Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reflections and Musings #1

I had an entry lined up to address Bishop Tobias' letter to the IC, but I think I'll just maybe share my thoughts with you all tonight.

There's a short back story to this so bear with me please. I had been working on a "gift" that I've been meaning to give the CFC Home Office/Center for quite sometime now, but it was only recently that I figured out how to put it together properly and cohesively. If you read the response by the MMC in this entry, you'll see that the home office has had some issues in communicating with its database of leaders and members because the person in charge joined the FFL. I encountered this verse during my search for a solution for that:

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. - Isaiah 2:4

Obviously, you can all read into this however you want, but it particularly struck me in how it relates to what we are doing now - and by we, I mean us the IDOTRCFC bloggers, and the Easter Group. It made me think about the over all effect (global effect, if you may) caused by the CFC split and the subsequent, very public, tit-for-tat exchange it has generated.

Those of you with marketing backgrounds like me will know what I'm saying here: Image is everything. Customers are won first by the image of the product, then you retain them through the quality of the service you provide. That's why companies spend millions of pesos/dollars on advertising that on the surface looks quite pointless at first, but subconsciously strengthens the brand image. That applies to things tangible and material like clothing and other goods, but also to intangible items like certain services, and in our case faith.

What am I getting at, you may ask. Well, if I was to look at this situation from a strictly marketing perspective, I would first give you numbers.

As of this minute:

I've written 160 entries, garnering 777 3731 comments. ([I initially used the wrong program to count the comments.] Yeah, I was suprised too, and how's that for the right time to get a comment count?) The Voices of Faith and Reason entry takes the record for the most comments at 108 ... and counting.

This blog has had 522,000 page views, this month alone has over 65,000.

Of that, if you scroll to the very bottom of this page, you'll see that close to 180,000 are unique visitors.

Now what do those numbers mean? To a marketing man tasked with protecting a brand, I would have quit my job already. Why?

Both the CFC and FFL have at their core a mutual goal of evangelization:

Taken from CFC's official site:
Couples for Christ is a work of Christ which raises up Christian couples and establishes Christian families committed to the work of evangelization, winning the world for Christ and Total Human Liberation through the power of the Holy Spirit.

From the FFL's official site:
The CFC Foundation for Family & Life is a gathering of concerned CFC brethren looking to the restoration, preservation and strengthening of the authentic Couples for Christ charism, focused on evangelization and family life renewal.

If you were told that 180,000 people have now seen your brand in a negative light, and you must regain their goodwill, where would you start? It is logical to assume that to be successful in either group's goal, each must possess a certain amount of credibility, not only to spread the work of Christ, but also to exemplify the strength of the family, through Christ. But with what has been published in this blog and the numbers it has reached, coupled with the FFL's own statements attacking the IC or GK, one can assume that the job of protecting either brand from negative connotations is going to be a tough task.


On one hand, Frank Padilla not only has set an example of exactly how to break up a family, but also shows how to apply vengeance and anger in keeping it broken up. How can CFC and the FFL evangelize properly if we cannot even show that we can work out our own problems, internal or otherwise? Then you have the "stealing" of venues, the statements issued by the FFL using every Vatican press release to make their case and attack CFC, and now the kicker, Bishops being forced to take sides and disagree with one another.

I can't claim to know what is going in Frank's mind or in anyone's in the upper leadership of the FFL, but are they truly thinking about the repercussions of what is going on here? I don't know if they're thinking their actions through or merely trying everything they can to prove their case, no matter who gets hurt in the end. Every attack they've made on the IC that was covered in this blog only strengthens the beliefs of tens of thousands of CFC members that they've made the right choice. But that's actually just one aspect of it. What about those potential members, who are just starting their CLP's? What if they go online and research what CFC or the FFL is all about? I've no doubt that they constitute a sizeable part of the 180,000 unique hits that this blog has received. Everytime they see one of Nonong Contreras' self-righteous emails, accusing the bishops of reading tea leaves, etc., now constitutes for a potential member ("customer") to undergo what in marketing we call a negative brand experience. It takes ten times the goodwill and resources to win back a customer with a negative experience than it takes to win one who has a neutral opinion. That's 180,000 negative experiences. What's sad is that it applies to CFC as well. I don't know how effective the FFL's blogs and mass email campaigns are, but even if it is just directed at their current members, one must assume a fair amount of outside distribution. And those emails remain unanswered, I can only assume that the majority of the FFL's members avoid this blog because they've been told to. I am sure, however, that the Easter Group weren't counting on this blog to reveal the real reasons for the split, and putting a monkey wrench in their plans to create a new organization and poach the members from CFC. They probably didn't have a plan in place to create goodwill.

I'm quite sure Frank and co. know that the FFL's only realistic chance of success on the scale of what CFC has accomplished (in their lifetime at least), is to either wrest control of the CFC name, along with the Vatican recognition, or share it. He could try for unification of course, but that would mean submitting to the IC, which Frank will most likely not agree to (He would also have to answer to his co-incorporators, who are probably looking to get a return on their investments.) It is a time consuming process to have to submit to each diocese for approval as a new organization, then slowly work on the numbers and reach to gain their own Vatican recognition. I don't doubt they could do it, but it seems they are impatient and want everything NOW. With the damage caused to their name (not only in this blog but by their own actions) it has truly become an uphill battle.

I'm not washing my hands of guilt. Each day I ask myself if what I'm doing is the right thing. I question if getting the truth out is worth the damage I feel I'm doing to the CFC name. Believe it or not, I wish the FFL well, I wish that they'd continue on their stated goals and succeed at it. It is not my wish to hinder that by painting their leaders in a bad light. Surely the majority of you feel the same way too.

So what to do? First I will state where I stand right now.
I believe (and I feel, proven) that the root of the split in CFC was not caused by mere "veering" from charisms or supposed partnerships with pharmas (since it is not unique to CFC or GK among catholic orgs). I believe it was caused by very human traits like jealousy and vengeance coupled with questionable motives.

I believe that having two CFC's will only cause confusion and hinder our efforts in achieving our goals. Especially if they continue to share the same CLP areas, the same event dates and venues, and they both bad mouth each other. All this is happening right now.

I believe that the continued "warfare" between CFC and FFL will erode and degrade the good name and goodwill that CFC has built up over the years. This can cause not only a decline in membership in both groups, but an over-all market resistance, making it harder to fulfill our stated goals.

Now we have to think of a way to put a stop to this, for good. The recent comments have advised going the legal route. Still others are saying to just continue our work and let FFL be (if they will let US be...). I would like your opinions. First state where you stand, then what you believe we should do to get past this - before it's too late.

Surely we cannot keep all this up in the coming years, firing salvo after salvo, ironically causing more damage to ourselves than we are to the other side. I wish the solution were as easy as saying, "If you stop, we'll stop.", but obviously the Easter Group have their own reasons for wanting to fight for the CFC name. Until they find an alternative name or get stopped in their tracks, we can expect that we here will remain in the trenches, always at the ready to defend CFC.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


If there was any better way to unvalidate such an expensive attack, I'd love to know about it. WillyJ, Joni, and company have already expertly rebutted it and exposed the true, flawed character in which it was written. but William Esposo's response to Nonong Contreras' wordy paid ad in the Philstar shows how a rejoinder is done and caps it off with a flourish.

The many responses from people who support GK says it all. It is a stark contrast to what Mr. Contreras did, which seemed more like one man's ego driven campaign to prove that he is right, and all else is wrong. IF you are right Mr. Contreras, you won't have to put out a paid ad to prove it, your actions should speak louder than words. If your actions truly have the support of the FFL community, they should now come to your "rescue."

Kudos to everyone and to the Philstar texters who called a spade a spade. Crab Mentality it is.

Defending an indefensible position

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo

Sunday, May 25 2008 (

“They are defending an indefensible position,” was how my good friend Conrad de Quiros aptly described the pathetic situation of the modern Pharisees who have been undermining the genuine Christian work of Gawad Kalinga (GK).

Despite enlisting the witting or unwitting support of National Council of the Laity Director, Bishop Gabby Reyes, and that of Vatican head of the Pontifical Council of the Laity, Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko, Couples for Christ (CfC) former head Frank Padilla isn’t getting any sympathy from Filipinos who continue to express their wholehearted support for GK.

This is very evident in the many responses I have received in my mailbox and most especially — the May 12 Inbox of the Philippine STAR where overwhelming unanimous support for GK was registered. STAR Editor-in-Chief Isaac G. Belmonte agreed with me that the May 12 Inbox was the very first instance when the texters agreed on a single position — to support GK.

Ever since the STAR Inbox (an innovative feedback mechanism that earned for the STAR an award) was launched — it has never happened that the participating texters ever agreed on one position. The text messages last May 12 came from all over the country and these are folks who paid the SMS cost to be able to register their sentiments.

There were many more text messages that could not be published due to space limitations. Other than to screen those that use foul language and are irrelevant to the topic, it is STAR policy to promote discussion and a clash of ideas.

However, last May 12, the unthinkable happened. When asked the question of the day — “What words do you have for Gawad Kalinga?” — all texters praised GK. Some even condemned those whom they described as the “crabs” who are trying to undermine GK.

Following are some of those Inbox text responses.

The one good thing

I’ve always nurtured a burning desire to give back to my country in my own little way. Seeing Gawad Kalinga with all its accomplishments gives me a sense of fulfillment, knowing that its deeds come from those with a similar vision though I can only share in spirit. The tribe is increasing, so all I can say is keep up the good work. Gawad Kalinga is definitely the only good thing happening right now in this country. ­— Imee Aglibot, Rizal

An inspiration to us

Gawad Kalinga is an example of what NGO should be ‑ one that really provides service to the community. It built thousands of homes for the homeless, put up livelihood programs, established health care and provided education to the poor. Gawad Kalinga’s success also inspired Filipinos all over the world to contribute billions for its projects. — Robert Young Jr., San Juan

I see your noble deeds every time. I am thankful that there are still Good Samaritans like you in spite of the many gluttons around. — Rose Leobrera, Manila

It’s a blessing whose time has come, to give hope to the poor. Despite all the corruption and immorality in government, Gawad Kalinga inspires us all. ‑ Leonard Villa, Laoag City

The need of the poor is urgent. Gawad Kalinga will make us one nation, a united nation. It will rebuild this country. Kudos and God bless. — Johann Lucas, Quezon City

Spare it from crab mentality

Gawad Kalinga is a project that gives hope to the poor. I’d like to add that if it was given full support by the government and the private sector to go full swing all over the country, it will help solve many of the social problems existing in depressed areas that affect us all. I pray that this worthy project be spared from the destructive Filipino trait of crab mentality. ‑ I. Calata, Paranaque City

Gawad Kalinga’s efforts for the homeless poor are laudable and noble. Sadly, there are some who are envious and are shamelessly trying to discredit it. — Rey Ibalan, Antipolo City

While the world is all praises for the unprecedented effort of Gawad Kalinga, some Filipinos are not happy about its phenomenal success, showing the highest form of crab mentality. It’s unfortunate that some of those responsible for Gawad Kalinga’s growth and success are now frantic in their effort to discredit and destroy Gawad Kalinga for personal and selfish motives. But, like all good things, Gawad Kalinga will never die. — Rodolfo Capili, Caloocan City

Keep up the good work

For Gawad Kalinga, may your tribe increase! Don’t let your faith, good work and prayers slow down because God won’t. — Pat Miranda, Marikina City

Gawad Kalinga is the epitome of goodness to mankind, especially to the poorest of the poor. Keep up the good work and God bless. — Lito Sandico, Quezon City

Should teach politicians a thing or two

May Gawad Kalinga and Tony Meloto’s selfless dedication and fruitful service to our needy serve as a wake up call up to our self-serving leaders to change for the sake of the nation, otherwise, we’ll remain an international pariah competing for the despicable tag as Asia’s most corrupt. — William Gonzaga, Marikina City

If only the government will stand on the principles by which Gawad Kalinga was founded, then there’s still hope for our country. We can still be viable. — Jim Veneracion, Naga City

No words could aptly describe its poverty alleviation project. Where the government struggles, Gawad Kalinga succeeds. — Leandro Tolentino, Batangas City

To our fellowmen in Gawad Kalinga, your effort to build shelter for our financially incapacitated kababayans is beyond words. As a mission for the goodness of humanity, it’s a true act of a Good Samaritan, unlike the acts of some crooked businessmen and politicians who advertise their “humanitarian” acts as a deodorant. We salute you for that. — Elpidio Que, Vigan

Reliving the bayanihan spirit

With Gawad Kalinga, people from all walks of life are greatly inspired to discover a living and loving God in the heavenly eyes of the needy. — Renato Taylan, Ilocos Norte

Gawad Kalinga’s doing great. Those with the superstar complex who have always wanted their names to appear on billboards should wait for their time. — Manuel Abejero, Pangasinan

I have only but high praises for Gawad Kalinga. It is one human-centered project conceptualized with amiable hearts and enlightened minds. A number of my men are thankful recipients of the project. They now have a house and a lot, having built their house in the bayanihan spirit, with Gawad Kalinga concept as the guiding spirit. Mabuhay! — Rey Onate, Palayan City

Christianity in action

It is Christianity in action. By building homes for the poor, GK gives the poor new hope in life. — Edwin Castillo, Tanauan City

Gawad Kalinga symbolizes real Christianity (read Catholicism) in action! My compadre bought a Gawad Kalinga raffle ticket for P500 and won a 66 Mustang GT, which he is selling for P1.5 million so he can donate it back to Gawad Kalinga and build thirty-plus homes for the poor! He is a full-time Couples for Christ lecturer (and singer) and gives talks with his pretty wife. Mabuhay ka , pare ko, mabuhay ang Gawad Kalinga! — Gerii Calupitan, Mandaluyong City

It is genuine faith in action. — Eddie Cago, Digos City

Gawad Kalinga is the embodiment of the Christian spirit of brotherhood and love of fellowmen, a beacon of hope to keep the dignity of man. — C. Fundales, Bulacan

It’s love in action, thus making Jesus’ word come alive in that we are brothers all. — Myrna Militante, Quezon city

Gawad Kalinga is simply God calling apostles to serve humanity unselfishly! I salute them and bow to their mission, vision and humane work, which are living legacies of Christ’s ways. — Geoffrey Gumban, Davao City

God’s masterpiece

Gawad Kalinga is truly God’s work. I felt it when we joyfully and lovingly gave what little we had, plus blood and sweat, to help build Gawad Kalinga homes in Surigao City. L.C. Fiel, Quezon City

It’s God’s masterpiece implemented by his disciples for his less fortunate children. — Lydia Reyes, Bataan

Gawad Kalinga is a noble project with a great mission. — N.V. Lansangan, Tarlac

God will bless this people because they just do in part what Christ did on earth. — Pastor Manalastas, Cagayan

These are the people — the Church. Only a Pharisee would have the arrogance to dare question their esteem and appreciation for a truly Christian work that fulfills Christ’s commandment to love the least of our brethren.

* * *

Read more of William Esposo's take on the modern Pharisees HERE.

(Thanks for the special mention, William, and thank you for helping get the word out.)

Read about a GK volunteer's experiences here:

Jonny comments:

Hi C.D.

Thanks for the honorable mention you gave my blog at the end of this post.

It's truly an honor to serve as part of GK! As I worked with an American corporate here last week, I was reminded so strongly of that.

He said something along the lines of "It's the children that impact you the most. You don't realize until you see a GK village just how much difference this work is making to the future of these children."

I remember now that it was the children singing the Gawad Kalinga song in Baseco that first brought tears to my eyes when I was just a tourist in Manila, and ultimately inspired me to come and volunteer here.

I remember when all this conflict broke, Kuya Luis O. said to us, "Whatever happens, we will defend the poor! We will work to make sure this does not hurt them."

Thanks for defending those whose hearts have been impacted by injustice, exploitation - and even more so by the invitation of God to play a part in addressing this.

In the GK office, at a desk across from mine, a printed A4 paper stuck on the wall said it all:

"We are building God's Kingdom."

We pray, "Your kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven"...and we can't ignore the call to work for that cause :)

Once again, thanks for the honorable mention here. :)
It was my pleasure Jonny, keep up the GREAT work.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A State of Confusion pt. 1


One of the reasons why we contend that the FFL should not use the CFC name is because of the confusion it will cause among its present members, potential members, and with non-members who we have to deal with in the course of our affairs.

How you may ask? It's just common sense really. The first and most important (and quite valid) question a potential member can ask is:

Bakit dalawa? (Why must there be two CFC's?)

Are we not a Catholic organization that extols the virtues of Christ? Why can't we settle our differences? That will be tough to answer eh? And what will they think of us?

Another very important aspect is in our dealing with other businesses or organizations. Since the Easter Group claim quite similar charisms, the same vatican decree, and the same name, it will obviously lead to an identity confusion, especially by those not familiar with either groups. There are already many examples of this happening, either maliciously through selective disinformation by certain parties, or by simply an innocent error in identifying either party clearly. I'm sure you all remember certain events and venues being diverted because of this confusion. It's happened, and it's still happening. Even holding similar events on the same date is enough to confuse. What more when you do it at the same venue? In hindsight, I should have done this a long time ago. Maybe if we had been actively keeping track of the occurrences, the FFL will be more judicious in their attempts to hijack CFC venues. It will certainly give concrete proof that the CFC name cannot be haphazardly allowed to be used just by any association, and at the very least, minimize the confusion caused, directly and indirectly, by such activities. So as a word of warning and maybe, as a deterrent, I will now attempt to track these occurrences. If you all have verifiable information on when and how a confusion was caused by either party, you know where to reach me.

Venue Confusion - Laguna Disciples Weekend May 2008

This chain of actions and reactions started with a simple text by Penny De Leon, the wife of Mon De Leon, CFC Provincial Area Head in Laguna.

gud am sis/bro. seeking prayers 4 our laguna disciples wkend 2day n tom. ffl got d venue we reservd since april n we had 2 luk 4 a new venue yest. God is good He gave us 1. Now we placed strmers n our former venue w/ d instructn 2 proceed 2 r new venue n ffl wnt dis streamers 2 b removed. some bros r now n d area 2 look after our streamers n flock. May GOD enlightn FFL as 2 d harm they r doing. Pls pass 2 those who can pray 4 us. sis penny
At the conclusion of both CFC and FFL's events, an email sent by the FFL's Nonong Contreras was circulated, containing a short narrative written by Rene Evidente presenting his side.

----- Original Message -----
To: Recipient list suppressed
Sent: Saturday, May 17, 2008 10:03 PM

This morning, May 17, while attending the Laguna CFCFFL Joy Weekend in Calamba, I received the following text message: FYI: Frm P. Deleon- pls pray 4 r Laguna Disc Wknd 2day n tom. FFL got the venue we reservd since April n we had 2 luk 4 new venue yest. God is gud n gave us 1. We put strmers n our former venu w/ instructn 2 procid 2 new venue but FFL want dis removd. Some bros r now n d area 2 look after our streamers n flock. May GOD ENLIGHTEN FFL as 2 d harm they r doing.”

The text message was forwarded to me by a brother from CFCFFL. And so I assume that the text message had gone the rounds – that is, to all of CFC Global members and may be to many of our own members. The text message implies that Laguna CFCFFL used force or some devious scheme to wrest control of the venue, the Lina, Lajara, Chipeco Hall in Calamba, from CFC Global. And that we have acted in an un-Christian fashion by removing their streamers which were right in our venue’s doorstep.

Now for the truth. On April 20, CFCFFL reserved the venue for its Joy Weekend scheduled for May 17. Later, in discussing and clarifying the scheduling conflict with the owners of the venue, it was established that CFC Global reserved two days later on April 22 for their Disciple Weekend on May 17-18. That there were two reservations for the same venue and same day can hardly be blamed on the Laguna CFCFFL.

Just one day before the event, May 16, we were requested by the venue owners to use another nearby venue instead. But given that we have reserved ahead of CFC Global, that we have already paid the fee the week prior (CFC Global have not paid up to that day), that we have already notified all our members, that preparations specifically tailored to the venue have been completed, and in the spirit of fairness, the owners had no choice but to give us the use of the venue. The owner gave the other nearby venue to CFC Global.

This morning, one of their big streamers was placed right on the street corner leading up to our venue down the road. They even had a person manning the corner, just in case. Though it could become confusing to our members, we let it be. But placing two big steamers on the left side and on the right side of the gate of our venue is something else. While it might help their attendees, it will certainly confuse our own members as they approach the gate. In the spirit of peace, we did not remove their streamers. We just posted our own brothers outside the gate to guide those arriving for the Joy Weekend. I honor my brothers and sisters who have exercised patience and self-control in dealing with such an aggravating situation.

I want to assure our brothers and sisters, that in keeping with the spirit and the good name of CFCFFL, we in Laguna cannot fall into the devious behavior and ill-will attributed to us by this texter.

By the way, we had a spirit-filled, joy-filled and venue-filled weekend. Praise God.

Rene Evidente
May 17, 2008
CFC's Mon De Leon responds, and presents evidence:

Mon de Leon <> wrote:

Hi Bro. Nonong - Thanks for forwarding the email of Rene Evidente to me. I have also received the same forwarded message from other brothers. Unfortunately I have not received this directly from Rene himself. Hereinbelow is my reply and explanation of our side regarding the 'truth' that Rene outrightly circulated to his 'supressed recepient list'. This email is addressed to Rene (I am not sure of his email address, but then kindly forward this to him):

Dear Brother Rene (Evidente),

Here is my reply to your May 17 email forwarded by Brother Nonong Contreras. For your clarification and mine, I gathered facts and documents so that what I will state in answer to you are all factual and with documentary proof.

Fact 1. The text of Penny requesting for prayers is true but with some correction compared to what you have quoted in your email. The last line of her text is missing that says "Pls. pass to those who can pray 4 us." Penny's text for prayers was sent to just 8 brothers and sisters in in Metro Manila. An original text was received by Penny at 7:10AM coming from CFC Sister Lani Velasco, wife of our PFO on the morning of May 17, the first day of the CFC Disciples Weekend in Laguna. We were on our way to Laguna to oversee the event as we are the assigned Provincial Area Head of that province. Penny edited her text and forwarded it as I mentioned above.

Fact 2: During the April Provincial Council meeting of Laguna, the matter of the Disciples weekend was discussed. By that time, CFC already was told that the Joaquin Chipeco Hall, our usual venue, will not be available for May 17-18 for it will be used by the DepEd. Thus, Laguna CFC instead wrote to reserve Lina Lajara Hall.

About a month later, 11AM, Friday, May 16, we were told of the problem with the venue which appeared to have been reserved by FFL at an earlier date, and I was told on the cellphone that FFL has paid for it; and that CFC was being offered another another venue (Joaquin Chipeco Hall). Even though Laguna CFC felt it had the right to claim for that reservation, Laguna CFC decided to accept the Chipeco venue offered by the DepEd staff in the spirit of humility and for peace and brotherhood in Christ. Having no more time to inform the members aside from texting and as suggested by Danny of DepEd, CFC Laguna prepared streamers to re-direct the members to the new venue. The streamers were placed 200 Mtrs away onto a tree at the street corner turning towards the Lina Lajara Hall to the right and to Chipeco Hall towards the left. Streamers were also placed at the entrance gate of the school compound where the Lina Lajara Hall is located but NOT at the Lajara Hall entrance itself and definitely NOT in the doorstep of Lajara Hall as you claim in your email. On the morning of May 17, two of our brothers assigned to redirect CFC members were approached by an FFL leader asking them to remove our directional signs. Our CFC brother said "cfc already gave way to this venue by backing down and you still want our directional streamers removed?". What could be more unChristian than adding insult to injury: CFC already lost its original venue, FFL Laguna still wanted to remove our directional streamers! Brother Rene, this is the essence of the text of Penny requesting for prayers which she has forwarded to some close brothers and sisters: that our directional streamers not be removed lest the CFC members lose their way. Had the directional signs been removed, it will surely HARM the Disciples' Weekend and those members who will miss God's message.


Fact 3: CFC's reservation letter is dated 18 April 2008 and faxed on the same day to the DepEd office in-charge of the reservations. In that letter, CFC requested for 4 dates to be reserved (see our letter attached). The DepEd Logbook clearly shows the dates requested by CFC: May 11, 17,18, while the May 24 request was not recorded because CFC was told it was already booked for another party. The original copy of the letter which was faxed on the same day (April 18) was delivered/stamped received on April 22 (see stamped received on CFC letter in the attachment).

Fact 4: It was on April 22 that CFC was informed that our request for the use of Lina Lajara hall for May 24 could not be accommodated, May 11, 17 and 18 were OK. Granting, without admitting, your claim that FFL reserved the Lajara Hall on April 20 (refer to Par #3 of your email and the text messages from the FFL leaders) is true, how come the DepEd staff didn’t outright reject our request for May 17-18 also on April 22? How come we were not advised/informed of the existence of FFL's letter request allegedly submitted and received on April 20? THE DepED logbook (see attachment) CLEARLY SHOW THAT THE THREE DAYS (May 11,17,18) OUT OF THE 4 DAYS WE REQUESTED WERE RECORDED. FFL's letter did not ask for 4 days, only for one day May 17. Where else could the DepEd staff base the entries in the logbook? - Where else but from the CFC letter: either from the faxed copy on even date i.e., April 18 or, from the duly stamped original letter of CFC received on April 22.

4.1. Without doubt, the DepEd staff used the CFC letter as the basis for recording in the logbook. If she had used the April 18 letter that was faxed to their office, then, CFC was FIRST to reserve. On the other hand, if DepEd has used the one received/stamped April 22 as the basis to log our requested dates, where then was FFL's letter, which you claim have been received and stamped April 20? I SUSPECT THAT THE FFL LETTER HAS NOT BEEN RECEIVED BY THE DepED as of April 22.

Fact 5: Brother Rene, in your third paragraph "NOW for the TRUTH....." where your leader in Laguna claimed that the FFL letter was received by the DepEd on April 20, 2008-- that day is a SUNDAY. THE DepED IS CLOSED AND HAS NO OFFICE ON THAT DAY. WE IN LAGUNA CFC CONTINUE TO WONDER HOW FFL's RESERVATION LETTER WAS DELIVERED AND RECEIVED, EVEN ON A SUNDAY.

FACT 6. DepEd is used to receiving payment for the use of their auditorium a few days before but most of the time after the CFC event. FFL members who were former CFC know this. The logged reservation and permit form was for May 17-18. On the day FFL paid ahead (FFL paid on May 12), obviously paying ahead will be the clincher. It is highly improbable that the FFL person is not aware or innocent of the logged dates May 17-18. How could the DepEd receive payment for one day only--what about the 18th? Is FFL claiming now that as of May 12 (the day of FFL's payment) they are NOT AWARE OF CFC's May 17-18 Disciples weekend? Obviously paying ahead will be the clincher. We continue to pray and would like to believe that this advance payment of the venue by FFL is without any devious intent or ill-will and that the person/s involved had no prior knowledge of the reservation dates CFC requested. What bothers me Brother Rene is that the act of your FFL leaders in Laguna mirrors the accusations you have made on my wife Penny (where you stated "the devious and ill-will attributed to FFL by this texter...."). Since when did "requesting for prayers" become devious? Penny and I were not even the organizers of the event to say the least! The text for prayers of Penny is about our directional streamers being asked by your FFL leaders to be removed and which you might have missed quoting the last sentence of the Penny's text when you quoted and it says "pls pass to those who can pray 4 us". I also pray the it is not deliberate. Nevertheless, where is the lie here? Later, some of our CFC leaders in Laguna started to recieve ugly texts from FFL leaders/members pointing to Penny. Here are some:

Text message from identified FFL texter:

"Ur leader penny kept on sending txt of lies even in manila kalat na. Dapat magverify muna sya bago mag accuse. Im sending dis 2 u kc alam ko broad minded ka. Dis r the facts: ffl booked lajara april 20 and paid in full may 12 whereas global booked only on april 22 and as of noon yesterday has not made any payment. This can be verified from the records tnku"

Another Text message from identified FFL texter:

"Our response to the text sent by ur Sis P deLeon...Records would clearly show that we reserved and paid ahead of you. We never knew till yesterday that you intended to use the same place............"

Fact 7: On May 16, The DepEd staff realizing herself a victim of the confusion and that CFC was really the first to reserve the place, tried her best to talk to and convince FFL by calling them after finding out about the "mistake" in reservations but FFL stuck to their argument "bayad na kami". It was too late. It was then that the Chipeco Hall was offerred to CFC (As a matter of fact, in early April we were already told that Chipeco Hall will not be available. The DepEd staff could only remark "akala ko pareho lang yung CFC, dalawa pala" (I thought it was the same CFC, I did not know there's two groups). Still, instead of arguing and debating, CFC backed down and gave way to FFL. It was then that a certain Danny of DepEd who suggested that CFC place the directional signs/streamers.

Brother Rene, you have been in my CFC Household for a number of years and your Elder and Chapter Head then. For a time, we were together in the St James Parish Council. We recall the many times we have brought into our household the sharings, love of Christ and His Word. Wala tayong pinagsamahang masama, only our pure love for the Lord and the service that we enjoyed giving as our bond of brotherhood and friendship. How could you do this to Penny whose only role in this entire story is to ask for prayers? Brother you could have easily conferred with me, both of us living just a few streets apart within the same village and same parish. You could have verified first, especially those claims and circumstances presented to you by your FFL leaders in Laguna and that you, my brother in Christ, broadcasting the matter in the internet without regard to the reputation of the person, whom you know personally, the wife of your former household leader in CFC. You could have "considered others as more worthy than thyself". This could have been easily resolved without your sending out this reputation-damaging conclusion. And you, Rene, a brother I love will conclude in your email pointing to your Sister Penny as"...the devious behavior and ill-will... of this texter" (Ref: Matt 7:1-5)

Brother, you stated in your email "in the spirit of peace, we did not remove their streamers." Yes, Brod Rene, you did not remove the streamers because your FFL brother/s were not able to. They specifically asked our guides to have it brought down. By asking CFC to have its directional sign is already the added insult in addition to the injury CFC Laguna suffered by losing its venue.

I shall await for your response before I move on to my next action. I also have other documents but the two attachments,I pray, will be enough in the meantime for this CLARIFICATION.

Yours in Christ,

Bro. Ramon "Mon" de Leon

PAH, Laguna

Couples For Christ


Download Rene Evidente's letter HERE.

Download Mon De Leon's letter HERE.

Download all documents pertaining to this issue as of 5-22-08 HERE.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Masters of Misinformation

It looks like the Easter Group's war machine is seeing red.

In their latest opus of misinterpretation (written conspicuously in red), they once again manage to twist the Vatican's words to suit their needs, and predictably, attack their fellow man. After Nonong's clumsy turn at the keyboard and disastrous attempt at a public (and quite expensive) "rejoinder", it's really looking like they're pulling all the stops to keep their little enterprise from sinking. To be honest, the Easter Group is doing a far, far better job than I am in showing that they're completely incapable of Christian behavior. I really can't understand how these increasingly angry men can sit there waiting for any tiny crumb of information to attack the IC with, then beat their chests to their followers about how they are "defenders of the Church".

Well at least their war strategy is consistent, and believe me, after their grand faux pas in misplacing the minutes of their meeting, lets not fool ourselves into thinking no battle plans are being constantly laid. It's actually so consistent that it's predictable. It's the same strategy that has worked so well for palestinian terrorists against Israel - Lob rockets at innocent civilians, then cry for international protection when Israel sends tanks to protect its people. (yes, I know that's an over simplification, but you get the point)

In this case, the Easter Group uses anything it can get its hands on to make a public statement, but somehow always manages to slant an attack at the IC. It's really just misinformation, and the clever re-interpretation of the work of others to suit their needs. In fact it's so predictable that regular commenter solidyfc even warned they would find cause to use a recent Vatican press release. And sure enough...

To use the Vatican's press releases to further your evangelism is a noble undertaking, no doubt about that. But when you use it in an attempt to bad mouth and attack people who are doing nothing to you, then to go and claim you are just "defending the Church" when others rise to protect them? C'mon now gentlemen, not only are you not doing the good work of the Vatican any justice, but I've frankly seen more honorable "bad guys" in comic books. Surely you can do better than that. You know, I'm quite sure when the Vatican decides to release a statement, it is meant to stand on its own. No creative RE-interpretations or MIS-interpretations necessary. Right?

Take for instance, this excerpt from Nonong Contreras' impassioned and defensive (and imaginatively titled) "AS WE CLIMB STAIRS AND LADDERS: A REJOINDER TO “AS I WRECK MY CHAIR”

Did Mr. Esposo know that on Aug.28, 2007, the CBCP, thru its investigative body of Bishops, heard testimonies and evidence presented by former GK leaders who reported numerous cases of the veering away of GK from the life and mission of CFC?
I'm just trying to figure out how that meeting/discussion went from a dialogue to an investigation, but then of course, calling it an investigation gives Nonong the validation he needs to make his case against Mr. Esposo. Not even their erstwhile ally, Bishop Reyes calls it an investigation. The piece is full of unsubstantiated claims, that not only saw life as another Easter Group chain letter (really, it's getting old) and blog entry, but as a paid ad in the Philstar. That's quite an expensive rejoinder there Mr. Contreras, but as my father always said,

"In an argument, he who screeches the loudest has the most to lose."

Since we're going back to that Aug 28 dialogue, let me bring up another creative piece of misinformation that that Easter Group disseminated to their members. If you can all recall, the dialogue resulted in a pronouncement by Bishop Reyes on the FFL's standing in terms of the acceptance of its group in local dioceses. This is what he said:
The Couples for Christ for Family and Life led by Bro. Frank Padilla is now recognized as a diocesan private association of the faithful in the Diocese of Antipolo,” Bishop Reyes said. He added the group may go into other dioceses with the permission of the bishop of the place.
Pretty clear right? At least it is to me. But here's what the Easter Group told their members:

1. CFC’s recognition as an International Private Association of the Faithful

“Only the Vatican through the Pontifical Council of the Laity has the authority over CFC in the national and international level. But every diocesan bishop has authority over it in its diocese. Each diocesan bishop has authority to deny permission to CFC to function in his diocese, even if the association is international.” (page 4, Sept. 6, 2007, Letter of Bishop Reyes). Therefore, both CFC-FFL and CFC-GK need to get permission from the diocese. It still remains to be decided by each bishop whether they will recognize both CFCs, or just one, or even accept both.
To me, the more you have to attempt to explain something, the further from the simple truth you get. It's really not that hard to understand, just like,

"...your name, Couples for Christ may not be used by any other association."

Why they feel a clarification of of a clarification is necessary, I really don't know. Maybe their anger is clouding their comprehension skills.

Speaking of anger, some of you might have seen the picture on top and these two pictures already, from an account by Bro Jerome Paler of a meeting he had with an angry Frank Padilla.

Here's an excerpt of Jerome's account:

FAP: sa lahat ng tao, yan ang tao na di ko gusto, sabi sabi ng idol, yun pala, tinitira ako! sinisiraan ako!!
JP: ako tito? Siniraan kita? Narinig mo sa akin talaga?! ( take note , meron ding exclamation point at the end of my reply )
FAP: ginagatungan mo ang mga tao?!!
JP: wala naman akong ginawa sa yo? Bakit narinig mo ba sa aking mga bibig na siniraan kita? Na ginatungan ko yung mga CFC brothers na nagtanong sa yo? ( at this point I saw toto laroa, our cluster head and I gestured him to come nearer kasi baka lumala ang usapan, gusto ko na may witness )
FAP: Ok not from you but from your organization! ( sabay nag gesture nang quote-unquote)

It's quite scary seeing Frank like this. He's going to have to be careful with his words and actions, as they are not becoming of someone who has "founder" status.

The full account is HERE.

I'm sorry if I might have been a little all over the place today. Everytime I think of something to blog about, you guys cover it in the comments! Hehe...keep it up guys, I'm loving the awesome exchange of thoughts and ideas going on.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Voices of Faith and Reason

Retired Bishop Franciso Claver, in a lucid and inspiring essay written for the CBCP Monitor gives his take on the FFL's over-emphasis on "veering away".

(to steal or not to steal from him?)
By: Francisco F. Claver, SJ
Reprinted with permission from the CBCP Monitor Vol.12 No.10
May 12-25, 2008 Page A4

I was home in Bontoc recently, and as I was leaving the parish church after Mass the last day of my visit, one of the parishioners rather rudely accosted me with this question:

“Is it at all allowed to steal from the devil?”

“Daft!” I said to myself. I stole a look at my interrogator-it was “the village philosopher”. I thought he was trying to be funny, but he looked serious. Like the Sphinx, in fact. And inscrutable too. So I decided to play along and questioned him in turn, “Why do you ask that?”

He answered: “Because you priests - pardon my impertinence, your Excellency! - say it would not be a sin to steal under certain circumstances, for example, if I were starving and the only way I could survive were to steal the food I needed.” I replied: “You're right. But why the devil?” “Because,” he came right back, “he is the one who has the ready means in the casus conscientiae [a conscience problem under discussion by moralists] that's bothering me.” The man even knew Latin.

And he proceeded to complicate his original question with another (he hadn't earned the sobriquet of “philosopher” for nothing): “But suppose the devil freely gives me what I want, so it wouldn't be necessary to steal, can I in good conscience avail of his magnanimity?” His logic was impeccable (though I still have to meet such a devil of magnanimity), so I answered: “Yes!” This, grudgingly. And not a little testily: “But what are you getting at anyway with all those hypothetical questions?” “They're not at all hypothetical,” he shot back. And he explained how he was a CfC member of the parish and the split between the group of Mr. Padilla and that of Mr. Meloto was so painful to him and his follow CfC-ers, they didn't know what to make of it. And neither did their pastor. (I learned later, though, that they had decided to stick with Mr. Meloto.)

He drew a parallel between starving people stealing or freely receiving help from the devil on the one hand, and on the other, the miserably housed in squatter areas in Manila (which, he said, had horrified him no end when he saw what passed for their “houses”), the putative beneficiaries of the donations of a pharmaceutical company manufacturing “sinful” contraceptives. I didn't think the company in question would welcome being classified as the devil, but then it was being criminalized by Mr. Meloto's critics, so I thought the man's comparison was quite apt. He found great difficulty in the reason being advanced to condemn Mr. Meloto's efforts at helping to provide necessary housing for the poor, supposedly, the use of evil means for a good end. That was how receiving money from the pharmaceutical company for Gawad Kalinga projects was being caricatured. And he went on to add in defense of Mr. Meloto that it wasn't as if he, Meloto, were profiting personally from the company's donations.

That exchange occupied my thoughts all the way back to Manila later in the day. The man was right. If people in desperate straits may steal, it doesn't matter from whom they steal, saint or devil although if I were asked, I would most probably counsel stealing from whichever of the two was richer! But if instead of stealing, the severely indigent begged and were given help freely again, does it matter at all if the donor is a saint or the devil himself? If I were asked by the beggars directly, should I tell them to beg from the saint and not from the devil? But of this I'm sure: If the saint were in any way reluctant to help, I'd have no qualms whatsoever about telling them: “Go to the devil!”

All these strange thoughts because of the quarreling heads of the CfC. The split among them is most unfortunate. But whatever the reasons for it, a way must be found for the work of the CfC to go on. And by “the work of the CfC”, I mean what both factions say they are interested in: the spiritual formation of families, the housing of poor ones, these must by all means be done. But where dirt-poor families are concerned, I would put their housing needs before their spiritual ones. As the old Latin dictum has it (it must have been thought up by another village sage), “primum vivere, secundum philosophare - to stay alive comes first, to philosophize [or theologize too?] second.”

I guess more spiritual persons than I will vehemently say nay to that bit of folk wisdom, maintain that the spiritual must come first at all costs before the material. I'll have no trouble agreeing with them in the order of ultimate priorities. But in a situation of dire and immediate need for shelter and food? I'm afraid I'll have to say the physical and the material will have to be attended to first. This is what many of us who work in the Church's social action apostolate have found from painful experience. It is simply not the right thing to do to talk about spiritual matters to people whose empty bellies cry out to be filled. Or whose make-shift, open-to the-elements hovels degrade and make hard the living of their dignity as human beings and as children of the one Father of us all.

The parallel the man made between the desperate need for food and the equally desperate need for shelter came back to me with head-battering force. How spiritual can a family get living over a stinking estero or in one of those under-a-bridge “condos” that are the scandal of Manila? A decent house to bring up a family in, that's an essential, I would think, for ordinary human living and, yes, for ordinary spiritual well-being as well.

Getting direct help from the devil - the thought was most intriguing. And another just as intriguing popped up to mind unbidden: Why should the devil go against his nature and agree to do a good deed? For a human, redeemable “devil”, I thought to myself, it could be out of a desire to make reparation for sins; or simply out of ordinary Filipino awa, something that I would think should come naturally to most of us. But for the real, unredeemed and unredeemable devil? No problem, I concluded: It would be out of sheer malice to wreck havoc on some moral theologian's inflexibly righteous certitudes! I should have asked my Igorot philosopher for his opinionated but, I do not doubt, common-sense verdict?

The real scandal, I further concluded, was not the money gotten from the “devil” of a pharmaceutical firm, but the necessity to welcome it because Christians, the saints, were not being sufficiently forthcoming with their charity.

“I was a stranger and you took me in; I was without a roof and you helped me put one over my head and my family's. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

And with that bothersome if holy thought, I fell into a fitful, troubled nap.

Note: This was also covered by Mr. William Esposo in his May 18 article in the Philstar.

It is also saved as a PDF and can be downloaded from the "Archived Documents" sidebar on the right, or click HERE.

Considering that the Easter Group has managed to stick their noses in our business and twisted Bishop Reyes' resignation as our spiritual advisor to further their cause (which I pretty much predicted btw). I really would not be suprised if they reply to this and somehow make it appear that Bishop Claver is attacking the church. Take it easy Mr. Contreras, and watch what you say, lest, once again, you do exactly what you are accusing others of. I've noticed that you have started to write the Easter Group's attack mail to deflect attention away from Frank and his increasingly angry e-missives, but don't get too complacent in your new job. With your credibility shot, it won't take long before you do more harm than good for your corporation.

I'm too late, they already did, it seems:

The Devil is the Details

“In a recent release of the CFC Ugnayan Media Center, an article ostensibly from Bishop Claver was reprinted in order to justify, even morally, getting support and aid from the devil in times of dire necessity. In a bit of overextension of the principle of double effect in Theodicy, survival has been pictured as the greater good which must be embraced even if the means coming from the giver is per se, evil.

The whole story sadly misses the point of His Excellency Cardinal Rylko. Rylko's reasons were quite clearly stated that it was necessary for the Church to be absolute in prohibiting any form of partnerships with pharmas because said companies may use this type of compensating philanthropy to precisely justify the use of contraceptives and abortifacients, which is patently opposed to Church teachings. Thus, if said companies make it a point to promote and save lives because of the donations it gives and even if such grants are so huge they can build shelters and cure poor people from the ravages of disease and sickness, the good Bishop would like to make us believe that such good deeds absolve the evils wrought by the killing of millions of unborn children. This compensating philosophy is then reduced to ad absurdum levels by denigrating abortion to merely a philosopher's statement, because one has been able to feed millions as well.

Where lies the difference? Is it a matter of life for life? Does this justify ethnic genocides, family feuds , tribal wars because life is compensated for life? More fundamentally, what if the party whose turn it is to kill subsequently adopts all the children of the victim and clothes them, feeds them, sends them to school? Do these deeds make them the greater and nobler good? Do they wipe out the sins and absolve the sinners?

To reiterate, Cardinal Rylko is sadly misinterpreted here again. It is the actual danger that compensating philanthropy presents that he wishes us to avoid, albeit reject. The devil is in the details of the fallacies we foist and expect our readers to accept without the benefit of context of what is really Cardinal Rylko's point. To subscribe to this notion of compensating philanthrophy is dangerous because put to extremes, it can justify a lot of evil masked as good.

Nonong Contreras
May 17, 2008
Do your thing Nonong, just don't forget to stop by the Caritas office with your burning cross. While you're at it, you might as well hit the nearest confessional and let the priest know that these words came out of your mouth:
I would suspect there is a grand plan to put up a big offensive on the part of the IC after the Arguelles/Tale audience with Rylko. These guys are playing for keeps and ready to spend resources for a final push, starting with the CBCP Monitor and now the Philstar ad. For all the Vatican's naivete, Arguelles and co. did a good PR job and a Rylko reiteration ordering 1 CFC in their favor may not be far in the offing. The CBCP supplement and the Philstar ad are parts of a conditioning job, a transitioning mode perhaps going into a segueway of ordering both camps to reconcile with them having the upperhand. I maybe wrong but the moves are all too familiar to a grand PR offensive, what with IC members traipsing around the world right now.

The key to derailing this is no other than Bishops Gabby, Lagdameo, Villegas and now Cruz. In particular, we went into this with Bishop Gabby and now, because we wanted to abide with the Bishops' wish, we seem to have been left out in the cold. Soc brokered the first ever agreement and even wrote the document about the spin off of GK from CFC. Where is he now? Lagdameo blows hot and cold depending on who he is faced with. Cruz seems to be a lot of hot air with no deliverables yet in sight. These guys better be serious because singly and collectively, the Batangueno prelate seems to have done a far better job than all of them combined. Sabi nga, tumataya si Arguelles at nakatutok and he got results. On the other hand, our Bishops continue to engage in civilities and seem not to be ready to stick by us.They cannot just stay idle twiddling their thumbs and reading tea leaves, albeit smoking pot. We should all know by now that even in the Vatican, they play politics. Unless we are ready to do the big league, let us just be content being what we are and doing our work silently and incrementally.

Sorry for the outrage but it has to be said because we all need to wake up and face realities.

God bless.


Your Bishops, huh. Nice. I didn't know we were playing a team sport like the PBA, complete with recruitment, sidelines, venue manipulation, and a bench. Smoking pot? And you were saying those opinion writers were attacking the Church? Talk about the POT calling the kettle BLACK. To have writers affiliated with CFC draw attention to some inconsistencies in Church policies is one thing, but to have FFL leaders speak about Bishops with such disdain and angst, well...I'm speechless.

To the regular members of the FFL, this is nothing against any of you, but as they say, the Captain goes down with the ship. That doesn't mean the passengers have to learn how to swim as well. With leaders like these, my heart truly goes out to you. Your evangelism is better served with leaders whose intentions are pure. To our friends in the FFL, esp Akosikenn, I am respectfully asking for your thoughts on this.

Their accusations of CFC and GK "veering away" is just becoming tiresome. All it is doing is opening a can of worms that few in the clergy want to touch, considering the subject affects MANY Catholic organizations who are already hard pressed as it is to do their work in caring for the poor. Once again, tho, I wouldn't be suprised if the Easter Group claim that they meant to do that to incite a philosophical/theological discussion on the subject. After what happened in Laguna recently, nothing really surprises me anymore.

To the blogging crew: Thank you for the comments you've left in the other entries related to Bishop Claver's article. I will be trying to transfer them into this one, but if you see that I've missed some, please do me a favor and move them over here. I would like to keep the comments relevant to the subject.

Speaking of relevance, I will be covering what happened in Laguna in another entry. Save your comments for that and I will be moving the other related comments to that entry as well. I think it is HIGH TIME that we started tracking these occurrences and I will need your help. I hope someone was able to get pictures, first hand accounts, and facts from that event. You all know where to reach me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Power of Prayer!

A big thank you to those who sent pictures in, especially to Chris F. for the awesome panoramic. Great shooting, buddy! Check out more of his pictures here.

So I thought this comment deserved an entry of its own, thanks to commenter CELEBRATED PENTECOST who posted this on Our Separate Ways:

I was at Amoranto Velodrome in QC last night, May 10 (6;30PM) up to this morning May 11 (2:00AM)!

I saw empty whitE mono-block chairs drenched by the rain at around 7:00 to past 8:00 PM.

I saw an empty (of people) stage with electronic audio equipment dangerously exposed to the weather.

I saw few people about 2,000 to three thousand with worried disappointed look in their faces, some of those next to me said: "pag-tumila ng kaunti ang ulan alis na tayo!"

I saw Fr. Paul take the mike from the SFC or HOLD member in black (she is from Indonesia?)and then Fr. Paul led all to prayer and songs of praise: a prayer for God to stop the rain.

I saw some handmaids and CFC leaders start praying to Mama Mary and the rosary prayer also had one petition: "Stop the Rain!"

Then I saw the raindrops thin out to a drizzle, then just to a mist, then IT WAS GONE!!!!!

Then the lights and sounds came on again and then the announcement:"THE PROGRAM WILL PROCEED"


Then everything is history!

1. CFC begins and ends a night assembly, despite the threat of bad weather, with at least 15,000 to 17,000 members of CFC and Ministries!

2. CFC completes formation of a HUMAN CROSS (will someone please provide the external measurement of the cross, so we can more or less estimate how many persons they filled it with!) with my humble estimate of at least 12k to 13k brothers and sisters & kids standing there.

3. a first celebration of a PENTECOST RALLY with a celebration of Holy Eucharist as top attraction and reason for being ( I forgot the Latin words)!

4. I think it is also a first in CFC gathering that a big GK related show - 'TAO PO' was presented. I am sure happy that it was announced that the show will be done also in Singapore.

By the way, please pray for a male 'Tao Po' performer who met an accident after he played his role: HE FELL OFF THE SLIPPERY STAGE STAIR. DOCTORS MIGHT HAVE DIAGNOSED A BROKEN BONE AS I SAW THEY TIED UP HIS LEG WHEN THEY BOARDED HIM ON THE AMBULANCE.

The MOTHERS HAD A BONUS, as Mass Celebrant Bishop Yniguez greeted them for Mother's Day; he reminded us too of Mama Mary's being our mother!.

One more before I go: PRAYERS ARE ANSWERED! GOD IS WITH US -- an no rain can stop what we do for Him to affirm HIS GLORY!! (by the way, people did not leave when the rain stopped!)
Here is jiggs' moving account:

Our busful of CFC/YFC left las pinas at around 630pm. It was not raining yet but along the way rain started to pour. When we were at the Baclaran area, rain was terrible. I was silently praying and hoping that the rain is confined only in the south and that in QC its dry and not raining. i was tempted to text friends in the QC area to check, but i did not because i know God would listen.

Rains started to become stronger as we enter Manila. but while in the quiapo area, rains start to quiet down, it was heavy drizzle na lang and not as strong.

we passed along Espana and we saw a lot of floods plus some traffic in the area. I prayed as i looked at the traffic and the floods. I prayed that the rain fully stop so as not to dampen the spirit of our members and the youth/children with us in the bus. We dont want them to get wet.
Finally, we arrived at around 820pm in Amoranto. I thanked God because there was no more rain. as we entered the complex, there were arleady people in the grandstand around 30% filled, gathered at the center. The oval/velodrome was empty of people, chairs are still stacked up with no one to use them.

And then just about a few minutes after we entered the stadium, the program began. We came in just in time. :)

As the program progresses, my sight was on the grandstand which continued to fill. People continue to arrive, people started to fill the grandstand at both ends. then people started to fill the oval as well. Stacked chairs were lined up inside the oval. and people continue to fill the grandstand to around 60-70% capacity. people were singing, dancing and clapping their hands during the festivities because the rains stopped. i was saying to my seatmate, ang lakas talaga natin kay Lord.

just when the mass finished, some drops of rain were felt - yun na nga yung final blessing coz i think the rain did not pour anymore. its as if it was there to bless the people.

i will not talk about the program anymore, but i saw God's hand in all these. the rain stopped just to allow the program to proceed... to form the human cross... and to celebrate the Pentecost mass... ang galing talaga ni Lord!

Please share your experiences!

A belated Happy Mother's day to the Blessed Mother Mary and to all the mothers out there, I hope we are making you proud! To the beautiful and hardworking mothers in my life, MOM and MAMA...I'd just like to say:

Thank you for bringing me into this world, keeping me pointed in the right direction, keeping me grounded when I was flying too high, and uplifting me when I was down. The love you give and show transcend mere words like "in-law", and I will be forever thankful for being embraced with the love you show an undeserving son. There are no words to express the gratitude I feel, but I will live the rest of my days trying to live up to and deserve your love.

Thank you...for EVERYTHING.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Peaceful Discourse

Friends, I just wanted to thank you all for the lucid and well reasoned interaction in the comments section. I wish I could compile everything and make a book out of it, it's that good!

I invite you all to join in HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Also, I've added a section on the right sidebar to archive important documents, please check it out.

Lastly, some of you may have read the FFL's latest release, of course twisting things around and compiling excerpts from the writings of Boy Montelibano, Conrado De Quiros, and William Esposo, calling them anti-church. We all know this couldn't be further from the truth. I've got something coming up about that, but please check out Boy Montelibano's response HERE. It is also archived over on the right.

Conrado De Quiros' response HERE. I laughed out loud when I was reading this, lets just say that the FFL writers went way out of their depth when they decided to attack these guys.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Origins Pt 3

Here is the 3rd and last installment of the Origins series. I'll reprint for easy reading here, but you may also download it as a pdf file HERE. The whole series is available on the right side bar as well.

Part 1 is HERE.

Part 2 is HERE.

I share with you all now,


This will be the last in the series about the early origins of Couples for Christ.
When we began this story, the intention was not to pit one side against the other or generate even more contentious issues than our community already faces. We simply wanted to tell the truth. In the interest of fairness, we wanted to hear from those who, for 15 long years, had stood silently by while only one perspective of our early history was told. This series has allowed the other side to be heard now, at a crucial time in our community life.

Is it by God's design? We will never know. What we do know is this: In the pursuit of truth, we discovered a great story. This is it! We tell it now, to the best of our abilities.

If this series had raised more questions than it tries to answer, we sincerely apologize. History, after all, is only a series of perspectives that only attains clarity when seen from the vantage point of distance and time. Perhaps those questions will be answered in time, perhaps not. Perhaps we are all simply being asked to look at the facts and to relate those facts to our own lives. They are not meant to confuse or disorient us, but to lead us to a more committed life with the one who we say we are FOR… Christ.

In the pursuit of historical research, there is a tendency to get swamped in the minute details. We found ourselves wading through reams of materials, most of them unsolicited. But the ones that mattered, the facts that we eventually published, were those that we actively solicited because Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community (LNP), the only true source of the facts, was not initially inclined to provide them. They only relented when we urged that Couples for Christ needed to hear their side.

Even after 15 years, the people we spoke to, clearly still felt the pain caused by the events of 1993. But the telling of the truth and the catharsis of finally being able to speak out, appear to be pointing the way to true healing and reconciliation.

In the last meeting that the authors had with Vic Gutierrez, together with Joe and Babylou Tale, what shone through was the spirit of genuine reconciliation. Joe was led to declare that this is the start of healing for both communities. He predicted a closer relationship between CFC and LNP based on the shared mission of renewal and of reaching out to others.

The unraveling of the story…

January 1991, after almost 10 years of serving as the head of CFC, Vic yielded the overall leadership to Fr Herb Schneider. He was very busy serving in several areas as a leader in Ligaya. Frank Padilla was then the executive director of CFC and also served as the Coordinator of the North District. The rest of the CFC council were; Tony Meloto, Bobby Pilar, Rouquel Ponte, and Arben Visenio. CFC membership was about 7,000 couples; larger than LNP and all its ministries combined.

There were many requests from various parishes for CFC to conduct a Christian Life Program. CFC could only accede to a few due to a lack of trained leaders. It had to 'borrow' leaders from Ligaya to accommodate these requests. Problems started to crop up, as Ligaya members had difficulty in balancing their schedule between service in CFC and Ligaya activities. CFC members were still in the so-called 'underway' phase undergoing leadership training.

Towards the end of 1991, Frank met with Vic to discuss CFC concerns and a proposal to establish CFC as an independent community. It would entail the spinning off the East district so that the entire group could concentrate fully on CFC. Vic, as his pastoral leader, advised him to put his proposal in writing and submit it to Fr Herb. However Fr Herb and the ExCom took a while before acting on the proposal.

By 1992, the atmosphere in the community was rife with rumors and news about CFC's plan to separate. This was the backdrop of a major upheaval that led to the separation of CFC from LNP in 1993.

Ominous days…

February 1993, Fr Herb met in a series of meetings with Frank and some members of the CFC council. After the meetings, on March 11, he wrote a memo to Frank Padilla and the CFC Council explaining the response of the Overall Leadership Team (OLT). The following are excerpts from this memo:

“Couples for Christ is an outreach of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community and a partner in mission with LNP and the other outreach organizations that were formed by the community. As such CFC leadership needs to acknowledge openly its accountability to the authority of the community over its outreaches as this is exercised by the Partners in Mission Council (in which CFC participates) and by the Overall Leadership Team.
The Executive Director of CFC, like all other executive directors of Ligaya outreaches, needs to be a covenanted member of LNP. This has been a long-standing policy. As a coordinator of the community, Frank was involved in establishing this policy. …This means that Frank needs to live out his Ligaya commitments under the direction of his district coordinator, if he wishes to continue to serve as Executive Director of Couples for Christ.”

Fr. Herb had this to say about 'who owns CFC':
“I believe with all my heart that the Lord inspired leaders of the Ligaya to start Couples for Christ. I believe that He guided these same leaders and others whom they raised up to develop CFC into the effective outreach for family renewal that it has become over the years. …I believe Couples for Christ is what it is today because of the selfless cooperation in mission of many, many couples in CFC and in Ligaya. The leadership of community members on many levels made invaluable contributions especially in the earlier years of CFC. All of the above being true, in no way denies the authority of the community over Couples for Christ.”

Making a stand, Fr. Herb declared: “If he (Frank) feels called to leave Ligaya, he resigns as executive director of CFC. One can be fully involved in the mission of CFC and give all one's time and energy to it without being an executive director.”

He also appealed to the CFC Council to “… postpone the decision on appointing new members to the CFC Council until we can finish our organizational and structural decisions at the Partners in Mission Council. Furthermore, may I have the opportunity to communicate and explain the above to the Elders of CFC at their next assembly.”

The Game Plan…

While consultations and meetings were ongoing among Ligaya leaders and some members of the CFC Council, the articles of incorporation of a 'new' CFC were already being worked out by a select few CFC leaders. It is now evident that just a small number of CFC leaders were privy to the round table discussions with Fr. Herb. Certain compromises were apparently made because of their love for CFC, their loyalty to Frank their leader, and belief in his ideals.

The greater majority of CFC members did not know the complete picture. They believed what they were told and knew only one thing - that the growth of CFC was hampered by LNP, whose training of leaders was limited and whose vision for evangelization was 'inward looking' not 'outward looking.' A lot of the leaders thought that the idea to separate was a blessing from heaven, that it was God's answer to their prayers.

Meantime, Frank requested for a week of prayer and discernment, but the die was cast and the separation was in the pipeline. The split would occur in days.

The Final Stages…

On March 19 during the Elder's Assembly, before the agreed date to dialogue with Fr. Herb, Frank dissolved the council, held elections and declared the establishment of the 'new' Couples For Christ Global Mission Foundation Inc. The next day he wrote a letter to Fr Herb, informing him that the assembly of the previous night had elected a new Council and that CFC was no longer willing to be under the authority and direction of LNP.

On the issue regarding ownership he wrote, “There is no question that God owns CFC, and it is distasteful for any human person or organization to claim ownership of what belongs only to God. You will agree with this and thus there is no need to address this, it is the practical consequences of so- called “ownership” that need to be addressed, and these are mandate and accountability.”

On mandate he wrote, "You claim that you placed us in our positions and that you have authority over us, our position is that its simply not right for a few men, who are not directly involved in the life of CFC and whose priorities lie elsewhere, to have this control and authority, over the lives of 45,000 people. Those who are in CFC should be the ones to determine their own leadership and how their lives are going to be lived.

Thus we have elected a new Council, by an overwhelming majority vote of CFC elders during our Elders Assembly yesterday. This new CFC Council now has its mandate and authority directly from its own members, through the elders themselves and as representatives of all other CFC members in this country.”

On accountability he wrote, “You maintain that; CFC must be accountable to LNP and/or to the OLT and/or to the Partners-in-Mission Council. We steadfastly believe in accountability and pastoral cover. But it can no longer be to LNP/OLT, because we are no longer confident in your ability to care for CFC and to look to its best interests. Furthermore, LNP itself has no pastoral cover or accountability to speak of, aside from within itself or within the SOS.
Thus we have decided to voluntarily submit ourselves to the pastoral care of the Catholic Church and to be accountable to her shepherds, our bishops. Thus we have asked the following bishops to be our Spiritual Directors over regional CFC groups, to wit:

Bishop Teodoro Bacani - CFC Metro Manila
Bishop Ruben Profugo - CFC Luzon
Bishop Jesus Varela - CFC Bicol
Bishop Angel Lagdameo - CFC Visayas
Bishop Carmelo Morelos - CFC Mindanao

All the above is to say that CFC, in accordance with what we believe is God's will, will determine its own life and mission, independent of and from LNP. We ask that you accept the will of the great majority of CFC leaders and members, and no longer try to impose anything on us. We ask you this, knowing fully well your disagreements, for the sake of CFC and the good of the overwhelming number of its members.”


Frank and his wife Gerry, together with about 30 LNP leaders resigned from LNP. Bobby Pilar and Arben Visenio opted to stay with Ligaya. Some LNP members chose only to take a leave of absence from LNP, unwilling to leave behind the evangelization work that they had already started in CFC. Frank did not run for any position and it was Rouquel Ponte who became executive director of CFC for the next six years.

It was a period of pain and anguish, of losing friends, of broken relationships. It was time for prayer and discernment for leaders who were torn between love and loyalty to LNP and dedication to work and service in CFC. The crisis eventually became global as the rest of the leaders and members of CFC communities abroad had to make difficult decisions: Whether to stay or to go.

The Proposal…

But, there was no need for all the pain and resentment, unknown to Frank and the CFC council, Fr. Herb drafted a proposal as a response to the issues that beset CFC.

One significant paragraph in this proposal stands out:

“LNP is genuinely concerned for the sound development of CFC. We want it to be long-range effective for Church and family renewal. Let me propose the following approach, let us give Couples For Christ its independence from us and also let us not insist that the executive director be a LNP member.”


It is useless now to speculate whether or not Fr. Herb's proposal would have made a difference. The split pushed through because the major players in CFC were convinced that it was by God's design. It has now been 15 years since that painful period in CFC's life. Both communities have gone their separate but parallel ways, sharing a common vision to be instruments by which people can draw closer to God.

It is perhaps a fitting end to this story that on the eve of his departure for a new life abroad with his wife, Vic wrote the following letter to the CFC International Council. Eschewing any pretensions to be “founder,” Vic says he wrote the letter as an exercise of the “grace of paternity,” as a father to children he once nurtured.

Letter to the CFC International Council

Dear Brothers,

I graciously agreed to speak with your Ugnayan staff though with much hesitation when you asked me to comment on the CFC origins and the 1993 CFC-LNP split.

I understood your quest. It is normal for any organization to try to authenticate its early beginnings and directions. The results of the interviews have now been published in the CBCP Monitor and many are happy about them. I am pleased to have been of help.

But I must have been naïve to think that my recollections of the past would be appreciated by all who are and were part of the CFC. Even with documents backing up my points of view, there arose dissenting views. My credibility was assailed, my version doubted and I am made to appear a peddler of untruths.

I do not mind that. For 15 years, some of you in the CFC have looked at me with very low regard because of accusations thrown against me by some of your leaders. I do not wish to make any attempt to vindicate myself now. It is not important to me.

I have concerns though. My version of the CFC origins seems to have fanned the flames of hostility further between your group and the FFL. I do not wish it upon you all.

The grace of paternity that St. John of the Cross spoke about impels me to desire nothing but peace and unity between the Global and the FFL servants of the Lord. Like a father, I pray that you may have peace, love and justice among all of you in the CFC. Let there be no more 'Global' or 'FFL' among you; only humble servants of God.

When the CFC split from the LNP in 1993, my ten-year old son said that the Lord had three words for me. He and I had just come out of a one-hour visit to the Blessed Sacrament. He said the words were: Love. Hope. Peace.

He explained to me what the words meant. Love the brothers and sisters in CFC. Hope for a better relationship. Pray for peace to rule the hearts of the leaders of both LNP and CFC so that they can do God's work effectively. Quite mature for a ten-year old, I took him seriously and I shared those words of wisdom with the brothers and sisters in LNP who were affected by the CFC-LNP split. Compliance with those words protected and nourished us in the LNP in the past 15 years.

Now I share the same words with you. Love. Hope. Peace. They can help you in your current situation.

The FFL group is asking the Ugnayan to be fair. Get the side of Frank Padilla, they say. But some of you say that Frank had 15 years to promote his side of the story. You know the situation better than I do. However, maybe the FFL is right to demand that their side be heard.

Why not put the taped speech of Frank of March 19, 1993 on your website? Make it also available for audio listening at your office for anybody who wants to listen to his arguments and decisions on why CFC broke away from LNP. That was an event that Frank is very proud of, I was told. Then, publish the letter of Fr. Herb Schneider of March 11, 1993 which Frank denounces as a clear admission that Ligaya wanted nothing but to control CFC. And publish the reply of Frank dated March 20, 1993.

Everyone's side will then have a chance to be heard for one final time. After that, close the matter and never speak about it again for the sake of peace. What can be fairer than that?

“Some say I still hold a grudge against CFC? Evidence? That I was not a signatory to the statement of reconciliation between CFC and LNP in 2005. Please understand that I had already retired from leadership at that time. Let me reprint here a part of my letter to the LNP Senior Head Coordinator in 2005 which should explain everything.
“First, I think it is alright that you meet with the top leaders of the CFC as proposed. You are the incumbent SHC of the Ligaya and thus you are empowered to represent the Ligaya in matters like these. It is also right for Fr. Herb to come with you because he is Ligaya's spiritual director. Together, the two of you can have a meaningful dialogue with Frank Padilla and his leaders. But I do not have to join you for I hold no leadership position in the community and I am comfortable with where I am right now.”
I have nothing to settle with Frank and his friends personally. They did what they have done and they know what they did. If they think it is not wrong, I do not have a mission to tell them that what they did was wrong. They are big boys now.

On the other hand, if they think they did wrong to Ligaya, then they should ask forgiveness for that wrongdoing and you should accept the apology on behalf of Ligaya. No big deal. On a personal level, if Frank and his friends want to meet with me for anything, we do not need a third party, a go-between, to facilitate the meeting. Frank knows where to reach me. And we are on speaking terms.

Have I been telling you the truth? Yes. But if anyone doubts me, I can only borrow the wit of Abraham Lincoln, “…ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.” It makes no difference now whether some of you in the CFC or in FFL believe my account or not. There is nothing we can do about the past except to look back at it maturely and profit from it.

What do I gain from all these? Nothing. I also ask for nothing. How about you? Coming to me is an exercise in humility on your part. You came asking me, whose word had been meaningless to you in the past, to ask for my account of what happened from your founding in 1981 and the CFC-LNP split in 1993. You published my account even if it hurt some of you. I commend you.

Where do you go from here?

The task of evangelizing the world can continue without any of us. In a moment, God used us for the task. In another instant, we are put aside. When we say that only God owns CFC, we should examine what claims we make about the task and the organization, the positions and the corporate functions. I know I sound like I am preaching to the choir, but even leaders like ourselves need to be reminded of the most basic truths about the service we do in the Kingdom of God.

As for me, I will continue to exercise the grace of paternity. I will pray for your eventual healing and unity. I will pray that you will be restored to the fuller understanding of the mind of Christ about the work we do and the relationships we must maintain with our fellow servants

God bless us all.

In Jesus,

Vic B. Gutierrez
April 15, 2008