MR. FRANCIS TOLENTINO
Chairman, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority
MMDA Bldg., EDSA cor. Orense St.
Guadalupe, Makati City
Dear Mr. Tolentino,
I write to you with much concern regarding your recently circulated letter to Inferno author Dan Brown. Apart from the fact that you spent actual time on taxpayer’s money writing a butthurt missive to a man who can barely string a sentence together, and for a statement that, let’s face it, seems fairly accurate to any human being with their senses intact, there’s another serious problem I would like to address.
You said that “our faith in God binds us as a nation,” among other faith-centric statements meant to convince Mr. Brown that Manila is a celestial gateway despite being a cesspool of literal and figurative filth. As a person who does not believe in any god, and at the same time considers herself very much a part of this nation—I’ve lived here all my life; I pay my taxes; I willingly risk my life traversing EDSA on a daily basis—I find this statement of yours grossly ignorant and very much insulting.
To explain this to you further in terms you would understand, imagine that your “faith nation” statement was a pedestrian on Commonwealth Avenue. Before him is a massive expanse of asphalt with a nonstop swarm of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and buses zipping down it. It is obvious that crossing it is a downright dangerous, illogical act. In fact, there are even signs on the road islands explicitly telling pedestrians that crossing this avenue is the last thing you should be doing. Huwag tumawid—nakamamatay.
Your statement is that one, hard-headed pedestrian who decides to cross Commonwealth anyway despite all the evidence urging otherwise. You say that our faith in God binds us as a nation when the truth is that it does not. In fact, not even all of us have faith to begin with. What actually binds us as a nation is a mixture of necessity and common human decency; any other reason—faith included—now depends from one individual to another, and thus cannot be generalized. In fact, I daresay that what binds us as a nation is outright circumstance; we did not choose to be born in the Philippines, but we were, and now we have to do what we can to make the best of what is dealt us—and that includes participating in the workings of this metropolis, however faulty they may be.
I do not subscribe to any faith, but I have not gone on any manic crime spree as far as I know, and basically follow the rule of law in the spirit of common human decency. I know full well that I am not the only one like this, and that countless others who claim to have faith do not actually invoke their bond to their god whenever they do anything good and decent and humane. The big, busy road that is Commonwealth is the reality of the matter, and at this point, your statement has been flattened like a pancake because of its own ignorance.
Is the metaphor a tad too harsh? I’m afraid I can’t help it, because I feel the need to stress how inherently dangerous such sweeping generalizations of Filipino citizens are. It is these inaccurate statements—that most Filipinos are Catholics or, at the very least, religious—that lead to things like the excruciatingly long (and ongoing!) suppression of proper reproductive health services in the nation; the fact that divorce remains such a contentious issue amidst overwhelming evidence that unhappy marriages birth abuse and misery; the election of idiots into public office; and, uh, the religious blessing of accident-prone parts of EDSA instead of working on proper urban infrastructure, among others. In case you didn’t notice, Mr. Tolentino, nakamamatay itong lahat.
We hope you consider the content of this letter before you attempt to speak again on behalf of the populace.
Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon
Really?! You really had to write to Dan Brown? REALLY?
Image from: pilipippoy.blogspot.com
name a PUBLIC place in Manila that's not filthy, smelly, prostitute-free, and is safe. EXCLUDING luneta and fort santiago.
and you'll see it's a challenge. church? LOL
Really?! You really had to write to Francis Tolentino? REALLY?
why not? when a guy misrepresents you as a butthurt society, why not?
The truth hurts!
Catholic Arrogance. Whoever in his right mind would want to argue with the views of a fictional character, and argue further by saying that in fact Manila is an entry to heaven….. but then I guess you'd have to die to get to heaven. And Manila is as good a place as any to die sooner. Yeap try being stupid here in Manila and see where it'll get you.
You people just don't get it, do you?
This is clearly a ploy by Mr. Tolentino to get Dan Brown's attention, so he gets written into the next book 😀
How true.I felt sad and worried whenever I thought of going home in the Philippines.It’s even sadder to know that I am safer in the street of Singpore than any cities in my country.And it’s not about traffic alone but many other unpleasant possibilities that I might encounter while walking.
I beg to disagree. Our very constitution says: "We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of **Almighty God**, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that…" [emphasis mine]. If some don't want to be associated with such "imploring of aid of" one being who they don't believe, I think they might need to consider moving out to a different country then with a constitution that does not mention or imply God or any deity whoever. Or perhaps discontinue paying taxes and ever more breaking more traffic rules.
By saying "our Faith in God binds us as a Nation" is not just correct but also constitutional. In writing the letter Mr. Tolentino not just upheld his rightful Office to defend the reputation of the Metro but also of the Filipinos (in general). Our actual reputation may not be as Mr. Tolentino has written but the fact is that we all aspire to have good one. Being cited in a book to be otherwise is both a disgrace to the Metro and the Country that it represents, the Philippines, and of course the Filipino people.
There was a time when "Filipina" was almost taken equivalent to prostitute or "mail ordered bride" (or so). I don't think Ms. de Leon (the author here) would appreciate such analogy as "grossly ignorant and very much insulting."
["We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of **Almighty God**, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that…" ]
1. That's the Preamble to the constitution, not the constitution itself.
2. Which god are you referring to? As per Fr. Joaquin Bernas, one of the authors of the constitution, that phrase was intentionally kept vague to account for Filipino citizens who may not necessarily share the same faith. Who are you to assume that the preamble speaks exclusively of Catholics?
3. Recall Article 2, section 6 of the constitution: "The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable."
If anything, people like Tolentino shame the Filipino race by speaking on our behalf, because he portrays us as onion-skinned whiners who see anything that isn't outright adulation as some sort of affront to our dignity.
Do you know what would have been a dignified response from the MMDA chairman? If he'd admitted that Manila DOES have a traffic problem and that they are working on fixing it.
Parte din naman yung preamble ng konstitusyon kasi nagsisilbi yun na paglalarawan ng pilosopiya ng konstitusyon. Hindi na sana nilagay yun kung di sya ka-parte. Dun nga sa article II section 12 at 13 may mga salitang “sanctity of family life” at “spiritual well-being” kaya masasabi mo rin na may lugar ang paniniwalang espiritwal o relihiyon sa batas.
Isa pa, halata namang mas pinapahalagahan ng batas yung paniniwala ng mga Kristyano kasi halimbawa nalang yung pagkakaroon ng maraming asawa. Paniniwala ng mga Muslim na pwede yun, pero ika nga “the right to believe is different from the right to practice.” Kahit sabihin pang vague yung definition ng “God,” bawal pa rin magkaroon ng maraming asawa sa Pilipinas, patunay na mas kinakampihan ang Kristyanismo.
Pero sang ayon ako sa’yo na di sya dapat nagsalita para sa lahat.
[ Dun nga sa article II section 12 at 13 may mga salitang "sanctity of family life" at "spiritual well-being" kaya masasabi mo rin na may lugar ang paniniwalang espiritwal o relihiyon sa batas. ]
Do show us where in the constitution it explicitly states "sanctity of life" and "spiritual well-being," …as defined by the Catholic Church.
And furthermore, Joaquin Bernas' take on church and state separation: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/colum…
His own words:
[The constitutional command, however, is more than just the prohibition of a state religion. That is the minimal meaning. Jurisprudence has expanded it to mean that the state may not pass ?laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.?
That is the ?separation part? of the constitutional command. The other part is the ?free exercise clause.? Both are embodied in one sentence which says: ?No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.?]
And here is more of Fr. Bernas, http://www.rappler.com/nation/12130-bernas-refute…
[“Constitutionally protected pluralism includes nontheistic religions such as Buddhism, ethical culture, secular humanism, and a variety of ethical philosophies. Of course, it also includes the bishop’s understanding of natural law. But his understanding is just one of the many, including those which do not arrive at the bishop’s conclusion,” Bernas added.]
It's your word versus that of one of the authors of our constitution.
[Isa pa, halata namang mas pinapahalagahan ng batas yung paniniwala ng mga Kristyano kasi halimbawa nalang yung pagkakaroon ng maraming asawa.]
And yet when Muslims do marry, it is according to Muslim traditions, not Christian. For your reasoning to work, it has to follow that the Muslim couple has to marry through a Christian ceremony.
[If some don't want to be associated with such "imploring of aid of" one being who they don't believe, I think they might need to consider moving out to a different country then with a constitution that does not mention or imply God or any deity whoever. Or perhaps discontinue paying taxes and ever more breaking more traffic rules. ]
1. Fine. I implore the Aid of the Almighty God – Princess Molestia! http://askprincessmolestia.tumblr.com/
dami mong alam, hindi lahat ng Pilipino ayon sa opinion mo. Wala ka pinag iba dun sa MMDA head na yun.
saang part ng letter nagclaim si ms. de leon na lahat ng Pilipino, ayon dapat sa kanya? wala. klaro dito na sinabi nyang personal nyang nararamdaman yon. hindi sila pareho ni Toletino na umasta na nagsasalita sya para sa lahat ng Pilipino – na hindi naman dahil hindi lahat ganun kakitid ang utak.
comprehension check. learn your English.
One’s faith is measured in deeds, not words; if MMDA or anyone of us would really want our country to be a patch of heaven/paradise/whatever on earth, we should do thing that results in something seen clearer than it is heard. Tolentino’s way of addressing Mr. Brown is not what a Christian or a clear-minded individual should be doing; he should be proving the cleanliness and decency of our country by making things right and doing what good for every Filipino; in fact, all of us should do our share, saving what little we can, and making of what much is out there
i do believe all the reactions from rational filipinos are echoed in this. well done. that being said, i actually enjoy the blustering that tolentino has done. as it is said, the measure of a man is seen in his blunders. such a bigotted thinking Mr. Tolentino has. i wonder, instead of acting butthurt over the statement of a tourist, why not work toward creating a better Manila? he could have used that statement to acknowledge the all-too-real issue that Manila is indeed a crowd of filth, and worked to improve the conditions. oh well, onions will sting once peeled.
Philippine servants gone mad.
Well said. Not to mention that the book is a work of fiction, and we are all entitled to our imaginings and opinions anyway. I personally think that Limon, Leyte, is the gateway to Hell. So what? This guy embarrasses Manila in the world's eyes more than Dan Brown does, for sure.
Plain Catholic arrogance!!!! …….and with that letter, obvious stupidity as well; when it's evident that Manila truly is filthy. WORK!!!!!…….Walang HImala!!!!
Oh, wag ka mag generalize. If anything, it’s Tolentino’s opinion; not the Catholic masses.
I believe in God, but I agree with you that Tolentino’s letter was a display of utter ignorance. Or Catholic arrogance.
I suspect he just wants to be in the limelight. But did it the wrong way. Maybe he finds it difficult to be an effective MMDA chairman that’s why he resorted to trying to be controversial. He just made himself a fool in the process, though.
This. Forever. Basically all of it.