News - Kaleidoscopic

By Charmaine R. Almendra

                I am the son of Rizal.  I am the daughter of Lapu-Lapu.  Being one of the 88.7 million pairs of feet roaming around this scenic archipelago, I bear the name Filipino on my forehead.span style="font-family: Calibri;">

               For nine months, my beloved mother carried me in her womb, nurturing the depth of my flesh with her purest love.  I felt the warmth of her soul passing through my umbilical cord.  Happy I was.

                 Within the circular walls of her tummy, I had a little space to explore.  I became curious, wanting to search the world’s promising paradise with the relational beings mom calls ‘people’.  Everything outside was obscure, but I felt I am part of the outside world.

                I didn’t exactly know when it happened.  In a flash, someone had slapped my buttocks and I cried.  Funny, but I didn’t realize that was the first time I saw my motherland – the 300,000 km2 piece of land that the Kataas-taasan , Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan fought for.  I discovered the Philippines is a battered treasure chest with gems beneath it wanting to be uncovered.  I have to explore its wonders.  I have to discover its majesty.  I have to preserve its riches. 

                Who am I? I am tomorrow’s generation – the youth.

                In puberty I am now.  With my ignorance of the world gone.  I have seen my country in its true light.  This paradise has undergone a kaleidoscopic metamorphosis.  From its humble beginnings, since time immemorial, the Philippines and the Filipinos have changed.  Breakthroughs in science, technology and medicine are evident.  Education has revolutionalized to address the demands of modern times.  Political leadership has become as competitive as our western neighbors.  But this country of mine has also its share of problems.  This beautiful archipelago has become densely populated and has been suffering from poverty, low literacy rates and other worsening conditions.

                 When the 5 million milestone of population was surpassed in 1987, the world’s main aim was to adopt family planning procedures, social reforms and advocacies that would educate to address the growing problem.

                 In my country, 88.7 million people trudge along the path of everyday life fighting for survival.  Ninety-two percent of the graduates are unemployed (NSO).  Around 1.57 million opt to work abroad with the hope of providing their families a better future.  And though the dollar remittances increase, the country is deprived of manpower, and families struggle from parental absence.

                 Because of demographic boom, social and economic problems arise.  Malnutrition erupts.  A lot of children suffer from the undernourishment crisis because the parents could hardly provide sufficient services as well.

                 Around ninety-two percent pass simple literacy, but only eighty-four percent are functionally literate among the youth.  Many could not afford to study, and finish a degree.  This is due to poverty.

               Two of every three babies born per second live until they reach the age when they themselves could multiply.  Death rates decrease due to modernization and changing lifestyles.  Population growth is faster than food production.  All these result in overpopulation – an index of poverty.

                 A kilo of rice costs P35 now.  With this price, many could hardly afford three decent meals a day.  In the next years of my metamorphosing life in these 7,107 islands, I could not imagine but this price could soar to as high as P1,000!  How many could still afford to live?  How many children would cry due to hunger? How many young people like me would weep in anguish because of deprived education?  How many desperate fathers would commit crime to feed their family, or worse, commit suicide to end his suffering?

                 With the advent of modernization and western influences, liberal attitudes and lifestyles seem to corrupt the conservative attitudes that I and my fellow youth inherited from our forefathers.  At this stage of puberty, this may seem debatable. Deniable? Hardly.  Premarital sex is prevalent among the youth nowadays. According to the NSO survey, 4.32 million of the youth today are already young mothers and young fathers, and 200 million women who would like to have access to modern advances in family planning lack the opportunity.

                 In response, the government issued Republic Act 8425 or the Act initializing Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Program, and Presidential Decree No. 79 or the Revised Population Act of the Philippines.  Four pillars were identified as areas of implementation, with due respect for morality and spiritual concerns:  responsible parenthood, respect for life, birth spacing, and informed choice.  An administration lawmaker said, “For so many poor and uneducated couples, learning the natural family planning is too difficult, cumbersome and needs much discipline and spirituality. Many are not able to make it. The poor are already deprived of so many things.  And, to deprive them of lovemaking when they spontaneously feel like doing so is to make their lives even more miserable.”  I guess that is indeed a point of argument.

                 I, the youth, am challenged to contain this situation.  Being the hope of the future, I have the responsibility and the privilege to change this mishap.  What can I do beyond my young age and small body?

                 To be responsible is my creed.  To act as a true Filipino citizen is my virtue.  To be a good Filipino citizen is my duty.  This may seem a Herculean task. Indeed, it is.  But I believe I could carry on.

                 Being young, I know I am vulnerable.  Temptations arouse the depth of my being.  I want freedom.  I want discoveries.  But being the child of Lapu-Lapu, I carry the name of my forefathers so I pledge to be responsible for my actions.  I will not subject myself to temptations that can destroy my life and my future.  I will preserve my chastity as long as I still carry my responsibilities as a child.

                 I will protect my body for it is the temple of God.  Whatever wrong I do with it, I destroy God in me.

                When the right time comes, I will be a responsible parent of a carefully chosen number of children.  My moral fiber I will preserve and pass on as a legacy to my kids.  I will grow old into a productive citizen I dreamt myself of becoming.  I will be a model to the young generation and will become an epitome of a self-fulfilled being.

                I am the daughter of Rizal.  Whatever becomes of me is my duty.  I am a responsible child.  The mistakes of the past do not have to be repeated in my history.





CHARMAINE R. ALMENDRA is a third year highschool student from the St. Mary's University, Nueva Viscaya, Region III.  She is the FIRST PLACE WINNER of the 2008 National Essay Writing Contest on Population and Development for the Youth, organized by the Bureau of Secondary Education-Department of Education, and sponsored by the Philippine Center for Population and Development, Inc.