by: Jesus V. Sison
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond
The year of the Lord 2021 is drawing to a close. For almost 2 years now, COVID -19 pandemic brought about distress among the members of our society due to massive losses in terms of health - either mental or physical or spiritual or a combination of any of the three, livelihoods suffered, resources dwindled and even lives succumbed to it. Such losses resulted to frustrations, disappointments and fear of uncertainty. There are moments of loneliness as stressful adversarial consequences affected all sectors of the society. Many are giving up and losing hope as they set their thoughts of a bleak future. Positivity and optimism are almost hard to perceive.
As the mantra, “we heal as one”, for national recovery cries, we believe that this pandemic is not our destiny. We still see a glorious future anchored on this blessed and living hope that is in Christ Jesus. We have confidence that the promise of the Almighty God of a peaceful, progressive, prosperous and successful tomorrow will be fulfilled. For this, we rise together to be an inspiration and catalyst to impact the society that shall be stirred to be cohesively one in overcoming adversities. We also trust that opportunities to gain and recover can be achieved that will make every individual regain confidence and morale to live their lives once again as God designed them to be.
We then therefore, appeal to every person to live a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called. Regardless of our different political views, positions in the government or private sector, gender, age, ethnic background and social status in life; we are to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior. We are to practice a life that expresses gratitude to God for our salvation during these times. We must start to honor one another as we clothed ourselves with all humility and in doing so, we forsake self-righteousness. It is also essential that we live in gentleness by means of maintaining self-control with patience, selfless love and bearing with one another. In doing all of the above actions, we are making every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We are putting forth an honest effort to observe that each individual is working together to make our aspirations and dreams of a wonderful future truly and wholly successful.
Knowing that God’s hands have made and fashioned every person in intricate unity, the human body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ and in Him, we must be one. Our healthy human body is harmoniously working together. Every body part is complementing each other and not competing or destroying any part. So, must we as a family and as a Nation.
Therefore if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ as there certainly is in abundance, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship that we share in the Spirit, if there is any great depth of affection and compassion, Altogether, let us make a complete and joyful holiday and holy-day season looking forward to a glorious future by being of the same mind, having the same love toward one another, knitted together in spirit, intent on one purpose and living a life that reflects our faith and spreads the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ. Let’s not do anything from selfishness or empty conceit through factional motives, or strife, but with an attitude of humility, being neither arrogant nor self-righteous, regard others as more important than ourselves, then we indeed and in deed “heal as one because of the One who is at work in us.”
by: Carol Donaal
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Meriam Webster defines peace at the state of calmness and quietness; and the absence of war and strife. Currently, it seems to be impossible to have peace within us especially now that we are fighting war against the COVID-19 virus. Throughout history we have heard of the many effects of war and strife. Even in the beginning, we know the truth about inner strife which caused Adam to disobey his Creator-God.
Commentaries say that peace is not part of human nature since it was lost during the fall of man through one man that is Adam. Instead, peace is God’s gift to humanity through one man and that is in the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate sacrifice-the offering that paved the way in order that each of us will be reconciled back to God and have the peace and rest that our souls yearn for.
In the Philippines, election is nearing and we can already hear many pretentious promises of peace and prosperity and such. But the book of truth will tell us that there is a promise of peace that this world cannot offer. It is however, offered by Christ alone and is the kind of peace that surpasses beyond all understanding at the same time guards our hearts and minds in Him. This peace offering is being offered to us up to this day. In times of trials, tribulations or any circumstances we are facing today, may we accept, receive and enjoy the gift so that we will take heart and have peace in Christ alone.
St. Augustine of Hippo also said in his book entitled “City of God” that peace is the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God, and of one another in God.
Christ set before us an example. He modeled the real peace that the world cannot give. He also conveyed the message that peace can only be attained in God’s presence. It is the inner peace that the world cannot give. Peace that can be had even in the midst of adversities. In one of His journeys with his disciples, he commanded “peace, be still” to the storm, and there was stillness.
Let us therefore find peace in God. As most people say, “It is not the absence of war but the presence of God.” Why fret for the future if our future is in the hands of the Almighty? Let us then speak peace to everyone, to our family members, and to all that we have.
by: Micah A. Tecne
As Solomon, the wisest king ever lived had said in his reflection that everything has a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Every one of us pass through different seasons of our lives personally and corporately. We have the choice to either respond to it negatively or optimistically.
We Filipinos, are known to be advocates of the value humor and joyfulness as evidenced by how we optimistically and creatively respond to this current challenge of the pandemic but we cannot also deny the fact that this season has been and continually destroying lives and relationships. We have been hearing news about suicides, quarrels, killings and the like. We are seeing how we are being put into a test whether to keep our resilience or give in to distress and defeat. Sadly, we have seen people lose their joy and eventually see them suffer depression, conflicts and the worst is seeing them taking their own lives.
We cannot deny the fact that our responses to different seasons of our lives, especially the season of difficulties and trials, will not only affect us but everyone around us. How we respond to difficulties depends on our source of joy that brings us resilience. Some think that the source of their joy comes from having abounding wealth, fame, pleasure, wisdom of this world, people, etc. but still find themselves empty and dissatisfied. King Solomon, enjoyed the latter but later on he realized and said “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Yes, the source of our joy indeed matters!
As one of the Psalmist uttered in his distress, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” The greatest source of our joy would be the very source of our life who is able to sustain and see us through the seasons, no other than God. Dwelling in God is having joy that brings us hope that makes us resilient as it was also said that He will make known to us the path of life and will fill us with joy in His presence, with eternal pleasures at His right hand.
When we are filled by that abounding joy from a great source, we are able to spread it to others that would make every season of our lives hopeful. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Be filled with joy and be contagious!
By: Ame-Phil O. Saquiban
Based on the Department of Health’s report on 14 November 2021, the Philippines COVID-19 cases reached a nationwide tally to 2,816,980 with 28,102 active cases and with death toll climbing to 45,581, which is 1.61% of the total cases. Every update on our COVID-19 dashboard is more than just a number. It represents people, families and communities. And more than anything, each case represents life.
This pandemic has caused a lot of havoc. Life has been put to waste, not only its very existence but also its productivity, functionality, and enjoyment. People cannot go to places they wish to. Children are prohibited to enter into enclosed establishments. Some are forced to stay at home or to spend for a period of quarantine in an isolation area if exposed to a COVID-19 patient. We are put into a confinement, not as a suspect of a crime but as a suspect of this alleged dreaded disease.
As we are confronted with this war on health, we get to intently and deeply reflect on how precious and sacred life is. We need not wait for such situation to cause us to pause and value this God-given life. How grateful we are for the breath of life is manifested at best when we make use of our time to honor the Author of life in our thoughts, words and actions. We live circumspectly and do the necessary activities for public good in every step of the way. We make a point that we become asset rather than liability. We consciously put to mind that we are not just living on our own but for others and that we should not be preparing for the present time but for the future as well.
Respect for life is not only limited to life preservation and fulfilling the command – “thou shall not kill”, but it recognizes the dignity and worth of every God-given life. Hence, whether we work in public service or in private sector, let us ensure that every life is valued, protected and given the opportunity to flourish, reach his/her full potential and live a meaningful life. Such mindset does not allow greed and selfishness to thrive. It breaks the cycle of acquiring wealth and goods for personal satisfaction.
It is said that we only have one life to live and once our time here on earth is over, we can no longer take it back. Let this truth invite us to daily acknowledge the importance of life, not just our lives but also the lives of others including the future generations.
Honor the Author of Life by making each breath of life count.
by: Atty. Carolina Lim-Gamban
The preamble of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that, “We the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime or truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution" The preamble describes the purpose of the Constitution and it clearly states that one reason why we promulgated this, is to establish a government that shall embody the promotion of common good. In the BusinessWorld article entitled, “The meaning of ‘the common good’,” Atty. Jemy Gatdula mentioned that ‘common good’ was used in the Constitution to “project the idea of a social order that enables every citizen to attain his or her fullest development economically, politically, culturally and spiritually" For this to happen, both the leaders and its citizens must resolve to promote the common good.
As part of our core value on Patriotism, promotion of common good is an important aspect that we should not exchange for silver or gold. Just last month, the filing of candidacy and voter registration ended, and we have a long list of aspiring candidates who will take over the different seats of power. We are nearing the election period and early as now, we must have a background-check on the candidates running for the different posts in the government, and we must examine how they have performed and have been performing. This is also the perfect time to ask who among them is promoting the common good. When we say ‘promoting the common good,’ these are not empty promises or flowery words that did not come to fruition during their stint or even when holding positions in other offices. Promoting the common good goes with action so as to actively encourage the others to do the same. We can see this in their behavior and we can further ask, “Are they worthy of emulation?”
How can we say that candidates, or even we as citizens, are promoting the common good? First, let us examine if the candidates (or we) have brought honor and not disgrace to our country. Looking at the example of our Olympians, they have devoted their time, effort, and resources to bring honor to our beloved Philippines. It somehow brought a common good to the Filipinos where our reputation in sports is somewhat uplifted, and the government recognized and paid more attention to the needs of the athletes. A candidate need not bring honor to our country in a grand manner but it is sufficient that they give their best in the service and have not used the power conferred to them for graft and corruption, or injustice. Second, we can take a look if they have genuine concern for the people. In a webinar attended by of Ms. Ana Patricia Non, the woman behind the community pantry, she communicated that the community pantry started because of her concern for her community during the pandemic. She just wanted to share what she has to those who are needy and wanted to encourage those who have more than enough to share according to their capacity, hence the tag, “Kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan, magbigay ayon sa kakayanan.” Fame, accolade, or recognition was never her driving force in that act of kindness. Third, do they have the mark of serving selflessly to the people even at their own expense? We can always look at the sacrifices of our modern heroes – the medical practitioners, who continued on nursing the Covid-19-afflicted even at the expense of their own health, time, resources, and even their lives, all for the sake of the welfare of the Filipino people. Do the candidates have the same courage, love, and dedication to the point of sacrificing their own? These are just some of the many ways we can see if the candidates (or we) are promoting the common good. There are many more we can add on the list but it will redound on the Scriptures saying, “love your neighbor as yourselves,” and “do not seek your own personal interests alone, but also the interests of others.”
Let us do our fair share in promoting the common good, even in the coming election, as it is pivotal to the destiny of our nation. Let us do this for the sake of our beloved country and the future generations.
People have different objects of fear. Some fear ghost, heights, dark, harm, or person. Some are real while others are products of imagination. Fear, by nature, is a negative emotion. However, there are instances wherein the resulting effects are positive.
There are two types of fear depending on its effects to those who feel or recognize it. One which causes anxiety or physical and mental health problems. The other is one which drives people to self-restraint resulting to a disciplined life and uprightness. The latter is commonly called a “holy fear”. It is directed to God who judges all people. As others say, if we are to fear anyone, we should fear the Creator who has the power to render punishment of eternal perdition.
The word reverence is directly related to fear of God. It connotes deep respect and honor which also produces high esteem and adoration to whom it is directed. In a kingdom, for example, the subjects who serve in the presence of the king act in a well-mannered fashion. They observe propriety and ethical standards in such a way that their demeanor are pleasing before the king. They cannot conduct themselves outside the limits of courtesy and decorum, otherwise, they may be arrested and serve the corresponding penalty.
The above attitude, if rendered to earthly leaders, must all the more be observed before the God of all. If such will be the practice, we can expect a well-behaved citizenry in a country. Sad to say, in the Philippines, some are not. There are people who commit crimes in broad daylight or even in the presence of persons in authority. Others lie without fret or pervert consciously, unfettered by any judgment that awaits them.
Reverence and fear of God, thus, refers to how we relate to God grounded on love and affection. It is more than just the performance of religious traditions. It is a relationship that produces righteousness because it demands self-control or suppression of self-will. Any form of veneration without the by-product of a holy life is not genuine but a superficial one. To be a true reverence and fear of God, it should drive the person to a commitment to avoid sin and bad habits.
How then can we properly observe reverence and fear of God? It must be coupled with the belief that God exists who sees everything that we do and believing that there is corresponding consequences for disobedience. However, our motivation for reverence should not be for fear of chastisement. We should revere God because we endear Him. This is our leverage as Filipinos considering that we implore the aid of the Almighty God in building our nation.
In view of the above perspectives, the value of reverence and fear of God should be deemed an indispensable value in seeking for considerable change in national scale. People normally don’t fear penal laws. They boldly and cunningly evade punitive measures. Only when they revere and fear God heartily that they become law-abiding citizens. (Nathaniel A. Saquiban, CRFV)
God is the only one we know not where he originated. We can therefore assume that He is the origin of everything. When He creates a plan, it is always original. The earth alone is his masterpiece. No other creation or innovation is created without associating to the creation of God.
Looking back, God has an original plan for everything. Let us see for example the family of Israel that became a nation. God has planned for them to stay in Canaan. However, due to some circumstances, they went to Egypt. For 430 years, they stayed in Egypt where the promises of God to Abraham seems to have been lost. Who would have thought that a simple cry out to the Father would lead to the great Exodus the world has ever witnessed? Yet even before that, God has already prepared a leader schooled in the royal educational system of Egypt and in the deep words of God. The life of Moses too was quite beautiful. God has planned for him to lead the Israelites and it started when Israelites were in great peril and agony. Moses, an Israelite boy destined by the Egyptian soldiers to be dead by royal decree was taken by the Royal Princess to be her son. On top of that, she was cared for by his biological mother. In the middle of chaos, God’s plan prevailed.
Let us look at the life of Queen Esther. She became an orphan and was cared for by his uncle Mordecai. She was nobody in a foreign land but God has already promised Abraham that He will bless the descendants of Abraham. Through the obedience of Esther to his uncle, a known man of God, she became a queen. Dark times came and they were planned to be killed with a Royal decree. Yet through her prayer and trust in the Lord, the King who approved the decree protected them.
Daniel, a young boy captured and dragged to a land of foreign gods, became a star in that nation. Bound to a land of false Gods, he stood his ground of simply obeying the teachings of God. Soldiers bend the rules to cater to his needs and he proved he was right. Miracle after miracle and he became a leader. Time went further and his name became even greater when he defied another royal decree and was thrown into the lion’s den crushing the heart of the King. Through the pandemonium, God’s name was held on high. Until now, his name is remembered. As God promised Abraham, He will make his name great.
Looking back to Israel as a nation, God created a plan for them to live and be blessed in the land of Canaan. They were previously driven out of their homeland due to their disobedience. However, since God’s original plan is for them to stay in Canaan, they went back to their land of promise in 1948. They started as a small tribe until they became a powerful nation with advanced technology and modern infrastructure.
When God created a plan, it will always come to pass. With God’s simple reminder of obeying Him, He will pour out his blessings as He miraculously fulfills his blue print in every nation, every family and every life. (Micah A. Tecne, CRFV Action Officer)
It is an established principle in public service that the public must be informed of all transactions and activities of the government except in cases where privileged communications apply or classified information and state secrets may be divulged to the prejudiced of national security and interest. This principle, as well as a value, of transparency is the underlying reason why posting of notices and public documents in government websites and other official media platforms or in mandatory conspicuous places are required. Publication is also an indispensable requirement for the effectivity of a new enactment, and public consultation is necessary in legislation in cases where human rights may be affected. All because of the right of every citizen to information on matters of public concern as enshrined in Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. This is also to promote participatory governance as encouraged to be practiced under our existing laws.
These show that even before we recognize transparency as a value, it is already embodied in our laws, rules and regulations pertaining to the operation of government instrumentalities, agencies, and units. It is therefore expected that it should have been an institutional value being observed by everyone in a government office. However, far from what is expected, it takes the legislation of the Freedom of Information Bill to strengthen the observance of the value of transparency in public offices. Surprisingly, even members of Congress took time to pass this law. Some claim that certain provisions of the proposed Bill transgress the highly protected right to privacy.
The above reasoning is patently illogical, trivial, and unconvincing to the prudent. The proposed Bill admits of certain exceptions for the protection of citizens’ rights. Even the corollary Executive Order No. 02 issued by the President acknowledges exceptions to be listed and defined by the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General.
Looking into the nature of “transparency to the public”, it is institutionally and individually imperative. Apart from the disclosure of official records, public documents, and government research data by a public office, it is also required in our laws the individual filing of Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALN and Financial Disclosure. Again, in the astonishment of many, even the highest magistrate in the land was removed from office simply on the non-compliance of this basic obligation.
Why transparency appears to be so exacting? Apparently, it will subject the officials concerned to scrutiny and exposure. This, however, is not true to a person who has nothing to hide and whose life is an open book to everyone. That person is ready to account what is duly forthcoming under his or her care upon query, investigation, or inspection.
Let us note, thus, that transparency is the only way we can gain the trust of people around us. If we are vying for a leadership function in this coming election, we should underscore this value if we are to win the confidence of the electorate and future constituents. It is also an ethical conduct that should be upheld if we are to build relationship in the workplace. It nurtures open communication, interaction, and active participation among workers which leads to organizational success.
Undoubtedly, transparency is applicable in both public and private life and the practice of which should not be a struggle.
If right this moment, we are to stand before a huge crowd of different faces and races, spotlight on us, and our being a Filipino is the only characteristic we have that is being made known to everyone looking, how do we feel? Register that initial feeling you have towards such a situation - that raw and unprocessed emotion you have before your brain and reasoning started working.
Many things happened, a lot are taking place, and more will happen that can influence the image of the Philippines and of its citizens. In the web of all these events, whether positive or negative, shameful or something to be proud of, good or bad, the fact will remain that we are who we are - Filipinos. How we feel about it is where the challenge is cast.
As God’s creation, we are no accident, every detail in our life has been wonderfully, thoughtfully, and perfectly designed by Him. Knowing this, our natural response should be gratitude and pride towards the identity He gave us including our race and nation. While it is ideal to feel this way, our failure to realise how uniquely God created us, which is a form of identity crisis, sheds light to the bad, the negative, and the shameful reasons why we may feel otherwise.
While we can enumerate the many reasons why we should be proud of our being a Filipino and the reasons why we must feel shame, such is not the point. Doing so is like listing down conditions, a checklist that must be ticked before we get to possess national pride as a virtue. Or in most cases, the natural response where we feel proud when good and positive things take place and ashamed when it’s the other way. The list will be endless and bad and good things will continue to happen, meaning the value of national pride is inconsistent and again, conditional. What can we do when the circumstances and other people are beyond our control?
Let us go back to who we are, we are altogether beautiful and perfect, there is no flaw in us. As God’s handiworks and created to do good works that were laid out before us even before we were born, let us focus on the things that are within our control and stop fretting on matters beyond. Taking a look at the reasons why shame is the winner over national pride, let us strive to turn the tables around and understand these events from the perspective of our individual perfection and uniqueness.
We must take every negative circumstance as an opportunity to continue doing good. That while the reason to feel shame is overwhelming and while foreigners may judge or belittle us, we must see it as a chance to prove them wrong. We must not let anyone look down on us, but set an example for others in our speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. We are the key, the light, and the instrument to define what our nation is, who its people are, and demonstration of the value of national pride. In such a scenario, all the conditions in our checklist become irrelevant. We become the reason for national pride and our consistency towards feeling proud of our race and our country will never again be put to question.
Going back to our first scenario, spotlight on us as Filipino, standing before a huge crowd of various nationalities, what do we feel? (Keren May Busaing, CRFV)
Today’s craze in fashion and social media gave advent on aesthetic consciousness. We are accustomed with fascinating and mystifying realm of different experiences from beautiful to ugly experiences in terms of physical appearances or even pleasant to bewildering practices and attitudes. Most of the time, people project themselves to be good and commendable before the general public. It is self-gratifying on their part to be appreciated. However, internal struggles and adversarial reactions from within are brewing because their own expectations were not met that resulted to frustrations and disappointments. There is so much fear to be ridiculed or not to be accepted. Moreover, they themselves desired to just be themselves without criticism or being put to shame.
It is time to be set free from such enslavement. The key is to go back to who we really are, created and originally designed by God according to His image and likeness. He imparted in us His very being and nature. One grand example of His nature is holiness. Jesus Christ Himself said that we be holy because our heavenly Father is holy. Holiness is an attribute of becoming “more than being good and morally upstanding. God's holiness is His defining characteristic. It’s a term used in the Holy Scriptures to describe both His goodness and His power. It is completely unique and utterly all-powerful, radiating from God like an energy.” Thus, the beauty of His holiness was revealed, realized and understood.
We are called to live His nature. We are urged and exhorted through the commandment of God through His Son Jesus that we should abound more and more in both faith and grace to walk and to please God. It is God’s will that we be sanctified and cleansed from all unrighteousness because this is the hallmark of those who fear and love Him. It is a proof that we had totally dedicated our lives to Him. Either as a public figure or a private one, we should abstain from all forms of immorality which was defined as evil, sinful or otherwise wrong behavior. These wrong behaviors can be associated to wrongful acts as defined in the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. These, among others, include crimes against public order and public morals; crimes against persons, personal liberty and security; and crimes against property, chastity and honor.
As Saint Paul enunciated, we should know how to possess and guard our own lives in sanctification and honor. This simply means that we walk through the highway of holiness where no unclean thing lingers, no destruction nor devourer lurks, and we will not go astray. Walking through this pathway means that we should never passionately lust for power or anything contrary to God’s commandment. We will not take advantage of and defraud our fellow people. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. So, when we live a life of holiness, God’s beauty and glory will continue to radiate through us. Peace, contentment, security, protection and gladness will always flourish. This is the real beauty in us, the beauty of His holiness. Therefore, he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit to lead and help us live a holy life. (Jesus V. Sison, CRFV)
CRFV Winning Team
A company of men and women who have committed their lives to the cause of national transformation.