“An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.”
— Pope John Paul II
Outrage Magazine was able to receive the text of Pope Francis’ speech during the Encounter with the Families on January 16 in Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay. It seems that Pope Francis’ original speech (in red) has been overhauled (perhaps by the Vatican mafia). Bulk of which was crossed out. The real message of the Pope was drowned by the message the Catholic Empire has been preaching to the world for two thousand years.
We sought the comment of The Vatican regarding this. They said that the leaked text is a lie. The Vatican said that the message of the Pope has been misinterpreted and hijacked by those who wanted the Pope to reflect their perverted desire to change the Catholic Church. “We are the embassy of God on earth,” the Vatican said, “we are simply transmitting His message to you.”
Dear diverse families united by Love,
Dear Friends in Christ,
I am grateful for your presence here this evening and for the witness of your love for Jesus and his Church.
I thank Bishop Reyes, chairman of the Bishops’ Commission on Family and Life, for his words of welcome on your behalf.
And, in a special way, I thank those who have presented testimonies and have shared their life of faith with us.
As someone who also came from a colonised country, I would like to speak first about colonisation. The Church in the Philippines has been instituted by Spanish colonisation is blessed with the apostolate of many movements dedicated to the family and I thank them for their witness. Enabling this colonisation is the May 4, 1493 Papal Bull Inter Caetera issued by Pope Alexander VI, giving Spain the right to all lands it would discover west and south of the island now known as Cape Verde. The Papal Bull also urged the Spanish monarchy to overthrow the barbarous nations and bring them to the faith. Yes, we believed that your ancestors were barbaric. They were barbaric for the simple reason that they were not like us. We were so arrogant to believe that it was our responsibility to save your ancestors’ souls. We thought that our religion was the only true religion. We were wrong. In 2000, Pope John Paul II asked for forgiveness “for attitudes of mistrust and hostility assumed towards followers of other religions.” But he fell short of doing the most powerful symbolic action, that is to repeal the Inter Caetera of Pope Alexander VI. Today, in this nation whose colonisation was enabled by the institution that I represent, I am now revoking the Inter Ceatera of Pope Alexander VI. I know that this is not enough to atone the indignities committed under the name of our God, but I hope that this could be the start of the long process of healing for both of us. With all humility, I ask for your forgiveness.
The Scriptures seldom speak of Saint Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams.
In the Gospel passage we have just heard, we find Joseph resting not once, but twice.
This evening I would like to rest in the Lord with all of you. I mean to rest in the Lord with the families as I remember my family.
My mother, my father. My grandfather, grandmother… Today, I rest with you and I would like to reflect with you on the gift of the family.
But first, I would like to say something about the dream, but my English is so poor.
If you’ll allow me, I’ll ask [inaudible] to translate, and I’ll speak in Spanish.
I like this idea of dreaming in a family. Every mother and father dreams of their son or daughter in the womb during nine months. Is it true or not? To dream how your daughter or son will be. It is not possible to have a family without such a dream.
When you lose this capacity to dream, you lose the capacity to love, and this energy to love is lost.
I recommend that at night, when you examine your consciences, ask yourself: Today, did I dream about my sons and daughters? Did I dream about the love of my husband or my wife? Did I dream about my parents? My family?
It is so important to dream and to dream in the family. Please, don’t lose this ability to dream in this way.
And how many solutions are found to family problems if we take time to reflect. If we think of our husband or wife, and we dream about the good qualities that they have.
Don’t ever lose the illusion of when you were boyfriend and girlfriend.
Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us.
He speaks to us in the reading we have just heard, in our prayer and witness, and in the quiet of our hearts.
Let us reflect on what the Lord is saying to us, especially in this evening’s Gospel. There are three aspects of this passage which I would ask you to consider: resting in the Lord, rising with Jesus and Mary, and being a prophetic voice.
Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us. But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us.
Joseph was chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. As Christians, you too are called, like Joseph, to make a home for Jesus.
You make a home for him in your hearts, your families, your parishes and your communities.
To hear and accept God’s call, to make a home for Jesus, you must be able to rest in the Lord.
You must make time each day for prayer. Prayer is resting in God.
But you may say to me: Holy Father, I want to pray, but there is so much work to do! Yes. I must care for my children; I have chores in the home; I am too tired even to sleep well.
This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us.
And for all our activity, our busy-ness, without prayer we will accomplish very little.
Resting in prayer is especially important for families. It is in the family that we first learn how to pray. And don’t forget: When the family prays together, [it] remains together.
There we come to know God, to grow into men and women of faith, to see ourselves as members of God’s greater family, the Church.
In the family we learn how to love, how to forgive, how to be generous and open, not closed and selfish. We learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them.
That is why it is so important to pray as a family! That is why families are so important in God’s plan for the Church!
Resting in the Lord through prayer. Pray together in the family.
I would also like to say something very personal to you this evening. I like Saint Joseph very much. He was a strong man of silence. And on my desk, I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Sleeping, he looks after the Church.
Yes. He can do it. We know.
When I have a problem or a difficulty, I write on a piece of paper and I put it underneath his statue. So that he can dream about it. This means “Please pray, Saint Joseph, for this problem.”
The second aspect: Rising with Jesus and Mary. Those precious moments of repose, of resting with the Lord in prayer, are moments we might wish to prolong.
But like Saint Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act. In the family, we must get up and act.
Faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it. It’s very important. We must go deeply in the world, but with the force of prayer. Each of us, in fact, has a special role in preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom in our world.
Just as the gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph, so the gift of the family and its place in God’s plan is entrusted to us.
The same with Saint Joseph. The gift of the Holy Family was given so it could be taken forward. I’m also a son of a family. And to you, all of you, we are given a plan of God to take forward.
The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth.
So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm.
However, the ideological colonisation of your country continued to this day. It is an ideological colonisation built on the hatred of diversity and thrives on turning each family as the foundation of hate. This ideological colonisation compels parents to hate, ostracise, disown, and be violent against their children who don’t live up to standards of masculinity and femininity that the Catholic Church imposed on your culture. This ideological colonisation has caused untold suffering to children, who were often physically, emotionally, verbally, and spiritually abused by parents convinced that these children were lies of the devil. As Christian parents, these are not your proper role in the lives of your children. You should impart to them, and, above all, practice with them the two commandments our Lord Jesus Christ himself declared to be the greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself. The message of Jesus Christ is Love and not Hate. Don’t ever forget the two greatest commandments Jesus Christ declared, Philippines. Now, stop this Pope worship, and ask for forgiveness to those who have suffered because of your arrogance that your religion is the only true religion. Thank you!
Be attentive. Be attentive with new ideological colonizations. There is a colonization, an ideological colonization that we have to be careful of…that tries to destroy the family.
It’s not born of the dream that we have with God from prayer and the mission that God gives up. It comes from outside, and that’s why I say it’s colonization.
Let us not lose the freedom that the mission — to take that mission forward — that God has given us.
And just as our peoples were able to say ‘no’ to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and very strong, with fortitude, to say ‘no’ to these initiatives of colonization that could destroy the family.
And to ask the intercession of Saint Joseph to know when to say ‘yes’, and when to say ‘no’.
The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters.
The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households.
While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality.
Those are the ideological colonizations.
The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.
I think of Blessed Paul VI in a moment on the challenge of that growth of populations, he had the strength to defend openness to life.
He knew the difficulties that families experience, and that’s why in his encyclical, he expressed compassion for particular cases. And he taught professors to be particularly compasisonate with particular cases.
But he went further. He went to the peoples beyond. He saw the lack and the problem it could cause families in the future.
Paul VI was courageous. He was a good pastor and he warned his sheep of the wolves that were approaching. And from the heavens, he blesses us today.
Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats! The Philippines needs holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God’s plan and to be a support and example for other families.
Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family. The future passes through the family.
So protect your families! Protect your families. See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments.
Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them!
Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness, and care.
Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death.
What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you.
Finally, the Gospel we have heard reminds us of our Christian duty to be prophetic voices in the midst of our communities. Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary.
In this way, he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity.
With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age, and grace.
When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound
values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world.
Family can begin a blessing to the world.
God’s love becomes present and active by the way of love and by the good works that we do.
We extend Christ’s kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.
During this year which your bishops have set aside as the Year of the Poor, I would ask you, as families, to be especially mindful of our call to be missionary disciples of Jesus.
This means being ready to go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need.
I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own. In particular, those who are elderly and children without parents.
Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them.
I was very moved after the mass today when I visited that shelter, that home for children who have no parents. How many people in the Church so that house is a home or family?
This is what it means to take forward prophetically the meaning of a family.
You may be poor yourselves in material ways, but you have an abundance of gifts to offer when you offer Christ and the community of his Church.
Do not hide your faith. Do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!
Dear friends in Christ, know that I pray for you always! I pray for you today, for the family.
I pray that the Lord may continue to deepen your love for him, and that this love may manifest itself in your love for one another and for the Church.
Don’t forget Jesus, Philippines. Don’t forget Joseph, Philippines. Jesus slept under the protection of Joseph. Don’t forget prayer for the fmaily.
Pray often and take the fruits of your prayer into the world, that all may know Jesus Christ and his merciful love.
Please sleep also for me. Pray for me. Pray also for me, for I truly need your prayers and will depend on them always!
Thank you very much.
Covid-19 for people living with HIV
With persons living with HIV voicing their concerns regarding COVID-19, especially if their immunocompromised status makes them more vulnerable to the coronavirus, the AIDS Society of the Philippines provides the following advice for prevention.
How can Persons Living with HIV protect themselves from COVID-19?
Recently, persons living with HIV have been voicing their concerns regarding COVID-19, especially if their immunocompromised status makes them more vulnerable to the coronavirus. The AIDS Society of the Philippines acknowledges and empathizes with the key affected population, and provides the following advice for prevention.
Adhere to ARV regimen
Continue to faithfully take your anti-retrovirals (ARVs) and ensure you have enough supply of ARVs. Reach out to your treatment hub, primary care facility, or community-based organization so they can help expedite your ARV refill despite the community quarantine in NCR. Call them to set an appointment before you visit.
Maintain a strong immune system
Continue to maintain a strong immune system with proper diet and enough sleep. Currently, there is no COVID-19 data specifically about persons who are immunocompromised. However, Dr. John Brooks from the HIV/AIDS Division of the CDC said publicly that, most likely, the risk for severe illness will be greater for persons at lower CD4 cell counts and those who aren’t virally suppressed.
Follow general precautions vs. COVID-19
Continue to follow DOH and WHO advice in COVID-19 prevention. This includes frequent handwashing, practicing cough hygiene, avoid touching the mouth, eyes, and nose, social distancing (maintain 3 feet distance), working from home, going out as little as possible, and seeking medical care when you have fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
If you have been exposed to a Person Under Investigation or Person Under Monitoring (PUI and PUM) for COVID-19, contact your treatment hub or primary care facility to request for advice. Home quarantine will likely be required, even without symptoms. If symptoms appear, visit your nearest government hospital for triaging and indicate the presence of co-morbidities.
Keep in touch with friends and family
Continue to take care of your mental health by reaching out and staying in touch with friends, family members, and support groups remotely or through the Internet. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. But advise family and friends that due to your status, you have to limit your exposure to others. Finally, encourage other PLHIV and fellow Filipinos.
We stand with you in this difficult time. Stay strong—we will get through this together.
It’s 2020, time to teach teens ‘safe’ sexting
This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex. It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.
Preaching sexual abstinence to youth was popular for a number of decades, but research repeatedly found that such educational messages fell short in their intended goals. Simply telling youth not to have sex failed to delay the initiation of sex, prevent pregnancies, or stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Since the advent of photo- and video-sharing via phones, children have received similar fear-based messages to discourage sexting – the sending or receiving of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images (photos or video) usually via mobile devices. Unfortunately, messages of sexting abstinence don’t seem to be reducing the prevalence of adolescents sharing nudes.
Consequently, in a new paper published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, say that it is time to teach youth “safe” sexting.
“The truth is that adolescents have always experimented with their sexuality, and some are now doing so via sexting,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., co-author and a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “We need to move beyond abstinence-only, fear-based sexting education or, worse yet, no education at all. Instead, we should give students the knowledge they need to make informed decisions when being intimate with others, something even they acknowledge is needed.”
Hinduja and co-author Justin Patchin, Ph.D., a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, acknowledge that although participating in sexting is never 100 percent “safe” (just like engaging in sex), empowering youth with strategies to reduce possible resultant harm seems prudent.
Hinduja and Patchin collected (unpublished) data in April 2019 from a national sample of nearly 5,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17, and found that 14 percent had sent and 23 percent had received sexually explicit images. These figures represent an increase of 13 percent for sending and 22 percent for receiving from what they previously found in 2016.
The authors do want youth to understand that those who sext open themselves up to possible significant and long-term consequences, such as humiliation, extortion, victimization, school sanction, reputational damage, and even criminal charges. But they also want youth who are going to do it anyway to exercise wisdom and discretion to prevent avoidable fallout.
“This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex,” said Hinduja. “It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.”
Hinduja and Patchin provide suggested themes encapsulated in 10 specific, actionable messages that adults can share with adolescents in certain formal or informal contexts after weighing their developmental and sexual maturity.
- If someone sends you a sext, do not send it to — or show — anyone else. This could be considered nonconsensual sharing of pornography, and there are laws prohibiting it and which outline serious penalties (especially if the image portrays a minor).
- If you send someone a sext, make sure you know and fully trust them. “Catfishing”– where someone sets up a fictitious profile or pretends to be someone else to lure you into a fraudulent romantic relationship (and, often, to send sexts) — happens more often than you think. You can, of course, never really know if they will share it with others or post it online, but do not send photos or video to people you do not know well.
- Do not send images to someone who you are not certain would like to see it (make sure you receive textual consent that they are interested). Sending unsolicited explicit images to others could also lead to criminal charges.
- Consider boudoir pictures. Boudoir is a genre of photography that involves suggestion rather than explicitness. Instead of nudes, send photos that strategically cover the most private of private parts. They can still be intimate and flirty but lack the obvious nudity that could get you in trouble.
- Never include your face. Of course, this is so that images are not immediately identifiable as yours but also because certain social media sites have sophisticated facial recognition algorithms that automatically tag you in any pictures you would want to stay private.
- Make sure the images do not include tattoos, birthmarks, scars, or other features that could connect them to you. In addition, remove all jewelry before sharing. Also, consider your surroundings. Bedroom pictures could, for example, include wall art or furniture that others recognize.
- Turn your device’s location services off for all of your social media apps, make sure your photos are not automatically tagged with your location or username, and delete any meta-data digitally attached to the image.
- If you are being pressured or threatened to send nude photos, collect evidence when possible. Having digital evidence (such as screenshots of text messages) of any maliciousness or threats of sextortion will help law enforcement in their investigation and prosecution (if necessary) and social media sites in their flagging and deletion of accounts.
- Use apps that provide the capability for sent images to be automatically and securely deleted after a certain amount of time. You can never guarantee that a screenshot was not taken, nor that another device was not used to capture the image without you being notified, but using specialized apps can decrease the chance of distribution.
- Be sure to promptly delete any explicit photos or videos from your device. This applies to images you take of yourself and images received from someone else. Having images stored on your device increases the likelihood that someone — a parent, the police, a hacker — will find them. Possessing nude images of minors may have criminal implications. In 2015, for example, a North Carolina teen was charged with possessing child pornography, although the image on his phone was of himself.
Elmo Ellezo writes about the apathy of those who have more in life, even if – by choosing to lend a hand – they can help effect changes in other people’s lives.
Ni Elmo Ellezo
May mga taong umangat lang sa buhay,
parang naging katulad ng bahay na bato ang puso.
Kasing tigas at wala ng pakiramdam sa iba.
posteng bato na naghihiwalay sa kanilang sa sarili
sa reyalidad ng malawak na mundo.
Bingi sa mga ingay sa labas.
Binulag ng mga bakod at posteng bato,
ayaw tumanaw sa kabilang bahagi ng mundo.
Gwardyado, akala moy kaaway ang mundo,
Ayaw makibahagi oh umambag sa mga walang laman ang kaldero
Ayaw makipagkapwa tao.
Naka-kandado pati ang kanilang mga puso.
Tanging paraan na silay mamulat ay delubyo.
Kapag tinumbahan na ng mga posteng bato.
Kapag binaha na katulad ng mga nakatira sa estero.
Kapag nagutom, namatayan na katulad ng mga ordinaryong tao.
Anong klaseng mundo ang nililikha nitong mga posteng bato.
Mga kaaway ang mahihirap at walang tiwala sa kapwa tao.
Makasariling pag uugali at walang pakialam sa mundo.
Sana maibalik ang aking pagkabata.
Walang mga poste at bakod na naghihiwalay sa sinasabi kong kapwa.
Kung saan ang daigdig ay pinagsasaluhan ng lahat.
May pagkakaugnay ugnay, tiwala at pakikipag kapwa.
Munti kong panalangin ay mawasak ang mga posteng bato.
Mga posteng batong isinasara ng bakal at mga kandado.
Mga posteng batong nagpapamanhid sa kalagayan ng dumadaing na mundo.
Ang posteng batong naglilikha ng taong bato ang puso.
Being LGBTQ+ means nothing
Being unaware of and deviant from what that community is intentionally fighting for clearly does not make us a part of it. We have to realize that our identity does not really matter as much as what we actually say, do or stand for.
We’ve heard it all before — a woman who still espouses misogyny, Filipinos who can be insulting towards their own skin color, a devout Christian who has little knowledge about the Bible and the history of Christianity, a gay person who is against the rights of other LGBTQ+ folks. These seemingly self-contradictories show that our identity is nothing but superficiality.
Our identity does not hold the substance of what we’re all about.
Having a certain identity does not follow that we know all there is to understand about it.
More importantly, it does not immediately give us the authority or credibility to speak on behalf of a larger group we supposedly belong to. Otherwise, we only cause much harm and misinformation.
What does a community mean? Fumbling through the dictionary, we would find similar definitions that basically sum up as “a group of people sharing a commonality of interests, attitudes, characteristics, values, goals – even history – and living in a particular location or within a greater area”. Applying this to the so-called LGBTQ+ community, since LGBTQ+ persons obviously do not live in the same quarters or have exactly the same lived experiences (hence the need for the acronym with a plus sign), we need to take only the spirit of the word — that is, a community is a social state of more than skin-deep commonality.
People who label themselves as LGBTQ’s do not see the whole picture if they go against equality and the principle that human rights must be bestowed to all regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, physical appearance and so forth. Such people who proclaim they are “part of the LGBTQ+ community but…” are merely disruptive tumors. They are not part of the community but only a part of the problem, which is compounded by ignorance, indifference, hate and discrimination.
So before we open our mouths and ascribe to some sort of community or identity, let’s be truly certain first that we know what it’s all about. Being unaware of and deviant from what that community is intentionally fighting for clearly does not make us a part of it. We have to realize that our identity does not really matter as much as what we actually say, do or stand for.
“Babae po ako. Ngunit babae rin ang gusto ko. Pang-lalake man ang kilos at anyo. Sa babae pa rin naman ako nagbabanyo.”
Pilit kong iniisip
Kung inisip ko at pinilit
Kung nagbago ba ang ihip
Ng hangin noong ako’y isang paslit
Ang paghanga sa kapwa babae
Ang kilos, lakad at pananalita
Na animo’y lalake
Na nagsimula noong ako’y bata
Tinanong ako kung ako ba’y humanga
Sa mga guwapo at pogi
At ang sagot ko’y oo nga
Pagtangi ay sa babae lagi
Ni minsa’y hindi kinilig
Kahit na noong panahong
Maliit pa ang mga bisig
Suot ay bestida at hindi lontang maong
Matagal na proseso
Matagal na nilihim
Dahil sa sariling paninimdim
Hanggang ako’y namulat
At seryosong nagkagusto
At sinimulang isulat
Nilahad, ipinusta pati pamato
Wala naman kasing nagturo
Naramdaman na lang
Tapos para akong tuliro
Noong ako’y pitong taong gulang
Kaibigan ko siya
Sa ikalawang baitang
Kapag kasama’y masaya
Kapag naka-akbay ay lutang
Marami nang napusuan
Panahon na ang lumipas
Gusto’y babae pa rin naman
Sa pagkatorpe’y walang kupas
Madalas sakin ay tinatanong
Kahit hanggang opisina
Siguro sila’y hilong talilong
Kung Ma’am o Sir ang itatawag twina
Babae po ako
Ngunit babae rin ang gusto ko
Pang-lalake man ang kilos at anyo
Sa babae pa rin naman ako nagbabanyo
Lesbiyana kung ako’y tawagin
Tomboy sa kanto namin
Ate sa kapatid ko
Tita sa mga pamangkin ko
Eto ang aking SOGIE
Lesbiyana – Sexual Orientation
Babae – Gender Identity
Butch/masculine – Gender Expression
Hindi napipilit ang puso
Kusang tumitibok sa ritmo
Hindi ito parang damit na nakiki-uso
Hindi sinisino kahit amo
Masarap sanang maging malaya magmahal
Malaya sa mga matang mapanghusga
Malimit pang nasasabihan ng hangal
Madalas pang tumanggap ng pang-aalipusta
Pantay-pantay na karapatan
Dinggin sana ang aming hiling
Hindi espesyal ang aming panawagan
Sugat ng diskriminasyo’y laging nasasaling
Lungkot ay aking ramdam
Kapag hindi niyo maintidihan
Sana hindi niyo maranasan
Ang araw-araw naming pinagdadaanan
Kapag maganda o guwapo sa paningin
Sayang ang palaging sinasabi sa amin
Pero bakit sayang ang sasabihin?
Ano bang nasayang sa amin?
Isa po akong babae
Mahigit apat na pung taong gulang na
Mukha lang pong lalake
Isa pong lesbiyana
Salvation our God is extending
“With a SOGIE Law enforced, the sensibilities of some (they cannot claim to represent the majority) will be offended as has happened in legislation on women’s rights. But the tradeoff will be LGBTQ+ individuals participating more meaningfully in national development. The Philippines would foster a culture of nonviolence, and I think God would be smiling down on us.”
By Koko Alviar
The SOGIE Equality Bill is not against religious freedom. If anything, it will help us recapture the diversity of beliefs in our country.
I am Vaughn Alviar, from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, a liberational Church that has interpreted Scripture in light of facts and God’s commissioning for charity and liberation. The Church coopted me some time in 2015 to help the Supreme Council of Bishops articulate a statement that wanted to affirm LGBTIQ+ individuals, “Our Common Humanity, Our Shared Dignity.” It was approved in February 7, 2017.
Incidentally, I am a homosexual cisgender male son of a heterosexual cisgender male priest. I say these belatedly because they have never negatively affected my craft as a writer and my practice as a good Christian, although I will not deny knowledge of my SOGIE has affected the perception of what I am capable of doing.
I am more than my SOGIE; in fact we in the LGBTQ+ community are all more than our SOGIE. Unfortunately, people have seen the physical manifestations of it and felt they could see right through us, judge and discriminate us. My classmates from Day Care in Sanchez Mira, Cagayan, to university in Baguio City had always criticized my being effeminate and emotional, my not being manly. Despite all these, I had the will power to prove my value in my communities and circles. I can’t say the same for many others, whose chances were impaired by abuses far worse than I’ve experienced and who didn’t belong to families that earned well enough to send them to good schools or who disowned them – sometimes because of the faith they profess.
Being LGBTQ+ is a choice, we are told. But, given all the disadvantages laid out before us (per the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, LGBTQ+ people experience more poverty, hunger, joblessness and depression than our heterosexual, cisgender counterparts), what would we benefit from choosing to be minoritized? Having to prove we are good, capable and beneficial workers, or hiding how we express ourselves to conform with straight environments, these are definitely burdens. Our siblings in the faith have claimed that the law sees us equally, but our lived experiences and jurisprudence claim we are not. Thus, vulnerable sectors need the State to help us claim equity, aid us in reminding everyone that we are human too, and enable us to fight back when our rights are abused.
It has also been claimed that a law protecting LGBTQ+ persons against discrimination would negate Christians’ freedom of religion. It is a preposterous claim that insults the very spirit of “freedom of religion”: that individuals will not be force-fed belief systems; and that we are all free to hold beliefs – or not – and to conduct ourselves accordingly, except when we harm others. If anything, many people, driven by their “Christian” beliefs, harmed LGBTIQ+ individuals without provocation.
While they lift from the Bible, the holy book cannot be seen as a definitive guide to what must be social convention. It has, in fact, been used to stall important laws to end slavery, and to uphold the rights of persons with disability and women.
“I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” (Timothy 2:11)
“Whosoever … hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookback, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken … He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries.” (Leviticus 21:17-23)
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5)
With verses inapplicable in our time, how do we know for sure that verses chastising LGBTIQ+ individuals should still apply? In the laws enacted for women, children, senior citizens, persons with disability, among others, the justification was unequal treatment on the ground, in real life, despite the Constitutional guarantee of equality that our other siblings cite. The drawback was sensibilities getting hurt; the reward has been greater empowerment and participation in society for those sectors. We need our guarantee, too.
Another case in point: If two people are equally passionate about Bible-based beliefs, do we have objective criteria to judge which person is more righteous?
Here is an example: A cisgender man has been a top employee for years. He is the breadwinner for his family, encouraged by 1 Timothy 5:8: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” One day, he comes out as homosexual and discloses he has a boyfriend. The heterosexual cisgender owner, who comes from a conservative background, fires the person, because of Romans 1:26-27: “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.”
Who’s to say that the business owner holds the right understanding of faith? What if the homosexual man goes to church more often? Doesn’t that make him better? The law must declare that productivity trumps sexual orientation.
One thing I’ve observed among people of faith who decide not to support the SOGIE Bill is self-righteousness – a confidence that they are to be seen as authoritative, the voice of a majority. In doing so, they downplay other peoples’ faith, among these that which LGBTQ+ individuals have forged from their lived experiences of discrimination and resilience.
While some traditions will scoff at the justness of the ordained going to protests, the Aglipayan faith believes it is a legitimate expression of Christian witness. We believe that the best way to fulfill our duty to establish heaven on earth is the full realization of human rights for all – and LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. Thus, the crusade for equality on the basis of SOGIE falls within our fight for equity, along with our advocacy for peace talks, economic equity, genuine land reform and more.
Another Christian community is the Metropolitan Community Church, which has a presence in the Philippines. It casts more importance on love, genuine relationships and nondiscrimination than on punishment and fear. Many of their members are victims of SOGIE-based discrimination even in their own Christian homes, or are people living with HIV who have the added burden of stigma. One member told me that her family attends a Church that has a ministry helping LGBTQ+ individuals possessed by the devil – she worships with her family in the morning, is occasionally prayed for; she worships at MCC in the afternoon, is welcomed fully as a gender-nonconforming woman. There has to be a policy to guard LGBTQ+ lives against torturous conversion rituals if and when they occur. The SOGIE Bill has that.
The above instances illustrate that a single religion on its own has variations and pluralities. But, if regardless of this, lawmakers side with the more conservative Christian belief that tends to put LGBTQ+ lives in the way of harm and indignity, what compels the State other than to reward the conservatives and, thus, violate the Church-State separation?
As faithful Christians, too, we stand on the passage of the SOGIE Law because we believe God wants us to exist in a community of love, and because it will permeate our lives beyond Church. “We love the sinner not the sin,” some anti-SOGIE Christians say, in an attempt to deem the law irrelevant. If we do love the sinner, however, shouldn’t we recognize the person of that sinner who has the secular, universal right to a job, education and healthcare, among others. None of these are about “the homosexual act.”
It is a shame that some religious have led crusades based on falsehoods: from alleging we do not need the SOGIE Equality Bill because the law already pronounces equality; to criticizing our advocacy as an issue of restrooms and third spaces only; to misleading people that the SOGIE Equality Bill will allow same-sex marriage; to stretching religious freedom – weaponizing it to homogenize the nation when the measure actually protects diversity.
The “definition of terms” in the proposed bills says that bad behavior – discrimination, stigma, hate crime and marginalization – will warrant punishment. Some religious are worried that LGBTIQ+ individuals will be empowered to file cases of discrimination simply because we “felt discriminated.” But suing should be within our rights as citizens, and with wisdom the courts should be able to decide which ones are nuisance and which ones bear sense.
In IFI, the statement has affirmed and validated the faithfulness of LGBTQ+ members, some of whom serve as ordained ministers. Through it, the faithful have been oriented on SOGIE and SOGIE-based discrimination; began to openly discuss sexuality, mental health and sexual harassment; and revisited the situation of women as part of the greater gender minority in a patriarchal society. We are now more equipped to counsel LGBTQ+ individuals and people living with HIV. The Church became more inclusive.
At the end of “Our Common Humanity, Our Shared Dignity,” the SCB stated a hope that our small act could spark bigger changes leading to greater inclusion for outcasts. The more accepting parents, you will note, express worry for their LGBTQ+ children based not on the worldview of conservative Churches but on the question: “How will you be in this world that is harsh on LGBTQ+ individuals?”
While some LGBTQ+ people are born to parents who are unequipped and would abandon their children, some are born to parents who are ready to understand and nurture them, and would worry that the world at large is not hospitable. Let’s lessen the legitimate fears by enacting a safeguard.
While the SOGIE Bill languishes, men could be raping homosexual and bisexual women to “convert them,” gay guys could be looking for their next boxing match or Miss Gay (for visibility and extra income), brilliant transgender individuals could be flying out to find career advancement elsewhere.
With the SOGIE Law enforced, the sensibilities of some (they cannot claim to represent the majority) will be offended as has happened in legislation on women’s rights, but the tradeoff will be LGBTQ+ individuals participating more meaningfully in national development. With the SOGIE Law, there will be no special LGBT bonuses or leaves, just jobs and schools and communities that value us as humans, and that hone and harness our skills as citizens.
The Philippines would foster a culture of nonviolence, and I think God would be smiling down on us.
On social media, there’s a viral post saying SOGIE means “Satanic Organization of Godless people who are Inspired of Evil”, which is so grammatically wrong. To me, it means “Salvation Our God Is Extending” – and I should enjoy a Constitutional guarantee to claim you can’t tell me I’m wrong. That is freedom of religion for you.
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