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Interview with Joshua Ofiasa Villalobos — Member, Humanist Alliance Philippines International


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/08/03

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was family background in religion? What are your own story and educational background? How did you find humanism and HAPI?

Joshua Ofiasa Villalobos: Family Background in Religion. My parents and their parents were staunch Catholics. In fact, my grandmother use to pray for funerals in exchange of small amount of money.

And since I was born, i find myself being with her in every funeral where she use to offer her service. We do recite the ‘mysteries’ and ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hail Mary’ for a number of times in a single night of service.

When I turn 10, I discovered new religion for myself. It is called ‘born-again christian’ me and my older sister go to that church thrice or twice a week. And at age 11, I got baptized. Own Story. I was born on April 13, 2002.

I live in Bacolod City and I’ve also lived in Bantayan Island, which is the homeland of my mother. We are 5 in the family. My sister is 10 years older than me, while me and my brother has 8-year gap.

They both have their bachelor’s degrees, my sister in Elementary Education and my older brother in Marine Transportation. But both of them are still applying for the job that fits their educational achievements.

My father is a Janitor and a Messenger whose salary is not enough to cater our needs inside the house. While my mother is a housewife. She manages our very small ‘tiangge’ or sari sari store. We live in a squatter area near the river. Educational Background Since Grade 6, I have been active in the school organization.

In fact, that year I was elected as the SPG President and also graduated as Class Salutatorian. And on my 9th Grade, I joined the School Publication and other clubs such as Supreme Student Government(SSG), Youth for Environment in Schools-Organization (YES-O).

Here is the list of my participation in different organizations in the school this year: *Ang Tanawing Marapara (official Filipino school publication of Bata National High School) -Editor-In-Chief/Punong Patnugot *English Guild — President *Supreme Student Government (the highest student-governing body of Bata NHS) — Senator * Youth for Environment in Schools-Organization (YES-O) — Public Information Officer *Citizenship Advancement Training- 1st Lieutenant, S4 Assistant, Supply and Logistics Officer *Disaster Risk Reduction Management — Auditor.

Jacobsen: How did you find humanism and HAPI?

Villalobos: Honestly speaking, no filters and no dramas, I love HAPI. Since our first meeting, I have seen my life’s purpose and that’s to work with HAPI. Me and my friend, Glemir is very happy after our first meeting in HAPI.

Because the people are very witty, strong and kind at the same time the advocacy is very clear and the people are very happy to get along with. Before, even though we are leaders in our school, we don’t have that self-esteem.

But HAPI-Bacolod taught us how to believe in ourselves. In 2–3 months as member of HAPI Junior and now elected Head, I think I have developed to be a better me. My colleagues also talk about how they enjoy HAPI. For me, HAPI is very serious in their main advocacy of promoting humanism.

Jacobsen: How does the world see the Philippines from the outside under Duterte? How are humanists generally treated in the Philippines? How do Filipinos, in general, view humanists and the humanist community?

Villabolos: Maybe some other people, especially those who are not Filipinos see the Philippines as a bloody place since the drug war has started. Maybe some of the people who are unaware of the killing scenarios here thinks that the Philippines is a beautiful place and it has many to offer in terms of it’s delicacies, tourist-spots and welcoming community, I think that the world see Duterte as a dictator and a fascist.

Jacobsen: How are humanists generally treated in the Philippines? How do Filipinos, in general, view humanists and the humanist community?

Villalobos: Secular humanism or simply humanism is not known to the Filipino people yet. Honestly, If I didn’t join or know HAPI, I wouldn’t know the essence or meaning of humanism.

Since the Filipinos are known to be respective, I think the humanist community is accepted and respected here in the Philippines.

Jacobsen: When in the Philippines, and looking at the political situation, how does religion influence politics?

Villalobos: Religion and belief greatly influence the politics here in the Philippines. Especially the Catholic community has been very active in joining or sharing their thoughts and stand at some certain issues here in the Philippines.

Jacobsen: Why is religion such a large influence on the country? What are some of the main prejudices that the irreligious experience in the Philippines?

Villalobos: Maybe because we are once colonized by the Spaniards and they’ve baptized our ancestors. Our beliefs and traditions were greatly influenced by Catholicism. Here in the Philippines, if you’re irreligious, you’re bad. If you don’t believe in a god you’re an evil. If you don’t pray you go to hell [Laughing].

Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?

Villalobos: Thank you for the opportunity, Scott! I am always here for another interview. I hope this might help HAPI, IHEYO, and other humanist community.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Joshua.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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