Be right or be kind?
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2019 - 12:00am

While on a road trip down south, my friend Doc Eugene shared a personal story and asked if he should share it on social media because he felt so strongly about the issue both from a personal experience and in terms of faith and religion. This is his story:

“I have always been bullied growing up. Nanay died too early even before I could see her and tatay was always out for work. So I have always battled bullying agonies alone.

The most painful was bullied for being ‘anak ng mansibado’. Yes, hindi kinasal sa simbahan si Tatay at si Nanay. And for a small but righteous town in Bohol where I grew up, this seemed like a mortal sin. I was marked for bearing the original sin of my parents.

My first holy communion was haunted by a nightmare when I was told I was not qualified for bearing the original sin because my nanay and tatay were ‘mansibado’ (Unwed). The same people of faith who told me that my Jesus loves me were the same people who told me that my parents’ sin was a curse I inherited making me unworthy to receive HIS communion.

For an 8-year-old boy, this was a tragedy. The exclusion made me feel I was an outcast. I hated my parents for causing me that shame. But I kept the pain to myself. I just did not tell Tatay I would not be given my first communion.

As classmates were all excited and their parents fixing their white polo shirts ready for their first communion, I was on the sidelines with my heart broken. Mabuti na lang, my grade 2 teacher then who was back from her Manila trip – was my Auntie Nona. Nung nakita ako ni Auntie na wala si Tatay at wala akong suot na white polo, di ko na sya masabihang ‘di ako pinasama eh’. (When she saw that my father was not around and I had no white polo, I was unable to tell her I was excluded and not allowed to join). She was already panicking for me and whoever told me I was not allowed could not stop her. I ended up as the only pupil who was not in white polo First Communion shirt. I ended up wearing a white, long-sleeved barong kase yun lang ang available nyang ipasuot sa akin – ang lumang barong ng aking Kuya Allan. (I ended up wearing an old hand me down barong of my older brother)

This was more than 30 years ago. And I thought that my church, just like any human organization have grown in wisdom from their own teachings of inclusivity, acceptance and love.

Until my neighbors started seeking help kase nasagasaan ng motor ang kapitbahay naming si Nong Ahak. Pero di daw sya pwede misahan sa simbahan kase ‘mansibado’ din sya gaya ni Tatay. Di sya kasal kay Nang Yuyen. May guideline daw na ganito ang simbahan. (Our neighbor in the province was killed in a motorcycle accident but he was refused a mass because he was also unwed and this was part of the guidelines of the catholic church).

And I am aghast! The same pain I had as an 8-year-old flourished back – the difference now is that I already have a voice!  Can someone please enlighten me how a church that’s supposed to be a symbol of inclusivity, refuge of sinners, beacon of inspiration be continuously breaking hearts and souls? How can a guideline, if there ever is, make them choose to be right than to be kind?

I find this hypocrisy at its worst!! How can we promote and seek funds for missions for our Boholano priests na mag reach out sa mga di kilala ang Diyos pero yung sarili nating kaparokya na dahil di kasal, will be denied blessing? (How can we raise funds for priests to do their outreach for the unsaved if our own parishioner is denied the mass or church blessing).

My faith tells me that Christianity is a birthright we acquired from baptism. It is our identity – hindi ito membership sa isang organization na pag di ka nakasunod, tatanggalin ka. So kung ako mamatay, di rin ako ibless ng simbahan kase anak ako ng ‘mansibado’? (It is not mere membership in an organization that takes it away if you don’t comply. So, when I die will I also be denied the sacraments because I am an illegitimate child or born out of wedlock?)

To Nang Yuyen and your children – my condolences. I know the grief of losing a loved one and a father. And I hope you don’t feel condemned because the church will not celebrate mass inside our church for Nong Ahak. We stand with you in prayers na sana ireconsider nila. Pero kung hindi, always remember – hindi ang Diyos ang hindi tumanggap at nag deny kay Nong Ahak kundi tao at sistema. (It was not GOD who denied blessing for Manong Ahak; it was man and the system).

What would have God done if he is our priest? Alam kong di na sya titingin sa guidelines or sa Canon Law. Because God’s love is unconditional. He will always be faithful even if we are not. He died for us even if we were sinful. And that’s all that matters.

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Jesus said bring the little children to him. He also said do not visit the sins of the father upon the son or children and do not visit the sins of the sons upon the father. In spite of her having multiple partners but no husband, Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. Jews looked down on Samaritans but Jesus made his first public declaration of who he was to a Samaritan woman worse than a mansibado. Yes there are rules but Jesus also pointed out that the high priests made rules that turned people into even worse sinners by law. As a renewed Christian, it was not laws that saved me, it was the love of God and the kindness of people.

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