London 2015

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Japan 2013

My first trip to Japan with my loving wife, Lulu. Both of us were invited to speak at a Filipino-Japanese Church in Fuji-shi, Shizuoka-ken. We also visited a church in Yokohama and the general headquarters of Japan Assemblies of God and Central Bible College in Tokyo. True to my expectations, Japan indeed is a beautiful country.  I am thankful to friends who made it possible for us to enjoy the land of the rising sun. 
Fuji kara Safview03

japaoghq

Back in the saddle . . .

ImageThis is one of the great sights I now see after five years since my last visit here. The building on the far right called the Infinity Tower is located in the Dubai Marina development. It is a 80-storey high residential tower with a dynamic, twisting shape and waterfront views. Enthusiasts consider it as the  world’s tallest tower to feature a 90-degree twist, a masterpiece of contemporary style, with its helix shape revealing a structure that helps shield its interior from the desert sun.

Our “Kababayans” are on the rise again, more of them in the shops, offices and other business establishments. It is a welcome sight to me personally since the search for a better life for many Filipinos remains a dream.

Pastors’ Forum

A forum designed for pastors to come together on a regular basis started last January this year. So far we’ve discussed various issues in world missions and to a certain extent current ministry issues. We usually start at 6 PM on the first and third Thursdays of the month. This month we tackle the controversial RH Bill being deliberated by our lawmakers in the Congress.

The resource speaker this time is Chris Soriano, MD of the Ateneo School of Medicine. He comes with a robust research history in this area.

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Click to download some of the resources below:

RH Bill 4244

POGS RHBill

ANG ISYU NG RH BILL

ISIP-ISAK October 2010 (RH Bill Issue)

Seeing 2011

After all the breakthroughs achieved by technology (not sure about theology) in 2010, we’re not sure yet what lies ahead. My country, the Philippines, new set of disasters may be waiting somewhere in various forms such as another volcano erupting, super typhoons or earthquake.

St. Paul in his letter to the believers in Corinth reminds us of this uncertainty, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).

In the meantime, those of us who are avowedly bible-based, many times our initial response to life’s uncertainties is actually conjured from our past experiences and theological constructs. Unfortunately this ‘disconnect’ becomes the yardstick to many decisions we have to make in order to understand our raison d’ etre. The following are some of the topics I’d like to continually reflect for the coming new year:

1. The adverse effects of climate change  or global warming – the Philippine government has already declared this: “The Philippines has experienced temperature spikes brought about by climate change. It has been observed that warming is experienced most in the northern and southern regions of the country, while Metro Manila has warmed less than most parts. In addition, the regions that have warmed the most (northern Luzon, Mindanao) have also dried the most. Largest precipitation trends are about 10 percent during the 20th century.”

2. Corruption in the government will be addressed, but not quite. Socio-economic and political structures are so embedded with greed and abuse of power & authority that even if we have faith-based politicians at the helm of leadership will not be sufficient to eradicate corruption in our society.

3. The Role of the Church. Ah, this is not an easy topic.  Remember what Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss,  the abyss will gaze back into you.” Corruption is not only present in the ‘secular society’ but even more so in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches including the nascent yet variegated Pentecostals.

4. Post-modernity and Christian Faith. Absolutes are played down while relativism strikes anew. The Evangelical churches in the Philippines, I think, do not reflect on the causality of global capitalism which to a large extent shapes the contours of social (FB) and economic (WB) networking.  The Philippines in most of Asia remains a favorite playground for various church ministries that are supposedly here to ‘help the poor people of the Philippines.’ My hunch is that some may have good motives but they are often unaware that their methods are so pathetically exploitative and sometime manipulative.

5. The rise of Microterrorism. It is defined by a recent TIME online article by Fareed Zakaria (Dec. 15, 2010), “The Year of Micro-Terrorism” as “fundamentally asymmetrical. It uses the power of being small and hence hard to detect or control. It emanates from countries like Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia; when the U.S. tries to go into these bad lands to fight the enemy, it is hard to find. The U.S. agenda quickly morphs into stabilizing the country and giving it some support – nation building. That is by definition a tough slog in these places, which have been chosen by the bad guys precisely because  they are black holes of order and development. All the terrorist has to do is hide and post letter bombs”

Now this is something that we in the Philippines, particularly the Southern part, experience on a regular basis. The muslim insurgency here dates back to Spanish rule, escalated in the 60s which then led to open revolt in 1972. Kidnapping and Christian church burning have been steady hallmarks of this insurgency which continue to this day.

Fareed concludes that “the problem of microterrorism remains small right now; there are few people dedicated to it and thus few successful attacks. But the democratization of technology, access, information and all those good things is also leading inexorably to the democratization of violence. Welcome to 2011.”

That’s it for now . . . .

Magellan

I recently read a fascinating article written by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard “Another Look at Magellan’s Journey Around the World” in Journey of 100 Years: Reflections on the Centennial of Philippine Independence. The essay is only eight pages long but what it does is ‘whet’ our appetite for a more in-depth inquiry into Magellan’s expedition and particularly the alleged “discovery” of the Philippine islands. One of the sources Brainard used is a translated work of Paige’s The Voyage of Magellan: The Journal of Antonio Pigafetta (NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1969). Here’s an excerpt of the last paragraphs of the article which are pertinent questions for consideration:

“. . . why have historians always referred to Magellan’s death as a result of his involvement in tribal warfare? Was it very difficult for Pigafetta and other Western historians to consider that Magellan had been outwitted by the peoples of Cebu and Mactan, that in fact the people there had not wanted Spanish presence fro the very start? Was it too humiliating to say that what occured was a real battle, a war, the local people versus the Spaniards, and that in this battle, the Spaniards lost? Or was it a political maneuver to say that the people welcomed them and Catholicism so that they could more easily finance future expeditions to the Philippines?”

Along with the other articles in this book, I believe it is a must-read for anyone interested in the post-colonial experience especially those who are suffering from “post-colonial depression!).

Amazon gives you more info on this book at: http://www.amazon.com/Journey-100-Years-Reflections-Independence/dp/0963228102.

Pastor and Social Networking

Close up of a pole dancer's high heel shoeThis is quite intriguing!  Time News Feed has this story:

Facebook makes it a tad too easy for ‘friends’ to become friends with benefits, a New Jersey pastor claims.  That’s why he’s given his married staff an ultimatum: log-off, or lose your job.

Rev. Cedric Miller of New Jersey’s Living Word Christian Fellowship Church says the social networking site is, essentially, a gateway to licentious living.

“What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great,” he tells the Associated Press.

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/11/18/the-last-temptation-of-facebook-pastor-advises-congregation-to-abandon-adulterous-social-network/#ixzz15g2WhR19

My thoughts?  The pastor has the right to demand this from his church staff when they’re at work but to completely stop them on their private time is taking it too far. Social networking sites such as FB, to a certain extent may even reveal the level of maturity of its adherents. Social networking behavior can provide good material for intentional discipleship and perhaps sermon illustrations. Conversely, at the recent gathering of  Catholics in the US, the bishops were urged “to embrace social media to evangelize effectively.” Now this is perhaps more proactive than mere reactive to paradigm shifts in our culture. A comment made by Derek Dominguez regarding this article is noteworthy:

New/Social Media isn’t going away and it’s encouraging to see this article and the church recognizing its significance. As both someone who has been in the pastoral ministry for years now and someone who works in the realm of social media this was a fascinating read and intriguing. Many of the articles points are spot on.The church as a whole needs to know how to interact and leverage SM. Leaders as well need to be interacting with it as those in the pews surely are and will be, especially young people.

Read the full report: http://www.uscatholic.org/news/2010/11/bishops-urged-embrace-social-media-evangelize-effectively.