Saturday, November 26, 2005

Some photos

We've recently bought a digital camera. It's a Pentax Optio s5z. It's pretty good. 5 megapixels....

I've wanted to buy a digicam for so long, so I'm happy we finally got one. :)

This is what it looks like:

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It's pretty light, with a wide LCD.

Here are some sample pictures I took:

Our little Christmas tree  Posted by Picasa

From another angle. Posted by Picasa

Our parol Posted by Picasa

Series light Posted by Picasa

Our belen Posted by Picasa

Baby Jesus Posted by Picasa

I woke up early yesterday to review for an exam. When dawn broke I went up to our balcony and took some pictures of our surroundings. This camera works wonders! (You can click on the images for a larger, better view).

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A Tambis. The light that falls on the leaves is the sun's natural light just as it was emerging from the horizon. Posted by Picasa

A lamp post Posted by Picasa

Our balcony Posted by Picasa

I really love the quality of this photo. The orange sky in the background is so vivid. The silhouette of the tree is so beautiful. The details are captured almost perfectly. Posted by Picasa

Same with this one... Posted by Picasa

I like this photo the best! Posted by Picasa

The camera is pretty amazing... Expect to see more photos like these in the future. I think I'll change this blog into a photo weblog... Hehehe...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What is the real Christmas story?

That is the title of a program about the Nativity on NBC's Dateline. They have the full text of the program here.

Singles Weekend Retreat

My brothers and sisters in the Singles For Christ (SFC) community in Talisay will be going on a two days and three nights retreat this weekend called the Singles Weekend Retreat (SWR). I just feel so helpless because my GG (God's Gift, that is what we in SFC call our girlfriend/ boyfriend) and I really wanted to attend the retreat but can't because of my class on Saturday. The venue will be at Tabor Hills in Talamban, a very ideal place for retreats, because it sits atop a small, um, hill. Which means it will be cold there at night. Which means it will have an awesome view of Cebu City in glimmering lights! It is actually the destination of many devotees during Holy Week because it is designed to portray the Stations of the Cross.

So next time na lang pud... :)

Can laws eliminate social conflicts?

I was able to add Asian Civilization and Science, Technology, and Society to my study load. That's good. I now have 19 units in my load.

In our Asian Civilization class this morning, our teacher posed a very interesting question, one which I really wanted to answer. But the thing is, I get really excited when I have an answer to a question a teacher poses, to the point that I am paralyzed by fear, fear that I might sound like a "know-it-all", fear that my thoughts might be rejected, fear that I'm not really motivated by a wish to share my opinion but by a desire to give way to my pride and egocentricity.

Anyway, the question was, "Are laws able to eliminate social conflicts?" The answer is kind of easy, I think. It seems common-sensical, but nobody in our class was able to give a satisfactory answer. I had the urge to raise my hand but chose to keep silent. Our teacher supplied the answer, saying that laws cannot, that conflicts can only be eliminated when each individual in society is willing enough to eliminate it, through his or her attitude.

I would've wanted to say that laws cannot eliminate social conflicts (at best laws can only minimize them), because people have free will. Each person in society has the power to either act in such away that she lives in harmony with her neighbors, or in such a way that she is a pain in the butt of the community. Each human being has his or her own interests, desires, wants, and needs, and there will always be conflict as each person seeks to fulfill those needs, wants, and desires. The state is there to regulate all those desires and needs, in such a way that everyone's, or at least the majority's interests, are represented and met. The state can legislate all the laws it deem necessary for its people, but no matter how "good" or "perfect" the laws are, people can still choose to do ill, to act irrationally, to commit crimes, to harm others, etc. Therefore, it all comes down to the level of the individual. All peace and progress emanates from each member of the society.

I just feel like venting that out, because I kind of regretted not speaking... :)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Images from Negros

Here are a few images from our trip to Negros last Oct. 30 - Nov 2.

A portion of our land in Sanke beach Posted by Picasa

Sunset over Sanke beach Posted by Picasa

As our barge was leaving the port in Tampi, Negros Oriental Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

An outrage

Today's PDI editorial rightly called the incident at the Subic Bay Freeport last Nov. 1 and 2 an outrage:

THE ALLEGED rape of a vacationing college graduate from Zamboanga inside the Subic Bay Freeport during the holidays last week has provoked great public outrage and greater public interest. In part, that is because the young lady was said to be the victim of a group rape, inside a rented van and, in part, because the alleged rapists were US servicemen.

A rape, whether it is committed by a foreigner or a countryman, is one of the most terrible of crimes. But what allegedly happened in the late hours of Nov. 1 and the early hours of Nov. 2 cannot be dissociated from the identity of the alleged rapists. A rape is not only a crime against a person; it is also a crime of power, of unequal relations between victim and victimizer. The fact that the alleged rapists are American soldiers, running wild inside a former American naval base, makes their American-ness, in the context of our country's own history, an inescapable reality.

The trauma the young lady is going through at the moment is unbearably personal. But part of the public fascination with the case is the role Americans-former colonizers, once and future allies in the war on terrorism, current lone superpower-allegedly play in it. That is something the US Embassy, or indeed even MalacaƱang, cannot wish away.

To be sure, both the administration and the US authorities have thus far handled the matter in a praiseworthy manner.

The five American marines implicated in the crime have been detained; they were not allowed to leave with their warship last Thursday, and they remain in the custody of the US Embassy.

MalacaƱang has refused to lose its head on the issue. "This is a matter that is very well covered by the provisions of the [Visiting Forces Agreement], and we are letting the Department of Foreign Affairs handle this," Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters, reassuringly.

And the Department of Justice is studying the legal options open before it, including possibly submitting a request, under VFA provisions, for "transfer of jurisdiction."

The Olongapo city prosecutor's office has also taken an encouragingly active stance, even while acknowledging that because the VFA is in effect, the nature of the work facing the government has fundamentally changed: It has become a diplomatic rather than a criminal issue.

That said, we must belabor the obvious: The government must pursue the ends of justice regardless of the diplomatic or political costs (or indeed, regardless of whether the alleged victim testifies or not). As Sen. Rodolfo Biazon noted, remarking on the task of the presidential oversight committee and the legislative oversight committee on the VFA, it is the government's responsibility to make sure that the Philippines is not "unnecessarily" taken advantage of.

Perhaps, all he meant was that we should not be disadvantaged. There are reasons for thinking that a US hard line or a weak Palace position may lead to unhappy results. The first US Embassy statement on the issue missed the point entirely, saying visiting American soldiers are always under orders to observe "cultural sensitivity, proper behavior and respect for the law of the communities" being visited. This makes the alleged rape rather like a violation of a quaint local taboo; the last time we checked, rape is a universal crime. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez also has made discouraging noises, talking aloud when he should let the DFA do the talking.

Justice must be served; that is non-negotiable. If we will not stand up for one of our own, no ally would.

Another one

ON the front page yesterday, Brad Tiffany, "an American from New York staying in Manila," is shown arguing with members of a feminist group who staged a lightning rally in front of the US Embassy to condemn the alleged rape.

"She's a prostitute asking US servicemen for money," Tiffany argued. A foolhardy argument, and also a specious, morally bankrupt one. It assumes that the victim of the alleged group rape by American Marines last week was a sex worker (she wasn't). It assumes that sex workers cannot be raped (of course, they can, if the sex act is forced or done without their consent). Worst of all, it assumes that money excuses everything, even rape. (It doesn't.)

Meanwhile, the government issued a statement that the incident at Subic was an "isolated one":

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the incident would not affect joint military exercises.

"This is the only case of this nature reported despite the many American troops who have participated in various joint exercises," Bunye said.

"We cannot say this is a pattern. We believe this is an isolated case and this should not affect our objective of holding joint exercises," he said.

I didn't know the Visiting Forces Agreement actually protects the US military from any legal or criminal liability for actions done during the "military exercises". That's very disturbing, I think, and is one reason why we should re-examine the VFA.

Do aliens have souls?

It's very likely that there are other intelligent life forms out there in space, considering the unimaginable vastness of our universe and the countless stars in our galaxy alone. There are equally countless numbers of galaxies that exist out there. So, there must be intelligent life out there (The universe may even be teeming with intelligent life), although we may be separated by trillions of light years away from them.

So the question I guess is not really if we will someday be able to "discover" intelligent extra-terrestrial life, but when will it happen?

When it does happen, how will it affect our faith? How will it affect theology, and the belief in Christ? Will it invalidate religion, or reinforce it?

A Vatican astromer has published a booklet that tries to answer those interesting questions.

Read this article and listen to Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno's interview over at Vatican Radio.

Faith and reason

Here's a quotable statement on faith and reason:

"Religion divorced from reason runs the risk of falling prey to fundamentalism." (Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture)

Taken from this news article.

Vacation's over

Today's the last day of my semestral vacation. It was really great, I had a lot of time to relax and recharge my "spiritual batteries".

I think I'm ready for the next semester. But, I don't think it's going to be hard (I hope), since I only have three subjects (I know, I'm so underloaded. I hope to add two more subjects next week):

  • Health Care 2

  • Basic Nutrition

  • Biochemistry

  • Nursing students who are in their junior and senior years may laugh at my list. I know the third and fourth years of nursing are extremely challenging (And that may even just be an understatement).

    Eucharistic Mountain Retreat

    Just watched Life On The Rock at EWTN TV tonight and they had a wonderful program. They interviewed a priest and two lay people (one single and the other married) who are into doing retreats in the mountains (that is, mountaineering). They aim to seek and adore God and His wondrous creation (Nature) by climbing mountains and celebrating the Eucharist there. It's an inspiring experience.

    I wish I could someday experience that, too. It's true what one of the guests in the program said. In our cities, there's too much noise, man-made. When we go to the mountains or the forests, we see and experience nothing but God's creation. The solitude that an excursion to nature provides gives us the opportunity to hear the noise inside us, to fight that noise, and to finally hear God's voice inside us.

    I was delighted to find out that EWTN has a record of that program at their website. If you want to listen to it, go here (Click on program number 436, "Eucharistic Mountain Retreat for Youth"). I was even more delighted when I learned that the EWTN website have audio files of previous Life On The Rock programs. This show is great. Try to watch it every Saturday night, 11 PM. They occasionally interview very interesting guests and discuss very interesting topics and issues.

    More info here: In Altum Productions.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Back from Negros

    I'm back from our trip to Negros (I actually arrived two days ago). I enjoyed it. (But I would've enjoyed it more had I stayed longer and traveled alone or with my Baby =) ). When we arrived in Dumaguete it was already dark. We ate at Jo's, and while we waited for our chicken inato, I went down the street and toured a portion of the city by foot. It was surreal seeing Silliman again, the SU cafeteria, Scooby's, Chowking, Union Drug, Ever Theater, Lee Super Plaza, Rizal Boulevard, Cafe Memento... After the meal we headed to Bayawan and then to Sanke.

    On All Saint's Day we went to Basay to hear Mass at the town cemetary. The day before we visited my sister's grave and lit and offered candles.

    On the way back to Cebu a shocking reality greeted me: Gasoline prices have increased for over two pesos! The "E" in EVAT must mean "evil".
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