Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Filipino Culture and the RH Bill

The RH Bill is one of the most controversial, most talked about and most exposed topic nowadays. Everywhere you see it, everywhere you hear about it. People have different stands and different opinions about it. In radio, in newspapers, TV, on the internet, even in graffiti, people are taking sides whether they are pro or anti. Facts are being thrown around, experts are being consulted and their views are scrutinized. For some who do not see it, the outcome of the RH Bill journey will be one of the major turning points of our society and culture as this is expected to have an immense impact on the nuclear family, which according to the constitution, the core unit of the country and ideally the utmost priority of the government. It will have a great impact on life, the way we live it, the way we see it and the way we treat it. This may also change our way of looking at the family in the decades to come.

Family planning exists in the Philippines way before written history was possible. According to the book of F. Landa Jocano Filipino Prehistory, methods of controlling population exists during the ancient times here in the country. Before Spanish colonization, having too many children was considered unfavorable due to limited resources and so that inheritance to the children will not be spread too thin. Having a child without being married is considered a disgrace, hence methods of abortion were used. These practices still exist in the provinces where a concoction of herbs combined with tactile manipulation of the body causes a conceived fetus to be expelled from the womb. Casualty: life of the unborn child.

In the book written by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner Freakonomics, abortion had a direct impact on reduction of crime rates in the United States. On the book, it has been deduced that women who had abortion after it has been legalized contributed to this phenomenon. These are the women who feel the incapacity to support a child because of financial, marital or psychological reasons. It is a fact that children from broken marriages, single parenthood or being orphaned have increased tendencies of becoming delinquent and eventually criminals. Since the American women have reduced the children growing from "criminal conducive environments," crime rates of the 90's suddenly dropped simply because the criminals who were supposed to be active have been aborted already or may have been reared properly instead. Abortion may not have been necessary if proper sex education and family planning had happened.

This is not a recollection of proof arguing that RH Bill is good and should be supported, or that abortion should be reconsidered since it has benefits. It is in fact the opposite. The Pinoy Warrior views the RH Bill as a band-aid solution to many problems of the Filipino Society. Religious, moral and cultural values will suffer because of bill.

Family planning is good. There may be some moral issues with the use of artificial methods, but generally, the objective is good. As with our ancestors who saw the benefits of family planning, it is still the same nowadays, in fact, it may be needed. Resources have to be managed, allocated and spent efficiently. Family planning, not family recommending. The Philippine government has been actively campaigning for the past decades trying to address the population growth of the country. It does have its effects, as most middle class families maintain 2 or 3 children unlike before that is more than that. People have seen already how too many children affect lifestyle. Ask around how many of the people that you know have 5 or more children, chances are there aren't too many. Ask around if there are people dreaming of many children, there's very few. So is the threat of overpopulation real? With this practical facts, it can be inferred that resources accessible to a family are supposed to be more manageable.

So where is this all going? The problem lies not in the people or the way they handle their families. It is in the institutions that are taking care of them namely the government and the church. The government has to find out exactly if their old campaigns have been effective. There should be more collaboration between education, health, local and national governance. Synergy apparently isn't present, or it may have been swallowed up by factors like complexity of government system, scrupulous government officials and employees, uncooperative members and partners, and many others. Pinoys understand this is the case, but still effort must be done to address these things. Aggravating the situation is corruption which is a timeless problem with no concrete solution coming up. The government has the money and the resources for taking care, educating and uplifting the lives of people. If so, why these things haven't happened yet?

The church on the other hand, acts as a counterbalance to the things that the government does. Being the guardian of the morality and souls of the government's constituents, they answer to a spiritual calling whether Catholic, Muslim or Christian. Hearing the minister or the priest during sermons isn't enough as it is a very short time to address such complex issues. The values of the church, though simple and pretty straightforward, needs more expounding and more discussion of practical applications in every day life. People simply cannot relate anymore because it isn't clear where the message is coming from, so what happens is that most Filipinos grab on to what seems to be trending or what's coming from a figure of authority to them and from there makes rationalizations. During these times of logical and modern thinking, where information is accessible to all, many people needs to be convinced and taught how to look at things the way of the religion they belong to.

Still, the church and the government are just complimentary. The real power in resolving this is within the family. The Filipino Family is growing farther and farther apart. Support when its needed is not there. Parents are working overseas, children are left behind without much guidance. Family time has greatly been reduced throughout the years. Now there's a lot of distractions that take away family time like television, internet, computer games and many others. Gone are the days when children learn what they will stand up for when they grow up from their parents. Now they learn it from friends, from strangers with a nice smile, a celebrity without a sense, or some author who writes logically. We do not know who to believe, because the persons who are supposed to guide us are in a different country or because there seems to be no time and opportunity for guidance to happen. Experts are baffled why the children and youth are very angry nowadays. They are confused, and all the more things are getting more confusing.

These are just a few points that comes to mind, and rest assured there are still more. There are issues about pre-marital sex, same sex marriages, single parenthood and even adultery. Everyone and everything is complex, because we made it that way. There is no simple, clear cut solution to everything that is happening. Or maybe, perhaps there is. We should all be working together. Of course its the ideal and its very simple. The question is, if its that simple, why isn't it happening?

For a bill that is a decade old, its relevance may be outdated and may not address the true needs of the society. All this airtime talking about RH Bill on radio and TV, all what columnists write about RH Bill, all these people rallying on the streets about RH Bill, all these lawmakers debating for 10 years about the freaking RH Bill, haven't they realized that if we put together all those time, experts and resources to talk about better solutions instead, we could have been making progress. 10 years is a long time. And so is the democratic and legal process here in the country. Perhaps its about time to close this chapter and start something new.

Seemingly, a lot of people agree its not needed. Seemingly too, a lot of people say it is necessary. Unless someone comes forth with an alternative, the debate would go on endlessly. We Filipinos are in the stage of defining who we really are and what we will be. This is the time for everyone to speak up, offer solutions and work together or maybe just contribute no matter what your stand may be. Like the words of Winnie Monsod in her last lecture as a professor in UP, "be part of the solution, not the problem." Let us not allow just the congressmen or senators to determine what's good for us or not, especially in this crucial time when elections are coming. At the back of their minds or the minds of people they listen to, personal gains are still influencing their choices, thus they are compromised. Ahough in the end, they'd still be the ones deciding on this...