MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) has decided to use cheesy taglines to send a strong message against teenage pregnancy on Valentine’s Day.
For PopCom Executive Director and Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez, nothing could be more apt than the reminder “piliin ang pangarap, ‘wag ipagpalit sa panandaliang sarap” — which literally translates to “choose your dreams instead of momentary pleasures”
And what better day to remind the youth of this slogan on Valentine’s Day — a day, which Perez said, most teens admitted to having had their first sexual encounters.
“Kaninang alas syete (This morning) we were at the Legarda Station ng LRT, and we wanted to make a call to all 21 million Filipino adolescents, male or female, to be more discerning today, Valentine’s Day,” Perez said during the Pandesal forum on Friday.
“And to think, piliin ang pangarap, ‘wag ipagpalit sa panandaliang sarap,” he added.
Perez said that the cheesy but meaningful line has been existent for a long time now, along with other phrases such as “‘wag ipagpalit sa traje de boda ang iyong diploma” — which in English is “don’t exchange your diplomas for wedding gowns.”.
However, behind all the puns and the tag lines is a harsh reality: according to both Perez and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) figures show that there are 1.2 million adolescent Filipinos who have already given birth in the last 10 years.
UNFPA says that the Philippines has one of the highest birth rates of women aged 15 to 19 in the ASEAN region, slated at 47 births per 1,000 women — only behind Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia.
And the implications of such high incidence are far-reaching. Financially, Elago noted UNFPA’s estimates that the country is losing P33 billion annually just due to lost opportunities and additional burdens brought by teenage pregnancy.
“P33 billion per year could have funded free college in all state universities and colleges for 1.5 million students. P33 billion is enough for 50,000 classrooms and 500 more gymnasiums and sports facilities for our schools,” Elago claimed.
“So imagine-nin niyo ‘yong laki ng nawawala sa atin (Can you imagine how much are we losing),” she added.
Perez meanwhile said that since most teenage parents are unable to obtain or maintain a financially stable family, the chances are that the next generation would also suffer the same fate.
“Lifetime ang losses mo rito, if lifetime mababa ang income, sigurado ‘yong susunod na generation nitong teenage mothers will also be impoverished,” Perez explained.
(The losses here are lifetime, if their incomes are low for their lifetimes, surely the next generation from these teenage mothers will also be impoverished.)
“Biro mo, ito ‘yong mga bilang ng mga bagong pamilya (These are the also the number of new families), and because they are staring families, these in a way they will not be able to earn the income that a normal family gets. So that’s why we’re asking Congress to look at teen mothers and solo parents needing social protection,” he added.
As of now, there are two Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bills (TPPB) filed, one each in the House of Representatives and in the Senate: House Bill No. 4742 authored by Rep. Sol Aragones and Senate Bill No. 161 by Senator Risa Hontiveros.
According to Hontiveros, this would provide adolescents a comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education programs.
Edited by MUF
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