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IN many countries, the first Sunday of Advent today marks the start of the Christmas season. On this first of the four Advent Sundays, the first candle of Hope is lighted on the Advent Wreath, to be followed in succeeding Sundays by the candles of Love, Joy, and Peace. The center candle is the Christ candle. It will be lighted on Christmas Day.

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The world’s fears of nuclear destruction rose to new heights last Wednesday with the latest ballistic missile test of North Korea.

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We are now in a time of the year associated with rice harvests in the country, especially in Central Luzon, Western Visayas, Cagayan Valley, and Central Mindanao. Many years in the past, we were hit by powerful typhoons and floods that destroyed harvests while destroying homes and communities. This year, however, we seem to have been spared from such calamities as super-typhoon Yolanda in November, 2013, and the floods of tropical storm Ondoy in September, 2009.

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What happened to us in Marawi City appears to be part of a worldwide phenomenon of one sector of Islamic extremism seeking to gain ascendancy, not only over other religious faiths but also over other Muslims who do not share their radical views and means.

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THE Sereno impeachment case is back in the news after the week of the ASEAN Summit. Right after the House of Representatives resumed its sessions last Nov. 20, the House Committee on Justice convened and immediately ran into controversy with its public statements and decisions.

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Pope Francis begins today a four-day trip to Myanmar (November 27-30) to be followed by a three-day visit to neighboring Bangladesh (November 30-December 2).

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