There’s the Rub

Good for a laugh, or three

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One, Fr. Melvin Castro says the Church has Edcel Lagman to thank for spreading its teachings—if only by negative example. That’s so, he says, because more and more young people, especially women, are now confessing to having used contraceptives. So now they know it’s a sin, something the Church has been trying to tell them for some time now. Thanks to Lagman, says Castro, they’ve learned the lesson.

Lagman has shot back. The Church, he says, must be getting desperate. “Some Catholic priests would even venture into violating the sacramental seal of confession to revive a lost campaign against RH. The revelation of penitents’ confessions is a blatant violation of the centuries-old Church injunction for confessors not to betray [the confessional].” It should, he said, be “punished with excommunication.”

Well, if it’s a trend, then surely it must also indicate how popular the use of contraceptives is among Catholics? Will the recognition that it is a sin now stop the confessees from using them again? Well, one thing we know about Pinoys is that they keep confessing the same sins over and over again. Confession is not unlike indulgences, particularly in the form of donations to the Church: It carries with it a claim to the cleansing of future sins. Or it’s not unlike what penitents do on Good Friday, which we’ll see again next week: They flagellate themselves one day of the year so they can spend the rest of it raping and pillaging.

Quite apart from that, no, it doesn’t really betray the confessional. But which is its problem. Neither Castro nor any other priest may say who exactly has been confessing the “sin” of contraception of late. Which means that they can claim pretty much anything they want, as apparently indicated by what Catholics are confessing—including that women now consider it a sin to refuse the advances of priests—and no one will be the wiser, or dumber.

The claim has no value whatsoever. It has no way of being validated. It needs only be punished by being taken with a grain of salt along with three Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes.

Two, Ping Lacson is pissed off that Miriam Santiago should keep insinuating he’s gay. Miriam did it again a couple of weeks ago when she referred to an enemy of hers who was gay and stupid. She did not identify him, but Lacson felt referred to.

“She’s crazy, I’ve clarified it so many times that I am not gay.” He said she was just reacting to his accusations of corruption against her. He didn’t start this fight, he said, but he won’t back down from it. She pushes, he’ll push harder.

That’s all very well, and I’ve always thought his barb about Miriam being a “crusading crook” was a real zinger. But why on earth should he be so prickly about being called gay? It’s true, he has made the clarification again and again, which makes you wonder why he does. Thereby giving Miriam, and others, a field day to keep twitting him about it.

The one time I saw how pikon he was about it was many years ago, when Willie Nepomuceno did impersonations of various public officials, presidents and nonpresidents alike, in satirical skits at the Music Museum. At one point in the show, Willie said one segment would be missing as the courts had just issued a TRO preventing him from depicting an elected official as gay. Willie did not mention him, but left no doubt in the audience’s minds who it was.

I can’t understand why anyone would go to the courts for this. Surely, you can’t lose going to the show yourself and enjoying it thoroughly? If you’re not gay, it’s no skin off your back, and you can have a good laugh, if somewhat at your expense. If you are, what can I say? Begging Christine Bersola’s pardon, but being gay is neither a disease nor a crime.

Lacson keeps clarifying he’s not gay, people may start thinking the gentleman protests too much.

Three, the war of words between Erap and Alfredo Lim has gotten uglier, but I don’t particularly mind it. As has been reported in the media, their debate at ABS-CBN took a nasty turn with them slugging it out verbally and, at one point, almost physically. On the whole, Lim seemed to have gotten the better of the exchange, Erap’s efforts to make fun of him falling flat and Erap himself ending up getting riled.

Erap will always be at a disadvantage in a take-no-prisoners verbal tussle with Lim. All he can accuse Lim of is disloyalty, or lack of utang na loob, which Lim can always parry by saying he was thoroughly loyal, and did not lack gratitude, to Cory. He can always say he is disloyal only to crooks, which he did in fact say at the debate. Erap can’t really exploit Lim’s most vulnerable point, which is his human-rights record, teeming as it does with abuses and reflecting as it does what his critics call “utak pulbura.” Lim can always point back at Michael Ray Aquino, if not Ping Lacson himself, and the sending to the afterlife of one Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

It was only when they traded barbs about their children’s shady doings that Erap scored points. The notion that Lim’s son was framed for drug-using, if not –pushing, is about as believable as the notion that Lee Kuan Yew’s son could be framed for drugs in Singapore.

All this gives the voters of Manila a most horrendous prospect for next mayor. But which may not be without some value. Who knows? Maybe it can teach those voters, as well as the voters in the rest of the country, a thing or two about the importance of elections if only by negative example. Indeed, if only by the most outrageous, staggering, unbelievable negative example. If you cannot ram home what voters ought to look for in elections, you can at least ram home what they ought not to.

Stranger things have happened sa bayan ni Juan.

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