Prolific Philippines

Life is prolific in the Philippines. The first filipino, Jose Rizal, commented on the abundance of the seas and land. With one thirtieth of the area of the USA the Philippines has almost twice the coastline. When you sit under a tree and look into it you see many kinds of leaves as the tree is just another plane of life here. While you look into it you may have the sensation of spiderwebs on your skin. This is a tiny ant that is everywhere. It does not sting or bite but finds its way into cooking food and freezing goodies.

As prolific as life is and as hospitable as the sea and land are, the Philippines is very near any reasonable carrying capacity for humans. Families are very large here and all research shows that the large families produce poverty. Meanwhile the catholic church is struggling mightily to defeat the government's reproductive health act, which would finally implement some family planning.

As usual a stay at the Catholic Trade Center in Manila is enlightening even though it is Holy Week and the Fathers are occupied. My discussions begin with my mission of spreading the gospel of rice duck but lead to opportunity and population. While the Philippines remains divided on the Reproductive Health law pending in the legislature, there seem to be places where the both "sides" agree. There seems to be consensus that the population cannot keep growing as it has without increasing hardship for the people. There also seems to be consensus that improving opportunity for the people will lead to a reduction in birth rate. This would seem to be what turned the solidly Catholic countries of Spain and Italy into a negative population growth. So what I would propose is that the two "sides" focus on what is agreed, that by improving opportunity for citizens to get an education and earn a good living population stability is being promoted. The money spent on full page ads and banners could be better spent on scholarships and education, and not just for the gifted or high achiever. Women from the poor side of town seldom test as well as those from secure backgrounds because they have many obligations. Many are single mothers or have to support their parents in some way. They will never have the time to cram for a test or write a paper that the daughter from a secure family has. Lets get beyond condoms and excommunication and find some common ground that will give the Philippines a better future?

Rowland Lane Anderson for Veterans For Peace

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