Philippine Coat of Arms: a Catholic Interpretation

Icons of the Philippine Coat of Arms

Icons of the Philippine Coat of Arms

Wikipedia has an excellent entry on the Philippine coat of arms that describes its evolution from that of a colony of Spain, to that of the US, and finally to its independence as a sovereign nation. The historical interpretations of the the heraldric devices such as the sun, stars, eagle, and lion are well-known. What I shall propose here is a possible reinterpretation of the devices in the light of the Scriptures and the Catholic Faith.

The top icon is Crown of Spain who gave the gift of Christianity to the Philippines; it may also be interpreted as the billowing sails of Magellan’s Spanish galleon whose front hull is shaped like the bottom of the shield. The yellow and white are the colors of Vatican City, the seat of the Catholic Church. The three stars and the sun represent the doctrine of the Trinity–three Divine Persons in one God; they also represent the the wounds of Christ on his hands, head, and heart. The sun represents the radiating Sacred Heart of Jesus pierced by thorns or the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced by swords. The blue and red represents the water and blood that flowed from the pierced Heart of Christ, as seen in the Icon of Divine Mercy.  This is reenacted during mass when the water (blue) is mixed with (wine), which becomes the Blood of Christ after consecration.  The sun on a white ellipse may also represent the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ hidden under the appearance of bread in the Sacred Host.

The Eagle icon is the Eagle of the United States of America. The Eagle also traditionally represents St. John the Evangelist because of his lofty description of the pre-existent divinity of Christ as the Logos or the Word of God (Jn 1:1). In the Book of Revelation, the wings of a great eagle was given to the woman pursued by the Red Dragon so that she can escape to the desert (Rev 12:14). The eagle is at the foot of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with the man with the the eagle’s wings (angel) representing Juan Diego whose native name was Cuauhtlatoatzin or “The Talking Eagle.” Our Lady of Guadalupe is the second patroness of the Philippine Islands as defined by Pope Pius XI; the primary patroness of the Philippines is still Our Lady under the title of The Immaculate Conception whose colors are blue and white.

Lastly, the Lion icon is the Lion of Spain. The lion represents the Judah, the Lion’s whelp, from whose loins the Messiah, the Son of David, Jesus Christ, shall come:

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise –your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you.9Judah, like a lion’s whelp, you have grown up on prey, my son. He crouches like a lion recumbent, the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him10 The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, While tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people’s homage.11 (Gen 49:8-11)

The present-day Jews are named after the Tribe of Judah, who survived the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians but was later sent to Babylonian exile.  The Lion of Judah is the municipal emblem of Jerusalem.  The lion also traditionally represents St. Mark the Evangelist because he begins his Gospel with St. John shouting in the desert where the wild beasts like lions live. St. Mark also described Jesus as living in the desert for 40 days to be tempted by the Satan, living with wild beasts, and ministered by angels (Mk 1: 1-13).  St. Peter describes the devil as the roaring lion:

Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. (1 Pet 5:8-9)

Thus, if the sun represents the human person, he would always have his guardian angel (eagle) and a demon (lion) by his side to influence his will whether to obey God or to go against His Holy will.

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Monk’s Hobbit is now in Facebook

I made a Facebook page for Monk’s Hobbit just in case others may find it easier to follow my posts and comment there.  Here’s the address: www.facebook.com/monkshobbit

Die d20 in Ptolemaic Greece and thoughts on Philippine AD&D adventure

The icosahedron dice d20 in the Ptolemaic era

The icosahedron dice d20 in the Ptolemaic era

CNET featured an artifact that players of Dungeons and Dragons know by heart–the iconic d20:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns what may be the world’s oldest d20 die. It’s made out of serpentine and looks to be in remarkably good shape for its age. The die is a little over an inch tall. The symbols carved into the die appear to be of Greek origin, in keeping with it coming from the Ptolemaic Period.

I never really played this game in a group, except for two or three instances. I was not happy with the rules.  I want to know why the rules were designed that way.  What is the physics behind those rules?  Is magic really akin to memories on the brain that is wiped out once the spell is cast, as Gary Gygax theorized in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D)?  So in the process of asking about the deeper questions, I ended up designing my own combat rules.  For example, combat probabilities of hitting and damage depends on the ratios of strength, size, dexterity, weapon speed factor, etc.  I already have a handle on weapon speed factor: they are related somehow to moment of inertia. But I still do not know how to handle weapon vs armor or weapon vs. weapon or weapon vs. body. Somehow, I need materials science to do this. There are different kinds of hardness for metals.  The +1, +2, +3, and +4 magic weapons are too crude for me.  I want exact metal types, strength of materials, and ballistics.  Mapping in AD&D is really an exercise in vector addition.  But when you go to 3D aerial combat, you have to worry about flight classes.  So I also want to study aerodynamics.  As you can see, this is not the best way to play AD&D.

My main goal before is to make an AD&D adventure in Philippine setting, with Spanish conquistadores as the fighters, friars as clerics (but nonfighting), natives as the barbarians. I’ll drop all the orcs, dwarves, hobbits, and elves, for humans are interesting enough (this is already the Fourth Age in Middle Earth–the rule of men). Foreigners such as Chinese and Japanese would add enough color to the campaigns. For monsters, I bought Maximo Ramos’ “Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology“.  I learned about tyanaks, kapres, aswangs, and other spirits. I wish to make a Philippine Monster’s Manual, but I have no more energy to do it. I bought contour maps from NAMRIA (National Mapping Resource Information Agency), hoping that mapping would be easier–it is not, for you have to worry about slopes of incline and design how slopes affect rate of speed and fatigue of characters depending on their constitution. I read most of the Philippine epics in the library of Ateneo de Manila, particularly the multivolume “Darangen” of the Maranos. There magic is mediated by unseen spirits called the “tonongs”.

Then I went deeper into magic, because a Dungeon Master must master all spells. I studied the occult. I read about psionic powers. So there I was reading to and fro everything that I can find.  I felt like Saruman ever thirsty for knowledge who uses the  stone of Orthanc to see  beyond the borders.  But in the end Saruman was caught by Sauron, and the knowledge that he gained became a liability. In a similary way, like Saruman I was also thirsty for knowledge of the occult until I was caught by the allure of the New Age, with its promise of divinity without the help of God: “you shall be like Gods knowing good and evil.”

But God took pity on my soul and converted me through Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Now, I think it is still possible to create an AD&D adventure in the Philippine setting, but infused with Christianity. Somehow, magic must be banished in such campaign or at least placed out of reach by player characters.  It is a very difficult project, but maybe I’ll start by writing a novel.

The heaven-longing of the human heart

Sunset viewed from Adriatico Guest House

Sunset viewed from Adriatico Guest House at ICTP, Trieste, Italy

It never ceases to amaze me that Jesus ascended to heaven and that Our Father is in heaven and heaven is up there and not down here. Man is composed of a body that is of the earth and a soul that belongs to the other world. Man is called to spiritual things as the tree grows its branches and leaves towards the heavens, yet at the same time being grounded more and more as the roots seek the deepest parts of the earth in search for water. There is a directionality to human life and this direction points up. It is a heaven-longing placed by God in the hearts of men, and that our hearts can never be at rest until it rests in God. Maybe that is why we talk of spiritual things in terms of up and down. We are downhearted, then we are uplifted. We fall into sin, but rise to a new life.

Pro-Life Rally in front of Supreme Court on June 18, 9 am

Pro-Life Rally at Supreme Court on June 18, 9 am

Pro-Life Rally at Supreme Court on June 18, 9 am

The Filipinos for Life is organizing a Pro-Life Rally on June 18, 2013 in front of the Philippine Supreme Court along Padre Faura Street. This is the day when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the Constitutionality of the RH Law. At present there are currently 12 petitions against the RH Law sent to the Supreme Court. Please join the rally this June 18. Wear red. More updates will be posted soon.

30% ‘sin tax’ for condoms and contraceptive pills?

Here’s the latest data on the Philippine HIV rates from the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health:

The 388 new HIV cases recorded in April were 67 percent higher compared to the 233 recorded during the same month in 2012… the April cases – 368 males and 20 females – have a median age of 28 years, with those in the 20 to 29 age group comprising 61 percent.  Except for 32 drug users who were infected due to needle sharing, all new cases acquired the virus through sexual contact, with male-to-male sex accounting for 81 percent.

The Philippine Reproductive Health Law seeks to prevent HIV rise and other sexually transmitted diseases (Sec IV. Definition of Terms, letter q, no. 5).  So how would the RH law do it? The RH Law would target families, especially the women, by promoting the use of contraceptive pills and condoms.  But nowhere does the RH law talks about homosexuals, and males having sex with males (MSM) account for 80 percent of the new HIV cases!  HIV is a real reproductive health disease and not some fuzzy add-on to the definition of reproductive health such as “”mental and social well-being” and “safe, consensual and satisfying sex life”–things that cannot be measured precisely, unless the government would require women to undergo psychological exams during their menstrual periods and require them also to make a logbook of the times they had intercourse, name of their partners, contraceptives used, and satisfaction rating in a 0 to 100 scale–and these data would be sent to the Office for Safe and Satisfying Sex which would be under either the DOH or the Office of Sen. Pia Cayetano.  Indeed, sex would then be more fun in the Philippines.

That’s why I believe that the RH Law is not really about women’s reproductive health but population control by promotion of promiscuity, with the Philippine government-ensured promise of safe sex.  If the government is intent on stopping HIV rise, the answer is not giving condoms for free to gays and their boy toys, but to educate them on the risks of the homosexual act.  It is ironic that the government increases “sin taxes” on liquor and cigarettes, claiming that these are bad for your health, while on the other hand saying nothing about MSM, fornication, and adultery which are not only bad for the sexual health (you can get HIV or AIDS), but also bad according to the RH Law’s all-encompassing definition of reproductive health:

(p) Reproductive Health (RH) refers to the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. This implies that people are able to have a responsible, safe, consensual and satisfying sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. This further implies that women and men attain equal relationships in matters related to sexual relations and reproduction.

The reason for this is that MSM, fornication, and adultery destroys the family, which is the bedrock of our country. These are mental and social ills–things that should not be promoted with government funding but rather should be discouraged and disapproved through additional taxes and forbidding their advertisements in TVs, radios, train stations, movie houses, billboards, and other public places.  In this task, the government would have a major ally: the Catholic Church.

MSM is bad for the health, just like liquor, cigarettes, and chemical contraceptives. That is why condoms for MSM and contraceptive pills for women should have health warnings, such as the following:

“Condoms do not prevent the spread of HIV and 80% of males having sex with males acquire HIV.  Use this condom at your own risk  Note that a used condom is a medical waste.  These should be placed in sealed plastic bags and given to authorized government health personnel for proper disposal.  Note that each purchase of a condom pack already includes a sin tax of 30 percent.  This is for the proper disposal of your used condoms.  Unauthorized disposal of medical waste will be prosecuted accordingly.”

“This contraceptive pill has many side effects like head-aches and irregular monthly cycles.  At worse, you can’t have a baby again.  Use at your own risk.  Note that a sin tax of 30% was included in your purchase of the contraceptive pill.  This is for the cleaning of the environmental pollution of our creeks and rivers where your chemical-rich urine will go which can potentially make fishes gay and unable to reproduce.”

If the government would not buy condoms and pills, then the Church has no problem with the RH Law.  Let those who need them buy them with their own money and at their own risk with an additional 30% tax, instead of taxing Catholics who cannot use condoms and pills in good conscience.  In this way, the RH Law would not need any budget, because it would be able to earn its funding from the 30 % sin taxes for condoms and pills.  And oh, haven’t I yet mentioned about giving another 30% additional importation tarriff for condoms and pills? Thus, let us pass the RH Law and give it a Php 1 budget.

4:2:1 market share rule and the 60-30-10 senatorial election ratios

I am thinking about the 60-30-10 ratios in the senatorial elections which was first noted by Dr. Lex Muga of Ateneo Math Department:  60 % of the top 12 slots go to Team PNoy candidates, 30% to the UNA candidates, and 10% to others .  Thus, in the Magic 12 are about 7 PNoy candidates, 4 UNA candidates, and 1 Other candidate.

I don’t know if the election is rigged or not, but in Marketing it is also observed that the top three brands in a product category historically follow the 4:2:1 rule.  As pointed out by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their classic book, Positioning:

“The number  one brand has twice the market share of number two, which has twice the market share of number three.”

If we set the market share of number 3 brand (Others) as 1, this would give the number two brand (UNA) a market share of 2, and the leading brand (Team PNoy) a market share of 4.  If we add up 4 + 2 + 1, we get 7. Since 4/7 = 57.1, 2/7 = 28.6, and 1/7 = 14.2, then this gives the ratio 57-29-14, which is close to the 60-30-10 ratio found in the elections.