IN the first congressional district of Camarines Sur, ever since the last elections, there have been a lot of ‘non-issue’ matters. The fact that we have a stammering presidential son for a congressman has itself already diminished into a non-issue. Nobody cares—trapos revel over this attitude. First district constituents have began to get accustomed to it, and I hope not, may go through life with it—given the tradition of die hard long-term politicians in the district. The Andayas had been running us for so long, and had it not been because ‘the president loves us so much that she sent us her son,’ Nonoy Andaya or most probably someone from his family tree might still be running the district. My first political memories had the late Rolando Sr. as our assemblyman, it was passed on to his son, and now that I am close to thirty, for the first time, I have a non-Andaya representative. I could have been breathing fresher air, conversely, no. But, alas, this is a non-issue.

The Catholic Church leaders in Libmanan, whoever they maybe, taught us that. They began it then with a statement saying that residency is a non-issue for congressional candidacy. Thus, it was a non-issue if a fly-in candidate had just built a teepee in our backyard and declared himself a bona fide resident of the place. What was the sweetener? Perhaps, the promises and the platform. Laugh. I want to think they could have just forgotten that Abang, the far, far, far, far better Congressman, is one of the active formators of the prelature.

And so, what we have now in our district are yellow streamers screaming of ‘Salamat po sa saindong suporta, hali sa saindong Congressman,’ ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year;’ I have not seen a ‘Happy Halloween,’ or maybe I just missed to see them last November. I am pretty sure there will be lots of ‘Congratulations Batch 2008, you made it!’ Batch 2008 and their parents made it actually. Oh yes, we are boasted of basketballs distributed to barangay youths, and medical missions removing cataracts and giving out eyeglasses. Who cares anyway that we do not have a fully equipped hospital in the first district? Not even the Bicol Sanitarium. Or at least we have a well-done highway so that we can bring critically ill patients pretty damn quick to Manila. But thank God, these are non-issues naman.

I could have rested these non-issues and went on writing poems and stories. But radio reports on Tuesday of last week confirming a so-called Solidarity Mass by the Libmanan clergy that was supposedly for the intentions of Gloria should have saddened if not enraged everyone. A priest-friend sent me an SMS saying it was ‘naïveté.’ The word circumscribed it all. The institution which for centuries, has been encouraging us to discern in every move we do so that decisions are well grounded and choices are comprehensive, is apparently losing its hold on matters of morals. The CBCP have in fact chosen a safer stance by suggesting compromises so that truth may finally be revealed. In many dioceses, priests were even discouraged from involving themselves in political actions whether they’re pro- or anti-administration, perhaps, so as not to defile the Holy Eucharist in the frenzies of political advocacies.  But here in our district, the Church has gone ridiculously nonchalant. In these times when there is an obvious cover up of truths the people earnestly pray for because they indeed deserve to know, our Church have chosen to pray for the one whose involvement in the cover up could be the biggest. But why? Could it be that Gloria have just found a new ally?

This reminds me of an old woman at the Peñafrancia Basilica who renders paid novena services to anyone needing it. She once did approach me and offered me her services to which I declined believing that it was in fact useless to do it. I could actually pray by myself. I told the story to a friend of mine who used to be a seminarian, and he told me that the woman also offered to pray the novena for him once. He declined the offer saying that he will just pray by himself, and he let the woman knew he was a seminarian. The woman replied that she had actually some clients who were priests. Whether the woman was telling the truth or it was just a marketing statement, we do not know.

I am not saying that the local Church might be selling prayers for special favors. What I am concerned with are the motives. What are we praying for? Why are we praying in the first place? For an institution of faith, I don’t think this is another non-issue.


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