FOR married couples, they smell, listen to each other's moans even in the dark.

As Catholic environmentalist, conservationist and human rights advocate on the rights of the child and women, I can appreciate these food security issues.

Under the Marcoses╩╝ conjugal dictatorship, we can hear the moans of malnourished children and the wails of anguished parents.

Listen to Catherine Alomia who sat in her crib at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital here, too weak to move or even to cry. The eight-year-old weighs less than 28 pounds, a little more than half the normal weight for her age. She also suffers from a fever, cough, diarrhea, anemia, bronchopneumonia and, possibly, tuberculosis.

In the crib opposite Catherine's, five-year-old Mylene Arguelles stands or squats on spindly legs, staring ahead dully, her face expressionless. A chart on her bed says she weighs 15 pounds, far below the normal weight of 39 pounds for girls her age.

In the crib next to Mylene's, a vitamin deficiency associated with severe malnutrition already has made three-year-old Ignacio Gomasa blind.

His father is preparing to take him home since the hospital can do nothing to restore his sight.

The future also looks grim for Catherine and Mylene. Their impoverished parents do not earn enough to give them the nutrition they need, and now there will be more mouths to feed.

Many of the children here will eventually die of the diseases that their malnourished bodies are too weak to fight, doctors say. Often, their parents are too poor to afford coffins and must bury them in cardboard boxes, formerly filled with dextrose, that the hospital provides.

The fetid malnutrition ward of this dilapidated hospital is "just an indicator of the whole problem" on the central Philippine island of Negros Occidental, said the director of a feeding program sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund, known as Unicef

"The thing we fear most is the effect on the brain. The body can recover, but the brain damage is done." There is nothing sexy about the sight, smell and sounds of poverty.

As a nature conservationist, I can appreciate the role of sight and smell that female animals have on the males of their species.

Ex-situ conservation uses the females in heat to arouse the excitement of dogs to mate with bitches and tomcats with felines.

For a species to survive new generations, it has to be bred.

The same technique is used to increase the population of the Philippine Spotted Deer and the Philippine warty hogs native to Western and Central Visayas.

Then, there's the interspecies conservation in Negros Island.

Along 110 kilometers of coastline of the island of Negros, there are 52 coastal districts (barangays), and three cities (Bago, Himamaylan and Kabankalan) and seven municipalities (Pulupandan, Valladolid, San Enrique, Pontevedra, Hinigaran, Binalbagan and Ilog). It hosts three globally threatened marine turtles, the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, the endangered green turtle and the vulnerable olive ridley turtle. The vulnerable Irrawaddy dolphin also inhabits the coastal areas.

In 2014, 72 waterbird species that include the globally endangered great knot, Far Eastern curlew and spotted greenshank. There are three other vulnerable species: the Philippine duck which is endemic to the Philippines, Chinese egret and Java sparrow. It is also known for its rich and diverse coastal resources, particularly mangroves and shellfish including economically important species such as oysters, green mussels, nylon shells, angel wing shells, shrimps and crabs. The Site faces potential threats including the conversion of mangrove forests and other wetlands to commercial or residential uses or for aquaculture, and also pollution by industrial waste and coliform contamination. Overfishing in some areas also threatens the biodiversity and the sustainability of local livelihoods.

We Negrenses have to increase the population of these animals but decrease the population of poor Negrenses.