Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cardinal Rosales' Medieval Catholicism, Filipino Passivity and Selfishness

WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: Note: Bold and/or Underlined words are HTML links. Click on them to see the linked postings/articles. Forwarding the postings to relatives and friends, especially in the homeland, is greatly appreciated.

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"Many Filipinos are what I call Sunday-religious, that is they go to church every Sunday, take in confession and communion, but the rest of the week they bribe and do corrupt deeds..." - Dr. Pura Santillan-Castrence (1905-2007)

"What luck for rulers that men do not think" - Adolf Hitler

As capitalism rose, the idea of the poor being dear to God changed to the idea of the poor having lost favor with God. - S. Prakash Sethi, 1980

“I helped the poor and they called me a saint, I asked why they were poor and they called me a Communist’ – Brazilian Bishop Helder Camara (1909-1999)

"Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual; the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country." - Karl Kraus, 1874-1936.

A few days ago, Cardinal Rosales said that the Black Nazarene is proof of God’s love and preference for poor people like most Filipinos, recalling that the life of the Savior in Nazareth was marked by "simplicity, humility and sufferings."

Granting that the narratives of Christmas and the Passion of Christ are accurate and true, how can such an imagery be proof of love for the Filipino poor? He lost me there. For the good cardinal and those like him in the medieval past, recent past and the present, their Christian God expects/wants believers to suffer and bear it.
(BTW, I still have to hear about any member of the hierarchy to be suffering at the level of our "poorest of the poor.;" not mentioning the latter's suffering in terms of political persecution and/or victimization from military repression and extra-judicial killings.)

This belief is one among the perennial and pernicious teachings from Filipino Catholicism which the hierarchy consistently harps on its unquestioning devotees. Such medieval teaching only fosters passivity, submissiveness, preoccupation with otherworldly and spiritual matters; as if these supposed virtues will solve the real problems faced daily by the believing native/impoverished majority; these supposed virtues which are incompatible to the capacity to claim and exercise one's own rights and only favorable to tyrants of various flavors,in the past and the present.

This Catholic preaching of servitude and dependence continually turns us Filipinos into passive slaves, we know it and do not mind as this "short, earthly life" counts for too little in our believing eyes.
Throw in the Beatitudes with its "Blessed are the poor..." and St. Paul's "Love bears all things, endures all things" from his Letters to the Corinthians and ergo we created ourselves as the naive, slavish Filipinos, very well-appreciated by our ruling elite/class and the foreigners who profit from our slave mentality and who laugh themselves on their way to the bank.

Let us not leave out those fellow Filipinos of the "Praise the Lord" or "Born Again" variety, these true believers proclaiming that personal/spiritual salvation is via direct line to their God; who do not believe that "good works" or the common good - which Catholicism preaches and practices to a good degree- are necessary. Of course, their beliefs are consistent to Reformation/Protestant pioneers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, etc.Talk to them about our politics, poverty, etc. and they will expose their narrow-minded, individualistic selfishness and disdain for the poor (especially those who conduct protests in the streets,etc.). So, what else is new about Christianity among us Filipinos?

We witness apathy among us supposedly educated (more aptly, schooled) because our main preoccupation is our selfish selves and our immediate/extended family. "What's in it for me?" is our only frame of reference, consciously or unconsciously. That is why a lot of us schooled Filipinos do materially well, legally and illegally, in the homeland, the USA or other foreign country.

We the supposedly schooled are survivalists, chameleons, opportunists, sycophants, quislings, etc., as copycats of the earlier generations of Filipino ilustrados and their descendants, us who licked/lick the Spanish boots -- then; and now American, local Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. boots to maintain and to expand our social status, wealth and power. To hell with the native majority who have nothing to offer, except maybe a begging hand.

And by the way, we witness apathy among the native majority, "the people", "taong masa" who are deep in poverty and hunger and thus left behind, the poorest of the poor who can not afford to be OFWs-- because their essential human needs, i.e. food, shelter, clothing, etc. are unmet and they are busy struggling to simply and basically exist, not live as those of us who can access the Internet do. As addressed above, most of them consoled and simultaneously misled by the medieval teachings of the Catholic Church.

Fundamentally selfish people usually find ways of accommodating themselves to any regime; many of us Filipinos are selfish and maybe not even know it. If it is despotic (Marcos), we find ways to get into his graces; if it is corrupt (Marcos, Ramos, Aquino, Estrada and now Arroyo), we manage somehow to become corrupted. We Filipinos, schooled or not, are in this vicious circle of rulers being corrupt and the people who are ruled following suit.

There is a connection between the character of a people and its politics, and is demonstrated by the kind of people we send to our elective offices and the resultant governmental policies and priorities. And in our supposed democracy for the few, the connection is emphasized. Ergo, our culture of corruption and our road to perdition, wittingly or unwittingly aided by our Christian religion.

“The rich man may never get to heaven, but the pauper is already serving his term in hell.” - Alexander Chase, 1966

"The rich swell up with pride, the poor from HUNGER." - Sholom Aleichem, 1859-1916, Ukraine-Born American Writer


Anonymous said...


What could I say, except, Amen.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Drona, I enjoy your emails when you talk about history. Particularly when you bring out the facts about the Philippine-American war, the colonial past, etc.

But not so when you talk about religion. Christianity without an understanding of suffering is no Chritianity at all. I don't know if you can, from your starting point of unrealistically erasing all suffering in the equation, deduce for Cardinal Rosales that he does not advocate hard and creative work, and concern for those who are materially deprived. You might begin by inquiring into the data about the poverty programs that the Church has in the Philippines.

Prospero Medalla Hernandez

Bert M. Drona said...


If you reread my post, I mentioned:... "Let us not leave out those fellow Filipinos of the "Praise the Lord" or "Born Again" variety, these true believers proclaiming that personal/spiritual salvation is via direct line to their God; who do not believe that "good works" or the common good - which Catholicism preaches and practices to a good degree- are necessary."

I am very aware of Catholic programs and actions on charity. But with our homeland's problems, such charity though good is not enough and is limited. I say this whether we are talking about them locally or globally.

I am more concerned about the Catholic Church in our homeland not pursuing "conscientization" or re-establishing/providing more support for "base communities," which were directly or indirectly encouraged by Pope John XXIII/Vatican II during the 1960s; but subsequently were discouraged or snuffed out by the conservative John Paul II. Of course, these practices engender the animosity and wrath of the ruling regime and its supporters.

To me, authentic Christianity is more than mere charitable works and being pious/religious.

Thank you for your comment.


Anonymous said...

Amidst all your criticisms, what can you offer to your
countrymen? Light a candle,do some advocacy work.Do
not curse the darkness. Choose one area where you are
good at. Not just talk and the "walk" and
make your own niche in the life of the Filipino. You
have "choices"and you can make a difference in the
life of people you love or you dislike. If you want to
preach...act real.Be honest and show to your
wife,children,neighbors and friends and others who
not so friendly to to be honest.

Find a an advocacy group where you can express your
sentiments in actions...or establish one yourself.
You have a great mind. I believe you so,You are!

- Josefina Matanguihan

Bert M. Drona said...


If I may say, you do not know me nor the projects I am actively involved towards materially helping people -in my own small way.

But I will neither discuss them here nor anywhere since that is not my objective nor do I need to prove myself to anyone. Actually, you're not the first to raise such thoughts.

My biggest, primary concern is that our Filipino minds have become encased and limited; more aptly, caged.

The Catholic Church through its strong influence in our society,i.e. people -from our childhood to adulthood- significantly contributed and still contributes to producing our stunted minds.

The church which seems to be the only one institution left in the homeland that has some leverage in the direction of governance, has overall been useless for effectively pushing for the necessary and progressive changes; as it is obviously more concerned with itself as an institution rather than working towards authentic Christianity.

If one is a thinking catholic, he or she would understand what I am talking about. Or if not and more interested, one can check out my blog wherein these concerns are explored.

There is an urgent need, and it is decades overdue, for Filipino Christianity to be actively relevant in solving our basic human/social justice problems.

And that's what drove me to blog 3 years ago. I feel and think that by addressing or raising fundamental issues, I am doing a worthwhile service to our homeland, to our fellow countrymen; regardless of what others may say. To add,it may sound/look selfish, I feel contentment.

as you may know, to worry about others' opinion can lead to self-censorship and inaction.

Thanks for your feedback.


Anonymous said...

I beg to this agree that Filipino minds have been encased, limited or caged. Whether you like it or not, some of our kababayans have already made a name that we can be proud of. One classic, example alone is Dr. Jose Rizal who is also our national hero, believed in us fellow Filipinos, that we can rise above the storms of life and be the best that we can be. President Manuel Quezon too was correct when he said " I would rather run our own affairs like hell than to be under the US regime." And if there is any consolation to us Filipinos, it is our unique ingenious to thrive wherever we go. In the United States alone, many Filipinos are in the for front of social and political activism. Some of them have become mayors, governors and representatives of their States, Counties and Cities. And our leadership talents and gifts are now being recognized. the Chief Chef of President Obama is a Filipino. The guy who invented the florescent, traffic lights and other pioneers in renewable energy were all Filipinos. Common,don't say that our Filipino minds have been encased, limited or caged. In your article, you have reduced your fellow Filipinos into imbecile or into a retarded state. The problem that you raised in Christian religion is not only confined among Christians. Even among the Moslem, Hindus, Buddhists and other world religions, selfishness and passivity persist. It is the nature of men and women to be selfish at times and to be passive. We all exist in between. Whether to be generous or selfish, to be passive or proactive. There is always that tension that pulls us into two different directions Christians or not. And if you chose to be selfish, would I blame you? Of course not! But this behavior should not discouraged us to be generous or to do that which is good. Because some people have already decided to be that way. I still maintain that genuine faith in God would produce good works. I salute you though for mentioning that in passing. Keep up the good work. It's good to tickle the mind of everyone of us. You have scratched my cerebral itch.



Anonymous said...

Quezon got what he wished for - a country run like hell by plutocrats and oligarchies. All of them learning a thing or two about thought reform and mind control. Of course the Church has always been on top of the game. They've had ages of practice. Government is now deep into the game too. We're a fascist polytheocratic state. We got ourselves to thank for that.

What makes us think that these parasites do what they do for our common good? These people who profess piety and say they're with us? Its all about control. Constantino said in so many words that to subjugate the people, the Americans had to reformat our thinking--they did that through education. Now that machinery is in the hands of our delusional rulers.

Politicians are always looking for ways to stay in power; their intentions have always been selfish, and never benign. Now the've armed themselves with the educational system and suck up somewhat to crumbling Big Brother America.

I'm really convinced that we, individually, really need to take a look at where this country is headed. Maybe we need LESSER government, shrink governemnt a little. Same with the self-appointed guardians of our morality, those who know what's best for us better than we do -- the church, or (pick a religion) They're getting too big and they want more power.

People should start critically thinking for themselves, tell the lie from the truth, then act upon it or else this country's finished. We like being told what to think, and that's stupid. We should start reviewing the conventions we've been taught-- like patriotism national pride, religious belief, luck and hard work.

Why do we keep paying the state (a fictional entity, in no real sense does a state exist except in concept)taxes when we know that the people running it just keep on stealing them?

We should start unchaining our minds and start giving ourselves an education, because the schools won't do it for us.

We should stop acting like sheeple.

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free" - Goethe