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THE PASSERBY: The cost in pursuing heaven


CHRIST SAID IT clearly. To pursue the kingdom of God, we should be willing to rid ourselves of things that can cause us some drag in that effort, or to sell off what we have at the moment to get the real thing.

Thus, he said: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Reiterating the same idea, he continued to say, “Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Mt 13,44-46)

There will always be some sacrifice involved in pursuing our ultimate goal which is to be with God, our Creator, in whose image and likeness we have been created, and in whose life we are meant to share. In this regard, let’s try to be generous, not sparing in our effort. It’s all worth it!

We have to be wary of our tendency to get attached and trapped in the things of this world at the expense of our real treasure. We have to remember that it is actually the best deal we can have to “sell off” what we have in this world to be able to get the real thing.

Some words of Christ can be relevant in this regard. He said: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19,29)

All these Christ-dictated indications do not mean that we have to hate the things of this world. The things of this world are also God’s creation and therefore are good. God created them in such a way that they become pathways for us to go to God. They too deserve to be loved in a certain way. They are means to get to God, and not the end itself. Thus, we should be careful not to get entangled with them.

How important therefore that we realize that our first priority should be God and our relationship with him which should be sustained with the constant effort to know, love and serve him! We should be ready to throw away everything else that can stand in the way.

We have to make some adjustments in the way we order our objective needs. We have to distinguish them from our subjective likes and desires that can only be the product of some personal or social preferences. In this we have to employ the appropriate means, the relevant programs and operations. We should be demanding on ourselves insofar as this matter is concerned.

We have to do some drastic effort here because we cannot deny that nowadays, there are just too many things that can seduce us and take us away from God. We need God first of all, and, in fact, all the time. He is our most important objective need, much more and infinitely more than we need air, food, rest, pleasures, etc. For without God, we are nothing. But with him, we can have everything. That is why, St. Teresa Avila boldly said: “He who has God lacks nothing. God alone is sufficient.” (By Fr. Roy Cimagala, EV Mail July 25-31, 2022 Issue)

THE PASSERBY: Want to be part of God’s family?


CHRIST CLEARLY told us how to be part of God’s family. “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Mt 12,49-50)

That was the response of Christ to someone who, impressed by the way Christ was, praised his mother extravagantly. He was actually extolling his own mother, not disrespecting or disparaging her. Mary, among the whole of humanity, perfectly identified her will with God’s will.

We have to understand that it is living by God’s will that, in the end is what is most important to us. It’s not just following our will which is, of course, indispensable to us. Otherwise, we would be undermining our very own freedom and our humanity itself. Whatever we do is done because we want it. It should be a fruit of our freedom.

But what is most important is to conform our will to God’s will, which is even more indispensable to us. Otherwise, we sooner or later would destroy our freedom and our humanity itself, since God is the very author and the very lawgiver of our freedom and our humanity.

Mary’s “Fiat” (Be it done), her response to the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement that she was chosen to be the mother of the Son of God, is the perfect model of how our will ought to be conformed to God’s will. We have to be reminded that by the very nature of our will, the very seat of our freedom, our will is supposed to be in synch with the will of its Creator. It just cannot be by itself, turning and moving purely on its own.

It is meant to be engaged with the will of God, its creator and lawgiver. It is the very power we have been given by God that enables us to unite ourselves with God, as we should since we are his image and likeness, in the most intimate way. All the other aspects of our life—physical, biological, chemical, etc.—are also governed by God-given laws but, by themselves, they cannot bring us into an intimate union with God.

We cannot expropriate our will to be simply be our own. We are meant only to be stewards of it, not its owner nor its designer, creator and lawgiver. It has to submit itself to the will of God, otherwise it would be working without its proper foundation and purpose.

Mary’s “Fiat” should be an all-time motto for us, a guiding principle in our whole life. The submission of our will to God’s will is never a diminution of our freedom. On the contrary, it is the enhancement of our freedom. It is where we can have our true freedom and true joy.

We need to be more aware of this fundamental need of ours to conform our will to the will of God. Very often, we behave like spoiled brats who do not yet realize the importance of this need. We have to correct this tendency.

We have to train ourselves in the art of deepening our sense of obedience to God’s will, basing it on our faith, hope and love of God and others, and making it intelligent, truly voluntary, prompt and cheerful. That’s when we can become truly children of God, his image and likeness! (By Fr. Roy Cimagala, EV Mail July 18-24, 2022 Issue)

THE PASSERBY: Make war to gain peace


THAT IS NOT a smart-alecky statement. It has to be taken seriously, since in a sense it comes from Christ himself. Note what he said in the Gospel of St. Matthew:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.” (10,34-36)

But lest we think such statement is just a capricious, if not evil desire of Christ, he made some clarification. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (10,37-39)

It’s clear that Christ wants us to make war against anything that would prevent us from being with him. And it is only with him when we can have our true and lasting joy and peace.

We just have to make sure though that when we wage war as suggested by Christ, we do it not out of hatred against anybody or anything, since God loves everyone and everything that he created. We have to do it with the same love God has for everyone and everything. It’s actually a war of peace and love.

We have to understand that in this life we have to make war to have peace. And peace can only come about, at least in this life, as a consequence of some war. Our life here on earth will always be a war of peace. We should not be surprised by this phenomenon anymore. It should be a given.

The war we will be waging here on earth will be a constructive war, not destructive. It is a war to win our way toward heaven. It is a war to make ourselves “another Christ,” a new man, stepping out of the old man that we all are due to sin. Any obstacle along the way, including those who are very close to us but who compete with God for our love, should be fought and rejected.

We have to remember that we always have to contend with powerful enemies in our spiritual life. The first one would be our own selves, our own flesh that has been weakened by sin. There is such thing as concupiscence, a certain attraction to evil that leads us to have a lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

Yes, our Christian life here on earth will always involve some war, some struggle and effort, some combat. But all of this would be done in peace and for peace. The combination may sound incredible, but that is what Christ is showing and telling us. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace,” he told his disciples. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33) If by faith and effort, we do our best to stick with Christ, we know that victory is always assured for us. Peace is gained by making some war. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala, EV Mail July 11-17, 2022 Issue)

THE PASSERBY: When we find ourselves helpless


SITUATIONS like this can happen in our life. In fact, we have to expect them. With our many limitations and the varying conditions we are subject to, there surely will be times when we find ourselves helpless in spite of all the effort we do to find solutions to our problem. 

In the gospel, there was this official who approached Christ to importune for help for his dead daughter. “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.” (Mt 9,18) He must have been hoping against hope that something can still be done for his daughter. And he did the right thing. He approached Christ.

This is the lesson that we too should learn, especially when we find ourselves in similar situations. We should develop the instinct of going immediately to Christ. Let’s avoid rotting in sadness, lamentations, victim complex, etc. We know that what is impossible for us is always possible with Christ. What cannot anymore be solved by us can always be solved by Christ, if not here and now, then in the hereafter.

Thus, we need to strengthen our faith so we can be quick to entrust ourselves to the workings of the spiritual and supernatural realities that also govern our life. We have to remember that we are not ruled simply by biological laws or physical, chemical, social, political, economic laws. There is a higher law that governs us and that would enable us to transcend our human and earthly limitations.

This is the law of grace, a law that is spiritual and supernatural in nature. It is the law that enables us to go beyond our human limitations without, of course, compromising our humanity. It is the law that enables us to enter into the very life of God who created us to be his image and likeness.

We have to learn to feel at home with this particular condition of our earthly life. We have to acquire the relevant attitude and skills to be able to live with this condition. It is when we seem to reach our human and earthly limitations that we have to abandon ourselves to the more powerful and merciful dynamic of God’s providence over us.

We should always go to Christ. He always has the solutions to our problems, the answers to our questions. He always gives them, albeit not in the form we want, but always in a way that would be beneficial to us.

In all our affairs and situations in life, we should always go to Christ to ask for his help and guidance, and to trust his ways and his providence, even if the outcome of our prayers and petitions appears unanswered, if not, contradicted.

This should be the attitude to have. It’s an attitude that can only indicate our unconditional faith and love for God who is always in control of things, and at the same time can also leave us in peace and joy even at the worst of the possibilities.

We just have to remember that Christ never abandons us and is, in fact, all ready and prompt to come to our aid, albeit in ways that we may not realize, at first, just like what happened in that story of the two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus. (cfr. Lk 24,13-25) We should not allow our feelings of sadness to be so dominant and pervasive that we shut off Christ’s many and often mysterious ways of helping us. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala, EV Mail July 4-10, 2022 Issue)

R&D BUZZ AND BYTES: Genetic fingerprinting


DOCTORS USUALLY diagnose skin rashes by eye. Some examine the physical appearance of a skin sample under a microscope and it may work for common skin conditions but many other rashes can be hard to distinguish from one another. The treatment for skin rashes is often hit and miss (based on my experience), with obvious result. But at the molecular level, the differences between rashes are more exact.

Molecular testing of skin rashes isn’t a common practice because of technological limitations. Using a new approach, scientists were able to analyze the genetic profiles of skin rashes and quantitatively diagnose their root causes.

Recent technological advances, called single-cell RNA sequencing, have enabled scientists to preserve the identity of each type of cell that lives in the skin. Instead of averaging the genetic signatures across all cell types in bulk, single-cell RNA sequencing analyses allow each cell to preserve its unique characteristics.

Using this approach, researchers isolated over 158,000 immune cells from the skin samples of 31 patients. They measured the activity of about 1,000 genes from each of those cells to create detailed molecular fingerprints for each patient. By analyzing these fingerprints, they were able to pinpoint the genetic abnormalities unique to the immune cells residing in each rash type. This allowed them to quantitatively diagnose otherwise visually ambiguous rashes.

To make the approach available to clinicians and scientists, an open source web database called RashX that contains the genetic fingerprints of different rashes was developed. This database allows clinicians to compare the genetic profile of their patients’ rashes to similar profiles in the database. A closely matching genetic fingerprint could yield clues as to what caused a patient’s rash and lead to potential treatment options.

The rapid development of drugs that target the immune system in recent years has flooded doctors with difficult treatment decisions for individual patients. For example, while certain drugs that act on the immune system are known to work well for conditions like psoriasis or eczema, many patients have atypical rashes that cannot be precisely diagnosed.

An open source database could help enable clinicians to profile and diagnose these rashes, providing a stepping stone to choose a suitable treatment. Chronic inflammatory diseases that affect organs other than the skin share similar genetic abnormalities.

Lab tests that can illuminate the root causes of skin diseases can likely be expanded to many other conditions. The RashX project initially focused on just two very common types of rashes, psoriasis and eczema. It is unknown whether other types of rashes will have similar genetic profiles to psoriasis and eczema or instead have their own unique fingerprints. But RashX is a living web resource that will grow more useful as more scientists collaborate and contribute new data. The lab is also working to simplify the process of developing genetic profiles of rashes to make participating in this area of research more accessible for clinics around the world. With more data,  projects like RashX will make precision testing for rashes an essential next step in diagnosis and treatment. (By Manny Palomar, PhD, EV Mail July 25-31, 2022 Issue)

R&D BUZZ AND BYTES: Treating leukemia


CALL ME CRAZY but if I  have a choice of what kind of illness I should get, I’d choose leukemia. Why? Because leukemia is a sickness of nobility. All those inbreeding has exacted its toll on the poor princes and princesses.

It is also a type of cancer that is difficult to cure. But a type of cancer immunotherapy called CAR-T has revolutionized the treatment of blood cancers, but so far hasn’t been effective in 90% of cancers, like DIPG, that are considered solid tumors. CAR-T, short for chimeric antigen receptor T cells, involves taking immune cells from the patient, modifying them in a lab to attack cancerous cells and then infusing them back into the body.

Scientific theory and a few isolated examples have suggested CAR-T should be able to fight solid tumors. Some trial participants have seen their tumors shrunk by 95% or more – a dramatic achievement never before seen in DIPG. Though some have since died, most survived far longer than expected.

It’s still early days and unclear what success with CAR-Ts might eventually look like, both in DIPG specifically and solid tumors more broadly.

For blood cancers, CAR-T is delivered once, and then the patient’s immune system is left to do the rest of the work. Although the cancers sometimes return, about 70% of advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients respond well to CAR-T, and the approach is also used to treat other types of leukemia, lymphomas and multiple myeloma.

CAR-T researchers have to solve some key challenges to get the therapy to work well against solid tumors. In blood cancers, the targets were relatively clear and found only on cells the body can do without. In solid tumors, it’s tough to identify and destroy cancer cells without also killing off  healthy ones.

Another major challenge is keeping the CAR-Ts working long term. The half-life is not too good in solid tumors. Doctors are now giving CAR-T patients additional treatments that stabilize the tumor cells and keep them from changing too much.

In the third major CAR-T trial, they have also added a different kind of immune therapy, known as a checkpoint inhibitor, which lifts a brake cancer puts on the immune system. If there are immune cells ready to fight cancer, this enables them to get to work.

Other cancer researchers now plan to deliver CAR-T directly into the fluid around the brain, hoping to help people with glioblastoma – the aggressive form of brain cancer that claimed the life of Senator Ted Kennedy, among many others. There’s no question CAR-Ts could make a dramatic difference in solid tumors – once they can be made to work. Unlike traditional drugs, CAR-Ts can target and kill cancer cells both in the initial tumor and elsewhere – a living drug that kills and expands and migrates. CAR-T is the only approach that offers the possibility of a long-lasting remission. (By Manny Palomar, PhD, EV Mail July 18-24, 2022 Issue)

R&D BUZZ AND BYTES: Being an introvert or shy


I HAVE OFTEN wondered growing up whether I was an introvert or just shy. By definition, an introvert is someone who requires alone time to recharge, whereas a shy individual is one who is excessively preoccupied by how he/she is perceived or evaluated by other people.

It’s easier to spot a shy person at a social event than an introverted one. Shy individuals tend to linger at the edges, feeling awkward and uncomfortable as they approach social situations. You may see a bit lip, posture folded inward or other signs of anxiety and self-protectiveness. Maintaining eye contact can be difficult for a shy person.

Why do people often confuse the two? People who are shy and those who are introverted do have some things in common, which may cause some confusion. Introverts and shy people can both appear to be more private. Introverts enjoy holding thoughts and reflecting on them, whereas shy people may refrain out of fear of embarrassment.

Introversion and shyness can also trigger a withdrawal from social interaction. Both may feel a gravitational pull towards being alone.

But the reasons they may seek out some solitude are different. For the introvert, “the withdrawal is more of a ‘moving toward’ solitude and space for thought. “For the shy person, the withdrawal is more of a ‘moving away’ from anxiety-provoking situations.”

Unlike with shyness, it’s not always obvious that a person is introverted. In fact, there are certain introverts who are “accessible introverts,” who are highly social and have “a social presence that helps people feel comfortable and open up.”

While these types of introverts do enjoy connecting with different people, they have “a harder time” communicating when their batteries start to deplete and then they need to pull back.

People who are shy are sometimes mislabeled as “rude or arrogant” or that they don’t want to talk to people, which  is not the case. They may want to talk but they may not have that comfort level of mixing or mingling.

Can you overcome introversion or shyness? Shyness is much more easily treated because it’s a fear of negative evaluation by somebody else. For people who feel like their social anxiety is negatively affecting their lives, cognitive behavioral therapy can help. Anxiety is often conquerable with proper medications.

But while shyness is something people can work on and overcome (if they want), introversion is another story. That’s because introversion is more of a personality trait, and personality tends to set early and to be resistant to change and to attempts to force it into something it is not.

Introverts are “usually very good at acting extroverted, but they still recharge through solitude and reflection,” while shyness, “especially when it interferes with one’s own desires for connection, can be reduced through exposure to feared situations.”

We are learning the benefits of quieter orientations. Even shyness, which may reflect some healthy cautiousness and modesty, is probably not as big of a problem as we make it. (By Manny Palomar, PhD, EV Mail July 11-17, 2022 Issue)

R&D BUZZ AND BYTES: Gambling dreams


THE LOVE FOR gambling is in my genes – the paternal side. My father would often say that his mother relentlessly gambled to the point that practically all of their land and other properties were mortgaged and eventually sold to pay for her gambling debts.

My father did not learn the lesson of the ills of gambling and would do it often to the chagrin of my mother who hated the very idea. Naturally all his children gamble –including me – but we only play mahjong and at home among us and our relatives – from my father’s side, of course.

When I was single, we would often have mahjong marathons – no sleep and continuous gambling for 24 hours or more. During those times, I would dream and talk in my sleep of mahjong (and winning) or a nightmare of losing badly.

The mahjong sessions continued even when we (my wife and I) went to the States but was almost completely stopped upon our return to the university. My wife was probably influenced by my mother because she refused to let me play mahjong anymore. As a compromise, she said that I could play but only during a wake. Since wakes are very few and far between, I have not really played mahjong for several decades.

I’ve had gambling dreams in the early stages of trying to change my relationship with gambling. But the frequency of these dreams decreased with time.

Dreams are essentially a way in which the brain processes information and memories. While you dream, some parts of your brain are more active than others. The active parts are often those that process emotions, memories and sensations, while the parts responsible for logic and reasoning are often quieter. This is why dreams can often seem so realistic.

It’s important to remember, according to research, that just because you’ve had a gambling dream, does not mean that you want to gamble. What’s more important than the dream itself, is how you deal with it afterwards.

Gambling dreams can be highly triggering for some people, and therefore make them a risk for relapse. If you’ve had a gambling dream and are feeling out of sorts, take some time after waking up to reset for the day ahead. Here are some suggestions from experts on how to do this:

(a) Take some time to ground yourself in the present moment. Have a few deep breaths and focus all your attention on your breathing. Use your senses to anchor yourself in the present moment by noticing your surroundings. Focus on what you can see, hear and feel in your environment.

(b) Remind yourself that it was just a dream. It doesn’t necessarily have any meaning, other than that which we choose to give it. We can choose to give the dream no meaning at all. (c) Turn to a reading you find helpful. If you don’t have any of these, now might be a good time to plan ahead for triggering moments. Readings, prayers, affirmations, useful quotes, or any sort of helpful texts can be reassuring when we are triggered or having difficulty with our relationship to gambling. (By Manny Palomar, PhD, EV Mail July 4-10, 2022 Issue)

Ormocanon bags Best Screenplay, Chairman’s Award in 1st CineIskool Film Fest


ORMOC CITY – Despite not bagging the coveted Best Director award, John Paul Corton, a Development Communication student of the Visayas State University (VSU) and a young Ormocanon filmmaker was still able to grace the big screen with the film “Higayon (Chance)”, which he directed and won for him the Best Screenplay and CHED Chairman Popoy De Vera’s Award in the recently concluded 1st CineIskool Film Festival Awarding held at Gateway Cineplex Cinema 1, Cubao, Quezon City on June 22, 2022. 

The said awards came with trophies and a cash prize of Php 20,000 each.

Together with Lorys Plaza and Kent Llanita, the film’s producer and assistant director, respectively, the trio received the awards from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Prospero “Popoy” De Vera, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño, and CHED-UniFAST O-I-C Executive Director Atty. Ryan Estevez. 

With the recent wins on the national stage, Corton believes that this is the first step towards his dream of becoming known in the industry of filmmaking. The awards, he shared, were a confidence-booster for a growing writer like himself.

“That win really boosted my confidence especially as a writer because I won the Best Screenplay award. It is a motivation for me to improve my craft and to do well in writing,” Corton said, adding, “It is wonderful that those awards paid off all my efforts and served as a relief to all of my frustrations as a scriptwriter who once struggled to complete a story plot.”

When asked about the role of their sponsors such as the FDCP and CHED, Corton gladly expressed his thanksgiving to them as they provided them — the filmmakers — a voice to tell a story about their experiences as beneficiaries of free higher education.

“From the start, we could really feel their support. Their support was really great and they were initiative in terms of providing us film labs, excellent mentors, and the distribution of tranche. They gave us the motivation to take our passion to a different level,” he shared. 

Consequently, Corton also acknowledged the huge role that the local and regional government play in supporting the interests of filmmakers. Their involvement, he said, will immensely give local filmmakers a platform to tell their stories to the community. 

“The LGU has a huge significance in making this a reality. If our local government, for example, here in Ormoc, can create a community of filmmakers, it may be the start of film festivals. In fact, it is also my advocacy to build a community of local filmmakers here in the city,” he declared. 

After the said film stint, Corton eyes on joining the Sine Kabataan and Cinemalaya next year to further develop his filmmaking skills and give him exposure in the industry. 

Here is the list of other films and directors that won several awards during the film festival: 

Best Short Film: “Lapis Akong Naghihintay ng Pantasa” by Gerald Pesigan;

Best Director: Mary Franz Salazar of “A Million Worth Degree”;

Jury’s Choice: “Koro Kan Sadlang” by Xavier Axl Roncesvalles; and

Special Mention: “Liwanag” by David Mark Oray and “Jeremiah 29:11” by Jenny Mae Limama. CineIskool is a collaboration between FDCP and CHED to highlight the significance and benefits of free tertiary education in the Philippines through filmmaking. It seeks to encourage the youth to maximize this academic opportunity by the government and amplify their voices. (By Nino Piolo Roto, EV Mail July 4-10, 2022 Issue)


SI OUTGOING BOARD DIRECTOR Danilo Hermoso (District 1-Ormoc North) nidawat sa Plaque of Recognition gikan sa LEYECO V, pinaagi sa BOD gipangulohan sa presidenti nga si Director Joselito Yap ug General Manager Atty. Jannie Ann Dayandayan, CPA atul sa 41st Annual General Membership Meeting (AGMM) niadtong Julyo 9, Sabado. Gipasidunggan usab ang Top 10 Prompt Payor sa 2021 ug diha puy raffle nga nahitabo sa giingong AGMM. (Ni Josie Sersena, EV Mail July 4-10, 2022 Issue)