MANILA, July 20, 2011?In a massive display of support on the call of the Catholic Church to reject the House Bill 4244 or the Reproductive Health (RH) bill authored by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, student delegates from the Manila Archdiocesan and Parochial Schools Association (MAPSA) and Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) trooped the University of Santo Tomas (UST) campus in what could be tagged as the largest anti-RH forum ever held.
Dubbed â€œKalakbay Patungo sa Kapunuan ng Buhay at Pamilya,â€ the forum marking the 43rd anniversary of Pope Paul VIâ€™s encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) had a combined crowd estimate of 4,000 coming from UST, St. Paul Manila and Quezon City, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University-Taft, Lourdes School Quezon City, Letran College-Intramuros, St. Jude Academy, Cainta Catholic School, La Consolacion College Pasig and Valenzuela, San Beda College, St. Maryâ€™s College of Quezon City, Philippine Normal University, Assumption College Makati, Technological University of the Philippines, and Santa Catalina College-Legarda filling the UST Chapel.
Renelyn Tan of World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific (WYAAP) started the forum with an overview of what Humanae Vitae is and how the youth should appreciate the prophetic encyclical of Pope Paul VI.
Richard Pazcoguin of the UST Institute of Religion reiterated how the RH bill now pending in Congress is anti-life and anti-youth.
Zambales Representative Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, on the other hand, said that the problem of maternal deaths should have been addressed by now.
â€œWe passed a law already, but the government failed to implement the provisions of the Magna Carta for Women,â€ she said.
The solon also reminded young women that they should value themselves as they are worth “more than a pack of condoms.”
A video featuring Adamson University and UST students was presented for deepening and workshops as part of the forum, followed by a CBCP for Life music video shown to promote the recently launched resource portal for family and life issues.
Student representatives from participating schools also joined the slogan-making activity, from which the chosen student and school would be awarded a plaque. The slogan will be adapted for the CBCP for Life site.
Students posted their entries on CBCP for Life’s Facebook page. One student from UST Faculty of Arts and Letters posted, “God gives us what men DESERVE to have (life), not that men DESIRE to have (contraceptives).”
Towards evening, a simultaneous pealing of bells was done in all parishes in Manila to commemorate the Hour of the Unborn. It was followed by a procession from the Santisimo Rosario Parish to EspaÃ±a Boulevard at 6:00 p.m., and a candle-lighting event that stretched throughout the EspaÃ±a side of UST.
â€œMore than a thousand candles were lighted, [which hopefully]can enlighten the hearts of our legislators,â€ said a student from St. Paulâ€™s University.
Msgr. Juanito Figura, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Secretary General, said, â€œThe support of the youth is overwhelming, more than expected.â€ (Raymond Bandril)