The Filipino Freethinkers — Not Eating Babies since 2009

2 02 2011

“We don’t eat babies.”

I’ve been hearing this a lot since I joined the Filipino Freethinkers last May. And it’s true—the Philippines’s largest and most active group of atheists, agnostics, humanists, liberalists, deists, liberal theists, and whatever other -ists there are that think reason, science, and secularism totally pwns authority, tradition and dogma, has yet to partake of sweet infant flesh. We’re nice people. We donate blood and hold Wii parties. But of course, in a country that considers widespread Catholicism as a PR hook, convincing some people that we’re not a cult and, on the contrary, are purveyors of logic and individuality can seem hard.

Fortunately, attending just one of our bi-weekly meet-ups is enough to quell most qualms. When my boyfriend and I first went, starved as we were of fellow godless folk, we did have some doubts about these men and women huddled in a circle at Starbucks Shangri-La, listening so earnestly to each other, looking like an initial herding of pyramid schemers or a prayer meet with better clothes. But the moment we approached, they didn’t make a big scene, didn’t pat us on the back, tell us we’d come to the right place or any of that lovey dovey crap. We newcomers did have to share our beliefs or lack thereof and how we got to that point, but that was as cult-y as it got, and you have to admit it was necessary.

The rest of the meet-up—and all meet-ups since—was spent in discourse. Topics are very varied:  the ethics of having sex with friends, being a grammar Nazi, nationalism, genetic engineering, starting steps for virgin vegans, etc. And as we are a motley crew—a mix of college students, game developers, photographers, ex-evangelists, doctors, family men, businessmen, thespians, government employees, journalists, call center agents, professors and bums, each of whom harbor unique sets of principles—things can get rowdy. If shameless intellectual masturbation is your deal, then each Freethinker meet-up is the circle-jerk of your dreams. We don’t talk about pushing nuns into traffic or setting mosques on fire. We’re nerds, for the most part, and as harmless as they come.

Nonetheless, as we are all beneath the same freethought umbrella, we do have shared concerns, such as the passing of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, and are prone to act on them. This is where the Freethinkers leapt from being just a bunch of people I liked hanging out with, to the first opportunity I’ve ever had to stand up for something and not feel like I was shitting myself. I was never one for causes; I was the type who would rather blog about her period than the latest crummy thing in the news. But since joining the Freethinkers, I finally felt like I had a damn good reason to speak up about dire issues, which I didn’t use to have since neither god nor nation got me off.

I now commence with the inevitable reference to Carlos Celdran’s Sacrilege Spectacular. I was bedridden with fever the day some Freethinkers and members of like-minded groups trooped over to the CBCP and Carlos’s cell with their placards. As bad as I felt for not being there with them, I was also stoked about what was happening. Here was a tangible moment of conflict, and I was finally raring to support the side I was on instead of thinking that there was no point in getting riled up when there was Season 2 of Party Down to deal with. I didn’t give a fuck if others thought I was just some Carlos crony, promoting Damaso shirts on FaceBook because that’s what the cool kids were doing. I don’t blame them; I was obviously apathetic a few months back, so people who had known me longer would have had to do a double-take.

But the fact is that I learned a lot from my Freethinker friends about being a more vocal individual. These were people who had definite opinions, had the confidence to air them, and were principled enough to listen to others’ thoughts and support or counter those views civilly and within reason. In case anyone was wondering, that’s a good thing. And I wanted to be part of a good thing.

So, despite any hype or hot air that may have pervaded the RH brouhaha, it was apparent to me that the Freethinkers were being the real deal, and that I had every reason to be a more active person. We all wanted that RH bill passed because it made sense, and would bring about positive change. We don’t tolerate bullshit, and believe nobody else should.

I joined the Freethinkers about a month after I realized I was an atheist. (Side note: Nobody decides to take up atheism, much less try it out. Atheism is something you arrive at through rational inquiry; it occurs to you that there is no legitimate proof that higher beings exist. Simply put, you just don’t believe in the existence of a god or gods. That’s it.) I had never been a “spiritual” person, much less a religious one. I went through the motions—all girls’ Catholic school, paralyzing fear of rebultos, being a (restless, whiny) bead in a living rosary—and found no sense in them, or in any form of spirituality for that matter, growing older with no dependency on prayer or gratitude to a higher being. But I didn’t really bother labeling myself a non-believer. I just didn’t care then, up until I decided to read up about atheism—intrigued as I was because of my non-believing boyfriend—and realized that I had no problem whatsoever with what the likes of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens were saying, and that the stuff I’ve read in defense of god and religion just didn’t cut it. I went through similar thought processes and made similar observations as atheist authors, but it was just that I was too apathetic to make any conclusions in the past. So there. That’s when I realized that—BAM—yup, there is no god, and I’m an atheist, yeehaw. Such certainty made me feel awesome, and I wasn’t even craving for an epiphany.

Needless to say, I wasn’t in search of a support group. I certainly didn’t join the Freethinkers to feel better about being an atheist—it was definitely the opposite of being a burden—or to get further assurance that god is as real as my Worldwide, Genre-Spanning Literary Success. I didn’t need anyone else to be an atheist. Nonetheless, I became very curious as to what other atheists living in the Philippines were like, and what they were doing about the fact that most everyone around them had at least some fleck of faith when they didn’t. So when I joined the Freethinkers, not only were these curiosities sated, but I learned far more than I ever expected to.

As I’ve mentioned, not all Freethinkers are atheists. Absolutely anyone can be a Freethinker, as long as they understand that every single thing is liable to be questioned or scrutinized, as long as whatever sacred cows they’ve tended in the past have already been slaughtered into scrumptious patties. Freethinking is not about giving the finger to faith. It is about using reason and science to get to your own conclusions about anything. Since meeting the Freethinkers, I learned that my atheism was just a stepping stone towards a far more significant personal belief: that thinking before speaking (or doing, or anything) would do all of us a big, fat load of good.

In the past, writing about religion and gods this directly would have made me incredibly nervous. In fact, this essay is my first time to put into print a sentence as controversial or potentially infuriating as There is no god without muffling it with disclaimers. But I’m cool with it. I thought before I wrote, and know for a fact that I can defend my views neatly and objectively.

If you’ve ever been made to take up Theology in college and had to explain the holy trinity with a straight face for finals, I bet you’d know how much better I’ve been feeling now. And if you don’t, it sure wouldn’t hurt to think about it.

A Very Happy 2nd Anniversary, Filipino Freethinkers! I’m stoked to be part of such a warm, passionate, and blindingly attractive group of people.

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LGBT Pride March 2010: Putting the ‘Fun’ Back in ‘Fundie’

6 12 2010

Partners in crime (fighting).

I had the BEST time at my very first LGBT Pride March. I went as Ladyboy Wonder to my man-slave’s Buttman, and bore the special rainbow version of the Filipino Freethinkers logo for the length of the parade.

I brought along my purple multi-setting vibrator (which I got for free; it’s a long story), and it was put to good use by several FF’ers, most notably Cy the Purple Pimp Excommunicator…

So hawt.

Red the Pedo-Priest (who is with Garrick, our resident Molestee, in the photo below)…

Who's your padre?

…and Bea, our Vicar with a Vag.

"Yes, I have a vag!"

Our token slogan for the march was the mind-numbingly stupid (and therefore strangely intelligent) “Salt is a sin!” We chanted this and other slogans most especially upon meeting the Christian fundamentalists — a.k.a. ‘fundies’ — parked on every other corner with their anti-LGBT gear.

The pun run.

Photo-bombing the fundies, in fact, was the highlight of the march. Never have I been so excited to see an ultra-conservative. We’d hurtle towards them screeching in glee, ready to be photographed with our counter-protest signs, eager to cause a kerfuffle and drown out their hate speech.

We made several awesome photo-bombs, but the photo below is arguably the most awesome of the lot:

Family portrait.

It pains me to note that the streetkids were thrilled at the sight of Buttman and could not give a fig about his Ladyboy Wonder, but that’s okay, because our gaysome twosome made for excellent photo ops regardless:

With Carlos!

With Sailormoon!

And with Wonderwoman!

We even won ‘Best Theme’ at the end of the march, which was very awesome, albeit pretty confusing, since we didn’t really have a theme in mind, unless fundie-spotting is a theme. Or Pedo-Priest. Or Purple Pimp. Or Gay Comic Book Heroes.

I look forward to next year’s march. Apart from the endless hi-jinks, I truly enjoyed showing my support as an Ally of the LGBTs, and not just because I’m part-Babaeng Bakla, part-One-of-the-Boys.

Salt is a sin, brothers and sisters! Salt is a sin!

(Photo 1 by Steve Gelano; other photos by JM Aguilar)





Mandatory Post-Epic Party Blog Entry

1 12 2010

That's a lotta talong.

At one point in last Saturday’s Excommunication Party, I had to hand Carlos Celdran a bag full of sex paraphernalia as a prize for trumping two other participants in the Talong-Condom speed-sheathing game. I believe he sheathed 10 talongs in condoms in less than a minute, which is likely the number to beat in today’s vegetable speed-sheathing circles.

By the end of the night, I had a sense that the Filipino Freethinkers had succeeded in showing and drawing further support for the RH Bill and a secular society, and a huge bag of condom-covered eggplants.  It was that kind of party.

Obviously, the start of our modeling careers.

Dirty games aside, we had a photo/graffiti wall; a special confession booth where you could have your rants/lamentations on the RH brouhaha filmed; a special performance from improv group SPIT; a viewing of the now-infamous Satan, Get Out! video; speeches from Celdran, Akbayan Party List Reps Kaka Bag-ao and Walden Bello, Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines’ National Chair Beth Angsioco, comedienne Juana Change, and fellow FF’er Dr. Sylvia Claudio; the presence of the alarmingly pretty Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel…

Tonight, we dine in hell.

…the recreation of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, heathen-style…

I saw the sign.

…and the Manifesto in Support of Choice, the most awesome piece of paper I’ve ever had to sign thus far.

 

Awesomeness.

I throw my panties at my fellow FF’ers! I have never been more proud to be part of a bunch of blasphemous bastards, and I look forward to our future shenanigans in the fight against Bullshit. Yeehaw!

(Photos 1, 3 and 5 by Karlo Espiritu, Photo 2 by JM Aguilar, and Photo 4 by Tania Arpa)





Saturday Night Live [SUPER UPDATED]

22 11 2010

Last Saturday evening, pro-RH advocates the Filipino Freethinkers and Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines attempted to attend an anti-RH mass and lecture at the Manila Cathedral, only to be kept from entering and eventually driven away by several irate anti-RH Catholics. (Watch the video above and click on this link for further details/really mean, medieval pronouncements.)

While I wasn’t outright offended by all that anger chucked our way (this wasn’t the first time I’ve been called Satan without irony), I felt extremely unsettled hearing these ordinary-looking men and women resort to such an archaic, almost comic, manner of showing their disapproval of us. I was, to a point, frightened by their behavior. That was the closest I’ve come thus far to a fundamentalist going apeshit, and it was more aggravating than I’d expected. It must be noted that we didn’t talk back and, on the contrary, tried to calm them down.

One of the many undocumented highlights of that night was when the policeman who ushered us away admitted that his wife was on the Pill. You go, Mamang Pulis! 🙂 Also, here’s a link to a scanned copy of the ridiculous brochures the anti-RH folk were handing out on the church steps.

SUPER UPDATE: Here’s a video containing even more, unseen highlights from that night, including the bits where the anti-RH folk were at their most intolerant/batshit crazy, as well as a corresponding statement from the Freethinkers dispelling all the whitewash Pro-Life Philippines and the CBCP have been spreading around since.

Watch the video through to the end, and you’ll see us being heckled by the fundamentalists in a myriad ways, including telling us to tell our mothers to abort us.

You sure know your irony, fundie dudes and dudettes. Let’s totally chill at Cubao X.





Sweet, Sweet Sacrilege

18 11 2010

Click on this image for further details.

If you believe that your body is your own business, that religion should hold no clout over how this country is run, and that getting excommunicated is peanuts compared to a future with no true freedom to choose — and I sure as hell do — please come to next Friday’s Excommunication Party c/o of the Filipino Freethinkers at Adarna Food and Culture, Nov. 26, starting 6 PM.

There’ll be good food, great entertainment — including filthy, filthy games — and the opportunity to sign your name up for excommunication. It’s going to be awesome and good for humanity, yo! Yeehaw!





Pucker Up

10 11 2010

Quack.

Behold my duckface.  Duckfacing is apparently a huge trend amongst today’s youth, and I have taken a shine to it quite quickly, as I appreciate its subtle evolution from the standard kissy face.

The above photo was taken the day my fellow Filipino Freethinkers and I visited the Myth of the Human Body exhibit in Taguig. Couldn’t hide my excitement, obviously, as we were just moments away from a building full of this:

Plastinated corpses are very awesome. Was a pity there weren’t any non-human animal corpses on display — other countries’ exhibits have them, and word is that the latest creature to be preserved in all its meaty glory is an elephant (!!!) — but it was still a great experience. For a mere Php 350, you’ll get to see stuff you won’t likely see anywhere else. And a few dozen penises.

Sweet, innocent people.

Photography isn’t allowed until the very end of the exhibit, where you and your friends will have to make do with a wall-sized poster and a couple of cardboard cutouts. But that was okay, because I still got to duckface! (Click on photo for bigger duckface goodness.) So, that’s me duckfacing with the impossibly hot Freethinker gang…

In a state of undress.

…and this is me duckfacing with my man-slave, who is not duckfacing because he is, like, totally lame. This, by the by, is the only time you will ever see me sporting actual muscles, because I am quite jiggly in real life.

Again, the exhibit is definitely worth it, although you shouldn’t expect to get totally creeped out; it’s not that kind of deal. And you’re better off without a tour guide, because ours was too, well, uninformed.

You can find the exhibit at the NeoBabylon Building, 9 Bayani Road, AFPOVAI, Taguig, which is a building you will not miss as it is festooned with huge plaster Greek gods and a few of their topless babes (refer to the first pic).

And the duckface? So worth adopting, if only because doing so will allow you to take part in one of today’s grandest cultural movements, one so particularly significant that it has been commemorated quite stirringly in the audio-visual presentation herewith. Cheers.