The buzz of the week among the hoi polloi of the Philippines’ chattering classes is Malacanang spokesman Harry Roque. Roque who recently contracted COVID-19 managed to get himself admitted into hospital despite a long queue as Metro Manila’s decrepit health care infrastructure creaks under the weight of an enormous number of infections. Facing criticism for this, he asserted during a press briefing that Triciah Terada of CNN Philippines was being “unchristian” when she inquired on how he had secured a hospital room while others waited in line.
Not surprisingly, this attracted even more scorn from Opposition partisans, “thought leaders”, and “activists” many of whom spend their time waiting to pounce on any scoop, stunt, or factoid they could use to criticise the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Inquirer columnist Gideon Lasco, for one, had this to say…
One of the most unchristian things anyone can do is to invoke Christianity to defend an unchristian behavior.
Government officials who take hospital beds from people who need them most are like the pigs in the Bible (2 Peter 2:22) who wallow in their own moral depravity.
A bit rich though considering this quaint debate on what it means to be Christian — or “unchristian” for that matter — rages in a society that, overall, is not exactly regarded as among the most ethical in the world. Most partisan camps in the Philippines — perhaps with the exception of the communists — claim to be the good and prayerful camp and even God’s anointed. Such is the need for politicians and their followers to come across as pious “Christians” that Bible quotes and citations and blessings from priests and nuns would be common fodder for publicity stunts and campaign platforms come election time.
Stepping back and taking an outsider’s perspective, a people engaging in a pissing match over who is the better Christian comes across a bit ironic in a society that, by all measures, does not really seem to find itself within the graces of the God its people noisily pray to. Despite boasting ad nauseum about being the only predominantly Christian country in Asia, Filipinos have not much to show collectively in the way of answered prayers. Indeed, counted amongst this prayerful lot are the Opposition “thought leaders” who spend most of their bandwidth griping about how miserable their lives are.
That’s not being very Christian if one stops to think about it. Christians, after all are enjoined to have faith that all will go according to “God’s will”, as one would recall. So, really, being a shrill whiner in Asia’s biggest Christian country is bad form.
But hush… Do you hear that? It’s the sound of the Philippines’ Opposition “thought leaders” letting out their shrill “commentary” on why they are such perennial “victims” of the multitude of inconveniences being Filipino has to offer their lot. The din is relentless and ultimately pointless considering that democracies — specially of the sort enjoyed by Filipinos which is a virtual knockoff of the one suffered by their former colonial master — return governments “of the people, by the people, and for the people” to their hapless citizens.
As Christians, Filipinos need to accept that this is all God’s will. Believing this to be so is the Christian way.
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