No surrender of “love of God” in educating Filipinos – DepEd Sec De La Salle Bro. Luistro

De La Salle Brother Armin Luistro, Secretary of Education - FaceBook Photo

De La Salle Brother Armin Luistro, Secretary of Education – FaceBook Photo

Education Secretary Brother Armin Luistro, a member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (De La Salle) denied reports that the department he leads has surrendered its vision of learners formed to be “God-loving,” as claimed in various media reports on the department’s revised statement of vision, mission and values (VMV.)

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) the same day  issued a statement lamenting the silence about God in the reworded version of the  vision statement.

Brother Luistro explained the new statement of the department’s VMV in a post on the DepEd’s website Friday, Aug. 29. He stressed that the statement of vision, mission and values must be taken in its entirety. Doing so would show that the term “God-loving” remains as a value that the department seeks to promote as stated in the word “Maka-Diyos”, its synonym in Filipino language.

He said specifying the formation of students who are  God-loving, pro-people, pro-environment and patriotic allows values education teachers to develop modules that will form persons of integrity who live out their faith and convictions, while avoiding pietism or ritualism.

“We do not have any fundamental disagreement therefore with the position of various groups who wish to promote the love of God among our learners.”

He also affirmed the constitutional principle of “benevolent neutrality” towards religion and spirituality. He said the department will continue to promote the spirit of inclusivity and remain open to dialogue.

Brother Luistro’s complete statement reads:

On 4 September 2013, I released DepEd Order No. 36 s. 2013 in order to update the Agency’s directions and further strengthen our capacity to fulfill our constitutional mandate.  The review of our Vision and Mission was anchored on the Filipino Core Values of *Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan and Makabansa as articulated in Section 40, Republic Act 8491. [*pro-God, pro-human being, pro-environment, patriotic]

Recent media reports have mistakenly attributed to me claiming, “the God-loving phrase was removed from the department’s vision to be fair to Filipinos who may subscribe to other beliefs and principles”. I had not issued any statement to that effect. This attribution is completely false.

Other articles refer to a Christian advocacy group whose spokesperson “aired the group’s dissatisfaction over what it believes is a rash decision on DepEd’s part that had been influenced by some members of the non-religious sector.”  Other local news articles referred to a group claiming to have pressured the Department based on an open letter that they posted on 5 February 2013 via their Twitter account.  I have not had the occasion to interact with any of these groups on this matter.

As early as 2010, discussions on the revision of the VMV were initiated within the department. A series of consultations was conducted with key persons in various levels of the organization, including the regions and school divisions.

It is important that the DepEd’s new VMV be regarded as one document to be appreciated in its entirety.

The term “God-loving” is synonymous with Maka-Diyos. The term Maka-Diyos is essentially connected with Maka-tao, Makakalikasan and Makabansa and allows our Values Education teachers to develop modules that will hopefully form persons of integrity.  It warns against pietism or ritualism and encourages persons of faith to live those convictions everyday, everywhere.

We maintain that the formation of God-loving learners is a vision that we have not surrendered. We do not have any fundamental disagreement therefore with the position of various groups who wish to promote the love of God among our learners. We affirm the long-established constitutional principle of “benevolent neutrality” towards religion and spirituality. We also affirm that the department will continue to promote the spirit of inclusivity and remain open to dialogue, as this is a part of learning to live together.

************

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – NJ Viehland Photos

Following is the full text of Archbishop Villegas’ statement sent to Catholic in Asia 

CBCP President on the 2013 Version of the Vision Statement of the Department of Education

The Department of Education recently re-worded its Vision Statement.  In the past, the department tasked with the formation of our children once envisioned “functionally literate and God-fearing Filipinos”.  Unfortunately, in its 2013 version, there is no more mention of God, nor of the salutary fear of Him that, Scripture tells us, is the beginning of all wisdom.

A vision statement is not an empty platitude.  It guides the articulation of policy.  It orientates plans of action.  While maka-Diyos remains one of the Department’s core-values, we maintain that the formation of God-fearing pupils and students is a vision that cannot be surrendered.

“This Sacred Synod likewise declares that children and young people have a right to be motivated to appraise moral values with a right conscience, to embrace them with a personal adherence, together with a deeper knowledge and love of God.”  This is what Vatican II teaches in “Gravissimum Educationis“. 

Children ride a jeep with their mothers in Pasig City, east of Manila, to enroll for school in June. - NJ Viehland Photos

Children ride a jeep with their mothers in Pasig City, east of Manila, to enroll for school in June. – NJ Viehland Photos

The right of a child to recognize God, to love him and to hope in him cannot be harmful to anyone else, believer or not.  Our pluralistic society indeed accords respect for the option of some to believe and for others not to. This respect for pluralism does not compel civil society to expunge the name of God from public life, especially when the majority of Filipinos continue to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and to trust in Divine Providence. Furthermore, the attitude of our laws in the Philippines towards religion is characterized as’benevolent neutrality’: the accommodation of religion whenever such accommodation does not offend law or public policy.

We exhort our Catholic laity in public elementary and high schools to be zealous in the apostolate of forming pupils and students. Do not get tired of teaching that God is the beginning and the end of all things, that he is the Father who wishes all to have life, and to have it to the full! 

This, our dear public school teachers, is your particular mission in the life of the Church, the dignity of your calling as evangelizers within the world and its concerns.  It is a challenge of particular urgency in this, the Year of the Laity. Stand up for God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

August 29, 2014, Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS   

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan  

President, CBCP

************

At least 20 million students enrolled in public pre-school to high school in school year 2011-2012 and 3 million reportedly enrolled in private schools for those levels.

 
 

 

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Update: video – Augustinian Recollects stay in Sierra Leone mission facing Ebola threat

Updated Aug. 21

View video of Interaksyon’s online interview here
Augustinian Recollects in mission in Sierra Leone - Photo courtesy of Recoletos Communications Inc.

Augustinian Recollects in mission with children in Sierra Leone – Photo courtesy of Recoletos Communications Inc.

 Augustinian Recollect missionaries are staying put in their Sierra Leone mission that is under the order’s Philippines Province to offer people there encouragement, accompaniment and help in battling the lethal Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the Order announced.

Father Lauro Larlar, Order of Augustinian Recollects Philippines Provincial told Catholic in Asia its Sierra Leone mission members serve in two separate parish communities in the Diocese of Makeni in West and northern Africa, one of the high risk areas of the country for Ebola infection.

“We are appealing to everyone to pray for our brothers in Sierra Leone, for all people working to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, and for people they serve, especially in high-risk places” Father Larlar said on Aug. 18.

By then, the World Health Organization (WHO) had reported at least 1,145 people have died from the outbreak of the disease among 2,127 confirmed probable and suspected cases recorded by ministries of health of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The actual number of cases could run much higher, the WHO statement added. 

Father Larlar said the Recollects working in Kambai and Kamalo communities arrived at the decision to stay after they discussed the situation and needs of the people with the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Makeni.

He said four of the missionaries are Filipinos – Brother Jonathan Jamero and Fathers Roy Baluarte, Dennis Castillo and Russell Lapidez. The two other missionaries are Spanish priests Fathers Jose Luis Garayoa and Rene Gonzales.

“They are a young group, with one of the Spanish priests as the eldest – around 60 years old,” Larlar said. “The youngest would be two years ordained, so around 27 or 28 years old. The rest would be around 35-40 years-old.”

Three other Recollect missionaries who were on vacation in the Philippines could not re-enter Sierra Leone because of travel prohibitions, the Provincial added.

African government and airline authorities have restricted travel after cases of Ebola heaemorrhagic fever were reported on the continent. According to WHO Ebola outbreaks’ case fatality rate has reached 90 percent. 

Outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests where the virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. There is no licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals, WHO added.

Apostolate of presence

Father Larlar said while the missionaries have been watching the crisis for months, they waited for Makeni Apostolic Administrator Xaverian Father Natalio Paganelli to return from Rome so they could discuss with him and other clergy about the situation and needs of the Church in Makeni.

Philippines-based Recollects advisers “simply asked them to first dialogue with the Apostolic Administrator, be sensitive to the needs of the people, and pray for the light of the Holy Spirit. So they gathered, met and prayed until they arrived at this decision,” Father Larlar said.

He said Paganelli gave the missionaries freedom and respected the decision of the group. The missioners decided not to leave because they believe they can help more by remaining with the people, Father Larlar said.

“They are attending to the people, they administer the sacraments, hold daily prayer with the people. That’s what we call the apostolate of presence – so people will feel they are not abandoned,” the Provincial Superior explained.

“People who are exposed to this virus will feel they are accompanied, that the Church suffers with them, the Church works for them,” he added.

Missonary’s experience of outbreak

In a report to their provincial headquarters in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, Father Lapidez shares his own experiences and those of people he encounters in missio . 

The missionary said people directly involved in caring for the sick and other sources have noted government’s delayed imposition of strict control of movement of people in the borders of Sierra Leone after the first Ebola infection from Guinea and Liberia were reported. He said he first heard of an outbreak of Ebola infection in April.

People also disregarded warnings against eating monkey or bush meat saying ancestors and elders have eaten these meat over time and they never got sick with Ebola disease.

They only began to recognize the fatal effect of the virus after Sheik Umar Khan, the only virologist in Sierra Leone and the head of the task force fighting EVD outbreak, died from infection last July, Father Lapidez observed. 

Traditional washing or ritual cleansing of dead bodies in people’s homes left family members susceptible to infection, Lapidez added citing the 16 year-old boy who took care of his sick mother then got infected and died of Ebola virus disease.

Later, three medical doctors and over 20 nurses who cared for patients caught the infection and died also. Father Lapidez said poor health facilities and shortage of trained personnel for handling Ebola infected patients contributed to these deaths. Medical staff said they left the work in protest of government’s neglect.

Because of stigma against people infected or suspected to be infected patients turned away from hospitals in favor of traditional healers. As a result, they transmitted the disease to healers, Father Lapidez reported.

He also wrote about family members of a woman who was admitted to a hospital in Freetown and confirmed to be carrying the Ebola virus who tried to forcibly take their relative out of the hospital. In the Ebola treatment Centre at Kenema, a group of people rioted outside the facility after a woman declared that Ebola does not exist.

Mission context

Recollect mission in Sierra Leone started sometime in 1997, but was cut off by the civil war. “After the war, when things were calmer, we returned – around 2004,” Father Larlar recalls.  

The two parish communities Kamabai and Kamalo entrusted to the order are located in the interior isolated areas. “One is 45 minutes drive from the capital, the other is about 2 to 3 hours from the capital depending on the road, whether it’s raining or not,” the Philippines head explained.

The parish has numerous chapels, even though Catholics are the minority. Majority of the population is Muslim, Father Larlar said, adding they live poorly and their relations with the mission have been “very peaceful”.

He said Recollect missionaries were concerned that if they left the people would feel abandoned and rejected because there is no other priests’ community there to take on their work. “Native priests are few. Most of the priests attending to the parishes are religious, many of whom also decided to stay,” Father Larlar said.

“There is so much intramurals among the tribes,” Father Larlar added. For years, the diocese has had no bishop “because they (locals) live there by rules of tribes, and after the bishops’ consecration they wouldn’t let him enter because he comes from a different tribe and hails from southeast of Sierra Leone,” Larlar explained.

Strong tribal practices are evident even at Mass and other Church activities. For example, when the priests celebrate Mass in a chapel, people of various faiths come. “We welcome them because Mass is a gathering of people, and in Africa the people are fond of gatherings. They just do not receive communion,” Father Larlar said.

Holy Spirit’s work

The Order’s head admitted their missionaries’ decision to stay “surprised us.”

“We appreciate and recognize that this must be the work of the Spirit inspiring them. We did not expect this decision. We had told them that if they feel they have to evacuate the place, we are ready to assist them with that.” Instead, “they surprised us and we are very happy with the decision and the readiness to suffer with the people, though we are worried.”

To show support, fellow Recollects in the Philippines keep constant contact with the missionaries. “We assured them of that, and to send financial assistance, just in case they would need more funds.

“Of course we offer our prayers and our sacrifices for them, tell people about their work and ask for their prayers as a way of accompanying our brothers in Sierra Leone,” Father Larlar continued.

END

Read also 

Ebola can’t drive Philippines missionaries from Sierra Leone

Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy? – Pew research

A new Pew Research analysis finds that as of 2012, nearly a quarter of the world’s countries and territories (22%) had anti-blasphemy laws or policies, and one-in-ten (11%) had laws or policies penalizing apostasy. The legal punishments for such transgressions vary from fines to death.

See Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy?

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9,000 people came to hear Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle

By: N.J. Viehland

Choir in the back, Mother Butler Guild members, some people in wheelchairs, groups in the Church's ministry to the deaf and security personnel at the Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center, Quezon City, northeast of Manila / N.J. Viehland Photos

Choir in the back, Mother Butler Guild members, some people in wheelchairs, groups in the Church’s ministry to the deaf and security personnel at the Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center, Quezon City, northeast of Manila / N.J. Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s Easter Recollection was expecting a large crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum last Sunday, April 21, but 9,000 people ? That is awesome.

More than the numbers, though, the mix of people I saw and spoke to was impressive: people in their 80’s, young adults in their 20’s, children, couples holding hands, nuns…

Outside the big arena, there was a lot of excitement, especially by the food stalls and tables for book and multi-media sales. Not surprising, the chatter included admiration and pride over how their cardinal was cited in the past month as possible next pope.

But inside the huge hall, especially while Cardinal Tagle spoke, all were still and quiet, interrupted periodically by bursts of laughter and applause. At one point when Cardinal Tagle shifted to a serious tone while challenging the audience to be missionaries and witness to Christ, he asked, why did you all suddenly get quiet?

The 9,000 people who spent their Sunday in an Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 included nuns, couples, young adults shown here during the break at Smart-Araneta Center. / N.J. Viehland Photo

The 9,000 people who spent their Sunday in an Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 included nuns, couples, young adults shown here during the break at Smart-Araneta Center. / N.J. Viehland Photo

Somehow, inside the big dome noted for big league and college basketball, pop concerts and the legendary “Thrilla in Manila” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975, it seemed like everyone knew each other – like neighbors in one community.

Cardinal Tagle spoke in three parts:

Focusing on Christ’s instruction to the disciples to “Go to Galilee”, he reflected on “Galilees in our life” including the hurts and frustrations, fears and failures. Cardinal Tagle said as Jesus met the disciples in Galilee after resurrecting from the dead, he also meets us and stays with us in these places of hurt, frustration, fears and failures. He helps us to know more about Him. This prepares us to “go to the ends of the earth” to tell all people about God’s love and justice, by showing these to them in the way we live and relate with others.

Cardinal Tagle urged thousands of Catholics at the coliseum and many others listening on the radio to go out and serve in mission. [Click the link to read about it.]

Several people I spoke with said they felt “inspired” to become priests, or “challenged” to be patient and influential teachers.

Catechist Mirasol Bautista and Sherry Canchela of Pansol, Quezon City hope to have patience and be effective teacher to hundreds of students after listening to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

Catechist Mirasol Bautista and Sherry Canchela of Pansol, Quezon City hope to have patience and be effective teacher to hundreds of students after listening to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

Aljon Carpio [left], 22 year-old religion teacher at Notre Dame of Greater Manila with Jose Miguel Pacheco, 4th year high school at University of Santo Tomas felt "inspired" and amused with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle's storytelling at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum.  / N.J. Viehland Photo

Aljon Carpio [left], 22 year-old religion teacher at Notre Dame of Greater Manila with Jose Miguel Pacheco, 4th year high school at University of Santo Tomas felt “inspired” and amused with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s storytelling at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum. / N.J. Viehland Photo

Finally, Cardinal Tagle celebrated Mass with Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, which covers Quezon City, and Fr. Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, JesCom director.

In the end, Cardinal Tagle directed the congregation to “go to the ends of the earth” and tell others about Christ.

Here are some of the things I saw while I was at Smart-Araneta Coliseum from 8:00-past 1 p.m.

Applauding Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as he returned to the stage for the second part of his talk for the Easter Recollection April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center in Quezon City, northeast of Manila./ N.J. Viehland Photo

Applauding Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as he returned to the stage for the second part of his talk for the Easter Recollection April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center in Quezon City, northeast of Manila./ N.J. Viehland Photo

Orchestra playing during the break in the Easter recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

Orchestra playing during the break in the Easter recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

 

Breaktime at Smart-Araneta Coliseum during the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle - not exactly up-scale dining , but lots of a different kind of "nourishment" / N.J. Viehland Photos [display of brands not an endorsement]

Breaktime at Smart-Araneta Coliseum during the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle – not exactly up-scale dining , but lots of a different kind of “nourishment” / N.J. Viehland Photos [display of brands not an endorsement]

Bringing the faith to the people: The 1975 "Thrilla", was in fact the legendary Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match. Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on April 21,2013 ended with Mass for Good Shepherd Sunday. N.J. Viehland Photos [Product logos are not an endorsement by this blog.]

Bringing the faith to the people: The 1975 “Thrilla”, was in fact the legendary Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match. Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on April 21,2013 ended with Mass for Good Shepherd Sunday. N.J. Viehland Photos [Product logos are not an endorsement by this blog.]

 

After the Easter Recollection at Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Sunday TV program followers offered support for The Word Exposed featuring Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle / N.J. Viehland Photos

After the Easter Recollection at Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Sunday TV program followers offered support for The Word Exposed featuring Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle / N.J. Viehland Photos

Cardinal Tagle’s New Year Message Stresses Value of Peace for a Better Future

N. J. Viehland

MANILA – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in his New Year Message for 2013 highlighted the importance of peace in working for a better future for the world.

Cardinal Tagle stressed that peace is the gift of God who created all things and willed that all creatures live in harmony with one another. The cardinal, however, reminded the faithful that building peace and harmony is a mission that all are called to contribute to by working for the interest of the common good.

Following is the full text of Cardinal Tagle’s message emailed to journalists by Manila Archdiocese’s office of communication:

NEW YEAR MESSAGE 2013 

We thank the God of history for leading us to 2013. It may not be known by many that the beginning of a new civil year is also the celebration of the World Day of Peace. The New Year is an appropriate time to reawaken our desire for a better future, for new beginnings, and for a world that could afford us the achievement of our dreams. But all this could be fulfilled only in peace and through peace.

For us Christians, peace is primarily God’s gift. God created everything in love and willed that diverse creatures live in harmony with one another. When sin disrupted the concord enjoyed by human beings with God, with each other and with creation, God relentlessly pursued His design for universal peace, culminating in the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. “He is our peace, he who…broke down the dividing wall of enmity through his flesh” (Eph. 2:14). Through the Holy Spirit, we are constantly recreated in Christ’s peace.

Representatives of various religions pray for peace at Quezon Memorial Circle. N. J. Viehland Photo

Representatives of various religions pray for peace at Quezon Memorial Circle. N. J. Viehland Photo

We thank God for opening for us the door to peace. But we have the responsibility to enter that door. God’s is the gift, ours is the mission of building peace. I share the dream of all Filipinos for peace and harmony in all aspects of our lives. We know, however, that peace can only be promoted by peacemakers, by people whose minds, consciences, attitudes and styles of life are devoid of self-interest. Peacemakers seek the common good. Peacemakers spread honesty, respect and friendship. I repeat the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI, “to say no to revenge, to recognize injustices, to accept apologies without looking for them, and finally to forgive.”

Let us all pray for the peace that only God can give. And let us live as true peacemakers. Then 2013 will be a peaceful year.

+ LUIS ANTONIO G. CARDINAL TAGLE

Archbishop of Manila

Calcutta is everywhere in the world – Mother Teresa

By: N.J. Viehland

In a recent interview with Indian priest Father Ivan Vas of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) who is in Manila studying at UST, he offered Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a model of Christian discipleship.

Radical discipleship “calls us to leave everything and follow the way Jesus lived as a young man,” which is not happening today among Religious men and women in his country, Father Vas said.

“When people go to church, they want to see how the priest and religious [have] followed the Master, and they are waiting to hear or experience those testimonies,” Father Vas said citing the example of Mother Teresa.

He explained, “She saw people without health care, without food, and she just started the work. Seeing this, people come for help, and also to help,” adding, “No wonder that the Missionaries of Charity do not encounter problems with vocations and volunteers.”

This documentary on Mother Teresa shows me “Calcutta is everywhere in the world”, how she responded and why, and what drove Father Vas to say what he did about her.

Missionaries of Charity at Arzobispado de Manila for Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s birthday 2012. / N.J. Viehland Photo

Pedro Calungsod – New Model of Holiness

Blessed Pedro, among the seven people to be declared saints by Pope Benedict XVI Oct. 21, came to the Mariana Islands in 1668 and was one of a group of lay catechists who assisted the Jesuit missionaries in their Pacific mission.

Catholic News Service reports what the canonization means for Catholics in Guam, in the Mariana Islands

Please tell us your own story: What do the stories of Blessed Pedro’s mission, martyrdom and canonization mean to you?

St. Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino catechist and lay missionary who was martyred while doing missionary work in Guam in the year 1672. “The example of Pedro, whose love for Jesus inspired him to devote his teenage years to teaching the faith as a lay catechist” (Blessed John Paul II).
The accompanying text of the icon is a baybayin script (an ancient Filipino alphabet) which reads Magtutudlo, meaning teacher.
by Agustin Jakosalem