As 2011 drew to a close, a huge push was made by supporters of the anti-life Reproductive Health (RH) Bill to have the legislation passed by the end of the year – exactly as Philippine President Benigno Aquino promised would happen.
Supporters of the president’s radical agenda were also planning passage of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in our predominantly Catholic country. Facing such tests to our culture and faith, Filipino pro-lifers came together to launch the “National Marian Pilgrimage for Life: NO to RH Bill, NO to Same-Sex Unions” – a seven-day caravan of prayers and sacrifices organized by Human Life International (HLI) which spanned almost the whole country from December 5-11.
Part of this caravan’s mission was to ask for God’s mercy to spare the Philippines from the onslaught of the Culture of Death, particularly the RH Bill and the legalization of same-sex unions. At the same time, we hoped the caravan would bring a strong message to the whole country, especially our legislators, that we say “NO” to the Culture of Death, and that the Filipino people could unite in actively opposing these bills.
For those unfamiliar with the Filipino people’s struggle against the RH Bill, we have been fighting against this legislation in its different forms since 1998. The RH Bill seeks to facilitate the agenda of international population control groups such as UNFPA, USAID, UNICEF, World Bank, JICA, European Union, IPPF and others that hope to “eradicate poverty” not through economic growth, but by eliminating the poor people. This is done through mass sterilization, promotion of contraceptives, and an aggressive push to legalize abortion in the country through a well-financed campaign to have the controversial RH Bill passed. Among other things, the bill makes contraceptives “essential medicines,” mandates comprehensive sex education from Grade 5 up to the fourth year in high school and guarantees “universal access to a full range of reproductive health services” regardless of age, sex, marital status, religion, gender and sexual orientation. While the RH Bill promoters harp on freedom of choice, the bill provides a penalty of imprisonment up to six months and a fine of up to fifty thousand pesos for those who spread as-yet-undefined “malicious” falsehoods about the bill.
With very limited time and resources, we had to rely almost entirely on Providence for our mission, and God is very generous in what He provides. During a November 21 pro-life vigil I attended, I was seated with the founder of the Soldiers of Christ in the Philippines. I told him of my plan, and he readily supported the mission. As God planned it, we agreed to join forces to launch the caravan. In addition to the Soldiers of Christ, we also received the support of Marian devotees and Catholic bishops, clergy, religious and lay leaders from all over the Philippines.
Launched in Davao City, Mindanao with a kick-off Mass on the morning of December 5, the caravan passed through nine convergence points before a huge event in Manila on December 11. A truck carrying a seven-foot statue of Our Lady led the caravan, followed by cars with signs saying “NO to RH Bill. NO to Same-Sex Unions.”
We were met with a grand welcome in each convergence point by crowds who welcomed our entourage with so much love and fondness. Vigils and Masses were organized at each stopping point, and I spoke at each event on the objectives of the caravan, as well as on the issues and challenges facing our country. With God’s amazing grace, we were provided accommodation and food in each convergence point. In the mornings before continuing the long journey, we would motor around the key cities praying the rosary and the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
Some military establishments even invited us to drop by. In Camp Lukban, Catbalogan, Samar, our tears automatically fell as we saw soldiers in full uniform lining the entire winding road leading to the camp’s chapel. Standing at attention, each bore a lit candle as military personnel and their families warmly welcomed us.
In the Diocese of Calbayog, we were met by Bishop Isabelo Abarquez, along with crowds in the streets bearing placards protesting the RH Bill and the Same-Sex Unions Bill. Bishop Abarquez even led the caravan to the boundary of his diocese where again a throng of people awaited us for hours. As I saw the crowd, I knew there is so much hope for our beloved country.
The seven-day journey from Mindanao to Visayas and Luzon was long and arduous. After we took the ferry from Visayas to Luzon on December 8, we found our hosts in the next convergence point with streamers welcoming us. It was way past midnight, but they graciously waited for us. From the ferry terminal, we travelled to Sorsogon City, and after two hours, we reached the Diocesan Pastoral Center with more of our hosts staying up for us to offer hot soup and snacks. It was enough to wipe away our fatigue.
After early morning Mass the next day, the caravan motored around the city before we proceeded on the 12 hour journey to our next convergence point of Lipa City. Before we retired for the night, I was informed that the Speaker of the House of Representatives admitted that the President called him to pressure him to have the RH Bill passed before Congress adjourned in December! We prayed harder. I was glad we were having the national pilgrimage which, as evidence of God’s will, turned out to be occurring at the perfect time.
The next day was a whole day of prayer vigil. Archbishop Ramon Arguelles presided over the closing Mass and delivered a powerful homily. He said Mass again for us the next day and sent us off as we proceeded on the last leg of our journey to the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, Philippines, slowly passing through major thoroughfares to ensure that people received our message. At the same time in Manila, two hundred cars of the Soldiers of Christ made a Marian Motorcade also for this purpose.
As we converged with them at the huge Quirino stage, I held back my tears. The plaza was filled with thousands of people. The countless images of our Blessed Mother were a sight to behold. Our invited pro-life legislators led by our great ally Senator Tito Sotto came to speak to the delight of the crowd. Post-abortive women who have suffered from abortion and contraception also gave their moving testimonies. Several bishops and priests came to con-celebrate the Mass. A Bible was also enthroned and a huge balloon rosary released to the heavens to emphasize our greatest weapons.
Even before we finished our Grand Prayer Rally as a culminating activity of the seven-day caravan/pilgrimage, a contact of mine in Congress told me that the Bicam session on the Same Sex Marriage Bill had been indefinitely postponed. Also, Congress adjourned in the evening of December 14 without the RH Bill being passed! Truly God always makes a way when there seems to be no way.
While 2011 ended with these great pro-life victories in the Philippines, we know that the battle for the future of our country is not over. Pro-lifers in the Philippines and around the world must continue to work and pray for end to the Culture of Death in 2012 so that we may finally see victory through our Lord Jesus in our lifetime.
LifeNews.com Note: Reprinted with permission from Human Life International’s World Watch forum.