Archive | November, 2011

Today in the History of the Separation of Church and State

Today is a day of irony. While today marks the 113th anniversary of the Malolos constitution when congress voted for the first Philippine constitution that definitively declares the separation of church and state; in the present we have a congress that seems ever more eager to please the Roman Catholic church, a congress that is willing to fight dirty against the very people they are supposed to represent.

Today we have a congress where it is alright for representatives to masticate their merienda ever so glacially in service to the whims of the church.

Today we have a congress that remains servile to the church, choosing to pander to the bishops instead of serving the people they are supposed to represent.

Today we have a congress that does not want to serve the mothers of our country, that does not want to educate the children of our country; a Congress that does not care for the health of our country.

Today we have a congress that has forgotten our nation’s past, the Philippine’s struggle against a church that sees not the earthly suffering and needs of the Filipinos.

113 years ago from today, we had a congress that remembered the injustices perpetrated by the Church. 113 years ago, we had a congress that knew it had to be free of the meddling of the Church in order to serve the Filipino people.

113 years ago from today, the fight to separate the church and state was only beginning.

Today, we have to continue this fight. If our congress today will be a cowardly lot, then the people they represent will have to stand up for the separation of church and state, against the Bishops who would force their way into the lives of every Filipino.

Today, mothers roared against the injustice of a congress perverted against our democratic ideals; today mothers shouted against a congress that cares not for mothers but cared more for their mother church.

Today, will you stand to keep the church out of our government? Today, will you stand against the meddling of the Roman Catholic church?

Image of Malolos congress from Philippine American War

Posted in Politics, Religion, Society1 Comment

The Gayness of Midas Marquez and the Men of Ethiopia

The sexuality of Supreme Court Spokesperson Midas Marquez has become the topic of debates when a video of him addressing the press went viral yesterday.

In the video, Marquez is seen reacting to a microphone falling off the podium. In less than 24 hours, the video has been shared more than 11,000 times on Facebook and has had more than 12,000 views and more than 100 comments on YouTube.

Here is an overview of how YouTube users have reacted to the video as of writing:

1. Yes, he is definitely gay – 28% (38/136)
2. I don’t care, this is funny – 27% (37/136)
3. Flagged as spam/removed – 18% (24/136)
4. No, this does not make him gay – 7% (9/136)
5. It doesn’t matter, he’s doing his job well – 5% (7/136)
6. Please think about the welfare of his children – 4% (6/136)
7. Yes, he is gay, and that is a pity because he is handsome – 4% (5/136)
8. Yes, he is gay, but it’s okay, he’s doing his job well – 4% (5/136)
9. I don’t care, he’s hot – 3% (4/136)
10. So what if he’s gay? – 1% (1/136)

(Data based on a total of 136 comments. Unrelated comments were not included)

What is worth mentioning is that some of the homophobic comments (both on YouTube and Facebook) were actually made by some people who self-identify as LGBT activists. Granted that LGBT activism in the Philippines has come a long way, such homophobic remarks are indicative of the level of maturity of this movement.

PEP proves that photo of Piolo Pascual holding hands with Sam Milby is fake

Marquez is not the first personality subjected to this debate. Not so recently, actors Piolo Pascual and Sam Milby were rumored to be a gay couple. Photos of them holding hands circulated on the Internet. Interestingly, arguments mostly revolved around whether the photos were authentic or manipulated and not whether holding hands with another man was evidence of homosexuality. The general theme of the discussions were that if the photos were authentic, then it was validation that Pascual and Milby were indeed in a homosexual relationship. Yet again, some LGBT activists participated in these fundamentally flawed discussions. It was proven later on that the photos were digitally enhanced.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, we (laypeople and activists alike) seem to stubbornly hold on to this convenient belief that we can determine a person’s sexual orientation (whether the person is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight) just by observing the person’s gender expression (whether the person acts feminine or masculine based on socially accepted norms). It is not uncommon for people to claim that they have a functional “gaydar,” albeit they are not always able to explain their criteria.

It is acceptable for two men to hold hands in Ethiopia as it is part of their culture

Fortunately, this behavior is not innate. Humans are not born with the prejudice that men holding hands with other men are gay. For example, in Ethiopian culture, it is socially acceptable for men to hold hands with other men in public. This is not because Ethiopian culture is accepting of homosexuality, in fact, homosexuality is illegal in that country. Holding hands is acceptable because Ethiopians were not taught by their culture that this type of male-to-male gender expression is evidence of gay sexual orientation. Showing them photos of Pascual and Milby holding hands would mean absolutely nothing except that the two men are obviously friends.

At the end of the day, the question should not even be about sexual orientation or gender expression. We should strive for a society that has reached a level of acceptance wherein sexuality does not even figure in discussions. Call me strange but I think there are lessons to be learned from the perceived gayness of Midas Marquez and the men of Ethiopia.

Read original article here.

Posted in Media, Society2 Comments

Disrespecting Democracy: When rules deserve to be broken

A group of community women interrupted a session in the House of Representatives, calling for delays on the passage of the RH Bill to end. This was not a silent call. The women shouted. They were immediately escorted out of the session hall because shouting in Congress is against the rules.

But what the women shouted about is not against the rules. It is not against the rules for Rep. Garcia and Rep. Kisumbing to be absent for their scheduled interpellations. It is not against the rules for Rep. Garcia to bring up conspiracy theories, nor is it against the rules for Rep. Daza and Rep. Bagatsing to waste an entire session talking about how boxing should be judged. And it is not against the rules for Rep. Apostol to step out in the middle of the session and make everyone wait while he had an hour-long merienda.

Even with all these dilatory tactics, these legislators played by the book and were not thrown out of the session hall. But they should have been. They should have been thrown out for all the taxpayer money spent on wasted session days, which some estimate at P17-20M per day. They should have been thrown out for using every loophole and tactic to delay the vote on RH, even if it means making a mockery of our legislative system. They should have been thrown out for even entertaining the idea that the suffering of countless women deserves less time than chatting about boxing and having a nice merienda.

By following the rules, the anti-RH legislators may not deserve to be thrown out of Congress. But by disrespecting democracy, they don’t deserve to be in there in the first place.

Posted in Politics, Society3 Comments

Life 1, Skyrim 0

Right now I so very badly want to be exploring the Winterfell-esque beauty contained in Bethesda’s latest action-RPG epic Skyrim, but as it stands now I seem to have traded in fighting this :

to save this:

for fighting this:

to save this:

And instead of getting to camp here:

I’ve gone camping here:

 

Maybe I could be more sad about this state of affairs, but Skyrim isn’t going anywhere, while our mothers and children are dying every day. Hope to see you all at Occupy4RH!

Posted in Personal, Politics, Society4 Comments

November 26 (Saturday) Occupy For RH Meetup

Location: SB Park, in front of Batasan South Wing Gate, QC (Google map)
Date: Saturday, November 26, 2011
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm

RSVP on Facebook

Let’s go occupy! This Saturday we’ll be holding our meetup at the Occupy4RH camp at SB Park across the South gate of the House of Representatives. The camp will have been up for almost a week, so let’s all get together and show Congress that they need to stop being servile to the Church and start serving the people! Our country’s reproductive health is more important than the Bishop’s wealth!

This will also be a mega-meetup of sorts with the good folks from the south chapter coming up to the camp to show the supposed representatives of the people that the people are clamoring for the passage of the reproductive health bill! Show them that we won’t stand for the further corruption of our democracy when the people’s representatives choose to represent the bishops with all their wealth and power instead of the people of their country!

Do come down to the Occupy4RH camp whenever you can, we’ll always have people at the FF tent!

* Newbies are welcome.
* Look for the FF tent (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.

Posted in Meetup0 Comments

Summary of Day One of Occupy for RH

Summary of Day One of Occupy for RH

We are now on the Third Day of the Occupy for RH campaign, and things are going well at the camp. We got rained on a bit yesterday morning, but the camp is as lively as ever. The FF tent will be undergoing some upgrades today, thanks to the efforts and donations of our members, and we look forward to seeing everyone there.

In the meantime, here’s a short summary of the things that happened on Monday. Keep an eye out for our old friend Tolits, and our expertly coordinated Command Center Lift-off to occupy their intended occupation of the Occupy campaign.

Posted in Video4 Comments

Tanod Tells Truth About Anti-RH Lies

We interviewed Tanod/BPSO Arsenio Dela Cruz Jr. today about his encounter with Rizalito David and the anti-RH camp. This confirms once and for all that the anti-RH lied about having permits, and then lied about lying about having permits to demonstrate at SB park.

This also reveals yet another lie: Rizalito David claimed to the tanod that he was a lawyer. As you might have guessed, nowhere in Mr. David’s WikiPilipinas page does it say that he is a lawyer. What it should say is that he is also an Old Snake himself.

Posted in Media, Politics, Society10 Comments

Anti-RH Facebook Page Lies About Their Lying

Yesterday, I wrote about how an anti-RH group tried to do a demonstration in SB park without a permit. An anti-RH reader (we probably have a few) responded to the post by doing what the anti-RH seem to do best — lie about it:

[aj] You might have read the news from a certain group of people who thinks [sic] they are smart and support RH that the Anti-RH group that went on vigil last night did not have a permit to rally. I won’t post their site, but let me tell you that this is an outright lie. These guys are liars of the highest order and would heckle their way into any decent discussion. The truth is that the pro-life side had a permit issued by the baranggay. The other side also had a permit – coming from Vice mayor Herbert Bautista who is pro RH. So para walang gulo, the vigil was just held somewhere else near the area, pero hindi po totoo na wala tayong permit at nagsinungaling tayo tungkol sa permit natin.

So I issued a simple challenge:

Simple. Just post a scan of the permit and the matter will be settled. But of course, as I wrote, all you showed us was an endorsement letter — not a permit.

Why do you need to lie, AJ? Were you at the site when the endorsement letter was shown to the SB Park officers? Were you at the site when they couldn’t produce a permit and had to leave?

I told them to post a link of the scan as a comment on my original post. I won’t hold my breath.

To our anti-RH readers, for the sake of Truth (which you seem to have a monopoly on), I humbly ask that you accept this challenge.

Sincerely, a writer of the Site-That-Cannot-Be-Named, a Son of Liar the Old Snake, Red.

Posted in Politics, Religion, Society9 Comments

Pro RH Advocates Win First Battle in Occupy for RH Camp

Anti-RH advocates were forced to leave SB Park after pro-RH advocates discovered that they didn’t have a permit.

The anti-RH advocates tried to bully their way into the camp by setting up tents at the gate for a thanksgiving mass they were planning. When the SB Park officer asked who owned the tents, anti-RH advocates lied and said they didn’t know. The SB park officer was later surprised to see that an anti-RH mass was already set up inside the tents.

When asked about whether they had a permit to do the thanksgiving mass, anti-RH advocates, led by Rizalito David, said that they did have a permit. It was later found out that all they had was an endorsement letter, revealing that the anti-RH advocates lied once again.

Finally, the anti-RH advocates left and moved their planned demonstration to the nearby police station. According to unconfirmed reports, they were allowed to use the venue without a permit.

This small encounter shows how the anti-RH side are willing to lie and disrespect legal procedures, in the same way that they lie about the RH bill and delay the legislative process.

The anti-RH demonstration at the police station will end at 3am tomorrow. The pro-RH occupation, on the other hand, will remain here at SB Park until legislators put the RH Bill to a vote.

UPDATE (Nov. 22): After lying about their lying
, we challenged the anti-RH to post their permit. They declined — of course — and said that we should ask the tanod. We did. Not only were they lying about having a permit, Rizalito David also lied about being a lawyer.

Posted in Politics, Religion, Society9 Comments

URGENT: Anti-RH Faction Moving in on Occupy for RH Site without Permit

 

As of this afternoon, the anti-RH contingent has forcibly taken up space at the Occupy for RH campsite across from the South Wing Gate of Congress. They are trying to stay there without a permit.

We need more supporters to come tonight to be part of the Occupy for RH movement. We need reinforcements to help alleviate this situation. Please click here for more details.

Posted in Announcements3 Comments

Let’s Occupy for RH!

 

Since our inception, the Filipino Freethinkers have been staunch supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill, and we remain dedicated to pushing for its passage. There has never been a more pressing time for you to join this cause than now. Tomorrow, November 21, we along with many other passionate organizations and individuals, will Occupy for RH. We will remain camped outside of Congress for as long as it takes to get our legislators to finally come to a long-delayed vote on this issue. Too much time has been wasted, and too many mothers’ lives have been lost since this fight began, and we are now pulling out all the stops.

Join us. Talking about the issue on social media is great, but it is not enough. If you truly believe that the RH Bill should be put to a vote, then camp out with us at Congress. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of a vibrant community and help the country change for the better. As freethinkers, it is our responsibility to make our voices heard, to drown out all the falsehoods and bigotry that has surrounded this issue, and to finally let truth and life prevail.

Here’s the official statement of the Occupy for RH Movement:

It has been ten years since the first RH Bill, and after countless debates and delays we are no closer to a vote. The democratic process has stalled at the hands of time-wasting legislators and bullying bishops.

With mounting frustration we remind our public servants that for every day they delay the vote, Filipino families around the country lose their mothers. The time for delay is over. The time for a vote is now.

Starting tomorrow, November 21, RH Advocates from various organizations will occupy the park across the South Wing Gate of Congress, and launch a massive and sustained campaign to remind our Senators and Members of Congress of the urgency to vote on the Reproductive Health Bill before the year ends.

Pro-RH lawmakers, celebrities, artists, government officials, civil society and non-government groups, business, academe, youth, religious and non-religious sectors will show their support at this mass action,
and advocates will camp out in front of the South Wing Gate for as long as it takes for their voices to be heard.

We urge you to join us, tomorrow and onwards, and lend your voice to a movement that will save Filipino lives. Various activities will be held at the camp and at the South Wing Gate, such as a noise barrage, cultural and solidarity nights, pickets, creative and symbolic protests, actions that will make our legislators listen.

For ten years we have been ignored, the cries of the People drowned out by the powerful few. But no more. Together we will stand, together we will shout, and together we will Occupy for RH till our legislators vote for RH now.

For more details, visit the official site for Occupy for RH.

Posted in Announcements0 Comments

An Afternoon Coffeeshop Sermon

Not having fully recovered from a cough-cold combination this past week, I decided to repair at a known coffee shop chain to have some tea before a yoga class. Mint tea has always worked wonders when I am in this state, and I certainly needed to be delivered from my suffering, if only for a brief moment.

Little did I know that my “deliverance” would take an entirely different form. The fact that it comes in the most unexpected fashion serves only to up the incredulity factor.

As circumstance/luck would have it (depending on what you believe), the barista regretfully informed me that they have run out of the particular tea variant I wanted. So I settled for a good old Americano, anything that would keep my throat warm.

Downloaded e-books, ready for devouring? Check.

Cozy seat at a slightly secluded area? Check.

Appropriately cool temperature from an artificial source? Check.

Barely delving into my copy of Sex, Bombs, and Burgers – an excellent read, by the way – I was jolted when someone pounded on the table, and exclaimed: “That is why God is our salvation!”

 

I look up from my reading and see three men seated two tables away from me, with Bibles open, and instantly, I am whisked into a religious sermon I have no wish to be part of.

One of the men is obviously a “convertee”, the one being preached to. Reading the body language, it is clear that the “sermoner” thinks of himself as the alpha dog in this scenario: an overbearing position even when seated, forceful voice, showy gestures. The listener was seated in a calmer fashion, head tilted in an inquisitive manner, trying to digest the “sermon”.

There goes my quiet time to read and sip my cup of coffee.

“You cannot have any other gods, and any other means of salvation!” bellowed Preacher.

Listener responds: “In my religion…(he utters something a little muffled as he turns to his book of reference)…and we are responsible for that.”

“The way is clear!” responds Preacher. And then he looks around the room, eyes ablaze with the fire of his intent to proselytize, looks just for a brief moment at Listener, then addresses the “congregation” (read: the clueless customers of the coffeeshop):

“You, or anyone else (gesturing to all of us) will not be saved by your own merits! You are damned, damned, I tell you! Know Him! Know God! Only He can deliver you from eternal damnation!”

To the credit of Listener, he isn’t backing down that easily. But because he is hunched over, speaks with a softer voice, and his back turned away from me, I could barely hear his response.

I immediately get my earphones and turn on my iTunes library, lest I be subjected to more “damnation”.

Why is this man using a coffeeshop as his personal pulpit? Is it to “attract” more followers? Basic commandment in interpersonal relationships: Starting off a conversation with “You’re wrong, I’m right!” tends to be seen as offensive and an affront. Not to mention rude.

But I gather that all religions have that same stance: A predilection to tell anyone outside their own fold that they cannot be happy/saved/fulfilled unless they follow “their” way. After all, religious leaders fancy themselves as arbiters of absolute morality and therefore have to be thoroughly convinced of their own self-righteousness. And followers are always told that “you will suffer for your faith, you will be ridiculed, maligned, and tested!”

The only maligning I saw was from the Preacher telling us of our “uncleanliness”, sitting on his moral high horse, content in being judgemental.

Freedom of religion also means the right to be free from religion.

I respect your right to have your own faith, wear whatever religious iconography you deem makes you feel “closer” to your chosen deity, say your own prayers, read your own religious books. You can conduct a seance or dance naked in your garden, I don’t really care.

Why do people like Preacher have such a hard time returning that same courtesy?

I went to a coffeeshop to have my caffeine buzz, to read, and to be relaxed. I did not go there to have someone make ill pronouncements on my character or the state of my being in an afterlife scenario. I have made my disdain for organized religion abundantly clear. I loathe anyone exhibiting intolerance – which I cannot tolerate at any level.

It is not a personal attack on you if someone doesn’t subcribe to your faith. It merely means I am living my own life, on my terms. Deal with it.

And as for the third person in that hallowed table? It was an acolyte of Preacher, who kept nodding at every pronouncement made or every text read. Someone whose purpose was merely to say “Yes” at every turn.

It’s your choice to turn off your mind.

Image from divinecrash.com

Posted in Personal, Religion, Society10 Comments

November 19 (Saturday) Starbucks Anson’s Ortigas Meetup

Location: Starbucks, Anson’s (across The Podium), ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City (Google map)
Date: Saturday, November 19, 2011
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm

RSVP on Facebook

 

This Saturday’s meetup, we’ll be discussing the following topics:

1) Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is seeking medical treatment abroad, causing questions of the right of a citizen to travel.

2) At the recent National Youth Day held by members of the Catholic Church, Fr. Falvie Feldas said that the Church was losing influence among the youth in the information age, and encouraged the remaining faithful youth to go online. Is his claim about the youth becoming less involved with the Church correct? What does this mean for society?

3) United Colors of Benneton came out with its new Unhate ad campaign featuring world leaders kissing, including the pope kissing an imam. Does it go too far? Or not far enough?

Here are their corresponding links, for your reference:

After the meetup we go for dinner and beer drinking at Congo Grill (see map). If you’re not a meetup regular and can’t make it for the meetup but would like to go for the post meetup, please indicate on a post in the wall or comment so we can contact you.

Got questions about the meetup? Contact us at 0927 323 3532

  • Newbies are welcome.
  • Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
  • There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
  • Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
  • You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.
  • You don’t have to buy anything from Starbucks.

Posted in Meetup, Organization1 Comment

“We are a Christian Country”

That’s according to Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, who recently chastised the Kapisanan Ng Mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), for not regulating certain radio disc-jockeys on the late night circuit who “are using indecent and vulgar language.”

 

While that is certainly an expected statement from a member of the Catholic hierarchy, it does not mean that is the only viewpoint we should be listening to.

First off, I wished the Inquirer reporter had asked the bishop to give specific names of disc jockeys or radio programs which offended his religious sensibilities; that way, any one would be able to gauge that statement for themselves.

If the disc jockeys/programs in question are indeed guilty of breaking the law, then by all means, the government and the KBP should exert all efforts to ensure that they are punished accordingly. (Offhand, legal provisions on that broad category of “indecency” would probably be enough to charge any offenders.)

What I find disturbing – monumentally – is why Bastes was complaining: his contention that “we are a Christian country” certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouth, particularly for those who have been advocating a more secular space and tone where discussions of laws and government are brought up, in the context of a democratic government and country.

And what bothers me is that his statement is no different from when the Spanish conquerors claimed these islands for their king centuries ago: He makes it seem like the Philippines has been conquered, and is now the property of the Catholic Church, Inc., so much so that the way things happen and are run in this country should be to their specifications.

Here is a small list of what I have observed as things they want to have or happen:

  • No talking about sex.
  • Presidents of a democratic country should bow down to us and our whims.
  • Catholicism is Christianity. All other “Christian sects” are invalid.
  • We don’t care about offending other religions and “their” feelings. But no one should dare say anything negative about the Catholic faith! (I wager they must miss the days when beheadings still took place.)
  • What our religion says should be inscribed into secular law.
  • Feel free to add your own observations here: ____________________________________.

Let me reiterate: if laws have been broken, then prosecute, charge, and punish. And by laws, I mean secular laws, the laws by which all citizens of this country are bound to, regardless of religious preference.

The bishop is forgetting one important fact: Catholicism does not hold the monopoly/trademark on what is to be deemed moral/correct/righteous.Unless we have transformed our form of government into a theocracy, we would well be reminded of a basic truth in a democracy: Religion is a choice.

Someone reacted to my previous post about Mary the Catholic deity, saying that we cannot fault anyone for thinking that all Filipinos are Catholic, seeing as majority subscribe to that religion. Bellowing out statistical data is not the same as respecting everyone’s rights under a democracy. Being the religious majority does not give anyone the right to summarily disregard other religions. To paraphrase what Father Joaquin Bernas (one of our Constitution’s framers) has stated, in a democracy, all religions are seen as equal, and no one religion is to be treated as “superior,” and rightfully so.

Everyone should be seen as equal, under a democracy—unless anyone wants to contest that.

Image from fielclan.blogspot.com

Posted in Personal, Religion, Society3 Comments

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