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The Day of the Purple Ribbon — A Secular Success

The Day of the Purple Ribbon will be remembered for different reasons.

Some will remember the strong political statements made by RH champions, especially the call of former President Ramos for President Aquino to prioritize the RH Bill.

Others will remember the music, ranging from Noel Cabangon’s hearty original, “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino,” to Lea Salonga’s heavenly — yes, heavenly — rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Still others will remember it for the camaraderie: spending an afternoon remembering the journey we started, celebrating the progress we’ve made, and pledging to continue until the RH bill becomes law.

One person will remember it for this.

But what I’ll never forget about the Day of the Purple Ribbon is how secular it was. There was no opening or closing prayer. The pledge to support the RH bill, which could have easily included a line to ask for help from a higher power, was a pledge that even an atheist could recite with complete conviction. Grace was not said before the meal — at least not publicly.

And that’s the point. I’m sure most of the people there were Catholics who did say Grace before their meal, Catholics who attend mass every Sunday and who pray regularly for the passage of the RH bill.

As the majority in attendance they could have assumed that everyone else shared the same beliefs they did. But they didn’t. And that’s what secularism is about: focusing on the things you can publicly agree on and keeping personal practices and beliefs private.

The event organizers knew that what the people shared was support for the RH Bill, and that is what they made the event about — nothing more nothing less. For the RH Bill to pass, the government needs to practice secularism; RH Advocates are showing them how.

Compare this with priests who ask parishioners to kneel for a final prayer, not knowing that somewhere before the final Amen they’ll ask God to block the RH Bill — regardless of whether they support it.

And so it went that even without religious pledges or public prayers, the Day of the Purple Ribbon was a success. I’m sure even the Catholics there would agree.

Except maybe for this one Pro-Lifer who came uninvited. We recognized each other from the recent Anti-RH lecture at SM Megamall. He greeted us with a smile and said that he came with an “open mind.”

But after hearing Noel Cabangon’s song reach a secular stanza — which came after a torrent of secular and pro-RH statements — he left. I could almost see steam coming out of his ears.

It’s a good thing, too. If he’d stayed longer, Lea’s “Imagine” would have blown his mind wide open.

UPDATE: If you have anything against the picture I used above, I hope Ken’s reply below puts things in the proper context:

Thought I’d drop by to dispel a few assumptions. First off gendermatters, the person you so casually dismiss as “cleavage” has a name- she’s Mocha Uson, a committed and vocal advocate of the RH Bill who has been supporting the cause for longer than I have. In fact over the course of the campaign she’s been among the first and most generous of artists in volunteering her time, expertise and celebrity.

Catrina, we shared a table during the event and when the pins were being given out she asked me to pin one on her and pose for a picture while doing so. The picture is from her phone, and was put up on both her blog and group’s fb page along with banners promoting the RH bill. I’ve spoken to her before and since and in a time when a lot of people in the entertainment industry decline openly supporting the bill for fear of losing sponsors or future gigs, she happens to have the courage to aggressively promote the bill in her own way.

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