An Angel’s lament: ‘Do we have hope?’
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-04-13
Today, we talk about an Angel who was instrumental in pushing Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales to enter the priesthood. This Angel is in anguish over what has happened to our nation.

In his anguish, this Angel posed this question: “Do we have hope?”

I refer to 76-year old senior citizen Angel Espeleta, the man who recently shared with me his feelings about the pitiful state of our country today.

It was only after Angel emailed me and a few friends of his when I realized that our paths have crossed. We met during the Requiem Mass that was held at the Manila Cathedral for Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement who rejoined her Maker last March 14.

Per Tony Endaya, a common friend who is also a follower of the Focolare way of life, “Angel is from the small town of Batangas City. He entered the minor seminary in San Jose and he was the one who convinced Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales (Angel’s classmate in elementary) to enter the seminary.”

Per Tony, “Angel studied law in Ateneo, left for the USA and stayed there for 34 years. Angel and his loving wife Charito decided to come back to the Philippines and stay here in Manila.” Like me, Angel met the ideal of the Focolare in 1967. He is now serving as a volunteer in charge of the Black (the Focolare’s Movement for Unity in Politics).

Following is the letter that Angel sent me.

“We who proclaim to be Christians are now confronted with questions that question the authenticity of our faith. One characteristic of a Christian is that in the face of great odds and difficulties — hope comes to us as an uplifting inspiration.

When the judiciary fails us, when the media fails us, when the armed forces seem to be guardians of the powerful and truth has ceased to be a virtue, when many Church authorities abandon the truth or discourage the truth to emerge, where are we going to turn?

I am a daily communicant but the situation drives people to listen to the left who might respect human rights, which, however, is contradictory to my ideals.

Money seems to have corrupted all segments of society. I can smell this from the writings of many columnists who have prostituted their profession.

Where do I turn? Almost everybody seems to be beholden to power and money.

And when one refuses to embrace this Golden Calf, he is judged as dangerous just like Jonas Burgos or Jun Lozada. Sino pa ang ating tatakbuhan? (Who do we run to?) Courts? Media? Give me a break! Nagsisimula pa lang ang mga columnist alam mo na ang pupuntahan (The columnists are just starting to write but we know already where they are bringing us). Everything is for sale!

I am lost! Hope? I, as a Christian, will say yes. Yes — but in tears because everywhere you look integrity and honesty are nowhere.

It’s just like the Greek guy that comes around with a lantern looking for an honest man in the government. Outside the government it’s the same, no honest man to find.

That must have been the feeling of Jesus when, for 30 pieces of silver, they sold Him and all principles. This time, for several millions, almost everybody becomes a Judas.

And yet churches are filled by the same corrupt people that rob and deprive people of their rights.

How do the public relations men of Malacanang handle this? Ad personam? They know in their Ateneo days that ad personam is never a valid discourse.” (End of Angel’s letter)

Angel Espeleta’s lament is by no means an isolated one. I have been receiving similar feedback from Filipinos — and even foreigners — who are appalled at how low morality has sunk in our country.

Angel having been a former seminarian, I felt that it was good to share just how affected he was by how some members of the religious have wittingly allowed themselves to be party to subverting the truth and protecting evil.

Angel having had all of 76 years behind him, I felt that he best demonstrates just how desperate our situation is. Old folks who have been battle scarred and survived many of life’s trials and tribulations — yet lose hope — illustrate the state of a country that has been enveloped by evil.

Knowing Angel’s Focolare moorings, I thought that our situation must really be that desperate for him to have expressed himself that way.

The Focolare has undergone its own challenges and overcame these with plenty to spare. These include achieving unity with the Communists, the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and men of other races, color or creed.

The Focolare or the Movement for Unity, as it is also popularly called, has gained acceptance in even the most militant Arab states — notably Libya, Iran, Iraq and Syria. That says volumes for a movement that is so closely associated with the Vatican.

In Italy, during the peak of the Communist Party there, the Focolare did not have a problem relating with the Leftists despite the Communist dictum that religion is the opium of the people.

Furthermore, the Focolare has evolved the Economy of Communion and the Movement for Unity in Politics which offer hope to those societies that are plagued by an immense wealth gap and the destructive offshoots of the politics of attrition, such as what we have.

And yet, despite his Focolare immersion, Angel Espeleta could not help but express his lament that our country may no longer have hope.

In his Focolare heart, Angel Espeleta knows that there is always hope. But his Filipino eyes just can’t see it anymore, not with the way our society has been corrupted.

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