The Tarp of Bacolod. Team Buhay? Check! Team Patay? Chuck!

clip_image002MANILA: Here are two of my predictions, and they both concern the Catholic Church. First, a new Pope is coming, and his name commences with the letter C. Second, a Catholic Vote is coming, and it will coagulate this coming elections. There will be a new Pope as a new voice in the world as there will be a new voice of the Catholics in the Philippines. The first needs no further explanation; the second needs further elaboration, because history is against it.

Thanks to Bishop Vicente Navarra and the Bacolod Diocese, a Catholic Vote is assured in the elections of May 2013. Thank God, the Comelec is literal-minded; it knows only the letter of the Law, and so it has made a tarpaulin an issue of national importance, all because it is unable to read the sign of the times:

"Conscience Vote: Team Buhay / Team Patay."

The Tarp of Bacolod is the tarpaulin on the façade of a church in the City of Bacolod that is a story of faith asking for works. Very Roman Catholic. Faith without works is dead! The tarp is saying it is incumbent on the Catholics to vote according to the dictates of their conscience, and this time that conscience is aided by the portent of things to come: "Team Buhay / Team Patay." This time it is a matter of life and death.

A Roman Catholic, I am even now recommending that the Diocese of Bacolod be given the 2013 Catholic Mass Media Award for their "Team Buhay / Team Patay" awareness campaign via a 6' x 10' tarpaulin. It has utter significance: Choose Life, or Choose Death. Even the tarp measurements have meanings: If you are six feet below the ground, you're dead; if you feel like ten feet tall, you're alive, you're feeling great! Even the colors have implications: What's the color of life? Red. Buhay! What's the color of death? Black. Patay! Even the positions have import: Team Buhay at the top of the heap, Team Patay at the bottom.

I also look at the Tarp of Bacolod as a call for a miracle. You see, the Bacolod church is actually called the San Sebastian Cathedral and, you know what? San Sebastian was a soldier, Christian and miracle worker; among other things, he prayed for and restored the sight of a blind girl (Wikipedia). This time, San Sebastian will make the eyes of blind Catholics see what they have to do: Campaign for candidates who stand for Life and campaign against candidates who stand for Death.

I understand that the Tarp of Bacolod did not come as a spur of the moment; it was an initiative of lay people in Bacolod, according to Fr Ronaldo Quijano, the diocesan Family & Life Director in that City (Nirv'ana Ella Delacruz, 01 March 2013, cbcpnews.com). He told the story behind the sign of the times during the 4th Episcopal Commission on Family & Life National Conference last Wednesday in Antipolo City. The Tarp of Bacolod actually started when the RH Law, RA 10354, was signed by President Noynoy Aquino. In Bacolod, there were pastoral letters read during the Advent season, on the 24th and 31st of December 2012. Then came wave after wave of seminar-workshops on Catholic teachings on life, human sexuality, and marriage. "The passage of RA 10354 seemed to symbolize a clear demarcation line between pre- and post-RH fervor among Catholics in Bacolod that is re-energizing the Church," Fr Quijano said.

The seminar discussed the reasons behind the Church's opposition to the RH Law. The first batch who attended, whom Bishop Navarra himself called for, included priests, seminarians, and other members of the religious. Teachers followed, liturgical ministers, acolytes, mass collectors, and choir members. Then members of the Bacolod media, doctors and nurses too. Eventually, the seminars attracted the lay associations and the grassroots through the Basic Ecclesial Communities (churches of the poor).

It was also during that time that the diocese decided to put up big red flags in the premises of all churches, signifying the collective Catholic protest against the Law. Today, the Tarp of Bacolod continues that protest.

I'm now imagining the emergence of the Red & Black Mindset as contrasted to the Yellow Ribbon Mentality of those who idolize the Aquinos, from Ninoy to Cory to Noynoy. This coming elections is not a battle between Team Pinoy and Team UNA:

It is a battle between those who wish to spend billions to stop pregnancies instead of spending those billions to stop poverty.

On one hand, Fr Melvin Castro, Executive Director of the Episcopal Commission on Family & Life of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the Archdiocese of Lipa City and the Dioceses of Tarlac, Borongan and Sorsogon were planning to follow the example of the Diocese of Bacolod in the matter of the tarp (ANN, 27 February 2013, sunstar.com.ph). On the other hand, the Dioceses of San Carlos and Kabankalan in Negros Occidental were not planning to put up tarps similar to that of the Bacolod Diocese (Gilbert Bayoran, 05 March 2013, rappler.com). Social Action Director of San Carlos Fr Jaime Laude said they would not duplicate what Bacolod did because, "We don't want to put some titles as Team Patay or Team Buhay." Kabankalan Social Action Director Fr Eryl Agus said that they will not order their priests to emulate the Bacolod example but instead "empower them, including lay leaders, to educate the people about the RH Law."

I understand that Fr Jaime and Fr Eryl are doing so because they don't want to practice name-calling on those who voted for the RH Bill to become Law. Your Reverends, there is no reason to respect those who have no respect for life. The RH Law does not respect the life of the unborn, and you're talking of delicadeza?!

All the dioceses throughout the archipelago should put up their Team Buhay / Team Patay tarps on the façade of their cathedrals and churches. This tarp will educate the people about the RH Law, and empower the Catholics to do what is right on Election Day: Check those who belong to the Team of Life and Chuck those who belong to the Team of Death!

Indeed, I urge all the Philippine Dioceses to applaud the Tarp of Bacolod; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

[Anti-RH] Team Buhay 1. JV Estrada. 2. Gregorio Honasan. 3. Mitos Magsaysay. 4. Koko Pimentel. 5. Antonio Trillanes. 6. Cynthia Villar. Party List 1. Buhay. 2. Ang Pamilya.

[Pro-RH] Team Patay 1. Jose Edgardo Angara. 2. Teddy Casiño. 3. Alan Peter Cayetano. 4. Jackie Enrile. 5. Francis Escudero. 6. Risa Hontiveros. 7. Loren Legarda. Party List 1. Akbayan. 2. Anak Pawis. 3. Bayan Muna. 4. Gabriela.

I will describe the Tarp of Bacolod as a dichotomy of conscience, certainly not a dichotomy of which political party to support. If you will notice, Team Buhay includes 3 names from the team of the President who railroaded the passage of the RH Bill into the RH Law, Noynoy Aquino's Team Pinoy: Pimentel, Trillanes and Villar. True-blue Catholics must choose the promise of life over the prescription of death, nothing personal.

There are also exactly 3 names from the opposing team of Jejomar Binay-Juan Ponce Enrile-Joseph Estrada's United Nationalist Alliance (Team UNA): Estrada, Honasan, and Magsaysay. True-blue Catholics must choose the promise of life over the prescription of death, nothing partisan.

As a copywriter once, I myself celebrate the Tarp of Bacolod. The tarp that says Team Buhay / Team Patay is a triumph in communication, as it is a prime example of following the 4 Cs of Communication. In 66 words, including the numbers, it manages to be Concise, Comprehensive, Coherent, and Clear.

The theme is Concise: Conscience Vote: Team of Life, Team of Death.

The body is Comprehensive: It covers the basics. The anti-RH candidates are the following; they belong to the Team of Life; the pro-RH candidates are the following; the belong to the Team of Death.

The substance is Coherent: The titles parallel and build upon each other: [Anti-RH] / [Pro-RH]. Team Buhay / Team Patay. Team of Life / Team of Death.

The message is Clear: Team Buhay? Check! (Throw them in!) Team Patay? Chuck! (Throw them out!)

After this, I am going to contribute a little money to encourage our Saint Louis Bertrand Church in Asingan, Pangasinan to put up its own Tarp of Bacolod on its façade. It would be a wonderful sight. In any case, faith without works is dead.

Team Buhay? Let's Vote In! Team Patay? Let's Vote Out!

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