Silsilah Message for the Advent and Christmas time

Following the tradition of Silsilah, we send our Advent message in preparation to the celebration of Christmas. Meanwhile, during the month of Ramadan, our message is addressed to the Muslim Ummah. Each of these messages brings peace and reconciliation in the spirit of the celebration that we are focusing.

Today the world is suffering from the many calamities and conflicts in the Philippines and other parts of the world.

Advent means “preparation” for the coming of Jesus that we celebrate during Christmas on December 25. It is a celebration of PEACE for all people of good will. Unfortunately, wars and conflicts are still visible in many parts of the world because of the plans of some world leaders and local leaders that seeks war and conflict in the interest of good business and to occasion visibility without listening to the cries of those who suffer.

In the Harmony Prayer that Silsilah is promoting and spreading in the different parts of the world, we started to pay attention, saying :


Every year, Advent and Christmas remind us of the message of peace and reconciliation. But we cannot share peace properly if we do not have peace inside us. This reality invites the Christians to reflect: “how will the coming of Christmas this year touch our hearts and help us to move with harmony, solidarity and peace?”

Indeed, this is a good time to listen more with the heart. We cannot listen to the problems of the world, and move without a sign of solidarity. Unfortunately the Covid time has created a lot of fears that still remain in many of us. It is now time to move with courage together.

Advent is also a time of penance and preparation for the Christians to welcome Jesus, the Emmanuel (God among us). Are the Christians ready to give a message of peace in all aspects of the society without waiting for others to move?

 In Zamboanga where Silsilah started, we remember the suffering of the siege in the city ten years ago. In Marawi, people remember the terrible siege some years ago. Many people in the Philippines and in other parts of the world remember conflicts and wars.There are those who get discouraged and turn to believe that violence will overcome other forms of violence. Jesus’ coming into the world reminds us that the way of peace is love. His coming is for the Christians – a great sign of love, as it is described in the Gospel.

We hope and pray that any signs of peace from any place will come more and will be welcomed by all. With this spirit, we invite the Christians to live this special time and for people of other religions to be in solidarity with any signs of peace from anyone or group that comes, moving together as part of the same “Human Fraternity”.

Silsilah Dialogue Movement


Polo y Servicio “forced labor”

Polo y servicio was a practice employed by Spanish colonizers for over 250 years that required the forced labor of all Filipino males from 16 to 60 years old for 40-day periods. The workers could be placed on any project the Spanish wanted, despite hazardous or unhealthy conditions. It was not only Filipinos but Chinese mestizos as well who were forced to do polo y servicio.

The word polo refers to community work, and the laborer was called polista. The community projects included cutting logs in forests, building ships, repairing churches, as well as constructing government buildings, roads and bridges. The only way to avoid being forced to do polo y servicio was to pay the falla, which was the equivalent of one and a half reales per day. In 1884, the forty days of forced labor was reduced to 15 days.

Negative Effects of Polo y Servicio

The Philippines acted as the epicenter of the Spanish Galleon trade from Manila to Acapulco, which was so prosperous for Spain that it neglected to consider and develop the colony’s local industries. The Filipino people were agriculturally based and grew crops, not only for profit, but also for their own diet. Aside from injuring and killing many Filipino males, the polo y servicio crippled the ability of the Filipinos to feed themselves, causing hunger and frustration and leading to numerous rebellions.


Noong panahon ng mga Kastila, ang mga kalalakihang Pilipino at mestisong Chino na naninirahan sa Pilipinas ay sapilitang pinapatrabaho ng gobyerno sa mga proyekto para sa kapakanan ng komunidad. Ang tawag doon ay polo y servicio. Ayaw na ayaw ito ng mga Pilipino at mestiso dahil hindi sila binabayaran sa kanilang trabaho. At habang naninilbihan sa gobyerno ay mahirap asikasuhin ang kanilang sariling mga gawain, tulad ng pag-aararo sa bukid at iba pa.

Halimbawa: Kung nais ng gobyernong magtayo ng gusali o gumawa ng bangka o tulay, kukuha sila ng mga Pilipino at sasabihin kailangan nilang gawin iyon nang walang bayad. Ang mga maperang Pilipino at Intsik ay hindi kailangan manilbihan basta’t magbabayad lang sila sa gobyerno ng tinatawag na falla na ang katumbas ay 1.5 real bawat araw ng 40. Ang total niyan ay 60 reales na hindi maliit na halaga. Noong taong 1884, ang bilang ng mga araw para sa polo y servicio ay binawasan mula 40 at naging 15 araw. Ang falla para doon ay 22.5 reales.

Lahat ng kalalakihan mula sa gulang na 16 hanggang 60 ay kinailangang makilahok sa polo y servicio. Kung ngayon ito gagawin, malamang ito ay tatawaging free labor o civil conscription sa Ingles. Karamihan sa conscription na nangyayari sa mundo ngayon ay hindi civil conscription kundi military conscription (“draft”). Halimbawa, sa bansang Denmark, ang lahat ng kalalakihan na umabot sa gulang na 18 ay kailangang manilbihan sa militar ng 4 hanggang 12 buwan — isang beses lang sa kanilang buhay. Ito ay serbisyo para sa kanilang sariling bansa at hindi para sa sinumang mananakop.

The Most Significant Change in my Life

“ What was common in us?… I found out that it is the ability to love and be loved back. The love and care that they have shown me were enough for me to understand that whatever religion a person follows, he or she is a person who’s capable to show love to other human beings. Dialogue is the language of love.”

By: Alvin B. Mohammad

I am a young teacher from Siasi, Sulu. Being an educator, it has been my life mission to enlighten young minds in our place where education could be a challenging aspiration both for the student and the teacher. It is challenging for the students due to poverty and also challenging for us teachers since we have to give our lives daily to get to the remotest area in the mountains just to meet our aspiring students.

When I decided that being an educator is what gives meaning to my life, the realization of many things I have yet to know dawned on me. As a Muslim myself, I dreamt that my students will grow up as well-rounded Muslims. I dreamt that one day that there is no longer a need for young Muslims from our place to get lured to become bandits. If I am to influence these young minds, I have to equip myself. And so I went to search for more learning until I came across the Silsilah Dialogue Movement and its mission to promote dialogue and peace. I remembered asking myself, “How could this be of help to us educators here in Siasi?” As a Muslim, I wondered how a Roman Catholic Priest could be so determined to reach out to people who do not share his faith. I wondered how I could translate any good learning I would get from this movement to the language of my students. But teaching them to love others and be kind to them is one thing. Experiencing love and kindness, however, is another.

In the year 2013, I was then invited by friends in the academe to attend a month-long summer course in Silsilah in its center at Harmony Village, Pitogo, Zamboanga City. I did not know what to expect. As a Muslim, I didn’t have much opportunity to get acquainted with Christians. I bore many biases and prejudices against them. From what I initially heard from the first few days of lectures, I learned that we might come from different religions and cultures, but we have to look at our commonalities. But then I asked, “What could be common in us?”

I got my answer not from our lecturer, but from my experience living with a Christian family. A two-day exposure with a Christian family for four weeks is part of the course. Upon hearing this, I got so nervous. I remembered having some doubts. I wished I could just get out of the service vehicle that would bring us to the assigned area. When I was dropped in my assigned area and was introduced to my “foster parents”, I just felt like telling them that I would like to go home. But in just a snap of a second, everything changed when my foster mother welcomed me with a hug. I couldn’t say a word when she started to cheerfully introduce me to her kids and even her neighbors! She wanted me to call her Mama Esther instead of Ma’am. And she insisted that I call her husband Papa. Deep within me, I wondered, “Why is she so motherly to a stranger like me a Muslim ?” 

That afternoon, Mama Esther prepared an itinerary of places in Zamboanga that she liked us to visit with the whole family. Her husband told me that I could use one of the motorcycles they have. I happily accepted the offer since I brought my license with me. When I went downtown, I realized that I turned to the wrong street and finally got lost. At one second, I thought that I might be lost. My cellular phone rang—and it was Papa. He sounded so worried and so I started to describe the place where I was. Three minutes after, Papa was there to get me. I was touched by how caring and loving the couple was towards me. In our evening conversation, they asked me to tell them something about myself. Mama Esther told me that she noticed my shy personality. From then on, she kept on reminding me to be confident and to build my self-esteem. They were just very happy to have me in their home. I was deeply touched whenever I heard them call me “anak” (son).

What was common to us then? With my experience with my foster family, I found out that it is the ability to love and be loved back. The love and care that they have shown me were enough to understand that whatever religion a person follows, he or she is a person who’s capable to show love to other human beings. Dialogue is the language of love. Love does not ask, “is he a Christian?” or “is he a Muslim?” From that moment on, I knew the message and soul of the teachings I’ll impart to my students—love and kindness towards others. Love teaches a thousandfold.

 Until now, I am in contact with my foster family and I stay with them whenever I visit Zamboanga City.

Cristo online

Durante il periodo natalizio, le rimesse in soldi degli OFW (Oversee Filipino Workers) triplicano e quest’anno, solo per il mese di dicembre, potrebbero raggiungere i 5 o 6 miliardi di dollari. Il Natale è senza dubbio il periodo in cui una buona parte degli OFW torna per riunirsi con le proprie famiglie e partecipare con loro alle tradizionali festività. Le Filippine si vantano per la celebrazione del Natale più lunga del mondo con una novena di nove giorni celebrata all’alba che inizia il 16 di dicembre e si protrae fino alla Veglia di Natale del 24 dicembre. Svegliarsi alle tre o alle quattro del mattino per assistere alla messa può essere difficoltoso, ma prevale il fervore religioso. E poi ci sono i cosiddetti “panata” o voti. Tanti fedeli partecipano a tutte le nove messe nella certezza di ricevere in seguito abbondanti benedizioni.  Una buona fetta della popolazione però non potrà parteciparvi, non solo gli OFW che non potranno rientrare a casa, circa 1 milione e mezzo, ma anche i malati e i più anziani

Però per questi e per tutti, a portata di mano, c’è il mondo online. In effetti, i filippini non sono mai stati estranei a Internet. In Asia hanno il record più alto di download di giochi e applicazioni.  Hanno anche il più alto numero di utenti di Internet mobile nella fascia tra i 18 e 24 anni. La popolarità di questa tecnologia tra le giovani generazioni si evince dalle statistiche: il 71% degli utenti di Internet nelle Filippine è compresa nella fascia di età tra 15 e 34 anni.  Il paese ha anche il secondo più alto tasso di penetrazione di Facebook con il 92,2%, secondo solo al Brasile con il 92,6%.  Settimo paese al mondo per l’uso della applicazione TikTok con 42.7 milioni di utenti.

Sotto la spinta di queste percentuali, la Chiesa cattolica nelle Filippine ha iniziato a dirottare nel cyberspazio anche le sue pratiche religiose. Le messe dell’alba della novena di Natale possono essere seguite online, in streaming. Le devozioni della Settimana Santa come la visita alle sette chiese può essere fatta digitando su piccoli touchscreen. Le letture delle messe domenicali possono essere ascoltate in anticipo sul canale Youtube. E così via. È uno spazio sociale ormai collaudato e in perenne evoluzione e altro non rimane se non navigare per scoprire nel mare informatico nuove rotte di evangelizzazione ed erigere piattaforme narrative dove sostare per meditare o interagire.

I nuovi media sono così diventati strumenti per annunciare il Vangelo a ogni possibile abitante del nostro pianeta. La giovane, anagraficamente, chiesa cattolica nelle Filippine, non potrà farne a meno. Si stima che l’uso degli smartphone nel paese nel 2025 raggiungerà i 92 milioni di utenti al giorno. La questione di Cristo non potrà non essere rilanciata, giornalmente, nel cyberspazio con video, immagini e parole. Non sarà semplice navigare in uno spazio irreale tra le trappole collocate dagli hackers e da incalliti predicatori di false e sgradevoli notizie, ma la rotta sembra obbligatoria. Così è. Già da settembre i messaggi di auguri per le prossime feste hanno invaso le 7000 isole non solo attraverso radio, televisione e annunci nei supermercati, ma anche, e soprattutto, per mezzo di WhatsApp Messanger. State sicuri che poi alla novena di Natale molti filippini ci andranno con il telefonino religiosamente in mano come una volta il rosario.

Eighteenth Century Filipino Lowland Life

Extract from “ The Ideal and the Real in Filipino Lowland Life.  Franciscan Descriptions of the Ways Filipinos Actually Lived in the Eighteenth Century “, by Bruce Cruikshank (pages 63 to 69)

Easter is arguably the most important season in the Christian religious calendar, and I have presented some of the religious and ritual aspects in the first chapter.  In the Philippine colonial context it epitomized the dual nature of the priest’s role, spiritual as well as administrator for the king’s government centered in Manila.  If we focus on this second aspect of the priest we will be able to glimpse some of the themes outlined in the previous chapters.

The civil, administrative role of the pueblo priest centered on his role in compiling a roster or padrón of individuals and families living in the pueblo.  This roster was used for a variety of functions, but fundamentally it served to account for those Filipinos subject to tribute payments and forced labor or requisitions of goods.  The parish priest was charged with making sure that the pueblo Filipino officials developed such a list and then validating it.  In the first part of the eighteenth century the list was updated every three or four or so years; in the latter part of the century it was supposed to be updated yearly.  The priest relied on the gobernadorcillo and other pueblo officials to compile and update the list, and we have already seen that some Filipino officials used the opportunity to hide potential tribute payers and instead have them work on their own lands and pay for exclusion with coin and labor.  We have also seen that some pueblo bureaucracies became inflated as a way to protect others from imperial tribute and labor exactions while helping the gobernadorcillo or leading families to increase their networks of followers.  I won’t repeat that material here but will rather focus on the priest and his administrative role for the state.

Fernando Amorsolo “Fruit Vendor” 1961

The official roster of the pueblo was compiled and updated at a specific season of the year—the Easter season.  Easter in the colonial Philippines was both a religious holiday of signal importance in the Christian calendar as well as a notable time for acknowledgment of governmental power and the authority of Spain.  Filipino acknowledgment of submission and obligation to Spain was demonstrated by registering for and submitting to the tribute and other taxes owed to the imperial master.  The connection between Easter and tribute was explicit.  It was at Easter time that one was obligated to both participate in religious acts and rituals as well as to acknowledge civil and tax submission by registering in the padrón.  The religious sacrament of Confession was the vehicle for tax registration.  No Filipino

… was ready to make actual confession until he had been examined in the basic tenets of Christian doctrine and the principal Christian prayers, and until he had been issued by the examiner a piece of paper stamped with the sello (seal) provided for by the Ministro for that specific purpose.  This sello must be presented to the confessor [before confession].  After confession the Ministro gave the penitent another seal called cédula de confesión which authorized him to receive Holy Communion the following day.  …

The missionaries had recourse to the use of sellos and cédulas to  maintain some order and to manage that all the faithful under their care  complied with this important Christian duty. 

…  Apparently the sello and  cédulas carried important information concerning the holder, such as name,  age, sex, barangay head, occupation, legal status, because the missionary was  able to make the padrón of the year from the cédulas de confesión collected  from those who received their Easter-day Holy Communion.  …

The padrón listed families and their tax or tribute obligations for the year.  The description of the categories and organization underline the civil uses to which it would be put:

using both of those seals, the priest will make up a list of inhabitants (padrón)                 

… putting first the Cabeza de Barangay and his household, and then the others, house by house.  [Within each household, list the individuals in this order:] husband, wife, children, and slaves, if there are any, signifying those who are married and those unmarried, males first and then females if they are single. Having finished the listing of the pueblo, by each barangay then list  those men reserved from the tribute, and then those women who are reserved, followed by the [young males (Bagontavos)] who are not tribute payers,  followed by the [young women (Dalagas)] who are not yet of the age for the tribute.  Then put the schoolboys, even those who for whatever reason do not attend school.  Then list all the girls who are of the same age as the schoolboys. Then enter those who are Aetas as well as those Christian indios who are not yet congregated into the pueblo …

and one must also list the Chinese and any other foreigners who might be in the pueblo.

Spiritual and civil obligations neatly reinforced each other, and thus “both majesties” were acknowledged.

This congruence of civil and religious authority and obligation notwithstanding, we saw in Chapter One that Easter was primarily a spiritual set of rituals and exercises and obligations, similar to some of the fiesta and other ceremonies described earlier as well but much more prolonged, intense, and demanding.  Throughout, Filipino participation was active and enthusiastic, voluntary as well as mandated.  The Filipinos who participated—from the pueblo’s civil administrators to the church’s fiscal and other church officials to the parishioners—had seen that the church and streets were decorated appropriately and enthusiastically attended the prolonged sequence of events associated with this seminal myth of the Christian faith.  Filipinos, as good Christians of the period, were also obligated to fast at specified periods as well as to participate in forms of penance, some of which some parishioners took to with great enthusiasm.

What is perhaps most striking is the coincidence of this popular passion and devotion centered on one of the holiest periods of the Christian calendar with the use of Confession as a way to construct the mundane census that would be the basis for exacting taxes in kind or in specie from the Filipino subjects.  Franciscan priests were expected to pass these tallies up the hierarchy to Manila, where the Franciscan Provincial turned them in to the Spanish civil authorities.  Franciscans would not receive their yearly subsidies from the Crown until this was done.   It is significant in both ideological as well as in practical ways that the padrón was to be compiled from those taking Confession in the church during the Easter season.

Filipino responses to Spanish demands and expectations give us a glimpse into the world of the islanders in the eighteenth century.  Here too we can snatch a peek, especially when we learn of how some Filipinos responded to this combination of the spiritual and the tax roll.  Here’s a Franciscan response concerning those who tried to take Confession but were not resident in the pueblo: “no minister, in the time of Lent, is to confess an indio from another parish, without permission of the parish priest of that parish, due to the inconveniences that could ensue.”   In 1718 a Franciscan Provincial noted that there might be awkward situations arising with the Bishop or the provincial governor and not to confess Filipinos from other pueblos without good reason.  

Mobility is a common theme in the manuscripts and seems to have been a constant in the lives of many Filipinos in this period leading to difficulties in collecting the tribute.  Since mobility was legal,  the Spanish tried to lay out rules and procedures to adjust to the Filipino mode while still collecting taxes and keeping track of the population.  While some registered when they resided in a different pueblo from the one they paid tribute in, paying a sum as vagabundos, many ignored and evaded such regulations.  We also have the words of a Franciscan writing in 1726 that “we see Indios who within the space of a year usually have two or three pueblos of residence.”   While we cannot know for sure what motivated this mobility, presumably it was based on perceptions of self-interest and advantage.  Other glimpses into the Filipino world come with references to concern by the Franciscans about “those who customarily live hidden in houses and fields [owned] by principales, to those who do not pay the tribute nor [usually do not] hear Mass nor comply with the other obligations and burdens imposed on the pueblo and its neighbors.”

We find hints as well that some, perhaps many, of the non-official Filipinos in the provinces were actively responding to the impositions and creatively learning to play the system to their advantage, not to the advantage of the Filipino and Spanish officials.  One example dates from the late eighteenth century and Spanish governmental attempts to reform the tribute system.  At one point the plan was to have the cabezas de barangay issue a certificate to each ostensible tribute payer in his charge.  At Easter, when Filipinos were required to attend church and services as well as confess, they were as we have seen to present the certificate, have their name recorded on the roster (the padrón), and thus be subject to the tribute, the polo, and the bandala. 

Filipinos quickly figured out that if they did not show up for the Easter Confession and services their names would not be entered on the padrón and they could then avoid being subject to tribute demands for that year.  As a Franciscan remarked in 1774,  the previous three years had seen a “very notable” decrease in those coming to Mass and making their confession,

with detriment to their recognition of vassalage to our sovereign through the  annual tribute, that they ought to pay to the cavezas de barangay as  representatives of the king.  The priests must certify … the tributes who are  administered in the pueblos, which is done through the padrones that are  made up based on certificates that they carry from their cavezas at the time  of confession.  If they do not confess, their names are not registered in the  padrón.  …  We know the names who should have confessed because of  the previous year’s padrón. 

Stratagems such as missing annual confession, payoffs to local officials, collaboration, and feigning incompetence and laziness are strategic responses to a corrupt and oppressive system where punishments for direct confrontation could be draconian.  Flight and mobility are indicators that are more noticeable and sometimes the linkage was expressly noted.  For instance, according to Huerta, a ranchería established by the Franciscans in the municipality of Limotan in 1670, took form and “prospered until the year of 1700” when the government tried to obligate its residents to pay tribute.  At that point, they all fled to the hills, and the mission was entirely lost.  

Filipino priorities seem to have been determinative.  We see this in a case from a mission settlement, Manguirin, in 1756:

… the sitio that is called Santa Cruz of Manguirin … is where the priests suffer from fevers the most, where there is no [adequate] drinking water, and to bathe  one has to half a legua from the sitio to the river Ynarihan.  To continue with the  dreadful [qualities of the place, the inhabitants], except for those who have no tools at all, have implements which barely allow them to make a piece of a field,  all of which means that in that sitio there are only a few houses.  Most people live [away], in rancherias.  The consequence is attendance at Mass is low …

Only when they want, and how they want, then they come enthusiastically [Sino solo quando quieren, y como quieren, a una cosa bienen todos gustosos].  Notwithstanding [the dispersion of population], every Wednesday there is a market in the cabecera with markets as well in the sitios on Saturdays and Sundays.  In these markets one finds goods and sellers from Bicol, selling meat, fish, tobacco, iron, and many other things, and the cimarrones trade for them with what they have, namely wax, abaca, etc.  …  In reality they do not want a priest but rather [only] a shadow of a priest.  They [only] want [a priest] who will attend to their needs, remove [los saque] their miseries.  When they arrive in the doorway the priest receives them with love and gives them protection.  Their [need, though,] only lasts as long as they are in the doorway.  When they can, they escape ….

Filipino preferences perhaps meant that the priorities of the priests and the governments were of secondary or tertiary significance.

We now have a sketch of Philippine society in the eighteenth century, one where Filipinos had their own political, economic, and social networks.  The imperial administrations encompassing clerical and governmental hierarchies reached the pueblos but penetrated the lives of Filipinos in those municipal districts largely at the behest or with the acquiescence of Filipinos.  Direct opposition to clerical or governmental colonial power could be costly.  Punitive responses were readily employed.  Evasion, partial acquiescence, manipulation, playing government against clerical authority, and flight therefore were more successful stratagems. 

The priest was ostensibly the center of pueblo life, working both as a cleric and as the representative of the imperial power.  It appears to me that in fact the leading families in the pueblo worked through and with the priest and the Spanish provincial governor to effectively run the world of the pueblo, with their influence diminishing as one moved from the población to the farthest outliers.  Much of the statements above admittedly are conjectural, based on an interpretive reading of manuscript materials.  We appear to have no autobiographies or family histories from Filipino pueblo elite from this period that might support or undercut my argument. 

We can go even further.  There are paradoxes that touch Filipinos who chose to live in both the boondocks and in the población.  For those living far from that población, they had more freedom from Church and State and less hispanization–but along with this came also perhaps less ability to avoid discriminatory prices for their goods, less opportunity for their children to get some formal education, perhaps more subjection to debt bondage and exclusion from church rituals and sacraments.  Those Filipinos who lived in the población were close to the church and the residence of the priest, where hispanization and Spanish control should have been the greatest.  However, it was here where the leading Filipino families lived and where their political skills and economic power supported their control of the municipality.  It is here where they built networks of political and economic influence, recruited followers, received petitions for loans and other help, and made alliances and arranged for allies to hold pueblo and church positions.  With political acumen would have come greater influence, power, and wealth, enabling them more effectively to deflect, avoid, and fulfill demands of the Spanish government and the parish priest, artfully working the system and “both majesties.” 

Wherever they lived, Filipinos were deemed by Church and State to be colonial subjects.  Direct opposition to that subordinate position was destined to be unsuccessful.  More artful and evasive methods allowed some Filipinos to manipulate the system to their advantage while appearing to be dutiful subjects of crown and church.  Those who chose to live outside the población, in sitios or hidden in the hills, effectively chose a life of freedom but were subject to constraints of environment, exploitation by powerful families, and lacked regular opportunities to grow through formal education and religious instruction.  Those in the población were apparently less free from Spanish rules, but they enjoyed greater opportunities for family advancement and personal growth.  The Spanish ruled, Filipinos chose their responses.

Governo in funzione

Il “governo funzionale” (“functional government”) di Marcos Jr. ha già i suoi problemi, come le dimissioni del capo di stato maggiore, del segretario stampa del Governo e quelle del presidente prescelto della Commissione dei conti (CoA). Le cause possono essere il labirinto burocratico da metabolizzare oppure scelte incongrue come la designazione della vicepresidente Sara Duterte, al Dipartimento dell’Istruzione (DepEd) che non ha nessuna esperienza di educatrice.

Le nomine a posti chiave del governo sono indicative delle politiche di una amministrazione. Se Marcos Jr. introdurrà nuove politiche per sostituire quelle del regime di Duterte, è ancora tutto da scoprire.

Circa la politica verso i media, l’addetto stampa, ora dimessosi, è stato l’unico dei primi incaricati a delineare i piani di Marcos che, per ora, non sono differenti da quelli di Duterte, cioè che l’accesso all’Ufficio del Presidente sarà solo per i media “amichevoli” .

La libertà di stampa è ancora sui generis, giornalisti vengono ancora uccisi. Un esempio è stata la sparatoria del 3 ottobre a Las Piñas dove è stato ucciso il giornalista Percy Lapid. Una dimostrazione della solita preoccupazione da parte degli individui al potere che si risentono se i loro illeciti piani vengono esposti al pubblico o semplicemente per aver detto la verità sul loro operato.

L’uccisione di Lapid è la seconda sotto il regime di Marcos Jr. (Il 18 settembre era stato ucciso Renato Blanco un commentatore di POWER 102.1 DYRY , radio di Mabinay, Negros Oriental.

La “cultura dell’impunità” – l’esenzione dal perseguimento e dalla punizione dei trasgressori – è ciò che ha incoraggiato l’uccisione di giornalisti negli anni passati. Il perseguimento degli assassini e delle menti dietro di loro dovrebbe fermare, o almeno ridurre il numero delle uccisioni: le Filippine sono descritte come un paese dove è molto difficile fare giornalismo.

Oltre all’ondata di COVID è altrettanto urgente fermare l’aumento della disoccupazione (ora 2,68 milioni senza lavoro) e l’impennata dell’inflazione (6,3% ad agosto).

I problemi del paese sono tanti e si spera che Marcos Jr. ne prenda coscienza.  Dovrebbe però convincersi che essere Presidente è una responsabilità a tempo pieno incompatibile con feste e jet-set, tipiche del periodo quando suo padre era presidente. Lasciare il Paese solo per assistere alla gara del Gran Premio di Formula 1 a Singapore a spese dei contribuenti non è stata una cosa saggia.

Weak State, Strong Presidents

Julio C. Teehankee, College of Liberal Arts, De La Salle University

The Philippine presidency is the most durable in the Asian region. There  have been 17 presidents since the first Philippine Republic was inaugurated in 1899. Until the declaration of martial law in 1972 by President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the presidential form of government had been firmly instituted in Philippine political life since it was first introduced by the American colonial regime in 1935. After 14 years of authoritarian dictatorship, presidentialism was reintroduced as part of the democratic restoration after the ouster of Marcos through a people power uprising in 1986.

While the Philippine presidency is patterned after the American template, it is rooted in Latin American practices

The Philippine presidency has traditionally been accorded more coercive powers and fiscal prerogatives than its American counterpart. Although the 1935 Constitution adapted the American model of dividing governmental powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, it has established an extraordinarily “strong presidency” by establishing presidential control over the decisions on the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, assumption of emergency powers, national finance, and budgetary appropriations; and the amendment of the constitution.

The tradition of a strong presidency can be traced to Manuel L. Quezon—the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth under the 1935 Constitution. Quezon’s Commonwealth appeared to have many of the attributes of President Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law regime. Through manipulation of the constitution and bureaucracy both men sought, above all else, to perpetuate their power, Quezon rather dexterously and Marcos more crudely. Their relentless accumulation of power at the center spawned a regime characterized by corruption and cronyism—allies won government largesse and paid both lavish gifts to their presidents, opponents faced a punitive bureaucracy.

On the other hand, (there are those who) portrayed Marcos as a “national boss” who ruled over a protracted national-level boss rule unlike the small-town, district-level, and provincial bosses that dominated local politics.

The eminent Filipino political scientist Remigio Agpalo referred to the “pangulo regime” as distinguishable from the English parliamentary and American presidential regimes since it “operates on the principle of the supremacy of the executive and it puts premium on the value of pagdamay (sharing with and caring for fellow persons)”. In his view, the “pangulo” serves as an appropriate metaphor for the body politic such that “ang sakit ng kalinkingan ay damdam ng buong katawan” (The pain suffered by the little finger is suffered by the whole body). He traced the roots of his “pangulo regime” model to Philippine political history, particularly in the writings of anticolonial leaders Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Emilio Jacinto. Agpalo believed that his “pangulo regime” was institutionalized in Emilio Aguinaldo’s first Philippine Republic where Aguinaldo played the role of “pinakaulo” (one who serves as the head). Moreover, Agpalo also insisted that only three Filipino presidents successfully established his concept of “pangulo regime” in the Philippines after Aguinaldo—Manuel L. Quezon, Jose P. Laurel, and Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The fact that these three presidents exercised authoritarian powers at critical junctures of Philippine history only serves to reinforce the suspicions that Agpalo sought to provide a legitimizing framework for the Marcos dictatorship.


A “Pangulo” ideology: leader-centrism and the return of a Marcos presidency


How has this “Pangulo Ideology” manifested in the recent elections? Bongbong Marcos’ campaign arguably succeeded by deploying the following key concepts more consistently aligned with a “Pangulo” ideology.

First is the notion of “Unity” or “Pagkakaisa”, the core slogan of his campaign. This embodies both the aforementioned willingness to surrender public policy to a leader as unifying entity, and intolerance towards opposition to a chosen leader. Unity also invokes the body metaphor within the Pangulo Regime discourse, which considers all followers as part of one body under the head that is Bongbong Marcos.

Second is “Pagsunod”, or compliance. A common retort uttered by his supporters is “Sumunod na lang” or “Just follow” which demonstrates the primacy of conformity as a hallmark of authoritarian tendencies in the Philippines. Though this can take the form of a broader value (i.e. compliance to the law and the government), what renders compliance a component of a “Pangulo” ideology is its application to the primacy of a chosen leader. Specifically, it becomes compliance to the will of the leader, and conformity to the groups supporting them.

Lastly is the notion of “kami laban sa kanila” or “us versus them” which embodies the tribalism that results from polarisation between competing leaders and their camps. Opposition along policy lines becomes secondary to the defence of leaders; a mark of moral politics – a matter good versus evil, of salvation and vindication – over policy oriented contention and consensus formation. Under this concept, any criticism or doubt expressed towards the leader will be considered “unpatriotic” and un-Filipino.

This moral antagonism is a product of intensified personal identification of followers with leaders as the embodiment of their political ideals and interests. These can range from a need for good governance to the outright desire for revenge. For Marcos supporters, Bongbong’s presidential campaign has been an opportunity to avenge the Marcos legacy and the loyalists who feel marginalized by the now defunct EDSA regime. Moreover, Bongbong Marcos’ silent “underdog” and “victim” approaches to sustained attacks against him and his infamous parents have amplified the fervour among his supporters to defend him. Consequently, their opponents have been pejoratively labelled as “Dilawan” or “yellows” by being associated with the Liberal Party and the EDSA People Power narrative.

The translation of leader-centric values into a “Pangulo” ideology entails the absorption of civic political life under the primacy of a leader. This can take various forms exemplified by the campaigns of both Bongbong Marcos and his main contender, Vice-President Leni Robredo. They are arguably two-sides of the same leader-centric coin. Both campaigns appealed to “Unity” albeit from different angles. The Marcos campaign deployed a generic appeal to “Unity” that allowed supporters to project their own ideals on it, subsequently disappearing into an amorphous whole. The Robredo campaign in turn deployed sectorial support through the slogan “For Leni” (ex. Teachers for Leni, Lawyers for Leni, Farmers for Leni, etc.). Both campaigns have also been marked by rabid tribalism and calls for compliance. In the Robredo campaign, this has taken the form of aggressively forwarding a liberal and anti-Marcos interpretation of Martial Law, which in turn have been met by an equally persistent defence of the Marcos legacy. Consequently, the debates on Martial Law and the Marcos legacy have led to deepening polarisation and aggression between these two camps.

A core difference with Leni’s campaign is her focus on citizen empowerment through volunteerism. For example, her volunteer-driven pandemic response  has been interpreted as “upstaging” Duterte’s government or leadership, consequently offending the ideal of hierarchical structure of a “Pangulo Ideology.” The “Robredo People’s Campaign” may have attracted and activated many of the educated and progressive sectors of society but not the majority of voters still seeped in the culture of leader-centrism. It is also worth noting that Bongbong Marcos is following Rodrigo Duterte’s popular administration which affirmed and strengthened the Filipino’s leader centrism. By allying with Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, he appealed and absorbed large parts of Duterte’s pro-authoritarian base.

These are only preliminary observations and insights, but they are necessary in understanding the resonance of disinformation, the persistence of autocratic and illiberal tendencies, and the subsequent decline of democratisation in the Philippines. Even traditional political methods of propaganda and patronage can only be effective under certain cultural and psycho-political conditions. Overall, the current tension between democratisation and the Pangulo Ideology must be resolved through fair and thorough re-examination and negotiation. Only then will a more vibrant Filipino democracy emerge.

The US ultra-rich justify their low tax rates with three myths – all of them rubbish

Robert Reich, The Guardian

A record share of the nation’s wealth is in the hands of billionaires, who pay a lower tax rate than the average American. This is indefensible

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office released a study of trends in the distribution of family wealth between 1989 and 2019.

Over those 30 years, the richest 1% of families increased their share of total national wealth from 27% to 34%. Families in the bottom half of the economy now hold a mere 2%.

Meanwhile, a record share of the nation’s wealth remains in the hands of the nation’s billionaires, who are also paying a lower tax rate than the average American.

How do the ultra-wealthy justify their wealth and their low tax rates? By using three myths – all of which are utter rubbish.

The first is trickle-down economics.

Billionaires (and their apologists) claim that their wealth trickles down to everyone else as they invest it and create jobs.

Really? For more than 40 years, as wealth at the top has soared, almost nothing has trickled down. Adjusted for inflation, the median wage today is barely higher than it was four decades ago.

Trump provided a giant tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, promising it would generate $4,000 increased income for everyone else. Did you receive it?

In reality, the super-wealthy don’t create jobs or raise wages. Jobs are created when average working people earn enough money to buy all the goods and services they produce, pushing companies to hire more people and pay them higher wages.

The second myth is the “free market”.

The ultra-rich claim they’re being rewarded by the impersonal market for creating and doing what people are willing to pay them for.

The wages of other Americans have stagnated, they say, because most Americans are worth less in the market now that new technologies and globalization have made their jobs redundant.

Baloney. Even if they’re being rewarded, there’s no reason why the “free market’ would reward vast multiples of what the rich were rewarded with decades ago.

The market can induce great feats of invention and entrepreneurship with lures of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars – not billions.

As to the rest of us succumbing to labor-replacing globalization and labor-saving technologies, no other advanced nation has nearly the degree of inequality found in the United States, yet all these nations have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change.

In reality, the ultra-wealthy have rigged the so-called “free market” in the US for their own benefit. Billionaires’ campaign contributions have soared from a relatively modest $31m in the 2010 elections to $1.2bn in the most recent presidential cycle – a nearly 40-fold increase.

What have they got for their money? Tax cuts, freedom to bash unions and monopolize markets and government bailouts. Their pockets have been further lined by privatization and deregulation.

The third myth is that they’re superior human beings.

They portray themselves as “self-made” rugged individuals who “did it on their own” and therefore deserve their billions.

Bupkis. Six of the 10 wealthiest Americans alive today are heirs to fortunes passed on to them by wealthy ancestors.

Others had the advantages that come with wealthy parents.

Jeff Bezos’s garage-based start was funded by a quarter-million-dollar investment from his parents. Bill Gates’s mother used her business connections to help land a software deal with IBM that made Microsoft. Elon Musk came from a family that reportedly owned shares of an emerald mine in southern Africa.

Don’t fall for these three myths.

Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke.

The so-called free market has been distorted by huge campaign contributions from the ultra-rich.

Don’t lionize the ultra-rich as superior “self-made” human beings who deserve their billions. They were lucky and had connections.

In reality, there is no justification for today’s extraordinary concentration of wealth at the very top. It’s distorting our politics, rigging our markets and granting unprecedented power to a handful of people.

The last time America faced anything comparable was at the start of the 20th century.

In 1910, former president Theodore Roosevelt warned that “a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power” could destroy American democracy.

Roosevelt’s answer was to tax wealth. The estate tax was enacted in 1916, and the capital gains tax in 1922.

Since that time, both have eroded. As the rich have accumulated greater wealth, they have also amassed more political power – and have used that political power to reduce their taxes.

Teddy Roosevelt understood something about the American economy and the ultra-rich that has now re-emerged, even more extreme and more dangerous. We must understand it, too – and act.

From Catania

World Interfaith Harmony Week from the Philippines to Catania (Italy) :

Commitment of Comunita’ Dialogo with the leaders of different religions

We are happy to share in our Oasis news the commitment of  Comunita’ Dialogo  in promoting the World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) in Italy. 

After the martyrdom of Fr. Salvatore in Zamboanga (Mindanao, Philippines-1992) a group of friends of Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME and Fr. Salvatore   Carzedda, PIME started in  Sicily a  group  called “Comunita’ Dialogo” under the leadership of  Prof. Rodano Riccardo, a student of   the seminary where Fr.  Sebastiano and Fr. Salvatore started their mission in Sicily.

Along the years, Comunita’ Dialogo has been in the front line to promote the “Coordinamento  delle Religioni” (coordination among religions) in the   area of  Catania and Sicily.

In the February of last year, Comunita’ Dialogo started a very impressive project called, “Aria Religiosa”. In this project, they put in a form of circle on the parking area of the hospital ground which is divided in ten parts, representing the different religions. In the middle is an olive tree which signifies peace.

The beginning of the WIHW and other initiatives brought messages of dialogue among religions in schools and communities became relevant on regional and national level.

In this spirit, it gives me the possibility to share the new event of September 11, 2022 when different leaders of different religions, different Catholic movements and groups gathered together for an annual reflection where they asked me also to share my experience.

In that occasion, I was able to share some points of my experience in Mindanao and  I presented to the group, a new  effort of the Emmaus Dialogue Movement to start the mission in Catania and  introduced  Elizabeth ( Beth ) L. Solis, a lay consecrated of Emmaus Dialogue Movement who is now in  Catania to study theology and start the mission of Emmaus  together with Comunita’ Dialogo, giving priority to the Filipinos and other Catholic  foreigners. She will present the “mission on the road”   and invite them to join us and be integrated. We presented a  new  brochure of Emmaus in Italian which also shared the  link between Comunita’ Dialogo and the Emmaus Dialogue Movement.

All these developments became possible with the blessing of the Archbishop of Catania and the support of the different leaders of   religions and other Catholic  groups.

In this context Prof. Rodano Riccardo presented the WIHW and  encouraged the participants to start also in Catania and Sicily.

Personally, I was touched by the enthusiasm and  the positive  disposition of all.

I hope that by sharing this experience that we started in Zamboanga,   guided  by the  initiative of the United Nations of 2010  that encourages all to promote the Love of God, the Love of Neighbors and the Love of the Common Good. We can help many in the Philippines, in Italy and other parts the word to do their best in the concrete situation where they are.

For more information see the website,

 Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME

Kuwentong Kutsero: radio airwaves

By Vicente L. Rafael University of Washington

Revolution, Religion and Radio. A Filipino Jesuit in the American Colonial Philippines

Extract from pages 11-19

Aside from the campus newspaper, the Guidon, and the Catholic newspaper, the Philippines Commonweal, the Jesuits also avidly turned to the relatively recent communication medium of radio to wage their war. Every Sunday beginning in 1934, the station KZRM had been airing the program Catholic Hour. By 1939, the popularity of the program was such that its time slot was expanded. Fr. Russell M. Sullivan, SJ, took over as director, assisted by scholastics that included Pacifico Ortiz and (Horacio) de la Costa. Along with other members of the Chesterton Evidence Club, de la Costa wrote many of the scripts dealing with a wide variety of issues—anticommunism, the proposed divorce law, the need for religious education in public schools, the threat of Masonry, and so forth. It thus became the first radio program dedicated to social commentary, though from a Catholic perspective. The best known vehicle for broadcasting these topics was the program “Kuwentong Kutsero,” which aired from 1940–41. It quickly became one of the most popular shows on Philippine radio during the late Commonwealth period. Scripted by de la Costa, it was an exercise in what he had earlier called “serious laughter” (Fr. Horacio de la Costa [1934] 2002, 81–87). It wove together jokes and church teachings. It thus combined a discourse on power with the technics of linguistic play to produce a moral pedagogy that was at once anti-secular and counterrevolutionary. 

                For this reason, “Kuwentong Kutsero” was an integral part of the cultural politics of what we might call colonial modernism. Led by largely male elites, colonial modernism consisted of an aesthetics and politics of contending for authority amid shifting grounds of legitimacy—between, that is, the secular and the religious grounds. In addition, Filipino colonial modernism was a haunted by the ghosts of the Revolution precisely to the extent that it was faced with the recurring threats of peasant rebellions and labor unrest as well as challenges from an emergent communist party by 1930. Filipino colonial modernism was thus profoundly contradictory, as progressive in its aspirations as it was deeply conservative in its social formation. Infused with the rhetoric of democracy, its economic and social survival was nonetheless predicated upon the undemocratic preservation of hierarchies of religion and language alongside inequalities of social class, gender and race. It is within the double context of colonial-nationalist modernism and Jesuit counter-reformation that I want to examine one of the episodes of “Kuwentong Kutsero,” entitled “The Red Octopus” (1940–41), reprinted in Paterno’s (2002) edition of de la Costa’s early writings.

IV. Expelling Masonry

“Kuwentong Kutsero” is set in Tondo in the “nipa-hut” home of the felicitously named Doblecarera family headed by Mang Teban, the cochero with his beloved horse, Tarzan, his wife Aling Teria, his children Celia, Antonio and Junior, and the grandfather, Kapitan Hugo. The dialogue alternates between the kind of American English learned in public schools and from popular culture, on the one hand, and street English, mixed with Tagalog and Spanish, on the other. Indeed, much of the humor is generated in the slippage from one to the other. This linguistic play, however, is sharply tendentious. In “The Red Octopus,” it is directed at two particular figures as targets of ridicule and contempt: Mang Isko, a neighbor who is also a Mason, and Kapitan Hugo or, as he is sometimes called, Lolo Hugo, a verteran of the revolution. One is an enemy from the present; the other, a recurring specter from the past.

The episode begins by staging a favorite subject of debate among the Ateneans: the teaching of religion in secular public schools. Celia, a public school teacher, upholds the need for secular education as a handmaiden of democracy. Her brother, Antonio, and her father, Mang Teban, take the opposing view. Over dinner, the latter argue that the exclusion of Catholic teaching in the public schools in fact amounts to a violation of democracy, which rests on the rule of the majority. In the Philippine case, the majority happens to be Catholic. Furthermore, they argue that irreligious education can only result in a poorly trained citizenry, incapable of forming enlightened opinions; for without religious education, thinking is divorced from learning, training from practice, private ambition from public service, thereby allowing politicians to control the people’s fate. At this point, however, the debate is suddenly broken up. Junior bursts into the scene with the alarming news that Tarzan the horse is missing. A mad scramble to find him ensues, bringing the first act to a close (de la Costa [1940–41] 2002, 216–24).

As the second act opens, a neighbor, Mang Isko, enters the scene, complaining to Teban that his “bandit of a horse” (226) Tarzan had wandered off and eaten his favorite straw hat. He angrily demands compensation for his loss, referring to Tarzan as “maleducated” (227). What ensues is a flurry of exchanges about who or what it means to be “maleducated,” which in turn opens up anew the debate about religious instruction in public schools, but this time targeting directly the role of Masonry:

Kapitan Hugo: [noticing Mang Isko’s damaged hat] . . . What is the matter with your hat?

Mang Isko: The horse of Teban ate it.

Kapitan Hugo: Ha? Why should Teban eat it—we just finished supper!

Mang Isko: No! Not Teban—the horse of Teban!

Kapitan Hugo: Ah! You mean—Tarzan? (chuckles quietly to himself) Tarzan, very intelligent!

Mang Isko: Intelligent! That horse has no education.

Kapitan Hugo:  Ha?

Mang Isko: I said your horse is maleducated!

Kapitan Hugo: Who are you calling maleducated?

Mang Teban: (distant) Who is calling who maleducated?

Celia: (distant) What is all this again about education?

Mang Isko: Oh, there you are! Will you or will you not pay for my hat?

Kapitan Hugo: Teban! This—this worm called me maleducated!

Junior: He’s talking through his hat!

Mang Isko: My hat! My hat! Will you or will you not pay for my hat?

Kapitan Hugo: What is all about hats? Will you my own flesh and blood, stand there and hear me called maleducated?

Aling Teria: Nobody is going to call anybody maleducated in my house! Antonio! Give this gentleman his hat!

Mang Isko: (wildly) I haven’t got a hat! Your horse ate my hat! Pay for my hat!

Antionio; (ominously) Is this the fellow who stole our horse?

Junior: (ominously) It’s a good thing we got him back. We had better guard Tarzan while this fellow is here. Have you got a gun?

Mang Isko: (prostate): My God!

Mang Teban: Wait boys. Easy only. There appears to be a little confusion here. Sit down, Isko; relax. (227–28)

In this passage, the humor arises from the slippage of referents. Hard of hearing, Kapitan Hugo thinks Mang Isko is talking about Teban the cochero when he is really talking about Tarzan the horse. This species confusion is only the start. Isko calls Tarzan “maleducated”—the English of what in Tagalog, by way of Spanish, would be maledukado—given that the horse is a “bandit.” But Hugo thinks Isko is referring to him. The label is all the more pointed since Spanish, American, and conservative Filipino elite accounts often criminalized revolutionaries as “filibusteros” or pirates, as well as “bandits.” Taking umbrage to what he thinks is Isko’s insulting remark, Hugo repositions Isko, the aggrieved, now as the aggressor. Hearing Hugo, Aling Teria chides Isko for calling the old man “maleducated,” and when Isko insists that he is not talking about a man but a horse who ate his hat, Antonio and Junior step back in and think that it is Isko who stole Tarzan, thereby redoubling the neighbor’s guilt. At this point, the positions of accuser and of accused have been completely reversed. Isko is reduced to helpless prostration, calling out God’s name to save him from this infernal confusion. Mang Teban steps in, sagely calling for calm and restoring order to the exchange of words. After establishing the facts, Teban accedes to Isko’s demand to pay him back for his horse’s banditry, gathering two pesos from his family’s meager savings. Debt cancelled, Isko is about to leave when Teban detains him with an invitation to share a drink of ginebra. It turns out to be a trap. The cochero continues the confusion about who exactly is calling who “maleducated” in order to reopen the debate about religious education:

Mang Teban: You know Isko, the business of education, very complicated. Just now you called my father maleducated. And yet—

Mang Isko: But I did not—

Mang Teban: And yet, he went to school during the Spanish time, when they taught religion. You think, then, better education without religion than education with religion?

Mang Isko: I certainly do! That is just the trouble with you Catholics—you want to destroy our present system of nonsectarian democratic education and bring back again the old union of Church and State with your per capita system of education.

Mang Teban: That’s interesting. Where did you read that?

Mang Isko: Here, in this magazine.

Mang Teban: Aber. (reads) The Cabletow. Who is this guy Cabletow?

Antonio: That’s the name of the magazine, Tatay. It says here: The Cabletow, A Masonic Journal Published Monthly by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Mason of the Philippine Islands. April 1940. (229)

The laughable confusion about “maleducation” and banditry in the preceding section turns out to be a momentary break that allows for the resumption of the debate on religious education. It also serves as a tactical prelude to launching a counterattack on Masonry. Humor in all its tendentiousness turns out to be no laughing matter. Isko points to The Cabletow as evidence that Catholics are up to no good. Not content with seeking to usurp the separation of church and state necessary for democracy, they have also secretly pledged “to declare war without quarter . . . against all heretics, Protestants, Masons, and any other sect . . . in order to wipe them off the face of the earth.” Isko reads this quotation from the supposed “Minutes of the Congress of the Roman Catholic Institution of the United States” that further pledges the signatories to “hang, burn, consume, dismember and bury alive these infamous heretics; I shall rip open the bellies and breasts of their women, I shall dash the brains of their children against the walls, in order to annihilate their execrable race. . . . I shall use the poisoned goblet, the hangman’s noose, the dagger’s point . . . in whatsoever a way I shall be so commanded by whatever agent of the Papacy or the Superior of the brotherhood of the Holy Father of the Society of Jesus” (232–33).

Teban listens to all this with bemused interest. Asking Isko if he can prove where exactly he got this infamous document, he can only point to the Cabletow, accepting all it publishes at face value. Where Teban remains understandably skeptical about oaths to rip open bellies and dash children’s brains against walls, Isko proves blindly susceptible to alarming and scandalous accusations about Catholics. Unable to support his claims of the murderous perfidy of Catholics except by reason of blind faith, Isko can only come across as superstitious and unenlightened. By contrast, Teban, insists on hard evidence. He even offers a cash reward to any listener who can prove the claims of the Masonic newspaper that such a secret document exists—a gesture seconded by the Narrator and the Chesterton Evidence Guild (231–36). In his skepticism, judiciously balancing reason with faith rather than giving in to faith without reason, Teban proves his rationality. Hence, the Catholic who argues for religious education appears as the truly educated man when compared to the Mason who opposes religion in public schools and shows himself to be irrational and easily fooled. Once again, the positions are reversed. Teban begins as the debtor, owing Isko for the loss of his hat. Now, it is Isko who is the debtor, owing Teban proof of the unfounded accusations he has made about Catholics. Earlier, Isko in a fit of rage, accused Tarzan of being “maleducated.” Now, it is Isko who, in putting forth his unreasoned claims about secret oaths and pledges of murder, becomes the truly “maleducated.” The man has become the beast he accused the other to be.

In refuting Masonic claims, the Narrator reiterates what is by now an obvious point: “We are not joking.” (236). It is as if to say: the joke, if there is any, is on them, those enemies of the church. In the war on religion, it is they who will be vanquished, not we. While you at home listening to your radio might find some of this amusing, your laughter is in fact the price of entry to witnessing a battle that we will surely win. In the next scene, Mang Isko returns supposedly to produce proof of the Cabletow’s scurrilous claims about Catholics. Instead, all he can do is read more accusations from “our most enlightened Masons,” including the characterization of the Catholic Church as a “red octopus” whose tentacles seek to “grab every conceivable object which will enhance its influence, strength and prestige” (241). The Doblecarera family bursts out in derisive laughter. Then Teban comes in for the kill:

Mang Teban: Now Isko, you listen also. You Masons say you make a religion of tolerance. Prove it!

Mang Isko: Por Dios, that is what I have been trying to do! How else do you want me to prove it?

Mang Teban: By living up to what you just said: One of your cardinal principles is respect for the right of every man to worship God in accordance with the dictates of his conscience. Now my conscience tells me that I should be a Catholic—just as your brother and sisters are also Catholic. Again, that I should educate my children in the Catholic religion. But you say, ‘No!’ Is that respect for my rights? Am I a man or a horse? A mere handful of Masons tell twelve million people that they are not to educate their children as they [i.e., the twelve million Catholics] see fit! You are neither just, nor tolerant, nor charitable! What are you?

Mang Isko: I am going! Good bye!

Celia: Mister, you forgot your Cabletows! (Door slams).

Celia: He did not hear. What are we going to do with these Cabletows?

Antonio: Give them to Tarzan. He eats straw hats; why not Cabletows?

Mang Teban: No. I do not think even Tarzan will swallow that.  (245–-46)

By the end of the episode, Isko has been reduced to a helplessly comical figure, mechanically repeating what is fed to him by Masonic newspapers. Teban points this out, exposing the hypocrisy of Masonic positions and the confusion of Isko. When he asks whether he is a man or a horse, Teban recapitulates the earlier category mistakes of Isko, and utterly demolishes the latter’s position. When Teban demands that Isko define himself and what he stands for—“What are you?”—the latter can only respond with another category mistake: “I am leaving!” What he leaves behind are his alleged “proofs”—issues of the Cabletow—that even Tarzan would most likely not eat. Horse joins man in a common rejection of the other who is deemed to be beneath both.