Monk’s Hobbit posts for August 2013

Mission and Vision of Monk’s Hobbit

The Mission and Vision of Monk’s Hobbit is to strengthen the Catholic Faith of Filipinos worldwide. The blog posts are limited to the following labels: Business, Economics, Films, History, Literature, Liturgy, Music, News, Politics, Science, and Theology. These labels appear on the tabs at the top. Click on each tab and all posts with that label will appear. Click on the Monk’s Hobbit Title Banner and you’ll go to the home page to see all articles.

Memories of Mar Girgis Church in Egypt before the Great Burning

About a train ride from Helwan University is Girgis station. It is named after St. George the Dragon Slayer. In this place is the Coptic Church of Mar Girgis which was recently burned by supporters of Muslim Brotherhood. There were already 64 churches burned in Egypt in a single day. Unbelievable. Such wanton hate which reminds me of the burning of Minas Tirith.

Latin Mass at the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola on 17 August 2013, 8:30 am

The Ateneo Latin Mass Society cordially invites you to a Latin Mass in Extraordinary Form in honor of St. Hyacinth, confessor with the Octave of the Blessed Virgin Mary and st. Lawrence on Saturday, 17 August 2013, 8:30 am at the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University. Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ shall celebrate the mass.

Ateneo Latin Mass 17 August 2013: Some pictures

Here are some pictures of the Latin Mass that was held today, 17 August 2013, 8:30 am at the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila. The mass was celebrated in honor of St. Hyacinth with the Octave of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of St. Lawrence. Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ celebrated the mass. The Mass was sponsored by the Ateneo Latin Mass Society. Other pictures can be found in my Google Plus album.

Raise the Shire! Hobbits to gather in Luneta against Pork Barrel

There is a new Facebook page: “Million people march to Luneta August 26 sa araw ng mga bayani. Protesta ng bayan!” Below are the aims of the organizers of the march: “We, the taxpayers, want: the pork barrel scrapped, the senators and congressmen in the pork barrel fund scam investigated and charged accordingly, with full media coverage for the people to see.

Janet Napoles and Shelob the Great

Shelob is the giant spider-like creature that lived in Morgul Vale, guarding the secret path to Sauron’s realm in Mordor: “There agelong she had dwelt, an evil thing in spider-form, even such as once of old had lived in the Land of the Elves in the West that is now under the Sea, such as Beren fought in the Mountains of Terror in Doriath, and so came to Luthien upon the green sward amid the hemlocks in the moonlight long ago.”

Gandalf and Christ: Setting fire on earth and hearts

In today’s Gospel, Christ said: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Lk 12:49). During Pentecost, Christ fulfilled His wish

Ang Kapatiran Party starts signature campaign vs Pork Barrel System in

This 21 August 2012, the National Holiday in commemoration of the death of Ninoy Aquino, Ang Kapatiran Party (Kapatiran sa Pangkalahatang Kabutihan or The Alliance for the Common Good) is making a signature campaign to abolish the Pork Barrel in Pangulong Benigno Aquino III: Wakasan na ang Pork Barrel System/PDAF. Please visit this site and sign the petition as I did. The petition is in Filipino. Here’s my translation.

Birth Control: Always winter, but never Christmas

In C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2), a White Witch ruled Narnia for a hundred years, making it “always winter, but never Christmas.” In this post, I would like to reflect on the phrase “always winter, but never Christmas” in the context of the demographic winter and the Birth Control.

Book Review of Ricardo Semler’s “Maverick”: The glory of a company is man fully alive

I finished reading Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace by Ricardo Semler. I noticed that the principles that Semler used to run Brazil’s SEMCO are based on Gospel values, though he may not consciously do so. The overarching principle of Semler’s company management that we can deduce from his book is this: The glory of the company is man fully alive.

Vilma Santos’s Extra in Cinemalaya 2013: Mystery of the Face

Extra (The Bit Player) starring Vilma Santos is a movie entry to the Cinemalaya 2013. The extras are the hobbits in the movie industry governed by wizards (movie directors) and powerful lords (producers). Extra is a movie about the life of these little people that makes movies happen. As Loida (Vilma) said, it is the crowd that define the setting, for what is a restaurant without ordinary people eating or a street without people walking by? “I used to be part of the crowd, too, ” Loida told a young girl. “But look at me now, I am a still part of the crowd.” She laughed.

Crowd estimate of Anti-Pork Barrel Rally at Luneta last 26 Aug 2013

A friend in Filipinos for Life asked me to make make a crowd estimate of the Luneta Rally last 26 Aug 2013. She sent me an aerial photograph of the crowd by Architect Paulo Alcazaren in Inquirer, which I used it as the basis of my crowd estimate, assuming there are no other persons outside the picture. There is also another excellent photo by Alcazaren in GMA Network.

SLSSG: Traditional Latin Mass Schedule for September 2013

Societas Liturgiae Sacrae Sancti Gregorii is an apostolate dedicated to the celebration, promotion and propagation of the Traditional Latin Mass of St. Gregory the Great, implementing the Motu Proprio, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM as envisioned by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Is the viability of a fertilized ovum a condition for its humanity as claimed by Lagman?

Let’s state Lagman’s definitions, though we may disagree with him. For him, conception is different from fertilization. Fertilization is the meeting of the egg (ovum) and the sperm. Conception is the implantation of this fertilized ovum on the woman’s uterus.

Pastoral Letter on the Pork Barrel by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas

By Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas 29 July 2013

Many of you, our Catholic faithful, have come to us your pastors seeking our moral guidance on the issue of the pork barrel. It is the object of an ongoing investigation due to accusations of corruption being hurled against some of our public officials. But even before the recent exposé, the pork barrel has long had a bad reputation. How many traditional politicians have run and overspent and even killed for the sake of millions they will get as pork barrel once elected?

We your Church pastors are not politicians. We are not lawyers. We are not socio-economic planners and strategists. Our realm is religious and the arena where we operate is spiritual and moral. From the ethical and moral perspectives, therefore, we offer you these guidelines.

The separation of Church and State does not prohibit moral ethical values from influencing public policies. If governance were conducted from a platform that disregards ethics and morality, we only expose our nation to greater peril. We have only ourselves to blame and we make ourselves the victims of our own amoral conduct.

In theory, the Priority Development Assistance Fund is an attempt to make government projects available to the poor and the marginalized sectors of society who are not sufficiently attended to when the national priorities are defined. In theory it is pro-poor and pro-marginalized. Its goal is to alleviate poverty and to bring about a redistribution of public money for
the benefit of the poor. And we would like to affirm those who have indeed used every peso entrusted to them to support genuine projects for the poor, even to the point of spending their own money to respond to the needy.

In reality, however, the pork barrel has been used by some elected representatives in Congress to prove to their constituents that they are concretely doing something for their welfare. In fact, it is not uncommon to refer to projects funded from the pork barrel fund as “Projects of Congressman X” giving the impression that this is personal money and not public fund. Epal has become so common that some of us are not disturbed by those billboards anymore.

In many instances, the pork barrel has become like a “discretionary fund” of elected Representatives. In theory, it is for the development of the poor and the far. In reality, it has served to strengthen the clutch of politicians to power.

But before we rush to pass judgment on our legislators who avail of the pork barrel, it would be opportune for us citizens to search our souls and ask “What have I done to contribute to this?”

In reality, we ordinary citizens partake of the bounty of the “discretionary funds” by asking our government officials to help our personal needs, family concerns, barangay projects or even Church fiestas.

Let us make it our rule of life when we relate to politicians *Walang hihingi!* Every time we ask our politicians for monetary help, we tempt them to dig into the pork barrel coffers or *jueteng *chests to accommodate our request.

Patronage enslaves

Public service is public trust. When we elect our representatives in Congress, we elect them to make laws to make our nation a better nation. The task that we entrust to the legislators is clearly legislation. They are trustees of the citizens for lawmaking.

The task of building infrastructure and providing social services is the responsibility of the executive branch of government. Its stewardship function is infrastructure building and social services. In theory, the Chief Executive has control of the disposition of these funds. In law and practice, the Chief Executive controls the release of the pork barrel to legislators. The consequence is the President can put pressure on legislators to toe his political line. The independence of Congress is compromised.

Filipino voters become “grateful” beneficiaries of legislators whom they expect to give them something when they need it. Legislators in turn become “thankful” recipients of the largess of pork barrel whose release the Executive has control. Politics of patronage not stewardship cascades from top to bottom.

Public governance is stewardship but the pork barrel has made public governance a system of patronage. Stewardship liberates and uplifts. Patronage enslaves and insults.

One of the basic rules that make stewardship functional is transparency and accountability. Under no circumstances must transparency be excused and accountability ignored.

Our moral options

For the Church…

Church-based organizations and institutions must make it our mantra, in relation to politicians, “*Walang hihingi!”* We in Church can contribute to the corruption by grabbing a piece of the pie through our solicitations from government officials—from candles to basketball uniforms to bags of cement to government bulldozers. We tempt the public officials to get money
from *jueteng* or the pork barrel in order to accommodate us. *Walang hihingi!*

We who are stewards of the materials goods of the Church must be
transparent in our fund raising projects. We must prepare our accounting reports of how Church funds are disbursed insuring all the time that the principle of accountability is observed. When we are less than transparent in our accounting, we hurt the truth. *Ang sinungaling ay kapatid ng magnanakaw*.

For the government…

On the part of government, for the sake of sound stewardship of public money, it is imperative that those who approve the budget are distinct and separate from those who implement the projects. The present system is very vulnerable to conflict of interest, parochialism and corruption in the selection of suppliers and the bidding of contracts.

Let the legislators legislate and the executives execute.

In order to protect the national and local executives from the temptation of corrupting public money, the Commission on Audit must do its mandated duty with strength of will, vigilance and diligence. This is ethical public service.

On its part, the legislators must strengthen their oversight, monitoring and evaluation functions with the public participation of the Church, business and civil society groups like what PPCRV and NAMFREL do together during elections.

Man does not live on bread alone, the good Lord taught us; but man does not need pork to go with bread.

It is integrity that must go with bread. Let integrity flow in our beloved land for, “He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9). –