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Showing posts from 2011

Toys

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“Yesterday’s popular toy is today’s collectors’ item.” (Yahoo! Games)

Remember the old toys that you sold in a garage sale? Or the ones you had since you were a kid and kept in mint condition for a long time but when you turned it over to your kids, it lost an arm or a leg? Well, Yahoo! recently featured “The Most Valuable Action Figures”.“Some of the action figures you loved as a child are now sought-after rarities with enormous price tags… You probably threw them away when you grew up, but you’re about to wish you hadn’t… All toys are not created equal—and these pricy pieces of plastic prove it” (Ibid)
For example, a 1978 Darth Vader action figure with a telescoping lightsaber accessory could fetch up to US$7,000! The most expensive is the 1963 G.I. Joe prototype sold for $200,000 in a 2009 auction.
One ruefully commented, “I guess playing with my Return of the Jedi action figures in the bathtub and melting them with a magnifying glass wasn’t such a good idea.”

But what are toys anyway?…

"I wanted my kids to know me."

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This was the reason the late Steve Jobs gave to Walter Isaacson when he asked why Jobs allowed him to write his life story. Jobs zealously guarded his private life from the prying eyes of the public. He left behind four children from two relationships. In his final interview with the Apple co-founder (they had more than 40 tell-all, no-holds-barred interviews conducted over two years), the Pulitzer Prize nominee asked why Jobs was more than willing to open up so much. Jobs replied, “I wasn’t always there for [my kids],and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”
When I read those words, I paused to reflect, “What would I want my kids to know about me?” I’m afraid some of us would be too quick to point an accusing finger to Jobs for this humble admission. That despitehis success in business, it appears Jobs failed in his home. But the proverbial three fingers are pointing back to us. What Jobs said brought to mind what my wife Ellen asked me one time, “What memories abo…

Prayer Without Works Is Dead

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Source: http://inquirer.net/
After Pedring, now it’s Quiel. As one newspaper puts it, “There will be no rest for the flood-weary.” While Pedring was howling, I could not believe my eyes as I watch a construction crane spinning out of control on top of a building. Pedring’s total toll already climbed to 43 deaths (17 were children), 44 injured and 30 still missing. And we are still counting! Rescue efforts in flooded (read: submerged) areas are still ongoing. “Palay losses in Central Luzon, the country’s ‘rice granary,’ has exceeded P4 billion even as the full extent of damage wrought by Pedring is still unfolding.” (http://inquirer.net/) Now, the weather bureau warns that Quiel is stronger, “threatening the northern and central regions, the very same regions barely recovering from Typhoon ‘Pedring,’ with more rains and floods and disrupting reconstruction efforts.” (Ibid)

It is my prayer that God would embrace those who are most affected with His comforting love.“God is our refuge and s…

Missing the Point

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Last September 20, 2011, at SM City Pampanga, a 13-year-old boy shot his 16-year-old boyfriend and then shot himself. Both of them already died after a few days. “The shooting was the second in about a week inside one of the country’s biggest mall chains, SM malls, where guards are posted at entrances and bomb-sniffing dogs patrol the premises to deter crime and terrorist threats.” (Yahoo! News Philippines) Almost a week before, September 14, at SM City North, a woman fatally shot her estranged husband and a security guard who tried to stop her from killing herself. Now, there’s a public outcry about safety in the malls and gun control. How were they able to sneak in those guns? We are frisked and our bags were scanned with metal detectors whenever we enter the mall.
Urgent as they may appear to be, I think we are missing the point. Of course, we need to be and to feel safe whenever we enjoy the national pastime of malling. Yet, there’s not much uproar about the fact that the teenagers…

"Small Choices, Saved Lives"

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That’s part of the title of an article about the “near misses of 9/11” posted on the CNN International Edition website. “Every day, people make thousands of small, forgettable decisions – what to eat, when to take a break, which route to take to work. But for a handful of people on September 11, 2001, those seemingly inconsequential decisions… made the difference between living and dying.”[1]
Greer Epstein, an executive director at Morgan Stanley, took a rare cigarette break. She recounted that fateful day, “I never took a break before noon… It was something that happened that day. And thank God for it. I was safely out of the building when the plane hit. A fireball went through my office. Had I been sitting there, who knows what would've been?” Jokingly, she said her mother never picked on her about smoking again. But seriously, since that near miss at 9/11, she never let her work dictate her life. “My life was my job. Until I was laid off, I worked for them for almost 20 years. E…

Thank You, MGC!

Thank you for the privilege of serving you for more than six years.

I will not wait for my last Sunday in Makati Gospel Church as one of your associate pastors to express my deep appreciation for all your loving support. I apologize that the news of my resignation shocked you. It was not an easy decision to make. But rest assured that I decided after much thought and prayer. As I sat here behind my desk, I once again read all the “love notes” you gave me through the years. I posted them on my desk underneath its glass top. I felt so affirmed as your pastor. Whenever I felt there’s so much work to be done, whenever I saw that it was so challenging, those notes encouraged me a lot. You were and still are God’s channel of comfort to me and my family. We really felt so loved. Because of your encouragement, I became not just a better pastor but also a better believer.

With you, I saw that it really matters who we walk with. We’ve been through a lot. We shared births and deaths, weddings an…

Shock Art

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Part of the "Poleteismo" exhibit
Was it an expression or a desecration?

That’s the fiery debate about “Poleteismo” by artist Mideo Cruz, “an art exhibit that combines religious symbols with phallic objects” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), where “[a] sculpture showed a penis hanging from a wooden cross while another portrayed Christ as Mickey Mouse.” (Source: www.inquirer.net) As expected, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines condemned the exhibit and the CCP recently withdrew it.

Now, I understand the hurt “Poleteismo” inflicted to people who venerate religious images. But, interestingly, it is actually a part of an “exhibit of images and figurines of saints and Jesus Christ titled ‘Kulo’ by a group of 30 artists from the University of Sto. Tomas” (ibid), which all of us know is a Roman Catholic university. Also, it appears that since 2002 the controversial exhibit was already displayed in venues such as the Vargas Museum in the University of th…

"A Plain, Ordinary Christian"

That’s how the late John Stott described an evangelical. (He died at the age of 90 last July 27, 2011 due to old age complications.) He would have labeled himself as such.But, for us, John Stott was no plain, ordinary Christian. Time Magazine honored him as one of the 100 world’s most influential leaders in 2005. When I heard him preach in person during the Philippine Congress on World Evangelization (in connection with Laussane II Congress) back in 1989, I was awed at his simple, practical and powerful way preaching of the Word of God. Based on Romans 1:1-5, he taught that there are six truths about the Gospel: “The Good News is the Gospel of God, about Christ, according to Scripture, for the nations, unto the obedience of faith, for the sake of Christ’s name.” (Source: www.lausane.org) One of his best-selling, must-read books, “Basic Christianity,” which he wrote in 1958 can be read in 25 languages and already sold more than million copies. His writings impacted most of the influent…

God the Father is also God the Mother?

In the name of political correctness (or gender equality), there are those who push that either we also call God the Mother, not just God the Father, or go for the generic God the Parent. They even accuse the Bible especially the Old Testament of chauvinism or biased towards male persons.

In his insightful “Discovering God as Father,” Rev. Dr. Narry Santos clarified, “‘Mother’ is never used in the Bible as a name for God. On the other hand, ‘Father’ is used in Scriptures as a metaphorical [figurative] name. Because the name ‘Father’ is metaphorical and not literal, it does not speak literally of God’s having a male or masculine nature. However, because ‘Father’ is a name and not merely a metaphor, it is not interchangeable with ‘Mother.’ Thus, there is no need for God the Mother.” (Jeremiah’s Dilemma Quarterly, Issue 3, August 2011)

I’m afraid that reason why there are attempts to “de-father” God is due to abusive or absentee fathers. Sadly, there are people who refuse the fatherhood …

The Redeemer on a Receipt?

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Some time ago, Yahoo!’s Odd News featured an alleged image of Christ mysteriously appearing on a Wal-Mart receipt: “[In] his most recent appearance, Jesus is showing that even the son of the Big Man has economic issues on the brain… Jacob Simmons and Gentry Lee Sutherland had just returned home from church (interesting connection, no?), and found what looked like the face of Christ BURNED into the receipt.”

Yet, depending on who’s looking at the image, opinions vary whether it looks like Jesus or Charles Manson or Bin laden. One comment reads, “Kinda creepy. Why does everyone assume it’s always Jesus?” Noting that heat can create that image on a receipt, Odd News lead anchor Greg Proops quipped, “Ironic that heat can create a picture of someone dedicated to keeping people away from warm places… The retail giant offers a lot of coupons and many consider Jesus [as] the ultimate redeemer.” (Ibid) 

Many years ago, after taking a bite off a grilled cheese sandwich, Diana Duyser “saw a face s…

Atheist Churchgoer

Vyckie confessed to feeling slightly guilty for she already missed going to church for four straight Sundays. But she is not your typical, active churchgoer. She is an atheist. She “deconverted” years ago because of, in her own words, “the Bible and Christian doctrine which I finally recognized as ridiculous and even abusive.”(Source: exchristian.net)

She clarified though that she is only criticizing the faith and not the faithful. “So when I write or speak about the evils of Christian fundamentalism and biblical literalism, I’m talking about words, ideas, beliefs, thoughts which affect and influence the flesh-and-blood people who listen to these abstractions and take them to heart… I didn’t leave Christianity because of any failure of the people. For the most part, I found the Christians I knew to be sincere, generous and supportive.” (Ibid) So, even if she loathes Christianity, she loves being with her Christian friends. “I’m still going to church because that’s where my social life…

Faith Angles (Part 3)

When CNN’s Belief Blog (which focuses on the “faith angles” of news) marked its first year, its religion editor Dan Gilgoff posted the “10 things the Belief Blog learned in its first year” article. The first thing Gilgoff saw was that, “Every big news story has a faith angle.” (I already discussed it in the first two parts of “Faith Angles”) The second thing that he noted was that, “Atheists are the most fervent commenters on matters religious.” They would pour out “an avalanche of alternately humorous and outraged atheist responses on virtually everything the Belief Blog publishes. They’re more evidence that atheists are coming out of the closet to trumpet their disbelief, argue with the faithful and evangelize their godlessness.”

They are so aggressive that they put up ads that promote atheism such as “God-LESS America” (which is a play of “God Bless America”) and “Atheism is patriotic.” In fact, there’s an indie film, “The Ledge,” that will be screened in New York and Los Angeles a …

"Would Jesus Discriminate?"

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This is one of the placards displayed during the same-sex wedding performed for eight gay couples by the Metropolitan Community Church last week in Baguio City on the day “New York became the sixth and largest state in the US to legalize gay marriage.” (Source: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/)
For sure both sides would seek Jesus’ approval. In her “The Bible’s surprisingly mixed messages on sexuality” over CNN’s Belief Blog, Jennifer Wright Knust claimed that, “Jesus… says nothing at all about same-sex pairing”. But arguments from silence are not strong arguments at all. Silence does not mean support. Regis Nicol in his“The Dangers of Same-Sex Marriage: What’s Wrong with That?” countered that assertion: “While it’s true that Jesus said nothing explicitly about homosexuality, it’s also true he never mentioned the evils of bestiality, incest, pedophilia, rape, slavery, wife-beating, or substance abuse, to name a few. In fact, the New Testament records very few things that Jesus specifically…

Faith Angles (Part 2)

“Every big news story has a faith angle.”That’s one of the things that CNN learned after its Belief Blog (which is dedicated to discussing how faith factors in the news) marked its first year recently, “after publishing 1,840 posts and sifting through 452,603 comments”. (Source: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/) One encouraging observation: “People are still intensely curious about the Bible, its meaning and its origins… More of us may be reading it on iPhones these days, but the Good Book still matters a lot more than the popular culture lets on.”(Ibid) When Belief Blog posted a guest blog claiming that the Bible was more ambiguous as far as homosexuality is concerned, it got more than 4,000 comments. When a counter-article claimed that the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality, it “brought in an equal number of comments - and was the most popular story on CNN.com on the day it was published.” (Ibid)

For me, this is a great open door for us Christ followers to declare and defend our fai…

Faith Angles

“We believe that understanding the role of faith in today’s world isn’t optional or nice to know. It’s need to know.”This is how CNN explained why they came up with Belief Blog, where they will “cover the role that faith and belief play in the news - and in [their] readers’ lives… [They] will focus on the places where faith bumps up against the rest of the news and the rest of the world, from breaking news to entertainment, from business to politics, and from foreign affairs to sports.”

As far as CNN is concerned, these faith angles explain much of the news ranging from a young man’s failed plot to bomb New York’s Times Square (He is a Muslim who took a vow to defend Islam from “humiliation”) to Barrack Obama’s rise to the presidency. (As a young Columbia University graduate, Obama had quit his first finance job and tried his hand in community organizing sponsored by Christian churches in Chicago. Not only that this launched his political career, it was “an experience that led him to …

Ghost Verses

Always believed that the Bible said these words? “God helps those who help themselves.” “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” “God works in mysterious ways.” “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Well, you’re in for a shocker. They’re not. Actually, those sayings are what CNN’s BeliefBlog called “phantom passages” (Source: CNN.com) And, as religion professor Steve Bouma-Prediger of Hope College in Holland, Michigan pointed out, sadly “people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better”.(Ibid) The “God-helping-the-self-help-people”saying is not in the Bible at all. “It’s actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the [USA’s] founding fathers.” (Ibid) The “God-acts-mysteriously” was not from the Psalms but was really lifted from a 19th century hymn. (Ibid) The “clean-people-are-godly” saying “was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism.” (Ibid) At least, the “sparing-and-sp…

How Do You Solve A Problem Like The RH Bill? Part 2

We Christians should be known more for what we are for and not for what we are against. In his“Thoughts on RH Bill” posted on the Facebook page of the International Graduate School of Leadership (IGSL) Alumni, Dr. Jim Whelchel (who used to teach “Christianity and Social Issues” in IGSL and is now serving as Executive Field Assistant to the VP of Campus Crusade for Christ) wrote, “My point is that as Christians we should not be known primarily as people who are against things, but people who are concerned enough that they do something about real problems that real people face.” Though he particularly addressed those who are against the Reproductive Health or RH Bill, I think what he wrote applies to both pro and anti groups. He encouraged believers to engage the issue at hand by really knowing the facts behind it. “[W]hen we… fail to engage in accurate discussion of its actual tenets, we may end up being marginalized in the discussion because we are rejected as religious fanatics who a…

How Do You Solve A Problem Like The RH Bill?

Sounds like “The Sound of Music” classic, right? Seriously, the Reproductive Health or RH Bill issue seems to be igniting more fight than light. However, this issue must not divide us believers. Second Timothy 2:23-24 command us, “Stay away from stupid and senseless arguments. These only lead to trouble, and God’s servants must not be troublemakers. They must be kind to everyone, and they must be good teachers and very patient.” (CEV)
So, whether we are pro or anti, we must keep our F.A.C.T.S. straight.

FOCUS on the facts. Sadly, there are those who oppose the RH Bill without even reading it. For example, they accuse its proponents of pushing for abortion. In his “Sounding Board” column, Jesuit priest Fr. Joaquin Bernas, who is also Dean Emeritus of Ateneo Law School, acknowledged that the RH Bill is really against abortion. “I am pleased that the bill reiterates the prohibition of abortion as an assault against the right to life.” (Source: Inquirer.net)

ADDRESS the issues, not person…

Altruistic Atheism

Now that’s a nosebleed. Simply put, it is the belief that people who deny there’s a God can still be do-gooders.

Such is the conviction of the famous physicist Stephen Hawking. (Though the degenerative Lou Gehrig’s disease has paralyzed him and he could only speak through an electronic speech synthesizer, Hawking holds a top Cambridge research post, which Isaac Newton held before.) In an ABC News interview with Diane Sawyer a year ago, Hawking boldly claimed, “[People] made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that [belief in a God] seems most impossible.” (Source: Yahoo! News) Recently, in an interview with “The Guardian” newspaper, he also attacked the belief in the afterlife. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people af…

The Final Post

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In a sense, Derek Miller blogged from his grave.

Hailed by the Associated Press as “one of the best known bloggers in British Columbia”, Derek died of complications from stage 4 colorectal cancer last May 3, 2011. He was 41, just a year after crossing that point in life where life is said to begin.

His final entry, which appeared a day after he died, began this way: “Here it is. I’m dead, and this is my last post to my blog. In advance, I asked that once my body finally shut down from the punishments of my cancer, then my family and friends publish this prepared message I wrote—the first part of the process of turning this from an active website to an archive.” (Source: http://www.penmachine.com/) His post-mortem blog went viral and had an estimated 8 million hits, causing the site to crash. 

Derek wondered about what Airdrie, his wife of 16 years, and his two teenage daughters would be doing after his death. “There can’t be answers today. While I was still alive writing this, I was sad …

“The Most Expensive Public Enemy”

That’s what a political newspaper called Osama bin Laden whom an elite US commando forces killed early this week in Pakistan (Source: http://www.nationaljournal.com/). Just exactly how much did he cost the US of A?“By conservative estimates, bin Laden cost the United States at least $3 trillion over the past 15 years, counting the disruptions he wrought on the domestic economy, the wars and heightened security triggered by the terrorist attacks he engineered, and the direct efforts to hunt him down.” (Ibid) Analysts are debating whether it’s worth the tab. Linda Bilmes, a lecturer at John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University lamented the expenses incurred in developing the unmanned aircraft, the Predator drones, for the counter-bin Laden efforts. “We have spent a huge amount of money which has not had much effect on the strengthening of our military, and has had a very weak impact on our economy.” (Ibid) But Michael O’Hanlon, a National Security analyst at the Brookin…

It's All About Whom Anyway?

The youth “love themselves more today than ever before,”according to Dr. Nathan DeWall, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky (Source: The New York Times). DeWall and his team analyzed hit songs spanning three decades (from “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder to “I’m Bringing Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake) and found that there’s “a statistically significant trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music… narcissism has been linked to heightened anger and problems maintaining relationships.” (Ibid) Simply put, the lyrics of these songs exposed a growing mindset shift among late adolescents and college students from an “It’s all about us” towards an “It’s all about me.” According to the study, “the words ‘I’ and ‘me’ appear more frequently along with anger-related words, while there’s been a corresponding decline in ‘we’ and ‘us’ and the expression of positive emotions… Their song-lyrics analysis shows a decline in words related to social connections a…

Relics

“We’re not saying these are the nails… We’re saying these could be the nails.” (That is, the nails allegedly used to crucify our Lord Jesus.) Such is the bold claim of award-winning Israeli film director, Simcha Jacobovici, as he presented two rusted iron spikes in his “The Nails of the Cross” documentary made for the History Channel (Source: www.time.com). A few years ago, Jacobovici produced “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” for the Discovery Channel where he claimed that the graves of Jesus and Mary Magdalene were found. Dr. Paul Maier, ancient history professor at Western Michigan University, criticized Jacobovici’s works: “The guy is a showman, an Indiana Jones wannabe.” (Christian Science Monitor)
In 1990, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) found in a cave the ossuary or the bone box that purportedly contains the remains of Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest who had Jesus arrested. They also found, among other things, Roman nails. Yet it appears that no one’s even s…

The Swap Deal

It surprised (translation: shocked) us so much it took some time before we could come to grips with its impact. I’m talking about “the P74.1-billion share-swap deal between telecommunication giants PLDT and Digitel [which] was conducted in almost complete secrecy”. (“Gung-ho,” editorial of the Phil. Daily Inquirer, April 7, 2011) PLDT CEO Manny V. Pangilinan lauded the deal, “Though this initiative alters the country’s telecom landscape, we expect competition within the industry to remain very robust.” (Ibid)

It appears the alteration caused by the deal is more of a landslide than a landscape (to paraphrase former president Erap). It appears that PLDT, the first major industry player, outsmarted us all by eclipsing Sun Cellular, the third major industry player. According to an internal memo, “We might find ourselves competing in a more rational marketplace with better margins as the new opposition could decide to scale back on the unlimited propositions that undermine industry.” (Ibid…

“F U!”

Wait! Before you click the “back” button on your browser, I was not really cussing. A friend posted a video on Facebook where I saw a pastor pound on his pulpit and shout at the top of his voice, “As a Christian, you’ve got to forgive. Now that said, and please don’t get offended, the new “f” word in this church is ‘forgive.’ Now, touch the person beside you and tell her, ‘F U!’” In this world where it’s easier to curse than confess, to refuse to give forgiveness than to release the person from guilt, that’s a timely word. I may not be as bold (read: daring) as that pastor in exhorting the church to tell and text people, “F U, y’all!” But I encourage all of us to forgive.
The Bible commands us to forgive exactly the way God forgave.“Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, The Message) We forgive because we are forgiven first. Psalm 103:11-12 declared that, “As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fea…

"Losing My Religion"

No, I’m not talking about the hit song by the American rock band R.E.M. I’m talking about a CNN report regarding a prediction by a team of mathematicians that “based on census data stretching back 100 years…religion will be driven toward extinction” in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands (Source: CNN Belief Blog). According to lead mathematician Daniel Abrams, “Every single data that we were able to find shows that people are moving from the affiliated to unaffiliated. I can’t imagine that will change, but that’s personal opinion, not what the data shows. …[We] are not passing any judgment on religion… [We’re] just modeling a prediction based on trends.” (Ibid) Also, in other studies, these people are “the fastest-growing religious group in the United States” (Ibid). Those labeled “unaffiliated” are “not necessarily atheists or non-believers… just people who do not associate themselves with a particular religion or…

Lives On The Line

“I don’t know any other way to say it but they are like suicide fighters in a war.” That’s how one Japanese described the employees of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) now hailed as “The Heroes of Fukushima.” (Source: “From A Distance,” Carmen N. Pedrosa, Philippine Star, March 19, 2011) Japan has set a 20-kilometer safety radius. The US of A set it at 50 kilometers. These workers are right there in the nuclear plant complex. They are racing to keep the nuclear reactors at Fukushima from melting down. A worker saw the situation “like a death sentence” while another one e-mailed his wife saying,“Please continue to live well. I cannot be home for a while.” (Ibid) The Straits Times of Singapore published a blog entry of Tepco worker Michiko Otsuki. She wrote, “In the midst of the tsunami alarm, at 3 a.m. in the night when we couldn’t even see where we were going, we carried on working to restore the reactors from where we were, right by the sea, with the realization that this cou…

He or She?

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The exercise of our rights requires maturity. A mature person respects other people’s rights in as much as he insists on respect for his rights. The problem is when that person fights for a one-way respect, that is, when that person demands that his rights would be respected but he would not respect others’ rights in return.
Such I believe is the case between Hender Gercio, “a self-described ‘transsexual woman’ who had ‘undergone a gender transition,’” and Dominique Del Corro, a French language professor at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. (Source: www.gmanews.tv) Gercio, “a former President of Babaylan, an officially-recognized organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students of UP,” (ibid) insists that the professor address him as a female. Del Corro, an evangelical Christian, refused to do so because of her personal religious beliefs against homosexuality. But Gercio insists, “My pronouns are MY pronouns. I don’t care who your God is…