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Archive | July, 2014

Population and Poverty

Father Castro, a church executive, recently mentioned, “100 million population, it’s good for the economy. Ibig sabihin niyan meron tayong workers, hindi bad news ang population. Na brainwash tayo na malaking population is equated with poverty.”

100 million

This sentiment has been repeated by many; that the growing population is good for the economy and does not lead to poverty. Their logic is that the the more people, the more workers; the more workers, the better the economy.

There is some truth to the assertion that a fast growing population may lead to faster economic growth. Even the New York Times published an article by Floyd Whaley called, “A Youthful Populace Helps Make the Philippines an Economic Bright Spot in Asia.”

Although it is true that more people can produce more goods and services, leading to faster economic growth, the question we should ask is, “Who benefits from this kind of growth?”

About 1 million people enter the labor force every year, each one of them competing with each other and with existing employees for jobs. With such an abundance of labor, employers face very little pressure to raise wages. After all, if one person doesn’t want to work for next to nothing, there are hundreds of others lining up to apply for the same job.

To quote HSBC economist Frederic Neumann:

“The Philippines stands out as the youngest population. As other countries see their labor costs go up, the Philippines will remain competitive due to the sheer abundance of workers joining the labor force.”

In other words, the economy will grow rapidly precisely because wages will not.

Who will benefit? The rich who have an army of workers competing for a small number of jobs, willing to work for next to nothing just to stay alive, and Father Castro’s church which will gain legions of faithful poor.

Posted in Advocacy, Personal, Politics, Religion, RH Bill, Secularism, Society2 Comments

FF Podcast (Audio) 45: Do Selfies Cause Demonic Possession?

FF Podcast (Audio) 45: Do Selfies Cause Demonic Possession?

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) 45 - Do Selfies Cause Demonic Possession?

This week, we talk about the children from San Fernando, La Union, who were supposedly possessed by demons after taking selfies under a plum tree.

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 podcast, Religion, Science, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 45: Do Selfies Cause Demonic Possession?

FF Podcast 45: Do Selfies Cause Demonic Possession?

This week, we talk about the children from San Fernando, La Union, who were supposedly possessed by demons after taking selfies under a plum tree.

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, Science, Video0 Comments

A Filipino for Palestine

gazaAs a Filipino, the struggle of Palestine for independence strongly resonates with me. Being used as a pawn by regional powers; the attempts to marginalize,ignore, and demonize them; and even their own tragically bad decisions–these all mirror the Philippine experience. After visiting both Palestine and Israel some years back and learning of the region’s tortured history, here is what Have to say:

Let’s be frank. Before, when Hamas was not in power, Israel refused to give the PLO under the late Nobel Peace laureate Yasser Arafat a fair deal. They wouldn’t even return land annexed after the Arab Israeli Wars, allow Palestinian refugees to return, or share Jerusalem as a capital, as they did before occupation.

Let’s be frank. If the US or any other country was invaded, occupied and blockaded for half a century, every peaceful and democratic means for liberty was defeated, and the use of conventional armies and weapons was denied,wouldn’t they also be so desperate as to turn to the most brutal of organizations and use the most extreme and desperate measures to fight for their freedom?

Let’s be frank. How can Palestine get a fair deal peacefully when one of the international arbiters, the United States, supplies weapons to Israel and sides with it unconditionally?

Let’s be frank. Terrorism is terrorism, whether you use US-supplied weapons or homemade rockets, whether you say, “oops, sorry, collateral damage” or not.

Let’s be frank. Before this war, there was no reason that Israel would give Palestine back its liberty peacefully on its own accord. They had no incentive to do so.

Let’s be frank. Without Hamas and other threats, Israel would have run out of reasons for getting the unconditional military, economic, and diplomatic support of the United States. Without Hamas, Israel runs out of excuses to continue land grabbing and blockade of Palestine. Without the constant threat of war, Israel loses its special status.

Let’s be frank. Using Hamas as an excuse for more land grabbing, apartheid,and occupation is like using the Ku Klux Klan as an excuse to bomb all of America. I don’t like Hamas. But that doesn’t excuse turning a blind eye to Palestinian suffering.

Let’s be frank. Not even Germany, despite perpetrating the Holocaust during the Second World War that murdered six million Jews, had its right to exist as a nation revoked or questioned. Not even the United States, despite being founded on the extermination and expulsion of Native Americans and the enslavement of African-Americans, had its right to exist as a nation revoked or questioned. No one has a right to question or deny Palestine’s right to nationhood, regardless of their tragically bad choices, such as choosing Hamas.

Let’s be frank. Creating a state whose identity is based on one religion or race and whose borders are defined by mythology is undemocratic in a multi ethnic world. If only the British colonizers, instead expelling indigenous Arabs to create a Jewish state after the Holocaust of the Second World War,created a nation that was inclusive of all religions and races, we wouldn’t have this war. A modern, peaceful, and democratic nation state defines itself with a shared culture and universal values that unite citizens regardless of race, religion, ideology, or gender.

Let’s be frank. The reason Christians outside the Middle East support Israelis because they want to ensure the fulfillment of their own end-time prophecy,their own mythology. Many of these supporters have yet to actually spend time in both Israel and Palestine. I’ve been there on the ground, Christians and Muslims are allies there. Every successful Palestinian business is blown up or bulldozed by Israelis, saying the building could be used by snipers. The best land is annexed for Jewish settlers who have never lived in Middle East before as long time Palestinian residents look on, still clutching their land titles.

Let’s be frank. The United States’ unconditional support for Israel is more a reflection of its own voter demographic–Jewish American and ChristianEvangelical voters and campaign donors are more numerous and far wealthier thanArab Americans. Morality has little to do with it. After all, US supports many other allies with alarming disregard for human rights (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,etc.) even as it demonizes it rivals for the same reasons (Iran, Syria, etc.)It only intervenes when profits are to be made or interests are threatened.

Let’s be frank. History and holy books cannot be used to justify this occupation and land grabbing. History books reveal that, besides the Hebrews,the Assyrians (Syria), Babylonians (Iraq), Romans (Italy), Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates (Saudi Arabia), Mamluks (Egypt), Ottomans (Turkey) and the British Empire (United Kingdom) all claimed and ruled present day Israel and Palestine. The holy books of all three Abrahamic religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–have been used to justify the worst atrocities: the genocide, rape, and enslavement of Philistines, Canaanites, Midianites, etc.; the bloody Jihads; and the murderous Crusades. Studies show that indigenous Semites, whether Israeli or Palestinian, are genetically identical. After all, many of today’s Palestinian Muslims and Christians were once Jews before converting to the religion of past conquerors of the region. Ironically, it was the Jews who refused to convert and were displaced by the Diaspora throughout Europe and America who bear little resemblance to native Semites, culturally or otherwise,after generations of conversions, intermarriages, and assimilation.

Let’s be frank. The fact is that the Palestinians exist–despite every attempt to marginalize, ignore, demonize, and eradicate them–and they have aright to exist, as all people do. Like Israelis do.

Let me be clear: I am for a peaceful and democratic Palestine and Israel. I do not condone atrocities on either side. But these atrocities cannot justify injustices.

Supporters of Israel also have to consider how the occupation is corrupting Israel. It has made Israel occupiers, land grabbers, and human rights violators. Unconditional support isn’t friendship; it’s a license to bully. Areal friend tells someone when they are doing wrong. And yes, I consider myself a friend of both Palestine and Israel.


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Posted in Personal, Politics, Society3 Comments

Possession by Indoctrination

On July 20, 2014, five students were possessed by evil spirits because they took selfies near a duhat tree. Allegedly, several men were attempting to hold down a kid and they seemed very, very strong. To appease the spirits who possessed the kids, all cellphones that were used to take the selfies were buried underground.


How did this nonsense make the headlines? It sounds like the premise of a low-budget horror movie. The incident in La Union and how it was described by the people who were involved does not prove that possession is real. The only thing it proves is that the Philippines and its many regions suffer from a harmful culture-bound syndrome.

In his paper, “Possession, Exorcism and Psychotherapy,” Timothy C. Thomason mentions various examples of shared delusions:

“The DSM-IV TR (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) describes several disorders involving spirits and possession in the appendix on culture-bound syndromes. For example, the phenomenon of Zar possession is common in many North African and Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. Susto or “soul loss” is an illness that is said to result from the soul leaving the body, and affects Latinos in the U. S. and people in Mexico, Central America, and South America. The DSM-IV TR notes that similar beliefs are found in many parts of the world. Many Native American tribes believe in spirit possession, and healers often suck illness-causing spirit objects out of patients; the Tlingit have a verbal exorcism ritual (Hultkrantz, 1992). The phenomenon of Windigo psychosis (possession by a cannibalistic demon) is well established among the Northern Algonquin Indians. The Ainu community in Japan believes in demonic possession and exorcism; in Nicaragua and Honduras there is a possession state called Grisi Siknis; and trance possession is found in Voodoo as practiced in Haiti (Prins, 1990).”

Demon possession is also a culture-bound syndrome. What this means is that demon possession happens only to people who believe in demon possession. The symptoms that “possessed” individuals exhibit are based on the mythos they subscribe to. A person suffering from Windigo Psychosis, for example, cannibalizes people, mostly because he believes that this is how a “demon” would function “if” he was possessed. People who become possessed subscribe to the fantastic narrative they were fed.

However, in the case of the “selfie” kids, it’s not just them who are affected by this delusion. The delusion is shared by those who make claims of supernatural strength, and those who attempt to cast out demons. In other words, these individuals are subconsciously playing a game that allows them to flesh-out their religious fantasies.

As Thomason writes:

“Although exorcists claim that people who are possessed demonstrate superhuman strength and perform supernatural acts such as levitation, a literature review shows that no evidence for this exists other than the anecdotal statements of believers. Given plausible psychological explanations for possession behavior (such as self-deception and communal reinforcement), and the lack of evidence for the existence of demons, there appears to be no good reason to believe in the reality of demonic possession.”

Now, if demonic possession was a harmless culture-bound syndrome, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. Unfortunately, aside from the fact that this belief causes kids to act out in strange ways, demon possession and attempts at exorcism could be fatal as well.

According to the article, “Exorcism: Facts and Fiction About Demonic Possession,” a number of people have died because dumb people have attempted to exorcise them.

Benjamin Radford writes:

“While most people enjoy a scary movie, belief in the literal reality of demons and of the efficacy of exorcism can have deadly consequences. In 2003, an autistic 8-year-old boy in Milwaukee,Wis., was killed during an exorcism by church members who blamed an invading demon for his disability; in 2005 a young nun in Romania died at the hands of a priest during an exorcism after being bound to a cross, gagged, and left for days without food or water in an effort to expel demons. And on Christmas Day2010 in London, England, a 14-year-old boy named Kristy Bamu was beaten and drowned to death by relatives trying to exorcise an evil spirit from the boy.”

There are many reasons as to why a person would exhibit symptoms of demon possession, and none of these reasons involve a real demon or a real devil. Despite the fact that demon possession is not real, news of it should still be a major cause for concern.

We should be concerned about “news” of demon possession because it is evidence that many people in the Philippines can’t tell fact from fiction, and this is primarily because a lot of people in the Philippines grew up with religion.

Here’s a fact: The real cause of the selfie kids being possessed are not demons – it’s religion.

An article from Politix reveals a study published in Cognitive Science whose findings suggest that one’s exposure to religious ideas has a profound effect on a child’s ability to distinguish between what is real and what isn’t. Those who believed in fantastic religious situations are more likely to believe in other supernatural stories. In other words, if a child was raised Catholic, he’s also more likely to believe in white ladies, kapres, tikbalangs, manananggals, and spirits who possess children for taking selfies.

On July 20, 2014, five students were NOT possessed by evil spirits, or by elementals who lived in a duhat tree, or by a “Shake, Rattle, n’ Roll” inspired cellphone. What the news should have said is: “Five students were possessed by the cultural delusion that they have been indoctrinated in.”


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Posted in Society1 Comment

Why Most People Suck at Love

*Reflections on Yann Dall’Aglio’s TED TALK presentation, “Love — you’re doing it wrong.”


I’ve always been interested in the idea of attraction. I have, in fact, for a number of years studied theories on attraction, desire and seduction. I also experimented with those theories A lot of people think that my decision to study what women found attractive, in an attempt to be attractive, creepy. “It’s like browsing for video game cheat codes that one can use to manipulate women into bed,” one friend commented (not true, by the way). Some think it’s unethical, even, to use certain speech or behavioral patterns to elicit positive emotions in other people, that may cause them to see one as a favorable mate.

Everyone does it though. At some point, most people who have been infatuated with another wanted to be seen as desirable by the the person they’re attracted to. MOst people have, to some degree, altered his or her behavior because of a desire to be “liked.” Some people wore makeup, other people learned pickup lines. Some people feigned disinterest, other people gave gifts. Some people projected a successful image, other people talked about art.

According to Yann Dall’Aglio, all these compulsions to behave a particular way, to project a desirable persona, in order to “earn” another person’s interest comes from a faulty, preconceived notion – the idea that one can “earn” desirability.

As a teen, I subscribed to the same notion. I thought that “attraction” was something that you did, or something that you accomplished, to earn another person’s adoration. Courtship made sense, at least on a theoretical level. If desirability was something one can earn, one only has to keep working to make someone fall in love. If the other person hasn’t fallen in love yet, it means that you have to invest further. It sounds like a gross oversimplification, however this notion has a long history.

In the past, what made a person worthy of love was his or her ability to fulfill a role. As Dall’Aglio says, “You had a specific part to play according to your sex, your age, your social status, and you only had to play your part to be valued and loved by the whole community.” However, developments in science, politics and economics have unshackled individuals from having to play specific roles. Unfortunately, these developments also ensured that the rules would change. These changes have created what Dall’Aglio calls a “free market of individual desires.”

In this market, “performing a role” is no longer enough to be desired. Thus, the modern individual’s obsession with desirability. Dall’Aglio says, “We only accumulate objects in order to communicate with other minds. We do it to make them love us, to seduce them. Nothing could be less materialistic, or more sentimental, than a teenager buying brand new jeans and tearing them at the knees, because he wants to please Jennifer.”

In other words, we buy nice things so other people will like us. Dall’Aglio predicts that the future of our romantic interactions will proceed in one of two ways. One, the commodified consumption of the modern individual, the personal obsession with one’s own desirability, will result in the further depersonalization of intimacy.

Dall’Aglio says that a symptom of the former trend is the advent of the “Pick-up Artist,” specifically a concept introduced in pick-up culture called, “oneitis.” Many members of the pick-up community see an individual’s exclusive desire for one person, romantic love, as a disease that is meant to be cured. One can collect “seduction capital” by causing people to fall in love, while not being in love.

The narcissim of the seducer comes from the distorted belief that one can become worthy of desire. Because of an individual’s desire to be deemed worthy, he collects seduction capital that he can display as if to declare, “I am entitled to your love because I’m a desirable person.”

The second prediction made by Dall’Aglio is a little more optimistic. He beleves that the faulty premises that we delude ourselves with and suffer through may collapse and lead to the renunciation of the need to be valued. Once these delusions are eradicated, we can begin to understand that regardless of what we accomplish, we are not entitled to love – not worthy of it, even.

As Dall’Aglio says, “We are all useless. This uselessness is easily demonstrated, because in order to be valued I need another to desire me, which shows that I do not have any value of my own. I don’t have any inherent value. We all pretend to have an idol; we all pretend to be an idol for someone else, but actually we are all impostors, a bit like a man on the street who appears totally cool and indifferent, while he has actually anticipated and calculated so that all eyes are on him.”

The romantic anxieties we suffer are generated by our desire to be perfect, and our desire to find someone perfect to validate our own perfection. This unreasonable demand on both ourselves and others is what distorts our capacity for love and makes our intimate bonds more fragile. The moment we sense weakness or imperfection in the other, we immediately declare, “I deserve better than this.”

Dall’Aglio mentions how tenderness and not perfection should be the measure of love. “To be tender is to accept the loved one’s weaknesses,” he says. Dall’Aglio suggests that we should see love not as something we can earn through our achievements, positive behaviors, or superior genetics, but as a boon we have been granted, despite our shortcomings.

Instead of demanding perfect treatment from perfect partners because of how perfect we perceive ourselves to be, we should recognize our own faults, indulge in self-mockery, and learn to see another’s decision to love us as a gift rather than an achievement.

Personally, I agree with Dall’Aglio. I think we’ll all have better relationships once we learn to get over ourselves.


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Posted in Society0 Comments

FF Podcast (Audio): Dan Ariely (Conversations for a Cause)

FF Podcast (Audio): Dan Ariely (Conversations for a Cause)

Dan Ariely

Conversations for a Cause is a series of interviews with celebrity freethinkers, part of an online donation drive to support ongoing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief and rehabilitation efforts.

This week, we talk with Dan Ariely, psychologist/behavioral economist and the author of Predictably Irrational. We ask him about attractiveness, cheating, and the value of human irrationality.

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 podcast, Religion, Science, Society0 Comments

A Conversation with Dan Ariely

A Conversation with Dan Ariely

Conversations for a Cause is a series of interviews with celebrity freethinkers, part of an online donation drive to support ongoing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief and rehabilitation efforts.

This week, we talk with Dan Ariely, psychologist/behavioral economist and the author of Predictably Irrational. We ask him about attractiveness, cheating, and the value of human irrationality.

You may also download the video file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

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

Quit Predicting the World Cup: An Idiot’s Introduction to Football and Statistics

As much as possible, I avoid making predictions about which team will win the World Cup. First of all, I’m not a psychic animal and second, football is really just unpredictable and stochastic. I could probably do the math, but I prefer just to enjoy watching the games.

You may ask, “Could you not tell which team would win?” Yes, you can tell who will “probably” win, but you cannot tell which team will actually win. Tell that to the Dad who wagered his child’s life savings. You can try predicting but some teams will just pull a surprise and that is what makes football such an exciting game! Anything can happen!

Paul the Octopus is a famous psychic animal that supposedly predicted the outcomes of football matches with great accuracy.

Paul the Octopus is a famous psychic animal that supposedly predicted the outcomes of football matches with great accuracy.

Before the World Cup started mathematical models and World Cup experts ranked the favorites that could win the coveted prize. Hosts Brazil ranked number 1 for a number of reasons including home support. Defending Champions Spain was also heavily favored [1]. As we all know, Brazil was knocked out by the German’s Blitzkrieg by a score of 7-1 in the semis. Spain on the other hand, didn’t even get through the group stages.

So what messes up the mathematical models? These models admit that they cannot account for changes in the personnel in case of an injury. It also does not account for a refereeing decision that can influence an entire match. And, it does not account for a sudden change in the tactics of the other team. Neymar, broke a vertebrae and Thiago Silva had two yellow cards which made him unavailable for the semis. Portugal’s Pepe received a red card vs Germany. That found them a man less and they got beaten 4-0 which eventually led to their early departure from the Mundial. Spain could no longer rely on Tiki-Taka as they got defeated by more direct approaches to football. And when games end tied even after extra time, teams go into the “lottery” of penalties.


Football, Probability and Statistics 101

Here are some questions we should ask ourselves in making a mathematical prediction: 1.) How do we rate the international football teams [2]? 2.) What variables are important in considering the quality of the team? 3.) How do we make sense of all these data?

Rankings and Ratings

There are a number of ranking methods out there but I personally refer to the FIFA ranking [3] which is determined by the number of points gained from winning and drawing matches over a period of time. The number of points is determined by the product of the match result points (3 for win, 1 for a draw, 0 for loss, 2 for win via penalties), the importance of the match, the strength of the opposing team and the strength of the confederation (with Europe’s UEFA and South America’s CONMEBOL being the strongest).

For the sake of discussion we’ll be focusing on the Soccer Power Index. I also think that this is a better measure of how a team will fare if the match were to be played tomorrow. Unlike other rating systems, SPI accounts for margin of victory and home-field advantage plus player ratings based on club competitions they participated in internationally. So both the performances or the quality of playing styles of the teams and the quality of the lineup. This is nice because the number of international games is quite limited and thus the sample is quite small. [4] [5]

Fig. 1 Brazil vs Netherlands stats. Battle for 3rd.

Fig. 1 Brazil vs Netherlands stats. Battle for 3rd.

At the half-time period or at the end of the full match, the game statistics are normally shown. Let me give you a feel on why some of these stats are worth looking at.

Total shots – The team that takes more chances are the ones who normally make more goals. But of course this is not always true because some shots may be inaccurate or the other team has a really good keeper. Just recall the game last season between Borussia Dortmund and Borussian Mönchengladbach. Dortmund had 27 shots compared to Gladbach’s 6 and yet the former was beaten by two goals to nil thanks to wasted Dortmund chances and an impeccable performance by Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Gladbach’s former GK.

Shots on target– This is a more important measure of a team’s offensive prowess. Defensive teams may choose to “park the bus” to limit more offensive teams in this area.

Possession – Spain is known for its possession-based tiki-taka football. The idea behind the importance of possession is best summarized by Pep Guardiola [2]

“Everything starts with the ball and finish with the ball. So, sometimes we forget that this is a game 11-11, with one ball.  And we try to keep this ball, we try to play with the ball, we try to make everything with the ball.”

To explain further, if you have the ball then you can score goals and more possession also means that the opposing team has less chances to take advantage of. Unfortunately for fans of possession-based football, efficient counter-attacking and more direct plays have provided the Kryptonite to this previously unbeaten footballing philosophy. The team that makes the most out of the time with the ball, not the team that keeps it longer, will win the match [7].

Corners, free kicks and penalties are also nerve-wracking moments in the match. It seems that these stats do not guarantee which team will win. Then why bother with them at all? These stats can also give teams clues on what aspects they need to improve on. Plus, it’s also fun when your model gets the right prediction a statistically significant amount of times and when a less favored team beats the odds!

Why people all over the world are crazy about football

The unpredictability of football, the feints, the dribbles, the magisterial rockets of a goal, tackles and the saves all contribute to the emotions that affect both players and fans alike.

The finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup was held in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Millions of people around the world were hooked on the screens, and about a hundred thousand people carrying Argentinean and German flags watched live.

This year’s world cup, was dubbed as the most exciting World Cup of all. Probably one of the reasons why this was so exciting was because low-rated teams performed beyond expectation. Costa Rica emerging as group winners was a surprise. They ousted highly-rated and historically great teams Italy and England. The USMNT surprisingly also got to the quarterfinals thanks to their good performance and some luck. Then there are the last-minute goals, the wins determined by extra time and the penalties.

Football gives you that thrill and it can teach people about probability and statistics. Although, I don’t think the latter’s the reason why they watch. Nothing is for certain in football. You can tell to some extent who’s more likely to win but that’s about it. If you absolutely knew who would win, then it wouldn’t be so heart-racing and exciting! The World cup is simply the greatest sporting event there is!

Germany, the better team, won the World Cup. Too bad Argentina was not able to capitalize on their clear chances in front of the goal. I guess the little kid doesn’t have to worry about his savings anymore.



SPI model

Posted in Entertainment, Society0 Comments

The Pope is Sorry About Priests Who Fuck Children

In a private mass last week, July 7th, Pope Francis apologized to victims of clergy sex abuse. That’s cute. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change anything. But let’s not forget the facts.

The Catholic Church is still an organization with members that have raped so many children that it has its own child-rape wikipedia page: Catholic Sex Abuse Cases. That page is linked to 277 other online sources, many of which refer to priests having sex with children.

Priests have inserted their penises into the underdeveloped anus or vagina of children as young as 3 years old, and the Catholic Church has turned a blind eye to these incidents for so long that even the United Nations human rights panel has accused their leadership, the Vatican, of systematically protecting its reputation instead of looking out for the safety of children. According to the United Nation committee, “the Holy See maintained a ‘code of silence’ that enabled priests to sexually abuse tens of thousands of children worldwide over decades with impunity.”

In other words, the Vatican allowed pedophiles to rape and molest children.

The Catholic Church is still an organization that continues to pay billions and billions because many of their members can’t keep themselves from raping children. It’s a multi-billion dollar organization that has dioceses going bankrupt because many members have a very expensive sexual preference: children.

In Holland, there’s a set cost offered for different types of clergy abuse. It looks a lot like a restaurant menu:

5,000 € – Sexual gestures against physical or mental integrity.
7,500 € – For touching one’s genitals.25,000 € – In case of rape.
100,000 € – For atrocious,continuous and prolonged abuse resulting in permanent trauma.

As we can observe, the problem of pedophilia in the Catholic Church is so insidious that they had to come up with an abuse scale as a guide for how much they’d have to spend for each form of abuse. According to an article in the Economist, “The molestation and rape of children by priests in America has resulted in more than $3.3 billion of settlements over the past 15 years.” And that’s just in the United States.

Here’s a more comprehensive list of how much this organization has been spending in an attempt to keep rapists out of jail. Here’s a third of the first page. The document, by the way, is 5 pages long:


Here’s a quick look at some crimes that priests have committed from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP):


According to the pope himself approximately 2% of clergymen are pedophiles. In other words, around 8,000 of the 400,000+ active members of the clergy are pedophiles.

Unfortunately, according to statistics, “pedophiles have a strong, almost irresistible, desire to have sex with children. The average pedophile molests 260 victims during their lifetime. Over 90% of convicted pedophiles are arrested again for the same offense after their release from prison.”

The only way to stop a pedophile from having sex with children is to keep him in prison. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has ways to make sure that pedophiles stay free. In the report, “Fighting for the Future: Adult Survivors Work to Protect Children & End the Culture of Clergy Sexual Abuse” by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), it was mentioned that there were five ways the church resisted accountability and taking responsibility:


The section on victim blaming reminds me of that ridiculous notion implied by a priest that, “child sex abusers are often seduced by teenage boys.”

As happy as I am for Pope Francis’ apology, I still don’t think he should be revered for admitting the crimes committed by the Vatican. That’s what he’s supposed to do to begin with. I just find it a little ironic how it’s a big deal when a pope does something an average ethical human being would have done – apologize for being the head of an organization that committed many crimes.

I’m happy that Pope Francis finally admitted that some clergymen have been responsible for sex crimes. I’m happy that he admitted that some of his colleagues systematically hid records of the abuse, hid the abuser, and silenced the victims.

But I’m not happy that the Catholic Church is still an institution that protects child molesters. I’m not happy that the Catholic Church still follows “hush-hush” regulations that perpetuate child molesting. I’m not happy that the Catholic Church is still a financial behemoth that spends billions upon billions to make sure rape victims keep quiet, and child molesters are not punished.

Posted in Religion, Society2 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Saturday, July 19, 2014

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Saturday, July 19, 2014


Venue: 2nd floor of Bread Talk Promenade, Greenhills
Date: Saturday, July 19, 2014
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm

Google Map:


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, and admission is free.
* Early birds get to play board/video/party games with the group.
* 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.

Posted in Announcements, Meetup0 Comments

FF Podcast (Audio) 44: Priest Humiliates Unwed Mother

FF Podcast (Audio) 44: Priest Humiliates Unwed Mother

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) 44 - Watching Your Words

This week, we talk about the priest who humiliated an unwed mother during the baptism of her child.

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 podcast, Religion, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 44: Priest Humiliates Unwed Mother

FF Podcast 44: Priest Humiliates Unwed Mother

This week, we talk about the priest who humiliated an unwed mother during the baptism of her child.

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, Video1 Comment

On the Hazing Article: A General Response to Comments

A few days ago, I wrote, “A Letter to CSB on the Recent Hazing Incident.”

One reader immediately demanded that I retract everything I said, take down my article, and apologize. I’m very accommodating and I would lose nothing over an apology, so here goes: “I’m sorry that basic, observable facts offend your fragile sensibilities.”

Unfortunately, your offended sensibilities do not change anything:

1. CSB still does not have the structure to completely eradicate fraternity violence.

2. The advice CSB admin provided, “Choose God, not Gangs,” is still not very useful.

The second statement is an opinion (and you are free to disagree with me), but the first statement is a fact. Your school does not have the infrastructure to completely prevent fraternities. DLSU doesn’t have it either. UP doesn’t have it either. Neither does Ateneo.

Why is that a big issue? I never said that CSB was the exclusive source of all fraternity violence. I never said fraternities were exclusively CSB’s problem. I never said that DLSU, UP or Ateneo were superior schools with zero fraternity problems. My point was that CSB was not addressing the problem properly, by implying that students become victims of fraternity violence because they failed to “choose God.”

choose god

Comments poured in regarding the fact that no school has the infrastructure to eradicate fraternity violence. Not even my school, DLSU. I agree. That’s why I wrote an article to remind our schools that this has been a problem for years and the way we have been addressing the issue is not sufficient to prevent it. You can’t simply “pray the violence away.”

In the comments section, some people have pointed out that DLSU and CSB worship the same God. Okay. You may have misinterpreted the phrase “your God” as me implying that DLSU had a different, better God. That’s not what I meant. What I meant was, I did not have one.

Some people have commented that all I did was complain or express my thoughts about the issue. In other words, all I did was point out problems. So what? Even if that was all I did, I would still have done nothing wrong. But I did appreciate how one comment challenged me to recommend concrete suggestions that I think would help solve the problem.

I have a number of suggestions:

A lot of initiates participate in the rites not knowing what to expect. There is a vow of silence made by members of fraternities and sororities. Any member or initiate is supposed to keep his mouth shut when talking to people outside the organization. For the most part, initiates do not know how difficult the rites would be and how hard it would be to quit.

Although not all fraternities practice the same brutal rites, these “rites” are kept secret. It’s all shrouded in mystery, hidden behind a “vow of silence,” that it’s quite easy to hide the violence that happens within.

As it was mentioned in the article “The Psychology of Hazing,” “The secrecy surrounding hazing and the variability in the extent to which groups practice hazing make it difficult for people to swear off joining any group that might take part in hazing.”

As for God? I would bet that praying is exactly what these initiates are doing while they suffered from the physical, psychological, and emotional torment of the whole hazing ordeal. I bet that the lesbian sorority initiate who was coerced to sleep with a ‘brother’ was praying while it happened. I bet the initiate who couldn’t feel his legs after they were paddled to purple was praying for his own safety. I bet the ‘sister’ who watched her fellow initiate get sexually harassed by a ‘brother’ was praying too; praying that she wasn’t the next one to go.

I admit that NOT ALL fraternities dehumanize, exploit, or rape their initiates. Most fraternity members would argue that their own organization works together, as a united community, to improve both the life of its members and their environment.

NOT ALL fraternities are bad. NOT ALL fraternities implement brutal hazing activities. Unfortunately, we can’t tell the difference between those who do and those who don’t, because these organizations do not disclose how their initiation rites proceed. It’s one of the factors that contribute to the violence. It’s so easy to hide abuse when everything happens behind a veil of secrecy.

Suggestion 1: If you want to help future initiates understand the dangers of hazing, why don’t you tell future initiates what you have been through, in your own initiation, so they know which organizations to avoid.

Like I mentioned in the past, extreme hazing practices do not happen overnight. An initiate is primed for the “main event” over a period of weeks. An initiate’s boundaries are shifted slowly through a series of menial tasks with escalating difficulty.

A relevant anecdote I recall is the “Boiling a Frog” story:

“The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.”

Because of the incremental investments made during this period of incremental abuse, by the time initiates realize that they want out, it’s already too late. The initial emotional, physical and psychological investment losses incurred by initiates compel them to continue with the ordeal rather than face the fact that everything that they’ve invested so far was for nothing. This is the psychology of sunk cost.

Members of fraternities who have gone through brutal initiation rites justify the effort and convince themselves that the ordeal was worth it. In fact, after suffering from abuse from a group, some members tend to value the group higher because they worked so hard to join.

Finally, those who have gone through brutal hazing feel the need to make future initiates to go through the same rites. Even though none of them, zero, liked the hazing process, they rationalize the process as being “important.” They function with the belief that, “I had to do it, so you should too.”

Suggestion 2: As part of Freshman orientation, I would suggest that schools educate students on the psychology behind hazing rituals: incremental abuse, progressive tolerance, sunk cost, justification of effort, and the need to perpetrate abuse that one had to endure.

My goal in writing the letter was to suggest that CSB, like most schools, need to do more in educating students about how insidious the recruitment and initiation process is.

It’s a natural response on your part (if you study or work at CSB) to be defensive when criticisms are directed at your school. I understand your anger. But your anger doesn’t make my statements wrong, neither does calling me stupid.

I don’t know how much has changed from ten years ago, but my orientation seminar as a Freshman in DLSU provided some information on fraternities that went somewhere along the lines of, “Don’t join frats. And if you find yourself involved with or threatened by a fraternity, you can always snitch on them via your guidance counselors.”

Then, I was made to sign a waiver promising that I would never join one.

In my opinion that’s similar to telling a child, “Be a good boy” and asking him to sign a waiver that said, “I promise to be a good boy.”

Here’s a dilemma though. When a student finds himself in the middle of an initiation, what does he do? He’s in the middle of these initiations because he already made a decision, or was pressured into one, to join a fraternity, and he’s thinking, “Shit. I already signed a waiver. If I tell school authorities, they might expel me for joining in the first place. If the ‘brothers’ find out I snitched, I’m dead.”

My intention in the article was not to imply that some fraternities who cause violence, or individuals who make a decision to undergo initiation, should be free of any form of responsibility. What I’m telling CSB is that saying how these people could have simply “chosen God” belittles the personal struggles of those who already suffered in the hands of their abusers. It’s like saying, “You got what you deserved because you didn’t ‘choose God’.”

I know that some readers sincerely believe that previous statement, “that bad things happen to those who don’t choose God.” However, I’m also free to tell those who care to listen that, “No, it’s not as simple as choosing God over gangs.”

Posted in Society8 Comments