Balik-Tanaw | We’re human, too

United Methodist

Jer 31:31-34

Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15

Heb 5:7-9

John 12:20-33

“They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds” -Mexican Proverb

As I read the Gospel this Sunday, I remember a song from our theatre play production in 2014 about the

struggles of the indigenous people in the defense of their ancestral domain. The play was about the story of Macliing Dulag- an Igorot leader who led his community against the construction of the Chico River Dam in the 1980s. In one of the scenes, the song “Awit ng Mortal” was played. I considered this song as one of my favorites. I became emotional when I first heard it during our rehearsals.


I encourage you to read through the song. Here are the lyrics.

by Bayang Barrios/ Joey Ayala

Ano ang sukat ng halaga ng isang buhay,

Kayamanan ba o di kaya ang pangalan.

Ano ang titimbang sa husto o kulang,

Ng katuparan ng adhikain at paninindigan.

May gantimpala bang dapat pang asahan,

Upang kumilos ng tama’t makatuwiran.

Saglit lamang ang ating buhay,

Tilamsik sa dakilang apoy.

Ang bukas na nais mong makita,

Ngayon pa ma’y simulan mo na.

Ang bawat tibok ng iyong puso,

Minsan lamang madarama.

Ito ang kumpas ng ating awit,

Na sadyang may hangganan.

May gantimpala bang dapat pang asahan,

Upang kumilos ng tama’t makatuwiran.

Kat’wan at isipa’y kukupas,

At sa lupa’y yayakap din.

Subalit ang bunga ng iyong pamana’y

Higit pa sa pinagmulan.

Saglit lamang ang ating buhay,

Tilamsik sa dakilang apoy.

Ang bukas na nais mong makita,

Ngayon pa ma’y simulan mo na.

This song reminds me of how short life is, and we are but a spark in the great LIGHT of life. WE could be fragile and insignificant , reminding us of our humble significance . How could our work affect the many lives of people? How do we form our opinions, and have many views in this world and know what to stand for? The song suggests that we should be living our short lives to see and live beyond our tiny selves, to work on something bigger and larger than us, to struggle on a collective problem.

And now, it lends me the question, how can we live our lives to the fullest? I often ask this whenever I visit wakes and funerals- when there’s a combination of celebration of life and weeping. An impeccable timing of sheer sadness and hope. Every time I visit funerals, even when I don’t know the person personally, I ponder upon how they lived their life. In my visits, I had the privilege to listen to the “parangal” or honoring rites celebrating the lives of the people, especially those who were victims of extra judicial killings. They were activists, journalists, lawyers , farmers workers and human rights defenders. They were mothers, fathers, siblings, or neighbor. Like good citizens and people with integrity, they served their communities to the best of their abilities. They were diligent in their work as committed servants of the people.

In our text, Jesus predicts His death; how can that be? He was so sure that the Roman Empire will kill him. How come a divine human being like Jesus can predict his near-coming death? We know the whereabouts of Jesus and what he was doing. We, Christians, believed that Jesus didn’t have such transgression to deserve such gruesome death on the cross. His life was well lived in the company of the fishermen, the sick, women, and the people from the periphery doing charity work, performing miracles, and healing the sick. He transformed people into better members of the community. He’s doing what a conscientious and good person is supposed to be doing. Yet, Jesus was legally executed with capital punishment – the crucifixion. Did they give him a fair trial? We exactly know that the answer is– NO. Whatever Jesus was doing; it threatened the empire. They wanted him to be silent.

Jesus made the people realize their worth as God’s creation and what they can do collectively. He reminded the people of God’s promise of abundant life – a life with dignity and justice. Look how powerful the impact of that in our own lives nowadays. For we know our inherent worth, and we fight for it.

It is dismal to say, that like Jesus, deaths and arrests are much predictable with the careless statement of “Kill, Kill, Kill” of our President. No one deserves to be terrorized and live in intimidation and harassment by the government.

Since 2016, Almost 250 human rights defenders — including unionists, church people, lawyers, journalists, and environmental rights defenders — have been killed. To add up to that was the recent Bloody Sunday incident where the Police killed nine people in just one day. Emmanuel Asuncion, coordinator of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Cavite, was killed inside the Workers’ Assistance Center office in Dasmarinas, Cavite. Witnesses state that he was shot ten times and dragged outside the office. His last word was “Tao rin kami” We’re human, too. Anna Mariz “Chai” Lemita-Evangelista, member of environmental organization Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan (UMALPAS KA), a land defender killed in their home alongside her husband Ariel in Barangay Calayo, Nasugbu, Batangas. Their 10-year- old son managed to escape. Imagine the ten-year-old boy witnessing the murder of his parents by the police. Imagine the life trauma he will have to endure. Melvin “Greg” Dasigao, member of urban poor organization San Isidro Kasiglahan, Kapatiran, at Damayan para sa Kabuhayan, Katarungan, at Kapayapaan (SIKKAD-K3), killed in his home in Rodriguez, Rizal. Along with 3 members Mark Lee “Makmak” Coros Bacasno, Abner Damas Mendoza Esto, Edward Damas Mendoza Esto. The two are Dumagat Puroy Dela Cruz and Randy “Pulong” Dela Cruz. Tao rin po sila.

These are just a few people who have been killed and were killed brutally by the very agency and institution that swore to serve and protect the people. The victims of these brutal murders lived a very meaningful life, a life dedicated for the people, a life offered to the cause of peace and justice, a cause something bigger than themselves.

Jesus said in John 12:24-25,” Very truly, I tell you unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”.

Those who were silenced and killed by the Roman Empire and this Duterte Government did not lose their lives in vain. Their lives are planted in the collective memory of the people, their lives are planted in the very heart of those people who never stopped working for justice; of those who cannot rest until abundant life with dignity is achieved. Their very blood flows in the veins of every activist, of every Christian who believes in the redeeming promise of God. They are seeds planted in the very rich soil of the peoples movement for change. Their lives and memories are not lost. They will continue to grow. Their fight will continue, and we will carry on their struggles and cause.

It is appropriate to honor the bravery, commitment, simplicity, and love of these people who offered their lives to humanity. This is the very message of Christ to us. In verse 26, “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, my servant also will be.”

I also want to share the recent benediction I read, which also my prayer to all of us.

In this, may we find strength, and the next time we feel lost, let look at the lives of your friendly neighborhood activists and hang on to the promise of God’s good news in the people’s collective power.


“Sending Forth so that God may Happen.”

Hey! You! Life urges us on every day with what is just and what is needed from each one of us: Work diligently for justice, Love so that mercy has concrete gestures on our part. And be humble with whoever is by our side as if they were God. Let us go in peace, Let us serve with joy, Let us bring with us the rage and anger of the most marginalized and dispossessed, And may the grace of our fallen siblings. The love of the martyrs and our comrades, And the contagious force of dignity: Be in our lives for God to happen!

Amen. (

Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing ,reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).

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