Bernardo M. Villegas
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Patriotic Motherhood

           As a hopeless romantic, I love novels that have a fairy tale ending in which boy marries girl and the two live happily ever after with their children.  That is why I never miss reading the Epilogue of such smashingly successful series as Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games.  Begging the pardon of those who have not read all these books, let me refer to the Epilogue of the Harry Potter Series in which Harry marries Ginny and Ronnie marries Hermione and both couples have children as smart as their parents.  What really gave me the greatest emotional lift was the Epilogue of the Hunger Games series in which Katniss marries Peeta (sorry to those still wondering if Gale will win out).  I am sure that the Prime Minister of Singapore will want to make Katniss the model for Singaporean women.

          Let me explain.  Throughout the whole series (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay), Katniss kept on insisting that she would never marry and much less have children because she did not want to bring children to an extremely cruel world where the Capitol (the dictatorial government) sacrificed the lives of innocent kids just to deliver a political message and where numerous children practically starved to death, especially in her District 12 because of the scarcity of resources.  But love conquers all.  Because her husband, Peeta, madly desires to have children, she finally gives in and they have a "dancing girl with the dark hair and blue eyes" and a "boy with blond curls and gray eyes."  The Hunger Game series by Suzanne Collins is another testament to the victory of motherhood over a contraceptive mentality.

          Just last August 26, the Prime Minister of Singapore repeated what his father, Lee Kuan Yew, has been saying dozens of times over the past years:   that Singaporean women should be patriotic by getting married and having children (not only two, but four if not more).  The PM of Singapore made these pro-marriage and pro-children statement in his National Rally Day speech (equivalent to our SONA), stressing the fact that unless women in Singapore marry and have children, the country's population will dwindle to dangerously low levels.  Thus, in Singapore,  motherhood is a patriotic duty.  The same can be said about women in other countries suffering from the scourge of the so-called demographic winter, such as Japan, Spain, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan.  If we don't watch out, the same contraceptive mentality is already beginning to spread among our educated women from the A, B, and even C households.  Already in these well-to-do families, materialism, consumerism and lack of generosity are already leading to fertility rates going below replacement.  Fortunately, among the D and E households (which constitute more than 60 percent of the population) children are still considered as the sources of the greatest happiness in life.

          Fortunately in the Philippines, most educated women--whether Christian or Muslim--still believe in the message found in the Old Testament about the great dignity of motherhood.  Here, let me quote from Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Letter on "The Dignity and Vocation of Women".  Like the PM of Singapore, the late Pope posits the necessary relationship between marriage and motherhood.  In section 18 of the Letter, he writes:  "This mutual gift of the person in marriage opens to the gift of a new life, a new human being, who is also a person in the likeness of his parents.  Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person:  and this is precisely the woman's 'part.'  In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman 'discovers herself through a sincere gift of self.'  The gift of interior readiness to accept the child and bring it into the world is linked to the marriage union, which--as mentioned earlier--should constitute a special moment in the mutual self-giving both by the woman and the man.  According to the Bible, the conception and birth of a new human being are accompanied by the following words of the woman:  "I have brought a man into being with the help of the Lord.' (Genesis: 4:1).  This exclamation of Eve, the 'mother of all the living,' is repeated every time a new human being comes into the world.  It expressed the woman's joy and awareness that she is sharing in the great mystery of eternal generation.  The spouses share in the creative power of God."

          I hope that the contraceptive mentality already noticeable among some women in high society will not contaminate the ordinary Filipina.   Although some of these well-to-do matrons hide behind their so-called pro-poor advocacy of birth control, one cannot help suspect that they want to justify the selfish motives they have in having few or no children by constantly harping on the plight of poor women with too many children.   May the model of Filipina women be the fictional character of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games, who decided to be a mother against all odds of starvation, persecution and near-death experiences.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.