Now that the Holy Week is over…

By Herbert Vego

WE are still in the first week following the Holy Week. Fresh in our mind is how we shied away from “sins” last week when we followed the admonition of our priests and pastors to observe church-directed customs and traditions. We uttered no cuss, cursed nobody and made peace even with quarrelsome neighbors.

Forget it.  Now it seems there is no more need for “good manners and right conduct” as we go back to the old ways. It makes me wonder whether religiosity expires after the Holy Week.

Whether Catholic, Aglipayan, Protestant or whatever, we belong to a religious group or shift to another due to diverse circumstances of birth, peer pressure and environment, among others. The Jews, the Buddhists, the Muslims and the Hindus are therefore as sure as Christians of their “true faith.”

There was a time in 1980 when I was working for a charitable organization in the company of an American Jew. I asked him why he believed in Judaism instead of Christianity.

His blunt answer: “I follow Jesus Christ. He was a Jew!”

At that time, I had already “mellowed” after a youthful decade of searching for “true religion.” Born to an Aglipayan mother and a Seventh-Day Adventist father, I had repeatedly allowed myself to be “towed” to various sanctums of worship, only to shake my head.

There was a time when three young Adventist ladies asked me to attend their church service. How could a gentleman say no?

Alas, however, the moment we entered their church, two pastors were at the pulpit, quarrelling over who would preach the sermon. Cooler heads had to intervene to convince the outgoing pastor to give way to the incoming one.

I have attended so many Christian masses and services that I am convinced I cannot be fully convinced. The Latin saying, “Vox populi, vox Dei” could not be right. It was the “majority” in the audience who shouted “Crucify him” while Jesus Christ was being presented to Pilate.

Most Filipinos are Roman Catholics as a gradual offshoot of Ferdinand Magellan’s “discovery” of the Philippines on March 16, 1521. Otherwise, our people could have predominantly embraced Islam just like the Indonesian and Malaysian traders who had reached our archipelago ahead in the 14th century.

No religion could survive outside of government tolerance, as in the Islamic Saudi Arabia which regards Christianity as “evil”.

On the other hand, while China is officially an atheist state, it recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Islam.

Here in the Philippines, we don’t even have to move out of Christianity to discover how convoluted religion could be. Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who calls himself “appointed son of God,” claims to have won over seven million followers worldwide to his Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC). The unconvinced, of course, think of his organization as just another cult thriving on tithes and abuloy.

Whoever appointed him “son of God” must have erred, since Quiboloy has been unmasked as a “criminal” wanted by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for “conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking and dollar smuggling”; and by our Department of Justice (DOJ) for violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law, specifically for “sexual abuse of a minor and qualified human trafficking.”

There are non-priest Catholics who tag themselves “servant-leaders” by establishing “fellowship” organizations. Naturally, they draw gullible Catholics to their prayer rallies and collect from them sacks of “love offerings.”

The religious followers do not always realize that while they still aim to gain eternal life, their “shepherds” have already gained material wealth on earth.

You must have heard of the Korean founder of the Unification Church (since 1954), Reverend Sun Myung Moon.  By the time he died in September 2012, he had amassed billions of US dollars in tithes from five million adherents worldwide.

Don’t we have similar religion founders in the Philippines?

They also thrive on donations from politicians who “buy” blocked votes.

-oOo-

A SQUIRREL STORY

THE only time I saw a squirrel was when I visited Washington DC in 2018. I had thought it could not survive in the Philippines until MORE Power turned over a squirrel to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

That squirrel had cut an electrical fuse, triggering a short circuit and power interruption in Barangay Arguelles, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Barangay Captain Tommy Ledesma of Arguelles, Jaro, discovered the weakened and partially burnt squirrel outside his house. Somebody else must have owned it as a pet.

Squirrels are omnivores that eat plants and animals, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, fungi, cereals, and insects.

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