Sunday, 27 May 2012

Pagans for RH?

I am Aldrin and I am a Filipino-Lebanese naturalistic pagan in favour of the immediate legislation of the Reproductive Health Bill. But, where does one start in talking about the 'pagan" opinion on reproductive health? Nowhere, to be honest. We are not a church, nor a tribe; we're not even a single religion. 'Pagan' is an umbrella term (a very LARGE umbrella term) for various religious paths from the fairly modern Wicca to the indigenous religions of our non-industrial neighbours that stretch back thousands of years into prehistory. How united are we, really? Not so much, last I checked. We love our autonomy, and it's exactly this love for self-rule and free thinking that got our pre-colonial ancestors into trouble with the forces of cultural hegemony. Hundreds of years later into the age of portable computers and 3-in-1 coffee, here we are again, in another 'clash of cultures'. A clash between those who look past religious differences to work together for the benefit of our people, and those who wish to impose their 'sectarian' dogma on a secular, multicultural nation.

We, of the neglected 'minorities', wish to remind the "Dámasos" of our age that -- though they are free to stand by what they claim to be 'true' -- it is up to the conscience of each individual, Christian or otherwise, to decide on what to do with one's own body, and how each should go about one's life.

We, of the neglected minorities, would like to remind these self-declared "holy" men that they can no longer bully families into being 'good sheep' rather than free thinking, rational human beings.

Coming from a life-affirming, celebratory religion, I not only uphold the importance of life, but also the quality of life. Couples, and especially mothers, should be able to choose how many children they can afford to sustain, or if they want to have any children at all. Consequently, our children should not be denied of their right to proper education about their bodies -- a right long denied to our people by our backward cleric-run hierarchy.

All that said, I come here before you as one pagan, not as a representative of many -- however similarly inclined we are. To declare full representation would be contrary to the pagan spirit of autonomy. But this, I can say: I will not be silenced, and neither should any of my brothers and sisters. To be defeated by silence would be against our values as pagans; an insult to our ancestors who bravely fought and died for liberty.

So, I urge those of you who walk similar paths as I, honouring our ancestral gods and celebrating the cycles of nature, to stand up and step forth from the shadows of indifference and passivity. We will neither be silenced by others nor allow ourselves to be silent. As we speak, our pro-RH brothers and sisters within the Catholic Church have voiced out their support; I likewise urge other pagans to do the same if they truly care.

We are a secular, multicultural democracy, guided not only by our noble ancestry, but also by modern science and reason. But, all this is babble if we do not stand up for it; if we do not live by it.

I, as a Filipino pagan, but more importantly, as one who strives to be a decent, rational human being hereby sign my full support to the RH Bill. If you truly care about our women, our children, and our future... you will, too.

[Written originally for the Interfaith RH Forum, 22 March 2012]

A Traveller's Prayer

Guardians of our family,
Keepers of our dwelling and land:
hear my prayer from afar;
sweet and clear, may my words reach you.
Look after my family and our home today;
my friends and theirs, too.
Avert all evil and danger from them,
and keep them safe and happy and healthy.
With these words to you,
may all be well in our house and land,
and with our people.

Spirits of this place and Gods of this land:
we make the same prayer for us here;
as travellers and foreigners,
I give you your dues.
Be kind to us, Gracious Ones,
as good hosts do to their guests.

Hail the All-seeing and the Traveller!
To you, we pray for your sleepless watch on home and way.
And to the Gods of this land,
we pray for your affection,
that we may remember our journey here
with only joy and nothing less.

May it be so.

Special thanks to Ian Fernandez for the photos and Evernote for making it possible to jot down my prayer without a computer in Cambodia. 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

To the Ancestors

A prayer to the Ancestors authored by a dear friend and brother:

O Ancestors,
those who have tread upon this earth before us
those whose blood now flows inside us
those whose journey we continue
those who have seen the years of old, as we now see the new

we open our eyes to the time you have seen
may we now learn from the things that have been
we open our ears to your wise words and voices
you who have walked many roads, and named many choices

we ask that you lend us wisdom and light
when troubles and vices blur our sight
we ask that you lend us courage and desire
that no dark act can erase our inner fire

we ask that you lead us to our destinations
that we may not fall into resignation
to make decisions we were born to make
to choose the paths we were born to take

O Forebears,
those who have tread the soil that we now tread
those who have breathed the air that we now breathe
my gratitude I send across the Greatest sea
to the light in the horizon, shining endlessly
we remember and wish you well,
wherever you may dwell
a sound that never dies
an infinite bell

And the ship-burning offering that came with it:

Our ships sail to the Undying West bearing our gifts to those who've gone before us. Hail the Ancestors! Hail the Traveller! Hail the Liberator!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

On Miriam Quiambao and ignorant, violent cretins

I support Miriam's freedom to express her beliefs, no matter how bigoted I think they are. If she thinks being a "true" Christian is all about following biblical morality, so be it. If she thinks all the absurd and barbaric customs in the Bible are God's absolute "Truth", so be it. She can have these beliefs for herself if she wants to. But, they are hers; other people don't have to share it, and we are not required to respect them, especially when they don't make any sense, or when they incite violence or espouse inequality.

Miriam's sugar-coated homophobia is only a speck of a larger problem: the rampant, barbaric homophia in our country. Look to any article where Miriam Quiambao's homophobic comments are discussed and you will find hordes of ignorant, violent cretins who call out for LGBT genocide.

I'm sure there were some people who wanted her dead for her repetitive, hypocritical tweets. But, only from the anti-LGBT wall have I seen self-identified "human beings" calling for the death of their fellowmen just because they are not straight. And they call themselves Christians? Jesus must be very proud.

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