In what could be the start of stronger ties in support of the Filipino family, the Institute for Family Development (IFD) gathered family-oriented groups to talk about the current needs of this basic unit of society and the ways by which to address the issues confronting the Filipino family.
Present on October 26 in UA&P were members of the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc., Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc., Answering the Cry of the Poor, Asian Institute for Marriage and Family, Couples for Christ, EduChild Foundation, Elim Community, Focolare Movement, Ligaya Ng Panginoon, and Regnum Christi.
“We need more positive agents of change in society that are focused on the family,” said Dr. Riza Bondal, Executive Director of IFD and faculty member of the UA&P School of Education and Human Development. “If we work together, we’ll be able to reach more.”
Among the issues that came out were poverty, lack of family values, and the prevalence of online child exploitation and abuse. To illustrate, Mrs. Susan Bautista-Afan, Managing Director of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, recalled a case of child pornography and how stumped she was by the mother’s lack of remorse in her participation to the abuse and the child’s adverse reaction to her being saved.
“There is something very wrong with this picture,” Mrs. Afan said.
The loss of moral values of the authority figures puts at risk the growth of the younger generation as the abuse becomes a cycle. In talking to OFWs who face cases of stealing from their employers or abusing the elderly they take care of, Mrs. Afan learned that most of them have been abused themselves. “They have lost all sense of values. They do not see anything wrong with stealing, with lying. It’s mostly about survival.”
The participants acknowledged the need to help the parents see their beauty and dignity as persons and the important role they play in the upbringing of their children, to have one clear voice about what the Filipino family is, and to have synergy in the forms of research, conversations, and one-on-ones. Access to all media platforms is also seen as beneficial. The most pressing need, however, is to gather hard, fast facts to support one’s moral stand on issues.
“Young people now cannot stand motherhood statements anymore,” Executive Director of Woodrose PAREF School and IFD managing team member Dr. Rina Villegas told the attendees. “They have to be beefed up by some pragmatic findings for them to be more convinced that something needs to be done. Truth, once captured, cannot be argued with. But this argument has to be beefed up by research.”
This was further emphasized by UA&P co-founder Dr. Bernardo Villegas, who came carrying the book Marriage and the Public Good by the Witherspoon Institute, which summarizes global data and reveals the effects of undermining the family, such as an increase in drug usage.
“There is evidence all over the Western world that the decline of the family leads, for example, to so many single mothers, with governments spending billions of dollars in support. All these nefarious effects—which have nothing to do with faith—destroy the family,” he said. “Millennials have to be addressed with scientific information because they may not be very concerned about living their faith, but we can argue with them that if they do not treasure their family, they will be building a society that will be destroyed.”
He stressed that the young must know that marriage is a vocation, and added that the coming years will be more challenging as funding from the major superpowers will come into play through supporting anti-family initiatives such as abortion bills and same-sex marriage.
“We have to fight. If we allow families to suffer, the whole of society will be destroyed,” Dr. Villegas remarked.
IFD sees the dialogue as an important step in the protection of the Filipino family and looks forward to more concrete plans to collaborate with these family-oriented groups.
“We are the way we are primarily because of all that we have received [from the family, from formation activities],” said Marie Escueta of EduChild. “There is so much that we can all do. We cannot reach individually or through our own organizations all of the families in the Philippines, but I’m sure through our collective and cooperative efforts, we can do much more and maybe continue the vision of God as far as family and marriage are concerned.”
UA&P, through its Center for Research and Communication (CRC), established the Institute for Family Development to help the family in the exercise of its educational role, in consideration of the many challenges and issues currently facing the family and family life worldwide. IFD aspires to promote the fullness of the family through research, education programs, policy advocacy, and other services that would favor the strengthening of the family as the basic social unit of society. With research expertise from Dr. Antonio Torralba of CRC’s Mariano and Estelita De Jesus Que Professorial Chair for Family and Youth Education, it is envisioned that IFD will be a center of excellence for family well-being.
– Liza Alvarado