Writers use the pilcrow symbol to indicate a new paragraph. It marks the beginning for a new trend of thought.

We start each year hoping for new beginnings. That path of hope poses challenges. While we dream of achieving these goals, life isn’t predictable.

I started 2018 with a very challenging problem. I’m sure many of you know that. I need not expound on it. To say that it was disturbing is an understatement.

It was what it was. The fight for good was not mine to bear because even if truth was on my side, politics was not. But I will leave it at that.

Because I decided to walk away I will always remember why I did what I needed to do. It was not out of fear. If you know me well enough, I can use all resources to bring my enemies down. But I always tell people that you either swim with the fish or get out of the aquarium. And that’s true for every job you have or every challenge you face. After all, we all report to someone and there will always be a leader. So this is one chapter I choose to close.

I chose to close one chapter in my life. Move on. And write the next paragraph.

Because this is not my fight. It is not the story I wanted to write.

But I believe in the world being round. That all things balance itself. That good will supervene over bad. That the problems of life remain our biggest conquest. That we choose the battles we need to fight.

The take home message here is that we all write our own stories. How it begins, how it pans out, and how it ends. But we all MOVE ON. Whatever and however we decide, we take responsibility and MOVE ON. Because life’s like that.

One day, I will write my next chapter. The next paragraph. And it will have a happy ending. Because every single moment of our lives, we’re allowed to change our destinies and write our own endings.

Some things always find its way back home.

Of faith and the gift of love

The yuletide season sends mixed feelings to everyone. Mostly a feeling of joy. The gift giving spree, the vacation, time off work and school – it’s indeed a time to be merry!

The essence of Christmas often times gets lost in our material world. As we unravel before our very eyes those beautifully wrapped boxes and trinkets, let us all remind ourselves the reason for the season.

Joy, peace and hope are hinged on one word – FAITH!

Christmas time heralds good tidings and cheers, yet not all of us are merry and bright. There are those who are struggling during this time of the year (or all year round for that matter) because of various reasons and conditions. Faith is enough to see us through even the most difficult times of our lives. If only we have enough faith anything impossible can be mountains we can overcome. They say that “prayer is the key to heaven, but faith unlocks the door.”

Beyond the gifts we receive, the most precious is love. When life gives us a hundred reasons to cry, remember that God gives us a thousand reasons to smile. Because there is love. From Him giving us love it’s unadulterated form through His son Jesus Christ.

Love is kind and beautiful. It is understanding and full of compassion. It is gentle and forgiving. It is grateful, peaceful and merciful.

As the year draws to a close, let us remind ourselves of our continued faith in God and the commandments of love.

After all, every day will always be Christmas when we have faith and Love.

The winters of our life

The heady December air is double bladed. While it has a festive side, it also reminds us the onset of a bitter, dark, and cold season.

While tropical countries like the Philippines get to enjoy two seasons – wet and dry – whole year round, the four seasons in other parts of the world are symbolic of the cycle of life.

With winter comes longer nights and colder days. Nature has its way of teaching us that everything in life has a time to shut down. The end of each day alone is a winter phase in our life. A time to rest. To recover. To recharge.

Winter is the end of a cycle. Some will die, while some will survive into the coming spring. As we age, the cycle of the winter metaphors of our life seem to come more frequently. It’s a sad yet lonely reality.

As I hold my cup of warm coffee on a gloomy December dawn listening to the chirping birds amidst the lighted up Christmas tree, I cannot help but think of those whose christmases will not be merry and bright. Those who mourn the passing of a loved on, missing a family because they are thousands of miles away and working this long holiday, watching over a sick relative fighting for their lives, having to care for the frail loved ones who cannot even recognize them anymore…

From where I view the ornaments on the tree and the gifts beautifully wrapped underneath it, there is a feeling of loneliness, of missing a loved one, that this Christmas not everyone will be here to share that joy. The ambivalence is ironic, yet real.

We all have stories on the winters of our lives…

It is a reminder that the other seasons of our life should be harnessed and cherished. They are footprints that guide us through the winters of our life.

Let sleeping dogs lie

When Catriona Gray was asked her opinion on the legalization of marijuana use, her answer, while albeit short and safe, has been taken out of context by some ignorant sectors.

Let sleeping dogs lie is a phrase that means to “avoid interfering in a situation that is currently causing no problems but might do so as a result of such interference”.

The naïveté of some people regarding the legalization of cannabis has been made too simplistic.

Marijuana is often equated by the layman as “chongki” or “joint”. In this form, marijuana is illegal – with a tendency to be misused, abused, and for recreational purposes.

Without sounding too facile, let me clear the air with the correct medical information.

Cannabis, hemp and marijuana are often confused to be interchangeable.  They are NOT the same. 

Cannabis is a family of plants with two primary classifications – Indica and Sativa. Hemp and marijuana are species of cannabis and both are members of the Cannabis Sativa family. Hemp and marijuana therefore share certain similarities, but their biological structures are distinct and it is what differentiates them.

Cannabis contains a variety of different compounds called cannabinoids. The most dominant are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Both have been found to provide profound benefits physiologically and pharmacologically. However, THC has psychoactive effects. CBD does not.

These two abbreviations will repeatedly by used in this blog. They are important to remember.

Hemp contains a very low concentration of THC (<0.3%) while Marijuana is abundant in THC (20-40%). Hemp is grown for industrial purposes, while Marijuana is used for recreational and medicinal purposes.

Hemp for industrial use include paper, clothing, building materials, oils, biofuel, clothing etc. Because of the increasing value of CBD, hemp is now being used to produce a variety of THC-free CBD products.

Medical vs Recreational Use

The legal basis of the each plant is based on the presence (or absence) of THC. Because the story of Marijuana (as a plant for recreational use) is different due to its high THC-content (hence the psychoactive effects), the justification for use in the clinical setting should be made clear.

Just like many “dangerous drugs”, the medical uses of cannabis are abundant and endless. The largest therapeutic evidences are in the ability of cannabis to reduce chronic pain, nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy, and spasticity of muscles from multiple sclerosis.

The medical use of marijuana is to address health conditions – getting relieved of symptoms AND NOT GETTING HIGH. While the marijuana plant is obviously the cheaper version, it is always at its most raw form. You cannot calculate the exact dose (and neither can it be replicated) for every “joint” that is taken (or you get a hit from). How many “hits” is equivalent to an antiemetic effect? Or how much cannabinoid oil should your son take in order to control his seizures? No one knows! The ED50:LD50 ratio (effective dose:lethal dose at 50%) is not determined with dried plant and weeds or oil preparations. So, while the ingredients are the same for pleasure and the treatment of pain, the final form in its exact dosage format is important for medical use.

Marijuana contains some of the chemicals found in tobacco and that smoking it can be harmful to the lungs. There is scientific evidence that lung health is a problem seen among marijuana smokers. The THC content is addictive and like any recreational drug, it can serve as a “gateway” to other prohibited and regulated medicines. The higher the THC contents, the more often it is used, the more likely one becomes dependent.



Unlike THC, CBD does not give the euphoric effect nor cause intoxication. As I previously discussed, it is THC that causes the psychoactive high for marijuana. Obtaining the active substance CBD from the marijuana plant is vital to drug development – drugs with uniform strength and consistent delivery system that provides the appropriate dosing for patients that need to get treated for any indicated disease. Making unapproved products with uncertain dosages and formulations for the treatment of serious and fatal diseases is like making poor quality guns and ammunition readily available for use by the general public. You’re not really protecting yourself when you need it most.

Dronabinol and Nabilone were the first two available cannabinoid drugs approved for the treatment of nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. Both are synthetic derivates (not plant based but the chemical structure is laboratory derived). The cannabidiol, Epidiolex, oral solution was recently approved (June 2018) for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome in patients 2 years and older. Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved drug that contains a purified drug substance derived from marijuana (unlike Dronabinol and Nabilone which are synthetic forms).

These basic information should hopefully provide a bit of awareness to the reader – both lay and those with medical background experience – on the differences between what medical and recreational marijuana are. The legislative policies should also be taken into consideration. But that’s taking too much space on my blog.

You need to understand that not all apples are the same.

And that we need to let sleeping dogs lie.

You are not female

This coming December 17, 2018, a new Miss Universe will be crowned in Bangkok, Thailand.

For the first time in the history of the Miss Universe pageant, a transgender representing Spain is a contestant.

Angela Ponce took to Instagram and wrote

Bringing the name and colours of Spain before the universe is my great dream. My goal is to be a spokesperson for a message of inclusion, respect and diversity, not only for the LGBTQ+ community but also for the entire world.

The Miss Universe contest is for women. Genetically women. If there is something that cannot be altered in our DNA, it’s being born genetically male or female.

I have nothing against transgenders. They may not be happy with the body or sex they were born with, and while some of them may want to “change” that over their lifetime, I believe that proper sensibilities should remain to be respected. The beauty pageant is one of them. I mean, how would a male beauty tilt feel if a female transgender represented his country later on?

There are appropriate venues and the world will never run out of contests ( and contestants) for various titles and tilts on beauty and body.

But let’s leave the defining of sexual status the way it should be.

Allowing a transgender to be an official contestant for a country does not speak well on the choice of women representing that country for a beauty pageant. It’s not like that nation has run out of women to actually represent them.

Happiness is not about getting all what you want. It’s about enjoying all you have.

Let’s not abuse the thin line called respect. After all, it is a two way street. Let’s not send the wrong message home.

It is not alright.

You are wrong! Again!

President Rodrigo Duterte said he is willing to forego the eligibility requirements for government officials as long as they are competent and honest.

– ABS-CBN News, December 12, 2018
There is a reason for eligibility requirements.  As in any professional line of work, eligibility is the primary qualifier before you even hire anyone.  During a speech at the awarding of housing units to Scout Rangers in San Miguel, Bulacan, the president said, “whoever comes to his mind during his term, as long as they are competent and honest, are enough qualifications for him.”

That’s if he actually knows the people he puts into office.  With several appointments at his disposal, it is impossible that he personally vets all these people.  From the lowly government official to the cabinet members. That would require too much time and effort from him. The preference in the selection of the people he can appoint, are after all, his.  The caveat here is – so should the ultimate responsibility and accountability of both success and failure!  

Competence and honesty are relative terms.  On the other hand, eligibility are standards that need to be met before someone can even be considered for a position.  This means that the person needs to satisfy appropriate conditions. Competence is the ability to do something efficiently.  If the person lacks eligibility, how can one be competent? Eligibility, after all, is a mandatory requirement and is an act of due diligence. 

There are only three reasons why there are those who will refuse to acknowledge eligibility requirements when vetting qualified people for work.  

  • They are lazy.  When one is lazy, the preference is to do things quickly.  Never mind having to pore all through the documentary requirements and checklist of the applicant or the appointee.  All that reading material isn’t in the DNA of the appointer. 
  • They prefer to bend rules because they have preferences. In short, whether they are qualified or not, come hell or high water, they will insist on their friends and relatives. Never mind if they are eligible or not. After all, “competence and honesty” is on their side.  One can be honest and competent, but isn’t qualified for the job description.  Hire a nurse to run the Bureau of Customs or a pilot to run the Department of Health.  There are highly technical agencies that will need someone who is at least a licensed professional with managerial skills and experience. How can you even consider hiring someone who is a fresh graduate with the necessary degree but is either not yet licensed or God forbid, has no experience at all for that particular job?
  • The appointing person is incompetent.  Aside from the fact that laziness is in his genes, he’s most likely incompetent for the position of being the big boss as well.  His selection methods are archaic and finding a reason to obscure the rules of appointing ELIGIBLE people who are competent and honest really needs a lot of work.  No one ever said that the job would be easy.  But I guess some people are used to getting their jobs in government through elections.  They get voted into office with minimum eligibility requirements – being a Filipino citizen, fulfilling age limits, and has resided in that area for at least a certain period of time.  

Civil servants are accountable to the citizens of the nation.  The taxes we pay after all should redound to better and efficient service.  But it can only be done if the people are FIRST AND FOREMOST eligible.  Otherwise, ineligible people end up as ON THE JOB TRAINEES for managerial positions who at the whim of the president, should be appointed into office.

Eligibility is about placing guardrails on qualifications for positions that can be potentially abused by appointing authorities and their ilk through benefactors. It may not be perfect, but a checklist of standards for the particular position applied for should be met. Bluntly, it provides quality to any project, business or government. The competence and honesty will always be a bonus when the applicants are head to head in the final choice.

To neglect eligibility is tantamount to abolishing the civil service commission. It is a bad precedent. A recipe for disaster in governance. Conflicts of interest rise out of the ashes. Rationalizing corrupt practices for the benefit of the appointing authority becomes the rule rather than its exception.

For the second time in a row, you are wrong! Again!

Beyond reasonable doubt

I am not a lawyer. And perhaps the intricacies of jurisprudence is more complicated than what I can comprehend. After all, with so many laws, I’m sure that various circumstances intertwine, making decision-making a “challenging” task for those who rule on court cases. These discombobulated laws are technically also the references used by lawyers when trying to secure a client, a “get out of jail” card.

The recent decision regarding the plunder case of Bong Revilla has stirred concern on the judicial system in the country. While I may lack authority and training on the decision of the court, logic is on my side.

Three were charged with misusing the “pork barrel fund” during the time of PNoy (one of those discretionary funds that I despised about the former president). Despite a non-bailable offense, NONE remain in jail.

To say that it’s a travesty of justice is an understatement. I’ve not seen so much blatant disregard for the rule of law as the recent consecutive “decisions” by the judicial bodies today.

Never mind that the obvious facts speak for itself. As long as you’ve got the money to hire a good lawyer who knows the right judges and connections, even if you’re as guilty as hell, you’d be exonerated. (I guess that’s what good lawyering is all about). All that mumbo jumbo of “reasonable doubt” has been “used and abused” to an extent.

Never mind logic and reasoning and the other evidences. Sadly, concentrating on the “benefit of the doubt” erases all the efforts at making public servants accountable for their crimes. It propagates corruption and graft practices. It undermines the rules of law.

Everyone. Including people in the past administrations who have stolen from the coffers of the nation should be held liable for the crimes committed. Absolving them place future court decisions in a precarious position.

This post is not about how the courts decide on cases committed by elected officials who should protect the greater interest of the nation. It’s the why. There are enablers who try to rationalize the wrongs by blaming the prosecution (or the Ombudsman) for throwing away the case because of a flip flopping witness. That the case wasn’t prepared well because it was hurriedly filed (seriously, 4 1/2 years and you call that a hurried preparation?). Heck! Even the uneducated have questioned the logic behind these decisions. San Beda law Dean, Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, even went as far as using the missing wallet as an example.

“If you bring home your officemate’s wallet, thinking in all good faith that it is yours, and your officemate later on charges you with theft, you will, in all probability be acquitted absent any proof that you intended to defraud your colleague, but you will still be ordered to return the wallet and its contents for the simple reason that it is not yours,” he explained.

Seriously? When I open my wallet, I would know “beyond reasonable doubt” that it’s not mine! If I had all intentions of returning it, I would notify my friend of this “mistake” from the get go. Because it was an honest error! That. Is. The. Difference. If I wanted to steal it, it would take time for me to even consider “returning” it. From the years of transactions and evidence, you think there was a plan to even return the money? It wasn’t until these people got caught before they lawyered up. After all, the “wallet” was in the hundreds of millions (based on what could be found).

It’s insulting to our intelligence to even use these pathetic examples.

It was obvious that these politicians and their ilk have found a way to perpetuate staying in power – because it’s run as a business. That is why their relatives and every generation thereafter will continue to rob each of us of our dignities and respect.

It’s not about being “yellow” or red or blue or green or black or whatever rainbow color one is affiliated with. Fuck that! It’s about logic and how the rules and laws are bended to rationalize and accommodate evil.

In 1986, we overthrew a dictator. The Americans were part to blame for the exile of the Marcoses. Cory should have demanded their extradition. Captured. Jailed. Tried. After all, the loot they left behind and brought with them when they fled was enough evidence to have them face death by musketry. But we let them escape. It was the beginning of our ending. And we are now paying for their return to power.

That, to me, was the beginning of the decline in our justice system. The subsequent leaders just capitalized on the sham in the connivance of evil.

Today, it is obvious that the scales of justice tip to those in power. I have yet to see the politicians pay for their corrupt practices. It pays to be in power – who you know, is more important than being righteous.

The litmus rest of every decent government is in how corruption is addressed. How have we fared?

We have never risen as a nation that gains respect from the global community because we do what we do. Every election, that fight against corruption is simply lip service. Until they are voted into office. And we get tired of the same circus and clowns who don’t make good on their promises of change for the better. Sadly, we are all tired of fighting for what is right. Perseverance is not in our genetic make-up. We’ve been colonized too often to even make a stand for what is rightfully ours.

Binababoy na tayo, nakangiti at pumapalakpak pa kayo? Anong klaseng Pilipino tayo?

As a nation, when we lose our moral compass today, we deserve where we will be tomorrow – nowhere.


I’m writing this story as a reminder to some insensitive people who use the ATM for their “illegitimate” lending businesses.

The other day, while queuing for my turn at the ATM in the mall, my patience was piqued by some retard who was withdrawing money from several ATM cards.

I know these kind of people. While I don’t mind the kind of shady business they engage into, I do mind that the queue builds up because they think that the ATM is a personal ownership of theirs.

For the information of those that don’t know what kind of business these shenanigans engage in, let me enlighten you, because you will see them at every ATM.

The Loansharks

Usurers are common in all parts of the world. People who have no history of credit or bank transactions are usually the primary customers/targets of usurers. After all, why would you want to borrow money from someone who lends at “five-six” (for every 5 lent you return 6). The “five-six” system charges a nominal 20% interest rate over a period of time.

When the going gets tough, the people who have no credit line resort to borrowing.

The enterprising Filipino has found an easier way to collecting loans. What initially was a shady lending business by Indians in the Philippines, was given a more efficient twist by Filipinos usurers. Same lending concept but this time, the collector has now been replaced by a real time collateral. The ATM card.

When the system for payrolls and professional fees was rolled by the banking industry, all our salaries were migrated and transacted through that small plastic card. It was easier for the business. And more convenient for the employee as well. With so much power in one card, losing it would be tantamount to a personal crisis!

Lending at “five-six” is a profitable enterprise in the Philippines. And I would venture to extend this thought to countries where more than three-fourths of the population live below the poverty line. After all, being poor strikes at the core of being snubbed by the banking industry, where you will need a collateral, a heap of documentary requirements, and a credit limit – before you can even borrow a centavo.  With majority of the people unable to even meet Social Security requirements before they can avail of a loan, and all relatives and friends have been exhausted, the devil disguised as the usurer is waiting at the corner.

Their targets (or preys) are usually the working class (especially call centre workers) and the retirees (particularly government employees).  These are people who have a regular stream of income. The only collateral they ask – your ATM card.

How the five-six system works

For every P5 (five pesos) borrowed, you will need to repay at P6 (six pesos). If you’re really bad at arithmetic, let me show you why the repayment is practically difficult to wiggle out of. Let’s say you borrow P5,000 – you will need to pay that P5,000 with P6,000.  The interest is 20%!

You can discuss the terms of payment with them, but the longer you stay in debt, the larger the interest that is compounded because you have not paid off that debt.  If you’re making only P12,500 a month (at the current minimum wage), then you’re expected to cough out the P6,000 within that month (usually the agreed timeline) as well.  Let’s say you settle only P2,000 (because you still need to pay bills and eat and have a roof over your head), that would mean that next month you owe the loanshark P4000 and the another 20% of that unpaid loan. Or P4800! If you settle only P2000 again the third month, you will still owe P2800 + 20% or P3360.00! If you settle again only P2000 the fourth month, you will still owe P1360 + 20% or P1632! And if you decide to pay off everything that month, you do the math. Your loan of P5000 with a monthly pay of P2000 actually cost you P7632.00 before you could settle the total amount (4 months of paying).

That’s presuming you don’t plan to spend on anything else in the next four months.

Where does the ATM fit in all of these?

The usurer collects the ATM and withdraws money every month from your bank account until, of course, you finish paying it off.  You see them in every ATM station.  They’re responsible for the build up of the queue.  Some of them have no regard for other customers in the bank.

The guy in front of me had a piece of paper with him and began encoding the passwords after the cards had been inserted.  Another person stood at his back, snickering while the retard was busy unloading the ATM.

At the last sentence of this blog entry, I tilted my head up and asked both of them, how long more were they going to take and how many “transactions” were they still making?  The guy fiddling with the cellphone looked at me nonchalantly and said, three.

I thought I’d write about them while waiting for my turn at the ATM.

That’s how long it took them to finish unloading the cash.

The famous lines of Nanay

Not all of us grew up privileged. Most of my friends (and colleagues) didn’t have “yayas” during our growing years. It was always Nanay.

Growing up with Nanay (or INANG as I would fondly call her) in the Philippines will always be a memorable one. The disciplinarian. Your best friend. The workhorse. The woman for all seasons. Superwoman – all rolled into one. No matter the generation, I’m sure these nine (9) lines of Nanay are familiar to us.

There’s a bit of humour in them, yet as I look back at these famous lines – I can’t but help reminisce on how much love exudes as well.

1. Aba! Sumasagot ka na!

We never bark back at the hand that feeds us. As we grew up, we learned how to answer back (or as we’d like to put it, reason out). But when she’s tired from having to juggle the day with having to tend to us, snap back she will. 

2. Para kang may katulong. Linisin mo yan!

Kids nowadays are more “laid back”. a.k.a., lazy.  Technology after all, has provided many things “automated”. From drying the dishes to washing cars, to turning on the lights or opening the curtains, there’s a button for that. This generation never had it so good.  But learn we did – to tidy up and not live in a pig stye. 

3. Papunta ka pa lang pabalik na ko.

Wise ass. Wise cracks. She knows your manipulative moves. Sometimes I wondered if Santa Claus was really a guy or was it mom – because she knew when you were naughty and nice.  She could look you in the eyes and tell if you’re telling the truth or making up some excuse. Seriously – she’d rather you come clean. After all, she’s mostly understanding….otherwise it’s number 4….

4. Ibabato ko itong hawak ko sa iyo!

You really don’t want to piss her off.  Whatever she’s holding right now, it’s going to really fly across the room. 

5. Anak ka talaga ng tatay mo!

Yep.  She’s not only pissed at you.  She’s pissed at your dad! When we want to get things done, we can either please her and get her in our good graces or she’ll get your father and his side of the family involved (believe me when I say that after a couple of rants about your father, the litany of how you got that “attitude” from his side of the family will crop up).

When she’s fuming with these lines, I’m sure your dad will be cowering behind the bookshelf and he isn’t even going to side with you.  Hell has no greater fury than the woman who scolds you with the line “anak ka talaga ng tatay mo“!

6. Pag ako namatay, kawawa kayo!

So true! Most of the women today are also breadwinners in the family.  Unlike men, women play dual roles.  They are more dedicated to preserving the sanity and integrity of a family.  That’s why I’m amazed at how passionate and persevering they are in keeping the family together (and how laid back the men are).  I’d hear INANG mutter over and over, this statement, when we’d not take her dedication as a mom and wife seriously.

7. Ipasok mo yan sa kukote mo!

And with matching finger pointing at your skull while she’s saying this.  It’s her way of reminding us, over and over and over…that it’s. Got. To. Stick. Into. Our. Heads.  

She’s usually at the end of her thread of sanity when she does this. But don’t wait for her to say these lines.  The next time she says it, you may find her manicured fingernails inside your brain.

8. Makuha ka sa tingin!

Which means that when she’s glaring at you, you don’t have to make a cute face.  Or have tears run down your cheeks.  Or make that funny gesture or show off your dimples. She means business when she’s looking at you straight in the eyes. You will blink first!

9. Ano ang akala mo sa akin, nagtatae ng pera?

She’s the go to person.  

From an emotional cradle to the financial assistant.  Seriously.

But most specially when we need money. On the spot. For wants rather than needs.  She actually minds. Reminding us constantly and sarcastically that she’s no Imelda Marcos when it comes to money.  But you’d be surprised at how thrifty she is.  When push comes to shove, she will always find a way to make ends meet.  Better yet, she will always have put aside some cash for that rainy day.


For all the times that I forgot to "Thank you,"
For all the special, little things you do,
For all the word that sometimes go unspoken,
I need to say, "I love you, Mom", I do.

I love you for the way you stop and listen,
And for your kind support throughout the years,
For teaching me the meaning of compassion,
And sharing in my triumphs and tears.

And, if at times, I may have seemed ungrateful,
I want to say, "I truly hope you see,
That nothing you have done has been forgotten,
And day by day you just mean more to me."

My faith. My religion.

December marks the month long celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It heralds the most wonderful time of the year – Christmas.

They say that we should never mix religion and politics. There is, after all, a separation between the state and the church.

A week ago during the sermon after the Gospel, Father Mel our parish priest had a scathing remark about “leaders” who malign the church and the ilk who clap and laugh at the tirades and “jokes” on God. 

When was God ever a joke? It is not funny that you come to church and yet when your God and your faith is maligned in front of other people, you clap and laugh. Why? What has God ever done to you to deserve this? Your religion is already being insulted and you clap and laugh when these leaders spew so much hate, discontent and fake news during gatherings.

You could hear a pin drop in church that day.  Even my mom looked my way and said that it’s really a sad time having to fight with evil and false news.  

My Catholic faith is solid.  There is no bargaining when it comes to my faith. While we were all raised differently, not even politics will justify my having to renounce my faith in my religion. My faith and religion is what keeps me grounded in humility, gratitude and forgiveness. It has made me celebrate with God the bounties of life. It has helped me carry my crosses during the worst days.

It is ironic that when we are sick or we have problems difficult to bear, we turn to our faith and religion. We make novenas, join pilgrimages and ask our friends to pray for our journeys through chemotherapy or various illnesses and offer masses – yet laugh and clap when our religion is maligned, insulted, and politicized. We give shout outs on social media to the Lord with posts on how religious we and our family are, yet toast and cheer the person who literally instigates hate and spills vile language at our religion. I don’t get the fact that when God needs us as his defense, we’re not even there for Him.  What kind of a people are we?

We go to church, we pray and receive communion, yet we cower in fear at Duterte who tells us to “build our own chapel to pray and stop going to church.” Maybe he is right.  If you can’t be who and what you are for your faith and your religion, don’t go to church.  Don’t give alms.  Stay at home and just build your own chapel.  Don’t get married in church. Don’t have your children baptized. Don’t send your children to Catholic schools. Hypocrites!

I am not what the politicians and trolls would call “dilawan”. Even when PNoy was president, I never liked his lack of empathy. He wasn’t a genius. He never achieved anything as a congressman. He was just lucky his mother Cory passed away before the election. His victory was mostly out of sympathy from the masses. He lacked affect and charisma. In what he lacked, he just happened to have more intelligent people surround him when he ran the government. But I doubt there was no corruption under his watch. They were probably less obvious. After all, decades of institutional corruption cannot be wiped out in six years. Even with lack of empathy. I knew how to pray and make the sign of the cross and understand my religion ahead of politics. When I could understand the impact of politics in my life, Marcos was President. For the past decades of my life, this country has always been at odds with the church in some of its policies and exchanged barbs with beliefs and practices. But to my recollection, there has never been a president that has cursed my faith. My religion. After all, there are some lines we do not cross. Some beliefs we just simply respect.

Why are we in a situation where we are asked to “choose” between our faith or our leader? On social media, I cannot fathom how people have turned their backs against God and the church. At how money and power has become the bait to turn away from our faith.

To me, choosing who I would side with is easy. That thin line that leaders cross is called faith.  My religion.

May the Christmas season allow everyone to reflect on how much God showers us with His unending grace and love. We will always need God. Sometimes during times of plenty, we forget about God. Yet even in the worst of times He is always there for us.

No president has ever loved us unconditionally.