Thursday, December 29, 2011

Go Scouting

Today, the DePaz Kids, Yanni, Kiara and Kiff, are wearing their Thai Scout Uniform in all their smartness and snappiness. I've always admired the Thai educational system for how they made Scouting an integral part of their Curriculum. I'm just so saddened by the fact that Scouting is hardly emphasized in the Philippine Curriculum. I remember I pay an annual fee for my son Caspian's scouting (although this was not compulsory for all the students) because I've always believed in the benefits my son would be getting if he were an Active Scout. And yet, every year the only time I seem to see him use his scout uniform was when there was Camping in their school or in one of the District's school, and thereafter Scouting activity is nil till the end of the school year. I don't know whom to blame for this complacency towards Scouting - my son's school, the Department of Education, the Boy Scout organization in the Philippines - but I so do wish that Scouting would be revived and re-emphasized more in Philippine education for the great benefits it can give to our students, our communities and our nation. If only our Educators can see what the Thai Scouts have enjoyed and learned, then perhaps they can rethink about what values we are missing to teach our children if we are neglecting this very profitable endeavor.

Here's a table of comparison to see how Philippine Scouting can be improved from the example of the Thai Scouts.

A. Founding

Scouting began in 1907 in Great Britain when Robert Baden-Powell led the first Scout Camping on the Brownsea Island, in England. Thereafter, many of the British Commonwealth countries organized their own Scout organizations. King Rama VI (King Vajiravudh) who was getting his education in England around this time learned about the Scout movement and brought back the idea and introduced Scouting to Thailand on July 1st 1911. Thailand became the third country outside of the British Commonwealth to take up Scouting. Thailand is also honored to being one of the Founding Members of the World Organization of Scouting in 1922.

Scouting history of the Philippines can be traced back to the American occupation of the islands. Since Scouting was founded in February 1910 in the USA, some American expats like Navy Lieutenant Sherman Kiser must have been introducing it to Filipino boys during that time. The first documented Scout troop however was formed in 1914 in Zamboanga and many other troops were organized by American missionaries and servicemen thereafter. Most of these were probably registered under the Boy Scouts of America in New York. The Boy Scouts of the Philippines was formally established by virtue of the Commonwealth Act 111 in 1936 which was signed by then President Manuel L. Quezon.

B. As Part of the Educational Curriculum

Scouting is an important part of the School Curriculum in Thailand and receives strong support from the Thai government and its people. This fact is very visible every Thursday of the School year when all the students wear their Scout uniform, from the
Youngest to the Older (Teacher) Scouts. Some schools in Thailand hold their Scout activities in different days but the activities are much the same. After the Morning assembly, there is Inspection and then followed by practical activities towards earning proficiency badges like knotting, cooking, games and sports and singing. Because Scouting is part of the school curriculum, the students have to sit an exam at the end of each term. They do take Scouting seriously.

Scouting, though widely encouraged in most Philippine schools and adapted in many school programs, is still just an option or an elective to most Filipino students. In some occasions, only a handful of students wear the Scout uniform on a given week day. Camping is probably the only time you’ll see a mass of students wearing their Scout uniforms. As far as I can remember, when scouts do meet on the week day it is only for a period of 50 minutes or so. All merit earnings are done during Camping or jamborees which I said earlier happens only once or if we’re lucky, twice a year. I don’t remember my son telling me that they have a test or exam for scouting, do you? Scouting as far as my son is concerned is just like a social activity where he can meet scouts from other schools or if we’re lucky again, from other nations.

C. Scout Law
A Thai Scout's honour is to be trusted.
* A Thai Scout is loyal to his Nation, his Religion, his King and is faithful to his benefactors.
* A Scout's duty is to be useful and to help others.
* A Scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other Scout in the world.
* A Scout is courteous.
* A Scout is kind to animals.
* A Scout respectfully obeys the orders of his parents and his superiors.
* A scout is very cheerful and is not afraid of troubles.
* A scout is thrifty.
* A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed.

A Filipino Scout is:

    * Trustworthy
    * Loyal
    * Helpful
    * Friendly
    * Courteous
    * Kind
    * Obedient
    * Cheerful
    * Thrifty
    * Brave
    * Clean
    * Reverent

D. Scout Oath/ Promise
On my honour I promise that I will be loyal to the Nation, the Religion and the King; help other people at all times; and obey the Scout Law.

    On My Honor
    I will do my best;
    to do my duty to God and my country,
    the Republic of the Philippines
    and to obey the Scout Law;
    to help other people at all times
    to keep my self physically strong,
    mentally awake and morally straight.

E. Scout Motto

Better to die than lie.

Kabs- Learn to earn

Young Scouts- Earn to live

Senior Scouts- Live to serve

F. Registry
According to latest registry, the Philippines rank fourth among other nations with a membership of 2,150,000 while Thailand ranks fifth with only 1,300,000 in membership. How accurate or true this statistic is I’m not sure but if we base only in observation then I would have thought the numbers were vice versa. How I wish it was true though so that we can see more socially responsible, morally upright and patriotic Filipino students.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Message: 10 reasons to GO TO CHURCH

As far as I can remember, Sunday always equal "Go to Church". My Roman Catholic mother taught us well about how to spend the first day of the week, and there was no question about whether we’d like to do it or not. Having come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and desiring to do His Will, going to church has become an even more significant part of living the Christian Life.
Last Christmas Sunday at the Nonthaburi Christian Fellowship, we were privileged to hear God’s message from Pastor Rob Bowen on Why We Go to Church (and what it implies if we don’t). If one desires to do the will of God, there are five things one must do: Read the Bible, Pray, GO TO CHURCH, Give, and Share the Word. Today, we will look closely on one aspect of doing the will of God.

Why Go to Church:
  1. To follow the Biblical pattern. (I. Cor. 4:2)
-         If you don’t go to church on Sundays, it means you are of the world (2 Cor. 6:14) – the Lord says, Come out from among them!

  1. To receive nourishment. (I Peter 2:2)
-         If you don’t go to church, you will not receive nourishment and the strength that you need to grow and live spiritually.

  1. To fellowship with other believers. (Acts 2:14ff)
-         If you are not with other believers on Sunday, then you’re with unbelievers, with whom we should have no fellowship (Eph. 5:11) especially on the Lord’s Day. The danger in this is that: ”Evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Cor. 15:33)

  1. To express thankfulness. (Luke 17:11ff)
-         If you are not in church, then you’re probably one of the ungrateful ones (2 Tim. 3:1,2)

  1. To desire a better life. (Matt. 11:28-30)
-         If you’re not in church, then you’re probably living a life of sin. (Prov. 13:15)

  1. To avoid sin. (James 4:17)
-         “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

  1. To make the right decision. (Joshua 24:15)
-         If you’re not in church, you might be making the wrong decisions (Joel 3:14).

  1. To express our love for God by obedience. (Heb. 10:25)
-         “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

  1. To profess our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt. 10:32)
-         If you’re not in church, you must be ashamed to be associated with Him and His people (Mark 8 :38).

  1.  To make us a better servant of God. (Luke 4:12)
- If you have been an unfaithful servant, then “Blood will be required” (Ezek. 33:7-9)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This little known Christmas carol was set to the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow(see below). It was said to be written after the poet’s desperation on the death of his wife two years earlier, and the death of his son, a soldier during the American Civil War, which he learned about on Christmas Day in 1864. The original title of the poem is “Christmas Bells”, a seemingly joyous yet sad piece which is why it’s not so popular a carol to sing during the festive season.
The poem was first set to music in 1872 by the English organist, John Baptiste Calkin who used it as a processional hymn. This version is used by Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby and Rockapella. Greg Gilpin set the poem to the music of “Waly, Waly” in 2002 which was used by several vocal artists thereafter. In 2008, Mark Hall, the lead vocalist of Casting Crowns, made his own arrangement of the song which he included in their Christmas album, Peace on Earth. This is the version I enjoyed the most.
Two verses of the original poem was not included in most of the song versions because of their reference to the Civil War. The more recent versions use only stanzas 1, 3, 6 and 7. Casting Crowns included a refrain which goes this way:

But the bells were ringing
Like a choir singing:
Does anybody hear them?
“Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men.”

Christmas Bells
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
    I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And mild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
        And with the sound
        The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
        And made forlorn
        The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    "There is no peace on earth," I said;
        "For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Celebration continued

There is one other celebration I would like to talk about here at this point and that is the celebration of Christ's birthday at Christmas, December 25.
While we Christians get caught up with the celebration fever and all, we should try to examine anyway why we do celebrate this day with the rest of the world. First of all, ye Bible-believing Christians should be mindful of the this fact - the date of Christ's birth was never mentioned in the Bible - probably because of our predilection as mortals to celebrate and give importance to dates, as we do documents, relics etc.when it is connected to deity. Even the apostles predicted that there will come a time when "religious" people will try to suit Christianity to their own preconceived religions. And that was precisely what happened - they picked a date nearer to the Saturnalia, which is a celebration of the pagan God Attis. You will find that December 25 is also the birthdate of several other pagan gods - Now, Christian, can you see the folly of all the fuss we're making on the date which has really nothing to do with Christ?
Many Bible scholars claim that December was too cold a month for the census of Cyrenius to happen nor was it a pleasant time for shepherds to be tending their flocks at night. The most common conclusion is that it probably occurred in Autumn rather than Winter.
Having said these, it would seem so difficult to detach one ’s self to what is happening around you during these festive times. It is very difficult also to excuse one’s self from activities that involve Christmas and your work. But one preacher said, Since God did not give us the real date of Christ’s birth, He surely did not command us to keep it.
But, I keep it not for the world’s reason but because by celebrating the birth, life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, I celebrate His great salvation and blessings unnumbered just because Jesus Christ did become Man and yet in all essence, still God.

3 Birthdays and a Celebration

During the month of December, we celebrate 3 birthdays in our family. 
December 20 is the birthday of my brother, Dr. Eugene C. Castillo. He's a nephrologist and one of the professors (and associate dean, if I'm not mistaken) of the Medical School which was formerly known as GEAC (General Emilio Aguinaldo College of Medicine), and its present name escapes my memory. He's been back and forth the US a long time ago to study his specialization and I believe he's found himself a niche in his field of expertise. He's married to the beautiful dermatologist, Dra. Vitalia Beltran Castillo, with whom he has three Gorgeous sons - Gino, Gelo and Gioco.

On December 21, my other brother Jose Ramon C. Castillo also celebrates his birthday. He's a pre-med graduate but he worked first as a steward with Philippine Airlines and then presently is working as a nurse somewhere in Canada where he lives with his stunning wife Carmina Feliciano-Castillo, and their two kids, Melissa and Miguel.

December 22 is the celebration of the birthday of my deceased  father, Salvador Colendrino Castillo. He was a loyal former employee of ABS-CBN - in fact, even before ABS-CBN became what it is today (the merger of two pioneer Philippine media corporation), my father was already working for the Lopez' company. When martial law shut down ABS-CBN, and all other networks not friendly to then President Marcos, my father stayed on to protect and make sure the "sequester-ers" wouldn't destroy the ABS-CBN buildings and important equipments inside. Later, he was forced to leave the building and transferred employment at the Channel 7 station (I believe the only one spared from Marcos' sequestrations), as did some of the other employees of ABS-CBN. Little do most of us know that GMA-7 became a premier broadcasting station because of the transfer of those key employees of ABS-CBN. Not to prolong your agony, my dear reader, I'd just like to say that in most of the early part of the history of broadcasting in the Philippines, my father was a witness and participant ... I wish he'd had the chance to write about it but he passed away just right after the restoration of ABS-CBN and so broadcasting has never been the same since.


There is another birthday celebration I  would like to talk about though .... see my next post.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Latest on MINDANAO floods

ILIGAN, Philippines (AP) — Tropical Storm Washi blew away Sunday after devastating a wide swath of the southern Philippines with flash floods that killed at least 521 people as they slept and turned two coastal cities into a muddy wasteland filled with overturned cars and uprooted trees.
With nearly 500 people missing, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and top military officials were to fly to the worst-hit city of Cagayan de Oro to help oversee search-and-rescue efforts and deal with thousands of displaced villagers, as the weather began to clear and floodwaters receded. Among the items urgently needed are coffins and body bags, said Benito Ramos, who heads the government's disaster-response agency.
"It's overwhelming. We didn't expect these many dead," Ramos said.
Edmund Rubio, a 44-year-old engineer, said he, his wife and two children scrambled to the second floor of their house in Iligan city as raging floodwaters engulfed the first floor, destroying his TV set and other appliances and washing away his car and motorcycle.
Amid the panic, he heard a loud pounding on his door as his neighbors living in nearby one-story houses pleaded with him to allow them into one of his second-floor rooms. He said he brought 30 of his neighbors into the safety of the second floor of his house, which later shook when a huge, floating log slammed into it.
"It's the most important thing, that all of us will still be together this Christmas," Rubio told The Associated Press. "There was a nearby shantytown that was smashed by water. I'm afraid many people there may not have been as lucky as us."
Army officers reported unidentified bodies piled up in morgues in Cagayan de Oro, where electricity was restored in some areas, although the city of more than 500,000 people remained without tap water.
Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang told the AP that at least 521 people had died in the floods, mostly children and women, and that 458 others were reported missing.
The death toll will most likely rise because many villages remain isolated and unreached by overwhelmed disaster-response personnel. The worst-hit cities were Cagayan de Oro, where at least 239 people died, and nearby Iligan, where Red Cross aid workers reported 195 dead, Pang said.
"Our fear is there may have been whole families that perished so there's nobody to report what happened," Pang said. "Many areas remain isolated and strewn with debris and unreached by rescue teams."
Tropical Storm Washi started to blow away toward the South China Sea on Sunday after slamming into the western province of Palawan, allowing the weather to clear and disaster-response contingents to intensify search-and-rescue work.
Most of the victims were asleep Friday night when raging floodwaters cascaded from the mountains with logs and uprooted trees after 12 hours of rain from the late-season tropical storm in Mindanao. The region is unaccustomed to the typhoons that are common to the north of the Philippine archipelago.
Both Iligan, a bustling industrial center about 485 miles (780 kilometers) southeast of Manila, and Cagayan de Oro were filled with scenes of destruction and desperation.
A swollen river sent floodwaters gushing through neighborhoods that do not usually experience flooding. A man floated in an inner tube in muddy water littered with plastic buckets, pieces of wood and other debris. Ten people in one home stood on a sloping roof, waiting for rescuers even as water still flooded the lower floors.
Local television footage showed muddy water rushing in the streets, sweeping away all sorts of debris. Thick layers of mud coated streets where the waters had subsided. One car was thrown over a concrete fence and others were crushed and piled atop each other in a flooded canal.
Benito Ramos, who heads the government's Office of Civil Defense, attributed the high casualties in Mindanao "partly to the complacency of people because they are not in the usual path of storms" despite four days of warnings by officials that one was approaching.
Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of local police, reservists, coast guard officers and civilian volunteers were mobilized for rescue efforts, but they were hampered by the flooded-out roads and lack of electricity.
Authorities recovered bodies from the mud after the water subsided. Parts of concrete walls and roofs, toppled vehicles and other debris littered the streets.
Rescuers in boats rushed offshore to save people swept out to sea. In Misamis Oriental province, 60 people were plucked from the ocean off El Salvador city, about six miles (10 kilometers) northwest of Cagayan de Oro. Coast guard boats and other rescuers were scouring the waters off Iligan for survivors or bodies that may have been swept away to sea.
In just 12 hours, Washi dumped more than a month of average rains on Mindanao. Forecaster Leny Ruiz said records show that storms that follow the same path as Washi come only once in about every 12 years.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement that the Obama administration offered its "deepest condolences" for the devastation in the southern Philippines.
"The U.S. government stands ready to assist Philippine authorities as they respond to this tragedy," the statement said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected."
Jim Gomez reported from Manila. Associated Press writers Oliver Teves and Hrvoje Hranjski contributed to this report.Mindanao flood