Artwork by Lloyd Evangelista

Salvation, A Fruit of Thousand Crusades, Activism & Peoples’ Struggles (Part 2)

(Last of two parts.)

CHRISTIANS, FIGHT ALONG WITH THE PEASANTRY & THE OPPRESSED

A plain reading of the Gospel would reveal that Jesus was, essentially, an activist. He challenged the imperialist dominion of the Romans and the unparalleled political power of Pharisees. He revamped peoples’ struggles by eating with the oppressed Jews, outcasted prostitutes, and sick men.

Jesus, King of Jews, struck down the daunt cast by the Imperialist rule, as he established the Kingdom of God on the soil of the mortals. So, it seems that a blatant misreading of the Bible arises when one discards the fact that Jesus lived for the masses, for the outcasts, and for the oppressed. He brought the fullness of Salvation by siding with justice and peoples’ struggle, at the expense of his mortal life.

National Democratic Font peace consultant Randall Echanis was tortured and killed by police forces in his own home. Photo from CNN Philippines.

At the height of peoples’ struggle and mass movements, who enlivened the Christ-like progressiveness and martyrdom in this modern-day lifetime?

Randall Echanis, a 72-year old activist who fought for the clamor of the peasantry while championing peace process efforts, was mercilessly slaughtered inside his own abode. Zara Alvarez, who battled alongside human rights defenders and political prisoners, was gunned down in Bacolod City. Alas, living the life of a Christian being wedded with compassion and justice might snatch our lives away in no time.

Sister Patricia Fox was deported by the Duterte regime after her long and dedicated service to Filipinos. Photo from Rappler.

Richmond Nilo, a Catholic clergy who publicly critiqued the culture of impunity and killings, was dreadfully killed by unidentified gunmen on a Sunday, the day of the Lord, as he was preparing for a church service. Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, a staunch critic of the State killings, was sent death threats by unknown individuals. Meanwhile, the well-loved nun of the masses, Patricia Fox, was barred from returning to the country for participating in so-called political activities as established by the party State.

The ever heart-wrenching story of Reina Mae Nasino, a human rights worker and a loving mother, was ostentatiously deprived of her plea. She was disallowed to tend to her ill son, Baby River which led to the poor child’s demise. The public had witnessed the denial of her basic right as the very hint of humanity and compassion went downward spiral.

Reina Mae Nasino, a political prisoner, who lost her child while in prison because the state deprived them of parental connection. Photo from Al Jazeera.

The late Attorney Benjamin Ramos, a progressive human rights defender of the Negros Island, was savagely slain by a riding-in-tandem at night. In the same vein of brutality, nine casualties of Tumandok Indigenous Peoples (IPs) were massacred in Panay. The unarmed casualties were red-tagged and slain in consonance with the Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO), which was railroaded by the State authorities.

Earlier this year, Chad Booc, a Lumad School teacher along with his fellow volunteer teacher Gelejurain Ngujo II, community health worker Elegyn Balonga, Tirso Añar and Robert Aragon, collectively dubbed as the New Bataan 5, were mercilessly killed by State forces, as they were reportedly slain in an “encounter” with the countryside revolutionaries in Davao de Oro, which was denied by the CPP Spokesperson, Marco Valbuena.

Chad Booc and four other civilians were brutally massacred by state forces in New Bataan, Davao de Oro last February 2022. Photo from Davao Today.

Thereafter on the 12th of March, the preliminary autopsy findings of the Forensic Pathologist, Dr. Raquel Fortun, classified the New Bataan 5’s manner of death as homicide, and was deemed an overkill. Initial findings reported multiple gunshot wounds, dismembered limbs, leg, and foot. Meanwhile on the 21st of February 2022, the former National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) Spokesperson Kevin Castro was horrendously slain in Polilio, Quezon.

Booc, a volunteer teacher from the ALCADEV, had undeniably chosen a selfless life in service of the Lumad Children, despite reaping the outstanding latin honorship as a Cum Laude in University of the Philippines. Likewise, Castro, who was a batch valedictorian in UP Diliman College of Education, boldly chose to render his wit and teaching prowess to the rural communities of Quezon province that are deprived of basic services from the government. Chad and Kevin have both walked down the lane of a Christian-like path of martyrdom, as they abandoned the bourgeois living and sheer comfort in the name of the ever-empowering struggle coupled with sacrifice and selflessness.

We only named a few out of the countless deaths and sabotage experienced by individuals at the expense of peoples’ salvation against oppression. One can think of several names who were not able to salvage their lives in the face of fear-mongering, brutality, and mass killings. Meanwhile, some Christians have gotten too frail of looking down from their ivory towers and fancy clouds of faith.

To die for one’s belief might be too much to ask from us ordinary folks but we can simply start changing the world by actively being the salt and light in a reign of darkness. We are called to not just passively live and strive for holiness as individuals but to grow in holiness by actively living our lives for others.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8–9. Photo from Inquirer.net

As Max Horkheimer contemplates the weaving of false antagonistic concepts in his Eclipse of Reason, to which he visualized a “totally managed world”, his imagined society perfectly reflects the politico-religious situation in Philippine society. In the face of the prevailing fascist state, social justice is merely reduced to “Christian” charity, and political dissent is profusely tagged as terrorism. Thus, we, as Christians, are challenged to transcend between the polarities of convenient practice of faith, and the institutionalized fear of professing justice.

Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves. As Christians, why do we pray for salvation? Are we even Christ-like or do we even attempt to protect the meek and the weak?

Are we even worthy to be called Christians?

About the Writer:

French Vivienne T. Templonuevo is a 23-year-old law student from San Beda College Alabang-School of Law and a member of KPL-National.

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Institute for Nationalist Studies

The Institute advances ideas and information campaigns on social issues to ferment a nationalist consciousness for the interest of the people’s welfare