Philippine Daily Inquirer page March 14, 2013 A1
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I have said many times mass media is simply a mirror to society. Mass media gives the audience what it wants to attract what they want. It is very uncomfortable to know as a practicing Catholic in the Philippines that our religious leaders are not above basta pinoy da best thinking to endear themselves to the mob.
Do these people even comprehend the eternal life that they are trying to sell their flock on? Will that eternal life be so petty as to have the divisions we have in this life that we know as nationalities? Last week I was surprised when Bro. Eddie Villanueva jumped on the Catholic bandwagon claiming a Filipino pope will create a tsunami of economic prosperity for the Philippines as well as elevate Filipino overseas workers in prominence and respect. My main point there is that guy started his own church plus he is running for office. After today’s events let’s see if Argentina will receive the respect and revenue that Bro. Eddie foresaw for the Philippines. Can you completely trust someone who does two completely different jobs yet you are not sure which one of those voices is addressing you? I believe that fusion is awkward at best and very compromising at worst.
I fully expect a television minister who started his own branch of Christianity to lose perspective with the pope selection process. What I did not expect was high ranking leaders of the Philippine Catholic church to do the same. This week Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr.claimed there will be “explosions of joy” in the country if Tagle was named pope. I have no problems admitting this was my dreaded moment. That Cardinal Tagle on a national level would be equated to Jessica Sanchez May 2012. Ironically this prediction is on the same edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer that was able to catch the official announcement of the actual pope. The Philippine Star must have had an earlier press time. They were already past their point of no return when the news broke. So you can see for those dependent on printing press media, the Star was at a disadvantage. I later found out Inquirer did release an edition without the papal verdict then released a second batch. The Star may have followed suit. Not that it changes anything in my eyes between the two papers. One employs a flowery hack who likens Noynoy to a Jedi Knight and the other has on its roster an Ironside wannabee who uses his column to broadcast his Noynoy bromance. Last time I looked Jedi Knights were brave, actually did things and lived their lives based on a code of common good. Both columnists set journalism back a couple of centuries. Their respective newspapers are both losers. It should be noted that there is no link to the “Explosions ” story to the Inquirer website. Not sure if it’s reserved for people who buy the digital edition or it was considered a moot point with the actual Pope now announced. Maybe the layout was already made then they had a stop the presses moment and they just had time to insert the significant news.
Msgr. Pedro Quitoro (head of the media office of the CBC) not to be left out talks about Tagle being pope being unprecedented. Not sure why really. Popes have been named for a long long time. Between Bacani and Quitoro I can understand why people leave the Catholic Church. It seems to be all about status symbols and false merit. It seems less and less about relating to God. Where’s the substance? Where’s the piety? Where’s the humility? Maybe it’s just me but in this digital age the local Church hierarchy aims to compete with other distractions by stooping to their level. American Idol was never meant to be a competition among countries. On their website it is very clear that the vote for the contestants was only allowed within the United States. You could not even vote if you lived in Canada. That did not stop local phone companies from putting out full page ads in the dailies what numbers to vote. In true pinoy fashion all numbers/ choices provided lead to the pinoy contestant. Is that really a choice? If I want my mind made up for me I will move to China where even Facebook is not allowed. Tianamen Square never happened according to them. Actually maybe I am making too big a deal out of this. The Filipino culture is not known as a bastion of election ethics.
Whether it’s American Idol, Boxing or now even during the process to elect a new a Pope, the Filipino only cares about the Filipino. They do not care about accomplishment for accomplishment’s sake. They only care about racial kinship. As Robert Frost said “And that has made all the difference”. Bishop Bacani wants to use pinoy chest beating to get people interested. If it takes baduy tactics to seduce baduy people then where is the faith? If it takes baduy tactics to seduce baduy people all you are really amassing is baduy followers. Bacani is really treating it like Vatican Idol like there is one big grand prize then gnashing of teeth if you don’t win. He does not mention joy if a non-pinoy wins. He does not mention to support the pope no matter who he might be.
Once again I am annoyed because for the KSP pinoy its always about nationality. It’s never about quality. The soul has no ethnicity. Nice of the Bishop to turn it into a cheering event. I am equal opportunity basher. I apply the same standard to Brother Eddie as my own religion. To Bacani and Quitoro shouldn’t you be hoping that the 115 conclave produce the best man to face the challenges of the Catholic church in 2013 and beyond? This whole notion of nationality is relative and ultimately trivia. Does it really make a difference to the pinoy whether the pope is Italian, German or Polish?Â In case you forgot, the Catholic faith did not begin in the Philippines. In case you forgot the Pope belongs to the world. I have no idea where the sense of entitlement is coming from. This sense of joy Bacani describes that can only be unleashed upon the election of Tagle and no one else. I will give you a hint. It is a three letter acronym.
For everyone that prayed or told people to pray that Cardinal Tagle be selected pope. May I ask what is it that you wanted when you prayed? Did you want the best person possible for the pope? Did you know the other 114 candidates? Did you know the pros and cons of even five of the other 114? Out of 115 why request for Cardinal Tagle by name? Is the perceived attention and the vanity worth it? Is it possible that people cheering for Tagle just looked at the function of the pope solely through a narrow pinoy perspective instead of looking at it from a slightly broader view? They were focused on what the pope can do for the Philippines and not what the pope should be doing for the whole world.
Lost in all this pinoy pride hoopla is Cardinal Tagle was in a very different situation then American Idol or Ms. Universe. Our Cardinal was there as both candidate and adjudicator. I obviously have never been in a conclave. Even if I don’t know enough I would love to be part of the selection committee for the NFL or MLB Halls of Fame.They are in Canton, Ohio and Cooperstown, New York respectively. The one experience in my life that I can vaguely compare to the papal selection process was the time I served as a juror in an assault case. We had to have a unanimous verdict for five charges. Twelve diverse people locked up together assigned to come up a unified decision. Oh and we have someone’s life in our hands. Cardinal Tagle deserves our respect for being part of the process.
The pope is the one global religious celebrity. You can also make a case for the Dalai Lama . That is why Bro. Eddie who eschewed Catholicism still tried to ride on his coattails. What he is essentially is saying is I don’t recognize the tenets of your religion nor do I see the position as relevant to me but I won’t mind some residual attention. Many times the current regime in Philippines is referred to as the Showbiz Government. Where it’s all show but no substance. Sadly the higher ups in the Church in the Philippines feel they have to handle the Catholic faith the same way.
Let’s take two phrases from the Bible:
Luke 18:13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
Personally I interpret that as when you worship there should be no hooting and hollering and showboating. Instead have a dose of humility.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
In the context of being God’s children there is no status, gender or nationality.
This is an opinion piece but I personally find it hard to reconcile these two passages with what Quitoro and Bacani were anticipating. When they painted a picture of Pinoy bliss contingent on some racial condition the implication is already set that anything different from their dream scenario is wrong or a slight against the Filipinos. Am I being presumptive that a better thing to say would have been “let’s all pray that the conclave picks the best person amongst their ranks whether it’s Cardinal Tagle or not. ” I can not emphasis enough that the quality of the selected pope is far more important than the nationality of the elected pope.
I have no idea why in Bacani’s eyes that the love we have for God is conditional, No idea why Tagle’s election would change it one iota. It’s one thing for a jeepney driver to believe this but we have Bishops subscribing to this line of thinking. What is even scarier is you have some bozo like me pumping the brakes. So there seems to be an awkward juxtaposition here. You look at what the Bible says at what you should value then look at the statements of the two Bishops and the whole reason for that front page article to begin with. For me, it does not compute. Based on what I see here, if you want to keep the faith you are best learning on your own or find better role models than Bacani or Quitoro.
The source of the hypothetical joy as expressed by Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani is not that the church has a new shepherd since that was a given. The people got a new pope in 2005 and 1978 twice. The joy in your heart should be about your intimacy with your Creator and living your life on Earth based on your faith’s core values. No idea what other joy there can be that Bacani refers to. That hypothetical joy expressed in the Inquirer article is the pinoy desire for pansin. The Catholic Church in the Philippines can not seem to divest itself from it. My personal opinion is that KSP is the root of all evil. In this case it is true. Tying in the nationality of the pope to the degree of relevance a pope has on our culture. For me that is shallow, vain and evil. That is not what the announcing of the new pope should be about.
Putting a very sharp needle into the balloon known as Pinoy Pride since 2012.