In an effort to further the causes of reason, science, and secularism (RSS) in the public sphere, and to celebrate the group’s progress over the course of three years, the Filipino Freethinkers (FF) successfully held its third official forum last April 1 at the UP Ayalaland-Technohub.
Attendees were greeted by an exhibit featuring props and materials used in our many events and demonstrations, including the “coming out” closet used during the 29 Steps for LGBT Rights event, the cardboard SUVs worn by the “bishops” during the Bantay Bishop demonstration, and several of our most memorable placards for various RH rallies and the LGBT Pride March.
Attendees were also handed a copy of From Flickers to Flames: Blazing the trail for reason, science, and secularism in the Philippines, a mini-anthology featuring some of the best articles from our official website.
Opening the program was our beloved UP Diliman Senior Faculty Advisor Dr. Sylvia Claudio.
President Red Tani then kicked the presentations off with a primer on freethought.
This was followed by Affiliations Director Garrick Bercero’s presentation on our growing number of school and provincial chapters.
Online Director Jeiel Aranal expounded on our command of the Internet and social media.
RH Advocacy Director Kenneth Keng narrated our story in the fight for both Reproductive Health and Freedom of Expression. He also acknowledged the presence of several of our allies from the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN), including Elizabeth Angsioco and Dr. Junice Melgar.
The audience was then treated to an awesome intermission by Silly People’s Improv Theater, or SPIT.
The forum continued with LGBT Advocacy Director Beatriz Torre’s presentation on our burgeoning alliance with the LGBT community.
Science Advocacy Director Pecier Decierdo spoke about our passion for and efforts towards science literacy. He also lent the floor to Mind Museum Director Maribel Garcia so she could share a few heartening words.
Publications Director Marguerite de Leon highlighted our website’s most influential and infamous articles.
To round up the series of presentations, Secularism Director Pepe Bawagan gave our State of Secularism Address, arguably the most popular presentation that day.
The floor was then opened for questions and comments, and regular and new members alike brought up many interesting topics, from establishing programs for secular parenting, to people who wave around their PhDs to buttress bigoted beliefs.
To cap off the event, Pepe Bawagan presented the winners of four very special awards.
The Reason Award went to professor and columnist Raul Pangalangan.
The Science Award went to astrophysicist Reinabelle Reyes.
And the Secularism Award went to RH champion Senator Pia Cayetano.
Last but certainly not the least, the Bigot of the Year Award went to Senator Tito Sotto. The first three awardees will have Php10,000 donated in their name to the charity of their choice, while Sen. Sotto’s Php10,000 will be donated in his name to RHAN, an organization whose cause he is directly opposed to.
Upon the forum’s conclusion, attendees milled around the exhibit area, chatting and taking photos with the props and placards.
Overall, we felt that the event was a great success, and we are thrilled and humbled by all the people who decided to come over and spend a sunny Sunday afternoon with us immersed in reason, science, and secularism. ‘Til the next forum!
Images c/o Chris Sienna, Igmidio Galingan, Bhavan Karnani, and Dustin Celestino