Tag Archive | "poverty"

FF Podcast 73 (Audio): Sexism and Tony Meloto’s GK

Audio Podcast 73: Sexism and Tony Meloto's GK

This week, we talk about Tony Meloto’s controversial speech in Hawaii where he suggested that Filipinas should have babies with white men for the benefit of the country. We also talk about the apparent cult of personality built around Tony Meloto and Gawad Kalinga.

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, SocietyComments (0)

FF Podcast 73: Sexism and Tony Meloto’s GK

This week, we talk about Tony Meloto’s controversial speech in Hawaii where he suggested that Filipinas should have babies with white men for the benefit of the country. We also talk about the apparent cult of personality built around Tony Meloto and Gawad Kalinga.

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 Language, Media, Podcast, Religion, Secularism, Society, VideoComments (1)

Open Letter to CBCP: Donate One Billion to the Victims of Sendong

Dear CBCP,

Yesterday, your Pope prayed “for the people without homes and for the many missing,” assuring the victims of his “closeness” to them. I don’t know what he prayed for, but surely he didn’t just ask God for more people to pray for the victims. In addition to spiritual assistance, the Pope probably asked God for people to give material assistance, too.

One of your priests, Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, was more explicit in his request for material assistance:

“In the spirit of Christmas, I am appealing to our countrymen that if they have excess money, they just give it to our countrymen who were affected by the typhoon.”

So in the spirit of Christmas, I humbly ask that you answer the Pope’s prayer and Fr. Pascual’s request by donating to the Sendong victims one billion Pesos.

This should be easy. According to Philippine Stock Exchange records, you have at least 18 billion Pesos invested in various corporations as of July 2011. What is one billion when you’ll have 17 billion left?

Your former president, Oscar Cruz, said in an interview that the 18 billion has been there since the time of the Spanish occupation. If it’s been sitting there unused for so long, every peso invested is just the kind of excess money Fr. Pascual is requesting. Cruz also said that you can’t simply do what you please with the money, implying that donations such as what I’m asking for won’t be that easy.

But recently, former archbishop Rosales allegedly sold more than a million shares of Philex Mining Corporation (PX) in April and May this year to Manny Pangilinan.

Regardless of whether you really did sell stocks to Mr. Pangilinan, it shows us that it’s possible to acquire (and therefore sell) more than a million shares in the span of a couple of months.

With the extent of the damage done by Sendong, recovery will surely take more than a few months — even more than a year — and rebuilding will take millions of pesos. This should give you enough time to sell enough shares to make the one billion peso donation.

Your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, said: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven (Matthew 19:21).” Is it so hard to imagine Him telling you to sell some of your stock and give to the victims of Sendong?

He also said that you cannot serve both God and Money (Matthew 6:24). Bishops of CBCP, show us once and for all which is your master. Donate one billion to the Sendong victims and prove that you are truly a Church of the Poor.

Red Tani

Posted in Religion, SocietyComments (44)

Ten Good Reasons to Pass the RH Bill Now

Just a few years ago, say “RH” in ordinary talks and you’ll get blank looks. Now, most Filipinos know that RH is reproductive health. It has entered presidential debates, topped the news, been surveyed to death. Moreover, majority have plainly said their piece: “We support RH.” Why? Loads of reasons—from the practical “We need help” to the proud “It’s my choice!” But 10 good ones should be enough to convince rational people and thoughtful policy-makers. So here are our top picks.

1 RH will: Protect the health & lives of mothers

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that complications arise in 15% of pregnancies, bad enough to hospitalize or kill women. From the 2 million plus live births alone, some 300,000 maternal complications occur yearly. This is 7 times the DOH’s annual count for TB, 19 times for heart diseases and 20 times for malaria in women. As a result, more than 11 women die needlessly each day.

Enough skilled birth attendants and prompt referral to hospitals with emergency obstetric care are proven curative solutions to maternal complications. For women who wish to stop childbearing, family planning (FP) is the best preventive measure. All these are part of RH.

2 Save babies

Proper birth spacing reduces infant deaths. The WHO says at least 2 years should pass between a birth and the next pregnancy. In our country, the infant mortality rate of those with less than 2 years birth interval is twice those with 3. The more effective and user-friendly the FP method, the greater the chances of the next child to survive.

3 Respond to the majority who want smaller families

Times have changed and people want smaller families. When surveyed about their ideal number of children, women in their 40s want slightly more than 3, while those in their teens and early 20s want just slightly more than 2.

Moreover, couples end up with families larger than what they planned. On average, Filipino women want close to 2 children but end up with 3. This gap is unequal, but shows up in all social classes and regions. RH education and services will help couples fulfill their hopes for their families.

4 Promote equity for poor families

RH indicators show severe inequities between the rich and poor. For example, 94% of women in the richest quintile have a skilled attendant at birth, while only 26% of the poorest can do so. The richest have 3 times higher tubal ligation rates. This partly explains why the wealthy hardly exceed their planned number of children, while the poorest get an extra 2. Infant deaths among the poorest are almost 3 times that of the richest, which in a way explains why the poor plan for more children. An RH law will help in attaining equity in health through stronger public health services.

5 Prevent induced abortions

Unintended pregnancies precede almost all induced abortions. Of all unintended pregnancies, 68% occur in women without any FP method, and 24% happen to those using traditional FP like withdrawal or calendar-abstinence.

If all those who want to space or stop childbearing would use modern FP, abortions would fall by some 500,000. In our country where abortion is strictly criminalized, and where 90,000 women are hospitalized yearly for complications, it would be reckless and heartless not to ensure prevention through FP.

6 Support and deploy more public midwives, nurses and doctors

RH health services are needed wherever people are establishing their families. For example, a report by the MDG Task Force points out the need for 1 fulltime midwife to attend to every 100 to 200 annual live births. Other health staff are needed for the millions who need prenatal and postpartum care, infant care and family planning. Investing in these core public health staff will serve the basic needs of many communities.

7 Guarantee funding for & equal access to health facilities

RH will need and therefore support many levels of health facilities. These range from health stations that can do basic prenatal, infant and FP care; health centers for safe birthing, more difficult FP services like IUD insertions, and management of sexually transmitted infections; and hospitals for emergency obstetric and newborn care and surgical contraception. Strong RH facilities can be the backbone of a strong and fairly distributed public health facility system.

8 Give accurate & positive sexuality education to young people

Currently, most young people enter relationships and even married life without the benefit of systematic inputs by any of our social institutions. We insist on young voters’ education for events that occur once every few years, but do nothing guiding the young in new relationships they face daily. The RH bill mandates the education and health departments to fill this serious gap.

9 Reduce cancer deaths

Delaying sex, avoiding multiple partners or using condoms prevent HPV infections that cause cervical cancers. Self breast exams and Pap smears can detect early signs of cancers which can be cured if treated early. All these are part of RH education and care. Contraceptives do not heighten cancer risks; combined pills actually reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers.

10 Save money that can be used for even more social spending

Ensuring modern FP for all who need it would increase spending from P1.9 B to P4.0 B, but the medical costs for unintended pregnancies would fall from P3.5 B to P0.6 B, resulting in a net savings of P0.8 B. There is evidence that families with fewer children do spend more for health and education.

You may want to copy this (or expand the list) and send to family, friends and acquaintances until it reaches our legislators. We need the support of everyone we can reach and convince.

Posted in SocietyComments (18)

Eradicate Poverty? Correct the Victim Mindset First

***Something I wrote a long, long time ago.  Just wanted to share this, considering that we’re in the “season of giving” nowadays.


Should I feel guilty because I bought and consumed this drink, which is worth P150, when I could have just given a part of that amount to the poor kid asking for alms on the street? Should I feel guilty that I have the time to spare to drink such expensive drinks when those who’re not so fortunate, have to work to the bone to find something to eat?

I think ads for charity are all too good eliciting that guilt feelings from us, so that we would donate to their foundations or fund-raising events. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with giving to the needy, but if we’re going to eradicate poverty, we should begin with eradicating the mentality of dependence.

And for such a reason, I prefer to give alms to street kids who’re selling flowers, or candies, buying their merchandise and giving an extra tip if they’re courteous than to those who beat at the car window asking for some coins. I prefer that those who’re asking for loans from me to do something reasonable for me in exchange of the money instead. That’s why I don’t want to write out a medical certificate letting an employee have a sick leave more than what should be so that he could have more pay for less work.

As a matter of fact, I’ve never believed in equal distribution of wealth. I find it a devolution of our value of giving rewards based on merit, shifting to a value of giving rewards based on need. I think what we should be propagating is a mindset that one should not get more because he needs more or that he has less than others, but rather, he will get what is due to him because of what work he had done.

But what about the poor? How can they get out of poverty if we will not help? I think in this part, we would all be better off we’re to concentrate on generating more jobs that are parallel to one’s available skills and how one is willing to work to achieve something, instead of using up resources for short-term solutions.

I remembered two guys I had as patients for preemployment medical evaluation. Both of them did not pass the first medical evaluation because of hypertension. The company who wanted to hire them requires that they first have a stable BP before being employed. I informed them about this and the two had different reactions. Patient A was mad that he isn’t qualified for employment. At first, he asked me to write him a favorable medical record so that the company will hire him at the soonest possible time. When I said I will not do that and suggested that he first undergo the treatment regimen that I will give him, he got angrier, did not even bother to listen to the treatment regimen, and told me how he could undergo such treatment if he doesn’t have a salary, that if perhaps I should give him the treatment free for 2 weeks, he might just be able to do it. He even said that perhaps I might be wrong with my diagnosis because BP readings taken by someone who has a stall at the mall reports that his BP is normal. I got frustrated by this but I still remained firm that he has to undergo treatment. He did not come back to the clinic, saying he’ll look for another clinic who’ll make him pass a medical exam.

Patient B showed disappointment at first that he wouldn’t be hired soon. But when I explained to him what he needs to do (lifestyle modifications, medical treatment), he willingly accepted, and listened patiently to what I instructed him to do.I monitored his BP for 2 1/2 weeks, after which the monitoring record showed a stabilization of BP at acceptable level enough for the company to hire him. I haven’t heard from Patient A again.

For me, people who’re like Patient B, who’re willing to do what is necessary to accomplish his goals are those worth helping out. He did not demand for that job simply because he is jobless, but rather, he did what is needed to get that job. Both Patient A and B have the skills, but it’s the attitude that spelled the difference.

And I hope most people would be more like Patient B. These are the people who will not demand things just because they have less, but rather, will work to make themselves worthy of what it is that they ask. This is the kind of attitude that all of us should have and it is the attitude that will get us out of being one of the impoverished nations in the world.

Posted in PersonalComments (53)

The Price of being a Freethinker

richpoorlogo “A cheerful poverty is an honorable state.” – Epicurus

I have to be honest, it is hard to catch up a freethinker’s lifestyle. Most freethinkers here in the Philippines belong to the class “A” affluent families and as a person belonging to the…eh down right dirty, I’m having a hard time coping with it. As a freethinker I have to be realistic and here’s the fact: LIFE SUCKS!

We always held our meetings in this classy mall, surrounded by stores and restaurants that only the privilege can enjoy. We do it in Starbuck…WOAH! A cup of coffee in Starbuck cost …eh is it 175.00 Pesos ($3.74) per cup? I can only afford a coffee in a styrophor cup worth 10.00 Pesos (that 21 cents for you American readers). They eat sandwiches and novelty foods I only dream of eating, they have gadgets like cell phones with videos, Nintendo Wii, Videocams, sleek cars, cute dogs, beautiful and sexy girllfriends…the whole shebang!! Just think what that does to me? Boy…if you want to start feeling sorry to yourself and indulge in self-pity.

Many of these guys are armed with shelves full of books! There are those who owned about 400 to 600 volumes. Well…I can only dream about it. Being financially deficient is a hindrance. I lack the finances to buy books. And to top it all, most freethinkers’ books (or May I say “all”) are foreign made. Geewizz! Foreign books are too costly! Thank Darwin that I have a photographic memory when reading books. There is this bookstore here in Manila, yep Power Books…that is the name of the shop. Luckily, for me, this bookstore allows shoppers to read the books off their shelves.

Sometimes I feel that I should stop attending this “yuppie club”, fearing that people might think that I’m just a “pabigat” (weighting them down financially) or worst, that I’m a freeloader.

Therefore, it made me thinking. Is freethought only for the affluent? Is freethought synonymous with people who graduated from prestigious schools and universities, to those who are successful in life, for those people with cars and are able to dine on fancy restaurants? Is freethought only a vice of well-off individuals just to exercise their bored minds? How about the poor, the destitute, the miserable and the hopeless, can they afford to be freethinkers?

I sometimes wonder why I become a freethinker in the first place?

Pragmatism is the philosophy of the poor man. He seems to believe things that have uses for him. Don’t get me wrong, my freethought was not fueled by hate of life. Life is not fair, but I do not blame it to a so-called “Supreme Intelligence”. Maybe I am a different case…one in a million perhaps. Nevertheless, not every poor people in Manila share my enthusiasm with philosophy and science.

It is impossible to philosophize with an empty stomach. Do you think a poor man will have the luxury of time and money to do some research regarding science and philosophy?

Speaking of research, books are expensive and education is too costly. Poor folks will use their resources more on food. The sad news is that majority of people in the Philippines is below poverty line, and because of the worldwide economic crisis we are now facing, it is expected to double.

In this situation, what’s use of freethought?

For some people, and especially the poor, this is where religion sets in. Religion thrives in a world of crisis. When people become desperate, they start to look and cling to any support they can find – even invisible ones. So how can you tell them that people who mastered the art of selling God are using them?

I still believe that somewhere in Payatas, Tondo or those shanties in BASECO Compound, there is a freethinker like me. He may now be writing his thoughts on a piece of paper…he doesn’t have a computer, he can’t afford it. I wonder if people in his community listen to what he says? Christians in his community may even accused him of just being angry to God for giving him a miserable life. People will not take you seriously when you are poor.

I imagine him getting his information from books that sold cheap in Recto, books that were published in the 60’s and 70’s, too obsolete in modern standards.

Does he sometimes stop from his backbreaking labor to wonder if his arguments are correct or if there’s a new idea that entered his mind? Does he also look in the Internet if he can spare P15.00 from his small salary? Does he also analyzed religious revelations if they are true? How does he handle the idea of having no after-life, with the thought that he is doom to live in a miserable existence without any means of escaping? Does he also think he’s alone?

Freethought may be expensive but thinking is priceless. Maybe that is why I keep on attending this yuppie club.

I believe that social stratification is not a hindrance especially if the Filipino freethinkers’ vision also caters love and camaraderie.

As a freethinker my goal must be realistic so I can reach my hand on a different world- the world without luxury, where false hope thrive. This is the world of the impoverished where self-pity becomes a thick haze that blocks the vision of progress. Where pragmatism narrows objective world-view, where minds are clouded by distrust and apathy and where poverty limits dreams and aspiration.

Unfortunately, there are freethinkers trapped in this kind of world, and these are freethinkers I would like to reach out to. It is a matter of cooperation within the Filipino freethinking community to reach to such sad individuals.

Posted in Personal, Society, StoriesComments (43)