What is the RH BILL that is so controversial in 2011 in the Philippines?

The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health

and Population and Development Act of 2011

And, how does this topic relate to my work in the field and restructuring the health care system?

Since starting my work in one of the poorest places in Asia— SAMAR, I have observed the community and listened intently to the rhetoric of the Catholic Church on reproductive health.

There have been moments I have been annoyed enough to consider wearing to Sunday mass my T-shirt— CATHOLICS for CONDOMS, and CATHOLICS for the RH BILL.


The reason I feel so disheartened yet passionate about this topic is because every single day I see women and children who are malnourished, who are dying, who do not have the basics, who live in outright poverty, and who are having more children. Every day I hear of another dehydrated child and of  mother(s) who cannot breast feed her baby because her milk is not producing. I know she is hungry. I know her body does not have the nutrients it needs.  I know she does not have the money to buy formula. I know her role is to reproduce and submit to her husband (as soon as she can during pregnancy, after birth, and at the cycle of the month that she is at risk for another pregnancy). I know she does not know what to do because she had no opportunity to be taught how to protect her against pregnancy and disease.


I see these women not agreeing with their husbands and male authorities— the priests, but giving in to the belief that the church says this is what they are supposed to do.


And, it makes me sad for the children born with no opportunity but to carry on a lifestyle in the parent’s pattern without opportunities having large families with many more childrens.


This irrational belief not only exists in the deprived catholic communities in this country but in the richest and highest educated communities too…. Alabang is one of the most influential areas (the former President Ramos lives there).  It is a community where education is valued and paramount to success. People’s wealth shows in their mansion like homes and multiple designer cars driven by women in jewels.


So, whether poor or rich, Filipino’s (many of them) believe that the RH BILL is the devil, a bill that will lead to abortion (or so they want to think) and something more important than poor women with poor children living in squatter huts with dirty water, no toilet, no electricity, no light, no beds for their 10+ children and worst.. No opportunity for change.


If the rich believe in the RH BILL as a devil, the poor Catholics have no choice to protest— so they conform and continue the process of reproducing in unhealthy environments, with unhealthy economics.


NOTHING seems to change when Catholics are so rigid in their belief.


I do not pass a day without being bothered knowing, that what I am doing to create a better health care system (advising the government on system changes) cannot really improve the health of its community until the men and women (RICH AND POOR) are taught the importance of creating an equitable society where spacing their children and using birth control is valued as an important method for creating a healthy community and healthy economy.


I feel like at moments my work is only putting a Band-Aid on the real problem. And, I am disgusted, discouraged, and wonder if I should pack up and go back to a life in a place in the world where I don’t have to see such poor women and children hungry and unhealthy.


That’s the reality of being an aid worker—-

My job is no more than a BANDAID —


Where is the humanity? I ask.


And, then there is tomorrow…

Hope for a new day to help one more person who keeps me putting on Band-Aids….

And voicing my opinion on population development, family planning, child spacing, and the value of the Reproductive Health Bill…….


Especially to people of power from ALABANG.


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