Tell it to SunStar: Children having children

Isabel T. Escoda
·2 min read

RECENTLY, advertisements have been appearing off and on in SunStar showing a young couple sitting side by side and smiling at each other. The caption reads in Tagalog, “Wala akong inaalala basta kasama ka. Todo ang saya pag may TRUST. Kaya mo ‘to!” Apparently it wasn’t thought necessary to also run it in Cebuano (the dominant dialect in this region).

In English, the text reads “Do it right! Do it with TRUST/Reproductive Health Choices,” and gives the website “DoItRightPH” which reads: “Home--understanding sex--contraceptive finder—relationships--weird & wonderful.” The word “weird” is left open to any manner of interpretation. Does that imply that sex is strange, crazy, insane or what?

The advertisement goes on with “What’s hot,” showing a picture of one hand holding a strip of pills and the other, an unwrapped condom; followed by a thermometer for a Pregnancy Test, and another one labelled “Emergency contraception.” Lastly there is “What every guy should know about vasectomy.”

The final wording goes: “Got questions? Ask anonymously, Open FB messenger.”

Whether this slick piece of advertising comes from a private agency or a government one is unknown.

The Population Commission has recently reported that 40 to 50 girls under the ages of 15 give birth every week. This begs the question of what a poor country like the Philippines is doing about such an enormous problem as this. Do health clinics around the nation provide information like “DoItRight” to youngsters not just in the print media but over radio and TV which reaches more people? Do public and private schools provide proper sex education to students? If not, how does one reach all these teenagers in a conservative society where discussing sex is taboo? As it is, the phrase “family planning” is used more often instead of “birth control,” which the Catholic Church frowns upon.

The government may fund some agencies that provide contraceptives to women for a minimum fee, while some non-government organizations (NGOs) offer safe abortifacients. But only a few NGOs educate males about vasectomies, which is unfortunate since boys are often the ones with raging hormones.

Surveys have shown that the Philippines ranks highest among Asean countries in population growth, and lowest in population control, a situation that affects all sectors of our society. It was Pope Francis after all who, after his visit to this country in 2015, said, “Don’t breed like rabbits.” Will this admonition be heeded? The onus lies on the government which so far seems to have done little, or nothing, about tackling this problem.