Counting the Costs

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father- the Spirit of truth who goes out from the  Father- he will testify about me.” John 15:26

44 is the number of PNP SAF troopers who perished in Mamasapano in Maguinadanao, Philippines. 21 is the number of Egyptian Coptic Christians who were beheaded in Libya.  11 killed in the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in France.  I can mention a number, and probably there is a match to a group of human beings who died in some way that could have changed the way we think or live.

It is shocking to know how collectively a group of people could be wiped off from the face of the earth, and sad that what a majority could only remember is their number.

These people have names.  They have families.  Loved ones.  They had dreams. They had lives. Until somebody else decided otherwise.  And now their souls cry out with their own stories to tell.  We did not know them when they were alive, but now we know them because they are dead.

Some died because of freedom of expression, others for love of country. And lately, for love of God.

The thought of them left me to wonder. How long can I stand up for what I believe in?  How much can I sacrifice for those I love?  How far can I go amidst the raging waves of my own personal struggles?

We have only 1 God.  3 is the number of Persons in the Holy Trinity. 3 is the number of words that a martyr last uttered before he was beheaded- “Jesus help me”.  That sums up the answer to my questions.  We can withstand any suffering, endure all pain and weather any storm.  Because our Father loves us, Jesus saves us and the Holy Spirit helps us.

May we, who  are left to ponder on the countless lives lost for whatever reason, learn that the manifestation of our selflessness is the true essence of our humanity.

Please offer prayers for the souls of our brothers and sisters who died because war, violence and terrorism. May their souls rest in peace.

Of Misencounters, Reencounters and a Prayer for Peace

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14

The images of the honorable PNP SAF Troopers who died on that fateful morning on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao will forever be etched in our minds and hearts. The details of what many in our government call a misencounter had already been told and retold. The weeping of the families and loved ones of the fallen are being heard over and over within the echoes of our recent memories. And now as the continuing story of investigations and inquiry will follow through the pain that would never go away, there is one thing that we should never forget. The one thing that these gallant 44 had fought hard for, and that we should cherish so their sacrifice would not be in vain. That is PEACE.

At this moment, when the wounds in our hearts are still fresh and the strength of each loved one is still delicately fragile, there is only anger, outrage and betrayal. I must admit, as far as I may be from Mamasapano, my initial reaction is shock at the number of lives lost. They were just too many to comprehend. Then sadness…The sight of the lifeless bodies who once stood with dignity and courage were just too much for a gentle heart to handle. And finally anger… I was angry that people are capable of doing something horrific so close to home. I was furious that the President Aquino made a choice that caused the hurt already too much to bear, to swell all the more. I was like “OMG you are President and you can’t cancel a scheduled appointment? Not even for the sake of your so-called “bosses” would you spare some mercy and compassion to what they were going through at the time they needed them most?” I would have wanted to think that the Mitsubishi rendezvous was a “misencounter”. That the President went to the wrong place at the wrong time.

But who are we to judge? What good deed have I done for my country that make me consider myself better than the President or other government officials for that matter so much that I loathe every unpopular decision that they make or any grave mistake they commit? So we are all angry. Now what? Does my loathing help ease the pain of a hurting nation? Or am I just adding to the problem instead of solving it?

As prayers continue to pour for the souls of the valiant PNP SAF Troopers and for the family and loved ones they left behind, I continue to pray for peace. I realized, that as it is human to feel the way we did, there is a time to get past the rage. What good would it do if we keep on scratching the wound? It would just cause the wound to grow bigger and eventually impossible to heal.

I am still angry at what had happened in Mamasapano. I am still grieving together with those who mourn. But I choose to continue to pray. For HEALING,for JUSTICE, for PEACE…

We need not wait for deals, agreements or pacts to be signed to attain peace. We can begin now, with ourselves. We have the choice to be channels of peace. It is the only way. So that after the haze of gunfire and tears had died down, our reencounters will instead be borne of brotherhood and love.

To our heroes, rest in peace in God’s sweet embrace and I pray that your great sacrifice would be worth it… I salute you.

1. Sr. Insp. Ryan Ballesteros Pabalinas
2. Sr. Insp. John Garry Alcantara Erana
3. Sr. Insp. Max Jim Ramirez Tria
4. Sr. Insp. Cyrus Paleyan Anniban
5. Sr. Insp. Gednat G. Tabdi
6. Insp. Joey Sacristan Gamutan
7. Insp. Rennie Tayrus
8. SPO1 Lover L. Inocencio
9. PO3 Rodrigo F. Acob Jr.
10. PO3 Virgel S. Villanueva

11. PO3 Andres Viernes Duque Jr.
12. PO3 Vitoriano Nacion Acain
13. PO3 Noel Onangey Golocan
14. PO3 Junrel Narvas Kibete
15. PO3 Jed-In Abubakar Asjali
16. PO3 Robert Dommolog Aliaga
17. PO3 John Lloyd Rebammonte Sumbilla
18. PO2 Amman Misuari Esmulla
19. PO2 Peterson I. Carap
20. PO2 Roger C. Cordero

21. PO2 Nicky DC Nacino Jr.
22. PO2 Glenn Berecio Badua
23. PO2 Chum Goc-Ong Agabon
24. PO2 Richelle Salangan Baluga
25. PO2 Noel Nebrida Balaca
26. PO2 Joel Bimidang Dulnuan
27. PO2 Godofredo Basak Cabanlet
28. PO2 Franklin Cadap Danao
29. PO2 Walner Faustino Danao
30. PO2 Jerry Dailay Kayob

31. PO2 Noble Sungay Kiangan
32. PO2 Ephraim G. Mejia
33. PO2 Omar Agacer Nacionales
34. PO2 Rodel Eva Ramacula
35. PO2 Romeo Valles Senin II
36. PO1 Russel Bawaan Bilog
37. PO1 Angel C. Kodiamat
38. PO1 Windell Llano Candano
39. PO1 Loreto Guyab Capinding
40. PO1 Gringo Charag Cayang-o

41. PO1 Romeo Cumanoy Cempron
42. PO1 Mark Lory Orloque Clemencio
43. PO1 Joseph Gumatay Sagonoy
44. PO1 Oliebeth Ligutan Viernes