Bernardo M. Villegas
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Dreaming About the Filipino Family (Part II)

           All these ideal states of Philippine society in 2035 about which we should dream, i.e. the absence of a contraceptive mentality especially among women, the repudiation of the culture of death, and the elimination of the culture of corruption, will not be possible without the key role played by the family.  That is why the main focus of our dreaming should be the Filipino family.  Let us dream with the Pope when he told the President, diplomatic corps and government officials:  “A fundamental role in the renewal of society is played, of course, by the family and especially by young people.  A highlight of my visit will be meetings with families and with young people here in Manila.  Families have an indispensable mission in society.  It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals and genuine concern for others.  But like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed.  It needs our support.” 

           I dream that there be myriad of private initiatives such as EDUCHILD Foundation, Parents for Education Foundation, Couples for Christ, Marriage Encounter, the Focolares, the Christian Family Movement, and many other family-focused organizations that will help translate into reality the wish of Pope Francis that values and virtues formation be  an overriding concern of Philippine society:  “We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm.  For this reason, families and local communities must be encouraged and assisted in their efforts to transmit to our young the values and the vision which can help bring about a culture of integrity—one which honours, goodness, truthfulness, fidelity and solidarity as the firm foundation and the moral glue which holds society together.”

          An important part of my dream is that the Philippines will be able to avoid the serious harm to societies coming from “the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family.  It’s not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer—it comes from outside and that’s why I call it a colonization.  Let us not lose the freedom to take forward the mission God has given us, the mission of the family.  And just as our peoples were able to say in the past “No” to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and strong to say “No” to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family.  And to ask the intercession of St. Joseph to know when to say ‘Yes’ and when to say ‘No’.”   We definitely can say “No” to an anti-life culture that comes in the form of abortion, euthanasia and artificial contraception.  That is why we will always have a young and growing population for our needs and those of other countries that are suffering from depopulation, especially in Europe and Northeast Asia.

          Thanks to a young and growing population, the Philippines will be able to attain high growth in the next twenty years on the basis of remittances that Filipino Overseas Workers will be sending to their relatives at home.  We will have enough for both our manpower needs in the Philippines and for other countries suffering from the demographic winter.  By 2035, there will still be millions of Filipinos working abroad, no longer out of necessity but by choice.  They will be highly paid skilled workers or professionals who will be able to bring their families with them, thanks to the enlightened “family integration” policy of countries like Spain and Italy.  This means that families will no longer suffer from the absence of the father or the mother which at present is the necessary evil Filipino families have to endure. For the Filipino seafarers who will account for close to 40 percent of the international marine manpower, very family-friendly policies of the enlightened manning enterprises will minimize the harm that the absence of the father can inflict on young children. The seafarer, who is the father of family, can come home and spend with his children three to five months every year, maximizing the opportunity for bonding, especially with the very young.

          I dream of Filipino citizens responding to the desire expressed by the Pope in his speech in Malacanang:  “As I begin my visit to this country, I cannot fail to mention the Philippines’ important role in fostering understanding and cooperation among the countries of Asia.  I would also mention the oft neglected yet real contribution of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the society in which they live.  It is precisely in the light of the rich cultural and religious heritage of which your country is proud that I leave you with a challenge and a word of prayerful encouragement.  May the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in your efforts to provide your fellow citizens with a integral human development…”  The Pope also referred to the rich culture of the Philippines in his homily during the Manila Cathedral Mass on January 16, 2015:  “Filipino culture has, in fact, been shaped by the imagination of faith.  Filipinos everywhere are known for their love of God, their fervent piety and their warn devotion to Our Lady and her rosary.  This great heritage contains a powerful missionary potential.  It is the way in which your people has inculturated the Gospel and continues to embrace its message (cf. Evangelii Gaudium).  In your efforts to prepare for the fifth centenary, build on this solid foundation.” (To be continued)