A world with no children

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - February 6, 2021 - 12:00am

“Our primordial concern is the safety of our students especially our students in Palarong Pambansa are below 18. They are minors.” – DepEd Secretariat Director Joel Erestain

I worry about our children.

For the last year, we’ve lived in a world where we don’t feel the presence of children. Outside individual homes, we don’t hear their laughter, see their wide-eyed joy in discovering new things, or observe them developing their abstract reasoning or fine motor skills through group play. Even online classes are only a stop-gap measure. This writer overheard a teacher telling her students that there will probably be no face-to-face classes next school year, either. When you think about it, none of the vaccines being provisionally rushed into the world market are designed to be used on children. What will the isolation and inactivity do to the succeeding generations?

The Department of Education announced the staging of a scaled-down, virtual Palarong Pambansa this year, after the cancellation of last year’s event. This is a brilliant move considering the times, a goal which gives some school kids something to train for. And after all, schools may be closed, but scholarships are still available. What remains is to figure out how to broadcast the events, once the actual list of sports and locations is announced. It’s possible that multiple events will be held in strategically-located regional centers, like large universities in the provinces. At least one TV network is already interested in broadcasting the Games.

But the fact remains that it will be extremely difficult to help minors recover all the physical activity (and endurance) that has been denied since 2020. They can’t even have the long walks they had inside air-conditioned malls. As a slightly used, 56-year old scribe and broadcaster, it takes some effort to consistently do 30 minutes of running-jogging-walking every morning. There’s a lot of busywork that has piled up, a lot of things to catch up on. And a part of all of us wants to just stay in bed and escape as much of the day as we can, close the curtains when the sun comes up. What more the children?

We have to realize the plight of the majority. The daily wage earner who has lost his only livelihood. The small business owner who has had to close shop. Those in the transportation sector, those who rely on personal contact for their businesses, and millions of others. They’re also dealing with bills that have only been deferred - not erased - and that have piled up. How will they put extra effort into keeping their kids fit and active, on top of all that?

Look at Japan, which is dealing with an aging population: more than half their people are over 50. The majority of working adults don’t seem to want to have children to spend the fruits of their labor on. In the next 30 years, what will their demographics look like? They face a serious decline, and are actually trying to convince countries like the Philippines into a strange exchange program. Take their old people into retirement homes, they take your young adults to replenish their populace. That’s what a world without children looks like.

Children grow up with their parents’ behavior (good and bad) as their default setting. If they see their parents sedentary and stressed with too much work, there is a greater likelihood that they will be the same. And, without understanding these extreme circumstances, they may feel like a burden, which will discourage them from taking care of themselves physically. In any event, there is a danger of a less healthy, less energetic, less active generation that will come out of this pandemic.

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