Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle should just shut up about the Yolanda victims

Recall the monstrous earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck Japan back in 2011 causing untold death and suffering there. The stoicism and quiet grace with which the Japanese greeted the unimaginable destruction and loss of life, mobilised its forces to assess and respond, and reached out to the global community to receive assistance speaks volumes of the magnificence of Japanese society. Japan’s prayers are different from our prayers. Being a predominantly Shinto and Buddhist society, Japanese prayers generally express a profound respect for nature and an acute mindfulness for one’s surroundings. Emphasis is on a life led in harmony with nature and recognition that one is but a part in a vast ecosystem.

In contrast, Catholics see nature as subject to man, and man subject to the “mysterious” whims of their wrathful and all-controlling God. As such, a Catholic’s prayers put emphasis on their subjection to the will of God (to explain adversity) and their being showered with his graces (to explain good times). For Catholic Filipinos, prayer is surrender, while for the Japanese, prayer is expressed as reverence for a system of which one is but a mere part. A Catholic’s prayer is about deliverance from the physical world, while that of the average Japanese is about embrace of the physical world.

After-the-fact reflection is clearly evident in how the Roman Catholic Church is pitching its case for relevance in the aftermath of the disaster wrought by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Former Church media spokesman Monsignor Ramon Aguilos reportedly quoted Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in a mass he officiated last week, thus:

“The eyes of the world and the universal Church are on you, people of Tacloban and Leyte. Instead of me consoling you, it’s you who are consoling me. Your resilience, your steadfast, deep-seated vow inspire the world community and the universal Church,” Tagle said in his homily, as quoted by Aguilos.

Tagle also urged the faithful to not be afraid to ask God why they were suffering due to Yolanda. He said that like a child, they had the right to ask this question from their parent.

“This is an opportunity for God to listen to His people,” Tagle said.

We should “not be afraid to ask God why [we] suffer[…]”;

An “opportinity for God to listen to His people”…

All sounds nice and peachy, doesn’t it? That is, if you manage to suspend your higher thinking faculties indefinitely. But try latching on to such words when the proverbial brown stuff remains scattered all over the place since it hit the proverbial fan a couple of weeks ago and doing so will feel more like trying to hang on to a greasy pole. It’s all so nebulous. You can’t grasp it or harvest any real meaning out of words like these. All you really get is a temporary emotional fix. Try and apply these words to the real work that needs to be done in the coming months? Well, good luck with that. God listens, perhaps. But chances are, you will have to rely on a really colourful imagination to work out what his answer is.

yolanda_victims

You wonder how not just a handful of people but an entire global organisation can get away with routinely issuing virtually meaningless words like these. On what basis, exactly, does Tagle say with this sort of perception of certainty that the plight of the people of Tacloban “inspire the world community”? What is the precise nature of this “inspiration”? Which specific sectors in this “world community” are being inspired? What exactly is the logical and tangible earthly relief being offered here? Ask the right questions and you will get shut down, unfortunately.

The Church does not really promise much to the living. As far as religious “faith” is concerned, the real party happens after you die. So no problemo, man. All you get in the world of the living is a God who “listens”. Oh yeah, and watches too.

Perhaps what we need more of in the future is a different form of “prayer”. And here, when I say “prayer”, I don’t mean the sorts of prayer we are encouraged to chant to ourselves to give ourselves some sort of nebulous assurance that our future is taken cared of by an omnipotent and omnipresent being. What we can do better is pay attention to the abundance of real knowledge that modern technology allows us unprecedented access to that we can learn from. A start would be applying a more serious effort to studying the way that other disaster-prone country anticipates adversity and copes with its aftermath when it does visit — Japan.

Unlike our prayers, which are generally uttered after the fact of a tragedy, the Japanese people, in a manner of speaking, “pray” before the fact. The vast and carefully thought-out measures they had put in place to anticipate and mitigate the risk of a disaster such as the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is Japan’s “prayer” for its dead and suffering in the aftermath. Such a sort of prayer, in my opinion, is far superior to the Catholic’s prayer. Being done before the fact, it frees minds to focus on acting with clarity of purpose when adversity strikes, rather than imprisoning minds with questions about and surrender to a god’s “purpose” as the case would be for after the fact prayers.

And that is what true resilience is and where real inspiration comes from — when there are convincing results rather than unsubstantiable hope, and where there is clear evidence of self-reliance rather than protracted neediness.

While the loss of life in Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 monster earthquake is staggering, it cannot be said to be one that resulted from any form of reckless neglect. Because the Japanese had done all it can in life to respect the living it has little need for prayers — only a focus on action and learning and the tangible support coming from nations that are, themselves, possessing of characters consistent with an ethic underpinned by respect for human dignity in life.

[Photo courtesy The Guadian UK.]

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87 Comments on “Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle should just shut up about the Yolanda victims”

    1. Unfortunately, “true Catholics” apparently don’t exist in the Philippines, given the intimacy of the Church-State dichotomy here.

      1. @ paulo

        How many people declare themselves as catholics? This is shown by how many people attend church on sundays. And out of this huge number of catholics do you suppose really practice what is preached? Because as far as I see it, catholics go to church on a sunday but get drunk on friday and saturday or get a whore. Or catholic spouses who go to church but have child/children out of the marriage or even an affair.

        You must really be clueless on the realities of life.

        1. Believers, Catholics for example, are not perfect. They sin like other none-Catholics. It’s easy to see their mistakes since they are dominant here in the Philippines. If they were perfect, or rather, if they think they are perfect, then don’t need faith. Anyway, I think your straying away from the main point here.

        2. Nope, you were the one who said “True catholics embrace the physical realities of the world”, I cited real situations in which they seemed to be living the opposite of what is preached by the church, thus, reinforcing the statement by MH that “true catholics” don’t exist.

          You can always give the excuse of “nobody is perfect”, but the bottom line is, nobody is even trying. Coupled by the “flowery words” of Tagle which really doesn’t mean anything to the typical catholic (which is majority), then this country can sink deeper in this sh__ole. The catholic church has failed big time in handling the spriritual and moral aspects of the filipino. All we see are catholics on paper, but in the real life…zero.

        3. You obviously haven’t met the better Catholics, Joeld. There aren’t so many of them, but I can assure you there are.

        4. Catholics don’t even claimed to be outright saints in the first place like others do. Tell me what religion is exempted from the sins above? I can even say some Locals here in the middle east are having live-in partners, have engage in pre-marital sex, Alchohol and drugs inspite of penatly of lashing with imprisonment. They also have the oldest profession here.

  1. The Catholic church is doing its job, at least, of reminding us about the realities of this world – that amidst the pains and trails, we can still find hope and peace. I think you should address your rants to the government instead. They should be doing their job of finding proactive solutions.

    1. The PH government should be the one being reminded to do its job.
      The Catholic Church is doing a great job and has greatly influenced the Japanese mind and religion.

  2. Catholicism actually has a huge body of social teachings that are pretty clear that action must accompany prayer (Populorum Progressio is my favorite). I respectfully submit that you took Tagle’s words out of context and ignored the fact that they’re not incompatible with your point–that action must accompany prayer and that idle hope is useless.

    That said, I agree that in practice most Catholics do not grasp the need to be proactive in this life.But for the record, that is NOT an accurate representation of Catholic belief. And do not get the wrong idea–I have many issues with the Church myself, from RH to its handling of the pedophile priest scandal. But I am a firm believer that you must accurately portray the points of your opponent. You just set up the straw man here.

      1. Flowery words you say? What about the words of the government officials? That’s flowery for me. Talk, but no walk. So, don’t say that Tagle is flowery. Can you blame him for having a way with his words? Even writers play with poetry to catch the attention of their readers.

      2. All I am saying is he could be more effective in conveying his intended message if he went direct to the point and explained what he meant. Go ask your typical juan and pedro if they got his message correctly. This will only strengthen my argument that the catholic church has failed big time with the spiritual and moral aspects of the filipino people.

        1. why not gather the people yourself and preach your beliefs to them if you think yours are better than tagle’s and we’ll see if you will have a following…

  3. First of all, God hates the idolatrous CAtholics who bow and kneel and pray before idols of wood, stone, resins, metal, gold, silver and even ivory that are taken from thousands/millions of elephants murdered by traders to supply the tusks to CAtholic bishops. Catholic nations in the world are plunge into deep poverty, and Catholic people are given to elect officials who plunder and rob and impose more and more taxes to rob leaving not much enough to help people rise from poverty.

    Open your eyes, the Philippines is among the poorest (no. 2 or 3) in Asia, and THE MOST CORRUPT.

    The government of a Catholic Presdient BS Aquino who is a son of the rosary praying CoraZon Aquino can show none of the programs expected to develop the economic conditions of a people. What he offered in the last 3years are billions of pesos under the so-called Cash transfer program that gives the starving poor a drop of a damning subsidy that ensures nothing except to keep them dirt poor for the rest of their lives while keeping them loyal to him or to whoever he will finance (using plundered funds) in 2016. What is even more disgusting is the fact that even the cash transfer funds are stolen by his government. Remember that more than 800-million pesos of PDAF given to DSWD for the cash transfer program remains unliquidated to this day.

    1. You’ve raised several good points, amigo. But I do have to clarify that the President’s religion may have very little to do with his train wreck of an administration. It doesn’t matter whether he is an “idolatrous” catholic, or a “supremacist” INC or “warmongering” muslim. It is his lack of a rational, realistic and relevant economic platform, coupled with the masa’s natural aversion to self-empowerment, that further plunges our nation into poverty. Let’s focus on the issues at hand amigo.

      1. you are ‘right’ amigo, but not really. the issue here is the sweet-talking pulpit-preachy filipino catholic bishop, isn’t it?

        i’m discussing the president’s religion because as bad as he is as a catholic has he become a bad president.

        if he were a ‘good’ catholic, if indeed there are, then maybe he would not be as bad and as corrupt as he is now.

  4. Very well-written piece yet again, benign0. You really have a way with words, but I’d like to share my perspective on this matter as a Catholic who looks to God as a true friend and father, if I understood your piece correctly.

    “Tagle also urged the faithful to not be afraid to ask God why they were suffering due to Yolanda. He said that like a child, they had the right to ask this question from their parent.
    ‘This is an opportunity for God to listen to His people,’ Tagle said.”

    I can’t speak for Cardinal Tagle, but if I put myself in his shoes, I can suppose that what he perhaps meant to do was to assuage the grief of the people who lost everything they had rather than to tell them that what happened to them is God’s fault and that we therefore have the right to question Him, and that God wasn’t listening to us, for which reason He allowed Yolanda to wreak havoc on our country, and therefore if we castigate Him in our prayer, He would finally listen to us and refrain from sending another supertyphoon our way. I guess Cardinal Tagle knows that his true role as a spiritual leader is to offer spiritual consolation to the victims, knowing that their other needs are already being taken care of by other groups, as they should be doing. In other words, I guess what Cardinal Tagle was simply trying to say was that it would help the people to talk to God as a child would talk to his father, telling Him everything they’re feeling, their “tampo,” their doubts, their frustrations, their fears, etc., and like a true father, God will listen and will understand even if his children blame Him for what happened to them, knowing that His children are doing so only because they’re confused and afraid. I had a good father, and this was how he related with me, so I know that that’s how our good God is relating to me as well. When I was sad, confused, and afraid, I sometimes vented all my anger and frustrations on my father, and He just stood there and listened, not saying anything because He trusted that when the dust in my mind cleared, I would know I was wrong, and because he knew that I just needed to vent my anger and frustrations as a way of coping with all the turmoil inside me. I understand from your previous blogs that you don’t really share our faith all that much? (If that’s not true, I’m sorry for misreading.) Maybe it’s only a devout Catholic who can understand the true spirit of what their pastor tells them?

    1. What bothers me is the contradictory statements of the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines.

      Pope Francis mentioned that (at least on a spiritual level) Haiyan’s destruction can’t be explained. However, the CBCP’s bishops have already gone on record saying that the RH Law was the cause of Haiyan.

      It’s ultimately the CBCP that needs to watch what it says, because all it does is to keep Filipino Catholics gullible.

      1. I won’t contest that, MidwayHaven. I embrace the Catholic faith as I can personally attest to how God is present in my life and how my faith has helped and is helping me have a deep personal relationship with Him, which is the only thing that’s enabling me to continue to survive in this maddening world, but I don’t have any illusions about my fellow Catholics, and I know that the Church hierarchy is composed of human beings who are certainly not infallible. (I know that they’re guided by and receive special graces from God considering their immensely important role, but not everyone corresponds as he should, especially those who have abandoned their relationship with God or their life of prayer for one reason or another even as they remain leaders of the Church.) I continue to listen to everything that they say with an open mind and with a prayerful attitude, but I don’t always believe a view that’s patently wrong that may have come from a misguided element of the Church.

      2. Lest I be misinterpreted here, I, too, don’t embrace the RH Law because after humbling myself and seriously considering the Church’s stand on it and its full reasons for such, I understood and came to believe it with all my mind and heart. I’m not convinced, though, that it’s the cause of Haiyan because what I know is that God is a good God and will not directly inflict harm on His people. He said in the bible that even if there’s only one good and prayerful person remaining in the community, He will not destroy it no matter how evil it has become. Of course, we can end up destroying ourselves as a natural consequence of our choices or decisions, such as completely embracing artificial contraception, free sex or promiscuity, and abortion. A number of historians argue that this was what happened to the great ancient Roman Empire, which ruled the known world at the time; the lack of self-restraint of its people, and their “moral drunkenness,” eventually weakened the fabric of their society and rendered them incapable of defending themselves from the “barbarians” that eventually invaded their once-mighty empire, causing it to fall.

    2. The catholic church has failed the Philippines, because if it succeeded then we would have in place, God-fearing, morally upright government leaders, not corrupt and self serving idiots. Oh yeah, sure, they go to a catholic churches …. they are catholics in every way….. on paper.

      1. I agree that the Catholic Church may have failed, but certainly not without trying as an organization that’s not infallible, made up as it is of human beings. We should also consider, of course, that God gifted us with freedom because He loves us so much and does not want to impose Himself on us, and that therefore, it is our decision to embrace or not to embrace the faith. I agree, though, that the Catholic Church could have taught the Filipinos the faith in a better and deeper way because, really, it’s a beautiful faith, but very few really understand it.

        1. @ chrissie

          I am a christian (protestant) since birth, and I assure you the difference in teachings of the christian church and the catholic church is night and day. I am not saying one is better than the other but, hey, majority of the filipinos are catholics, and failure to somehow “influence” the people with the “right” wisdom, which I believe is the real purpose of the church in a society, then the result is filipnos from the top down with broken moral compasses.

        2. I don’t know how the issue of the difference between the Catholic and Christian Churches found its way here, Joeld. The U.S. is predominantly Protestant, but its society is certainly not highly morally upright. This just goes to show that the Church (Christian, Protestant, or any other) cannot single-handedly influence the people to lead moral lives, especially considering that there are so many counter-influences that exist in the society at present (media, etc.), and that many people are increasingly becoming secular or are veering away from the influence of any Church and want to live completely autonomous lives, free of any form of restraint.

    3. Very well said Chrissie. You got the real point and explanation on the possible thought in the mind of His Eminence Cardinal Tagle.

      Other than the material/physical supports that the Catholic Church is doing now (which is the primary responsibility of the government), another major role of the Catholic Church is to continue to inspire the people (most especially those that are grievously affected by various calamities in the country), not to loss Hope and Faith in God. That God is one with them, and in them in those sufferings and most struggling moments of their life. They could always vent to God and find consolation to Him as a Father.

      With due respect, the writer must be careful with his subjective interpretations and avoid unwarranted attacks and judgement to the personality and perspective of others without understand the real perspective they are coming from.

      SHALOM! GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES AND THE FILIPINO PEOPLE!!!

    4. @Chrissie, thanks for your thoughts. I think the key difference between your dad and God is that your dad does not claim to be all-powerful and all-knowing. So you can relate to your dad as a human and not as a being whose essence and purpose is supposedly beyond any ability of our minds to ever grasp. So that analogy you described is really way beyond apples to oranges. It’s like comparing a tennis ball to a galaxy. You can easily wrap your hand around a tennis ball much the same way as you can easily relate with a human father. But to regard God as a “father” who, otherwise, had the power to prevent a monumental tragedy from happening to his kids simply does not make any sense. No true father could ever rationalise allowing his kids to suffer if he possessed the power to prevent that suffering. It is there that the Church fails to put sense in this disaster in a manner that is consistent with its doctrine of a God packaged as a “father”.

      1. Thanks for your response, benign0. I guess it’s really just a matter of faith. If he had his way, my father would not have allowed me to attend parties till 3 a.m. because he feared something bad would happen to me on the streets, but he had to because he knew that curtailing my freedom when I was already of age would be a sign that he didn’t really love me. Same thing with God. Besides, although I know many don’t agree, it could be that the supertyphoon was a direct consequence of climate change owing to the people’s abuse of the environment, and God wouldn’t go against the laws of nature as these are part of His plan, but despite the ill consequences of the calamity, He’ll be there somehow, although we find it hard to understand how right now. Again, it’s really all about faith, and there wouldn’t be any argument on that score.

      2. I’m speaking from experience, benign0. There have been so many times in my life when I didn’t understand why God allowed something bad to happen to me and my loved ones, and I got mad at Him. Eventually, though, I understood, and He’s been there with me in all the good and bad times of my life.

  5. These c@ck sucking, child abusing, suv driving, alcohol loving catholic priests should shut the fcuk up and seek their own redemption, if that is possible.
    They are proof god doesn’t exist, but that the papal mafia does.

      1. Yes there is a God, but the God as we should know is not being held in faith by Catholics as God wanted Him held and He is angry.

        Filipinos Catholics in the world were taught wrongly by sword-wielding rosary-swirling territory and wealth hungry Spaniards who earlier had their lessons of faith from Church in Rome which is in itself infested with pagan beliefs, traditions and rituals.

        A santol tree cannot bear an apple, or the local mango fruit.

        1. I really hate it when people criticize the church out of ignorance. Sola scriptura? Bible Alone? Where is that in the Bible? Who gave you the authority to declare yourself Pope using an incomplete version of the Bible.

        2. What is wrong with that? As I have said, religion has nothing to do with it. At the end of the day (or your life), it is still between you and your God (or non God) if you have made each day (or your lifetime) just a bit better when you started it.

        3. re·li·gion
          riˈlijən/Submit
          noun
          noun: religion
          1.
          the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.
          “ideas about the relationship between science and religion”
          synonyms: faith, belief, worship, creed; More
          a particular system of faith and worship.
          plural noun: religions
          “the world’s great religions”
          a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
          “consumerism is the new religion”

          Religion has everything to do with it. Your Faith, Belief, Practices like prayer and service is part of your Religion.

        4. @ranliv

          What I am saying is , is there something wrong with bowing 5 times a day in the direction of Mecca?

          Is that really that important whether you are a catholic (BTW the right term is christian), muslim, bhuddist, taoist, etc, if you have your moral compass pointing on the right direction? If you ask me, some muslims stick more to what is right than most catholics I know.

        5. @ranliv

          I really hate it when people criticize the church out of ignorance. Sola scriptura? Bible Alone? Where is that in the Bible? Who gave you the authority to declare yourself Pope using an incomplete version of the Bible.

          Ever heard of the Berean Jew scrutinizing what apostle Paul said? I can’t say if the author took Cardinal Talge’s word out of context or not, but it does not mean Talge is exempted from examination.

        6. I agree that the Spanish friars could have taught us the Catholic faith better but they didn’t (they emphasized rituals) because they mainly used it as a tool to keep us in a state of ignorance and subjection. But past is past, and studying the faith really well and deeply with the help of truly pious, learned, and well-meaning people will enable us to understand it well.

          “A santol tree cannot bear an apple, or the local mango fruit.”

          If by this you mean that a wounded Catholic Church hierarchy cannot produce good Catholics, then I beg to differ. It could if we bring God and His graces into the equation.

    1. Way to go. Spot on Libertas

      If the Catholic Church still think Mary is a virgin then it is fairly obvious they are not into women.

      1. Church Fathers from at least the fourth century spoke of Mary as having remained a virgin throughout her life:

        Athanasius (Alexandria, 293-373);
        Epiphanius (Palestine, 315?-403);
        Jerome (Stridon, present day Yugoslavia, 345?-419);
        Augustine (Numidia, now Algeria, 354-430);
        Cyril (Alexandria, 376-444);
        and others.

        http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/maryc2.htm

        Final Note: And our doctrine will forever be like that and not subject to any personal interpretation and bias.

      2. Do you mean to say, Yawn, that all women, past and present, are necessarily promiscuous or can’t do without sex? If that’s what you think, then you’re seriously mistaken.

        1. Chrissie
          Did i say that? would you like to read what i wrote and tell me where did i write all women are promiscuous and cant do without sex?

          I was replying to Libertas post and referring to Catholic priest being a bunch of pedophiles.

          So next time before you past judgement might help if you read understand and digest what people are actually talking about before criticizing.

        2. That’s why I asked if that’s what you meant to say (read my reply again). Even my second sentence was in the “if, then” form, meaning I wasn’t sure that’s what you meant but if that’s what you meant, this was my answer. If that’s not what you meant, then what did you mean?

    2. I love it when people talk tough on the internet, it’s all very exciting in a “Call of Duty” kind of way. I met these, your words, “c@ck sucking, child abusing, suv driving, alcohol loving catholic priests” in Leyte walking barefoot among the survivors doing all that they can to help people find food, water, and shelter. Funny, I didn’t see you there. This is proof that the relevance of your opinion does not exist except in your own foul-mouthed imagination of yourself. If you’re so concerned, I will be in a UN tent at the edge of the runway in Guiuan, Samar, you can help me carry water to the nuns and the priests who are cooking food for the children who lost their parents during the storm. We will stay there until the houses are rebuilt, we will quit our jobs and do away with our worldly-aspirations just so that we can drive these catholics out of Samar and we will appoint you the children’s sole guardian and provider. How’s that?

  6. People’s bias will always make them say something bad to others even when a good deed was done. You can always look at Cardinal Tagle’s message on a different point of view but a lot of people who likes to criticize other without looking at themselves in the mirror.

    @Libertas, so I presume you spot on sinnless.

    1. So it seems that your argument ultimately boils down to not giving criticisms because the majority doesn’t see anything bad going wrong.

      Typical Pinoy mindset.

      1. It only boils down to, there was nothing wrong with what cardinal tagle said in his sermon. As Christ said during Crucifixion, we too can say, Aba why has thou forsaken me.

  7. “Prayer: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy.” – Ambrose Bierce

    1. And God may grant it because He loves each of us so much. A human being may not understand it, which only goes to show he’s not God.

  8. “Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle should just shut up about the Yolanda victims”
    Anyone is free to say anything he wants. Just any “journalist” or “writer” or commenter (anonymous or not) can say anything he/she wants.

  9. Sometimes what they think is inspirational has no relevance at all to the actual happening. How they can keep on spouting ludicrous meaningless gibberish is beyond me. Just close your ears, give your share of your alms, and spread the gospel your way during the week. That’s it.

  10. Filipinos see themselves as hapless victims. It is only through sheer luck that the wave hit someone else instead. Luck is the god who must be placated and often in ways that predate Christianity. Many filipinos believe in “encantos” and other assorted fairies and ghosts of aboriginal tribesmen who occupy the world of darkness. Trees, rock formations and other phenomenon have powers to sicken one who lingers too long in its presence.

  11. I worked in Leyte days after the storm to help survivors get in touch with their families and to deliver relief and medical supplies. I rode my bicycle to isolated villages and towns meeting survivors and talking about their experience during the typhoon. Most of them are afraid to the point of trauma. The typhoon was an experience that many of them will not be able to cope with for some time. The people I met have had to live through experiences that many of us will find unimaginable. Parents have had to watch their children drown in the surge and children have had to bury their parents with their own hands. I know this because I have seen both the bodies and the graves.

    When I arrived in Tacloban, it smelled of death anywhere you went, the odour was inescapable. Even in the most isolated villages, there was death and there was unimaginable devastation. I have been doing this kind of work for some time and this is the worst I have seen in my entire life, in terms of human and emotional cost. People are broken, and whether faith is a lie, or not, it is what gives most of them the comfort that they need. Why? It’s not only because of generations of Bishops making speeches, as many of us would like to imagine. Rather, it’s because when darkness comes at nightfall and they have to sleep under broken sheets of tin and lumber without having food to eat or water to drink for days, they can find no reason to dispute what Bishop Tagle said from the pulpit. The Bishop said that the typhoon is “an opportunity for God to listen to his people,” and so they pray, and they fall asleep with the thought that there is somebody that they can talk to even in the darkness that surrounds them.

    What I am telling you are not just words, I was there and this is what the typhoon’s survivors do to cope. They cling to faith because too many people talk too much and few are willing to make a real sacrifice. This thing that the survivors are going through is very real. They live through the misery and suffering even as we have this petty conversation about a Bishop and a speech that he made. The truth is that nobody hears a word of what we’re talking about, at least not in those places where there is no electricity, food, or water. The people who live under those broken sheets of tin and lumber don’t care that we’ve typed all these intelligent-sounding expositions on their behalf. None of them are going to bed tonight thinking “Oh thank you for all those kind people who so eloquently dismantled a religious sermon.”

    I could type more fancy-sounding words to make my opinion sound more relevant but I’m too tired and I’m too sick with the flu after riding in the rain for days with little food and rest. I am re-deploying to Samar in a few days and the places I’m headed to are some of the worst-hit by the typhoon. I have spent my own money and expended my own time and effort for the help I hope to provide. There are people who are generous enough to help, but even on my own I would have done it with whatever I have to give. Personally, I do this because my Catholicsm has taught me to give what I have to others who need it more, and so I do.

    1. @Myles_Delfin: Thanks for sharing your experience on the ground with the typhoon victims. Your comment is very important to us.

      Every individual has a role to play in society. For some it is writing stuff. For others such as yourself, it is assisting people directly. As to which one is more important or more valuable in the overall scheme of things? Who are we to judge?

      A million allied soldiers may have died trying to win World War II. But ultimately it was a bunch of mathematicians working feverishly to decipher secret codes, engineers designing better warplanes, and a handful of physicists in a lab trying to split an atom that ended it. By your logic, if a field commander slogging through the jungles of Saipan had his way after telling Einstein and Oppenheimer to stop wiling their time away scribbling their “fancy” mathematics on a chalkboard, it is likely things would’ve turned out a lot differently. Perhaps Nazi Germany would’ve beat the good guys to the bomb and New York City, perhaps, would’ve been left a flattened wasteland seething with radiation in 1946.

      Stidi ka lang dyan. Much of what makes the world a safer, more fulfilling, more interesting, and more just place today was made possible by people who spent their days sipping iced tea on a comfy chair while writing down their thoughts on a piece of paper and/or banging out their views on how things should be on a computer keyboard.

      Nobody has a monopoly on the concept of what is “very real”. Nobody, that is, besides Get Real Philippines. 😉

      1. @Benign0 Thank you for taking the time to reply, and thank you for letting us be a part of a forum that listens to both sides of the story.

        I’m in a unique position because I am actually on both sides of the fence as far as writing stuff and doing things are concerned. I make a living producing ideas that spur people into action, even though on most days it’s just to encourage them to buy canned food from the grocery. On special occasions though, I get to apply ideas that do a whole lot more.

        I am a firm believer that thought should be a precursor to action because, otherwise, it is nothing more than a self-indulgent hobby. I have no doubt that Mr. Oppenheimer, Mr. Einstein, and the people who cracked the Enigma machine were thinking people. Although, I doubt that they were sipping iced teas while sitting on a comfy chair while they worked. These were people who were under great stress, they were on a deadline, and they were on the frontlines of a genuine effort to put an end to a global war. Personally, I wouldn’t go so far as to compare our commentary with their achievements.

        I think your article is a very thoughtful article about the weakness of a religious solution to a real-world problem like the aftermath of the typhoon. Although, I would like to point out that religion is exactly that, it is a weak force that is applied in great volume in order to achieve a mass effect. In the case of the typhoon, it is to produce a simple sense of hope, valid or otherwise, but enough to keep people afloat until they realize what they actually have to do next. It’s easy for us to point out that what is required is clear as day, it’s just not that easy when you’ve just watched your loved ones die in front of you and all your worldly possessions swept away in a biblical flood.

        My response to this thread is not so much about your thoughts on religion and the Bishop Tagle. Rather, I am more concerned about what comes after your last sentence – some of the readers’ generalizations about Catholics and other religious based on the idea that we are all blindly following what we are told. While there are certainly those who practice this kind of faith, it is not that simple, or easy, to lump all of us into one generalized classification of the blind being led by the blind. Some of us do know our way, we are just not very vocal about it.

        1. @Myles_Delfin, I agree that a lot of what was said here are generalisations about Catholics, and that it is unfortunate that the minority of practicing Catholics who do not fit that generalised archetype feel they are being regarded unfairly. But the thing about generalisations is that they are NOT assertions about ALL elements in the subject set. So when we generalise that Catholics tend to blindly adhere to dogma and all its convoluted inconsistencies, we are by no means saying that ALL Catholics do so.

          Indeed, that minority, as you observed, tends to include the silent ones, which I consider quite tragic because it is really the points of view of this silent minority that tend to be vastly more sensible than the more vocal ones who contribute a lot of irrelevant noise to the “debate”.

          Unfortunately for us, Tagle, who wields so much power and influence over the flock uses that ‘gift’ to impart drivel rather than sense. And that why this unvocal minority needs to speak up more and challenge the drivel of the majority.

          In the bigger scheme of things, the right ideas in the right minds wield far more influence over more lives across a more extensive time horizon than any sort of after-the-fact response when disaster strikes (not to belittle those whose vocation it is to fill those roles of course). It’s the old ‘preventive measures are better than breakdown measures’ principle. Anticipation demands more modern thinking while reaction is usually driven by comparatively primal brain functions.

  12. What this seems to tell me is that Filipino culture’s core values and beliefs are antiquated. We are holding onto beliefs that seem to date from the 15th century, and even the Vatican itself seems to have abandoned most of them. But it is here we hold on to them… as if someone trying to make the Philippines the last bastion of backwardness in the world. It really feels that way.

  13. Prayer is just talking to God. Whatever way you know him/her to be.
    There are many ways, to prayer: prostrating to Mecca, Saudi Arabia; facing and kneeling before an altar; incantations; whirling yourself to get
    high to the heavenly realm; sit crosslegged and concentrate with your mind; etc…I don’t care how you do it. If god listen to you

  14. Sorry, somebody is messing with my blog…another YellowTard again on the lose. I believe in a God, who created all things. But, not a God; who is concerned in you marrying a pretty girl. Sometimes, our asking to God, is senseless. Religious faith differs. One is not superior to the other. The Uniqueness of each religious faith; makes our sense of beliefs interesting…Hey, Yellowtards, you are just wasting your time on me.Mangagsitigil na kayo!!!

  15. Jesus embraced the cross and commended his spirit to the Father. In three days after his death, he resurrected and shamed those who crucified him for he destroyed death and restored life. So what better hope is there for any suffering soul than to believe in the risen Christ? Tagle’s just served the truth of faith in contrast to benignO’s factual mind that cannot understand what the eyes of faith can see.

  16. great piece Benigno, keep it up, this is what makes it interesting, your types put balance in its place. 🙂

    i can’t agree more.

  17. there are times that a prayer is useless.. especially when urgency is concerned. In the end, it’s up to us to rise up from the ashes.

    1. You can pray while trying to rise up from the ashes. Believe me, it’ll be easier to rise up from the ashes if there’s an all-knowing, all-powerful, and supremely good being who’s helping you because you asked Him to.

  18. I have yet to hear a sermon from a priest that tells people that God has already given us strength/knowledge/wisdom so that we may do better come adversities. It’s always asking, not awakening.

    What if there is already something in us but is being held back?

    1. I think this is the problem. Some priests may be teaching the people, “if you’re poorer, then you’re entitled to make the richer people give to you.” The problem is, some people already middle class will believe, since they are poorer than the rich, they should also receive hand-outs. This encourages the false sense of entitlement that Filipinos have, and makes people prepare less for things like storms and disasters. Thus, we do not use the God-given wisdom and knowledge for prevention instead of cure.

      1. Probably there is something lacking with the Church teachers on the “preferential option for the poor”, or many among the lay may have misconstrued it.

  19. Religion in general should be banned from the Planet Earth. Most of the Worlds problems today are due to Religion. You believe in God. DO IT PRIVATELY!!! The Philippines is especially fucked up due to Catholicism and the whole Christianity thing in general. It goes away and maybe the Country has a chance of being a real first World country instead of the disaster it is.

    1. Not really, for it happens that religion is just the mechanism used to keep certain reins on the population. if not Catholicism then something else will be used. Like crack cocaine in the west? it is not the methodology, but its underlying causes and root of what the problems are: Greed, and the corruption it causes.

  20. The authors belief that the Japanese respect life is inaccurate at best. The nuclear reactor that has melted down and was melting down mere hours after the disaster occurred offers up some proof that the government and corporate interests of TEPCO come before any human life form. For if it did not, the people would have been informed immediately and a larger scale evacuation would have been ordered a lot sooner and would remain in effect now!
    While it is true that the assertions the author makes about the Philippines and the countries complete inaction and seeming acceptance of a helpless state of affairs before ,during and after Yolanda, the reverential tone when referring to the Japanese state is in-correct and serves no correct purpose when it comes to identifying a state that respects life and people rather than corporations and profits.
    The Philippines gov’t. has just stolen a lot more from the people than the Japanese gov’t. has.

    1. True, I wouldn’t call Japan’s handling of their own crisis to be entirely problem free (residents from the nearby power plants may never return to their homes.), but keep in mind that rescue efforts were already on the way before the meltdown which speaks miles of what happened down at the Philippines. To me, their efficiency and orderliness in distribution of relief goods and reparations already proves that Japan values life a hella more than the supposed “Catholic” state of Asia.

      1. Oh yes, I agree. The haplessness of affairs after the storm just maximizes the effect of the utter contempt the rich in the country have for the ‘massa’. it is no doubt despicable. but to suppose that the Japanese are such noblemen of purpose is to ignore some very stark realities. No princes are they that command Japanese corporatism.

  21. Benign0

    Below is the link to the Homily Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle delivered on November 26, 2013 during the culminating Mass of the 75th jubilee anniversary of the Archdiocese of Palo, Leyte (at 23:00)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60NfB1uVmwI

    It seems that Cardinal Tagle in his homily was only citing what Pope Francis said earlier before the Filipino Community in Rome on November 21, 2013 during the formal installation of a mosaic of St. Pedro Calungsod in the grotto under St. Peter’s Basilica.

    Link to Pope Francis to the Philippines: “Don’t be afraid to ask God why?”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hmDXccVEzc

    Cardinal Tagle also cited Matthew 27:46: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

  22. Being a large Catholic country in Asia is not a source of pride. It is a historical mistake and a result of colonial oppression.

    Filipinos don’t look natural in Catholic robes with crosses.

    The also don’t look natural singing old, old American songs on TV and wearing US flags on T shirts.

    The country should be Buddhist so that it harmonizes with the Asian soul of the people, and one day it will be.

    The way an Asian country should be.

  23. It was good being Catholic when Spain was rich. No more.

    It was good emulating America and adoring everything American when America was great.
    No more.

    Asia is rising. Time to be Asian.

  24. Let’s instead proffer a question which, needless to say, Tagle must answer with conviction:

    How may God answer His mortal children (as the Archbishop puts it) when they ask, and what would be His answer? God is unseen, remember?

    Yeah. Right. I’d vividly understand that.

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