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Bishops want to ape violent Thai protests?

- Federico D. Pascual Jr. () - November 30, 2008 - 12:00am

ILLEGAL MEANS: It is tragic how some bishops are advocating extralegal (meaning illegal) means to pursue some controversial political agenda.

… and pathetic how the prelates are exhorting the faithful to imitate the violent protesters in Bangkok who have taken over the Suvarna-bhumi international airport and paralyzed air traffic, dampened tourism and shifted the economy to a downward spin.

Is this what the bishops want to happen just to force out President Gloria Arroyo, who they apparently regard as the embodiment of evil?

They seem to be trying to do a Cardinal Sin. Can they step into his big sandals?

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UPSIDE-DOWN: Recall how Thai agriculture students learned progressive farming in Los Baños and later led their country to rice self-sufficiency — and from which we now import rice.

Now see also how their youths copied our original People Power revolt, down to the yellow shirts. Our bishops now want us to import their method of mass protest like we buy their rice after they learned farm production from us.

The world has turned upside down, indeed, and we seem to be at the bottom.

Maybe the bishops should first get a deeper backgrounder on the royalist and extreme-right People Alliance for Democracy that has sown violence in Bangkok and taken over the airport. Who and what are the forces moving this group?

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LOOKS FAMILIAR: Many discerning middle-class Bangkokians have been turned off by PAD’s violent bent and destructive tactics that could set back the Thai economy if left unchecked.

Is this the same destructive, and illegal, movement that some bishops want us to imitate?

The similarities between Bangkok and Manila do not end in their parallel demographics. Also look at PAD’s founder, media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul who is struggling to save his mass information empire from the huge debt hole into which it has fallen.

In its struggle to survive, it has been churning out venomous propaganda against the government. Sounds familiar?

Where will his media volleys and his PAD’s violent protests lead Bangkok and the rest of Thailand? Is this the same direction our bishops want us to take?

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HIDDEN FACET: Last Friday, there was this unusually long line of gaily-decorated tricycles on F. B. Harrison St. in Pasay. Excited people, mostly dressed-up children, were getting off at the Our Lady of Sorrows church.

Seeing the tents beside the church, I thought there was a pre-Christmas bazaar. It turned out there was a mass baptism, something I have heard about like mass weddings but never witnessed. I went in out of curiosity.

There, quietly watching in one corner was philanthropist Mark Jimenez, the sight of whom immediately explained everything because I know a little of his apostolate.

We have heard of MJ rushing unannounced to help — almost in competition with the government — parents robbed of their children’s college funds, victims of natural disasters and the poor in need of livelihood projects.

With lots of time and money in his hands, he could do that. But a spiritual facet of MJ’s life remains generally hidden.

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MASS BAPTISM: Since last year, the former Manila congressman has added to his religious apostolate the mass baptism of children.

Among other things, he has quietly helped build chapels and shrines, equip churches (such as ordering machines that mass produce communion hosts), fund seminarians through their studies, etc. His foundation also assists prisoners.

I know because I have talked to some of those he had helped, including monks and nuns pursuing projects they had seen in a vision or dream.

Early last year, MJ was suddenly talking about the many children who have not had the benefit of baptism. We look after their material requirements, he noted, while neglecting their spiritual needs.

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BACKLOG & GOAL: Back to the mass baptisms that MJ has been sponsoring to take up the sacramental backlog. (Statistics and other details were provided by his Hulog ng Langit Foundation staff.)

MJ has had about 40,000 children baptized in as far south as Albay and Laguna and deep into Rizal. His goal is two million baptisms nationwide.

He provides the baptismal dresses, shoes and socks and sometimes even diapers for the infants being baptized. In other places, his foundation has had to hire air-conditioned buses and boats to ferry the children and their parents.

The first mass baptism was at the Our lady of Salvation, at Nagtahan, Sta. Mesa, involving 321 children.

The last one last Friday, at the Our Lady of Sorrows, started at 8 a.m. and ended at around 2 p.m. The priests attended to three batches of 250 children each. After the rites, some 4,000 people (that included parents and relatives) shared in the food served by a giant hamburger-and-chicken chain in tents around the church.

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OPEN TO ALL: The Hulog ng Langit baptisms are open to everybody regardless of status.

At the Manila Cathedral on Aug. 21, 2007, among those baptized with some 2,000 children was MJ’s own daughter Angelina Juliana.

In Pasay last Friday, Fathers Soc Montealo, Tuzzi Florez, Pete Baresoro, James Bejer and Ramil Tapang also baptized teenagers aged 14 to 19.

Upcoming baptisms are scheduled in Malabon, where some 1,000 children are expected on Dec. 8, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. In the first week of January, some 4,000 are to be baptized at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros.

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ePOSTSCRIPT: Read current and old POSTSCRIPTs at www.manilamail.com. E-mail feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com

ALBAY AND LAGUNA ANGELINA JULIANA AT THE MANILA CATHEDRAL BANGKOK AND MANILA CARDINAL SIN CHILDREN MASS OUR LADY OF SORROWS
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