POSTSCRIPT / November 28, 2000 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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We’re getting saturated with impeachment talk

THE anti-Estrada forces better start paying closer attention to the calibration of their campaign to discredit and unseat President Estrada.

They better check if the public soaking in the rain of propaganda from both sides is already numb from overexposure. An overdose is about to make the mass targets impervious to further attempts to brainwash them.

Remember, we are a people notorious for our short span of attention, for our recurring bouts of selective amnesia.

We’ve seen a number of people growing tired of the impeachment debate. Is the numbness deliberately being cultivated by anybody? Is the overdose good or bad for President Estrada?

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ANOTHER overdone sidelight of the impeachment zarzuela is the so-called prayer rally. Those prayer rallies organized by preachers claiming to have a direct line to God are giving prayer a bad name.

We think the guidelines for the apolitical faithful should be:

  1. Do not attend any mass prayer rally where a high-profile politico has been invited. If such a trapo (acronym for traditional politician, literally means “rag”) shows up, either as guest or gate-crasher, leave. God will understand.
  2. Even if no politician is present, the moment one such trapo is endorsed or his name mentioned, leave.

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WE are scandalized by the pile of money, usually running into millions in just a day, being gathered in some of these prayer rallies.

You should see the collection boxes jammed with fat envelopes dropped by fanatics who believe that God collects an entrance fee to heaven or sells good fortune, good health or public offices.

Seeing the envelopes piled on a big table and their contents stashed in huge vaults, one is reminded of the poor masses and of the government tax collector.

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AS businessmen-preachers wallow in wealth, who looks after the poor who have to live on nothing but presidential promises of a better life and divine beatitudes on their being blessed and alleged heirs of heaven?

While some preachers extract favors and juicy deals from government, do they bother to pay the correct taxes on the multimillion-peso collections from gullible followers? Remember, these prayer congregations are not legitimate religions entitled to tax exemptions.

The truth is that many of these prayer groups are nothing but businesses. The successful preacher is usually one who is able to parley the Gospel into Big Business.

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WE once asked an El Shaddai big shot if they do not feel guilty amassing all those millions from fanatics. He said, of course in a light vein, that after the money is laid on the huge table, they raise it to heaven and ask God to take His share as they toss it up to Him.

Whatever God does not take, our informant said in jest, and which drops back to the floor, is theirs to keep.

We failed to ask how much of it is normally scooped up by God as the money is thrown to Him.

We often wonder where all that money goes. And who audits the collections.

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YOU might have noticed that days after the Church announced that public sinners, such as those cohabiting under scandalous circumstances with multiple wives, may not receive the sacraments, a priest was seen on TV offering Mass by the Pasig for one such character and, horrors!, giving him Holy Communion.

We know we are not to judge others, that we may not be judged. After all, we are all sinners.

But cannot the Church at least be consistent? Cannot the Church enforce simple rules on its priests who belong to a hierarchy, actually a dictatorship, and who have taken vows of obedience?

* * *

AN open secret is that many priests actually scramble for those special requests to say Mass at private residences or business and government offices. We’ve seen such priests being slipped fat envelopes after the Mass. May pakimkim pa ang mga walang-hiya!

That explains why some government agencies known to be “generous” with the envelopes never run out of “celebrity priests” and bishops to say Mass in their premises even on short notices.

Meanwhile, many priests ministering to poor communities in remote places actually go hungry. It is not enough that we pray for these laboring priests. We should get angry for them.

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THIS next item is not original. We picked it up from the colorful group email of Pinoys55, a UP brotherhood, to give a measure of consolation to people who are fat, dark and/or have gone bald:

James Watson, who discovered DNA and shared a Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1953, recently gave a speech on “The Pursuit of Happiness: Lesson in Pom-C” at the University of California at Berkeley. He left the audience aghast when he advanced his theory about a link between skin color and sex drive.

“That’s why you have Latin Lovers,” he said, “You’ve never heard of English lovers. Only English patients.”

Watson also said that fat people are happy and thin people are more ambitious, while showing Kate Moss (a super model) looking sad to illustrate the point.

While expounding on his theory that exposure to sunlight enhances sex drive, he announced with a twinkle in his eye that bald men have better sex drive. People were laughing at the beginning of Watson’s lecture but later on turned serious as he developed his theme.

It should be noted that Watson launched the “Human Genome Project” in 1990.

In his speech, he said, “Pom-C is a protein that helps create different hormones — such as the melanin that determines the color of the skin, beta-endorphins that affect the moods, and liftin that plays a role in fat metabolism.”

Watson talked about how chemicals are enhanced by sunlight leading to the supposition that people who are exposed to more sunlight have more of the hormones.

In an experiment conducted at the University of Arizona, male patients were injected with a melanin extract. Melanin is a chemical pigment that turns the skin dark when exposed to sunlight. The test was designed to see if skin could be darkened to prevent skin cancer, but found that as a side effect the men became sexually aroused.

Why is it that every time there is a research conducted on men, an inconceivable effect is always observed! If you remember, Viagra was not really formulated to treat impotence. It was directed to cardiac patients.

Another drug called “Rogain” was originally directed to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (the testes growing bigger as one grows older) resulting in frequent nocturnal urination. This is common among men who are in their late 50’s and above. Instead of treating the testes, the hair grows back among bald men with BPH!

* * *

FOR seven days in December, Metro Manila residents will get a rare chance to see and experience what they only view on Lakbay TV, Travel Time, or The Probe Team — an Ambahan wedding dowry negotiation, a Cordillera peace pact, a Tausug pangalay dance performance, or an atang-atang healing ritual, all rolled into one unusual festival.

These and hundreds of other traditional performing art forms, cultural practices and rituals, martial arts styles, culinary arts practices, crafts, and ethnic architectural structures are part of Dayaw: Philippine Cultural Communities Arts Festival.

Presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Dayaw will be a seven-day gathering of the country’s leading traditional artists, master craftsmen, scholars, and cultural practitioners from 37 ethnolinguistic groups. There will be about 380 participants from these communities.

The festival, which will be held Dec. 3-9 at the Rizal Park, will be open to the public free of charge. From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the public will see performances, exhibits, crafts making demonstrations, enactments of cultural practices, forums on issues and concerns of cultural communities, workshops, a crafts fair or tiangge, and culinary arts demonstrations. Children will have the chance to learn and participate in traditional games.

Among the communities represented are the Maguindanaos, the Aetas of Zambales, the Aklanons, the T’bolis, the Ivatans of Batanes, the Bicolanos, the Tausugs and the Ifugaos.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 28, 2000)

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