Sunday, June 13, 2010

My First Filipino Freethinkers Meetup

Starbucks, Shangri La
Philippine Independence Day.
June 12, 2010 1:00

I was nervous yet kinda eager. I took the LRT from Legarda to Araneta Center, and then the MRT from Araneta to Shaw Blvd, where Shangri La is just a few steps away. I got there 30 minutes late (1:30PM). Entering those rolling doors which I thought I can only see on TV, I felt anxious. Before looking for any passerby to ask where Starbucks by the Cinema is, I saw one. While trying to get closer, I saw a cinema nearby as I took the escalator. Here it is. Starbucks, Shang.

Looking for the Filipino Freethinkers, I saw a group of heads forming a circle. Approaching while pretending to just pass by, I peek and try hard to not show my face and moved on. Perhaps they are not those guys. A sudden squeak of my shoes as a reflex, I unconsciously saw the ff sign. That's the time they hand a sticky paper and a pen for me to write my name.

Seated on an armed sofa, I recognized Sir Philip, one of those who I met in a Pinoy Atheist Meetup in another Starbucks in another mall, was at my side, quiet. I wrote my nickname, T... O... B... Y... "Toby," A man tagged "Red" on his shirt greeted me. Probably he is the one named Ryan in Facebook. Thinking about the will be discussion, I found out they haven't started yet.

Sir Red told me to explain my views and how I turned to be one of my kind. I told the group about me from the godliness of my childhood to the stronger being that I've become in my twilight years as a teenager. Occasionally, Sir John Paraiso, one of the great atheists in the Philippines, interrupts when I spit some stuff I think and I do. They were relevant, if not funny! Discussion started with some Islamic stuff. From the proposed Mosque in 9/11 site to their costume being banned in France. After that, since it is Independence Day, we talked about Nationalism: Is it necessarily a good thing? Where should Nationalism come from? Is it right to be proud of the achievements of your 'neighbors-by-chance'? Sir John left due to his sleepless hours and stayed out of the circle. It took some time before he returned and introduced the "17 year old boy" who is now 18: Joshua Lipana, an objectivist. Another known atheist I hear in the atheist community, its just that I haven't realized it that time.

As we progressed our talk, an interesting topic was next: Ethics of Sex between friends. Survey says I'm a minority in the freethinking community, speaking about my virginity. Most agreed that it is okay to have sex just for fun. We proceeded to the appropriateness of preaching atheism. After some debate on what preaching means, there was no closure. But the talk of Joshua was next: Anti-environmentalism. It was substantive if only there was a specified kind of environmentalism he considers harmful. Considering only those environmentalist on the extreme side as environmentalism itself is unfair. Though it was chaotic, I learned some ideas, how other atheists think. The discussion ended with at short story lecture. Fortunately, I can still recall the lessons of Literature from my previous semester, that's why, I can relate. I do hope I can make a great short story someday. Two flashes of shots, we had our family portrait for that meet-up. The formal phase has ended.

I learned that we are not yet to go home. We are to have dinner together. Before we went. I was able to socialize with some of them. I learned about this Joseph, who is an atheist computer programmer, and this other man, (I won't mention his name for privacy purposes) who cheats his wife with us. I mean, his born-again wife doesn't know about his philosophical views. We had dinner at the food court, well some of us went to some other place. We ate, got to know some and chat some stuff. I got acquainted with an intern doctor from Davao, a young physicist and a guy who tells me to be careful about theology because it could bring me back to Catholicism. I talked with Joshua and Sir Red. Most of that time, the topic was on Joshua's objectivism, Capitalism vs. Socialism, continuation of the anti-environmentalism, and quantum weirdness including that computer which operates in another universe, something out of nothing beginning of the universe and that double slit experiment which I used to counter objectivism.

What a day and night. Sir Philip and I went to the MRT to go to North Edsa. The two of us had done our summary of the day at Starbucks, Trinoma. We got coffee then split up.

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