The Day We Made Dr. Valenciano Cry

Taken by Lei Marin Jr. using Annie Kimseng’s phone camera. From left, Lei, Marvin Zapanta, Jojo Diego, myself, Charie Reyes, Nilda Fullon, Junie Sanchez, Soc Naguit, Annie, Ester Rombano.

by Wilfredo G. Villanueva

I don’t know Dr. Valenciano personally. My companions said that that was his name when they queried him. He was a passerby as we prayed the Holy Rosary at the foot of the statue of Joaquin “Chino” P. Roces on Tulay ng Kalayaan, Kalye Mendiola. It was June 26th.

The tears rolling down his cheeks were visible. I suppose he had an epiphany, a divine nudge, maybe a bittersweet memory. At any rate, our group Rosary touched his spirit in ways we could only imagine. He walked on before we could make acquaintance, an umbrella over his upright head for it was drizzling—ulang tikatik—light but continuous, like a priest’s blessing of holy water.

What were we doing at the monument of Chino Roces anyway?

On the Friday preceding, June 22nd, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, without provocation, called God stupid in no uncertain terms.

From news.com.au:

Duterte made the statement on Friday evening during a speech in his southern home city of Davao, where he questioned God’s logic in the Biblical creation story of Adam and Eve.

“Adam ate (the fruit of knowledge), then malice was born. Who is this stupid God?” he said.

“That son of a bitch is stupid if that’s the case. You created something perfect and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work.

Duterte also questioned the rationale of original sin, noting, “That was your mother and father’s deed—you weren’t born yet, but now you have original sin. What kind of religion is that? I can’t accept it.”

Day Two after the news broke,

I was exasperated. There was the usual backlash in social media—a cold media—but not the warm bodies—a hot media—I had hoped it would bring. No one was calling for a physical cry of outrage over the president’s latest torturous meandering. Not a single well-known personality from the opposition or anyone neutral called for a show of force.

I posted in Facebook, threw it like a message in a bottle in the middle of the sea, no harm in trying.

This was my post of Monday June 25th:

“Why are Catholics not out in the streets yet? Ako, kahit mag-isa, 3 p.m. tomorrow Tuesday, sa Mendiola Bridge. May dala akong angry emoji and Philippine flag. Sama na kayo. Rosary tayo.”

I didn’t expect anything to come out of the post, fully convinced that I would be like Don Quixote battling windmills all by his lonesome. A quirky fellow, not in synch, seeing things, talking to myself, cuckoo.

Jozy Acosta-Nisperos of The Silent Majority picked up my post. She was in Marawi, she said, but she would give TSM members the heads up. Cynthia Patag, shared my post as well, as did Ma. Socorro Naguit.

It generated heat. Soc Naguit rallied her own circle, making an open list for those interested to sign up. More than ten people promised to join.

And so it came to pass that in the hour of great mercy, at 3:05 o’clock in the afternoon of June 26th, four days after the Pearl Harbor sneak attack on our faith, the following Christian soldiers showed up almost on the dot, Filipino time at its finest:

Soc Naguit, Lei Marin Jr., Junie Sanchez, Annie Kimseng, Ester Rombano, Jojo Diego, Marvin Zapanta, Charie Reyes, Nilda Fullon. Including me, that makes ten. Dr. Ma. Yvonne Guerrero showed up towards the end. Nilda’s husband, it turned out, was nursing a cold and had to stay under an awning to take shelter from the rain, but had prayed with us. Plus dear Dr. Valenciano.

Soc reminded us that where two or three are gathered in Jesus’s name, there He is among them. So, there were actually 14 of us all told. Praise Jesus!

“We came in pain, we left with joy,”

Soc said. Yes, we did.

Here is what I posted in Facebook after the event:

“I said I would pray the rosary at Mendiola Bridge even if I were alone. Posted my intention on Facebook, that I will not take President Duterte’s blasphemous remarks sitting down.

Lo and behold! Twelve men and women came to pray with me. It was like conquering a summit after a long trek. We were all of like minds and spirits. Catholics all.

Instead of a pity party on Facebook, we  stepped out of our digital caves and braved the June drizzle, praying Mother Mary’s prayer like we were in a secluded place, claiming it, when in fact, we were in the middle of a busy city: curious students and adults, LRT zipping by overhead, jeepneys in their helter skelter ways.

And when I waved the Philippine flag below the Roces memorial, it was like I had climbed the tallest mountain, claiming it as conquest.

Conquest of what? Conquest of despair, uncertainty, fear.

A simple act, the Holy Rosary, yet profound, cutting to the bones and sinews of all present, tired Filipinos, dazed and confused by an unworthy president, but for two hours in front of one brave countryman’s immortal stand, we were one with each other, a nation undefeated.”

We came to claim our birthright, the land we love, Philippines my Philippines, the country of our obedient schoolchildren.

Chino Roces, founder of Manila Times of yore (not the present one), left a huge footprint in the Filipinos’ fight against dictatorship. It was fitting that we landed under his fixed gaze, himself holding a crucifix aloft. Was it a coincidence that it was his birthday three days going forward, on June 29th?

As an aside, Lei noticed several men scramble when we arrived at the monument. Posthaste, they closed the Mendiola gates at the sight of us. Enemy at the gates. In the digital age, nothing is kept secret, and law enforcers were probably monitoring our movements. They knew we were coming; they were ready for us.

About six uniformed Philippine National Police personnel stood around us, not saying a word, at the beginning of our prayers. They took pictures with their smartphones. Picture, picture. I smiled at the chief, and he returned my salutation. When we started praying the Rosary, they vanished, policemen and cameras, never to return.

Some points I wish to underscore before I close:

One, we were plain, ordinary folks who had malice towards none, who love God as God should be loved and adored.

Two, we were alarmed, sad, outraged, seeking comfort from the pain, prayerful—all of these in one emotional roller coaster.

Three, we prayed fervently. There was no pretension or apprehension in us. We came to pray.

Four, our action carried all the elements of People Power, except for the grandeur of it, but could it be that what is insignificant to man may be significant to God?

God smiled down on us, replacing our outrage with joy and satisfaction for having placed Him above all else when we prayed, sang and chatted. It was our way of saying sorry to the Almighty who is our deliverer in big and small ways.

And five, once more with feeling, we made Dr. Valenciano cry. To believers, that is a profound revelation, like an angel descending. To non-believers, it’s downright stupid, for God and His ways fuel their hatred and profanity.

With these things—my person multiplying to a formidable 13 people like in the miracle of loaves and fishes, Holy Rosary in Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries recited in cadence and in an unhurried fashion, spiritual songs from hearts opened and eyes closed to the vicissitudes of Duterte times, the indescribable feeling of loving God and God loving us back—we returned to our respective homes with the thought that a stupid God is out of the question.

Out. Of. The. Question.

 

Comments
92 Responses to “The Day We Made Dr. Valenciano Cry”
  1. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. What is there to say?

    2. Except, “Huzzah!” and “Hip, hip, hooray!”

    3. And, “Soldier on!”

    4. Who knows? The day will come when a plaque is laid at the Chino Roces statue with the names of the Intrepid Christian Soldiers.

    5. May that day come soon.
    *****

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Intrepid. That’s the word. Thanks, Prof.

    • NHerrera says:

      Hooray for the article that inspires. Hooray for the guy in safari hat and jacket waving the Philippine flag and his Intrepid bunch. Thanks Will for the article.

      • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

        Huzzah, NH! Learned a new word today. TSOH is an English class.

        • NHerrera says:

          Yes. Huzzah, hooray, hurrah. TSH indeed is a Learning Blog — huzzah!

          (Although sometimes I have to double-take or triple-take a post to understand what it is all about. But that is part of learning and thinking. Similarly, I am pretty sure the readers of some of my posts do the double-take to understand me. 🙂 )

          • Huh? What? Those eloquent diagrams and mysterious statistical formulas?

            • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

              Who said social media dumbs us down?

              • Statistically speaking, it does, I think. There are exceptions and moments when it raises up. I note that Carlos Celdran today on Twitter made a strong appeal to people to get off social media and actually DO something about what is going on. He’d be pleased with your work, I think, even if he is the heathen who challenged the priests about the RH bill. I find my own experience here at the blog, on FB, and on Twitter to be rich with ideas and friendships and relatively clear of idiots. I block quickly if someone is engaging to stir up trouble or not be forthright. I’ve got no patience for it.

            • NHerrera says:

              I have to double-take that. But thank you kindly if I immodestly take that so as to make my day. 🙂

  2. neilmacbuk says:

    Better to be thankful for the freedom to gather without required permission in a public space. Just as you have the freedom and right to lament the rantings of a President when you allow him to cause you to take offence, I too have the freedom to take offence at your righteous brouhaha about a god who has shown absolutely no signs of it’s existence, other than in people’s imaginations. Long may we both be free to make up our own minds. Meanwhile, the President was speaking his Truth, that which I don’t myself tend to agree with. Neil McNally

    • Neil, I’m sure that Will will respond to your comment in due course. I note that you are in the moderation screen for some reason or another. It’s usually for people who make personal aspersions or refuse to adhere to editorial guidelines. I’m inclined not to look up the history, and am sure you will be able to engage in the discussion in the manner to which contributors here have become accustomed, and the editor obsessed. Thank you for voicing the view of that held by many, I am sure.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Thank you, Neil. We’re in a superstore of ideas. But are they new? No. People have been disavowing God since Day One, with Eve and Cain. I do hope you will be in touch with us to see creation and history unfold. Exciting times for mankind, right? Can’t wait for the resolution of our issues. Ingat.

      • Sup says:

        Adam and Eve..the first 2 people right? 2 sons called Cain and Abel? Right? What happened after that?

        • karlgarcia says:

          Come on Sup, was that the reason for Duterte’s rant, he could not answer the question?

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          After thousands of years and false starts, you were born. Huzzah!
          *****

        • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

          Hmm. Sin city. The Flood. Sodom & Gomorrah nuked. David & Bethsheba. Absalom. Promised land & Babylonian exile. Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Christ crucified. Two thousand years of Catholicism. Six million murdered Jews. Wars, wars, wars. Could have TEOTWAWKI a long time ago. But we’re still here, sinning & being forgiven, in cycles. God isn’t stupid, He just has a short memory.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Neilmacbuk, strange comment.

      Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Article 20.

      (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
      *****

  3. arlene says:

    I love, love this. You showed how people could rally together and make a stand. Thank you so much Wil.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      You’re welcome, Arlene. We have another one coming, on Thursday July 5th. Rosary at Roces monument on Mendiola bridge at 4pm, Holy Mass at St. Jude church at 5pm. Wear white. No placards. No name-calling. This time, a member, Soc Naguit, asked when is the next. Wind beneath my wings, soaring.

      • sonny says:

        Wil, by your thoughts and single act the parable of the mustard seed and the Sower’s seed on fertile ground comes to mind. His Will will prevail and in his manner and time. May grace and fortitude abound and the Blessed Mother’s protective shield be ever present for all of you always.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    To get something possitive out of Neil’s comment, Thank God you were not arrested for any reason.

    Mabuhay kayo! Ingat palagi!

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Thanks, Karl. Actually, faith requires a certain degree of mindlessness. Caution is just a word, shame doesn’t exist, God will provide, talking to Someone invisible.

  5. madlanglupa says:

    OT: the draft of the new “Federal” Constitution approved.

    I don’t like this, what with taking full advantage of popular ignorance about the issue.

    • The Consultative Committee completed its assigned task and now the document goes to the Legislature, and I presume the public will get to read it. I can understand why the Committee elected not to publish the document piecemeal. I hope the peoples’ representatives allow the people to read the document and provide input. And it still has to go to the people for approval, the final step. So it is a work in slow progress and there ought to be time to educate people about it.

      That said, I share your skepticism about the value of this exercise when the officials of government are all totalitarians, or 90% of them are. It’s like they are Gilas, and we are the Australian on the floor.

    • karlgarcia says:

      3 supreme and appellate courts.
      36 SC justices.
      36 senators.
      400 congressmen.

      Half of the tax collections will go to the 18 states.

      I want to know more .

  6. trebor9 says:

    Thanks, Wil for another insightful article. There is a Latin saying, “Vox populi, vox Dei”, that is, “The voice of the people is the voice of God.” Many persons hold this non-scriptural saying to be true, it being especially acceptable to those who believe in democracy. This is a statement that we have heard many times and has been used by the devil to cunningly deceive people into believing that what is popular is of God.
    When Duterte insulted and ridiculed the God of his own people, I may not just dismiss his contemptible and scornful statement. I believed “stultitia” is an appropriate Latin word that describes the trash-talks of Duterte, as in;
    “Vox populi, vox Dei. Vox Duterte, vox stultitia”.

    • sonny says:

      “stultitia” goes hand in hand with “superbia.” Thanks, trebor9. 🙂

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      You’re welcome, trebor9! I’m not very good in stifling my own feelings about President Duterte (stultitia), but I try my best. I endeavor to be a clean rag to wipe off the dirt that afflicts our society. Oh, to be his exact opposite!

  7. There is a book of popular Brazilian spiritual author Paolo Coelho where he mentions that the only thing that can keep one’s own inner demons – and the devil himself – away is the Christian love called “agape” in Greek. Probably sonny can characterize it better than me, it contains dedication.

    Because it allows no evil to enter, it is pure. And as your prayer round was purely non-political, there was nothing the police could really do. Prohibit Christian prayer in the Philippines?

    • sonny says:

      Agape is absolutely the word that “keep … inner demons at bay.” To the Greek Christian mind “agape” is the supreme expression of love, it is the willing of the good of the other

      (sidenote: 4 Greek words for love: – agape (Christian), philia (friends), eros
      (carnal), storge (parents, siblings).

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Irineo! About the rally permit… I’ll keep my thoughts to myself for now.

  8. Tancio de Leon says:

    What has happened to our image as God-fearing people. Foreigners now look at us as hostile people. Is it a reflection on Flipinos by our elected leader calling God stupid while not hesitating to order killing dissenters.
    Before the FIBA Asia game, an Australian player commented that they were ready for the
    expected loud hostility of our locals. And that’s the setting of the riot that happened during the game that followed. Let us not react to what ignorant people say about Filipinos. Pity.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Tancio! The good will never give up. Numbers are just a small detail. The marbling in the cake, in the steak, in pork sinigang, in tuna and bangus, they’re a small portion of the entire meal, but it defines the quality of the dish or dessert. Life is beautiful, even with a small amount of fat or sugar. Just a dash will do.

  9. chemrock says:

    Grace – is what God gives us for things we don’t deserve
    Mercy – is what God denies us for the punishments we deserve
    Blessings – is the abundance of Grace and Mercy that God gives to us.

    People achieve greatness and fame all the time. There are those that believe what they have came from a superior source, and it is their duty to give back. Then there are those who believe in the individuality of beings, it is by their own will-power and intelligence they got to where they are. So they became demi-Gods. Believing in themselves, they go on to denigrate the Almighty.

    Galatians 6:7
    “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”

    Some famous people who desecrated God and got cut down.

    Marilyn Monroe
    Billy Graham once went to see her. He told her the he was instructed by the Spirit of God to preach to her. She replied I don’t need your Jesus. Next day she was found dead in bed from drug overdose, a so called suicide.

    Thomas Andrews
    The naval architect who built the Titanic. He boasted of his great creation at the vessel christianing and said of the Titanic — “Not even God can sink it”. We all know what happened to the Titanic. The builder sank with the vessel. His body was never recovered.

    John Lennon
    He famously said Christianity will die. Beatles are more famous than God. He was assasinated by Gary Chapman in 1984. Christianity is still alive today.

    Tancreno Neves
    Famous Brazilian politician boasted in a presidential campaign that if he got 500 votes from his party, not even God can remove him form office. He won, but died before he got to office.

    • The Lord works in mysterious ways, and ‘smite’ is a part of His vocabulary.

    • NHerrera says:

      chemrock, you have so nicely drawn those treasures from the historical well to illustrate what may happen. Thanks for the info. Yes, “smite” is the word, Joe.

    • Micha says:

      @chempo
      Is that how vengeful and nasty your Almighty God is?

      He’s got a score to settle with the builder of the titanic so He sank it to prove a point, along with thousands others on board?

      • chemrock says:

        You have a good point.

        But He has His ways
        Though I know not the whyfores.

        But look what happens to the world when transgressions are allowed unfettered.

  10. chemrock says:

    Will, I see you are on a missionary quest of Love. May you prosper. I quote a most beautiful poem be that it may booster your zeal.

    “I slipped his fingers, I escaped his feet
    One day I passed Him fettered on a Tree
    He turned His face and looked
    And beckoned to me

    Neither by speed nor strength could He prevail
    Each hand and foot was pierced by a nail
    He could not turn nor clasp me if He tried
    But with His eyes He bided me reach His side

    For pity’s sake thought I, I’ll set you free
    “Nay, hold this cross” said He “and follow me
    This yoke is easy, this burden light
    Not hard nor grevious if you wear it tight”

    And so did I follow Him who could not move
    An uncaught captive in the hands of Love”

    Amen.

  11. NHerrera says:

    Off Topic

    Department of Finance (DOF) reacts stridently — to an article published in Nikkei Asian Review by Richard Heydarian on June 21 — headlined “More Duterte fallout on the Philippine economy,”

    https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/More-Duterte-fallout-on-the-Philippine-economy?utm_source=paid.outbrain.com&utm_campaign=BA%20PH&utm_medium=referral

    DOF points to errors in RD’s arguments and facts, and the latter retorts in the same measure, the error of facts in DOF’s arguments in today’s article in The Inquirer,

    http://opinion.inquirer.net/114328/dutertenomics-in-perspective

    Without siding with RD or with DOF, what is interesting is the effort and time taken by the DOF’s staff to counter the former’s arguments in the first link. It is to me a recognition of the standing of Heydarian and the influence he wields in the International Community. Heydarian’s article along with those by other foreign writers-analysts, effectively saying the same thing, must have raised a bit of panic among the Economic Managers, especially DOF’s Dominguez with his family’s business and business associates; also since his first article not only hits the Economic Managers but the Boss — the President.

    • Heydarian spent two years going out of his way to give respectful consideration to the Duterte initiatives. But sometimes the data . . . peso value, stocks, flight of money, businessmen expressing concern . . . he CANNOT hide his head in the sand and retain credibility. It is the job description for government officials, though, I think. “Bring the demeanor of an ostrich.” By the way, Heydarian did a rebuttal to the critique from DOF. I’ll see if I can dig it up.

  12. Micha says:

    Filipino Catholics should not have fell for Duterte’s bait.

    There’s no use defending the indefensible. The whole biblical creation story is ridiculous and the more Catholics play into his provocation the more they too would come off ridiculous.

    What Pinoy Catholics should have done is to point out that Duterte is actually mis-characterizing modern Catholic theology on the subject.

    It was I think during the time of Pope John Paul II when theologians at the Vatican have conceded the validity of the Darwinian theory of evolution and so the whole Adam and Eve story should not be interpreted literally. It can only be viewed as a symbolism, a metaphor for some higher mystical truth.

    Modern Catholics also concede that there is no historical Adam and Eve. Humans evolved from our common ape ancestors in the African savanna millions of years ago.

    Pinoy Catholics should have played the more mature and sophisticated party instead of going down the gutter with the Malacanang provocateur.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Gutter and the Holy Rosary do not go together, Micha.

      • Micha says:

        You were in Mendiola protesting because he called your God stupid.

        Come into my house, said the spider to the fly.

        • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

          I wish I had your intellect. But then again, if intellect is all there is to life, even Einstein said he shouldn’t have come up with e = mc2 because of the damage it could bring. Try love, Micha. (By the way, am I talking to a man or a woman? I would appreciate a clue. JoeAm hides behind a pseudonym, but he’s not altogether a mystery. Now, there’s an example of intellect and love combined.)

          • Micha says:

            You’re a professed Catholic Kuya Will so live up to your Catholic doctrine and theology.

            It’s time to shed the whole Adam and Eve myth.

          • It occurred to me in the wee hours this morning that I find inspiration on the spiritual side of life. I remember touring Spain and visiting all the cathedrals that anchor the various cities, Barcelona (Gaudi Cathedral, jaw-dropping), Granada, Malaga, Cadiz, Seville, Cordoba. I’ve also visited the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. The palace I stayed at in remote northern Portugal was built in 1620 and had a chapel attached. The cement floor was worn smooth by all the peasants attending worship, weddings, funeral services. The place was haunted, in its collection of souls from the past. I find all these places spiritual and inspiring in some deep way that all the reason in the world cannot match. Reason generates awe, and surprises, but not an inspiration for living that gets way past the material and into a region beyond words.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Take the high road but stay away from the gutter.
        If that is what Micha meant, Will you took the high road and stayed away from the gutter,no worries.

        • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

          Thanks, Karl. Come to think of it, we were sighing and sighing (buntong hininga) but no one cursed the cause of our affliction. We were Gilas in the time of pusô.

          • karlgarcia says:

            About Adam and Eve, it is a question faith, all we can do to suggestions we might not agree with it is to take the high road and avoid the gutter. 🙂
            I stepped on the flooded gutter more once and I feared that I may catch leptospirosis.
            When walking your dog be careful of open manholes.

        • Micha says:

          @karl

          In fairness to the Catholic Church, it has already taken the high road on the subject of biblical creation including the Adam and Eve tale.

          If I’m not mistaken it’s the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican which periodically invites scholars and scientists in various fields of discipline for consultations and after conducting many such events their theologians have concluded and conceded that the scientific explanation for the origins of man is sound and valid.

          But because the Catholic church is a big organization, there’s an ongoing schism between the liberal intellectuals and the biblical conservatives amongst priests bishops and cardinals

          I guess many Pinoy Catholics identity as biblical conservatives too which explains their vehement reaction to the Duterte provocation.

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