IF YOU know how to plant bananas you will certainly be excited how to go about the controversial birth control issue. My sensitive friends in the religious sector staunchly put up a stand against some methods used in family planning.

The secular sector is for scaling down the rate of our population growth and has been advocating sex education. The church scored some points when Health Secretary Cabral was replaced. She was a big loss to the crusade for the use of contraceptives and other modes to control birth and for that matter - the issue of runaway population explosion. While we are still in limbo as to the stand of the Aquino administration on this subject, Sunbursts will illustrate to the prudent why birth has to be controlled. You see I grew up in the hinterlands of Cotabato in a cogon hut surrounded by saba bananas that grow luxuriantly as the population of mites (tungaw) which we boys in short pants so detest. Go ask another farmer boy the reason why.

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It was in that rustic abode that I learned how to grow bananas and kamoteng kahoy. You plant a banana tuber or a plantlet and sooner you have a hill of bananas which will soon bear fruits. And sooner too, you will have several hills of bananas in rows or, as in the case, comes in circles around our cogon hut.

Faster than one expects, several tubers soon sprout from a mother plant. For bananas to grow well and bear long bunches of fruits with several hands of unblemished and healthy fruits we cut the plantlets that look stunted and leave only three or four strong tubers to grow.

Allowing all the tubers to grow to maturity will sooner result to shorter bunches, smaller and fewer hands. The entire hill of bananas will later deteriorate and look very sickly and malnourished and the fruits become unsightly.

As it is with banana culture, raising a family needs some kind of spacing. Like taking care of several hills of bananas, looking after the health of a nation takes some kind of a rational approach. When God said "go out and multiply", He commanded so because earth was sparsely populated. But we are now in a new millennium and population is bursting by the seams, the Philippines among the most prolific and yet among the poorest. As with banana hills time has come when spacing becomes an exigency so we can arrest the runaway population growth. A family with two offspring will have more food to share and eat. The same volume of food to share with a family of five or more will never be enough. The banana suckers of an overpopulated hill will always be malnourished, unproductive and will likely be discarded. Children who lacked food and nutrition are physically handicapped, mentally mediocre and uncompetitive.

I am writing this piece because this week, three very young kids came knocking in my office begging for food. The first one, a boy age seven from Bankerohan, looks healthy as he must have been weaned from his mother's milk. But he is out of school. He is the youngest in the family of five. His t-shirt looks clean and so is his face but his pants are now tattered. He asked for just a peso and I gave him food instead. Two days later a little girl with a smaller boy in tug, came and just barged into my office. Before I could even say anything, they belted out a song. Their voices blended so well although at times the little boy would falter as he would catch his breath. Like the first boy, they too came from even a larger family. They are from San Pedro Extension. They said that they used to beg in Bankerohan and San Pedro but that there are too many of them there now people had stopped giving alms and so they fanned out to C.M. Recto.

Cut from their mother's umbilical cord, they now have to be fed. With food getting scarcer in the table, the poor kids have to leave home begging so they can live. Primary education, even if it is free, is not their primordial needs. To be alive is. Like the banana plantlets on a hill striving for nutrition they might last but stunted and undeveloped as they have to grapple with the rest of their siblings. Now, will he church decide for the future of the coming generation? Before they answer that, I suggest they plant bananas.