The Philippines is known for its lovely islands and lovely people. A smile everywhere, that is what you see when you visit the islands. Beneath those smiles are real life stories of pain, suffering, torture, and fear of the unknown.
The Philippines is also known for its poverty, prostitutes, and children for sale, despite the fact that it is 80% Roman Catholic. A shame, indeed; people are still living in the dark ages: delusions of grandeur are a natural phenomenon for the very poor. Who, like Juan Tamad, wait for the apple to fall on their lap. It’s a pity for most, since money and jobs are scarce. People are forced to get out of the country, like myself, to make ends meet and savor the luxury of life.
I was in elementary school in grade five when I discovered science and when I became a skeptic. I could not accept my mother’s explanation that I came from a bamboo split open by lightning. I thought that it did not make sense at all. I had questions galore that nobody could answer. I just let it go, but, at the back of my mind, my questions lingered. I went with the flow and joined a choir at our nearby church.
The military church was always jam-packed with people taking communion. These were the same people who loved to gossip and backstab their neighbors. It’s funny, but those who go to church are the most abnormal in my eyes. They are good only with their own flock and those outside their circle were treated like garbage. They treated me like garbage: another confusion and cobweb in my mind. Why did a god allow this? I let it go. Who am I to question their behavior? Who am I to question a god? I am only a small fish.
I have never been religious. I was forced to go to church only by my mother, who thinks everything came from a god. In college, a military chaplain (priest) was always showing me his erection even inside the church. I was as naive as a newly bloomed flower and could not understand what was that all about, until one night, at a party. He tried to get me drunk and he brought me to a secluded place. I realized something was wrong with that scenario and I ran away, never to come back to that church again. However, I did not report the incident to anybody. Who am I? People will just wag their tongues and brand me as a girl of “ill repute.” Besides, who will believe a poor girl like me? A priest could never do such a thing!
I was a very good girl. Why on earth was I not receiving gifts from Santa Claus? Another case for detective work for me. I did my own research. I asked around and did my very own investigation. At an early age, I was able to crack the mystery that there was no Santa Claus. Parents played Santa but, because we were poor, we did not get any gifts from our parents. There was no Santa. He never appeared to me nor had I ever seen a trace of him. There was no Santa Claus.
I was still on searching mode when I finished college. I graduated at the top of my class, cum laude at a famous university in the Cebu province. I went to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia due to the need to secure some funds so I could go to the USA. While in the KSA, I almost became a Muslim. I thought it was necessary at that time. I almost memorized the whole “salah” . Things happened for a reason, at least that was what I believe in before. I had a very tragic experience in the KSA. Long story short, a Filipino man persuaded me to believe that he was the right man for me and we ended up marrying and produced one child. He ran away, never to be seen again. What did I do wrong? Where did I go wrong? I accepted that it was just a test of my existence. Still, there were cobwebs in my mind. Why do bad things happen to good people? If there were a god, wouldn’t he, at least, intervene or stop these misfortunes in my life?
My skepticism was once again rekindled. I went to the USA where discovered that I was really free to practice religion. Still, I went searching. I joined a born again/Christian group who thought that they were saved. I thought I was also saved. Until, one time, the pastor wanted a ten thousand dollar donation from me. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Why should I donate that much? I had no money! Long story short, I did not go back to that church, because I felt like they were ripping me off. Aren’t we supposed to give what we can afford, not be forced to share 10% of our income? I could not understand the logic behind it. It was another query about the importance of religion and god.
I witnessed 9/11, a true tragedy. It was bigger than life. Why would a loving god allow this to happen? There were good and bad people in those twin towers. Why? Again and again, the good were victimized. Is there a god? Where is he? Is he worthy of my praise? I guess not. So, I came out as an atheist.
Actions speak louder than words. I am tired of debates, discussions, and trying to convince people that atheism is a better way of life—no more wastage of emotions, prayers that are not effective, tithes, and church meetings with hypocrites and gossipers.
Atheism is still a struggle in the Philippines. It connotes Satanism, evil, demons, and what have you. Some truly negative connotations. Who cares? I made all my sisters atheist without much ado. They saw my struggles, they saw my success and, better still, I became the Santa Claus in our household.
I am now a militant atheist. I support all atheistic movements in the Philippines. I have teamed up with some atheistic groups on the Internet and we are ebullient in proposing projects, all in the name of atheism. Groups to reckon with are the Filipino Freethinkers, the Critical Thinking Filipinos, The Pinoy Skeptics, and Pinoy Atheist.
Why am I doing this? Because I want to pay it forward. I want to propagate atheism in the Philippines as an alternative to any organized religion. I am encouraging Filipinos to believe in themselves, put their best foot forward, be kind and good without god, and stop with the delusion that a god is watching over us.
“There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” — Anne Nicol Gaylor