My Population Explosion.

Vasectomy! Ligation! Condom!

By Frank A Hilario

Google News - Philippines gives me today, April 10 in Manila, 2 items that catch my attention. One: ‘Philippine Solon visits Winnipeg to expose 900-plus extra-judicial killings’ by ANN (author not named) (story in filipinojournal.com). Two: ‘Population plan may help ease food crisis – NGOs’ by D’Jay Lazaro (gmanews.tv). A matter of lives and deaths.

The Philippine Solon is Congressman Satur Ocampo, known to be a leftist (no offense meant); the NGOs are EnGendeRights spoken for by lawyer Clara Rita A Padilla who is Founder and Executive Director, and the Forum for Family Planning and Development spoken for by its President Ben de Leon. Strange bedfellows? Not really. It looks to me like a modern if miniature Noah’s Ark of Rights sailing on friendly seas: human rights, women’s rights, social rights. Sail on!

ANN in Winnipeg tells me:

Congressman Ocampo is one of three members of the Philippine Congress visiting Canada from April 4 to 18, 2008. They will be lobbying (with) Canadian parliamentarians in Ottawa and other groups to pressure the administration of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to end human rights violations and government corruption in the Philippines.

ANN tells me the 3-man party is that of Ocampo, who is President of Bayan Muna Party and a former journalist; Congressman Crispin Beltran, who is Anakpawis Party List Representative and former Chair of Kilusang Mayo Uno, a ‘progressive’ labor center in the Philippines; and Luz Ilagan, who is Gabriela Women’s Party List Representative and among the pioneers of the Women’s Rights Movement in Mindanao.

Thanks for the introduction, ANN of Winnipeg. But no thanks to Noah’s Ark. Honest intentions are not good enough. I don’t think all the Canadian parliamentarians in Ottawa and England and Japan and Australia can pressure the administration of GMA to improve the numbers that some people want. Human rights violations? Government corruption? No presidential fiat can end this or that, not even that of a Benevolent Dictator – no parliamentarians’ pressure either. The solution is not parliamentarian pressure, whether from the Parliament of Xanadu or the Parliament of the Streets of Makati. It is not up to GMA, not up to Vice President Noli De Castro, not up to the First Gentleman, not up to Senate President Manny Villar, not up to Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Alan Peter Cayetano, not up to Speaker of the House Prospero Nograles, not up to once-Speaker now-rebel Congressman Joe De Venecia, not up to Senator-in-prison Navy-rebel Antonio Trillanes, not up to the heads of the Black & White Movement, not up to the vocal Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. It is not up to any of our leaders, or to all of them combined. Ultimately, human rights violations, along with government corruption, begins and ends with each of us. You and me. Charity begins at home.

Borrowing from UP Law Dean Ricardo Pascual of the 1960s, I say: ‘You are free to swing your human rights short of my nose!’ (You can read the Dean’s original quote in my endnote, below.) If we don’t have respect for each other, starting at home, so long, human rights! So long, Solon. And so, long corruption.

If you advocate a program for human rights, you must also advocate a program for population control. A woman has the right to her own body. It’s only logical. But Sir, or Madam, as the case may be, remember that abortion is a crime not against humanity but against the human rights of the unborn baby, not to mention the savagery inflicted on the body of the poor (or rich) mother.

D’Jay Lazaro tells me the NGOs are telling my President GMA’s administration that it ‘should implement a serious, long-term population program – one that promotes all sorts of contraception, and not just natural family planning methods, especially with a recurring rice crisis that the country has had to face in recent years.’ That’s logical. If you divide so many million Filipinos (80M) with so many million kilos of rice, you have only so much per head, right? Right, if you use your head.

But, you are applying The Law of the Average, and that is a bad law – Congress didn’t pass it. And why is that? You are assuming that all the 80M have equal access to food, and that each Filipino eats about as much as the other Filipino. Access is the crucial factor, not amount. The Hilarios' Dozen have been eating only 2 meals a day for 5 years or more now – a choice; others have been eating only 2 meals a day – no choice; others have been gorging every single day – a choice of gluttony. There is no average life. Life is not fair because we choose not to make it. We don’t share as much as we should. Charity doesn’t begin at home.

Not only that. Life is not all food! You are applying mathematics to a social phenomenon; you are resurrecting a dead law called the Malthusian theory of overpopulation passed on as law since 1798: The tendency of the human population is to outstrip food supply, since the growth of the population is exponential while the growth of the food supply is linear. Mathematics is an exact science. The rabbit will always run faster than the carrot.

Let me try other metaphors: East is East and West is West and never the Twain shall meet. The ability of crops to multiply is hopeless against the desire of humans to multiply. Duh!

We can’t get away from mathematics, can we? We can. Thomas Robert Malthus predicted a population crash by the mid-19th century. He was wrong. In fact, living standards increased 60 times since 1820 while the European population increased 3 times in the 18th century (ANN, May 26, 2007, oneminute.rationalmind.net).

But Malthus is convenient. His theory justifies the current order – the problem is not with the State of Being but with the People, the Poor, especially ‘the pests or dregs which God in His infinite goodness created and very fondly breeds in Manila’ – our national hero Jose Rizal said that (in his subversive book Noli Me Tangere, Ma Soledad Lacson-Locsin’s translation, 1996; guess the page where Rizal said that). The problem is not with the Status Quo and the Money Lenders; it is with the Borrowers – there are too many of them, and many of them don’t know enough to pay back. The problem is not with the People: the problem is with the Number of People. It’s Mathematics.

China is the world’s #1 in population, and it’s exporting rice to the rest of the world who are hungry for rice, including the Philippines. 25 years ago, it had the one-child policy; today, China is worried because ‘the country faces the prospect of having too few children to support a rapidly aging population’ (Toshiko Kaneda, June 2006, prb.org). Mathematics gets back at you when you’re paying attention only to Mathematics.

With his theory, Malthus predicted mass starvation; it hasn’t happened yet but, let’s give Malthus the benefit of the doubt, who knows, in our time? If so, what is our own Department of Agriculture under Secretary Arthur Yap doing trying to improve food production in the Philippines when according to the Malthusian theory that everyone subscribes to anyway, the population will always outstrip the food supply? Give up!

But since I’m an equal-opportunity thinker, I think Vasectomy! Ligation! Condom! should be the triple battlecry of the whole world, but especially of our Roman Catholic Philippines, these Prudes of the Orient Seas. Vasectomy for the adult Playboy, ligation for the adult Playgirl, condom for the young Romeo. The first issue of Playboy Magazine Philippines is now out. Excellent! All is fair in love and wear. And yes, Nineteen Eighty-Four is here; George Orwell’s Big Brother must be watching over lovebirds outdoors and indoors. Progress? Check. Population? Checked!

Population and poverty: an explosive combination? If China is overpopulated, much more so Taiwan, which has a population density 5 times higher than China – and yet, Taiwan produces many times more per capita than China (Abid Ullah Jan, July 2003, albalagh.net). China is left, Taiwan is right.

So, why can’t we learn from our right-thinking (not necessarily rights-thinking) neighbor Taiwan where we import our knowledge tools anyway: personal computers and peripherals? Out with the Filipino genius for knowledge management! A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. What we don’t know can hurt us. I want to explode the Population Bomb because I know it’s a dud. If you ask me, population control is jumping from the frying rice into the fire. The Malthusian theory is pure and simple mathematics. Too simple. Mathematics is positively correlated with knowledge and negatively correlated with wisdom.

Endnote: If I remember right, I heard Dean Ricardo Pascual say at the Soils Building of the UP College of Agriculture in the latter part of the 1960s: ‘Freedom is like this: You are free to swing your arm short of my nose!’

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