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Monthly Archives: April 2011


The Unlimited Christ

The Christendom has capped its Lenten observance last Sunday with a bang- the Resurrection! But the perennial bias on Passion and Death is glaring. As it were, little emphasis is given to the resurrection which is supposedly the cornerstone of faith. The passion, and subsequent death of Jesus, has been misconstrued as the key to salvation and living. Apart from Christmas, it is the most celebrated event in Christianity. No wonder, days after the celebration believers appear to go back to Passion scenario in their living. The power of the resurrected Christ has not engulfed the lifestyle of many followers. Indeed, the vestiges of the colonial past with the embedment of the virtue of suffering in the psyche of the people.

It should be emphasized that the cross is only part of the womb- to- the- tomb painful experiences of Jesus. The passion and death is the culmination of all his sufferings. Hence, the old rugged cross is not the only thing we must cherish and exchange someday with a crown. Our salvation is not the product of the suffering of Jesus just on the cross. It is the totality of the life of Jesus, exemplifying the love of God for humanity, capped by the resurrection.

From conception, he has already foretaste the cruel world system. The intrigues his earthly family encounters due to the controversial pregnancy prior to marriage. At birth, he has been exposed to vulnerable condition of the poorest of the poor, being born in a manager. His childhood experience is colored with the uncertain life of refugees to escape the persecution. Likewise, he has to adjust to the internal struggle in family relationship, as well as the immediate social environment as he keeps up the ideal living, even going against the norms.

Prior to his public ministry, he has to undergo the process of immersion. Living in a depressed community, he has seen the hypocrisy of leaders in the socio-cultural, economic and political structures. Their wanton disregard of the avowed mission to serve the people as ordained by God. How corruption and abuse of power has encroached the ideal immunity of the religious establishment. How religion has been used for business and profit. Yes, he has witness how leaders enrich themselves at the expense of the people they are supposed to develop.

Jesus also knows the struggle of well meaning people in the government and other sectors including revolutionary forces in effecting change. Their two pronged vulnerabilities- stereotype from victims and antagonism from the mainstream perpetrators. Aware of their conviction, he includes some of them in the core of his disciples, mainly composed of representatives from the basic masses.

It is in this context that our observance of religious events or even public holiday should be done in the totality of the life of the honoree. It’s unfortunate that Christians have become selective in remembering the life of Jesus. The other aspects of Jesus life are seemingly neglected, especially his manhood. Some sociologists and theologians view this as manifestation of cultural distortion or vested interests. We love to think of the baby Jesus and Crucified Christ. Their images evoke compassion. More importantly, less threatening as they reflect innocence and helplessness. But we are uncomfortable of the adult Jesus who confronts everyone without fear or favor, even turning the tables of those who make business out of religion. It seems, we want to evade the Jesus who challenges us to follow his example in service.

As one clergy observes, almost all church members can easily recite John 3:16. Indeed, it is comforting to know that God loves us so much to the extent of giving His only Son for us. But many do not know what is 1 John 3:16. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Many Christians limit themselves to be mere recipients of the love of God. No wonder they fail to experience the power of the Resurrected Christ. The unlimited power which sustains the faithful followers who dare to follow his model of service at all costs.


Education is Failing as a Great Equalizer

Article first published as Education is Failing as a Great Equalizer on Blogcritics.

As a basic right, education is supposedly an equalizer that provides opportunities for change in persons, as well as structures, thereby transforming a passive individual into an agent of societal change and subsequent development of a nation.

Such assumptions on what education should be present a bright picture of the kind of world we ought to live in. Considering the century-long progress in respective educational systems, we expect to see results, such as wrldwide literacy and subsequent development in all aspects of life.

Sadly, the present realities prove otherwise. In many instances, education continues to be a sieve which tends to separate the chaff from the grain. The expected transformation does not take place. Exploitative structures leave educated persons either perpetrators or powerless victims of systems. Katarina Tomaševski, first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, made a compilation global report before her death.

This first global report on laws and practice in 170 countries exposes the discrepancy. What has been proclaimed as free and compulsory education is deliberately betrayed. The problem is not necessarily due to the proverbial “insufficient public resources,” but the politics involved—either the lack of political will to effect the change or the interplay of complex factors and processes dominating the world system.

The next question is why? What is the root cause of the gap between what education should be and what it is now? Activists are quick to explain the culprit: a colonial, commercialized educational system being perpetuated globally. Others dismiss this as mere sloganeering, expected from radicals.

I had the privilege to do some research on this issue when pursuing a masters degree in the premier state university in the Philippines a decade ago. Although it focuses on the Philippine educational system, recent updates show commonalities in other countries. Details in the next post.

What Education should be

Article first published as What Education Should Be on Blogcritics.

It’s graduation season, particularly here in the Philippines. A time for jubilation of graduates and respective families. Also, a time to reflect on concepts of education and corresponding issues on the state of our educational systems.

Education as a basic right

There is a widespread global acceptance of the principle that education is a fundamental human right. This has been enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Education is therefore an essential public service. Every state or country is mandated to deliver such and take full responsibility for the good and welfare of its citizens. Gone were the ancient days when the chosen few were destined to be rulers, officers of the army, engineers, lords, teachers and priests through education. At the expense of the vast majority of peasants, laborers and serfs and their generation being deprived of such privilege.

Education as an agent of change

It has been said that the heart of education is the education of the heart. As such, education is an agent of change: change of values, as well as structures. An educated person is one who has undergone the process of transformation. From a passive spectator of the events taking place in society, an educated person has become an active participant in the affairs of his/her community.

Education and Development

Education, inevitably, leads to development. A skilled and knowledgeable citizen is a key to development. Since education produces new knowledge, ability and skills in continuous improvement in all aspects, the growth of national product is inevitable. But the contribution of education does not stop there. As Fritz Machlup noted, in his book Education and Economic Growth, “it has been taken for granted that education would increase respect for law and order and promote a climate conducive to peaceful social, political and economic development.”

The changing perspectives of development

Although  I forgot the source, the lesson taught by our professor on changing perspective of development   had been embedded in my mind.  From  economic growth to sustainable development, the change passed through the following perspectives: distributive justice, affirmative action, central planning,  participatory development, and sustainable development.

Economic growth connotes   increase in per capita income or increase in Gross National Product.  While  the initial benefits of growth go the rich, it is presumed to  eventually trickle down to the poor. However, experience proves otherwise. For  there  are systemic sieves that  filter the  flow to the bottom. Most often the fruits of development  are not  distributed. The economic growth fails to trickle down. Instead, it   further aggravates  the  disparities.

Such realization leads to the change in perspective involving distributive pattern of  the increase in income.   Distributive Justice provides equality of opportunity and resources that strengthen an individual’s capabilities to function towards  well-being. Subsequnetly, development is viewed as an Affirmative Action to remedy past discrimination in education, training, and employment. Some states strengthen this approach through legislations.

Thereafter, development has been associated with planning i.e. Central Planning.  While in some cases, this model has turned a backward country into a world-class superpower, like in case of Russia in 1960s, it has also limitations. Observably, some countries appear to lag behind those that undertake less centralized approach. A new paradigm emerged  promoting market economy. It espouses the philosophy that “more heads are better than one”  to sustain productive, durable change.

In development activities, the mainstream “top-down” approach has also experienced failure to elicit support from the bottom- the supposedly beneficiary. More often, the brilliance of technocrats and planning experts and the resultant beautiful plans do not necessarily solve the problem. Simply because the  supposed beneficiaries are not involve in the plan. Hence, the lack of support as  plans do not respond to their needs.

New paradigm soon surfaced, influenced by the emerging  People Centered principles. In international relief and development organizations, the  people centered practice became Participatory Development. It seeks to engage local populations in development projects. Their participation is crucial  in the creation, content and conduct of a program or policy designed to change their lives. Participation requires recognition and use of local capacities and avoids the imposition of priorities from the outside. Under this paradigm, the poor are considered  part in initiatives designed for their benefit. Their participation will assure the success and sustainability of project.

The alarming ecological degradation brought about by industrialization and technological advancements, however, ignited another shift  in development perspective. Addressing the growing concern  about the accelerating deterioration of the environment and natural resources, the United Nations created  the World Commission on Environment and Development. From the committee report,  a new word was coined which became a by word among development circles i.e. Sustainable Development.

The report entitled Our Common Future, popularly known  as Brundtland Report in honor of  the committee chair was released  in 1987. It defines sustainable development as development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Subsequently, the United Nations  2005 World Summit Outcome Document identifies economic development, social development, and environmental protection as interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development