Sex Education and Reproductive Health Bill: Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle interviews Fr. Nono Alfonso, S.J.

My transcription of the Word Exposed–RH bill part 8 by Bishop Tagle on the Reproductive Health Bill.  The interview with Fr. Nono Alfonso, S.J. was dated May 16, 2011.  See the  You Tube here.


My friends here we are again in the discussion about the different facets of the controversial reproductive health bill which is being pushed in the congress. we are glad that this discussion is being watched, heard, and shared with many.

With us once again is Fr. Nono Alfonso, SJ. He is the executive director of the Jesuit Communications.

Fr. Nono welcome back!


Good morning, bishop. And good morning to you all.


The morning is getting better because you are giving us your time.

My friends what we shall tackle now is related to education, especially sex education of children. This is what we shall look at together with the responsibility of the parents.

Ok fr. nono.


Yes, because what we refer to here contains something controversial–in the eyes of the church and of some parents. There are provisions in the RH bill or RP bill which is being pushed in the congress, which says that from Grade 5, our children will be taught sex education. Of course, this is very controversial, because first, should they be taught at their age? They are still very innocent. Should they immediately be taught? Second, Who should be teaching these things, these sensitive issues of sex and sexuality. What can you say about these bishop in these two questions. The children Grade 5 and second, you know the situation in our schools, in our public schools. Should they be the one who shall teach?


Maybe in your first point on the sex education that shall start at Grade 5. Of course, one of our aims is total education. We always say this. Education can help not only in the development of man but also in man’s progress. Education is also part of the Church’s mission. Like you, the society of jesus, you are into educational ministry, mission. Thus, It is not true as what others are saying that the Church is opposed to education. No. What the church wants to emphasize is this: because holistic education to make better citizens of the nation and better christians–is that we must be very prudent. For example, in the field of Sex education at these ages, We must study this carefully, because instead of educating, we plant more the seeds of what can destroy later on. Is education what shall really happen or we are pushing in the too early times the children the things that cannot be handled by their minds. I am a teacher, too.


He is a good teacher.


He is also a good student. That’s enough.

I also teach. I always look at the reactions of the students.  Sometimes, I feel what I prepared and the topic. Maybe it is not yet right for them. Maybe there are things that are preliminary before this topic can be truly understood. That is why I understand this preoccupation. Maybe it would be a wrong education that will happen if in this age that they are not prepared, you will be the one who shall put wrong ideas.

Also what is terrifying is that there are somethings–that is even before the present heads the department of education have sat in office–there are now pilot modules of sex education manuals. These are already being tested in 10 pilot regions, but they refuse to state what schools are these implemented. Aside from the contents, if we see the other excerpts, they are somewhat shocking.


I saw the modules. First, they have a request to their students in these pilot testing, “Do not to share this when you go back to your parents. And especially do not tell this to Father or to Sister.”  There are these prohibitions to the students. This is like teaching children to tell a lie. But this is shocking, bishop. What I found out is not even for grade 5, but for lower grade levels. They are already taught–I am sorry for saying this–masturbation. These are for mature audiences. You can see from the modules that they give that these are not well discerned, they do not ask “who are the audience?”


What you are saying is good, Fr. Nono. The concern of the church is that in these modules the approach to sex is too clinical: it is only an activity, only factual, biological, on what is said, “How can you protect yourself?” But the sexual act is always part of morality and relationship. And that is what is not being tackled. This is where the biggest concern of the church lies. Is sex education only just about a technique or how to do it or are they part of the holistic view of man and relationships?


These are the values.


Precisely. And what you are saying is what I also saw: “You are not obliged to tell this to your parents.” When I saw these, I put myself in the minds of the parents. I have a child. There is always a apprehension on what is being taught to my child. When I see behavioral change, I ask what is happening. In the teaching of the church, the primary responsibility of teaching and formation of the children are the parents. And that is also in the Constitution.


And that is also the answer to my second question. Who shall be the one who shall teach? Because I have a very practical view of these things, bishop, because have interviewed in Radio Veritas, the teachers themselves who admit that they are not trained to teach. You know the state of our schools: lack of classroooms, lack of textbooks. So the teachers make their own rackets and gimmicks. They do not have the same teaching styles. This is terrifying. And some are using certain things just to teach these sensitive issues. Second, not only the physical structure, but also the teachers themselves admit that they lack traing on how to teach these sensitive issue. That is why bishop, it is too terrifying for me.


Now, the challenge is if we want that we parents are the ones who will form, especially those who are married in the church. I remember that there is a question for those who are getting married: are you ready to raise as better Christians the children that God will give you. There in the ritual itself, we are being reminded that we have the responsibility. The schools, catechists, and teachers are only support. And the parents have right to say, “I don’t want these lessons. Do not teach these to my children.” Now if this is mandatory, it removes from the parents their role. And what is happening?  Is this dictating to the parents? But we want children to be truly educated. In the biological part, there are sciences, there is biology. And there are values. We wish that the parents must also take their formation seriously, so that they can form their children.


We hope we have helped and gave explanations.


So, thank you again, Fr. Nono.


It has been a pleasure, bishop.


If we call you, you do not think twice. Thank you very much to you, especially those who follow this discussion. We encourage you to share what you learned in our simple discussion. Thank you very much.


Horror of horrors! Why is JesCom sponsoring a suspense-thriller?

*Horror of horrors! Why is JesCom sponsoring a suspense-thriller? *

by Dit Sablan

Yes, Jesuit Communications is sponsoring *The Rite*, Warner Brothers’
newest film on exorcism which stars Academy Award winner Anthony
Hopkins. But the film is not your run-of-the-mill exorcist B-movie. It
is based on journalist Matt Baglio’s book, “*The Rite: The Making of a
Modern Exorcist,”* which tells the real life story of Father Gary Thomas
and how he trained and became the official exorcist of San Jose,
California.  In a recent interview with /Zenit News Agency/, Father
Thomas mentions that he and Baglio were not only consulted in the
production of the film but were physically present in the shooting as
well — an assurance of the film’s orthodoxy.

But why should *The Rite* be a relevant film for us?

First, although there are admittedly very few official exorcists around,
the rite of exorcism continues to be a ministry in the Church, following
Jesus Christ who expelled demons from people during his time. There was
a time when, before ordination, would-be priests were ordained to the
minor order of exorcism. And although this practice is no longer
observed in most seminaries, perhaps due to the advent of the scientific
age, the Church nonetheless continues the ministry of exorcism, even as
it maintains its teaching on the existence of the Devil!

Second, in the /Zenit/ interview, Father Thomas reveals a sense of
urgency within the Church as regards this sensitive matter. He cites for
example that months before John Paul II died in 2005, the Pope requested
that each diocese in the Church be equipped with a trained exorcist.
Likewise, recently, the US Bishops met in Baltimore over this issue.
Significantly, Father Thomas as the bishops’ resource person, pointed
out that the youth today are at risk of demonic influences and even
possession, because of their interest in the occult, now widely known as
the new age phenomenon. (Parents beware!)

Finally, the movie is relevant because as Father Thomas says, more than
a suspense-thriller, *The Rite* is a movie about our Faith. Indeed it
deals with our unending daily struggle to win over our demons and our
unending fight against the forces of evil in this world. Surprisingly,
this horror movie may yet inspire us towards greater faith!

/The Advanced Screening of *The Rite* is on Friday, 28 January 2011,
7pm, SM Megamall, Cinema 9. Father Joseph Syquia, official exorcist of
the Archdiocese of Manila will start the event with a brief talk.
Tickets are sold at P500.  Available at the following Tanging Yaman
Outlets: 1. Sonolux Building, Seminary Drive, Ateneo de Manila
University,   2.  Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University,
and  3.  5th Floor, SM Megamall Building B, Mandaluyong City.

/For more information, call 426-5971 local 111 – 113.


“Usapang Kapatid” in DZMM Radio and ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel: An interview with CBCP and Pro-Life groups on the Reproductive Health Bill

Source: Jescom (Jesuit Communications) Newsletter Issue No. 6

.. This Saturday on “Usapang Kapatid”

PRO-LIFE! Hear out the stand of the Church on the issue of the RH Bill. We’ll be joined by guests: Mr. Eric Manalang (President, Pro-Life Philippines, Inc.), Mr. Lito David (Member, Pro-Life Philippines, Inc.), Mr. Butch Valdez (political analyst); and phone interviews with Dra. Eleanor de Borja-Palabyab (Ob-Gyne), Dr. Joselito Sandejas (Chairman, Alliance of Family Organizations; Head, HB&A International-ARO Research) and Ms. Linda Ganar (CBCP Commission of Family and Life).

*Usapang Kapatid* airs every Saturday, 10:30pm to 12:00mn on DZMM Radyo Patrol 630, DZMM TeleRadyo [Sky Cable] channel 26, and The Filipino Channel (TFC).

Caritas in Veritate Forum at the Ateneo de Manila University: Justice and Peace and the Reproductive Health Bill

I attended the forum on Caritas in Veritate last Wednessday at the Leong Hall of Ateneo de Manila University.  I arrived at 2 p.m.  There was already three long lines: individuals, religious, and some other classification (students?).  I saw my friend way back in college manning the registration–a woman named Manay.  She gave me a green piece of paper.  It is a color code where you can sit.  I asked her where I can buy a copy of Caritas in Veritate.  She pointed me to a nearby table by Jess Comm (Jesuit Communications).  I bought my copy for Php 115.

The place was nearly full.  I went to the far right, a few seats near in the front.  These are for individuals.  The middle section is for priests.  The back section is for students.  I counted the seats.  It is about 8 x 15 x 3 which is 360 or roughly 400.  The hall is fully packed.  Some are already sitting on the aisles.  Others are standing at the entrance, hoping to get a seat.

Fr. Tagle’s video presentation began.  It is about solidarity with the Farmers.  After this is the talk by Fr. Jojo Magadia, S.J., the provincial of the Philippine Jesuits.  He described what the encyclical is about and what it is for.  He encouraged the audience to read the encyclical.  It is difficult reading, but it has great impact in our lives.   The talk lasted about an hour.

The four panelist were alloted 15 minutes each.  Dr. Cielito Habito of Ateneo de Manila Economics Department discussed his familiar assessment that the Philippine economy is narrow, shallow, and hollow.  He advocated the Bayanihan economy or solidarity.  Mr. Guillermo “Bill” Luz of the Ayala Foundation pointed out that when he read the encyclical, he noticed that many of its recommendations were already implemented by the Ayala foundation.  Business is not only for profit.  Business has a social contract with society.  What the Ayala Foundation wishes to do is to fund projects that does not only make money but also help alleviate the quality of life of many.  One example is the Globe’s telephony selling load to transfer g-cash creates jobs for 600,000 people.  Mrs. Antonia Yulo Loyzaga of the Manila Observatory pointed out the importance of care for the environment in the encyclical.  The Manila Observatory she said used to look to the sky to study the weather.  Now from the sky we look down to the earth using satellites to analyze climate change and variability.  She mentioned the work of IPCC or the International Panel on Climate Change where Fr. Jett Villarin, S.J. is a member.  Fr. Jett was one of those awarded Nobel peace prize together with Al Gore for IPCC.  The last speaker was Bishop Luis A. Tagle who traced the theological background of the encyclical in Pope Benedict XVI’s thought.  Quoting much from Thomas Rouche of Clarion University, Bishop Tagle said that the encyclical is rooted in Pope Benedict XVI’s vision that man is a relational being because man is in made in the image of the Trinity which is a relationship between three divine Persons: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.

The question and aswer portion was opened.  A priest from the Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation questioned whether do we really need an IRR (implementing rules and regulations) based on the encyclical.  And he mentioned about the poor in the Philippines.  The just living wage he said is between 360 to 375 pesos.  Fr. Jojo responded that the encyclical is a challege.  Efforts must be made to subsidiarity.  Prof. Habito said that the encyclical is a credo for behavior.  Credo is a guide and not necessarily an IRR.  Mr. Luz said that it is left for companies to draw up policies guided by the encyclical.

The second question is by Prof. Cristina “Tina” Montiel, an Ateneo de Manila University faculty who confidently mentioned that she is a supporter of the Reproductive Health Bill.  She said asked that if the encyclical calls for the de-divinization of the State and the Cosmos, should this de-divinization should also be applied to the Church?  Bishop Tagle responded that the equally applies to the Church.  The Church is not God nor claims to be God.  The Church is only obedient to the Trinitarian God.  The truths taught by the Church are gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The Church submits to her Lord.  The Church is the Sacrament of Universal Salvation. Concerning the RH bill, Bishop said that it is sad that the atmosphere is so charged that it is difficult for people to enter into dialogue.  There is an atmosphere of rationality that is not nurtured by divine revelation.  The bishop tells Prof. Montiel that he hopes she understands what he is driving at.

There is another Sr. Pia (?) who also mentioned that she is for the Reproductive Health Bill, but she will not raise the issue.  Sr. Pia asked about the Pondo ng Pinoy.  Bishop Tagle said that Pondo ng Pinoy was conceived by Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales as a means of little acts of kindness.  Everybody can afford 25 cents, even the poor.  The collections do not go to the parish or city where the collection was taken.  Instead, it goes to another place that needs is more.  For example, 200 million went to feeding programs and community value formation.

After the forum ended it is difficult to get to Fr. Jojo Magadia and Bishop Tagle.  Many people wanted to talk to them.  I also lined up because I want to get copies of their speeches, but they have none.  I told Fr. Jojo that he looks good in long sleeve barong, for his usual attire is t-shirt.  And he said, “Oo, nga eh.  Kailangan.”  (Yes, because it is needed.)  And he laughed.

Fr. Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, S.J. was also waiting for Bishop Tagle; he wants the bishop to eat something before leaving.  A person told Fr. Nono that this is a very good forum.  The person suggested that Fr. Nono’s Jess Comm would send (sell?) cd’s of the forum to parishes.  Fr. Nono appears open to the idea.


Monk’s Hobbit’s Notes: I think many of the people who went to the forum was expecting a trashing of the encyclical, since Jesuits are perceived to have a critical attitude towards Rome, e.g. the Humanae Vitae and Liberation Theology.  Fr. Roger Haight’s book the “Jesus: the Symbol of God” was given a sympathetic forum at the Loyola House of Studies years before, despite Vatican’s ban on the book.  They think the forum has the same flavor.  This is the reason why I think the persons who asked questions are from the Justice and Peace advocacy group and the supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill.  But they were wrong and they left dismayed.  They got a Jesuit provincial who recommends that everyone should read the encyclical and a Bishop who teaches the truth on the Catholic Faith on matters like the Reproductive Health Bill.  The wind is changing.

I am still trying to decipher my notes on the talks, especially by Fr. Jojo Magadia, S.J.  I shall post it when I am done.