26 September 2006


Today it has been 1 year, 1 week & 2 days since I got ordained as a deacon.

This anniversary fact first came last 16 September when I went to the ordination to the diaconate of some members of the batch next to us at San Jose.

It was a bright Saturday morning. The ordinandi were visibly beaming as well. Their family and friends were present. Bp. Bacani was the ordaining prelate. Loyola House's St. Ignatius Oratory turned smaller with all the guests who came to witness the ordination, some of them spilling to the side corridors. A few happy tears too were spilled at certain high moments of the rite: 5 young men prostrated on the sanctuary's marble floor as the congregation invoke the intercession of the saints; Bp. Bacani laying his hands on each of them, one after the other, to confer the Sacred Order of the Diaconate; the newly-ordained vesting for the first time the deacon's stole and the dalmatic, assisted by their parish priest, another priest-friend and their parents.

Aside from the obvious remembrance of a similar event which happened 1 day shy of a year ago, suddenly it came to me: I was back again at San Jose, back to its familiar familial atmosphere, back once more to the company of people whom I shared space and life with just a few eternal months ago. Words like magis, cura personalis, familiaritas cum Deo, et al. rushed back and claimed their lost meanings. Even the old oft-quoted words appeared with the freshness of a just-heard thing: “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.”

Amen to that and to all such Jesuit/Ignatian words, even if today they are no longer confidently attributed to the saintly Pedro Arrupe, S.J. It was an ordination, a most fitting time to hear once more those words in the homily, in the words of thanks, in conversations – including the one which I and a classmate had as we did a celebration of sorts for our ordination anniversary the next day, Sunday.

I can’t help but compare. I’ve only been in my diocese since April, a little less than six months, yet it seemed I have acquired a new epistemology, a new set of things to learn and live with: the literature of pastoral bulletins and circulars; the unique sociology of a provincial presbyterium; the psychology of clerical age-groups; the economics of remittances; the mathematics of bination, trination, quaternation and pluri-intention Masses; the politics of social action; the different management styles of pastors; the procedural arcana of our general assembly; an alternate philology for words like: prayer, dialogue, support system, on-going formation, simplicity of lifestyle, and especially, Church of the Poor.

Limited experience and viewpoint notwithstanding, it seems to me rather strong, this seeing of varied levels of dissatisfaction and dissipation among our clergy. There seems to exist among us a heady mix of several coping/escape mechanisms: a groping for direction, a desperate clinging to the stability of the status quo, a nostalgia for real/imagined better by-gone days. Yet in all this, the Word of God continues to be preached, the work of evangelization proceeds at a certain pace, the People of God have not been relatively led astray. Our situation sometimes gives new dimensions to St. Therese of Lisieux’s “everything is grace”.

If I were fatalistic I would say I sense, as I sometimes do, an imminent time for reaping the rewards of all our blunders and good intentions, of our denials and discernments, of our failings and excesses, of our diligence and fidelity – in short and in Gospel-speak, a day of harvest both of those wheat and weeds we have so (choose your adverb) planted. But I am not.

I am just a transitional deacon, 1 year, 1 week & 2 days older.

Ora pro nobis.

15 September 2006

we don't want to delve into that

“Technically Lafayette has been compliant with all the conditions. The political and economic issues would be a different matter… we don’t want to delve into that.” So said Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Horacio Ramos (Phil. Star, Fri, 8 Sept. 2006, p.2).

What’s wrong with this statement? Two things:

1. A high-ranking DENR official gives advance notice of yet another anomalous government decision: the permanent lifting of the order which suspended the operations of a recidivist multinational mining company, in the aftermath of a series of mine spills and fish kill in October 2005.

2. A virtual announcement of yet another government-Lafayette collusion and whitewash. Ramos, in his great fervor to endorse Lafayette’s mining operations in Rapu-Rapu, admits to have judged as having no practical merit to the case, as far as he/the MGB is concerned, such issues as: Lafayette's glaring lack of social acceptability, its cheating the people of taxes and revenues, its social and economic cost to the lives and livelihood of the locals (which the company tries to assuage with its palliative and deceptive community development programs), its proven destruction of the environment, and the MOST RECENT SERIES OF FISH KILL WHICH HAPPENED ON JULY 2006 - well within the schedule of the test run.

On record in the Rapu-Rapu Sangguniang Bayan minutes: some residents saw several DENR officials on the site of the fish kill, while it was happening. As usual, no picture evidence of the incident ever surfaced. And all this time company representatives were all over the media, preaching their new-found mantra ever since the “take-over” of the “new” board: transparency...responsible mining...transparency... responsible mining...

That is when they weren’t busy accusing Greenpeace and the whole motley of local anti-mining advocates (including, presumably but left unmentioned, the Dioceses of Legazpi and Sorsogon) of staging the fish kill themselves via an elaborate plan that involved smuggling into Rapu-Rapu a sizable volume of pesticide and then stealthily dumping it all into one of several heavily guarded (by both private guards and the military) creeks in the island.

But they don’t have pictures of that Operation Whatever taken either. What they have is made of far stronger stuff: the testimony/rantings of Gov. Raul Lee of Sorsogon in an interview with a notoriously pro-Lafayette PDI Southern Luzon Bureau reporter. How reassuring it is for the people of Sorsogon to hear their governor passionately defend a company coming from foreign lands, operating in another province, yet posing as the gravest threat to date to their own province's booming eco-tourism industry. Pity the butandings, they're no match for Lafayette in enlisting the support of local officials.

What's wrong with the quote again? DENR should be releasing the result of the tests they have presumably conducted during/right after the fish kill, instead the news article where that quote is taken has this for its headline: "DENR says Lafayette fit to resume operations in Rapu-Rapu".

As an afterthought, MGB Director Ramos gives a token display of realism and balance: “We cannot preempt though the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), which would decide on whether to lift the suspension order or not.” But of course, he doesn't want to preempt the PAB, he just wants to prepare the ground for when their decision comes out.

In a recent mobilization in Legazpi City, a couple or so banners bore the words, "DENR: Destroyer of the Environment and Natural Resources". With public officials like these, that claim might turn out to be closer to reality than we think.