Why Do Filipinos Have Many Children?

Jomar's income goes to his parentsIn the Philippines, the middle-class and rich have only a few children (4 is already considered many) while those living below poverty-line have as many as a dozen children.  This is one of the challenges we face in the Philippines.

If you go around our slum areas and ask the people there why they have many children, one of the common answers will be, “So that when we grow old, our many children will take care of us.”

That is a Filipino mentality that has been around long before I was born.  And it continues to be the mentality among our Filipino poor today.

Obviously, the big loophole to this mentality is, what about the present while the parents are still young and the children even younger?  How can a couple living on P100.-P300. a day (US$2.-6.) support 8-12 children?

The answer is simple.  They can’t.  This is why our children grow malnourished, without proper care, no proper upbringing, no proper values, and therefore, no proper future.

In fact, this mentality negatively hampers the growth of our children.  I recently learned that because of this belief that children are meant to care for their parents, the parents often take whatever their children can earn.

Take Jomar, for example.  He is 25 years old, single, and still living with his parents in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City.  He is a good kid, not prone to violence or petty crimes, and mingles with other straight kids.  He only finished high school and hasn’t been able to find a permanent job.  A few months ago, he started working as a helper in a construction site.

He carries heavy loads everyday, assists the skilled workers, and quietly watches them to learn their skills so that he can move up his pay grade.  His skin grows dark under the daily heat of the sun, even as his muscles strengthen due to the physical demands of the job.  For an 8-hour shift, he earns P200. a day (US$4.00)

His parents do not have steady jobs.  Neither do they find other means to have sustainable income.  Rather, they rejoiced when he started working.  Now, he can afford to buy rice for the entire family, which he diligently does.

However, he’s been wanting a cellular phone a long time.  He’s young and he also wants something for himself to show for his efforts.  So he buys a cellular phone.  When he went home one day, he wasn’t able to bring any rice.

His parents met him at the door.  They weren't happy to learn that he did not buy any rice because he bought a cellular phone.  He asked for understanding and said he can buy again in 2 weeks’ time.  But this wasn’t good enough.

That same day, they did not allow him to enter the house.  His mother went to his bedroom, dumped all his belongings in a sack, thrust the sack at him, and told him to leave and not come back until he can bring home a sack of rice.

He was shocked, hurt, bewildered.  They kicked him out of his home because he could not provide what they could not provide either.  For awhile, he hopped from one friend’s home to another, sleeping where he could.

Finally, he borrowed money from his employer in order to buy the sack of rice his parents set as a price for him to return to his home.

Since then, he spends a portion of his salary every payday on alcohol.  He drinks until he can’t drink anymore.  He drinks until he can’t remember how his parents treat him.  He drinks until he can’t worry about his dismal future and how things may never be different no matter how hard he works.  And he drinks until he can’t remember who he is because perhaps forgetting everything about himself for a few hours is a balm to his weary soul.

Should our children be treated as cash cows?  Is this how our country’s culture will always be?  Hopefully not.  Even today, non-profit organizations are struggling to re-educate the Filipino poor.  But the struggle is hard because we are fighting against a belief, a mentality too long held to be their truth.

Yet, for as long as there are people who care enough to struggle against it, there is hope.  Hope for Jomar and hope for the million others in the same situation as him. We have to trust that hope will become reality in the near future.

 

You Can Help.

Help us help Filipinos become financially independent by making a donation here to fund livelihood trainings

Or share Jomar’s story in Facebook through the link below. 

And please, pray for us.  For as long as we fight, there is hope.