13 June 2011

Thou shall not kill and what Padre Dámaso might have thought of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill

With Bishops being “pro-life” and the soon-to-be-excommunicated being (presumably) “pro-death,” it’s interesting to see how the Padre Dámasos of 150 years ago felt about all these.  In 1865, Fr. Sebastián de Totanes, OFM, wrote Manual Tagalog para Auxilio de los Religiosos … with a 61-item checklist on the Fifth Commandment (Houag kang matay nang capoua mo tauo) to make sure confessors missed nothing.
Fray Sebastián’s questions on the Fifth are nos. 293-353, the following being of relevance to the current RH Bill debate:
• 309 - Mey guinamot ca caya alin mang babayeng buntis, cun hinatolan mo, nang macunan siyang tiquis na babago bago paman ang laman ng tiyan niya?  Cun casapacat ca caya sa gayong carahasang gaua?  (Did you abort or advise abortion to a pregnant woman? Or were you an accomplice?)

• 310 – (Obviously addressed to women penitents) May guinaua ca caya anomang di icapagbuntis mo? At cun buntis cana mey guinaua cang tiquis anomang nacaagas sa iyo?  (Did you do anything to prevent pregnancy?  And had you been already pregnant, did you do anything to lose the baby?)

With overpopulation not a concern—people married early and thought nothing of having a dozen-plus children, and with the Pill , brightly colored condoms, IUDs, and rhythm method still unknown, I assume neither confessors nor penitents dwelt on topics like when life begins or why preventing sperm and egg from meeting is as terrible a deed as abortion.
 
Anyway, the Manual is in both Tagalog and Spanish.  Surely Fray Sebastián would have written his manuscript in Spanish that was later translated to Tagalog.  The Spanish version consistently uses preñado (denoting swollen or bulging) as equivalent to the Tagalog buntis (pregnant).  This implies, to my mind, that Fray Sebastián (and his fellow Franciscan Padre Dámaso) was referring to advanced or at least visible pregnancy in these two questions.

Of the remaining questions, the most (33 out of the 61) are on anger and quarreling, followed by 10 each on threats and bodily harm and on drunkenness; and six on actual or attempted suicide. These, one infers, were the aspects of Filipino (or certainly, Tagalog) behavior that the Friars thought reprehensible and sought to correct.  In that sense, one can view the Padres as molding the national character, but that’s another story.

• 293-298 - Did you ever seriously think of committing suicide and why?  Did you ever wish you were dead?  Did you eat or drink anything that you knew was harmful?  Did you ever curse your body? (Sinumpa mo caya ang catauan mo?)  Could—horrors!—the good Friar have been thinking of face lifts and liposuction?

• 299–308 – Have you killed or seriously thought of killing anyone?  Did you wound, club, box, slap, or square off with anyone—or think of doing so?  Did you threaten anyone?  With what?  Why were you so enraged and for how long?

Did you poison anyone, thought of doing so, or helped anyone do so?  Did you mean to kill or just to make him/her sick?

Source: Manila Bulletin

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