Eight years ago, the Commission on Population and Development Region III, in collaboration with its partner agencies Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, National Nutrition Council, Philippine Information Agency, and other local government units, set foot in hospitals, lying-in and birthing clinics identifying babies across Central Luzon who were born on the midnight of July 27, 2014, when the Philippines hit its 100 millionth mark in terms of the population count.

According to POPCOM III Regional Director Lourdes Nacionales, the birth of these babies in 2014 was considered a demographic event, an institutional reality check that the country was then registering a 100-million population record. “The babies’ birth embodied hope and a challenge for the government and communities to ensure their welfare and well-being, given the limited resources,” RD Nacionales further stated.

This year’s celebration of the 100 Millionth Symbolic Pinoy centers on the agenda of ensuring the health and education of children especially during the time of COVID-19 Health Crisis with its banner theme Bigyang halaga ang bawat Pinoy sa Pag-unlad Ngayon at Bukas and a sub-theme. “Sa Ika-walong Taon: Edukasyon at Kalusugan, Palakasin bilang saligan ng Kaunlaran”.

The identified symbolic babies of Region III who are celebrating another milestone in their lives are Cindy Jane D. Garcia (Aurora), Jelo Mae G. Zabala (Bataan), Elijah Marie Reyes (Bulacan), Lucky Jayve S. Catli (Pampanga), Kylie E. Dalusung (City of San Fernando), Claire Jiliene A. Garlejo (City of Mabalacat), Calfana Rein Deliquiña (Zambales), and Kristeoff F. Santiago (Tarlac).

The Symbolic Babies of Region III serve as witnesses to the advocacy that all children should be born wanted, RD Nacionales emphasized. “While fertility rate drops at the national (2.7 TFR) and regional level (2.4 TFR), it is still above the desired replacement rate of 2.1 with unplanned pregnancies contributing considerably to the scale.”

More births equal an increasing demand on the family’s capacity to provide for their children’s emotional, psychological, financial and basic needs. Services on proper nutrition, comprehensive health care, and other socio-economic support systems are necessary for every child’s total development.

The Commission on Population and Development Region III continues to monitor the status of its 100 millionth Pinoys, ensuring that their basic rights on social services such as health, nutrition, and education are provided to help them fully become productive members of society. “They may no longer be babies, but their development as young children is a footstep on what we envision to have well-planned, empowered and resilient individuals in the communities in the future,” RD Nacionales added.

It is also an opportunity to intensify population programs at the national and local levels, RD Nacionales further stated. “It is an avenue to advocate and provide information and education to leaders and policy-makers to formulate and construct specific strategies to provide the essential programs that would help build positive impact in the communities, particularly the symbolic babies, and eventually empower them to contribute to the development of the country.

The Symbolic Pinoy event was done to elicit proactive attention to the importance of maternal and neonatal health and promote responsible parenthood and family planning among Filipino families. It was also seen as a challenge, especially to the National and Local Governments, as its socio-economic and political situation struggled to give its citizens a better quality of life.

“The welfare of the people should be the common denomination in everything the government does. Every Filipino is valued, and no one should be left behind in terms of improvement in the quality of life”-POPCOM