Six years ago, on July 27, 2014, the Philippine population reached 100 million, as 100 babies born past midnight that day in state hospitals across 19 cities and 81 provinces were singled out as the symbolic โ€œ100 millionth baby.โ€
Marking the sixth birthdays of that cohort of the now-young children, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) commemorated the said event on Monday, July 27, with population and health offices in various local government units. Bannered by the theme, โ€œBigyang Halaga ang Bawat Pinoy sa Pag-unlad, Ngayon at Bukas (Valuing Every Filipinoโ€™s Development, Today and Tomorrow),โ€ the โ€œDay of the 100 Millionth Babyโ€ served as a barometer of the government and other organizationsโ€™ provision of resources in overall health, education and empowermentโ€”not just for the identified 100 babies, but likewise for all Filipinos.
Along with its other partners, POPCOM continues to closely monitor the said childrenโ€™s growth and development, which are indicators in determining the governmentโ€™s capacity to respond to the evolving needs of the entire Philippine population. POPCOM officials also took the occasion as an opportunity to identify emerging issues among Filipino families as inputs to the advancement of appropriate policies and programs.
In a statement, Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH commented that โ€œthe births of those babies embodied hope, but at the same time, posed a challenge for the government and communities to ensure their welfare and well-being, given the limited resources of our country.โ€
POPCOMโ€™s executive director said that the lives of the said children reflect too the โ€œenormous taskโ€ of Philippine society, particularly on parents, government agencies, civil society, academe as well as other stakeholders, to work together, make every birth of a child wanted, and ensure every Filipino child is able to live in a healthy, productive, and livable environment. This is under the premise that their health, education and other basic development needs are well provided.
For the government agency, this yearโ€™s celebration was also particularly significant as the pandemic occurs, given that children are identified as vulnerable members of the population who may be affected by the coronavirus disease 2019.
On a larger perspective, Perez believes that the commemoration further strengthened the relevance of the Philippine Population Management Program, or the PPMP, in pursuing national and local development: “The welfare of our people should be the common denominator in everything that the government does. Every Filipino is valued, and no one should be left behind in terms of improvement in the quality of life.โ€
To mark the event, POPCOM premiered an audio-visual presentation on its Facebook page, which features the current state of living of some of the abovementioned kids. Its 16 regional offices (ROs) also conducted relevant activities focusing on the lives of Filipino children. The commission also distributed promotional materials nationwide to further increase awareness of the commemoration and its theme.
In the Cordilleras, there are 7 symbolic 100Mth babies being monitored by POPCOM-CAR together with our local Population Offices. Each province and Baguio city has one child who was born around midnight of July 27, 2014 in specific public hospitals in the region. This year POPCOM-CAR intends to give each family a care package to ease the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes basic grocery items, rice and some school supplies for the child in preparation for their upcoming first school year as elementary education students. POPCOM-CAR intends to give updates on the status of the children and their families as some of them also are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and some are migrant worker families.
POPCOM has likewise released a proprietary monitoring tool to its ROs to assess the said childrenโ€™s present state of health, nutrition and socioeconomic support system. These elements, according to Perez, are supposed to be complemented by their respective familyโ€™s capacity to provide for their emotional, psychological and financial needs.