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Filipino Freethinkers March in Solidarity with Palayain ang Sining


(August 21, 2011) Cultural Center of the Philippines, Pasay City – The Filipino Freethinkers marched with Palayain ang Sining to commemorate Kulo’s now-thwarted closing day, and to show solidarity with our country’s fearless and passionate artistic community. Filipino Freethinkers brought placards that, among other things, said the following:

One man’s belief is another man’s blasphemy.
“I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire
Censorship is so 12th century.
Censorship is offensive.
Censorship: protecting you from reality.
Blasphemy is a human right – United Nations
One freethinker marched in a Jesus costume and held a sign that said, “I am not offended.”

“The issue has definitely riled up individuals both in and out of the artistic community,” said Kenneth Keng, spokesperson of Filipino Freethinkers.

“It’s a reminder of our intrinsic right to freedom of expression,” said Keng. “In light of the UN’s affirmation that blasphemy is indeed a human right, it couldn’t have come at a more poignant time.”

Garrick Bercero of Filipino Freethinkers expounded on UN’s affirmation, at the same time reminding enemies of free speech of the resolution’s importance:

“It is encouraging that more enlightened bodies such as the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has released General Comment No. 34, which affirms the superiority of the right to free speech over the so-called right against blasphemy. Sorry, Atty. Imbong. General Comment No. 34 was put out by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which the Philippines is a member. As a signatory and ratifier, the Philippines is legally bound by international law to follow GC34.

“Members of the ICCPR are required ‘to guarantee the right to freedom of expression… This right includes… political discourse, commentary on one’s own and on public affairs, canvassing, discussion of human rights, journalism, cultural and artistic expression, teaching, and religious discourse. It may also include commercial advertising.’ The comment instructs members to embrace ‘even expression that may be regarded as deeply offensive….’”

For news coverage of the event, click here.

Image courtesy of GMA News

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The Filipino Freethinkers Perform at the Women’s Day March for RH

UPDATE: Watch the video of the performance here.

On the morning of the 100th Annual International Women’s Day, the Filipino Freethinkers were busy making blood. They needed several batches of the stuff for  the Women’s Day March for RH that afternoon, where they would hold a special performance demonstrating the Catholic Church’s sins against women.

There were 22 bags of the stuff all in all, enough for a bloody good show. But what exactly were they for?

As 3 PM neared, the Freethinkers proceeded to the St. Peter Parish along Commonwealth Ave., where a group of supporters had started to assemble, and band Pinikpikan was keeping everyone stoked.

Soon enough, over a thousand demonstrators from various groups, who had assembled earlier at the Commission for Human Rights, marched in, chanting fervently for the passage of the RH Bill.

A new chant was then introduced to the crowd: “Tama na! ‘Di dapat makialam ang pari sa aming mga ari!” (“We’ve had enough! The priests have no right to meddle with our private parts!”)

At 3 PM, out came FF members Kenneth and Edgar, who were dressed as a bishop and his congressman-on-a-leash, respectively. Kenneth represented the CBCP, whose deceptive, anti-RH stance has been an utter detriment to the country, while Edgar represented the politicos who pander to these powerful bishops and actively delay the passage of the Bill itself.

The performance began with the bishop and congressman bullying five women around, only to have one of these women, played by FF member Margie, vehemently refuse to cooperate.

The four other women–played by FF members JM and Tania, and FF allies Tin from the Pink Rockers and Eliza from the Likhaan Center for Women’s Health–followed suit.

Margie then rebuked the bishop by listing down the Catholic Church’s many wrongdoings against women all over the world, from the outright lies it has been spreading about contraceptives, to its priests’ habit of raping nuns to avoid STDs. These sins were interspersed with cries of outrage from the crowd: “Tama na! ‘Di dapat makialam ang pari sa aming mga ari!”

The bishop then went into a tirade, spouting off even more lies about reproductive health…

…while his congressman-mongrel snapped at everything in sight.

One by one, as the bishop went on, the women started bleeding from their bellies. The blood packs from earlier were finally put to use!

First was JM…

…followed by Tania, then Tin…

…then Eliza…

…and finally, Margie.

The bishop and his mutt looked over the corpses in triumph. These women’s deaths represented the 11 deaths that occur day after day due to maternal complications, and which will continue to occur if the CBCP and the anti-RH politicians continue to throw their weight around irresponsibly.

To end the show, a few strong words on the plight of women and the need to uphold their rights were aired.

Headed by the FF performers, the entire group of demonstrators then proceeded to the Batasang Pambansa, where RH proponents were pushing for the Bill’s passage at the lower chamber’s plenary that same day.

The group soon arrived in front of Batasan and settled into their respective groups.

A very varied mix of supporters came from all over–FF’s fellow groups under the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN), labor groups, youth groups, artists, musicians, educators, etc. By the end of that day, there would be over 7,000 supporters in attendance.

There were several supporters from overseas as well, such as Ida and Caroline, who hailed from Sweden.

There were many personalities who graced the stage that day, including Carlos Celdran, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel (pictured), and Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello.

Rep. Bello delivered particularly thrilling news: despite anti-RH House members stalling the RH Bill’s deliberations for two whole hours, the deliberations still managed to push through!

As the night went on, more rousing speeches were given. FF President Red Tani was one of several group heads who went onstage to relay messages from fellow proponents.

The event also featured several musical performances, including sets from Aiza Seguerra, Nars Cabico, Bayang Barrios, Cookie Chua, and Imago.

It was an awesome day for reproductive health, and for women all over the world. It was also a landmark event for the Freethinkers; this rally was one of the biggest events they had attended thus far, and it was a thrill for them to work alongside so many passionate people for the very same cause.

(Photos courtesy of Jeiel Aranal)

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