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To help me retain whatever little Spanish I acquired during my years in Spain, I make it a point to read from time to time some books, especially novels, in this Iberian language. I am glad I was able to read a recent best- selling novel by Fernando Aramburu, considered among the most important living writers today in Spain, along novelists like Arturo Perez, Eduardo Mendoza and Andres Pascual who are among the so-called Spanish New Narratives. The only one of Aramburu’s works so far translated into English (Homeland), the novel “Patria” is a fictional account of lives shattered by Basque terrorism during the most violent period of the separatist movement in that Northern region of Spain. Lifetime friends become bitter enemies when the father of one family is killed by militants—one of whom is a son from the other family. Alluding only obliquely to the historic combat that cost more than 800 lives, Aramburu focuses on the psychological complexity of his characters and builds nearly unbearable suspense by mixing time periods very adroitly.
It is not the gripping plot, however, that will be the subject of my commentary in this column. What depressed me to no end was the alarming breakdown of Christian morals as regards marriage and the family among the young generation in Spain, a phenomenon that is happening in all European countries to one degree or another. I am referring to the nonchalant ways the young couples in the novel were portrayed as having extra-marital sex at the drop of hat, of partners living in without bothering to get married, of a couple getting married and mutually agreeing to continue to have extra-marital relations, of one of the characters entering into a same-sex marriage, and so on and so forth. All these sexual aberrations are taken as the most normal forms of behavior in the country which 500 years ago in 2021 brought Christianity to our shores. All those who are convinced that a society goes the way the family goes must be determined to make sure that what Pope Francis calls “ideological colonialism” will not lead to an analogous breakdown of family and sexual morals in our country. We must defend the Filipino family against such practices as divorce, same-sex marriage, live-in or trial marriages, promiscuity among married people as an accepted mode of behavior and other ways in which the sacred nature of matrimony and family life is destroyed. The Philippine Constitution is very explicit about marriage being an “inviolable institution.” And I can assure the reader that when those of us who wrote the 1987 Constitution voted to include this phrase, we were very clear in our minds that the “inviolable institution” is a marriage between a man and a woman.
I am proud to say that the university where I work, the University of Asia and the Pacific, has established the Institute for Marriage and Family Development that will be devoted to forming family coaches that will help in strengthening marriage and family bonds among Filipinos of all walks of life. The IMFD is offering a certificate program catering to parents and instructional leaders and facilitators, university academics, corporate human development educators, parish and community catalysts that will equip the participants with the content and pedagogy of teaching the dynamics of family life in the school, corporate, or community settings. The program runs for 20 Saturdays at the University of Asia and the Pacific at 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and costs P40,000 per participant (with full or partial scholarship for deserving applicants). Those who go through this program will be provided with strong philosophical foundations on 1) The human person, the family and society; 2) Lifespan development psychology; 3) Human sexuality, marital relationships and spousal communication; 4) Philippine culture and social institutions; 5) Values and ethics in family life education. They will also receive professional-technical training in: 1) Family law and public policy; 2) Interpersonal interrelationships, family dynamics and “people skills” development; 3) Parent education and family counselling; 4) Family livelihood and resource management; 5) Research and field methods and practices; 6) Design, delivery , and assessment of family life education programs; and 7) Current issues and trends concerning the family. The professors will come from the various schools of UA&P such as the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Economics, School of Management, School of Education and Human Development, and School of Law and Governance. The interdisciplinary approach (philosophy, ethics, law, economics, psychology, sociology and education) intends to address the complex dynamics of family as the basic unit that can spell the enrichment, defense, or downfall of any society.
The products of this certificate program are expected to be very proactive in counteracting the effects of ideological colonialism coming from countries that have reached critical levels of family breakdown, anti-birth and anti-life ideologies and practices; misconceptions on sexuality especially among the younger generations. Actually, some of the first to complete the certificate program have already begun training family counsellors in parishes and various religious movements focused on strengthening the family; in schools that are involved in close parent-school collaboration; in business enterprises committed to helping their employees strengthening their respective families; and NGOs committed to counteracting the adverse effects of overseas Filipino workers being separated from their respective spouses and children, etc. Those who are interested in joining the program may contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 8637-0912 local 350. For comments, my email address is email@example.com.