Friday, April 23, 2010

Why I Will Vote for Eddie Villanueva

Scams have been exposed. Accusations and counter-accusations have been hurled. And he-did-she-did emails continue to pour in day in and day out, to the point that my political meter is bust.

And it’s been like this election after election.

Then we still get a president who plunges us deeper into the pit. Marcos,Aquino, Estrada, Arroyo. One was so brilliant he managed to perpetuate himself in power, scandalously enriching himself in the process and institutionalizing corruption as a way of life in all levels of society.

The next one blew it so bad but we charged it to her inexperience. The one after her led us through his drunken stupors and brought us even deeper. The last one simply wouldn’t let go even if all of us started to vomit her like last night’s lead-infused meal.

But maybe we got it all wrong. We’ve been too immersed in glorifying or blasting qualifications, and in witch hunt and dirt-digging (Enough of the slander and the complaining already!), that we still end up getting the wrong side of the bargain.

Because we’ve lost sight of what really matters.

That’s why this time around, I’ve decided to vote for a president who was not built through praise release, catchy jingles and adspend, or by consistent jockeying for prominence in Congress. I will vote for one who has performed consistently and is himself not afraid of change—and who has a solid campaign platform besides.

I will vote for Eddie Villanueva. Education and experience credentials-wise, he can stand toe to toe against the rest of the candidates. He finished Political Science and business courses; was and still is an educator and a teacher.

Today, he leads a five million-strong congregation—worldwide. And this is where the road forks. He has replicated his leadership style such that wherever you go and you meet a Jesus is Lord member, you see them as upright, hardworking, capable and God-fearing people. My husband and I have JIL friends all over and they are the most law-abiding and one of the finest people to be around with—humble too if I may add.

Change is what we crave for. Don’t all these demonstrate what one God-fearing person can do?

Brother Eddie is himself a changed person. Formerly hateful and vengeful because of an injustice done to his family, he met Jesus one day and changed paths, afterwards dedicating himself to influencing young people to turn themselves to the Lord so that they can experience change themselves.

Shouldn’t we be happy that a God-fearing yet capable leader is making himself available? I say “God-fearing” first, “capable” second. Eddie Villanueva is no saint. I have seen him make wrong decisions and take flak for these boo-boos. But he fears God! And he’s also capable. And his capability has been shown in the lives he’s touched and helped turn around.

Change is what I crave for, so I will give my vote to Eddie Villanueva. Besides, he acknowledges that apart from God, he could not do the task. Folks, let’s be very honest about it. Apart from God, we could not change. It is all by His grace! And I am confident that Eddie Villanueva will heed God’s voice for every decision he makes.

And please, let’s dissociate ourselves from the notion that God and government are separate entities. Atheists in the U.S. have succeeded in taking God out of their public education system. Look at where godless American youth—and their nation—are headed today.

Since the beginning of time, God blessed nations whose leaders led their people to righteousness; and cursed those whose leaders were wicked. “The government will be on His shoulder,” says the bible. That’s why we need Jesus-acknowledging leaders who will not be ashamed to heed God and follow after righteousness.

Why are we in this deep morass? What can we do about it? “If My people shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land.” Pray, my friend! God will surely answer.

It’s time for real change.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cry Out

O Lord, you reign!

You’re the great God who, by your Word, made everything. Your Word is truth, your promises unfailing.

Your Word is alive in Christ, Your Son, the Word who became flesh. He offered salvation, that those who put their trust in Him would not perish but live; and enjoy
abundant life.

Jesus, you are alive forevermore, continuously interceding for us, enabling us though we are weak. Forgive us for our pride, for thinking that we are by ourselves great and don’t need your help.

We cry out to you. We repent of our sins. Save us from this quicksand which we ourselves jumped into! We say we love You and we love our country but we continue to grumble, disobey and tear each other apart, and by so doing grieve your Spirit.

Change our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts that are sensitive to you and your leading. And as we humble ourselves before you, reveal your perfect will for our nation.

Forgive us for believing that change will happen because of the will or the ability of man, or because we chose leaders whose names the multitudes shout aloud in the streets.

Forgive us if we’ve put a dividing line between governance and our faith, justifying this as separation of church and state; thus negating your promise that “The government will be upon Your shoulder!”

Help us not to be swayed by the voice of the multitude which compels us to choose a leader because he will be a sure winner, and to not reject those with hearts of integrity, are attuned to Your will and are qualified to lead because of their experience.

So I pray and agree with those who continue to believe in your promise: “If my people who are called by My Name shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I shall hear from heaven and heal their land.”

Our land will dance again because of You!

Let each one who claims to be a Christian humble His heart, seek You and obey You; because if we obey, You will move, mightily! Joshua obeyed God and the Jordan river parted so the Israelites passed through dry ground to conquer their promised land.

For with God nothing is impossible. To You be all the glory!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Incredible Semirara

It’s definitely not love at first sight.

Because that’s surely what you’d feel when you set foot on Boracay with its fantastic beaches, impressive resorts and sophisticated-looking vacationers.

Getting off the plane on Semirara island—just a few nautical miles from Boracay, you’d be impressed by, hmm… let me think. The concrete runway, that’s it! And nothing more.

Everywhere else you go is dust—no need for facial powder because you’d get all powdery anyway by just going out where the tricycles and huge trucks rumbled.

But there I go again! That’s me being judgmental. I judged Semirara even before the dust had settled.

Mea culpa! Today, I'm totally smitten by Semirara.

Because Semirara is anything but dull. Under that limestoney facade are layers and layers of coal. Hot! That means subsidized power rates for the residents even as its coal is sold elsewhere.

But power is just the tip of the iceberg. Its people are so blessed they’re always thanking the good Lord for their windfall of blessings; and they’re many.

Semirara is part of the Antique islands in the Visayas. It used to be literally dirt-poor, a fourth class municipality—until Semirara Mining Corporation (SMC).

The company took over the island’s mining operations in 1997 and since then, things have not been the same. The municipality has become filthy rich, as has the province and the national economy. And mind you, it even surpasses Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conditions!

Semirara Mining has transformed the island’s first mine into a lake which now teems with rich marine life and attracts migratory birds searching for food-rich tropical destinations.

If you’re a first timer, it would be hard to imagine that this huge placid lake overlooking the ocean was previously a mine pit dug more than 200 meters below sea level. Rehabilitation around the mine area goes on full blast, with narra, molave, coconut and other fruit trees and agricultural crops being planted everywhere.

Its second mine, Panian, is also almost mined out. Soon, a third mine’s overburden or soil will fill up the huge Panian crater. Get ready for a greater-than-Boracay destination because SMC is serious about turning this entire island into an eco-tourism hub that will demonstrate eco-friendly practices—a world standard if you please.

So what makes us think this vision is not just lip service, as many companies are wont to do just to get their way to stuff their pockets full?

Here lies the difference: Aside from the massive rehabilitation and development efforts, both of its inland and marine resources, SMC is investing a lot—and I mean humongous sums—on education and the training of Semirara residents on skills and entrepreneurship, and supporting them every which way possible.

Prime example: Its fisherfolk have greatly increased their catch because they now have five big boats for deep sea fishing, a good-sized pier and an ice plant. The company’s marine biologists, on the other hand, have started to propagate giant clams in the island’s widely-protected mangroves (which the company also planted) to quicken the production of marine life.

Giant clams apparently help filter and enrich the water with food, making mangroves caring nurseries for baby fish.

SMC president Victor Consunji states it simply: “When our task is over, we want to leave a place where its leaders and residents are equipped to manage their resources and their future. The island’s wealth should accrue to them.”

Is this Shangri-la? No, it’s just a place where a company—with its uncommon leaders—makes common-sense work for the good of many. (And I’m not in its payroll.)

Hats off to you, Mr. Consunji, your team and the Semirara people!