Interview with Richard Bob Dalida – Chairman, PATAS

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Richard Bob Dalida is the Chairman of PATAS. He tells a common story of the social and familial linked issues in rejection of the supernatural beliefs of the community. Here we talk about his life, work, and views.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was early life like for you, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, education, and family structure and dynamics? 

Richard Bob Dalida: I grew up in Mandaluyong, Philippines. Just like Manila, it is a city. I love Philosophy a lot. I grew up in a library of Don Bosco Technical College. My favourite authors were Jacques Derrida, Anne Rice, Edgar Allan Poe, and many more when I was a kid. I grew up in witness of buildings, skyscrapers, bridges, pollution, noise, stress, and a lot more of the city life.

Middle-class family, also, I studied in an all-boys exclusive school. When I grew older, I became a lover of brewed black coffee. That rich great blend and aroma that stimulates me deep down my spine. A taste that would touch the soul of my body, awakening from a great slumber. I grew up with both my parents as a devout Roman Catholic.

It was never easy for me to express my feelings when I was a kid; that I, being an atheist since my younger years, will be beaten into tiny little pieces once revealed, maybe or so? So, I started confessing that I am an atheist when I became older, when I was around 16 years old. First to my sister, then my little brother, then my mom, and then my dad.

At first, all of them were in contest of what I am, they were pretty shocked. I explained how Science and all other dynamics of academe fall-short and irreconcilable with Religion; I’ve discussed fallacies, logic, and reason. Sometimes, when my dad’s not busy, it would take a whole day of argument with him with regards to my atheism.

That is why no-one can beat me on debates, up until now. I have practiced theological debate with my dad since I was 16 years old. I am already 37 now. My dad tried his best to convince me about the Bible and stuff. At first, I trembled of fear, not because of threat, but on how I started thinking that I might have hurt his feelings.

My dad is the best dad in the whole world. I don’t want to hurt him. He is my best friend. I love my dad very much, and so as my whole family. I got afraid that they will get hurt. But well, I did; I did hurt them. And so one day, when I was going home from work, I started telling my parents that I am no longer an atheist.

I even joined Christian churches to show them. One after another. I joined the Lutherans, the Armenians, and the Calvinists. It took me so many years to study those in which I learned a lot about the Bible, History, Theology, and Philosophy even more. But it is too unbearable up until – and finally! – I have moved out of my parents’ house, to live on my own.

From then on, I felt free to express myself in public knowing that the Philippines is a very conservative and devout theistic country. I felt proud. I found friends. I found love. I found a new family. I found my home. But as I was so busy growing up, I forgot that my parents are growing old. I want to be honest with you, I was never free. I got enslaved by my own feelings, of too much of missing my parents, been away from them for quite a long time. 

I still do visit them from time to time, call them up when I am not busy; however, I find that TIME as too short now. So whenever I visit them, I deliver the message that I was never an atheist, for I worship them as my one and only God and Goddess. I love my mom and my dad so much. I think I did not answer your question properly, and please forgive me for that. 

Jacobsen: What levels of formal education have been part of life for you? How have you informally self- educated? 

Dalida: I took-up a Bachelor of Science in nursing; however, I did not practice it. Rather, I became a certified ITIL Practitioner and a Certified Service Desk Analyst, working at a Data Centre as a supervisor of their client support organization. 

Jacobsen: What is the context of atheism and agnosticism in the Philippines? 

Dalida: I cannot speak for the whole Philippines. But based on PATAS Constitution, we understand and acknowledges the same etymology and epistemology of atheism and agnosticism, pragmatically based on Western Philosophy. 

Jacobsen: As the CFO of PATAS, what are the tasks and responsibilities that come with the position? 

Dalida: As the new Chairman, I called for a General Assembly last 2 weeks ago to change the structure of the group. I have reconstructed it to make a better productivity and align the group with our mission and vision. Before, the hierarchy of officers are as follows: President – Vice President – CFO – Secretary – Board of Trustees. 

But now, I reconstructed it to a new structure which is as follows: 

Reporting to me will be the following directors: 

1) Executive Director – CEO; the role of the executive director is to design, develop and implement strategic plans for the organization in a manner that is both cost and time-efficient. The executive director is also responsible for the day-to-day operation of the organization, which includes managing committees and staff as well as developing business plans in collaboration with the board. In essence, the board grants the executive director the authority to run the organization. 

2) Legislative Director – Lead Comrade; responsible for any Change Management requests such as the constitution amendment. This includes but not limited to Regional Affairs, Sectors, and Affiliates of organization. The Lead Comrade is involved and responsible for a Regional legislation and all others General Assembly, convention, and interviews. 

3) Project Director – Research and mobilization initiators. Responsible for project management role in which an individual strategically oversees, find, monitors, and manages NGO projects from an executive level. As the most responsible authority over a project, this individual is charged with managing team members and allocated resources. Sales team should work hand in hand with the Project Director for proper transition and project endorsements. 

4) Financial Director – Oversees the finance health and responsible for removing any profit from the revenues. Responsible in combining operational and strategic roles, manage accounting and financial control functions, and establish a financial strategy for the revenues long-term growth of PATAS Inc. 

5) Membership Director – Membership directors are responsible acquiring and maintaining membership for main chapter and regional chapters of the organization. Among their most important responsibilities are maintaining membership levels by outreach to potential members through marketing techniques, the commission of advertisements, and using the Internet and social media. Additionally, the membership director is tasked with keeping records of existing members, collecting payment of membership dues, and addressing the concerns of members to facilitate solutions and their continued association with the organization. Membership directors are also often in charge of budget monitoring and maintenance. The membership director is often one of the first people with whom prospective members come into contact, so it is vital that the director is outgoing and personable, able to answer questions, and able to explain the benefits of membership. The membership director must also possess the skills necessary to create and execute effective marketing and recruitment strategies. Problem- solving skills are tested when members come to the director with concerns, and aptitude with mathematics helps directors maintain a budget. 

6) Social Media / Helpdesk Director – A director should handle the moderators and admins of the page and public groups. Also called the Marketing Director; market and sells the entire organization, responsible for strategic marketing analysis and revenue market stability including website implementation, issue mitigation, and data gathering. 

Jacobsen: What are the important developments in 2019/2020 for PATAS? 

Dalida: A lot. This is a complete paradigm shift. We have multiple projects including The Project Logos – 8 supplemental courses will be given to the general and young key population of Marikina City

Free Courses offered are as follows: 

Session 1: September 21, 2019 – Hygiene/HIV Awareness (Sex Education) & Well-Being (Anti-bullying) 

Session 2: September 28, 2019 – Microbiology, Chemistry, & Recycling Workshop 

Session 3: November 30, 2019 CARE & Mental Health (Depression) & Reproductive Health 

TBA: 

Session 4: The Science of Evolution Session 5: Financial Literacy Session 6: Basic Baybayin Session 7: Basic Pastel Drawing Session 8: Music 

PATAS continues its community projects as we show the world that we can be good even as atheists or agnostics. As secular and evolutionary humanists, we stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems. 

Big thanks to LGBTBUS, Better Philippines, and EHBB-GBS and to all our sponsors for having these projects and may we continue to have these activities for the betterment of humanity in our society. 

We look forward to more volunteers to join us in continuing our advocacy. See you on our upcoming projects! 

Jacobsen: Who are important authors and speakers in the Philippines on atheism and agnosticism? What other organizations do important work for the secular and free thought communities in the Philippines? 

Dalida: There is a lot. If I mention one name then one of my other friend may become jealous! So I have to be very-very picky! Hahahaha. Just kidding. 

I am more into an artist who can express themselves freely and leave you on the state of aporia. 

1) Carlos Celdran: 

Let me start with the late Carlos Celdran who just passed away last October 8, 2019. His legacy will never be lost, Celdran had lived in Madrid since late January 2019, and 5 months after the Supreme 

Court (SC) upheld the decision of the Court of Appeals that found him guilty of “offending religious feelings.” Celdran faced a minimum prison time of 2 months and 21 days, and maximum of 1 year, 1 month, and 11 days. The decision was on appeal when he left for Madrid. 

Lay Catholics had filed a blasphemy case against Celdran after he disrupted a service at the Manila Cathedral on September 30, 2010. Clad as the Filipino national hero Jose Rizal, the outspoken reproductive health advocate held up a sign with the words “Damaso,” in reference to the villainous priest in Rizal’s famous novel Noli Me Tangere. He did this to protest against the Catholic Church who opposes the Reproductive Health bill, with statements from both pro and anti-camps making headlines nearly every day, and the Church playing a vital role in its determent. Statistics put 8 in 10 Filipinos to be Catholic, which leaves them highly likely to listen to the Church’s opinion. 

2) Mideo Cruz: This man needs no introduction. You can just Google his name and you will find a lot of articles about his works. Here are some examples and let it speak for itself. I don’t want to spoil it for you. 

3) Sunny Garcia: One of my favourite atheist artist in the Philippines. All of his artworks are amazing. Indescribable. You can find some of his old works on this site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sunny_garcia_artist/. Also, you can find him every Sunday selling his artworks in The Legazpi Sunday Market. Located at the corner of Legaspi and Rufino Streets, Legazpi Village, Makati City. It’s near Union Church of Manila. The market is open every Sunday from 8 AM to 2 PM. 

Jacobsen: What are some fun and interesting community and social activities of PATAS for its membership? 

Dalida: A lot to mention. For students, we can even help you with your college thesis. 

Membership includes IDs, Shirts, Pens, and many more. 

Meet-ups and conventions are free. 

Once part of our organization, members can volunteer to some of our social outreach projects such as: 

• Tree Planting 

• LGBTQ+ A (Ally) Convention 

• LGBTQ+ Metro Manila Pride March 

• Project Logos Season 1 – 4 

• Rural Aid 

• Calamity Response Team 

• Donate a blood 

• HIV AIDS Programs 

Jacobsen: If you could pass one important lesson onto upcoming generations who are active and involved in civil society fighting for secularism, especially under Duterte, what would that message be for them? 

Dalida: You are not alone. Do not be afraid. PATAS will help you. Think without fear, live without delusions. 

Jacobsen: How can people become involved through the donation of time, the addition of membership, links to professional and personal networks, giving monetarily, exposure in interviews or writing articles, and so on? 

Dalida: Through Legislation drive. For now, my goal is to be an international organization. Which is only possible through international partnership. Speaking of which, I am formally appealing for a partnership with your group: The Canadian Atheist Group. We would like our works to be shared in your group as well as your works be shared in our group ☺ this is so exciting! 

Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts based on the conversation today? 

Dalida: I am very, very thankful once again to your group for giving us the opportunity to speak out. 

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Richard. 

Dalida: Thank you as well! Hope to hear from you soon!

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-booksfree or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an AgnostikerAmerican AtheistsAmerican Humanist AssociationAssociação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and AgnosticsAtheist Alliance InternationalAtheist Alliance of AmericaAtheist CentreAtheist Foundation of AustraliaThe Brights MovementCenter for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist IrelandCamp Quest, Inc.Council for Secular HumanismDe Vrije GedachteEuropean Humanist FederationFederation of Indian Rationalist AssociationsFoundation Beyond BeliefFreedom From Religion FoundationHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist InternationalHumanist Association of GermanyHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist Society of ScotlandHumanists UKHumanisterna/Humanists SwedenInternet InfidelsInternational League of Non-Religious and AtheistsJames Randi Educational FoundationLeague of Militant AtheistsMilitary Association of Atheists and FreethinkersNational Secular SocietyRationalist InternationalRecovering From ReligionReligion News ServiceSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceThe Clergy ProjectThe Rational Response SquadThe Satanic TempleThe Sunday AssemblyUnited Coalition of ReasonUnion of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

Photo by Chris Sanchez on Unsplash

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