December 2015

eastwind journals28 Dec 2015 02:30 am

can IS be stopped? coalition vs IS won’t work

CAN I.S. BE STOPPED? (Inquirer)
BREAKING NEWS – UN Security Council and Britain Violating International Law?
BREAKING NEWS – Use of Banned Chemical in Basilan by PCA
eastwind journals 177


By Bernie Lopez
Permission is granted to re-publish with credits and notification.
Disclaimer – the views in this article are those of the author alone.


BREAKING NEWS – UN Security Council and Britain Violating International Law?
Concerned humanitarian groups are set to charge Britain in court over exports to Saudi Arabia of sophisticated bombs which have killed hundreds of innocent civilians in Yemen, a violation of British and International Law. Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, conducting regular bombing sorties, has entered the war in Sunni-ruled Yemen to quell a Shiite rebellion gaining ground. Saudi Arabia says it has a go signal from the UN Security Council (still to be verified) to conduct the bombings, implying that the UN Security Council is also in violation of International Law.
BREAKING NEWS – Use of Banned Chemical in Basilan by PCA
Ms. Erlene and Dr. Medina of the PCA say that coconut insects have infested two million trees in Basilan. Save the Coconut Movement (SCM) members say the PCA figure is overstated. Is this to justify once more massive trunk injection using Mitsubishi’s Starkle, derived from the deadly chemical neonicotinoid, which is banned in Europe and America but approved by our FPA? President Aquino had appropriated P700 million to contain the infestation. Due to massive protests, the PCA promised to stop the order of the deadly chemical, but there is still a lot of it around. There is strong pressure to spend the big budget that would benefit Starkle agents and endorsers from PCA-UPLB elements.
PCA suppressed information and use of successful organic and parasitoid solutions in favor of Starkle. In spite of two scientists reporting that there were signs of recovery from parasitization in Basilan, PCA rejected the parasitoid option, claiming there are no such parasitoids yet there.


01. CAN I.S. BE STOPPED? (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Stopping I.S. would not be easy because the organization has morphed from a geographical entity into a psychological one, from a ragtag regional occupational force into a global omnipresent symbol of a seemingly just cause. I.S. is now a “global culture,” a mindset spreading like wildfire.


Core Issue – Assad Interregnum
The planned coalition between the US and Russia will never work because they both have conflicting geopolitical agenda and goals. US wants Assad out. Russia wants Assad in. They both want IS out but the big question is who will replace Assad. Russia is also fighting against Assad’s enemies, the local Syrian resistance. US views them as allies.
IS beheading.


Let us talk of motives to understand the situation. The Assad interregnum is the most crucial issue which can trigger a war. Who will replace Shiite Assad if he dies or goes? US wants a Sunni regime to replace him as a stepping stone to invading Shiite Iran. Iran is the final target of the US, its gas and oil. Russia wants a Shiite regime to replace Assad as a buffer against a pro-US Sunni-based invasion of Iran. Russia will go to war to keep Iran from having a pro-US regime because it is the last buffer to its border. Russia is extremely neurotic of US ‘defense’ missiles in Iran facing Moscow, like those in Poland.


Russia is open to the coalition but not to a Sunni replacement to Assad. A coalition is good to prevent war. The coordination of both ground and aerial forces is critical to avoid an accidental encounter escalating to a full blown war.


The motives of the US to neutralize IS is suspect. Social media reported that the CIA-MI5-MOSSAD teamed up to smuggle arms to IS via Turkey when Kaddafi fell. US bombings of IS for a year had less impact than Russian bombings for two weeks. Why? If the US armed IS, or the intelligence community did without the acquiescence of the White House, is it now changing its mind for creating a monster it has to fight after the carnage in San Bernardino and Paris?
Russian bombing in Syria
Source - bomb photo


Finally, the US may finally send troops, impatient that Iraqi and Kurdish ground troops cannot do the job. The conglomeration of foreign forces in Syria is very dangerous – Russian missiles in land bases and warships, US, French, British warplanes, and a mix of ground troops with different agenda. Aerial sorties actually trigger escalation when they kill innocent civilians. They also induce a protracted no-winner war where the ultimate vicitims are Syrian civilians. Syrian refugees has reached 2 million, and increasing.


Can the Syrian situation lead to World War III? It is possible in the short to medium term. Can IS be stopped? Yes perhaps, but it is a tall order that may take years and many innocent lives. It is the greatest challenge that will strain the powers that be.




the people who walked in darkness
have seen a radiant Light
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom


the Lord is my Light and my salvation
whom should I fear?
He is my refuge
from whom should I flee?


I create Light and darkness, refuge and suffering
I the Lord do all these things


then shall the eyes
of the blind be opened


even as i walk in darkness
i fear no evil for You o Lord are with me
PSALM 23:3




A thanksgiving prayer for divine rescue
from a vastly superior foe.
It is also our song in times of tribulation.


i love you Lord my strength my rock my fortress my deliverer
my God my refuge my shield my saving horn my stronghold
praise be to You Who has delivered me from my enemies
death was all around me, torrential floods inundating me
the noose of Sehol tightening, the snares of death awaited me in ambush
in my distress i cried out to the Lord
and from His celestial abode He heard my plea
the earth trembled, cracking the foundations of mountains
His wrath ignited, smoke billowing from His breath
kindling coals into flame, He then parted the heavens
descending with a dark cloud under His feet
flying atop cherubs, borne by the wings of the wind
the surrounding darkness veiled His majesty
a canopy of violent thunder proclaimed His coming
clouds and hail and lightning were all around Him
the Lord thundered from the heavens, His voice echoing
His arrows and lightning bolts flew, dispersing my enemy
the sea floor surfaced
the world’s foundation was laid bare
at the roar of the Lord, His breath like a storm
He reached down from the skies and cradled me
He drew me out of the deep waters
and rescued me from my mighty foes
too strong for my sword, they attacked on a day of distress
but the Lord came to my aid and set me free
He rescued me because He loves me


Psalm 18:1-20




Mother Ignacia Healing Ministry18 Dec 2015 06:42 pm


eastwind memoirs 14


By Bernie Lopez
Permission is granted to re-publish with credits and notification.
Disclaimer – the views in this article are those of the author alone.


These two stories, previously blogged, are excerpts from the book entitled WINGS AND WANDERLUST on the adventures of a Filipino who drifted for 25,000 kilometers through 18 European countries for three years. The book is more than a set of adventure anecdotes. It goes deeper into the art of discovering one’s inner self, for those who are searching for meaning in a troubled world. It is a wake up call for those who are beset by boredom or absurdity, to rock the boat and discover new people and new places.


To order the book, email It is a great Christmas gift, no fuss, sent within 3 days by courier to your friends anywhere. More excerpts are found in eastwind-memoirs-collection.




linger o sun, intensify yet-still
for you nourish a hungry malignant spirit
that seeks escape from the haunting wails
of limit and finite-ness


After six months of hitchhiking, I ended up in Athens in the dead of winter. I hitched from Bari in Italy, then took a boat to Dubrovnik in Yugoslavia, and slept in the snow in my arctic-weather sleeping bag in Skopje. It was an easy but freezing hitch to Athens.


Back home, I nor­mally spent Christmas eve hearing an evening Mass and having a sumptuous merienda cena with the family. Christ­mas was for the family, for the warmth of home. I knew no other kind of Christmas. Athens was my first Christmas away from home. Weeks before, I knew I would get homesick. I was preparing myself mentally for it. I could look for Filipino seamen in Piraeus or get drunk with the Arabs to forget my loneliness.


So, I collected money from the Arabs at the hostel, announc­ing a midnight drinking party. Everyone agreed, includ­ing the Jewish girl. The Greeks had this terrible cheap wine called retsina, which smelled like aviation gas. But being Christmas, on top of retsina, I also bought some vodka and gin and mixed them all up for a terrible bash. Arabs and Jews normally did not cel­ebrate Christ­mas but the holiday feeling was in the air in Athens, so we had this grand party at the hostel. Arabs also normally did not drink. Not this bunch.


At eleven o’clock in the evening, we were all pretty drunk. I was depressed and homesick and the Arabs and the lone Jewish girl could see it. They were trying to comfort me. After all, I was the only Christian in the group. I was surrounded by Islamism and Judaism. At half past eleven, I stood up, wobbled a bit, and quietly sneaked out, thinking they would not notice my short absence.


I secretly quietly went to a nearby church alone for the midnight Mass, something I had done my entire life on Christ­mas. I felt guilty that I was going to church drunk but I thought it was better than not going at all. It was my refuge from my loneli­ness, the warmth of church with many people singing carols. The momentary silence of the late evening in the streets after leaving the noise of the party and the cold breeze stabilized me. All of a sudden, there was solemnity.


The church was crowded and to hide my being drunk, I simply stayed outside the church beyond the huge front doors. I stayed behind the crowd which was spilling over outside the church. I wanted to receive communion but decide against it, not in my state of inebriation. It would be irrever­ent. I just prayed and sang ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ with the crowd. Bethlehem was just a stone’s throw away. I felt better.


Almost at the end of the mass, someone elbowed me. It was the whole gang. They followed me to church. They wrapped the vodka and gin in paper bags to hide it. They giggled when I saw them. Instinctively, I felt embar­rassed as church goers might see this bunch of drunken Arabs and a Jew. But then again, I was touched. Friends who did not believe in Christmas believed in friendship. They came to Mass to share themselves with me on this precious day. I was almost in tears. That was the greatest Christmas gift on the road. After Mass, we left and were rowdy in the streets, shouting and singing, as we went back to the hostel. They sang strange Arab songs. My loneli­ness disappeared.


I asked for an attendance report. Everyone shouted his/her origin – Tel Aviv, Khartoum, Marrekesh, Manila, Cairo, Dakar, Tunis, I forget the others. Come to think of it, they were more Muslim North Africans rather than Arabs, descendants of Bedouins and Berbers converted to Islam. They were mostly escaping the physical poverty of their North African homelands, looking for jobs in Athens, or going north to Paris or London or Copenhagen. I and the Jewish girl were escaping the spiritual poverty of affluent societies. They were escaping the physical poverty of depressed cities.


We slept at about three in the morning only because there were no more to drink and the stores were closed, just about the time baby Jesus struggled in a crib meant for sheep. Everybody filed back to their rooms. My first Christmas away from home was not bad, only because of friends who were not even Chris­tians. I would never forget that Christmas, this melting pot of religion and culture.



02 – CHRISTMAS IN FATIMA the pilgrimage
to be idle is not evil
you must be empty
so you can be filled
nothingness complements fullness
they are cosmic partners
like yin and yang or light and darkness
yielding shadows and shapes
I was on the road again, hitchhiking from Brussels to Canary Islands on a frenzied pace. I headed north for spring, hitting Lisbon like a lightning bolt. It was time to stop soaring and to start gliding gently. I embarked on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima, a 7-day 80-kilometer hike from Lisbon. This was the time of meditation and soul searching, to pray that I could “find myself” somehow, to pray for light in an era of darkness. After the spiri­tual desert of New York, I wandered aimlessly, looking for an oasis somewhere in the vastness. Strangely, my Christmas story was on the month of April, day 4 of the pilgrimage.


I left half of my things in Lisbon, keeping my backpack weight to 1.5 kilos for the long distance hike on beach san­dals. I had a sleeping bag, no tent (my guardian angel made sure it would not rain, except a drizzle on day 4, and for a reason), extra pants and shirt, matches and candle (no flashlight), a map, and uncooked food of bread, fruits, sausages, and wine or milk on a skin bag (no cooking gear).


I took the bus to the outskirts of Lisbon. As I walked north, the city gradually faded; the traffic vanished; the noise dwindled. I was tired at the end of day 1, but it was good for the soul. After dinner, I slept early. I slept in the open air most of the time, anywhere convenient in the farm fields. In the early morning of day 2, I was in the purity and magic of the Portuguese country­side. All of a sudden, there were quaint villages. The road narrowed but never ended.


I prayed the rosary about 4 times a day. I did about 2 kilo­meters per hour, or one kilometer in 20 to 30 minutes. I walked about 10 kilometers a day for about 5 to 6 hours, minus rest and lunch, from 7 am to 5 pm. I hiked the 80 kilometers to Fatima in seven days.


In the morning of day 2, I brushed my teeth in a quaint village fountain at the cen­tral plaza, as if it were my hotel suite. I awoke at six o’clock and did not have breakfast until nine. I bought provisions in small village stores. I pre­ferred milk from wine in my skin bag during this gruel­ling work out.


On day 3, entering a small village, a bunch of children ran to greet me. They were all shouting “Peregrino, peregrino” (pilgrim). They crowded each other, giggling and staring at me. They suddenly dis­persed into a nearby orchard, and came back with 2 kilos of peaches. I could only take half a kilo. An old woman came out of a house, shouting at the children. They stole the peaches, I surmised. I waved and smiled at her. Her anger dissipated into a smile. I had to eat them right away because they were getting heavy. The children followed me to the edge of the village. They were singing and shouting and I felt embarrassed because people would come out of their houses and stare. After the village, the silence screamed at me.


On day 4, my Christmas story began, strangely in the month April


on the fourth day, there was a slight drizzle
so I asked a farmer
if I could sleep in his sheep’s shed
the shed had a certain sheep odor
that was a bit offensive
all of a sudden, the birth of Jesus
came to me in a flash
the drizzle was perhaps sent by the Lord
to give Light that I was asking for
I suddenly realized how it defies the imagination
that the Creator of the universe
was humble enough to permit Himself
to be born in a crib meant for new-born sheep
in a sheep shed which smelled
the hay of such a crib is itchy on the skin
the swaddling cloth helps
but still the God who made all of us
did not stay in a three star inn
but a no-star sheep shed
His power must be awesome and limitless
to be able to do this
the omnipotent God
in total humility born in a manger
at whose side powerful kings
and winged angels knelt in adoration

On day 5, I spent the night under an olive tree on top of a knoll. I could see the panorama of the valley below, olive trees all around, reminding me of Gethsemani. There was a stone fence down below twisting and turning, vanishing into the bluish mist. It looked like a paint­ing. I heard the faint peal of sheep bells. I wondered if the bells were tolling for me, not for the end but for the beginning of my life.


It was here that Our Lady of Fatima gave me the gift of inner peace. It was overwhelming. I was almost in tears. It was my ‘reward’ from Our Lady, her way of showing her pres­ence. The moment was intense and magical. I can never forget that feeling because it was so clear, so overpowering, and so rare in a lifetime full of schedules and tasks and storms and whirlwinds. It was the gift of inner peace. In hind sight, I would be a journalist, and I would write many articles on Our Lady of Fatima and her messages of salvation and disaster.
inner peace may not always be a gift
you may have to earn it
when you finally find it
you will discover it was built into your soul
long before you were born
when you were crafted in a super-nova
billions of years ago
you just have to make it come out
somewhere sometime somehow
otherwise life is absurd
when you finally find it
keep it and do not lose it
because it is a treasure of your life time


On day 6, my pace was faster to make it to Fatima by day 7. There it was at a distance, the gothic spires reaching up to the heavens. I reached Fatima at night, and ended up sleeping outside the giant portals of the church. Every hour, until dawn, the huge bells rang and echoed in my soul. I could hardly sleep.


At the crack of dawn of day 7, I was up, afraid the early church goers might see me sprawled at the door step of the church. Everything was grey and misty. At a dis­tance, I dis­cerned a crowd. It was an early out­door Mass near where they had a spring of the miraculous water that had cured thousands of people in the last few decades. After Mass, I put some water from the spring on my forehead. That was the end of the pil­grimage. I was not expecting any miracles. After the pilgrimage, I was no longer worried about “finding myself”. I somehow knew it would come in its own time, this self-discovery. After the pilgrimage, I knew eastwind would end in a nice way. I lost my angst at Fatima.


It was strange. I could go from total dark­ness to blinding light without flinching. It was as if I was longing for it and was expecting it. It was like the ice-water shower after half an hour in the steam room at Amsterdam’s Melkeweg. Life on the road was a pendulum swing, from the chaos of Las Palmas to the serenity of the Papagayo cave, from passion with Vicky to prayer at Fatima, from total solitude in Madrid to total immer­sion in Andorra. I took the bus back to Lisbon, picked up my stuff, and hitched north with my guitar towards Coimbra and Santander and the mystique of the Basque people. I was sporting a brand-new soul.
To order the book, email It is a great Christmas gift, no fuss, sent within 3 days by courier to your friends anywhere. More excerpts are found in eastwind-memoirs-collection.