By Pet Melliza/The Beekeeper
An item struck me in the morning program of RMN Iloilo radio last April 25: a couple gave birth to quartet. The mother, 17, is jobless, the father, 18, earns by helping an uncle make earthen pots and hawk them. The infants, all boys, are premature and need to be incubated for two months. And one is ill.
RMN seized that opportunity to raise funds to support the couple and their babies. Four relatives are with them, in other words, four are jobless for the duration of their stay in Iloilo as they take turns watching their kin. RMN’s fund raising campaign (which that morning drew pledges reaching five-digit amount) must also consider the four bantays.
Public succor is needed that instant: the couple and their four infants have nothing and nobody to turn to, not even the church which is the most rabid defender of idiots out to fill the earth with more idiots.
The couple are in their teens, the mother a minor at that. Their case is another classic example of an idiot giving birth to more idiots with the assurance that the same cycle will replicate itself. From the report of RMN, the girl’s mother have also been a teenage mother herself, a high school dropout, and having delivered among her multiple pregnancies, a twin both of which died at birth.
Let’s call the girl who gave birth to the quartet Mother “A” and her mom Mother “B”. Mother B has many children and becomes a baby factory at teenage. She is industrious, capable of doing work that earns like farming, raising animals and selling cooked meals. However, successive child births and the burden of raising kids consigns her to the house, a predicament that deprives her the opportunity to earn.
Her child, Mother A, who delivered the quartet is also forced by pregnancy out of high school at 17. Mother A is diligent and can land on a productive job but the burden of caring for her quartet will likely confine her to the house the next five years, or even longer, depending on her propensity to fall into more pregnancies.
We wish that the boys in the quartet would break the cycle of an idiot giving birth to another. We wish them to become men prepared for marriage with women who are also of age and empowered to decide the number of their children and know to raise them up, and no longer like their forebears Mother A and B.
We don’t have to look far to see the vicious cycle of one idiot giving birth to another. Each of us has a story to tell on that, that ignorance kills or condemns one to poverty.
The story of Mothers A and B would have a happy ending had society empowered them from the culture of ignorance. The Philippines committed itself before the international community to address this, that is, empower women, reduce maternal deaths, increase child survival and cut down poverty under the United Nations program called Millenium Development Goal (MDG).
As of now, more than two decades since the Philippines signed the MDG, its performance is “generally low”, according to Renaud Meyer, United Nation Development Program (UNDP) country director to the Philippines.
In 2010 , 54 percent of 1.9 million pregnancies were unwanted or unplanned like what happened to Mothers A and B.
Meyer further rues that 5.2 million Filipinos of school age have not entered school. Fifty-three (53) percent of these school age children are not enrolled in Grade 1, while the majority drop out after reaching Grade 1, he adds.
His more serious report is that11 Filipino women die daily from pregnancy- or birth-related related causes, maternal deaths in short. That’s 4,015 per annum.
From, another angle, a UNDP study published in IRIN (April 7, 2009) says some 230 women in the Philippines yearly die out of 100,000 live births.
That’s too much compared with 110 in Thailand, 62 in Malaysia and 14 in Singapore, according to Vanessa Tobin, country director to the Philippines of the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF).
The country commits itself to address that by enacting the Reproductive Health Bill but the proposed legislation authored by Rep. Janette Garin (1st district, Iloilo) is in for a rough sailing and is in danger of dying naturally as our the holy of holies in the Philippine Sanhedrin want to.