Saturday, September 19, 2009

‘Running Priest’ Goes on Fasting to Save the Grand Mosque


‘Running Priest’ Goes on Fasting to Save the Grand Mosque

19 September 2009. Activist priest Father Robert Reyes went on fasting this morning with the Muslims living near the Grand Mosque to mark the end of Ramadan and to signify their opposition to the government’s plan to demolish the mosque located in Pasay City. The demolition will give way for the implementation of the Southwest Public Transport Intermodal Project. The said area is also reportedly being developed for commercial establishments, including casinos.

In a statement, Reyes said he is one with the Muslim community in their fight to save the mosque. He said the mosque has been there for a long time and is already a holy landmark for our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Through the said fast, Reyes is asking the government to heed the call of the people not to relocate the mosque. “Let it stay together with our churches so that it may be seen as a symbol of Muslim and Christian understanding in our country,” said the Cubao Diocese-based Catholic priest.

Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured; from dawn until dusk.

Reyes was joined by Task Force Anti-Eviction group composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation who have been supporting the Muslim group in fighting for their sacred place.

“We must remember that there are things beyond and greater than law. Christ even said do not follow the letter of the law without understanding its spirit. Therefore, whatever projects the government has for this land where the mosque is built, spare it from demolition in this way the government can prove its sincerity promoting peace and equality in our country,” Reyes said.

“Our society needs to deepen our acceptance, our respect and appreciation of other religions, especially the very old religion of Islam,” Reyes added.

On the other hand, Abdelmanan Tanandato, leader of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Nademolis sa Roxas Boulevard, said their group is very happy with the support given by the Catholic church and different NGOs. “Their respect towards our culture, rights, and religious beliefs strengthened our hope that we will be able to come up with an amicable solution to this problem,” Tanantado said.

Currently, the group of Tanandato has filed a motion to quash/ hold in abeyance the writ of execution immediately after Sheriff Jeffrey Sales served a notice to vacate on Aug 13, 2009 from ParaƱaque Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 274.

Tanandato has high-hopes that the court will be favorable to them this time due to the growing support coming from the Catholic Church and from local and international NGOs.

For his part, Jun Alferez, UPA community organizer, said there is a total of 3,295 families evicted this year alone as a result of the government’s supposed “beautification” projects. -30-

Friday, September 18, 2009

Running Priest to join Muslims in fasting and prayers at the Grand Mosque in Pasay City

Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists


Running Priest to join Muslims in fasting and prayers at the Grand Mosque in Pasay City

Fr. Robert Reyes, the running priest, will stage a fasting with Muslims tomorrow (September 19) beginning at 9:00 AM at the Grand Mosque in Baclaran, Pasay City to publicise a petition concerning the demolition of the mosque and the eviction of urban poor families living in the community.

The Muslim community started reclaiming the land in 1992. In 1993, the Grand Mosque was built. In 1994, the Muslim leaders decided to make it concrete. It was completed in 2002 and the total amount of expenses reached 11.3 million pesos. Various Muslim groups donated the money while some residents contributed their hard-earned money.

The Muslims built the mosque at the reclamation area in Baclaran with the endorsement of the then ParaƱaque City Mayor Joey Marquez. The area is now considered a part of Pasay City.

But now they are told to vacate the community to give way to Southwest Public Transport Intermodal Center. The said area is also reportedly being developed for commercial establishments, including casinos.

Fr. Robert will join the Muslims in prayers and silence as they mark the end of Ramadan.

Date: September 19, 2009 (Saturday) / 9:00 AM

Venue: Grand Mosque, Baclaran, Pasay City

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

American soul-searching and Tiger Woods

Commentary : American soul-searching and Tiger Woods

By Denis Murphy
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: September 15, 2009

My wife and I went to New York City recently expecting to see some signs, even small ones, of the recent economic collapse. There were hardly any. It’s a very wealthy city where even severe financial losses leave little visible trace on people’s everyday lives. My wife did notice that fewer families grew flowers in their gardens, and people had a little less food in their shopping carts when they left the supermarkets.

What is evident, though, is that Americans show a certain loss of faith in the institutions that once received their uncritical adulation, including the icon of American industry, General Motors. Its managers once said, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country,” and many Americans believed them. Now General Motors is bankrupt.

Wall Street is another fallen idol. Americans always kept a wary eye on Wall Street’s doings, but they were still proud to walk along the short street at the foot of Trinity Church and realized it dominated the markets of the world. Americans now have their worst fears about Wall Street realized.

Another example is American health care. Americans were told they had the “best health system in the world.” Now, in the heat of a great debate over President Barack Obama’s national health program, people are learning that the health system is rated only average among the systems current in developed countries. One commentator called it “islands of excellence (cancer treatment, for example) in a sea of misery.”

Americans get a sinking feeling in their stomachs when they see their armed forces entering one more bloody and extended war in Afghanistan. The signs of it becoming another Vietnam are as prominent as crosses along highways that mark the places where people died. US and NATO troops are supporting a corrupt government of questionable legitimacy. The government forces are untrained and reluctant to fight, while the Taliban are deeply motivated, surprisingly well armed, and outnumber government soldiers. Americans hope against hope this war will have a different ending from the one in Vietnam, but they are also aware of the maxim that to repeat the same actions and expect different results is a sign of insanity.

Finally, Catholics, or at least some of them, worry about the Church’s seeming unequivocal concern for abortion in all the social issues that arise. They share the concern over abortion, but they miss the Church that was prominently engaged in the struggle for labor union rights, that resisted the war in Iraq, and defended the rights of children, immigrants and the poor in general.

The new questioning stance of Americans may be a good thing in the end, even if it leaves them a little more insecure and skeptical of their institutions. Filipinos and peoples everywhere have grown used to failures in government. It is only Americans who have believed they were “special” in any fashion. Skepticism about government is healthy. Why should anyone think a society built by humans should be perfect?

To appreciate America’s new loss of faith we should remember that American children have been taught that the United States was given to the human race as some sort of evolutionary step forward in nation building.

How could Americans have failed to take more seriously the accounts of the bad things done in their name around the world by their government and multinational companies, and the injustice done to Afro-American people and other minorities at home?

I received what may be an answer to this question quite by accident. Just before the recent PGA Golf Championship that began on Aug. 13, our TV set in New York went on the blink. The screen moved up about 1 1/2” which gave all the people big torsos and heads and small bandy legs. We wondered how we could watch Tiger Woods looking so strange for four days.

We sat and watched and the first day was painful. Poor Tiger with his small legs and big head! It was unseemly. Then little by little we didn’t notice the distortions any longer. We no longer saw them. We unwittingly combined the actual sense data and our past experience of what should be before us. We “saw” Tiger in normal size and great golfing shape, up to the very last hole, that is.

Americans didn’t see the facts. They saw instead what their education had prepared them to see. They saw what they wanted to see.

America has much to learn from the countries, like the Philippines, that have become more expert in criticism of their government over many centuries. The world can benefit from the new American soul-searching if it results in a humbler America, more ready to deal with other people as brothers and sisters and not as a master or guru.

(Denis Murphy works with the Urban Poor Associates. His e-mail address is

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