Sunday, July 27, 2014

100 Million Filipinos

by Antonio C. Antonio
July 27, 2014

“As of 12:06 am today, the world welcomed the 100 millionth Filipino” (Rappler, 2014)… meaning, our official population is now 100 million.  What is the significance of this bit of information?  Can we just brush this aside as another mundane statistical figure?  Can we consider this news item as another fun addition to our many trivial stories?  Is this a non-problem?... I seriously don’t think so. 

“100 million Filipinos” could also be spelled in a different way… “overpopulation”.  Some of us will say that “overpopulation” is a relative term which, more often, is considered as spatial in nature and character (meaning: occurring in or existing in space and/or the availability of space)… and, therefore say that the Philippines is not overpopulated.  This argument may seem to be right because our countryside has so much empty and uninhabited areas.  But overpopulation cannot be determined by the number of people living in a given measure of land.  Overpopulation can best be determined by the degree of competition for resources and the quality of life of people. 

Overpopulation weakens the core of the socio-economic and political structure of the Filipino.  Competition for resources, in relation to overpopulation, can be an economic, a social, a political, and an environmental problem as well.  We could even say that overpopulation is a combination of all these problems or, at the very least, intertwined with each other… to name a few, (a) Economic because overpopulation will only thinly spread resources and meagre resources will spell lesser quality of life; (b) Social because Filipinos will have to go elsewhere to make ends meet and this crack in the family structure (the Filipino’s basic social unit) will only bring about social stress to the erstwhile close-family ties foundation we are known for; and, (c) Political because overpopulation will only bring more chaos to an already volatile political situation where the rich are getting richer while the poor are growing in numbers and citizens are losing faith in their government’s capability to offer stability due to pervasive graft and corruption.

Competition for resources also has profound effects on the environment.  With 100 million mouths to feed and an ever-increasing rate of population growth, more space will have to be converted from forest land to agriculture and from agriculture to residential and commercial use.  This unnecessary stress on our forest has definite negative effects on our ecosystem… and ecological degradation could only lead to more dire consequences foremost of which is desertification.

Wanting to learn the root cause/s of overpopulation in the Philippines, I did an internet research and two related causes became apparent… (1) Lack of education; and, (2) Ignorance.  Most internet research materials say that people here do not have sufficient knowledge on the use of contraceptives because the powerful Roman Catholic Church disapproves any form of sexual education and birth contraception.  And because of political expediency, government continues to fail in bringing down the population growth rate.

Let’s hope and pray that some sort of middle ground is reached by these influential sectors in Philippine society on our worrisome population growth issue soon. Or else, we will only add to the number of people lost in the labyrinth of ignorance… after 100 million Filipinos.

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