Isla de Los Baños
by Oliver Carlos
When I was working for the cable TV show LB Talk more than 20 years ago, I remember covering a story about Isla de Los Baños. That’s a proposed reclamation project on Laguna de Bay. A large island would be formed offshore from the Los Baños municipal park. That was some great and exciting news back then. However, for whatever reason, the project never materialized.
Recently, I dropped by the old Los Baños municipal hall. I haven’t been in that place for 2 decades. I was surprised at what I saw. The old wooden municipal hall was still there, same as ever, but on the old parking lot was a large building with a nice basketball court inside. It had bleachers and is comparable to a mini sports coliseum.
Behind that structure was a more eye-popping sight. The shoreline was pushed farther into the lake. Several square meters of Laguna de Bay are now covered with earth. At the “new” shoreline were giant letters and a heart. They read” “I LOVE LB.” The reclaimed area was still bare. I just don’t know what they plan to put on that spot. The Isla de Los Baños reclamation project may not have pushed through, but nonetheless a reclamation still happened, but on a different spot.
The Los Baños reclamation site reminds me of a Bible verse, the one that talks about a mountain getting removed and piled onto the sea. Let’s read Mark 11:22–24 (ICB):
“Jesus answered, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you the truth. You can say to this mountain, ‘Go, mountain, fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that the thing you say will happen, then God will do it for you. So I tell you to ask for things in prayer. And if you believe that you have received those things, then they will be yours.’
Mountains symbolize difficult predicaments. We all have our own personal mountains. Removing a mountain from its spot and transferring it to the sea is truly a herculean task. Just imagine the tons and tons of rock and soil being moved from point A to point B. One would need countless heavy equipment and trucks to accomplish that feat. But according to Jesus’ words, that can happen easily and in a jiffy.
However, this passage is one of the most abused or misinterpreted verses. We have to study it carefully so as not to fall into the trap of having a hyper faith.
First of all, we have to realize that in this passage, Jesus is encouraging his listeners to pray and have faith in God. It’s better to pray than not pray at all. It’s better to believe in God than not believe in him. Jesus said, “So I tell you to ask for things in prayer.” Probably his disciples weren’t praying at all, or aren’t confident enough to ask for big prayer items. Maybe they are doubting the power of God, so Jesus mentioned, “…if you have no doubts in your mind…God will do it for you.”
Second, the effectiveness of prayer is not in the amount of our faith, but on the object of our faith. One can have great faith and pray sincerely, but on the wrong object. One can have great faith on a cardboard chair, believing wholeheartedly that it can hold him, but eventually, that person will crash on the floor because the object of his faith (the cardboard chair) is flimsy. So we better have faith on the correct object of faith, God. He is like a sturdy monobloc chair that won’t collapse whenever we sit on it. That’s the meaning of the passage above. The heart of the matter is in Jesus’ first 4 words: “Have faith in God.”
Having faith on a faithful God is the key on moving mountains.