I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

We have the numbers

Rep. Janette Garin sez they have the numbers to pass the Reproductive Health Bill. Whupty-doo. I’ll believe it when the Bill passes. Y’see, it isn’t important how many Representatives support the thing in private. What matters is how they vote. Remember Imee Marcos and her last minute impeachment vote? Haha. She was one of those talking up a storm during the weeks prior to the voting, but when it came down to the wire, all she had was a mumble about how she did it for dear old mum. 

Interestingly enough, she wasn’t sent to the ethics committee for that, was she? She ought because, after all, people in her legislative district were the ones who voted her into office, not her mom. It was them she was supposed to be the voice for, not her mom.

And now, I’m afraid that all these pledges Garin seems to be counting on will come to naught. I imagine that when it comes time to man up, these Representatives will end up speaking for the interests of another mum – the Holy Mother Church – rather than for the interests of the constituents who voted for them.


Filed under: church and state, health, law and order, religion, science, sex, , ,

Paguia’s cross-ex


From Ducky Paredes: Alan Paguia’s cross-ex of HB 5043 proponents. 

Seriously. There was a time when I thought that Paguia might be the shit, but after reading this cross-ex, I don’t quite know anymore. I don’t even know why he would bother to put this sort of thing out unless it were to position himself as some sort of HB 5043 killer – yeah *snort*! A killer who can’t make his point without using loaded yes-or-no questions. Sheesh. When did this guy become a barangay-league un-lawyer?

Anyway, just for the exercise, let me try to be cross-examined by the redoubtable Alan Paguia.


On the Preamble of the Constitution

Do you believe in the sovereignty of the Filipino people?


Do you know that under the preamble in the constitution, the Filipino people believe in almighty God?

The preamble does say that the Filipino people invoke the name of the almighty God. It is therefore safe to presume that their is a degree of belief present. Whether that belief is of a degree sufficient to actually constitute a major factor in the average FIlipino’s decision making is a different question altogether.

Do you believe in almighty God?

No. I believe in a Higher Power, but I doubt that we have the same mental image.

Do you believe in the rule of law?


Do you believe the government must operate under a regime of love among the people, including the unborn?

What does that mean, a ‘regime of love’? Sounds like flower-power, old dude! What is the legal weight of a ‘regime of love?’ How do you quantify a ‘regime of love’ such that it can have true legal weight?


On Article II Section 12 of the constitution

Do you believe in the sanctity of family life?

Defining ‘sanctity’ as the quality of deserving respect or dedication, yes. 

Do you believe sanctity means “holiness”?

Not in this context, no. (And I resent your trying to drag religion into this issue.)

Do you believe the state must protect and strengthen the sanctity of family life?

No. While the family unit is deserving of respect and dedication, the state has no business enforcing it’s interpretation of what that ‘respect and dedication’ should manifest as, at the expense of the rights of the individuals within that family unit. 

Do you believe the family, as a basic social institution, is autonomous?


Do you believe that autonomy of the family must be respected by the state?


Do you believe the state must protect the life of the unborn?


Do you believe the unborn has the right to be born?

Yes, but that there are situations when the right of the mother gains primacy.

As a general rule, would you agree the unborn is considered born if it is alive at the time it is completely delivered from the mother’s womb?


Do you believe the state must protect the life of the unborn from its beginning until it is born?


Do you believe almighty God’s creation of man is replicated by man’s procreation of children?

No. God didn’t fuck Eve, did He?

Would you agree the birth of a human being is preceded by a biological process?

Duh … yeah.

Would you agree that process has a beginning and an end?

Yes. Seriously. This laying-the-groundwork shit is getting mighty tedious.

Would you agree that process is either natural or artificial?

Yes already.

Would you agree the natural process is the general rule and the artificial is the exception?


Would you agree that process, whether natural or artificial, may be generally divided into two stages, namely: (1) the unborn stage; and (2) the born stage?


Would you agree the unborn stage has a beginning?


Would you agree “conception” takes place within the unborn stage?

Not within. Conception is the beginning of the unborn stage (as you call it).

Would you agree “conception” cannot take place without the sperm of a male fertilizing the egg of a female?

Oh lord, Yes. But I find it strange that you seem to, considering that Jesus was conceived without anyone’s sperm. Incidentally, can the sperm of a female fertilize the egg of a male?

Would you agree conception is, generally speaking, a natural effect of a prior sexual act between a male and a female?

No. Generally speaking, conception is only one of two possible outcomes of sexual congress.

Do you believe in responsible parenthood?


Do you believe the state should encourage sex outside the context of the “sanctity of family life”?

The state has no business encouraging or discouraging sex, except where certain reasonable strictures apply, such as the rules on rape and adultery.

Do you believe the state should discourage sex outside the context of the “sanctity of family life”?

The state has no business encouraging or discouraging sex, except where certain reasonable strictures apply, such as the rules on rape and adultery.

Do you believe in the natural and primary right and duty of parents to develop the moral character of their children?


Do you believe the government must help develop the moral character of children?


Do you believe the government will strengthen the moral character of the youth by promoting the use of contraceptives?

Yes. Because by emphasizing the importance of contraception, the government will teach the youth discipline. It is requires far more self-control to refrain from sex because there is no condom available than to forget that God is watching you trying to get into some girl’s pants.


On Article XV of the constitution

Do you believe the government will promote responsible parenthood by promoting the use of contraceptives among the youth or unmarried couples?

Yes. Abstinence is not the only form of responsible parenthood.

Do you believe the family is the foundation of the nation?

No. The individual is.

Do you believe marriage is the foundation of the family?

Not necessarily.

Do you believe the government will strengthen the nation by strengthening the family?

Not necessarily.

Do you believe the government will strengthen the family by strengthening marriage as a social institution?

Not necessarily. 

Do you believe marriage, as a social institution, is inviolable?

No. The inviolability of marriage should remain a strictly religious concept. In law, a marriage should be a contract, and a contract should be revocable with the consent of both parties.

Do you believe the government will strengthen the inviolability of marriage by promoting the use of contraceptives among the youth or unmarried couples?

First of all, a marriage – as a legal contract – should not be considered inviolable. The question, therefore, is false.

Do you believe the government will strengthen the family by promoting the use of contraceptives among the youth or unmarried couples?

Promoting the use of contraceptives will neither strengthen nor weaken the family.

Would you agree a major substance of the bill refers to the criminalization of certain acts related to reproductive health care?


Do you believe the title of the bill, stating in part the catch-all phrase “and for other purposes”, is a fair description of the criminal acts enumerated therein?

The Bill speaks of a National Policy, and as ‘Policy’ necessarily implies that some acts will be considered considered contrary to policy and therefore subject to penalties, then yes, it is a fair description.

Filed under: church and state, law and order, religion, sex, , ,

Church accepts ET

There’s a line in a David Brin Uplift novel that goes something like: for me, the term ET has always carried the unfortunate implication that someone, somewhere is going to be eaten.

I remembered this quote when I came across this article about how the Vatican has accepted the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrials – ET – and how that possibility doesn’t contradict religion.

Well of course, it doesn’t. At least not unless you’re a Bible-thumping, hardcore fundamentalist and literal creationist. Another article on the same topic quotes the Vatican astronomer as saying that ruling out ET’s would mean “putting limits” on God’s creative freedom. One of Brin’s characters, Helena Alvarez – again from the Uplift Trilogy of David Brin – says much the same thing when she first sees alien lifeforms feeding off the sun’s electromagnetic fields. She says: “apparently, the Creator accepts very few limits to his imagination” … or something like that.

Enough quotes.

I totally agree with this latest pronouncement from the Vatican – despite the irony of it, this being the same religion that once almost burned Galileo. So I guess Carl Sagan’s “Contact” was right. Anyone who goes to meet aliens for the first time as a representative of humanity should believe in God. In fact, I kinda think that the idea of a Supreme Being or Deity might well turn out to be universal and that aliens will have their own gods too.

Filed under: musings, new age, religion, science, space, , ,

A long weekend

With Maundy Thursday over, it’s one down, three to go.

I hate long weekends.

Filed under: musings, religion,

Lara’s story

Lara didn’t normally talk to strangers. But today she lost her job and found out her boyfriend had a wife and three daughters, all in the same hour – lunch. So when the man next to her  on the bus asked her if she was ok, well, there wasn’t any stopping the words.

EDSA from end to end takes almost two hours. And in those two hours, Lara poured her heart out to this stranger. Thin, almost to the point of actually looking malnourished, with a scraggly beard, and hands that looked unnaturally large because of a pair of half-fingered knitted gloves. Whenever the man spoke, Lara couldn’t take her eyes of those hands. The man moved them gracefully, like an orchestra conductor or maybe a piano player striking invisible keys in midair, punctuating every sentence and pause until she felt that she understood him more from just looking at his hands than from listening to his words. She wondered how hands could seem so eloquent.

By the end of the ride, Lara had told the man that she intended to hang herself later that night. She thought about using a belt or the electric cord from a lamp she bought just last week.

The man got off the bus, following close on Lara’s heels. “Why would you do that?” he asked. “Because there’s no other way out of this,” she answered.

Somehow, when Lara got home, the man was still there with her. It never occurred to her to ask him why. It felt as though she wanted him to stay with her til the end so that she could at least have someone to talk to.

They entered her house through the front door and passed through the living room on the way to where she slept, a small room with a curtain for a door. Her mother glanced at her once and returned to watching teevee.

In her room, the man sat down on her bed and just looked at her as she prepared to hang herself. “You know you’re not gonna come back after three days, don’t you?” he asked with a strange sad look in his eyes.

“That’s the idea,” she answered.

The cord went over an exposed beam and came down on the other side. Carefully, almost thoughtfully, Lara knotted a loop into the dangling end and tied the other end to a nail on the wall. Satisfied that the knot would hold, Lara slipped the loop over her head and turned to the man. “Well,” she said. “This is it. Thanks for keeping me company.” She smiled at him sadly.

“No problem,” he answered with a sad smile of his own.

The last thing Lara saw, as she slowly choked, was the man standing up and reaching for her face with those hands. She noticed that he had taken off the gloves and saw for the first time that his hands were wounded. Maybe, she thought, that was why he wore the gloves in the first place. To keep those gaping holes in his palms from getting infected.

Filed under: religion, , ,


Apropos my earlier post, the Black Nazarene will take to the streets of Quiapo once again tomorrow, attracting hordes of devotees. I wonder how many of those devotees know, as they’re clawing their way up the carriage for a chance to swipe a towel at the figure, that the statue they’re trying to touch is actually just a replica of the original? More to the point, I wonder if that matters at all.

(Someone just told me that the original Nazarene will be used tomorrow later. I don’t know how accurate that news is.)

That’s the thing with faith. If it’s strong enough, the icon becomes irrelevant. And therein lies an irony. Carry that argument through to its logical ends and you inevitably ask yourself, if I still need an icon, does that mean my faith is not strong?

Fundamentalists don’t use graven images as much as Roman Catholics do in obedience to what the Bible says. Muslims even go to the extent of banning the images of Mohammed, showing that they take more seriously than even the born-again, the exhortation  against idols. But not Catholics. Enter any Catholic church and you will be assaulted by the sight of hundred and one statues, paintings, and even reliquaries if you’re lucky. All of which are the object of veneration … just like the Nazarene.

Interestingly, there’s a statute of St. Peter in the Vatican whose bronze foot now looks like a stump because the details have been rubbed out by countless hands touching it.

I mean the thing is made of bronze, and pilgrims don’t touch it with sanders or anything! Can you imagine how many millions of momentary caresses it must take to do that much damage?


Anyway as I was saying, although the exhortation against idolatry is supposed to be a reminder that Abraham’s God is a jealous god, I think that it’s deeper – less literal – worth is as a roundabout way of saying that you shouldn’t have to have statutes and icons to believe; that the only kind of faith acceptable to Abraham’s God is blind faith.

Obviously that’s what the Muslims believe. But not the Catholic church.  Here’s my theory: the idea of blind faith as the only kind of acceptable faith – and therefore the only way to Heaven – is so scary for being wicked difficult that the Catholic church compromised. It’s okay to use statutes of saints and Jesus so long as you are worshiping the abstract concept of saintliness and salvation through Christ. Sounds logical enough, but how many devotees actually bother to draw such a super-fine distinction? And besides, the logic falls apart when we start talking of indulgences being granted for particular devotion to a specific statue like the Black Nazarene (If you kiss the stump in the picture, you get a 55-day indulgence, i.e., you spend 55 days less in Purgatory). In that situation – where there is a religious reward for loving a specific statue – can it even be said that you are worshiping the abstract and not the concrete?

Which brings me back to the devotos of tomorrow. If they know that the thing being paraded is not the real deal, will their ardor for it mean that they are closer to the true idea of faith as enunciated in the Bible? Or will the procession be nothing more than just another shamanistic ritual in the ritual-crazy Philippines?

Filed under: musings, religion,

Jesus King

Why is Jesus portrayed as a King and not a democratically elected leader? Why is Heaven called a Kingdom, not a democracy? Why do we need the concept of a monarchic afterlife to comfort us, when daily we strive with the imperfections of democracy and declare ourselves willing to die to defend it, rather than submit to tyranny? A monarchy is a tyranny, after all.

When the Magi first entered biblical lit, they were wise men – scholars, astrologers, and philosophers. But they eventually morphed into Kings. Again with the tyrannical overtones.

I imagine a Savior – if indeed there will be such a person, considering that we all of us need saving in infinitely different ways – to be one who brings freedom to all. Not merely a spiritual freedom which cannot be proven until after you die (and then what does it matter?), but a true freedom to live as we choose, without the need to scrabble for wealth as an indispensable prerequisite to self-actualization.

I imagine a Prince whose main task is to ensure that we adhere to the laws which we ourselves agree to, not a King who tells us we can do what we want, then threatens hellfire when we do that which he does not want us to do. I want a Prince who will give this to us in the here and now, not in the hereafter.

What need do we have for an afterlife? Seriously. The concept of an afterlife provides psychological comfort; the intangible assurance that living in this vale of tears isn’t futile, that our hard work will count for something when all is said and done. Sounds like a scam to me; a way of shutting us all up about the hardships we encounter here, propagated by those who rarely share the same hardships as us.

On the flipside, the concept of an afterlife removes the heavy burden of responsibility from our shoulders. We are poor not through no fault of our own, it is God’s will. We stay poor not because we are too lazy or too enervated to do anything about it, it is God’s trials for us (which begs the question, what trials does God have for those who are not poor or for the oppressors? Hell after death? BULLSHIT! Give ’em hell now, so the bastards know how it feels to be poor and downtrodden!). We live harsh and meaningless lives and then we die not because we failed to make ourselves relevant, but because it is God’s plan.

Jesus should not be King. He should be Healer, Peacemaker, Empower-er, Friend, Counsel. Not King. And the afterlife should not be a reward for a life lived in pain and tears. It should be a motivator for a life lived to the full. Heaven should be filled with people who rose above their earthly conditions without making life a hell for others; Hell should be overflowing with those who lusted after heaven but did nothing to make their lives a slice of paradise and those who crafted their earthly Edens at the expense of others.

Filed under: church and state, religion, , , , ,