23 April 2012
(With the other speakers and the PATAS team in Manila)
It was an honour and a pleasure to be at the first atheist convention in South East Asia on 21 April. Hosted by the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS) in Manila, the convention - titled Filipino non-belief - are you ready for this? - was a lot of fun and a significant step for non-believers in the region. Dan Barker from FFRF headed the program - it's always great to hear him talk - and it was wonderful to meet and listen to other speakers including Jeremiah Camara, David Orenstein and Norm Allen. In addition, we heard about about the projects done by PATAS (and it's only been in existence since Feb 2011 - a very busy first year!) and it was very interesting to listen to Red Tani's talk about secular activism by the Filipino Freethinkers. A lot of work is going into supporting the Reproductive Health bill, which would make contraception more widely accessible. PATAS' tour of Manila on the following day really showed why this is needed - in slum areas we saw a very high proportion of children and were told that the average family size is 8 - 10.
A big congratulations to PATAS and the organising committee for all their hard work in hosting this seminal event. It was a great statement in support of atheism and secularism in the Philippines and may there be many more!