I have one niece that speaks English better than anyone else in the compound. I also have one nephew living in my house, temporarily, who speaks English at about the same level. I won’t mention my niece’s name because I don’t want to draw attention to her, especially on Facebook.
She’s in high school, with three more years to go and she’s 15-years old. The school grade levels changed a few years ago to something called “K-12”. She’s the equivalent of a freshman in the United States. I was a sophomore at the age of 15.
I enjoy talking to the relatives that can speak of enough English to talk back. My limited fluency in Tagalog makes conversation relatively easy. I particularly enjoy talking to this niece on the rare occasions when we’re both available for discussion, without other people listening in on our conversation.
It’s from her that I learned about what they’re teaching in school. I’ve asked her hundreds of questions about the things she should know, only to find out how little she knows because they don’t teach it in school.
What I’ve learned explains why so many women here end up living and raising a family with their first boyfriends. The schools teach basic birth control, even though the Catholic church doesn’t like it. She’s learned nothing about the menstrual cycle except that she has to endure it every month. I’m slowly teaching her what she needs to know so she can teach her younger sisters when the time comes, as well as some of her cousins. It’s too late for some of her cousins – some are single mothers already.
I don’t think the religion itself is at fault. I think the people at the top, at least in the Philippines, are just that greedy. You can’t gain parishioners if people stop having babies. The religion doesn’t condone birth control but it’s the local authority that attempts to keep poor people from having access to it.
The Catholic church has a lot more influence here than in the United States. I don’t remember the figures, but something like 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic. Now, I’m not saying anything about being devout Catholics, but I am saying it’s the religion they claim as their own.
I’m not Catholic (how could you guess?) and I’m not really a Christian. I may say I’m a Christian to end a discussion, but I don’t believe in Christianity as an organized religion. Most religious organizations are nothing like they were when they started and I’m not talking about being better. When I’m asked, I refuse to discuss my beliefs because my beliefs don’t agree with most people. The one thing I know for sure is that there isn’t a religious organization without faults and I think the Catholic organization has more than its fair share.