POSTSCRIPT / September 8, 2009 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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A holiday dialogue with my fave nephew

Q&A: My nephew who goes to a Catholic school was on a holiday mood yesterday. But before he skipped to the mall with his cousins, he peppered me with questions.

“Why is it a holiday?” the kid asked. And I said, “Erdy Manalo the head man of the Iglesia ni Cristo, died.” (The rest of the dialogue follows without the quote marks, with his questions in bold-face, followed by my replies.)

What’s Iglesia ni Cristo? It’s a religion, like the Catholic Church.

So when the Pope dies, it’s also a holiday? Maybe. I guess it should be. (I don’t remember if it was a holiday when Pope John Paul II died.)

Nang namatay si Cardinal Sin, was it also a holiday? Yata. It’s been a long time.

Pag si Gloria namatay, holiday din ba? Maybe to some people it will be a holiday, but I think it depends on Vice President Noli who will then take over as president.

Di ba when Cory died, it was also a holiday? Yes.

Bakit holiday? Well, Cory was an icon of democracy.

What’s an icon? An icon is a statue standing for someone or something. It’s a symbol. Like those little drawings on your computer screen that you click to open your favorite game.

Is Manalo also an icon? I think so.

Anong nagawa niya? Well, his father Felix founded the Iglesia in 1914 and it grew. His son Erdy, the one who just passed away, took over when the father died in 1963.

But in school they tell us Jesus Christ was the one who founded the true church. Yes, that’s right.

So why is Iglesia ni Cristo saying it’s the religion of Jesus? I really don’t know.

The TV says President Gloria and many officials were going to his funeral. Yes, I can imagine that.

Why, are they relatives or friends? I guess they are close friends.

Ang galing naman ni Manalo, bigatin ang mga friends niya! Yes, natulungan kasi niya sila.

He helped them? Paano? Well, he has more than a million members and when he tells them to vote for somebody, they obey. Malaki rin yung one million votes, so they try to be friends with him.

Uncle, magtayo ka na lang ng religion! Mahirap. Di natin linya ang religion.

Bakit si Mike Velarde hindi naman pare, pero may religion din siya?You mean El Shaddai? Hindi religion yun. Parang charismatic lang yun, para bang they gather around him and he tells them nice things like how to improve their lives and save their souls.

Kaya mo yun, uncle. Hindi.

Tsaka, yumaman daw si Velarde at pinupuntahan din daw ng mga politico. Bayaan mo sila. Kanya-kanyang racket sa mundo.

Ha? Ano ba ang racket? Hoy, sige manood na kayo ng sine. Etong pera mo.

* * *

TEODORO TRIP: It says here that Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro had shortened his pilgrimage to Washington where he would discuss with US officials how to pacify Mindanao and catch all those Moro bandits and assorted terrorists.

Recently, President Arroyo, groping for something reassuring to say after the massacre of more than 20 Marines in Basilan, barked orders for the armed forces to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf before her term ends in 2010. (Bakit Abu Sayyaf lang?)

The commander of the AFP in the region chimed in that with the killing of a big number of Moro fighters in the same clash, the Abu Sayyaf force had been decimated to only about 40.

Don’t laugh at the general’s estimate. They have a hard time sorting out the enemy. When they spot a Moro with a weapon, they cannot be sure if he is with the Abus, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Moro National Liberation Front, or just a local Rambo displaying his manhood.

* * *

LEANING ON UNCLE: If truth be told, the June 2010 deadline of the Commander-in-Chief cannot be met — even if they throw four battalions against the 40 Abu Sayyaf remnants.

The reason is simple, and Teodoro does not have to travel to Washington to know it.

The unrest in Moroland, punctuated now and then with fierce firefights, will not be quelled while the US is plotting to secure a permanent or basic presence in Mindanao.

The US wants Mindanao very badly for obvious strategic reasons. So expect a certain low-intensity but manageable level of dissidence there to justify US presence in the guise of assistance.

While Mindanao remains a security problem, we keep leaning on Uncle Sam.

* * *

MICRO CASE: Reminds me of our town of Mabalacat in Pampanga. While the Americans were on Clark air base, we never bothered to spend and develop our own firefighting capability.

Whenever there was a fire, we just had to call Clark and their blazing red fire trucks would come rushing through the gate separating us from the base.

(Problem was their hoses were so powerful that when trained on light-material houses, the walls and roofs got torn off. The fire was put out all right, but the houses had to be reassembled all over again.)

This micro experience is duplicated on the macro national level. The Philippine armed forces never developed its own air force and navy, because the mighty US forces were around to protect the islands under a treaty.

So when suddenly Clark and Subic naval base were turned over to the natives, the Seventh Fleet and the US 13th Air Force were sorely missed. We were left naked.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 8, 2009)

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