CHRISTMAS is filled with the sounds and sights of life. We see people having parties, reunions, and fellowships; colorful lanterns drive away the dark and make the nights merry and bright; people shop for gifts for their loved ones and friends; and it’s almost obligatory for all persons and groups to give donations to the poor and visit orphanages and homes for the aged and infirm to spread the Christmas cheer.

All of these sights and sounds of life stand in stark contrast to the calls, left and right, for the passage of such measures such as the Reproductive Health bill that primarily aim at curtailing the proliferation of life.

The doomsayers among us would have Christmas, New Year and beyond painted in stark terms of lack and death. But the yuletide season is a reminder that Christmas is primarily a celebration of life.

With all the economic and societal turmoil hounding the country, Filipino still manage to celebrate Christmas. We, at least for this season, should stop harping at what doomsayers are saying of the country’s skyrocketing (“unbridled,” said a columnist) birth rate. Calls for population control are basically directred at the poor who are perceived to reproduce like rabbits, thus reproducing exponentially Philippine poverty. But the conscientious-minded know why there are many poor people: because of poor governance, poor policy planning, mismanagement and corruption. The poor are the victims of policies and practices against life, against the people.

We should stop blaming the poor for their poverty. Limited resources for a big population are enought when people are willing to share, but all the world’s resources will never be enough for just 10 people if two or three of them are greedy and corrupt.

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Let’s accept it. The Reproductive Bill is promoted by pro-choice, that is, pro-abortion, people. It is only in the Philippines that we make distinction between pro-contraception and anti-abortion; in the US and elsewhere, pro-choice means pro-abortion. This is so because contraception does not really stem the population; abortion does.

As Human Life International Director Brian Clowes said in a forum at Makati City last November, reproductive health is a “softer term for abortion.” He added that abortion has made the United States an “unhappy” nation.

“The solution to poverty is not to tell families not to have children because in the last 50 years of using contraceptives in America, we still have 30 million poor people,” Clowes said.

Doomsayers said that Philippines will be like Somalia in the coming years, in effect blaming the African country’s problems to overpopulation, which is twisted logic; at the least, it simplifies the problems of Somalia. Definitely the Philippines is not Somalia, and those who say so are blind to the vibrant signs of life and abundance in the Philippines. And definitely the Philippines is not like the West, where the culture of death prevails.

As Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said in the same forum in Makati City, Filipinos should learn from the Americans where a policy on reproductive health resulted in a “culture of death.”

“We don’t have to be like the first-world countries. They’re rich but they’re unhappy. We must instead remain God-loving and peaceful Christians,” Aniceto said.

Yes, the world is more complicated than that. But if only for the chaos of the new century, we should go back to the fundamentals, as the yuletide season suggests: we should return to the real message of Christmas. In order to have a grasp of that message, we should go back to that humble manger 2,000 years ago, where, in the midst of poverty and want, a lowly couple, who were refused entry in the house of the establishment, found refuge in a stable of lowly animals and lowly shepherds, and all the lowly universe of humble lives found something to celebrate—the birth of another lowly life, but life that had within it the seed of greatness and redemption.


Let us go back to that primal scene of life, life which evokes all at the same time the faith of mankind, the hope for a brighter future, and love and service for humanity. Let us all go back to the tender scene of the Nativity, which symbolizes vitality, creativity, charity, and humanity.


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