POPULATION AND BIRTH CONTROL IN THE PHILIPPINES

POPULATION OF THE PHILIPPINES

Population: 107,668,231 (July 2014 est.), country comparison to the world: 13. Age structure: 0-14 years: 33.7 percent (male 18,493,668/female 17,753,359), 15-24 years: 19 percent (male 10,416,358/female 10,044,724), 25-54 years: 37 percent (male 20,031,638/female 19,796,545), 55-64 years: 5.8 percent (male 2,882,719/female 3,372,485), 65 years and over: 4.4 percent (male 2,103,596/female 2,773,139) (2014 est.). Median age: total: 23.5 years, male: 23 years, female: 24 years (2014 est.) [Source: CIA World Factbook =]

Ninety-five percent of the Filipinos (Pilipinos) live on the eleven largest islands, Total fertility rate: 3.06 children born/woman (2014 est.), country comparison to the world: 53. Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; 0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female; 55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female; total population: 1 male(s)/female (2014 est.). Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 60.7 percent; youth dependency ratio: 54.3 percent; elderly dependency ratio: 6.4 percent; potential support ratio: 15.6 (2014 est.) =

Kenneth R. Weiss wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “The Philippines has one of the fastest-growing populations in Asia. It is on track to increase by more than half, to 155 million, by 2050. Greater Manila is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. About a third of its 12 million inhabitants live in poverty, many in teeming shantytowns that sprawl across trash dumps and cemeteries. [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012]

The total population of the Philippines was 76.5 million, evenly divided between males and females, at the last census in May 2000. The Philippine National Statistics Office estimated that the total population reached 85.2 million in 2005. The average annual population growth rate from 1998 to 2004 was 2.1 percent. There has been a continuing trend of internal migration from rural to urban areas since at least 1991. According to the 2000 census, 52 percent of the population lived in rural areas and 48 percent in urban areas, including about 12 percent who lived in the National Capital Region, or Metropolitan Manila. The Philippines has a negligible loss of population as a result of emigration, which was estimated at –1.5 migrants per 1,000 population in 2004. [Source: Library of Congress, March 2006 **]

As of 2005, 35 percent of the population was 0–14 years of age; 61 percent, 15–64; and 4 percent, 65 and older. According to 2004 data, the gender ratio for the rising generation was 104 males for every 100 females. The birthrate was 25.8 births per 1,000 population. The death rate was 5.5 deaths per 1,000 population. Infant mortality was 24.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth was 66.7 years for males, 72.6 years for females, and 69.6 years overall. The fertility rate was 3.2 children born per woman. **

Population Growth in the Philippines

Population growth rate: 1.81 percent (2014 est.), country comparison to the world: 67. Birth rate: 24.24 births/1,000 population (2014 est.), country comparison to the world: 61. Death rate: 4.92 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.), country comparison to the world: 192. Net migration rate: -1.23 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.), country comparison to the world: 155. [Source: CIA World Factbook]

The population of the Philippines in 1960 was around 27 million, a third of what it is now. The 2.2 percent annual growth rate in the Philippines in the 1990s was among the highest in East Asia. Many economists have argued that the Philippines’s high growth rate is the country’s single largest development and economic problem. Unemployment rates are high and getting higher primarily because the economy can not produce enough jobs to keep up with population growth. High population growth has also resulted in overcrowded classrooms, strained social services, environmental degradation and the large numbers of people seeking jobs overseas.

The Philippine population in the early 1990s continued to grow at a rapid, although somewhat reduced rate from that which had prevailed in the preceding decades. In 1990 the Philippine population was more than 66 million, up from 48 million in 1980. This figure represents an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent, down from 2.6 percent in 1980 and from more than 3 percent in the 1960s. Even at the lower growth rate, the Philippine population will increase to an estimated 77 million by the year 2000 and will double every twenty-nine years into the next century. Moreover, in 1990 the population was still a youthful one, with 57 percent under the age of twenty. The birth rate in early 1991 was 29 per 1,000, and the death rate was 7 per 1,000. The infant mortality rate was 48 deaths per 1,000 live births. Population density increased from 160 per square kilometer in 1980 to 220 in 1990. The rapid population growth and the size of the younger population has required the Philippines to double the amount of housing, schools, and health facilities every twenty-nine years just to maintain a constant level. [Source: Library of Congress, 1991]

Philippines Welcomes Symbolic 100 Millionth Baby

A baby girl born in late July, 2014 officially pushed the Philippine population to 100 million. Mayen Jaymalin wrote in the Philippine Star, “The child, named Chonalyn, was one of 100 babies born in state hospitals all over the archipelago who received the symbolic designation of “100,000,000th baby.” “This is both an opportunity and a challenge... an opportunity we should take advantage of and a challenge we recognize,” said Juan Antonio Perez, executive director of the Commission on Population (PopCom). While a growing population means a larger workforce, it also means more dependents in a country where about 25 percent of people are living in poverty, he explained. [Source: Mayen Jaymalin. Philippine Star, July 28, 2014 \~/]

“Chonalyn’s mother, Dailin Cabigayan, 27, said she was not aware that the Department of Health (DOH) and PopCom were awaiting the coming of the 100,000,000th Filipino until she gave birth. When she started experiencing labor pains, Cabigayan said she and her partner Clemente Sentino Jr., 45, immediately proceeded to the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital Saturday night. Hours after her arrival at the hospital, Cabigayan finally gave birth at 12:35 a.m. to 2.8-kilo, 45-centimeter baby Chonalyn. She is the first baby for Cabigayan and second for Sentino. “She is heaven’s gift to us,” Cabigayan said in Filipino. \~/

“Doctors of Fabella hospital said there were 10 other pregnant women scheduled to deliver their babies. In fact, there were two other mothers at the delivery room who were being closely monitored but Cabigayan took the spotlight and gave birth ahead of them. Cabigayan, who worked as a domestic helper, expressed hope that she would no longer be going to her old job so she could focus on taking care of her child, while Sentino, a van driver, expressed confidence he could support his child and his partner. Sentino and Cabigayan are not yet married. “She just happened to get pregnant. But we do have plans to get married,” he said. “I make just enough to get by but at least my job pays regularly. We will find a way to make it fit,” he added. \~/

“Officials of the DOH and PopCom presented to Chonalyn and her parents infant clothes and other gifts that could help the family start a better life. Chonalyn and the other 99 babies chosen to symbolize the country’s 100 million population will also receive starter kit worth P5,000, lifetime PhilHealth membership and free immunization, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said. “She (Chonalyn) will now have the opportunity to have a good life and good health. Since she will be enjoying all the health services from the government, her life expectancy can reach as high as 80 years,” Ona added. However, Perez said the Philippines had to find a way to bring services to the poorest families while also lowering the average number of children that fertile women will bear in their lifetimes. “We’d like to push the fertility rate down to two children per (woman’s) lifetime,” from the current level of an average of three per woman, he said. Efforts to control the Philippines’ population growth have long been hampered by the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, which counts about 80 percent of Filipinos as followers and which disapproves of all forms of artificial birth control.” \~/

High Birthrates Help Keep Filipinos in Poverty

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post, “Maria Susana Espinoza wanted only two children. But it was not until after the birth of her fourth child in six years that she learned any details about birth control. “I knew it existed, but I didn’t know how it works,” said Espinoza, who lives with her husband and children in a squatter’s hut in a vast, stinking garbage dump by Manila Bay. She and her family belong to the fastest-growing segment of the Philippine population: very poor people with large families. There are many reasons why this country is poor, including feudal patterns of land ownership and corrupt government. But there is a compelling link between family size and poverty. It increases in lock step with the number of children, as nutrition, health, education and job prospects all decline, government statistics and many studies show. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post. April 21, 2008 <=>]

“Birth and poverty rates here are among the highest in Asia. And the Philippines, where four out of five of the country’s people are Roman Catholic, also stands out in Asia for its government’s rejection of modern contraception as part of family planning. In 2008, public alarm in the Philippines over the soaring price of rice has focused attention on the fast-growing population and its dependence on rice imports. Despite steadily increasing rice harvests, farmers here have been unable to keep pace with domestic demand. Economists here have calculated, though, that the Philippines would not need imported rice if it had managed to control population growth — like its neighbor Thailand. <=>

“In the garbage dump on Manila Bay, Espinoza said she is nervous about getting an IUD. But she sees no alternative. “I already have so many kids I have trouble looking after them,” she said. Until her fourth child was born in October, Espinoza, 26, had time to work as a scavenger in the dump, collecting plastic bottles. On a good 10-hour day, she said, she could collect enough bottles to earn $1. Her husband sells salt and sometimes makes $4 a day. Espinoza is the oldest of nine children and left school after fifth grade. She grew up in another Manila garbage dump, where her parents also worked as scavengers. “I don’t want any more children,” she said. “Life is hard. Rice is expensive.” <=>

Poor Filipino Family with a Lot of Kids

Kenneth R. Weiss wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Shortly after sunrise, a woman with soulful eyes and short-cropped black hair hurried down a narrow alley in flip-flops, picking her way around clusters of squatting children, piles of trash and chunks of concrete. Yolanda Naz's daily scramble had begun. Peddling small shampoo packets in the shantytown of San Andres, she raced to earn enough money to feed her eight children. She went door to door in the sweltering heat, charming and cajoling neighbors into parting with a few pesos. After several hours, she had scrounged enough to buy a kilo of rice, a few eggs and a cup of tiny shrimp. [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012 |::|]

"My husband and I skip lunch if there is no money," Naz said as she dished rice and shrimp sauce into eight plastic bowls in the 10-by-12-foot room where the family eats and sleeps. This was not the life Naz wanted. She and her husband, who sells coconut drinks from a pushcart, agreed early in their marriage to stop at three children. Though a devout Catholic, she took birth control pills in defiance of priests' instructions at Sunday Mass. |::|

“But after her third child was born, the mayor of Manila — with the blessing of Roman Catholic bishops — halted the distribution of contraceptives at public clinics to promote "a culture of life." The order put birth control pills and other contraceptives out of reach for millions of poor Filipinos, who could not afford to buy them at private pharmacies. "For us, the banning of the pills was ugly," Naz said. "We were the ones who suffered." At 36, she had more children than teeth, common for poor women after repeated pregnancies and breast-feeding. |::|

“Undernourished and living in close quarters, her children were often sick. Measles was sweeping through the shantytown, afflicting two of Naz's sons and her 3-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who hung like a rag doll from her mother's arms. "I pray to God. I pray really, really hard," she said. "Should God decide to take my kids, just don't let them suffer." |::|

“Yolanda Naz began to stack up the plastic bowls and plates from the midday meal. Her family had devoured every morsel. A boy came to the door with an orange garden hose. For a few pesos, Naz can fill a plastic barrel with water for cooking, cleaning and bathing. Naz picked through the remaining coins from her shampoo sales to see if there was enough for the next meal. On a good day, her husband, Noel, earned about $5 selling coconut drinks from his cart. That was enough to pay for rice, instant noodles, some eggs, vegetables, even some milk and a diaper for the baby. But Noel is afflicted with a racking cough that often keeps him from working. Naz sometimes buries her pride and asks neighbors for a loan of 10 cents or a bit of food. |::|

Thailand Versus the Philippines on Population

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post, “In 1970, the population of each country was about 36 million people and growing at about 3 percent a year. But with an aggressive family planning program that provides the poor with free contraceptives, Thailand has since reduced its population growth rate to 0.9 percent. In the Philippines, the rate has declined sluggishly to about 2.1 percent. There are now about 26 million more people in the Philippines than in Thailand. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post. April 21, 2008 <=>]

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Ernesto M. Pernia, professor of economics at the University of the Philippines. The Philippines now produces 16 million metric tons of rice a year — and needs to import 2 million tons more to meet local demand. “If the Philippines had pursued what Thailand has done, the Philippines would be only consuming 13 metric tons of rice per annum,” Pernia said. “We could be a net exporter of 3 million metric tons.” Besides increased food security, the Philippines could have lifted 3.6 million more people out of poverty if it had followed Thailand’s population growth trajectory, according to Pernia’s analysis. “Even when there is widespread corruption, insurgent violence and other powerful reasons for poverty, the evidence from across Asia is that good population policy by itself contributes to significant poverty reduction,” he said. <=>

Youthful Filipinos Gives the Philippines an Economic Boost

Floyd Whaley wrote in the New York Times, “In the upscale business district of Manila, a midweek crowd spills out into the street. The New York-themed Borough restaurant is pulsating to the beat of a Bon Jovi song, while young, hip Filipinos take shots of tequila from a passing tray and sing in unison. “Whoa-oh, we’re halfway there!” the crowd sings. “Whoa-oh, livin’ on a prayer!” The revelers have reason to celebrate. Times are pretty good in the Philippines if you are young, skilled and live in the city. Young urban workers are helping to give the country its brightest prospects in decades, economists say.[Source: Floyd Whaley, New York Times, August 27, 2012 <<<]

“A high population growth rate, long considered a hindrance to prosperity, is now often seen as a driving force for economic growth. About 61 percent of the population in the Philippines is of working age, between 15 and 64. That figure is expected to continue increasing, which is not the case for many of its Asian neighbors, whose populations are aging. “There are a number of countries in Asia that will see their working-age populations decline in the coming years,” Mr. Neumann said. “The Philippines stands out as the youngest population. As other countries see their labor costs go up, the Philippines will remain competitive due to the sheer abundance of workers joining the labor force.” <<<

“Many of those workers are feeding the country’s robust outsourcing industry. The Philippines, where English is widely spoken, surpassed India last year as the world’s leading provider of voice-based outsourcing services like customer service call centers. Other countries in the region, most notably China and Japan, but also Thailand and Vietnam, have successfully developed export-driven manufacturing, bringing millions of people out of poverty and increasing the size of their middle classes. Manufacturing typically draws workers away from agriculture, which pays less. But many of the large foreign companies that financed such transitions to manufacturing in Asia have avoided the Philippines because of periods of political instability. The service sector — including the young call center workers who were recently reveling in Manila — are helping drive an economic boom in the cities. <<<

“But that type of outsourcing still provides only about 1 percent of jobs in the country, according to data from the Asian Development Bank. And the strong sector does not create jobs accessible to farmers or to millions of other Filipinos in rural areas who seek a way out of poverty. “While the Philippines’ business process outsourcing industry has grown impressively, it still employs a very small portion of the country’s work force,” noted Rajat M. Nag, a managing director of the Asian Development Bank. “It needs to aggressively develop its manufacturing sector to create more jobs.”

Birth Control in the Philippines

Contraceptive prevalence rate: 48.9 percent (2011, CIA World Factbook). In a 2001 Time sex survey 68 percent of males and 32 percent of females said they used a condom and 40 percent of males and 53 percent of females said they had never used a contraceptive. Even though the Philippines has one of the highest population rates in Southeast Asia the use of artificial contraception is the lowest in region.

The use of condoms is sensitive issue. In many cases the people who would benefit the most from birth control are the ones least likely to use it. One mother of nine who lives in a slum in Manila told the International Herald Tribune, Children “eat more as they age. Even with my new job...we barely have enough money. I am scared to use contraceptives and do not know what to do if I get pregnant again.”

Kenneth R. Weiss wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “In the Philippines access to birth control is mostly limited to those with the means to buy it. A "reproductive health bill" in the national legislature seeks to change that: It calls for public education about contraceptives and government subsidies to make them available to everyone.The church and like-minded opponents have stalled the legislation for 14 years. [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012 |::|]

“According to a 2008 government survey, 39 percent of married Philippine women in their childbearing years said they wanted to avoid or postpone pregnancy but were not using modern contraceptives. By far, the most commonly cited reason was fear of side effects. Other reasons included a husband's opposition, cost and lack of availability. Half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended, the survey found. |::|

Tom Hundley wrote in the Washington Post, “Although 80 percent of the population here identifies itself as Catholic, polls have consistently indicated that slightly more than 70 percent support the reproductive-health law (See Below) . The Philippines has one of the highest birthrates in Southeast Asia, and surveys indicate that 54 percent of the pregnancies that occur each year are unintended or unwanted. The vast majority of those pregnancies occur among poor women with little or no access to modern contraceptives.” [Source: Tom Hundley, Washington Post, June 17, 2013 /^\]

History of Birth Control in the Philippine

Popcom was the government agency with primary responsibility for controlling population growth. In 1985 Popcom set a target for reducing the growth rate to 1 percent by 2000. To reach that goal in the 1990s, Popcom recommended that families have a maximum of two children, that they space the birth of children at three-year intervals, and that women delay marriage to age twenty-three and men to age twenty-five. [Source: Library of Congress *]

During the Marcos regime (1965-86), there was a rather uneasy accommodation between the Catholic hierarchy and the government population control program. Bishops served on Popcom, and the rhythm method was included by clinics as a birth-control method about which they could give information. A few Catholic priests, notably Frank Lynch, even called for energetic support of population limitation. *

The fall of Marcos coincided with a general rise of skepticism about the relation between population growth and economic development. It became common to state that exploitation, rather than population pressure, was the cause of poverty. The bishops withdrew from the Popcom board, opposed an effort to reduce the number of children counted as dependents for tax purposes, secured the removal of the population-planning clause from the draft of the Constitution, and attempted to end government population programs. Attacks on the government population program were defeated, and efforts to popularize family planning, along with the provision of contraceptive materials, continued. In the early 1990s, however, the program generally lacked the firm government support needed to make it effective. *

Contraception and Population Planning in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality:“Despite the mountainous topography of the Philippines, agriculture is the main source of livelihood. This agrarian living needs workers. In order to provide “cheap” labor, it is advantageous for a Filipino family to sire more children, mainly boys, as workers and helpers in the agribusiness and aquaculture. Despite the deep-rooted influence of Catholicism in favor of large families and its ban on all artificial contraception, family planning has become increasingly popular since World War II. Even though the Filipino population has increased exponentially to 79 million in January 1999 and is projected to reach 105 million in the year 2025, the Total Fertility Rate is 3.6 children per fertile woman. Most of the larger families reside in the villages and barrios, especially among poor families. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

The only contraceptive method accepted by the Catholic Church, the rhythm/cervical mucus or Natural Family Planning method, has a very low effectiveness rate because of menstrual irregularity, a reluctance of Filipinas to check their cervical mucus, and limited understanding of the physiology of fertility among those with limited school education. Between 1968 and 1970, the United Nations, through the World Health Organization and Planned Parenthood, initiated a massive population control program distributing contraceptive pills to Filipino families. As one of the trainer/instructors, this author gave public lectures and provided training to all municipal health care personnel. The pills were given free to all married women. Fortunately, there was no strong opposition from the Catholic Church. However, after two years of implementation, because of government mismanagement of funding and pill distribution, there was no significant reduction in the pregnancy rate. With the increasing number of couples living together out of wedlock, the number of illegitimate children will double by the year 2005. Before the government started the “aggressive and formal” family planning in the late 1960s, middle-class couples learned the use of contraception through specialized pamphlets, magazines, and private channels (family doctors and pharmacists). |~|

Nowadays in the large cities, contraceptives of all kinds - pills, condoms, diaphragms, IUDs, and vaginal spermicides - are available to all types of women. These contraceptive aids can be freely bought in pharmacies without prescriptions. Women who can afford to pay can use the services of private physicians to help them acquire the correct kind of diaphragm or to insert an IUD. |~|

The situation is more difficult for women who live in scarcely populated distant rural areas. There, both the birthrate and infant mortality rate are still high when compared to the urban figures. In these less-developed areas, the government has been trying to organize family planning services as part of its program of mother-child care including kindergarten classes. The number of abandoned children in metropolitan cities has increased. The Catholic Relief Services and other non-governmental organizations are trying to house these children and provide contraceptive-control classes, including newspapers and television advertisements regarding practical birth controls for women and families who live in the city’s slums and newly arrived urban immigrants. In 1997, faced with declining official development assistance from developed countries, the government requested increased funding for population programs. Former President F. Ramos suggested that developed countries must meet the United Nations target of committing 0.7 percent of their gross national product (GNP) to population control, and that this aid must follow the 20-20 formula on environment and development endorsed by the 1995 Copenhagen World Summit on Social Development. |~|

According to recent studies, the Philippines has nearly 1.5 million street youth. At the same time, 74 percent of all unintended pregnancies in the Philippines occur in women 15 to 24 years old and 18 percent of Filipino youths engage in premarital sex. In late 1999, the Family Planning International Assistance office in Bangkok, Thailand, and the Reach Out Reproductive Health Foundation announced the start of Barkadahan, a new project designed to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies among Philippine’s street youth, and have launched a program to address their reproductive health needs with sexuality education, treatment for HIV and STDs, and family planning options (World Reporter Asia Intelligence Wire, 11/1/1999). |~|

Strong Demand But Little Support for Contraception in the Philippines

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post, “There appears to be widespread public support in the Philippines for modern contraceptives. Public opinion surveys in recent years have consistently found that about 90 percent of respondents supported government funding of contraceptives for people who cannot afford them. Surveys by the government also show that poor families have significantly more unwanted pregnancies than richer families — and much more difficulty finding affordable contraceptives. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post. April 21, 2008 <=>]

“The problems the poor face in finding contraception products will increase sharply this year as the Philippine government and USAID end the distribution of donated contraceptives, according to Suneeta Mukherjee, country representative for the U.N. Population Fund. “The poor cannot afford to go somewhere and buy contraceptives,” she said. “Many cannot even afford the transportation. By the time they go, they are already pregnant.” The government’s plan for “contraceptive self-reliance” anticipates that market forces will make condoms and other products available in shops or that they will be given to the poor by local governments. <=>

But Mukherjee predicted that these new sources will not keep up with demand. “Access to contraceptives will be restricted for most of those who cannot pay and for many who might be willing to pay,” she wrote in a February report. A reduction in the use of contraception — which is now about 33 percent among women of childbearing age — will lead to an increase in abortions, Mukherjee predicts. “As for the efficacy of “natural” methods to control population growth, Mukherjee said “it does not work.” <=>

“At the U.S. Embassy in Manila, an official confirmed that USAID would soon end all donations of contraceptives, after having phased out the program over several years. But this does not mean less U.S. money for family planning. The official said that USAID has increased its budget, from about $12 million to about $15 million a year, to provide technical assistance to 700 local governments and “to help the private sector to grow the market” for contraceptives. “We are working in a devolved setting,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I am not saying it is a perfect situation.” <=>

Catholic Church in the Philippines and Birth Control

The Catholic church in the view of many is the biggest obstacle to reducing population growth. Contraceptive use is banned by the Catholic Church and promulgated by Catholic clergy at all levels. Following Vatican guidelines, Philippine bishops oppose any "artificial" measures to prevent pregnancy, sanctioning only natural means such as periodic abstention from sex. One priest told the International Herald Tribune that when poor mothers, burdened by large families come to him, he tells them, “Adopt the self control method and look to the life of Christ for inspiration.” In addition to its objections on theological grounds, the church contends that easy access to contraceptives would only lead to promiscuity among the young.

The Philippines influential Cardinal Jaime Sin was staunch opponent of the Philippines family planning program. In 1994, he appeared with former Philippines president Corazon Aquino at a protest at the U.N. population conference in Cairo, where the two Filipinos criticized birth control as "intrinsically evil" and burned a replica of the conference's draft program of action.

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post, “In 2005, Catholic bishops in the southern Philippines announced that they would refuse Communion to government health workers who distributed birth control devices. In the past two weeks, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines declined repeated requests for comment on its family planning policies. The church leadership made its last major statement on birth control last fall. “Chemical agents and mechanical gadgets that make up the cluttered display of contraceptive methods of birth control have caused serious damage in family relationships, disrupting the unity and openness that build family life by the effects that accompany the contraceptive culture which include extramarital relationships, adolescent pregnancies, and even the hideous murderous act of abortion,” said Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, chairman of a bishops’ commission on family life. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post. April 21, 2008]

Cardinal Sin on Birth Control

Cardinal Jaime Sin was staunch opponent of the Philippines family planning program. He called women "heroes" for providing for their families and accused the U.S. government of "implementing programs' that are actually Satan's" by pushing birth control in Third World countries, a view shared by a Filipino senator who said the U.S. government forged a coalition "bigger than the one assembled for Desert Storm" to promote abortion and "spearhead...global decadence, destruction and death."

In 1994, Cardinal Sin appeared with Aquino at a protest at the U.N. population conference in Cairo, where the two Filipinos criticized birth control and condoms as "being intrinsically evil" and burned a replica of the conference's draft program of action. One of Cardinal Sin’s chief critics, Health secretary Juan Flavier, once answered back to accusations by Sin that he promoted abortion with the quip, "It's a sin to tell a lie."

In one example of his humor, Cardinal Sin, who was one of the last of 15 children, told an interviewer that had his parents practiced birth control he never would have been born. On another occasion, the cardinal told a news conference that birth control pills cause premature aging. "I know of...a 26-year-old who looks 60 because she takes pills. So if you want to keep your clear complexion, do not take contraceptives." An editorial in a Manila newspaper responded to this remark by saying, "as the cardinal says, pop babies, not pills, if you want to keep the bridely glow on your cheeks.

Catholic Church Stance on Birth Control Contrast with What Filipino Women Want

Many Catholic women use contraceptives despite the opposition of the church, one woman in a Manila slum told the International Herald Tribune, “Cardinal Sin does not know how difficult it is to use the calendar method when your husband comes home drunk. He also doesn’t know what its like to bring up seven children.”

Kenneth R. Weiss wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “The church's stance puts it at odds with many of its followers in the Philippines. Eight out of 10 Filipinos are Catholic. Even for weekday Mass, popular churches draw huge crowds that tie up Manila traffic. Polls show, however, that 70 percent of the population supports the reproductive health bill, which also calls for sex education in schools. Birth control is a source of political dispute in many societies, including the United States. In the Philippines, however, the battle has been particularly acrimonious because of the church's wide reach and influence. [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012]

“A few years ago, one of Yolanda Naz’s neighbors asked her to join a lawsuit by women's rights groups seeking to overturn Manila's ban on contraceptives at public clinics. She became a plaintiff, along with 19 other poor residents of the capital. These women and a few of their husbands are asking the court to grant them access to birth control pills, condoms and IUDs, a rare challenge to church authority. The case has been thrown out twice, once by the Philippine Supreme Court because it lacked a signature from one of the 20 plaintiffs. It was refiled in a lower court, where it has been essentially frozen for three years. |::|

“Naz said she'll always be a Catholic. That doesn't mean she agrees with the priests on everything. "When I go to Mass, I hear the priest give sermons saying that pills are bad," Naz said. "But whenever I hear that, I just say to myself that for me, it's not evil, it's not bad or it's not sinful. "What is more sinful is to have more children than I can afford to feed." |::|

Politics and Opposition to Birth Control

Philippine politicians can be just as stubborn in their objections to birth control. Several Philippine governors have halted the distribution of contraceptives through official channels. After stopping the distribution of contraceptives at public clinics days after taking office, Jose Atienza, mayor of Manila said, “I would be a completely irresponsible leader if I permitted the moral collapse that comes with freely distributed artificial contraception. Our large population may keep us poor twice as long, but we will develop with decency and our cherished values intact.”

Atienza told the Los Angeles Times he sees economic potential in a growing population."Our people are so talented and so skilled and brilliant and bright," he said, citing Manila's entrepreneurial street vendors and the 10 million Filipinos working overseas who boost the economy by sending money home. "When you have more people, you have a bigger labor force. You have a bigger social security base. You have more productivity. You have more consumption. More production. The whole cycle of the economy moves faster." Atienza said he also opposes birth control because he believes it "weakens the family" and is in conflict with the Filipino Constitution's protection of the unborn. [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012]

Even politician who privately support family planning are afraid to oppose it. One governor told the International Herald Tribune, “I could not possible say in public that the same bishops, priest and nuns who helped me win three elections were wrong. But when I visited poor families, I often whispered that they should be using contraceptives.”

Philippine Leaders and Birth Control

A devout Catholic, Cory Aquino, the President of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992, followed the church by discouraging birth control and dismantling her country's family planning program. See History

Fidel Ramos, the President of the Philippines from 1992 to 1998, told the Los Angeles Times: "We have a population policy that is based on, first, family planning. We respect the family as the basic social unit. That's a part in our constitution. But we do not force anything on anyone. We do it by persuasion. In this way, we're able to maintain our good relations with the church...We are seeing, by voluntary decisions by married couple, smaller and smaller families.”

Joseph Estrada, the President of the Philippines from 1998 to 2001, initially said he opposed birth control, partly on the basis that he was the eighth out of ten children. But as president he softened his position and said something had to be done to slow population growth.

Philippine Government and Birth Control

The government has never paid for artificial contraceptives. All the condoms, birth control pills and injectable contraeptibes distribed through official channels have been done so with financing from foreign countries, principally the United States and NGOs.

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post, “Acceding to Catholic doctrine, the government has supported only what it calls “natural” family planning. No national government funds can be used to buy contraceptives for the poor, although anyone who can afford them is permitted to buy them. Local governments can also buy and distribute contraceptives, but many lack the money. Distribution of donated contraceptives in the government’s nationwide network of clinics ends this year, as does a contraception-commodities program paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development. For years it has supplied most of the condoms, pills and intrauterine devices used by poor Filipinos. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post. April 21, 2008]

“Family planning helps reduce poverty,” President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said in a 2003 speech that detailed her approach to birth control. But she said then and has since insisted that the government would support only family planning methods acceptable to the Catholic Church. Women not wanting to get pregnant, Arroyo advised, should buy a thermometer and recording charts and abstain from sex when they are outside the “infertile phases of the monthly cycle.” Arroyo, 61 and a grandmother with three grown children, said in 2003 that when she was a young mother, she took birth control pills. She said that she later confessed to a priest.

U.S. Government, NGOs and Birth Control in the Philippines

Kenneth R. Weiss wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “For nearly four decades, the U.S. Agency for International Development was the major donor of contraceptives to the Philippines, spending about $400 million total. The administration of George W. Bush phased out the program in 2008, saying it was time for the Philippine government to take full responsibility. Then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo refused, deferring to bishops who had supported her election. She acknowledged taking birth control pills as a young mother but said she had since sought forgiveness from a priest. [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012]

Since U.S. funding ended, affordable contraceptives have become scarce, particularly in Manila. A patchwork of programs funded mainly by foreign donors provides limited access for the poor. Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post, “At the Manila garbage dump, Espinoza said she has been lucky. A nongovernmental organization with health workers who regularly visit the dump told her that an intrauterine device could prevent her from having another baby. She plans to visit a clinic this month to get an IUD. The organization that is helping Espinoza agreed to introduce this reporter to her on condition that it not be named. The group’s health workers said they fear retaliation and harassment from officials in the national and city government, as well as from the Catholic Church. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post. April 21, 2008]

Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell traveled to the Philippines to promote contraceptive use. Commenting on the move one cleric compared it to "sending Salman Rushdie as an ambassador of goodwill to a Muslim country."

New Reproductive-Health Law in the Philippines

In December 2012, a landmark new law was passed that broadens access to contraception. The law requires government health centers to hand out free condoms and birth control pills, as well as mandating that sex education be taught in schools. It also requires that public health workers receive family planning training, while post-abortion medical care is also legalized.

Tom Hundley wrote in the Washington Post, “In December, when the bill came to a vote, bishops and nuns packed the public galleries of the Philippine Congress. Their presence seemed calculated to intimidate, but they ended up watching in stunned silence as lawmakers approved the measure. The vote was 13 to 8 in the Senate and 133 to 79 in the House of Representatives. A week later, President Benigno Aquino III defied Catholic church pressure and signed the law into effect in December 2012, but the Supreme Court quickly suspended it after church groups filed petitions arguing it was unconstitutional. “This is the first time we quote-unquote ‘lost’ on this issue,” said the Rev. Francis Lucas, a spokesman for the bishops’ conference. “We may have lost a battle, but we haven’t lost the war.” [Source: Tom Hundley, Washington Post, June 17, 2013 /^\]

The law has been backed by a loose alliance of women’s groups, medical professionals, academics, business leaders, celebrities and a few progressive Catholic organizations. It also received key support from President Benigno Aquino III, who ignored threats of excommunication to actively campaign for its approval...Supporters of the law argue that providing poor families better access to contraceptives would substantially lower the birthrate and also reduce abortions.

After the passage of the law in the Philippines Congress, after a bitter 14-year battle between women’s rights advocates and Catholic bishops, Mark McDonald wrote in the New York Times, “There was both recrimination and celebration after the passage of a landmark bill. Opponents of the bill were furious that 62 members of the House had not shown up for the vote. “There is still a burning question that needs to be answered: Where were the other congressmen in time of such a crucial vote like the RH bill?” said the Pro-Life Philippines Foundation, which called the bill “ungodly” and published a list of the “Judases” who did not vote. “This is evil itself at work,” the foundation said on its Web site. Catholic bishops have said they would work to defeat any supporters of the law in elections next year. [Source: Mark McDonald, New York Times, December 18, 2012]

But Edcel Lagman, the congressman who sponsored the bill, played down those warnings, saying, “It’s more of a threat than a reality. The experience in other Catholic countries is once a law is passed on reproductive health, even the church supports the law.”

One of the congressmen who missed the vote was Manny Pacquiao, the acclaimed welterweight boxer and almost certainly the most famous person in the Philippines. He was elected to the House in 2010 to represent Sarangani, located on the southern tip of the island of Mindanao. Mr. Pacquiao was knocked cold in a non-title fight in Las Vegas on Dec. 8, losing to Juan Manuel Márquez of Mexico. Three days later, on the floor of the House in suburban Manila, he spoke against the reproductive health bill, which was up for a preliminary vote. After receiving a rousing standing ovation from his fellow lawmakers, he said, “Manny Pacquiao is pro-life. Manny Pacquiao votes ‘no’ to House Bill No. 4244.”

Pacquiao said: “In the dying seconds of the sixth round of my fight against Marquez, a single punch knocked me out. For more than two minutes, I was lying unconscious, motionless. My wife cried . . . my friends and fans cried when they saw me not moving at all. Some thought I was dead. They thought another life had been lost. What happened in Vegas strengthened my already firm belief in the sanctity of life, on whether a person’s right to live in this world should be put in the hands of his fellow man.

One of the most outspoken opponents of the bill was Senator Vicente C. Sotto III, widely known as Tito. He wanted to block teenagers from obtaining contraception, arguing that it would encourage young people to have sex. Another congressman, Romero Quimbo, called Miro, was in the hospital on Monday, suffering from dengue fever, although he got permission to leave briefly so he could vote for the bill. Afterward, he tweeted a photo of himself in an ambulance heading back to the hospital.

Amnesty International generally applauded the passage of the bill, although the group noted that the current version was “imperfect” because it required girls under 18 to have written parental consent before getting contraceptives. “The Philippines still have a long way to fully respect, protect and fulfill women’s right to reproductive health,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty’s deputy Asia-Pacific director. The new bill does not affect abortions, which remain illegal in the Philippines.

President Benigno Acquino III “was vocal in his support for the measure, and his spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, said, “The people now have the government on their side as they raise their families in a manner that is just and empowered.”Kenneth R. Weiss wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “In 2010, Benigno Aquino III was elected president after pledging to sign the bill. Bishop Nereo Odchimar, then president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, suggested Aquino might be excommunicated if he followed through on the commitment. "The contraceptive pills do not only prevent conception, they even destroy conception once it is already there," retired Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz said in an interview. "That is abortion." [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012]

Catholic Church Defiance of Reproductive-Health Law in the Philippines

Tom Hundley wrote in the Washington Post, “Catholic bishops argue that any form of contraception other than Vatican-approved “natural” methods or abstinence is tantamount to abortion. They also warn that the RH bill, as it is called here, is the first step down a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to divorce and the legalization of abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage. Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, a vice chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said that Aquino’s support for the RH bill was a declaration of “open war” on the church. [Source: Tom Hundley, Washington Post, June 17, 2013 /^\]

“It is not a war the bishops intend to lose. Long accustomed to a position of unquestioned power and privilege in the Philippines, the church hierarchy fears that its moral authority is eroding in the face of dynamic economic growth — the Philippines has just replaced China as the fastest-growing economy in the region — coupled with the deepening frustration of the many millions who remain mired in poverty.” /^\

“For the Catholic Church here and for the Vatican, this is a real struggle. This is a country they don’t want to lose. We are the last bastion of Catholicism in the Old World colonies,” said Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, director of the University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies and a longtime activist for reproductive health.” /^\

The key question before the court is whether the law violated a 1987 constitutional guarantee of protection for “the life of the unborn from conception.” “To rally support to its side, the bishops attempted to turn May 2013 midterm elections into a referendum on the law. Labeling the church and its supporters as “Team Life” and their opponents as “Team Death,” bishops and priests across the Philippines used their Sunday pulpits to call for the defeat of candidates who had voted in favor of the bill. The church was hoping for a crushing victory, but each side managed to get about half its candidates elected, a result that was widely interpreted as a setback for the bishops and “Team Life.” /^\

“The bishops’ conference openly lobbied some of the Supreme Court’s 15 justices, 11 of whom were appointed by Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a staunch supporter of the church’s position on contraception. “We could lose it. We’re hopeful that we won’t, but we are not sure,” said Estrada-Claudio, the reproductive-health activist. Elizabeth Pangalangan, a Harvard-trained lawyer and professor at the University of the Philippines Law Center who will be arguing in favor of the bill, said the biggest issue is whether the law violates the right-to-life protection in the constitution. “What is prevented by the constitution is abortion,” she said. “To win, we will have to stress the fact that we are against abortion.” /^\

Kenneth R. Weiss wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Priests denounce the reproductive health bill during Mass. Some churches post billboards with gruesome images of aborted fetuses and the message "NO to Reproductive Health Bill — YES to the Gospel of Life." Lawmakers say the church threatens to deny them Communion if they vote for the legislation. [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012]

Philippines Supreme Court Declares Reproductive-Health Law Constitutional

In April 2014, the Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines unanimously declared Republic Act 10354 or the reproductive health (RH) law constitutional but voted to strike down 8 provisions partially or in full. SC spokesman Theodore Te said: "The RH law is not unconsitutional." An SC insider said the "core provisions were upheld." Te explained to reporters later that all the justices considered the basic law consitutional "except those provisions they declared unconstitutional." [Source: Buena Bernal, Rappler, April 8, 2014]

Buena Bernal of Rappler.com The following are the 8 provisions of the law struck down by the SC in full or partially: 1) Section 7, only insofar as it: (a) requires private health facilities, non-maternity specialty hospitals, and hospitals owned by religious groups to refer patients not in an emergency or life-threatening situation to another health facility which is conveniently accessible (b) provides access to family planning and RH services to minors who have been pregnant or had a miscarriage without a parental consent The rest of Section 7, however, which provides access to family planning, was upheld by the court, notably this line: "All accredited public health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods, which shall also include medical consultations, supplies and necessary and reasonable procedures for poor and marginalized couples having infertility issues who desire to have children."

2) Section 23-A-1, which punishes RH providers, regardless of their religious belief, who fail or refuse to dissiminate information regarding RH services and programs 3) Section 23-A-2-i, which allows a married individual not in a life-threatening case to access RH procedures without the consent of the spouse 4) Section 23-A-3, insofar as it punishes an RH provider who fails to refer any non-life-threatening case to another RH provider 5) Section 23-B, insofar as it punishes any public officer who refuses to support RH programs

6) Section 17, which mandates a 40-hour pro bono service by private and nongovernment RH service providers, including gynecologists and obstetricians, as a prerequisite for PhilHealth accreditation 7) Section 3.01-A and J of the RH law Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), which defines abortifacients as "primarily" inducing abortion instead of simply inducing abortion 8) Section 23-A-2-ii, which prohibits RH service providers from refusing to perform legal and medically-safe reproductive health procedures on minors in non-life-threatening situations without parental consent

These struck-down provisions do not diminish the law, according to former and incumbent lawmakers who helped craft it. Former Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, the principal author of the RH bill in the 15th Congress, cited 6 "core" provisions that the SC left "untouched." The SC decision was penned by Justice Jose Mendoza. The High Court magistrates voted separately on the 8 struck-down provisions of the law and the law's IRR.

Abortion in the Philippines

Abortion is a crime in the Philippines, unless a board of medical professionals deems it necessary to save the mother's life. A 2006 study found that there were about 473,000 a year, which accounts for about a third of women with unwanted pregnancies. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post. April 21, 2008]

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “From 1581 on, the Spanish colonists suppressed women’s rights, including the right to an abortion. Filipinas were considered second-class citizens until 1937, when a plebiscite on women’s suffrage gave them the right to vote. For the first time, Filipinas could have some impact on decisions regarding their health. In the 1930s, abortion was controversial and performed in rural areas by quack doctors with improvised instruments and herbal concoctions. These crude gynecological procedures often led to serious complications including death. After World War II, the American influence resulted in most abortions being performed by physicians. However, abortion today is illegal in the Philippines and is severely condemned by the Catholic Church. This condemnation was reiterated in a recent Papal Encyclical on ethical questions, Evangelium Vitae. The current criminal code penalizes with prison sentences women who have an abortion and the professional who performs this service. Abortions are allowed in only two situations, when the pregnant woman is mentally deranged and the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, and when the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life. The Catholic antichoice movement tries actively but with limited success to convince the political leadership to tighten the existing legislation and its enforcement. Muslim law supports the national law on abortion. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

“Abortion is a last resort everybody knows about, but nobody talks about. Instead of fighting against the powerful forces that arrogate to themselves control over women’s bodies, Filipino society prefers to tolerate the officially condemned practices with a mischievous twinkle of tacit agreement among professionals and citizens. Criminal prosecution and denunciation of abortion practices are rare, and only occur when a woman dies as a consequence of an abortion performed by a non-professional. Given these conditions, the Ministry of Health has no exact statistics for abortion, but it is believed that its practice is not as widespread as previously thought. In the major cities, women who typically seek medical help for abortion are unmarried, mature women who already have several children or single high school and college students. These women resort to abortion mainly to put a stop to an unwanted pregnancy or to reduce the family size. |~|

“Although morally wrong, pregnant teenagers are now being gradually accepted by their parents. They do not resort to abortion, but agree to keep the child in their parents’ house despite embarrassment and peer ridicule. Studies on the relationship between abortion and socioeconomic position suggest that middle-class professional women resort to abortion more frequently than high- or lower-class women. Studies in Manila and Cebu City during the 1980s and 1990s revealed that the highest rate of abortion was among women with a college education or college students who temporarily reside in college dormitories on city-owned housing. There are no written records of abortion among the lower classes because they are usually not performed by health care professionals and the women deny having them to avoid problems for themselves and for those who help them in the procedures.” |~|

Illegal Abortion in the Philippines

Tom Hundley wrote in the Washington Post, “ Despite the blanket ban on abortion, it is estimated that 475,000 to 600,000 women undergo illegal and often unsafe abortions in the country each year and that about 90,000 of these women are later hospitalized for post-abortion complications. About 1,000 Filipino women die each year from botched abortions, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, a New York think tank that supports access to contraceptives and legal abortion. [Source: Tom Hundley, Washington Post, June 17, 2013 /^\]

According to government surveys in 2001, one in four women in the Philippines has had an abortion, mainly after being forced to have sex by demanding partners. Women that have abortions often go to unlicenced and unregulated abortion clinics. On Holy Innocent Day, children of anti-abortion activist placed candles at graves that are believed to hold the remains of aborted children.

Kenneth R. Weiss wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “When illegal abortions go awry, the patients often end up at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, the largest women's hospital in the Philippines. On a spring day in one ward, injured women lay on cots, one beside the other. One patient was moaning and barely conscious, her blood splattered at the base of the bed. She'd been rushed there, delirious from fever and infection. Her skin was ashen from losing a third of her blood. She was 28, an upholsterer's wife with four children. Pregnant again, she was three months along when she tried to abort the fetus by drinking a bitter herbal brew. Some hospitals in the Philippines refuse treatment in such cases and call the police because staff members see the women as criminals and sinners, according to doctors and nurses at Jose Fabella. Here, doctors say they ask few questions and treat the injured. Cleaning up botched abortions, however, is the second order of business at Jose Fabella. No. 1 is childbirth and keeping children alive. [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012]

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “The morbidity rate associated with illegal abortions, especially those performed by non-professionals, could be reduced if the Church and the government would provide appropriate sexual education and promote the proper use of contraceptives, and expand the socioeconomic criteria/indications for legal abortion. In addition, the government and non-governmental organizations should appropriate extra funding to provide better accessibility to well-equipped provincial or regional hospitals to treat the complications of abortion. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

Philippine Massage Abortionist

Many abortions are performed by traditional healers, known as hilots, who often perform an abortion by massaging the partially-formed fetus in a pregnant woman who has taken a powerful herbal mixture called pamparegla, which sells for about one dollar at a curbside stall. One Filipina told a Japanese newspaper that she had two abortion. When she was asked how, she said, “I ran a lot, I took lots and lots of drugs and beat my tummy. I think the second time I had twins. I’ve lost three children.”

Kenneth R. Weiss wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Erlinda A. Casitas presses her thick thumbs into her thigh to demonstrate how she dislodges a fetus and massages it out of the womb. "I usually feel for the baby, for the swelling, and then I apply pressure gradually downwards," said Casitas, a middle-aged woman with wide-set eyes. "I'm very careful. If I apply too much pressure, the patient will experience shock or the woman will get bruises." [Source: Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2012 |::|]

“Casitas is a hilot, one of the massage abortionists who perform a large share of the estimated 475,000 illegal abortions in the country every year. Before she gives the aggressive massage, Casitas has her clients take three tablets of Cytotec, an ulcer medication sold on the black market and used to bring on uterine contractions. Many women seeking abortions go to the area around Quiapo Church, in old downtown, where street vendors sell crucifixes and statues of the Virgin Mary, alongside bitter herbal brews such as "Pampa Regla" (which means "induce menstruation" in Tagalog) to end pregnancy. Cytotec is on sale, too, but kept out of sight. "Everyone knows about Quiapo," Casitas said. |::|

“Among her clients, she said, are "mothers who have many kids, who can no longer afford to have more children," and mothers with children under a year old who want "birth spacing." Casitas said she doesn't have a fixed fee. She often asks patients for a $20 donation, less if they are very poor. "First what I do is to pray to God and ask for forgiveness," said Casitas, a practicing Catholic who wears a small silver crucifix around her neck. "I'm telling God I'm not charging a big amount…. It's just like helping the patient with her problem." "I think God hears my prayers because so far I haven't had any patient who suffered any hemorrhage and has to be rushed to the hospital." |::|

Casitas said she quizzes clients on why they got pregnant. "I advise the women to use pills, injectables [hormones] or IUDs." She knows many will not follow her advice, or cannot afford to. But she said she has a strict rule: "I only allow myself to help a woman twice. So when she comes to me to abort her first pregnancy, I do it. If she comes back to me a second time, I do it. The third time, I refuse." |::|

Migration in the Philippines

There were two significant migration trends that affected population figures in the 1970s and the 1980s. First was a trend of migration from village to city, which put extra stress on urban areas. As of the early 1980s, thirty cities had 100,000 or more residents, up from twenty-one in 1970. Metro Manila's population was 5,924,563, up from 4,970,006 in 1975, marking an annual growth rate of 3.6 percent. This figure was far above the national average of 2.5 percent. Within Metro Manila, the city of Manila itself was growing more slowly, at a rate of only 1.9 percent per annum, but two other cities within this complex, Quezon City and Caloocan, were booming at rates of 4 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. [Source: Library of Congress *]

A National Housing Authority report revealed that, in the early 1980s, one out of four Metro Manila residents was a squatter. This figure represented a 150 percent increase in a decade in the number of people living in shantytown communities, evidence of continuing, virtually uncontrolled, rural-urban migration. The city of Manila had more than 500,000 inhabitants and Quezon City had 371,000 inhabitants in such neighborhoods. Moreover, rural-urban migrants, responding to better employment opportunities in peripheral metropolitan cities such as Navotas, had boosted the percentage of squatters in that city's total population. *

A second major migration pattern consisted of resettlement from the more densely to the less densely populated regions. As a result of a population-land ratio that declined from about one cultivated hectare per agricultural worker in the 1950s to about 0.5 hectare by the early 1980s, thousands of Filipinos had migrated to the agricultural frontier on Mindanao. According to the 1980 census, six of the twelve fastest growing provinces were in the western, northern, or southern Mindanao regions, and a seventh was the frontier province of Palawan. Sulu, South Cotabato, Misamis Oriental, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Sur provinces all had annual population growth rates of 4 percent or more, a remarkable statistic given the uncertain law-and-order situation on Mindanao. Among the fastestgrowing cities in the late 1970s were General Santos (10 percent annual growth rate), Iligan (6.9), Cagayan de Oro (6.7), Cotabato (5.7), Zamboanga (5.4), Butuan (5.4), and Dipolog (5.1)--all on Mindanao. *

By the early 1980s, the Mindanao frontier had ceased to offer a safety valve for land-hungry settlers. Hitherto peaceful provinces had become dangerous tinderboxes in which mounting numbers of Philippine army troops and New People's Army insurgents carried on a sporadic shooting war with each other and with bandits, "lost commands," millenarian religious groups, upland tribes, loggers, and Muslims. Population pressures also created an added obstacle to land reform. For years, there had been demands to restructure land tenure so that landlords with large holdings could be eliminated and peasants could become farm owners. In the past, land reform had been opposed by landlords. In the 1990s there simply was not enough land to enable a majority of the rural inhabitants to become landowners. International migration has offered better economic opportunities to a number of Filipinos without, however, reaching the point where it would relieve population pressure. Since the liberalization of United States immigration laws in 1965, the number of people in the United States having Filipino ancestry had grown substantially to 1,406,770 according to the 1990 United States census. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 1990, the United States Embassy in Manila issued 45,189 immigrant and 85,128 temporary visas, the largest number up to that time. *

In addition to permanent residents, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, more than half a million temporary migrants went abroad to work but maintained a Philippine residence. This number included contract workers in the Middle East and domestic servants in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as nurses and physicians who went to the United States for training and work experience, a fair proportion of whom managed to become permanent residents. The remittances sent back to the Philippines by migrants have been a substantial source of foreign exchange. *

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Page Top

© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from factsanddetails.com, please contact me.