Edsa Dos @20

By: Randy David  Inquirer PH

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the issues surrounding the acquisition of safe and effective vaccines, it is easy to forget other significant events that shook the country and profoundly shaped the course of our politics in the succeeding years. One of these is Edsa Dos (Edsa 2), whose 20th anniversary falls exactly today, Jan. 17.

Hardly anyone now cares to commemorate this event. Very few young Filipinos know about it. It is not taught in school the same way Edsa 1 — the original People Power Revolution of 1986 — is discussed as marking the end of tyranny and the recovery of democracy.

I was a participant and witness to both events. But, while the four-day popular uprising in February 1986 remains lodged in my political consciousness as an inspiring milestone in our nation’s life, I continue to be bothered by doubt about the legitimacy of what happened in January 2001. I don’t regret joining Edsa Dos, but I have reservations about its outcome.

What prompted this recollection was last week’s violent pro-Trump protest and siege of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, the seat of the US Senate and House of Representatives. The circumstances are different, but it is these differences that invite thoughtful reflection of what it means to defend democratic institutions and the rule of law.

Both cases involve sitting presidents who were fighting off efforts to remove them from office—Donald Trump and Joseph “Erap” Estrada. Trump refused to concede defeat after losing his reelection bid, claiming that his rival, Joe Biden, benefited from alleged large-scale fraud supposedly committed by conspirators who manipulated the Nov. 3 presidential election. Estrada, on the other hand, was facing impeachment for allegedly receiving protection money from gambling lords and appropriating tobacco taxes for his private use.

The differences are stunning. Trump incited his followers to storm the US Congress in order to stop the legislature from confirming Joe Biden’s election as the next president of the United States. The violent tumult that his followers created succeeded in disturbing the proceedings, but, after this unwelcome intrusion was repelled, Congress went on to accomplish what it had to do under the law.

Estrada, who had been duly elected president in 1998, was just entering the second half of his term of office when he was subjected to impeachment. Twenty-one “senator-judges” were hearing the prosecution’s case when the proceedings hit a snag. A senator called for a vote on whether to open an envelope containing bank documents that allegedly incriminated Estrada.

Eleven senators voted not to open, while 10 voted to reveal the envelope’s contents—an outcome that signaled how the final voting on the entire case would likely go. This triggered a dramatic walkout of the prosecutors and opposition senators, prompting then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., who was presiding, to suspend the proceedings. Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, who was cochairing the impeachment trial, resigned from his position a few days later, thus throwing the whole process into uncertainty.

Unlike the US Congress, which reconvened a few hours after the mob interrupted its proceedings, the impeachment court that was hearing the case against Estrada failed to complete its duty. It was overtaken by the events that came to be known as “Edsa Dos”—the peaceful days of protest held at the Edsa Shrine that called for the ouster of President Estrada.

The call, led by the Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin, urged Estrada to resign for having lost the “moral authority” to govern. Estrada could have ignored the pressure and toughed it out, or, in the worst-case scenario, he could have incited his followers to defend their president—as Trump did, illegally and irresponsibly.

But, to his credit, faced with the repudiation of his presidency by the country’s religious, business, academic, and media elites, Erap chose to act with humility. When crowds began to gather near the presidential residence, he slipped through the backdoor, hoping to diffuse the tension. He said he was taking a leave, making clear he would not resign. What followed next was a series of events that were as swift as they were startling.

The heads of the armed forces and the police announced they were withdrawing their support and allegiance to the incumbent president. One by one, some members of the Cabinet resigned their positions. After negotiations to get Estrada to resign failed, the chief justice, by the authority given by a majority of the justices, showed up at the Edsa Shrine to swear in Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as president.

The same high court that had previously sanctioned the proclamation of GMA as “acting” president later pronounced her succession to the presidency constitutional, citing as basis the so-called “constructive resignation” of Estrada. A few months after Arroyo took office, the police arrested the disgraced former president on charges of plunder, a nonbailable offense. His fingerprints and mug shot were taken, completing a ritual of degradation that began with the impeachment. His arrest unleashed a flurry of mass actions that came to be known as “Edsa Tres.”

In a previous column, I argued that while Edsa Tres was suppressed, the populist impulses it embodied have not dissipated. At crucial moments, certain conditions awaken these impulses, bringing to the fore unpredictable types of leaders that go against the grain of institutional politics. Some of them become tyrants.

A way to change consciousness

Hans Georg Gadamer (1999)

The task of the future concerns the awareness of the fact that there is no ideal reality, but there can nevertheless be approximations to mutual understanding and forms of solidarity can be reached.

An example of this is ecology or the fact that all decisions to be made are possible today only thanks to the cooperation of all countries of the world. We can contribute to the formation of a conscience that makes us recognize these tasks as “ours”.

To this end, we must weaken national selfishness, personal selfishness and distract man from the obsession with pursuing his own goals. If we want to survive, we must be able to consider others in relation to us, as something like us, as an instance that can continually free us from glare and blindness.

This seems to me to be the task of culture. And that philosophical reflection, capable of founding this task against all the objections of those who think differently, seems to me to give hope for a real positive outcome of the future educational process, which, I believe, will need many decades. I can only urge tolerance, perseverance, and tenacity.

The advance of modern scientific power, the industrial revolution in which we live, are things that, little by little, must find new forms of adaptation to the political tasks of the future.

We – that is, the men who have to do with culture – can perhaps prepare the atmosphere for openness to true cooperation between the leading powers of present humanity.

This is the hope with which a philosopher looks to the future, towards which he nourishes concern, but also confidence; that confidence according to which, in the course of history and its Christian presuppositions, human reason and, ultimately, the feeling of solidarity among men have become very different from the difficult times of the past, in which they did not consider themselves very carefully the interests of others, of neighbouring peoples, of adversaries, of rivals.

This is, so to speak, the vision of the role of culture in the life of humanity that can have a measured, objective, and realistic observer.

Of course, it is proper to the hegemony of scientific culture to base itself on the monologue. Compared to other cultures, we have all forgotten that it is not the monologue and the use of the authoritative skills of scientific experts that promulgate life, but the dialogical exchange, the exchange that takes place in dialogue, in dispute and in the struggle between opinions.

We must think of rhetoric, but not in the sense of a weapon in the hands of the powerful, but as the persuasive capacity of ideas. That is why I look at the Greeks with such admiration. For this people it was natural to discuss in a heartfelt, lively way in the streets and squares of Athens or other cities.

We must return to the dimension of dialogue and develop, complete in this sense our culture, which has become excessively literary; that is, we must strive for a real dialogue within the whole culture of humanity.

This is the commitment, the task that concerns us all. And the new technical tools, such as radio and television, must be used in this direction, favouring the spread of dialogue.

Moreover, this is very difficult since these are institutions based on the monologue. The privileges of radio stations and television (social media) companies depend on the power of those who hold them from time to time. Every revolution in the current world is primarily linked to radio and television stations because public opinion draws its basic tendencies from these means of dissemination.

The dialogue, therefore, which must gradually be achieved, is not the dialogue of experts. Instead, it should be the peoples, in their mutual exchange and relationship, to speak. Lack of consensus is catastrophic for the achievement of a harmonious social and political life. The French Revolution was also an explosion due to the lack of consensus, of agreement between the ruling class and the people.

We need a new agreement between humanity and the great forces and powers, responsible for the destiny of man. We need consent, agreement between men. I am following with some hope the way in which young people of all countries are slowly beginning to understand the ecological problem.

This too is a way to change consciousness. And only thanks to a modification of consciousness can we hope to give life, to produce a new common consciousness.

Lesson from History

By fr. Peter Geremia

Most history books are written by the Victors or Winners, while the Losers either cannot write or die before they can write, or their stories are erased or covered up.  The Lost History of the Losers, which include the masses of the poor all over the world, remains buried under the unconscious memories of humankind.

Only from time to time, some skeletons of the past suddenly reappear… like the history of the slaves who were taken from Africa to the Americas, which was recalled when on May 25, 2020 in the US a black man was pinned down by a big white policeman pressing his knee on the neck of the black man who kept on begging “I cannot breathe…” until he died suffocated.  Then, his cry was picked up by a chorus of demonstrators who felt the agony of millions of slaves who were captured and chained and sold like wild animals, then loaded on slave ships, many died during the long trip and their bodies were thrown into the sea to feed the sharks, and the survivors were sold again and condemned to forced labor… their cries were not heard nor recorded, only now they are heard all around the world, exposing the lost history of slavery and discrimination and racism.

Of course, there were, and still now there are many forms of slavery and discrimination even more brutal like the genocides of entire races.  When the European explorers and conquistadores discovered the New World, millions of natives were wiped out not only by wars but also by epidemics introduced by the conquerors.

Most conquerors claimed that they brought peace to the conquered nations, like the Roman Empire proclaiming the “Pax Romana”, the peace imposed by the Roman Legions and by crucifying anyone who dared to seek liberation from oppression.

Christ was one of the crucified victims because He dared to proclaim that God wants to free people from the powers of evil by uniting them in the Kingdom of Mercy and Compassion, caring for all and sharing everything, practicing justice and peace, love and freedom from fear.  He called this the Kingdom of God. The early Christians believed that Christ rose from the dead and they practiced His ways of God’s Kingdom in their first Christian communities.  Many of them were killed as martyrs, but their movement continues up to now in spite of all the kingdoms of the world which continue to practice the ways of the Roman Empire.

In our recent history, we have experienced World Wars and weapons of mass destruction which threaten to wipe out the human race. And now, the pandemic of COVID-19 has become a threat to all countries and all races.  What caused this epidemic?  Some are quick to blame others, but we wonder also if the increasing calamities and the new kinds of diseases are the side effects of our modern way of life with technological progress but also with so much pollution and poisoning of our air, water, and food and so much destruction of the natural environment.

Some scientists say that Mother Earth would breathe more freely if the human race disappeared, after all, many species have already disappeared.  Can we save Mother Earth and the Human Race?

What are the lessons that we can learn from the history of humankind, especially the lost history of the losers, the forgotten victims of all forms of violence and exploitation of nature?  For instance…

Can we learn to be more careful avoiding the COVID-19, but also, all that is dangerous to our health, from vices to all forms of self-destruction?

Can we learn and practice more the ways of healing the life support systems of Mother Earth in order to enjoy clean air, water and food, and preserving the natural resources for the next generation?

Can we learn to live in harmony with all peoples and races and eliminate wars by changing all weapons into instruments of peace?

Can we change the culture of violence and waste into the culture of solidarity and compassion and love?

If we believe in One God, the Creator of the universe, we can pray and trust that He will show us the ways of survival.  If we don’t believe in any God, can we believe that all kinds of human beings can unite in dialogue towards self-preservation?

Do we believe that we can save the Human Race and Mother Earth?  Can the pandemic and the memories of all tragedies lead us to a new way of life?  Is it too late?  The forces of destruction appear to be prevailing… However, there are also wonderful persons like Christ, many prophets in different cultures, and many more simple people who live according to the ways of God’s Kingdom, the ways of love and compassion which can overcome all forces of destruction.  It is the struggle between good and evil, which will prevail?

List of 2021 holidays Philippines

  • January 1, 2021, Friday – New Year’s Day
  • April 1, 2021, Maundy Thursday 
  • April 2, 2021, Good Friday
  • April 9, 2021, Friday – Araw ng Kagitingan
  • May 1, 2021, Saturday – Labor Day
  • June 12, 2021, Saturday – Independence Day
  • August 30, 2021, last Monday of August – National Heroes’ Day 
  • November 30, 2021, Tuesday – Bonifacio Day
  • December 25, 2021, Saturday – Christmas Day 
  • December 30, 2021, Thursday – Rizal Day

Special non-working days:

  • February 12, 2021, Friday – Chinese New Year 
  • February 25, 2021, Thursday – EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary
  • April 3, 2021 – Black Saturday 
  • August 21, 2021, Saturday – Ninoy Aquino Day 
  • November 1, 2021, Monday – All Saints’ Day 
  • December 8, 2021, Wednesday – Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary
  • December 31, 2021, Friday – last day of the year

Additional special non-working holidays:

  • November 2, 2021, Tuesday – All Souls’ Day
  • December 24, 2021, Friday – Christmas Eve

The President will issue separate proclamations declaring national holidays for the observance of Eid’l Fitr, the end of the month-long Ramadan, and Eid’l Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, after the dates of these Islamic holidays are determined in accordance with the Islamic calendar or the lunar calendar. The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos shall inform the Office of the President of the dates on which these holidays will fall in 2021.

From Rappler

2021 nel cuore

Un altro anno ci viene, per così dire, donato; per crescere, per sperare e forse anche per morire. Inizia come al solito con botti di petardi, malinconici ai miei orecchi. In silenzio invece, leggendo il Vangelo, immagino Maria che mi dice di ascoltare con il cuore i battiti del tempo tra il prima e il dopo.

Certo che oggi la “normalità del cuore” bisogna conquistarla con coraggio. Il futuro appare incerto perché il 2020 ha rovesciato i consueti scenari e siamo nel timore di non potere fare quello che avevamo in mente di fare. Nel mio caso immergermi curvo e ancora da selvatico, senza progetti, in qualche sperduto pertugio di Mindanao. Ma non mi rammarico di essere rimasto in Italia per essere coinvolto in un destino pan-demico comune a tutto il mondo. Ovvio che inizio l’anno più triste. C’è la nostalgia degli anni passati; quelli belli e brutti allo stesso tempo, ma avventurosi. Libero di saltare recinti.

Eppure, anche dallo sconforto di essere confinati può uscire un filo di speranza: se solo fossimo capaci di considerare la nostra vita interiore, e quella degli altri, l’unica cosa dalla quale apprendere il senso positivo della vita. Come? Risvegliando il cuore, purificando i pensieri, liberarsi dai giudizi e voler bene a tutto ciò che è vivo. Poi Dio sopra ogni cosa perché il destino di ogni cosa sta, da sempre, nel cuore di Dio “amante della vita” tanto che contano persino i capelli del nostro capo. Sicché si può dire che nulla è destinato alla perdizione o ad essere ridotto in frammenti nel contenitore dei ricordi.

Per questa convinzione, questo inizio d’anno civile, vissuto in tempo di grave crisi pandemica può trasformarsi in un momento in cui celebrare la vita in pienezza. Nonostante tutto.

Maria, che oggi celebriamo come Madre di Dio, ci suggerisce l’atteggiamento corretto per vivere il presente e il futuro. Orientarsi all’essenziale: accogliere gli eventi nel cuore, meditarli alla luce della Parola Fede e condividerli prima di tutto con i più umili, i pastori. Solo così si potrà intravedere tra le vicende chiaro oscure che ci incutono sempre timore, il sorriso verso di noi del Dio vivente.

Non sono solo sirene

Abitare a pochi passi dall’Ospedale di Treviso durante il picco dell’epidemia (anche oggi in Veneto molti decessi e migliaia di positivi) è deprimente. Ogni giorno ambulanze con sirene ululanti escono e rientrano dal e al Pronto Soccorso. Mentre passano c’è pure gente che le maledice.

Quello che mi rende un po’ perplesso è il modo di come si narra il procedere della pandemia.  Ogni sera, nei telegiornali, appaiono governatori e incaricati della sanità impegnati nella ‘guerra’ contro il virus. Ogni volta aggiungono qualcosa di più o di diverso dai rapporti del giorno precedente. Ma poi arriva sempre il momento dei numeri, la fredda contabilità dei nuovi contagi e morti. Cifre snocciolate senza grande enfasi tanto da non incidere molto nella paura di chi ascolta. Ci siamo abituati. Numeri che ogni sera si alzano e abbassano, mentre il pensiero si sofferma solo sui regali da fare per le feste di Natale.

Forse anche per questo pare difficile credere che si stia vivendo una tragedia dopo l’altra. Del resto, la maggioranza dei contagiati, asintomatici o no, è chiusa in casa. Di loro, a parte qualche personaggio dello spettacolo o dello sport in collegamento via Zoom, si sa poco o nulla.

Perché il numero non dà il senso della paura? L’ambiguità sta nell’idea dello zero come orizzonte di senso, accettando il quale tutto diventa più sopportabile, cioè azzerato: molti muoiono altrettanti vivono. Il virus è una scommessa a somma zero. Umm? Leggo: “La vita è quello che è … in forza della morte”, “L’uomo ama … perché muore e … la realtà che lo circonda è così preziosa … in quanto è destinata a finire”.

Certamente quelli che maledicono le ambulanze mentre passano a sirene spiegate la pensano diversamente: “La morte è la morte”, “La morte è orribile”, “Una cosa assurda per chi vuole vivere”, “L’ultima nemica” diremmo noi.

Mi trova a disagio. Bisogna forse celebrare la morte per amare la vita o vedere nella morte solo l’orrore? Esiste un compromesso?

Oggi il messaggio di chi guida la guerra alla pandemia è, e non può non essere così. sempre tranquillizzante e consolatorio. Ti dicono di accettarti così come sei e non sperare in cose che sono fuori dalla tua portata, o per lo meno di aspettare con fiducia l’arrivo del vaccino. Io non ho fretta.

Già, da giorni si parla del vaccino. Si sa che funziona, ma si aspetta di sapere. È già arrivato, ma bisogna aspettare. Le spiegazioni degli esperti, che non sono profeti, non vanno più in là di questo. Umm? Dietro un dramma come questo se le parole rimangono vaghe e altalenanti emerge sempre qualcosa di ardito: il dominio sopra gli altri.

Leggo: «Chi vede aprirsi davanti a sé la strada del dominio non si trattiene dall’avanzare!». Mesi fa, mentre si discuteva solo di cifre, i paesi più dominatori, come USA e Russia, si procacciavano, prima di tutti gli altri, centinaia di milioni di scorte di vaccini. Un modo come un altro per dominare il resto del mondo.

Si spera solo che il continuo predicare dei valori universali, oggi aver cura di sé stessi e degli altri, come scrive il vescovo di Treviso, non perdano il loro significato. Se no le sirene delle ambulanze saranno solo sgraziati suoni per le nostre orecchie senza farci commuovere invece per le tante lacrime che stanno trasportando.


Seeking God’s Kingdom of Justice and Peace

By fr. Peter Geremia

I just reached the age of 82, and I wrote a diary titled “Seeking God’s Kingdom of Justice and Peace”.  Someone asked me, “When did you start seeking what you call the kingdom of justice and peace?  Now that you are 82 years old, have you already reached justice and peace?”

I started seeking justice and peace in a confused way when I first felt the call to become a missionary.  I grew up among the ruins of World War II and I imagined that I could hear the cries of all who were killed or wounded and orphaned in all wars all over the world.

As a missionary, I landed in the Philippines in 1972.  In the 1980’s I joined the movement of the GKK or BCC (Basic Christian Communities).  We thought that the BCCs where a way a way of building God’s Kingdom of justice and peace because people united not only for prayers but also to help one another in all their needs.  From BCCs we expanded to Tribal and even Muslim communities organizing tri-people organizations where all kinds of people united in seeking justice and peace.

The people most interested in seeking justice and peace where the Poor, Deprived, Oppressed, Marginalized, Exploited and Struggling people (PDOMES).  With them we discovered “Liberating Education”, the kind of education that helps the poor to discover that they can become free from the slavery of vices and all forms of oppression.  With them we experienced that special joy of solidarity with the poor.  We were surprised to see so many overcome the complex of hopelessness and passivity and dare to become involved in seeking justice and peace. Still others became activists in the movement of non-violence and many were killed in our BCCs and tri-people organizations, and also a couple of missionaries were killed because they shared the expectations of the poor, Father Tullio Favali and Father Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio who wrote in his las will, “Your dreams are my dreams, your struggles ae my struggles, you and I are one in building God’s kingdom”.

Jesus Christ was the first one who proposed to seek God’s kingdom of justice and peace.  He said “Seek God’s kingdom and its justice and everything else will be granted to you” (Matt. 6:33).  Jesus’ way of non-violence but of concrete solidarity by feeding the hungry, becoming Good Samaritans and sharing everything… can produce concrete justice and peace starting in families up to larger networks of solidarity.

Many joined this movement of solidarity.  One special witness of justice and peace was Nonoy Lory Obal, a young lay person that grew up in our BCCs and became a moving force in our tri-people organizations.  Nonoy could male all kinds of people dream of liberation from all forms of oppression or injustices and unpeace, she even challenged the oppressors to join the oppressed and the warmakers to become peacemakers.  She was so excited about the All-Out Peace Movement, but suddenly her voice was silenced by cancer… But, we can still hear her song, the Song of Mary.

“My heart sings of joy because I experience

The saving power of the God of Mercy and Compassion..

He scatters the proud and their plans,

He overthrows the powerful from their throne,

He feeds the hungry with plenty,

But He sends away the rich with empty hands…”      (Luke 1:46-54)

Mary sings that God’s wave of mercy and compassion continues for all generations, continues to overthrow the powerful from their thrones and to lift up the oppressed, continues to feed the hungry and to send away the rich with empty hands… that is how God shows His mercy, as He promised to Abraham and to all generations.

Can we pray with Mary that the plans of the proud be put to shame and the powerful be overthrown from their thrones?  Can we pray to empower the oppressed and to lift them up from their oppression? Can we pray to provide enough food for the hungry and to send away the rich with empty stomachs?  Can these expectations bring about justice and peace? Until even the rich and the powerful will discover more joy in sharing and caring for those in need rather than increasing their wealth and power?

Are these only impossible dreams?  After all Jesus and Mary, Pops and Nonoy and all the martyrs are all dead and we cannot see much justice and peace… Right now in the Philippines we are experiencing a regime that has no respect for god nor for the poor and their dreams.  Killers are hunting poor drug suspects and Human Rights and Peace Advocates.  Even some priests were killed and some bishops and foreign missionaries are threatened.  This is a time for more Martyrs, while many are paralyzed by fear or indifference… Still there are also some who believe that all who sacrificed their lives seeking justice and peace are still alive, they live on in those who share their passion and determination to continue seeking justice and peace.

As long as there are people who are hungry and thirsty for justice, as long as there are volunteers who sing Mary’s song and carry Jesus’ cross and pursue the dreams of the poor, and as long as there is a God of mercy and compassion who will continue building His Kingdom until injustice and unpeace will be no more, until the weapons of war will be transformed into farm tools, until the hungry will have plenty to eat, until enemies can be reconciled.. then the impossible may become possible.

We may not understand how this can happen, but it may be happening without our noticing it.  Jesus taught us to pray in the Our Father, “May Your Kingdom come…soon!” (Matt. 6:10)

Captor of fr. Bossi killed

Manila Times

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Security forces shot dead one of the captors of Italian missionary Fr. Giancarlo Bossi in a gunbattle early Wednesday in the southern port city of Zamboanga, officials said. Army Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said Samad Awang, a subleader of a kidnapping group, was killed in the coastal village of Mampang (Zamboanga City) where he was hiding. Vinluan added that policemen, backed by soldiers, tracked down Awang in his hideout and were trying to arrest him when he attacked security forces, sparking a firefight and eventually killing him.
“With their lives in danger, the apprehending team retaliated which resulted in the instantaneous death of Awang,” he said, adding, no soldiers or policemen were wounded or killed in the fighting.Troops also recovered Awang’s .45-caliber pistol and a magazine loaded with bullets.

Army Col. Antonio John Divinagracia, commander of the anti-terror Joint Task Force Zamboanga, said Awang was among those who kidnapped Bossi from his seminary in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province in June 2007. The priest was freed a month later. Awang was also being linked to several more kidnappings of Filipino traders in the province, just 110 kilometers east of here. “He led the kidnapping of Joel Endino on Jan. 29, 2011, in Ipil town, Zamboanga Sibugay. He was also responsible for the kidnapping of Father Giancarlo Bossi in 2007 and Kathy Casipong in 2013,” Divinagracia said.

Late last month, police commandos also killed three Abu Sayyaf terrorists Radi Tahirin, Hasan Alimin and Abdilla Aspalin in a sea clash off the coastal village of Taluksangay, near Sacol Island, Zamboanga City. The trio was believed sent here to bomb civilian targets.

Mayor Isabelle Climaco warned the public, including foreigners and their Filipino spouses, to stay vigilant against threats of kidnapping and terrorism, saying criminal elements may strike anywhere or at any time. “We would also like to warn the public, especially the families or the spouses married to foreigners, to please exercise precautions. We are issuing this warning due to threats of kidnapping, especially to the foreigners residing in Zamboanga, and [for them] to coordinate with your barangay (village) officials and the local security forces, the police and military because we do not want to have any incident of kidnapping in Zamboanga,” she said.

What is “Mission” for you?

By Fr. Peter Geremia

I discovered “mission” by becoming a missionary. I grew up in Italy near Venice during World War 2 which caused many killings and destruction in our area. I heard that the war spread to the world, so I began dreaming of becoming a missionary to spread peace all over the world. At first it was mostly a sense of adventure. Then I got to know the PIME missionaries and I entered their seminary in Treviso, a town in ruins because of the war.

After college I was sent to Detroit, USA for theology. That was the time of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II. Pope John XXIII and the Vatican Council launched a deep renewal of the Vatican Church from a European church to World church, from Latin liturgies in all languages of the world, from Western Culture to World Culture, from no salvation outside of our church to salvation for all….

At the same time, the renewal movement led me to discover the original historical Jesus and His original Good News and Mission to build the Kingdom of God starting from the poor, as a new way of life and a new system uniting people in sharing everything. The new vision of the mission challenged me to become a witness or an agent of the Kingdom of God. Then I discovered that God and His Kingdom was already present among the poor who helped each other in solidarity while they suffer oppression by the global economic system of exploitation which continues to cause wars, destructions of the environment and mass poverty all over the world.

I volunteered to live among the squatters in Tondo, then in Mindanao among Tribals, Muslims, Christian Settlers struggling to survive in apparently hopeless situations. I discovered that the starving masses could not experience the Good News of Jesus to the poor in the beautiful churches and liturgical shows where the rich show off their wealth, their pride and glory, while continuing to exploit the poor. Staying with the poor, I felt Jesus’ presence when they gradually united in grassroots organizations practicing mutual help but also claiming their rights as God’s children.

I discovered that Jesus’ Kingdom is open to all who practice His ways of Mercy and Compassion and become Good Samaritan like Him. This Kingdom is not very visible externally, but it grows in families and organizations and communities where people care for one another and share what they have and what they are, ready to ask forgiveness and to forgive, so as to experience the “koinonia” or the common life, leading to the Justice and Peace and Joy of the Kingdom. I keep on asking, “Is it possible to spread this Kingdom all over our crazy world? Are we sure that we ourselves have entered this kingdom and practice this common life of sharing?” I continue to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom in our Masses or Liturgies among the Christians and in seminars and dialogues and community programs among the Tribals, Muslims and Christian Farmers.

Now after a missionary journey for 47 years in the Philippines, a journey full of adventures, I’m still pursuing this mission. I survived several attempts to kill me, two of my companions, also PIME missionaries, Fr. Tullio Favali and Fausto Tentorio were killed as well as many lay collaborators. I was imprisoned and accused of rape and robbery, I was denied the renewal of my visa since the time of Marcos, because I was in the list of rebel priests, until the time of President Gloria Arroyo who gave me a peace award… Along with many lay collaborators, we continue to share the joy of serving the people in remote areas and we arouse expectations of solving many problems. However, we always find new problems and new obstacles but still our dream of the Kingdom gives us a vision of hope and a purpose worth risking our lives.

Now I am not as active as I used to be but I continue to pursue this mission and to pray as Jesus taught us to pray the Our Father “May Your Kingdom Come!” For me this prayer summarizes the whole Our Father and the whole mission of Jesus and our mission now and I like to repeat, “May your Kingdom of Justice and Peace, Mercy and Compassion come soon!

Il peso della cultura

Mi sono soffermato su questa foto mentre sfogliavo un numero di Missioni Cattoliche del 1963. Mi capita spesso di scegliere vecchie pubblicazioni, quando sono qui nella modesta biblioteca del PIME di Treviso, perché le ritengo più interessanti. Stratifico le letture e ritengo più belle quelle più vecchie. In questa foto le letture sono poste a strati. Non so che criterio abbia usato il libraio ambulante che comunque nell’appoggiare tutto a terra aveva tutto a portata di mano.

Libri galeotti? Un libro galeotto fu quello letto da Paolo e Francesca in una delle storie più lette della Divina Commedia di Dante, forse. Forse intende proprio questo la didascalia “letture innocue …o libri galeotti? Moralmente parlando. A meno che non fossero copie contraffatte del famoso, libretto rosso di Mao Zedong. Alla fine degli anni ’60, adolescenti zelanti guidati da Mao Zedong portarono avanti una campagna nazionale contro le biblioteche distruggendo e bruciando tutto ciò su cui potevano mettere le mani, come parte di una più ampia distruzione della cultura tradizionale. Forse il tizio della foto ne aveva portato qualche copia a Hong Kong per minare la cultura occidentale della colonia britannica.

Trasportare e vendere pubblicazioni in questa modo credo sia una caratteristica solo cinese. Cosa ha bisogno la gente? Ora cerco di procurargliela. Nel 1963 Hong Kong era sotto sopra per le varie costruzioni di grattacieli e strade e l’acqua era razionata: serviva per le betoniere. La gente faceva la fila per riempire le loro taniche. File lunghissime e per arrivare al primo rubinetto ci volevano molte ore. Così leggevano.

Tuttavia, galeotto mi sembra più che altro il venditore ambulante che si sta portando, in perfetto equilibrio sulle spalle una libreria di circa 300 tra libri e pubblicazioni cartacee. Sembra anziano e gira per la strada in ciabatte, sotto il peso della cultura, appunto.

In Italia i genitori reclamano se i figli vanno a scuola con zaini troppo pesanti. Vista così, per gli studenti la cultura è veramente pesante. Hanno ragione! Anche se i loro coetanei delle Filippine e dei paesi del sud del Mondo, farebbero qualsiasi cosa per portare a casa almeno uno dei libri che hanno negli zainetti.

Ma nella foto non ci trovo solo il peso della cultura. Anche al mio peso e alla cultura mancante. Ricordo mia madre mi diceva: “Stai dritto con le spalle”. Lo prendevo come un comando e alzavo le spalle rimanendo curvo su un trasmettitore radio valvolare, mentre era un consiglio perché vedeva che la mia postura non era diritta. Oggi sono sempre più curvo. Più curvo è il mio destino.

Fortunatamente non devo portare più pesi culturali. Mi aiuta la modernità. Del resto, oggi non leggiamo più libri cartacei, ma come i nostri antichi antenati, srotoliamo rotoli di ‘pergamene’ e palinsesti di fronte ai nostri occhi. Li scrolliamo (da scroll) davanti a uno schermo cristallino. Invece di tenerla sulle spalle teniamo la cultura in leggeri dispositivi sistemati in tasca. Meglio di così. Centinaia e centinaia di letture a secondo della capacità della memoria digitale. Se poi anche il semplice leggere diventerà pesante ci penserà il cinema 4k: trasforma una lettura qualsiasi in immagine e una immagine in diverse letture. Fu così che il libraio, sotto il peso di non so quale cultura, mi guardò sconsolato dritto negli occhi.

Bella proposta questa:  Biblioexpress