Archive | January, 2015

FF Podcast 61 (Audio): Don’t Criticize the Pope!

FF Podcast 61 (Audio): Don’t Criticize the Pope!

FF Podcast 61: Don't criticize the pope!

Pope Summer Slam parody! We’ll discuss that in this episode. Then, we talk about whether Filipinos respect the right to free speech in this country.

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, Religion, Secularism, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 61: Don’t Criticize the Pope!

FF Podcast 61: Don’t Criticize the Pope!

This week, we talk about an incident involving a Pope Summer Slam parody. Then, we talk about whether Filipinos respect the right to free speech in this country.

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, Media, Podcast, Pop Culture, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

After The Pope Has Gone

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle describes the recently concluded papal visit as a “miracle,” though I wonder what constitutes a miracle for the good cardinal. Miracles must indeed be in short supply these days if what transpired could pass for one.

It would have been a miracle, for example, if our security personnel did not have to eat, drink or piss on duty, obviating the need for MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino to suggest that they wear adult diapers. Though it was a practical suggestion, it would have been another miracle if God had bestowed the good chairman with a little more wisdom not to make a public announcement of the matter, as it quickly became the subject of ridicule and embarrassment, so much so that the PNP had to make a statement that policemen won’t be wearing diapers while on duty.

It would have been a miracle if corrupt politicians suddenly burst into flames as the Pope delivered his message at Malacañang, urging political leaders to “be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good.” Oh what a happy bonfire that would have been. On the other hand, we would probably be left with no political leaders. But then again, is that so bad? I wonder.

It would have been a miracle if government did not have to spend millions of taxpayers’ pesos (not all of which are from Catholics) to ensure the Pope’s and everyone’s safety and security during the event. As it is, papal visits probably cost us more than we think they do. A worker’s group, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, is demanding to know how much was spent on the Papal visit, in the spirit of transparency. I do not have the exact figures for this but the same source states that a total of 40,000 security personnel were employed during the 5-day visit. This does not include opportunity and business costs lost during the cancellation of flights and the declaration of non-working holidays.

I am not talking about expecting angels to appear from the sky to act as the Pope’s bodyguards, thus nullifying the need for our government to spend for security. That may be too much to ask. The Vatican opening its checkbooks and offering to reimburse this third-world country for all the expenses incurred would be miracle enough for me.

It would have been a miracle if Philippine media had enough sense and dignity to refrain from making major headlines of the Pope’s every move. “Pope Opens Car Door Himself,” for example. How is that news? I’m glad I didn’t see “Pope Goes to the Toilet Himself.”

It would have been a miracle if the Pope could have provided a clear answer to the girl who asked him why children like her have to suffer — have to be abandoned by their parents or forced into prostitution. Yet, in the end, all he could do was embrace her in silence, and he later on implored the audience to “learn to weep, truly weep.” Now I am not belittling this response as I have no answer myself. But I would hardly call it miraculous.

It would have been a miracle if Kristel Padasas, who was listening to the Pope’s mass in Tacloban, had not died when strong winds caused the scaffolding beside her to fall on her.

It would have been a miracle if Metro Manilans picked up their own trash instead of leaving a mess after the Pope’s mass in Luneta.

And it would be a miracle, if after all this hullaballoo over the Pope’s visit, we see a decline in corruption and TRAPO politics. It would be a miracle if we see a decline in poverty levels, if we have more level-headed officials making sound and fair policies.

But as evidenced by a senator who doubts the Pope’s own words when he admonished Catholics to not breed like rabbits, even if it was clearly caught on video, and could easily be verified with the Big “G” (Google), nothing much has changed. Government is still filled with corrupt and inept people. The poor and suffering are still poor and suffering.

Miracles are indeed in short supply and I wouldn’t put much stock in them.

The pope has gone back home. The euphoria is over. There are no miracles or superheroes. If we want change, we better get to work.

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

Send me your thoughts at andy@freethinking.me. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

 

Posted in Religion, Secularism0 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Sunday, January 25, 2015

meet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venue: Uno Morato, Garden Area GYY Building, #1 Tomas Morato Ave, Quezon City

Waze link: http://mobile-web.world.waze.com/en_GB/meetup/location?h=wdw54nm22
Date: Sunday, January 25, 2015
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm

Topics:
* The Pope’s Visit
* Should we sue the government and telcos for mobile coverage loss during the Pope’s visit? [http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/popefrancis/story/407729/jamming-mobile-signals-does-the-public-more-harm-than-good-says-lawmaker]
* Fetal Rescue Programs [http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/01/05/legal-scholar-calls-fetal-rescue-programs-end-abortion-debate/]
* Raunchy Topic of the Week: Does consent mean a verbal “yes” or is body language enough?


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 Meetup0 Comments

Pacquiao Wants to Punch Pope For “Insulting Mothers”

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – “I will give him one punch for every mother that he has insulted,” says Manny Pacquiao, reacting to various misogynist statements that the Pope had previously made. “Hindi ko na kailangan ng ring para dito. Kahit saan pwede ako.” (“I don’t need a ring for this anymore. I can do it anywhere.”)

YO MOMMA SO INSULTED she gonna punch you in the face

YO MOMMA SO INSULTED she gonna punch you in the face!

Many of the pope’s statements, according to Pacquiao, seem to attach the value of a woman to her fertility, which he finds demeaning and reduces the value of women. He also criticized the pope’s refusal to accept women into clergy, saying it “betrays a deep sense of sexism inherent in the institution.”

Pacquiao recently challenged the Pope to a boxing match as a sign of hospitality and to ease the traffic situation.

Pacquio’s coach, Freddie Roach, has expressed concern over Pacquiao’s apparent self-contradiction. “I’m glad he’s standing up for what he believes, but it’s bound to confuse people since he has previously fought against the Reproductive Health Law, which primarily empowers women and protects mothers more than anyone. But who knows, maybe he’ll switch sides again after taking a few more punches to the face. It’s normal. It’s normal.”

When asked why his reaction comes so long after the Pope’s statements, Pacquio said “I don’t read very fast.”

Pope Francis was reached for comment, responding “So he’s not going to fight me in the ring anymore? What a pussy! For a grown man he sure can be such a girl.”

 

 

 

Image credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/01/15/charlie-hebdo-pope_n_6477928.html

Posted in Humor, Satire4 Comments

FF Podcast 60 (Audio): Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

FF Podcast 60 (Audio): Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

FF Podcast 60: Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

This week, we talk about the visit of Pope Francis. We also discuss some of the child rape cases Pope Francis was involved with during his time as a cardinal in Argentina.

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, Society1 Comment

FF Podcast 60: Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

FF Podcast 60: Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

This week, we talk about the visit of Pope Francis. We also discuss some of the child rape cases Pope Francis was involved with during his time as a cardinal in Argentina.

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, Politics, Religion, Video2 Comments

#JeSuisCharlie

#JeSuisCharlie

The Filipino Freethinkers unequivocally denounce the recent violence that befell the people of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. We uphold that speech, however offensive it may seem, should not be met with violence, as protected under freedom of expression. The spirit of this principle is captured in the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

We offer our deepest sympathies to the bereaved.

cyberscooty-jesuischarlie-remix

Les Filipino Freethinkers condamnent explicitement la violence récente qui est arrivée aux gens de Charlie Hebdo à Paris en France. Nous faisons respecter que l’expression, si offensante soit-elle, ne devrait pas être affrontée avec la violence, comme protégée par la liberté d’expression. L’esprit de ce principe est capté dans les mots d’Evelyn Beatrice Hall, « Je désapprouve ce que vous dites, mais je défendrai jusqu’à la mort votre droit de le dire. »

Nous offrons nos sympathies les plus profondes aux endeuillés.

 

Nous sommes Charlie.

#JeSuisCharlie

Posted in Advocacy, Freedom of Expression, Organization, Press Releases2 Comments

The Many Faces of Pope Francis

As the arrival of Pope Francis draws near, his visit has been heralded by all sorts of papal kitsch. Apart from the strange painting of the pope being surrounded by local celebrities dressed up as farmers (a piece of work that would have been biting in insight, had it not been so sincere), several media outlets have also come out with their own T-shirt designs with sayings attributed to the popular pontiff.

Pope_Francis_at_Vargihna

People have grasped onto one particular quotation from the pope: “Who am I to judge?” You can buy a shirt with this printed on it from whichever TV channel you feel loyal to. This quote has resonated strongly with people with the Catholic Church who have been aching for any semblance of change. Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, after all said that the “homosexual inclination” was an “objective disorder.” It is certainly a breath of fresh air in a Church legendary for its glacial pace of progress… if Francis had meant that homosexuals were finally accepted by the Church.

Of course, the people Pope Francis was referring to were gay priests—people already required to be celibate. And not only that, he hedged that if a gay priest were “seeking God”, then who would he be to judge him? In so many words, Pope Francis was not accepting homosexuals, rather he was describing a person who was aware that it was wrong to act on homosexual desires. Who was he to judge a contrite homosexual priest who would never again act on his homosexuality? This is worlds apart from how the phrase has been used since then.

Had people listened a little more to what Pope Francis actually said, they would have heard the following. “The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worst problem.” To be fair, I don’t think this would have fit on a T-shirt.

So, how can such an accepting message be construed from such a specific and narrow meaning? For one thing, the quote is so compact and slogan-worthy that it, like all other clichés, has lost its context. But, the far greater reason is that people are reading into Pope Francis whatever they want to believe.

 

You’re so vain

In a 1999 study, Raymond Nickerson of Tufts University found that people assume that the knowledge they have is, by default, shared by everyone else. And, because of this, people tend to think that other people would have the same beliefs as they do.

A 2009 follow-up by researchers from Columbia university showed that not only do people project their beliefs onto others, they particularly do so on people they admire and, especially, God.

When asked about what they thought the opinions of God, George Bush (someone with well-known beliefs), Bill Gates (a well-liked person with largely unknown beliefs), Barry Bonds (a disliked person with largely unknown beliefs) and the average American were on controversial matters such as abortion and same-sex marriage, participants in the study considered the beliefs of Bill Gates and God to correlate well with their own beliefs. That is to say, when the participants admired someone, they tended to assume that they probably believed the same things they did.

I contend that the same thing is happening with the so-called “People’s Pope.”

 

Holding out for a hero

On the outside, Pope Francis appears to have rocked the Church to its foundations. He has abandoned many of the luxuries of popes, such as the papal limo and the papal apartments, which people had seen as extravagant and disconnected from the realities of the suffering of Catholics worldwide. He has been seen kissing babies and taking selfies with teenagers. This pope certainly appears more in touch with believers on the ground.

And yet, after each seemingly progressive statement by the pope, the Vatican would come out to backtrack, or rather clarify. After a synod that seemed to contain language friendly to LGBT persons (“homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community”), later versions of the document came out without this statement. And, after the pope appeared to have opened the possibility of atheists going to heaven, the Vatican came out to say that people “cannot be saved” if they knowingly refuse “to enter [the Church] or remain in her.” So, yes, atheists can be saved, if they renounce their atheism and join the Catholic Church.

Lest it be said that the pope is trying to move the Church forward while he is being held back by conservative elements, it should be noted that when it comes to certain progressive matters, Pope Francis is a lot less vague than “who am I to judge” and more direct, like in calling abortion, euthanasia, and IVF “playing with life,” which is “a sin against the Creator” and in saying that children ought to have both a mother and a father. On the matter of women priests Pope Francis has said, “The church has spoken and says no… That door is closed.”

The epidemic of child rape that has plagued the Catholic Church shows quite clearly what kind of pope we really have. While the pope has criticized and apologized for those who have helped shield rapists from prosecution, he has gone ahead and appointed as top Vatican prosecutor a person who had failed to report a notorious child abuser. We see a pattern in Pope Francis’ Church—vague but impressive words, followed by clear but contradictory actions.

The fact is, Pope Francis has either been against progressive advocacy issues such as women’s rights and LGBT rights or just plainly silent about them. And in this absence of a clear narrative, people have made graven images of their own Pope Francis and ascribed to it their own beliefs, which they think the pope must certainly also believe.

The bigotry of low expectations underlies the popularity of Pope Francis. So much so that even matters such as whether pets go to heaven are misconstrued and lied about. The Church has had such a terrible reputation that even the most obvious pandering is enough to impress. This is unsurprising since the largely silent bloc of progressive Catholics have been famished for someone like Pope Francis for a long time. Even atheists have joined the bandwagon of wishful thinking. After years of burying their heads in their hands, sitting through anti-RH and anti-LGBT sermons in church, here comes the representative of Jesus Christ Himself and he seems to be the change that they’d been waiting for. Finally, the Church is going to change into the way they want it to be.

 

Look at all these rumors

But, this all seems to be some illusion induced by that same hunger. In the gaps of the feel-good platitudes from the pope, progressives try to find wiggle room in an institution that was never built for them. For if the Church were to surrender that maybe God can change his mind about homosexuality, maybe He can change his mind about condoms or women priests. And that’s not going to happen, not under Pope Francis and not under whoever comes after.

Compounding the trouble of people ascribing to the pope their own beliefs is a psychological phenomenon called “the backfire effect.” Researchers Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler found that when people are shown definitive facts that refute misconceptions, they are even more likely to hold fast to their false notions. In effect, this creates the whole endeavor of correcting pointless, which, in turn, makes articles such as the one you’re reading now practically Sisyphean. But, the optimist in me wants to believe, even against evidence, that through reading the pope’s actual words and seeing his actual deeds, some people will see through the many faces hiding the true one of Pope Francis.

Cardinal Tagle quoted the pope as saying that he hopes that he would not be the focus of his visit to the Philippines. It’s hard not to find this statement ironic as our traffic enforcers prepare to wear diapers in anticipation for the pope, as flights have been cancelled, as holidays have been declared, and as roads have been closed. He could easily have sent word that the Philippine government had gone overboard, but he hasn’t. No other head of state will be welcomed as Pope Francis will be. And why wouldn’t he be? No other pope in history has been as clever in creating an image. The trick was to let the people make it for him.

 

Image Credit: Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil

Posted in Politics, Religion, Secularism3 Comments

Pacquiao to Fight Pope Francis

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – In light of the upcoming papal visit and resulting expectations of heavy traffic, Manny Pacquiao has announced that he will try to ease the traffic situation personally by having a boxing match with Pope Francis himself during his visit. “It’s only fitting that I greet his holiness with the utmost example of Filipino hospitality,” said Pacquiao.

It is a well-documented fact that traffic in Metro Manila virtually disappears and crime rates drop to almost zero whenever Manny Pacquiao has a fight.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino welcomed Pacquiao’s move as a gracious offering of assistance to local traffic enforcers. “And as a people, we cannot just punch the Bishop of Rome with any fist. It must be the strongest fist the world has ever seen. Anything less would be disrespectful to the Primate of Italy,” he added.

Don't miss the once in a lifetime event!

Don’t miss the once in a lifetime event!

“I don’t think it’s fair for Manny to fight with the Pope but I don’t think that it’s a good idea to tell him to stick to politics either,” says Coach Freddie Roach, who has personal reservations about the fight. “I try to discourage him from politics, you know, considering how much brain damage he might have sustained from all the concussions he’s had throughout the years,” Roach said.

Meanwhile, President Aquino has expressed excitement for the upcoming fight, saying “People think we’re bending over backwards to accommodate the Pope, but I disagree. We’re actually bending over forward, and I think the farther we can bend over, the easier it will be for the Pope to come into our beautiful country.”

When asked for comments on the challenge, Pope Francis replied, “Manny is a punk-ass bitch who has no idea what the fuck he’s getting into. He thinks that just because I’m not as young as him he can score an easy win. Well, lemme just tell you this: if he thinks he can take me down that easily, he’s in for a goddamn big surprise and a world of hurt.” The Vicar of Christ is reportedly choosing his boxing nickname between two options, namely “Supreme Punchiff” and “The Rock of the Church”.

As of writing, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has expressed interest in taking on the Dalai Lama when the latter visits Michigan this coming March.

Image credits:

  • http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1935091,00.html
  • http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/pope-franciss-remarks-on-the-big-bang-are-nothing-new-for-the-catholic-church/

Posted in Humor, Satire1 Comment

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Sunday, January 11, 2015

Join us for our first meetup of the year!

meetup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venue: Uno Morato, Garden Area GYY Building, #1 Tomas Morato Ave, Quezon City

Waze link: http://mobile-web.world.waze.com/en_GB/meetup/location?h=wdw54nm22
Date: Sunday, January 11, 2015
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm

Topics:
* Fetal Rescue Programs [http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/01/05/legal-scholar-calls-fetal-rescue-programs-end-abortion-debate/]
* Charlie Hebdo Attack [http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30710883]
* LRT, MRT Fare Hike [http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/398979/economy/companies/sc-asked-to-stop-lrt-mrt-fare-hike]
* Liquor Ban during Papal Visit [http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/662757/liquor-ban-imposed-in-manila-for-popes-visit]
* Nice/Nerdy Guy Entitlement [http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2015/01/nice-guys-dont-finish-last/]
* Film Criticism [http://io9.com/david-cronenberg-says-rotten-tomatoes-is-wrecking-film-1677869612]
* Raunchy Topic 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, 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.

 

RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/824859984242066

Posted in Meetup0 Comments


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