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3 October 2013

Seminar 3

On Octogesima Adveniens

More than four decades past the promulgation of the apostolic letter Octogesima Adveniens, it still finds
relevance of application in our society today. This statement, I submit, is rather unfortunate than
elating. It simply means that humanity, anent the condemnations and reiterations set forth during the
period, over four decades to date from Octogesima Adveniens, not to mention the 120-year old
publication of the encyclical Rerum Novarum, the issues laid therein from which the former has
jumpstarted, never really heeded the call of the Vatican, which, without making the fallacy of ad
baculum, is impressed with merits.
We still face the same old problems which confronted humanity years ago: unregulated urbanization
and the ills arising therefrom and the causes ensuing thereto; rampant discrimination; the question on
the rights of migrant workers, which is more pronounced in the Philippine context given the so-called
Filipino Diaspora; population vis--vis employment opportunities; the trend in the media industry in
promoting, catering to, or at the least, tolerating, the clamor for sex, drugs and violence related content
and; the continuous degradation of the nature.
On urbanization
Octogesima Adveniens discoursed on the causes leading to such a phenomenon i.e., lack of attention to
the improvement of rural life. The same still holds true. There is a vast gap between the opportunities in
the cities and the countryside. While it is true that certain programs exist to address the imbalance
(northward-southward progress, devolution of Administrative Agencies, empowerment of Local
Government Units, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, etc.), they prove unsatisfactory as
much of the nations wealth remain in the centers and are undistributed to the countryside. The Center-
Periphery Theory bolsters this assertion. While the rural areas (peripheries) are exploited for their raw
materials, the wealth generated therefrom are remitted to the cities (centers), leaving not much for the
alleviation of the conditions in the former.
Urbanization also leads to several other problems: congestion in the cities, inhumane settlements,
traffic, waste generation, pollution, unfulfilling living conditions, and increase in criminality rate, among
The trend of increasing production and technological advancements also bring about the ills of
consumerism. In the international arena, the Dependency Theory finds application. The industrialized
countries extract raw materials from the developing countries at a cheap price to be processed only to
be sold back to the third world at an exorbitant value. Also, with the rate of production and
technological advancements, the antiquated-for-the-first-world-state-of-the-art-for-the-third-world
products are dumped into the developing countries, ensuring a win-win situation for the producing
On discrimination
Discrimination is still prevalent in our society. Ages after the abolition of slavery in the West, one can
still hear pejorative remarks about the African-Americans. Our migrant workers are also branded as
slaves. But we need not stray from the Philippine sociocultural stage in order to exemplify its existence. I
have consistently held that ours is a state which is not a nation. Put Benedict Andersons definition in a
negative phrasing, we are not a nation because we do not imagine ourselves as one community. We
continue to identify ourselves as Tagalogs, Cebuanos, Kapampangans, and what not, harboring biases
and stereotypes against one another. We still discriminate against the cultural minorities.
Socioeconomically speaking, there is the classic bourgeois-proletariat dichotomy. In the context of
Octogesima Adveniens, the rural folks who seek greener pastures in the city are confined in the
outskirts, while the bourgeoisie is in the very heart of the city.
On the right to emigrate
It is a development that this right is specifically accorded to most people and recognized by most
countries. However, the problem arises not in the actual process of moving from a country to another
but in the living conditions once transfer has been effected. The text goes on further clamoring for
residency rights of migrant workers. I would like to agree to this proposition considering the great
percentage of the Filipino people are working abroad, only that the effects of nationalism and
preservation of the interest of ones people cannot be easily discounted. Say for example, in the case of
the European Union, if my memory serves me right, they have a clause which provides that citizens of
member-states are free to travel and settle in other member-states. However, some nations would not
agree to it as it would undermine the welfare, not to mention the security of the country, if one day they
suddenly reckon that their territory is already dominated by other peoples it might even give rise to
greater animosity. It would also eventually back fire on us, as a major exporter of human resource, as
the grant of such right would further cater to the Filipino Diaspora, leading to a shortage of skilled and
non-skilled labor force in our country.
Creating Employment
Octogesima Adveniens discussed employment generation versus population. In my opinion, the two
really are diametrically opposed. However, the Pope held that effective trade and education programs
are the answers, not contraception and abortion, as is consistently espoused by the Church up to this
time. I somehow agree to the position except that my answer would not be inclusive only to trade and
education programs. I am mindful of the stance of the institution on this issue and thus, would not dare
to further discourse on the matter.
On Media
The trend of contents that the media is fostering is somewhat alarming. I consider the current media
stage as generally wholesome. Gone are the glory days of bomba films in the local industry. However,
these types of content are still proliferating in the international scene. It is to be noted that a show
about homosexual affair is running on a television station. I reserve my opinion on this.
It gets worse because of certain facts existing in our day: speed of information sharing has been radically
improved; access to these contents is virtually unfettered and; access to such contents is non-
discriminant of age. Moreover, there are unscrupulous websites which pops up unsolicited
advertisements which would lead undiscerning users to such sensitive contents.
On the Environment
Movements for the protection and preservation of what is left of the environment have recently
proliferated. A growing consciousness on the effects of mans acts on the planet drives man to attempt
to reform his ways. This is not only premised on theories and scientific experiments the Earths
degradation is already being felt. It has given rise to anomalies in rather stable climatic and weather
patterns. The bounty of the sea and the fruits of the land have become scarce; storms have become
violent; temperature has been rising all over the globe; polar caps are melting, displacing animals in the
process; flooding has become a scenario halfway around the year; landslides have been claiming lives.
These are all testaments of our actions, which Octogesima Adveniens has warned us of some 40 years
On ideologies
I am in accord with the position taken by Pope Paul VI on the adoption of ideologies. There is no one
ideology which can cater to things without having the propensity of corrupting the person as to other
matters. Socialism, with its entire plight for equality, has a totalitarian tendency. Liberalism, with its
championing of the defense against restraint, runs the risk of overemphasis of freedom and
individualism. Idealism, with all its hopes for the best, tends to isolate the thinker in his ivory tower.
Thus, careful discernment should be done. At risk of abstraction of the text, I would say that one may
adopt the best of things and discard the worst, and attempt at consolidating the facets of these
ideologies to suit the circumstances at hand. I guess that also holds true for theology and religion.