There was a time in the Philippines when priests were regarded as trophy guests in parties and family reunions. They’d also be essential members of every consequential gentleman’s or lady’s social network. Indeed, in social situations, they were figures that people would mill around to get their dose of basbas (sort of a stamp of approval that supposedly would improve their chances of being welcomed to heaven after death or come across some swerte (good luck) in life), chit chat about coming church events and fiestas, and small talk about the right “Christian” choices during elections.
The song “If I Were a Rich Man” sang by Tevye the Dairyman (played by the late Israeli actor Chaim Topol) in the film Fiddler on the Roof captures the essence of the bygone place men-in-robes held in society and the way they were regarded by people of consequence in the old days.
The most important men in town would come to fawn on me!
They would ask me to advise them like a Solomon the Wise
“If you please, Reb Tevye…”
“Pardon me, Reb Tevye…”
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi’s eyes!
And it won’t make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong
When you’re rich, they think you really know!
If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack to sit in the synagogue and pray
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall
And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day
And that would be the sweetest thing of all
Note too that captured in the first half of the above snippet of the lyrics of the song is also how the rich were regarded (or so too today in Philippine society) back then and how these rich folk, in turn, would enjoy the privilege accorded by their wealth to sit themselves in good graces with the clergy.
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All sound familiar? Of course it does. This turn-of-the-century setting of the classic song describes 21st Century Philippine society!
To be fair, there are a lot of good priests and I am even friends with many of them. The trouble comes from a small clique of bad apples that give the entire priesthood a bad name. These are people who use the pulpit to spew their political partisanism to their captive audience during the homily sections of Sunday masses and lace their “religious teachings” and moralising with a lethal payload of political content and woke rhetoric.
Many Filipinos are intelligent enough to see priests for what they are through contemporary eyes — just another cohort of people with ideas that compete for air time and attention in the free market of ideas. After all, modern thinking is essentially critical thinking — i.e., putting ideas — including religious dogma — through the wringer to squeeze the bullshit out of these and subject their remaining essence to well-reasoned scrutiny.
Not surprisingly, many priests who have long enjoyed that lofty place in society where their views are seen to be immune to challenge and where those who do dare to challenge them are summarily regarded as minions of Satan fight tooth and nail to resist the winds of change. These are priests who see it in their personal interests to keep Filipinos ignorant so that they remain susceptible to the gaslighting that is the modus operandi of their profession that they had for so long been accustomed to.
Times have changed and priests can no longer hide behind the cloth and pretend to be God. It’s time Filipinos regard their priests as just another community of people out to compete for attention and prop up the ascendancy of their ideas. Nothing wrong with that, of course, because all of us do just that. It is really up to the Filipino public to cut down these priests to their actual size — players in what should be a level playing field where all ideas, regardless of who mouths them, are subject to critical evaluation.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.
3 Replies to “Why Filipino priests are no longer the toasts of Philippine society”
A drop in Filipino birth rates is a miracle! That says it all!
It’s not really a miracle. Filipino birth rates dropping was something that was already happening. It just so happened to happen slower. The drop accelerated with COVID though.
What is a priest? Are they special because of their title? Does God recognize priests today in heaven? What is a role of a priest in today’s society anyway? What if the priest isn’t connected to God, yet claims he is? Does a priest today, proclaim still the Bible that he serves? Start to Finish?
The Book of Isaiah
Isa 28:10 KJV For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
Does a priest skim verses and stick to only sections of what he wants to teach or preach, leaving out large swaths of understanding and learning; coveting the understanding of the knowledge of God (which is supposed to be afforded to all for their own salvation) just to himself and those who are in his agenda.
A priest today better be looking within himself and God, alone, that he is not teaching blasphemy, and sticking to his Bible, instead of sticking with the Traditions of Men.
For what if your priest is leading you to hell? What kind of trophy of specialness of a social class and aristocracy be afforded of a so called priest, today, be, if he is leading you to hell? That’s not a trophy that I want in my life.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life…and The Bible is the Manual. Period.
People are starting to see