Did Jesus Exist?

The book's cover

Sunday Read: Book Review

The Manila Times, March 24, 2013

You’d probably be aghast that I devote a column to what seems to be preposterous question.

But it has been asked starting way back in the 18th century by scholars. In recent years, interest on the question has intensified with probably a thousand doctoral and masteral theses, books as well as articles both from Christian and secular universities touching on the issue. In past few years a slew of books – both academic and popular – by scholars and authors called the “mythicists’”. They argue that Jesus Christ is a myth, concocted in the first and second centuries to become the core of a new religion.

The mythicists claim we cannot simply accept the myths and even legends of pre-scientific superstitious societies but examine them in the light of science and humanity’s bank of information.  This is obvious in the case of the Greek gods. Less obvious are the cases of  Santa Claus, Robin Hood, even St. Christopher  who turn out not to be real historical people but amalgams of persons mythicized over the centuries (e.g., Santa Claus a confused mix of a 4th century German bishop St. Nicholas and the pre-Christian Viking god Odin.)

The mythicists  claim that elements of the Jesus  story have been common in myths during  that era and in that part of the world. The theme of a dying-rising God has been common in ancient religions: Osiris, Attis, Heracles, Baal.  The Persian God Mithra (who was popular among Roman soldiers) was also born to a virgin. (more…)

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Behind Jabidah: warlord vs warlord

Bocalan, who claimed Marcos asked him to finance and help run Operation Merdeka. Photo and caption from the book, “Bossism in the Philippines” by John Sidel

The Manila Times, March 22, 2013

Last of Three Parts

The allegations that Muslim youths were massacred in 1968 in Corregidor in a plan gone awry to take Sabah from Malaysia, as I explained last Wednesday, effectively buried our county’s claim to that territory.

Then Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. in his speech on the controversy March 28, 1968 claimed the Malaysians had a hand in creating conditions for what was hyped in media as “the Jabidah Massacre. ”

But behind the controversy was, as Filipinos term it, “pulitika”, politics in its most pejorative sense.  “Jabidah” was a propaganda weapon in the political war between two warlords for the control of Cavite in the 1971 elections as well as for the Philippine presidency.

How exactly did the allegations of a “Jabidah massacre” break out? (more…)

Continue ReadingBehind Jabidah: warlord vs warlord

Malaysia’s masterstroke that buried our Sabah claim

 

The “Jabidah massacre” commemoration at Corregidor March 18. Why did the MILF and the MNLF ignore it? This article answers that question.

The “Jabidah” question

Second of Three Parts

Malaysia’s leadership have been probably laughing their heads off reading about President Aquino delivering a speech in the event commemorating the alleged 1968 “Jabidah massacre” of Muslim youths initially recruited to form a commando unit codenamed to infiltrate Sabah.

It was the “Jabidah” allegations that hugged headlines for several days in 1968 that buried our claim to that territory in Borneo.  

This was due to three of its consequences:

  • The publicity over the alleged massacre enraged thousands of Muslim youth to swell the ranks of the fledgling Moro National Liberation Front.   Malaysia after “Jabidah” not only gave it substantial finances, but also even militarily trained its first officers and provided sanctuary to its leaders.  President Marcos’ Operation Merdeka (“Freedom”) was intended to create a Tausug rebellion in Sabah. Instead, because of allegations of a massacre of Muslims by Marcos’ army,  it was a Muslim rebellion that broke out in Mindanao,  aided by Malaysia.
  • The Malaysian involvement proved to be crucial to the MNLF’s strength that by 1976 Marcos declared that the only way to end the insurgency is to give up the Sabah claim  so that  Malaysia would stop its crucial support of the secessionists.
  • In the public consciousness, the allegation of such an atrocity as a “Jabidah massacre” was tightly linked to the Philippine claim to Sabah. Indeed writers who have been passionate in claiming a massacre occurred expectedly denigrated the claim as merely due to “Marcos expansionist tendencies.”  It therefore became an unpopular agenda to champion.   Since 1968, no politician would touch with a ten-foot pole our Sabah claim. That attitude ended only as a result of the  bold but bloody expedition to Sabah recently by the Sulu of Sultan’s fighters. (more…)

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Ninoy did not expose the “Jabidah massacre,” he even doubted it

Aquino delivering a privileged speech at the Senate

The Manila Times, March 19, 2013

The “Jabidah Question”: First of Three Parts

Contrary to many accounts, senator Benigno Aquino Jr. did not expose the so-called “Jabidah massacre” 45 years ago today, which the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) exploited to the hilt to rally Muslims to its secessionist cause.

What he revealed to the world, and asked for a stop to, was the clandestine plan of his archenemy president Ferdinand Marcos to train and send Muslim commandos to Sabah to organize a revolt against Malaysia, the first step for the Philippines to take over the territory.

This conclusion is incontrovertible based on the late senator’s privileged speech on March 28, 1968 titled: “Jabidah! Special Forces of Evil?”

The speech is posted at the archives section of the official government website and at my personal website as an annex to this column.

That there was a Jabidah massacre has been mostly uncritically believed, as indicated in the following Wikipedia entry:

“The Jabidah massacre . . . refers to an incident in which members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines massacred a number of Moro Muslim recruits who were escaping their covert training to reclaim Sabah . . . It is widely regarded as having been the catalyst behind the modern Moro insurgencies in the Southern Philippines.”

The entry continued: “Sources differ regarding the details, with the number of victims ranging from 14 to 68, and some sources assert that the massacre is a myth.” The “some sources” it referred to consist solely of University of the Philippines anthropologist Arnold Molina Azurin who investigated the episode intensively in his book, Beyond the Cult of Dissidence. (more…)

Continue ReadingNinoy did not expose the “Jabidah massacre,” he even doubted it

Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.’s Jabidah speech 1968

Note: This is the speech  in 1968 of then Senator Ninoy Aquino, in which many, including his on Benigno Aquino III, claim he “exposed” the Jabidah massacre.   Ninoy refers to the episode only as the “Corregidor Affair’. When he mentions “Corregidor Massacre,” he  uses the qualifying adjective ‘so-called’.  You judge  for yourself what he thought of the episode.

Jabidah! Special Forces
of Evil?

By  Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr.

[Delivered at the Legislative Building, Manila, on March 28, 1968]

JABIDAH!
Who is Jabidah?
What is Jabidah?

Jabidah, Mr. President, is the name of a ravishing, stunning and beautiful woman in Muslim lore and legend.

As Muslim legend has it, Jabidah turned a countless number of Muslim men.

As it turns out now, however, her name might well have been Helen — Helen whose matchless beauty launched a thousand ships and laid the great Greek states to siege and waste.

For as things are, as I found them in my flying spot investigation of the muddled Corregidor Affair at its root, in the Sulu isles, Jabidah is the codename for a sinister design of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. (more…)

Continue ReadingSenator Benigno Aquino, Jr.’s Jabidah speech 1968

Religions and empires

SUNDAY READ

The Manila Times, March 17, 2013

Painter’s depiction of the Battle of Tours, 732 A.D.: If the Christian Franks lost this battle, we would have been Muslims

It is when a new Pope needs to be elected that most people, through television,   get to witness the majesty and glory of Catholicism’s capital, the Vatican in Rome

Never mind that it was mainly financed by Pope Leo X’s so-called indulgences, basically pay-to-get-to-heaven schemes that triggered the Lutheran revolt that led to Protestantism. The Basilica of St. Peter must be the most magnificent building on earth, and as you walk beneath Michelangelo’s dome, the largest in the world that it signifies the heavenly firmament, you can very easily imagine – with the colossal statues of the evangelists, saints, and Popes looking down on you – that you’re no longer on earth but in the Palace of the Gods.

Thanks to the spread of television and in the Philippines, to the networks’ cerrado Catolico devotion, millions of the Catholic faithful watched the Vatican’s spectacle for choosing the new Vicar of Christ.  What they saw seemed unearthly scenes, and for many, a confirmation that the Roman Catholic Church indeed represents the Deity that rules all of the Cosmos.

A proselytizer would follow up an assertion of faith: 1.2 billion Catholics can’t be wrong in their belief.

The quick answer to that: There are 1.6 billion Muslims, 800 million Protestants, one billion Hindus, 800 million Protestants and other types of Christians, and 500 million Buddhists.  Scratch the surface of ancestor worship, and China (population 1.3 billion) and Japan (127 million) are atheist countries. Although difficult to estimate, atheists either of the strong or weak varieties are believed to number 1.1 billion, and by all accounts growing.

The long answer, which explains why Christianity and Islam are the two biggest religions of the world, and in one word: Empire. (more…)

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Why no female Pope ever, never?

Poster of a 2009 film on a legendary female Pope

The Manila Times, March 15, 2013

A stupid question?  Not at all.  In fact, the question goes deep into the nature of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is a question that has even haunted, as it were, the nightmares of the Catholic Church.  Thus the intriguing reports through the centuries – dismissed though merely as legend by church historians – of a female  “Pope Joan” in the 11th century who disguised herself as a male, to be exposed, and killed, only when she gave birth in a pontifical procession.  The legend’s fascination even in the modern era is evident in that two movies have been made on Pope Joan, first in 1972 (and then more recently, a European one in 2009.

The persistence of the legend through the centuries is also evidenced by the fact that she is depicted in the Tarot as “La Papessa” (the Popess) or, obviously in order not to hurt Catholic sensibilities,  merely as the “High Priestess.”

It is the deep fear of a female Pope that explains the rumors that the last step in  the confirmation of a new Pope – portrayed in the hit TV series The Borgias —  is for the pope-elect to sit without his underwear in the sedes stercoraria, a chair with a huge hole in the seat,  so a bishop by groping can confirm  if he has balls, literally.

(more…)

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Where is ASEAN?

Front page of a Malaysian newspaper March 11

The Manila Times, March 13, 2013

With the death toll of Filipino Muslims killed in Sabah by Malaysian authorities rising to 62 and with reports of human rights abuses against our countrymen, where the heck is ASEAN?

Forgotten it seems is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, one of whose main purposes is to “promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region”.

Ban Ki Moon, the secretary-general of the United Nationswhich consists of 193 member states last week issued a statement calling for “dialogue among all parties to end the (Sabah) conflict peacefully. He also urged “all parties to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance and act in full respect of international human rights norms and standards.”

Why hasn’t there been a similar statement – even just an innocuous one like “ASEAN is concerned over the fighting” —  from ASEAN consisting of  just ten member countries, whose two founders, the Philippines and Malaysia,  are involved in this flashpoint in Southeast Asia?

Did our department of foreign affairs even ask ASEAN to persuade Malaysia not to throw its full, brutal force against the Sultan of Sulu’s men who had dug in in Lahad Datu and to give the government more time to talk to them?  Or did it just forget to ask ASEAN? (more…)

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An impotent yet arrogant President

 

The front page of The Borneo Post: Note the description, "Sulu terrorists."

 

The Manila Times, March 11 2013

THE horrific reports have started to trickle in: Muslim Filipinos being rounded up in Sabah, locked up with some without food, “treated like animals” according to eyewitness accounts, sadistically ordered to run and then shot like wild game.

Photos in Kuala Lumpur newspapers depict Muslim Filipinos—clearly unarmed— pinned down brutally by uniformed armed men. Malaysia has brought its entire military force to bear down on the Sulu sultan’s men.

The Philippine ambassador to Malaysia and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jose Brilliantes— three weeks late in action though— were ignored in Sabah, their pleas to visit Filipinos detained there and for Malaysian authorities to allow our humanitarian ship dock at the port were not even given the courtesy of a reply.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario stages a dramatic trip to Malaysia to ask its government to exercise “maximum tolerance” toward the Filipino Muslims who had holed out in Lahad Datu. Even while he waited for his plane, the Malaysians were deploying instead maximum force against the Filipinos there.

His trip turned out only justify the Malaysian onslaught against the Sulu sultan’s men, as his counterpart reported that he agreed that the Filipino Muslims were terrorists. Del Rosario didn’t say the Malaysian foreign minister lied, only that he was quoted: “Outof-context”—the worn-out excuse for officials trying to wiggle away from something they regretted saying.

We have a President impotent in handling the Sabah crisis. Worse, he and his spokesmen have even been issuing statements denigrating Muslim Filipinos who had dug in in Sabah in what they believe is their homeland.

(more…)

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ABS-CBN’s ‘Anak ng Dwende,’ GMA7’s ‘Aswang’

 The Manila Times, March 10, 2013

WITH their 6:30 p.m. slots, and with the metropolis’ horrendous traffic, I’m sure very few broadsheet readers, who are mostly from the middle to upper-class, get to watch two of the foremost television news programs that have been running ever since I can remember, ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol and GMA Network’s 24 (“Bente Kwatro”) Oras.

( Video grab from TV Patrol’s website)Korina Sanchez reporting on woman claiming her child was fathered by a dwarf.)

For the first time in many years, I watched last Friday the one-and-a- half hours of these two primetime programs, flipping from one station to the other, every time there’s a commercial, and you wouldn’t believe how many of them are. I strongly suggest you do so one of these days, and you will be either shocked, saddened, or angered.

In last Friday’s TV Patrol, a most distinguished multi-awareded TV journalist, Korina Sanchez, had a feature, maybe even an “investigative” piece, entitled Anak ng Dwende (A dwarf’s child). (I’m sure though Sanchez, a hard-nosed journalist, would not on her own touch with a 10-foot pole this story, and that some inane TV news producer just shoved this on her.)

She travelled all the way to “Sitio Tinago, Talavera town in Toledo City” (that’s on the farther, poorer side of Cebu island) to interview a poor young woman, Jenalyn Gimenez, who claimed a dwarf fathered her child, as she didn’t have any boyfriend or husband.

Sanchez reports ( translated from Pilipino): “Villagers were surprised one day when she gave birth to a child, since she didn’t even have a boyfriend. It is said that the father is a dwarf because the baby was so small, only as big as a soft drink bottle, and his ears were pointed.”

Sanchez interviewed her as she has interviewed probably thousands of newsmakers in her distinguished media career. She asks the woman: How did you get pregnant? The woman answers: “I fell asleep at the punso [a mound of earth, which superstitious Filipinos believe is a dwarf’s home], and that’s where the dwarf impregnated me.” The camera pans the yard of the woman’s home, as Sanchez voices over: “It is puzzling that there are many punsos here and it is said that a dwarf residing in one of these fathered Jenalyn’s child.”

(more…)

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