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Your Face is an Ordinance: A Recap of FF’s Latest Weekend Extravaganza

Keep Your Theology out of My Biology; Get Your Rosaries out of My Ovaries; ‘Ala Bang May Utak sa Council; and the crowd favorite, Your Face is an Ordinance

Last April 9, the Filipino Freethinkers (FF) helped kick some ideological ass at the second protest versus the infamous Ayala Alabang Barangay Ordinance 01. Our placards were a hit the second we walked up to the village’s Madrigal Gate, lending a good bit of snark to the morning’s events.

Keep Xerez out of my Cervix; Abstinence Ain’t Valid

The protest kicked off with a lot of chanting among villagers and non-villagers. It was a heartening mix of people–upper, middle, and lower class alike…

Jesus! Give Us Some Privacy; CBCP Checklist: Delay RH Bill, Oppress Women, Protect Child Molesters, Pass Ordinance

united in their stand against the barangay council’s blatant violation of church-state separation and their outright mangling of the truth regarding reproductive health.

Alliance Against Vaginas; Modern Dei Fascists

Kenneth, FF’s RH Bill Committee Head and a member of Silly People’s Improv Theater (SPIT), was especially happy that day…

Thespian titillation at its finest

…after having met Broadway star and outspoken RH ally Lea Salonga.

The ironically-named “Team Unity,” composed of the barangay council members responsible for the ordinance

Apart from the chanting, villagers also encouraged motorists to honk their disapproval of the ordinance…

Honk if You are with Us!

…which many motorists did!

The chanting was soon followed by a brief string of speeches from some pro-RH personalities, such as Jay Ignacio, whose footage of the anti-ordinance villagers’ meetings and the latest ordinance hearing have made the rounds online…

…former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral…

…Lea Salonga…

…Peter Wallace, one of the most prominent foreign businessmen in the country…

…Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) Chair Elizabeth Angsioco…

…and Dr. Guy Claudio, Director of the University of the Philippines’ Center for Women’s Studies, Senior Faculty Adviser of FF-UP Diliman; co-founder of the Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, prominent member of the Akbayan Party List…

Word up.

…and the person responsible for The Most Awesome Pic Evar.

The following day, FF banded together for its fortnightly meetup, which generated one of the liveliest discussions we’ve had in a while. This came as no surprise, however…

…thanks to the day’s main topics: Medication to Boost Your Morality, and Rights for Ugly People.

Kenneth is an Episcopalian, as evidenced by his shirt

Even Kenneth made sure to attend the meetup, despite the understandable aftershock of having met Kim/Eponine/Fantine/Jasmine/Mulan in the flesh.

In the end, whether rallying on the streets or engaging in discourse, the Freethinkers know how to make good use of the typical weekend–sans drugs and violence!

Although moments like this one can’t be avoided. Let’s call it an occupational hazard.

Photos courtesy of Garrick Bercero, Jeiel Aranal, and Patrick Charles Rigonan

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Fudging Numbers

Anti-RH groups will hold what they call the “grandmother of all rallies” against the RH bill. I hope the attendance numbers will not be fudged again just to promote their cause.

Fudged again? Here’s a chronicle of the numbers game that took place for a similar show-of-force attempt last month (all underscoring supplied):

2/11/2011 – press release by Human Life International, 100,000

On Sunday, February 13, 100,000 pro-life activists will march through Manila in opposition to a so-called “Responsible Parenthood” bill that has been repackaged to appeal to the pro-life majority of Filipinos.

2/12/2011 – news report on an anti-RH rally in Cebu, 1 million

… Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, Human Life International director, said the bill, which is being readied for deliberations, is the same as the previously filed proposals that aimed to make way for abortion and other ways that hamper human life. … On Sunday, around one million people are expected to attend a rally against the RH bill in Manila.

2/13/2011 – website post by YouthPinoy, an anti-RH Catholic youth alliance, 5,000

Of the estimated 5,000 people at this pro-life rally mainly organized by Pro-Life Philippines and the CBCP Commission on Family and Life, there are several thousands of young people who have chosen to spend their Sunday protesting against the highly-controversial RH Bill or the Responsible Parenthood Bill.

2/14/2011 – news report by Malaya, 5,000

Organizers said the rally which was participated in by some 5,000 would be the first in a “show of force” events.

2/14/2011 – news report by CBCP News, 10,000

“We stand with you for life,” said Lanao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Fatima Aliah Dimaporo, a Muslim, told the around 10,000 protesters.

2/15/2011 – news report by PNA, 5,000

“We stand with you for life,” said Lanao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Fatima Aliah Dimaporo, a Muslim, told some 5,000 protesters who joined the rally at the PICC complex.

2/18/2011 – news report by, over 50,000

Over 50,000 pro-life Filipinos gathered in opposition to the so-called reproductive health (RH) bill last Sunday at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Anti-RH groups predicted two attendance figures: 100,000 and 1 million. Then they reported three figures for actual attendance: 5,000, 10,000 and over 50,000. Two news sources gave the same attendance estimate: 5,000.

Who’s telling the truth? I think you can figure that out for yourself. (Kudos to YouthPinoy!)

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Ever wanted to join fellow Freethinkers in their public endeavors, but was stuck at home/work/another province/another country/some far-flung fascist galaxy?

Well, fret no more! Tomorrow, SATURDAY, MARCH 19, starting 830 AM, we will be holding our PIONEER PICKETCAST, FF’s very first foray into online, live-streaming activism!

The demonstration featured tomorrow will be at the Ayala Alabang Village, where there will be a hearing on the infamous ordinance banning the sale of contraceptives in the village without a doctor’s prescription. This ordinance has been an unsettling example of the anti-RH contingent’s efforts to suppress the basic human right of reproductive health in the name of skewed logic and self-righteousness.

The Filipino Freethinkers will be there to staunchly support the pro-RH contingent, and if you can’t join in in person, you can still participate through the picketcast!

Simply log on to starting 830 tomorrow, watch the embedded livestream, and COMMENT or TWEET your protest messages to us! We’ll write the best ones down on our whiteboards to show the crowd. Total awesomeness.

Our Twitter account is

We look forward to your messages tomorrow! 😀

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Virgin Fathers or Dying Mothers: The Filipino Freethinkers Join Fellow RH Supporters in Silent Protest Against CBCP

Last Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, the Filipino Freethinkers and fellow pro-Reproductive Health (RH) groups under the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) held the Memorial March for Mothers from Padre Burgos St. to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) headquarters in Intramuros, Manila. The march and its succeeding mass action at the CBCP gates aimed to call the Catholic Church’s attention to the 11 Filipino women who die each day due to maternal complications. These complications could have been avoided with proper sex education and reproductive health services, but these rights continue to be suppressed thanks to the CBCP’s condemnation of the RH Bill and its efforts to delay the Bill’s passage.

With over 1,000 supporters in attendance, last Sunday was purported to be the largest protest in Philippine history against the CBCP.

The supporters first assembled at the Cory and Ninoy monument across from the Manila Hotel. White shirts and purple scarves served as the day’s official garb. Stickers bearing the slogan “11 Women Die Everyday. Do Bishops Care?” were also passed around.

People from all walks of life were present: women’s groups, youth groups, health advocates, representatives from the academe…

…and these random hipsters. The FF contingent was composed of over 30 members, including several newcomers like visual artist Jooley (extreme right).

Arm (left), who has contributed several engaging articles on reproductive health and women’s rights on the FF website, was also present.

The Freethinkers’ main responsibility was to document the entire march. Dustin, for instance, was in charge of filming the supporters at the head of the line. Various news outfits, including Arabic news network Al-Jazeera, were also present to cover the event.

Representatives of RHAN’s sundry groups gave rousing speeches prior to the march, including Elizabeth Angsioco of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines…

…and FF President Red Tani, who spoke about human rights and reproductive health in relation to the Vatican’s recent admission that priests from at least 23 countries (the Philippines included) have been sexually abusing nuns, with African priests, in particular, choosing nuns in order to avoid contracting the AIDS virus.

The march then commenced, with Mina Tenorio of Artists for RH Bill heading the pack, carrying a funeral bouquet and photograph of Olivia, just one of the countless casualties of the RH Bill delay. Olivia died quite young after giving birth to her tenth child, and her brood continues to be mired in poverty.

Representing FF at the head of the line were Red and Kenneth, who were also very active in the planning and organization of the event itself. Their bromance apparently knew no bounds.

The FF contingent marched right along.

Soon enough, the supporters approached the entrance of Intramuros, Manila’s famed walled city and home of several bastions of Catholicism in the country, including the CBCP headquarters, the Manila Cathedral, and the San Agustin Church.

The group stayed silent throughout, while an accompanying vehicle played Levi Celerio’s hymn to motherhood, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan.”

The group passed several Intramuros landmarks, including…

…the headquarters of the Knights of Columbus-Philippines, a Catholic fraternal service organization that is quite vocal in its stance against the RH Bill…

…and the San Agustin Church, the oldest surviving church in the Philippines.

When the group arrived at the CBCP headquarters, 11 women clad in black, representing the said 11 women who die each day, positioned themselves directly across the gates.

A few minutes after, a car from inside the headquarters rolled out. The persons inside could not be discerned through its tinted windows. Silently, the protesters allowed the car to pass.

No representative from the CBCP arrived to address the protest, although a security personnel kept watch behind the gates.

Ms. Tenorio then read out the group’s open letter to the CBCP, dictating to the silent compound within the fact that daily deaths occur due to the Church’s meddling, and the group’s desire for the CBCP officials to acknowledge the harrowing truth before them.

The group listened quietly to the message. A copy of this letter was then handed to the security personnel.

Afterwards, the women in black had their candles lit. Each flame represented a mother’s life.

The women then placed their candles at the foot of the gates.

And then, silently and in unison, the protesters lay down on the ground in a massive “die-in,” as if to portray the thousands of Filipino women who die year and in year out, and to show their own unwavering support for the RH Bill.

The “die-in” stretched all the way down several blocks.

No one had any qualms curling up on the asphalt.

Everything was still for several whole minutes.

Finally, a signal was given, and the crowd got back on their feet. They then proceeded back to the entrance of Intramuros as silently as they had arrived.

Left behind at the gates were the bouquet, the photograph, and the 11 candles, their flames bound to flicker out by the end of that day.

It was a peaceful protest from start to finish, and the participants dispersed in good spirits. RHAN and its supporters have quite stirringly expressed the truth to the Church, and it is now up to the men behind the gates to respond and do what is right.

(Photos courtesy of Jason Arlan Pilaza Raval, Beatriz Torre, Frank Manuel, and Marguerite de Leon)

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