Marissa Torres-Langseth, HAPI Founder and Chairperson Emeritus, was featured in the October 2019 issue of The FilAm as one of its main cover stories.
This marked Langseth’s second appearance on the New York-based, Filipino-American lifestyle magazine after being featured in 2012.
In the latest issue, she discusses the development of her activism since her first interview. When Langseth first spoke with the publication, she had only recently begun her freethinking advocacy and was still the head of the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS).
Since then, she left PATAS, created the Humanist Alliance of the Philippines, International (HAPI) and released her autobiography, “No Outside Intelligence”.
She expressed pride for the success of HAPI’s various projects, including its HAPI Secular Humanist Advocacy Development and Education (SHADE), HAPI Kids and HAPI Homes programs, as well as the release of its first publication, “From Superstition to Reason, Vol. 1”.
She also praised the new batch of HAPI Officers and volunteers, and talked about her recent trips to Peru and Egypt.
Voice of Reason
Despite being “shocked” that they contacted her again, Langseth was keen to share more of her story with the FilAm.
“I accepted this interview because there were a lot of responses [to] my first interview in 2012,” she told HAPI after the October issue’s release. “I thought it would be nice to educate them again about my atheism and humanism.”
Langseth recalls how a lot of Filipinos were unhappy with her first FilAm feature, titled “Coming Out Atheist”. “Responses [at the time] were mixed from Pinoys,” she says. “But the exchanges were civil and it only confirms how Pinoys will defend an imaginary deity.”
Langseth has declined the majority of her interview offers, including those from international affiliates and a television spot. Apart from the FilAm, she made an exception for Scott Jacobsen of InSight Journal in 2018.
The intent of her evasiveness is to keep the spotlight on the actual work. “My advocacy is for the Philippines and not for fame nor fortune,” Langseth said. To that end, she has also chosen to be politically neutral, having declined invites from major Philippine political parties.
Still, Langseth relative discreetness hasn’t stopped stalkers and online bashers from popping up. Not that it particularly fazes her: “With all the challenges I already had, I am not afraid of anything, anyway.”
The FilAm is an online lifestyle magazine spotlighting Filipinos living in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in the United States. It is also distributed in a physical format via the Philippine Consulate General in New York and many Pinoy-owned establishments in the area.