Wanted: Honest-to-goodness Community Service of Civic Organizations and Students

Wanted: Honest- to- Goodness Community Service
Of Civic Organizations and Students
By Apolinario Villalobos

With the onset of the school summer break in the Philippines and the official declaration by the weather bureau, PAGASA, of the start of summer season, expected are the “visits” of student groups and civic organizations to the shores of Manila Bay and the city esteros, to purportedly undertake “clean up drive”. While the civic organizations do it for the promotion of their groups to let the people know that they are active in community projects, the students do it to earn scholastic credits and enthusiastically, too, for photo opportunities – something for uploading on facebook. Aside from the facebook, expect community and academe sections of the broadsheets to splash “action” photos, in their weekend edition.

How can these supposedly concerned Filipinos be expected to do an “honest-to-goodness” community service with their tight-fitting denim pants, white shirts, and jogging shoes? They look more like going on a picnic in their attire. Their sight reminded me of a lady senator whose supposedly advocacy is about ecology, nature, trees, and who was shown in a photo, gingerly holding on to a shovel while in the act of planting a sapling… prettily attired in white long sleeves blouse, slacks, a pair of walking shoes, earrings, necklace, and bangles!

As regards the students who brave the sun with sunblock, why can’t the schools base the merit system on the number of bags of garbage collected at the end of the day? At least, the credit is fairly measured, rather than use a notebook to record their attendance. And, for the adult civic organizations, why can’t they just collect contributions from the members to come up with a substantial amount that can be paid to a couple or more “real” garbage collectors? In this way, aside from getting a real result, they have also helped the needy, unless, of course their real aim is just to pose while holding on to a broom, to perpetuate their “contribution” to the community – something that can be shown proudly to their grandchildren later on, and of course, for uploading also on facebook!

Not only is the country suffering from the never-ending corruption and dishonesty of lawmakers and officials, but also from hypocrisy of its young citizens whose training in school is questionable, as well as, the adults who boastfully show the youth, their own kind of hypocrisy. We should no longer wonder why the country never ever had a chance to recover from the infection of dishonesty that continually deteriorates its culture. So with the exit of the senior corrupts later, the questionably trained youth enters the scene….a never ending cycle. From here… where are you going, poor and helpless Mother Philippines?

Creation Care, Ecological Justice and Ethics by Patriarch Bartholomew

It is seldom that an Ecumenical Patriarch is given exposure for his views. During the recent visit of Patriach Bartolomew in Manila, he delivered a speech in which he shared his seldom-heard views about the most important issue – ecology, correlating it to man’s obligation for the sake of self-preservation. Though simply stated, his message is full of inspiration:

Reflections by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Forum held at the National Museum in Manila


“Toward COP 21: Civil Society Mobilized for the Climate”
(February 26, 2015)

Distinguished forum participants,
Many of you may be surprised that a religious leader concerned with “spiritual” values is accompanying a political leader involved with “secular” issues. After all, what does preserving the planet have to do with saving the soul? It is widely assumed that climate change and the exploitation of natural resources are matters concerning scientists, technocrats and politicians.
Yet, the preoccupation of the highest spiritual authority in the worldwide Orthodox Church, namely the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with the ecological crisis demonstrates that we cannot have two ways of looking at the world: religious on the one hand and worldly on the other. We cannot separate our concern for human dignity, human rights or social justice from concern for ecological preservation and sustainability. These concerns are forged together, an intertwining spiral that can descend or ascend. If we value each individual made in the image of God, and if we value every particle of God’s creation, then we will care for each other and our world. In religious terms, the way we relate to nature directly reflects the way we relate to God and to our fellow human beings, as well as the way we relate to the biodiversity of creation.
At stake is not just our respect for biodiversity, but our very survival. Scientists calculate that those most harmed by global warming in the future will be the most vulnerable and marginalized. It is those living in the typhoon-prone Philippines who are being forced not only to deal with the miseries of flooded homes and prolonged disruption, but to make fundamental changes in their way of life. And there is a particularly bitter injustice about the fact that those suffering its worst ravages have done least to contribute to it. The ecological crisis is directly related to the ethical challenge of eliminating poverty and advocating human rights. Food security was the foremost issue at the United Nations climate change discussions in Geneva this month.
We are convinced that Asia holds many of the answers to a more biocentric worldview; Western industrialized nations must be humble to listen and learn. Only a few days ago, in India, the world’s public health leaders concluded that fossil fuels are detrimental to human health and wellbeing. And the Philippines – already a leader in geothermal and hydropower – are committed to a path from low carbon to zero carbon in a partnership between the public and private sectors.
This means that global warming is a moral crisis and a moral challenge. The dignity and rights of human beings are intimately and integrally related to the poetry and – we would dare to say – the rights of the earth itself. Human rights in the West have long been criticized for individualism. So will we recognize the faces of the thousands – men and women, mothers and children, elderly and disabled – lost when Typhoon Yolanda hit Guian at 4.40am on November 8th, 2013? On that day, by providence or serendipity, our church celebrates the feast of the holy angels. Will we remember the haunting photographs of that nightmare? The number of deaths horrifies us – but what most painfully reaches our feelings is the individual faces of loss and terror.
And what about the rights of the earth – of which we are a part and apart from which we cannot exist? Who will speak for the voiceless resources of our planet? Who will protect the silent diversity of its species? Will we accept responsibility for pushing our environment over the tipping-point?
In the discussions about climate change, some take a fatalistic attitude, arguing that we should give up all efforts to prevent further changes and instead direct our efforts towards adapting to the inevitable. But the response from those experiencing the effect of climate change is clear: adaptation is not enough. Fundamental changes need to be made at the level of global policy making, and made as a matter of urgency.
Wealthy, industrialized countries have unquestionably contributed most to atmospheric pollution. In our effort, then, to contain and reverse global warming, we must honestly ask ourselves: Will we in the West, in more affluent countries, sacrifice our self-indulgence and consumerism? Will we direct our focus away from what we want to what the rest of the world needs? Among all the facts and statistics, the summits and debates, it is essential for us to remember the human faces of those who suffer because of climate instability. Will we recognize and assume our responsibility to leave a lighter footprint on this planet for them and for the sake of future generations? We must choose to care; otherwise, we do not really care at all about the creator or the creation.
The choice is ours! We stand at a critical moment in the history and future of our planet, a time when our human family must choose future of our earth community. The protection of our planet’s vitality and diversity is a sacred task and a common vocation. At a summit organized by our Church two years ago, former NASA climate scientist Professor James Hansen observed: “Our parents honestly did not know that their actions could harm future generations. But we, our current generation, can only pretend that we did not know.”
It is not too late to act, but we cannot afford to wait; we certainly cannot afford not to act at all. We all agree on the necessity to protect our planet’s natural resources, which are neither limitless nor negotiable. We are all in this together: people of faith must practice what they preach; citizens of the world must clearly voice their opinion; and political leaders must act urgently and decisively.
Dear friends, you will now appreciate why a religious leader is concerned with the ecological crisis. With the voices of those angels who died in Typhoon Yolanda echoing in our ears, we must make the strongest possible call for change and justice at the Climate Conference in Paris next December. This is our ethical and honorable obligation; this is our word of promise and hope to the entire world.

Only in the Philippines – “Surprise inspection” na ina-announce, atbp….

Only in the Philippines-
“Surprise inspection” na ina-announce, atbp…
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Sa Pilipinas lang talaga nangyayari, na ang isinasagawang “surprise inspection” ng isang ahensiya ay ina-announce one day before at nag-iimbita pa ng media representatives. Dahil may mga kamera at mga reporter, siyempre ang mga namumuno ng ahensiya ay nandoon maski ang gagawin lamang ay tatayo at magpapa-interview para magkaroon ng mileage sa exposure, sayang din nga naman kung may balak tumakbo sa eleksiyon.

Sa kaso ng mga bus na palaging nirereklamo dahil sa mga disgrasya, bakit hindi alamin ang mga schedule ng mga ito upang bago magsi-alisan sa terminal ay ma-inspection na ng talagang inspector kahit madaling araw? Kahit madaling araw pa lang, dapat gawin ang inspection habang nakaparada ang mga bus, hindi yong itataon nila sa pagputok ng araw kung kaylan ay marami nang mga mananakay ang nakasakay na o nakapila. Hindi na kailangang magpakita pa ang mga naka-barong tagalog na mga boss dahil masakit sila sa paningin at nagdudulot lang ng pagkainis sa mga Pilipinong akala nila tanga. Namumura tuloy sila nang hindi nila alam.

Sa kaso naman ng inspection sa mga palengke lalo na kung may mga reklamo tungkol sa presyo ng mga bilihin at mga botcha o double dead na karne, bakit hindi madaling araw gawin ang inspection at wala rin dapat mga boss kundi talagang mga inspector lamang? Tulad ng unang nabanggit, magpapa-istaring lang naman ang mga walang binatbat ng mag opisyal na ito sa harap ng kamera, lalo na at palapit na ang eleksiyon! Ang napakasakit sa paningin ay ang ugali ng mga opisyal, kasama na ang presidente at ang kalihim ng DSWD na kunwari ay nag-aabot ng relief good sa mga evacuees habang abot-tenga ang ngiti na nakatingin sa kamera!

At ang ultimate na bolahan ay ang mga binibitawang salita ng mga kalihim ng ahensiya at ibang opisyal na “inutos ng pangulo na….”. Ibig yata nilang sabihin ay hindi na sila kikilos kung hindi iuutos ng pangulo. Wala ba silang sinusunod na simpleng operating manual? Wala ba silang sinusunod na mga nakasulat na mandato bilang responsibilidad ng mga ahensiya nila? Sa ganoong sinasabi nila ay pinapakita nila ang kanilang pagiging sipsip at kawalan ng kaalaman sa trabahong itinalaga sa kanila!

Nag-boomerang ang ugaling sipsip ng mga opisyal sa kaso ng Mamasapano massacre. Lahat sila ngayon ay tamimi o tahimik at ayaw magbanggit ng pangalan ng pangulo bilang bahagi ng “chain of command” ng PNP, o bilang pinakamataas na opisyal ng bansa na siyang maaaring magbigay ng mabigat na desisyon. Ngayon nila subukang magsabi ng “inutos ng pangulo na….”, kung hindi “magkakagulungan” ng ulo!