THE Philippines probably is the only Christian country in the world where revelry and religion mix with lustful abandon and meditative contemplation.
Not all followers of Christ, however, are created equal, no matter the saying that God does not favor one over the other because they supposedly are all His beloved children.
The disparity among the flock becomes evident during Holy Week when their faith is tested and eventually shattered by the trappings of the good life, or what the hedonist in them chooses to rationalize as simple pleasure that they indulge in only for seven days a year, at most.
The moneyed will hie off to some beach, with white sand and coconut trees rounding up the postcard-pretty views that seem to prove that there is more fun in the Philippines, especially when you drink to it literally bottoms up.
Yes, Jesusa, Boracay, as well as other reputedly world-class beaches, is said to turn into one big bar during Lent and Easter, by Filipino tradition a time for penance and contrition but days that have become excuses for a guzzling, good time—so much for silence and reflection.
The penniless, meanwhile, will have to play the cards that have been dealt them and continue to scratch out a living as they do all year round, earning money that will not even bring them to a polluted resort near their homes, that is, if they have one outside of those that were occupied and given by the government to members and leaders of the supposedly urban poor group Kadamay.
They must understand, however, that the other, more “blessed,” man’s grass is still always greener, a color made possible by oodles of cash earned honestly either through sweat and tears or sinfully through power and influence, which contrasting efforts tip the social and economic scale similar to what the Tower of Pisa does to ancient bricks and stones.
The honest one would probably visit Manaoag to pray for a miracle or raise the stakes and fly to the Holy Land to trace the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth. Not that Pangasinan worships a different Redeemer from that venerated in the Holy Land and the rest of Christendom.
The sinful one, who presumably has more money than the 24/7 success that is the hard worker, would also probably opt for Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican, telling the world that he is doing it to cleanse his body and spirit of sins and to purify his soul.
Those suspected of corruption in the Duterte administration will find that a trip abroad to kneel inside a cathedral or basilica will not absolve them of their perceived crimes (for example, corruption, which is a crime anywhere it is committed, whether paradise or purgatory, we suppose).
In the same vein, alleged extra-judicial killers under the same watch will find no consolation even if they lie prostrate and start moving toward the altar to atone for summarily executing drug suspects as claimed by a New York-based newspaper.
The killers and the grafters will be disappointed to know that the Marxist adage about religion being the opiate of society will not salve their crooked souls or give them reprieve from sins mortal and unforgivable.
In this day and age, no opium could possibly deaden the senses of the masses to make them oblivious of all the wrongs done them by not a few bad men.
Sadly, we dread being visited by more of those who pass themselves off as Christians by being on the side of evil when good is the better part of believing in why there is Holy Week and Easter.