Friday, October 31, 2008

On the 14 Ateneo professors (4)

Actually the title of this post should have read: On the 69 Ateneo professors, as it was
reported here
that 55 Ateneo professors have joined the fray. This post contains the
comments of reader TE in the last thread. Here goes...

I was finally able to read the whole paper by the professors. The paper contains a statistic-heavy discussion on the women who had abortions. My understanding of the discussion was that the major cause was economic. Not knowing how to plan pregnancies seems to be a small contributing cause but the major reason is economic. They simply could not afford more children. However, the professors chose to make the conclusion that:

"Thus, for these women, abortion has become a family planning method, in the absence of information on and access to any reliable means to prevent an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. The fact is, our women are having more children than they desire, as seen in the gap between desired fertility (2.5 children) and actual fertility (3.5 children), implying a significant unmet need for reproductive health services (NSO and ORC Macro 2004, 2003 NDHS)."

It seems to me that the conclusion is not consistent with the discussion that went before it. It also seems to me that if we look at this whole thing as a process, abortion comes at the end of the process with pregnancy right before it. The implied solutions seems to focus on the results of the process rather than on the causes of it. The statistics they presented do not bear out the conclusion - they point to a cause much earlier in the process: economics and the faulty decision-making that allowed couples to choose to have sex in the first place. I can't help thinking that if families were economically well off, having more children than the national average would not be a problem, regardless of whether they have access to information and the means to do effective family planning. In later pages, the professors repeat this in the following: "The inability of women in the poorest quintile to achieve the number of children they want stems from their high unmet need for family planning, which, at 26.7 percent, is more than twice as high as the unmet need of women in the richest quintile, at 12.3 percent (ibid.)." And again several pages later "In summary, poor households typically have more children than they aspired to have, as a result of a high unmet need for family planning."

I believe there is a danger here to simplify the problem and jump to an erroneous conclusion. It is all too easy to think that the problem is one of providing information and the know-how to planning. I believe a more fundamental issue lies in the individual value system and the way people make their decisions. You can't teach an old dog new tricks as the Americans would say. You can bombard people with family planning techniques and provide them with tons of information but if their value system, how they set priorities and how they make decisions are still the same, they will still make the same choices they did before. As Socrates said: "If you do what you always did, you get what always got." And the definition of insanity is when you do what always did, over and over, but expect different results.

Statistics-wise the program would look good - hospitals for every 500,000 people, mobile vans to spread the news, thousands of training programs. But the key to behavioural change remains the same: the internal value systems and decision makig process in people. How does the RH bill propose to legislate this? Punishing conscientious objectors will not do it.

A few pages later the professors came up with this: "the right to choose is meaningful only if women have real power to choose." They present a very good case for choice. And indeed, the right to choose is meaningful only when one has the power to do it. But does this mean the professors do not consider the unborn child to have any such rights because they obviously cannot voice their choice? In fact, the whole paper does not have a single sentence anywhere on the rights of the unborn.

This next one struck me as a bit weird. I have highlighted the "offending phrase" below. "Poverty is a multi-faceted phenomenon caused by inter-related factors: the weak and boom-and-bust cycle of economic growth; inequities in the distribution of income and assets and in the access to social services; bad governance and corruption; the lack of priority accorded to agriculture including agrarian reform; the limited coverage of safety nets and targeted poverty reduction programs; and armed conflict." How does unequal access to social services cause poverty?

The professors proclaim their stand thus: "We therefore support the RH Bill because we believe that it will help the poor develop and expand their capabilities, so as to lead more worthwhile lives befitting their dignity and destiny as human beings...To recapitulate, the RH Bill does not only safeguard life by seeking to avert abortions and maternal and infant deaths. It also promotes quality of life, by enabling couples, especially the poor, to bring into the world only the number of children they believe they can care for and nurture to become healthy and productive members of our society." The highighting is mine. I do not discount the possibility that the thread of logic has completely escaped me but how does the bill DO all that? It seems to me that the capabilities to lead a more worthwhile life means more than just being able to plan families, use contraceptives and know a hell of a lot about sex, STIs and reproductive hygiene. It takes more than hospitals and vans and adult education. It also takes the cultivation of life-affirming values, discipline and a spiritually guided belief system. Or do they know something I don't?

Will the bill really enable couples to limit their children? My read of the whole thing is that the most the bill can do is help to create the conditions for couples to make an informed choice. The enablement comes from an internal change in priorities and values. It seems to me the sentences above claim benefits of the bill that MAY result IF the bill is effective. Given the government's record, I have grave doubts on how effective the bill will be implemented.

Serious professors they may be but I found a bit of humor in this one: "Comparatively, protection was higher among the males (27.5%) than the females (14.8%), rendering the latter extremely vulnerable to unplanned pregnancy (Raymundo and Cruz 2003, citing the 2002 YAFSS 3)." Do you any idea what kind of males they're talking about?

To be fair, I think parts of the bill are beneficial. I think the Church opposes only certain provisions of the bill NOT ALL of it. Problem is you can't pass some parts and not pass others. I also believe the bill proposes solutions that address the results while making only provisions to address the causes. It does not address at all the economic causes. It does not address the fundamental problem of values formation and the correction of internal process such as decision making and priority setting. I personally know some poor people, former tenant farmers, who did not go beyond the 3rd grade but were able to keep their family small. They didn't know whit what family planning is and haven't encountered the word contraceptive their entire lives. But they have good heads on their shoulders and exhibit a probably higher discipline. I suspect the method they used is simple abstinence and are now in their sixties with 2 grown children.

On the whole the professors did not convince me that as a Catholic I can support the bill in GOOD CONSCIENCE. There are open issues which still impinge on the conscience such the rights of the unborn, the curtailment of freedom and the discriminatory provisions regarding conscientious objectors. By giving their support the professors are saying they are accepting these limits on our freedoms. Given the track record of the government, they will probably be more effective in enforcing these limits than in implementing the "benificial" provisions of the bill. Values are ignored. The bill would rather train a couple how to avoid a pregnancy than to instill in them the values of discipline and responsibility. Its like closing the barn when all the horses have gone. This impinge on my conscience because I can see that the bill proposes for us to pay with our freedoms a solution that addresses an effect, a result while the causes are ignored. Would you sacrifice your freedom to pay for alleviating a symptom?
My postscript: Ever wonder how much its going to cost us taxpayers? TE does the math here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Of warnings, prophecies, and prayers

"...the terrorism of tenth-rate professors..."-G.K. Chesterton
"...The thing that really is trying to tyrannize through government is Science. The thing that really does use the secular arm is Science. And the creed that really is levying tithes and capturing schools, the creed that really is enforced by fine and imprisonment, the creed that really is proclaimed not in sermons but in statutes, and spread not by pilgrims but by policemen --- that creed is the great but disputed system of thought which began with Evolution and has ended in Eugenics. Materialism is really our established Church; for the Government will really help it to persecute its heretics....I am not frightened of the word "persecution" when it is attributed to the churches; nor is it in the least as a term of reproach that I attribute it to the men of science. It is as a term of legal fact. If it means the imposition by the police of a widely disputed theory, incapable of final proof --- then our priests are not now persecuting, but our doctors are...Now here we find ourselves confronted with an amazing fact. When, in the past, opinions so arguable have been enforced by State violence, it has been at the instigation of fanatics who held them for fixed and flaming certainties. If truths could not be evaded by their enemies, neither could they be altered even by their friends. But what are the certain truths that the secular arm must now lift the sword to enforce?..."
Interesting that G.K. Chesterton talks about state-enforced "science" through his work "Eugenics and other Evils", back in 1922. Eighty-six years fast forward today and we see the realization of the dire warning with the recent passage thru 3rd reading of the UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill. Closer to home, HB 5043 has already passed 3rd reading in Congress, the same version which includes punitive provisions of fines and/or imprisonment of upto 6 months for conscientious objectors. Pope Paul VI, in an eerily similar prophetic warning contained in Humanae Vitae, circa 1968, stated:

"...Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife..."
By the way, G.K. Chesterton begins that treatise by stating:

"The wisest thing in the world is to cry out before you are hurt. "

Pope Paul VI on the other hand, ends Humanae Vitae by stating:

"We implore from the God of all holiness and pity an abundance of heavenly grace..."

And so I say:

Let us both cry out and pray.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On the 14 Ateneo professors (3)

(my further comments over at FV)


I think there are many ways that the 14 professors could have expressed their personal opinions without dragging the Ateneo name with it. In the light of Fr Nebres assertion on point #5 — It is also the responsibility of the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university to ensure that, in our classes and other fora, we teach Catholic faith and morals in their integrity., these professors must realize that they find themselves in an odd situation (specially the Theology professor) where they may be required to teach something in class that do not conform to their "well-formed conscience". Their position is simply not compatible with the institution they work for. As they search their "well-formed conscience" on how to act in this tricky situation that poses a dilemma to their professional integrity, it certainly must lead them to seriously think of teaching elsewhere, where they won’t cause an embarrassment to themselves and to the school officials.


Put yourself in the shoes of the theology professor. Just look at a likely situation where you are directed by the University to read and explain to your class an official statement that upholds the Church’s opposition to the bill. Refer to item #5 above in Fr Nebres’ statement again. The statement you are supposed to explain and uphold happens to run counter to your "well-formed conscience". Your class is aware about your contrary position. If you read and explain the official position, you compromise your moral and professional integrity. On the other hand if you refuse, you open yourself to a reasonable charge of insubordination, as you realize that you are being paid by the University to teach according to its standards. And before you invoke academic freedom, it must be made clear here that a professor is also an employee. There is a substantial difference between a secular university and a Catholic university. A theology professor in a Catholic school cannot take a position in faith or ethics that is contrary to the magisterial teaching any more than you could espouse as fact in a secular university that one and one is three. Check out Fr Charles Curran’s celebrated case here. Either way, it is embarrassing for the dissenting professors, not because of the opinions they took, but because of the tight fix they put themselves into.

On the 14 Ateneo professors (2)

(here is the response of Fr Nebres, hat tip

Ateneo de Manila University
23 October 2008
Yesterday, the Manila Standard had a headline story entitled "Ateneo profs defy bishops, back family planning bill." The article is based on an October 15, 2008 position paper issued by individual faculty members of the Ateneo de Manila, "Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience." A shorter version of this position paper is attached.
In reply to a request for clarification from His Excellency Most Rev. Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D., President of the CBCP, I wrote him yesterday, October 22, as follows:

First, that "the faculty members clearly state that they are not speaking for the Ateneo de Manila and that this is their personal position."

Second, that I was asked to respond to this concern a few weeks ago by Archbishop Paciano Aniceto and Bishop Gabriel Reyes and I wrote them on October 2, 2008 regarding our position on the Reproductive Health Bill 5043:

As in all matters that are connected with faith and morals, the Ateneo de Manila, as a Jesuit and Catholic university, stands with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

I am familiar with the considered opinion of our moral theologians that, although there are points wherein the aforesaid bill and the Catholic moral tradition are in agreement, there are certain positions and provisions in the bill which are incompatible with principles and specific positions of moral teaching which the Catholic Church has held and continues to hold.

I trust that this will help clarify our position. At the same time, together with the CBCP and the Philippine Province, we favor and encourage honest, sincere and mutually-respectful dialogue on the important issues taken up in the bill.

In my letter to Archbishop Lagdameo yesterday, I also said that several Jesuits would be meeting with the Ateneo faculty members yesterday in a dialogue on this important matter. The dialogue yesterday was forthright and mutually respectful and we pointed out that, while we respect their deep concern for the poor and appreciate our mutual dialogue with them, it is necessary for the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university, to state clearly our position on RH Bill 5043. The position of the Ateneo de Manila is as follows:

1) We appreciate the efforts of these members of the Ateneo faculty to grapple with serious social issues and to draw from Catholic moral teaching in their study of the bill.

2) We acknowledge their right to express their views as individual Catholics and appreciate their clear statement that their views are their own and not that of the University.

3) However, the Ateneo de Manila University does not agree with their position of supporting the present bill. As I said in my letter of October 2 to Archbishop Aniceto and Bishop Reyes, it is "the considered opinion of our moral theologians that, although there are points wherein the aforesaid bill and the Catholic moral tradition are in agreement, there are certain positions and provisions in the bill which are incompatible with principles and specific positions of moral teaching which the Catholic Church has held and continues to hold."
We thus have serious objections to the present bill in the light of our Catholic faith.

4) Ateneo de Manila thus stands with our Church leaders in raising questions about and objections to RH Bill 5043.

5) It is also the responsibility of the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university to ensure that, in our classes and other fora, we teach Catholic faith and morals in their integrity.

6) At the same time, as I also wrote on October 2, we support continuing efforts on the critical study and discussion of the bill among Church groups including the University and in civil society.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

On the 14 Ateneo professors, Conscience, Reality, and the Truth

I once had an argument with my previous boss over a computerized system that we planned on developing. I needed funding for the planned system that will be designed for on-line monitoring of parts shortages. My proposed system will quickly highlight what components are delaying the production lines.

He asked: ”Why do we want to spend our money and energies tracking those shortages? Why not prevent them in the first place?”

He had a very good point there. Be proactive, strike at the root cause, and not at symptoms of problems. My boss had this effective method of asking a succession of “whys” until we got to the root of the problem.

I suddenly remembered this encounter with my old boss as I read the statements of the 14 Ateneo professors who came out with a position paper supporting HB5043. Among other things, they said that giving women access to other “medically safe, legal, affordable and quality” family planning methods would prevent “unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies, which are the root cause of induced abortions.”

So according to the professors, “unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies” are the root cause of induced abortions. But what is the root cause of “unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies”?

“We are thinking of women who find it impossible to predict their infertile periods,..”.

Ah, if there is one word that my old boss hates, it is the word “impossible”. Obviously, the professors are referring to NFP and I wonder what are their presumptions by claiming that women find it impossible. I take it that these professors are more steeped than us ordinary mortals in scientific, facts-based analysis that substantiates their statements empirically. Does their studies/references (assuming they cited an NFP study) conclude that it is impossible to predict infertile periods? Is a system designed into nature itself, impossible? A study of NFP in China (check out this link), says otherwise, and in fact concludes: “The BOM (NFP) is simple and easy to comprehend; almost all the women, including the illiterate, can successfully learn the method and identify their own mucus symptoms.”.

“We are thinking... of couples who see each other on an irregular basis, or women who are trapped in abusive relationships with men who demand sex anytime they want it,” .

Please professors, think harder. You are implying that these couples have an irresistible urge to copulate on sight. You said you were speaking for yourselves :-), so please do not make an unfair assumption on all these couples. Furthermore, if women are trapped in abusive relationships, then these women should be counseled and assisted, as no woman deserves to endure those “abusive relationships”, where men “demand sex anytime they want it”. Do you mean we turn a blind eye to the abuse as long as those women are “protected” by contraceptives? You give them contraceptives and the abuse goes on. Is that your idea of women “protection”? Think of the larger abuses of social inequity, of corruption, disrespect for the poor, and general apathy and tolerance of abuses committed at large to society.

“Catholic social teachings recognize the primacy of the well-formed conscience over wooden compliance to directives from political and religious authorities.”

The professors seem to imply that their well-formed conscience, probably developed over the last few months, trumps more than 2,000 years of Church history and teaching tradition. Primacy of conscience does not guarantee rightness and the objective TRUTH in ones subsequent actions. As is usually the case, when one finds himself in conflict with the Church’s teachings, the problem is with the person and not with the teaching, a direct consequence, naturally, of a selective reading(?) of Catholic (social ?) teachings.

While the professors continue to think more along the lines of “well-formed consciences”, they might consider not dragging the Ateneo name the next time they feel an irresistible urge to voice out their personal opinions. It would also do them well to read the Compendium of the Social Doctrines of the Church (all 361 pages, with NOT A SINGLE PAGE of it expounding on the PRIMACY of CONSCIENCE); study NFP first DILIGENTLY, without making “impossible” conclusions; rethink their concept of ROOT CAUSES; ask a succession of “WHYS” on the problems of women at hand; and investigate more deeply the real meaning of “WELL-FORMED CONSCIENCES”.

And if they want a professor to teach them through it all, I will gladly refer my old boss.
He also says that some solutions are worse than the problem.
Fr Nebres' response here.
Additional comments here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fides et Ratio - revisited

No fear

The Holy Father clarified that faith has no fear of the "progress of science and the developments that its conquests lead to, when these aim at benefiting man, his well-being and the progress of all humanity."
But, he said, "scientific research does not always have these as its ends."
"Easy gain or, worse still, the arrogance of taking the place of the Creator, at times play a decisive role," the Pope affirmed, emphasizing the threat that such mentalities can pose for humanity.
"But science is not competent to elaborate ethical principles; it can only accept them in themselves and recognize them as necessary for overcoming [science's] possible pathologies," he continued.

Benedict XVI affirmed that science could derive much fruit from a constructive dialogue with philosophy and theology.

"This would not at all aim at limiting scientific research or at preventing technology from producing instruments of development," he explained. "It would aim rather at keeping alive the sense of responsibility that reason and faith have for science so that science would continue to carry out its work in the service of man.

"The truth of revelation does not superimpose itself on the truth discovered by reason; rather, it purifies reason and elevates it, permitting it thus to expand its own sphere and insert itself into a field of research that is as unfathomable as the mystery itself."

The Pope said that the Word of God is the "definitive answer […] to the passion for truth." It is a "Word of revelation that becomes life and that asks that it be received as an inexhaustible source of truth."
The Pope made these remarks Thursday in an audience with participants from the international "Faith in Reason" conference that was held Thursday through Sunday at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
The event was organized for the 10th anniversary of the publication of Pope John Paul II's encyclical "Fides et Ratio."

In that document, Benedict XVI explained, there is an emphasis on "the importance of joining faith and reason in their reciprocal relation while respecting the autonomous sphere of each”.
(emphasis mine)



“Faith is strengthened when it is given to others”

Pope John Paul II devoted the last 20 years of his pontificate calling for a “new evangelization,” a call now taken up by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. His resounding call is exemplified in his encyclical “Redemptoris Missio”.

Redemptoris Missio (Latin for Mission of the Redeemer), subtitled “On the permanent validity of the Church's missionary mandate”, was published on December 7, 1990, devoted to the subject of "the urgency of missionary activity" and in which he wished "to invite the Church to renew her missionary commitment."

Pope John Paul II says in his introduction:

…“Twenty-five years after the conclusion of the Council and the publication of the Decree on Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, fifteen years after the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi issued by Pope Paul VI, and in continuity with the magisterial teaching of my predecessors, I wish to invite the Church to renew her missionary commitment.”…

The call for renewal in the missionary commitment is exemplified in this excerpt on the section expounding the “Parameters of the Church's Mission Ad Gentes”. The passage (emphasis mine) retains its resonating significance in today’s social milieu.
“The rapid and profound transformations which characterize today's world, especially in the southern hemisphere, are having a powerful effect on the overall missionary picture. Where before there were stable human and social situations, today everything is in flux. One thinks, for example, of urbanization and the massive growth of cities, especially where demographic pressure is greatest. In not a few countries, over half the population already lives in a few "megalopolises," where human problems are often aggravated by the feeling of anonymity experienced by masses of people.

In the modern age, missionary activity has been carried out especially in isolated regions which are far from centers of civilization and which are hard to penetrate because of difficulties of communication, language or climate. Today the image of mission ad gentes is perhaps changing: efforts should be concentrated on the big cities, where new customs and styles of living arise together with new forms of culture and communication, which then influence the wider population. It is true that the "option for the neediest" means that we should not overlook the most abandoned and isolated human groups, but it is also true that individual or small groups cannot be evangelized if we neglect the centers where a new humanity, so to speak, is emerging, and where new models of development are taking shape. The future of the younger nations is being shaped in the cities.

Speaking of the future, we cannot forget the young, who in many countries comprise more than half the population. How do we bring the message of Christ to non-Christian young people who represent the future of entire continents? Clearly, the ordinary means of pastoral work are not sufficient: what are needed are associations, institutions, special centers and groups, and cultural and social initiatives for young people. This is a field where modern ecclesial movements have ample room for involvement.
The message resonates as ever, especially in our developing nation that faces daunting challenges in an increasingly relativist milieu.

The call for new evangelization still stands, for

"Without the Creator, the creature disappears"

Friday, October 17, 2008

Solons laud SWS survey on family planning

Solons laud over SWS survey on family planning
Solons get loud over SWS survey on family planning

10/15/2008 04:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The proponents of the Reproductive Health bill in the House on Wednesday welcomed the results of the latest Social Weather Station survey showing that majority of Filipinos favor mandating the government to distribute contraceptives. In a statement, House Bill 5043 principal author Rep. Edcel Lagman said the SWS survey results released early Wednesday morning confirm that Filipinos approve of family planning and want a law requiring the government to distribute artificial birth control methods such as condoms, pills, and IUDs. "The message is loud and clear. Filipinos want to plan their families, approve of contraceptive use and they want government to help them be responsible parents," said Lagman.

Translated: The proponents of the Reproductive Health bill in the House on Wednesday gloated over the results of the latest Social Weather Station…"The message is loud and clear. Filipinos want to plan their families, approve of contraceptive use...", said Lagman. He later added, "…the rest of the Filipinos who disapprove must simply be ignored. They can go to hell!…see you there..".
...The SWS survey showed that 68 percent of Filipinos agree that there should be a law requiring government to distribute legal contraceptives.

Well, guns are legal too, but "legal" contraceptives? Pray tell us, what are "illegal" contraceptives?

...Fifty percent disagreed that contraceptives are abortifacients, 33 percent concurred, and 15 percent were undecided.

Yeah, yeah. And the majority of the crowd voted to release Barabas.
...RH bill co-author Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Health committee chair Rep. Arthur Pinggoy likewise welcomed the survey results.

With open arms, of course.

..."The 50 percent are right. Contraceptive use prevents conception, and therefore there is no pregnancy aborted. The 68 percent would be enough to pass the RH bill requiring government to make contraceptives available. We congressmen should vote to represent that majority sentiment," said Hontiveros in a text message to GMANews.TV.

My text message reply: "R u kddng?? Bill says full range of cntrceptvs. Iud’s, pills, injctbles prvent cnception? Oh cmon, get ur facts str8".

Argumentum ad populum says the majority is infallibly right huh? Count Barabas in.
...Pinggoy, meanwhile said there is truly a need for legislation mandating the government to distribute contraceptives as most Filipinos cannot afford them. "Fifty-two percent of Filipinos live below poverty level and most of them have no access to contraceptives because they cannot afford it," Pinggoy told GMANews.TV in a text message.

Reply: "K, jus like d pur can’t affrd fud too. u go like: wat d heck w no fud, jus gib dem more 'safe' sex."

To which Marie Antoinette says: "Let them eat cake!".

...The survey results also showed that 54 percent disagree that youth would be considered "promiscuous" if family planning is included in their school curriculum, while 25 percent agreed and 19 percent were undecided.

See?, 54%: isn't that an awesome majority? Mandatory sex-ed for the rest of the 46% who disagree or are clueless! We don’t care if your children will be "promiscuous" or not, and whether you even understand the meaning of the word. We enlightened, bright solons have the right to decide what's good and what's not for your own children. Plus, you have the right to remain silent.

...The survey with a 3% error margin was done from September 24-27. Of those surveyed, 81 percent were Catholics. "Clearly, doctrines advocated by the Church hierarchy do not reflect the diversity of attitudes and practices among the Catholic faithful themselves," said Lagman.

Last time I heard , the Church hierarchy reflects divine revelation, not "diversity of attitudes and practices". And Honorable Sir Lagman, please define “Catholic faithful” .
...Lagman said that the SWS survey "echoes surveys conducted by Pulse Asia in 2001, 2004 and 2007 which consistently show that Filipinos believe in the importance of family planning and would like to have the information and access to do so responsibly." Lagman said the latest survey results strengthens the resolve of the 113 RH bill coauthors and improves the chances of the bill's approval in the House.

Oh? Do survey results now qualify as valid basis in justifying the passage of bills? The judging in American Idol now looks more reasonable.
...The chair of the House "pro-life" caucus, however, dismissed the survey results. Paranaque Rep. Eduardo Zialcita told GMANews.TV in a text message that many are misinformed about reproductive health because the anti-Reproductive Health bill side is rarely heard in the media. "Many of them (respondents) misinformed. Our side is hardly heard in the media," said Zialcita. "Assuming the survey is true, it doesn't make it right."...

How true. The thing with surveys is that depending on the way questions are presented, the results may lead to unreasonable conclusions. Not to mention misinformation. To be fair, I say take another survey among the same respondents. Here goes:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008



Why are people suffering poverty?

…he fell into the hands of robbers.
They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

What is the reaction of most people to this injustice?

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

What should have been done?

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

But why are people suffering poverty today?

The are many robbers in our midst.
There are many priests and Levites in our midst who look the other way,
while there are very few good Samaritans around.

But many times, all of these people act through the same person.

It just so happens that the acts particular to robbers, priests and Levites far outnumber the acts particular to good Samaritans.

And that’s why we have poverty, because very few have heard, or understood, and internalized the concept of having mercy on their neighbors, much less understood who their neighbors are.

If people did, they would have paid attention and heeded the words:

"Go and do likewise."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

QC: Car theft capital no more

QC: Car theft capital no more

By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 09:43:00 10/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines - For almost eight years, Quezon City was tagged as the "car theft capital of the Philippines" for being the city with the most number of incidents of car theft.

But this year showed a drop in the numbers, giving city police officials something to brag about.

"We're no longer the carnapping capital [of the Philippines]," said Inspecter Angelo Nicolas, chief of the Quezon City Police Department Anti-Carnapping Unit (QCPD-ANCAR) in a phone interview.
Well and good.

There's just a bit of suspense in Inspector Nicolas' statement there.
I was hoping he would continue on with his statement, for clarification.
He should have said:

"We're no longer the carnapping capital, the distinction now goes to M...".

Debates on HB 5043

I participated in this lively debate on the on the RH bill, otherwise known as HB 5043,
otherwise known as "An Act Providing for a National Policy on
Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood, and Population Development".
(My, what a kilometric title).

The blog entry at is entitled "The Catholic Magisterium on Contraception".

We debated some very interesting points. Check it out here.

Meanwhile, Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., writes in his Inquirer a column
entitled "Church, Constitution and the RH bill", detailing the areas that
need further discussion. Bulls-eye there, Father.

And now here's a quote from Albert Schweitzer:

"Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. This is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil.".

- Civilization and Ethics, 1949

Monday, October 13, 2008

BBC insults and more

“I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.”
– William F. Buckley Jr.

Philippine officials demanded an apology from the BBC on Tuesday over what they said was a racist portrayal of Filipinos in one of the network's comedy shows.

They said an episode of "Harry and Paul," the brainchild of British comics Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, humiliated Filipinos working abroad as domestic servants.

"I don't like our fellow Filipinos to be insulted," said Raul Gonzalez, the country's justice minister.
“…as if my insults aren’t enough”, the good minister muttered under his breath.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

On Preparation and Silence

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

...But he was reduced to silence...

Mt 22:1-14

..."The king said to him, 'My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?'
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen."

But he was reduced to silence. Why?

If he had no festal garment in the first place, he would have said: "But these are my only clothes", and he would certainly have been permitted to stay. The truth is, the guest made no effort to prepare himself for the wedding banquet he was graciously invited to, not even thinking that the king invited him even though it was not his obligation to do so.

You see, everyone needs some kind of preparation in almost anything he or she desires.

If a student is going to have an exam and wants to pass, he studies and prepares for it;

if man wants to eat, he works for it;

if someone plans to hold a feast, he prepares enough food;

if you are invited to a party, you wear appropriate clothes;


if you are to meet your maker in the end, you...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who is Jesus Christ?

I came across this piece while I was preparing for CLP Talk # 2.

"Now unless the speaker is God, this really is so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offenses against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men's toes and stealing other men's money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of this conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party cheifly concerned, the person cheifly offended in all offenses. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history".

- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Siren voice means she's fertile

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 09:01:00 10/08/2008

PARIS -- A woman raises the pitch of her voice during her most fertile period of the month in an unconscious boost to her femininity, according to a study published Wednesday in the British journal Biology Letters. A pair of scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) asked 69 women to make voice recordings when they were at high and low fertility points in their menstrual cycle. The closer a woman was to ovulation, the more she raised her pitch, the investigators found. ...The difference was the greatest on the two days preceding ovulation, when fertility within the cycle is the highest... Conversely, a vocal shift towards hoarseness has been found at the time of menstruation.


Great. Now we can add a new scientific technique for fertility observation in Natural Family Planning - BOM.
So the next time the wifey yells at you (in a high pitch, mind you) , it may be a come-hither signal in disguise.

Unless she's holding a rolling-pin.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Somebody up there likes me

Likes Paul Newman, I mean.
Happened to chance upon this old black and white movie starring Paul Newman in Turner Classic Movies.

It's the story of pugilist Rocky Graziano, a reckless, happy-go-lucky guy, finds himself in jail, the army, dishonorably disharged and went AWOL, met his match with an angel of a wife, and finally finds his place in the ring. Climactic title fight which he heroically wins by TKO in the 6th round. Underdog and bloodied, the works. Lucky guy.

Superb, awesome acting. This guy really deserves a tribute.
Few people know this guy is a philantrophist, his donations to charity exceeding $220 million.
Paul Newman died of cancer last September 26, at 83.
May God bless his soul.

The final scene goes like this:

Rocky: I'm really lucky. Somebody up there likes me.

Norma: Somebody down here too.



Everytime the debates on the proposed RH bill 5043 crops up, you can be sure that Natural Family Planning comes up as a convenient target.

The critics of Natural Family Planning (NFP) contend that the Rhythm method is highly unreliable and has high failure rates.

The above statement is right for the wrong reasons.

Contrary to the common misconception, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is not synonymous to the Rhythm (otherwise known as Calendar) Method. Natural Family Planning is based on the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM).

The rhythm method is based on three ideas. Firstly, that women ovulate 14 days before menstruation begins, give or take two days. Secondly, that sperm can survive inside a woman for three days. And lastly, that an egg can only be fertilized within 24 hours of being released from the ovaries.

Based on these assumptions, the rhythm method requires a woman to count back 14 days from the first day of her period. This will presumably be the day on which she ovulated and will ovulate the following month. In order to avoid pregnancy, she will need to abstain from sex within 3 to 5 days of the expected ovulation date.

While this method is fairly simple to follow, it is not necessarily applicable to all women. The first problem lies in the assumption that ovulation will always occur at the same time every month. While it would make life a lot easier for women if this were true, the reality is that the majority of women ovulate at a different time every month. Although they may follow a similar pattern, no woman has a menstrual cycle that is identical every month. Ovulation timing is also affected by stress, age, discontinuation of the pill, breastfeeding, menopause, and the varying health condition of the woman.

The Billings Method or the BOM is the most modern natural way to achieve or postpone pregnancy.
It has been named after the doctor and wife team who developed it 56 years ago: Dr. John Billings and Dr. Evelyn Billings.

It can be used by a woman in all stages of her reproductive life: regular, irregular cycling, breastfeeding, approaching menopause, recovering from emotional and physical stress or coming off contraceptive medication, literate, illiterate, whatever.

Fertility is signalled by the development of a particular type of mucus from the crypts of the cervix. Sperm live in the best type of mucus but without it they die within an hour or so. The mucus symptom, telling the woman she has begun her fertile phase, develops a few days prior to ovulation. The Peak day (the last day of the lubricative sensation) occurs very close to the time of ovulation. She is possibly fertile for a further three days and menstruation follows 11 - 16 days later.

A woman is not asked to do anything except pay attention to what she has already noticed just as she goes about her normal daily activies; keep a simple record and apply four common sense guidelines. The daily chart is very important in reminding her to pay attention to the changes in sensation at the vulva and the appearance of any discharge seen. It also gives valuable information to the couple so that they can make decisions about their joint fertility.

Clinical trials demonstrate how effective it is when avoiding pregnancy (better than 99%) while helping those couples labelled "low fertility" to conceive a long awaited baby 80% of the time (Australian trial, 2006). The Billings chart further gives valuable hormonal information to doctors and is increasingly used as a diagnostic tool in the treatment of infertility. More information on a woman’s fertility cycle may be found here.

So there.

Rhythm is not = NFP.
NFP is not = Rhythm.
Calendar method is not synonymous to NFP.
NFP is not...oh, never mind.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Stolen condom carrier found sans condoms

Prophylactics swiped from Mexico condom-mobile

October 01, 2008 9:46 PM EDT

MEXICO CITY - Missing in Mexico: 5,000 condoms, sound equipment and a motor used to inflate a giant prophylactic, all stolen from a "condom-mobile" used to promote HIV/AIDS awareness. The coordinator of an HIV/AIDS awareness tour, Polo Gomez, said the truck was taken Sunday from its parking spot in front of a friend's house in Mexico City.

It was recovered Wednesday in a shopping mall parking lot in a northern suburb - minus the condoms and the equipment. Gomez said the thieves left some 800 HIV tests and a 23-foot inflatable prophylactic, which were also in the vehicle.

The truck wasn't hard to locate. It features painted images of a peeled banana, the exposed part shaped like a condom, and a shirtless man saying: "I protect myself. Do you?"
After the theft received widespread media coverage, residents phoned police with the vehicle's whereabouts, Gomez said.

The Condomovil program has toured Mexico since 1998 promoting safe sex practices while distributing 1.2 million condoms to more than 700,000 people, Gomez said. The inflatable condom was used to draw attention from passers-by.

Robbers robbing rubbers? What gave them the idea they could sell those in the underground market? 5,000 of them? Unless the robber would want to keep them for personal use, in which case he's got a steady supply of condoms for about 13 years or more, assuming he plans to use 1 each day. Maybe the robber is now thinking about robbing a viagra-van mobile.

But what on earth does he plan to do with the 23-foot condom?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pay It Forward/Ike Chronicle #5

Another one from DC:

The person who helped us might not need for us to help them back and so, we must always be willing to help somebody else.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, I received a lot of help, from good friends, good neighbors and even unexpected sources. And so, when Mr. Miller called to ask for my help, I had no second thoughts. Mr. Miller is a very close friend of mine. How we met 16 years ago and became very close is an interesting story that I have to tell you later. He treats me like a son and I treat him like a father. He is into his 80's now and is quite frail but still drives a little. He lives alone, never married, no children, no family in Houston. He calls me every time he needs help, like driving him about when his car is in the shop, minor repairs in his house - stuck doors, peeling wall paper, etc. He gave me a key to his house even though he is very wary about letting people know he lives there by himself. Aside from valuables (his collection of Japanese masks are beautiful) there is of course the matter of safety. Even though he did not want to get into
details,I think there already has been at least one unfortunate incident which made him paranoid. Before the hurricane I called him to ask if he needed help with any preparation. He said that there really was not much to do and his neighbor already took care of it but he will call me after the storm if he needs help.

Needless to say, the call came Sunday morning. He has broken tree branches all over. He is most concerned about the pile of debris on his long driveway because he can't get out and has important doctor's appointments the coming week. My front yard is already in decent shape but my backyard is still a big mess but I said that can wait. Me and my 13 year son Phillip (who got a $500 check from Mr. Miller last Christmas) loaded our rakes, brooms and plastic bags and headed for Mr. Miller's house.

On the way over, my son said, "Dad, let's make one thing clear: we are not going to let him pay us because if we do, we are no longer helping. It would seem like we are taking advantage." I said, "Well, I agree with you and I know what you mean but I know him and he is going to insist. Here's what we do: if he insists on paying, I'll have him talk to you and it's your call, OK?" Agreed.

To make a long story short, we got there and cleaned up the driveway. There was a lot of debris but since the branches were small enough to drag or carry to the curb and needed no chainsaw, we went ahead and cleaned up the front yard, back yard and I went up the roof. Lastly, we also cleaned up a refrigerator full of spoiled or soon to be spoiled food. It took us the whole day and when we were done, a very appreciative Mr. Miller handed me an envelope that I know contained cash. I told him that Phillip told me we cannot take it and he has to talk to my son about it.

Mr. Miller explained to Phillip that, although it is commendable on his part, we have to take the money because we earned it and if we did not do the work, he would have been forced to have complete strangers work on his property and will have no choice but pay whatever their exorbitant charge will be. Phillip countered that it is not right and so on and so forth. At this point I decided to walk away and not be caught between a 13 year old and an 83 year old making their points. I overheard them going back and forth for a while and then Phillip came over. I asked what happened. "Well," he said, "He talked me into it. Here's 75 bucks - that's your half."

Hold on a minute, I protested. We used my tools, we used my precious gas to come here, I did all the heavy lifting, I cleaned the roof all by myself - shouldn't you get $50 and me a $100, at least? He said,"No, you said it's my call and my call is 50/50 down the middle." I just shut my mouth, scratched my head and raked my leaves.

I swear, someday this kid will grow up to be either one of those overpaid CEOs or be working for the IRS.


World's fattest man to wed widow

"...who today knows love..."
Now here is a guy who, figuratively and literally, becomes a convert.
Weight now down from 590 kilograms
Agence France-Presse
First Posted 08:01:00 10/02/2008

MONTERREY -- Mexican Manuel Uribe, the world's fattest man in the 2007 Guinness Book of Records, said Wednesday that he would wed this month, after losing nearly half his original weight.

"It will be a hefty wedding, on a large scale, but with a low-calorie banquet," the 43-year-old told AFP.

Uribe, who lives in his bed, in February said he had dropped to 230 kilograms (570 pounds) from 590 kilograms (1,300 pounds).

He said he would marry a widow named Claudia, to whom he has been engaged for two years, on October 26 at home in Monterrey, northern Mexico.

The media-friendly Mexican expanded his wedding plans after offers of sponsorship from international magazines, television stations and local mayors who offered a cake for 400 guests.

Uribe has also asked a Mexican band called "Pesado," or "Heavy," to provide the music.

He thanked God for the "miracles he gave to a man who was on the edge of suicide and who today knows love."
for "He that loves not, knows not God; for God is love." -- 1 John 4:8