By William M. Esposo (The Philippine Star)
The Catholic Church in our country is so messed up that it cannot...
We are the largest, most active group of freethinkers in the Philippines. We practice and promote reason, science, secularism, and, of course, freethinking.
Whenever you try to use reason and science to reach your own conclusions, you are freethinking. Freethinking is a process of thinking free from dogma, authority, and tradition. Although these things may influence a freethinker’s conclusions, freethinkers make up their own minds.
To a freethinker, no idea is sacred; the worth of all truth claims is best determined by skepticism, rational inquiry, and scientific testing.
Long-term: Freethinkers can live in a Philippines free from all forms of violence, discrimination, and prejudice, their rights and freedoms fully protected, their concerns and opinions adequately represented.
Short-term: Freethinkers in the Philippines can easily meet or talk to fellow freethinkers to enjoy online and offline activities wherever they live and whatever their cultural or socioeconomic background.
Freethought is not the same as atheism. Freethinking is a way of thinking that can lead to different conclusions. Although most freethinkers are nontheistic — atheists, agnostics, deists — many freethinkers still reach religious conclusions. However, theistic freethinkers do tend to have more liberal or progressive religious views than other believers.
Anyone is welcome to join; just participate in any online or offline activity. But remember: discussions and debates, events and projects — all activities are influenced by freethinking. Rational thinking, scientific evidence, and open-mindedness are highly valued.
Although we share certain values, we are a diverse group. Aside from varying religious, philosophical, and political views, members come from different backgrounds: young and old, student and professional, Filipino and foreigner. The best way to know us is to attend one of our regular meetups or participate in any of our online channels.
Our group started online, with most of our members coming from the most active atheist mailing lists back then, Pinoy_Atheist and AtheistangPinoy. In only a year we’ve had thousands of discussions on our online channels:
But most importantly, we’ve evolved our website from a page to post meetup info and pics into a group blog with quality content posted regularly. Our site won Filipino Blog of the Week and was a finalist in the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards for Best Advocacy Blog. And more recently, our site has consistently placed on the top 3 of Top Blogs’ religion category.
What makes us different from other freethinking groups is our emphasis on face-to-face interaction. Twice a month we leave the comfort of our computer chairs and attend an FF meetup. A meetup gathers freethinkers to discuss and debate, lecture and learn, talk and listen. Sometimes we play games or record podcasts. But whatever we do, getting to hang out with fellow freethinkers is more than enough for most.
Since our first meetup on February 1, 2009, we’ve had regular meetups in the Shangri-la mall Starbucks (near the cinemas). We meetup every other week from 1 to 4pm. But with dinner and drinks, karaoke and Wii parties, some meetups last till 4 am. Meetup schedules are posted on our website and Facebook group.
We hosted our second forum in Ateneo (not an official Ateneo event, but still, it was in Ateneo). We served as panelists and delivered a lecture for Darwin Day (organized by SOPHIA) in La Salle. Now, we’re working onFF UP Diliman (FFUP), our first university chapter.
We’re part of SEA-Atheists, a community of Southeast Asian nonbelievers which consists of groups from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
We’ve been in correspondence with Dan Barker, DJ Grothe, and Hemant Mehta, all of whom have agreed to give interviews for future podcasts and events. Hemant and PZ Myers have featured us on their websites. We are linked to from the websites of Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer. Mr. Deity and Julia Sweeney have personally given us permission to use their material in our recent film festival. These might not be much, but it brings us closer to the day when these freethinking celebrities pay us a visit.
Yet we are already thankful for the visit of one freethinking friend and supporter, David O’ Brien. His continued support and guidance has made our first film festival possible. He has also donated several books, magazines, and newsletters to our library. Today, he continues to speak about our group in the hopes of gaining us even more allies and supporters from the many freethinking organizations he belongs to.
So far, we’ve hosted four big events:
Aside from organizing our own events, some members help and participate in activities and causes organized by groups they support:
We’re also working on forming a secular alliance with other advocacy groups to protect the separation of church and state mandated by our constitution.
It’s taboo to openly criticize religion in this country. So we’re thankful to the following folks who’ve allowed us to criticize religion on the air:
So far the closest we’ve come to TV is an interview with Ricky Carandang — though it was Ricky giving the answers, and it wasn’t televised.
Everything we’ve done is thanks to our many volunteers. Aside from our moderating our online channels, creating content for the blog, and organizing regular meetups, we’re busy working on the following:
Use our contact page.