#30DayWritingChallenge: The weirdest thing about my family.

Day Fourteen: The weirdest thing about my family.

I can probably count in one hand the number of times our family went to church. The last one was maybe three years ago, during my sister’s wedding.

My father could not care less about religion. He is as nominal as nominal a Catholic can be without calling himself atheist. I doubt he understands the term; but even if he did, he probably think it’s too much of a bother.

My mother has always felt guilty about not going to church. Every Sunday morning, she will turn on the TV for a televised mass. She hardly watches it, but the sound from the television is probably enough to keep her satisfied enough about her Catholic obligations.

TV mass is really targeted to those who are too old or too sick to go to a church. My mother is neither of these. She is just shy about dressing up and going out in public.

So it was the kids who had to make up for the religious lapses of the parents.

I went to a Catholic school in high school and was even active in some church organizations. It was mostly for show, in hindsight, although I believed it (mostly) at that time. Church work means attending a mass and going to org meetings, leading prayers, and learning Cathechism. The latter appealed to the geek in me.

I stopped going to church around college, and like someone who has not eaten bacon in three months and realized that it was possible to not miss bacon, I realize that I won’t be smote for being a bad Catholic. Besides, I masturbated every day. Surely, I should have been punished sooner than that?

My siblings all went to a public school and so they were not pressured to exercise religious fervor the way I did. My oldest sister, as far as I know, remained religious. This is inspite (or maybe because) of living in the Middle East for the last few years.

My middle sister joined me and my oldest sister in church when we were younger, but by the time the youngest siblings were old enough to go to church with us, we already stopped going to church.

Family portrait, Maia's wedding.

Looking back at what I wrote so far, this isn’t particularly weird for an average Filipino family. The weirdest thing about our family is probably the fact that it isn’t.

The weirdest thing about our family is that how I am in it.

The Pope says gay marriage is a threat to the ‘future of humanity’. He needs another wind lashing.

Apologies to those still enjoying their breakfast. News like this is sure to ruin one’s day.

Pope Benedict XVI said on Monday that gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined “the future of humanity itself”.

The pope made some of his strongest comments against gay marriage in a new year address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican in which he touched on some economic and social issues facing the world today.

He told diplomats from nearly 180 countries that the education of children needed proper “settings” and that “pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman.”

“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself,” he said.

The traditional family the Pope was referring to is likely a nuclear family (i.e., mother, father and children), which is a rather modern concept and, until recently, was not the standard family unit recognized in Western societies. It’s not as traditional as people might think. Extended families are much more common in most of human history, and even now is still adapted in many cultures.

How families are composed have evolved throughout history because of changes in how human civilizations lived. Gay marriage, rather than a threat to the future of families, merely adds a new dimension to the already varied types of families existing today.

Research has already shown that being raised by gay parents is no worse than straight parents and may actually be better than being raised by a single parent. So what is this threat to human dignity the Pope is talking about?

There doesn’t seem to be any argument to gay marriage that amounts to more than “because we’ve never had it before”. If humans consistently stopped themselves from trying out things they never did before, we would still be living in caves.

War is a threat to the future of humanity. So are untreatable diseases, destruction of the environment, and overpopulation. But gay marriage? Methinks the Pope needs another strong gust of wind. I doubt that will make him change his mind, but it will still cheer me up immensely.

Pope Benedict XVI is scary.

Pope Benedict XVI: Gay Marriage A Threat To ‘Future Of Humanity’

Masturbation, women’s work, and other words of wisdom from Sen. Enrile.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has some strange ideas on human conception and sexuality. I saw some reactions from the Senator’s statements from the Senate transcript where he was quoted to have equated masturbation to abortion.

That seems like a exagerrated interpretation of the Senator’s statements; what Sen. Enrile categorically said was that “interference” from the union of sperm and egg cells (such as in masturbation or the “withdrawal method”) has no difference from using a condom. It’s “interfering with the production of life”, but is not necessarily an act like abortion.

The Senator took this view because of his Catholic faith. I wonder if the good Senator had realized that natural family planning methods (which the Catholic Church endorses) also “interferes” with fertilization. In fact, that is the point of any family planning method, whether artificial or natural: so that a heterosexual couple could have sex without the woman getting pregnant.

I’m sure we could get along fine without knowing the good Senator’s thoughts on masturbation, amusing as it is. However, his views on gender roles is more disheartening. If some of us think that majority of our lawmakers are still adhering to medieval ideas on gender typecasting, we’re not merely imagining things.

Excerpts from the Senate transcripts (28 September 2011):

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE): (Selected quotes on his views on gender roles):

“In the coconut farm areas, I have yet to see a woman climbing a coconut tree to gather coconuts.”

“If we go to the case of our social structure, in the case of farmers, in the rural areas, the human beings plowing in the field – to plant rice, to plant corn, or to plant crops – are all men. Of course the women, they help in harvesting sometimes. But most of the time these are the functions of the farmers.”

“In the case of fishing, the fishermen are mostly men. In the case of lumbering, this is all the function of men…to earn a living for their families.”

“In the case of workers, most of our workers in the country are men, who feed their families, because that’s the nature of the genders: The women are supposed to stay at home and tend to the problems of the home and the children, and the men go out, risk their lives in order to earn a living. So one compensates the other.”

Sen. Pia S. Cayetano (PSC): (Selected quotes on her views on gender roles):

“His Honor’s [Enrile’s] view embodies the position that men have held for decades or probably for centuries: That the men’s work is the work that matters…Precisely why His Honor says men go out and risk their lives and women stay home and take care of the children.”

“Women’s work is invisible work…If you only consider the men’s work as that which provides for the family, then definitely, the woman is an invisible worker kasi wala nga sya sa radar eh.”

JPE (Selected quotes on his view on maternal deaths):

“I think I can venture to say that more men die going out to see or into the fields to earn a living than women giving dying because of giving birth to a child.”

“Every year we know of men who go out to sea, who go out to their farms and get bitten by snake. These are not counted by statistics.”

“What surprises me, in the rural areas, without the assistance of doctors, women give birth, hardly anyone would die. I do not know why they die in hospitals.”

“I am talking about the experience in my barangay where I grew up. I know everybody in that big barangay and during my whole time living in that barangay, I have not known a single woman who has died while giving birth. And yet this is the poorest barangay. I mentioned this again this morning, in the budget [deliberations] of the DSWD. Until now it is still the poorest barangay in the country.”

PSC (Selected quotes on maternal deaths):

“[Between] the chances of a man who is a seafarer, and a woman who is giving birth dying at home without the support of a professional…the chances of her of having complications that would require life intervention would probably be greater than her husband succumbing at sea…The women who die will not have their faces flashed [in the news] because oftentimes, this [story] would not be [considered] newsworthy…that women lose their lives in their own homes giving birth. It is not even as newsworthy as a fisherman who gets lost at sea.”

“Unfortunately other barangays are not as lucky as His Honor’s (Enrile’s) barangay. Women are dying and that is a fact.”

Source: Senate RH debates explore the extreme and the ‘unknown’

I would like to think that I have a right to be disgusted by the viiews of Sen. Enrile. I have voted in every national elections since I was twenty and I did not vote for him. It disgusts me how despite his role during the Marcos regime and the Marial Law, he still has enough influence to be elected as a Senator for several terms now.

Happily never after.

In a few hours, I’ll be attending the wedding of a co-worker in Dasmariñas. With my usual approach to these events, it took me some time to decide on what gift I should be giving to the couple and what outfit I will be wearing when I attend the ceremony.

I thought it’s also fitting to write about another wedding mentioned in the news in the last few days.

Last week, several same-sex couples exchanged wedding vows in Baguio in a mass wedding officiated by the Metropolitan Community Church of Metro Baguio. Same-sex marriage is not legal in the Philippines. The wedding is a ceremony celebrating the couple’s love for each other, and is not presented as a legally-recognized union.

I find ceremonies like these sweet. I applaud the Metropolitan Community Church’s efforts to provide same-sex couples the chance to experience a public celebration of love and commitment that is otherwise reserved only for heterosexual couples in this country.

While the cynical part of me thinks “what’s the point, though?” when I consider the fact that these couple will not get the same privileges of legally wed couples, the more optimistic part of me thinks that seeing same-sex couples getting married will show Filipinos that same-sex weddings aren’t at all different from “normal” heterosexual weddings.

Predictably, the negative reactions to the mass wedding came a few days later. The unsurprising reaction from the Catholic Church condemned the event as an “anomaly“. The local social media was abuzz with talk after Bishop Ted Bacani was quoted to describe the weddings as “kadiri” (disgusting):

Bishop Bacani

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier tagged the weddings as an insult to the Roman Catholic Church.

Bacani described the weddings as, “Napangitan ako talaga, kadiri, para tayong gaya gaya puto maya. Laban ito sa salita ng Diyos.”

Bacani added that people who would be invited to future same sex marriages should not attend.

“Dapat i-boycott iyan at hindi na dapat magpunta ang mga iimbitahan. It is not right for people to participate, against moral grounds,” he said.

It’s disappointing to hear a popular Church leader give out statements so lacking in tact and gravity. It is expected that the good Bishop will be against the ceremony, but his choice of words does not befit his supposedly respectable position.

Rev. Ceejay Agbayani of the MCC gave a succinct comeback to Bacani: “Walang kadiri sa pagmamahal.

That was a wonderful reply that could be used as a slogan in the demand for the equal rites of the LGBT community.

Some time later, the local clergy was set with a different controversy after it was revealed how several bishops and a priest were given luxury sports utility vehicles by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Talk about irony. If God exists, He has a really wickedly vindictive sense of humor. To quote Alec Mapa: God must be gay.

While the Church reaction was totally expected (if a bit colorful, thanks to the good bishop), the reaction from the Baguio city council was disheartening:

The city council will investigate the wedding ceremony on Monday and identify those who took part in it, according to Councilor Richard Cariño.

The results of the probe will determine if those who got married will be declared persona non grata, he added.

“Ang basis natin para gawing persona non grata ang isang tao ay kung may nilabag silang batas, sagabal sila, kontra sa prinsipyo at ordinansa at oppressive ang kanilang ginawa o ginagawa sa paningin ng mga tao,” Cariño said. “Kaya we have to investigate kung yung ginawang pagpapakasal ay oppressive sa community ng Baguio.”

Richard Cariño obviously isn’t thinking beyond his narrow, conservative box.

He shouldn’t put a stop to same-sex weddings in Baguio; he should encourage it. Think of the benefits to tourism: they could promote Baguio as an ideal destination for LGBT tourists (as if it isn’t already) because it is a city of tolerant and open-minded people.

While I will leave it to lawyers to decide if the wedding was against the law (MCC does not make claims that the same-sex weddings they perform in the country is legally recognized), I don’t see how the wedding was contrary to the public good or is oppressive to anyone in Baguio. It seemed like a solemn and happy occasion to all those who attended.

My mother had already mentioned in passing how she expects me to settle down soon, and some of the neighbors from my old neighborhood assumed that I’ve already married and moved somewhere else.

Of course, in many ways, I am settled down. And I kind of see myself as already married (happily) to someone, even though I suspect I’m not the marrying type. It’s merely trivial how that other person is also a guy.