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Ronald Roy — 2013 January 07
To paraphrase American pop composer Burt Bacharach, “a house is not a home” unless it has a family or at least a couple to shelter and unite in love. In pretty much the same way, it evokes the image of a smelly Bethlehem manger that was home for Joseph, Mary and the God-child Jesus—an event depicting the child’s prophesied nativity.
A nation equates with the combined strengths of the homes comprising it; and we can help to make this so if we recall some thoughts from our past, viz., Thomas Jefferson’s “The happiest moments of my life have passed at home in the bosom of my family”, and Pope Pius XII’s “The family is more sacred than the State” — a statement which I believe the pontiff made in reference to “government”, not state. Anyway, can we learn from the wisdom of those quoted words?
During the year just passed, we were witness to the Aquino administration’s incessant and deafening propaganda of a searing third-quarter gross domestic product growth rate of 7.1%—a pompous feat verifiable from official records, yes, but nonetheless cryptic as to whether they alluded to a rejuvenated economy in terms of happier homes.
In an article late last year, this writer emphasized that the cited growth rate, attributed as it was mainly to overseas Filipino workers’ remittances, was a mere illusion of a hale and hearty nation, because it mindlessly implied that the joblessness condition that caused the OFW exodus was something to crow about, since foreign exchange inflows were all that seemed to matter in building a nation of homes into a “vibrant” economy.
Never mind that our countrymen are hired to render menial labor to foreign masters, and never mind that they are often subjected to unfair labor practices, rape and other human indignities!
Never mind that OFWs leave their homes to the detriment of their children being so separated from parental authority and supervision, that they are abandoned to bad company, cigarette, alcohol and drug addiction and other vices, not to mention their parents’ marriages being torn asunder by reason of their state of physical separation.
It’s tough, Caroline (Stroff), this awful feeling of inability to do anything to abate a socio-economic cancer gnawing at our homes, especially those of poor families! And I even doubted the power of prayer when I recently read about a bishop’s comments that tended to sow confusion among the faithful. Would that he had instead kept his thoughts all to himself.
One can only wish that His Grace, Bishop Gilbert Garcera of the Diocese of Daet, Camarines Norte, had never announced that “poverty is good, over-population is good”, for they are blessings that have benefitted the country—what with resultant increases in the number of overseas workers and migrants remitting more foreign exchange to their families back home, and, in the case of Filipino women, more opportunities for them to marry rich old men in countries where caregivers are scarce, and to get hitched in thinly populated countries in need to stimulate population growth back to normal levels!
My interpretation of the good bishop’s message is this: “Jesus was poor, so nothing is wrong with poverty! Over-population is great because it pump-primes the economy with foreign exchange! Rejoice because poverty and over-population are God’s plans for us!”
Well, is the good bishop prepared to disclose that he eats three square meals a day cum snacks, and moves about his diocese in an air-conditioned vehicle, that he is neither bothered by poverty-related suicides, homicides, and other crimes nor by marital infidelities, and that he sees no difference between that Bethlehem manger over 2,000 years ago and present-day barong-barongs along the riles and squalid esteros?
Pardon me, but haven’t we been assured time and again that God wants us to live happy lives, and to live them abundantly?! It’s altogether different of course if Bishop Garcera refers to money as a panacea, in which case we should ask ourselves whether to follow the materialistic Aristodemus who said, “Money makes the man”, or Bacon’s caveat that “Money is a good servant but a bad master”, or the account of St. Mark that: “Jesus went into the temple… overthrew the tables of money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves” or the counsel of St. Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all evil”. Of course I propose the rejection of the first and the espousal of the rest.
For President Aquino and his followers, the 7.1% GDP growth rate has “made the man” that is P-Noy! He now soars high not only here but also around the globe! Alas, our country has just been listed among the top ten tourist destinations in the world, and already, a casino boom is expected to explode soon within our shores!
Casinos galore! Money, money and more money! Wow!! Three cheers for money that has made the man, and three cheers for the man who plans to make more money by building a casino global center—a sin city, if you will—which cash-strapped Filipinos can call home!
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