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IMPACT • March 2009 2





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IMPACT
Quote in the Act
“Today I pledge my prayer for all women.”
Pope Benedict XVI, in an audience after praying the midday Angelus in St.
Peter’s Square, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on March 8.

“This is a year of no jobs.”
Catherine Stimpson, dean of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York
University; after a survey conducted by American Historical Association found a
substantial drop in academic-related jobs in the US.

“Corruption is the glue holding this government
together.”
John Githongo, director of an anticorruption institute in Kenya; ironically
referring to the plummeting public confdence in the Kenyan government where
top politicians have been implicated in an endless string of scandals involving
tourism, fuel, guns and corn.

“Spending P1 billion for Our Lady of the Poor is
just too much.”
Oscar Cruz, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan in the Philippines; on the P1
billion shrine of Our Lady of the Poor project by healer priest Fernando Suarez
which according to critics is scandalous considering the current economic
hardship.

“Let me say this as plainly as I can, by August 31,
2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”
Barack Obama, US president; but under his plan, 35,000 to 50,000 troops will
remain in Iraq to manage the transition to full Iraqi control by the end of 2011
as stipulated by the Status of Forces Agreement negotiated under President
Bush in 2008.

“It is not worth sacrifcing your life. So, Tibetans
should not fall into China’s trap.”
Chhime Choekyappa, spokesman for the Dalai Lama; advising Tibetans to
heed the Dalai Lama’s call to stick to his long-standing policy of non-violence
and not to provoke Beijing that routinely blames the Dalai Lama, as part of its
propaganda, for fomenting unrest and violence.
Volume 43 • Number 3
3
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March 2009 / Vol 43 • No 3
EDITORIAL
Malacañang folly ............................................... 27
COVER STORY
The Feminine Soul: The Heart of Human
Development ................................................... 16
ARTICLES
Notes for a New Philippine Economy ............. 4
Mrs. Clinton goes to Beijing—again ................. 8
Sex Tourism and Abortion ............................... 10
Esther, a Woman of Faith Facing the Empire ... 11
The Many Faces of Traffcking in Women and
Children ........................................................... 13
Discrimination against Women and
CEDAW ........................................................... 19
DEPARTMENTS
Quote in the Act ................................................. 2
News Features ................................................... 22
Statements .......................................................... 23
From the Blogs ................................................... 26
From the Inbox .................................................. 28
Book Reviews ..................................................... 29
Entertainment .................................................... 30
News Briefs ........................................................ 31
CONTENTS
W
ar is brewing. The
bone of contention is
whether to fully auto-
mate the 2010 elections or not.
There is no truth, however, to
the crap that the P11.3 billion
budget for poll automation that
has already been approved by
Congress has propelled the war
more substantially, with hordes
of opportunists salivating on the
sidelines.
Suddenly we have benchers
now taking positions as reform-
ists, frugalists, obstructionists,
and lobbyists for a myriad of
technology suppliers.
The reformists are those who
cry for an overhaul of the Com-
mission on Elections (Comelec).
They are of the belief that no
amount of technology no matter
how foolproof will redeem the
likes of “garci” who will always
fnd a way to desecrate people’s
will over a bag of gold. Sadly, the
Commission is still teeming with
this breed of election offcials.
The frugalists insist that the
budget is too much. They are
the proponents of the open
election system (OES) that will
reduce the budget to half. Under
this scheme, the votes cast are
tallied manually at
the precinct level,
then the elections
results are encoded
into a computer and
posted on the web.
The results now on
the web are then accessed by the city
and municipal board of canvassers
to produce the statement of votes
and certifcates of canvass. This goes
through for the provincial and na-
tional board of canvassers. But will
frugality bring about the needed
electoral reforms?
The lobbyists are marketing execu-
tives armed with heavy budgets. The
objective is to make a kill and sell their
product. Like pharmaceutical com-
panies, they go around convincing
infuence groups of their ware. Sub-
tly, they bribe and launch expensive
media campaign without a trace.
But people are crying for change.
The age-old manual process is help-
less and needs to be dumped. Even
the bishops have been calling for
electoral reform. In their 2006 pas-
toral statement entitled Shepherding
and Prophesying in Hope, they said,
“We reiterate our call for a thorough
reform of the commission on Elec-
tions to restore trust in our electoral
process. The call for resignation or
even prosecution of a number of
the Commissioners should not
be lightly brushed aside. The
electoral process, including
counting of votes, needs to be
reformed and modernized be-
fore the next elections.”
The poll automation is the
only reasonable alternative
to the rotten manual electoral
process. Expectedly, there will
be some imperfections as hap-
pens even in the United States.
But if this will reduce wholesale
cheating to a degree, then let
not the obstructionists, who
may even be funded by tra-
ditional politicians, clatter up
along way. But, of course, the
criticism lodged on the Optical
Mark Reader (OMR) which is
preferred by Comelec, needs
to be addressed.
In time for the celebration of
women’s month and in view
of prevailing issues on women,
Atty. Jo Imbong writes the cover
story: The Feminine Soul: the Heart
of Human Development. Read on.
IMPACT • March 2009 4
Notes for a New Philippine Economy
By Charles Avila
Envy of Asian Neighbors
S
ome four to fve decades ago, this
country was one of the most pro-
gressive in Asia. She was envied
by her Asian neighbors because of her
impressive economic growth. She was the
very frst Asian country to have convivial
banks, including a nationwide postal
bank system, good air, land and sea travel
systems, the best leisure spots, the fnest
educational system and the highest literacy
rate. In all these, if she was not No.1 in
the Asia-Pacifc region, she was a close
second or third.
Now we have been left behind by
Singapore, China, South Korea, and Ma-
laysia who before were the most deprived
countries in Asia. They are being hailed
now all over the world for their rich
and livable cities and their fast growing
economies.
Is there any hope at all for the Phil-
ippines to grow again and become a frst
world country soon?
Certainly the country has a poverty
crisis now, and has had it for quite awhile.
The family planning industry blames this
on our recalcitrant attitude to birth control.
We are poor—the line goes—because there
are too many of us people.
Nevertheless, despite everything, the
Philippines sustained a GDP growth of
over 5 per cent. What fuelled this mod-
est growth? Millions of Filipinos had
gone abroad and neither agriculture nor
industry but their remittances kept the
economy afoat.
When the industrialized countries
gradually developed a service economy,
their shrinking labor force pushed up their
demand for our workers. Our wealth of
skilled laborers enabled our country to
push its own economic growth by export-
ing services—actions urgently required by
frst world countries that had run out of that
most precious resource—people.
Well, surely it may be true that this
is not the best way to mobilize broad
numbers of people—fnding work abroad
Philippine Stock
Exchange Plaza
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Volume 43 • Number 3
5
Notes for a New
Philippine Economy
at great risk to family unity. But would
this phenomenon not also indicate that
the Philippine resistance to population
control was not all that bad after all?
Ours remains a young population with a
median age of 22.7. Some 56 per cent of
our people are under 25. The slowness of
our fertility decline preserved the birth
cohort from shrinking radically, which
has preserved the healthy confguration
of our age structure.
Push and Pull Factors
Our people, however, are leaving
not so much because of the pull from the
wealth abroad but because of the push
from the poverty at home. Our inability
in the past to put up the required physical
and economic infrastructure left us with a
backward and impoverishing agriculture
and a failure to enter the industrial mode
of creating wealth--two features determi-
nant, in a way of speaking, of whether a
given economy is still “Third” or already
“First” world. The population densities of
many First World countries are, in fact,
higher than ours.
Some 300 years ago, according to eco-
nomic historians, there was no signifcant
difference in the per capita income between
the wealthiest and the poorest country in
the world. There were no Third or First
world distinctions. Around the year 1700,
for instance, in every country in the world
the broad majority of people were farmers
who all used more or less the same technol-
ogy: people power, animal power, human
and animal manure, seeds collected from
the last crop--features of this kind.
But then in the early 1700’s, as these
historians all know, the French invented,
and in the late 1700’s the British perfected
the steam engine—a development which
led to a revolutionary new way of produc-
ing wealth. Few people knew it then but
the invention of the steam engine prepared
the launching of the frst phase of the
industrial revolution. What the economic
historians identifed as about 10,000 years
of agriculture came to an end as the domi-
nant human activity. From then on, if you
wanted to be a rich country you had to play
the industrial game. You had to CHANGE
your mode of production.
We may note that some countries
leapt into that revolution, while others
still haven’t. There are of course reasons
why these others couldn’t—reasons both
internal and external to a given country
situation. Colonialism comes to mind.
History is quite clear that it was colonial-
ism, for example, that essentially froze
economic development in the Philippines
at the agricultural mode to forcibly serve
the rising industrialization of the coloniz-
ing countries.
One Great Idea, One Great Invention
Anyway, about a hundred years later,
in the 1880’s, the industrial revolution en-
tered a second phase—on the basis of one
great idea and one great invention.
The great idea was the German idea
of systematic investment in industrial re-
search and development based on academic
science. It forever changed the nature of
change—technical change. It speeded it up,
systematized it and unequivocally declared
for the frst time that you can’t get rich
unless you have an educated population, a
people awakened to truth and service.
If that was the great idea, what was
the great invention? It was electricity—
ironically something that every country
in the world claims to have invented. One
thing about electricity is that we don’t know
how pervasive it is until we lose it.
Again, in both of these radical chang-
es, some of the world participated and some
didn’t. For example, of about 6 billion
people in the world right now, tonight when
they go to bed, 1.6 billion of them will do
so in a house that does not have electricity.
An incredible 30% of humanity is still not
participating in the electricity revolution
more than a century after it started.
By the year 2000, because some
people in some countries had opted for
revolutionary CHANGE and some didn’t
the difference in per capita income between
the wealthiest and the poorest country in
the world was 140:1.
Yes, in 300 years we basically replaced
the world of great equality with a world
of enormous inequality—a world of Firsts
and Thirds—and not merely because the
poor had gotten poorer but because the rich
got richer and the poorest people were in
niche economies that looked remarkably
like the backward agricultural economy
of the 1700s.
Philippine industry, weak and unsta-
ble
Down the decades (1946-66, 1966-86,
1986-2008), however, Philippine indus-
ARTICLES
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IMPACT • March 2009 6
ARTICLES
try was always weak and unstable, even
artifcial. This was because it was merely
a part of an ensemble whose center was
located abroad, specifcally in the countries
of the old colonizers. In that transnational
arrangement, the former colonizers had
become the Center economies and for-
mer colonies like the Philippines were
absorbed as Periphery economies of the
world economy.
Of course, it started quite explicitly
way back in 1913, with the Philippines a
conquered land. In what was called the
“Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act” Free
Trade and Product Specialization was
established between the U.S. and its new
colony—effectively making of the Philip-
pines a source of raw materials at cheap
prices and a dumping ground for fnished
products at higher prices.
Later, in fact, even the shift to a kind
of industrialization in the Philippines was
merely a consequence of the shift in the
Center countries towards production of
machines, vehicles, and equipment goods
whose increasing surplus created a need
to dump these elements of constant capi-
tal somewhere. Thus was made possible
the import-substitution type of industries
which characterized Periphery economies
like the Philippines for many years.
The development of underdevelop-
ment
Thus, too, in the Philippines the word
“underdeveloped” became not a mere
adjective but, more accurately, the past
tense of an active verb. The massive pov-
erty keenly felt by the majority populace
was essentially traceable to the arrested
development or, to use another phrase,
the underdevelopment of the Philippine
economy, i.e. its dependence on a backward
kind of agricultural mode that failed to
provide a strong basis for genuine industrial
development.
The global economy had now become
the playing feld of global corporations.
By the march of history, wittingly or
unwittingly, the Philippines left behind
the feudal order and entered a new stage
of capitalism—underdeveloped and de-
pendent. And this new capitalism was a
globalized phenomenon. Thus, the workers
our capitalism spawned were not necessar-
ily for the enterprises within our territorial
limits—because such enterprises were so
limited and few following the systematic
decapitalization of the 1960s through the
1970s up to the early 1980s. Our workers,
our people, were there, not for their own but
for the global economy. Hence a diaspora
of Filipinos that one saw just about every-
where and anywhere in the world.
Understanding all this, a movement for
a new Philippines must be one that knows
how to go back to basics and start more
consciously re-structuring our political
economy.
Six Points
First, our agriculture must be made
more productive and more just in benefts-
distribution.
Second, since agriculture is the mother
of industry, our industrialization program
must, in the main, not be centered abroad
but, rather, based on the surpluses of a
highly productive agriculture at home.
Third, a “complete engine of growth”
must be found in some area of our economy
that will enable our country to achieve
some self-reliance, not vulnerable to the
buffetings by various world conditions. If
at all possible, and it is, we must fnd in our
own country the material for sustainable
growth, and, at the same time, develop
an effective market, frst of all, within
our territorial limits at the same time that
we regard the regional and international
market.
Fourth, and more signifcantly, the
country must know and appreciate the com-
parative advantage of the nation vis-à-vis
the rest of the world. In other words, what
does the Philippines have in abundance
that most other countries do not?
Fifth, the type of industrialization
the Philippines must pursue has to be
employment-generating in net terms vis-
à-vis agriculture and related economic
sectors. It is not quite useful to establish
a factory that employs 300 people at the
cost of displacing from agricultural work
some 3,000 others in a given locality. Mass
production is not always more desirable
than production by the masses.
Sixth, the Philippines must pursue
careful industrialization; it is not worth it to
enter the industrial mode only to perish in
our own pollution. With the proper leader-
ship and political will, we should be able to
avoid the more negative aspects of entering
the industrial mode of production, and be
one of the frst countries in the world to go
straight through careful industrialization
to a more convivial post-industrial mode.
This would usher in a new social formation
where justice, peace and prosperity can
truly become the order of the day
What a rich place! Are we counted?
1998-2008
What a rather rich place on the planet
we have anyway—more than enough to
make us a prosperous nation! 30 million
hectares of land, 220 million hectares of
water,12 million hectares of arable land,
20,000 kilometers of coastline, biodiver-
sity of plant and animal specie unequalled
anywhere on earth, mineral prospectivity
ffth only in the planet, and marine fsh
wealth in the top twenty world-wide!
The joke is that in the Asian fnancial
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Volume 43 • Number 3
7
tion binge at home, pay for two expensive
wars and run a fscal defcit at the same
time. The staggering and mounting trade
defcits these produced—$700 billion a
year by 2007—were clearly unsustainable.
Sooner or later foreigners would decide
that America wasn't such a great place to
bank their money. And they did!
Lessons learned
What ultimately may come out of this
crisis is more judicious management of
capital, more transparent fnancial instru-
ments and institutions, and as a result, a
system that is better aligned with the real
economy that it was designed to serve in
the frst place.
But there will be no avoiding pain and
realism. As the banks become more tightly
regulated, their leverage will decrease, and
with it, their profts. And remember—over
the past few years, fnancial frms have rep-
resented around a quarter of all corporate
profts in the United States. Their shrink-
age will take a signifcant chunk out of
that country's national income. Sages like
Warren Buffett are proven right for earlier
calling derivatives "fnancial weapons of
mass destruction."
From our region’s viewpoint, how-
ever, we should note that sovereign wealth
funds and new emerging markets powers
of Asia and the Middle East are awash with
cash—Temasek Holdings of Singapore,
Asian central banks—these alone have
reserves of more than $4 trillion dollars,
crisis of 1998, we were not quite affected
because we did not fgure all that promi-
nently in the world screen. Only the tall
can tumble down. In this current crash of
2008, we are still not quite affected but
less unscathed. Our globalized service
sector will continue with their remittances
to keep our economy afoat. But many
enterprises in the ecozones dependent on
foreign credit capital may tend to go under
with the collapse of the international credit
and shadow credit markets.
Two warnings
The Asian fnancial crisis of 1997-98
was an early warning unheeded. Countries
like Thailand and South Korea had liberal-
ized their capital markets in the early 1990s,
following American
. A lot of hot money started fowing into
their economies, creating a speculative
bubble, and then rushed out again at the
frst sign of trouble. But countries like
China and Malaysia that didn't follow
American advice and kept their fnancial
markets closed or strictly regulated found
themselves much less vulnerable.
A second warning sign lay in America's
accumulating structural defcits. China and
a few other countries began buying U.S.
dollars after 1997 as part of a deliberate
strategy to undervalue their currencies, to
keep their factories humming and protect
themselves from fnancial shocks. The
U.S. found this okay because it meant that
they could cut taxes, fnance a consump-
Notes for a New Philippine Economy
enough to fund several American bailout
plans! In fact, we can be sure about it—a
good chunk of the new money will un-
doubtedly end up in Western markets. As
in the First Iraq war, so, too, in this current
crisis—imperial America will oblige its
allies to fork in. And it will not be called
what the Second Iraq war called a “coali-
tion of the willing”.
China will be no exception. It will
come across. It may use the current crisis
to tout its brand of authoritarian capitalism
but it cannot deny the fact that the so-called
Chinese model resulted in market losses of
66 percent last year, and massive wealth
destruction among ordinary people—
hardly a comparative success.
This is a good time as any for the
Philippines to dig deep into its concrete
conditions, its collective NOW, and fnd
out her true purpose as a new nation. The
movement for a new Philippines, to em-
brace a new seriousness, to recognize a
new synthesis, and allow a nation to build a
new people from out of the most profound
spiritual power that binds them together
will, of course, require new leaders, new
energies, new agents of change and a new
collectivity of persons who understand
that the Filipino people will not settle
for more of the same but for real change
they can count on—something really new
they can be excited about even while all
the world talks of crises and doom. This
movement of faith in the Filipino can start
right NOW.
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IMPACT • March 2009 8
By Carolyn Moynihan
A
s the representative of a United States administration that
came to power promising greater respect for human rights
(closing the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison is top of
the agenda) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed remarkably
little interest in the subject during her frst offcial visit to China
last weekend. It was not a great advertisement for the politics of
hope and high-mindedness in a country where a husband and wife
cannot allow their love to produce a second child without offcial
permission.
The government of China is one of the world’s most systematic
offenders against human rights, as the latest US State Department
report on human rights practices around the world, released on Thurs-
day, confrms. The authoritarian communist state is still suppressing
religion, minority cultures and political dissent, interfering in due
legal process, detaining and harassing dissidents and petitioners,
carrying out extra-judicial killings, torture and coerced confessions
of prisoners, forced labor (Amnesty International puts the number in
labor camps at half a million)—and more. Some of these practices
increased rather than diminished during 2008, says the report.
One of the most fundamental abuses of the rights of Chinese
citizens is Beijing’s population control policy, which restricts the
right of parents to choose the number of children they will have
and the period of time between births. The State Department report
says that the policy “retained harshly coercive elements in law
and practice” last year, and that the government does not intend
to change it for at least another decade.
Writing in the London Times before Mrs. Clinton’s visit,
Hong Kong correspondent Michael Sheridan reported: “Abuses
of women’s reproductive rights, some of which break China’s
own laws, are provoking outrage as Chinese public opinion wakes
up to the persistence of forced abortion, compulsory sterilization
and even infanticide.” Although abuses are more widely reported
and discussed these days—especially on the Web—some offcials
are stepping up repressive measures, said Sheridan. He cited two
horrifying stories of babies born alive after forced abortions more
or less at the point of birth—and then casually or violently killed;
and of a woman, Zhang Kecui, dragged from the street by offcials
to be sterilized because she had failed to have this operation after
her second child. Sheridan said some women activists hoped Mrs.
Clinton would speak up for them.
Such hopes were dashed when, before she even reached China,
Mrs. Clinton told reporters that such issues “can’t interfere with
the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and
the security crisis”. It became clear that she was more interested
in encouraging Beijing to keep buying US Treasury bonds than
sending messages about the importance America places on freedom
and democracy. For this she was severely criticized by Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch, the latter condemning her
strategy as segregating human rights into a “dead-end dialogue
of the deaf”.
Mere rhetoric, of course, is no use to the half million people
Amnesty says are imprisoned in labor camps, or to the believers
who are constantly harassed and detained for worshipping accord-
ing to their faith. And it may be true, as Mrs. Clinton said, that the
dialogue with Beijing on human rights has grown “predictable”,
a rhetorical exchange of shots over Tibet and Taiwan. But isn’t
it precisely this sort of stalemate that Obama was elected to fx?
Didn’t the euphoric crowds at the inauguration expect him and his
team to do things differently?
Hillary Clinton is still getting political mileage out of her
rather daring plug for human rights—including a mention of
forced abortions and sterilizations—during a speech she gave at
Mrs. Clinton goes
to Beijing—again
It's a pity that, this time, she left human rights off the agenda.
ARTICLES
Volume 43 • Number 3
9
the UN women’s conference held in Beijing in 1995. To quote her
biography on the State Department website: “Her famous speech
in Beijing in 1995—when she declared that "human rights are
women's rights, and women's rights are human rights"—inspired
women worldwide and helped galvanize a global movement for
women’s rights.” But really, you can’t live forever on the capital
of one speech made when you were a mere president’s wife. The
world's women—those still in danger of being dragged off the street
into an abortion clinic at any rate—are waiting for more.
To give credit where it is due, Mrs Clinton went to church
on Sunday morning in Beijing—at a state-sanctioned church, to
be sure, but, as a sign of the importance of religious freedom, it
was a gesture that other offcial visitors would do well to emulate.
However, at a meeting with about 20 handpicked women leaders
later in the day she spoke only in general terms about the need for
equality for women and the fact that it had not been achieved in any
society “certainly including my own”. The women in turn spoke
about progress being made against domestic violence, about women
entrepreneurs and gender preference—for boys in the countryside
and girls in the cities. These are all politically correct topics, even
in China, and ignore the way the one-child policy has pushed
traditional son-preference to the extreme of “gendercide”.
Well, the economic crisis certainly creates a new climate for
relations between Washington and Beijing; they need each other
desperately. Unfortunately for human rights, America seems to be
the more desperate of the two.
But there is another reason why Mrs. Clinton may be silent
where she spoke up so boldly before. Straight after his election
President Obama reversed the Mexico City Policy that withheld
federal funding from NGOs that perform or promote abortion as
a method of family planning. Last week the Democrat dominated
House of Representatives has approved funding of $545 million
for international population control programmes, plus $50 million
for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which supports
China’s population policy and, inevitably, the central role which
abortion, forced or otherwise, plays in it.
Under these circumstances it would be just a little hypocritical
of Mrs. Clinton to do a replay of her 1995 speech. Indeed, although
she may genuinely abhor coercion in such matters, we know that
she accepts abortion as a means of birth control (“safe legal and
rare”) and there is nothing to indicate that she rejects the basic
aim of population control, which is to stabilize the number of
humans on Earth.
Ironically, if this programme plays out in China, it will be
a very different country from the economic powerhouse that the
world currently fnds so indispensable. It will have fewer of the
younger workers who make up the more skilled part of the work-
force, older workers, and a lot more elderly people, the majority
of them poor and reliant on social support. Beyond the recession
and current massive unemployment of migrant workers there is the
fact that the supply of new skilled workers will begin to contract
within four to six years.
Even from the economic point of view, then, Mrs. Clinton’s
setting aside of human rights in favor of fxing the recession and
climate change is short-sighted. One had hoped that she and the
Obama administration generally would promote the fundamental
rights of the Chinese people as a matter of principle, but, failing that,
self-interest and pragmatism suggest that making human rights an
integral part of relationships with China is still the best way to go.
Deals done over the heads of people who lack the most basic
freedoms of family and public life can only bring shame on those
who beneft from them.
(Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet)
Mrs. Clinton goes
to Beijing—again
It's a pity that, this time, she left human rights off the agenda.
Mrs. Clinton goes to Beijing—again
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ARTICLES
By Fr. Shay Cullen
W
hen the social workers, police
from Limay, Bataan and the
mother of two missing children,
13 and 14 year-olds, all from Limay, Bataan
arrived in Alaminos, Pangasinan last
December 2008, they expected the local
police to have a squad ready to raid the
“Trappers” sex bar and rescue the minors
who had been traffcked for commercial
sexual exploitation. Instead, the club was
closed and the children are gone. After
hours of persuasion, the Alaminos police
miraculously found the children at a bus
stop and they were then given to the Preda
home for traffcked girls.
The traffckers, pimps and club opera-
tors seemingly have impunity from the law.
Even the good Mayor, a former congress-
man apparently is unable to control the
sex Mafa. Most sex bars, operate with a
mayor's license. The people of Alaminos
ought to come to the support of the mayor
in his campaign to cancel the licenses and
free the women and children.
Philippine Embassy personnel in Ma-
laysia rescued several children, 13 and 14
years old traffcked into commercial sex
clubs there and with the help of Visayan
Forum, a children's rights organization,
they were brought back to the Philippines.
One, Maryanne, was referred to the Preda
Children's Home where she recovered
and gave birth to twins. They are the love
of her life now despite how she became
pregnant. The other girls dote on them
and never want to return to prostitution
but want to marry in the future and have
a family. Had Maryanne not been rescued,
she would have been dragged screaming
to an abortion clinic and the babies forc-
ibly aborted.
The sexual exploitation of children in
Philippine tourism is found on both the na-
tional and international fronts. Thousands
of Europeans, North Americans and Aus-
tralian sex tourists make the Philippines
a destination and create a demand for
commercially-sexually exploited children
(CSEC.) Internal traffcking is the most
common form of child sexual exploita-
tion in Philippine tourism. Thousands of
Filipino sex tourists abuse some of the
estimated 80,000 children under the age
of 18. They are made available in sex bars
or through pimps. Even 11 year-olds can
be bought by arrangement.
Most bars, clubs, beer houses and
karaoke bars are fronts for prostitution.
Alongside, prostituted adult women and
minors are also employed. However, their
documents are fake and rarely verifed by
offcials. It is a growing business with an
estimated 1.2 million single male tourist
arrivals every year in the Philippines. How
many seek out minors as a sexual partner is
not known since it is secret underground-
business worth millions of dollars.
The profts from tourism, sexual or
otherwise, are allegedly of greater impor-
tance to the offcials and business sector
than are the protection of the children and
the dignity of Filipinos. With the economic
recession, more and more children will be
dropping out of school and will enter the
work force as impoverished families try
to survive and hundreds more will be traf-
fcked into the sex tourist business.
Besides the life long physical and
mental damage to the minors, there is the
ever present danger of sexually transmitted
diseases like HIV-AIDS. Adjacent to the
sex industry, drug traffcking and distribu-
tion is the other side of the sex tourist coin
and the exploited children are vulnerable
to addiction at an early age. Worst of all
is the illegal and dangerous abortions that
can be arranged with back-street abortion
clinics. This is the most heinous of crimes
and usually they are late term abortions as
we learn from the teenage victims who
conceal the pregnancy from the sex bar
operators as long as they can out of fear
of punishment and forced abortion. They
are dragged to the clinics and endure
forced abortion. These clinics are well
known to the pimps and club operators
and even police.
The lack of moral outrage by the
church, local government and citizens
against the sex industry and its abortion
clinics is shocking in itself. When was the
last national rally or church-sponsored
campaign against it? There are sex bars
in every town and parish. When will the
clergy speak out against the exploitation?
This silence, “see nothing, do nothing”, is
tantamount to hypocritical consent.
Sex Tourism
and Abortion
I
Volume 43 • Number 3
11
By Arche L. Ligo
M
arch is an important month for women the world over.
It has been with us for some time and has justifed our
claim for time and space if only for a month in a year.
March 2009 is no different from the previous years—we raised
and continue to raise our voices against the experiences of do-
mestic violence, sexual abuse, discrimination, and traffcking
and all these side by side with poverty that is now becoming
increasingly global. If for many of our sisters in the frst world, the
global recession was their frst taste of loss of home, employment,
savings, and facing an uncertain future, for most of us here it is
more of the same poverty, violence, abuse, discrimination and
overseas work. But this time the situation is worse than before
because with lesser opportunities to work abroad the alternatives
can no longer promise greener pastures.
I turn to a fctional woman and to a historical fction in the
Bible. Hadassah was her native name but she is more known
with her foreign name, Esther. Her foreign name Esther means
“star” and that also happens to translate the name of an important
fertility goddess of Babylon, Ishtar. Her native name points to
the myrtle plant, a symbol of thanksgiving and peace her native
culture. Although a fctional character, Esther’s narrative and
experiences remain real, familiar and current today. Hers are
the narratives and experiences of being a migrant an unwanted
but necessary foreigner, whether by choice or by force of cir-
cumstances. And chances are, it is the case of being a migrant
by force of circumstances.
Esther’s story begins in the second chapter of the Book of
Esther in the context of a royal beauty contest—the selection of
a new queen for King Ahasuerus of Media and Persia to replace
the previous one, Queen Vashti, who refused to be put on display
before the king’s male friends and was thus dethroned. Esther
is brought in on the scene as a woman of beauty and thus was
conscripted by the king’s eunuchs to be a contestant in this royal
beauty contest. Esther is part of the Jewish exile population in
the Persian city of Susa, raised by her cousin, Mordechai after
losing both her parents. She seems docile enough to undergo
the beauty training that she wins the support and favor of the
“We praise all women who have had to make diffcult choices
in seductive environments.”
a Woman of Faith Facing
the Empire
sther,
E
--Miriam Therese Winters (1992)
chief eunuch in the king’s harem. She follows all the eunuch’s
advice in terms of gaining the king’s favor (hesed) and winning
his admiration (hen). An important side note must be mentioned
here—the positive experiences of Israel in a foreign land and
of foreigners in Israel are experience of hesed and hen. Joseph
gains the hen of Potiphar as well as of his jailer in Egypt. In the
Book of Ruth, the Moabite Ruth gains hesed and hen from the
Israelite Boaz. And now Esther also gains hesed and hen from
Ahasuerus and the eunuchs. Later I will draw important refec-
tion in the need for the hesed and hen in order to survive these
times of crisis.
After a year of training and competition with the other women
contestants, Esther wins the contest and is crowned queen consort
of Ahasuerus. As queen she conceals her identity as a Jew. Her
hidden identity becomes the point of confict in the story.
The king promotes a new minister by the name of Haman
whose promotion brings the confict to its dangerous height. To
ingratiate himself to the king, Haman promulgates a law that
is discriminatory and racist. The frst is having all the subjects
bow to him as a sign of respect to the king and the kingdom of
Media and Persia. The edict becomes a problem to dutiful and
pious Jews who religiously practice the Exodus injunction of
bowing to no other power but YHWH. Esther’s cousin, Morde-
cai is caught refusing to bow before Haman which angers the
minister. Haman then plots against the Jews. He had decreed
with the king’s approval the Jews’ destruction. All Jews were to
be destroyed and annihilated, women, men, old and young and
all their goods plundered.
When Mordecai heard what was done in Susa, he rent his
clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city
wailing with a loud and bitter cry. In every province the cry of
mourning was heard. Jews were put to death for being different
from the rest of the subjects of the empire—they were not citizens,
they bow to no human authority and they believe in a different
God from the rest of the Persians. These, Haman decided, pose
danger to the empire for they undermine the very authority and
stability of the king.
It was not just an individual Jew who is in danger. This time
it is the whole people of God including Esther, the queen herself,
Sex Tourism
and Abortion
ARTICLES
IMPACT • March 2009 12
ARTICLES
who are in danger because of Haman’s command.
Should Esther keep quiet or should she speak out?
If she keeps quiet, she is safe but her people will
die. If she speaks out, she dies together with her
people but there is a possibility of bargaining with
the king for the salvation of God’s people. Mordecai
urges Esther to speak with the king—a right that
she does not automatically have as queen. To speak
with the king is a privilege he offers to his subjects
including the women of his harem, including his
favourite Esther. Esther hesitates.
Then Mordecai says to Esther, “You may be
in the palace but you are still a Jew. What makes
you think that you will escape? If you keep silent
at such a time... you and your family will perish.”
Esther then fasted for three full days and takes the
risk. “I will go to the king, contrary to the law. If
I perish, I perish!” She then invites the king to a
dinner with her which the king accepts. She extends
her invitation to include Haman. At the dinner table,
the king inquires about Esther’s concerns and tells
her to speak up. She then uses this as an opportunity
to report to the king about Haman’s arbitrary and
discriminatory decree. “Let my life be spared and
spare the life of my people; that is my petition and
that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my
people, to be killed, destroyed and annihilated. If
we have been sold as slaves, I would have held my
peace; but no enemy can compensate this damage.”
The eunuchs then pointed out to the king the gal-
lows that Haman prepared for Mordecai, and there
Haman is hanged as punishment for his cruel and
unjust decree while Mordecai gets the honor and
glory that Haman prepared for himself. The lot or
pur that was to befall on the Jews now fell on Ha-
man and his sons. His decree against the Jews was
revoked and the people of God were saved. Esther
and Mordecai then established the Jewish holiday
of Purim. Esther’s story clearly serves as a festal
legend for the Jewish holiday of Purim.
I fnd a signifcant verse in the chapter in 4:14.
The verse opens with “if you keep silent at such a
time...” and ends with “Who knows...perhaps you
have come to your royal role for just such a time
like this.” I would like to underline if you keep
silent at such a time and you have come to your
role for a time like this.
A time like this or a time such as this in the
Book of Esther meant a time of great distress,
when evil surrounds the people and destruction,
death and annihilation are at the door. How about
for us? What is a time like this or a time such as
this? I go back at my opening of this refection.
Violence against women and children, traffcking,
reproductive health problems side by side with
increasing poverty are with us. It is diffcult to do
or even think of a ten-year development plan or
even a three-year development plan. When will
the economic situation stabilize? Optimists and
politicians hope that in two years, the economy will
improve. The poor, who have always disbelieved
the politicians, have prepared for more years of
© www.fickr.com/photos/paullew
Volume 43 • Number 3
13
belt tightening. A time like this challenges us to make choices,
take a position and advocate for change. The Haman in us will
cling to wealth, power, and glory. And destroying and killing
and plundering wealth from others are necessary and logical
steps. The Mordecai in us will cling to God’s saving power
through civil disobedience—speaking to the king even when it
is not allowed for who knows one can invoke hesed from him.
The Esther in us is torn between keeping the law and thus keep
quiet or breaking the command and speaking in behalf of those in
danger. Truly keeping quiet and maintaining things as business as
usual may beneft us as women—being admired, courted, loved,
cherished, kept in comfort, promised and given gifts, these are
easy. But in the process we trade off our freedom, our integrity
even our brain.
Like Esther, we have Vashtis who went ahead of us, women
who did not trade their autonomy for crown and beauty, women
who know to say ‘No!’ women who were not afraid to give up
comfort and convenience in order to become their own persons.
Now is the time to speak against corruption and injustice. Now is
the time to speak in behalf of the silenced and the excluded. Now
is the time to break the silence. It is time to disobey! And what
shall we say? We will have to speak of hesed. But we are not
merely begging for compassion! Hindi tayo nagpapalimos ng awa!
For with hesed should come tsedaqah, mishpat, and emet—with
compassion should come justice, righteousness and truth.
In times of great crisis, these are the vocabulary and dis-
course that should be heard from our lips—‘spare the life of my
people’. We have to counter the current economic vocabulary of
stimulus plan, debt restructuring, saving the economy, increased
public spending while not taxing and disciplining the elite in their
profigate and ecology destroying lifestyle. “If you keep silent at
such a time... you and your people shall die.” (Esther 4:14)
Remember Queen Vashti,
Who resisted pressure from the palace.
We praise you Queen Vashti
And all women
Who resist the pressure to parade and perform
Before the eyes of men.
Remember Esther, our sister Hadassah,
And the courage of her deed.
We praise you Esther,
Our sister Hadassah,
And all women
Who use their status to foster life,
Who have intervened to counteract
Injustice and corruption that kills the future generation.
We remember all our heroines
Named and unnamed, known and unknown.
We thank you and we praise you.
Amen.
Esther, a Woman of Faith Facing the Empire
By Sr. Maureen Catabian, RGS
C
uliat is a Muslim Community. Situated along
Tandang Sora Avenue in Quezon City in the
Philippines, it is one of the three big Muslim
areas in the National Capital Region. The other two
are found in Taguig City and Quiapo, Manila. People
from Cotabato City migrate to these places to escape
poverty and displacement brought about by militariza-
tion taking place in Mindanao.
Accompanied by a nun from Australia and a guide
from the community, we ventured on our initial visit
to an urban poor community of mostly migrants and
job recruiters/agents seeking life opportunities in the
Middle East. For almost a day, we listened and confrmed
our stories. The subject—Muslim migrant workers to
the Middle East, and their recruiters and agents. The
issue—Migration and Human Traffcking.
Poverty pushes women to migrate
On such a brief visit, one thing was made clear
The Many Faces of Traffcking
in Women and Children
to us. Women migrate to fee from a situation of dire
poverty. Sometimes, the insecurity of displacement
brought by militarization becomes a major factor on
why people leave. But mainly it is poverty. It is assert-
ing the Right to Live.
The situation of extreme poverty pushes women to
migrate mainly to earn a living. However, in the process
of migration, unscrupulous people (or systems) exploit
and victimize them in their vulnerable situation. As one
victim relates, literally exploitation happens at every
step of the way. The abuse has turned systemic.
The nun from Australia who was my companion
had a specifc interest in coming to the Philippines
for a brief stint. She is writing a research paper on
the “Perception of Women and Girls (In Cebu City)
who are victims of Sex Traffcking”. She asserts that
in understanding how victims or survivors perceive
Traffcking (Sex Traffcking in particular), it would
help advocates and service providers come up with
more effective interventions and support to traffcked
victims. I affrmed her decision to come to the Philip-
I
IMPACT • March 2009 14
pines to write this research.
The brief exposure in Culiat community engaged us
in a deeper and more dynamic discussion of the issue of
Migration and Traffcking. It was an active listening to the
stories of victims of exploitation and abuse, understanding
migrant workers’ motives to work abroad despite high
risks, of struggles and diffculties faced at work places,
and knowing the economic, political, social and cultural
context of traffcking in the Asia Pacifc region.
Our experience in the Philippines, being a sending-
country of migrant workers, points to the reality of extreme
poverty and lack of unemployment; these factors push
Filipinos to leave the country to survive and suffer or even
endure abuse and exploitation. The experience of Australia
on the other hand—which is a receiving country—mostly
handles cases of Asian women traffcked for marriage to
foreign spouses. These women suffer physical and sexual
abuse from their partners. Australia is also a destination
country for traffcked victims.
As we shared our stories and experiences—we
learned that we are two countries addressing the same
problem of traffcking but from two different vantage
points. Our contexts are different. Our people are
migrating for different reasons. From whose eyes
should we look at the issue of traffcking? From whose
standpoint must we understand it? We are unanimous
in saying that the problem of traffcking must be seen
in the eyes of the victim. This gives the precise reason
why it is important to understand the context from
where victims are coming from.
Initiatives to counter traffcking
In the last week of February 2009 in Baguio City, a
group of 30 religious sisters from sixteen congregations
gathered for a Seminar on Counter-Traffcking. This
was organized by the Association of Major Religious
Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP). This is a third
concrete response to the call of the women religious
leaders, members of the International Union of Supe-
riors General (UISG) in their Assembly in 2001 “to
address insistently at every level the abuse and sexual
exploitation of women and children with particular
attention to the Traffcking of Women which has be-
come a lucrative multinational business” and a form
of Modern Day Slavery.
As a response in the Philippines, there were
gatherings held in 2006 in Manila and 2007 in Bo-
hol and 2009 in Baguio City which is the third such
gathering by religious women to counter traffcking.
One fruit of these gatherings was the formation of the
Asia-Pacifc Women Religious Against Traffcking in
Humans (APWRATH)—a network on Anti- Human
Traffcking—where religious women commit to sharing
resources and services to traffcked victims.
The initiatives have come from the International
Union of Superiors General in Europe. It is now our
responsibility to undertake the issue of Traffcking and
tackle it from our context with the Asian perspective.
The recent Counter–Traffcking Seminar held in Baguio
City is a basic orientation seminar on traffcking—
sharing its meaning, its complex system and dynamics
and how religious congregations can respond to this
global scourge. The value of networking and establishing
international linkages were emphasized as an important
tool in addressing human traffcking.
We are at varying levels of experience and expertise
in countering human traffcking. We are in solidarity
in declaring that Women in the Church must take up
the prophetic role to act together and do something to
eradicate this global scourge. From a global data—“The
United Nation estimates that a total of 2.5 Million
people fall prey to abusers and exploiters every year.
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Victims of human traffcking come from 127 countries
mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, West Africa,
Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean and are sent
to 137 countries mostly in Western Europe, Northern
America and Asia.” “Traffcking in person is the plague
of the 21
st
century and is an underground crime. Global
traffcking proft is estimated to be the third largest and
lucrative source of profts for organized crimes next
only to drugs and guns.”
“The largest number of victims comes from Asia,
with over 225,000 victims each year from Southeast
Asia, and over 150,000 from South Asia.” “Sixty-fve
percent of victims are women; 25 % of women victims
were forced into prostitution. Fifty-three percent of
victims were traffcked to the Asia Pacifc, 25% to the
Middle East and 19% to Europe. Fifty-one percent
of the victims were traffcked with their consent or
knowledge and 49% were deceived. There are 300,000
to 400,000 of traffcked women and about 60,000 to
100,000 traffcked children.”
“An accepted international defnition of traffck-
ing is given in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress
and Punish Traffcking in Persons, Especially Women
and Children supplementing the Convention Against
Transnational Organized Crime. Traffcking in persons
shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer,
harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat
or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction,
of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a
position of vulnerability or of giving or receiving of
payments or benefts to achieve the consent of a person
having control over another person, for the purpose
of exploitation.”
In an Anti-Traffcking Workshop in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia in December 2008, organized by the Good
Shepherd Sisters of Singapore/Malaysia Unit through
the Justice and Peace and Solidarity in Mission Of-
fce, the importance of developing local networking
as a response to Human Traffcking was underscored.
There were several Good Shepherd Lay partners in
mission who were in attendance in this gathering and
had committed themselves to help address this problem
locally.
Also in this workshop, varying perspectives were
presented in understanding the issue of Traffcking. Six
major underlying threads were identifed and discussed
of which are: 1) Traffcking as a phenomenon of vio-
lence against women. 2) Traffcking as feminization
of poverty. 3) Traffcking as resulting from demand
for prostituted sex. 4) Traffcking as sexual and labor
exploitation. 5) Traffcking as underlying economic and
patriarchal systems. 6) Traffcking as closely linked
to migration.
Migration and traffcking as linked to Globaliza-
tion
During one of our conversations after the brief
exposure at the community of Culiat and listening to
the stories of women and children who are victims of
traffcking in Cebu City, we then asked ourselves, “what
is the face of human traffcking in the Philippines or
in Asia?” The Philippines being a poor country suffers
even more in the face of the current global fnancial
crisis. While the workers are forced to come home,
they are even more put in a very vulnerable situation
of potential abuse and exploitation because of the need
to survive. Traffcking is not an isolated, individual
problem or mere personal concern where one girl or
woman falls victim because of her own wrongdoing.
Sheer moral conversion of the victims of sex traffcking
would not be enough to address the root of the problem.
However, we are not discounting the value of rescue and
rehabilitation of traffcked persons as this is of utmost
concern and responsibility of the Church. A Traffcked
child or woman is a victim of a global, syndicated and
systematic exploitation linked to Neoliberal Economic
Globalization.
One effective intervention to help traffcked victims
is to let them understand the economic, social, political
and cultural context of their respective countries and
learn the dynamics of migration and traffcking as linked
to Globalization. People are forced to migrate as a result
of this economic development model. Victims of traf-
fcking must not end up blaming themselves but must
raise their understanding of their situation by naming
and blaming the complex systems that perpetuate abuse
and exploitation as imperialist globalization.
In conclusion, I want to echo the voices of migrants
and refugees themselves during the International Mi-
grants Alliance (IMA) Founding Assembly held in June
2008 in Hongkong. In a document presented, a Filipina
woman activist said: “We mean to make the victims and
potential victims—maybe our mother, sister, our friend,
our neighbor take up the cudgels to fght sex traffcking
of women and children. It is imperative for us to rise
from the depths of oppression and exploitation and turn
the situation around. It is time to expose the role of the
regimes (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime for instance)
and the global perpetrators of sex traffcking. It is high
time to harness the strength of the victims and involve
them in class and national struggle and the struggle
of the people of their host countries.
The message of the exploited migrants and traf-
fcked victims is clear—“For a long time, others spoke
on our behalf. NOW we speak for ourselves!”
The Many Faces of Trafficking in Women and Children
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COVER
STORY
The Feminine Soul: The Heart of Human Development
By Atty. Jo M. Imbong
T
hese words, borrowed from the
wisdom of John Paul II, capture the
inestimable value of women in the
human community.
As a citizen ennobled with boundless
natural gifts willed by nature, it is critical
for the woman to realize that her unique
physiological and psychological nature
empowers her for an awesome destiny.
This is the fowering and fourishing of
progeny and family which are the build-
ing blocks of society. Woman is closer to
life and its prolongation. Her life centers
on life itself.
On a signifcant note, the Philip-
pine Constitution extols motherhood
and values it. “The State shall protect
working women . . . taking into account
their maternal functions,”
1
and explicitly
The Feminine Soul:
The Heart of Human Development
“The future of humanity passes through the woman.”
recognizes the woman’s critical role in
nation-building.
2
It cannot be otherwise, for two rea-
sons: One, while it is the man who governs,
it is the woman who reigns. Governance,
after all, is related to justice while reigning
is related to love. The woman is equipped
by nature to be a nurturer of a nation’s
ultimate resource—whether these be her
spouse, her children, her brothers, sisters
or her extended family. Often she is the
‘woman-in-the-home’, the simple and
uncelebrated ‘Nanay’ or ‘Ate’ infused and
inspired only with a sincere gift of self,
fnding her full fourishing in her family,
embracing the lives that she nurtures. In
the ensuing years, seeing them ripen is her
crowning glory. What a noble calling!
In other circumstances, the woman
reigns as the ‘Manager’ shepherding an
enterprise that is the lifeline of families
at work. Or mothering wayward boys and
girls she has rescued from the pits, giving
them back their dignity. She is also there
in ‘everlasting motherhood’ as the teacher
who plants the seeds of character in girl-
hood and boyhood. Years after, she beams
proudly each time she witnesses the yearly
exodus to the grand tune of “Pomp and
Circumstance” at Graduation.
By nature she is a nurturer. Nature
gave her the gift of deep empathy. Not
that she puts aside logic. That tool comes
in handy after she captures the root of a
problem and ‘sees’ it with her heart.
True, the man is more attuned to the
practical, the concrete, the monetary, and
the material. This is signifcant, for nothing
can so dull the soul as counting, and only
what is material can be counted. But the
woman counts ideals. That is why man,
generally, is the giver, while woman is the
IMPACT • March 2009 16
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The Feminine Soul: The Heart of Human Development
The Feminine Soul:
The Heart of Human Development
“The future of humanity passes through the woman.”
supporting, educating and nurturing role.”
8

It appears good so far.
Enter: New ‘rights’
Not today. Notably, there is noth-
ing in those international documents that
speaks of abortion ‘rights’, an advocacy
that creeps into almost every legislative
proposal in Congress having to do with
women. And it continues to fnd its way
into legislation in many permutations of
language: management of abortion and
abortion complications, fertility regula-
tion, safe motherhood, maternal mortality.
Even the right to life is not spared, from
which a ‘woman’s right to abortion’ is a
bizarre distillation.
9
While the current term and issues of
reproductive and sexual health were
certainly placed on the agendas of
those conferences, the radical
feminist participants failed at that
time in their primary mission of
defning abortion-on-demand
as a reproductive right. So
grand was their failure, in
fact, that when several
states boycotted
or threatened
to boycott the
Cairo confer-
ence altogether,
every offcial
of note at
the confer-
ence was
compelled
to state on
record that
the con-
f e r e n c e
did not es-
tablish any
new rights.
10

At ICPD in
Cairo, the Holy See main-
tained its vehement opposition
to abortion, with Costa Rica,
Argentina, Malta, Venezuela,
Morocco and Ecuador continu-
ing to insist that they would not
agree to any defnitions that could
be construed as including access to
abortion.
11
According to an Asian
delegate, it was clear “that given
the diametrically opposite
views on the subject held
by different member
states, the Confer-
ence would not be
in a position to en-
dorse, on a global
basis, the concept of legal abortion, even in
the case of rape or incest.”
12
There was simply
no clarion call for abortion rights emerging
from the conferences.
Or so we think.
Today, those international declara-
tions are also the vehicles where radical
and wayward liberties ride.
In the paper, Rights by Stealth: The
Role of UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies
in the Campaign for an International Right
to Abortion, authors Dr. Sylva and Dr.
Yoshihara of the International Organiza-
tions Research Group tell of UN human
gift. The man has, the woman is. And she
is unhappy unless she makes the double
gift: frst of herself to man, then of herself
to posterity—in the form of children,
wards, or workforce—then in the form of
their successes.
A certain transcendence is already hers
because of her functional difference from
man. But it is an attribute that is meant
for woman and man to compliment each
other. Equal in dignity and value, their
complimentarity is crucial to authentic
human development.
It therefore behooves the human fam-
ily to celebrate this complimentarity and
live eternal vigilance for it.
Eternal vigilance is the order of the day
Vigilance against what? Vigilance
against subtle inroads that are underway,
designed to undermine the truths about
woman. ‘Subtle’ is not even accurate. Rath-
er, the more appropriate way to describe it,
is stealth. How is it being done?
To start with, the noble truth about
womanhood is cherished and safeguarded
in international documents. The Conven-
tion on the Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women, frequently known as CE-
DAW, protects motherhood and “the great
contribution of women in the welfare of the
family and society.”
3
It ensures that family
education include “a proper understanding
of maternity as a social function.”
4
The Universal Declaration of Hu-
man Rights affrms that “motherhood and
childhood are entitled to special care and
assistance.”
5
The International Conven-
tion on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights expresses the need for protection to
mothers before and after childbirth.
6
The
Programme of Action of the International
Conference on Population and Develop-
ment, or ICPD, speaks of improved pre-
natal care, of normal and safe delivery.
7

The Beijing Plan of Action calls attention
to “programmes to help the family in its
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IMPACT • March 2009 18
rights treaty monitoring bodies and an
interlocking network of UN agencies, UN
offcials, and NGOs who meet regularly
and are working relentlessly to this day, to
convince nations that existing human rights
can be re-interpreted to include reproduc-
tive and sexual health rights, including a
right to abortion as “necessary compo-
nents of a host of already existing human
rights.” The strategy foisted worldwide,
including on Philippine policy-makers,
legislators, and NGO’s is for nation-states
to accept the notion that these treaties can
in fact evolve, and to accept the notion
that the U.N. treaty bodies should follow
the recommendations of the reproductive
rights NGOs and UN agencies.
13
The agenda has its concrete infuence
and manifestations in the Philippines. Ac-
cording to Sylva and Yoshihara a diplomat
has served on the CEDAW committee for
seventeen years, and between 1997 and
2006 has reportedly led the committee’s
pressuring of Australia, Chile, Colom-
bia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador,
Ethiopia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon,
Luxembourg, Mexico, Nepal, Northern
Ireland (UK), Paraguay, Portugal, Togo,
and Zimbabwe to liberalize their abortion
laws or policies.
14

The UN Treaty Monitoring Commit-
tees work with a network of NGO’s in the
different countries. And not only have
the committees come to rely on NGO’s
for input on state practice, they use them
as watchdogs and enforcers of commit-
tee recommendations.
15
Undoubtedly,
treaty bodies continue to ask nations for
information about abortion laws during
their review proceedings. Based on such
‘shadow reports’, the monitoring bodies
issue recommendations to governments
concerning actions they should take to
comply with their ‘treaty obligation’.
In the Philippines, one of many such
partner NGO’s is EnGendeRights that
claims to infuence outcome documents,
including CEDAW’s last review of the
Philippines.
16
In the decade that followed, UN mem-
ber nations have allowed the strategy to
develop to an extensive degree, despite the
fact that it undermines their own laws.
In the Philippines today, we are seeing
the proposed Magna Carta of Women, a
contentious bill that was recently refned
and ‘tamed’ by a House and Senate Bicam-
eral Committee last March 3. It would have
been worse, sans the strong advocacy of
our Catholic Bishops for our Legislators
to hew the substitute bill according to
constitutional imperatives.
The Bicameral Committee reconsid-
ered and deleted a dangerous proviso in
Section 2 that would have legalized open
defance of freedom of religious belief and
its free exercise by women and men. The
primacy and supremacy of the Philippine
Constitution, with its strong and express
recognition of the right to life, the inher-
ent, fundamental and inalienable rights
of spouses, parents, and families, was
added in Section 3 for emphasis. Gender
and its contentious defnition was deleted.
In Section 17, no. 6, “management of
abortion complications” was changed to
“Prevention of abortion AND MANAGE-
MENT OF PREGNANCY AND POST-
PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS.”
Shorn of its constitutionally unac-
ceptable portions, the Magna Carta speaks
nobly of the role of women in nation build-
ing and of their substantive equality with
men.17 It seeks to promote the empower-
ment of women and equal opportunities
for both women and men towards equal
access to resources and to the outcomes
of development. 18
But the Magna Carta would have been
truer to its name and purposes if it had
provisions recognizing the non-monetized
work of women in the home, the “ordinary
housewife” who makes it her life to live
for others. It would have been really a
celebration of “women in nation build-
ing” if there were concrete mechanisms
of social support for mothers choosing to
be simply “at home”. The Magna Carta’s
silence about these noble women whose
numbers cannot be ignored is a sad note
to an otherwise landmark document.
(Atty. Jo M. Imbong is the Executive
Secretary of the Legal Offce of the Catholic
Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP); she is also a Consultant to the
Episcopal Commission on Family & Life
of CBCP and Vice Chair of the Profes-
sional & Cultural Development for Women
Foundation (PCDW).
Notes
1 Article XIII, Section 14, 1987 Constitution.
2 Article II, Section 14, Ibid.
3 CEDAW Preamble, 13th par.
4 CEDAW, Art. 5 (b).
5 UDHR, Par. 25 (2).
6 ICESCR, Par. 10 (1)
7 ICPD Pars. 8.22, 13.14.
8 BEIJING DECLARATION Par. 285a, Fourth
World Conference on Women.
9 Douglas Sylva, Ph.D. & Susan Yoshihara,
Ph.D., Rights by Stealth: The Role of UN Human
Rights Treaty Bodies in the Campaign for an
International Right to Abortion, The National
Catholic Bioethics Center, www.ncbcenter.org
10 Ibid.
11 Notably, the 1987 Constitution was already in
force at the time of the Cairo conference in 1994.
Nothing is heard of the Philippine delegation.
12 Jyoti Shankar Singh, Creating a New
Consensus on Population (London: Earthscan,
1998) 58, cited by Sylva & Yoshihara.
13 Ibid.
14 Sylva & Yoshihara, op cit.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
17 Section 1, Declaration of Policy.
18 Ibid.
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Volume 43 • Number 3
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Discrimination against
Women and CEDAW
By Francisco Javier Cardinal Errázuriz Ossa
(Editor’s note: The following excerpt will give readers an
overview of CEDAW and its application in other countries, espe-
cially with regards to weakening the family, proposing abortion
as a right, undermining motherhood, and legalizing prostitution.
The Magna Carta of Women pending in the Philippine Legislature
is an attempt to apply CEDAW in the country.)
O
n December 18, 1979, the General Assembly of the United
Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, known as
CEDAW. In the frst article of the Convention we read: “For the
purposes of the present Convention, the term ‘discrimination
against women’ shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restric-
tion made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of
impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by
women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality
of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms
in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other
feld.” The nations which have subscribed to this international
document, maintain that they will undertake “by all appropriate
means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination
against women” (article 2) and have committed themselves to
adopt a series of measures detailed in the Convention. Further on
in the document, it states that “For the purpose of considering the
progress made in the implementation of the present Convention,”
there shall be established a “Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women” (article 17).
On October 6, 1999, the General Assembly adopted another
resolution in which it approved an Optional Protocol to the Con-
vention (known as the Optional Protocol to CEDAW), which
authorizes the Committee to take into account reports of either
individuals or groups (articles 2-7) which allege violations of
the Convention in States parties and which further authorizes the
Committee to undertake investigations of systematic or grave
violations. This Optional Protocol came into force on December
22, 2000, and as of 27 November 27, 2007, had been ratifed
by 90 nations [including The Philippines, on November 12,
2003 - Editor].
The Optional Protocol was introduced as an additional
instrument, to make the application of the Convention more
effcient. It has as its fnal goal the introduction of elements not
contemplated in the original document. It is optional or voluntary
because participating nations are not obliged to ratify it, even if
they ratifed the Convention.
The recommendations of the Committee regarding family
and the right to life
By examining its recommendations we can know for certain
in which way or sense the Committee understands the articles of
the Convention, and we can also come to understand in which
manner or sense it understands its own powers to interpret the
rights of women; especially those stated in ambiguous terms in
CEDAW and in earlier accords. By this means we shall be able
to investigate if the framework of values by which the Commit-
tee interprets the Convention corresponds or not to those of the
States that signed the document.
The Family. Article 5 of the Convention establishes that
“States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to modify
the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women,
with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and
customary and all other practices which are based on the idea
of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on
stereotyped roles for men and women.” With this in view, the
Committee seeks the introduction of appropriate measures
which will modify the socio-cultural patterns of conduct and
to change the traditional structure of the family. This is seen in
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IMPACT • March 2009 20
the report referring to Chile in 1999 in which the Committee
expressed concern over the persistence of stereotypical concepts
and traditional attitudes relating to the roles of women and men
in society. Based on this concern, it was recommended that the
government promote the “changes in attitudes and perceptions
both of women and of men, with regard to their respective roles
in the home, the family, the workplace and society as a whole”
and “support vigorously legislation which permits divorce.”
This constitutes a clear imposition on culture and legislation,
without any pedagogical tact, of concepts concerning marriage
and the family (so different from culture to culture), which no
one has proven as legitimate and with a completely insuffcient
knowledge of their roots and cultural evolution. Those who affrm
that there is no worse discrimination than cultural oppression
and dictatorship are correct.
Abortion as a right. Neither the Committee nor the Protocol
explicitly advocate the legalization of abortion. In fact, the is-
sue was excluded from the conclusions. Articles 12 and 14 of
the Convention explicitly seek to “ensure… access to health
care services, including those related to family planning.” But
experience has borne out with increasing regularity that the
concepts of “reproductive health” and “family planning” is
meant to also include access to safe abortion services, without
legal penalization. The Committee goes even further than mere
exemption from legal penalty by frmly establishing that “it
is discriminatory for a State party to refuse to provide legally
for the performance of certain reproductive health services for
women.” The report on Chile issued in 1999 is instructive in
understanding the concepts which guide the Committee. They
are “concerned at the inadequate recognition and protection
of the reproductive rights of women…,” in particular, with the
laws which prohibit and penalize any form of abortion. “The
Committee considers these provisions to violate the human
rights of all women” and recommends that legislation related
to abortion be amended, “in particular to provide safe abortion
and to permit termination of pregnancy for therapeutic rea-
sons… including the mental health, of the woman. […] It also
requests the Government to strengthen its actions and efforts
aimed at the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, including by
making all kinds of contraceptives more widely available and
without any restriction.” […] and “granting women the right
to undergo sterilization without requiring their husband’s—or
anyone else’s—prior consent.”
Motherhood. The Committee urged Armenia “to combat
the traditional stereotype of women in their role as mother.” It
insisted that Belarus abolish “Mother’s Day” observances which
only encourage women to perpetuate traditional roles. It doesn’t
even respect the Constitution of a country such as Ireland, the
expression of a culture which holds in high esteem the role of
the mother in the family. The Committee expressed to this nation
its concern about “the continuing existence, in article 41.2 of the
Irish Constitution of concepts that refect a stereotypical view of
the role of women in the home and as mothers.” The Constitu-
tion of Ireland states in this article that “The State, therefore,
guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and author-
ity, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable
for the welfare of the Nation and the State. In particular, the
State recognizes that by her life within the home, women gives
to the State a support without which the common good cannot
be achieved. The State shall, therefore, endeavor to ensure that
mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage
in labor to the neglect of their duties in the home.”
Prostitution. Article 6 of the Convention affrms: “States
Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation,
to suppress all forms of traffc in women and exploitation of pros-
titution of women” and article 11 of the Convention sustains that
there exists the right to freely choose a profession or employment.
The CEDAW Committee has included “voluntary prostitution”
in this concept, as is revealed in the recommendation made by
the Committee to the Principality of Liechtenstein, in which it
asks that they proceed to revise the law relating to prostitution
so that prostitutes are not punished or that the People’s Republic
of China decriminalize prostitution. Clearly, the Committee does
not consider the following questions: Can there be “professions”
which in and of themselves are a discrimination against women?
Is the fact that they are practiced “voluntarily” grounds to judge
them as non-discriminatory?
Discrimination against women and CEDAW
Fighting discrimination against women should be resolutely
undertaken. Respect for the dignity of women, together with the
opening up of avenues by which women may offer their own
participation or contributions to our culture, which is excessively
masculinized, is a necessity of the frst order. With good reason,
Pope John Paul II wrote about the dimensions of this struggle:
“This journey must go on! But I am convinced that the secret
of making speedy progress in achieving full respect for women
and their identity involves more than simply the condemnation
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Volume 43 • Number 3
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Protocol, in fact, would mean freely exposing oneself to the
recommendations of a Committee and to the internal and external
pressures opposing life and the family.
The damage is done, and on the surface it would appear that
only a world conference sponsored by the United Nations could
repair it. The lack of defnition of some concepts which have
been much debated in past conferences has created a climate of
insecurity around the implementation of CEDAW. A Commit-
tee which not only oversees the implementation of approved
and unequivocal clauses but is also empowered to interpret
and broaden them without having the States parties determine
their values parameters, only
increases this insecurity. To
support this process by rati-
fying the Optional Protocol
is not the road to overcome
discrimination, nor is it the
adequate means for consider-
ing the just plurality of nations
and peoples. The decisions of
the Committee, in matters of
great importance, will only
worsen discrimination, reduc-
ing the mission of women in
the family and society and dis-
criminating against children,
spouses and the families of
which they are part.
Families should be ca-
pable of giving respect and
being respected, of enriching
and developing their own culture and their own road towards
human progress, and of responding to the most profound con-
cerns of women and of all citizens, promoting legislation which
respects the human rights of all, and a manner of living together
which will display solidarity, fraternity and justice, in the context
of their own country.
(Francisco Javier Cardinal Errázuriz Ossa is the Archbishop
of Santiago, Chile. His article is lifted from the Pontifcal
Council for the Family, Lexicon. Ambiguous and Debatable
Terms Regarding Family Life and Ethical Questions, English
translation published by Human Life International, Front Royal,
Virginia 2006, pp. 217-226.)
of discrimination and injustices, necessary though this may be.
Such respect must frst and foremost be won through an ef-
fective and intelligent campaign for the promotion of women,
concentrating on all areas of women’s life and beginning with
a universal recognition of the dignity of women” (Letter to
Women, 1995, no. 6).
This struggle, in a globalized society such as ours, is accom-
panied by other cultural currents which can harm its progress.
We can include in this consideration an unbridled individualistic
tendency, a concern for self-realization at the cost of the rights
of others; a view of sexuality which separates it from the marital
union, from faithfulness and
from procreative responsibil-
ity; an alarming instability
concerning the identity of the
family and of its value in the
formation of persons and so-
ciety; a tendency towards the
imposition of models, lacking
in respect for the uniqueness
of cultural roots, and lacking
as well in an evolutionary,
differentiated and pedagogical
refection.
The application and rati-
fcation of the Protocol, as
we have seen, presents grave
problems beyond its legal
repercussions. In effect, it
creates a legal precedent that
is unacceptable and unheard
of, which is to introduce through a convention, by means of its
self-interpretation and application of its clauses, contents which
were expressly excluded from the convention by a great number
of the nations which approved it. Such is the case, for example,
of abortion.
In addition to this, it places into the hands of a Committee,
whose value parameters are not defned, and indirectly into the
hands of groups (NGOs) who will gain greater infuence if they
can get their members to enter the Committee, the creation of a
doctrine and the formation of international public opinion, in a
matter of great importance for the law, cultures and the life of
peoples. This manifests a distrust of the State in its own institu-
tions and in its cultural and political development. To ratify the
ROME, Italy, March 6, 2009—Eighty
fve year-old Bishop Leon Yao Liang of
Hebei has been reunited with his diocese
after being held in prison for 30 months
for belonging to the clandestine Catholic
Church in China.
The French ecumenical associa-
tion Christian Action for the Abolition
of Torture reported on the release of
Elderly Chinese bishop imprisoned for
three years is released
Bishop Yao, which took place at the end
of January.
The bishop has received the support of
organizations and people around the world,
who demanded that he be released. He enjoys
good health, and although he is prohibited
from leaving his parish to visit and support
the faithful under his care, some 1,000 people
attend his Mass each Sunday.
There are still two bishops from
Hebei and a priest who remain in prison:
Bishop Su Zhimin, 76, of Baoding, who
was arrested on October 8, 1997, and
Bishop Shi Enxiang, 85, of Yixian, who
was arrested on April 13, 2001, and the
vicar general of the Diocese of Baoding,
Father Lui Genjun, who was arrested on
February 17, 2006. (CNA)
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IMPACT • March 2009 22
NEWS
FEATURES
HONG KONG, March 3, 2009—In Asia, the global economic
crisis is affecting women more than men. The International Labor
Organization (ILO) says that the number of unemployed women
could reach 22 million.
In 2008, almost half of the three billion workers in the
world were women: the rate of female unemployment was 6.3%,
compared to 5.9% for men. This year the situation is destined
to worsen: the global unemployment rate for women will reach
7.4%, while for men it will stop at about 7%. In the Asia-Pacifc
region alone, 27 million people will lose their jobs in 2009, and
another 140 million will suffer hunger and hardship.
The experts of the ILO stress that the current crisis recalls
the one in 1997, during which "in Thailand 95 percent of those
laid off from the garment sector were women, in the toys sector
it was 88 percent. In Korea 86 percent of those who lost their
fnancial services and banking jobs were female."
Amelita King Dejardin, a researcher at the ILO, has con-
ducted a study analyzing the reasons why the global economic
crisis is harder on women in Asia. The document explains that
the female labor force is concentrated in the export industries,
which are hardest hit by the collapse of the markets. The demand
for textile products, electronics, and clothing is in free-fall, and
the same is true for activities connected to tourism, including
hotels and restaurants.
Dejardin emphasizes that the loss of work among women
Asia, women hardest hit in global
economic crisis
has more signifcant repercussions on a larger number of
people—primarily the children—and this is true above all for
poor families.
According to the ILO researcher, the only positive news
comes from female migrant workers; in the case of the Philip-
pines, the women employed abroad as nurses or maids are keeping
their jobs more than the men are, who are suffering the effects
of the crisis in the manufacturing industry, in construction, and
in agriculture. (AsiaNews/Agencies)
MANILA, March 2, 2009—A Church
offcial has raised concern on the plight
of Filipino migrants and their families in
the face of global recession.
Fr. Edwin Corros, executive secre-
tary of the Episcopal Commission for the
Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant
People said he wants to know how the
OFWs and their families can gain from
the programs the government claimed it
prepared for them.
He was speaking at the OFW Family
Services Forum jointly organized by the
CBCP’s Episcopal Commission for the
Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant
People, Archdiocese of Manila’s Ministry to
Migrants and their Families and the Philip-
pine Women’s University last Feb. 27.
Corros criticized President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo’s stimulus package
for OFWs, saying part of the fund comes
from members’ contribution to OWWA.
Church offcial raises concern on the
plight of migrants
We want our migrants to watch and see
if the fund is really being used for them,
said Corros.
Corros lamented that the government
is even promoting migration instead of cre-
ating jobs at home. He cited the President’s
Administrative order 247 which mandated
POEA’s paradigm shift from regulations
to full-blast marketing development ef-
forts, exploration of frontier placements
which may be subjected to long debates
by stakeholders.
He said the government should not
depend on labor export to support the
economy.
This is not the right way to develop our
country economically, Corros said. Cor-
ros said they invited government offcials
to the forum to explain what displaced
overseas workers can expect from the
widely-publicized assistance programs in
times like this.
He said the economic crisis last year
signifcantly reduced the demand for con-
sumable products like computers, garments
and other related export products slowed
down that forced other economically-de-
veloped countries to declare recession.
Countries dependent on exports to
the United States of America suffered
similar effects to their economy many of
them are advanced industrialized nations
like Japan, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong
and Taiwan.
The church offcial said that in August
of 2008, some Taiwan-based workers were
either sent home or asked to resign. But
in November of the same year, they came
home in large numbers although DOLE
reported only some 5,000 workers have
been sent home due to global recession.
He noted most Filipino workers earned
their keep while working in these countries
for so many years. (Melo M. Acuna)
Volume 43 • Number 3
23
STATEMENTS
Statement of the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum
‘Stop the Revival of the Bataan Nuclear
Power Plant!’
No to Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
A Pastoral Statement
W
e join the Environmentalist
Group Greenpeace and the
Diocese of Balanga headed
by Bishop Socrates Villegas in oppos-
ing the revival of the Bataan Nuclear
Power Plant.
We earnestly appeal to our Congress-
men, with fervent hope and prayer that
Congress will completely and irrevocably
reject the opening of the nuclear plant as
the most dangerous and expensive way
to generate electricity. Multiple risks and
the possibility of corruption outweigh
dreamed benefts.
We recommend with other anti-
BNPP Congressmen and the Greenpeace
Forum that the mothballed facility in
Morong, Bataan, be dismantled as its
revival will be most hazardous to health
and life of the people. It is for this reason
that we also strongly oppose coal-fred
power plant as source of energy in
Iloilo province and in other parts of the
country.
We recommend the implementa-
tion of the approved bill on the use
of renewable energy, such as solar,
wind and water as the safe sources of
electricity.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Confer-
ence of the Philippines
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, D.D.
Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
February 26, 2009
T
he Ecumenical Bishops Forum joins the inter-faith commu-
nity and all sectors of society in an urgent call to stop any
moves to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)
as it would only endanger the lives of the Filipino people now
and in the future.
It is a known fact that this project was full of anomalies
and was a source of corruption during the time of President
Marcos. The Filipino people were then saddled with paying for
this monstrosity for close to two decades.
The revival of this project is very questionable and immoral.
It has serious safety issues because it was built on an earthquake
fault and near an active volcano not only one but three: Mt. Natib,
Mt. Pinatubo and Mt. Mariveles.
We thus call on government leaders to cease from reviv-
ing the said nuclear power plant. We must listen to the calls of
a number of scientists to focus on other alternatives for power
generation that are safe and sustainable as well as indigenous,
to provide for the country’s needs.
We are confdent that in doing so, the government will even-
tually stop its practice of auctioning and privatizing our energy
facilities and resources to private and foreign companies, like
what they are doing with BNPP and other power plants.
We call on the Filipino people to be vigilant and stop the
revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS S. IÑIGUEZ, JR., D.D.
Co-chair, Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum
February 20, 2009
©

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IMPACT • March 2009 24
STATEMENTS
D
e a r
Leaders
of Mas-
bate, Brothers
& Sisters in the
Lord,
Greetings
of PEACE!
I am writing this letter as news about
the attempted murder of Vice Mayor
Antonino de Jesus of Milagros, Masbate,
flters into our local community, our homes
and our consciousness. I don’t know about
you, but this brings cold shivers down my
spine. Violence, pure evil, is once again
rearing its ugly and deadly head in our
province. (Kun sabagay, has it ever left
Masbate at all?)
Since last year I have been watching
some of you, short of declaring it, already
start their march towards their candidacy.
I have also come to learn of calculated
moves of some groups, by approaching
individuals (potential associates if not fel-
low candidates) inviting these to join their
political party. But I also heard rumors of
goons, ruffans, hardened criminals and
guns-for-hire being readied for what they
call “cleansing” (pagalinis) that must hap-
pen if political dreams have to be realized
and personal ambitions satisfed. On Janu-
ary 1, during the celebration of the Mid-
night Mass, I expressed my apprehension
that the 2010 elections in Masbate will be
very violent. With this attempt on the life
of Vice Mayor de Jesus, it seems that this
early I am being proven right.
It is bad enough that our province
could not get out of the rut of being one
of the poorest provinces in the country,
because even the most basic of services
are slow in getting to where the poor are. It
is bad enough that our farmers and fsher-
folk have nothing to feed themselves and
their families with, because they are being
driven out of the land they till or deprived of
their rightful place at sea. It is bad enough
that especially our children are wallowing
in the quagmire of disillusionment and
hopelessness, because unscrupulous indi-
An Open Letter to all Local Offcials of the
Province of Masbate
(Provincial, Municipal & Barangay Levels)
Thus says the Lord God, enough, you princes of
Israel! Put away violence and oppression and do
what is right and just. (Ez 45,9)
viduals are forcing them into prostitution
and luring them to the use of illegal drugs.
It is bad enough that our environment is
being ravaged and our natural resources
are being abused by indiscriminate min-
ing activities in utter disregard of the dire
consequences these activities bring, like
pollution, fooding and erosion.
But worse still is the fact that the cul-
ture of death continues to lay a stranglehold
on all of us here in Masbate, and, I am sad
to say, even more so among you, our local
leaders. Why does it have to be perceived
that among Masbateños one’s political
success must happen at the cost of other
people’s lives? Why can we not treat each
other as human beings, and instead act in
ways that are worse than those of beasts?
When will we ever learn that the politics
of the gun can win you an election but
never, never, the love and respect of your
people? When will we ever learn to live
as men and women who fear God and ap-
preciate and defend the gift of life that He
gave us, even when it happens to belong
to another, such as a political opponent?
Will we ever grow up into the responsible
human beings and children of God that we
are called to become?
Bad things are already happening to
our beloved province. In our midst there
is a proliferation of guns, and hence many
forms of criminal activities, not the least
of them murders, are very rampant. The
province’s history has been so tainted by
political killings and vendettas that nowa-
days when people hear of Masbate, what
readily comes to their mind is a province
where there is political violence and a
culture of death, a place where people
kill people.
Please don’t add any more bad things
to these, especially those acts of vio-
lence that you have
knowledge of, or
worse, those that
you may be respon-
sible for. Please
stop using people
to kill people! Let
there be a stop to all these atrocities! Or
else Masbate will soon become not only
a graveyard of fallen leaders, but truly a
graveyard of our future, of our dreams,
of our hope. In the name of God, I beg all
of you, dear leaders, to join hands instead
and work together for a better Masbate.
For there is plenty of work to do!
Instead of trying to annihilate one
another, why don’t you look at annihilat-
ing the social problems besetting us? You
have focused so much on your personal
survival in politics that you have forgotten
about the survival of your people. When
you should be reaching out to help each
other build up our province, you continue
to destroy one another instead, which in
the end destroys all of us!
When we ask that you focus on is-
sues that impact on us, what is evident
is the apparent indifference or lack of
enthusiasm that you, our local offcials,
show in addressing and solving the ills
and problems in our community. For, tell
me, please, of any response that you have
done to alleviate the poverty of our poor
farmers, who more often than not, get the
raw end of the law simply because they
are poor. Tell me, please, of any decisions
that you have made to protect the rights
of our fsher-folk when they fall victim
to the violence of the guns of big fshing
boats at sea. No wonder people suspect
that local leaders are receiving payments
from these fshing vessels. Owners of these
vessels have in fact been heard to have
said so. “Nabayadan na namon an dagat!”
“Naghatag na kami sa itaas!”
Now tell me, please, of any moves you
have made to protect our young boys and
girls from being prostituted in our streets, in
motels or in dark alleys. How many among
you have come to the defense of these most
Volume 43 • Number 3
25
STATEMENTS
E
cological crisis is the gravest of the many challenges that
the whole world faces today because it threatens not only
the basic needs of humans but the whole creation. It can
cause the deprivation of every creature to exist and its sustenance.
It even challenges the global millennium goal of sustainable de-
velopment because sustainable development will not be possible
when almost all the species of the ecosystem are gone.
Global Warming and Climate Change and its impacts are
the most feared ecological crisis that the whole world is facing
today. According to the International Panel on Climate Change,
human activities are the main culprit for the said problems today.
However, the human activities do not only mean burning of
fossil fuel but also the destruction of the trees which respon-
sibilities are the absorption of carbon emissions, maintenance
of hydrological cycle and recharging of ground water, climate
regulation, oxygen production and photosynthesis.
The construction of Ocean 9 Casino and Hotel Resort in
the SMBA Subic, Zambales is a concrete example on how cor-
ruption and power can destroy God’s creation. It also proves
that money is valued more that the principles of truth, account-
ability and life. Money is being worshiped as god more than
the Creator and owner of life. Are the Casino and hotel projects
more valuable than the trees? Is gambling and its fruits the
priority of the Arroyo Administration? We see here complete
distortion of values and priorities. The cutting and removal
of the trees everywhere in our country today will hasten the
catastrophic effects of global warming and climate change in
our country despite attention given by the whole world. It is
therefore immoral in its highest degree, sinful and worse, a
blatant disrespect and dishonor to the Creator.
As Christians and God-fearing people, stewardship is
STOP Cutting Our Trees
A Statement of Support for Architect Jun Palafox
our moral and spiritual responsibilities. As stewards of God’s
creation, our duty is to give justice to the purpose of every
creature. As stewards, we are duty bound to work and demand
the truth, honesty and accountability from those in authority.
Offcials of Subic Bay Management Authority, the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources, and other concerned
agencies, are accountable to the Filipino people for every
member of the ecosystems’ species, lost and destroyed in
Subic as a result of the construction of the Casino and Hotel.
Its harmful impacts to the environment, lives and lifestyle of
the people will be their responsibility.
We strongly denounce the ongoing destruction to our
environment, the perpetuation of gambling and prostitution
in our society by establishing legally establishments that
will serve as vehicles for such immoralities. We also support
Architect Jun Palafox and all those who took courage, sac-
rifced themselves in exposing all kinds of evil doings in our
society. Therefore, let us work together in bringing back the
true Filipino values of honesty, integrity and love for country.
Let us not allow foreigners, investors or individuals to use the
ongoing culture of corruption to their advantage but instead
show to them that there are more true honorable Filipino
people whose lives and integrity are untarnished by love for
money and power. We thus urge the concerned authorities to
keep all trees in SBMA preserved, protected and cure the sick
ones. We call on President Arroyo to order SMBA to stop the
cutting of trees. Instead demand from developer a new design
of the project in order to protect the ecosystems of SMBA.
SIGNED by MORE THAN 2,500 individuals composed
of Bishops, priests, religious and lay men and women of the
Archdiocese of Manila, on January 19-15, 2009
vulnerable members of our society? Tell
me, please, how you are combating the
drug menace in our midst. Do you care to
know if there is a growing number of rugby
boys roaming our streets? Do you care to
know if there are marijuana plantations
in the barangays? Or shabu laboratories
in our neighborhoods? Are there ways to
check if your fellow public servants or
the police are users or, worse, pushers?
Tell me, please, if your local government
is involved in the advocacy on behalf of
the environment. Is the public informed
whenever a group applies to do mining
exploration in your area? Are the people
asked if they agree with the venture or not?
What moves have you taken to reforest our
hills and mountains?
I know that some of you have been
doing your share to address these con-
cerns and have responded positively in
solving some of our society’s problems.
I ask them to do more. I also know that
some of you do not use guns to win over
their opponents, but do it the honorable
way. And to them I say, please do not
stop doing good and being instruments of
peace. But to those others who have done
practically nothing to address the above-
mentioned social ills, to those of you who
have chosen to live a life of violence and
self-serving political career, or those of
you who continue to plan to do harm to
his or her political opponents, I beg of
you, please listen to the tiny voice of your
conscience – and I would like to believe
you still have even a little of it – and do
something right before God and before
your people. Choose to be at the service of
life, and be not agents of death! Listen to
what the Lord said to the people of Israel
in the Book of Deuteronomy, for surely
he says the same to us:
“I call heaven and earth today to
witness against you: I have set before
you life and death, the blessing and the
curse. Choose life, then, that you and your
descendants may live, by loving the Lord
your God, heeding his voice and holding
fast to him. For that will mean life for
you…” (Deut 30, 19)
It is bad enough that bad things are
happening to us these days. It feels worse
when we are unable to respond adequately
to these challenges. But worst of all is
when human life is regarded as if it were
nothing but a piece of dirty rag that people
can just throw away.
IN THE NAME OF GOD AND
FOR THE LOVE OF OUR BLESSED
MOTHER, I BEG OF YOU, LEADERS
OF MASBATE, PLEASE CHOOSE LIFE
AND RESPECT IT!
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
+JOEL L. BAYLON, DD
Bishop of Masbate
11 February 2009
Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
©

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IMPACT • March 2009 26
FROM THE
BLOGS
Cafeteria closed
L
ong since, the phrase “cafeteria
style” has been in used with par-
ticular reference to the so called
“Pro-Choice Catholics” on the matter of
contraceptives—abortive items included.
In other words, there are catholic couples—
and their number seems to be increasing
fast—who subscribe to the “modern”
thinking and thereby assume the right to
freely choose what means to use in order to
either control the number of their children
or not to have children at all through all
positive means.
Their conclusion is simple and clear:
The government in collaboration with
multi-national pharmaceuticals must see
to it that contraceptives of all labels and
effects must be made available in both pub-
lic and private outlets—charged to public
funds or private pockets respectively. In
short, just place all kinds and brands of
contraceptives in government and pri-
vate outlets. It is up to people, Catholics
well included, to choose for themselves
what contraceptives—anti-conception,
anti-birth, anti-child means—to use. This
in substance is the simple meaning and
plain implication of the “Cafeteria” of
contraceptives: Look, choose and take/
buy what you like!
Never mind the teachings of the
Catholic faith and the principles of Catholic
morality. Never mind the physiological
ill-effects of the contraceptive pills to
swallow and injections to get. Never mind
if conception is merely avoided or really
destroyed after it actually took place. Never
mind the adverse and lasting biological
impact of contraceptive in-take that has a
bearing on the normalcy of a child when
this is subsequently opted. And never mind
the standing teaching of nature—such
as the natural constitution of the human
body—that when it is violated by man, it
eventually strikes back at him.
For the good of humanity, in defer-
ence to the law of nature and to prevent
downright violence to women in particular,
no less than the Vatican in consonance
with the very clear, offcial and unequivo-
cal pronouncement of Supreme Pontiff,
issued the following Statement—with
particular reference to Catholics: “Bene-
dict XVI took the opportunity to speak of
the requirements of the natural moral law
and the Church’s constant teaching on the
dignity of the human life from conception
to natural death.”
It should be well noted that the above
public Statement was issued precisely on
the occasion of a recent visit to the Vatican
made by a Head of a Legislative Assembly
of a supposedly almighty nation—a Catho-
lic legislator who precisely subscribes to
the “Cafeteria” of contraceptives, abortion
included as a matter of course. Whether
the said legislator understood the State-
ment and/or appreciate its relevance and
implication, is not known. In fact, it is not
only possible but also probable that key
Catholic legislator in the US did not, and
wherefore left the Vatican exactly with the
same offcial “Pro-Choice” posture in the
matter of contraception/abortion.
But just the same, as far as the Church
is concerned, the following is clear: “CAF-
ETERIA CLOSED”.
www.ovc.blogspot.com
Capitalism, materialism, individualism
U
nbridled capitalism, just as radical socialism, are fatal
for humanity—especially those who are at the bottom
of the economic ladder. Capitalism is unbridled when
wealth is practically adored and glorifed, and where the poor
and the helpless are thus discarded and trampled upon. Social-
ism is radical when the government becomes a continuously
ravenous institution that practically feeds on people. This is
why in the last analysis, not only radical socialism but also
unbridled capitalism are both ultimately anti-people.
This is why when capitalism is let loosed and even protected
by those in tenure of political power—such as when not capital
and labor but capital and government instead are joined—its
infallible product is materialism. Any and all materialistic mind
frame and pursuant action and reaction pattern lead to one and
the same conclusion: Money frst, people last. Temporal goods
acquire primary over human persons. Earthly assets precede
human dignity and human rights. That is why just as liberalistic
capitalism, materialism is also anti-people.
This is why the more materialism gets the upper hand
in the value system of society, its ultimate consequence is
individualism, i.e., I, me and mine; and blatantly destruc-
tive of the social dimension of private property. When the
“pro-self” norm already dictates an “anti-others” principle,
this is when not merely academic but downright practical
individualism comes to fore. This is why, in the last analysis
not only radical capitalism and consummate materialism but
also constitutional individualism, are in the last analysis all
anti-people—irrespective of contrary scholastic, gymnastic
and personalistic convictions and conclusions.
Hence, in their proper understanding, capitalism
equals materialism which in turn equals individualism. All
three are basically anti-people and contra-society. This is
the living lesson of history as precisely relived to the hilt
by the present spectacular and dreadful global economic
crisis—which is nothing else than the composite product
of capitalism, materialism and individualism. Whenever
the abundant, developed and promising economic life of a
country, a continent or the world begins to be infected by
unbridled capitalism, radical materialism and constitutional
individualism—thus also begins national, continental and
global economic meltdown.
Setting aside for the moment the matter of capitalism and
materialism in the country today, the glaring truth is the reign
of individualism incarnate as amply demonstrated by a good
number of flthy rich pro-self politicos and bureaucrats. Oh
yes, they pretend to be pro-others when they throw people
some bones every here and there, some surplus bits and pieces
from their tables every now and then. What is even worse is
the greed for power and wealth, respect no law and knows no
limits. Hence the spectacle of multi-million poor, hungry and
sick Filipinos all over the land!
www.ovc.blogspot.com
Volume 43 • Number 3
27

EDITORIAL
F
oolishness, inanity, absurdity—these are some of
the realities similar to “folly”. And when such is
appended to “Malacañang”, it means the folly of
its reigning chief. Put together, “Malacañang Folly” has
reference to the foolishness, inanity or absurdity of the
supreme governing fgure in the land. This is not meant
to offend the sensibility, much less to insult the character
concerned. The same disclaimer applies to the latter’s allies
and benefciaries whereas these have really no choice but
to side with their patron, to affrm their benefactor.
Call for Unity: Time and again Malacañang invokes
this much overused mantra. In offcial events and informal
occasions, in solemn as well as ordinary days, seriously
and distinctly is the call for unity made with a straight face
and proper emotional overtones. But time and again, as
long as the one calling is exactly the same, in vain is the
hackneyed invocation made. Reason: The call for unity
is made precisely by the over-all cause of disunity in the
land. Result: Political, social plus economic disunity in
the Country remains standard.
Call for Moral Renewal: This invocation is not
only silly and funny too, but also rather pitiful if not
downright absurd. The title holder of corruption—and
the consequent popular distrust and disdain—appealing
for moral renewal is like someone deeply immersed in
putrid mud while advertising cleanliness and sanita-
tion. Honesty, integrity, rectitude—these are but basic
attributions required of anyone calling for moral re-
newal. Otherwise, it can readily be assumed that there
is incarnated hypocrisy or appalling lack of conscience
Malacañang folly
on the part of the caller. Result: Corruption especially
in government continues as matter of fact in structural
nature and syndicated extent.
Call for a “feeling” of progress: Plastered in
prominent places throughout the country last year
was the poster bearing the campaign, “Ramdam ang
Kaunlaran” or roughly translated “progress is being
felt”. That was a deception, because twenty or so
hungry Filipinos felt otherwise: “Ramdam ang ka-
hirapan, ramdam ang gutom” or “it’s destitution and
hunger that is felt”. According to an executive director
of IBON, nearly 72% of Filipinos surveyed in 2007
consider themselves poor. According to June 2008
Social Weather Survey, 59% of Filipino Families (10.6
million) rate themselves as mahirap or poor, 24% rate
themselves on borderline poor and only 17% as not
poor. The benefts of the much proclaimed economic
growth are not felt by the masses.
The straightforward cure to folly is reality—usually
in terms of a “Wake up!” call. It is about time that Mala-
cañang better become real and thereby accept the truth
that more and more people look at it with deprecation
and even disgust. It is about time that Malacañang start
accepting the truth that after some long eight years, it
has brought the country to more and great losses in the
course of its tenure of power and erratic disposition of
public funds. It is about time that Malacañang redeem
itself from its many and serious governing graft and
corrupt practices.
But, does it still have the time?
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IMPACT • March 2009 28
From the e-mail messages of lanbergado@cbcpworld.com
FROM THE
INBOX
A
t a fundraising dinner for a school
that serves learning-disabled chil-
dren, the father of one of the stu-
dents delivered a speech that would never
be forgotten by all who attended. After
extolling the school and its dedicated staff,
he offered a question: 'When not interfered
with by outside infuences, everything
nature does is done with perfection. Yet
my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other
children do. He cannot understand things
as other children do. Where is the natural
order of things in my son?'
The audience was stilled by the query.
The father contin-
ued. 'I believe that when
a child like Shay, physi-
cally and mentally handi-
capped comes into the
world, an opportunity
to realize true human
nature presents itself, and
it comes in the way other
people treat that child.'
Then he told the fol-
lowing story:
Shay and his father
had walked past a park
where some boys Shay
knew were playing base-
ball. Shay asked, 'Do you
think they'll let me play?'
Shay's father knew that
most of the boys would
not want someone like Shay on their team,
but the father also understood that if his
son were allowed to play, it would give
him a much-needed sense of belonging
and some confdence to be accepted by
others in spite of his handicaps.
Shay's father approached one of the
boys on the feld and asked (not expecting
much) if Shay could play. The boy looked
around for guidance and said, 'We're losing
by six runs and the game is in the eighth
inning. I guess he can be on our team and
we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth
inning.'
Shay struggled over to the team's
bench and, with a broad smile, put on a
team shirt. His father watched with a small
tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The
boys saw the father's joy at his son being
accepted. In the bottom of the eighth in-
ning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was
still behind by three. In the top of the ninth
inning, Shay put on a glove and played in
the right feld. Even though no hits came
his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to
be in the game and on the feld, grinning
from ear to ear as his father waved to him
from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth
inning, Shay's team scored again. Now,
with two outs and the bases loaded, the
potential winning run was on base and Shay
was scheduled to be next at bat.
At this juncture, do they let Shay bat
and give away their chance to win the
game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the
bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but
impossible because Shay didn't even know
how to hold the bat properly, much less
connect with the ball.
However, as Shay stepped up to the
plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the
other team was putting winning aside for
this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few
steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could
at least make contact. The frst pitch came
and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The
pitcher again took a few steps forward to
toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the
pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and
hit a slow ground ball right back to the
pitcher.
The game would now be over. The
pitcher picked up the soft grounder and
could have easily thrown the ball to the frst
baseman. Shay would have been out and that
would have been the end of the game.
Two Choices
Instead, the pitcher threw the ball
right over the frst baseman's head, out of
reach of all team mates. Everyone from
the stands and both teams started yelling,
'Shay, run to frst! Run to frst!' Never in
his life had Shay ever run that far, but he
made it to frst base. He scampered down
the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run
to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awk-
wardly ran towards second, gleaming and
struggling to make it to the base. By the
time Shay rounded towards second base,
the right felder had the ball ... the small-
est guy on their team
who now had his frst
chance to be the hero for
his team. He could have
thrown the ball to the
second-baseman for the
tag, but he understood
the pitcher's intentions
so he, too, intentionally
threw the ball high and far
over the third-baseman's
head Shay ran toward
third base deliriously as
the runners ahead of him
circled the bases toward
home.
All were screaming,
'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the
Way Shay'
Shay reached third
base because the opposing shortstop ran
to help him by turning him in the direction
of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!
Shay, run to third!'
As Shay rounded third, the boys from
both teams, and the spectators, were on
their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home!
Run home!' Shay ran to home, stepped
on the plate, and was cheered as the hero
who hit the grand slam and won the game
for his team.
'That day', said the father softly with
tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys
from both teams helped bring a piece of true
love and humanity into this world'.
Shay didn't make it to another summer.
He died that winter, having never forgotten
being the hero and making his father so
happy and coming home and seeing his
Mother tearfully embrace her little hero
of the day!
©

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Volume 43 • Number 3
29
book
Reviews
The A-Z Guide to Looking at the
Media
A Beginner’s Companion to Media Literacy
Clothilde C. de las Llagas, FSP
The influence of mass media and new media has penetrated
every aspect of human existence with its impact keenly felt
and seen in the mode of being and thinking of individuals.
With this phenomenon, understanding media and its effects
on society in general, and human beings in particular is very
crucial. This book, a beginner’s companion to media literacy,
is an indispensable guide for parents, teachers, pastoral
workers and even teens, who are continuously exposed to
media and to its messages for hours on end. The book is en-
lightening and informa-
tive as it gives meaning
to words and phrases
that are used in “me-
dia literacy.” Scriptural
quotati on opens each
letter of the media terms
discussed in the book.
Some entries end with
quest i ons f or r ef l ec-
tion, a fitting exercise
for medi a consumers
to apply the knowledge
learned in the book and
to develop critical skills
to use media well. The
aut hor, a member of
t he Daught ers of St .
Paul, conducts regular
media literacy seminars
t o parent s, t eachers,
pastoral workers and
students. This volume
published by Paulines
Publishing House is her
first book.
City on a Hill
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco,
DD
This book of refections is
a collection of homilies and
talks given on different oc-
casions by Bishop Ongtioco
in his fve years as Bishop
of Cubao. The wide-ranging
topics of his refections are
presented in different head-
ings: anniversaries, priest-
hood, Mary, education, gift
of life, saints, Lent, Reli-
gious Life, Jubilees, and
the Last Words of Jesus.
The varied themes offer a
list of options for readers
to choose from depending
on what inspire them at the
moment. Simply written yet
profoundly insightful, the book tells a lot about the author as a man
called by God, his own relationship with the God who called him,
and with his people he was tasked to lead. Borrowing the diocesan
motto to title the book, the bishop reveals how he particularly loves
the diocese entrusted to his pastoral care. “The diocese, the people
of God, and our journey together towards God our Father are the
City on a Hill.” Appointed bishop of Balanga by Pope John Paul
II on April 8, 1998, Bishop Ongtioco was ordained bishop at the
Cathedral of the Assumption in San Fernando, Pampanga on June
18, 1998. He became Cubao’s frst bishop when it was created a
diocese in June 2003.
New National
Catechetical
Directory
for the
Philippines
Catholic Bishops’ Confer-
ence of the Philippines
An updated volume of the
1984 National Catechetical
Directory for the Philippines,
Maturing in Christian Faith,
this new catechetical direc-
tory presents an updated,
integrated and inculturated
catechetical ministry in the Philippines. All in six chapters, the
book also contains a Preface that introduces the nature, objec-
tives and characteristics of the New Directory. Chapter I gives an
overview of the concrete context of catechesis in the Philippines
in its social, economic, political, cultural and religious dimensions.
Chapter II presents an updated clarifcation of “Catechesis: Its
“Nature, Goals, and Sources.” Chapter III updates the exposi-
tion of the “Foundations of Catechesis: Revelation, Faith and
the Church.” Chapter IV focuses on the “Basic Content of the
Church’s Catechesis” and gives short descriptions of Catholic
Doctrine, Catholic Morality, and Catholic Prayer and Worship.
Chapter V presents the complex topic of catechetical methodol-
ogy, while Chapter VI tackles catechetical organization, person-
nel and resources. The textbook comes with an accompanying
volume of training modules.
Faith Seeking Understanding
Volume I & II
A Complete Course
in Theology
Edited by Charles Bel-
monte
A comprehensive exposi-
tion of the Catholic faith,
the book comes in two
volumes. Volume I is an
introductory course to
Theology, while Volume
II is Fundamental Moral
Theology. The book pro-
vides useful cross-refer-
ences to the Catechism
and other relevant Church
documents whi ch the
readers will fnd useful.
The various theological
and doctrinal topics in the
book are contributed by
different theologians.
IMPACT • March 2009 30
ENTERTAINMENT
Cast: Sarah Geronimo, John Lloyd Cruz, Rowell
Santiago, Rayver Cruz, Matet de Leon, Joross
Gamboa, Gio Alvarez, Dante Rivero
Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina
Producers: Malou Santos, Vic Del Rosario
Music: Jessie Lasaten
Genre: Drama/ Romance
Distributor: Star Cinema Productions/ Viva Films
Location: Philippines
Running Time: 120 min
Technical Assessment: ½
Moral Assessment: 
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 13 and below with
parental guidance
A
nim na buwan na ang
nakakal i pas nang
mabihag ni Laida
Magtalas (Sarah Geronimo)
ang puso ng kanyang “man of
his dreams” at boss na si Mig-
gy Montenegro (John Lloyd
Cruz). Naayos na ni Miggy ang
problema sa kanyang pamilya
at masayang-masaya ang ka-
nilang pagsasama ni Laida.
Na-promote na si Laida pati
na si Miggy. Sa pagkaka-
promote ni Miggy, kakailan-
ganin niyang magtrabaho sa
Laguna at magiging bihira
ang pagkikita nila ni Laida.
Dito magsisimula ang prob-
lema nilang dalawa kasabay
ng pagbabalik ng dating best
friend ni Laida na si Mackoy
(Rayver Cruz) na magiging
ugat ng pagseselos ni Miggy.
Sa gitna ng mga komplikasyon
ng relasyong Laida at Miggy
ay magkakaroon naman ng
oportunidad si Laida na mag-
trabaho sa Canada. Magkaroon
pa kaya ng happy ending ang
dalawa?
Muling pinakilig ng tam-
balang Sarah-John Lloyd ang
mga manonood sa pagpapatu-
loy ng kanilang kuwento na
nagsimula sa A Very Special
Love. Tulad sa naunang peli-
kula, hitik ang You Changed
My Life ng mga nakakatuwang
eksena at di-malilimutang mga
linya. Tunay na maganda ang
chemistry ng dalawa. Maayos
ang daloy ng kuwento at ma-
linaw ang nais patunguhan.
Magagaling ang lahat ng mga
tauhan na binigyang buhay
ang kanilang bawat karakter.
Sa gitna ng kilig at tawanan,
mayroon ring tamang timpla
ng drama ang pelikula. Yun nga
lang, pawang naging masya-
dong limitado ang kuwento
at problema sa dalawang bida.
Hindi na gaanong napalalim
ang mga isyung pampamilya
at ang ilang mahahalagang
karakter ay nawalan ng sariling
kuwento. Gayunpaman, ang
pinakamahalaga’y naihatid
ng pelikula ang kuwentong
Laida at Miggy sa mas mataas
na antas.
Nakakatuwang pagmas-
dan kung paanong ang dala-
wang taong wagas na nagma-
mahalan ay pilit na gumagawa
ng paraan upang panatilihin at
pagyabungin ito. Nananatil-
ing dalisay at walang bahid
ng kalaswaan at makamun-
dong pagnanasa ang relasyong
Laida at Miggy. Tunay na hindi
kinakailangang magpakita ng
laman o malabis na halikan
upang ipakita ang pagmama-
halan. Napakalakas ng men-
sahe ng pelikula na walang
imposible sa dalawang taong
nagmamahalan. Hindi hadlang
ang pagkakaiba ng estado sa
buhay maging ang panlabas na
CATHOLIC INITIATIVE FOR
ENLIGHTENED MOVIE APPRECIATION
kaanyuan sa dalawang pusong
nagmamahal. Kapuri-puri din
ang pagpapahalaga ng peliku-
la sa pamilya, pagkakaibigan,
trabaho at higit sa lahat, sa
makabuluhang relasyon. Sa
gitna ng kaguluhan at maram-
ing komplikasyon sa pagba-
bago ng mundo, nanatiling
matibay ang pagkakaibigan,
pagpaparaya at pag-ibig.
Ikanga rin sa pelikula, hindi
nagsusukatan ang taong nag-
mamahalan sapagkat iba’t-iba
ang kayang ibigay ng bawat
isa. Ang mahalaga’y lubos at
buong-puso ang pagbibigay
at pagpaparaya.
Volume 43 • Number 3
31
NEWS
BRI EFS
NORTH KOREA
N. Korean troops on
combat alert
Government forces here
have been put on red alert
in response to massive war
games involving US and
South Korean troops for
belief that it is a prelude to
a full scale invasion. Over
50, 000 US and S. Korean
soldiers are taking part in
the joint exercise, which will
end before April.
JAPAN
Japan suffers trade
defcit
As the global fnancial
crisis continues to batter
the many nations, Japan
also has recorded its frst
current account defcit in 13
years. The Japanese gov-
ernment said the economy
posted a $US2.8 billion
current account defcit in
January.
SRI LANKA
Fighting claims 100
lives in Sri Lanka
Over 100 Tamil Tiger reb-
els have already been killed in
two days as fghting continues
here, the Sri Lankan govern-
ment said. The defense minis-
try said the rebels launched a
major counter-attack against
advancing government forc-
es in northeastern district of
Mullaittivu but were beaten
back.
MALAYSIA
Govt to unveil second
stimulus package
The government here
is expected to unveil this
month a second stimulus
plan worth to $US9.4 bil-
lion, after a $US2 billion
last year, to prevent its ex-
port-driven economy slide
into recession. Malaysia’s
economic growth slowed
to just 0.1 percent in the
fourth quarter of 2008, hit
by falling exports.
CHINA
Unrest expected in Xin-
jiang
Security situation in Xin-
jiang will be heightened
this year, authorities said,
sparking further concern
of unrest ahead of sen-
sitive anniversaries. The
area is home to over eight
million Uighurs—Muslims
who said they’ve turned
decades of political and
religious repression. China
has accused Uighur rebels
of inciting unrest in the
region, particularly in the
run-up to and during, the
Olympics last year.
VIETNAM
Smuggled tusks uncov-
ered in Vietnam
Custom officials here
have exposed up to fve
tonnes of elephant tusks
smuggled in from Tanzania.
The tusks were found hidden
in around 114 boxes of plas-
tic waste after being trans-
ported from Africa through
Malaysia to Vietnam’s north-
ern Hai Phong port.
THAILAND
PM to change harsh
laws vs insulting the
monarchy
Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva
has agreed to consider re-
vising the kingdom’s harsh
laws against insulting the
monarchy. There has been
an escalation in the use of
the law in recent months,
and critics said it is being
used for political ends.
INDONESIA
Volcano erupts in Java
island
The tallest volcano in
Java has erupted recently,
spewing smoke and ash
high into the sky and the
covering a nearby town in
black dust. Reports said
the 376m high Mt. Semeru
poses no danger to people
living in the area, which is
35 kilometers southeast of
Lumajang.
EAST TIMOR
Timorese soldiers to
train in Australia
The government of
East Timor said it wants
to send more troops to
Australia for training. Aus-
tralia’s Defence Minister
Joel Fitzgibbon was in Dili
recently to offcially open a
new specialist training wing
that will be used to teach
English and engineering to
Timorese soldiers.
PHILIPPINES
Peace talks to resume
with reds
The Arroyo administra-
tion is sending negotia-
tors to the Netherlands this
month for talks with the
country’s communist rebel
movement. Presidential
peace adviser Avelino Ra-
zon said the government
is open to the possibility
of entering formal peace
talks with the rebels without
a ceasefre.
HONG KONG
HK concerned by advo-
cate ban
Leaders here are con-
cerned over the banning of
a pro-democracy advocate
following the introduction
of a security bill that could
curb civil liberties. Univer-
sity of Hong Kong law fac-
ulty dean, Johannes Chan,
was refused entry to Macau
where he’d been invited to
give a speech recently.
MONGOLIA
Mongolia inks deal
with Canadian copper
miner
The Mongolian govern-
ment has closed a deal
with Canadian frm Ivanhoe
Mines to develop one of
the world’s richest copper
deposits. The Ivanhoe said
the Mongolian cabinet and
national security council
have “endorsed in prin-
ciple” an investment agree-
ment for the construction of
the Oyu Tolgio mine.