Thursday, February 24, 2005

The martyrdom of Dorothy Stang

``Speaking truth to power is a prophetic act and Sister Dorothy Stang paid for it with her life. (She) spoke for the dispossessed and the voiceless to the wealthy ranchers and lumber companies who ruthlessly savage the rainforest and exploit it for personal gain.’’ This was from the statement of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) of the U.S. on the recent murder of a nun who worked among the poor of the Brazilian Amazon.

A citizen of both the U.S. and Brazil, Stang, 73, took four bullets in her face and head from two gunmen on Feb. 12. The killers attacked Stang in a settlement near the rural town of Anapu, in the state of Para, where she worked to help some 400 families survive. Anapu is along the Trans-Amazon Highway whose construction several decades ago wreaked destruction on the Amazon wilderness.

Stang was murdered less than a week after meeting with Brazil’s human rights officials about threats to farmers from loggers and land owners. After receiving several death threats herself, Stang recently said: ``I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.’’

(After Stang, two other murders followed. Killed were the former president of a rural workers’ union and a farmer.)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Letter from the edge

Here is a letter I received on Valentine’s Day, from Good Shepherd Sisters who live and work both peacefully and dangerously among the lumad (indigenous people) of Agusan del Sur. Peacefully because they have been accepted by the people, they have grown roots with them and their work of 26 years has borne abundant flower and fruit in the community. Dangerously because the people and the nuns have to contend with the hazards of military presence and suspicion.

The Religious of the Good Shepherd-Tribal Filipino Ministry is flourishing in the municipality of San Luis. The place where the nuns run an ``ecology and spirituality farm’’ is called Tuburan, which means spring, which means life in those parts could indeed be joyous and abundant if only…

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Spirituality and nation building

``Never mind, we’re topnotchers naman in spirituality, NGOs and deuterium deposits.’’ That was the comment of Butch Perez on Juan Mercado’s column piece titled ``Cellar Status’’ (Inquirer, Jan. 13, 2005) which was posted in the plaridel e-group. Mercado had bewailed Filipino students’ Math proficiency thus: ``So when do we scramble out this cellar?…Jammed between Morocco and Botswana, our kids limped in putting our country at No. 41 among 45 countries in Math.’’

Perez’s one-liner gave me an aray moment but it made me laugh because of its sheer sarcasm. Aren’t we tops din in jeepney mudguard epigrams?

Seriously now, spirituality—the deeply rooted and enriching variety--ain’t no laughing matter. In the recent Karangalan National Conference/Festival, which had for its theme ``Mobilizing Excellence to Create a Visionary Philippines’’, the subject of spirituality was discussed.

Sr. Mary John Mananzan OSB, prioress of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in the Philippines spoke on ``The Role of Spirituality in Nation-Building.’’ She began by noting that a lot was said about the different kinds of energy--economic, political and cultural--needed to re-create the country, as well as the natural energies that must be harnessed. But, she stressed, ``I believe one of the most untapped resources of human kind is spiritual energy and yet no nation building can succeed without it.’’

Thursday, February 3, 2005

SWS corrects my reporting error

Mea maxima culpa.

I missed out on two words--a pronoun and a preposition--and this made a world of a difference. The words were ``it to’’. Because I missed those (my eyes did not coordinate with my brain) I wrote a sentence that turned one of the Social Weather Stations’ 2004 survey findings upside down.

This had to happen in the second to the last sentence of a longish news article, that is, when I was about to put a bullet on the article and write ``30’’. I hope not many readers got to that end part on the jump page. How I wish I had written something shorter and stopped at the usual 5,000 characters. Then the last two sentences would not have been written and live forever in the digital archives of the universe. Oh, but the right and good stuff, too, will live forever.

SWS president Dr. Mahar Mangahas’ letter to the editor will surely see print in a section of this paper but, just the same, here it is :