DATU PAGLAS, MAGUINDANAO — Prayers echo from the minaret of a mosque through a vast banana plantation. Owned by a company called La Frutera, the 1,000-hectare land used to be a “killing field.” At the time, men in the area wound up either as members of secessionist groups or in the middle of a “rido” or clan war.
AS IN many other countries, family is sacred in the Philippines, invoked by bishops and business people, educators, and politicians. But we seem to up the ante on the family with all kinds of laws and official pronouncements.
The 1973 Constitution, for example, mentions that the State “shall strengthen the family as a basic social institution.” The statement sounds almost anemic when compared to the 1987 charter, which has an entire section declaring: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the government.”
PHILIPPINE POLITICS has probably become the biggest obstacle to our socio-human development as a people, the most depressing reality in the life of our country. The mere mention of the word “politics” brings many different pitiful visions and painful reactions. The term “politicos” immediately and strongly carries many connotations — except what is really good and true, what is altogether honest and just.
IN THE garden of peace that Sr. Luz Emmanuel Soriano began more than 15 years ago on the hilly Antipolo campus of Assumption College, there is evil on four legs, a stray cat that has a nasty habit of preying on the birds in the eco-park, leaving the good sister not too pleased. But even the cat that she calls a “witch” cannot seem to darken the mood of the Assumption nun, not even when she sees it slinking behind some bushes on a morning when the sky has gone gray and is threatening to unload more than a bit of rain. She simply harrumphs, the pesky cat scampers away, and Sr. Luz is back to chirping happily about the eaglets in the park, and their caretaker named Darigold.
THE FIRST time Fr. Romeo J. Intengan, SJ, was summoned by a woman who lived in Malacañang, he had to flee the country to avoid her wrath. The woman was Imelda Marcos; the year was 1980. More recently, in November 2005, he came under fire for supposedly presenting exit scenarios to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He admits she has sought his advice in the past regarding religious matters, but denies bringing up exit plans with her.
TOO OFTEN the Filipino youth is viewed with the conventional eyes of our elders: we are the future of the nation, we are the agents of change. The government counts on us to help save the country, civil society exhorts us to be vigilant, the media remind us often enough that we are the hope of the nation. For the most part, however, they are disappointed. Especially when it’s convenient, we remain incomprehensible to our elders, and it’s easy to see why.