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By Frank de Leon
Contributing Editor
PINOY turns 5: Looking back to the future

Happy Fifth Year Anniversary, Pinoy Monthly. True to your mission statement, you have not succumbed to the inanities of social life, “traditional” events and celebrations that smack of colonial degradation, and puerile enmities among the would-be “leaders” of the community. You have carefully selected and published articles that have forced your readers to think for themselves and make a difference in their own lives and in the communities they live. Another five and a hundred years to you!

      I have selected the following excerpts from my monthly columns. It is interesting to note how much these issues have affected our lives during the last five years and how much more it would influence us in the coming months and years. There is no escaping them.

The value of life
“Family members making a life or death decision should be very careful in making ‘quality of life’ basis as the only overriding factor. A very subjective judgment may prejudice the inherent dignity and sanctity of human life. Currently certain moral questions even on persistent vegetative patients (PVS) have not yet been resolved by Catholic teachings. However we must treat an unconscious patient as a living human person.” Life’s Value Shows at End, August 2001

      The unresolved issue of abortion and euthanasia will continue to haunt us for years to come unless we reach a temporary compromise on understanding and accepting the beginning and the end of life. This issue definitely affected the last presidential election, moving the country to the right. However social polarization is not healthy to the common good. It will only cause division, violence, and heartaches.

“Without quick and long-term alleviation and uplifting of the condition of the poor in the Philippines, we will be witnessing political and social unrest never seen before. The poor, deprived of humanity, will not act like humans but savages. People will kill for food and dignity. One hot day or one muggy night when empty stomachs growl in hunger and when babies have fallen asleep with tears in their eyes, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters will rise up, take up their bolos and sticks and will come beating on the gates of palaces, cathedrals and mansions and demand their just share of God’s bounty. Yes, history will repeat itself. This is the very reason why God wants each and every one of us to be mindful of those less fortunate.” When the Cries of the Poor June 2001

      The Philippines continues to deteriorate in corruption, violence and poverty. According to the latest survey of the reputable Social Weather Stations (SWS) during the last three months of 2004, fifteen percent (15%) of head of household respondents said at least once during the last three months they had nothing to eat. Fifty-three percent (53%) of those surveyed classified themselves as poor. Unemployment is 14%. Daily wage averages between $3 and $3.50. The only two trends that worth mentioning are the continuing positive economic impact of the remittances of overseas contract workers and expatriates. A hard lesson might be in the offing.

Church scandal
“Since the topics of sex in general and the imperfections of the Church are for many delicate subjects, I would like to clarify a couple of things before I proceed. I am writing about sexual abuses by clergymen and women in general and how the institutional Church has dealt with them. I subscribe to the adage ‘Hate the sin but love the sinner.’ The condemnation is not on the particular individuals who have abused their authority but on the way their superiors have tried to ‘protect’ them and the Church. Neither am I singling the Catholic Church in this article since sexual abuses exist in all religious denominations and in the society at large. ”Sex and the Church, September 2001

      The Catholic Church in the United States is in a rut because of the sex scandals that it has so far failed to handle. It seems that the bishops are more concerned with “protecting” the image of the institution, preserving their power and keeping their economic assets. Unless they recognize their failings and accept responsibility and act as true shepherds leaving the rest of the flock to look for the one lost, they will cease to be leaders and teachers.
Peace in the Mideast

      “Solution. As I have written, the only solution could be one imposed by the UN as an international body and by the US as a superpower and main political and military supporter of Israel. Both the statehood of Israel and Palestine must be guaranteed no matter what. Jerusalem must remain open for all worshippers. Talking has ended. Decisive action must be taken to preserve lives and sow the seed of peace. The United States fortunately or unfortunately has to be involved. This is the responsibility and the opportunity of being the most powerful and the leader in the world community.” Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Feb. 2002

      The death of Yasser Arafat and the election of Mahmoud Abbas are golden opportunities for all sides to reach a lasting peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. It is also the same golden opportunity for the United States as a country and for President Bush as a world leader to demonstrate to that part of the region that our policy is even-handed. Failing this, the danger of widespread conflict becomes real and terrorism a way of life.

“Another dimension of slave trading is the use, or rather abuse, of children, male and female alike, to cater to the pedophiles and sex perverts in the tourism industry. There are tours specifically packaged for this purpose. Sri Lanka is the favorite destination to have sex with boys. Sex tours from Japan to the Philippines are regularly conducted. Yes, some of our heartless countrymen are adept in selling the bodies and souls of our women and children. I think the presence of the American military for so many years were good formative years in this unsavory industry. The prevalence of children in the sex industry is practically a common practice in much of the other poor countries in Southeast Asia. Also in Italy, prostitutes smuggled by crime syndicates number about 40,000. They are recruited with or without force from Eastern Europe and Africa.” The Return of Slavery, Dec. 2000

      Right after the devastation of the tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004, one of the main concerns of the authorities is the kidnapping of orphaned children by sex agents and pedophiles. Crimes of this nature must be dealt with very harshly. Life imprisonment, without parole at least.

Pax Americana?
“Does this royal proclamation (the doctrine of pre-emption) usher in the Golden Age of Pax Americana? Shall we sound the trumpets and beat the drums? At face value, the doctrine sounds new and inviting, and in the light of recent tragic events, necessary and practical. After all, we are the mightiest power on earth. ‘Nuke ‘em,’ as some would say. Ah, the glory of Rome! We can only look back at the Roman Empire, centuries ago, sending its legions to far-away lands that posed a threat to its way of life! Roman tribunes returning in triumph to Rome dragging captured ‘barbarians’ to be sold as slaves and gladiators to feed the insatiable appetite of the Roman way of life. ‘Veni, vidi, vici!’ Julius Caesar crowed. I wonder what Bush would eventually exclaim.” An Old and Dangerous Doctrine, October 2002

      “The other cost of war is measured in lives lost, limbs torn apart, tears shed, and in the rape and destruction of the human spirit. In the last 100 years, 37 million soldiers or combatants died. Now compare that to the hundreds of millions of civilians that perished. Now we just call them “collateral damage.” Why Peace, March 2002

      Let us not rehash the wrong intelligence and assumptions given to justify the launch of the Iraq war and its attending cost of lost lives, military and civilian. What is truly bothersome is the seeming pride of the current administration of not admitting its error. It is another Vietnam. Another mistake. The imposition of one’s way of life smacks of colonialism.

Emergence of China
“An economic miracle. We took a one-day tour of Shen Shun, a city in mainland China and separated by the Pearl River from Hong Kong. Just twenty-three years ago, this city was a farmland populated with 20 inhabitants. Now it is a sprawling and bustling city with over 5 million people and its modern skyscrapers dominate the landscape. And this is repeated in so many places in mainland China. From the looks of things, China, the sleeping giant, has now awakened and running. The last two months of 2003, China's industrial production has surged 18%! China will rival the U.S. politically, economically and militarily in the years to come." Thoughts from Near and Far, March 2003

      Let us watch out for China in the coming months. With the elimination of the tariffs, even other low-cost manufacturing countries like Mexico, the Central American countries, and India are terribly worried about the loss of jobs. Our own unchecked purchase and consumption of very-low cost goods will only hasten China’s ascendancy in political and economic influence.

Death penalty
“If one believes in the sanctity of human life and that only God can create and take human life, then the death penalty is immoral and unethical and subverts the 5th Commandment. Pope John Paul II has consistently opposed the death penalty and publicly interceded for death row convicts. Statistics consistently prove that the death penalty is not an effective deterrence to crimes. States, which have eliminated the death penalty, according to a FBI study, have experienced lower murder rates than those states that have maintained this medieval punishment.” How Does It Feel to Kill, November 2000

      The State of Illinois, through the leadership of then Governor Ryan, has taken the lead in thinking twice before executing death-row inmates. This has resulted in freeing several inmates after finding their innocence because of new evidence. Once more it has been proven that overzealous prosecutors and police agencies are responsible to the miscarriage of justice. One innocent victim is just too many.

Spiritual evolution
“We will recognize that our need and brotherly concern for one another is the most effective means for our physical and spiritual survival. We will once more be more aware of and exercise our role as co-creators of the ever-continuing creation of the universe.” Spiritual Evolution, January 2000

      Just as I stated and hoped for in the maiden issue of Pinoy Monthly, despite all the ills of the world, natural and man-made, let us continue to believe in the good of humankind and the wisdom of God. We will prevail.


(Please send your comments to FFDELEON@AOL.COM)