Tarlac, Philippines – It usually takes decades and proven miracles for anyone to be canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church. But for the late Cory Aquino, former Philippine president, wife of murdered opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr., and mother of incumbent president NoyNoy Aquino, all it took was sainthood “by acclamation.”
Cory supporters and fanatics in her native Tarlac province, north of Manila, took it upon themselves to proclaim their idol as “Saint Cory of Hacienda Luisita.” Hacienda Luisita is an expansive piece of land owned by the Cojuanco and Aquino families which has been a sore thumb in the Philippines’ decades-old Agrarian Reform Program. To this day, many farmers who once tilled the soil at Hacienda Luisita have not gained ownership of their piece of land. Scores of others have actually been displaced and forced out of the land they once called home.
The powerful Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has been all but silent on Cory’s “sainthood.” Top bishops in the CBCP are known to have always aligned themselves with the Aquino family back since the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.
The Philippines has two saints canonized in Rome: Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod. Aquino is the first known saint to be canonized outside The Vatican.
In a related development, the Congress of the Philippines has passed a bill to rename the International Airport in the former U.S. airbase in Clark, province of Pampanga, as “Cory Aquino International Airport.
Opponents of the bill objected, saying that the government cannot name an airport after a saint because the Philippine Constitution provides for the separation of church and state.
Honolulu, Hawaii – Nestled in the midst of Waikiki’s high-rise hotels and condos, St. Augustine By The Sea is less than imposing, but this Catholic Church on Kalakaua Avenue directly across from the beach sure knows how to exert its religious influence over Honolulu’s City Hall.
A new ordinance will soon go into effect banning bikinis and other skimpy swimwear on Sundays along a wide stretch of Waikiki beach – from the Waikiki Aquarium across Kapiolani Part to the Sheraton Moana Hotel (see map).
The Catholic Archdiocese of Honolulu has convinced lawmakers that this stretch of the beach should be void of bikini-clad tourists who are in plain view of Sunday churchgoers. “We want our congregation members and visiting Catholics to be free of worldy distractions as they approach or leave the church and participate in our Sunday services,” a spokesperson for the Archdiocese said. The Sunday ban will be imposed from 6am to 6pm.
Independent merchants, particularly individuals renting out surfboards, beach umbrellas and beach chaise lounges along that stretch of Waikiki beach have protested the ordinance, but the influencial Catholic Church, as expected, has prevailed.
This is the first-known bikini ban on the beach anywhere in the world. Vietri Sul Mare, a small Italian beachside town in the Amalfi Coast, has a bikini ban but it only applies to areas outside of the beach.
Manila, Philippines – Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, shocked his Muslim nation this week by revealing that he believes in witchcraft – something that is prohibited in Islam. The revelation came in the form of Yudhoyono’s 900-page memoir titled “Selalu Ada Pilihan” (There is Always a Choice).
Not to be outdone (and which Filipino would be?), Philippine President NoyNoy Aquino today announced that he believes in witch-hunt. His announcement came during a regular press conference held for members of the Malacañang (the equivalent of The U.S. White House) press corps.
Aquino’s revelation came as no surprise to his political enemies who have long accused him of engaging in witch-hunt against them – “them” meaning the Marcoses, the Macapagal-Arroyos, the Romualdezes, and the senators, representatives, governors and mayors who don’t belong to his Liberal Party.
“There is nothing in the Philippine Constitution that prohibits witch-hunt,” Aquino said, adding that “in fact, the word is never mentioned in the fundamental law of the land.”
(Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda contributed to this report.)