Catholic dating tips: Lessons from a strip-tease dancer

Why do many men go to clubs to watch a strip-tease dancer do her art?  Well, she can simply go out naked on stage, gyrate, and spread her legs, but there would be nothing exciting about it.  It’s just that: there is no more room for imagination.  As Einstein said, imagination is more powerful than knowledge.  So to arouse men’s sexual passions, a strip-tease dancer has to invite men to a journey of discovery by making them think and guess what lies more beyond than meets the eye.  A strip-tease dancer must turn herself into a rosebud with her petals all wrapped up, and then slowly bloom before men’s eyes, opening each petal one by one as the Spring opens skillfully and mysteriously her first rose: the outer coat, shirt, and bra; the skirt, the shoes, the stockings, the half-slip, and underwear.  And finally there is nothing left to see, but a woman gyrating on stage.

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Is there a God, Hell, or Afterlife? What is the meaning of life? A response to Jim Paredes

 Jim Paredes wrote an article in Philippine Star: Is there a God? An afterlife? A hell? Why are we here?  From this article, we can see that Jim Paredes conception of God is an immanence, a Modernist heresy; his afterlife is Buddhist; he does not believe in Hell but in the restoration of all things as in Origen’s apocatastasis; and his meaning of life is too vague compared to the definite statements of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Principle and Foundation of his Spiritual Exercises.

Read more at Monk’s Hobbit: Is there a God, Hell, or Afterlife? What is the meaning of life? A response to Jim Paredes

Babies are not blessings? A reply to Ana Santos of Rappler

A newborn baby glistening in amniotic fluid (Wikipedia)

A newborn baby glistening in amniotic fluid (Wikipedia)

Ana Santos of Rappler wrote a piece entitled, “Babies are not blessings.” Santos quotes the figures related to having babies as given by Dr. Emma Llanto of UP-PGH and Society of Adolescent Medicine in the Philippines.  The whole article hinges on the definition of a the word “blessing,” so let us examine Santos’ understanding of this word by dissecting her statements one by one.

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.

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.

Fidelity with my Church: speech of Rep. Antonio C. Alvarez against the RH Bill

Rep. Antonio C. Alvarez, 1st District, Palawan

Rep. Antonio C. Alvarez, 1st District, Palawan

From GMA News Network:

Mr. Speaker:

Three months from now, I will be marking my 27th year of uninterrupted service as an elected public official.

In formulating my final vote in this House, I drew mainly upon my experience as mayor for 12 years and provincial board member for six.

For in my years here, that has always been my way of appraising  proposals: to imagine the “implementability” of policies in a grassroots setting.

That is the best test because what I have discovered is that what is good on paper is not necessarily good in practice; what is good in the Batasan, is not always good for the barrios.

So far here are my conclusions:

All the purported things that this bill will do are already covered by a multitude of laws.

Thus, it is not a matter of legislation but implementation.

A barangay council can buy pills and even distribute them like confetti, but no barangay chairman will tell you that the same pills will cure poverty.

He will tell you instead that in the hierarchy of his constituents’ needs, schools, books, roads, water, and livelihood are far more important to them.

Sa bawat araw na ginawa ng Diyos, kadami-dami ang natatanggap kong sulat at text na humihingi ng tulong, mga resolutions na nakikiusap ng pondo, pero ni minsan hindi po ako nakatanggap ng sulat na humihingi sa akin ng condom o pilduras o IUD.

In many areas of my District, the best form of contraception is not the one that is unsheathed, but one that is switched on—and that is electricity.

There are good provisions in this bill, I admit, like the improvement of health facilities, but these are mere reiterations of what a government must do, so whether a government is pro-, anti-, or deadma on RH, it is duty-bound to provide these services.

So whether a woman is carrying a baby on purpose or by accident, through artificial insemination or by immaculate conception, she deserves to have access to the best medical care which should be provided—without the need for an RH bill.

Mr. Speaker:

I vote NO to this measure, and Mr. Speaker, please allow me to cite my last reason for it is also the most important reason for me.

I know that a lawmaker’s religious beliefs must not solely guide his vote.

But I will take the risk of allowing my final vote as a congressman to be shaped in part by the teachings of my Church, not because I believe that they are infallible, but because my final act should be in fidelity with what my Church stands for.

This is also an act of solidarity with my Church as it has come under attack as regressive, as archaic, and as antiquated.

But its past and its present belie this slander.

This is the Church that fought against tyranny, ousted a dictatorship, struggled against repression, and defended human rights.

This is the Church which continues to educate our young, heal our sick, shelter our homeless, and comfort our poor.

This is a Church that treats people as the most important resource of a community. Unlike those pushing for this bill who treat them as liability.  Let us never forget that the most precious capital of all is HUMAN CAPITAL.

This is the Church whose teachings form our social glue, provide our moral anchor, and whose celebrations, including Christmas, strengthen our bond as a community.

So pray, tell me my friends, with this heritage and record how can I vote against it?

I vote NO to this measure.

“Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles” movie review

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles

For those who wish for a good laugh, watch Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles. For those looking to be terrified, watch another movie.  Over-all the movie has good pro-life values, especially the defense of the unborn.  The Filipino aswang mythology is standard, except for some parts. The movie touches on the importance of marriage and family.   The Catholic worldview, however, is absent, because there is no mention holy water, crucifix, blessed palms, and churches.

Characters

The three characters that stand-out are Joey Marquez (Nestor), Janice de Belen (Fely), and Dingdong Dantes (Makoy) in that order. Lovi Poe (Sonia) is weak and so are most of the villains.  Remove Joey Marquez and the movie would fall flat.  Joey’s character is the most dynamic: from docile to  decisive, from sane to lunatic, from  coward to fearless.  And his characterization is believable.  Janice de Belen is static but perfect: her change of character is only when she is being gnawed–not enough time to show off.  Dingdong gives a good characterization of a proud and rich Manila Boy, but I would wish to see a shift to a sober mood, even for a moment, such as when Sonia drops the bomb that he doesn’t have a regular job.  Lovi has a weak characterization of her role, except for two brief shining moments: when she shut the door against Dingdong at the beginning of the story and when her face is focused on the camera during the climax of the battle–she’s a woman to die for.  The human pig is memorable and so is the aswang girl whose two arms were chopped off.  Roi Vinzon as the head aswang community conveys strength and power, but he loses his aura when he turned into a flying monster–that big bird by the way is not canonical in aswang lore, though the chick inside him is.

Plot

The plot is a travel to four separate places: Sonia’s home, the marketplace, the military checkpoint, and the sari-sari store.  There are three waves of assaults: the crazed teenagers at the marketplace stopping a jeep, the attack of the family of the human-turned-pig at Sonia’s home, the race to the checkpoint and back to the home, the assault of the aswang head at Sonia’s home, the slow-mo action at the sari-sari-store, and the last battle at the salt sands.

What could have been done is to divide the story into two movies: 1) the assault of the first family and 2) the assault of the aswang community. In this way, there would be continuity in the story line.  The discovery of the assault the following day would make the aswang community lay low and the villagers would try to guess who the aswangs are.

The movie could have benefited from a lore-master character(s) who shall explain what to avoid being eaten–salt, garlic, stingray’s tail.  These things should have different levels of potency before, during, and after the shape-change.  If all aswangs simply burns to ashes, even with Boy Bawang, it becomes boring.  Aswangs are flesh and blood: they should burn like sprayed with hot lead under salt, they should be hit like a bullet if with a large garlic, and the stingray tail should curl around muscles and bones.  There should be different levels of pain, and this is best exemplified by the classic Herbert Bautista’s aswang in Shake, Rattle, and Roll: the pain of salt is more tolerable than the blessed palm.  The loremaster shall also explain whether a normal human being can be an aswang–saliva, scratch, bite, or transfer of chick.  And the transformation may not be at will but depends on the full moon.  Also, the time span need not be a day and a night.  Some quests have to be involved to acquire salt or garlic or stingray’s tail and each quest must have its own dangers.

The aswangs are one dimensional: they are just there to be killed.  There is no anguish.  No moral decisions to make.  So their deaths do not mean anything.  Rivalry for the love of Sonia could have been exploited for the tension if an aswang was in love with Sonia.   The turning of Makoy into an aswang because of his bite and scratch would could also be a source of tension and healing him requires a quest or a self-sacrifice. Had their family friend turned into an aswang after being bitten, there would be a true dilemma there when his joke on being an aswang becomes a reality.  That could have been the climax and the assault of the entire aswang community should be part of another movie. According to Aristotle in his Poetics, the main actor and the villain must be former friends, family members, or lovers for the climax to unfold.  Otherwise, the plot fails and the movie leaves you with nothing but the sound of a good laugh that soon dies away.

Special Effects

The second part could have benefited from good CGI.  The landscape is good: I barely notice that it is CGI.  The aswang graphics, which has similarity with the vampires in the Priest movie, are not smooth.  Jumping requires knowledge of parabolic motion in physics: you slow down as you reach the highest point and gain speed faster as you go down.  But the jumping dogs in the movie tend to float and the movements of their four legs needs to be properly coordinated.  The landing in the roof should also make a sound and dent on the roof.  There could also be close-ups of the aswang faces.  Not all aswangs should have the same powers.  Even if they are all dog-beasts, some should be weaker and some should be stronger, and they must be clearly distinguishable.  Resident evil, for example, has different classes of creatures with different powers and weaknesses.  In the movie, there is not much distinction.

An aerial view of the house and the neighboring houses (especially the sari-sari store) prior to the assault could have been useful, especially during the attack itself.  It would give the viewers the context of the creeping doom, and whether escape is really possible.  The transfer from Sonia’s house to the sari-sari store is a drama by itself.  Can they really run fast enough while Dingdong is carrying his pregnant wife?  Halfway he could have tripped and their escape could have been discovered.  The aerial view of the houses would provide the basis for the feasibility of the escape.  Or at least a debate among the family members whether such escape is possible: the path to take and the plan to avoid detection.  But the movie cleverly tried to hide it by the characters agreed not to make noises and only one made shouted at last to summon the aswangs to destroy them in a self-sacrifice.  Somewhat believable, but not quite.

Pro-Life and Catholic Reading

The movie has a strong pro-life message: the man must have the courage to defend the woman and the child within her womb.  The most memorable words are when Makoy calls Nestor, “Tatay” or “Father”.  A bond has been formed between Makoy and his father-in-law because a bond has been formed between Makoy and Sonia: a child.  The last image of the movie is a baby falling in the air.  To “fall” in Filipino is “laglag”.  If the baby was aborted, the term is “nalaglag ang bata” or “the baby fell”.  But Sonia was able to catch her falling baby.  Figuratively, she did not abort the child.  This is what the Catechism says regarding abortion:

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law…

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,”77 “by the very commission of the offense,”78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

The aswangs, which are drawn to the smell of a pregnant woman and who loves the taste of babies flesh especially just after birth, reminds us of the pro-abortion groups like Likhaan and Akbayan in the Philippines or the Planned Parenthood in the US.  We can even liken Pres. Obama as the head aswang because of his long continuous track record for promoting abortion and Planned Parenthood, even allowing a baby to die in partial-birth abortion, where the baby’s brain is sucked out before the head leaves the womb, even though the baby’s body was already out.

There was a point in the movie when Sonia declared that if her child was killed by the aswangs, it is also fitting that she should also be killed.  But Makoy rebuked her.  Despair, in Catholic Theology, is a sin against the First Commandment:

2091….By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God’s goodness, to his justice – for the Lord is faithful to his promises – and to his mercy.

The night may bring out dog-demons, carrion birds, and pig-like orcs,  but each day brings new hope with the breaking of the dawn.