When two conflicting sides come together, it’s always a volatile situation or awkwardly uncomfortable at best. That realization dawned on the guests at a gathering over the weekend hosted by Mayor Vivien Villar, when Pangasinan 5th District Representative, Kimi Cojuangco, one of the strongest RH advocates, came face to face with Bishop Jacinto A. Jose, D.O. and his entourage composed of several parish priests, Fr. Franklin Tandingan, Fr. Alex De Guzman, Fr. Richard Abalos and Fr. Ralph Christopher M. Itchon .

The congresswoman’s vehement support of the RH bill is as transparent as the Catholic Church’s staunch opposition to it. As the congresswoman reiterated during her last privilege speech, “An institutionalized reproductive healthcare will be a major instrument in improving the life of our people, especially those who need the services most. The Filipino family deserves no less because everybody deserves a lifetime, and a quality one at that.” 
Strong statements such as that hovered over everyone’s mind on the evening of March 24, 2012. The occasion was a celebration for the founding anniversary of Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan and also the birthday bash of Dangerous Drugs Board Secretary Antonio Villar, Jr.


Bishop Jacinto A. Jose and Rep Kimi Cojuangco

The encounter caused a momentary pause in the celebration as guests waited for reaction from either side. As everyone who follows the congresswoman’s advocacy knows, she has been quite unrestrained in her support of the RH bill, insisting on the rights of women specifically in her district, who are not always of the Catholic faith, to have the opportunity and access maternal health. She is also firm in her belief that being a good Catholic does not always mean following the church’s dogma but doing what is right for all people regardless of their religion. But when the gracious and naturally vivacious congresswoman is concerned, that apprehension is unfounded. Following the lead of Mayor Villar and Congresswoman Cojuangco, everyone was welcomed and enfolded into the conviviality with courtesy and grace. It wasn’t long before everyone was having fun like old friends.

Political agendas briefly set aside, the evening’s celebratory ambiance continued to the delight of all in attendance.

(L-R) Standing – Fr. Franklin Tandingan, Fr. Alex De Guzman, Fr. Richard Abalos, Former Villasis Mayor Nonato Abrenica, Mayor Libradita Abrenica and Fr. Ralph Christopher M. Itchon. (Seated L-R) Sto Tomas Mayor Vivien O. Villar, Bishop Jacinto A. Jose and Congresswoman Kimi Cojuangco. - By Loejan Anudon

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