Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bitter Herbs and Purple Flowers

Four completely unrelated things happened which produced the picture you see nearby, of my simple but wholesome breakfast today-- (1) One Sunday a few weeks ago, I was at a popular outdoor market near the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City and bought a bunch of herbal plants, including "Java Mint from the Isle of Sumatra" which produced the most unusual bright green pungent leaves with the most gorgeous and delectable purple flowers that bloom in tiny profusions on my sunny balcony overlooking Laguna de Bai now. (2) Some Filipino American friends arrived from New York with real bagels (egg, garlic, blueberry or just plain, yummy). (3) Lady Philippine Commentary brought home some cream cheese, --two kinds, one from Philadelphia, the other from Denmark, branded Arla. Don't know why I snapped this picture half way through breakfast this morning...until I saw (4) this from Christopher Hitchens writing in Slate today: Stand Up for Denmark on a matter that has preoccupied this blog and its regulars for the last few weeks and still bears looking at and thinking about...even at breakfast...especially at breakfast! (For a full course dinner though, I suggest you visit this Club.)
Questions to the Comment Thread:
(1) Is Freedom of Religion a genre of Freedom of Speech as Press Freedom is?
(2) Must Religions EVOLVE under Democracy?
(3) Would it violate Separation for civil societies to try to force Religions to revise their dogmas?
It was completely by accident of course, that one brand of cream cheese we have is made by the company called Arla Foods, which turns out to be a cooperative composed of 11,600 largely independent milk producers in Denmark and Sweden, and is Europe's largest dairy products supplier. I'd never even heard about Arla before this, though I have no doubt consumed their products even here in Manila, where they seem to be available at a reasonable price. Arla is also one of the companies targeted for boycotts as a result of Muslim reaction to the Mohammed cartoons of Jyllands Postens. But Mr. Hitchens explains who actually lit the powder keg which has blown up and killed 30 Muslims and burned down embassies "--
It was the arrogant Danish mullahs who patiently hawked those cartoons around the world (yes, don't worry, they are allowed to exhibit them as much as they like) until they finally provoked a vicious response against the economy and society of their host country.
Then there is the mullah in Pakistan who has offered $1 million and a car as a bribe for the murder of "the cartoonist."

I am sorely disappointed in the Philippine Media and most of the Philippine Blogosphere, for the mostly contemptible silence of those who've been cowed by some deeply wrong sense of what "respect" and "responsibility" and "freedom of expression" truly mean for the future of a multicultural human race.

It was surprising and disappointing to see the position of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a self-proclaimed champion of freedom of the press and one that likes to shake the tree of government until the coconuts fall out. PDI does not seem to understand how press freedom and religious freedom are both essentially exercises of the freedom of speech and expression, and are therefore mere genres of free speech governed by the same laws and conventions. Organized religion is mere freedom of assembly and has no special rights beyond that, other than to be treated in a completely neutral manner by the State.

I say "mere" only in comparison to the lofty position occupied by Religion in theocracies. But PDI seems to grant Religion a mystic or mythic right to be respected and revered that is not a part of this democratic conception, but a remnant of a theocratic demiurge that apparently delimits its commitment to full democracy. They are well aware of this and justify it in terms of "independence from American tutelage," preferring to consider their apostasy against democracy's princple of religious freedom as respect for cultural traits or sensitivity to the religious beliefs of others.

Yet if a newspaper like PDI or a writer like Conrado de Quiros, is not touched that editorial cartoonists now have a bounty on their heads by a mullah's fatwah, and calls for the beheading of journalists are to be heard in Makati's Central Business District, and if they continue to deny that this has anything to do with freedom of the press to criticize even a Religion with a billion adherents, then no wonder no one riots over how dangerous it is to be a journalist in the Philippines. Because even the journalists and the bloggers have largely decided to accept that it IS a dangerous place. that it should be a dangerous place because of those nasty Europeans and their Ugly American allies.

But here is how the Catolico cerrados who run Big Media in the Philippines took this bull by the horns and gored democracy in the gut with it. They preach tolerance for the murderously intolerant, because that ensures tolerance for the non-murderously intolerant -- like themselves, when it comes to religious issues in the broader society. Yet, in the final analysis, their "sensitivity" is like the sensitivity that exists in some families with a dysfunctional member, where alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual mania or other embarrassing "mental disorders" are firmly swept under the rug, tolerated, controlled, and "respected" all for the sake of respectability and cultural sensitivity.

What we learned from Flemming Rose of Jyllands Postens just a few days ago, was that he published the Mohammed Cartoons in order to criticize just this same kind of political correctness and a reluctance on the part of the Danish civil societies and media to confront, criticize and try to reform radical Islam within Denmark.

That is the same condition we face here in post-Edsa Syndrome Philippines and our response must be the same as Christopher Hitchens: STAND UP FOR DENMARK ... to which I must add, because we must stand up for ourselves, our beliefs, our "Religion"...


If no one in history has uttered these words, then let me claim them as my own. For my religion -- I have come to learn from the Danish cartoons of Mohammed -- is indeed, Democracy itself.

From reading and writing and thinking about this important global controversy, with its sustained, violent reaction from the Arab Street, I have come to a number of firm conclusions, clarifications and extensions to my personal understanding of certain key democratic principles and concepts.

(1) The most basic of all democratic rights are the Rights of Personal Privacy and Security granted to the smallest minority in a democratic society -- the individual human being as private citizen. Look at Article III, the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution --
Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
From these basic human rights of every private, atomic individual, flows all the other, more famous rights and freedoms...

(2) The exercise of the Freedom of the Press is clearly an exercise of Freedom of Speech. A newspaper, radio or television station is thus an exercise of Freedom of Peaceful Assembly -- Organized Speech and Opinion as it were.

(3) The exercise of the Freedom of Religion is also an exercise of the human right to hold a private belief or opinion about anything whatsoever and to be able to express it freely without fear. Which is what we have called the Freedom of Speech and Expression.

In the main and blogstream media, there has been mostly a contemptible silence or self-contradictory editorial and column writing on this fundamental issue that is both global and local at the same time.

I do not see how Edsa IV can possibly happen as Edsa I sentimentalists fervently wish, if its adherents would rather solve all political problems with "miracles."


The Public Thing said...

Dont be dissapointed Dean, I think youre doing pretty good and I might say you are on the lead on all these things so just keep on goin. There should be only one rule fella...

To lead or be led.

Stop ranting now and give em your best shot, you have an audience that could echo your thoughts aloud in a different world than they do.

Rizalist said...

Easy for you to say, Regor! Ha ha you live in glorious Liberty's protection. Heard SF is gonna be turned into a giant wifi hot spot. true? haven't seen you around for awhile. Weather must be nice. Too nice. Don't Paradise become a psychological dead end. It's easy in California?

The Public Thing said...

Actually, you and others made it easy for us Dean. Wifi aficionados had been throwin out the word in the streets, I guess thats the thing. Been busy for a while and its not that easy here my friend just like over there, things must be earned but I got you...

Oh yeah I got you...

taga ilog said...

Good Day Sir,

I would like to comment on this one:
"In the main and blogstream media, there has been mostly a contemptible silence or self-contradictory editorial and column writing on this fundamental issue that is both global and local at the same time."

History teached us(Thomasites in particular) on how to admire west and its brand of democracy.
"Manila" for example rely on its opinions and most of its column section on traditional intellectuals based abroad(i.e., West coast, NE America ,W.Europe, M.E.).

But if you look into the editorial section of Singapura's leading dailys, TST, you would notice of its different source from New Delhi to KL , HK to Taipei,Tokyo to Jakarta, and some have dispatch from Mainland China and even in the land down under.

Look, I experienced this one when I worked in the city state some years ago , when someone in the internet media showed the difference of "SINA" and "CHINA".
I think SINA was a derogatory word during the pre-war in China.
Searching the google would help you clarify on this SINA issue.

"Brown cookies" also refers to those Indo-Malayan hackers in the mid 90's. But no one in the mainstream media did focus on this issue.

Now my reaction on contemptible silence: did anyone from the mainstream realize the true meaning of "Standing on their own feat", "On the moral high ground" , identity crisis and so on...

As General Giap once said:"Looking back on what we have done over the past 60 years, we are proud to be Vietnamese"


Hindi ako ang makapaghuhusga niyan?
Itanong natin sa susunod pang henerasyon

Marcus Aurelius said...


Milwaukee and Madison are kicking that idea about as well.

Anyway Arla is learning a lesson. Arla refuses to conduct business with a certain Middle Eastern nation in order to do business with the others. Seems that little trinket is forgotten.

Arla also own a cheesery by the name of White Clover here in Wisconsin. Lurpak butter was the big dairy product I associated first with Denmark. However, being in Wisconsin we really don't need to import dairy products so there is little of the Danish dairy goods to be had except some Havarti cheese.

However, we have a baptism/birthday party to go to this weekend. His mother is from Cebu and the father is from our area. The birthday boy is getting a Leggo toy set. Their girl is too small for any of that and is getting a savings bond.

Rizalist said...

Salamat sa inyo, Taga-ilog. Dapat ay taas noo tayo kahit madungis ang pisngi.

Ngunit hinggil sa paghihintay sa susunod na henerasyon, para bagang mali ang pagkaintindi kay Rizal sa bagay na ito. Para bagang iyan ang sinasabi nang sumusuko.

Ako naman ang tingin ko ay nasa bawat tao. Ok ang naging landas ng maraming Pinoy, kahit na ba nasawi ang proyektong Republika ng Pilipinas at higit ring nakararami ang hindi OK ang naging landas. Ngunit hindi pa sumasapit ang gyerang tulad ng Cambodia rito, kahit man hindi rin naging San Francisco ang Maynila.

Ngunit pinaglalaruan pa ng mga Olimpio ang landas niring kapalaran.

Marcus Aurelius said...

Now to your bigger point.

I do believe religions must evolve when under a liberal government. No religion gets exclusive control on anything so they must resort to other means to flourish. Those other means are normal grassroots efforts of members talking to non-members trying to get them to convert.

Convinced converts are often much more faithful than those coerced converts.

The stickier question comes up when the faithful start getting into government. Religion is first and foremost about living justly in the eyes of God and our fellow man. We take it as an imperitive to stop evil and promote good. Most people have their concepts of good and evil formed by religion. The hardcore atheist knows it is bad to steal from another he may come up with some rationalization but in the end our societies mores are based on Christianity. Its like a cotton ball in a blue stained water, the cotton can not help but be blue.

Now, how does the liberal religious square God's orders to do good and suppress evil while maintaining this mystical separation of church and state?

For example here in the States physician assisted suicide (PAS) is allowed in a state or two. Is it right for a legislator to oppose PAS based on their religious convictions? Another example, would it be okay for an Islamic legislator to oppose pork consumption and lobby for its prohibition based solely on his faith in Islam? I would argue it is based on the idea that Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Expression both arise from a deeper underlying principle.

Rizalist said...

Marcus Aurelius,
Such evolution of churches has occurred in the past I guess with respect to Christianity in the liberal democracies. Religion has accepted the demotion from theocratic unquestionability to "freedom of religion". But morality is not sacrificed in the exchange. The State in some sense takes that on for the biggest moral problems, while individuals and faith groups can worship in total freedom of speech and assembly.

But I guess the State cannot take a hand in that because of Separation of Church and State principles. Ergo, in the case of Islam and "recalcitrant" Catholic holdouts for theocracy, "evolution" must come from within.

That might be really hard in Iraq with the Shia and the Sunni. But whatever we agree applies to us. must be applicable there too as general principle and test of consistency.

Anonymous said...

Theocracy:A government ruled by or subject to religious authority....
a word first used by Josephus to denote that the Jews were under the direct
government of God himself...

While a democracy is...
The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
Majority rule.
The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community...

Based on those definitions..a theocracy although jewish in origin exists today not only in the middle east but also south asia...Iraq a theocracy strugling to become a democracy

To the danish scenario

This has happened almost 5 months ago, October if not mistaken..only became an issue because The Muslims want it to be an issue..or they must have learned it recently because CNN reissued it...or for what ever me this the work of spin masters

Rizalist said...

Karl--If Protestants blew up the Vatican, destroying St.Peter's Basilica, why would Catholics probably not go into vengeance mode. Why are Shiites then destroying Sunni mosques in revenge. To me it smacks of Unions of Churches and States, a mixture of religion and politics? HOw much of it is religious, how much politics, how much other stuff, I wonder?

taga ilog said...



1. One appointed to represent a corporation, university or other organization in business transaction; a business agent.
2. A civil magistrate or similar government official in some European countries.

in the context "Philippine Inc."

Carlyle Group + Elite + Comprador + Cacique + Pinoy Council of Trent + Malayan Smalkaldic league



Re: "But here is how the Catolico cerrados ...They preach tolerance for the murderously intolerant, because that ensures tolerance for the non-murderously intolerant -- like themselves, when it comes to religious issues in the broader society. "

You've just confirmed that while the Phil. Constitution, in theory, provides for separation of church and state, in practice there is no divide.

Philippine Catholicism as it is practised in the Philipppines is a religion of superstition, mumbo-jumbos, etc. similar to what was practised in Europe in the 9th century or 1,200 years ago (although perhaps not as pronounced) but with almost the same intensity and fanaticism; btw, the practice of Islam by Muslims are as "dated" in this area as Phil. Catholics.

Although we're trying hard over here in Europe not to let OUR freedom to exercise our religion, i.e., freedom of expression, overwhelm us or dictate our actions, others are hell bent on shoving their brand of freedom in our throats and so we react.

By the same token, the Philippine elites who are intellectually and morally dominated by the Philippine Catholic Church (notice, I say Phil. Catholic coz to me European Roman Catholics have modernized while over there yonder, they are still in the dark ages) are hell bent on shoving their brand of freedom of expression on a people so credulous that they can't or don't react.

On balance, DJB, organized religion has perhaps caused the worst drawbacks for mankind over time - people have not advanced in time neither here nor back in Pinas. Why? Because it seems we are still fighting to gain our basic democratic rights, i.e., freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc.

Rizalist said...


Perhaps what really ails the nation is that we do not cherish these rights enough to know when they are in peril from our own "soft side" as human beings, and especially as Filipinos, to shun conflict, be accomodating, even hide our true feelings. These are "eternal principles" that are worth cherishing and defending. They are not specifically "Filipino values" but human ones that we have not yet learned to make our own. Filipinos have the obsessive need to be unique. They would make right wrong in that obsession.


Re: "Filipinos have the obsessive need to be unique. They would make right wrong in that obsession."

How extraordinarily well put DJB!

Anonymous said...

All points well taken...

Now to digress...
What if the catholics react the same way as the Muslims re:Da Vinci Code
and kill the author....what then?

Another point:

The US is still at 911 mode in refusing to accept that Dubai Ports will soon run ports in the US...

re:morning news...
the rp gov is in arresting modde recently..

Bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

Actually it no longer matters if the Philippine Elite are intellectually and morally dominated by the Philippine CAtholic Church. The present day reality is that they no longer control the majority of the PILIPINO KATOLIKOs.

El Shaddai, composed of millions of Masang Pilipino, now have a say not only on religious but also on political matters because of their big number. The elite cannot dictate on them anymore, in fact, not even the Catholic heirachy can. Even Gloria and other politicians kowtow to them.

Free flow of information through radio, tv, and ICT have freed the Pilipino masses from the clutches of the elite and have now expressed themselves in public worships that are different from the liturgy of the Catholic Church. See them as they worship overnight every Saturday and you will feel this.

If you are outside the country or if you are a foreigner you cannot know this. Outside of the El Shaddai, a lot of the KATOLIKOs, even those they call Cerrados, are disenchanted with their church, their bishops and priests. They are now all beyond the influence of the elite and intellectuals "kuno" and it is now impossible for them to shove their brand of freedom of expression on them precisely because they are no longer as credolous as they were during the days of Maria Clara and are reacting in ways unseen before.
Yes, the Pilipino masa are reacting, and how! I know because I am one of them.