Two weeks ago, I criticized the local media for failing to provide a deeper context to the Andi Eigenmann-Albie Casiño brouhaha. I am referring to the ever-increasing incidence of premarital pregnancies in the Philippines. I shunned the term “teenage pregnancies” because I want to be more inclusive. I am not about to moralize the issue. We must take note that there are some women who wants to have a child without being married. I am in no way suggesting that premarital sex is wrong – because I believe that it is not. I am also not against having many children. Aspiring for a huge family isn’t bad, but when you know that you don’t have the means to give your would-be children quality lives, then you are being irresponsible.
After I promoted that blog about Andi Eigenmann on a Facebook group to which I am a member, a user started a discussion thread titled “Why are there too many premarital pregnancies in the Pinas (slang term for the Philippines)?” In the virtual world, one can talk about topics like this without the fear of being reprimanded by a conservative society. The thread participants (whom I cannot name since I don’t have their permission to do so) gave thought-provoking answers. I, for one, said that the inadequacy of sex education in the country plus the negligence who engage in these activities may be the root cause of the problem. I am referring to the apparent repression of knowledge about sexuality.
A few minutes later, someone rebutted: “Sex education means using logic. Many of those with premarital pregnancies – even if they know better choose to ignore logic and indulge the EMO side of themselves (sic).” Used usually in a negative light, “emo” is the shortened version of “emotional.” Or in Filipino, this is what we say: “Nagpapadala sa emosyon.” Another user summarized this as the “love-is-blind” and “libog” (literally, sexual urge) factors. Someone, however, blamed the premarital pregnancies on pornography. He said that it gives the impression that sex is all fun while totally disregarding “what really happens if you **** (censored) somebody without protection.”
A woman, for her part, wrote: “If I get pregnant, it’s because it’s MY CHOICE and not because naghahabol ako ng lalake (figuratively, “I’m running after a man”) or I want to tie him down or all other stupid reasons people tell themselves. Better be a single mother than married and miserable.” This, I dare say, is an unconventional view in a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines. We are used to seeing stereotypical shotgun marriages, where woman are forced to marry someone (and vice versa) because nagkabuntisan na. For a long time, it was thought that entering a shotgun marriage is much better than being called a disgrasyada. Evidently, those long-held views are now being challenged.
Some participants, meanwhile, related their personal experiences (since I talked about in the blog how almost each one of us knows someone who got pregnant before marriage). “A sister on mine was one. There are lots more among relatives. It has become common occurrence in our lives,” one shared, obviously echoing my points. Another one shared what a close relative experienced: “Her father had the clear mind not to allow them to marry UNTIL the boyfriend finished his college degree. They let her born the child unmarried and separated from the boyfriend. The whole family took turns in caring for the baby. After the boyfriend finished college, they got married and lived together.”
Needless to say, there is no single explanation behind the rising incidence of premarital pregnancies in the country. Being educated about the consequences of unprotected sex is one thing. Keeping those lessons in mind is a whole different matter. Everything depends on a person’s free will and self-discipline. But, the question remains, just how much information about sex can be learned in school? More on that in a future post.