POSTSCRIPT / April 3, 2005 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

Share This

Spare the Pope the tubes; let him pass on in dignity

AT HEAVEN’S DOOR: Pardon my saying this on a Sunday and about the Holy Father, but instead of praying that a suffering John Paul II continue to live attached to ugly life-support tubes, we should pray for his serene and dignified passage to the afterlife.

The supreme reward that the Pope, or any Catholic for that matter, looks forward to after a virtuous life on earth is heaven, that place promised to those who have kept the Commandments.

To go to heaven, however, one must first die. Even Christ had to die before He ascended to heaven, in glory, to sit at the right hand of the Father.

As a Catholic, admittedly not a good one, what I would like to see is for all of us to view the imminent passage of the Holy Father with joy and an expectation of a logical progression in the Church.

* * *

CHURCH LIVES ON: We must pray, I think, not for God to give John Paul more years but to spare him the pain and agony of physical death.

When we pray, it should not be for God to allow the Pontiff to draw life from the artifice of tubes, but for him to die momentarily in His grace — then rise again, like Christ, in triumph.

In the same manner that John Paul’s place in Heaven has been long prepared, the seat of Peter has always been ready to accept the next vicar who will follow John Paul, the current occupant.

We all die, and popes come and go, but the Church lives on. We should not worry about the Church losing its supreme head because that will never happen.

If the disciples were thrown in disarray after the arrest of Christ in Gethsemane and his eventual crucifixion in Golgotha, now we know better. We will never be afraid of dying, or of losing our loved ones, even our Holy Father.

Let John Paul go. In joy, in peace, in grace.

* * *

NANAY PURA: Remember Pura Santillan Castrence? (No adjective or qualifier is needed to identify her, although to me she is the essayist.) Now residing in Australia, she has just marked her 100th birth day.

Let me step aside for writer Nonoy Perdon to tell you more of whatNanay Pura was, is and has been doing:

Mrs. Pura Santillan Castrence is a well-known personality, not only because of her being a prolific writer, but because of her involvement in the Filipino community in Australia and her concern over what is going on in the ‘the old country.’

To her admirers, friends and readers of her popular column in theBayanihan News, she is the well-loved and respected Nanay Pura.

The late historian Carlos Quirino summed up her career as a ‘foreign service officer and writer.’ But Pura Santillan Castrence who was born on March 24, 1905, is more than just that. One biographer described her as “a mother, a university professor, an essayist, a columnist, a critic, a linguist, a journalist and a diplomat.”

A product of Manila’s public schools, she continued her studies at the University of the Philippines where she obtained her BS in Pharmacy and MA in Chemistry. She went to the University of Michigan to obtain her Doctor of Philosophy on language studies. She is at ease in Spanish, French, German, Italian, English and, of course, Tagalog.

* * *

CAREER NOTES: As a writer and journalist, Castrence was named “Most Outstanding Filipino Woman Writer in English” in 1949 by the Civic Assembly of Women and the “Most Distinguished Writer” in 1957 by the Far Eastern University. She was awarded a Smith-Mundt Leadership grant in 1957 and membership in the Akademiya ng Wikang Pambansa.

Those who studied Philippine Prose and Poetry in high school will remember her essays in English. She has been regarded as “one of the most prolific Filipino writers in English” and considered “one of the most intelligent, versatile, and resourceful career women in the Philippines” as early as the 1960s.

She was one of the pioneer career women in Philippine diplomacy at the old Office of Foreign Relations, the nucleus of the present Department of Foreign Affairs. She started as a senior assistant and rose to various important positions until her appointment as minister-counselor at the Philippine embassy in Germany.

Her career was capped with her appointment to Assistant Secretary for Cultural Affairs and Information, with the rank of ambassador, a position she held until her retirement.

Castrence’s literary excellence evident in her writings in such publications as the Manila Daily Bulletin, the Liwayway magazine, the Weekly Women’s magazine, The ExaminerAng Bansa, and the pre-war Philippine Magazine where her series on the “Women Characters of Rizal’s Novels” appeared. She also wrote Woman Sense, a collection of essays and The Women Characters in Rizal’s Novels, a collection of articles originally published in Philippine Magazine.

She continues contact with the Filipino community through her writings in newspapers serving the Filipino populations in Australia and the United States.

To honor Pura Santillan Castrence on her 100th year of fruitful life, her published articles in the Bayanihan News from 1999 to 2005 are being compiled for a book.

* * *

BAD BEWS: But from California, come rather unpleasant news about another prominent FilAm.

The San Jose Mercury News has reported that after months of allegations of corruption and nepotism at San Jose’s award-winning Northside Community Center, an extensive criminal investigation is under way into the center and its embattled FilAm leader.

The newspaper reported that San Jose auditors, police and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office are looking into allegations of wrongdoing at the facility, nationally recognized as a model of multicultural social services. An audit speaks of alleged instances of financial mismanagement at the $11-million facility.

A confidential memo on the investigation points to the center’s chief executive office, Ben Menor, 54, who has denied accusations by former employees that he gave himself a $14,000 bonus, mismanaged hundreds of thousands of dollars and set up a home health care program for his parents using taxpayer money.

* * *

MENOR’S SIDE: Menor said he has been aware of the investigation and was not surprised the district attorney is involved.

“It’s only appropriate,” he said. “`There’s so much allegations that have been brought, I believe everyone is going through the formalities. Every department must check it off.” But he said he was confident he would ultimately be vindicated.

“I am not concerned,” he said. “There are things the board and I are already doing to provide better controls and improve procedures.”

Northside has for years served thousands of families, teens and seniors and become an effective hub for the county’s Asian, Indo-American and Latino communities. Its unique facility, which combines a community center and affordable senior housing, has gained nationwide recognition.

* * *

CRABS’ ACTION: The center’s troubles began early last year when former staff and board members — who go by the acronym CRABS (Citizens Rebelling Against Bogus Spending) — began publicly accusing Menor of misusing taxpayer money.

In December, the group produced documents showing, it said, that the facility was wrought with corruption, including nepotism.

Two paid Northside staff members said they worked last year in Menor’s house for a pilot nutrition and health program that used Menor’s elderly parents as the only test cases.

Menor said the center’s board approved the test program, which used $27,000 of the center’s $600,000 annual budget in the past year. He said that by using his parents as the test clients, he helped “minimize the risk” of liability in trying out the program with other seniors.

* * *

FILAM DOCS RAPPED: And in Brookfield, Wisconsin, federal prosecutors have added a new charge of human trafficking against a FilAm couple who prosecutors said force a compatriot to serve as their servant.

Jefferson and Elnora Calimlim, both physicians, and their son Jefferson M. Calimlim, 30, have been indicted already on charges of harboring an illegal immigrant and conspiracy to harbor an illegal immigrant. The son faces a third charge of making a false statement to an agent.

The charge of human trafficking — filed against the parents — alleges that the couple threatened a woman brought from the Philippines with serious harm and physical restraint to keep her as their housekeeper for 19 years.

The family has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The father’s lawyer said the woman was never held against her will, was paid as arranged and was considered to be part of the family.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 3, 2005)

Share your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published.