Never Put to Test the Faith of a Person

Never Put to Test the Faith of a Person

By Apolinario Villalobos


Some people have the habit of putting to test the faith of others. They should take extra care as regards this kind of attitude due to the rise of so many groups that used to be part of the Roman Catholic Church, for instance, and whose primary reason for leaving is the realization that the ceremonious Mass is not for them, though their exit does not necessarily mean the erosion of their faith in God.


Not only are some of the Roman Catholic adherents have this kind of attitude but others who belong to other churches and the various congregations that mushroomed around, assuming different names – all in the name of Jesus. For them, those who “deprive” themselves of the “words of God” will not be saved. But then, what can these “holy” words do when they are not put into action or practiced? A fanatic person may eat the whole Bible, page by page every day, but it will not do him any good if he or she cannot even say “Hi!” to a neighbor.


The best test of faith founded on what Jesus really wanted done, is the test of one’s own. If one can honestly sacrifice for others, share with others, and be consistent in doing them, there is no need to look around and see what others are doing. By then, others will instead emulate what he does. That is what I call faith by practice…that everyone should do, instead of testing that of someone else’s. Do not give somebody the opportunity to put you to shame by sarcastically asking, “…how about you?”

Pastil: Versatile One-dish Meal of Muslim Filipinos

Pastil: versatile one dish meal

Of Muslim Filipinos          

By Apolinario Villalobos


If you have ventured into a Muslim community, you may notice a delicacy neatly wrapped in a banana leaf. It is called “pastil”, a special kind of rice with a spoonful of viand on top– either fish or chicken. While the fish takes a shorter time to cook, the shredded chicken takes more, for as long as two to three hours to ensure its softness. The fish is flavored with “palapa”, a hot chili and shallot- based condiment, while the chicken is cooked in its own oil enhanced with a small amount of coconut or vegetable oil, toasted garlic, and with shallot and hot chili as optional ingredients.


In Manila, the place to go for this one-dish meal is the Islamic Center in Quiapo. While it can be partaken as is, some prefer to have other dish to go with it. At the Islamic Center’s halal carinderias and sidewalk eateries, the choices for other main dishes are chunks of young jackfruit cooked in coconut milk, red beans in coconut milk, broiled tuna, mudfish or tilapia, boiled eggs, stir-fried vegetables in herbs, and chicken cooked in thick coconut milk.


For dessert, one can have the Muslim version of “fruit salad” which is a soupy combination of gelatin and fruits in season flavored with milk and sweetened with brown sugar. It is different from the “dry” version of fruit salad which is topped with ice cream and shaved ice.


Variably, “pastil” is also called “patil” in other parts of Muslim Mindanao, and the preparation varies according to the added spice or condiment. The price however, does not vary, as the price is  fixed at ten pesos per wrap.


Bakit Hindi Pwedeng Paghiwalayin ang Ispiritwal at Materyal na mga Bagay sa Tao

Bakt Hindi Pwedeng Paghiwalayin

Ang Ispiritwal at Materyal na mga Bagay sa Tao

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Kaipokrituhang sabihin na dapat paghiwalayin ang mga bagay na ispiritwal at materyal sa buhay ng tao. Ang dalawa ay mga bahagi ng tao. Sa isang banda, maaari lamang mangyari ito – ang paghiwalay ng ispiritu ng tao sa kanyang katawan kung siya ay patay na. Ang tinutumbok ko rito ay mahirap ipaunawa sa isang tao ang mga salita ng Diyos kung siya ay gutom. Ang taong kung ilang araw nang gutom ay kadalasang nawawala sa sarili o di kaya ay hinihimatay dahil sa kahinaan ng katawan, kaya paano niyang mapapakinggan ang mga salita ng Diyos? Paanong mapapalakad ang isang tao patungo sa simbahan o religious rally kung nanghihina ang kanyang mga tuhod dahil sa gutom at upang matiis ay namimilipit na lang sa isang tabi? Common sense lang…dapat busugin muna ang katawan ng tao bago siya magkaroon ng hinahon nang sa ganoon ay pwede na siyang makinig ng mga salita ng Diyos dahil hindi na maingay ang kanyang bituka!


Ang hihilig magsabi ng mga pastor o pari o kung sino mang hangal na “okey lang basta busog ang ispiritu ng tao ng mga salita ng Diyos kahit gutom ang katawan”. Sila kaya ang gutumin ng ilang araw? Masasabi pa kaya nila ang mga kahangalang linya na nabanggit?…o di kaya ay makakaya pa kaya nilang magbukas ng bibliya dahil nagkakanda-duling na sila sa gutom?


Hindi dapat ipangalandakan ng mga “spokespersons” ng mga simbahang Kristiyano ang ginawa ni Hesus na pag-aayuno ng 40 na araw sa disyerto. Sabihin mang totoo ito, dapat hindi i-encourage ng simbahan ang pag-aayuno nang ganoon na lang. Dapat ay may kasamang pasubali na ang gagawa nito ay mag-ingat o magpakunsulta muna sa doktor.


Ang pinagpipilitan ko dito ay: dapat hindi gutom ang katawan ng tao kung siya ay makikinig sa salita ng Diyos. Dagdag pa rito, dapat makialam ang mga simbahan sa mga isyu na magiging dahilan ng pagkagutom ng mga tao, tulad ng kapabayaan ng DSW na mas gusto pang mabulok ang mga inabuloy na pagkain para sa mga sinalanta ng kalamidad, kesa ipamahagi agad. Dapat din silang makialam sa pamamagitan ng pagpuna sa mga kurakot sa pamahalaan. Hindi sila dapat dumistansiya sa mga problema ng mga kasapi nila pagdating sa kahit isyu man lang ng pagkain. Kapag patuloy silang hindi makikialam ay para na rin silang buwitre na nakatanghod sa isang tao habang ito ay unti-unting namamatay dahil sa gutom!


Kung sasabihin ng mga pilosopo na bawal makialam ang mga simbahan sa mga bagay na nabanggit dahil ito ang nakasaad sa Saligang Batas….aba, eh di dapat ay wala na ring eleksiyon dahil ang pagboto sa mga kandidato ay isang paraan ng pakikialam ng mga simbahan sa pulitika sa  pamamagitan ng mga kasapi nila!


Dahil lahat ng mga kasapi at opisyal ng lahat ng simbahan maliban na lang sa mga sektang hindi naniniwala sa eleksiyon, ang nagluklok sa mga opisyal sa pamahalaan, may karapatan silang magreklamo kung ang mga ito ay nagkamali, lalo pa at naging korap. Ang ibang sekta ay may mga programa sa radio at TV. Bakit hindi gamitin ang mga ito sa pagpuna sa mga korap na mga opisyal upang sila ay “masindak”, sa halip na puro na lang mga linya sa bibliya ang inuulit ng kung ilang libong beses ng mga nagsasalita na may kasama pang sigaw at kumpas, at paninira ng ibang sekta?


Ang payak kong interpretasyon sa nakasaad sa Saligang Batas na bawal ay ang pagtakbo ng mga opisyal ng simbahan para sa anumang puwesto sa gobyerno. Dapat unawaing may obligasyon ang mga opisyal ng mga simbahan na tumulong sa mga tao upang sila ay iligtas mula sa anumang kapahamakan habang sila ay nabubuhay sa ibabaw ng mundo….hindi lang mula sa hatak ng demonyo!

Religion, Christian Faith, and Immorality

Religion, Christian Faith, and Immorality

By Apolinario Villalobos


I am wondering whether those who profess religiosity based on what they practice really “understand” what they are doing. They claim that the bible contributes a lot to their spiritual development. The problem with these people though, is that, while some stick to just the New Testament, others devote their time more to the Old Testament, when the two sections of the bible are supposed to complement each other. So what happens is that, while some of them learn about the teachings of Jesus which are in the New Testament, they do not have a slight idea that the religion that they follow can be traced back to Abraham who is in the Old Testament, and whom they hear only as a name when mentioned in sermons. The ignorance came to light when I asked one Catholic Lay Minister if he has an idea on who the eldest son of Abraham is. I found out that all he knew was that Abraham has a son and that, he was Isaac. When I told him that Ishmael was his eldest son bore to him by Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, he was surprised! He even asked, how can it be possible when the name Ishmael is a Muslim?


From the desert, the Abrahamaic faith, also called Mosaic faith that also hinges on the belief on the coming of a “redeemer” spread. When Jesus came, he followed a new path along which he spread his teachings that filled the pages of the New Testament. When he died on the cross, his followers insisted that he was the sacrificial lamb for the sins of mankind – the redeemer who have finally come and did the act of redemption. But many refused to accept this, as they even keep on questioning his identity if he, indeed, belongs to the House of David from where, the redeemer should come from, more so with the allegation of his being the son of God.


If Jesus was the result of a “virgin birth” that gives credence to the “annunciation” as one of the “mysteries”, then, he does not belong to the House of David, because Mary, herself, as his biological mother does not, but only Joseph, who is his “foster father”, therefore, not his “biological father”. In other words, he is not the prophesied “redeemer” as insisted by his followers. Such question is one of the so many asked since the medieval period when the pagan Romans were converted into Christianity, and overdid their religiosity by incorporating pagan practices into what was supposed to be a simplistic way of spirituality. Instead of giving enlightenment on the issue, the early church leaders added problems, one of which is the question on “Trinity” that even widened the “schism”. Is it not immoral to keep the truth from the people who thought they are following the right path?


The “extensions” of the Church of Rome distributed throughout Europe as the 15th century was ending, was purported to be the largest “landholders” during the time. That was also the time when Christianity was forced into the inhabitants of the islands that came to be known as Philippines, so named by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, in honor of the Spanish king, Philip II. But before the Spaniards came to the shores of the archipelagic islands, they had already sacked the long- thriving Inca and other highly developed cities that they converted into their colonies, and they called the natives “Indios”. For the Spaniards, the natives that they suppressed and made to kneel in front of the cross are called “Indios” who, for them are ignorant… this is how the natives of the Philippines and America were first called, and not by their real indigenous names.


The Spanish Christian missionaries who were also fond of shouting “punyeta”, “sin verguenza”, and “hijo de puta” to the natives, did the same hideous conduct of conversion they used in South America, when they came to the Philippines, as they went into the frenzy of burning cultural and intellectual treasures, because for them those were “demonic” and did not conform with “Christianity” which for them still, was the “righteous way”. They even went to the extent of executing “babaylans” or native priestesses.


During the closing of the 15th century, the Roman Church owned practically, almost half of France and Germany, and two-fifths of Sweden and England, not to mention Mexico and other South American colonies and the Philippines where, the early haciendas were located in Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Rizal, as well as, the islands of Negros, Panay and Cebu. While the colonies in Europe were not so productive, in the Philippines, the vast tracts of land that were literally grabbed from the natives were planted to sugar cane, rice, and coconut. Today, a few Filipino families who are also into politics are “hold-over owners” of these haciendas. And, they are so much devoted Roman Catholics!…and so, exploitation goes on!


Because of  her exploitation disguised by evangelization, Rome grew splendidly and gloriously. To maintain such splendor and glory, the papacy resorted to requiring all ecclesiastical appointees to remit their revenues to the “papal curia” in Vatican. A scandal that gave birth to the Reformation movement and also widened further the “schism” is about the pope’s selling of indulgences. Imagine the pope selling “tickets” to heaven! The large sum of money that flowed into the Vatican’s coffer led to more corruption, most prominent of which were committed by:


  • Sixtus IV (reign: 1471-84), who spent enormous sum of money in building the “chapel” that he named after himself, the “Sistine”, aside from causing the enrichment of his nephews and nieces;
  • Alexander VI, a.ka., Rodrigo Borgia (reign: 1492-1503) who allegedly, openly acknowledged and afforded financial opportunities to his illegitimate children;
  • Julius II (reign: 153-13), nephew of Sixtus IV, and who was said to be warlike, notorious politician, and who also spent lavishly on art, but failed in his duties as Head of the Roman Church.


During the time, the papacy did not monopolize immorality, as there was a popular adage then, that said, “if you want your son to be corrupted, make him decide to become a priest”.

It was alleged that confessors solicited sexual favors from female penitents, and thousands of priests were said to maintain concubines. Reformists were making a mockery of the church by saying that for Jesus’ ministers, it’s always money – from baptism, marriage, till death, with such greed and perversion spreading to Hispanic colonies.


Today, in the Philippines, so many Christian ministries have sprung up in almost every corner of big cities, sporting different names and congregate in inauspicious apartment units, former offices, multi-purpose halls of subdivisions, former movie theaters, and for the richy…Cultural Center of the Philippines and Folk Arts Theater which are the projects of Imelda Marcos within the Cultural Center of the Philippines.


There is a joke today about the unemployed, but with an oratorical gift to just put up a “ministry” in order to survive out of the tithes or “love offering” from members. These followers attend the gatherings and listen to the same never changing themes about love that they fail to put into practice, as they go back to their old “selfish” ways when they go home by keeping to themselves – within the security of their homes and company of select friends. Still, some enterprising bible-toting ministers even go to the extent of using the religious book in soliciting money from commuters by hopping on to buses and jeepneys to “share” the words from the bible in exchange for money to be put in envelops that they patiently distribute. As this kind of undertaking is some kind of a money-making enterprise, those who conduct such should be taxed!


The pope, himself, acknowledges the proliferation of immorality and corruption in the Roman Catholic Church that is why lately, an external auditing firm has been contracted to check on the Vatican records. He even apologized for the abuse committed by some members of the clergy. In other words, nobody among the members of the Vatican-based church is free from the stain of immorality. Still, in the Philippines, the Iglesia ni Cristo, biggest Christian church next to the Roman Catholic, is rocked with a scandal that is undergoing an investigation. There could still be other religious scandals going around, but just get to be contained due to their insignificance, compared to the cursing of Duterte who is running for presidency during the 2016 election.


The world today is full of “habitual” sinners – “immorals” in the eyes of the “moralists”, just because these people that they despise do not attend religious services or utter curses habitually, or just simply, polygamous. Can they be compared with those who attend these so-called religious services but got no slightest idea what compassion means? Can they be compared with husbands who fool their wives by playing around with their “queridas”, or wives who squander the wage hard- earned by their husband abroad, on their kept “lovers”?


Worst, these “moralists” are emboldened by the thought that it is alright for them to commit sin because they can go to confession, afterwards anyway! ….or worse, eat the host, bread or biscuit that symbolize the body of Christ, the better for them to get “cleansed” immediately! (I read stories about pagan tribes who eat the body of their brave opponents so that such character can be made part of them).


Some of these “good” people do not even know the name of their neighbors, so how can they say they love God that they cannot see, but cannot love their neighbors who are just a few steps away from them? Is it not sheer hypocrisy which is just another form of immorality?  Some of them still, who have become more financially stable than the rest, act like horses pulling indigenous “calesas”, that are allowed to look just straight ahead, which is a manifestation of selfishness.


By the way, I do not deny that I am a sinner through and through!…please pray for me!

Aggressive and Violent islamic Expansionism Poses Threat to World Peace…a caution to the Philippines

Aggressive and Violent Islamic Expansionism

Poses Threat to World Peace

…a caution to the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos

There is nothing wrong with all kinds of religion or cults, for as long as tolerance and respect among the faithful are observed. If there is no violent or aggressive attempt of conversion, I do not think that animosity shall be developed among the parties concerned. Conversion should be done “indirectly” – through convincing actions by the advocates, to show others that indeed, their religion is worth embracing. People should be given a liberal option as to what faith they should follow. They should not be intimidated by force, or threatened with the nozzle of a gun.

Special reference is being made to the religious polarization of the world between Christian and Islamic faiths. Tension between the two has slackened after the Crusade era. But, it seems that even religion is following a cycle or giving truth to the adage that history repeats itself, as lately, an aggressive Islamic expansionism is on the rise, spearheaded by its extremist advocates. There is a global attempt today for the “restoration” of Islam as supposedly the world religion, and even an aggressive “expansion”, which to the layman could mean “mass conversion”.

Hugging cyber news pages are European countries that are under the pressure exerted by the influx of Muslim immigrants, purportedly victims of persecution in their countries of origin, particularly, Syria. And, there is even an appeal by the United Nations to the far-off Asian countries to “adopt” some of them. Some European countries, being nearest to the origin of these evacuees were the first to offer succor and accommodated the refugees. Unfortunately, these generous countries are now being rocked with unrest by the same beneficiary of sympathy, in the name of the latter’s Islamic faith. There is even a bold threat by a group of Muslims in Denmark that their host shall become the “first Muslim country in Europe”.

The extremist ISIS group has done more than enough destruction to the historic and Biblical countries that they occupied and fear to the rest that they plan to overrun. Will Europe suffer the same fate, as there could be Islamic terrorists who may have successfully melded with the so-called “refugees” who have been accommodated by sympathetic European countries? From Europe, will masquerading terrorists who may have successfully blended with authentic refugees creep their way towards Southeast Asia to muddle the harmonious and peaceful co-existence of Christians and Muslims?

While the Muslims are aggressive in their attempt to convert others, none of such drive can be observed among the Christians, especially, the Roman Catholics. The publicities being enjoyed by the Vatican because of the controversial new pope, Francis, should not be taken as an attempt to convert. In fact, there is an ongoing cleansing within the Roman Catholic community, as shown by the purging of erring church leaders, as well as, vehement reminders of the pope for his flock to follow the “Christian way”. Nothing about converting Muslims, Protestants, etc. is being done in any way. On the other hand, if the effort of the new pope is viewed by skeptics as a convincing “Christian act” of a Roman Catholic, it is up to them to decide if they want to jump over the fence and join the flock of Jesus.

In the Philippines, particularly, Mindanao, the Muslims and Christians are enjoying a harmonious and peaceful co-existence. The call for autonomy which many Filipinos deemed long overdue is more political and not a matter of religion. In fact, it is expected that the same clamor for political autonomy shall be raised by the rest of the regions as the system has been proved to be effective in the Cordillera Region, although, deemed necessary in the first place, due to the archipelagic make up of the country.

The Philippines is a clear manifestation of harmony if tolerance and respect among people with diverse culture and faith, are observed. In view of the threat that is now rocking some European countries due to aggressive religious assertion by Islamic fundamentalists, Filipinos should be more vigilant and help each other in maintaining a steadfast resistance against any religiously-hooded incursion that could be tainted with evil intent. Filipinos have stood united on a foundation of strongly- welded brotherhood that not even the corrupted political system failed to shake. This fervent show of steadfast conviction should send a warning to the evil-minded around the world, that the Philippines is not a breeding ground for  unrest under the cloak of religion that the misguided extremists plan to foment…as such attempt shall never and ever be tolerated!

Harmony in Diversity Breeds Respect and Love…with Mindanao (Philippines) as a typical case

Harmony in Diversity Breeds Respect and Love

…with Mindanao (Philippines) as a typical case

By Apolinario Villalobos

In the Bible, the Israelites failed their God when they did not follow His instruction to the letter. Instead of annihilating all members of the pagan tribes whose cities they have overran, in some, they allowed the inhabitants to live side by the side with them. Some Israelites even took their women as wives. There was harmony, somehow, although not pleasing in the eyes of their God.

When the Arab and Chinese traders came to the Sulu Archipelago to ply their wares thousands of years ago, they intermarried with the native women, so today, some Tausugs have Chinese and Arab names and the fused cultures are obviously manifested in their physical features. There was harmony, then, for the sake of commerce, but which developed into respect and love that became the foundation of the Sulu Sultanate.

“Conquest” of kingdoms can also be accomplished through intermarriages, such as what happened in Egypt, the Iberian region and Europe. Despite the differences in culture, harmony was developed and bred respect among their royalties, thus, kingdoms were expanded. Still today, some business tycoons, especially, in Asia, have the habit of merging their wealth through marriage. In time, the human “instruments” for the worldly end, somehow develop love for each other.

In Mindanao, Philippines, particularly the Muslim central and southern portions of the island, the migrants from Luzon and Visayas, and the indigenous Muslims live harmoniously in communities as neighbors. Unfortunately, due to politics instigated by greedy desire of the few, animosities developed. Nevertheless, those who are really advocating peace persist in maintaining their warm neighborly relationship founded on love, respect, and lately, tolerance.

There is a story of a couple in which, the wife is from a royal Muslim family, while the husband is an ordinary hardworking Christian. They underwent three marriages – Islamic, Christian and Civil, with the consent of their parents. Their children were not baptized days or weeks after birth, the Christian way, but when they were old enough to choose which faith they preferred. In time, the couple began to raise Christian and Muslim children, but they do not feel any “difference” at all. Today, each of them observes the chosen faith with utmost sincerity in a home that permeates with love.

Lately, the son of a Muslim couple decided to become a Catholic priest. Instead of ostracizing him, the parents prayed over him to strengthen his chosen faith.

Clearly now, the problem in Mindanao is not the difference in faith as despite the diversity, the Mindanaoans are united by love and respect for each other, founded on harmonious relationship. What is happening in Mindanao are the doings of greedy politicians, but hope is not gone from the heart of Mindanaoans who had been longing for autonomy…with God’s help!

Sa Amin…sa Mindanao

Sa Amin…sa Mindanao
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Luntiang kaparangang halos walang hangganan
Kabundukang kahi’t paano’y balot pa ng kagubatan
Mga batis na animo ay musika ang paglagaslas
‘Yan ang Mindanao na ganda’y ubod ng timyas.

Malalagong palay, sa ihip ng hangin ay umiindayog
Mga masisiglang alagang hayop, lahat ay malulusog
Mga halamanang gulay, mayayabong ang dahon
‘Yan ang Mindanao na nabibiyayaan ng panahon.

Maraming katutubo, iba’t ibang makukulay na tribu
Magkakapitbahay ay mga Muslim at mga Kristiyano
Sila’y nagbibigayan, taos-pusong nagkakaunawaan
‘Yan ang Mindanao na may pangakong kaunlaran.

Subali’t kung ang pagkagahama’y biglang umeksena
Ang mga minimithing pangarap, lahat ay nababalewala
Kung bakit naman kasi may mga taong puso’y sakim
At mga adhikaing baluktot na dulot ay paninimdim.

Sa amin sa Mindanao ay masaya at may kasaganaan
Kaya dinayo ng mga tao na ang hanap ay kapayapaan
Nguni’t dahil sa damdaming sakim ng ilang hangal
Nakakabahalang ang tinatamasa ay baka ‘di tumagal!

We All Belong to the Same Race…why hate one another, then?

We All Belong to the Same Race
…why hate one another, then?
(this is about the Muslim/Christian conflict in Mindanao, Philippines)
By Apolinario Villalobos

The inhabitants of the archipelago that Ruy Lopez de Villalobos (not related to the author), named “Las Islas de Filipinas” in honor of his king, Philip II, all belong to one race. There is no reason therefore for an inhabitant to assert his being different just because he is a Muslim and lives in Mindanao. Along this line, there is no reason also, for another inhabitant to assert his being a Christian who lives either in Visayas or Luzon. The “Filipino” that we know today, regardless of his region, is the result of cultural impregnations by the different races that came to the archipelago, either to trade or colonize. Most importantly and very clearly, too, our ancestors were not born Christians and Muslims. They were converted by missionaries who were converts, themselves!!! How can we be proud then, of such imposed faith and culture???

Before Mohammed became a prophet, his people were practicing a different religion. He even went through persecutions before he finally succeeded in converting his people and such effort that took a route is the one being followed by those who undertake the “haj”. On the other hand, the Romans were pagans and it was only through the diligence of St. Paul that Christianity took a foothold in that city, but still, only after a series of persecution of Christian missionaries. And, that is how the Roman Catholic religion was developed, spread to as far as Spain, and finally, brought by the Spanish friars to the islands of Visayas and Luzon, as well as, a small portion in Mindanao, particularly, Zamboanga.

The natives of Luzon and Visayas were formerly animists – worshippers of nature. But, long before the Spaniards came, Islam as a religion was already widely practiced in the archipelago. When they set foot on the shores of Manila and Visayas, they already found Mohammedan inhabitants, some of whom they successfully converted into Christianity. Those from Mindanao, who pestered them with piratical raids, they called “Moros”, with barbaric connotation, as it was derived from the “Moors” who were driven out of Spain by Christian Crusaders. This shows then, that the “Moro” which was originally used by the Spaniards with reference to the Muslim pirates from Mindanao does not even have the slightest “native” hint in it. The Spaniards used the reference to show their disgust at the barbaric ways of those from Mindanao, all of whom they thought were pirates, robbers, and uncivilized. In other words, such reference was not concocted by the Mindanao Muslims. So, how can pride emanate from such Spanish-given name with horrible connotation?

Our ancestors were never referred to as “Filipinos” during the Hispanic regime. During the time, the “Filipinos” referred to, were actually the indolent Spanish settlers who lived comfortably in Manila out of the revenue derived from the galleon trade. When the trade faltered, the Spanish king was even forced to send financial replenishment for their sustenance, resulting to the clamor to abandon Manila. These colonists occupied the minuscule stronghold and walled city of Intramuros – the Manila of the old.

The affluent natives were called “Indios”. Those who lived far from the moot-ringed walled city were the Chinese who were forcibly clustered in Parian by the Spaniards with an objective to control their movement. The Parian eventually became the present-day Chinatown, reputed as the oldest in the world. The non-converted Mohammedan natives dwelt along the length of the Pasig River, and as far as Tondo. The friars even called the natives ugly “chonggos” (monkeys)! So how can we be proud of our so-called Hispanic past, when our ancestors were also treated as serfs who provided forced labor in building galleons?

The only time the natives were called “Filipinos” was when the Americans took over the reins of colonization. But, still in the eyes of the new colonists, the natives were still a helpless lot who need succor and further conversion as if Catholicism was not enough, that is why they brought in their own Protestant missionaries and teachers who forced the natives to sing “The Star Spangled Banner”.

That is how we were pitifully victimized as a race and treated as ignoramus, when in fact, before the two colonizers came, the natives were already enjoying a brisk trade with the neighboring southeast Asian states and kingdoms, even Japan and China. Mindanao had its own “royal houses”, too. Our ancestors were already weaving fabrics, manufacturing cannons, and mining for gold. The primary reason why the Spaniards came was to take over the wealth of the natives and bring them back to Spain. And, history books are clear on that. The natives of the archipelago were never helpless. The conversion into Christianity was just secondary and even still with questionable sincerity.

On the other hand, had there been a reversal of events, in which the Arab missionaries concentrated their evangelization effort in Luzon and Visayas, those who are living in these islands would be clinging to the Islamic faith. And, had the Spaniards decided to drop anchor in Sulu or Zamboanga, to put up permanent colonial outposts, those who are living in the whole of Mindanao including Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and Sabah groups of islands would have been embracing Roman Catholicism.

The Filipinos as a race are victims of historic events that dwelt on the scramble for overseas colonization by former western powers such as Spain, Portugal, Holland, and England. We are now suffering from identity crisis due to imposed faiths and cultures. Worse, this dilemma threatens the unity of the whole archipelago. And still worst, the effort to unite is greatly hampered by an inutile and deteriorating government due to incorrigible corruption.

The mistake of the early political leaders was their failure to change the name of the archipelago into something more nationalistic and encompassing when “Commonwealth” status was granted by the United States. The early leaders’ minds were focused on the imposed erudite Hispanic and American cultures. They forgot that somewhere down south, there were other inhabitants, albeit, with different faiths and dialects – the Muslims and Lumads.

The so-called “Filipino” historic leaders whose questionable reputations are beginning to be exposed today had a short-ranged view. They did not consider the geographical situation of the country when they came up with a governing system, such that control may pose a problem in time due to its fragmented situation, which is happening right now. They adopted the unicameral system of other countries, but in framing the Constitution, they followed the “structure and formal appearance” of America’s own. Curiously, they did not copy the Federal system of the Americans who introduced “democracy”. Is it because they did not want to share the authority with those living in the far south? Does this show that greed for power has prevailed as early as that time to benefit a handful pretentious “Filipinos” who framed the hybrid Basic Law of the country, but which proved to be a flop today, despite two revisions?

As a native of this archipelago, I ask: why do we have to begrudge one another today, just because we differ in faith and dialect? Is it the fault of those living in Luzon and Visayas that Mindanao is being neglected by the dysfunctional government? The “enemies” are the faulty government system and corrupt officials. The solution to the problem is not the separation from the organic homogenous system to become a separate state or annexation to another country. There are options that can put an end to the problem on unity, among which could be the federal system, relocation of the seat of the central government somewhere at the midpoint of the archipelago, or review of the current Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to make it more service-oriented. But the eventual solution could be the 24-degree turnaround in our attitude as inhabitants of this archipelago, specifically in the way officials are chosen that is shamelessly hinged on vote-buying!

It is a disgrace, indeed, that we, as a people who came from the same stock should hate one another based on what were imposed on us to become what we are now – Christians and Muslims. We should, instead, fight for our real identity, to enable us to maintain our unity!

The BBL with Unfair Unconstitutional Provisions will just create more animosities…thanks to Pnoy!

The BBL with Unfair and Unconstitutional Provisions
will just create more Animosities…thanks to Pnoy!
by Apolinario Villalobos

The approval of the Congress Ad Hoc Committee of the BBL draft, contains the original list of the provinces, as provided for in the Tripoli Agreement during the time of Misuari, that shall comprise the Bangsamoro and that includes Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, two Zamboangas, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Palawan – obvious Christian-dominated provinces….yet the name of the seemingly independent state, but masquerading as a region, Bangsamoro, is so named to denote literally that it is a “Moro land”. The big question now is: will Muslim leadership tolerate Christian teachings within its domain when it seems that the direction is establishment of an Islamic “state”? Will there be fair election to give chance to a Christian to assume the leadership of the region? Won’t it be awkward if it happens?….a Moro region under a Christian leader!

If MILF is sincere in its intention in promoting unity despite cultural and religious differences, why did it not choose a name that would stand for all the constituents, instead of the “Bangsamoro” which stands just for the Muslims?

Since very long time ago, yet, there has been a so-called “balik-Islam” movement. The advocacy is very strong now in the African continent as shown by the aggressiveness of the ISIS. There was a time when the same atmosphere was felt strongly in the affected areas, that is why some Christians were said to have opted to be converted into Islam to prepare themselves. There is nothing wrong with that. However, just in case it pushes through via the Bangsamoro region, the leaders should manifest sincerity in doing their job. The first ARMM under Misuari accomplished nothing, and the present administration of the region is also questioned as regards its accomplishment. Are the constituents of the Bangsamoro, assured of a better and sincere leadership without even a faint taint of corruption?

Ever since, I had been espousing “integration” for Mindanao in view of diversity in culture and faith, but utmost tolerance should be observed as regards the differences. Definitely, Congress will approve the draft because majority of the its members are pro-Pnoy. Our last hope then, is the Senate….where more intelligent lawmakers are found, and with the reviewing committee under Miriam Santiago.

Why Not Make the Current Regions “Federal States”?

Why Not Make the Current Regions “Federal States”?
By Apolinario Villalobos

The clamor to make the country’s form of government “federal”, can be fast- tracked by giving the current regions a personality resembling that of “states”. In the process, the useless Senate and Congress will be eliminated. There will still be President and the Prime Minister can be added to the organizational set up. But the government think-tanks should come up with an appropriate title that can be used by those who will represent each region. The levels of governor, mayor and barangay chairman will be maintained as the autonomous regions shall assume heavier responsibilities in view of their self-governing status.

The present government has already established the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) as well as, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but due to constraints from the “corners” that block the smooth flow of functions, they failed to deliver expected results. Perhaps, the rest of the regions can be regrouped according to their commonality in dialect or regional culture, and they can assume regional names, such as, perhaps, Region of Christian Mindanao (RCM), Bikol Region (BR), Winaray Region (WR), Katagalugan Region (KR), Marikudnon Region (MR, for Panay Island and nearby islets), etc. Along this line, the number of regions will be reduced.

It should be noted that despite the division of the country into regions to supposedly accelerate the delivery of services to the Filipinos, the expected result did not happen, as still, negligence is very evident. Far-flung barangays failed to have decent school houses, bridges are not built to connect villages, even “farm to market” roads did not materialize as promised by Congressmen, even ending up as “ghost projects”.

If these fused regions will be made autonomous, benefits and services will definitely flow directly and speedily down to the constituents. Being autonomous, the flow of authority will now emanate only from the Regional Head to the governor, mayor, and the barangay chairman. With the reduced layers in the bureaucracy, the governor, mayor and barangay chairman who are directly in contact with their constituents will be forced to involve themselves in all projects. Also, they will have the sole authority to prioritize projects as they deem necessary. In this regard, it is important that the qualifications of the Barangay Chairman are upgraded.

As the flow of function and responsibility has been compressed, auditing will be made easy so that flaws in the project implementation and misconduct committed in the process, can be easily identified or detected.

The Philippines is so fragmented because of its island and islet components. This situation is made worse by the location of the central government at the northern main island. Clearly, the government is hindered by bodies of water and undeveloped road system, making it ineffective in uniting the country. This inadequacy is magnified by the corruption resulting from red tapes that have become worse in time, every time new set of administrators find their way to the halls of the government, through dubious election process and appointments. And, the only way to do this drastic change could be through a total revision of the Constitution whose latest amendments during the time of President Cory Aquino, seemed to even have made it more ineffective.