid with an absolute magnitude this bright since asteroid 2010 XC15 passed by within 0.5 lunar distances way back in 1976.

Early last year 2005 YU55 was rated 1 on the Torino Scale signifying that its passing near the Earth would pose no high level of threat. Greatly accurate radar targeting by the Arecibo radio telescope on the same year erased any likelihood of an Earth impact in the next 100 years. It has since then been removed from the Sentry Risk Table and has a current rating of 0 on the Torino Scale.

Trajectory of asteroid 2005 YU55 compared to the orbits of the Earth and the Moon on 8–9 November 2011

Measured approximately 400 meters across, asteroid 2005 YU55 is relatively bigger than an aircraft carrier. According to Professor Jay Melosh who specializes in Earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University, if it were to hit land, he estimates the asteroid shall form a crater four miles wide or 6.3 kilometers across and 1,700 feet (518m meters) deep, and would generate a 7.0 magnitude earthquake and 70-foot-high tsunami waves.

Famous flybys of Near-Earth objects

The next time a known asteroid this size shall come this near to the Earth (that we expect in advance) will be in 2028 when asteroid (153814) 2001 WN5 passes 0.00166 AU (248,000 km; 154,000 mi) or within 0.6 lunar distances from the Earth.

Roughly spherical and spinning slowly, 2005 YU55 was examined to be darker than charcoal, according to NASA’s radar observations. Categorized as a C-type asteroid, it is believed to be rich in carbon-based molecules, life’s building blocks here on our planet. Billions of years ago, when the solar system was still in its infancy, asteroids like 2005 YU55 likely fell on Earth almost on a regular basis carrying organic carbon-based materials forming primeval soups of life.

It is said that many asteroids often pass this close, but most are relatively minute. Moreover, these cosmic objects while numbering in the thousands plunge into the atmosphere every day, but consequently burn up posing no danger to man.

In its present condition, I wouldn’t have probably seen it anyway even if it was evening here in the Philippines. At its brightest, it is said to appear like a magnitude 11 star, which is about a hundred times dimmer than the limit of human vision if a person was looking at the night sky from a dark place and in clear weather. Amateur astronomers may be able to spot it slowly moving against the stellar background that is if their telescopes have a very wide aperture.

May this near-Earth object’s passage serve as a strong wake up call to the countries of the world that we need to work together and at least PLAN what to do if some asteroid in the future seems to be in a collision course with our planetary home.

For now, 2005 YU55 disappears into the void, following an elliptical orbit that will bring it near to the sun as Venus and as far away as Mars.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A prayer for Teachers (in celebration of World Teachers’ Day 2011)

October 5 is World Teachers' Day!

Everyone has at least one who comes to mind. A person, who made you think about life, made you laugh…or even made you cry. Someone who made an impression on you, someone you looked up to…someone you wanted to be like when you grow up. You remember a teacher who never gave up on you…even when you felt everyone did.

People say that teaching is the noblest of professions. Others say “those who cannot, teach.” Either way, teachers for better or for worse, mold and shape the hearts and minds of every generation. Often their ideas and actions serve as the best example of what they preach. Thus with teachers apply the same adage often ascribed to fictional “superheroes” – “with great power comes great responsibility”.

I should know, because I taught as one for several years in one college and two universities. At present, I continue to teach in a non-formal way, often when I give talks on pastoral formation or some related stuff. As a parent, you always wear a hat of a teacher to your children. In this sense, my children are my most important students.

As fitting tribute to all the dedicated and loving teachers around the world, I offer this prayer for teachers that one of my kids brought home from school. There is no mention of the author’s name on the mimeographed piece of paper. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone could recognize the author of this beautiful prayer for proper recognition. I truly believe he or she would have wanted to share it with the most number of people in the world.

To all the teachers of the world, may you be guided, protected and blessed by the greatest of all teachers, the Lord Christ Jesus!

A Prayer For Teachers

Giver of All Wisdom and Greatest of all Teachers,

Look upon our teachers with love.

Grant them the resolve

To nurture our eager minds.

And to never give up on us who fall behind

Bless their hearts.

For they rejoice when we fail.

Endow them with gentle patience

For the path of learning is never easy.

Kindle a spirit of passion in them

It is the flame that ignites the love of learning in us.

Help them see the potential in each student

Their belief in us means much more than the grade we make.

Instill in them a commitment to keep on learning

It shows us to not fear new knowledge and experiences.

Inspire them to touch the future

They influence how big a dream we dream for ourselves.

Bless our teachers who have come before

For their work endures to this day.

Let the light of Your example shine upon all teachers.

To build up with their words,

To love with their mind, and

To share with their heart.



Saturday, June 25, 2011

100 Years of La Sallian Education in the Philippines

“Hail, hail, alma mater

Hail to De La Salle…”

I couldn’t keep those words from constantly ringing in my head these last few days.

That’s because last June 16, the whole La Sallian community in the Philippines celebrated its 100th year anniversary in the country. There was at least one pre-anniversary celebration I learned of, but the biggest and grandest one was surely the one held that day at De La Salle University itself at Taft Avenue, Manila.

I decided not to go that Thursday evening despite invitations, telling myself it wasn’t practical to go as it was too far away, and that it was rainy these past few days and that if I was caught in the all evening revelry, I would have surely been late for the important focus group discussion (FGD) I was going to conduct the following day at the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines on Patent and Trademark Registration relative to a series of Anti-Red Tape Assessment studies our Bureau was undertaking at the Office of the Ombudsman.

A few days after, here I am trying not to regret not being there with my wife, a momentous moment in the academic institution of our late youth. Instead, as personal penance, I gather my energies in blogging a post about De La Salle University in honor of its centennial celebration. After all, La Salle had a dramatic impact on my life. I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now if not for my La Sallian education.

As an undergrad student and later as a college instructor, I saw the good, the bad and even the ugly side of its much acclaimed educational system.

A large part of my beliefs and outlook on life were shaped while I was there. I’ll even go to the extent of saying I found most of my true loves while when I was in La Salle.

Love for the sport

I have always been absorbed with the martial arts even when I was a young child. I grew up trying to imitate Bruce Lee with my blue plastic nunchaku. Then there were the samurai and ninja movies. Then in the mid 80’s came the Karate Kid series. But it was the prodding of an Introduction to Sociology (INTROSO) instructor that formally brought me to the world of Karate-do, particularly in the “way of the empty hand” established by the founder of modern Japanese karate, Gichin Funakoshi and popularized by his son and countless students worldwide – Shotokan through the De La Salle Karate Society (DLSKS) under the auspices of our numerous sensei (instructors) from the Association for the Advancement of Karate-do (AAK). Having played and won on several occasions for my school was definitely a major milestone in my La Sallian experience.

Love of my country

I always thought I was patriotic but ironically it was in an ‘elitist’ school like La Salle that my nationalistic consciousness was awakened and where I got involved in militant student activism. It was in La Salle that I discovered the ‘isms’ of Philippine politics – Imperialism, Feudalism and Bureaucrat Capitalism, immersing myself in leftist ideologies and advancing ‘revolutionary’ changes in society. Later, socio-political realities gave me a better hindsight on things. After the EDSA I uprising, the subsequent alienation of the political left from the masses, the fall of so-called “communist” parties worldwide, and the overriding sentiment of the people towards peaceful electoral means for change significantly altered my radical world view. Now, I continue to be nationalistic, democratic and socialist in my world view minus the sloganeering and the romanticism often associated with the political left. . But all those changes in my later years at school stirred me into channeling my energies to what would be another passion in my life – education.

Love for education

Early on I thought I was going to be an architect, a businessman, then an economist or a historian. Before entering college in 1984, I even considered computer science (it was the fad then plus the perceived high pay). After realizing the numerous math subjects, I settled for a B & E course on Applied Economics. As fate would have it, I felt disenchanted with the thought of being an economist in a capitalistic economy I was much averse to, taking liberal arts subjects before the end of my freshman year, in preparation for my decision to shift, acceding to my natural love for the social sciences and taking up Political Science as my course major, minor in Philosophy. There I academically grew, enough to be later considered as a part time lecturer and subsequently as a full- time instructor in our department.

Work in the academe required higher studies. This in turn led to my equally significant and productive stay at the graduate school of UP - College of Public Administration as College Scholar (CS), Master in Public Administration (MPA) degree holder at the age of 19 and some doctoral units thereafter.

As an educator, I felt the strong camaraderie among my fellow faculty members, the respect and adulation of good and impressionistic students, the scorn of several students I failed, and the ire and lack of support of certain administrative officials due to my convictions and fight for academic freedom. By and large, I loved teaching in DLSU. At the end of the day, it really boils down as to whether as an educator, I felt I was able to impart some knowledge, some learning or some experience that would make my students in the process better persons in our society. If I got that feeling or affirmation, then I knew I earned my pay…and I earned my job and title as a teacher.

Love of my life

My wife and I both took our undergrad courses in this academic institution way back in the 1980s. Odette, one year my senior was a double Liberal Arts degree holder (AB Psychology and Behavioral Science) while I was a Political Science major. She was quite active with her student organization (BEST) while I was active (being an activist) with COSSA – a Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) affiliate and the Political Science Society (POLSCI).

Her family was one of the first residents of the GSIS Village in Project 8. We transferred to GSIS Village only in 1988 but I had no recollection of seeing her in the subdivision.

Strangely, we only met when we were already both teachers in our respective departments. It was due to our involvement in handling ORIENT classes for junior DLSU students that got to know each other. We quickly became good friends. In time, that friendship blossomed into true love and the rest they say was history.

I could go on and on with anecdotes, real life experiences, tales that would make you laugh, incidents that would make you cry or angry, tales that would inspire you…and give all of us hope.

I guess I’ve learned to accept my La Sallian experience the way we accept the other areas of our lives – accepting its wholeness, its totality. All with the good, the bad and the ugly. But with the hope that the good it emanates, is what I, along with other products of its educational system should promote, what we should pass on to the next generation of true blooded La Sallites.

I have this uncanny feeling that my involvement with my alma mater has not yet reached its final chapter. Until then and onwards…

“…we’ll fight to keep your glory bright,

And never shall we fail

Hail to thee, our alma mater,

Hail, hail, hail”!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Choosing Life, Rejecting The Reproductive Health Bill!

I am posting this month the Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) dated January 30, 2011 on the grave issue of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. For so many Congresses of the Philippine Legislature, proponents have sought to have this controversial bill passed through the House Committee on Health. This 15th Congress, it has reared its ugly head again. But this time around, showing its true colors in the Committee where many long suspected it now manifests its real purpose and objectives, the House Committee on Population.

The Pastoral Letter to my mind has been so far the most comprehensive, concise and incisive response to the claims and misinformation that proponents of the RH bill have been spreading on a massive scale. It was high time for the Catholic Church hierarchy in the country to go on a more pro-active mode in addressing the issue and informing the faithful about our religious and moral stand on this matter.

I call on every Catholic Christian, particularly those who are Filipino to read, study, disseminate, discuss and pray on the contents of this pastoral letter. Invoking the Holy Spirit, may He guide you into action to defend the traditional family and life in all its various stages.

I also urge our Christian brothers and sisters in other denominations to choose life, to protect it and unite with us in this advocacy.

May God bless the Philippines!

(A Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines)

Our Filipino Brothers and Sisters:

The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights (Art. II, Section 11). The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception (Art. II, Section 12).

We begin by citing the Philippine Constitution. We do so because we intend to write you on the basis of the fundamental ideals and aspirations of the Filipino people and not on the basis of specifically Catholic religious teachings.

We are at a crossroads as a nation. Before us are several versions of a proposed bill, the Reproductive Health bill or sanitized as a Responsible Parenthood bill. This proposed bill in all its versions calls us to make a moral choice: to choose life or to choose death.

At the outset we thank the government for affording us an opportunity to express our views in friendly dialogue. Sadly our dialogue has simply revealed how far apart our respective positions are. Therefore, instead of building false hopes, we wish at the present time to draw up clearly what we object to and what we stand for.

Moral Choices at the Crossroads — at EDSA I and Now

Twenty five years ago in 1986 we Catholic Bishops made a prophetic moral judgment on political leadership. With this prophetic declaration we believe that we somehow significantly helped open the door for EDSA I and a window of political integrity.

Today we come to a new national crossroads and we now have to make a similar moral choice. Our President rallied the country with the election cry, “Kung walang corrupt walang mahirap.” As religious leaders we believe that there is a greater form of corruption, namely, moral corruption which is really the root of all corruption. On the present issue, it would be morally corrupt to disregard the moral implications of the RH bill.

This is our unanimous collective moral judgment: We strongly reject the RH bill.

Commonly Shared Human and Cultural Values – Two Fundamental Principles

Far from being simply a Catholic issue, the RH bill is a major attack on authentic human values and on Filipino cultural values regarding human life that all of us have cherished since time immemorial.

Simply stated the RH Bill does not respect moral sense that is central to Filipino cultures. It is the product of the spirit of this world, a secularist, materialistic spirit that considers morality as a set of teachings from which one can choose, according to the spirit of the age. Some it accepts, others it does not accept. Unfortunately, we see the subtle spread of this post-modern spirit in our own Filipino society.

Our position stands firmly on two of the core principles commonly shared by all who believe in God:

(1) Human life is the most sacred physical gift with which God, the author of life, endows a human being. Placing artificial obstacles to prevent human life from being formed and being born most certainly contradicts this fundamental truth of human life. In the light of the widespread influence of the post-modern spirit in our world, we consider this position as nothing less than prophetic. As religious leaders we must proclaim this truth fearlessly in season and out of season.

(2) It is parents, cooperating with God, who bring children into the world. It is also they who have the primary inalienable right and responsibility to nurture them, care for them, and educate them that they might grow as mature persons according to the will of the Creator.

What We Specifically Object to in the RH Bill

Advocates contend that the RH bill promotes reproductive health. The RH Bill certainly does not. It does not protect the health of the sacred human life that is being formed or born. The very name “contraceptive” already reveals the anti-life nature of the means that the RH bill promotes. These artificial means are fatal to human life, either preventing it from fruition or actually destroying it. Moreover, scientists have known for a long time that contraceptives may cause cancer. Contraceptives are hazardous to a woman’s health.

Advocates also say that the RH bill will reduce abortion rates. But many scientific analysts themselves wonder why prevalent contraceptive use sometimes raises the abortion rate. In truth, contraceptives provide a false sense of security that takes away the inhibition to sexual activity. Scientists have noted numerous cases of contraceptive failure. Abortion is resorted to, an act that all religious traditions would judge as sinful. “Safe sex” to diminish abortion rate is false propaganda.

Advocates moreover say that the RH bill will prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. This goes against the grain of many available scientific data. In some countries where condom use is prevalent, HIV/ AIDS continues to spread. Condoms provide a false security that strongly entices individuals towards increased sexual activity, increasing likewise the incidence of HIV/AIDS. “Safe sex” to prevent HIV /AIDS is false propaganda.

Advocates also assert that the RH Bill empowers women with ownership of their own bodies. This is in line with the post-modern spirit declaring that women have power over their own bodies without the dictation of any religion. How misguided this so-called “new truth” is! For, indeed, as created by God our bodies are given to us to keep and nourish. We are stewards of our own bodies and we must follow God’s will on this matter according to an informed and right conscience. Such a conscience must certainly be enlightened and guided by religious and moral teachings provided by various religious and cultural traditions regarding the fundamental dignity and worth of human life.

Advocates also say that the RH bill is necessary to stop overpopulation and to escape from poverty. Our own government statistical office has concluded that there is no overpopulation in the Philippines but only the over-concentration of population in a number of urban centers. Despite other findings to the contrary, we must also consider the findings of a significant group of renowned economic scholars, including economic Nobel laureates, who have found no direct correlation between population and poverty. In fact, many Filipino scholars have concluded that population is not the cause of our poverty. The causes of our poverty are: flawed philosophies of development, misguided economic policies, greed, corruption, social inequities, lack of access to education, poor economic and social services, poor infrastructures, etc. World organizations estimate that in our country more than P400 billion pesos are lost yearly to corruption. The conclusion is unavoidable: for our country to escape from poverty, we have to address the real causes of poverty and not population.

In the light of the above, we express our clear objections:

1. We object to the non-consideration of moral principles, the bedrock of law, in legislative discussions of bills that are intended for the good of individuals and for the common good.

2. We are against the anti-life, anti-natal and contraceptive mentality that is reflected in media and in some proposed legislative bills.

3. We object strongly to efforts at railroading the passage of the RH bill.

4. We denounce the over-all trajectory of the RH bill towards population control.

5. We denounce the use of public funds for contraceptives and sterilization.

6. We condemn compulsory sex education that would effectively let parents abdicate their primary role of educating their own children, especially in an area of life – sexuality – which is a sacred gift of God.

What We Stand For

On this matter of proposed RH bills, these are our firm convictions:

1. We are deeply concerned about the plight of the many poor, especially of suffering women, who are struggling for a better life and who must seek it outside of our country, or have recourse to a livelihood less than decent.

2. We are pro-life. We must defend human life from the moment of conception or fertilization up to its natural end.

3. We believe in the responsible and natural regulation of births through Natural Family Planning for which character building is necessary which involves sacrifice, discipline and respect for the dignity of the spouse.

4. We believe that we are only stewards of our own bodies. Responsibility over our own bodies must follow the will of God who speaks to us through conscience.

5. We hold that on the choices related to the RH bill, conscience must not only be informed but most of all rightly guided through the teachings of one’s faith.

6. We believe in the freedom of religion and the right of conscientious objection in matters that are contrary to one’s faith. The sanctions and penalties embodied in the proposed RH bill are one more reason for us to denounce it.

Our Calls

As religious leaders we have deeply and prayerfully reflected on this burning issue. We have unanimously made the moral judgment – to reject the RH agenda and to choose life.

1. We call for a fundamental transformation of our attitudes and behavior towards all human life especially the most defenseless, namely, human life being formed or being conceived. The cheapness with which many seem to consider human life is a great bane to our religious-oriented nation.

2. We call upon our legislators to consider the RH bill in the light of the God-given dignity and worth of human life and, therefore, to shelve it completely as contrary to our ideals and aspirations as a people. We thank our legislators who have filed bills to defend human life from the moment of conception and call upon all other legislators to join their ranks.

3. We thank the great multitude of lay people all over the country, and particularly the dedicated groups who made their presence felt in the halls of Congress, to defend and promote our position. We call upon other lay people and adherents of other religions to join the advocacy to defend and promote our commonly shared ideals and aspirations.

4. We call on our government to address effectively the real causes of poverty such as corruption, lack of social and economic services, lack of access to education and the benefits of development, social inequities.

5. We call for the establishment of more hospitals and clinics in the rural areas, the deployment of more health personnel to provide more access to health services, the building of more schools, the provision of more aid to the poor for education, and the building of more and better infrastructures necessary for development.

6. We echo the challenge we prophetically uttered 25 years ago at EDSA I and call upon all people of good will who share our conviction: “…let us pray together, reason together, decide together, act together, always to the end that the truth prevail” over the many threats to human life and to our shared human and cultural values.

We commend our efforts against the RH bill (or the Responsible Parenthood bill – its new name) to the blessing of our almighty and loving God, from whom all life comes and for whom it is destined.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Bishop of Tandag
President, CBCP
January 30, 2011