A guest post from Laika Pantaleon.
I wrote this status some time ago after we attended the LGU’s pre-marriage seminar. I contemplated not posting it, but I wanted to get this out there because it wasn’t okay, and I hope this doesn’t happen to anyone again.
I am SO angry. I can feel my heart pounding through my chest and my ears are fuming as I type this.
Nicollo and I attended a “pre-marriage counseling seminar” as a prerequisite of the local government unit for us to be able to acquire our marriage license. The seminar had 3 parts: artificial family planning methods, responsible parenthood and breastfeeding. We sat through all 3 modules quietly and patiently (even though we believe that the best way to “plan a family” is through abstinence and self-control), and didn’t say a word despite our discomfort, because it was a requirement and because we respected the LGU’s laws, even though we’d already gone through an extensive marriage seminar with the Church some weeks before.
After the seminar, each couple was called and was asked a few questions before the certificate of attendance was released (the Local Civil Registry requires this in order to begin processing the license). The couples were asked: 1) what family planning method do you currently use? 2) what family planning method are you planning to use after this seminar?
When Nicollo and I were called, I answered the first question and said that we’ve never had sexual intercourse and that we were abstaining until marriage. And to the second question, I said we were planning to use natural methods (ie calendar, temperature, etc). She refused to accept this and said that those were “traditional and old school” methods and that what she was looking for was one of the artificial methods we were taught earlier. After several back-and-forths, realizing that we weren’t backing down, she smirked at us and said, “kayo ang magiging problema ng gobyerno natin. Sinusubmit ko ito sa LGU natin at kayo imamark kong red.” To which I replied, “Yes, and we are free to choose so!”
You know what, I completely understand why the government requires that couples who want to enter into marriage in the eyes of the state have to go through this seminar, I really do. I was able to pick up really good tips about parenting and breastfeeding myself. And in fact, I commend this administration for putting this together. Anyone entering into marriage has to enter into this institution with both eyes completely open*. So I get it. But to be threatened this way and to be publicly shamed for our choice and our values does NOT and will never sit well with me. Why are we being made to feel that choosing to pursue our morals is wrong?! Why were we publicly shamed for DELIBERATELY deciding to choose the natural way (even after having been presented with all the other options: condoms, IUDs, pills, ligation)?! Why are we being made to feel like our choice is this government’s burden?!
Our choice in pursuing our values in this matter until we’re married is NOT a burden. Our choice was made weighing all options available to us; we’ve made our choice more deliberately than anything we’ve ever decided. I’d also like to point out that when we do have our children, I will raise them all to not just be law-abiding citizens, but to be positive contributors to this society, and to always have the heart to help and uplift the less fortunate.
Lastly, when we have our big, beautiful family, we will raise them to always feel wanted, loved and cared for. I will NEVER make my children feel that they are burdens to this society or to this government that’s barely done anything for me anyway! They will be completely wanted in every sense of the word, and I will make sure they grow up knowing fully well that they are blessings, made of and with all the love that Nicollo and I have for each other.
Call us conservative for our choice, but it is OUR choice, still. This isn’t even a matter of what method any of us prefers, it’s a simple matter of RESPECT and FREEDOM. I have my opinions on the matter, and those who know me know that I am vehemently against the use of artificial methods, but I have always respected the freedom people have in making their choices. I expect to at least be treated in the same way.
*forgot to add that I was already angry during the family planning module itself. They laid down all of the methods WITHOUT saying any of the side effects of any method. How can our citizens make complete and well-informed decisions if they say that ligation is “just like tying a ponytail?!” And why don’t they add that abstinence is also an option?! WTF