The Politically-Incorrect Philippine Blog Awards

I have nothing against people who practice their religion – because I want others to respect my belief (non-belief for that matter) system — but when individuals overstep the boundaries of their freedom and express utterly presumptuous and insensitive things, I quickly lose my patience. I’m perfectly fine with prayers. People could recite the entire rosary and complete ten novenas in front of me and I wouldn’t really feel any different. It becomes a totally different matter though when people fail to exercise their discretion in choosing the words for their publicly-aired prayers.

The following is a transcript of the prayer read during the invocation.

So compassionate, so faithful, so loving You are Our Father.

We ask You to increase our faith and our love for You that we may use blogging as an instrument to fulfill Your purposes. May we become bloggers of truth and promoters of peace.

Help us to be steadfast in our Christian commitment that visitors may find in our blogs a source of encouragement and inspiration. Give us strength to proclaim Your word, that we may play our part in breaking down the walls of hostility in the world and use our blogs to strengthen the bonds of friendship, solidarity and love.

Make our hearts meek and humble
that we may treat our readers as friends, not as unique hits,
that we may strive to change ourselves for the better more often than we pimp our site templates,
that we may find more time to ease the pain of someone in our own home than to reply to comments left by strangers,
that we may interact with our next door neighbors as often as we chat with our blogrolled friends,
that we may be more concerned about helping the less privileged than about the number of subscribers to our RSS feeds.

Deliver us, Father, from spams and viruses, from pride and selfishness, and from the temptation to replicate images without permission and copy ideas without crediting the original authors.

May we always be united as a network of bloggers and friends working together in Your name. May our blogs lead us closer to You.

We ask all these through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Again, I find nothing wrong in praying. If someone really needs to do it, then there should be no stopping him. You see, had the Philippine Blog Awards been the Philippine Coalition of Christian Bloggers Convention, there would have nothing wrong with the prayer. In that venue and event, everyone would have been aligned with the same goals and no one would feel sleighted with a line like this: May our blogs lead us closer to You.

I know this reaction would draw crticism from a lot of people due to the sheer numbers of Christian bloggers, but I think the majority should still be sensitive to the issues of political correctness and sensitivity towards diversity. Not all blogs are meant to forward the interests of the Christian faith and one’s spiritual well-being. Why one person would pretentiously and presumptuously claim that it is the case is absolutely beyond me. If these Christian bloggers were suddenly lumped with other “people who forward Satanism”, the uproar will be defeaning.

I hope the organizers (and the person who would lead the invocation next year) would be more sensitive about this issue. If they have no plans to make amends with this snafu, then I suggest that they implicitly call the next edition of the awards the Philippine Christian Blog Awards.

It’s sickening. The damage has been done, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who was offended by this insensitive act. Hopefully those people would also come out into the open to condemn this act of political incorrectness and presumptuous catechism.

Was the prayer well-written? Yes, it was humorous and it’s actually refreshing to see that people are not injecting wit into their private conversations with the entity that they believe as their creator.

Was it done in good taste? Hell no. All the parts in red are the segments that I feel were done in horrid taste. It’s absolutely disgusting.

Praying could have been a simple message of thanks, a few words to ask for guidance and blessings or even than a general spiel wishing for everyone’s wellness. Assuming that all blogs are directed towards a common goal is idiotic. To presumptuously claim that all blogs exist to forward the christian faith is bigoted.

 

 

Ok, enough of that negative energy. If Christians people refuse to accept that they don’t own the world, the minority will just have to be more mature and understanding considering the presumptuous nature of their ilk.

It was great to finally meet Jhed and Kevin. They were with Gener who couldn’t spot Starbucks from Timezone.  I rode shotgun with Ronnie who was attending his first blog event. It was great to see familiar faces – I got to see Tess, AJ and Pierre. I first saw them during the BlogParteeh held last January.

I also got to talk to the owners of the blogs I’ve been visiting since the Summer of ’06 – Bikoy and Gibbs.

 —

I really don’t get it.

I have no idea why in this day in age, people would favor an offensive and arrogant display marinated in intolerance and insensitivity as opposed to opting for a procedure that everyone would have been more likely amenable (yes, I can be funny without being offensive) too. I’m not quite sure if I missed out on any details, but the last time I checked, the Philippine Blog Awards was an event that was supposed to champion Filipino bloggers regardless of creed, affiliation or niche. How it transformed to an exercise to remind bloggers to be steadfast in [our] Christian commitment and help bloggers lead us closer to You [the you being their god] is totally beyond me.

I find it hard to blame the organizers for this unfortunate incident. After all, I’m sure they didn’t proof read and review what the speaker had prepared for the invocation. Given that circumstance, the responsibility squarely falls on one individual’s shoulders. It is quite discouraging that a lot of people turn a blind eye to what has happened here.

Again, I couldn’t emphasize enough that I am not against christians praying in events. Although a lot of christians are considerate enough to concede that a moment of silence would have sufficed, a general prayer that doesn’t overstep the boundaries of good taste and sensitivity would’ve sufficed. Giving thanks to someone’s god for the nice weather, snazzy venue and notable attendance would’ve made it cool, right? Coupled with the speaker’s candor and way with techno-babble and manner, it would’ve still made for a rousing prayer that would’ve still left fans of the only begotten son speechless.

The speaker knew what he was getting into. There are only two possible explanations to what happened. Hypothesis numero uno is that the speaker was too intellectually inept and naive to even fathom the presence of people who don’t blog for the sake of forwarding the interests of christianity. If it isn’t that, the act can only be explained by the speaker’s voluntary, conscious, coherent, Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15 (shout out to Dr. Termulo) decision to recklessly and self-righteously disregard the possibility of having non-christians inside the venue.

Clearly, given the credentials of the speaker, the act was done under circumstances which are closer to the second scenario. That makes it extra revolting.

Though I find it very discouraging that a lot of people are turning a blind eye to how insensitive and presumptuous the prayer was, I’m really stunned with the way people has responded to my sentiments. There are real progressive minds in the Pinoy Blogosphere and most of them read my blog. OK, I’ll stop handing out compliments right now because I don’t want to risk sounding like I’m patronizing you people. :) I appreciate your willingness to share your insights regarding this serious issue.

Noemi said:

I am speaking for myself and not for the organizers though. In my advocacy, I never impose my beliefs on others. But I talk about it and share my experience and it is up to my readers to take it or leave it. We should always consider the feelings of the general blogosphere.

 

Bikoy said:

i agree. a moment of silence would have probably sufficed. im catholic, but even in school functions in UP, i discourage prayer parts in our organizations’ programs just to be neutral and fair to all attendees with various beliefs.

 

Eric said:

i wasnt inside the venue nung nag prayer dito ko lng nabasa.

i am a catholic. was educated in a catholic school, but i agree with you that sensitivty re: faith/belief should have been practiced.

a general thanksgiving prayer should have been enough, or at least a moment of silence.

If i was on benj shoes, I would also be disgusted.

I find it very encouraging that christians find the logic in what I’m standing up for. It doesn’t take a similarity in religion and philosophy to grasp what fundamental rights were violated during the invocation. The Philippine Blog Awards was clearly meant to be a secular event (if it wasn’t then the organizers did a poor job in informing the guests), and it’s utterly inexcusable for the speaker to take the opportunity to wantonly and self-indulgently alienate and generalize. It’s also great that agnostics, atheists and other free thinkers who choose to not associate themselves with labels are coming out of the woodwork to voice out their opinions regarding this issue.

As a parting shot, let me feature how one blogger argues for his unethical and absolutely emetic (shout out agaaaain!) premise.

 

This is taken from Jomar’s blog.

10. Father Cuyos is the name of the cool podcasting/blogging priest from the Vatican, not Cuying, (w/c is taken from his nominated PODCAST: CUYINGCAST). Benj and other non-religious folks must remember that they are in the Philippines and prayers before events are standard. THIS PRAYER w/c is so significant that I’d suggest to to get Father Cuyos as co-HOST next time–will go down (or better yet, GO UP) in history as the funniest and most bagay na prayer I’ve ever heard!

Did I just say zealotry? I’m seriously taken aback with this type of mentality. Prayers are not standard. The University of The Philippines (the bastion of collegiate education in this country) discourages praying before events that are attended by a diverse audience. Seriously, Jomar and his ilk (the presumptuous and bigoted kind) are the very reasons why religious wars happen – and that’s not even an exaggeration. RECKLESSLY CLAIMING THAT SHEER NUMBERS CAN JUSTIFY ACTS OF BIGOTRY, INSENSITIVITY AND INTOLERANCE IS SIMPLY NONSENSICAL AND ILLOGICAL . These people are the ones who are incapable of tolerance towards other philosophies and faiths. I find this post more troubling and revolting than the actual prayer.

It disturbs me that they think that their god is overjoyed when they trample down the rights of others. Pathetic. Some people are really blinded by their faith to the point of madness.

I think encapsulates almost everything that I need to say. Thank you Tess for taking time to actually verbalize it. I don’t have the patience to sanitize things when logic is under attack.

This discussion is never meant to slight the great efforts made by those who organized and volunteered for the Philippine Blog Awards. The issue was raised so that the next Blogger event could be improved, based on the experiences learned from PBA. If it wasn’t voiced out, I’m 100% sure it will happen again the next time.

The mood of some of the commenters in this discussion reminded me of something I experienced in medical school. I attended the Royal Pontifical University of Santo Tomas. And, of course, being a Catholic University, almost all classes were started with a prayer. That is to be expected and those who aren’t Christians just have to put up with it because they’ve accepted to study there. However, there was that once time during class when one non-Christian remained seated during the entire prayer (prayers in that university are made standing up). The professor noticed it and, after the prayer, called him to stand up and reprimanded him in front of the whole class for having disrespected the prayer.

That incident reminded me how non-Christians can be treated in this society predominated by Christians.

If I may say, Christians do forget most of the times that not everybody share their beliefs. And Christians do wonder at what rights did they trample on? Most just don’t realize that they hurt somebody because some things have been so ingrained that they’re almost automatic. Like saying that prayers are standard. Of course not. It’s just that we’re in a society that are composed of mostly Christians that’s why we feel that prayers are part of the S.O.P. of daily living.

Like what Shari might have perhaps done, I just tuned out the prayer and just forget about it. But certainly we cannot blame people like Benj for having to voice out their concerns. And no, it isn’t an attack on the beliefs of Christians.

Simply having those who don’t believe in prayers walk out or tune out is not the correct solution for it. Such actions are simply meant to exclude people further. As others have also commented, a moment of silence in place of an invocation should be done next time. In this way, everybody’s need could be addressed: those who need to pray can pray and those who need not can simply just let their minds wander.

So, it isn’t simply bowing down to the fact that most of the bloggers are Christians and those who are non-Christians should adjust to the needs of the majority. The Blog Awards event is not a religious event. It is an event for bloggers, period. So hopefully next time this would be remembered.

As for the call for volunteers, there are just some, though they want to, who just can’t be physically there and help out with organizing the events. But that’s why people throw out ideas so that, at least, in that way, they could help, if not physically, by sharing whatever they have in mind that they think can improve the blog events.

This has been a heated discussion and I hope everybody would simmer down, as this is only an exchange of ideas, not attacks on personal and religious beliefs.

 

Lastly, I appreciate those who took time to link to my entries.

Manolo

Shari

Pierre

L.A.

Michael

PinoyBlurker

 

—

In other news, its going to be my birthday in a few hours! Woohoo!

And wow, this is quite a way to jump start my bid for next year’s awards. Talk about blogging yourself out of the running in one day!

 

 

 

48 thoughts on “The Politically-Incorrect Philippine Blog Awards

  1. I wasn't there when the invocation was read. I was busy with some paperwork for the event. I didn't even know that there was an invocation. You are right. We should never assume that bloggers are all Christians. We should consider that the blogosphere of independent minded persons with their own beliefs.

    I am speaking for myself and not for the organizers though. In my advocacy, I never impose my beliefs on others. But I talk about it and share my experience and it is up to my readers to take it or leave it. We should always consider the feelings of the general blogosphere.

  2. i agree. a moment of silence would have probably sufficed. im catholic, but even in school functions in UP, i discourage prayer parts in our organizations' programs just to be neutral and fair to all attendees with various beliefs.

  3. evem ateneo classes don't invocate prayers and instead replace them with moments of silence (with the exception of philosophy and theology classes).

  4. Philippine Christian Blog Awards. lols.

    I dropped by because I saw your tag on my cbox. I don't know your cousin. Only by name, and maybe because of her younger sister, whom I also do not know that much, err. lols.

    Anyways, advanced happy birthday ^.^

  5. Wow, people, people! I seriously did not expect this. Thank you for putting yourself on the line regarding this potentially controversial and will-send-you-straight-to-hell blog entry. :) I was half-expecting fundamentalist rants for the most part so it's quite inspiring to see comments like these.

    Thysz and Patty, thanks.

  6. We’re currently seeing two different point of views with regards to this matter. I hope this conflicting views/beliefs won’t ruin the one and only sphere that we all belong to. Surely we’ll all learn from what happened at the awards night. We should all agree that there will always be disagreements about anything in this world. Let’s carefully settle this issue and continue to co-exist side by side, back to back. Cheers to everyone! More power to all the believers, non-believers & the undecided. Mabuhay po tayong lahat!

  7. PinoyBlogosphere.Com: Yes, we're seeing two sides alright. On one side, you have the people who are advocates of courtesy of political correctness and decency. On the other, the people who promote fundamentalism and presumptuous fanaticism convene.

  8. Well, the organizers assumed that all the Bloggers were christians so they had to have an invocation. I assume that this was just a misjudgement on the case of the organizers. Yuga acknowledges that. See? Peace!

  9. Unfortunately, oftentimes we cannot fault the believers for their, uh, for lack of a better word – naivete in matters of differences of beliefs. Most probably it never even crossed the organizers' mind. It's a wonder (a puzzle?) that in this age where "diversity" is now a buzzword specially in the internet, the normal Pinoy doesn't understand its meaning, hence the "error". It must have given you some discomfort. Are you the only one who has expressed your 'dissent' on this matter? Hasn't there been a Muslim blogger within your ranks? It must have been uncomfortable for him too, I imagine. I hope future event like this don't happen, or if they intend to continue with "tradition", let it be known that the event is for Christians only. Then I think you should go back to the fold. Oooopps sorry, I know this is a serious matter.

    cheers!

    Tony

  10. Being from UP where the general assumption is not all people around you are Christian, I learned that during Invocations, if any, the prayer should be general — no sign of the cross, no Catholic prayers, etc. You know, just for respect for other people's religion or beliefs.

    Pero sa case mo, hmm, ibang situation yata iyon, hehe! But I agree with you. Obviously, I wouldnt be offended by the invocation, since I'm a Catholic, but yes, out of respect for people like you, I totally understand your sentiments. Besides, na-weirduhan nga ako na may prayer pa talaga.

  11. It was my first time to attend the Philippine Blog Awards, and, frankly, I was surprised there was an invocation because it was an awards event. May I suggest that the invocation be totally deleted altogether for next year's awards? Like Benj, I felt that the inclusion of an invocation was inappropriate.

  12. as I've said, "the damage is done"!
    :) nice meeting you, Benj. Seriously! Haha, sana pala nagkita na tayo sa Timezone so that we could play the trivia something. Hehe!

  13. yan ba ang dahilan kaya mo binoycott ang afterparty?
    hinahanap ka namin dun at MIA ka nga.
    sayang, sana nakapag-usap-usap pa tayo.

  14. i wasnt inside the venue nung nag prayer dito ko lng nabasa.

    i ama catholic. was educated in a catholic school, but i agree with you that sensitivty re: faith/belief should have been practiced.

    a general thanksgiving prayer should have been enough, or at least a moment of silence.

    If i was on benj shoes, I would also be disgusted.

  15. i agree with you. i am agnostic and felt out of place. the muslims would have felt worse. since yuga has acknowledged the comment, i believe things will change for the better next year. it is right that we point our these improprieties to make the blog awards better interesting enough to catch media attention. better for all of us, di ba?

  16. I also learned from college to be non-imposing of your beliefs from everyone.

    It all starts with a simple "Let us put ourselves in a moment of prayer" bit, consciously omtting names, events and other religoius references that may not be applicable to all. Oh well.

  17. The outpouring is really surprising, guys.:) I appreciate your willingness to take a stand in this already controversial issue.

    Tony: Thank you for visiting. I agree with you that people may be naive with the existence of differences in philosophies (um… right, sorry, that makes them really pathetic in my book), but the person who led the prayer was definitely aware of that. It is grade A zealotry.

    juantanamera, this incident will just breed further insensitivity and presumptuous generalizations. As proven by the sheer number of comments on this blog, most reasonable people (and a lot of christians) are in favor of having a more secular and politically correct programme.

  18. As much as I dislike the religious system, I see nothing malicious about it to deserve this hate. What damage has been done, really? The fact that they thought everybody was Christian? Who cares? Replace all references to Christ and God as a divine being with Jesus as a man and you'd still be following the example of a great and good man. For example:

    Help us to be steadfast in our Christ-like commitment that visitors may find in our blogs a source of encouragement and inspiration. Give us strength to proclaim your word, that we may play our part in breaking down the walls of hostility in the world and use our blogs to strengthen the bonds of friendship, solidarity and love.

    That hardly seems like an attack on your sensibilities, I'm sorry. And you know, you could always step out ;)

  19. Jorge: Thanks for visiting, it's a shame that you couldn't make it to the awards night. In my opinion, the Blog Awards was clearly a secular event. I find it offensive that somebody would have the audacity to presumptuously claim that all blogs were vessels to lead them closer the christian god. I find it very troubling.

    You're entitled to your opinion, Jorge. Stepping out wasn't really an option. :)

  20. Stepping out and refusing to pray is as valid an option as any… like not attending (in my case) was an option as well. Were they presumptuous? Yes. Was it malicious enough to merit this reaction? I really don't think so. Their event, their rules, my friend ;)

  21. Jorge: Had I tried to step out, the prayer would've been over by the time I reached the exits. Hehe.

    If it was meant to be a christian event, then they should've told people from the get go that they were gunning for the Philippine Christian Blog Awards. Calling it the Philippine Blog Awards is very misleading.

    Yes, Jorge. I do think that it was both presumptuous and malicious. You're either stupid or insensitive and I don't think the speaker was stupid. He made a voluntary decision to say what he wanted to say. That's my take on it. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree with this one.

  22. The prayer is sweeping. That prayer is definitely a big mistake. Though it was made in 'good faith', the organizers should've reminded him that not all bloggers in the Philippines, or let's just say, not all Filipinos are Christians. Totally discriminating.

    A big mistake.

    ——–
    Assuming that all blogs are directed towards a common goal is idiotic

    I disagree, kuya benj. Why bloggers blog?

    Very simple. To speak out. Period. ^_^

    ———

    Geez, I'll like your blog. I'm not religiously affiliated, but it doesn't bias on my liking of your blog and all. Phew. Will link you.

  23. For someone who doesn’t like prayers you sure paid a lot of attention, huh? hehe

    For someone who… forget it. Considering that comment came from you, it's not even worth it.

    Again, I find nothing wrong in praying. If someone really needs to do it, then there should be no stopping him.

    Try reading next time.

  24. I posted my comment on the other (newer) subject since I'm already familiar with this subject and my first visit to your site. Thanks for dropping by the the True North, and hope to have you watching our Team in the post season.

    I can only relate the incidents to my country which although I'm a Filipino by Birth I live most of my life here in Canada. Although we have Freedom of Religion and Speech similar to any Democracy, I still have to hear a Religious Personality addressing a non-religious gathering delivering "invocations". If we ever observe such a national gathering for thanksgiving, if invocations or prayers are called for, it should by inter-faith or all faiths should be represented.

    I do not agree that religious messages or invocation be delivered in a gathering not for the purpose. A rendition of National Anthem or National song is proper for public events.

    To deliver an invocation in a gathering that is not for religious purposes, where attendees may come from different faiths and no prior warning to those who may get offended is not only a breach of common sense, but imposing your own on others and it may not be illegal or unconstitutional, but just poor judgement….

  25. hi benj! you are most welcome! im a newbie atheist and all this buzz about the "incident" is all but making me prouder that i chose to be "enlightened". Thanks for pushing for non-discrimination and equality to all!

  26. it's arrogance when people (christians) think they have not amongst them mohameddans, hindus, jews, and buddhists. this is true from the company i used to work for (LEXMARK cebu) where they pray officially to jesus on company events and meetings. i tried to make things right by pointing this out. stop alienating people of other faiths. their argument was that since no one was complaining it was ok.

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