02 June 2004

The More, The Merrier?

BusinessWorld Online

Here in the Philippines, the elders have a mindset that it is not bad at all to have more and more children whether you are rich or poor. For most Filipinos, a large family presents a big window of opportunities, not to mention, the happiness it brings. I have no argument with that. I am an only child and I must agree that there are indeed moments when I wish I had a brother or a sister to share my thoughts and opinion on things. But when I witness sibling quarrels that extend all the way to the courts and see families getting separated because the parents had to work as overseas contract workers (OCWs) in some part of the globe, I begin to see the wisdom of having a small family.

Now, before you get me wrong, I am not advocating that every family adapt the one-child-policy of China, because it has its share of problems, too, as shown by this analysis of a London newspaper. But with 4 Filipino babies born per minute and an incoming 84.2 million population, I do not think we are nowhere near the Singaporean scenario wherein their government pay families to bear more children. In Singapore, the heroes are people who have big families. In the Philippines, the heroes are the OCWs. Do you see the contrast?

I have always believed that poverty is borne out of an uncontrolled population growth. Controling population growth within manageable levels will provide the government leaders a better chance to address our economic problems.

Instead of peppering the tri-media with population control methods like using condoms and contraceptive pills, why not do some passive methods like giving incentives to those newly-married families who strive to have a maximum of 3 kids. Highlight the incentives for those who strive to have small families: provide discounts galore in supermarkets, drugstores, moviehouses, hospitals, schools, utility bills, etc. This ought to gather some publicity and can be considered a small step towards population control.

It is good to have many mouths to feed, if they can indeed be fed. If not, we just condemn not just the babies, but compromise our country's future as well.

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