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LEONARDO "Nardz" Q. BELEN

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myhometown2010@live.com

U. S. Ambassador Goldberg launches SURGE

U. S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg (left photo, with  publisher Nardz Belen)launched the "Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project" during ceremonies held at the Isabella Ballroom, Shangri-La Makati hotel July 14, 2015.

The SURGE is a $49 million project which "aims to foster the development of conditions for broad-based economic growth for a critical mass of cities and surrounding areas outside of Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao." SURGE is th flagship of USAID's Cities Development Initiative (CDI), crucial component of the broader Partnership for Growth (PFG). Initiated by the White House, PFG "aims to shift the Philippines to a sustained  and more inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high-performing emerging economies."

Among the SURGE PFG goals are: Improving regulatory quality, strengthening rule of law and anti-corruption measures, improving fiscal performance, and promoting human capacity development. Earlier, the US government, under PFG has launched 20 projects, Pilot cities chosen in 2012 for "innovative" development approach are the cities of Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, and Iloilo. SURGE is primarily for secondary cities! Among other officials who witnessed and participated in the ceremonies were John Lawrence M. Avila, Development Management Specialist USAID/Philippines; Patricia E. Martel, President, International City/County Management Association; Gloria D. Steele, Mission Director, USAID/Philippines; Michael P. Guingona, Councilor, Daly City, California; Oscar S. Moreno, Mayor, Cagayan de Oro City and Chairman, League of Cities of the Philippines; Zenaida C. Maglaya, Undersecretary, Department of Trade and Industry; Austere A. Panadero, Undersecretary, Department of Interior and Local Government; Aresenio M. Balicasan, Secretary, National Economic and Development Authority, and Jeremy S. Gustafson, Office Director for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, USAID/Philippines. (Posted August 15, 2015)

Practice culture of excellence - Escano

By Leonardo Q. Belen, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief - To practice a culture of excellence is the best guarantee for anyone to succeed in any chosen career! Col. Alejandro Teves Escano (photo, left) has stressed this philosophy during an interview in his office. He is the vice chairman for external affairs of the MFI Foundation Inc., a position he assumed this year. He was earlier the president of the foundation for 15 years! Alex, as he is fondly called by friends and associates, is either the president, founder or officer of several organizations he helped establish to help achieve excellence in providing services to other people!

When he joined MFI Foundation, Inc. as member of the board of directors, he proposed the establishment of a vocational and skills development school.

It was not enough, he said, that the foundation confined itself to giving grants to various vocational schools. "We have to run our own school so that we control the quality of all aspects of training, starting with the qualification of the students."

Yearly, MFI receives about 3,000 applicants, but the foundation only accepts 200 students who are properly auditioned! Thus, we conduct skills and vocational training, Col. Escano said. "Our system is 'ladderized' training. The students finish a particular short course, get their certificate of completion, and then get a job. While working, they can now continue their studies, aiming for a higher course. The credits or units they finished are credited for their higher courses, hence, they do not need to repeat any particular subject!"

The MFI executive also disclosed that during their school's early operation, the favorite course of students was IT. "I have nothing against it," he said. "But that is temporary. Many of the call centers in the Philippines are owned by multi-nationals. They are always ready to transfer to another country where the cost of labor is cheaper, and we are left empty-handed!"

He strongly advocates that focus of development should be on agriculture. Multi-national companies cannot bring with them any development they have undertaken! It remains in our farms," he stressed.  

Farming has a vast market in the Philippines, he added. "We are about 100 million Filipinos now!" Col. Escano also explained that if farming is developed to its full potential, farmers will have strong purchasing power, and this will contribute greatly to the overall growth and progress of the country." The most progressive countries in the world, like the U. S., Taiwan and European countries, first developed agriculture before they had an upsurge of socio-industrial economic growth!, he added.

Col. Escano advocated for the establishment of farm schools, and now there are 12 farm schools strategically constructed in the country, in compliance of a law earlier signed by Pres. Aquino providing for the construction of farm schools.

While he admired the purposes of the Agrariaran Reform Law, there was not much government support for the beneficiaries. How can a lowly farmer makes his five-hectare agricultural land yield much harvest when he does not have the technology, farming know-how and marketing skills?

In Taiwan, for instance, before a farmer was given his farm, he had to undergo through all the necessary training with full government support. Almost all the farmers in Taiwan, with just more than a hectare farm, are all millionaires!

Taiwan has the most successful agrarian reform program in the world! He expressed hopes that the Philippine government revises its  land reform program, and perhaps take Taiwan as a model! (Posted January 22, 2015)    

 

Taytay celebrates HAMAKA 2014 Festival

The 12-day HAMAKA 2014 festival begins February 8, 2014 with a "Takbo Taytay costume fun-run" at the Taytay's Kalayaan Park at 8:00 in the morning. HAMAKA means Hamba, Makina, Kasuotan!

Taytay (Rizal) Mayor Janet de Leon Mercado said the festival is designed to promote awareness on the various industries of the municipality, such as garment, wood-work and other enterprises.

The beautiful and charming LGU chief executive stressed that with the cooperation and industriousness of the citizenry, she would like to make Taytay the "garment and wood-work capital of the Philippines."

The garment industry is practiced by numerous individual entrepreneurs in Taytay, each or various groups, doing the jobs right in the ground floor of their respective houses, hence, the garment industry is called "Silong." (rough translation, "ground floor" or under a shade)

Other activities to promote the garment industry during the festival are: Retaso Festival Inter-School Street Dance Competion, Feb. 8, 1:00 p.m.,Kalayaan Park; followed by Hari at Reyna ng Hamaka Festival; Feb. 9, 4:00pm: Fashion show on the street, RTW Street Fashion show, Rizal Avenue (Old municipal Hall to Malaya St.; (Photo, left, Mayor Janet de Leon Mercado joins cyclists during a regular sports program. Photo by Mayet Robles)

Feb. 14, 7:00pm - Binibining Mananahi at Ginoong Karpintero, Kalayaan Park.

The entertainment galore of the festival are scheduled Feb. 15, 8:00 am, "Sunduan ng mga Banda," Tikling to Bayan, followed by  "Tugtugan sa Lumang Munisipyo," Grand Parade and Majorette Competition, Serenata of Different Bands, Kalayaan Park. Feb. 16,7pm, Variety Show, Kalayaan Park, and on Feb. 22, 5:00pm, Mabuhay Singers Concert, Kalayaan Park, and Banda Uno & Banda Dos Serenade, Veterans Park.

Among the competion components of the  festival are: Battle of the Brains, Feb. 10, 8:00am; Mr. & Ms Teen Taytay; Feb. 12, 4:00pm, Munting Ginoo at Munting Mutya, Talentadong Taytayeno, 5:00pm, San Juan Gym; Feb. 17, Search for Cleanest Barangay, and finally, Feb. 23, Run for Hope. (Nardz Belen, posted February 7, 2014)

MAYNILAD, MANILA WATER Pass on Php3 Billion/year of income taxes to consumers!

Advocacy group Water for the People Network (WPN) has revealed that consumers have been shouldering the costs of the corporate income taxes of Manila Water and Maynilad at an estimated Php3.1 Billion a year from 2008 to 2012. Of the said amount, Manila Water accounts for about Php1.5 Billion annually and Maynilad, around Php1.6 Billion. The figures are based on documents obtained by research group IBON, one of WPN's convenors. (Photo, left, IBON Director Sonny Africa)

Worse, the WPN added that income taxes make up a significant portion of the two firms' proposed rates for the next five years through the rate rebasing exercise that they again want to pass on to consumers as operating expenses (Opex). Manila Water is seeking a Php5.83-per cubic meter (cu.m.) increase in its basic charge and Maynilad, Php8.58 for 2013-2018.

Moreover, a guaranted rate of return, called appropriate discount rate (ADR), is applied on the pass-on income taxes as part of the Opex, which means that Manila Water and Maynilad, apart from not paying their tax obligations, are even profiting from it. According to the group, "Hindi na sila nagbabayad ng buwis, tumutubo pa sila sa hindi pagbabayad nito."

In the last rebasing period covering 2008 to 2012, Manila Water and Maynilad were given an ADR of 9.3 percent. "It's double whammy for consumers," said the WPN. In the case of Maynilad, this is even a triple whammy because the Manny Pangilinan-led firm enjoys an income tax holiday but still included corporate income taxes in its Opex, further bloating its profits.

In 2008, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System-Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) allowed the private concessionaires to include in their Opex the cost of corporate income taxes that Manila Water and Maynilad cour recover from consumers through monthly water bills. The two concessionaires' combined pass-on income taxes was projected at Php15.3 Billion from 2008 to 2012 or Php3.1 Billion annually. Corporate income taxes comprise 31% of the projected Opex of Manila Water and 26% of Maynilad's during the said period.

The privatization of MWSS allowed the concessionaires' future income taxes and other expenses to be included in the calculation of water tariffs to be paid by consumers. The total cost of the corporate income taxes that Manila Water consumers will unjustly shoulder could reach Php77 Billion for Maynilad, and for Maynilad, Php76 Billion covering the period 2013 to 2013.

The advocacy group said that MWSS-RO should be held accountable for allowing and legitimizing such practice. (Posted July 8, 2013)

United Filipino Movement

Manifesto On Sabah

The newly organized United Filipino Movement has come up with a manifesto, asserting that Sabah was never ceded to Malaysia, but it was only leased by that country. (Photo, right, Sultan Firdaussi Abbas, Chairman, United Filipino Movement)

And commenting on the on-going crisis, it says, and we quote:

"The recent crisis in Sabah which has claimed lives from both the Filipinos and Malaysians is a most lamentable event and we can only condole with the grieving kin of those who have fallen from both sides.

"The seriousness of the crises and the magnitude it has reached gave rise to the realization that the issue or question does not concern only the Bangsa Tausog or the Tausog people, but the entire Filipino people and that Sabah, while it belongs to the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and primarily to the Tausog rayat, is a legacy which the entire nation shares.

"On this premise therefore, the United Filipino Movement presents itself as one of the vanguards on the Sabah issue and supports the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo which is composed of several royal houses, of Nassarud Din, Muizzud Din, Israel, Sharapud Din, Aiyud Din, Aberin, Kiram and of the Tausog rayat.

"....And their belief that Sabah belongs to them is not without basis because Sabah which was ceded to the Sultanate of Sulu which later came to be known as the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo in 1704 to Sultan Shahabud Din of Sulu by Sultan Muhiyuddin of Brunei after assisting the latter in defeating his rival Sultan Abdul Momin and reuniting the Sultanate of Brunei, indeed belongs to the Tausogs.

The claim of Malaysia that it owns Sabah pursuant to the sale between Sultan Jamalul Alam and Gustavos Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent in 1878 which was subsequently transferred to the British North Borneo Company and eventually to Great Britain which annexed it in 1946, became a self-governing state in 1963 and finally unifying Malaya, Sarawal and Singapore to form the Federation of Malaysia that same year is debunked by the document itself which defines the transaction in 1878 as one of lease, clearly evident in the word "PADJAK" which in Malay and in Tausog means "LEASE".

The "Manifesto" criticized the inaction of President Noynoy Aquino which led to the bloodbath in Lahad Datu between Malaysian forces and the Sultanate of Sulu Royal Forces in Sabah.

"...To avoid scenarios such as the present one at Lahad Datu, the Philippine government must come out with a positive policy on Sabah. It must support the historic and legal claim of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo in claiming Sabah which has been the home of thousands of Tausog for centuries. The 2010 census of Sabah show that of the 3,117,405 population, 27.81% or roughly 867,190 are non-Malaysian citizens and about more than one hundred thousand are Tausog.

"...We condemn the inaction and negative reaction of President Benigno Aquino III on the Sabah crises and the Sabah issue. We condemn his failure or willful refusal to protect and save Filipino lives in Sabah which is his sworn duty. We condemn in the strongest terms the apparent submission and surrender of Philippine sovereignty and authority to Malaysia and the very submissive posture and attitude to Malaysia of President Aquino, Sec. Alberto del Rosario and Sec. Leila de Lima. We likewise condemn the so-called opposition leaders led by Vice President Jejomar Binay and Joseph Estrada for their likewise silence on the Sabah crises and carnage of helpless Filipino non-combatants which is a concern of all Filipinos, especially of all those who declare themselves worthy of leading the nation.

"We call on all Filipinos to stand united in support of the Tausog people in their just and rightful claim of Sabah. Let us pursue this issue through peaceful and democratic bilateral or multilateral processes in every forum feasible, within the Asean or the United Nations. More importantly however, we as a nation must hold our ground and assert our patrimony with pride, honor, courage and dignity!"

The "Manifesto" was signed March 14, 2013 by the officers of the United Filipino Movement headed by Sultan Firdaussi I.Y. Abbas, Ph.D., Chairman; Carmen Ignacio, Co-Chairperson; Atty. Leonardo de Vera, Executive Vice Chairman; Atty. DatuHalil Lucman, Deputy Executive Vice Chairman; Atty. Datu Ombra Jaimal, Secretary General; Bai Vicky Bangkula, Deputy Secretary General; Bai Jamila A. Tamano, Vice Chairman;

Atty. Jose A. Grapilon, General Legal Counsel; Atty. Ricardo  Moreno, Deputy General Counsel

(Posted March 14, 2013)

PUERTO GALERA - A BOOMING ECO-TOURISM TOWN

By LEONARDO Q. BELEN, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief  

PUERTO GALERA MAYOR CHRISTOPHER A. DOLOR dreams of his municipality of becoming the "Heart of Asia!" (Mayor's photo, left)

With the dynamic socio-economic developments being undertaken by Mayor Dolor since he took over as chief executive of the municipality, the realization of his dream is not far-fetched.

When he guested at the regular Saturday news forum at the Annabel's on May 5, Mayor Dolor made the following statements, as an answer also to a criticism of a radio program in Manila:

"Just recently, we launched PUERTO GALERA 2020, The HEART OF ASIA, which enumerates various major projects that would further bring about progress to our town. Since I took my post back in 2007, it has been my crusade and advocacy to protect our environment. Various environmental projects were achieved, funding of which came from the Environmental User's Fee. (Municipal Hall, photo above)

With regards to waste water in Sabang, a perennial problem for the past years before my incumbency, I prioritized to resolve it. The municiplity, after a series of study conducted by the SCOTIA (Sustainable Coastal Tourism in Asia and PEMSEA - Environmental Management of the Seas of East Asia), proposed a Sewage Water Treatment Project (SWTP) in the area and funded by the UNDP, AUSAID and GEF. I also coordinated with different national government agencies and personalities for financial and logistic support to eradicate the waste water problem in Sabang. The municipal council also crafted resolutions and other forms of communications channeled through, to gain assistance from the DOT, DENR Sec. Paje, Sen. Loren Legarda, Oriental Mindoro Governor, and the two congressmen of the two districts of the province."

Mayor Dolor also reported other major programs in Puerto Galera such as plastic free and smoke free municipality.

Puerto Galera has a rich marine life. "We cannot afford to squander it," Mayor Dolor said. It is part of the "Coral Triangle," considered as the center in terms of bio-diversity. Puerto Galera's Grand Canyon Dive Site, ranked No. 45 in the world's 50 dive sites. (Photo above right, Elizabeth's Hideaway, one of several hotels and resorts in Puerto Galera)

A coastal town, Puerto Galera boasts of beautiful beaches, even as it hosts several A-1 hotels and resorts. (Posted May 17, 2012) 

DENR TO PLANT 1.5 MILLION TREES!

By LEONARDO Q. BELEN

As a follow-up to his Executive Order (EO) 26 which bans logging in natural and residual forests. Pres. Noynoy Aquino III has issued EO 26 declaring the implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP) which seeks to consolidate and harmonize all greening efforts, such as the Upland Development Program, Luntiang Pilipinas and similar initiatives of the government.

Pres. Aquino launched the National Greening Program May 13, 2011 at the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR).

The NGP aims to plant 1.5 Billion trees within a six-year period, 2011 - 2016, in about 1.5 million hectares of degraded forest lands, focusing on developing a sustainable forest resource base to accelerate the national greening campaign and rejuvenate rural economies in chronically poor areas in the upland, and ultimately providing livelihood opportunities for some six million families living in upland areas of the country.

The NGP also seeks to improve water quality in rivers and irrigation for farm lands.

DENR Acting Secretary Ramon Paje said that about two million government employees and students will be tapped to plant the seedlings in areas already designated by the DENR.

He said that the Department of Education (DepEd) will choose the students to be assigned to plant the seedlings. Site preparation, boring or digging the holes will be undertaken by the DENR and cooperating agencies of the government. A student must plant at least 10 seedlings a day.

For the National Capital Region (NCR), Metro Manila students will be assigned initially to plant seedlings at the 7,000-hectare Ipo Dam Water shed.

Sec. Paje stressed that the NGP is not for show; it is for real. "We do not just plant the trees, we have to focus on high survival rate."

Communities will be organized to take care of the trees for they are the direct beneficiaries.

Because poverty reduction is a component of the NGP, the people will be encouraged, like in the Ipo Dam Water shed, to plant fruit-bearing trees.

The targeted 1.5 Billion trees to be planted in 1.5 million hectares, is more than double the accomplishmentss of past administrations, Sec. Paje claimed.

Yet, the government is pracitcally a failure in stopping illegal logging, which in the recent past, has been contributing to major landslides and unprecedented floods which have killed hundreds of people aside from destroying wide swath of properties and farm lands.

The Philippines has always been described as a "weak" country because it has no will power to implement the numerous laws designed to prevent illegal logging and to punish the culprits.

Illegal logging continues! Recently, logs illegally cut and floating on a river ready to be transported were confiscated by the DENR, an indication that illegal logging is still rampant!

The illegal logs were confiscated, but the big bosses and perpetrators were nowhere to be found! Smell something?

Sec. Paje said the logs were turned over to TESDA which will cut the logs and assemble them into classroom chairas to help solve the classroom chairs backlog of DepEd. He estimated that out of the confiscated logs, TESDA can assemble seven million classroom chairs!

One major reason illegal logging remains unabetted is that Congress - House and the Senate - is bankrupt of any vision for the country's forests.

The country's forest law is still Presidential Decree 705 issued by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The decree has not yet been repealed or amended by Congress to make it more dynamic and responsive to the times!

Consider this: forest guards are not armed! DENR is restricted by the decree to hire new forest guards and increase their number. The guards are now more than middle age, and each guard has to guard at least five hectares of forest.

Because they are unarmed, they are sitting ducks targets of the security men or hired guns of illegal loggers! "We lose one guard every 30 days," Sec. Paje said.

Blame Congress for this stupid omission or discrepancy - for Congress is the policy maker and it alone has the power to appropriate funds for the various departments, bureaus and agencies of the government!

The power of the DENR has also been decimated by the Local Government Code! Many of its essential functions have been devolved to local government units! (LGUs). (Posted May 15, 2011)

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FORTUNE TELLERS ABOUND IN FRONT OF QUIAPO CHURCH TO HELP SAD PEOPLE

 

 

IF you have not been making any good in any affair of your life, perhaps it is time for you to visit Quiapo, or Plaza Miranda infront of the Quiapo Church where anyone of those fortune tellers can perhaps help you!

The best time to go is Sunday or Friday when there are more fortune tellers stationed there. If you are a Catholic, you may attend the Mass first, and then consult a fortune teller afterwards.

Friday is a special day of obligation for Catholics, or known as Quiapo Church Day.  That's why the Quiapo Church is full of devotees. Mass is held every hour. And if you intend to attend a Mass at a particular hour, you must give yourself at least an hour or more allowance due to heavy traffic!

Fortune tellers, left photo, wait for their clients. They are equipt with cards, like Tarot cards, papers with various mysterious illustrations, and ball pens. 

People who consult them look sad, and some of them leave the place looking happy.

You have so many choices. Maybe just like when you go shopping, do not immediately decide whom to approach. Scan their faces. You may base your decision on how they look. If it's about a broken love affair you want to solve, look for the fortune teller who has a happy disposition or a smiling face.

If it's about a broken family you want to discuss, look for the fortune teller who has an amiable face.

Fortune tellers here do not wear any kind of special costume as you would find in a fortune teller's clinic. They do not have a crystal ball either. They come in simple costumes, even wearing short pants and rubber slippers.

Fee is not uniform. A fortune teller may charge a P100.00 or depending upon how he or she sizes up the capability of the client to pay or on the gravity of the problem. Satisfied clients, those who got the answers they expected, give considerable tips.

Fortune teller-client relationship is also developed. A repeater client will always go back and seek the same fortune teller.

Even as fortune telling goes on, another feature is the presence of spiritual leaders who roam the premises of the Quiapo Church. One such person is in his colorful spriritual costume and who claims he represents the Holy Spirit government in the Philippines! 

He said they perform spiritual healing on all kinds of diseases or sicknesses. Their church is located at 10 Alcantara Compound, Banlat Road, Tandang Sora, Quezon City.

Catholics believe Jesus Christ as God, and they also adore or revere the Child Jesus, popularly known as Sto. Nino. There are fiestas being held for the Child Jesus only. And almost every Catholic home in the Philippines has a statuette of the Child Jesus.

In the premises of the Quiapo Church, there are stalls where Sto. Nino statuettes (wrapped in thin, transparent plastics) are being displayed and are for sale  to devotees.

The business is brisk. Once a devotee has bought one Child Jesus statuette, he or she goes back to the Quiapo Church for the blessing of the statuette by the priest! The Child Jesus statuette brings in good fortune in the house or wherever it will be displayed! (Posted by Nardz Belen, May 8, 2011) 

ANGELICA JONES - FROM SHOWBIZ TO PUBLIC SERVICE

LITTLE did we expect that a lovely woman, with a flawless beauty, and a movie actress, would join the government and passionately involve herself in public service!

Better known for her screen name as Angelica Jones, she inaugurated the first "bottle classroom" Saturday, December 18, 2010 in San Pablo City, Laguna, the first "Bottle School" in the Philippines and in Asia!

San Pablo City Administrator Loreto S, Amante represented his father, the city's chief executive. Vicente B. Amante.

The opening of the school coincided with the celebration of the birth anniversary of Mrs. Beth Jones, Angelica's mother who greatly helped the provincial board member to realize the project.

Angelica is in her first three-year term as provincial board member of Laguna, representing the third district of the province. It was actually her second try. She lost during her first try, but she was so determined that she undertook several civic projects benefitting the less fortunate in the province. (Photos from top: Laguna 3rd District BM Angelica Jones Alarva, entrance of the recycled bottle school, the recycled bottles wall, Illac Angelo Diaz, Angelica, and San Pablo City Administrator Loreto S. Amante) 

Now as a member of the provincial board, Angelica is even more determined to continue her passion for public service, and the "Bottle School" is among her pet propjects.She is the chairperson of the Women, Family & Community Development Social Welfare, and vice chair of the Trade, Commerce & Industry, Tourism, Arts & Culture Committees.

What is a bottle school? It is a single school room whose walls are made of recycled bottle or plastic bottles. There are eight rooms to be constructed, with the first room already finished. The other seven rooms are expected to be finished by February 2011. The classroom is lighted by a solar tube.

The rooms are about 54 square meters each, with a central pavillion and a library of about 70sqm to 100sqm. The schools rooms are located at Barangay San Jose, San Pablo City.

"School rooms have always been inadequate," Angelica said, "so I was looking for a solution that could help solve the inadequacy."

She revealed that she met a visionary in the person of Illac Angelo Diaz, president of My Shelter Foundation, who has also been thinking in the samw wave length as that of Angelica. Immediately, Angelica committed herself to the construction of the bottle school rooms, and both started working on the blueprint, and looked for a location.

San Pablo City Mayor Vicente B. Amante committed to providew the site, and after all the necessary prepations, especially the collection of empty plastic bottles, the project was launched on November 20, 2010!

The launching was attended by hundreds of volunteers from Pepsi Ayos Na Movement and other non-government organizations in San Pablo City. The project has also the full endorsement of Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito.

The Insular Life Assurance Company is also among the donors. (Posted by Leonardo Q. Belen, December 20, 2010)

RH CONTROVERSY - WHEN DOES LIFE BEGIN?

THE Pope was recently reported saying that condom is alright provided it is used to protect one's self from sexually transmitted diseases! Better still, why not use condom as a regular feature of any sexual intercourse?

The use of condom is one of the methods of birth control provided for in the Reproductive Health Bill now pending in the House of Representatives. The Catholic Church is more than strongly against such provision! Because the use of condom "kills life!"

But when does life begin?

A sperm by itself already possesses life, otherwise it cannot travel on its own power through the Fallopian tube to fertilize the egg cell or the ovum of the woman.

The ovum, by itself also possesses a life of its own, otherwise it cannot react to welcome the sperm!

On it own, the sperm cannot grow to a "full life!" The ovum, likewise, cannot also grow into a "full life!"

The use of the condom prevents the sperm from reaching the ovum and thus stops the "creation" or the germination of a new life, or a new human being! Is this a sin or a violation against the commandment of God, "Thous shall not kill!"

Can one kill a life that has not yet existed? When a woman uses an anti-fertility pill, is she killing a new human being that has not yet existed?

A new life or a new human being begins when the sperm succeeds in fertilizing the ovum! And to disrupt or destroy by any means the growth and development into a full human being of the fertilized ovum is absolutely a criminal act!

Hence, any healthful and sinless birth control can be done by simply adopting measures that can stop the sperm from reaching the fertile ovum, or by "collapsing" the ovum before the sperm reaches it! -Leonardo Q. Belen (To be continued, posted November 28, 2010) 

 

RH BILL IMMORAL?

By: LEONARDO Q. BELEN

Any form of artificial birth control is immoral and a violation of the sanctity of the human body! That, more or less is the stand of the Catholic Church, hence, the Reproductive Health Bill, whose principal author is Rep. Edcel Lagman, is not necessary! 

The Catholic Church only favors natural methods of birth control!

Today, we have about 92 million population, and we are the 12th biggest in terms of population worldwide, with China as having 1.3 Billion.

Then Sen. Heherson Alvarez said when our population was nearing 80 million that our agricultural production would not be able to support a population of more than 80 million. Alvarez was prophetic!

Agricultural production only increases hardly one percent a year, and this counts for the heavy importation of rice and other farm products. Several years back, there were only 13 million hectares devoted to agriculture, but that figure has since then decreased because of the inroads of housing projects and industrialization!

Hence, if the population increases further - about 2 percent plus a year - then we are all doomed to a collective deprivation of adequate food on the table!

The latest estimate was that about 30% of the population are living or existing below the poverty line! The fact is, they are increasing steadily!

The RH Bill provides several provisions that would "ensure a massive and sustained information drive on responsible parenthood and on all methods and techniques to prevent unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancy..." (To be continued, posted October 31, 2010)

 

CONCERT, ALBUM LAUNCH FOR A CAUSE

 By LEONARDO Q. BELEN

THE concert and album launch of Bro. Eli Soriano held at the Araneta Coliseum, Cubao, !uezon City on Monday, Nov. 22, 2010, was a tremendous success!! The entire proceeds were earmarked for the two La Verdad Colleges, one in Caloocan City and the other in Apalit, Pampanga!

During an interview with Kuya Daniel R Cazon after the show, the La Verda College in Caloocan City has already about 500 student population while the La Verdad College has about 1,000 students.

The students are more than scholars, because their tuition fees are not only free but all other expenses for books, notebooks, board and lodging, uniforms, shoes, transportation, among others, are all provided free by the two colleges being run and managed by Ang Dating Daan and the Church of God International headed by Bro. Eli Soriano who is currently abroad preaching the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Kuya Daniel said that the two colleges are the first of its kind in the country giving entirely free courses, this time concentrated yet in masscom and nursing courses.

"Our operational cost is indeed huge," Kuya Daniel said. "That's why we hold events like this concert to raise the necessary funds and we are very grateful to the full support being given to us by the people!"

"Why are you doing this?" T&C asked him.

"It's an obligation," he stressed. "If you know that you can do something good and you do not do it, it's a sin! Besides, the free schools have been a long-felt dream of Bro. Eli, and here we are implementing it! And we are very thankful to God for showing us the way!"

The album, entitled "Songs From My Heart," features eight songs, among which are Matud Nilad and Ti Ayat Ti Mays Nga Ubing, a popular Ilocano love songs; Blue Mo Kaya,  Moon, My Foolish Heart, Maalaala Mo Kaya, Atin Cu Pung Singsing, Smile, and Where Is Your Heart.

With the power of technology, Bro. Eli, in Los Angeles, California, and Miss Pilita Corrales sang together "Matud Nilad" and the audience gave them a thundering applause.

"I miss you so much in the Philippines," Bro. Eli after the song number. He has been away from the Philippines for about four years now but he has fruitfully spent the time preaching th teachings of Christ and gaining thousands of converts or believers joining the Church of God International.

Other performers during the concert are Anthony Castello, Juris Fernandez and Marco Sison. Of course, Kuya Daniel Razon joined the fray and rendered his own musical numbers and later did a production number with Anthony Castello and Marco Sison.

The album, before the end of the concert, reached "Gold" label as certified by the Philippine Records Industry Association. (Watch for the printed special version of TOWNS & CITIES Magazine with Kuya Daniel Razon, Mr. Public Service. as the cover story with expanded features on his philosophy and his style of public service. Posted November 25, 2010)

 

 

SUPERNATURAL AID MADE PACQUIAO WON HIS FIGHTS!

By LEONARDO Q. BELEN!

It is not that we belittle all the preparations, trainings and "conditioning" of world boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao - but the truth is, those preparations made him deserve to receive a supernatural aid! (Above photo, seated, Jinky and world boxing icon Manny Pacquiao; standing from left, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, Manila Bulletin entertainment editor Crispina Belen, and movie director Nardz Belen) 

Among secret spiritual brotherhoods, the common saying is: "When you are ready, the Master will come and see you and give you all the strength and support you need!"

In the ring, before each fight begins, we always see Pacquiao humbly kneels at a neutral corner and earnestly implores God or the Divine Providence to give him the necessary stamina to endure the fight and win!

As the bell rings for the first round, Pacquiao makes the sign of the cross!

King Constantine saw the sign of the cross in the sky and heard a voice saying: "By this sign, you shall conquer!"

Constantine built the Roman Empire which lasted for about six centuries after him!

By his consistent prayers and by the sign of the cross, Pacquiao always beats his foe in the ring.

Pacquiao is also magnanimous! He does not want to hurt so much a foe who is already losing the battle. We witnessed that magnanimity during the last three or two rounds of his fight against Antonio Margarito whom some Filipinos jokingly called "maga-rito-maga-diyan," referring to his bloodied face.

Manny is humble, humorous and at times funny. He knows how to enjoy his free time.

Being a Catholic, Manny is a deeply religious person. Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia who accompanied Manny to some of his fights in the United States, said that the world boxing champion is genuinely a Christ-Centered individual.

"Every morning in his hotel," the Bacolod City mayor said, "there is always a Holy Mass officiated or celebrated! I've never seen such a religious fervor in my life!"

In the morning before the fight, in the dressing room of Manny, "there is a Special Mass celebrated! So how can anyone defeat Manny in the ring?" Mayor Leonardia told this writer.

"Add to that the collective prayer, though individually said, by Mommy Di and the Filipinos!" stressed Mayor Leonardia.

Those prayers solidified into a supernatural aid which made Pacquiao won his fights!

At the beginning of the last two rounds, Margarito also made the sign of the cross, but that was already too late for him because the Divine Providence had already chosen a humble person, Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao! The eight titles Pacquiao has won are:

World Flyweight Champion, World Super Bantamweight Champion, World Featherweight Champion, World Super Featherweight Champion, World Lightweight Champion, World Light Welterweight Champion, World Welterweight Champion, and World Super Welterweight Champion. (Posted November 15, 2010)

 

 

 

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