Sunday, May 31, 2009

We have to begin and end with God always!

Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE)
Talamban, Cebu City

The good thing about problems and difficulties like what we are having now with the much-talked-about global financial crisis is that we can surface again an often ignored truth.

And that is that the human spirit can take on anything, even to the point of heroism and martyrdom. If one wills something, nothing from outside nor inside him can stop him from carrying out what he has decided to do. Much depends on how we use and turn our will.

This is how our spirit is. It has the capacity to be above the fluctuations, the ebb and flow of life, its unavoidable wear and tear. Though in our case, it is inseparably united to the body, it still can function according to its nature and rule the body. This is when we can talk of the spiritual man.

The problem is when we allow that spirit to be dominated by the law of the flesh, instead of having it the other way around. This is the challenge we have at the moment—how to make that human spirit rule the ups and downs of the flesh and the outside world.
As chaplain of a technical vocational school for boys, I clearly see the need to give a continuing and effective reason for the spirit of the boys to float and even take off. Their faith has to be nourished steadily.

This is a task that truly demands the art of brinkmanship. We have to go to the limits of reason and to other human devices to be able to infuse the needed hope and optimism to otherwise harassed souls.

It's also a very delicate task, because one has to enter into the interior life of the boys. One needs how to deal with their character and temperament, their psychological frame, their cultural upbringing, etc.

Given their youthfulness, the boys can be unstable and volatile, quickly alternating between buoyancy and lethargy, creativity and routine, razor-sharp interest and dulling indifference.

It's clear their spirit is not yet in full control of their own selves. They can easily be held captive by their moods and the fads and gimmicks outside. They are not yet with God's grace self-propelled. They have to be propped up most of the time.
Thus, we have implemented some kind of universal mentoring, that is, providing everyone with a mentor or a buddy with whom they can talk about all sorts of things.

But with the present global economic downturn where some of our boys now find difficulty in getting a job, there is great need to elicit in them their enterprising and entrepreneurial possibilities. Only those who work with faith and hope can survive any onslaught of trials.

For this, we have thought of pairing each one with a business mentor, no matter how modest the business may be. This is just to expose the boys to the real world of making business, of making money from any venture.

It's also a good way of snatching them from the claws of helplessness, always a threat to them given their background. It would be quite a blow to them if after all their sacrifices in trying to get some education, they'd see that everything just fell to futility.
Difficulties are actually challenges and occasions either to rise or fall, to win or lose. We should not allow these trials to just scare us. They should be confronted properly in a variety of ways.

One would be to generate an air of optimism. Everything that would contribute to making the atmosphere hopeful should be done. We have to be careful with our words and spontaneous reactions to negative developments.

This hope and optimism should be ably supported by a strong, solid spiritual life, first of all, and by practical plans and practicable strategies. There has to be a way of making more available quick and flexible retraining programs, for example, spearheaded by both government and NGOs.

The world nowadays is in faster flux. To effectively grapple with the challenges and possibilities, there has to be a tighter sense of solidarity and cooperation, a quicker transmission of ideas and translation of insights into action.

All of these should be deeply anchored on the true foundation of our life, God himself! Let's disabuse ourselves from thinking that with our cleverness and our resources, we can manage to solve problems. We have to begin and end with God always!

Kayaking in Negros Island, Philippines

"Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be." – Karen Ravn

Most of us ordinary mortals exists on a "routinary" lifestyle, a monotony of acts and deeds we have been so used to, that we don't even notice that this has become our way of life; and then we start to believe, that this is living life to the full.
To the more enlightened however, there is more to life than simply waking up getting dressed, for work, pay, exercise, come home, sleep, and waking-up the next day for more of the same.

For in between these ordinary activities, he squeezes a dream, crafts a plan and creates the time for the execution of something that would bring him out of his mundane existence to test his mental faculties and physical limits.  He starts to live on instincts, tests himself not against anybody, but alongside nature and its unpredictable temperament.

Among these rare breed are the outdoors people.  Living life on the edge every now and then, gives them a unique appreciation of what life is, how it should be lived and how the trappings of modern living, most of us think essential are irrelevant to life.  We know them as those who have an irrepressible desire for living simply, they are either insanely happy or serene individuals who we could only describe as "Way Kurat".

With these outdoors people are the Bohol Paddlers, a motley group of Kayaking enthusiasts under the umbrella of Paddle Philippines.  Aside from regular test of physical endurance and mental strength against the seas on their ocean touring kayaks; these people have a two pronged advocacy: (1) to help preserve the environment through the need of clean coastal waters for recreation use such as kayaking; (2) to promote tourism through kayaking.

Kayaking on the other hand is an eco-friendly water sports activity; that causes very minimal impact on the environment.  This, while allowing the paddler to reach into hitherto unreachable areas along the coast, in hidden coves and mangrove areas.  A kayak is the perfect man-powered touring vehicle on the water that could take you anywhere, akin to what and where a bike can take a rider on land.

By early June this year, the Bohol Paddlers would again take on a challenge that would test the limits of their endurance physically and mentally.  The group would take on the First circumnavigation by kayak of the island of Negros.

In 2001, it was Bohol the home province, circumnavigating it in 8 leisurely days.  It was during this time that, the dream to circumnavigate all of the islands of the Central Visayas, started; promoting the advocacies of the group was an essential part of that dream.

It took some time for the dream to materialize, as other worthwhile activities came-up; such as the montly "moonlight paddling" and the weekend "day paddles".  Finally on the 1st of June, 2007, the group took on Cebu and in a blistering pace of 50 kilometers average per day, conquering that island in 81/2 days.

Siquijor was the third island to be circumnavigated, taking the island in just 11/2 days, this was more like a weekend outing, than a quest for limits as the island had very friendly people and magnificent coastal rock formation, that could take away the pain of weary muscles.

Negros would be by far the greatest challenge that the group would be facing so far.  It is estimated that if the paddlers would take on the pace by which the Cebu circumnavigation was done, Negros would be completed in just 14 days, with a full days rest in Bacolod, starting from Dumaguete.  The circumnavigation core group would be Dok Doyet Dumaluan, Atty. Peter Mende, Angelo Ybañez, Junie Dumaluan, Jerome the paddler, Patrick Mahumot, Vincent Limpo, Joel Cagas, Ritchie Montanez and Glenn Oceña.
A lot of us may venture to ask, "Why?" and the paddlers answer to that question would be "Why not?".  The whole world as we know it now, was opened up because of these kind of people, intrepid individuals who dare to do what most people would not even dare imagine, to venture out and test their limits, to go into unpredictable and unknown territories.  They are the people who try to live life to the fullest.

A person will be called to account on Judgement Day for every permissible thing he might have enjoyed but did not. – Talmud
If I had my life to live over again, I'd try to make more mistakes next time.  I would relax.  I'd be sillier than I have been on this trip.  I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers and watch more sunsets.  I would have more actual troubles and less imaginary ones.  Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them.  In fact, I'd try to have nothing else, just moments, one after another…I would pick more daisies. – Nadine Stair (at age 89)

Political Parties and Political Interest in the Philippines

By Romy Teruel
Sunday Post Columnist

The marriage of  Lakas-CMD and Kampi political parties last week was described in many ways.  Some said it was a merger that ensures a political sweep for the party in the 2010 elections.  Others said it was a political suicide given the track record of the administration on issues like corruption. 

 The absence of key party leaders like former President Fidel Ramos, President Emeritus of Lakas-CMD, Congressman Luis Villafuerte, President of Kampi, Jose de Venecia, Lakas Founder, presidential hopefuls Bayani Fernando and Senator Richard Gordon was also viewed as cracks in the new political party.

 Ramos claimed many members were kept in the dark about the merger.  He said there was no consultation with the major stakeholders and the haste with which the merger was done signified a hidden agenda of some party leaders.

 On the other hand, former President Erap Estrada viewed the merger as a publicity stunt and will not have any negative effect on the opposition.

 While Bayani Fernando said he won't leave the party, he was disturbed that non-party members were being considered for the Presidential standard bearer like Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and Vice President Noli de Castro.

 By all measure a bigger party as a result of merger will always be strong notwithstanding issues among the members. Thus it cannot be denied that the merger is a looming typhoon set to swoop upon the opposition who are up to now as divided as ever as they have been.  Unless the different political parties of the opposition can gather their acts together and field just one Presidential candidate, they will have a problem wresting power from the present dispensation no matter how divided.

 The worst that can happen to the opposition is when Senators Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda, Ping Lacson, Manny Villar. Chiz Escudero and Jejomar Binay would all be running for President.  If they run for President, Erap said he would also run for President.  How will they fare against the lone standard bearer of Lakas-CMD-Kampi?

 What differentiates Filipino politicians with those of other countries like the United States is that Filipino politicians are politicians first and party members second.  That's how the multi-party system came about in the Philippines.

 Expect more political parties being organized when the Presidential hopefuls don't win their political party nomination.  Everybody will think he can do a Ramos and become President of the Philippines even without the support of his/her political party.  They think they know the Filipino voters very well.  Filipino voters don't consider political party platforms and philosophy.  They look for the popular and the moneyed candidates when voting for a candiddate.

 On the local level, it is not yet clear whether the merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi has helped Gov. Erico B. Aumentado on his Solomonic problem of who to anoint between Cong. Edgar Chatto and Vice Governor Julius Caesar Herrera as the Lakas-CMD-Kampi candidate for Governor in the next elections. Neither Edgar nor Julius has bolted the party. So they remain contenders for party nomination.

 What has helped the two perhaps is that whoever is rejected can always run in the opposition political party. After all the Presidential candidates will always be looking for their local candidates to run their campaign in the local level.

 This is proof that in the Philippines there are no real political parties, only political interests. And that's pathetic, to say the least.