Daraga Church Albayoften seem incompatible in the Philippines. Women pray rosary, men act. Read the Bible or Constitution for theory, use the gun or fake witnesses to get things done. Be concerned about what the UN and the US think and deny EJKs – boast about them when one is with one’s “own people”. Colonial residues, when some Spanish priests used morality to make people subservient, while sneaking up on the wives even of chieftains – alluded to in the Noli with respect to Padre Damaso and the mother of fair-skinned Maria Clara, officially the daughter of dark-skinned Kapitan Tiago.

While Padre Damaso was sad when Maria Clara decided to become a nun after Ibarra was “dead”, Kapitan Tiago increased his consumption of opium until he eventually died. A barangay captain who was a drug addict, in Rizal’s novel? Yes! Nothing is really new under the sun. Or in Pilipinas. Will the disente people always be not decent as in good, but simply the rich who hobnob with the hypocritical Church, while the poor are subjugatedly obedient and polite? While the true heroes are pistoleros who tell Church and the disente to fuck themselves, and free the people into rudeness?

This simplistic interpretation has been handed down by generations of educators and activists, ignoring for example the role of Filipino priests in helping free their own people since the First Propaganda Movement – before the Second Propaganda Movement (link) of the intellectuals. Completely going back to the Philippines before 1521 is impossible, and stripping the country of elites developed during colonialism leaves us with Kapitan Tiago, probably on a stronger opiate, making rape jokes about a white missionary, or a mestiza (link) – to get even with Padre Damaso?

One would forget how the Filipino church has gone native since the Second Vatican Council, developing Filipino liturgy and preaching not in Latin anymore, but in a language the people understand. Like today’s homily by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas (link): Kapag ibinuhos ng tao ang dugo ng kanyang kapwa, wala itong dulot na biyaya, kundi sumpa at parusa. One would forget that the time a socialite beauty contestant said “I speak Tagalog only to the maids” is past. But yes, the gap between action and morals remains. Nice words in theory, shortcuts in practice.

The ruling groups have taught the Filipino to be so obedient, so patient – until he no longer is, like in a recent riot (link) in the Quezon City jail. Was the rage that led to Duterte something similar? Morals is not about being nice always, especially not to Padre Damaso or Kapitan Tiago on opiates – they can also mean saying NO, setting limits. The Filipino I think is still learning to resist steadily – instead of exploding in useless rage. Grassroots groups against drug killings (link) or VP Robredo’s projects (link) are examples. The future may yet come, not loudly but in small steps. Let us see.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 5 November 2017