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Interview with Reginald Gajete— Member, Humanist Alliance Philippines International


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/08/19

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When it comes to the Filipino community at large, what seems like some of the more prominent cases of individuals abusing religion for personal gain?

Reginald Gajete: It’s politics. The Philippines is mostly populated by religious conservatives, so using religion will definitely give you an edge especially during your campaign.

Jacobsen: How does the world see the Philippines from the outside under Duterte? How are atheists generally treated in the Philippines?

Gajete: From my standpoint, Philippines is on a radical paradigm shift under Duterte, there have been a lot of changes lately, some positive and some negative. I like to call it “The Birth of New Age Philippines” In general, atheists in the Philippines are still treated with disrespect and pity, but it’s slowly changing, people are now embracing this concept.

Jacobsen: How can the non-religious overcome religious privilege, e.g., building a coalition and a solidarity movement?

Gajete: To be honest it’s still a challenge. The best thing to do is not declare your disbelief and you’ll be fine.

Jacobsen: When in the Philippines, and looking at the political situation, how does religion influence politics? How did you find humanism and HAPI?

Gajete: If a new bill is passed but it’s not in line with the church’s teachings, it won’t be signed or it will take time to get it signed despite the social and economic benefits. One good example is the Reproductive Health Bill which was a big issue that took 14 years before it was finally signed. I think it’s when I got bored with atheism, got fed up with the endless arguments and nothing is being resolved. Then I came across a website about humanism, read their articles and then I realized that this is what I wanted to do. Upon researching, I found out that there’s no humanist organization in the Philippines.

That’s when a good friend of mine contacted me about a new organization she’s building, her name is Mrs. M or Marissa Torres Langseth.​ She asked me to lead the first chapter, so I said yes, then HAPI just kept growing and I’m so proud of what Ms. M’s mission have become.

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?

Gajete: I think it’s because religion is closely tied with the traditions and cultures in Philippines. If you tell anybody that you’re irreligious then they’ll conclude that you’re immoral and evil, and then you’ll lose credibility in every direction.

Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?

Gajete: Thank you for giving me ​this wonderful opportunity. ​More power to you and your cause​.


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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