Tag Archive | "Pedro Calungsod"

The Billionaire Bishops Go Begging

Hi guys. Could I talk to you all for a minute?

So there’s this guy named Pedro. I don’t know him personally. I mean, I know him, I definitely know him, but I never met him in real life because he’s technically from Guam, plus he lived in the 1600s, so there’s that. But I know the guy, and everyone says he’s awesome, and I think he’s awesome, too.

He’s actually so awesome that he brought this woman from Leyte back to life, and he—Pedro—was already dead! No, I’m serious! What I mean to say is that this whole miracle thing happened in 2002—way, way, WAY after Pedro’s time. Seriously, 2002! And he was from the 1600s! So how did he do it? Well, this woman, she died, right? I mean, she was clinically dead, two hours after a heart attack. And then her doctor prayed to Pedro and then BAM! She’s ALIVE again! I mean, honestly, how else could she have gotten that chance, right? OF COURSE you get to live again when your doctor prays to someone who died centuries ago! Duh! What else could it have been? Go Pedro!

So the Vatican, they’re going to name Pedro a saint because they said he performed a miracle from the grave, miles and miles and centuries away, okay? Okay, so the thing is, this Pedro, who lived most of his life in Guam, was born in the Philippines, so OBVIOUSLY that means he’s a real Filipino and we should all be super proud of him and use him as an example of why we’re the BEST COUNTRY EVER. Sounds good, right? But here’s the thing: we kind of need 60 million pesos from you guys.

Seriously, we need 60 million. We’re going to be celebrating Pedro, and we’re going to need a little extra cash for the tarps, and maybe an AVP. Balloons, if we can find a decent supplier. I mean, this is going to be HUGE, guys. Like, it’s going to be the EVENT OF THE YEAR. TIME is going to STOP on Canonization Day. I mean, people from all over the country are just going to drop what they’re doing—their jobs, their families, their hopes, their dreams—and come over to Manila and par-tay, you know? I mean, I don’t even need to tell you to mark your calendars, because God has already marked them for you. And an event like that calls for a little glitz, don’t you think?

So, yeah. Could you spare some change, friends? I mean, we’re not asking for much. I know most of you can barely afford to feed yourselves, let alone your 10 children, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, you know? And ultimately, it’s all for God. For God, guys. Wouldn’t you want to do something nice for God, for once? I mean, He’ll like you a whole lot more if you help us out. Like, bless your life and save you from hell and stuff.

And about the 18 billion pesos we already have, well, we can’t really spend it for this. Well, we can, but do you seriously think we should, given this godawful recession? Come on, guys. It is tempting to dip into the funds just a little, but you know what they say about temptation. We’re just trying to be frugal here. Live a simple life. Earn a billion here, maybe a hundred million there, then stow it all away for a rainy day. It’s the thing to do. You know how it is. You all understand.

So, do we have a deal? Yes? Okay? We’d definitely prefer cash over checks, by the way. (The Pope’s not too hot on paper trails these days.) Just leave the envelopes with the guard at the CBCP gate

We really look forward to all your help, guys. This means more than you’ll ever know. You have no idea how happy this will make us. And seriously, rest assured that there will be a very, very good return on investment. You’ll definitely get what you deserve. This is a solid deal, guys. Real solid. Serious stuff. Totes legit. It’s going to be the smartest thing you’ve ever done. Seriously. I swear it. I swear to God.

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Inquirer’s Conservative Catholicism Deserves Greater Public Recognition


Recently, our own Marguerite de Leon challenged the Philippine Daily Inquirer to explain itself for putting a puff piece on Pedro Calungsod as its editorial. De Leon also noted the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s recent history of innuendo against “unrepentant” secularists and liberals. In de Leon’s original open letter, she questioned the editorial, which fawned over “a story that is not based on a shred of evidence and is only sincerely believed by some people.” She was referring to a 2002 story of the revival of a clinically dead woman, whose recovery was attributed to the long dead man, Pedro Calungsod (1654–1672). Despite the lack of evidence for the story (such evidence would surely merit at least a passing mention in a medical journal), the respected broadsheet peddled the event as fact and elevated it into its editorial.

For de Leon’s trouble, the Inquirer editorial team’s response was one sentence: “We suggest that De Leon read the editorial more closely for its main message.” And, she did. She wrote a response reiterating her questioning of the lack of evidence for the event in the original editorial asking, “What other evidence-less things do you not only take for granted, but are more than willing to broadcast to the public as the ‘truth’?”

The Inquirer’s editorials have often been suspiciously reminiscent of conservative Catholic talking points, such as when it drew the ire of the art community for comparing Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo piece to “terrorism.” In this piece, the editorial went so far as to explain the theological distinction between veneration and worship, as if to avoid for itself the common accusation by non-Catholics against Catholics of “worshipping saints.”

That the Inquirer spends so much ink on Catholic diatribes isn’t a surprise as it is a frequent winner of Catholic Mass Media Awards (the Inquirer won 3 this year). However, it is curious that even with the seasoned experience for pro-Catholic bias of the editorial team of the Inquirer (including its anti-RH propagandist, Jess Abrera), they couldn’t find any rational response against De Leon’s queries.

The first letter to the editor they published since De Leon about the matter praised the Inquirer for “reporting about Catholicism as it should be.” Interestingly, the author of this letter was herself a contributor to the Inquirer. A commenter on the online version of the letter pointed out that the writer commended the Inquirer for explaining the doctrine of canonization to “our readers”—a telling slip-up.

Just today, the Inquirer published a second letter to the editor, billed as a “rejoinder” to the first one. The letter lauded the Inquirer for helping “bring the Filipino martyr to the attention (and awareness) of many Catholics in the country (and perhaps in other parts of the world)”—at the expense of non-believers of Catholic doctrine. Not surprisingly, this writer has had a writing relationship with the Inquirer, writing twice for Youngblood.

It does seem rather peculiar, but not impossible, for two people with established relations with the Inquirer to selflessly defend the paper of their own volition—saving the Inquirer from getting its hands dirty. Though, the matter of the possibility of more underhanded motives is at least worthy of noting here.

Now, of course the Philippine Daily Inquirer is free to take any position it desires. It is, however, not free to make up its own facts (especially those of a medical nature, which people might take as serious advice to pursue supernatural cures). It is only fair to us non-Catholic paying customers of the Philippine Daily Inquirer for it to finally respond to De Leon and either confirm or deny if it should be more aptly considered as the proud “Catholic Inquirer.”

Image credit: Dance journalists dance!

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In Response to the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Wholly Unsatisfactory Reply

(To read the original open letter, click here.)


To the editors of the Philippine Daily Inquirer


I didn’t think I would be sending a letter again to you so soon, but I’m afraid your response to my previous one left me—and likely a lot of your other readers—a bit cold, and with quite a lot more to ask. To recap, your response was a single line that read:

“We suggest that De Leon read the editorial more closely for its main message.”

Now, I will pretend that this response is not the wholly unsatisfactory—and, dare I say, smugly self-satisfied—response that I think it is, and actually take your suggestion seriously. So now, I have just re-read the editorial again as closely as I could, and I’m sorry to say that I still don’t understand why this issue and how it was discussed became a worthy main editorial.

Allow me to comment on your piece in detail:

Paragraph one introduces Calungsod and his impending canonization, describing the supposed “miracle” he was responsible for.

Now, I would like to think that seasoned journalists such as yourself would have developed a very keen sense of what is factual and backed up by evidence, and what is not. I would like to think that people in your line of work are able to take things such as miracles with a grain of salt. However, your editorial started off describing the miracle with a straight face, so to speak, and that is quite troubling for me. What other evidence-less things do you not only take for granted, but are more than willing to broadcast to the public as the “truth?”

Paragraph two is considerably more perturbing, as it discusses martyrdom, beatification, and canonization with a seriousness usually reserved for reports on financial crises or war.

This stuff is straight out of Catholic theology class. The thing is, how is that relevant to anyone? You took up so much space describing quite specific rules from a specific branch of Christianity, and for what purpose? For your non-Catholic readers, and much less for your non-Christian or non-religious ones, how can that information enrich their lives or, at the very least, help them to understand why Calungsod matters, considering that they don’t even believe in this stuff in the first place?

As I’ve mentioned in my first letter, not all Filipinos believe in Catholicism, or believe in any religion, period. Your making mention of these Catholic rules really strikes me as biased, or ignorant of the reality. I hate to say it, but it makes me wonder if the Inquirer aims to further Catholic propaganda. (Is it Catholic Mass Media Awards season already?)

Permit me to quote from another of your main editorials (“Art as Terrorism,” on the Poleteismo brouhaha):

“Predictably enough, Cruz also misrepresents Catholic iconography in order to suit his self-serving and ultimately erroneous thesis. Whatever the excesses of Filipino folk religiosity, it must be said Catholics do not worship images; they venerate them as sensual channels to the divine. Catholics worship God; they accord the Blessed Trinity “latria,” Greek for adoration. They don’t worship the Blessed Mother and the saints. To the latter, they accord “dulia,” Greek for veneration; to the former they accord “hyperdulia,” a higher form of veneration. Therefore, Catholics don’t practice polytheism. Cruz not only misrepresents Catholics’ monotheistic practice; he insults it by using Catholic iconography to poke fun at it.”

Defensive, much? This paragraph is unabashedly Catholic-centric, and in the most by-the-book sense. (And seriously, do most Catholics even know about these “dulias” and “latrias?”)

Now, going back to the Calungsod piece, I believe that the next few paragraphs contain the point that you’re claiming to make. You mention that the Visayans claim Calungsod, who was martyred in Guam, as their own. You mention that the Visayas could very well be considered the birthplace of folk Catholicism in the world. You mention how Catholicism’s feasts and rituals helped build our nation by highlighting communities’ milestones and ultimately fostering a sense of wholeness and legitimacy, and how this parallels how Europe became Europe through a certain annual pilgrimage. You mention how Calungsod and Lorenzo Ruiz—both martyred abroad—are therefore like the first Filipino OFWs, spreading Catholicism (a.k.a. “Filipino-ness,” apparently) across the globe.

From what I gather, then, your point is more or less: “We should celebrate the impending canonization of Calungsod because it helps Filipinos become more significant in the global realm. Through him, we Filipinos can be proud to be Pinoy. Through him, we learn that Filipinos can indeed be influential, most especially due to our Catholic-ness.” And while this may seem like a point solid enough to buttress your paper’s main editorial, it really isn’t. It’s hackneyed, it’s old hat, it’s impotent. This point is nothing we haven’t heard before, and considering the way things are right now, it isn’t as compelling as it used to be.

This never-ending quest of Filipinos to matter, to be admired by, or to just be plain recognized by other countries has not only become cloying, it has evolved into a glaring sign of our insecurity as a people. I don’t find Pinoy pride worthy of being a topic anymore, much less one for a main editorial.

And the thing is, I honestly don’t think that this point is why you wrote the piece anyway. As I’ve already mentioned, I think your piece is just poorly-guised Catholic propaganda, period.

So there, dear editors. I did what you told me to. I read your editorial more closely, and this is what I got from it.

The least you could do, then, is to just come out and clarify whether you are practicing outright agenda-setting or not. Will the Inquirer’s stance always favor the side of the Catolico cerrados? Is your paper’s motto really “Balanced News, Fearless Views,” or “What the Pope Says, Goes?”

I hope, dear editors, that your next response will be more substantial this time around.



Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon

Posted in Personal, Religion, ScienceComments (4)

An Open Letter to the Philippine Daily Inquirer

To the editors of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

I still recall a lot of basic journalism rules from my days as writer and editor for my high school paper. One of them is that the paper’s main editorial is supposed to reflect the views of the entire staff or, at the very least, of the editorial team. A consensus is made as to what topic to feature in the piece, as well as what the paper’s stand is on the chosen issue.


While most of your editorials reflect—or, at least, appear to reflect—these rules, I found today’s piece on San Pedro Calungsod a bit troubling. It talks about the impending canonization of Calungsod, to whom a doctor prayed in the hopes of recovering a woman who’d been clinically dead for two hours. It then goes on to mention Christianity in the Visayas and folk Catholicism, and even dismisses secularists’ notion that Catholic feasts are “wastes of time and resources” with a few handy quotes from two National Artists for Literature. The piece then ends with the following:

“The examples of Calungsod and Lorenzo Ruiz should indicate that the ‘hometown’ has grown to embrace as well the globe. Both of them earned the palm of martyrdom abroad—the latter in Japan, the former in what’s now Guam. They may as well have been the first Filipino OFWs! And although they died with clerics (Calungsod with the Jesuit Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores, and Lorenzo with several Dominican friars), they were laymen, an indication of how Christianity had really taken root among the Filipinos. Their martyrdom having sown and watered the seed of Christianity elsewhere, they’re veritable ambassadors and embodiments of the catholicity of the Catholic faith. They’re the Philippine Church’s gifts to universal humanity. They make us proud to be Filipinos and Christians.”

Given the above rule as to what an editorial should be, is it true that every person working for your paper (or editorial team) is a proud Catholic? Is it true that all of you decided that this issue—which affects fewer people than you think, given that not all Filipinos are serious believers, much less Catholic ones—was significant enough to be the main opinion piece, when there are quite a few other issues (OWS, MILF, GMA, etc.) to be tackled?

I kind of understand why your editorial last October 17 was on the newly-appointed Archbishop Tagle.  Our country’s government, unfortunately, tends to be swayed by the opinions of the local Catholic Church’s leaders, so making mention of the new head honcho can be justified. As Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes admitted, “He could wield more influence to spread the opposition against the [RH Bill] legislation.” This piece gives “unrepentantly secular” individuals like myself reason to be alert. (And by the way, your use of “unrepentantly” in the piece’s first sentence smacked of prejudice.)

But an editorial on some guy from Guam who magically healed a dead woman from the future by way of a doctor who closed his eyes and mumbled for help, which is a story that is not based on a shred of evidence and is only sincerely believed by some people?


Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon

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