Category: Introspection

Vote for LIFE

Better than any serye to date on Philippine TV, the race towards Malacañang in the 2016 elections demands public attention. With much fanfare and unexpected plot twists, the presidential race has gripped the entire nation with a mixture of dread and anticipation.

Political propaganda, news coverages, election surveys, Facebook memes and (sometimes ridiculous) interviews do little in helping us determine who to vote for come election day. I, myself, am still undecided about who will get my precious vote on May 2016, but here are the qualities that I think we all should find in a candidate.

I will vote for someone who supports and embodies LIFE — that’s leadership, integrity, faith and excellence.

Leadership

Everything rises and falls on leadership, says renowned leadership guru John Maxwell. All kinds of reforms — whether political, economic or social — will only end up in the ditches without good leadership.

But leadership is a tricky subject. Having the balls to push for an ideal, win public acceptance, outwit political opponents or, heck, exterminate them from the land of the living don’t necessarily indicate strong leadership. 

A leader is a servant. He who serves best leads best. Service doesn’t mean feigning compassion for the poor, enjoying boodle fights, directing traffic and whatnots in front of a camera. A leader serves by using his power to protect the welfare of the people, promote the common good and defend the weak.

One doesn’t need to look far to validate a person’s leadership. Check how he manages his own family and see their relationship, values and culture at home. If this candidate doesn’t know how to manage and protect his own marriage and household, how will he lead an entire nation?

Moreover, the ultimate mettle of leadership is the person’s ability to lead himself. How does he govern himself in view of existing laws, ethics and moral standards? If a candidate does not pass this acid test, chances are his leadership will crumble in the face of strong pressure or trials. 

Integrity

A person’s ability to lead himself depends largely on his character. In leadership, character is everything. As John Maxwell puts it, leadership is about influence, and a person’s influence is built on his credibility and moral track record. With strong moral leadership, a leader gains the people’s respect and admiration.

What the Philippines needs is a leader who will lead with integrity. Integrity is doing the right things no matter what. It’s about sticking to one’s moral standards. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Integrity is about being morally consistent, whole, undivided. We’ve already had leaders in the past who may have had brilliant minds, economic acumen or strong political will, yet we remain to be the sick man of Asia.

Why? Because what we need are not just leaders with outstanding intelligence; we need leaders with unmistakable integrity.

Economic progress is not the only problem that we need to focus on. We need to restore the moral standards and values that founded our institutions — love, righteousness and justice.

We don’t need leaders who will clean the streets by striking fear, but leaders who will show us that we as a people know better than embrace barbarity. We need leaders who will not fool us into believing that they can end our economic woes, but leaders who will empower us and inspire us to embrace the future with hope. We don’t just need leaders with political experience, we need leaders with unquestionable character.

Faith

A person’s faith shapes his character. Indeed, faith is the moral compass that guides a person, especially when circumstances demand sound decisions. Faith is the barometer through which a leader leads.

I will not vote for a candidate whose faith is questionable. I want a president who will establish the government on the strong foundation of justice and righteousness. I want a president who will protect the marriage institution and will not push for legislations that seek to undermine it. I will vote for a president who will uphold the value of human lives and will do everything in his power to protect it.

Look at the United States. While it remains to be the strongest superpower on earth, its social institutions are in the brink of collapse in the face of moral degradation. Economic progress is not the end-all-and-be-all of everything.

As CBCP President Socrates Villegas puts it, corruption comes in many shapes and forms. Stealing from the public funds is one of it, but moral corruption spells greater doom. We need a president who is guided by the right moral compass. We need a president who understands that all governments are instituted by God; it is a charge from God, and that he is ultimately accountable to Him. 

Hence, we need a president who will not play god, but will be guided by his fear of God.

Excellence

Knowing that the government is a public trust, and that it is a charge from God, public officials must perform their duties to the highest standard of excellence. This one is the easiest to see; one should only look at the candidates’ track record as a public servant.

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These qualities will surely narrow down — or complicate — your choices. Perhaps, upon close examination, you may find that none of the candidates pass these qualifications. I just hope that on the day of the polls, we will be guided by the right values and principles in choosing our leaders.

Whoever wins this election, let’s participate in the work of nation-building, pray for the new leaders and bless our nation. 

It may be difficult for now to look for political candidates who embody leadership, integrity, faith and excellence, but I am part of a movement called Every Nation Campus, whose ultimate desire is to raise up the next generation as world-changers and nation-builders.

I’m keeping my knees bent and my fingers crossed. God bless the Philippines.

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Random Ramblings

Two words perfectly describe the world we live in today: FAST-PACED and MAD.

By fast-paced, I meant that the world is changing at a rate that is faster than ever. And by mad, I meant that the world is getting crazier by the minute as shocking events unfold in different parts of the world almost simultaneously.

On November 12, 43 people were killed in two suicide bombings in Lebanon. A day after this incident, another 19 people died in Iraq because of another suicide bombing incident at a funeral. The pinnacle of these events took place on the same day in Paris, where several terror attacks claimed at least 127 innocent lives. The notorious ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The world as we know it has changed. The significant moral decline, the plummeting regard for the value of human lives and the growing evil in society indicate that we are now living in the 11th hour.

Things happen so fast nowadays that we no longer have enough time to process and mourn over a crime before another one takes place. It’s like browsing your Facebook feed: The emotion you feel over one post from a friend only lasts until the next post hits your eyes.

Here are some of the trending issues that currently affect us. Allow me to share my thoughts on each.

Laglag Bala modus

laglag bala gangPerhaps anyone will really feel indignant about this because of the shame it brought upon our country and the chilling effect it created among travelers. To the perpetrators of this crime, you may evade justice in this lifetime, but the justice of God will hunt you down. Turn away from your evil deeds before your time is up.

To the government, it’s time to wield the sword and get some heads rolling. Fulfill your mandate to protect the State — the sovereign people who placed you in your position — and get to the bottom of this oppression.

To my kababayans who allegedly bring bullets to be used as amulets, put your faith in God who has real power to protect you from anything. Putting your faith in anything or anyone else can get you into trouble.

The #PrayFor Debate

pray forNewsflash: Those who were hurt or killed in Paris, Lebanon and Iraq do not care about our profile photos on Facebook. We can stop arguing about who really prayed for Paris, what hashtag to use, or who to pray for. It’s time to focus on the most important thing — LOVE. This isn’t a time to hate over trivial matters. This isn’t a time to fight over religion. This is a time to love one another as human beings. It doesn’t matter whether you changed your Facebook profile photo, or whether you changed it for the right reason. Whether you’re praying for Paris, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria or the world, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that people are praying for somebody — or at least are joining humanity’s stand for a better world.

APEC Horror

12273059_10154408865316632_1295954226_nSocial media are abuzz with horror stories caused by the APEC Summit this week. Metro Manila has already been experiencing horrific traffic on normal days, and this summit escalated that to an extreme level.

I understand the hatred and frustration by the people, and the least that I want to do is to fuel their anger. I pray that this scenario will compel our government to grow in terms of hosting high-level events like this. The woes of the working class — the very people who fuel our economy — undermine the economic goals that this summit aims.

Nevertheless, I would like to enjoin everyone to keep praying for the success of this summit. Big things are at stake in this event, including our territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea. Also, in light of recent world events, let us pray for protection for our country as we could be the target of terrorist attacks while the summit is taking place.

Ronda Rousey

ronda-rousey-1024Ronda Rousey’s defeat in the hands (or, should I say, deadly leg) of Holly Holm somehow succeeded in taking our attention away from the attacks in Paris. I’ve seen the match, and I can’t help but say, “Oh, how the mighty have fallen.” Indeed, pride comes before a downfall (Proverbs 16:18).

Peace out to all Rousey fans out there! She’s an amazing fighter, and I’m sure that she will be greater once she learns to put her confidence not on her strength but on God who gives real strength.

 

Alma Moreno

alam-moreno-1This deserves the final spot on this list because of the social media attention it is getting.

Adding to the ire of Filipino netizens is aspiring senator Alma Moreno, who blew an interview with veteran journalist Karen Davila. The whole interview was cringe-worthy, filled with nervous laughs, motherhood statements and ignorant opinion on important matters that a senatorial candidate must be familiar with.

While I understand the disgust of everybody, there’s really no need to shame her for her ignorance. I think that Ms. Moreno has good intentions for running, but she is probably being used by people who seek to promote their political agenda by fielding an ignorant ally to win a seat (and a voting power) in the Senate.

Let’s just thank Ms. Davila and her fellow journalists who endeavor to educate the voters for the upcoming elections. Let’s do our part in guarding the country’s rein and do what we can to spread awareness.

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In the midst of all these madness, let’s guard our collective sanity as a nation. Spread good vibes, pray for our nation and keep a positive outlook! Stay sane, everyone!

From Behind the Teacher’s Desk

I was an opinionated student back in college.

As a senior editor in the college paper, I was the type of person who will never stop at anything until I voice out my opinion on matters that affect me, whether directly or indirectly, as a student. 

My professors were never exempt from my rants and tirades. Because I was too young to understand everything, it was easy for me to pass judgment to them. I did not always understand their methods. Some of them were too harsh; some were too inconsiderate; and some were too idealistic in the standards that they impose.

There were professors who, I thought, were bending their standards for the sake of being liked by the students. There were professors that I hated because of their manner of teaching. There was a time when, in my foolishness and vain conceit, I even thought that I know better than one of my instructors.

Sitting down in front of the blackboard, all I saw was my professor who was very committed to make life miserable for us.

But when I was offered a job to teach part-time in a university, my perspective had changed.

Things change when you’re standing from behind the teacher’s desk.

Because from behind the teacher’s desk, what I saw are students with a bright future, if only they would be guided properly towards the right path.

From behind the teacher’s desk, what I saw are students with a destiny. And my job is to unlock their potentials, make them see that they are not just anybody and help them embrace the destiny that God has prepared for them.

From behind that desk, I saw beyond my students’ present selves — lazy at times, uninterested at times, contemptuous at times and easy-go-lucky most of the time — and saw the potential tucked in each of them. 

These students bashed me online, wished me dead just so they won’t have to do the articles I asked them to submit, cursed me during their private conversations and planned to get rid of me in their lives.

It’s ok, though. For them, I was willing to be bashed and misjudged, if that’s what it takes to mold them into the kind of person they are intended to become.

Later on, it was also they who vindicated me. Soon enough they understood that my rod was not meant to punish but to discipline. They understood that the deadlines I set, the numerous articles I asked them to write, and the strict standards I imposed were meant to instruct them, push them to go beyond their comfort zones and teach them not just the lessons in my class but also the lessons of life.

I once told them that, someday, somehow, they will thank me for all the hardships I put them into, because these things are formative and will help them grow their character. I know, because right now, I also thank the professors I had in college who tormented me and made my life difficult as a student. I realized that the things I endured are battle scars that I now proudly show the world. Had they not tormented me, I wouldn’t have become the person I am now.

These students will be graduating this month. They are far from perfect, and they still have much to learn. But I am willing to vouch for them, because I know that, given proper direction, they will be future nation-builders and world-changers. I hope they realized that by now.

This blog is dedicated to these students who also made an impact in my life, and to all my teachers who, in one way or another, have also taught me something about life and about myself.

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My Rhythm and Blues

Something happens when you drink caffeine on a toxic day.

It takes you into another dimension when all you long for are peace and quiet. It takes you to your secret place — your own Fortress of Solitude — and shuts the world out. The only thing you hear is the rhythm of your breathing, in synch with the song on the radio, in harmony with your heartbeat.

Sometimes, some things happen in the midst of a busy day.

You notice the blur of the cars and the crowd. You get drowned in the noise of keyboards typing, buses honking, phones ringing and the sound of your own mind… Zooming.

Suddenly you enjoy the melody of Bluer than Blue on the radio. It gives relief, like a lullaby on a stormy night.

Suddenly, and quite ironically, you’d find the right rhythm to write something, anything, just to squeeze out the stress. You’d find that you can come up with something like this: A cross between poetry and prose, with a hint of rhythm and rhyme, a catharsis for your blues.

Suddenly, you can write about the sound of the wind as it kisses the trees. You can tell about the sensation of the waves gently lapping against the shores — the texture of the sand between your toes, the beauty of the cobalt green seas glinting under the sun, the smell of saline in the air.

Close your eyes and you’re there. You feel the sensations. You taste the salt and touch the sand. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Inhale. Then breathe out.

Something happens when you finally open your eyes. You’re back to where you were, in front of your coffee cup. Welcome back to the grind.

Ladies and gentlemen, my rhythm and blues.

Dear Pope

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Dear Pope,

I join the millions of Filipinos who warmly welcome you to our country! You probably have heard how much our nation has prepared for your arrival, and I share in my fellow countrymen’s excitement about seeing you grace Philippine streets.

Your plane has just landed about an hour ago. Together with the bells of all Catholic churches and cathedrals across the country, we say “Mabuhay! Welcome to the Philippines Pope Francis!”

Millions of Filipinos are praying for you, and I am one of them.

I pray that you will have an enjoyable stay here. I pray for your safety and protection as you go through your itinerary. May God put a hedge of protection around you, and may He thwart any plan to cause you trouble or harm.

You are a good man, and you have taken the world by surprise because of your extraordinary charm and goodness of heart. Your unconventional stance on critical issues has restored a lot of people’s hope in the church, your humility has inspired not just Catholics but the world, and your compassion for the marginalized has brought the Catholic Church back to its core mission: To extend the love of Christ to the helpless, the poor and the needy.

I pray that through your leadership, millions of people across the globe will know Jesus as the only way to the Father. I pray that through your example, millions of people will be inspired to live like Christ. I pray that you will be a powerful instrument to open the eyes of the world to see Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith, and that no other name should be exalted in Heaven and on Earth other than His name.

Truly, you are one of a kind when you said that Jesus, not you, should be the center of everything. “From now on, enough of Francis, just Jesus,” you said.

I pray that through you, people will understand that all that they are asking for, believing for, praying for and hoping for can be found in God. And that they have direct access to Him through Jesus, without needing any human mediation.

May the LORD bless you and keep you, Dear Pope, as you lead the millions of Catholics across the world to the truth of the Gospel of Christ. May your life be a powerful testimony of the truth of God, before whom we will all give an account when we finally stand before His throne of judgment and grace.

Yours sincerely.