DOUBTS DASHED: “Still, I do hope Faye turns up and dashes my doubts.”
Thus did I conclude my first column last Tuesday on Faye Nicole B. San Juan, a 12-year-old sixth grader who topped a field from 57 countries in a science competition in Australia.
There were just so many loose ends in the story as published by the Bread of Life Ministries. While many readers readily admired and expressed support for Faye, there were others who first wanted confirmation of odd details.
Two competing TV channels interviewed Faye right after I first wrote about her. The networks finally gave a name and a face to Faye, who would have remained unfairly wrapped in mystery and intrigue.
Young PhilSTAR columnist Patricia Chanco Evangelista, herself a world champion (on public speaking), also interviewed Faye and wrote about her, providing more enlightening details about the girl and how she did it.
I hope the remaining questions, too many to repeat here, will find answers in the next few days.
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STRANGE THINGS: The Bread of Life Ministries, who appears to be the girl's handler, first said in its print ad carrying the story that “Faye” was not her real name. It turned out it was.
The story titled “Misplaced Priorities Can Mislead a Nation” was initially not in the Ministries' website, raising questions over its real authorship. Later on, however, the story appeared on the site with the name of Rev. Bong Saquing below it as author.
But when I identified Rev. Bong Saquing as the author of the controversial article, his name was quickly removed from the webpage. I found that strange.
And when I pointed out its unusual disappearance, the author's name was put back -- but this time it was a Rev. Rito Saquing. Are Bong and Rito the same person?
I hope the reader will forgive my asking questions when unusual stories come my way. I work that way.
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FAYE BEING USED: Let me conclude at this point that confusion would not have arisen if there was adequate and timely information from the sponsors, the school and everybody else involved, including Faye's handlers.
While I would rather that we stopped bothering Faye and her tired mother, I would like to ask them if they are aware that the girl's not having been invited to Malacanang is being used:
1. To put down somebody (American Idol finalist Jasmine Trias) just because she was given lavish attention, including President Arroyo's receiving her in the Palace.
2. To dramatize the political line that the Arroyo administration does not care for Filipinos who make good and that the government has a skewed sense of priority.
If mother and daughter relish hitting Trias and the President, that is their business. But if they do not, or are unaware that they are being used, then such exploitation of Faye should stop.
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HELP FAYE: What is important is that Faye has been located, properly identified and her story retold for those who had been denied the good news or who had initial doubts about some of the embroidery on the story.
Faye's story as directly told by her on TV and to Evangelista is convincing enough. I cannot say the same thing for the second-hand account as published in the BOL Ministries webpage and print ad. (There are discrepancies between the two versions.)
With that, I say that Faye deserves recognition, however belated, and must be given material assistance to get ahead and accomplish more.
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STEPPING STONES: But elevating Faye in the public esteem should not be at the expense of anybody. It appears that the girl has what it takes. She has enough spunk and brains to propel her to a higher plane.
There is no need for her handlers to step on anybody or to exaggerate her exploits.
If some persons or entities want to give her financial assistance or to provide seed money for a scholarship fund, I strongly suggest that funds be given directly to her or her mother and not through any religious organization.
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READERS FEEDBACK: Email and text messages on Faye continue to pour in. Sample email:
Edong del Rosario , Misawa, Japan: “You asked why use the Faye story to slam the RP powers that be. My take on this is why not? They are fair game as most folks will tell you. They have earned the contempt of most law-abiding, God-fearing citizens because of their lack of moral values, corrupt practices and unprincipled stand on most anything, sorry to say.
“I would like to chime in with Gino510's position (see Postscript of last Thursday,04Oct2004) that true or not, the Faye story underlines the crying need for a seachange in our sense of warped priorities.”
John L. Choa : “The inspiring story of Faye should be bannered in our news and must receive recognition from no less than the President of our Republic. For it is such story as the one of Faye that can motivate and inspire Filipino people to excel in all fields of endeavors.
“I was elected International President of Y's Men International with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland -- the first Filipino ever to be elected International president. Upon my return from Kochi, India, where the international convention was held last August and where I was installed as International President. I called up the appointment office of President Arroyo, for a courtesy call, so that I could share with the Filipino people the honors I have received as an elected head of a prestigious international organization.
“I waited for almost three weeks, just to be told that they cannot arrange a courtesy call. Thus they lost the opportunity to show to the Filipino people that a Filipino can become world class leader and be the elected head of a prestigious international organization.”
Victor Villanueva : “Perhaps, the issues will linger until your questions and ours remain unanswered. The leaders/pastors of Bread of Life and Faye must tell the truth once and for all if they want to keep the integrity of the church intact. They perhaps agree that they who preach about ‘the truth that sets us free' must have the humility and conviction to practice it.
“If the leaders themselves of an evangelical church cannot have enough courage and humility to clear an issue, what values and priorities can we as a nation speak of?”
Jonathan Estrada of tri-isys.com: “I am a regular attendee of Bread of Life Ministries' church at Mother Ignacia for more than a year now and I am writing independently in defense of both Faye and Bread of Life Ministries. I do believe that the Ministries had the purest of intentions and that is to inspire Filipinos, not to solicit recognition for Faye.
“I have heard Faye speak about God's goodness to her twice (first was when she won in Indonesia, then second when she won in Australia), and I was very much blessed by her testimonies, not only spiritually but in a patriotic sense as well.
“Bread of Life Ministries is a bit different from the common knowledge about Christian churches in the country. Not only do they address the spiritual needs, but also the intellectual, moral, physical (yes, physical too), and above all love for country.”
(energas77): “I have been asking around, and here's part of what I learned: Bread of Life invited then Vice President Arroyo to the blessing of its Crossroad77 building on Mother Ignacia, but GMA was a no-show. Bong has a sense of humor and can qualify as a stand-up comedian. He also ministers every Sunday to a BOL-affiliated church in Karuhatan. Prominent people support the present BOL leadership led by Butch Conde, head-pastor who is an Ateneo graduate. (The writer listed several prominent people supporting the Ministries -- fdp)
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