Posted on 29 May 2013.
No two freethinkers are exactly alike; a group of freethinkers contains a great diversity of perspectives, so there is no one, official perspective shared among all of them. This makes the freethought community a truly vibrant source of ideas and opinions!
In this light, Meet a Freethinker is our series featuring freethinkers of all backgrounds and perspectives. We want to introduce you guys to the people who make up the proverbial melting pot of this growing movement.
Our next freethinker is Jaimee Baliton. Jaimee is currently taking an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education, and she hopes to shift to Community Development before this year ends. Aside from being chapter president for FF-UP Diliman, she is also active in a few other organizations on campus.
1) How would you define a freethinker?
Freethinkers do not have to be academically intelligent, but must have enough command of logic, common sense, and the scientific method to accept, verify, or defend an idea or concept. I believe that anyone can be a freethinker; these tools aren’t so hard to find.
2) What belief system do you subscribe to?
I identify as an agnostic theist. I believe if that there is a higher power, I am not capable of knowing if it exists since that and I are not on parallel dimensions.
3) What was the funniest or most interesting reaction you got from a person after you told him or her that you were a freethinker?
During that time when media hype on the RH Law was high: “Filipino Freethinkers? Yung pro-RH? Kilala mo ba si Kenneth Keng? Ang gwapo niya!”
4) In what way has being part of a freethinking community benefited you?
Before being in a freethinking community, people always agreed to everything I said. Now, I like that everything I think is under scrutiny. It keeps everyone on their toes, it makes everyone more critical and more responsible about what they say, feel and do. And, as I’ve said, freethinkers aren’t necessarily academic all the time. Meeting various people has exposed me to different facets of the world in an engaging manner.
5) How come we haven’t seen you on the online forums?
I know FF started out as an online community, but I’m fine with lurking. I know I’m missing out on a lot but, as I’ve noticed, everything has a bigger tendency to be misunderstood online than upfront. I prefer the value of face-to-face interaction since it’s not just words that communicate to other people.
6) How would you describe the current freethinkerly climate over in UP Diliman?
Over at UP Diliman, people think that they practice freethought because they’re seemingly locked up in academia, but in fact there’s always something that hinders them that they don’t realize because it’s so ingrained. What, with “activists” bashing instead of trying to understand each other, more baccalaureate masses than interfaith ceremonies, religious people taking charge of one UP fair night trying to go all holy using blaring speakers. They’re all caught up in those that when we mention that there’s an FF chapter on campus, they’re surprised. FFUPD is one of the few untainted groups since we never really aligned ourselves to student organizations, but rather to specific causes that FF advocates.
On a good note though, UPD is more-LGBTQIA aware, sensitive and open now, thanks to various offices on campus. I’ve noticed though that there is no established LGBT community on campus yet. One org has promoted awareness, yes, but their community is limited only to themselves. Also, there’s this new LGBT organization, and I worry that having two LGBT organizations will be more divisive than cohesive, especially since these two have started to manifest their political leanings and are siding themselves with clashing political parties.
7) What’s the greatest challenge facing any FF university chapter?
Membership, definitely. In UP Diliman alone, the organization recognition process requires a minimum number of members, and unlike area-based chapters like Main or Metro Manila South who have fairly stable memberships, members eventually have to graduate. Freshmen are also becoming more cautious about joining organizations, and while that isn’t so bad, some common misconceptions (like FF being purely atheist) lessen our chances for more members.