Archive | February, 2011

On Religion and Confusion

In the past, I considered myself a religious person. I prided myself in being someone who was pious. I made a mental list of my “sins”, to be religiously confessed later on. I felt really bad and guilty about my “sins”, which I thought was how it was supposed to be. I felt tortured by them, basically. I also prided myself on knowing what’s right and what’s wrong, what you’re supposed to do and what you’re not supposed to do. I felt proud of being earnest and quiet during mass, when my peers would only be fidgeting in their seats, sharing gossip, or giggling about God-knows-what. Reflection papers in class were wrought with “reflections” about God.

But as time passed and I grew older, things became less black and white. I realized things could be gray. And a great deal of things proved to be.

Now, I don’t consider myself religious at all. I consider myself God-ish though, if there is such a thing. I believe in God, I really do. I believe in an entity who is somehow omnipresent, and who has a hand in what happens to us. For example, I pray for things to happen. I also thank God for good things that happen. And when something works out after a bad stretch, I think that God maybe meant for it to happen.

However, I find it hard to believe in religion, which is, to me, just something that some people prescribe. It’s an oligarchy, almost. How can I believe in something that was written so many years ago, allegedly by people who had direct contact with God? Why should I follow doctrine, when to me it just seems like a bunch of rules that men in pointy hats decided upon? For example, why is it that you’ll go to hell if you don’t go to mass every Sunday? Or why is drinking so bad? Or sex? Or homosexuality? Some things are intuitive. You can figure it out on your own. For example, of course it’s bad to steal, or to kill or rape someone. But some “sins” just don’t make sense. Why is sexual behavior bad? Why is something that is natural, something that can bring a man and a woman closer, bad? It’s something that can express love and intimacy, and really, something that just comes naturally.

Why does religion have to condemn so many things? Somehow, I’d like to believe that people are good, as opposed to what my religion dictates– that people are evil, sinful, dirty, and just lacking, and that we have to be saved. Saved from what? Do they mean to tell us that kind people, people who live honestly, who spread joy and love to the world, have souls that are lacking, just because they don’t have knowledge of the “correct” concept of “God”? Does that mean that God only “saves” those who happen to have knowledge of him? I do not like what my religion prescribes, that it is the only one true religion, and that people who don’t abide my its rules, or agree with its vision of God, will burn in hell.

Most of all, I’d like to think that God is wiser and more understanding than they make him to be. I’d like to think that his law is more than a bunch of rules that you Must abide by, no questions asked. I’d like to think his understanding transcends these rules, these rules that seem to express such a narrow point of view. I’d like to believe in his goodness. Ultimately, that’s what I believe God is– goodness. A benevolent being, as opposed to this demanding, judgmental being they make him seem. To me, He is someone who created the earth, the good things in this world, and someone who meant for us to be Happy.

It doesn’t make sense, following a religion that tells you to hate yourself, and things seemingly inherent and natural. I don’t think I can agree with a religion that makes people feel so bad about themselves, feel so damn guilty all the time. I also don’t believe in the concept of saints. It all feels so contrived. All of it–it just seems like a bunch of people dictating on what to do, and what is right. Ultimately, it’s just an institution, a worldly institution. So maybe I’m not religious at all. This being said, I don’t think that I’m a bad person. More so, I’m not an atheist or an agnostic. I won’t stop going to mass, because to me, that is still a way by which I can show my faith to the God I believe in. However, I can conclude that I am not religious at all. But somehow this doesn’t make me feel bad at all. Outright demonstrations of “faith” have never appealed to me. People singing songs, jumping up and down in the name of the Lord were always things that didn’t agree with me. I preferred private conversations with God– quiet, and, ultimately, just private. When I look at the sea or mountains, or trees or flowers or leaves, I feel God, more than in the imposing buildings they call the church, meant to dictate people on how to communicate with God, and how to live their lives.

Posted in Personal, Religion10 Comments

FF Podcast 004: Condoms, Confession, Communion

Episode 4! We took an unexpected break from the schedule but now we’re back! In this episode we talk about Sanctuario de San Jose making communion conditional for catholic supporters of the RH bill while making a small detour into Nita Negrita.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes



Posted in Podcast2 Comments

African Priests Rape Nuns to Avoid AIDS

As pro-choice and anti-choice advocates continue to debate the morality of contraceptives, some priests have discovered a way of avoiding HIV and AIDS — and it has nothing to do with condoms. Their solution? Raping nuns.

The Catholic Church in Rome made the extraordinary admission yesterday that it is aware priests from at least 23 countries [Philippines included] have been sexually abusing nuns.

Most of the abuse has occurred in Africa, where priests vowed to celibacy, who previously sought out prostitutes, have preyed on nuns to avoid contracting the Aids virus.

Who says priests can’t practice safe sex?

In some African countries, nuns respect priests so absolutely that disobedience is not an option. They readily trade sex for favors such as providing accommodation or tuition, writing theological essays, and giving “certificates of good Catholic practice that were required for them to pursue their vocation.” In other words, sex for education.

According to Sister Marie McDonald, mother superior of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, the clerical sex abuse problem is partly due to the “conspiracy of silence.” Sisters felt that speaking about the issue was disloyal. And for those who did speak up, things didn’t end up well:

Sometimes they were not well received. In some instances they are blamed for what happened. Even when they are listened to sympathetically nothing much seems to be done” One of the most tragic elements that emerges is the fate of the victims. While the offending priests are usually moved or sent away for studies, the women are normally chased out of their religious orders, they are then either to scared to return to their families or are rejected by them. they often finished up as outcasts, or, in a cruel twist of irony, as prostitutes, making a meagre living from an act they had vowed never to do.

But there is a hint of hope hiding in all this hypocrisy. Aside from granting favors for sex, some priests would ask nuns to take birth control pills. Some priests would even encourage the nuns they impregnate to have abortions. They may have been hypocritical rapists, but at least they’re progressive.

As the Pope’s official spokesman has said, we should focus on the bright side:

The problem is known and involves a restricted geographical area. Certain negative situations must not overshadow the often heroic faith of the overwhelming majority of religious nuns and priests.

Too bad not a single nun was spared from sexual abuse by this “heroic faith.” Maybe it’s time to try heroic action instead. Until the “overwhelming majority” speak up against the evils of its own church and demand accountability, all they’ll get are more abuses, excuses, and apologies.

Source

Posted in Religion, Society18 Comments

Is Oscar Cruz threatening Malacanang with revolution?

“It is true that even the CBCP stands ready to call for some kind of a repeat of EDSA 1 and EDSA 2 when eventually called for – for its exasperation in the kind of programs and priorities of Malacanang?”

This is the question ex-CBCP president Oscar Cruz asks in his latest article, “What’s Going on?” Although Oscar uses a question as his title, it’s clear by reading the article that there is no doubt in his mind about what’s going on. And it’s also clear that the answer to this post’s titular question is YES.

But first, what exactly does Oscar think is going on?

First, Oscar thinks the government is anti-life — to the point of banning reproduction:

Population is the underlying cause of poverty in the Country. More human lives are thus taboo. Reduction of population at all cost is wherefore a priority.

Second, he thinks that the government is evil:

Thus: The “Reproductive Health Bill” that precisely prevents human reproduction but promotes promiscuity, and that in effect undermines women’s health by anti-life chemical in-takes – courtesy of the Multinational Pharmaceuticals whose business is the manufacture and sell of contraceptives, and whose main preoccupation is profit. Ethics have no place in their agenda. Morals are irrelevant in their options.

Third, he thinks that the government is incompetent:

Thus it is that the signs of the times under the incumbent national leadership are neither that promising, much less that optimistic – after but a few months of governance. This is one big bad news. The growing perception of an incapable if not incapacitated present government is only good for revels [sic] and separatists – but bad for citizens desirous only of the triumph of truth, the emergence of justice and reign of peace in accord with their sound and solid value system, right ethical standards and proper moral principles.

Considering the certainty with which Oscar has made these statements, it’s clear that the titular question, as well as the rest of the questions in his article, are rhetorical ones. Consider the questions in Oscar’s final paragraph:

Is it true that more and more people are dissatisfied with the nature and quality of their present government – notwithstanding all suspect surveys to the contrary?

It is true that there are already groups of people now slowly by surely preparing for mass actions when called for – despite of [sic] all denials to the contrary specially by the beneficiaries of the incumbent leadership?

It is true that even the CBCP stands ready to call for some kind of a repeat of EDSA 1 and EDSA 2 when eventually called for – for its exasperation in the kind of programs and priorities of Malacanang?

Since Oscar thinks that the government is anti-life, evil, and incompetent, it’s obvious that he would answer the first question “yes.” And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is how he would answer the second and third questions as well. Thus, the article is a thinly veiled threat of revolution at Malacanang should it support the RH Bill.

Oscar’s pathetic attempt at denying that this is a threat only makes his true intentions even clearer:

No. It is not a threat. It is simply an invitation for collective action when needed. It is neither a foreboding design. It is merely a reminder and recourse to the sovereignty of the people when required.

But should we take Oscar’s threat seriously? Should we take anything that he says seriously? Will he ever learn the correct spelling of “rebels”? Whatever. This is just another case of an anti-choicer attempting to use misinformation and blackmail to further delay the passage of the RH Bill. That’s what’s going on.

Posted in Politics, Society22 Comments

RH Bill Rally – Memorial March for Mothers

We’d like to invite you all to the biggest meetup yet.

This Sunday, Feb 27, the Freethinkers along with more than 1,000 men and women will be walking our ethical talk.

In our numbers we will march straight up to the CBCP compound in Manila, in support of the Reproductive Health Bill.

This will be by far the largest mass mobilization to descend upon the CBCP compound in history.

When: Sunday, February 27
Time: 4PM (Don’t be late or they’ll march without us!)
Assembly: Cory and Ninoy monument, Bonifacio Drive corner Padre Burgos Street (across Manila Hotel)
Google Map:http://j.mp/rh_march_map
Attire: White shirts
RSVP on Facebook

Likhaan (RH Action Network) Press Release

Though we have good reason to be angry with them, this will be a silent, peaceful protest. We do this in the name of the dying mothers, 11 of whom die needlessly while these virgin Fathers and their minions do everything in their considerable power to stop the RH Bill.

With the Consolidated RH Bill finally scheduled for both House and Senate Plenary hearings on March 1, there has never been a more crucial time to show the Filipino people that the bishops of the CBCP hold no monopoly on morality and that we will no longer tolerate the bishop’s interference in our nation’s governance.

The CBCP fear us. They know their presumed moral supremacy is merely an illusion that rests on their assumed superiority and infallibility as embodied in the serenity of their bishop’s palace. Out of that fear, they have even threatened several pro-RH NGOs with withdrawal of support should they dare mobilize on their CBCP palace.

This is the kind of petty intimidation that we intend to stand against this Sunday.

Now is our chance to show the CBCP that their lies have consequences, and that we will not sit idly by while they try to take control of our nation and its government. Our silent rage will ring loud round the nation as a call to action: democracy and freedom!

Posted in Others17 Comments

Is “Pro-RH Catholic” an oxymoron?

The answer ultimately lies in what it means to be a Catholic. As a noun, Catholic is defined as “a member of the Catholic Church, especially a Roman Catholic.” And what does it mean to be a member of such church? Does it require one to acknowledge the infallibility of the Church’s teachings including Humanae Vitae, which maintains that sex must always be kept open to procreation? If so, then “pro-RH Catholic” is indeed an oxymoron because the RH Bill not only obliges all accredited health facilities to provide a full range of modern family planning methods but actually seeks government funding for the purchase of contraceptives.

But considering the more than one billion members the Catholic Church claims to have, it is more logical to presume that membership is attained simply through baptism and can possibly end only in excommunication or by actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica (a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church). And if that is the case, as it probably is – otherwise the Church would not be boasting of so much members – then “pro-RH Catholic” is not an oxymoron.

Interestingly, catholic, if used as an adjective, means “universal, all-inclusive, broad-minded, and liberal“. Unfortunately, universal and all-inclusive pertain only to membership while broad-minded and liberal seem to have been lost when Catholic was incorporated into the name of the largest Christian church. Nevertheless, as long as one was baptized into Catholicism and hasn’t been excommunicated or formally defected, then he or she is officially a Roman Catholic regardless of personal convictions on contraception and therefore cannot be called an oxymoron for professing to be a pro-RH Catholic.

Now some may find it odd or even hypocritical for a member of Filipino Freethinkers – a group composed mostly of atheists and agnostics – to argue for the inclusion of RH Bill supporters in the membership of the Catholic Church. One would expect me instead to tell the pro-RH Catholics to have themselves excommunicated. However, secularism, which happens to be one of the major advocacies of Filipino Freethinkers, is not necessarily about religious skepticism or indifference but the exclusion of religious considerations from civil affairs and public education. We do have members who call themselves progressive or liberal Christians – and that is not an oxymoron. We respect other people’s right to their beliefs for as long as they don’t try to substitute reason and evidence with their dogmas in public discourse – especially on an issue where 11 women die daily due to childbirth complications. And while it is simplistic and rather unfair to blame these deaths solely on those who seek to prevent the passage of the RH Bill, a real oxymoron comes to mind: “PRO-LIFE/ANTI-RH”.

Posted in Religion5 Comments

Catholic Wolf in Secular Sheep’s Clothing

Last February 16, 2011, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee passed the RH Bill. Now that it has passed through yet another hoop, its desperate opponents have intensified their propaganda against it.

The latest salvo from the anti-RH faction is now a “position paper” from some UP students, faculty, and alumni. You can read it here in full. Let’s break it down, shall we?

First off, they start their letter saying that they have a secular educational background, as if that meant anything. Having a secular college education does not mean you are free from the influence of Catholic dogma. One has to wonder why they even needed to emphasize their secular education, given that no one really cares as long as their arguments are sound. In their obvious effort to shy away from Catholicism, all they did was make me think was that this position paper was forwarded by Catholics in defense of their church’s position.

Now to the meat of the matter:

1. They claim that “population is not an obstacle to development“. Sure, if your country is well developed, well governed, with well educated citizens, and with reasonably high standards of living, then yes, population growth is not an obstacle to development. In fact, it can even boost development.

But if your country is already burdened with the 12th largest population in the world, with high rates of poverty, low standards of living, poorly equipped teachers and schools, high student to teach ratio, rampant corruption, and high unemployment rates, does adding almost 2 million more mouths to feed every year really help our country’s development?

Such simplistic black and white thinking reveals the narrow mindsets of this paper’s authors. The blatant appeal to authority (referencing Nobel Laureate Simon Kuznets) is also incredibly cheap and does nothing to advance their argument. They claim that Kuznets said “there is insignificant empirical association between population growth rates and output per capita. Rather it is the rate at which technology grows and the ability of the population to employ these new technologies efficiently and widely that permit economic progress.” Are they forgetting that technology does not “grow” in our country, and that we need to import it? Are they forgetting that the vast majority of our burgeoning population have no idea how to “employ these new technologies efficiently and widely”?

They add that “he (Kuznets) argued instead that a more rapid population growth, if properly managed, will promote economic development“. Did you notice the bolded part? I wonder what part of “keeping people ignorant of their choices when it comes to family planning” can equate to “properly managed population growth”?

If anything, Kuznets argued that “underdeveloped countries of today possess characteristics different from those that industrialized countries faced before they developed.” I would like to ask the authors with Economics degrees to please provide proof that the work of Kuznets that they cited was referring to the economies of countries with similar social, political, and economic standings as the Philippines.

2. They claim that “the government has to channel limited funds to job creation and education“. Well, you can use this argument to just about ANY OTHER PROPOSED BILL that we have right now. Why not ask them to just stop introducing any other bills and just concentrate on “job creation and education”? Oh, wait, because there’s more to running a country than just “job creation and education”.

Are they truly concerned about the “limited funds”? Then why do we not see any position papers from them demanding the revocation of the tax exempt status of churches? That will sure put a LOT of money into government coffers. Why do we see no position papers on the removal of pork barrel funds, or the cleaning up of the ultracorrupt BIR? Besides, what is 750 million pesos out of the almost 1.7 TRILLION budget for 2011? Does putting 0.03% of the entire budget really take that much away from other projects?

3. They claim that “fertility rates in the Philippines are progressively decreasing“. Yes, that is true. But does that really mean anything when our country is already the 12th most populous country in the world? In fact, a Total Fertility Rate of 3.1 is still well above the world average of 2.5. That’s like a basketball player boasting that he has continued to improve his scoring every year and is now up to 10 points per game, when the average player scores 14 points a game. It’s not really something to brag about.

A better metric would be the population growth rate, which is around 1.72% per year, and places us at #74 out of 230 countries listed by the UN. Again, it is well above the world average of 1.17%. It doesn’t take a math genius to figure what a very high population coupled with high growth rate will result in.

And then they pull the “Japan is experiencing an aging population” card. Guys, can we talk about that when we get to be the economic powerhouse that Japan is? Do you really, REALLY believe that our country is comparable to Japan in any way? They claim that our “best asset” is our people. Really? Our best asset is a population of under/uneducated, unskilled laborers that we export to other countries en masse? Are the authors happy to keep the status quo?

4. They claim that “the government has to channel limited resources to address the leading causes of death“, which is basically the same as argument #2. Besides, what makes them think that we cannot do both at the same time?

5. They say that “condoms are not a wise investment“. They give two reasons for this:

One, that because countries like Thailand has high condom usage and yet has high HIV infection rates, and the we have one of the lowest, even without much condom use. They site that the cause is due to Risk Compensation. In a nutshell:

Risk compensation is an effect whereby individual people may tend to adjust their behaviour in response to perceived changes in risk. It is seen as self-evident that individuals will tend to behave in a more cautious manner if their perception of risk or danger increases. Another way of stating this is that individuals will behave less cautiously in situations where they feel “safer” or more protected.

Now this is a valid theory. But if they will use this as a reason to say that condoms are not a wise investment, then they have to argue for the removal of ABS, seat belts, and SRS airbags in vehicles. They also have to argue for the repeal of laws requiring motorcycle and bicycle riders to wear helmets and protective gear. They also need to argue for the removal of speed limits, traffic lights, and speed bumps. They also have to argue for a ban on the sale of child safety equipment. Because all these things have been proven to raise our perception of safety, and thus are not “wise investments”.

Their second reason is that condoms cannot prevent all STDs. Well, that’s like saying that two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash should not shoot free throws because he does not make all of them (he hits over 90% of them). Nobody is saying that condoms can prevent all STDs. Let me ask the the authors who are MDs: Can you name me one medical intervention that is 100% effective, 100% safe, and works 100% of the time? You can’t, can you? Using this argument, ALL medical interventions should be scrapped.

6. They say that “Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCP) have been classified by the IARC as a Group 1 carcinogen“. This is partly true. What they fail to mention is that the study this was based on was performed mostly on menopausal women, and focused mainly on PremPro, a hormone replacement therapy using a combination of estrogen and progestin. It did not cover ALL types of OCPs.

Also, they fail to mention that while OCPs can increase the risks of certain cancers, it has also been shown to REDUCE the risk of other types of cancers. In fact, the American Cancer Society has this to add in the list of carcinogens they have on their website:

Estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives (combined) (Note: There is also convincing evidence in humans that these agents confer a protective effect against cancer in the endometrium and ovary)

Besides, even assuming that all OCPs had this risk, I’m sure the authors who are MDs know that pretty much all of medicine is “risk vs benefit”. Just about every drug and medical procedure entails risk. If you oppose the RH Bill simply because of the OCPs possibly causing harm, then why are you not fighting for the ban of chemotherapy? How about radiation therapy? Or any major surgery? They all expose the public to a significant risk of harm.

Do you know what else is on IARC list of Group 1 carcinogens? X-Rays. DO we see any position papers asking for the ban of their use? And here’s another one on their list: Solar Radiation. Yes, SUNLIGHT. So, where’s the position paper asking for the ban on sun exposure?

And then they end by stating that “It is the State’s duty to order society by promoting the well-being of it’s citizens. Thus it is a disservice to legislate what constitutes harm to its people“. Again, the overly simplistic view that “anything that can possibly cause harm must not be encouraged”. If we follow their reasoning, then the State should not encourage sports. Lots of people suffer from sports injuries, many of them highly debilitating, and some even cause irreversible damage. By this argument, we should scrap all sports programs! We should also ban automobiles, mining and construction work, the police and the military, and the practice of medicine because they all entail risk and possible harm to citizens.

In a nutshell, the core of their argument is that “The RH Bill will not solve all our problems, therefore it must be scrapped.” The things is, nobody is saying that passing the RH Bill will solve all our problems. It is merely a small step in the right direction.

In the end, this position paper offers nothing new from the anti-RH Bill faction. It’s the same arguments they have made time and again, only under the guise of being “secular” .

Furthermore, I must question, if only in my mind, the academic integrity of the authors of this position paper. If they are willing to twist logic and bend truths for personal agendas, how trustworthy can they be in the realm of academia?

Posted in Religion, Reviews, Society78 Comments

Career Day at St. Iguana Elementary School

Career Day at St. Iguana Elementary School

What do I do? You’re asking me what I do? Seriously? It’s funny you should ask, because honestly, if you have any intention of entering the kingdom of heaven, you should know. Anyway, supposedly, we’re like mediators between you and God. You could talk directly to God, of course, but he would pay more attention if we talked for you.

Some of us help you seek forgiveness. If you’re a sinner, which I’m guessing you are because you don’t know what I do, you have to sit in an isolated cubicle that sort of looks like a phone booth and tell me your sins. You have to tell me about the lustful thoughts you’re having for your teacher and how many times you touch yourself while thinking of her. You have to describe in detail what you do. You have to do all this so I can ask God to forgive you.

You can ask God to forgive you yourself, but like I said earlier, it won’t work as well.

Anyway, that’s not exactly what I do. I’m not exactly a “forgiverer.”

Some of us are Bible translators. No, we don’t translate the bible from one language to another. We translate from English to, well, English. For example, according to Psalm 137:9, Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock. You can read the Bible on your own but if you did, you might translate this verse as, “You will be happy if you slam babies against rocks.”

A Bible translator would tell you that what it really means is that slamming babies against rocks is wrong and it is a sin precisely because it will make you happy. See, if something makes you happy – having sex, drinking alcohol, eating chocolate – then, it’s a sin and you shouldn’t do it.

Why they didn’t just say, “Don’t slam babies against rocks?”

I’m not entirely sure. English/English Bible translation is not my real area of expertise. I’m not really a “translator.” Honestly, I haven’t even read the Bible in its entirety. But it doesn’t matter because I believe everything written there anyway.

As for my specialty, I’m more of a “blesser.”

I make people, places, and things holy. If it’s a “noun,” I can make it holy. Pretty cool, huh? Take this lunch box, for example. Right now, it’s not holy. But watch as I lay my hands over it… Wait a moment… hmm…

Now it’s holy.

Is that cool or what?

I bless people too. I can bless anyone, anytime, anywhere. Just give me a time and place and I’ll be there blessing the soul out of everyone. It doesn’t matter to me who I bless. I’ll bless everyone. Girls, boys, children – I’ll bless them all. I’ll bless them all day and all night. What can I say? I like blessing people and, sometimes, animals too.

I was just born to bless, you know? I don’t want to sound arrogant and all, but I’m just a really good “blesser.” Last night I was blessing Sister Grace and she was like, “Oh yes, father! Bless me! Bless me!” I blessed her alright. I blessed her good. She was breathless long after I was done blessing her. She kept telling me, “That’s was so good, father. I love it when you bless me!”

The night before that I was blessing John and his young wife, Jenny… at the same time. See, I had to bless them before they got married. I could have blessed John first and Jenny later, but I blessed them at the same time.

Why?

Because I can.

I blessed them so good that they were screaming, “Jesus! Jesus! Bless us, father! Oh, bless us!” Afterwards, we sat on the couch exhausted from all the blessing that happened. Jenny was like, “Oh my God, I feel so blessed.” John was like, “I haven’t been blessed like that since I was an altar boy.”

There are a lot of perks to being a good “blesser,” of course. People invite you to parties, events, and congregations. I mean, everyone needs a good bless now and then, right?

But kids, there are dangers in blessing too. Sometimes the people you bless enjoy the blessing so much that they get a little clingy. They start thinking about exclusivity and all that. I’m like, “I’m sorry Mrs. Santiago, but I don’t want to be your campus minister. I’m not ready for that type of commitment. What we have is good. Let’s keep it that way.” Some of them even want me to stop blessing others. I’m like, “Coach, God does not discriminate. If I blessed your team, I have to bless their team too.” When I’m older, maybe I’ll settle, but for now, I want to weigh my options – play the field a bit.

Now kids, if you want to be a professional “blesser,” you have to start early. You have to really, really want it. It has to be in you, you know? It might be difficult at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Just keep practicing. It’s not so hard. In fact, we can try it right now!

Pick a partner, and just start blessing. Bless your classmate! Bless the soul out of that boy! Don’t be shy. Go ahead, pick a partner kids. Pick anyone! Go ahead! No, Julie. Not him. Pick someone else. Pick anyone except Mark. Mark is going to be my blessing partner.

Posted in Entertainment, Humor, Religion, Society, Stories1 Comment

Accusation of black propaganda boomerangs on CBCP

Last Thursday, an announcement was posted on Facebook, asking pro-RH Catholics to avoid receiving Communion until they have confessed their sin of being pro-RH Catholics. Fr. Melvin Castro, Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family Life of the CBCP, refuted the announcement, adding that the statement must have been fabricated by RH advocates:

Catholic Church leaders are saddened and accused some pro-reproductive health bill advocates of resorting to “black propaganda” to get the sympathy of the people…
“First, there’s no such statement made by the bishops. There’s really a deception going on,” said Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life.
Castro, however, said that whatever the intention of those who spread the statement would certainly “boomerang on them.”

Castro was right about deception boomeranging, but he was wrong about who the deceivers were and whom the boomerang would hit. Because the authors of the announcement have already revealed themselves — and they’re not RH advocates:

The secretary of the parish, which has some 50,000 parishioners, said the pastoral council drafted the statement but had yet to release it to the congregation.
“Yes there is a statement but there was no announcement during the weekend. I don’t know how it was leaked,” parish secretary Ella Dula told abs-cbnNEWS.com

Consider how quickly Castro (and the CBCP) accused RH advocates of propaganda. He could have asked people from the pro-RH side whether the statement came from them or from anyone within their ranks. (Unlike the CBCP, RH advocates are actually open to dialogue.) He could have called the parish to ask about the authors of the statement. And given the recent admission of the parish secretary, he could’ve easily found out the truth.

But instead, they published a post on their website, pointing fingers at the wrong people. They were so sure of their accusations that when interviewed by GMA News Online, they readily made statements with absolute certainty (emphasis mine):

Castro told GMA News Online that he does not know where the announcement came from but it is definitely false.

It only goes to show na talagang may [there truly is an] element of deception sa pro-RH. ‘Yan ang nakikita ko dito. Gusto nilang galitin ang tao sa Simbahan, [This is what I see here. They want to anger the people of the Church]” said Castro.

Castro’s false accusation shows that if there’s an element of deception in the RH debates, it’s often from the anti-choice side. It also reinforces the fact that the anti-choice side are willing to play dirty.  Castro accuses RH advocates of wanting to anger the people of the Church. But why would we need to do that? The CBCP is already doing an excellent job.

***

We’ve recently released a statement on the Church denying pro-RH Catholics communion.

Below is the draft announcement of the Santuario de San Jose Parish :

“In faithfulness to the call of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Parish Pastoral Council of Sanctuario de San Jose would like to implore all parishioners to reject the RH Bill recently approved by the Lower House on the grounds it is not only unconstitutional and ineffective but immoral and evil.”

“In this connection, we would like to advise parishioners who promote or support the RH Bill NOT (repeat NOT) to receive Holy Communion until they go to Sacramental Confession and renounce the RH Bill. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of all Sacraments where Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Our Lord and Savior is present in his true body and blood, his true humanity and divinity. The Church forbids receiving Holy Communion if we are not in a state of grace, meaning we have not committed a mortal sin. Because the RH Bill is inherently immoral and evil, recommending, supporting, defending, promoting and practicing its provisions and tenets constitute a mortal sin against many of the 10 commandments.”

“While we realize this admonition may be received with some controversy, we wish to clarify this is not a condemnation of sinners, but a condemnation of sins and a call to the sacrament of reconciliation.”

Disobedience to the Pope, represented by our Cardinals, Bishops and Priests, is disobedience to God. If you are uncertain about the reasons for why the Church opposes the RH Bill, we implore you to attend talks organized by your parish, read and study the bill, the 1987 Constitution where we implore the aid of our almighty God and commit to protect the sanctity of life, Humana Vitae, the 1968 Encyclical of Pope Paul VI, the Bible and other good books we will make available for sale outside the church. The duty and responsibility for educating our children lies not in the school but in the home, which is the first school, so it is incumbent upon parents to be well-informed so they can form their own children.

The Parish Pastoral Council of Sanctuario de San Jose stands one and united with our local Bishops and Cardinals, with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and our Lord Jesus Christ in this fight against evil, and we implore the aid of God the Holy Spirit in guiding us as we fulfill the will of God. Thank you.”

Posted in Politics, Religion, Society6 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Condemns the Denial of Eucharist to Supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill; Asks Catholic Supporters of the RH Bill to Oppose Church "Terrorism"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Filipino Freethinkers Condemns the Denial of Eucharist to Supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill; Asks Catholic Supporters of the RH Bill to Oppose Church “Terrorism”

Contact: [email protected]

(Feb. 20, 2011) Manila, Philippines – The Filipino Freethinkers (FF) condemns in the strongest possible terms Santuario de San Jose and all other parishes in the Philippines that deny the Holy Communion to Catholic supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill.

By denying communion to Catholics who even feel that they are in support of the RH Bill, the Catholic Church leadership is continuing in its shameless campaign of demonizing all who disagree with them.

Their systematic efforts to silence any opposition within their own ranks through threats, guilt, and intimidation are antithetical to the virtues of love, forgiveness, and humility that they claim to espouse. It is regrettable that those who suffer most from this policy are their own fellow conscientious Catholics who would otherwise wish to stand with them before the altar at Mass.

The Filipino Freethinkers have on numerous occasions personally witnessed and documented the outright hostility that Catholic Church leaders and champions continually show toward their supposed brethren.

They have shouted insults at RH-Bill supporting Catholic mothers, driving them away and declaring them Satan on the very steps of Manila Cathedral.

Against all rules of professional decorum and common decency, legislators in the Catholic Church’s thrall have openly laughed at the group Catholics for the RH Bill during congressional hearings, shouting that no true Catholic can be in support of the Bill.

Individuals wearing the Catholics for the RH Bill t-shirt have been repeatedly escorted out of Sunday Mass from parishes in and outside Metro Manila.

Thus, we call on all Catholics who support the passage of the Reproductive Health to voice out their highest opposition to this latest act of emotional terrorism and hostility by the Church, and to demand that their parishes stop persecuting their brothers and sisters who seek nothing but true social justice in the country.

Posted in Politics, Press Releases, Religion, Society46 Comments

Things That Are Bullshit: Church/State Separation in the Philippines

Great job Aquino administration! You ever vigilant guardians of the wall of separation between church and state! Witness this from the recent Reproductive Health debate:

Asked for comment, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacañang cannot interfere with what it deems as a Church issue.

“The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has a position on the issue of reproductive health. Kung ano ang gagawin nilang hakbang with respect to its flock, so to speak, is beyond the ambit of government. We really cannot comment on anything. It’s between the church and its members,” she told reporters.

Awesome job, Team PNoy! You know how to keep the government out of the church! Come on, how else do we keep the church and state apart? We don’t let the church meddle with the government right?

Right guys? I mean, that’s how walls work right? It keeps two sides separate from each other?

Oh. What’s that? You’re going to keep talking to the bishops about the Reproductive Health bill? While eleven women die each day from maternal complications? Oh. Alright then. I guess.

This is BULLSHIT. Aquino administration. You’re halfway there. So. Damn. Close.

Sigh. Anyway. Hey CBCP, what say you about church state separation? What’s that? Your website is lauding separation of religion and politics? Gasp! You’re the new best friend of secularists in the Philippines! Oh. God damn it. I guess only for the Islamic countries.

Hey so heard about Egypt? They had a people power revolution, that’s cool right? Just like EDSA! Hey CBCP, you were saying something about EDSA right…

Posted in Others18 Comments

Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Once again, somebody posted something in our Facebook page that I just had to address. Darn it, am I making a habit of this?

Here’s the post:

the Religious keep trying to convince me there is a god

the Atheist keep trying to convince me there is no god

i see both sides presenting their opinions as FACTS

i dont see any difference between these factions ~_~

Basically, he’s saying that atheism and theism are equally viable, thus he has a hard time discerning which one to believe. Well let me point out where he went wrong.

Firstly, he says that “the Atheist keeps trying to convince me there is no god”. REALLY? Which atheist is specifically trying to convince you that “there is no god”? In fact, has anyone ever encountered an atheist on the street preaching “No god!”, or knocking on your door and saying “Have you heard the good news? There is no god!”. The vast majority of atheists hardly ever talk about religion. It’s just not that important to us. The only time we start talking about religion is when it tries to impose it’s own narrow worldviews upon everyone else. Otherwise, we are perfectly happy to leave theists alone.

Besides, the great majority of atheists are “weak” or “passive” atheists, meaning we are not 100% certain that there is no god, but choose to live our lives as if there is none. We are willing to believe in your god, as long as you can provide us with solid proof. Even the so called “militant” atheists like Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens, and Harris allow for the tiny possibility that there might be a god. “Strong” atheists (those who assert 100% that there is no god) are few and far in between. And even these people won’t just suddenly approach you on the street to tell you there is no god.

Now, compare and contrast that to theists, who feel the need to proselytize and spread their religion, whether other people want it or not. These people are absolutely certain that their god, and ONLY their god, exists. Which brings us to the next point of contention: FACTS.

He says that “both sides present their opinions as facts”. I’m sorry but when we point out that the bible says that the Earth is flat, that the Sun goes around the Earth, that Pi=3, that the bat is a bird, that the mustard seed is the smallest seed there is, and that rain is caused by God opening the floodgates of heaven, buddy that is not opinion. That is FACT, and you can read it for yourself in the Bible.

When we point out that the Theory of Evolution is supported by multiple lines of evidence from across diverse fields of science, that is FACT, not an opinion. Again, you can check out countless scientific papers ,and do your own experiments if you wish to do so, for that is the beauty of science.

Again, compare and contrast that to the theists, who claim inerrancy of their holy scriptures, on the basis that “Because God said so”. Now that, my friend, is OPINION. And when your religion has no evidence to support it other than… drum roll… PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, that, my friend, is the epitome of OPINION.

Besides, it’s not like facts and evidence are held in high regard by the devout theists. How many times have we heard them declare that “even if their god were proven to be false, they’ll still have faith in their religion.”. Facts and evidence just doesn’t matter. For many of them, it’s all about FAITH.

Now if after this, you still can’t tell the difference between someone arriving at atheism because of skepticism and science, and someone arriving at theism because of personal experience, then there’s really not much else I can tell you.

And frankly, I don’t really care much which way you want to go. It’s your life, and it’s your decision. I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to live your life. And in my opinion (hehe) the world would be a much better place if everyone just let other people live their lives, and not try to control or dictate how others should live, so long as they do no harm.

Posted in Others, Religion, Society10 Comments

Refuting Anti-RH rhetoric: Tilting Rice Mills (Part 1)

For those of you who haven’t heard of him, Manny Amador is an outspoken member of the Pro-Life Philippines group.

I’d run into him previously on an article covering last year’s escapade at the Manila Cathedral fracas, where he was attempting to defend Manalang’s vitriol by trying to lay the blame on the FF members for being blasphemers.

He also maintains a blog, wherein he periodically writes about his stance against the Reproductive Health bill, and where in he attempts to justify his opposition with data.

I say attempt in a very loose sense, in light of one of his recent articles, which tried to discredit the need for a Reproductive Health program by citing government plans to cut down on rice imports.

Manny’s article basically states this: A recent article states that the Philippine Government is planning to drastically cut the amount of rice it will be importing this 2011. According to National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Angelito Banayo, this was done because the gov’t already had a large surplus of rice accumulated in past years.

By Manny’s reasoning, this surplus translates to there being no food crisis among Filipino families; ergo, the issue of overpopulation is a boogeyman that the cabal of Pro-RH heathens (myself included) conjured up to scare the populace into supporting our agenda.

While he did get it right that past shortages are due to rice hoarders and rampant government corruption, Manny’s assertion that surplus = no overpopulation doesn’t hold much of a grain of truth; More so when one looks at other related studies.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in Washington D.C. reports that while the number of pinoys suffering from starvation has decreased over the past few decades, a good portion of RP’s population still suffer from lack of food.

Getting into specifics, the IFPRI’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) updated the score given to the Philippines from 19 in the 1990s, to 13 in their latest report. Here’s a lowdown of how those numbers are rated:

  • Less than 5 :Low Hunger Level
  • 5 – 9.9 :Moderate hunger
  • 10 – 19.9 : A serious problem
  • 20 – 29.9: Alarming
  • 30 and above :Extremely Alarming

You don’t need a degree in statistics to understand that while less pinoys are going hungry today than they did before, starvation remains a serious problem, whether or not our gov’t decided to cut down on rice imports.

What makes these figures especially disturbing is that a large percentage of those going hungry are our youth. A recent joint study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicates that from the time period from 2003 to 2006, approximately 12.8 million Filipino children below the age of 15 live in poverty, with 5.4 million of them being deprived at one point of one of their three basic necessities to life: Food, Water, and Sanitation.

A separate report by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) also found that 33.1 percent of the 100,000 schoolchildren they studied suffer from malnutrition, resulting in stunted growth.

Chronic malnutrition begins in infancy, the study suggested, with more than eight in 10 Philippine toddlers aged between six months and five years not eating enough to meet the recommended daily energy and nutrient intake.

Acute malnutrition, which reflects more recent setbacks such as illness or failing to eat properly over the past week, stood at 25.6 percent in 2008 among school children, up from 22.8 percent in 2005.

Aside from affecting their health, a related study by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) indicates that poverty prevents these children from receiving a proper education.

“An assessment of the situation points to poverty as the main cause of this lower-than-expected increase. This is further exacerbated by the high cost of schooling-related expenditures. High school students seeking employment to augment family income also contributed to the low increase in enrollment,” the NEDA report stated.

The Department of Education admitted that the country’s “volatile economic situation” is preventing children from going to school. Even with the “zero tuition” offer of the government, poor families are hindered by lack of employment, hunger and malnutrition, among other problems.

“Time and again parents have complained of financial obstacles,” said Kenneth Tirado, communications officer of DepEd.

I’ll concede that perhaps Manny is right – the overpopulation isn’t the issue.

Given the data I’ve managed to dig up however, the problem seems to be more of our inability to provide basic necessities for the population we already have.

It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to understand that most of the families these kids belong to would prefer to limit the children they have to a manageable number, to enable them to provide all of them with enough food to secure their physical well-being, and to properly fund their schooling to secure their mental well-being.

Manny Amador calls people like me doomsayers for going through the trouble of researching the sobering data I have provided here; I prefer to call it a rude awakening.

* And that wraps up Part 1 of my rebuttal for Mr. Amador. Join me again next week as I prepare a new piece to counter the second-half of his writings.

Posted in Personal, Politics, Society0 Comments

I did not choose to stop believing

I did not choose to stop believing
I did not choose to leave behind
The Faith that’s been deceiving
My quiet innocent Mind

I did not want to be so different
I did not want to cause a mess
But I can’t stop my mind from thinking
That I can’t believe in just a guess

If God is Truth then what is Truth?
Is it Inconsistency?
Should He be real just because
The Bible makes good Fantasy?

It’s not that I don’t want Him there
If He is, He’s been good to me
But just because you *feel* He’s there
Can’t mean you *must* claim Him to be

In my youth, if I could choose
I would have chosen The Fantasy
So I could belong with everyone
And they’d be very good to me

But now I find it somewhat strange
That I am the different one
In this nation of believers
Against Common Sense, Faith has won

I would not choose to stop believing
If it had been up to me
But if God exists, I’m glad He’s decided
That I don’t deserve The Fantasy

Posted in Poetry, Religion2 Comments

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