A week of spiritual, temporal blessings
Thanks to mass media – print broadcast, and now, the more modern and fast developing social media in the Internet, the world seems to have grown smaller, so we now know what is happening even out of our own limited world of personal concerns.
Some major events this week are the subject of this Bystander’s report this week: national, international and local.
First was President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s 4th State of the Nation Address (Sona) delivered last Monday, the 22nd, which attracted more concern and speculation, and criticism later, than his earlier three Sonas. I watched on Solar News channel the coverage of his almost one hour and 45-minute-long talk.
As a longtime broadcaster, I admired his professional delivery of facts and figures about accomplishments of his administration and reporter Pia Hontiveros’ interviews with government and congressional figures after the Sona. I also enjoyed watchng the women’s various versions of the baro at saya and Muslim attire, as well as the men’s barong Tagalog.
Then came various reactions to the affair: criticisms from protesters, including tussles with police troops trying to control them. Broadcast commentators and columnists spoke their minds, pro and con about the subjects taken up, as well as those not even mentioned or “overlooked” in the Sona.
At the start of the week, Francis, the first Pope from Latin America, flew to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for a weeklong series of events expected to attract more than a million people to the 28th World Youth Day. It was described by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as “a gathering of young faithful in Brazil, home of the world’s largest Roman Catholic population”. The Pope’s visit was also “meant to fan the fervor of the faithful around the globe.” In PDI’s front page photo of the Pope’s arrival in downtown Rio de Janeiro, the Philippine flag was waved in the crowd near the popemobile!
The Pope arrived at a tense time in Brazil, which is reeling from violent demonstrations and protests against government corruption, inefficiency and spending for the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Olympics. A youth protestor was quoted as saying “We’ve got nothing against the Pope. This protest is against our politicians.”
Pope Francis, who has shunned the use of a bulletproof popemobile, intends to visit one of Rio’s shantytowns or favelas, to “underscore his commitment to make his pontificate focus on the poor.” Last Wedneday, he prayed and said Mass at the Shrine of the Madonna of Aparecida, “an indication of his strong Marian devotion that is shared in much of Latin America.” Before Mass he was gifted with a golden chalice and an image of the Aparecida, which he kissed, and placed near the altar at Mass, and afterwards took along with him.
Another event from the other side of the globe that has enraptured us since Tuesday was news that a new heir to the British throne had arrived when Prince William’s wife Kate gave birth to their first child, a boy. Congratulations are pouring in for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for this new baby prince, third in line to the throne. Celebrations for this much-waited event started with gun salutes in London at Green Park and the Tower of London by the Honorable Artillery Company, which I watched live on BBC television.
We learn that the baby, titled His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, is directly in line to inherit the throne after Charles’ eldest son and heir, William. I have often wondered if our fascination with royalty may have started with fairy tales and stories of kings, queens, princes and princesses which we read in storybooks when we were young, and later required readings in literature in high school and college. Plus the fact that the British monarchy has endured through the years and continues amid modern times and concerns.
Then late Wednesday afternoon, CNN showed the world Britain’s new little prince in the arms of the Duchess of Cambridge, who with the Duke were leaving St. Mary’s Hospital for home. They paused in front of the short flight of steps to give a close-up view of the sleeping little one, snug in his blanket.
And now, for two important community projects of Zonta Club of Cebu. At our general membership meeting Thursday, the 18th, John Paul Maunes of the “Break the Silence” Project for the Deaf in Cebu stressed the value of our volunteer work with it, together with the established Guarandi Organization and the Philippine Deaf Resource Center. “Break the Silence” is primarily for the benefit of deaf women and children who are abused, battered, or sexually abused. Volunteer workers may also be trained in sign language to communicate with them..
In the second project, Leanne Sala of the Sistemang Pilipino spoke of their need for musical instruments for the underprivileged. She thanked Zonta I’s donation of a violin, and hoped we could solicit more donors of other musical instruments. Sistemang Pilipino also trains underserved children and youth to perform in a choir or orchestra and developing their character.
These projects are especially significant now that we are in our 45th year of community service. Zonta I was established in 1968 by Dr. Suga Sotto-Yuvienco, who continues to join our monthly meetings and get-togethers
In closing, do remember in your prayers our Zonta I fellow member Lita’s late husband, now lying in state, who will be interred on Saturday, pending the arrival of other relatives and kin, that his soul may rest in God’s peace: Dr. Benigno Aldana.
Until next week, as always, may God continue to bless us, one and all!