Tag Archive | "Philippines"

FF Podcast (Audio) 014: Carlos Celdran Convicted and Offending Religious Feelings


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This week we talk about Carlos Celdran’s conviction for the crime of “offending religious feelings.”

You may also download the podcast file here.



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FF Podcast (Audio) 012: Million People March


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We took a break last week due to the bad weather but we’re back! This week’s show is on the Million People March against the Pork Barrel and the PDAF Scam.

You may also download the podcast file here.



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FF Podcast (Audio) 011: Pinoy Racism and LGBT Rights


Margie, Red and Pepe host Filipino Freethinkers Podcast Episode 11
Margie, Red, and Pepe are back for episode 11 of the Filipino Freethinkers Podcast. This week, we talk about racism in Filipino culture. Then we take a closer look at the claim that LGBT rights “trample” on the rights of religious people.

You may also download the podcast file here.



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FF Podcast (Audio) 009: How straight allies can fight for LGBT rights


FF Podcast Episode 9 – How straight allies can fight for LGBT rights

In our 9th episode, Red is joined by our LGBT advocacy group to talk about how straight allies can help in the fight for LGBT rights, especially this week, UP Pride Week.

You may also download the podcast file here.



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FF Podcast 009: How straight allies can fight for LGBT rights


FF Podcast Episode 9 – How straight allies can fight for LGBT rights
In our 9th episode, Red is joined by our LGBT advocacy group to talk about how straight allies can help in the fight for LGBT rights, especially this week, UP Pride Week.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes


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FF Podcast (Audio) 008: The Palatino Bill Predicament


In our very professional podcast that is also a video, Red, Pepe and Margie talk about Kabataan Party-List Rep. Mong Palatino’s withdrawal of HB 6330, or the “Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act.”

You may also download the podcast file here.



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FF Podcast (Audio) 007: Lady Gaga vs Bigots and Fundies


Filipino Freethinkers Podcast #7

Our newest podcast (that’s also a video) is up! Here, Marge, Ria and Red discuss the current protest of some Christian groups against the Lady Gaga concert, the difficulties of satire in a country where the news reads like stories out of The Onion, and how beauty queen Miriam Quiambao’s courage in defiance of popular opinion has contributed to the awareness of LGBT rights.



What are your thoughts on these topics? Please comment on this page.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Girl, 12, Honored for Blind and Reckless Devotion to Inanimate Object


 

Pictured above is Janela Arcos Lelis, a 12-year-old schoolgirl from Albay province. That’s really her, on a very stormy day last July 26, risking life and limb to save the Philippine flag. The flag had been left behind in their already-submerged home. To keep her from getting swept away by the raging flood, Janela held on tightly to a rope hastily set up for evacuees. Her deed accorded her various honors — a plaque, a miniature flag pin, a full-sized flag, and Php 20,000 from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), not to mention quite a bit of media coverage. According to NHCP Executive Director Ludovico Badoy, what Janelis did was

“a selfless act of courage, reflective of her love for country and a constant reverence to the national symbol.”

In the awarding ceremony, NHCP President Maria Teresa Diokno told Janela,

“…we hope that your classmates and all the other young people in the country will follow your wonderful example of giving tribute to our national flag.”

The NHCP’s heraldry chief Teodoro Atienza claims that in his 30 years of service, he had never come across anyone who dared to risk their life for the Philippine flag.

With all due respect, Mr. Atienza, no one had ever dared to risk their life for a piece of cloth before because it is a really, really, really bad idea. Just to refresh your memory, a young human being’s life is infinitely more valuable than a large piece of cloth, no matter what it represents. And Ms. Diokno, your wording is a bit distressing. Some young men and women might misconstrue that as encouragement to forsake shelter in the midst of calamity just to save other physical symbols of our nation, in the hopes of receiving praise, attention, and maybe a decent-sized check.

What Janela did was born out of naivete, and one can’t help but wonder why her deed generated such a response. It could be the culture of “Pinoy Pride” that permeates many aspects of the average Filipino child’s life, from her schooling to the mass media she consumes. It is a culture of being absolutely ecstatic at the thought that some random half-Filipino American citizen who has never stepped foot on the motherland, so to speak, passed the first round of auditions on American Idol. It is a culture of taking pride in taking pride, of looking at our poorly developed, horribly managed, amnesiac country through thick, rose-colored glasses. Saving a flag in the midst of a flood that could have been avoided had the town been better planned in the first place? That seems to fit into this kind of culture just fine.

It must be noted that Janela did not do her deed entirely of her own volition. Her elder brother, a Citizen’s Army Training officer in the local high school, was actually the one who told her to fetch the flag from their waterlogged home. Why didn’t he do it himself? Because he was busy helping his relatives evacuate from their homes. (He has priority issues, that one.)

Janela complied not only because of the notion that the flag deserved utmost care and respect, as drilled into her in the classroom, but because she was afraid her brother would be berated by the school and have to pay for it if it got lost. The latter, in fact, seems to be the more plausible — yet still quite faulty — excuse behind her daring-do. People do stupid things for money and good repute. In fact, it’s quite possible that the whole nationalist hullaballoo was purely manufactured by the government and media after the fact, and Janela only did the deed because she just happened to be the kind of blindly obedient girl from a poor family who’d feel that she had no other choice in the matter.

Whatever the case may be, NHCP’s trumpeting of Janela’s misguided act was a bad move. No, Janela should not be berated for what she did; she just didn’t know any better. But neither should she have been the subject of so much pomp and circumstance. She should have simply been told that her show of selflessness was admirable, but that next time, she should prioritize her own life in such dire circumstances. She needs to be made to understand the illogic behind her deed in as kind a manner as possible, and that’s it.

For the NHCP to make such a big fuss over this smacks of opportunism and nothing more. These people are adults; unlike Janela, they do know better. To praise her, and to tell the youth that they should follow her example, is sickeningly irresponsible. There are infinitely better ways to promote a love of country like, oh, say, encouraging people to do what they can to make the place actually worth fighting for, for starters. The men and women of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines should very well know that the country has remained in a poor state for the longest time, and that this has a lot to do with our tendency to make the same fatal mistakes over and over again, with one of these mistakes being our refusal to see the country for what it is and simply aggrandizing the most trivial things in the name of “pride.”

Likewise, the media’s eagerness to make NHCP’s fuss-making more public was a bad move. And as we have learned from the whole Poleteismo brouhaha, where their sensationalism took the country down an especially dangerous path, they don’t really seem to care that it was a bad move.

I can only hope that Janela eventually understands why what she did didn’t deserve all that praise and attention. The flood she braved was much murkier than she thought, and far harder to get out of alive.

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FF Podcast (Audio) 006: State of Secularism Address 2011


In this episode, we discuss President Benigno Aquino’s second State of the Nation Address, and we deliver our own State of Secularism Address.



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FF Podcast (Audio) 005: Ayala Alabang Village Ordinance vs. RH


In this episode we recap what happened at the public hearing on the Ayala Alabang Village Ordinance that, among other things, required prescriptions for contraceptives — even condoms.

We talk about how the ordinance was created, what the anti-ordinance advocates are doing to stop it, and what we’re going to do next, given recent developments and all that’s happened at today’s hearing.

Joining us is Kevin Punzalan, one of the organizers of the anti-ordinance advocates and admin of the We Oppose the Ayala Alabang Ordinance 01 of 2011 Facebook group. Enjoy!



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“Contraception Doesn’t Decrease Abortions” – Busted!


“Nations that have adopted contraception have not seen a drop in abortions,” fulminated a recent post in an anti-RH Facebook page. “That’s a patent lie.” This is such a common anti-choice trope, that anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson can repeat it without supporting data, and without fear of rebuttal.

Too bad the data doesn’t support their claims. More widespread contraceptive use correlates strongly with lower abortions. Diehard opponents of the pending Reproductive Health Bill will find this statement difficult to parse, much less accept: after all, aren’t abortions and contraceptives just two cogs in the same anti-life mechanism? Don’t abortion rates go up with rates of contraceptive use?

Actually, no – many studies show that abortion rates recede if decision makers are provided enough information and a wider range of contraceptive choices.

The states comprising the former Soviet Union are the perfect place to test this – a large population for whom “abortion was legal and widely available, whereas contraceptives were in limited supply” (Marston & Cleland). The data supports the conclusion that as more contraceptive methods were introduced, the rate of abortions began to drop precipitously. Read the full story

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In the Philippines, Wolves Amidst the Sheep?


A conviction over a sex abuse scandal more than 20 years ago continues to hound an American Catholic priest who was ordained in and continues to serve in the Philippines.

[Joseph] Skelton was ordained in the Philippines, with Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak ordaining him without knowing about his conviction.

Here’s my reaction to the sex abuse Catholic priest found in the Philippines: not surprised.

I’m only surprised that our local media hasn’t caught on to the Filipino priests who have been accused of sexual abuse within our borders.

Based on this comprehensive (but almost outdated) 2004 report by the Catholics for Free Choice and Likhaan, no priest accused of sexual abuse in the Philippines seems to have been successfully prosecuted.

Most of them have overcome their cases in different ways: settled out of court, acquitted, or moved to other parishes by their superiors, or have cases pending but are quietly reinstated to pastoral duties.

After acquittal, settlement, or a wait of a year or so, the priests mentioned in the report have mostly been reintegrated into active ministry within the Catholic Church.

Here’s a brief run-down of the priests mentioned in the report, and the results of a morning’s Googling of their names. Assuming the search hits reflect the same people mentioned in the Likhaan report (insert margin of error here), it’s my opinion that the Catholic hierarchy’s actions show a tendency to minister to the wolves at the expense of the sheep.

AGUSTIN CUENCA

According to the CFFC/Likhaan Report:

On 1 August 1990, Fr. Agustin Cuenca, OFM, a parish priest assigned to the Our Lady of the Abandoned Church in Sta. Ana, Manila, was accused of sexually molesting two of his teenaged acolytes. The complaint alleged that his accusers, 15 and 16 years old, were abused sexually for a period of two years starting in December 1988 until June 1990 by Cuenca.

A certain Agustin Cuenca OFM is attached priest at St. Anthony Padua Shrine in Sampaloc, Manila. As of 2006, Cuenca was the director of the Franciscan Missionary Union. Claretian Publications lists a Fr. Cuenca as the house bursar of St. Gregory the Great Friary in Quezon City. Here’s a Flickr image of a Fr. Agustin Cuenca blessing a privately-owned icon of St. Anthony.

MACARIO APUYA

According to the CFFC/Likhaan Report:

In the city of Dagupan, north of Metro Manila, Fr. Macario Apuya, SVD of the Saint Therese Parish, was accused of two criminal charges, one charge of rape and one of child abuse as defined under R. A. No. 7610.... The case had historical significance since it was the very first time that a priest was being prosecuted for pedophilia in the Philippines.

A priest with Apuya’s name is seen here celebrating the Jubilee Mass for the Divine Word Missionaries. A Macario Apuya is currently serving in Mary Consolatrix Convent in La Union – if it’s the same Apuya who was accused of raping underage girls, is it wise to have him running loose in a cloistered convent?

POLIENATO BERNABE

According to the report’s overview of reported cases of sexual abuse by priests: “Florida officials issued a warrant for the arrest of Fr. Polienato Bernabe, 61, a native of Pangasinan, who had been charged with sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl more than two decades ago in Gulfport, Florida.” Bernabe took shelter in the Philippines and died – avoiding  trial to the end – in 2006.

ARWYN N. DIESTA

The overview cites that Fr. Diesta was the subject of a request from a US lawyer regarding an accusation that Diesta had abused him when he was a boy. Another report, issued by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, maintains that “Plaintiff reports that he was sexually abused by Fr. Diesta from approximately 1982-88.”

A certain Fr. Arwyn Diesta is still active in the Parish of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Sorsogon. Other Google search hits turn up a Fr. Arwyn Diesta who said a funeral mass in 2008. A Father Diesta is also mentioned as an English professor. A priest named Arwyn Diesta is seen here celebrating a Mass in Sorsogon in 2006 – the blog entry shows a clear picture of Fr. Diesta.

APOLINARIO MEJORADA

The overview cites the case of Fr. Apolinario Mejorada, who was accused of sexually abusing altar boys in Cebu between 1995 and 1998. “About a week later, Mejorada’s superiors admitted he was involved in some ‘transgression’ and paid Php 120,000 pesos in settlement.” Where is Mejorada today? All we know is that a certain Apolinario Mejorada is currently a parochial vicar somewhere in San Pedro, Laguna.

The following priests were involved in cases that went public AFTER the CFFC/Likhaan report was issued.

JOSE BELCIÑA

In 2006, Jose Belciña was charged with rape and child abuse – the rape charges were later dropped for lack of evidence, but the child abuse charge was allowed to stand. Belciña laid low for a while – to quote SunStar columnist Bong Wenceslao: “When asked by the authorities on the whereabouts of Fr. Jose Belciña, Msgr. Achilles Dakay answered: I am not his custodian. Reminds me of Cain’s answer when asked about the whereabouts of his brother Abel: Am I my brother’s keeper?”

As of 2008, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal has restored Belciña to pastoral duties in Minglanilla, southern Cebu – a move that has stirred up more controversy.

BENEDICTO EJARES

In 2007, Fr. Benedicto Ejares was accused of sexually harassing teenage girls under his charge in a “Life in the Spirit” seminar in Cebu. Despite orders not to publicly say Mass, Ejares did so in a government building in 2008. Ejares has contested a ruling finding probable cause in charging him with child abuse.

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The Black Nazarene is stupid: Red on Rocked Radio


black nazarene

This RockEd Radio episode was supposed to be Dean Jorge Bocobo’s commentary on the Black Nazarene, with me chiming in every once in a while.

Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways. Dean never arrived, so I had the whole show to talk not only about the Black Nazarene — which I don’t know much of anyway — but atheism and freethinking in general.

But on second thought I didn’t get the entire hour. When I was about to say something particularly blasphemous, God cut the power.

Still it’s the second longest broadcast of blasphemy in Philippine radio. (Second to John Paraiso’s old radio show, of course 🙂 ) Enjoy!

(Thanks so much to Gang Badoy for allowing me to post this.)

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