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BY JOSEPHUS JIMENEZ - CHRISTMAS INSIDE A SQUATTERS' COLONY


By Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez
The government, in its earnest efforts to hide the pains and perhaps escape from the embarrassment of truth, has officially called the squatters as informal settlers. They have ordered, by administrative fiat, that squatter areas be named urban poor settlements. The name sounds more prim and proper, and removes the stigma of having human beings who are called squatters in their own land of birth. This is really the malady of pretentious government bureaucrats who, like the scribes and Pharisees at the time of Jesus, would always pretend to be the icon of propriety and piety, so as to gain the respect, even the adulation of the unwashed and unforgiven sinners. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Valeriano Avila - A Christmas wish for peace in our land


DECEMBER 23 -By Valeriano Avila
It is literally the eve of the eve of Christmas Day and since Christmas this year falls on a Sunday, allow me to share my Christmas message to our faithful readers who have been following this column for many years now. However, before I give my Christmas message for our readers, we must take note of what is happening in this country today under the leadership of President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte who, without any doubt, has put his own personal interest behind the interest of the nation for the sake of peace in the land. During the 81st anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, President Duterte declared a holiday ceasefire with the New People's Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the Moro National Liberation Front, asking the armed rebels to leave their firearms in their camps or homes and come down from the hinterlands and visit their friends and relatives so they could enjoy the Christmas season without any fear of being arrested or apprehended. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Fr  Roy Cimagala - Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?


DECEMBER 223 -By Fr. Roy Cimagala
There in the States, they make a big stir over which is more proper to say: Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? It stems from what they call as the “war on Christmas” that to my mind has religious, political and ideological undertones. Apparently there are people who are trying to tone down the religious aspect of the greetings. They have made some polls on people’s sentiments regarding this issue and have found out that most Republicans and the older people favor saying, Merry Christmas over Happy Holidays, while most Democrats and the younger ones prefer the other way around. I would say that both greetings can be correct and proper depending on one’s motives and the circumstances surrounding the greetings. There should not be a big fuss over this issue, especially in our country that so far is still quiet about it. READ MORE...

ALSO: PHILSTAR EDITORIAL - Joy and sorrow


DECEMBER 25 -As in the past years, most Filipinos expect their Christmas to be merry. A Social Weather Stations survey showed that 75 percent of Filipinos expect to have a happy Christmas. Holiday celebrations, however, will be tempered this year in many areas of the country. For the first time since the last world war, the nation will welcome the birth of the Child Jesus with thousands of families mourning the loss of at least one member. A number of them will be haunted by the thought that their loved ones died in a gruesome way, with heads wrapped in plastic and packing tape. In this season of joy, church bells are also tolling for the dead. Filipinos undoubtedly need protection from the menace posed by drug trafficking and abuse. Drugs ruin lives and families and can embolden the addict to commit heinous crimes. Drug dealers are also known to go to great lengths to preserve their lucrative business. They buy protection and abet corruption. They are prone to violence and are ready to kill. Kid gloves do not work on such ruthless thugs. READ MORE...


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Christmas inside a squatters’ colony


By Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez

MANILA, DECEMBER 26, 2016 (THE FREEMAN) a squatters’ colony WHAT MATTERS MOST By Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) | Updated December 24, 2016 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0 The government, in its earnest efforts to hide the pains and perhaps escape from the embarrassment of truth, has officially called the squatters as informal settlers. They have ordered, by administrative fiat, that squatter areas be named urban poor settlements. The name sounds more prim and proper, and removes the stigma of having human beings who are called squatters in their own land of birth. This is really the malady of pretentious government bureaucrats who, like the scribes and Pharisees at the time of Jesus, would always pretend to be the icon of propriety and piety, so as to gain the respect, even the adulation of the unwashed and unforgiven sinners.

READ MORE...

This is the same government, although with a different president, who started calling our maids and domestic helpers, as household service workers, perhaps to hide the mark of servitude and virtual slavery that our hundreds of thousands of maids are suffering from, for so many decades now all over the world. These, too, include the harsh and painful burdens that our OFWs have to carry, doing dirty, difficult, dangerous, deceptive, and degrading jobs, from America to Zambia. But no matter what high-sounding names are given to the millions of suffering Filipinos, their deprivation, their poverty, and the social injustices inflicted upon them, can never be assuaged by the magic of terminology or semantics.

And so, this week, as in the five Christmases ago, I have chosen to live once more in a squatters' area. This time, I have chosen this one in the very heart of this metropolis that proudly calls itself the “Queen City of the South.” I see the south, but I have not seen the queen. I have been sick and tired living in condos and luxurious hotels, traveling all over Asia and in the whole world, as a roving lecturer of comparative labor laws. My lectures and conferences in Europe and the Americas have removed me from the center of life's socio-economic realities. Thus, this annual ritual of immersing with the people, so as to remind myself always as to who I am and where I came from. Here, in B. Rodriguez.


Squatter area in Cebu City - Philippines. Photo by kathywoolbrightdarza Food

It is in this place that I see with my own eyes a family of seven human beings, sharing a dinner worth less than one hundred pesos. How could that be, it would seem impossible with today's rising cost of living. But God has invented garbage cans and trash bins, and these are where the children of God, unwashed and unfed, would daily do the scavenging of leftovers thrown away by fast-food chains and briefly re-cook them to kill the germs and the microbes. And to free the conscience of the parents, in case the children are infected with cholera, dysentery or simple LBM, the Sotto hospital is nearby.

In Fuente are some hotels, where moneyed though ugly foreigners and their quickie lovers, female or male (it doesn't matter anymore ), would have a quick bite of the best tenderloin, medium rare, and drink vodka or champagne, then have a quick sex, and then Casino till kingdom come in the wee hours of the new day. It is Christmas, and the poor persevere in the belief that a Messiah is going to be born again, not in a five-star hotel but in a lowly manger. And so, blessed are the squatters, who survive from crumbs of the wealthy, and from the remittances of absentee mothers, who enslave themselves in Saudi. All those pains and degradations just to make sure that the loved ones in B. Rodriguez have a noche buena, not from the garbage can of the rich and the powerful, (at least for Christmas ) but from the tears, sweats, and blood of the poor.

With so much social cancer, how then, in Jesus' name, can we ever have a merry Christmas?

Freeman ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:

josephusbjimenez@gmail.com.


A Christmas wish for peace in our land SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) | Updated December 23, 2016 - 12:00am 1 3 googleplus1 0


By Valeriano Avila

It is literally the eve of the eve of Christmas Day and since Christmas this year falls on a Sunday, allow me to share my Christmas message to our faithful readers who have been following this column for many years now. However, before I give my Christmas message for our readers, we must take note of what is happening in this country today under the leadership of President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte who, without any doubt, has put his own personal interest behind the interest of the nation for the sake of peace in the land.

During the 81st anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, President Duterte declared a holiday ceasefire with the New People's Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the Moro National Liberation Front, asking the armed rebels to leave their firearms in their camps or homes and come down from the hinterlands and visit their friends and relatives so they could enjoy the Christmas season without any fear of being arrested or apprehended.

READ MORE...

In his speech in Camp Aguinaldo, President Duterte declared a halt to military offensives from December 23 to 27 and from December 31 to January 3, 2017. He sent this message: "To the NPA or the Communist Party of the Philippines, although you did not declare any cessation of hostilities somewhere, I would like to invite everybody: Leave your arms where they are now and you can come down to the city or wherever you live; you visit your family."

This is one gesture by President Duterte that no previous president has ever done with all the armed groups in the name of peace. From what I read, it is a unilateral decision, although the president, of course, wanted these armed groups to also make their own declaration for a ceasefire.

As I already wrote in previous columns, the world today is in turmoil. The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey G. Karlov, was publicly assassinated a few days ago on nationwide TV. ISIS terrorists used another truck to run over people in a Christmas bazaar in Berlin, Germany, killing 12 and wounding many more. And the beautiful City of Aleppo in Syria is all in ruins, thanks to the devil gone amuck in this world. If this Christmas ceasefire holds in the Philippines, then we would have achieved a peace that has eluded this nation in the last four decades of fighting in the countryside.

This alone is a milestone that God has granted this nation and I can only attribute this to the consecration of the Philippines to the Immaculate Heart of Mary three years ago by the Catholic Church when the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines was our very own Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma. Let us hope that everyone involved in this armed conflict would honor the peace efforts of President Duterte so all of us can have a peaceful Christmas with family and kin.

On top of this unilateral call for a ceasefire, President Duterte announced that he has allowed for the release of P1 billion for poor Filipinos with doctor's prescriptions needing medicine and another P1 billion for those under medication and undergoing rehabilitation for drug addiction. The president also said he would also release funds to buy food for those who want to eat with the country's soldiers, including rebels and Lumads in the farmlands who love odong (noodles) and sardines. President Duterte said all these would be flown to the military camps before Christmas Day.

Of course, I do not expect the Cable News Network (CNN) to cover this story, much less even mention that we are having a unilateral ceasefire. CNN only reports what is being fed by the enemies of President Duterte. Someday, they will come to realize that CNN has been used by the Yellowtards to destroy the image of President Duterte. But if the efforts of the president bear fruits, then peace will surely come to this troubled archipelago.

It is this elusive peace that brings us to reflect with the coming of Christmas Day on Sunday. When Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise due to their disobeying God, God did not really condemn mankind because he loved his own creation, despite our sinful wretchedness. As we read in Genesis 3:15, God said, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

Now you may ask, who was this woman that God was referring to who would crush the heel of Satan? Of course for us Catholics, it is the Blessed Virgin Mary, and if you look closely at the statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, there is a serpent crushed on her feet. In a couple of weeks, the New Year 2017 will be upon us and it will be the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal. In her apparition, she prophesied that Russia will be consecrated into her Immaculate Heart and there will be world peace. This is why we must ask Pope Francis to immediately consecrate Russia into the Immaculate Heart of Mary so we can finally achieve the peace as promised by the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? HINTS AND TRACES By Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) | Updated December 24, 2016 - 12:00am 1 10 googleplus0 0


By Fr. Roy Cimagala

There in the States, they make a big stir over which is more proper to say: Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? It stems from what they call as the “war on Christmas” that to my mind has religious, political and ideological undertones. Apparently there are people who are trying to tone down the religious aspect of the greetings.

They have made some polls on people’s sentiments regarding this issue and have found out that most Republicans and the older people favor saying, Merry Christmas over Happy Holidays, while most Democrats and the younger ones prefer the other way around.

I would say that both greetings can be correct and proper depending on one’s motives and the circumstances surrounding the greetings. There should not be a big fuss over this issue, especially in our country that so far is still quiet about it.

READ MORE...

But, yes, we have to give due attention to its religious, political, and social dimensions involved, to be ready in case this issue erupts into something big here. I also suspect that this controversy in the States is a kind of religious baiting akin to what they call as racial baiting that is not really a problem in our country. We should not take this issue too seriously, at least as of now.

Offhand, I must say that many people nowadays are not quite affected by whatever greeting is said because they just say things perfunctorily, without much attention about whatever implications those greetings can make. The obvious presumption is that the greeter means well, and hardly anyone interprets the greeting beyond that presumption.

It’s when people put more into these greetings that we can start to have a problem. When a person or especially a group, for example, makes a blanket praise or blanket condemnation of the one of the expressions to the exclusion of the other, for some religious, political or ideological reasons, then we really would have a problem.

Let people say what they want to say as a greeting during this special period of the year. Everyone has his idea of what is correct and proper, what is traditional and customary to say, and we just have to respect that. Unless it is clear that his greeting violates a basic human right, which is hardly the case, we should just be happy that one greets or is greeted.

Of course, we have to give due attention to the way the temper of the times develops. In our country that is predominantly Christian and Catholic, we should make it a point that the spiritual and religious character of the season is upheld. In fact, it should be developed, purified, enriched and protected. We have to be wary of the many isms that tend to undermine the true character of Christmas.

We should not forget that in the world today there is already a very strong wave of worldliness, agnosticism, skepticism and atheism. We have to be ready in the event these isms try to dominate us.

But this does not mean that we should engage in some religious war on those whose beliefs are different from but not necessarily opposed to our Christian faith. We have to respect religious freedom and the freedom of consciences. We should not go around imposing our doctrine and ways on those who see things differently. We have to follow what Christ once said: “Whoever is not against you is for you.” (Lk 9,50)

What we can do is to be more consistent in our spiritual life, more Christ-like, that in the first place is expected to be characterized by humility, meekness, charity, mercy, patience while pursuing the truth as spelled out by Christ and taught authoritatively by the Church. We should try to follow what Christ also once said: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Mt 12,30)

We need to give good example to others in an abiding way, and not just intermittently, that can give rise to suspicions of hypocrisy, deception and some other ulterior motives on our part. More than words, this is how we can win souls, encourage the weak, correct those in error, cause conversions, etcetera.

While there can be drastic measures to keep our Christian identity at Christmas time, we should use more the normal means of giving witness to our faith in the ordinary circumstances of our daily life. This will attract souls to the Christian faith more effectively.

We should avoid any traces of self-righteousness, of seeing things in a simplistic black-and-white way.


PHILSTAR EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL - Joy and sorrow (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 24, 2016 - 12:00am 0 10 googleplus0 0

As in the past years, most Filipinos expect their Christmas to be merry. A Social Weather Stations survey showed that 75 percent of Filipinos expect to have a happy Christmas.

Holiday celebrations, however, will be tempered this year in many areas of the country. For the first time since the last world war, the nation will welcome the birth of the Child Jesus with thousands of families mourning the loss of at least one member. A number of them will be haunted by the thought that their loved ones died in a gruesome way, with heads wrapped in plastic and packing tape. In this season of joy, church bells are also tolling for the dead.

Filipinos undoubtedly need protection from the menace posed by drug trafficking and abuse. Drugs ruin lives and families and can embolden the addict to commit heinous crimes. Drug dealers are also known to go to great lengths to preserve their lucrative business. They buy protection and abet corruption. They are prone to violence and are ready to kill. Kid gloves do not work on such ruthless thugs.

READ MORE...

The war on illegal drugs is believed to have claimed such notorious traffickers, made incorrigible by the enormous profits from drug trafficking. But the nation will not know for sure, because suspects are being gunned down with no charges being filed, with guilt determined and the sentence handed down only by the forces of Oplan Tokhang.

There are communities that feel safer with drug dealers out of the way. As surveys indicate, people generally support any campaign to confront the drug menace. But the same surveys also show that most Filipinos want lives spared in the anti-drug campaign. And the surveys also show that with thousands of deaths attributed to masked vigilantes, many people fear that they will become casualties in a war waged by nameless, faceless combatants.

The grieving is most widespread in areas where poverty makes celebration difficult even on ordinary days. Tokhang has claimed mostly impoverished drug personalities, and the government has promised no end to the killing spree. It’s an abyss from which the nation may never be able to crawl back out. In this blessed season, the nation can pray to prevent this slide into darkness.


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