By Willy E. Arcilla, Contributor INQUIRER.net THE AWARENESS and popularity of Canadian-based Fr. Fernando Suarez has been soaring in recent weeks as increasingly more Filipino faithful and Christians worldwide attend and bear witness to his healing ministry at which the disabled walk, the visually-impaired see, the deaf hear and the mute speak. There are patients with cancer and other diseases who are cured. Yet, despite a cult following that seems to rival local celebrities, Father Suarez remains admirably humble, insisting that "I am not a healer" amid persistent labels as the "healing priest" or "miracle priest." Raising his voice somewhat to emphasize the point and ensure that all can hear clearly, "it is not me who heals, but our Lord Jesus Christ, and He uses me merely as an instrument for His grace." He draws an analogy to Christ's healing power with "water passing through one’s hands." During a healing mass held recently at SM Megamall's Trade Hall, Father Suarez repeatedly said in his homily, "I feel so embarrassed whenever people reach out to touch my robes," again emphasizing it is God's omnipotence that heals both the body and spirit. But despite this self-effacing attitude, he urged all the faithful present "not to feel embarrassed in praying for compassion and healing" for all afflictions -- physical or spiritual -- for nothing is impossible with God. He explains that the miracles people see or personally experience are demonstrations of God's love that serve to help strengthen the people's faith. If the source of all evil in this world is pride, manifested in being self-centered and an egoistic "ownership" of one's accomplishments, he says the source of all good must lie in being "Christ-centered" and complete abandonment and surrender to God. "If we rely on Jesus, we will not be disappointed based on His promise that He will not fail us if we trust in Him." However, while he urged all brethren to implore good health and a fullness of life with total confidence as children of God, he also admonished that God wants "holistic healing," and not just "partial healing," including the healing of one's heart and conversion of one's soul. He went on to pray for the moral illnesses and social injustices that bedevil the country, specifically the graft and corruption plaguing government and the wrenching poverty oppressing millions; for the deepest divisions to be healed and discrimination of all forms banished. In offering a reason for why God does not seem to answer all our supplications, he said perhaps "sometimes, what we ask for may not be good for us." In an interview prior to the mass, this writer asked Father Suarez if he can share what God tells him in his personal conversations during private moments of prayer, to which he replied, "God says He loves me, and He is happy with what I do in sharing the gift of healing with all the faithful." This writer later learned that Father Suarez interacts, touches and prays over each and every person in all of his healing services -- regardless of how long it takes or how exhausting it can get. Before an audience consisting of the sick and the curious, the faithful and the skeptics, captured on digital cameras and video recorders, shown live on closed-circuit TV and later on nationwide TV, Father Suarez performed his individualized healing ministry on thousands, moving constantly and laying his hands on the old and the young, many of whom rose from wheelchairs and spontaneously shared poignant stories, testifying to God's goodness through Father Suarez. When this writer asked Father Suarez what he would like to tell the millions of Filipinos who may have desperately wished to attend his healing sessions, but cannot because they are preoccupied with earning a living or do not possess the means, he says reassuringly, "God heals in different ways, so we must all believe in his goodness. While it is God who heals, it is faith that saves." Fittingly, Father Suarez reminds us of the gospel passages when Jesus brings back to life a grief-stricken father's only daughter, and a woman suffering from years of debilitating illness touches the hem of His cloak, in which He says "Take courage... your faith has made you well."
January 2008 Archives
WHAT has our country become? Are we still democratic or is this the start of our shift to totalitarianism? With the passage of the cheaper medicines bill, our right to choose what we want to buy and how much we want to spend for it has now been curtailed. Now the government will start telling you what to buy and dictate to businesses how much they must sell their goods for. Businesses are now at the mercy of the government as they will now be run from the outside. Entrepreneurs be warned! It is now dangerous to set up shop in the Philippines. No wonder foreign investors pulled out, which made our stock market fall 100 points (3 percent) today. I cannot believe that our congressmen could pass such a bill that has effectively cut free trade in this country built and known for its democratic way of life. How I wish they could have considered these several points that I will highlight: 1. There are costs in producing medicines. The higher the quality, the more investment that will be needed. How can you produce a 500mg Amoxicillin capsule at P1.50 if the cost of the raw materials alone, less the production cost, is already at P2.50??? What does this tell you? I wonder just how much of the medicine is actually inside these capsules; do the math. Will these congressmen honestly use generic brands when their own children get sick? Take this P1.50 Amoxicillin in front of a camera Mr. Congressman. 2. Researching a new drug takes years to develop. The company will run countless tests and endless re-tests to develop a brand. This will take millions, even billions in investment. The patent will ensure that they are properly compensated for all the hardship. Now, the government would like to just step in and cash in on the hard work of others. 3. Parallel importation is so unfair to business as the government will benefit from the marketing and promotion of the company selling the brand locally. Plus the fact that now, you won't be sure if the branded product that you are buying is the real thing or the low quality parallel-imported one. Has everyone forgotten that the reason for getting into business is to earn a profit? The pharmaceutical industry is a business, my dear congressmen, not a charitable institution. Therefore, it is not their fault if they are selling and promoting their products for profit! The best that you could have done for the people is to put an end to corruption and give out free medicine, which we taxpayers have paid for. Our health centers have long been out of stock of vaccines and medicines that used to be given for free to the poor. Where has the budget for all these products gone? We have one of the highest taxes in the region, yet this benefit is not being enjoyed by the poor. This is because for every peso collected, only 0.40 goes back to us and we lose the rest to corruption. The passage of this bill sends chills to my spine as now it has set the precedent for other monstrous things to happen. Who's to suffer next? Maybe the cost of the Louis Vuitton bag is much too high for the government that they would next pass a bill telling LV to sell it at only P500.00 as they find it overpriced! I really am dreading what's in store for businesses here in this country. Totalitarianism will drive our booming economy to the ground. -- Paul Santillana, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, Philippines (via e-mail)
AMONG the members of Arroyo's Cabinet Raul Gonzales Sr. stands out as the most hated, reviled and made fun of, head of a national department in the Republic of the Philippines. It is to her credit that Arroyo keeps Gonzalez because he is an asset to her administration as he is a very loyal lapdog, notwithstanding his antics. Arroyo lets him loose once in a while so he could intimidate the opposition, and deliver not-so-subtle warnings to anyone who opposes Arroyo. She could keep him at arm's length, or say that he acted on his own. What Raul Gonzalez Sr. is doing to the office he is occupying now is to smear it with the blood of the innocent citizens of the republic; he is also prostituting the justice system for his own ends, and bringing ridicule to the most venerable and respectable department of the country, while members of the national bar listen to him play his harp. -- Alfonso DeMayo, Vancouver, Canada (via e-mail)
THE WEAKER dollar would not deter OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) from leaving. The fact of the matter is simply there's no job available in the Philippines. And the little that is there could not even offer half the compensation being offered abroad. Just like the Strong Republic GMA [President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] promised, and the enchanted kingdom she's been bragging [about], it all amounts to nothing. All myths and lies are. We can't just simply wait for the manna from heaven. We have to leave the country or starve to death! It's really a no-brainer. -- Rasheed Catapang, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (via e-mail)
By Veronica Uy INQUIRER.net Editor's note: INQUIRER.net reporter Veronica Uy was one of the journalists who covered the Makati Standoff at The Peninsula Manila on Nov. 29. This blog entry was written tongue-in-cheek and is meant to share what she experienced on the field and her thoughts on the events that unfolded. 1. Don't stage it from a five-star hotel. It has been done before and it failed miserably. Do it from where it will create a lot more impact. A television station, a military camp, and of course Malacañang are the best bets. Communist rebels still wage their revolution from among their professed constituents of the poor in the countryside. Does Senator Antonio Trillanes IV know who his are? The 11 million voters who voted for him? Come on! 2. Don't do it before a long weekend. People have already made plans. They don't need another diversion when they are busy living their own lives or simply eking out a living. And certainly don't do it close to the holidays. Filipinos live for temporary escapes from life's hardships. Don't be a Grinch and rob us of these momentary illusions. Even the most sensational coup attempts waged during this time of year were simply that -- attempts. 3. Don't just wing it. This is not a stand-up comedy act. Manila Pen was a battle zone and lines were drawn and people could've gotten killed. You can't just escape your armed escorts and proceed with the attitude, "Let's see who'll join me and we'll take it from there." Have a plan, man. 4. Don't use spokesmen who would not -- or could not -- explain what the entire exercise is about. Speak plainly. For instance, say, "This is a revolution. We don't recognize Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as president of the republic. Join us and we'll kick her out together." None of the let-the-media-call-it-what-they-want crap. Heck, I wanted to call it a courtroom hearing escape that turned into a hotel takeover. And please, no wishy-washy we-were-in-the-area-by-chance excuse. 5. Do your homework. Erap getting kicked out of office does not count as an actual overthrow. It did not happen because of strong, massive protests against him. It happened because he was weak and soft. Remember, he stepped down. Marcos' expulsion took a long, long, long time. It cost a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. And it took a lot of hard work like organizing, propaganda, alliance-building, and mobilizing. 6. Do know thyself. When the dust settled, Senator Panfilo Lacson gifted Senator Antonio Trillanes IV with Sun Tzu's "Art of War." How apt and fitting! Has the once-professional soldier become too much of a politician that he has forgotten this first basic rule of war? 7. Do know thy enemy. Again from the war master; because if the jailed senator and company didn't know the strengths and weaknesses of their enemy, would they have started what they did in the first place? And then let it hang over their head like a wet rag dripping with mockery? What would have been better? A Faeldon-style escape for Trillanes and Brigadier General Danilo Lim should embarrass the government no end. 8. Do have balls. Be prepared to die. No one spoke it. The devil you dared was small fry. "We're prepared for the long haul," was what one of the spokesmen said. "I even brought clothes." He got ready for a sleepover. Did you expect a tea party? Even the hotel kitchen closed down because the hotel staff also had to leave the hotel. 9. Do study history. The wages of revolution are death and destruction. The wages of the revolution against Marcos are still being paid now -- a full generation hence -- in death and destruction, in ways both subtle and not. Please address that. Because we won't have an Erap or even a Gloria if we had done that. 10. Do not be crybabies. This is for all the protagonists in that Pen play -- the mutinous soldiers, their leaders, and their supporters; the media; the government forces, their leaders, and their factotums. Notwithstanding the tear gas, to all of us, it was just, "Trabaho lang ito (All in a day's work)." The only ones that had the right to cry were the hotel guests, who were unceremoniously evacuated from what should have been a restful holiday, and The Peninsula Manila, which pulled out of it four days later with what seemed like nary a scratch. Epilogue: Pen officials were in Tagaytay for a planning session when they were called back to handle the tragi-comedy that was unfolding in their hotel. At one point, the general manager, who was negotiating for the evacuation of the hotel guests with both Trillanes and Trillanes' enemies, could only put up his hands in frustration at what was happening to his hotel. At one time, the gorgeous hotel PR guy was "with all due respecting" a Magdalo official, gently arguing with him about the possibility that there and then Trillanes and company may be the villains. He could be right. A seventy-something woman whose hair was still in curlers was trying to keep her own panic in check, looking for a granddaughter who wanted to get back their deposit. A man on a wheelchair had to wait longer to get himself out of the hotel. In the middle of all the chaos, the hotel's general manager scolded a photographer who was standing on top of a chair in the lobby to get a better shot of Trillanes, who has come down from the mezzanine with a mob -- a real bruising mob -- of photographers, reporters, and cameramen with their soundmen and lightmen. "Get down from my chair. Get down from my chair. I am the general manager of this hotel." At another, he was picking up a cigarette butt near the entrance to lobby, shaking his head with possibly this cartoon balloon over his head, "How can this be happening to me?" Which is what I was feeling. I was pulled out of a rare one-day leave to cover the sorry episode. I successfully got into the hotel by pretending to be a hotel guest. When I saw that two of the assigned reporters were already there, I was caught between two emotions -- the learned desire to nail a story and my instinctive aversion to pain. At almost four p.m., or an hour after the deadline had lapsed. I finally decided to leave. I tried to get out as a hotel guest and failed. When the Magdalo guards who were blocking the front door with only a thick rope finally gave the go signal, I got out, luckily with minutes to spare before government troops stormed the hotel with tear gas. I saw and took videos of the SWAT boys and their big playthings and swore not to wear wedges as I ran away from the warning shots I realized were being fired my way. I did not suffer the humiliation of being dragged out, handcuffed, or "processed." I am now known -- among friends who were worried after seeing me on TV thumbing my Blackberry inside the hotel -- as "palos," which I take to mean a slippery eel.
I AM glad that [Romeo] Jalosjos lost his petition in a Zambo court! It is also good to know that the DOJ ordered his immediate return to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). How I wish the judge added more time to Jalosjos' sentence for escaping the NBP. If it was an option for the judge to do so, how I wish that he had exercised that option! By doing so, the judge would have corrected the wrong of this administration's abuse of its authority to pardon/commute sentences handed down by the judiciary. Heinous criminals should not be lightly pardoned or granted commuted sentences! Pardon or commutation of sentences of a heinous criminal should be the very last option, if ever considered at all! This is one of the most effective ways of teaching people to value the life of others, especially of the young. If you commit heinous crimes, you will suffer the full consequences of your crimes. -- Richard Lozada, Westmont, Illinois, USA (via e-mail)
THIS is the funniest joke I've heard. How in the world can the Philippine Army accomplish in 39 weeks what it did not accomplish in 39 years? While that is mathematically probable, that is realistically impossible. During the last 39 years, the Army has not been successful in reducing the New People's Army (NPA) strength except in some successful campaigns. So the NPAs continue to attack army detachments and police headquarters and confiscate guns and ammunition. For [Lieutenant General Alexander] Yano to say that, reflects the style of his commander in chief who promised to create 10 million jobs in six years. CPP downfall in 39 weeks? If that's not suntok sa buwan, what else would we call that? If he is not joking, he is either out of this world or out of his mind, hence, his nonsense predictions. -- Tom Mascarinas, Agusan del Sur, Philippines (via e-mail)