Spirituality of the "crumbs"


Homily of Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales
Launching of Pondo ng Pinoy Community Foundation, Inc.
Folk Arts Theater, Roxas Boulebard, Pasay City
11 June 2004
9:00 a.m.


The Situation
Today Manila has more than half of its population as poor (52% to be exact). The Makati, Mandaluyong and Ortigas skylines and the many condominium complexes around may not have the intention to deceive, but they certainly conceal the true state of life for more than one-half of the country’s people. The GDPs and GNPs do not tell the true picture and stories of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. These economic indicators always speak of averages. The poor cannot eat economic product “averages” no matter how well they are prepared. All told the unassailable story of the Philippine economy is revealed daily at the meal plates (if they still use plates) of families in the slums, shacks, cardboard homes and makeshift sheds you see in Metro Manila (and under Metro Manila bridges).

The majority of the poorest families among our poor survive on less that $1.00 a day for food (PhP 52.00 a day).

Do I still need to tell you where the poor are? They live mostly in Baseco, Smokey Mountain, Payatas, along esteros, in shacks built along and against the walls, fences, along rivers, under the bridges and along the railways. (Pinagkakakwartahan ng nga iyang “along the riles”, sila pa ang bida). By the way there are nearly one million people living along both sides of the railroad tracks from Tutuban-Kalookan to Sampaloc-Balic-Balic-Paco-Makati, Magallanes, Alabang to the boundaries of the Rizal-Laguna provinces.

The national socio-economic profile is worse than the Metro Manila figure. Independent surveys (done by ICSI, Ateneo de Manila University, Assisi Foundation, Pulse Asia, UST Socio-Economic Research Center) all show in the national survey results that 63% of the Filipinos are poor.

The Disadvantage
The 2001 World Bank (WB)-International Monetary Fund (IMF) study on Combating Corruption in the Philippines revealed that ca. 40% of the annual budget of the Republic of the Philippines are lost to graft practices and corruption. Our country is one unique country in the world where candidates will spend tens to hundreds of millions of pesos for a position that pays only a few tens of thousands of pesos. “Your country is the only one in the world where a family and its descendants actively stay in and control a city, town, district, province and region for two continuous generations and still claimed “aggrieved” when replaced in a democratic selection.” This is the only place in the world where no one, since the time of Manuel L. Quezon, (who claimed preference for a “political hell with Filipinos” rather than “a political heaven with non-Filipinos”) has lost an election. In this country nearly every election loser claimed she/he was “cheated”.

Our protected political system is such where families and interest groups hold on to government positions like it was theirs by right, by inheritance, as a domain or a dynasty.

In 1998 and 1999, the Economic Intelligence Unit made the survey on critical problems of large corporation investment and operation in the Philippines and it identified the lack of proper infrastructure as the main disadvantage to development investment. The 2000 study of the same EIU revealed that corruption, cronyism, ethics, transparency and governance as the most glaring weaknesses in the Republic of the Philippines.

“What has happened to the Philippines?” our neighbors in Asia are asking. And do you think our national and local politicians can answer that? No! How do you explain the regression, the corruption, repression in the country? The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in a studied reflection and exhortation on Philippine politics has the answer. “There is one main reason: Philippine politics – the way it is practiced – has been most hurtful of us as a people. It is possibly the biggest bane in our life as a nation and the most pernicious obstacle to our achieving full human development.” (Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics, Sept. 1997).

Our politics is so full of self, ambition, pride and greed. Mahatma Gandhi once said that the world has everything for everyone’s need but not for one man’s greed. Our Lord Jesus Christ counseled a friend “Watch and be on your guard against greed of any kind.” (Luke 12:15). Philippine politics is so full of selfish ambition and greed and the obvious results are what today the country has harvested – corruption with an economic catastrophe.

The consequence of the country’s present political ethos is now all too evident in the much damaged Philippine economy. The sad turn of such a political confusion is such that the disvalues it created in the economy are now slowly eating its way to the heart of our once rich culture. The devil knowing nothing of goodness thought it was only grabbing your money and your vote, but it really had both his hands on your soul. They are robbing the Filipino people of their Psyche – the Filipino soul.

Where have we been?
In the past we always claimed that we have suffered from centuries of misrule. We had our favorite “whipping boys” then.

But the greatest misrule in this country is the tyranny done to us by our own leaders, our blood brothers. Where have we been? They tried martial law; they tried dictatorship; the supporters of the same are still with us. We came from two EDSAs and a half. They tried more than half a dozen Coup d’Etat, several more political and military adventurism, the leaders and fomenters of which are still with us. We had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of an impeachment for an immoral leader and countless series of investigations, etc., etc. Political and military adventurisms are perpetual scarecrows to foreign investments, development programs, tourist’s visits and vacations.

The country needs people who seek what is truly good for its citizens without being blinded by narrow selfish ambitions. We call these people statesmen. And when we say we need people with that selfless perspective and longing only for what is the good of the whole man and of every man, we mean YOU … and not the politicians!

We are going to move towards the full development of our brothers and sisters, especially the poor who now make up the majority of the Filipinos in our country. The poor can no longer afford another misadventure of any kind by any group. Money and resources had been wasted in the past. They had thrown away our reputation and name. Now they are even wasting precious time.

We will no longer allow the poor in our midst to be used or taken advantage of (Ang dukha kapag may eleksyon inaakit; pag may “rally” ginagamit). In the Gospel of Jesus Christ the poor, the lame, the beggar, were not objects. They are rather subjects, like Lazarus in everyone’s front yard or door, who, through the power of the Gospel, will help “to affect and upset criteria of judgment, determining values, sources of inspiration and styles of life that are contrary to the Word of God and His plan of salvation.” (EN, 18).

Where are we going?
We are headed for the development of every Filipino, but starting with the very poor. And we will use only the true ways available to us who believe in and accept the goodness and love of God, our Father, as He shared this with us in Jesus, His Son with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Love will be the one motivation we have. Compassion is the only influence we will use. You and I will be surprised at what love of God will do in us and among us.

We will call this from now on, THE THEOLOGY OF THE CRUMBS. It is about a miracle, a wonder of God’s love that begins with the small. The Lord Jesus once told the story that a very rich man feasted on good food everyday, while a poor beggar whose leg wounds were licked by dogs, lay by the door waiting only for crumbs to fall from the rich man’s table. The poor man died and was brought to Heaven, Abraham’s bosom; the rich man also died and was sent to Hades (Hell). (Luke 1:19-31). Take note that the rich man was not sent to Hell because he was rich. He was condemned because he did not allow even a small thing such as a “crumb” to fall in the way of Lazarus. Selfishness and greed (no matter how it is expressed) is what keep Hell going.

What was the issue?
Lazarus, the beggar, was not asking to be seated with the rich; neither was he asking for the food of the wealthy man. The question here is neither of wealth nor of position. The poor was only asking for crumbs, useless scraps that fell from the rich man’s table of daily living. When the quarrel is over millions and billions, the stake is for the devil; but when the issue is about crumbs and morsels the obvious destiny is heaven as the saying goes “Ano mang magaling, kahit maliit, basta’t malimit ay patungong langit.”

How true to the Lord’s teaching on littleness as the beginning steps to the Kingdom of heaven. Feeding the poor and providing for the needs of the disadvantaged will begin with as little as crumbs we gather everyday.

We have already weighed a crumb and its value is 25 centavos. Every Filipino believer in the goodness and love of God, as expressed in Jesus His Son, will set aside “a crumb”, 25 centavos everyday. An educational component, called catechesis, will always accompany the witnessing to the values of Pondo ng Pinoy. No one gives more than one peso a day. (Of course for others, crumbs can be relative in size or value.) The practice will make love and compassion a way of life.

Pondo ng Pinoy is about the love of God lived by us. It is about the littleness in the expression of the love of God in behalf of our brothers and sisters. It will involve all of us – rich and poor, strong and weak, young and old, educated or untutored, priests, bishops, religious, brothers, sisters, the laity, teachers, students, anyone – who accept the love and goodness of God in His Son Jesus.

Pondo ng Pinoy is for all.
PONDO ng PINOY will be registered at SEC as a community foundation whose resources will support and maintain the development and charitable programs for the poor and needy.

The Church is the initiator. The Church is the motivator. The Church is the steward.

But again do not be deluded into thinking that PnP is merely a resource enhancing movement. It is an evangelization tool and a development process. Through its catechesis, Pondo ng Pinoy is slowly going to clarify the person’s vision and it will set an aim in life. Our Lord Jesus Christ calls that life he wanted to give us as “fullness of life.” (John 10:10). The Church calls this now as “integral evangelization”. Through the love of God and the poor Pondo ng Pinoy will help purify one’s values. Participated in collectively, a community of believing citizens will slowly transform to a community of a “built up” people who belong to the Father’s Kingdom and not just to an uncaring nation.

Make sure that daily every Filipino will have just enough love for God and brother or sister even only the size of “a crumb”.

If you have that love, join us in this movement!

If you cannot spare God and his poor that little morsel then do not join us. Take your “crumb” with you, and go where the rich man in the parable was told by God to go.


Maraming Salamat sa Inyong Lahat.

G.B. Rosales
Folk Arts Theatre
11 June 2004

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