The growing population

ROSES & THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - July 14, 2009 - 12:00am

A friend told me about how crowded a place the city of Manila is getting to be. Streets are filled with both vehicles and commuters, trains are always jam packed with travellers, people are lined up to avail of varied forms of services in agencies day by day, you go to the malls and they are filled with people, the sick line up to get treatment in hospital emergency rooms, and generally, have to wait to get admitted due to lack of rooms. Even resorts, hotels and vacation places get bookings in advance to meet the growing demand, defying the perception that hunger and poverty exists. It is common to see long queues in public places like airports, restaurants, banks (ATMs for that matter), movie houses and even lotto booths. It was a lot different during my time when people were not too occupied and in a hurry — there was no traffic then, there were no lack of classrooms and books, and since there were no big malls and fancy restaurants at that time, folks mostly stayed at home. Life was a lot simpler. 

In the 1900s, the population in Manila was only 800,000, compared with the burgeoning population of 12 million today. Countrywide, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reports that population grew ten-fold in over just one century, from 7.6 million Filipinos in 1903 to 76 million in 2000. This number has grown to 88 million in 2007, with about three babies born every minute. This is a serious problem considering that our economy is not unaffected by the escalating global economic crisis. An economist of the University of the Philippines has commented that population growth is a crisis in itself, a silent crisis, which is upon us. And this is why we already have deficiency problems in the provision of basic resources. In fact, the growing population is a major factor in the hunger and poverty problem, access to education, the lack of food and water, health deficiencies and environment degradation. 

World Population Day was commemorated last weekend (July 11) all over the world to remind governments all over the world about the urgency of the problem of growing population. The theme for this year is “Fight Poverty: Educate Girls” is a serious reminder that empowered and educated women hold the key to the continued security and well being of the world’s people. It keynotes the basic human right of individuals, particularly women, to freely and responsibly decide the number of their children. More importantly, people must strike a balance between following the Lord’s commandment to “go and multiply” with the basic tenet of responsible custodianship over the children that the Lord has blessed us with. With the resources on Earth that the Lord has laid up for our use, we must be able to raise them well. Hence, the need to take care of our resources and environment also comes to fore. 

In my age, I have all the blessings one could wish for. I have a daughter, Lizzie and her husband Monty, who take good care of me at my age, grandchildren who make me happy and proud. The only thing I ask from the Lord is peace and tranquility, a peace that comes from knowing that everyone is taken care of and no one is in want. I know it is not a perfect world, but we can make it possible if only everyone will look after each other’s needs. 

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