Thursday, December 09, 2004

The HIV time bomb

Today I received a forwarded email copy of this article from Asia Times. It's entitled "Philippines sits on HIV time bomb." The good thing about the article is that it shows how very ignorant a lot of Filipinos are about the reality of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and how the government is not trying to fix this problem. But there's an error in the article that I'd like to address.

The article discusses the government claim that AIDS is not a danger in the Philippines. The author then notes the fact that millions of Filipinos have multiple sexual partners and therefore should be quite prone to AIDS. Now I agree with that totally. But then the author proceeds to make a contradiction. He then asks, rather sarcastically, whether the supposed "fact" that AIDS isn't common here is a miracle caused by our being "highly religious".

My question is this: how in the world could we call ourselves a religious "Catholic"country when we have 2 million sex workers working here and abroad? How could we dare accept the title "highly religious" when we do so many things that the Church does not approve of? But in reality, Filipinos are more traditionalist than religious. Filipinos (like many other people, I suppose) are simply people of custom and fad. Since Catholicism is popular here, a lot of us are Catholic even if a lot of us know zilch about the Faith. And since the current trend seems to be sexual promiscuity, that's what millions of Filipinos are practicing right now, even if it's against their religion.

Going to church or believing in miracles does not make one a good Catholic. Nay, even praying rosaries every single day does not make one a good Catholic, not if you only pray because of habit. Jesus said that not everybody who calls him "Lord" shall be saved. Rather, a good Catholic is someone who knows and believes what the Church teaches and applies this Faith in his everyday life.

The author seems to claim that the solution to the AIDS epidemic is the use of condoms. Well, I say that if we were half as religious as we claim to be, we wouldn't need condoms. If the millions of Filipino prostitutes who dare call themselves Christians would for once act like followers of Christ and look for better jobs (and if only the government would give them better jobs), there would be no "HIV Time Bomb."

People like this author scoff at the Christian belief in miracles, claiming that this belief is what makes predominantly Catholic countries like the Philippines prone to many dangers including AIDS. But the Philippines is not in danger because it is too Christian. It is in danger because it is not Christian enough. That is the only issue. And that is the problem that we must solve. Then maybe we might see some miracles.