Books, Reviews

Hope for the Flowers

Hope for the Flowers

Photo by Dianna Agron (yup, the Glee actress)

Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus is a truly adult book deceptively packaged as a children’s book (in a positive way).

I read the book when I saw it from my sister’s cabinet at our old house. It really grabbed my attention that the bright yellow cover and text were hand drawn, with the witty line “for adults and others (including caterpillars who can read)”. Well, I’m not a caterpillar. But I’m an adult so that made me eligible anyway, snicker.

Trina Paulus did the art and lettering from cover to cover, though I could tell that the author did not have much difficulty. The whole story is so simple you might ignore it by mistaking it as a ho-hum kiddie read. But it is in here that Trina Paulus hit home, it’s in the simplicity that lies the beauty of the story.

For the book background, the story was written during the 70’s which was a hippie era, or the age when the youth really rebelled against the establishment and experimented on a lot of stuff both good and bad. Anyway, to connect, the book was made at a time when people were disillusioned by the state of society and turned to drugs, sex, and music as a way to escape or assert their status in life.

The book, in a way, mirrors real life during those times. The title speaks for itself, it is about Hope. Beyond the counterculture period of the 60’s and 70’s, the story still holds true and is as applicable today.

The story starts with two caterpillars named Stripe and Yellow, who met each other at a time of disillusionment and a lingering powerful feeling that there ought to be more to life than what they do. The book tells of their journey, which led to separation, and leading to a false conclusion which purposely shows the current state of human affairs. However, as with all good books about Hope, of course it leads to a good ending, with a simple conclusion but huge moral about making changes into one’s life in order to rise, excel, and find true meaning.

The overt simplicity itself of the book could be a downside on attracting readership, since it is almost always mistaken for a simple children’s novel. Only well-read intellectuals, or referred readers would actually grab a copy of this. Well, it’s the loss of the common reader, not us informed bookworms.

The book is so simple and the story so short, you could actually finish reading within a few minutes. But the impact of the story to you is so huge in comparison to its simplicity. The story is inspirational in the sense that it could also make you ponder on where you are now in your life, and it silently prods you to not just aimlessly seek for the meaning of life, but for you to create your own answer, and fly away with it.

Trina Paulus has a website for Hope for the Flowers, you can check it here. They also have two FB pages, you can check out both the first and second one.

The author has a blog herself, you can also check it here.

Juan’s Say: [rating=4]
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Legal Ramblings, Thoughts

Withdrawal of House Bill 6330 for appeasement

NOTE: This is a 2012 article, currently being updated for 2017. In line with the revival of this site, the article will be updated to reflect the current political situation in the Philippines. (And besides, the House Bill has already been withdrawn way back).

Sto. Niño, Photo by Paul Cayanes

Sto. Niño, Photo by Paul Cayanes

And I thought we were getting somewhere.

When Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond V. Palatino filed House Bill 6330, officially known as “Religious Freedom In Government Offices Act”, it was actually sensible, logical, and appropriate for the times. And when I meant appropriate for the times, it’s that most Filipinos are actually becoming progressive Catholics, remaining faithful but shunning the impracticality of some tenets and practices of their church.

House Bill 6330 was filed by the honorable partylist representative to enforce in usage of government resources the constitutional foundation of separation of church and state. In simple terms: to not put any religious symbols on walls of government offices such as Sto. Niño, Picture of Jesus, Mama Mary, and the like, and not use government resources for religious purposes such as Mass on Multi-Purpose Hall or Frontyard of government offices. I have yet to get a complete copy of the HB 6330, but this would be  the gist.

The logic is quite simple, really. We are not a theocracy, we are a secular nation with no bias to any religion whatsoever. Religious symbols and activities of government institutions is tantamount to putting the picture of Benigno Aquino III on the office of the Parish Archbishop and holding political rallies inside the church. We just happen to have a population with a Christian majority (with the Roman Catholic church as the largest denomination) and a Muslim minority.

However, being 80% Catholic out of 93 million doesn’t equate to having Catholic rites and symbols on government offices. Even Jesus himself said “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”, according to Matthew 22:21.

Now why do I keep mentioning Roman Catholic when there are a few more Christian denominations in the Philippines? Well, for one, they are the ones who are making the most noise against the said House Bill. Again, we go back to the archaic Filipino culture of a domineering Catholic church, from the heydays of Spanish colonization, when it was used as a subtle tool for subjugation, obedience, and oppression.

Incredibly, “Religious Freedom In Government Offices Act” became “Anti-God Bill” or “Anti-Christ Bill” on news and social media (talk about responsible journalism) when nowhere in the House Bill does it insult God or Jesus.

I myself am a believer of God, but I will wholeheartedly support this endeavor, on the basis of fairness to other denominations. If we want equality without this House Bill, then we should display on government facilities the religious symbols of other groups.

Then, there’s the bad news.

In the face of seething anger of the Catholic Church and affiliated ultra-conservative groups, it seemed that Hon. Raymond V. Palatino has withdrawn the House Bill and issued a public apology.

For what?

It seems that the Partylist Representative didn’t realize that a lot of concerned citizens are supportive of the House Bill. A lot of Filipino Catholics are faithful, but are also against the arrogance of the bishops and priests in meddling with state affairs. Not yet that much, but their numbers are growing, as more and more are becoming educated to the realities of our world and are realizing the obsolescence of some church principles such as anti-contraception and anti-death penalty.

In my theory, Sir Palatino took into consideration the bulk of future votes: those who are still narrow-minded and choose to blindly follow whatever the priest says. He knew that the intellectual and progressive Catholics still do not outnumber the religious fanatics.

In other words, the honorable partylist representative may have gone by the way of the traditional politician, courting the church and appeasing the bishops. And to think, he represents the Kabataan Partylist, a supposedly left-leaning but pro-youth group. I don’t think the Filipino youth of today are keen on supporting the statements of the Damasos of the church.

Of course we know that Sir Palatino got a seat not on his own, but through the Kabataan Partylist. The Philippines partylist system requires at least 2% of all partylist votes cast, in order to obtain a seat in the lower house. It could be either the representative was pressured by his partylist, for the same reason of appeasement and assurance that Kabataan would not lose votes in the next election, or he is building up his individual foundation by being in good graces with the bishops and by basking in the spotlight, albeit in an allegedly bad perspective, should he consider running on his own in the future.

Anyway, it’s all theory and assumption. But whatever true reason it may be for the withdrawal of resolution, we can only connect the facts that the withdrawal and public apology was done right after a tumultuous protest by the Philippine Catholic hierarchy.

I sincerely hope some other politician would have the guts to push this House Bill, without fear of repercussion from the church and without fear of losing the Catholic vote in the succeeding election.

Please do take note that I’m not anti church. What I’m against is the way the church flexes its muscles to influence decisions of a temporal and wholly autonomous institution. We can live without holding masses at the office, we have churches for that. We can live without a picture of Jesus peering at us while we work, it would be better to post patriotic Filipino messages on the office wall.

Let us be a country untainted by religious biases, let us remove a cultural and societal obstacle which hinders our nation’s progress.
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