Category: damaso

in fairness to carlos celdran (updated)

“Wherefore, premises considered, accused Carlos Celdran is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Offending the Religious Feelings under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, there being no mitigating and aggravating circumstance, he is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of two months and 21 days as minimum to one year, one month and 11 days…”

in fairness to celdran, there was a mitigating and aggravating circumstance back then that drove him to take drastic action.  two days before, september 28, the new prez spoke out unequivocally in favor of RH in a town hall meeting with expats in san francisco, earning the royal ire of the church.  on the morning of september 30, newspapers and websites screamed the shocker that the CBCP was threatening the president with excommunication for being pro-choice and endorsing artificial contraceptives.  that very afternoon celdran dramatized his outrage by staging his rizal-bearing-damaso-placard act in the manila cathedral.

the CBCP denied that excommunication threat the very next day but it’s not clear now whose mistake it was, the bishops’ or the reporters’, and the damage had been done.

it is worth noting, too, that the guilty ruling was issued as early as december 14 but kept under wraps until yesterday (how did the church swing that?).  the house of reps had just passed the RH bll on second reading the day before, december 13, but the senate was dragging its feet and sotto had yet to deliver his may-I-ask-God-the-Father-to-forgive-us-for-we-do-not-know-what-we-are-doing huling hirit speech.  perhaps the bishops were still hopeful that sotto could get the votes, and they didn’t want the celdran case messing up things.

the rest is history.  the senate voted in favor of RH on december 18. theoretically, nothing to lose na ang church, but apparently they were able to put off the announcement of the ruling again, siguro papasko kay celdran, salamat naman, but what took them so long after the holidays?  it’s practically the end of january.

i suppose cardinal tagle’s january 9 homily should have warned us that the CBCP is truly going all out to battle the RH law.  though i’m not sure that showing an apologetic celdran no mercy is winning the church any points.

media, priests & abortion

media is plural for mediocre, rene saguisag says in his manila times column on the same day that mark robert b. baldo in a letter to the inquirer editor decries the failure of media to level-up the public debate on the RH bill.

A cursory look on the articles printed in this broadsheet shows this to be a recurring theme: luminaries using the infidelities of some Catholic priests in Europe to discredit the Church; some citing the political affiliations of some bishops; and others, presenting flawed accounts of Church history. This is a mistake because no longer do we hear mention of arguments by both parties.

… Media inevitably shape the public debate. I am not talking here about whether the bill should be passed or not, or whether the media should frame it in such a way that it would be passed or not. I am simply talking about how to frame the debate in such a way that it would stimulate productive discussion rather than a stirring drama about a declining institution in Philippine society.

indeed, na-sidetrack, nagpa-sidetrack, na lang ang media sa rizal vs. damaso drama ni carlos celdran.   easier naman talaga to go with the flow, kahit paatras, than to move on, against the tide, to the more difficult formidable challenging task of helping along the RH discourse toward a clear resolution.

in Some issues about the RH bills fr. joaquin bernas writes:

When does human life begin? We probably are all agreed that man must not destroy human life. Our Constitution protects life “from conception.” There is some indication in the deliberations of the 1987 Constitution Commission that this means “from fertilization.” But there are contrary views. Who will decide which view is correct?

granted, for the sake of no-argument, that the philippine constitution means “from fertilization” and that congress will so concur, what then?   logically, it should mean the end of all debate because as with the natural family planning method (no sex during ovulation), with artificial contraceptives no fertilization happens, which means no life is destroyed, so condoms, pills, and IUDs should be okay-all-right.

and yet and yet and yet, priests and other rabid pro-lifers continue to insist that birth control pills (that prevent ovulation so no egg is produced for sperm to fertilize) are abortifacients.   nakakaloka.   how canyou even begin an intelligent discussion???   for the longest time i couldn’t figure it out.   why the lying.   why the dishonesty.   why the misinformation.   until suddenly it dawned on me, after reading this, still from fr. bernas:

The determination about the beginning of human life will also be relevant to the debate on abortion. Clearly abortion is prohibited and penalized by law. But when does abortion take place? At what stage of the reproductive process will interruption be considered an offense against life? At fertilization or only after implantation? Are there birth control devices or pills which are abortifacient? If so, in what way? There is debate about the abortifacient effect of some birth control means. Who is to settle this debate—Congress? The Courts? Science? the Church? The ralliers? I understand that the various pharmaceutical and medical literature on this are conflictive.

the questions tell me that fr. bernas knows more than he’s telling, much like a parent who has a hard time talking to a teen child about sex because the openness and the info could be misconstrued as license to have sex.   in this case the information, which is most likely new to many many filipino women, rich and poor, young and old, could be misconstrued as license to interrupt the reproductive process by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg, which apparently he equates with abortion.   i totally disagree.

just to make sure i have it right, i emailed my balikbayan brother dr. godofredo “butch” stuart, now based in tiaong, quezon, who is my first resource on contraception.   his response:


Fertilization occurs when sperm-meets-ovum, 200 to 500 million sperms in the ejaculate, discharged into the vaginal vault, embarking on journey up the vagina, up the cervix. Only less than a thousand survive the swim and make it to the fallopian tube, into the “last lap” of their swim. These sperms have fertilizing capabilities that last only for 72 hours, sometimes 96 hours.

And once a month, normally, one mature egg is released from the ovary, fertilizable only for 24 hours. Into the fallopian tube it begins the journey, where it is met by one of the surviving sperma. So fertilization occurs, resulting in a zygote.

The germinal stage (0 to 2 weeks) begins when the zygote journeys down the fallopian tube to the uterus, reaching the uterus in 4 to 5 days, floating freely in the uterine cavity for several more days, finally adhering to the uterine wall about the 8th day after fertilization. By the 12th the egg is firmly implanted. And by the end of the second week the uterine wall has completely surrounded the newly developing organism.

This is the basic arithmetic on sperm and ovum life spans, and how the implantation happens many days later after fertilization. And how morning-after contraception works in the schemata of the germinal stage and implantation.

check out his website where he has a page on emergency post-coital contraception.   between fertilization of the egg and its implantation in the uterus, there’s a 7-day window during which contraceptive pills taken in certain doses effectively prevents implantation, which is how the morning-after pill (banned here) works.

the question is, when a woman resorts to emergency contraception, is that abortion?   i don’t think so.   while it is true that a fertilized egg has life, still it’s NOT A VIABLE LIFE, not until implantation.

DOC BUTCH :  Yes, non-viable until implantation.  Alive, yes, as in in-vitro fertilization, alive in the laboratory milieu, but still needing the uterine implantation to enter a sustaining nutritional environment.

which brings me back to fr. bernas’s questions: when does abortion take place?   answer: certainly not when a woman resorts to emergency contraception “the morning after” sex, because a fertilized egg (if at all there is one) is not yet a viable life-form.   and no, BIRTH CONTROL PILLS ARE NOT ABORTIFACIENTS:  once a fertilized egg has implanted onto the uterine wall, no amount of these pills can dislodge or remove it from the uterine wall.   (only real abortifacients can dislodge, abort, a zygote, but that’s for another blog.)

of course pro-lifers would disagree with me till kingdom come.   but try googling it and you will find that there are as many arguments for fertilization, as there are for implantation, as the beginning of human life.   so fr. bernas asks: who is to settle the debate re the alleged “abortifacient effect of some birth control means” — congress? the courts? science? the church? the ralliers?   answer: NONE OF THE ABOVE.   i say THE WOMAN DECIDES, not the priests or the opus deists.

DOC BUTCH : From opposing ends, it will never be answered or agreed upon. Yes, in the end, it should be the woman’s right, sole and inalienable, unburdened by archaic church edicts and impotent male political will. Too, a daunting responsibility for “educators” with the burdensome task of educating the womenfolk. And how to make the information available and comprehensible to the masa, who still resort to coat-hangers, grapevine pharmaceuticals, and dangerous herbal concoctions.

indeed.   widespread underground procedures kill about 1,000 women each year in this predominantly roman catholic country.

An estimated 560,000 women in the Philippines in 2008 sought abortion involving crude and painful methods such as intense abdominal massages by traditional midwives or inserting catheters into the uterus, said a report by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

which brings me back to the media, which have the power and the means not only to shape the debate but to make available the information and educate the womenfolk, thereby “to change the status quo of high rates of infant mortality, maternal deaths, and abortions. It is a moral imperative that such dehumanizing conditions should not be allowed to continue.”

DOC BUTCH :    Media seems to kowtow to the powers that be.  It seems like institutional fear.  No cojones to challenge the church on such matters.  Or perhaps everyone of note in media went to the same church-sponsored Sex Education 101.  Masyadong malakas ang simbahan.

but is it just fear of excommunication and hellfire,  or is it also a lack of critical thinking,  and not caring enough about the issues that matter?   media is plural for mediocre?   yes, all of the above.

celdran as rizal, celdran as damaso

There was a bit of irony to all this because Celdran put on a dark overcoat for his cathedral caper, intending to portray Jose Rizal, but after he was arrested the newspapers had a field day showing him behind bars. I think the photographs’ impact was stronger because what I, and many others, saw was not Rizal in detention but a Spanish friar, Padre Damaso, no less. Poor Celdran, with his Spanish ancestry and rotund body physique, did end up eliciting a bit of wistful thinking among Filipino indios.

LOL, michael tan.   so true.   but in fairness, whether in the cathedral as rizal, or in jail as damaso, carlos celdran was quite the performance artist extraordinaire (bow).   enough with “tourist guide”, no offense to tourist guides ;))