Philippines, religion, The Lily Pad
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All Hail To the Goddess Ostara

Or Eastre – from which the words Easter and estrogen spring, and from whose rites –started sometime in 500 BC -- comes the egg, the ultimate fertility symbol.

Nanny used to wake me early Easter Sunday as the church bells rang and make me jump up and down on the bed so I’d grow really tall. I think she had dreams of raising a basketball star. Huge disappointment. I didn’t even get to tall.

Lent seems to grow bloodier and bloodier in the Philippines which spewed out gory images of flagellants shredding their backs to ribbons with thorny whips, of 25 people, including one woman, who had themselves crucified. Government issued an edict banning foreigners from crucifying themselves – and why not? – thus tacitly saying that only the local lower classes may do so.

STGdess, the idea that those who already suffer on a daily basis should corporeally punish themselves more and terribly one day of each year just does not compute to my mind. I don’t see the rich self-flagellating or nailing themselves to the cross, despite the admonition about the eye and the camel.

Unfortunately, this is the week as well when gory details of the sexual abuse of minors by priests and the resulting alleged Catholic Church cover-up or cavalier treatment of such are also spewing forth in global media, rendering the blood-sweat-tears religious passion of Filipinos almost a ridiculous contrapunta.

I can’t even be impressed by the 25 crucifixions nor by one woman letting herself be crucified – though that might make for apt symbolism as to how the Church treats women, what with the Bishops loudly demanding “off with its head” with regards to the condom, and “off with the vote” with regards to any candidate supporting the proposed Reproductive Health and Human Development bill before Philippine Congress. Six bishops have endorsed a "pro-life" candidate for president of the Philippines, that country of such ecological disaster and burgeoning population it's beginning to look like an early Delubio (The Deluge) over there.

And since I am nasty, I mutter that of course, they're all against repro health since their preferred partners can’t get pregnant. {cynical sneer}

With lawsuits, verbal attacks and defense over pedophile priests more strident each day, my one question is why those who knew about this evil did not report it to the police or some outside agency nor saw it as a criminal activity, and opted instead to leave the correction of the anomaly to the very organization to which the pedophiliac belonged. It took 14 years to defrock one such priest and he had access, it seems, to young people all that time.

Moral of the story: you leave one hierarchy to be prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner and all you get is injustice.

Which is why I’m going around saying “Praise be to Ostara!” -- #


  1. Anonymous says

    Why do you think the Church waited so long and kept insisting on process, process, even as the children were getting abused?

    I’m a lapsed Catholic, by the way.

  2. I’m inclined to think that this comes from “ideological exceptionalism” — which translates to “We serve a higher (larger) (better) (more radical) (more spiritual)cause, therefore we can f–k you over.” I’ve seen it done by many, many organizations and people. It should be considered a political crime or sin.

  3. Yes — an almost improbable story: like many young Filipinas, I thought of entering the nunnery (GASP!) and because I was a strange kid (I was ten, reading de Maupassant)I approached the issue by conducting this intense study of Catholic church history, reading one book after another. Discovered all the lies thereto…

  4. Anonymous says

    I’m curious how you conducted such an intense study without the World Wide Web…hee hee sorry I’m a pathetic product of Generation Y or something. Ms. Rosca, are you versed in other languages? Did you read Maupassant in its original French?

    Maybe a new Filipino tradition could be crucifying the priests on the green, hill tops that over look the sea? How symbolic of a rejection of our history of Western colonial oppression?

  5. Anonymous says

    I’d be impressed if that one woman who crucified herself was Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo! Now that’s something to celebrate in the name of Ostara!

  6. Anonymous1: My mother was a University of the Philippines graduate (rare in those times) and my older sister was already in the same college when I was still a kid. So we had a pretty good library at home; so I was used to going to libraries.

    Anonymous2: GMA’s passe; it’s time to crucify her proxy candidate(s).

  7. PS to Anon1: I read Maupassant — he remains one of my favorites — in English, though he inspired me to study French when I, in my turn, got to UP.

    UP used to be such an intellectual center.

  8. Anonymous says

    Was your mother a professor? How did you afford such a library?…sorry I’m just a fan and avid reader who enjoys your works and OMG! I love Maupassant too! My favourites of his works are “Ball of Fat” and “The String.”

  9. Mother had a degree in biology or botany, I forget now which. But she was, I think, descended from babaylans. Her mother’s family name was in Tagalog, not Spanish. Books weren’t that expensive, I think, when I was a kid. I was told not to touch them — so of course I climbed the bookcases and read everyone, starting at age 5. Yeah, “Ball of Fat” is a great story. I had two writer-models when I was starting to write: Maupassant and Thomas Mann. How quaint, no? I recall we had “The New Yorker,” too. It was a strange household.

  10. Anonymous says

    Ms. Rosca…did you ever find out what degree your mother had? Did she do work based on that degree? What was it? What work did your father do Ms. Rosca…sorry if I’m making this seem like a mini Formsprings page. I’m just a fan of your works-I’ve read them all! hee hee

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