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Interview with Mark Wilson Janeo— Member, Humanist Alliance Philippines International

2022-12-16

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/08/29

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

Mark Wilson Janeo: I’m a graduate of bachelor science in information technology. I’m currently working as a lead generation specialist in a small outbound call center here in Bacolod and I’m also an online seller. I sell secondhand band merchandise.

I was baptized as a catholic. My parents are very religious and active in our local parish. I really can’t remember how old I am when I started to doubt the existence of god. When I was kid I’m fond of watching science and history documentaries, I think that triggered my curiosity.

I found HAPI from a friend that was in manila back then. He told me about the group and what it does. I was very interested to join. Back then I was a member of Filipino Freethinkers and most of us HAPI Bacolod pioneers. Ms. M told us to create a local chapter here in Bacolod and the rest is history. And so far we are the most active chapter in the organization.

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?

Janeo: They see the Philippines, a very bloody country under Duterte’s administration. Duterte’s drug war is like a double edge sword. Many criminals have been killed in the process and also innocent lives lost.

I think most of the Filipinos will probably believe about us (that are totally wrong):

-that we are devil worshippers

-we have no morals

-we are a bad influence to children

-miserable

-arrogant assholes

Some of us really face discrimination everyday. But as time goes by I think they will understand what we do and be more open minded.

Jacobsen: How can the non-religious overcome religious privilege, e.g., building a coalition and a solidarity movement? What are the areas of religious privilege within the Philippines?

Janeo: I think it’s very hard to overcome religious privileges here. Because we have laws that at present support particular religions when this shouldn’t be the situation. Also it’s illegal to “offend religious feelings,” which is what got Carlos Celdran in trouble. Some companies here hire people within a specific sect/religion which the owner is part of. Even our government funds or practices religious activities and functions when it shouldn’t.

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

Janeo: Religion plays a key role when election comes. Politicians always ask for endorsement to the religious leaders. To gain more votes or to secure victory. Because some religions practice bloc voting, just like the Iglesia ni Cristo.

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?

Janeo: I think because of the influence of the Spaniards. They brought Christianity here and until now we are still the number 1 Christian country here in Asia.

Personally I have dealt with discrimination, below the belt insults, rejections and criticisms about my disbelief. Even some of my friends unfriended me in Facebook because I’m an atheist. I guess the main prejudice is they always link us with Satan. They think that we are immoral, miserable and most likely do bad things to people.

Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?

Janeo: Thank you for this opportunity. Let the sound of reason shine, godless.

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

License

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 www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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