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Category Archives: RELIGION

No terrorist will commit a hara-kiri in Dinagyang

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

— George Bernard Shaw

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — I grew up in Iloilo City in the Philippines and witnessed how Dinagyang Festival started as a ramshackle religious and cultural activity until it blossomed into a behemoth international attraction.
Since the actual street dancing Dinagyang festivities romped off in the 70’s, the real problem was peace and order–drunken revelries, ill-behaved drug addicts and gangs composed of skinny but tattooed teenagers.
No invasion of the third kind. No rebellion. No earth-shaking tumult.
There were incidents of mugging, snatching, vandalism, acts of lasciviousness, street rumble, stabbing, among other street-level crimes. The police handled the situation and nipped the troublemakers in the bud.
It’s the proliferation of illegal drugs, especially shabu, and the sales of liquor in the streets that should be regulated if not stopped during the week-long festival in the month of January.
Not the “jamming” of cellular phone signals.

JEOPARDIZE

When communication lines are shut down during important events, we jeopardize the comfort and safety of visiting tourists and the residents who update their relatives abroad on what’s going on in their locality.
Drug addicts and drunken dolts don’t use high-tech communication gadgets to create trouble. Police deployed in performance areas can manually overpower any amok in the crowd.
No real terrorists from other regions–or even outside the country– will commit a hara-kiri or kamikaze attack by sneaking inside the well-guarded Iloilo City, surrounded by treacherous rivers, just to sabotage the Dinagyang.
If they intend to extort, bringing an explosive device in Iloilo City is like holding a microphone in public and announcing that they would pee at Plazoleta Gay.
If they intend to send a political message, they will not only be barking at the wrong tree, they will be in the wrong place of the planet. Malacanang and Imperial Manila are several islands and regions away.
Good that the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) is reportedly not keen on recommending the jamming of mobile signals in the metropolis during the two-day Dinagyang highlights on January 21-22, 2017.

NECESSARY

Signal jamming or shutting down cellular phone signals is necessary and effective in events where the visiting VIPs in the country are considered as “security risks.”
Especially when the occasion attracts a large number of crowd like the recent Black Nazarene procession, which drew 1.5 million devotees in the streets.
Like when Pope Francis visited the Philippines on January 15-19, 2015. And when state leaders gathered for the APEC Meeting.
Or even during the 2017 Miss Universe coronation night where foreign dignitaries and high government and military officials would be in attendance.
Mobile phone signals may also be jammed if there are special police operations like the raids conducted in the shabu-infested National Bilibid Prison.
The purpose is to prevent terrorists and criminals from sabotaging the events or operations by knocking out their communication.

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If we can’t hurt a fly we can’t kill a human being

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”― Voltaire

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Let’s approach the problem from the spiritual point of view. I learned from my 70-year-old Indian-American chess rival in Queens that in order for the EJK or extra-judicial killings in the Philippines to end, Filipinos may embrace the religion of Janism.
“Master Sam” said followers of this ancient religion wouldn’t even hurt a fly–literally.
He was saddened by reports that more than 2,000 suspected Filipino drug addicts and traffickers of illegal substance “have been murdered like animals” in the streets and in their houses in raids since the Duterte administration launched a “no-non sense” battle against illegal drugs in the Philippines.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) boss, Chief Supt. Ronald “Bato” De la Rosa, handpicked by President Duterte to “cleanse the country with criminal elements,” denied the PNP had initiated the mass killings saying “they adhere to the due process and respect the human rights of the suspects.”
Janism is one of India’s three ancient religions, along with Buddhism and Hinduism.

MAD

“Master Sam” said because of this religion, he could not even get mad at chess hustlers in the park who bilked him.
“I’m a peaceful person. When I beat you in a chess match once, I felt I humiliated you in front of your friends. When it was your turn to beat me (eight times in another meeting), I felt it was necessary to compliment you and tell people around that you are a better chess player,” enthused “Master Sam,” who once lost $1,500 to Filipino chess hustlers at Elmhurst Park in Queens.
Despite the fact that it has only a few million adherents and is confined almost entirely in Southern India, Janism’s philosophy of non-violence has spread throught the world, according to “Master Sam.”
To Janists, he said, the world is divided into the living (or the soul) and the non-living.
They believe that the soul is invaded by karmic matter, or negative passions, that can dominate people’s lives. These include violence, greed, anger, and self-indulgence.
This karma reportedly bonds to the soul and impedes the search for perfect understanding and peace.

STAGE

To reach the heavenly stage, “Master Sam” said Janists must stop the inflow of bad karma and shed the karmic matter that has already bonded to their souls.
Once this has been accomplished, he explained, they reach moksha or a level of pure understanding where the soul is liberated from all earthly matter.
Master Sam said achieving this heavenly stage is quite an ordeal. An individual must spend 12 years as a Janist monk and go through eight reincarnations in order to get there.
Along the way, each must also adhere to the Three Jewels of Right Faith, Right Knowledge, and Right Conduct. More extreme worshippers deny themselves even the most basic of life’s pleasures by fasting and wearing only the simplest clothing.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2016 in CULTURE AND HERITAGE, HISTORY, RELIGION

 

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Visions of the Virgin

“Only a Woman, divine, could know all that a woman can suffer.”
Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Do you believe in miracle?
Pious Catholics hold a special place for Mary, the mother of Jesus, praying for her daily for favors and blessings.
Some say that the virgin has appeared to them right here on Earth.
Many of these claims are not verified–dismissed as products of overactive imaginations or as outright hoaxes–but two apparitions, which defy scientific explanation, have stood the test of time and remain highly cherished by Catholics around the world.
The Fascinating Book of History tells us that in February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a poor, sickly 14-year-old peasant girl, was gathering firewood near a stream when she suddenly had a vision of a beautiful lady dressed in white.
Overcome with fear, she rushed home to tell her mother, who told her to keep away from that place.
However, Bernadette returned and would repeatedly see the Virgin–18 times in all.

CHAPEL

One message stood out: A chapel must be built on the site where Bernadette had first seen Mary.
Bernadette’s parish priest was highly skeptical of the visions and dismissed the little girl and his childish fantasy.
In spite of ridicule, Bernadette stuck to her story. It was only after people began reporting that their ailments had been cured after washing in the stream where the visions occurred that the church decided to endorse the apparition.
A shrine was built on the site and, to this day, is visited annually by millions. These pilgrims flock to Lourdes, hoping to cure physical ailments by washing in its now famous waters.
Hundreds of miraculous healings have been reported, all of them verified by church and medical experts.
In May 1917, Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco were tending their sheep in the town of Vila Nova de Ourem in the parish of Fatima, Portugal.

LIGHT

Suddenly, they saw a tremendous flash of light. Thinking it was lightning, the children rushed for cover, only to see the same flash again.
The children described seeing “a Lady more brilliant than the sun.” This was the first in a series of Marian apparitions reported by the children.
Mary impressed upon the children the importance of daily prayer (especially reciting the rosary) and penance. She also told the children that there would be a second war, much worse than the first.
When World War II began almost two decades later, many saw this as the fulfillment of the prophecy. The Virgin also gave the children a brief glimpse of hell and further revealed a mysterious secret, which church authorities kept under wraps until 2000. (The third secret was revealed to be a vision of the deaths of the pope and other individuals.)

MIRACLE

Word of the apparitions soon spread, and by October 13, 1917, a crowd of 70,000–believers and skeptics alike–flocked to Fatima on the hot rumor that a miracle was about to occur.
They were not disappointed. Newspaper reports of the day document how onlookers saw the sun burst through rain clouds and then begin dancing and spinning across the sky in a zigzag pattern, trailed by a brilliant ray of colors.
The so-called “Miracle of the Sun” solidified belief in the apparition, and a shrine was built on the site.
Each year, scores of pilgrims visit the site, hoping to get the graces of Mary first experienced by the three children.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2016 in HISTORY, RELIGION

 

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Prof. Copernicus thinks I am right (Part 1)

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Around past three o’clock one afternoon inside the cold Central Park, Professor Jozef Copernicus told me he instantly recalled having visited Manila after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
“It was my first and only visit in your country,” the professor mused. “I was a speaker in an international conference held in a hotel by the bay (Manila Hotel?)”
Professor Copernicus thought the Marcos family made the right decision to fly to Hawaii when the mob was already a cinch way from capturing Malacanang Palace evening of February 25, 1986.
The late former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the professor insisted, should also be credited “for aborting a bloodshed that would have tarnished the reputation of your country (as the only Catholic in Asia).”

NO CASUALTY

“It was supposed to be a revolution, right? But why nobody was shot; why no one was killed?” Prof. Copernicus inquired like a classroom teacher doing a recitation test.
“Nobody was killed, yes. There was no bloodshed because President Marcos rejected the appeal of Armed Forces Chief, Gen. Fabian Ver, to shoot the rebel soldiers led by Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and (AFP Vice Chief of Staff) Gen. Fidel Ramos, who were being protected by the People Power,” I answered looking straight at both his eyes.
Prof. Copernicus: “And they were also being protected by nuns praying the rosary and holding the statues of Virgin Mary, right?”
APV: “That’s correct, Professor! The nuns also gave flowers to government soldiers manning the tanks.”

RELIGIOUS

Prof. Copernicus: “Filipinos are mostly Christians and deeply religious by nature?”
APV: “We were the only country in the world that has not experienced a bloody revolution; and basically we are mostly religious, having been Christianized by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 at the time when Martin Luther was starting to spread the protestant movement in Europe.”
Prof. Copernicus: “We are talking about the EDSA Revolution, which happened only more than 20 years ago, but you are jumping to the events that happened more than 500 years ago. You are mixing the dates.”
APV: “I’m sorry, professor. But they are related to the hypothesis on how we, Filipinos, became a Christian country.” (To be continued)

 

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Charlie Judeo

“God will never give you anything you can’t handle, so don’t stress.” Kelly Clarkson

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By Alex P. Vidal

HILLSBOROUGH, New Jersey — On the eve of the Paris-based Charlie Hebdo massacre first anniversary, Charlie Judeo crossed my mind.
Charlie Judeo is the gatekeeper, inspector, and elevator operator of a synagogue in Upper Manhattan, New York City I recently “housecleaned” for five hours.
The place was a Jewish congregation, a worship community equivalent to a chapel for the Christian faithful.
While waiting for the assembly to conclude at 10 o’clock in the morning, I sat outside the synagogue and the old man Charlie Judeo engaged me in a brief but thought-provoking conversation when he saw the cross pendant on my necklace:
CJ: “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?”
APV: “Yes sir, I am.”
CJ: “You believe in Jesus (Christ) as a Messiah?
APV (Digging from my Christian Living memory lane, I hesitantly replied): “We, Christians, believe Jesus Christ was a Prophet yes, a Messiah.”

SUPERNATURAL

CJ: “Man, Jesus could not be a Prophet or Messiah because he possessed supernatural qualities and was a product of a virgin birth.”
APV: “Please elaborate.”
CJ: “Jesus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David. A Messiah is born of human parents and must possess physical attributes.”
Charlie Judeo is a dyed-in-the-wool Hebrew believer, thus I relinquished any attempt to engage him in a debate over faith, which I thought was unnecessary.
I came to operate a dust pan, a sweeper, a rag and a vacuum cleaner; wash the plates, glasses, cauldrons and other kitchen utensils and collect garbage, not to join the Holy Bible versus Torah slugfest.
The steely admonition and religious lecture had to be interrupted.
I needed to hit the ground running; the assembly was over and it’s past 10 o’clock.

CHECK

A good and pleasant person, Charlie Judeo entered the synagogue to check the progress of my work after two hours.
A garbage collector beat him to the draw by 15 minutes.
“Where is the garbage?” Charlie Judeo demanded.
“The collector had taken it away,” I retorted.
“OK,” Charlie Judeo snapped back, his moustache gyrating.
Three o’clock in the afternoon. Time to go.
Charlie Judeo was waiting outside the synagogue.
The old man escorted me to the building exit and bade goodbye, half-smiling.
“Thank you, Charlie Judeo. Hope to see you again soon,” I quipped, waving my right hand.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2016 in RELIGION

 

Isaac Asimov’s Guide To The Bible

“That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not.” THOMAS PAINE

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — This is one of a kind book about the Holy Bible.
Written by a biochemist from the University of Boston, the book supports critical thinking, and the author did not take his analysis as gospel anymore than the Hebrew and Greek scriptures.
Because he was a Jew, Isaac Asimov’s (born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov) commentaries and observations of the bible are from a Jewish point of view, modified by his science fiction background and thinking.
KING JAMES
Asimov brings us through the books of the Bible in King James Version order, explaining the historical and geographical setting of each one and the political and historical influences that affected it.
He went further as providing biographical information about the main characters. In essence Asimov seems to consider the bible as one of the most important history books ever written, and treats it as such.
What is so extraordinary about the book is it is just purely information and no commentary. If we want to know what’s really going on as well as what’s happened before this book to the Old and New Testament includes biblical verse, footnotes, references and subject indexes.
We should not miss this book.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2016 in HISTORY, RELIGION

 

‘I’m sorry’ for victims of clergy sex abuse

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY –– If former Philippine president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo said “I’m sorry” for the “Hello Garci” election irregularity, Pope Francis said “I am profoundly sorry” to all victims of sex abuse by Catholic Church clergy during a meeting with some of the victims at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia the morning before he left for Vatican recently.
“Words cannot fully express my sorrow for the abuse you suffered. You are precious children of God who should always expect our protection, our care and our love,” he told them.
“I am profoundly sorry that your innocence was violated by those who you trusted.”
The victims were three women and two men, who, the Vatican said, “experienced sexual abuse as a minor by clergy, family members or teachers.”

‘DEEPLY SORRY’
“For those who were abused by a member of the clergy, I am deeply sorry for the times when you or your family spoke out, to report he abuse, but you were not heard or believed. Please know that the Holy Father hears you and believes you. I deeply regret that some bishops failed in their responsibility to protect children,” the Pope added.
“It is very disturbing to know that in some cases bishops even were abusers. I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.”
Each was accompanied by a family member or support person, according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi SJ.
The group was accompanied by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and chairman of the commission set up by the Pope for the protection of minors, Archbishop Charles Chaput and Bishop Fitzgerald, head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s commission for the protection of minors.

VISITORS

The Pope spoke with visitors, listened to their stories, greeted them individually and prayed with them. He told them that he shared in their suffering, and he had pain and shame in particular in the case of injury caused by clergy or church workers.
He renewed the commitment of the Church to the effort that all victims are heard and treated with justice, that the guilty be punished and that the crimes of abuse be combated with an effective prevention activity in the Church and in society.
The Pope thanked the victims for their essential contribution to restore the truth and begin the journey of healing.
The meeting lasted about half an hour and ended with the blessing of the Holy Father.

REMARKS

The full remarks of Pope Francis during his meeting with the survivors of sexual abuse:
My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, I am grateful for this opportunity to meet you, I am blessed by your presence. Thank you for coming here today.
Words cannot fully express my sorrow for the abuse you suffered. You are precious children of God who should always expect our protection, our care and our love. I am profoundly sorry that your innocence was violated by those who you trusted. In some cases the trust was betrayed by members of your own family, in other cases by priests who carry a sacred responsibility for the care of the soul. In all circumstances, the betrayal was a terrible violation of human dignity.
For those who were abused by a member of the clergy, I am deeply sorry for the times when you or your family spoke out, to report he abuse, but you were not heard or believed. Please know that the Holy Father hears you and believes you. I deeply regret that some bishops failed in their responsibility to protect children. It is very disturbing to know that in some cases bishops even were abusers. I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.
We are gathered her in Philadelphia to celebrate God’s gift of family life. Within our family of faith and our human families, the signs and crimes of sexual abuse of children must no longer be held in secret and in shame. As we anticipate the Jubilee Year of Mercy, your presence, so generously given depute the anger and pain you have experienced, reveals the merciful heart of Christ. Your stories of survival, each unique and compelling, are powerful signs of the hope that comes from the Lord’s promise to be with us always.
It is good to know that you have brought family members and friends with you today. I am grateful for their compassionate support and pray that many people of the Church will respond to the call to accompany those who have suffered abuse. May the Door of Mercy be opened wide in our dioceses, our parishes, our homes and our hearts, to receive those who were abused and to seek the path to forgiveness by trusting in the Lord. We promise to support your continued healing and to always be vigilant to protect the children of today and tomorrow.
When the disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus recognized that He was the Risen Lord, they asked Jesus to stay with them. Like those disciples, I humbly beg you and all survivors of abuse to stay with us, to stay with the Church, and that together, as pilgrims on the journey of faith, we might find our way to the Father.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, RELIGION

 

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