Pres. DU30 and the Immaculate heart of Mary
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2019 - 12:00am

Actually, yesterday was a non-working holiday. If you didn’t know, by virtue of Republic Act No. 10966, yesterday was a special non-working holiday in commemoration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Therefore the “no work, no pay” principle shall apply, unless there is a favorable company policy. For work done, the employee shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his/her basic wage on the first eight hours of work. 

This only shows to the world that the Philippine government has very high regard for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ and even a greater surprise for me was when President Rodrigo Duterte last Sunday urged Catholics to promote peace and understanding and to help create an inclusive nation as they celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. No doubt that Pres. Duterte knows that Dec. 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

What the President did not realize was that when an important feast that the Catholic Church celebrates falls on a Sunday, it moves this feast to the following day because the Sunday mass is always important. Hence the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was a holiday of obligation to all Catholics yesterday. No doubt that Pres. Duterte has been at odds with the Catholic Church because of the bishops’ critical stance on the deaths tied to his “drug war.” Last year Pres. Duterte stirred controversy for saying that God must have been stupid for allowing temptation to corrupt his creation. The President has since apologized for his ugly remark.

I have already written many times in the past that whenever the President badmouths certain doctrines of the Catholic Church, our bishops and priest are requested not to make any comments, after all the President no longer accepts himself to be a practicing Catholic. But there is no question that Pres. Duterte’s sense of spirituality has remained, perhaps through the intercession of the Blessed Mother especially when he said, “May you be inspired by the Immaculate Conception to continue fostering peace and understanding among every citizen regardless of their faith or creed. It is my hope that you will remain committed in realizing genuine and lasting change so that everyone may attain their hopes and dreams.”

The President also added, “As you embody her holy example in your daily lives, I encourage you to work in solidarity to build a progressive, prosperous, and inclusive nation.” Now this is a mouthful from a President who has been somehow always at odds with Catholic bishops and priests. However, his statement last Sunday was something that people would have thought did not come from Pres. Duterte who sounded more Catholic than those who are staunchly Catholic.

Perhaps it is high time for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to respond positively to these recent statements from Pres. Duterte as a way of reconciling with him.

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Sunday evening, we went to the Radisson Blu Grand Ballroom in Cebu City to attend the 30th founding anniversary of Cokaliong Shipping Lines Inc. and the Grand Ballroom was jam packed with guests, led by special guest Sen. Grace Poe, Sir Miguel Belmonte, president of Star Group of Companies, Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, Rep. Raul del Mar, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Vice-Mayor Michael Rama. 

Having lived in Cebu all my life, I’ve always known all the shipping companies that were once headquartered in Cebu, from William Lines, Sulpicio Lines, Gothong Lines, Escaño Lines, Aboitiz Shipping and Sweet Lines Inc. These were the giants of the maritime industry more than 30 years ago, when a small shipping company went into the business. 30 years later, most of these shipping companies are no longer around, but Cokaliong Lines continued to flourish and is now considered a major player in the shipping industry based in Cebu City. They must have done something right!!

During his speech, Chester C. Cokaliong, founder, CEO and COO expressed his gratitude to everyone in the Grand Ballroom and introduced a coffee table book entitled, “A Legacy of Dreams Realized 2009-2019” which he gave to everyone who honored him in his 30th founding celebration of Cokaliong Shipping Lines Inc. At this point, allow me to say that Cokaliong Shipping Lines’ secret of success was whenever they inaugurated a new vessel, Chester Cokaliong always introduces his guests to the engine room of his vessels, which he keeps spanking clean. He once told me that if the passengers know that the engine room is squeaky clean, then cleaning the rest of the vessel is not a problem. So congratulations once again to Cokaliong Shipping Lines for their 30 years of service to passengers from Cebu to the Visayas and Mindanao.

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