MY COUSIN, who is a recent medical school graduate, told me once that while he was doing his rounds at a government hospital in Bacolod City, he saw one 18-year-old give birth. Not only was the new mother underaged, but she was accustomed to this process.
She already had six kids.
Such cases are not uncommon at all for those living in poverty in the Philippines. In fact, during his tenure at the hospital, my cousin said that he once witnessed 70 births in one day. On average, however, he said that there are around 40 births a day at the hospital.
“People are indigent. They have no funds. They simply come and give birth. Some even delivered on their beds. In a day, deliveries come and go,” he added.
It is precisely because of these conditions that the Philippines has grown to be one of the most populated countries in the world. According to the World Population Review, there are currently 108 million Filipinos in the country, making the islands the 13th most populous country in the world.
Furthermore, the capital city, Manila, has a population density of 43,000 people per square kilometer, making it the most human-dense city in the world. Additionally, according to Al Jazeera, around 500 Filipino teenagers become mothers every day.
If this rate of growth is not curbed, more people will inhabit the country, consuming the finite resources that already exist. Wars on water, food, shelter, and electricity will soon emerge from the most bottom of ranks, building its way to the elite class.
The government, and we, the inhabitants of this country, must realize that this is a looming problem. We need to take all the measures possible to educate those of lower education than us to stop having children when they cannot afford to give them a healthy life.
In order to deal with this escalated issue, here are some of my proposed solutions:
Firstly, the government must change the age of consent in the country. At present, children aged 12 years old are apparently legally allowed to have sex. According to Unicef, Philippines has the lowest age of consent of any country in Asia. By increasing the age of consent to an internationally acceptable age, 18, the country can see a decline in its teenage pregnancies. Furthermore, teenagers that would have been mothers and fathers could gain a better education, aiding the economy.
Secondly, the use of contraception must be advertised and publicized. Many of teenage pregnancies are usually unwanted by the parents and come from unsafe sexual practice. By educating these teens on safe sex, we can see an instant cut in the amount of teenage pregnancies. Furthermore, by opening contraception to the entire country, people can make healthier choices on whether or not to have children.
Finally, there must be a proper sex education system in every school throughout the country. Many children are often quite scared in the awkward, transitional period of puberty. If they are not educated on their body and safe practices, they will do acts that will not only harm them in the short term but will incarcerate them for the rest of their lives.
Schools need to educate children on the responsibility of parenthood and the commitments one has to be ready to make. By doing so, we can ensure smarter youth that will make healthier decisions for the country.
Additionally, the people who live in poverty must be given similar education on reproduction and safe sex. By conducting educational seminars, through government hospitals, we can better educate those without formal education on a healthier future, financially and emotionally, for their family and themselves.
Ultimately, we need to view overpopulation as a serious threat. Because, before we know it, Bacolod will be a city of one million inhabitants. We will be living in tenements of hundreds of families. We will have to refill buckets of limited water.
We will have to hold our family together, suffocating in an unmovable crowd.