Carvajal: Blessings in disguise

President Bongbong Marcos dismisses with unfounded optimism people’s suffering arising from the high prices of commodities which actually feel higher than they sound to Filipino workers who are either unemployed, underemployed or underpaid.

Recently, he assured, himself I believe, that the faith of Filipinos will help them weather storms. But he should know that the idiomatic expression “to weather a storm” means to survive an ordeal without too much damage. That makes him guilty of an equivocation, of a false positivity, because the fact is that faith has never helped Filipinos escape the damage wrought by storms like those of government corruption and neglect.

The faith most Filipinos practice today is the same faith Catholic Spain used to make our forefathers submit to their cruel and unjust rule, a faith by which Filipinos of today accept life-storms as blessings in disguise, as a priest recently put it in his novena mass homily. It is a faith that makes Filipinos depend solely on God for deliverance from suffering, a faith that provides Filipinos with a refuge when their needs are not attended to by those responsible for it.

It is a sad fact that their vaunted faith only helps Filipinos accept and suffer in silence the hardships of life in a country where incompetent and corrupt government bureaucracies routinely neglect the marginalized sector. It is a repressive faith that makes them run towards prayer, devotion and ritual (to Sto. Niño and the Black Nazarene?) instead of towards affirmative actions to remove what in fact are human causes of their suffering.

Faith should liberate and give people the power to take personal responsibility for weathering life-storms. Faith (in a good God) should give people both freedom and courage to call out and fight the neglect and/or injustice of their leaders. For how can the injustice by employers of paying starvation wages to their workers be a blessing? How can the hoarding by traders of rice, sugar, onions, etc. to raise their prices be other than an undisguised curse?

Yet, the Catholic hierarchy and clergy, with all due respect to the exceptions, instead of promoting a liberating faith continue to preach a faith that accepts life-storms as blessings in disguise that people should thank God for and suffer humbly and submissively.

(Thus, in a way the problem is not the government. The problem is the people who, gripped by a repressive faith, do not stand up to erring leaders but instead accept the harm and damage of their irresponsibility and corruption as blessings in disguise.)

No, Mr. President, the faith of Filipinos does not help them to weather life-storms, but merely to suffer them submissively and unquestioningly. The repressive faith of Spanish colonizers that still rules over the Filipino’s psyche today denies them the freedom and courage to do something positive to stop man-made storms of injustice.