There has never been as obnoxious a proposal to end the quibbling of the political elites in the Philippines other than the Mike Velarde option for the opportunists and the privileged.
We wonder if Velarde the anointed by “someone upstairs”—the Velarde with the impossible red bow tie and other sartorial surprises—is inspired this time around.
He is the Velarde of the El Shaddai. And there are many others like him, prayerful and praying men and women like the present president.
Yes, he is the guy that says he receives divine messages but now acting as if he were the appointed power broker of both the reigning regime and the despised Erap presidency.
Like Erap with his penchant for celluloid heroism and for hyperbole and other cinematic and theatrical techniques, Velarde sometimes exaggerates—and he does it for affect and effect. And somehow, the stage(d) magic works.
Now that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has said no to the Velarde proposal, we need to remind her that she needs to mean it. She must mean it—that she cannot just simply let the 60-40 arrangement with the oppositionists as if the country is up for grabs, as if it were a cake for the cutting up by those who are salivating for the icing.
The proposal is one for the moon—like a jack-en-poy or bato-bato-pik for quarreling juveniles.
We say: the young delinquents in the dirty and crooked streets of Manila, Cebu, and Davao have more manners and morals than this proposal that is premised on elite privileges and the need to appease the impertinent princelings of Philippine politics.
Velarde must have forgotten that faith moves mountains—but not in the way he translates it—not with the seductive prayer rallies he holds in the Luneta and elsewhere that, at times, create traffic gridlocks because they simply capitalize on despair and disappointments—and that sophomoric sociology of passive believing among the uncritical masses.
Velarde forgets that he does not need to remind the people to be stronger in faith.
He needs to remind himself that his work of evangelizing is not for the masses who are easily duped into believing in man-made miracles—like the waving of passports so that the Lord would bless those who are dreaming to go to Japan and serve the caprice of the drunken masters.
In all these grandstanding ways to proclaim his faith, the evangelist forgets that he needs to give way to the master—the one who is the bearer of the good news of salvation. The evangelist is always lesser.
In the history of faith in the Philippines, evangelists have come and gone.
During the 70s, the Italian Catholic congregations came, both men and women religious.
The missioners came to recruit vocations since Italy had a zero vocation rate and none was entering its convents and seminaries. These massive edifices were all being turned into hospices for the old people or simply abandoned—and the Italian congregations looked to the Philippines for some kind of a succor and salvation.
Many gullible young Filipinos, from the provinces mostly, took the words of the missionaries completely and they eventually conditioned themselves into thinking that God was calling them to become harvesters in the field.
Many were brought to Italy for formation—and to do the things many missionaries would not do—all in the name of charity, love, and compassion.
We think here of the politics of faith—and those taking advantage of the malleability of mindsets molded by medieval perspectives. We think here of the politics of charity. We think here of the politics of love. And we think here of the bad politics of compassion.
Of the many Filipinos brought to Rome and other places in order to learn Italian and the virtues of spaghetti and pasta, many too ended up more Italian than the Italians, their ways too Italianized to see the wisdom of rice-eating.
Many ended up bringing in the goodies the Italians did not want like that bad chocolate that had expired but was still good for the eating in the Philippine seminaries. And well, the medicines too for the poor squatters and slum-dwellers near the seminaries and convents.
This is the problem with evangelists ending up more God than God: corrupt in morals, decadent in the way they look at the project of building up a society based on justice.
They are blissfully ignorant of the need to address the issues relative to arranging, boldly and bravely, the unjust social structures that are responsible for the menace that the Philippines finds itself in at this time.
The social structures are the problem.
They are the breeding ground for the young and yet so corrupt congresspersons. We have so many of them now in the Philippine Congress.
They are the breeding ground for presidential wannabes who have for long known and imbibed the corrupting ways of their elders. They are so many now in the Senate, among the ranks of the opposition, and even among evangelists. Some even believe that God anointed them to lead the country to national redemption.
They are the breeding ground for witnesses of the faith in politics and the politics of faith whose multiple testimonies do not amount to anything. The value of what they say—of the word they utter—is simply zilch.
The Marcos regime, with all its faults, had the fanatics and fundamentalists.
The fanatics believed in the God that wanted to annihilate the communists. And so they became barangay tanods that did not guard the people but terrorized them. Some, with their voodoo ways, ended up chopping the heads and ears of their enemies.
The fundamentalists came as well, praising Marcos, aligning with his forces, always on the ready to announce the meaning of salvation among thieves, racketeers, and percenters—and also among the people who have lost faith and reason, faith in reason, reason in faith, and faith in themselves. Martial Law with its brutal remedies produced the masses that believed pidginized prayers that amounted to nonsense.
Here we go again with these religious forces. The cycle begins—and the cycle knows no end.
What we need to do is translate faith into action—and the present dispensation has been sorely lacking in this.
We have prayer for a show—and the pronouncements about God bestowing upon presidents and pretenders and the oppositionists the power and authority to lead. That one is not neat—it is for the nuts.
What we need is to keep pace with the requisites of a faith that moves mountains—the faith that is not said but is acted upon, translated into action.
It is none but a faith based on the meaning of social justice. Unless the political elites and power brokers understand what this faith based on justice means, we have only one for the cabaret, for the zarzuela, for the comedia. It is, at best, an inutile extravaganza.
We arrange the unjust political structure so that we allow a genuine participation of the people; we have translated what it takes to have faith.
We arrange the unjust economic structure so that we allow a genuine distribution of the nation’s wealth and resources; we have translated what it takes to have faith.
We arrange the unjust cultural structure so that we allow the constant formation of a committed consciousness among the masses; we have translated what it takes to have faith.