Bernardo M. Villegas
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Teaching Purity

           The birth control mentality deeply encrusted in the controversial RH Bill is increasingly out of synch with numerous pronouncements of international economists, business strategists and foreign investors who are heaping praises on the Philippines for having a large, young and growing population.  The alarming voices from population control advocates, who used to categorically state that the Philippine population has already breached the 100 million mark, have been at least temporarily silenced by the revelation that the 2010 Census of Population and Housing by the National Statistics Office (NSO) placed the 2010 population at only 92.34 million, with the growth rate slowing down to an annual average of 1.9% during the 2000-2010 period from 2.34% in 1990-2000. Neomalthusians should be relieved that the Philippine population will not double in the next thirty years and will plateau at about 145 to 150 million some time before the middle of the present century.  Given the high probability that Philippine GDP can grow at an average of 7 to 9% during the next twenty years, a population of some 150 million, mostly young Filipinos and Filipinas, will be a great advantage in a global village of predominantly aging countries in the developed world, including our Northeast Asian neighbors such as Japan, South Korea and China. At 150 million people by mid-century the Philippines will have the population density of resource-poor but highly developed South Korea today.

          Despite the erroneous and confusing economic information generated by the debates on the RH Bill, there is at least one blessing in disguise.  I am referring to the greater awareness of parents that they have the primary responsibility of educating their children on human sexuality.  Alarmed by the threat that their children, especially their daughters, will be fed with all sorts of crude information on condoms, contraceptive pills, and the different approaches to sexual intercourse--as prescribed by the more notorious versions of the RH Bill--many parents are now taking it upon themselves to educate their children on human sexuality. 

          Catholic parents are increasingly heeding the words of the late Blessed John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Catechesi Tradendae, where he wrote:  "(Adolescence) is the time of discovering oneself and one's own inner world, the time of generous plans, the time when the feeling of love awakens, with the biological impulses of sexuality, the time of the desire to be together, the time of a particularly intense joy connected with the exhilarating discovery of life.  But often it is also the age of deeper questioning, of anguished or even frustrated searching, of a certain mistrust of others and dangerous introspection, and sometimes the age of the first experiences of setbacks and disappointments."

          With the guidance of their Bishops and parish priests, Filipino parents are becoming more acquainted with the teachings of the Church on sex education.  They are following the advice of such a document of the Vatican II, as Gaudium et Spes, that it is the fundamental duty of Christian parents to transmit life and educate their children according to the faith and morality of the Church.  They thus become collaborators in the love of God the Creator, and in a certain sense his interpreters.  From the "Educational Guidelines for Human Love" of the Congregation for Catholic Education, they fully realize that "the family is the best atmosphere to fulfill the duty of ensuring a gradual education in sexuality.  It has the affective reserves needed to facilitate the assimilation of even the most delicate realities without traumas, and their harmonious integration in a balanced and rich personality."  They also are assured by Letter on Family Rights issued by the Vatican that they have the right that their children not be obliged to attend school courses in these matters if the curriculum deviates from their moral and religious convictions.

          There is an increasing number of organizations of parents and married couples that are helping to disseminate the proper approaches to sex education of their children.  Among them are the EDUCHILD Foundation and the Parents for Education Foundation (PAREF).  These organizations conduct highly professional courses given by trustworthy experts and well-prepared theologians who are steeped in the doctrine on Theology of the Body in which the Blessed Pope John Paul II pioneered.  Especially relevant to this task is the Letter of Blessed John Paul II entitled Familiaris Consortio (November 22, 1981), in which he exhorted parents to be vigilant in the face of a culture that largely reduces human sexuality to the level of something commonplace since it interprets and lives it in a reductive and impoverished way by linking it solely with the body and with selfish pleasure.  Given these dire circumstances, parents cannot step aside and let life itself, with all its crudity, open their children's eyes.  They must be the primary educators of their children on human sexuality.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.