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Why I Support the Reproductive Health Bill

I strongly support the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill.

I believe that there is a need to educate people about sex and their reproductive health. I see nothing wrong in teaching sex education in schools. I would rather my child learn about sex from me and from his teachers rather than from his friends, tv shows, movies and the Internet. Ultimately, I believe that mandatory sex education will benefit the poor; those whose children do not have access to proper sex education since their own parents are misinformed. The anti-RH claim that it is the SOLE responsibility of the parents to educate their children about sex–but what if parents are misinformed? How can the blind lead the blind?

I believe that children are blessings. As blessings, children should be taken cared of properly. They should be given adequate shelter, nourishment, education. Couples who can barely feed themselves should not have 13 kids. My husband and I have stable jobs and I know we won’t be able to raise 13 kids!

There is a need to educate parents about their options for family planning. The “natural” method promoted by the Catholic Church is an option–so are artificial contraceptives. Those who are better off financially have ready access to contraceptives (except maybe in Alabang) but in most cities, health centers are not allowed to provide artificial contraceptives for the poor.

The Catholic Church may still promote the natural method of family planning but let the State give access to alternatives to everyone. A Catholic, even with a bag full of free condoms or birth control pills, can still choose to use the natural method. If a Catholic is strong in faith and believes that using contraceptives is a sin, then he is free to choose not to use them.

I believe that reproductive health should be properly allocated with funds by the government. It is among the many problems that we need to face. I do not see spending money on the improvement of reproductive health as a waste.

I am against abortion. The RH Bill explicitly states that it is against abortion. I feel that it is presumptuous of some to assume that the bill would pave the way for the legalization of abortion.

I am pro-life because I believe that the RH Bill will help improve the quality of life of families.

I am pro-poor because I believe that the Bill will be for the benefit of the poor.

I am pro-RH.

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Donations

January 3, 2009 6 comments

My fiance and I originally decided on having a garden wedding ceremony but when we talked to his parents, his mom requested us to have the ceremony in a Catholic church so we can have our wedding blessed with a Mass. I’m not Catholic and my fiance hasn’t heard mass in years. To be honest, the type of ceremony doesn’t really matter to me as long as it’s simple and solemn, so I didn’t voice any protest. Having the wedding in a church is not a big deal…besides, I get to have that “closed door” dramatic effect for my entrance. 🙂

Imagine my surprise when I started researching on how we can get married in a church. I expected the paperwork and the seminars but what surprised me was the amount of money these churches ask for weddings. The prices ranged from 10 to 28 thousand pesos! I understand there are expenses incurred for electricity and flowers but doesn’t P28 THOUSAND PESOS seem too much for a venue that you’ll be using for less than two hours?

What I found more disturbing was that these churches claim that this compulsary amount is but a “donation”. Forgive me, but I always assumed that “donations” are voluntary. A donation is a gift, a contribution. If I can’t “donate” the necessary amount they’re asking for, I can’t get married in a church.  Why don’t they call it as it is? They’re rental fees, not donations

Oh. I suddenly remembered. The church is not an income-generating institution. If it was, the government would be taxing them. Right?

Add this to the list of things that I don’t like nor understand about the goings-on in the Catholic church. I’m not against paying for my wedding–heck, some venues charge as much as P120 thousand for just four hours. My only complaint is that they should stop hiding behind the guise of and protection of “donations”. Call it as it is. A compulsary amount for the use of a venue is not a donation. It’s RENT.

Categories: personal, rants, wedding Tags: ,

FHM Porno?

August 5, 2008 3 comments

The news is about a month old but since I haven’t really had that much time to conveniently browse a newspaper, I just stumbled on the online article today. Apparently, obscenity charges were filed by Rep. Bienvenido Abante of Manila’s District VI and 11 other members of the Baptist organization Bible Mode against a number of men’s magazines and tabloids. Here’s an excerpt from the Inquirer article:

The complainants said the publications, from September 2007 to July 2008, showed “obscene and erotic pictures/poses that show, depict or describe nude or semi-nude bodies, sexual acts, sexual intercourse, private parts, with no educational or artistic value, but intended to draw lust and arouse prurient interest.”

Abante said that with their complaint, they hoped to put a stop to the publication of such materials that he claimed “corrupted” minors.

“We do not want to see anymore of these in the bookstores or newsstands,” said Abante.

“If we are able to close printing presses publishing these kinds of materials, if we are able to stop all international porno magazines coming to the country, we have done very good work in this country,” he said.

Named respondents were editors in chief Allan Madrilejos for FHM, Pierre Inaki Calasanz for Maxim, Ramon Faustino for Playboy, Zak Zorro Zamora for Playhouse, Editha Asumbrado for Sagad, Joe Dalde for Toro, and the Hataw editor; and their managing editors, and general and circulation managers.

I googled Abante and found out that not only is he a member of the Philippine Congress but he is also a Baptist pastor. He also authored Manila’s anti-pornography city ordinance no. 7780 when he was still a councilor in 1993.

Despite my antagonistic feelings towards religion, I actually understand the value of the class suit. Fighting pornography (especially those that can be easily accessed by children) is a good cause. If I were a parent, I wouldn’t want my kids exposed to such material. BUT I have a problem with the list of magazines and tabloids named as respondents; I don’t think that all of them can be termed pornographic in the real sense of the word.

I read FHM; my brother used to be a subscriber. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think it has this huge by-line in its cover that it’s only for those over 18 years old. Basically, you’re not allowed to buy it if you’re a minor. The articles are entertaining, informative and often times funny; yes, most of the articles discuss sex but I don’t get “hot and randy” after reading them. FHM is the male COSMOPOLITAN–it has a lot of articles about winning dates, keeping your women happy plus a lot of sex advice. Pornographic? I don’t think so.

If any of you saw the June 2001 FHM issue which featured Mylene Dizon, I dare you to call it pornographic. This issue made my brother a subscriber of the magazine.

Mylene Dizon (June 2001)

Mylene Dizon (June 2001)

For something more recent, check out July 2008 with Diana Zubiri. She’s naked and wet…pornographic? I don’t think so.

Diana Zubiri (July 2008)

Diana Zubiri (July 2008)

Of course, there are other more “exposed” pictures in FHM that actually showed more–I think there were more than a couple which actually displayed nipples. There were other spreads that I found in bad taste and some were laughable but never pornographic. The regular items such as the Ladies Confessions are borderline erotica but technically not pornographic. You could say I’m a difficult person to arouse or it’s probably because I’m female but that’s the problem with obscenity cases; they’re very subjective. What’s obscene to one person doesn’t necessarily mean it’s obscene to everyone else.

Bottom line, I think Abante and his friends will have a hard time in court trying to prove their claim (unless the judge assigned to the case turns out to be a religious bigot). This reminds me of a case we studied when I was taking up media law; one of the many filed against porn king Larry Flynt. I forgot which case it was but I hope Abante and his cohorts are familiar with it; if not, they should just rent the movie.

The Church and The State

July 25, 2008 10 comments

There is no such thing as a “population crisis” in the Philippines and the controversial “Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2007 “is not needed to solve a problem,” said a leading social scientist.

This “leading social scientist” just happens to be the President of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, USA. (As if getting a foreigner as a resource person equals credibility). I wonder if this scientist ever visited the slums of Manila and encountered the many children there. I wonder if he knows how many children have stopped going to school because their parents can only afford to send one child among six. I wonder if he knows how someone in this country who earns less than minimum wage can afford to feed six children everyday. I wonder how someone far away in Ohio, USA can make the statement that “there is no such thing as a population crisis in the Philippines.” I don’t think one should just look at the numbers but look at the entire picture.

I don’t have the data but most probably, the reason there was a general decline in the number of children born in the Philippines in the last couple of years is that the middle-class and those who can actually afford to have a lot of children are now into “family planning”. Traditionally, Filipino families have a lot of children but due to the continuous increase of living expenses, people opted to be more practical and limit the number of children to two to three per family. This is not the case in the poverty stricken areas. There are couples there who still have four, six, even ten, twelve children! The parents can’t afford to feed themselves let alone their children.

The full article lists down the possible ill effects of the Reproductive Health Bill, citing what happened to the “morals” of other countries which adapted and encouraged the use of contraceptives.

…the practice of contraception and “its further encouragement by government policy has led to the breakdown of sexual morality and the further acceptance of a range of deviant and unnatural sexual behaviors, including massive premarital sexual activity, cohabitation, adultery, and homosexual acts.”

As if educating the masses about family planning and making resources available to them is equal to declaring to everyone to “go ahead and have sex with anyone you want because you can’t have babies! We have contraceptives! We’re all going to burn in hell!”

Apparently, Catholic leaders also believe that using contraceptives is the same as having an abortion. They’d rather that people use “natural” ways of not getting pregnant–withdrawal and rhythm method–techniques proven to be less effective than artificial contraceptives.

Such is the Church’s reaction over the proposed Reproductive Health Bill–a law lobbied to promote gender equality and reproductive rights in the Philippines.

Supporters of the bill are refused communion and are called atheists or even “alagad ni Satanas” (slaves of Satan). The Catholic Church also admitted to having a group of people whose obligation is to check on the bill’s progress. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines sent an emissary to Malacañan itself to talk personally to the President about the proposed bill.

Yet, the CBCP denies getting involved in politics. They’re not meddling. According to them, it is the politicians who are meddling into the Church’s teachings.

The Philippine Constitution clearly insists that there should be a clear separation between the Church and State. No matter how much they deny it, what the Church is doing does not adhere to the constitution. They claim that they are just voicing out their disagreement with the bill but not everyone can get a personal “visit” with the President to just “voice out” a disagreement. There is also an obvious effort to coerce lawmakers to lobby their way.

I support the Reproductive Health Bill not because I’m a heathen and a sinner. I support it because it lobbies for the proper education of the masses about sex and reproductive health. Having an educated public helps them make informed choices and will ultimately lead to healthier mothers and more responsible couples. No, I don’t believe sex education and contraceptives will promote promiscuity. The Church has to realize that sex is inevitable–they can’t prevent it. What we can do is make sure that the people who are actually doing it are safe and well-informed. Let the State do its job by informing and educating the public–let the family (and the Church) take care of the morals from home. Responsible parents will teach their kids to be responsible.

It is common for families in poverty-stricken areas to have four to ten children–children the parents can’t afford to feed or send to school. They have children because they don’t know any better. I’m not saying that having a lot of kids is bad–as long as you can feed, clothe and give them all of their basic needs, then go ahead and have ten children! What’s worse is that the Church seems to fuel the wrong belief that children should be “used” by parents as a way out of poverty–a cultural value of old that children should somehow “repay” their parents by getting rich and or by supporting them the rest of their lives.

My parents told me that it was their responsibility to raise me; to give me a roof over my head, to feed and clothe me, to send me to school. They told me I don’t owe them anything but they expect me to do the same to my children someday. My father always tells me that he didn’t have children so he doesn’t have to work–he has to work because he has children.

This has always been my problem with the Catholic Church: it seems to me that they would prefer blind followers. People who follow without asking or thinking are less trouble after all. Bottom line, the Church has to trust its constituents to think for themselves. Their tirade against the Reproductive Health Bill is another proof that one of the reasons why this country will never move forward is that the Church, despite what it believes are its good intentions, keep holding the State back.