History repeated

After suffering 300 years under Spanish Colonization, our nation still hasn’t learned. Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are no longer reminders of our ancestors’ mistakes–they are truths repeated and constantly practiced, no matter which new generation pours through the translated or condensed comic book versions. But famous tour guide Carlos Celdran’s daring “DAMASO” protest (in a Rizal outfit, too. How poetic!) has finally exposed the Catholic Church’s close mindedness and unwillingness to move on from its past mistakes.

Not that I support how the protest was executed. It was very disrespectful for him to do so in the middle of a mass. It almost parallels the intense backlash the media gave to Muslims during this year’s 9/11. The proper and classy way to do so would have been to hold the sign outside a church. As my friend said, the situation is a matter of respecting the other’s beliefs and devotion to faith, and not necessarily supporting what they stand for.

Then again, would it have been as effective? Would the Facebook statuses be twittering about whether or not he be freed? He has made headlines and updates, and ultimately, he has everyone’s attention. He has people talking. What would have been deemed as ‘radical’ is now ‘normal,’ as people come out with their support for contraceptives to prevent unwanted births and disease. Maybe it was necessary for him to be disrespectful, because the Church has been disrespecting the choice of Filipinos to use contraceptives and family planning without seeing it as abortion. How many times do former Catholics (those who stop going to mass without any malice) have to remind close-minded conservatives that children are being born without any money saved for support or that not everyone wants to have a child once they’re married.

Being pro-choice doesn’t necessarily mean you are for abortion. The definition is more flexible in Filipino culture since young members of the Catholic church grew up to new ideas. The birth control pill. Overpopulation. Poverty. Rising birth prices.

Let’s do some child-bearing computations. You need at least Php 100,000 for hospital bills when you give birth. Once the child is born, you spend about Php 1,000 a week just on the baby’s milk. Yet to be computed: diapers, doctor visits, higher utility bills, saving for their education, etc.

What I’ve noticed from the conservative side is this: those staunchly defending that using contraceptives is supposedly abortion have enough to support a child. They can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to get by each day, saving between Php 1oo to Php 1000 just to give their child food and shelter. It is a matter of practicality and giving your child everything you were blessed with too when you entered the world.

There is also the fact not all Catholics are completely supportive of their religion. Many have left the church, following their conscience, tired of hearing about molested children kept under wraps or constant attacks to the sinners without actually supporting them. In the end, it is not really the religion they have an issue with–it’s the people representing them.

Considering to ex-communicate our president only adds to the conflict. How do they expect to study the RH bill effectively, bearing both parties in mind, when they decide to shun the one with more power? Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

We can not go on like this. We cannot continue being ‘lie down and take it’ “Indios” and blindly follow the church because we ‘fear’ the horrible punishments of the after life. There are lives being shattered and built right now, millions of unfed and unclothed children who aren’t taken care of. How much longer can they hold on to an abstract idea of a better life? How many more unfed and unborn children do we want produced?

Of course, contraceptives alone cannot solve the present problem of the population. It is also the government’s responsibility to provide a stable infrastructure and jobs that will support the already existing children. In terms of overpopulation, what provinces need to do is step up the livelihood around the Philippines. These street children would have a better chance where their parents came from, if their province already had enough jobs and an education to let them grow. The church implements a lot of outreach programs that should address this. But their efforts alone cannot provide a long-term solution.

The church and the state must work complementary to one another, sticking to their prescribed responsibilities. Because they indirectly work hand in hand, having influence over the same group of people, communication must be open for each side to hear one another out.

So, yes, ex-communication is clearly the least practical solution.

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