Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another way of looking at the RH Bill

Several months ago, I interviewed a Catholic priest about the RH Bill. He doesn't oppose it for the same reasons that other priests may have. His view is entirely fresh, helped of course by the fact that he is also a doctor, a doctor of Ayurveda.

This is an unpublished article, more like a collection of notes from the interview, actually. And I'm putting it out for the first time here on my blog. You may share with proper attribution.

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Father Jacob on the RH Bill
Interview by Ime Morales

Father Jacob Gnalian, a missionary from Kerala, India, has lived in the Philippines for about 27 years. He is a Catholic priest and doctor of ayurveda who opened Sandhi Ayurveda Clinic in Mandaluyong to help more Filipinos live healthier lives. Fr. Jacob, as he is warmly called by patients and friends, has helped more than 4,000 patients in the Philippines get better. Many of his patients have terminal and “incurable” illnesses, yet many of these patients can attest to the power of Fr. Jacob’s ayurvedic medicines, coupled with appropriate lifestyle changes.

As priest, philosopher (he has a PhD in Philosophy), and a professional working in the field of healthcare, Fr. Jacob has important views on the controversial Reproductive Health Bill. His thoughts on this are summarized in this series of short texts below.

On overpopulation

It is not really the population that is the problem and the cause of poverty. There are many Filipinos who have billions of unused money. It’s the lack of mutual trust, untruthfulness, and mismanagement of resources that is the cause—mismanagement both on the level of government and individual.

In the Philippines, there are very few places where people cannot live. Unlike India, where there are places with no rain, no water. India is 11 times bigger than the Philippines, and the population around 16 times higher. Manila is congested, but many other places are not. More people should move to these places. How many hectares of land are uncultivated and unused? We now have the technology to build high rise buildings for the people. People are a country’s resource.

The reason for poverty

Many “poor” people are not really poor. They are only poor because they don’t know how to use the money that they have. I have talked to more than 10,000 people over the course of many years of practice as doctor and priest. Once I met a 43-year old “poor” man whom, after I made some computations, I found out had spent more than P1.3 million over the years just on cigarettes and alcohol. People living in squatter’s areas spend money on cigarettes and alcohol and other unnecessary things on a daily basis. They misuse their money so they become poor. In Nueve de Pebrero, a community near my clinic, I see truckloads of softdrinks, beer and other junk being delivered every day. And the rest of unnecessary stuff like cigarettes, junk food, etcetera? The so-called poor people consume all these.

One of the reasons for poverty is unimaginably high interest rates (on debts) for the poor and low interest rates for the rich. For the poor, the interest rate is 60% to 120% or even more, while the interest rate for the rich is 5% to 10%. The fruits of the hard work of the poor go to the rich. How then can the poor improve their financial condition? The rich has property to use as collateral, but the poor people don’t. There is a need for collateral because of the untruthfulness of people, rich and poor people alike.

On another note, subsidy from the government usually goes to the rich and does not reach the poor because of corruption in the system. There is an urgent need, therefore, to eradicate corruption, give proper education, learn and practice truthfulness, make use of resources properly, and follow the human natural law for population.

People can save money if only they only knew how to manage their resources. Poverty happens out of ignorance. The so-called poor are often uneducated individuals. But by education I don’t mean having a degree. Education is knowing the value of things—not only their moral value, but also their economic value. The proper way of using money is a value. This is an aspect that is missing in our current education system. “Poor” people don’t value money, that is why they remain “poor”. Money has its own value, and we need to respect that value.

The difference between man and animal

There are five aspects at work in the universe: matter, plant life, animals, man, and pure spirit. Man has all five, and that is why he is called the micro-universe. Everything that is in the universe is present in man, and only in man. Man is the perfection of creation. He has his own values and his own set of natural laws to follow. Each of the five aspects has its own natural laws to follow.

This is the reason why, for example, cows have a 9-month pregnancy period, similar to the human female. One difference between cow and woman, however, is that the calf, within a few minutes after it is born, already has the ability to stand up and look for its mother for milk. After a few days, it can survive even without its mother. A human baby, on the other hand, needs about one year before he can stand up, a few more months before he learns to go to his mother for food. If the human infant is left alone, it cannot survive. But many animals can survive without assistance after they are born. These are some of the natural laws, and they are different for each specie.

Man is spiritual, with an animal nature. He can think, study, progress. Animals can’t. They can be trained, but that is only on the level of instinct. Man has spiritual power, given by the divine. This power is the power to control, which is only given to man. The human infant can’t take care of himself because the mother should be taking care of him until such time that the child can take care of himself. And this is the natural time that the mother can get pregnant again. If we will consider man’s natural law, human beings cannot give birth every year. But as an animal, she can do so. The natural law for human beings is not to give birth every year. Natural law dictates that people should have spacing. But to understand and actually implement this, people need to be educated.

God gave the gift of spiritual power to man, the gift and ability to control. This power is not controlled by God or nature. And if one is given a gift, one has the responsibility to handle it responsibly. At the same time, we are given the free will to choose what kind of life we want to have. Like animals, we have instincts. But as human beings, we cannot follow only our instincts. Dogs will mate anywhere and anytime, acting on their instincts. But as higher beings, man has the power to control the same instincts.

On the use of condoms

When you use a condom, you are acting not as a human being and refusing to use your spiritual power. You are giving all your power to the condom. If you want to have sexual contact with just anybody, you are living like an animal that doesn’t have the ability to control instincts and urges.

Man’s sexual desire is there because man is a perfect animal. As human beings, we were given the power to control this desire and use it at a proper time and in the right manner. When some people want to drink alcohol, they drink. When they want to have sex, they have sex. But this is the natural tendency of animals, not man’s. As human beings, we can’t just do what we like.

The problem with the RH Bill

Reproductive Health, by its name alone, is not to be disputed. Reproductive health should be agreeable to everybody. Any kind of health, including reproductive health, is good for everyone. Therefore, the title is not the problem, but the content that follows the title. If there is something wrong within the bill, it means that the title is not right.

Not all the provisions in the RH Bill are bad. But it is important to eliminate what is bad from the bill, and take what is right. Do not mix up good and bad things together.

Gender education, for example, is not a problem. It is good to teach a young girl how to behave like a girl, etcetera. But there is a way to teach sex education to young people. The children should be taught how to live properly. If you teach them how to use a condom, you are putting them at the level of animals and killing their dignity as persons.

It is also important to study the motivations of people who authored and who are pushing for the bill. Who is behind this bill? What are the objectives of the bill? Is it to control population? Is there big business behind this? If people all over the Philippines start buying condoms and pills, who will profit from this? What are the provisions in the bill? Is human dignity being respected? Is it motivated by profit? I don’t speak about these things as a Catholic priest, but as a human being. And I realize that there are exceptions. For instance, situations where women should be allowed to use contraceptives. If the life of a patient is at stake, for example, ligation would be necessary.

Are pills really safe?

Contraceptives are unhealthy. Hormones going into the body, in any form, could cause cancer, particularly breast cancer. Hormone replacement could also cause cancer. Contraceptive pills destroy the reproductive system. I have seen patients who come to me with damaged reproductive systems. They can’t conceive anymore. And I found out they used to take contraceptive pills in the past.


Natural method is recommended. If a woman’s monthly period is regular, she can use the calendar method. In a month, it takes only around a week to abstain from sex. Is this impossible for man? If you are an animal, you can’t do it.

If a woman’s period is not regular, she can use the temperature or the mucus method. If your temperature is high, it means you are ovulating. If the mucus is hard, it is a safe period. If it is light, then the woman is ovulating. These are easy methods that even uneducated people can learn and practice.

It is also important to give values education to the children: cultural, economic, human and religious values. I know for a fact that there is an order that gives the church the privilege of conducting sessions in public schools for a maximum of 90 minutes. The church can use this time to teach public school children about faith, religion and moral values. Aside from this, values education should be included in the regular curriculum in schools, as well as in textbooks. However, I want to make it clear that teachers must talk about values, not contraceptives. And values education must be handled by teachers who practice these values themselves.

To address the problem of poverty, the corruption in government should stop. No government has the right to speak about poverty until they stop corruption in their own ranks. Stop the greed first, then write the bill. Don’t fool the people. It’s the people’s money that is being spent on this. Stopping the greed is the best thing to do for good health, because greed makes people unhealthy. If the state loves its people, it should not be greedy. If there are good intentions, there are so many ways to help. But today a lot of people don’t have political will. They behave like animals.

Family planning should be taught, especially to couples who undergo the seminar before marriage. But instead of teaching them about real family planning, they teach the use of contraceptives. Family planning, in its real sense, is good and healthy. It should be all about planning how many children to have and how to care for them, how to love one another, be faithful to one another, how to build an ideal family, how to have a happy and healthy life, ways to obtain income and resources, how to have a house, get a livelihood. Family planning is not about the proper use of the condom to limit the number of offspring. This is not family planning, but propaganda for the condom.

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