Truth be told, when COVID19 pandemic has first stricken our nation, many feared for its transmission, causing them to stay inside their homes and observe quarantine protocols. However, as days turned into weeks and weeks into months, people started looking for ways to “live with” this pandemic causing business establishments to slowly open up their doors for more people and cities and municipalities to slowly open their borders once again. What’s more, the freedom to roam around that everybody wanted is slowly being granted. However, we have also noticed that for the past weeks, cases of COVID19 infected patients escalated to hundreds of thousands that can lead us to think, “When will this pandemic end?” Why is it still transmitting fast like wildfire when everyone should have learned by now how to protect themselves from it?
Sad to say, widespread stories of exposure of COVID19 positive patients resulted from disobedience to the set quarantine rules and protocols. Imagine someone who tested positive for COVID19 from a drinking spree. Still, another acquired the disease as a result of his/her tour in a known COVID19 infected place. Another got infected for not taking steps to safeguard his/her health like not having enough sleep or not maintaining clean surroundings. Sad to say, this disobedience of some people caused the lockdown of their communities and their workplaces, not to mention endangering the lives of those around them. It’s true, we can heal as one but without adherence to protocols and basic sanitation practices, we can never attain our goal. Yes, we need to survive but we still have to keep safety in mind or we will end up as unnecessary casualties in these trying times. It is basic that we should follow quarantine protocols, not just for our own sake but for the sake of the community we belong to.
Obedience plays a major role in combating this pandemic. Without obedience, people perish. As old as history, we could see that people who caused harm to their environment and nations are those who are practically disobedient to basic rules. One major example of this is Pharaoh of Egypt during the time of Moses. During those days, Moses went to him to bargain for the release of his people, shouting, “Let my people go!” However, he never allowed them to. That disobedience sadly put his people in danger, allowing them, the Egyptians, to experience ten plaques until the point of losing an entire generation of Egyptian firstborns. From here, we can see how the disobedience of one leader led to the suffering of his people. We can therefore conclude that disobedience can result to curses while obedience can lead to blessings. Not only will it keep us from COVID19 but will also allow us to enjoy the best of the land. The Word says, “If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.” (JBB, CRFV)
“...no temptation has overtaken us except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. But when we are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. ”
Nowadays, we observe that moral values are deteriorating and among them is the value of godliness and holiness. Saint Paul, in his letter to Timothy said that there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. This current pandemic is pressing us, tempting us to give in and participate in the situation depicted above. Will we strive to be holy or are we going to compromise the principles of godliness just to survive and ‘live’?
Whenever we reflect on the virtue of godliness and holiness, most of us must be thinking that, “it is hard to be holy, I can’t be one. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away and like sheep, we have gone astray; each of us have turned to our own way.
There are two common statements that we usually say or hear to justify mistakes or sinful actions: “sorry, tao lang,” or “sorry, I am not perfect.” Selfish Interest Nature (SIN) has always been embedded in us as human beings – challenging us and tempting us. It is a nature that we must personally wage war against. We must not look at it as a curse to dive into but a victorious journey towards a godly and holy life. While we fall here and there, our humanity taking over once in a while, we must strive to rise back up stronger and wiser - with lessons learned and mistakes to not repeat.
Remember the instances that we get frustrated for being tempted and suffered some consequences? Paul of Tarsus urges us that no temptation has overtaken us except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. But when we are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. We must hang in there and understand that what we are going through is a process and that we are a work in progress. Keep in mind that in the most difficult times, we can kneel and pray for God to give us the strength of will and character to say no to every temptation.
In these times of pandemic, are we being enticed to lie, cheat, steal and do something that is contrary to what is right? Are we tempted to falsify documents to gain more money and advantage for ourselves? Are we on the brink of doing something risky, such as, “kumapit sa patalim,” because of dire need? Are we going to compromise? To what lengths shall we go to satisfy our human needs? Will we fight with all our might to withstand all temptations and work our way towards holiness and godliness or the other way around? Fight will all our might to satisfy our flesh?
In our lifetime, there will always be opposing choices that we need to live through. The battle between good and evil is always present and only one will be victorious in the end. We have learned and heard more than enough to figure out which side is going to win. If we try to recall, in everything and in every circumstance, God has given us the freedom to choose. Where we are right now and the principles we uphold is a result of what we chose to do in the past. Let us choose to be godly and work our way towards holiness. My choice. Your choice. Our choice.
Finally, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. God has called us from darkness into His marvelous light. We are His chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and His special possession. (MAT, CRFV)
Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."
According to John Hopkins Medicine, forgiveness has a significant benefit on our health: Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for our health, lowering the risk of a heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. As we are concerned about our health, we have to render forgiveness to the offender and ask and receive forgiveness from the one we have offended.
In the scripture, Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Jesus' response means forgiveness is not being numbered, and it has to be given when asked for it. Such teaching of Jesus is called counter-culture as it goes against the norm of most people in the society: Wherein three strikes and you are out, and two of the same offense by the same person is too much. However, obedience to Christ's teaching on forgiveness has to be live with as it paves the way to his abundant blessings. Apostle Paul also advised: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you"
Furthermore, in order to render forgiveness easily, we should not keep a grudge against a wrongdoer. Let us do ourselves a favor by setting it free from any added inner turmoil or stress due to offense caused by a friend, colleague, neighbor, or family member. Life is already full of challenges; we should not add it up by nursing a grudge against somebody. Truthfully, forgiveness is giving our right to hurt, for our good and well-being, though we have the power to do so.
The Council for the Restoration of Filipino Values espoused on the following four phrases in asking for someone's forgiveness, we say: "I am sorry; please, forgive me; I will not do it again; what can I do to make things right"; as such, has to be practiced sincerely. As a result, we will experience healing, peace, and freedom as we ask for forgiveness and forgive those who have wronged us. Finally, Joanna Fuchs' poem "Forgive" encourages each one to:
Forgive someone. Today forgive.
Turn from bitter to positive.
End frustration, anger, pain;
Wash the anguish from your brain.
“If My people who are called by My Name shall humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will heal their land”.
A known, motivational speaker once said, “The way to go up is to go down”. It sounds an absurd and unfathomable concept but there is a degree of truth in this statement. It conforms to the truth that he who humbles himself shall be exalted. Rather looking at it antithetically, we must look at it correspondently. The more we exercise humility, the more doors open for us for promotion. Promotion, in this manner, does not only refer to position, rank, or status. It also refers to better and improved state of life.
The resulting effects of humility as identified above is more than just a mere philosophical and logical pronouncement. It is a principle that we often experience in real life and was proven helpful in many instances. It is a key element for favor, forgiveness, restoration, reconciliation, guidance, and help. We have heard certain stories where people were confronted of their misconduct but instead of humbling themselves, they were even more arrogant and hostile. In effect, neither consideration nor compassionate justice were rendered to them, and instead, the corresponding punishment.
In like manner, a person who committed a sin cannot be restored unless he or she manifest humility and repent. Further, persons who are in conflict will hardly reconcile if none of them will humble and concede to one another regardless of rightful position. Guidance and help will not also be granted to those who are haughty. These adverse effects of being proud and insolent rather than being humble are axiomatic. The tragic fate of angel Lucifer is just an example.
Applying the value of humility in this time of adversity is very essential and needful. We have known of God’s promise which has been reminded to us throughout the land since the start of the pandemic. It is being flashed on television channels and is being broadcasted on radio stations. It is explicit: “If My people who are called by My Name shall humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will heal their land”.
God is specific on his requirements for the healing of our land. One of which is humility. Emphatically, there exists a clarion call for humility to all Filipinos. We must admit – we cannot do it alone. We need the aid of the Almighty God. We should implore it over and over again. As Saint Paul once said, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you.”
Consequently, if we learn how to humble ourselves before God as a nation, we can humble ourselves before men as a nation. With humility, we can strengthen our ties and diplomatic relationship with other countries without sacrificing our national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and our right to self-determination. As it was written in our Constitution, we adhere to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations. (NAS, CRFV)
The word faith is derived from the Latin term fides which means confidence or trust. To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see. During these trying times, faith is what we need most to go through the days. It holds us in one piece amidst the chaos, the turmoil left and right, and the hopelessness going round about. Faith gives us hope that all these will come to pass, and that there is a better tomorrow coming our way.
Faith can make a great impact on us if we allow it to be one of our virtues. No highs or lows could ever trouble us if we develop the gift of faith. Men and women of old have countless recounts on faith that we can also experience if we believe. We believe because God first believed in us. As we believe in Him, His faith will operate in our lives that can result in great and mighty things, far greater than we can think of or imagine.
What can faith do to us? Faith increases our understanding and revelation on the creation and the Creator Himself. It opens our eyes on the all-powerful, all-mighty attributes of God; Looking at the life of Abel, faith allows us to please God and it is an indispensable ingredient that makes our offering a better sacrifice; Just like Noah, faith lets us heed warnings that could save our lives and the lives of others. It makes us experience a better life, or can raise us back to life just like Lazarus. Through faith, we are protected from the destroyer as recounted from the Passover, we can shut the mouth of the lion, quench the fury of flames, and escape the edge of the sword just like Gideon, Samson, David and Samuel; Faith allows us to obey and receive our inheritance and promises. It enables us to have offspring as promised, and pass on the blessings to them just like Abraham and Sarah; Faith allows us to pass the test, trials, and difficult circumstance knowing that God is with us and that He is more than able to turn our weakness into strength. Faith allows us to be bold and courageous to stand on the truth, administer justice, and refuse temptations just like Moses, the judges, and Joseph. Faith allows us to have vision and see the future that enables us to cross-over by tearing-down walls that divide and barriers that hinder.
If all our people live by faith, we can see and welcome the new dawn – where sin age is at its end, and the age of righteousness ruling the nation. That is why we need the faith of Jesus Christ where he believed that you and I are worth dying for. We need the faith of God trusting us that we can overcome the world because He has given us all that we need.
Let us increase our faith by hearing and hearing the Word of God. Act on our faith by believing, obeying, and doing. Cast out every doubt, fear, and disbelief. Let us be of great faith. Let God’s faith live and manifest in and through us. Let us anchor ourselves on the faith of Christ! (CGLG, CRFV)
The current pandemic situation has tremendously affected everyone in varying degree and has brought a deep sense of uncertainty, confusion and even despair. It has challenged our abilities individually, as a family, an organization, a nation, and even as a global community. We witness various responses. Some managed to rise again after a major blow to their employment, livelihood or businesses. Many are trying to cope one day at a time.
However, there are those who took advantage of the situation. Transparency International reports that there is widespread corruption related to COVID-19 aid in different parts of the world. Some humanitarian aid did not fully reach the target vulnerable population. In the same report, it noted that the weak transparency and accountability mechanism led to enriching the corrupt officials and their allies as the COVID-19 assistance landed in their pockets.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. Indeed, in this time of adversity and transition to a better new normal, how we respond to the situation reflects who we are and the principles we uphold. It is time for us to act on our convictions lest we become callous, be taken over by apathy and passivity, and live self-centeredly with seared conscience.
Acting on our convictions requires fortitude and commitment to remain grounded on our moral compass so we can never be swayed to simply follow the crowd nor take the easy way out. We stay true to the principles and the non-negotiable standards we strongly hold vital. We remain motivated to stand strong for what is right all the time even when faced with intimidation or persecution. This is what our nation needs now – people who act on their conviction, reject every form of corruption and decline, and advance the agenda of righteousness, peace and justice in the land.
With the pressing concerns at hand,we may choose to look the other way but we can never say again that we did not know. We need not look too far. Just simply turn to our left and right and see the plight of the people, our neighborhood, our respective offices as well as the local government where we belong. Are there areas of concern where our conviction is calling for action to make things right and better? The choice to act on our conviction is in our hands. Act now.
As we continue to reflect on the value of spirituality (being the 4th public service values espoused by the Civil Service Commission), let us implore the aid of the Almighty God in strengthening our conviction. Having a deep reverence for Him will make us heed to our conviction without delay. Let us act now for there is no other way that will exalt our nation other than the path of righteousness. Righteousness exalts a nation. (AOS, CRFV)
It is time for us to act on our convictions lest we become callous, be taken over by apathy and passivity, and live self-centeredly with seared conscience.
"Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?"
Over the years of consciously working out every Filipino value in words and in deed, as well as nurturing our spirituality, the value of charity even up to this day would always lead us to reflect and directly relate it to the virtue of love. In the process, we are reminded of the deeper meaning of love - the level where it involves sacrifice & selflessness; the admonition to love even our enemies.
It is very timely to be tackling the value of charity in these times of pandemic. There are many areas and aspects of our present condition that we can take a look at - common and relatable circumstances where we can assess or even measure our hearts when it comes to practicing the good deeds related to charity. At this point, though we have different economic means and ability to overcome the present pandemic, we are all undeniably subjected to seeing those who are struggling and in need of charity.
Being on the same predicament and as Values Restoration Officers, let us see clearly how we’ve been responding and plan how to extend charity in the days to come. We can individually answer the question of how we were & what we did since the pandemic until now; but we can corporately resolve to move together with the same burden, same heart, and the same direction from this point onwards.
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore we are commanded to be openhanded towards our fellowmen who are poor and needy. As VROs, we are ground breakers, we are expected to be the first people to do this, let our light shine, and become role models for others to follow. Remember that charity is measured not only in monetary value of things and that the poor does not only refer to those who are lacking in material possessions. In our nothingness, we can give generously; with kindness we can release hope & encouragement. In short, let us be inspired by our sincere love, this way we will naturally respond to every need surrounding us.
Moreover, we are action takers. For what good is kind words without deeds? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? “What should we do then? Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.
Another thing we must embrace to do is to give indiscriminately. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?" It takes a whole lot of unconditional & sacrificial love to do this, but if we are ever wondering how to extend sincere charity, this is the ultimate standard. We are admonished not only to ceremonially give even to our enemies but love them, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting anything in return. Human as we are, this is truly a struggle but let us desire to overcome the feeling of distaste & discomfort of giving.
Finally, let us find joy in giving. It is a process and it takes consistent effort to discover this joy in our hearts, but let us do it. A famous quotation says, “Give until it feels good.” Giving must not be reluctant or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Let us not withhold good from those whom it is due, when it is in our power to act. This way, the ‘secret’ door to abundance and continuous supply remains open for us. In all things at all times, we shall have all that we need, we will abound in every good work. We will be enriched in every way so that we can be generous on every occasion resulting in thanksgiving to God. (KMB, CRFV)
Spirituality is simply manifesting our inner being.
According to scholars, we are composed of three (3) elements: body, soul, and spirit. Our physical body is the outer covering which, according to science, has the same composition as the soil. This finding supports the Biblical writing that we were created from the dust of the ground. Our soul, on the other hand, consists of the mind, will, and emotion. It usually comprises our personality as formed by the way we think, act on our decision, and react to situations. Last is our spirit which is believed to be either an old spirit or a new spirit. Old spirit is when sin thrives and we never allow ourselves to be changed internally; whereas, a new spirit is when we have renewed our relationship with our Creator by making Him the ruler of our lives, thereby, giving us a new and transformed life. The new spirit is what others call as the recreated spirit where sin nature is done away with.
Looking inwardly, the value of spirituality gives us the ability to walk in righteousness as our new spirit is divine. It serves as the foundation for holy living. At this state, the sin habits were dealt with internally. It is only when our soul and body opens up for evil desires that we go back to sinful lifestyle. It is vital therefor to uplift and nurture our spirit in order to remain upright. Our spirit must be strong enough to subdue the dictates of our soul and body. Accordingly, if our spirit is weak, we keep going back to our old, wicked ways with less chances to arrest them. Our pursuit for godliness is hampered and overridden by our depraved inclinations.
Outwardly, spirituality plays a vital role in our attempt to realize good governance in the country. Based on countless testimonies, it was revealed that those who are spiritual have greater chances to resist temptation coupled with the courage to stand for integrity at all cost. The Civil Service Commission finds this essential and needful. They enforced spirituality as one of the core values that all civil servants must observe. According to them, strengthening our spirituality is the way by which we can change our heart and thought pattern. They believed that when our heart is changed, everything changes – thought pattern, attitude, priorities, character or behavior, and conversation or communication. Consequently, a changed life will eventually result to a changed family, society, and nation.
It is also worth emphasizing that spirituality is not the same as religiosity. It is not the observance of religious rites or obligations. Being devout to religious vows is not an assurance of spirituality though it can be the fruit thereof. Only when we resolve to live a godly life that we can be spiritual. It should be our ultimate goal during this time of adversity. It should not be a traditional resolution but a sincere and unwavering commitment for total reformation. (NAS, CRFV)
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), through the leadership of Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, initiated a campaign for the promotion and observance of discipline among the entire citizenry called “Disiplina Muna”. The campaign was first introduced to representatives of various agencies, business sector, non-government, and civil society organizations. The Council for the Restoration of Filipino Values (CRFV) was invited to attend the meeting on October 24, 2019 at DILG Central Office. One of its officers present in the meeting was able to share some thoughts on how to effectively rally the program given the existing administrative requirements attached to it.
The meeting was followed by a grand launching conducted at the City Hall of Manila on November 6, 2019 which was attended by several dignitaries, members of Manila City officialdom, and high ranking officials of DILG. Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso, being the host, gave his welcome remarks to all guests and visitors succeeded by inspirational messages from “Disiplina Muna” Ambassadors. CRFV was given the privilege to represent the entire body of non-government organizations (NGOs) in the Philippines in such momentous occasion and was given the opportunity to rally all NGOs to support the program.
The grand launching in Manila signaled a wide-scale precedent to all DILG Regional and Field Offices. On July 24, 2020, the DILG Cordillera also hosted a grand launching at Baguio Country Club amidst of the pandemic where CRFV was again invited to speak a campaign message on the value of discipline in behalf of the members of the private sector. The event was attended by representatives of the local and national government agencies.
The regional grand launching in the Cordillera prompted the city government of Baguio to hold a kick-off program last July 27, 2020. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong was recognized as the “Disiplina Muna Champion” during the program. Others gave their message of support such as DILG Regional Director Marlo L. Iringan and Baguio City Congressman Marquez O. Go. CRFV, in part, gave its commitment to do plans of action in order to enhance discipline among members of the private sector as its contribution to the efforts of the government in instilling discipline as the foundation to nation building. There were eight (8) points that CRFV committed to implement which were greatly appreciated by the DILG City Director.
The Disiplina Muna Campaign is another thrust opened for CRFV to further its cause of restoring values among Filipinos. Being a strong partner of DILG, it has been faithful in fulfilling its pledge of realizing discipline citizenry to this date. Since its participation at the national grand launching in Manila, its officers and members have joined several clean-up drives at major parks and tourist destinations of Baguio. CRFV is also currently involved in making and putting-up signage or visuals communicating the practice of discipline around the City of Baguio to this date. (NAS, CRFV)
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”
Wisdom is defined as the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common senseand insight. On one hand, others define it as the capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct. It is also defined as the soundness of judgment in the choice of means and ends while some define it as the right use of knowledge. Albert Einstein, one of the best scientists of all time, views wisdom not as a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it. The Scriptures, on the other side, says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom - the foundation of true wisdom which is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
How does one get wisdom and what are its manifestations? The Scripture is rich in telling us about wisdom. First, understand God’s will. When we understand what the will of the Lord is and please God, wisdom is abounding. We cannot understand what the Lord’s will is if we have not searched God’s precepts and ways throughout time and throughout the history of men. We can understand God’s will when the Word dwell in us richly by reading, hearing, and applying what we have seen and heard. Second, walk with the wise because whoever walks with the wise becomes wise. Acquire wisdom when we listen to their sound advice and accept their instruction. Remember that the wise of heart will receive commandments, and a wise person hears his father's instruction. Third, be watchful on how we live our lives. If one is wise and understands God’s ways, we can see it by his/her honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. As it is written,pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. One who is wise is prudent to discern his/her way, and he/she pays careful attention to how he/she walks, and turns away from evil - in thoughts, words, and in deeds. The heart of the wise makes his/her mouth prudent, and his/her lips promote instruction. Being one with knowledge, he/she restrains his words, and as a person of understanding, he/she maintains a calm spirit.
During these times, how can we apply the value of wisdom? It has been said that wisdom preserves the life of him/her who has it. Nowadays, many are struggling in their everyday life as they are feeling the effects of the pandemic - some have lost their jobs, some feel restrained because of the quarantine, while some fear the uncertainties it might cause. This is the time that we have to, all the more, seek wisdom. We have known many stories in the news where people who have lost their jobs found a way to generate, if not multiply, their wealth through service or by making products by cooking, baking, painting, gardening, and others. God gives us the ability to make wealth using our skills, talents, creativity, and inventiveness. If we make use of our time wisely and use it as an opportunity to learn and further enhance our abilities, we cannot be defeated by the depression the pandemic might cause. Let us also have the wisdom to guard and take care of our bodies by following the health protocols, making ourselves clean and healthy both inwardly and outwardly.
How do we respond? Everyday, we may be bombarded by circumstances but the true test of wisdom lies on how we respond. He who is wise, hear what the Scripture says:If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (CGLG, CRFV)
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