Are You Left Handed?

The Philippines is a predominantly Christian nation. In fact, it is the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia which makes it the “odd man out”.  The other countries, though there is really a variety of religions in Asia, are dominated by various Oriental faiths.

Religious practice in this country is somewhat a mixture of culture, superstition, and colonial influences. These factors are so ingrained with each other that sometimes it is hard to determine which is superstition, which is religion, and which is culture. For instance, during Lenten season, a lot of people in the Tagalog region would be flagellating themselves for the sake of their “panata” so that they may be forgiven for their sins or that so they may make good of their promise to the Lord; yet the Church itself declares that such is not necessary because Christ liberated us from our sins.

Filipinos believe in a lot of superstitious beliefs yet they believe in the Bible. A lot of Filipinos believe in “Sukob” yet they believe that only God can separate what God has united in marriage. In other words, a lot of Filipinos will believe that if a person marries immediately within a year after an immediate family member has died or has married, bad luck shall befall the newly-wed couple so much so that their marriage will eventually fail YET they also believe that since God has united the couple in marriage then only God can separate them.

Filipinos also believe in stuff like Feng Shui and at the same time they believe in the power of prayers. So, Filipinos believe that making certain furniture arrangements in one’s home can either bring good luck or bad luck – depending on the orientation of stuff in your house YET at the same time they believe that praying can avert all bad lucks as long as praying is done with sincerity.

Such is the contradiction of this strange mix of culture, tradition, superstition, and religion here in the Philippines.

But not only do Filipinos tend to mix things up. We also tend to exaggerate religious stuff. As mentioned earlier, during Lenten season, a lot of devotees go the extra-mile by flagellating themselves just so to express their faith. When really praying or going to Church should be enough. Or do Filipinos do this because they believe this will secure them a better place in heaven?

Bible interpretation is also exaggerated. One Bible quote can go a long, long way here. For instance, “Go forth and multiply” – this single line from the Bible can be stretched in so many ways in this country and can be used as a prime weapon to avert and distort national policies. And come to think of it, now that we’ve mentioned it, there is another strange hybrid involving religion and this is the strange case of religion being mixed with politics – and this, I believe, is the most dangerous hybrid.

Imagine how for so long reproductive health advocates had been battling to advance contraception in order to help curb down the growing problems of sexually transmitted diseases, uncontrolled population growth, and other related problems which stunted the growth of this nation. But one chant of the magic mantra by the Church “Go forth and multiply…”, and policy-makers will go scrambling against the reproductive health bill. (Though we know that the real story is that these religious sects will stop supporting these politicians come election time once they’ll show a scintilla of resistance against these religious doctrines). But nonetheless, this shows just how involved religion is in all aspects of Filipino life and how controlling organized religion can be.

Religion commands a strong dictum on policy-making. Because of church lobbyists, we have no divorce law. This is even if domestic violence is so rampant in this country so much so that marriage loses its essence and what becomes of it is a prison for a battered wife seeking freedom from an oppressive husband. The Philippines is the only country in the world not to have a divorce law. Even the birthplace of Christ has a divorce law in place.

The reason why religion is so in control in this country is that because a lot of Filipinos are gullible when it comes to faith-related teachings and doctrines. They’ll believe everything that comes out of the mouth of a preacher without question. A lot of Filipinos do not understand their faith because of the lack of critical research about the religion they profess. Sure, we’ve been thought religion classes since elementary. We’ve been thought about Christianity, Islam, and so on and so forth but not a lot of us went the extra mile to scrutinize these religions before we bathe in their dogmas.

I guess not a lot of Filipinos know that the very same Roman Catholic Church ordered the persecution of scientists like Galileo and Newton for their radical scientific ideas which turned out to be the true teachings as against the views of the Church. This is also the very same church which ordered the crusades which led to thousands and thousands of lives being lost for a pyrrhic cost. This is also the same church which once declared that being left-handed is a sin because the same is a sign of the devil. Just imagine how school kids are being bashed before for being left-handed and how ostracised they were because of these uneducated teachings. But of course, the Church kept on apologizing for these “shortcomings” through their papal declarations and everything went fine again (at least to the naive).

Bottom line: Be critical. Before taking in a medicine, know first how it will affect your body. So is with religion, understand your faith. An unexamined life is not worth living. Anyone who’s gullible enough to believe in ghosts or “aswang” will believe in anything. And once you believe in anything, they will puke lies on you, they will puke promises on you which they will never fulfil, and you will be raped and run over and over again and in the end you’ll never even know how much part of your life you never get to control simply because you were too naive to ask questions which could have liberated you from the cudgels of beliefs you never fully understood.

About the author

Howard Chan (The Student)

Howard considers himself as an armchair activist. Though his street rally days are in a slumber he still advocates changes via social media. He is a strong believer that awareness of various social issues is a good starting point in order to break out from the stranglehold of an oppressive system which only benefits the few. He is also a full time student and a part time blogger, part time web designer, part time web manager/designer for various clients. (Note: Howard Chan passed the 2014 Bar Exams and was admitted to the Philippine Bar on April 29, 2015. That being, all posts after April 29, 2015 authored by him are now under the name Howard Chan for the purpose of distinguishing posts he made as a non-lawyer from posts he made after admission to the bar).