Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Duterte Syndrome

Last week, over 7,000 pastors in Manila under the G-12 movement pledged their support to the presidential candidacy of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. At the onset, let me make myself clear; this post is not an endorsement on Duterte's candidacy to the presidency. As already pointed out in my previous post, The Political Divide, I try to maintain my political neutrality to avoid the proliferation of political polarity in our society. Thus, this is  but an observation to his sincerity and why people are rallying behind the man.

Sometime, ago, as I was watching a video of Duterte's full speech during a forum in Los Banos Laguna, I cannot but admire the Mayor's genuine sincerity to save his country's future by ending corruption, criminality and drugs. After watching the video, I have come to understand why Duterte has both die-hard supporters and die-hard haters. Toward Duterte, it maybe difficult to be neutral! His acquaintances are pretty much divided in two camps; those who love, admire and support him and those who hate, dislike and campaign against him. This is the Duterte syndrome!

The people who clamor for genuine change in the Philippine political scene believe that Duterte is the only candidate that can truly bring change and get the job done. We Filipinos acknowledge that one of our worst problems is the lack of discipline. See how we dispose our garbage. See how we drive in the streets. Just look at the laws and regulation not being implemented. While others may disagree, many Filipinos believe that it takes a strong leader, with an iron hand to make the Filipinos bow and follow rules and regulations. Duterte seem to fit this assumption. His track records, experiences, and governance seen in Davao City, are undeniable. If he was able to do make Davao one of the safest cities in the world, he could also do the same thing in the entire Philippines, his supporters claim. The skeptics, however, see otherwise.

Those who are not in Duterte's camp worry about how will the mayor, if elected president, actually fulfill his objectives. How could Duterte ends criminality and corruption within 3-6 six months? This is "too ambitious", echoes at the anti-Duterte camp. They are concern about him becoming another dictator, violating human rights and killing criminals without due process. Filipinos who went through the Marcos regime believe that the country does not need another dictator. The fear of losing freedom and extra judicial killing, the mayor's foul-mouthed talks and womanizing were among the cited issues raised by the anti-Duterte camp. Not only that but, his critics are disturb with Duterte's contradictions, flip-flopping and his merciless attitude toward criminals. In contrast, his supporters are not bothered with the mayor's vulgarity and persona--these are just fractions in comparison with his accomplishment, ability, and platform for a better Philippines.

There is yet another reason why some would hate Duterte to the core. If indeed, he will deliver his promise of ending corruption and getting rid of criminals in high places, it is not surprising that those who want to continue their corrupt practices and criminal activities would make it sure Duterte will not win the presidential election. While others' concern seem to be legitimate, others' hatred are fueled by personal interest and selfish ambition.

30 years, after the EDSA People Power that ended the reign of President Marcos, the Philippines went deeper into a state of graft and corruption; and the national debt escalated beyond our capacity to payback. In the last 30 years, we have had two women presidents, a military general, an actor, and a bachelor. Yet, it is beyond reasonable doubt that the five Presidents after Marcos have not made any slight improvement in the endemic problem of corruption. The tide of corruption covers  the Philippine government but politicians are either ignoring it or simply riding with the tide for personal gain. Is there hope for the Philippines from the bondage corrupt practices? Don't worry, "CHANGE IS COMING," the pro-Duterte shouted!
Duterte's die-hard supporters are tired of empty promises being made by politicians to fight graft and corruption that permeates every government office and agency. People are hungry for change! Thus, rallying behind the only man they believe who can save the nation parallels their love for the country and for the next generation.

Here is the promise made by the tough-talking Mayor. "Corruption, the victimization of the poor Filipinos has become a way of life. If I become President, I will end corruption. Try me!” He also said, “If elected president, give me about three to six months, I will get rid of corruption, drugs and criminality." He had spoken this many times during his campaign. Duterte's promise for change is backed by over 20 years of governance. That is a sure certificate and credential; trying to discredit his accomplishments is non-sense. Yet, how many Filipinos will take him seriously and try him? We will find out in May. 

Meanwhile, I fully agree with my friend  Candy's blog post that we need to "seek divine intervention" who should lead the country in the next 6 years after the May election. But I also believe that if we truly care for our country, we should be willing to sacrifice our own preference, favoring someone, and vote for a better candidate as God leads. Join me in praying that in May, God will put someone in the highest office of the land by His divine intervention. Nonetheless, we must seek divine wisdom and vote wisely, for our own choosing will either break or make the future of our nation!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Political Divide

The promises and clamor for change for a better Philippines created die-hard political supporters, polarizing the already fragmented Filipinos. The political polarization adds up to the geographical, cultural and linguistic fragmentation of the Philippine society.

Five presidential aspirants are competing for the highest post in the land in the May 2016 election. Their supporters are pretty much divided based on their belief and ideology or with the candidate's platform, persona, ethnic and political background. Die-hard supporters believe their candidate is the only qualified for the highest post. I am neither a die-hard nor a supporter of any candidate. As a preacher, even if I have my own preference, I refrain from endorsing any candidate that might inflame political polarization among my constituents which impedes them from electing the best and most qualified for the office.

As I watch the political campaign and scene unfold,  I am saddened and disappointed that even the media is fanning the flame of political divide and that the social media is being used as platform to proliferate it like a wild fire. The political polarization is dividing our society, leaving a huge gap that cannot be filled except by love.  Earlier this year, I tried to ignore as the divisiveness of politics drives me farther into a neutral state. But I wonder if political neutrality is the best response to such political divide! As I continue to reflect on the destructive power of political polarization,  pastors and church leaders should not endorse a political candidate. If pastors want to state the name of the candidate they want to vote for, it is totally their prerogative. They have reasons to make public who they are voting for and I don't question their motive. But, I am not in favor of pastors campaigning or endorsing certain party. I believe that we ministers should practice political neutrality to prevent the proliferation of political polarity. Imagine if a pastor campaign for one political party, but people in his congregation support another? Are people matured enough to handle political endorsement by a pastor without making the political divide wider?

Within the church, I understand that everybody has their own political bias and party they support. Our constituents are never neutral and we cannot impose from the people we lead a solid vote for someone. As we continue to promote unity, we must understand that our people cannot be truly non-partisan without losing their balance in matters of belief, ideology and principle.

I hope and pray that when the election is over, there would be healing from political polarity so that the Filipino people can move forward with spirit of unity. . 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Born of a Woman

It's International Women's Day today, and I am reminded of the numerous women in the Bible, in world history and the women of my generation who inspired and continue to inspire confidence. Because of their courage, faith and service, the world is forever changed and different.

Unfortunately, I am reminded of the women who were abused, mistreated or killed by hideous and despicable men. As I write this, I think about the faces of women in the newspapers who suffered, discriminated and harassed under the hands of men. Not only that, but I  am appalled by the discrimination against women in the workplace and in society. The male-dominated and patriarchal has given birth to the rise of feminism. I cannot blame them. For the fight of equality of rights, power and opportunities in a male-dominated society is far from over. 

I was born of and nursed by woman. I am married to one, grew up in a home with two and I am currently raising two who are very young. I work with women in church, ministry, and have lots of relatives, friends and acquaintances from all walks of life. I was inspired by courageous women in history and continue to be inspired by inspiring women in my generation. Those of us who believe in creation cannot but declare that not a single man ever existed after Adam, and there will never be a, without a woman! My honor and respect goes to all women. 

Yet, I think about the incarnation of God, who conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born of a virgin woman. Jesus Christ became human by the power of God, yet He chose to do it through a woman. Jesus could have come down from heaven, but was stripped of His deity and made human. Thanks t the womb of the virgin Marry. While it is shocking that a God chose to be born in someone He created, He did so because of His love to redeem man from the power of sin.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Getting Out Crisis

For those who teach that those who are in Christ do not experience hardship are ignoring the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament writers about the subject. Becoming a Christian does not make life easier; in some ways it makes even more challenging. 

No one is exempt from crisis-pain and suffering. All of us will go through either one or many. Some of you have gone through it. Some are about to go through it and others are in the midst of it. But don't lose hope. You have heard it said, "the only constant in this world is change." If this is true, then pain and crisis will change; they are seasonal in the seasons of life. They are are periodic in the period of one's life. They will pass. Have you forgotten that life is a journey? At times you go through smooth road. Sometimes you have to go through rugged trails. Sometime you've got to climb mountains and cross rivers. Whatever challenges you are facing in the journey, you must move on because life moves on without you. You can't afford to lose hope till the journey is over. 

All of us go through painful experiences in life. We go through deep waters. We go through dark tunnels. We go through deep valleys. It doesn't matter what they may be; it matters that we come out victorious. I have not understood pain as I know today had I not gone through one. I would have never learned how to cope with pain had I not been through one. My reminder for you is to see the bright side of your pain, because there is a purpose behind it. Remember it doesn't matter what you go through; it matters that you get through. It doesn't matter what you are going through; it matters that you will come out and never be a victim of your pain and current circumstances.