Palatino’s folly | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

There’s a nondescript congressman named Raymond Palatino who may hog headlines by pushing for the law that prohibits symbols and reminders of God of any religion in work places. He cites freedom from state bias for any religion to dominate public places. What hogwash! So much gobbledygook hiding behind constitutional legalese!

Typical ‘balimbing’

Palatino appeared in a morning TV show where he was interviewed by Anthony Taberna, the insightful, witty and clear-headed TV journalist.

Palatino, like a typical balimbing politician, said he was a Catholic. (Here comes that bizarre oxymoron again, rejecting Catholic practices but insisting he is Catholic?!)

Palatino’s poker face was eerie. Also eerie to viewers were his opinions. After he spoke, the program survey showed 19 percent of TV viewers didn’t want the law, while a whopping 81 percent wanted the status quo—their religious beliefs and practice allowed in the workplace (freedom of worship is also guaranteed by the constitution).

Department heads do not legislate the putting up of religious symbols. They are usually brought voluntarily by the employees. There are no objections. No divisive twists. It is even welcome as a reminder to pray always. The God of Christianity being omnipotent is also omnipresent. We cannot be a Christian on Sunday and iconoclasts on a Monday. Christianity has been the most substantial part of the Filipino culture for the last four centuries.

My beef with Palatino comes from my gut and my understanding that religion serves as guidepost and inspiration for a cohesive society that adheres to a “do good and avoid evil” law that promoted the advances of Western civilization during the last 2,000 years.

Palatino mouths constitutional provisions on freedom of worship but his oversimplification and his naiveté will result in a more destructive and divisive force. He conjures ogres where none exist.

Lack of wisdom

I take umbrage in Palatino’s lack of wisdom in dealing with highly sensitive matters on the practice of one’s religious belief.

Palatino cannot fathom the inherent aspects of human needs and wants in the hierarchy of transcendent potentialities that only religion helps achieve.

Palatino does not discern the natural impulse and intuitive faculties of humans to seek divine guidance anywhere, anytime.

Palatino fails to realize that our 400-year-old Christian culture is the most substantive aspect that’s synergistic with our democratic way of life. Our Christian rituals and socials define our life’s different passages from womb to tomb.

Can we really disentangle our religious practice, internally or externally, by prohibiting the presence of our metaphors and symbolisms in our public places?

Are we going to arrest the jeepney driver when he makes the sign of the cross when passing in front of Quiapo church? The handsome basketball star when he makes the sign of the cross before taking his winning foul shots?

What about in Congress? Will they forbid saying invocation prayers before the assembly starts its session? Ang dami na ngang inutil na kurakot doon, tatanggalin pa ang pagdarasal? Ano ba yaaan!

Mr. Congressman, please recall how eloquent and elevating  the invocations delivered by the senators during the CJ Corona impeachment trial. Are we going to eliminate that with a manifestation? Baka mapikon nang todo si Senator Enrile.


Methinks Representative Palatino does not comprehend vacuum. Vacuum contains nothing (absolutely no religion).  Nothing promotes nothing. Nothing is nihilism, the total absence of possibilities for human refinement and beautiful dreams. Palatino is not a contemplative. He likes vacuum. He can drag us into a nebulous state of existence.

Palatino mistakes the spirituality of a predominantly Christian people as bigotry because he fails to realize the fundamental role of man’s free will. Man’s free will, Representative Palatino, is your guarantee that no rights are being trampled in the current status quo. Man has a choice. Man is free to be a saint or be a sinner. To burn in hell or to enjoy beatific vision in heaven. It does not really matter whether there’s a religious object within his sight or none at all.

Representative Palatino, here are constructive suggestions. Prioritize your jobs according to the various crises your constituents confront regularly, especially the big poverty segment in your district. Their urgencies are well-known: lack of nutrition for the children, lack of medicines for the sick, lack of classrooms for students, lack of jobs for grownups, and lack of a fully equipped and systematic rescue model during typhoons and floods.

Don’t be a big bore. Be more imaginative. Fantasize on the awesome talents of your constituents. Incentivize them for maximum productivity.

Stop wastin’ time fixin’ what ain’t broke.

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