Saturday, September 30, 2006

Remember The Flying House?

Back from EBH

I got back yesterday from our 3-day duty in a birthing home in Lapu-Lapu. We only got 4 deliveries (we were divided into 4 groups with 3 members each - one to handle the delivery, another to assist, and a third to do the cord care - so we only got 1 case each). That was our last birthing home for this semester. Next semester we will be assigned mostly in the Operating Room area of different hospitals. The Professional Regulatory Board requires 5 handled cases, 5 assisted cases, and 5 cord care... I don't know how I'm going to complete these requirements, because my total so far is only 1 handled case, 1 assisted, and 1 cord care.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Two wonderful programs on the (AM) radio

Two great radio programs I have "discovered" last week: One is a Catholic apologetics program hosted by Socrates Fernandez (yes, the present Talisay mayor), and the other a program on Cebuano dialect and culture.

I have often wondered why we don't have any Catholic apologetics radio programs here in Cebu. I thought that maybe there are such programs but that I just don't know when they air because I seldom check the radio for them. Last Saturday I chanced upon one. Soc Fernandez apparently is a very learned apologist. He can answer all sorts of questions about the faith and theology and quote verses from the Bible to illustrate or support his explanation.

The program uses the vernacular language. It airs every Saturday (5-7 PM) and Sunday (6-8 PM). Turn your AM radio dial to 1215.

The second program is over at DYAB. It airs every Sunday from 4 in the afternoon till 6. It's a very enriching program because it talks about Cebuano culture and dialect.

To digress a little bit, do you know what's the Bisaya word for "music"? Obviously, it's not "musika", because it is simply derived from the English word. "Kanta"? Nope, I don't think so. We probably borrowed it from the Tagalogs. "Awit"? Yes, but there's actually a more unique word for it...


When I first heard it I thought it is so beautiful. Saluma... I don't know, I may be romanticizing a bit, but doesn't it perfectly capture the idea and experience of "music" for us Bisayas? The sound of the word evokes an ancient feeling inside me... maybe there *is* such a thing as a "national soul"? :)

Take for example, when you say "I love you" to your significant other, does it fully express what you really feel for him or her? Now consider saying "Nahigugma ako kanimo" or "Gihigugma tika kaayo" or "Gihigugma tika nga wa'y sama"... Lol... I wonder how many people use such expressions nowadays. We think nga para ra na sa mga tiguwang, o nga baduy ra kaayo na paminawun, o nga makatindog og balahibo, which just shows clearly that we still have a deeply-ingrained "colonial mentality". But anyway, doesn't these expressions more fully capture our sentiments and emotions? :)

Someday I'll post samples of classic Cebuano songs here, including verses from a Bisayan translation of the Song of Songs (Awit) from the Bible. The Song of Songs contains plenty of examples of passionate exchange between lovers (hard to believe it's in the Bible; the passionate love is actually understood to mean God's love for his children and vice versa). We will see how deep and how beautiful our dielect is.

This coming Saturday, September 30, there will be a Cebuano music concert at the Mandaue Sports Complex. I think most of the songs that will be played will be classic Cebuano music. The show will start at 7:30 in the evening. I have no idea how much is the entrance fee.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The pope's point

Today's Inquirer editorial:

Papal point

POPE BENEDICT XVI HAD INTENDED HIS SIX-DAY visit to his native Germany to be a restful but meaningful homecoming. Like his great predecessor who had been the first non-Italian in 400 years to become pope and who had made a moving homecoming to his native Poland a year after his election to the papacy in 1979, Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had wanted to make his Bavarian visit a symbolic “return of the native,” a reaffirmation of the roots of his person and the roots of the faith.

The visit turned out to be too meaningful for comfort; and it was anything but restful. By quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor on Islam—“Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”—during a university address, Benedict has riled Muslims and even some Christians and sparked a global conflagration. Catholic churches and Catholics in Islamic countries have been attacked.

The Pope has said he is “deeply sorry” (some linguists say the English translation should have been “deeply saddened”) that Muslims have been offended by the quotation. He clarified that in no way does the quotation reflect his opinion. He has also explained that his university address has been misinterpreted and that he has a “deep respect” for Islam.

In hindsight, the “misinterpretation” seems a “miscontextualization.” The quote from the emperor of Constantinople, Manuel II Paleologus, consists of 32 words out of a text of more than 3,000 words (at least in the English translation of the German original)!

To be sure, the overall text must balance and complement those 32 words, which everyone must be reminded is a quotation that merely served to illustrate a point. And what was the point of the address? It was about the rationality of faith, about the Hellenic or rational influence on Christianity that makes of the religion a marriage of faith and reason. Definitely the hysterical reaction in the Muslim world and some sectors of Christianity is an ironic counterpoint to what the Pope was trying to say in an eminently academic, level-headed, and, yes, rational way.

But was the Pope irresponsible in using the controversial quotation? However incendiary the import of the quotation, the Pope indicated he did not share the opinion of the emperor about the evil and inhumanity of Islam. But he indicated that the quotation from the “erudite” emperor should show that rationality plays an essential role in the faith, and this rationality is translated into peaceful resolution of differences; in short, in dialogue.

That rationality is eminently dialogical and peaceful was demonstrated by the fact that the Pope was delivering an address to his old university of Regensburg. In fact, he opened his address to the students and faculty with a fond recollection of those days in the academe when “despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason.”

And the dialogical rationality of the faith was also embodied by the Pope’s quotation of the emperor that was uttered in the context of a discussion with a Persian scholar—and a Muslim at that!

The Pope, in fact, said that the remark about Islam as “evil and inhuman” was delivered with “startling brusqueness.” The severity of the remark then was merely a dramatic flourish to what the emperor was trying to point out:

“The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. ‘God,’ he says, ‘is not pleased by blood—and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.’”

The pre-eminent rationality of the faith, the Pope went on to expound, must be maintained amid a Europe that has lost all sense of faith because of extreme rationality and secularity. He said rational faith is needed in the discussion with the great cultures and religions of the world.

It is the tragedy of our time that a great address that exalts reason and dialogue should be drowned in the din and blare of hatred and irrationality.

They also published the pope's lecture in the Talk of the Town section here and here.

Politically-motivated, too

The angry reaction to the pope's lecture is politically motivated too, explains this article:

Anyway, it looks like the reaction of Muslims were not as violent or as bloody as the leaders wished them to be and that's why they're now provoking and yelling at the "sleeping" masses and pushing them to show more fury.

They want to add another big scene to the countless previous ones—angry mobs burning flags and pledging to destroy the "infidels".

Actually their latest calls for MORE ANGER are becoming pretty much like begging.
Iran thinks the Muslim people fell short of doing their duty and Qaradawi calls Muslims to have a "day of fury".

All these are theatrical acts directed by governments and corrupt clerics seeking controlled anger among the mobs to use in intimidating the west and discouraging it from applying more pressure on, or calling for changing, these tyrannical regimes.

Such calls are taking the headlines in the governments-controlled media in the Arab countries, and the governments, whether religious or secular, are promoting this provocation of anger.
Meanwhile, voices of reason are being pushed to the rear to appear in a short subtitle or in a tiny corner in the 10th page, or even not mentioned at all.
What the rulers want is the anger that the masses, in the eyes of the rulers, did not express enough of.

What has to be done now from the governments' perspective is to lash those lazy masses with the whips of the media and religion to do more angry protests and show more fist-shaking on TV.

For a while let the people forget about poverty, hunger, terrorism, illiteracy and other problems of the region… And let's redirect the world's attention from "insignificant" issues like Darfur, nuclear reactors, Hizbollah's defiance or Syrian and Iranian meddling with Iraq's or Lebanon's affairs.
What matters now is anger and only anger.

More here.

"Good pope vs. bad pope"

John Paul II, "pope of peace" vs. Benedict XVI, "pope of dogmatic rigidity"?

Think again.

Friday, September 22, 2006

"Flipino" review

Resty Odon reviews Dong Abay's new album "Flipino".

(Via Expectorants)

I've always been a fan of Dong Abay since Yano. I love his album with Pan. Now that group has disbanded and he has since gone solo. I saw his new album in a record store some time ago and thought I might buy it someday. Now I'm pretty excited to get my hands on a copy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What was the Pope saying?

First, read the lecture.

Then, listen to these two podcasts from The Hugh Hewitt Show:

Father Richard John Neuhaus of First Things reacts to the controversy over Pope Benedict's comments on Islam

Former Cardinal Ratzinger student, Father Joseph Fessio, on the Pope's speech last week at Regensburg University

They are very helpful in helping us understand what the Pope was saying.

A Challenge, Not a Crusade

Here's a nice article to help put context to the controversy.

A Challenge, Not a Crusade
By John Allen
NY Times

SEEN in context, Pope Benedict XVI’s citation last week of a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who claimed that the Prophet Muhammad brought “things only evil and inhuman” to the world was not intended as an anti-Islamic broadside. The pope’s real target in his lecture at the University of Regensburg, in Germany, was not Islam but the West, especially its tendency to separate reason and faith. He also denounced religious violence, hardly a crusader’s sentiment.

The uproar in the Muslim world over the comments is thus to some extent a case of “German professor meets sound-bite culture,” with a phrase from a tightly wrapped academic argument shot into global circulation, provoking an unintended firestorm.

In fact, had Benedict wanted to make a point about Islam, he wouldn’t have left us guessing about what he meant. He’s spoken and written on the subject before and since his election as pope, and a clear stance has emerged in the first 18 months of his pontificate. Benedict wants to be good neighbors, but he’s definitely more of a hawk on Islam than was his predecessor, John Paul II.

The new pope is tougher both on terrorism and on what the Vatican calls “reciprocity” — the demand that Islamic states grant the same rights and freedoms to Christians and other religious minorities that Muslims receive in the West. When Benedict said in his apology on Sunday that he wants a “frank and sincere dialogue,” the word “frank” was not an accident. He wants dialogue with teeth.

Roman Catholicism under Benedict is moving into a more critical posture toward Islamic fundamentalism. That could either push Islam toward reform, or set off a global “clash of civilizations” — or, perhaps, both.

Personally, Benedict’s graciousness toward Muslims is clear. For example, when Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, a member of the powerful Guardian Council in Iran, wrote a book comparing Islamic and Christian eschatological themes in the 1990’s, Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, swapped theological ideas with him in the Vatican.

Immediately after his installation Mass last year, Benedict thanked Muslims for attending an inter-faith meeting. “I express my appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians,” he said. “I assure you that the church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions.”

Yet Benedict has also challenged what he sees as Islam’s potential for extremism, grounded in a literal reading of the Koran. In a 1997 interview with me, he said of Islam, “One has to have a clear understanding that it is not simply a denomination that can be included in the free realm of pluralistic society.”

In the same interview, he accused some Muslims of fomenting a radical “liberation theology,” meaning a belief that God approves of violence to achieve liberation from Israel. He also said he opposed Turkey’s candidacy to enter the European Union, arguing that it is “in permanent contrast to Europe” and suggesting that it play a leadership role among Islamic states instead.

Thus it’s no surprise that Benedict has struck a different tone from his predecessor. John Paul met with Muslims more than 60 times, and during a 2001 trip to Syria became the first pope to enter a mosque. He reached out to Islamic moderates. He talked of Muslims and Jews along with Christians as the three “sons of Abraham.” And he condemned injustices thought to be at the root of Islamic terrorism.

Desire for a more muscular stance, however, has been building among Catholics around the world for some time. In part, it has been driven by persecution of Christians in the Islamic world, like the murder of an Italian missionary, the Rev. Andrea Santoro, in Trabzon, Turkey, in February. A 16-year-old Turk fired two bullets into Father Santoro, shouting “God is great.” But perhaps the greatest driving force has been the frustrations over reciprocity. To take one oft-cited example, while Saudis contributed tens of millions of dollars to build Europe’s largest mosque in Rome, Christians cannot build churches in Saudi Arabia. Priests in Saudi Arabia cannot leave oil-industry compounds or embassy grounds without fear of reprisals from the mutawa, the religious police. The bishop of the region recently described the situation as “reminiscent of the catacombs.”

The pope is sympathetic to these concerns, as several developments at the Vatican have made clear.

At a meeting with Muslims in Cologne, Germany, last summer, Benedict urged joint efforts to “turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism that endangers the lives of so many people and hinders progress toward world peace.”

On Feb. 15, he removed Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, who had been John Paul’s expert on Islam, as the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, sending him to a diplomatic post in Egypt. Archbishop Fitzgerald was seen as the Vatican’s leading dove in its relationship with Muslims.

That same month, Bishop Rino Fisichella, the rector of Rome’s Lateran University and a close papal confidant, announced it was time to “drop the diplomatic silence” about anti-Christian persecution, and called on the United Nations to “remind the societies and governments of countries with a Muslim majority of their responsibilities.”

In March, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the pope’s vicar for Rome, voiced doubts about calls to teach Islam in Italian schools, saying he wanted assurance that doing so “would not give way to a socially dangerous kind of indoctrination.”

And on March 23, Benedict summoned his 179 cardinals for a closed-doors business session. Much conversation turned on Islam, according to participants, and there was agreement over taking a tougher stance on reciprocity.

Through his statements and those of his proxies, Benedict clearly hopes to stimulate Islamic leaders to express their faith effectively in a pluralistic world. The big question is whether it will be received that way, or whether it simply reinforces the conviction of jihadists about eternal struggle with the Christian West.

John L. Allen Jr. is the Vatican correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The controversy over the Pope's lecture

Amy Welborn: "This is not an effective way to argue against someone who has questioned your religion's relationship to violence:"

More photos:

Outside the Vatican embassy in Indonesia. The caption reads: "Let's crucify the Pope."

And a British blogger had this experience when going to Mass at a Cathedral (he/she also has some photos):

Unfortunately after Mass today at Westminster Cathedral it was shoved in my face. Holy Mass on a Sunday is the very source and summit of the Catholic week, so my family decided this Sunday to make the trip to Westminster Cathedral together. As we came out about 100 Islamists were chanting slogans such as "Pope Benedict go to Hell" "Pope Benedict you will pay, the Muja Hadeen are coming your way" "Pope Benedict watch your back" and other hateful things. I'll post more pictures of it when I get more free time. It was a pretty nasty demonstration. From 11 - 3pm they chanted absurd things, literally just outside the Cathedral. And from 11- 3pm (and indeed all day, every day) like every day of the week, faithful Catholics and non-Catholics (mainly tourists) wondered in and out of the magnificent Church, largely ignoring the furor of hatred this crowd of muslims was trying to stir up.

All this is very disturbing and sad. Can't these Muslim brothers and sisters voice their outrage in a more peaceful and rational manner? Do they need to insult and humiliate the Pope in such ways?

The Pope already said his apology, and earlier in a statement he said that his speech was taken out of context. How many of these Muslim brothers and sisters of ours actually read the Pope's statement in its entirety before reacting the way they did? How can they so easily jump to such a conclusion about the Pope that led them to express such anger and hatred towards him?

What does the Pope think about Islam? This is a speech he gave in a meeting with Muslims last year in Cologne:

It is in this spirit that I turn to you, dear and esteemed Muslim friends, to share my hopes with you and to let you know of my concerns at these particularly difficult times in our history.

I am certain that I echo your own thoughts when I bring up one of our concerns as we notice the spread of terrorism. I know that many of you have firmly rejected, also publicly, in particular any connection between your faith and terrorism and have condemned it. I am grateful to you for this, for it contributes to the climate of trust that we need.

Terrorist activity is continually recurring in various parts of the world, plunging people into grief and despair. Those who instigate and plan these attacks evidently wish to poison our relations and destroy trust, making use of all means, including religion, to oppose every attempt to build a peaceful and serene life together.

Thanks be to God, we agree on the fact that terrorism of any kind is a perverse and cruel choice which shows contempt for the sacred right to life and undermines the very foundations of all civil coexistence.

If together we can succeed in eliminating from hearts any trace of rancour, in resisting every form of intolerance and in opposing every manifestation of violence, we will turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism that endangers the lives of so many people and hinders progress towards world peace.

The task is difficult but not impossible. The believer - and all of us, as Christians and Muslims, are believers - knows that, despite his weakness, he can count on the spiritual power of prayer.

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that we must not yield to the negative pressures in our midst, but must affirm the values of mutual respect, solidarity and peace. The life of every human being is sacred, both for Christians and for Muslims. There is plenty of scope for us to act together in the service of fundamental moral values.

The dignity of the person and the defence of the rights which that dignity confers must represent the goal of every social endeavour and of every effort to bring it to fruition. This message is conveyed to us unmistakably by the quiet but clear voice of conscience. It is a message which must be heeded and communicated to others: should it ever cease to find an echo in peoples' hearts, the world would be exposed to the darkness of a new barbarism.

Only through recognition of the centrality of the person can a common basis for understanding be found, one which enables us to move beyond cultural conflicts and which neutralizes the disruptive power of ideologies.

During my Meeting last April with the delegates of Churches and Christian Communities and with representatives of the various religious traditions, I affirmed that "the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole" (L'Osservatore Romano, 25 April 2005, p. 4).

Past experience teaches us that, unfortunately, relations between Christians and Muslims have not always been marked by mutual respect and understanding. How many pages of history record battles and wars that have been waged, with both sides invoking the Name of God, as if fighting and killing, the enemy could be pleasing to him. The recollection of these sad events should fill us with shame, for we know only too well what atrocities have been committed in the name of religion.

The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other's identity. The defence of religious freedom, in this sense, is a permanent imperative, and respect for minorities is a clear sign of true civilization. In this regard, it is always right to recall what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council said about relations with Muslims.

"The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves whole-heartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God.... Although considerable dissensions and enmities between Christians and Muslims may have arisen in the course of the centuries, the Council urges all parties that, forgetting past things, they train themselves towards sincere mutual understanding and together maintain and promote social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all people" (Declaration Nostra Aetate, n. 3).

For us, these words of the Second Vatican Council remain the Magna Carta of the dialogue with you, dear Muslim friends, and I am glad that you have spoken to us in the same spirit and have confirmed these intentions.

You, my esteemed friends, represent some Muslim communities from this Country where I was born, where I studied and where I lived for a good part of my life. That is why I wanted to meet you. You guide Muslim believers and train them in the Islamic faith.

Teaching is the vehicle through which ideas and convictions are transmitted. Words are highly influential in the education of the mind. You, therefore, have a great responsibility for the formation of the younger generation. I learn with gratitude of the spirit in which you assume responsibility.

Christians and Muslims, we must face together the many challenges of our time. There is no room for apathy and disengagement, and even less for partiality and sectarianism. We must not yield to fear or pessimism. Rather, we must cultivate optimism and hope.

Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is in fact a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends.

The media is partly guilty of this, I think. I forgot which newspaper carried this banner; it was an international daily. It read: "Pope Slams Islam" or words to that effect. Such headlines only provoke and foment anger. These media outlets should be responsible enough with the way they carry their news.

Finally, this is from a French Muslim leader:

The rector of the Mosque of Aix in Marseilles Mohand Alili thinks his fellow Muslims are making too much of the Regensburg citation.

"The Muslim can't expect that the Pope is going to glorify them. All he did was what a Pope would do," said Alili to France Info.

"Others have said similar things before....Moreover, he's not Muslim, never has been. He's the Pope. What do they want him to do? Why would he preach Islam over Christianity?"

"Benedict XVI," he said, "stands up for who he is. Now why can't Muslims say, '"All right, and this is who we are,' but there's no need to go into all the polemics."

"Besides, I don't see why they should be taking it out on the Pope when they should have it out among themselves, among those who have discredited Islam. No, I don't see why I should be angry at the Pope."

Check Amy Welborn's blog (and also Carl Olson's: Insight Scoop) regularly for running commentaries and updates on the controversy.

Nice pic

I don't know, but there's something beautiful and peaceful about this photo.

(Via Photography and Spiritual Exercises)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The price of disobedience

Just a thought....

You know why God "punished" Adam and Eve, after they have eaten of the forbidden fruit, by giving them children?

To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee. (Genesis 3:16)

Well, they disobeyed God, so God in His infinite wisdom allowed them to bear forth children... so that they may feel how it is to love your children (as God loved Adam and Eve) and be disobeyed by them. They will experience how it is to be hurt by their children's disobedience. But most of all, they will learn how to practice true love, by practicing the virtues of patience, tolerance, and understanding as they care for their children and as they guide them from infancy to adolescence. Only then will they truly see how much God loved and continues to love them.

So we see that it is not really "punishment" for its own sake, but "punishment" done by God out of love for us.

Would you agree?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Been busy

We had two exams in our Maternal and Child Care Nursing this morning. The previous days we've been discussing about Cardiovascular and Hematologic diseases.

The clinical instructor who discussed the topics impressed us a lot, nay, put us all in awe. A very intelligent and dynamic nurse, had a lot of experience in pediatric nursing. Wish I could have the same passion.

I'm really struggling with MCN. It's not an easy subject.

Well, it's intrams week, which means no class for three days! Yehey! I really need a break.

Crazy about audiobooks!

This blog is getting me very excited lately:


A lot of very exciting stuff about audiobooks and podcasts, or "audiolearning" in general. You can find a lot of free stuff in there for your aural pleasure. I've already subscribed to the website, and what's great about it is that you get to download one audiobook for free every month. The site already has loads of free audiobooks, so that's just an added bonus.

I'm still dropping by Librivox once in a while. I've finished Northanger Abbey two weeks ago but I didn't enjoy it very much. I'm now listening to Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales. A lot of his stories are strange...

I've also been listening to Sherlock Holmes stories (the site seems to be experiencing some technical problems). Great stuff.

I have literally dozens of audiobooks in our PC right now which I have recently downloaded. I don't know how I'm going to find the time to listen to all of them. I have almost eaten up all the storage space in our hard drive, and my brother's complaining. So I've begun transferring most of them to CDs.
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