Archive | October, 2013

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup: Saturday, Nov. 2 at Moshi Moshi, Katipunan

meetupLocation: Moshi Moshi, Regis Center Katipunan
Date: Saturday, November 2, 2013
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm
Google Map: http://goo.gl/eEjqTd

Topics
– Porn addiction; Japan preferring porn; Don Jon
– What makes sex satisfying? (better than porn)
– Superstition and child abuse
– Are freethinkers still afraid of the paranormal?
– What scares you (rational and irrational fears)?
– The Giraffe

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. 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.

RSVP here.

Posted in Meetup1 Comment

Same-Sex Couples’ Property Rights Bill: A Step Towards Equal Rights

Same-Sex Couples’ Property Rights Bill: A Step Towards Equal Rights

Albay representative Edcel Lagman Jr. recently filed a bill providing for property rights to cohabiting same-sex couples, allowing them the option to co-own the properties they acquire while living together. Lagman said that the bill “would protect the couple’s partnerships and property not only from third persons but even from each other, similar to the protection given to heterosexual couples.”

image

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Even if the majority of Filipinos object to same-sex unions and to homosexuality itself, this bill ought to be passed because it has nothing to do with the legality or even the morality of such partnerships. Rather, its concern is solely on the property regime that would govern same-sex cohabitation.

As an analogy, our laws do not condone adulterous relationships, and yet the Family Code fixes a special kind co-ownership between adulterous partners. Article 148 provides that a man and a woman living together as husband and wife, without benefit of marriage – but are not capacitated to marry because they are in an adulterous relationship, in a bigamous or polygamous marriage, in an incestuous void marriage under Article 37, in a void marriage by reason of public policy under Article 38, or one or both parties is under 18 years of age – co-own properties in proportion to their respective contributions of money, property, or industry.  They are given the presumption that their contributions and corresponding shares are equal as long as they can show proof of some actual contribution. However, if there is proof that the contributions are not equal, the presumption of equal sharing is defeated.

Since cohabiting same-sex partners are also living together as married couples but without benefit of marriage and are not capacitated to marry because they are not “a man and a woman” as required by the Family Code, if Congress will just amend Article 148 to include same-sex cohabitation in its application, this would be a huge step in gradually according equal rights to the our fellow citizens, because to deny such right to a person on the basis of his/her sexual orientation is to subscribe to a medieval mindset of ignorance, homophobia, bigotry, and barbarism, treating the person as something less than human.

Or perhaps Lagman’s bill has even something better to offer. But regardless of which law or amendment gets passed, what’s important is that we provide to same-sex couples at least some of the property rights already enjoyed (and taken for granted) by heterosexual couples. This may still not be enough as the LGBT community surely deserves nothing less than marriage equality, but such legislative milestone would mark the path towards progress of a modern society.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights0 Comments

FF Podcast (Audio) 018: Iglesia ni Cristo’s Medical Mission and the Bohol Earthquake

FF Podcast (Audio) 018: Iglesia ni Cristo’s Medical Mission and the Bohol Earthquake

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 4.09.15 PM 1

This week, we talk about Iglesia ni Cristo’s Medical Mission that caused the cancellation of classes throughout Metro Manila as well as massive gridlock along major roads. Then, we talk about the Catholic response to certain statues surviving the terrible 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol.

Support relief efforts in Visayas by donating to the Red Cross.

You may also download the podcast file here.




Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast0 Comments

FF Podcast 018: Iglesia ni Cristo’s Medical Mission and the Bohol Earthquake

FF Podcast 018: Iglesia ni Cristo’s Medical Mission and the Bohol Earthquake

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 4.09.15 PM 1

This week, we talk about Iglesia ni Cristo’s Medical Mission that caused the cancellation of classes throughout Metro Manila as well as massive gridlock along major roads. Then, we talk about the Catholic response to certain statues surviving the terrible 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol.

Support relief efforts in Visayas by donating to the Red Cross.

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 Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, Video18 Comments

The God of Basketball and Earthquakes

The God of Basketball and Earthquakes

Photo by Stuart Steeger

Photo by Stuart Steeger

A couple of headlines caught my eye as I was scanning the news page. One was about Danding Cojuangco’s statement saying, “God made it happen,” referring to De La Salle University’s recent victory in the UAAP championship. The other was about the death toll of the recent Visayas earthquake at 107, with close to 300 injured and missing (as of this writing).

Cojuangco’s statement appears quite ludicrous especially when juxtaposed with the tragedy of the earthquake — as if God were somehow sitting at courtside at the Mall of Asia Arena, enjoying the game, and with a wave of his hand, made the game-clinching shot of Almond Vosotros miraculously go in the basket. In the meantime, he was conspicuously absent for the patients trapped in the partially-collapsed Congressman Castillo Memorial Hospital in the Loon municipality. Nor was he in two stampedes that occurred in Toledo City and Pinamungajan Town which killed several people including a four-year old girl. He could not even prevent bridges and his own churches from collapsing.

But even without the earthquake, crediting God for the basketball win is a huge slap in the face for the players who endured endless hours of drills and practices to hone their skills. It is an insult to the coaching staff who spent countless hours planning, strategizing and playmaking. It even speaks against Cojuangco himself who financially and emotionally invested himself in the team by providing them with good lodging as well as dieticians, nutritionists and conditioning experts.

Even if God were actually in the arena, it would be the height of unsportsmanlike conduct for him to favor one team over the other and give it that miraculous edge– as both worked equally hard to win and deserved to fight it out in a fair match.

In this country, there is this obsession to credit God over every little good thing. A patient comes out of a successful surgery and people immediately thank God for “guiding the surgeon’s hand” — never mind that the surgeon had to spend sleepless nights in training and practice to acquire that laser-like precision. A man and a woman go on a romantic dinner and thank God for the sumptuous meal. Do they stop by the kitchen to thank the chef who prepared the meal, or the waiters for serving them, or the farmers for the raw products? Probably not.

I understand though why most people are quick to thank God, especially in public. When people heap praise on us, we deflect it towards God either because we do not want to seem too proud of ourselves, or because we want other people to think we are humble and pious. In other words, it is still a matter of pride and looking good. Now, this may not be true of everyone, but for most people, I would think so, even if we do not yet realize it ourselves because the practice has been so ingrained in our culture that we do it almost subconsciously.

My point here is not so much to remove God from the picture but to remind everyone that WE are very much in it. This is not so much a statement either for or against the existence of God but a statement for OUR existence. We matter. Whether or not God is there, we are responsible for our thoughts and actions, and these carry real rewards or consequences down the line and through the years.

Some politicians and unscrupulous businessmen chose to steal from our coffers, thus depriving our country of stronger and better infrastructure, sufficient emergency equipment, or better training and funding for rescue teams. We chose to ignore a warning as far back as 15 years ago in 1998 when Dean Jes Tirol of the University of Bohol Engineering Department delivered a paper in the Asia-Pacific Workshop in Taipei, Taiwan specifically citing the structural dangers of these ancient buildings found in 30 of 47 towns in the island province.

Just as I do not give credit to God for a basketball win, nor will I encourage people to blame him for the aftermath of a calamity. People should start recognizing that even if God were there watching us, he pretty much lets anything happen to us, regardless of what you pray or ask for. It has been that way for thousands of years, and will probably be that way for a long time still. If you choose not to believe anymore, fine. If you still choose to believe, then that belief must go deeper and more profound than the simplistic picture of a God who rewards good and punishes evil, who gives you happy meals and parking spaces while ignoring thousands dying each day of hunger, or disease, or rape, or murder.

In the midst of all these, recognize that there are always opportunists selling coincidences as miracles — like the those touting the unblemished statues of the Virgin Mary amidst the church ruins as a “miracle.” Now some 600 devotees have gathered at this site, teary-eyed at this apparent “marvel.”

For me, the real miracle will occur when these devotees start asking themselves, “Why would God save these two statues and completely ignore the lives of the 107 who have already died and the many others who are still suffering?”

That is probably wishful thinking, and has as much a chance of happening as a half-court shot. But one can dream. Half-court shots DO happen, and people DO transition from superstition to reason.

Originally published in Sunstar Davao. Also appears in Freethinking Me.

Andy Uyboco has never made a half-court shot. He is waiting for a miracle. Send comments and questions to [email protected]. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Religion, Society3 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup: Sunday, Oct. 20 at Moshi Moshi, Katipunan

DSC01031Location: Moshi Moshi, Regis Center Katipunan
Date: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm
Google Map: http://goo.gl/eEjqTd

Topics
– Freddie Aguilar: Does age matter?
– What’s Your Excuse? Fat shaming or fitness inspiration?
– Visayas Quake discussions
– Earthquake preparedness: Fact and Fiction
– INC medical mission
– Raunchy discussion

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. 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.

RSVP here.

Posted in Meetup0 Comments

Pediatrician Claims to Have “Final Answer” to Question of Life

trust-me-im-the-doctor-royal-bros

A little over a week ago, The Philippine Daily Inquirer published a letter written by the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds), claiming that science had presented a final answer to when life begins. To quote the relevant section of the ACPeds letter:

As stated in our website, “Scientific and medical discoveries over the past three decades have only verified and solidified this age-old truth. At the completion of the process of fertilization, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development.” (http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/life-issues/when-human-life-begins)

This is the final answer to this issue, as Professor Kischer puts it. In an article titled “When does human life begin? The final answer,” which was published in the Linacre Quarterly, he categorically states: “Virtually every human embryologist and every major textbook of human embryology states that fertilization marks the beginning of the life of the new individual human being.”

There are numerous problems with ACPeds’ assertions.

The first is their statement that “virtually every human embryologist and every major textbook” agrees with their stance that life begins after fertilization. A cursory search turns up several notable embryologists and researchers in relevant fields who wouldn’t hesitate to call out at ACPeds’ claim.

For instance, there is Professor Scott Gilbert of Swarthmore College, who has stated in one of his more notable lectures (available here) that there is no consensus among embryologists on when life begins. Here is a basic rundown of Professor Gilbert refuting common misconceptions about fertilization, as summarized by Rationalwiki:

  • Instructions for Development and Heredity are all in the Fertilised egg. The view that we are genetically determined by the combination of parental DNA has been shown to fall far short of the complete story. How the DNA is interpreted can vary greatly affected by things such as the maternal diet. Similarly some development requires certain bacteria to be present. Thirdly, and most surprisingly, the level of maternal care can determine which areas of DNA are ‘methylated’ which radically alters how they are interpreted. As such the view that we are ‘complete but unformed’ at conception is far from accurate.
  • The Embryo is Safe Within the Womb. Modern research shows that 30% or fewer fertilised eggs will go on to become foetuses. Many of these early miscarriages are because of abnormal numbers of chromosomes. The view that every fertilised egg is a potential human being is wrong in around 70% of cases.
  • There is a Moment of Fertilisation when the passive egg receives the active sperm. Again recent research has shown that the previous commonly held view that the fastest sperm races towards the egg and, bingo, we’re up and running is wrong on many levels. Fertilisation is a process taking up to four days. As such there is no magic moment, rather there is a process.
  • There is consensus amongst scientists that life begins at conception. There isn’t even consensus amongst scientists as to whether there’s consensus. However, Scott Gilbert’s paper lists embryologists who support each of the major view points belying the common and oft repeated assertion that there is consensus amongst embryologists, let alone scientists.

Lewis Wolpert, a well-known developmental biologist, also made similar points in his lectures regarding when personhood begins:

“What I’m concerned with is how you develop”, he says. “I know that you all think about it perpetually that you come from one single cell of a fertilized egg. I don’t want to get involved in religion but that is not a human being. I’ve spoken to these eggs many times and they make it quite clear … they are not a human being. The cells divide and the question I’m going to deal with a little bit here…how do the cells know what to do. So, how do they end up looking like … you? It is amazing that you come from one single cell. I’m sorry to give you a lesson in embryology but you should know how you develop.”

And then there’s professor Paul Zachary Myers (of crackergate fame) if you like your rebuttals served with a side of snark and heat.

I’m hoping you get my point – that there is no such consensus among the scientific community that life begins at fertilization, and that several scientists have in fact spoken at length on why they disagree. This leads to another problem with the ACPeds letter. By using language like the title “Science’s final answer to when human life begins”, ACPEds implies that they speak on behalf of the rest of the scientific community. This is not the case, and it reeks of arrogance on their part to assume they do.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that ACPeds has been caught making questionable claims.

The American College of Pediatrics is actually a breakaway faction from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and was formed by a small group of healthcare providers who did not agree with the latter’s support for adoption by gay parents.

Since its establishment in 2002, ACPeds has been caught intentionally spreading numerous disproven claims about homosexuality, and trying to pass it off as science. The group has the distinct (dis)honor of being personally called out by the director of the National Institutes of Health for misrepresenting his work. Dr. Collins was not the only researcher who was upset by ACPeds, as seen here and here.

If there is anything we can learn from ACPeds actions, both in the Inquirer letter and in their previous activities, it is that they’re more about pushing an ideology and a political agenda than about promoting truthful and fact-based science.

If you’d like to read more about the matter of when life begins, we’ve also got a couple of articles here and here, written by fellow freethinker  Garrick Bercero

Posted in Advocacy, RH Bill, Science0 Comments

Medical Mayhem: Thoughts on the INC Medical Mission

Medical Mayhem: Thoughts on the INC Medical Mission

Today, I found out that Iglesia ni Cristo is going to have a medical mission which will be held simultaneously in the following locations:

  • Plaza del Carmen (beside San Sebastian Church)
  • Plaza Avelino
  • Magallanes Drive Ext. (facing post office)
  • Quinta Market (before “Quiapo ilalim”)
  • Parking space at the back of Far Eastern University, along CM Recto

I would have considered this all to be a fine gesture of goodwill if only it had not caused classes throughout NCR to be suspended. Many questions started coming to mind once I heard of this implication.

Why are they cancelling classes in all of these schools when not everyone from those schools is expected to participate? It’s sad how even supposedly unaffected areas like Marikina have opted to suspend classes merely in an attempt to “avoid confusion“. And if their reason is that they expect heavy traffic due to the 1.6 million people expected to participate, why didn’t they schedule it on a weekend? Some have argued that INC cannot accommodate this because they have worship on both days of the weekend. I will not, however, pretend to respect how they prioritize worship services over disrupting the educational system of an entire region.

Image from Kabayan Ko Kapatid Ko Facebook page

The public education system is one of the many expenses of being a taxpayer. I find it unfair for taxpayers’ time and money to be wasted by those who enjoy tax exemptions on their properties. In fact, if religious institutions did not have these tax exemptions, we might even be able to afford better public medical services that would obviate the need for these kinds of events. (That is, of course, assuming that public funds did not go so easily into the pockets of the corrupt, but that’s a different article altogether.)

I have deep sympathy in paticular for teachers who, with every suspension of classes, have to redo their lesson plans. Having a mother who teaches in a public high school, I have seen firsthand the effort that goes into making sure that students get the most out of their curriculum and how rescheduling sometimes also entails regrettably removing entire lessons from the slate. It’s already bad enough that we have to go through so many typhoon suspensions over the course of a year.

I also wonder how INC came up with that number of 1.6M attendees. Did the MMDA just take INC’s word for it? Did they even make projections of their own? Does the fact that INC practices bloc voting have any influence over who made what decisions? I don’t know, but I can’t help but feel like it probably did, given our country’s penchant for political quid pro quo. It doesn’t seem very far-fetched, this hypothetical “vote-for-me-and-i’ll-get-you-more-followers” conversation. It’s a win-win situation for both political favoritism and religious indoctrination.

Lastly, I want to say something about the concept of medical missions. I will not deny that they do good for people. They alleviate suffering and enable the otherwise debilitated. However, these are singular events that do not adequately prevent the same problems from showing up in the future. Personal health problems are rarely fixed with one visit to the doctor or one dose of medicine, much less the health of entire communities. For that you will need to meet many conditions including proper sanitation, good hygiene practices, and a sufficient percentage of the local population being doctors and health workers. More than doctors who go on medical missions, I admire those who choose to live with impoverished communities in remote areas and make sure that their respective communities are healthy for as long as they live. But the doctors that I admire most are those who take it upon themselves to teach others to be the same, making sure that their communities stay healthy long after they are gone.

To quote Kuan Tsu:

If you are thinking 1 year ahead, plant seeds. If you are thinking 10 years ahead, plant a tree. If you are thinking 100 years ahead, educate the people.

 

UPDATE: Another article recently appeared, stating that INC didn’t ask for class suspensions. This does not absolve them, however, of not choosing to do the activity on a weekend and planning for better logistics, e.g. using their extensive network of local churches as multiple venues as opposed to a few centralized ones that would cause great amounts of both vehicular and human traffic. I was also notified by a friend that some time last month, the INC held some kind of evangelical mission in Davao. No classes were suspended as it was held on a weekend, but it still caused heavy traffic throughout most of the day. Knowing that things like this would happen should have been enough to make them reconsider holding this event on a weekday out of sheer consideration for other people who need to use the roads they would clog up.

 

Cover image from pjbailon.blogspot.com

 

Posted in Personal, Politics, Religion, Secularism, Society1 Comment

FF Podcast (Audio) 017: Gravity Review and Bitcoin Silk Road Shut Down

FF Podcast (Audio) 017: Gravity Review and Bitcoin Silk Road Shut Down

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 1.58.16 PM

This week, we review Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Then, we talk about the recently shut down black market, Silk Road.

You may also download the podcast file here.



Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Entertainment, Media, Pop Culture0 Comments

FF Podcast 017: Gravity Review and Bitcoin Silk Road Shut Down

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 1.58.16 PM

This week, we review Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Then, we talk about the recently shut down black market, Silk Road.

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 Entertainment, Podcast, Reviews, Society0 Comments

*CANCELLED* Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Saturday, October 12, 2013

*UPDATE* We’re cancelling this meetup due to the weather. Stay safe, everyone!

DSC01031Location: Moshi Moshi, Regis Center Katipunan
Date: Saturday, October 12, 2013
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm

Google Map: http://goo.gl/eEjqTd

Topics
– Cyborg Cockroach Ethics
– Should NASA be funded? Why haven’t you seen Gravity?
– Belated Blasphemy Day Discussion (Westboro porn, etc.)
– Scrapping Pork: Apathy or hope?
– Raunchy discussion of the week

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. 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.

 

RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/577437528959009/

Posted in Meetup1 Comment

FF Podcast (Audio) 016: Ethics of Spoilers and Comment Trolls

FF Podcast (Audio) 016: Ethics of Spoilers and Comment Trolls

Ep 16

This week, we talk about spoilers and whether it’s appropriate to spoil stories and then we talk about trolls and PopularScience.com’s decision to close their comments section.

You may also download the podcast file here.



Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Media, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 016: Ethics of Spoilers and Comment Trolls

Ep 16

This week, we talk about spoilers and whether it’s appropriate to spoil stories and then we talk about trolls and PopularScience.com’s decision to close their comments section.

You may also download the episode file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Entertainment, Media, Podcast, Science, Society, Video0 Comments


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