The Philippines could use a Superman

Maria Criselda G. Simbulan,

Sophomore student Ateneo de Manila University

THE movie Superman Returns was definitely a big hit in the Philippines. It is about an extraordinary being, actually thought of as a hero. But other than that, the movie, through Lex Luthor’s genius, portrayed one of the biggest problems that the world is facing now and will face harder as we look further into the future—land getting scarce. Don’t we all wish that it could be as easy as that? That once you get hold of the crystals from the Planet Krypton, you can create a new continent and more so, a new world?

In the real world, land is getting scarce by the second because of increasing population density. The Philippines is the 12the most overpopulated country in the world with 85.3 million people in 2005. And projected to grow to 94 million in 2010. Overpopulation is even worse in Metro Manila and other urban centers as evident in widespread squatting and its harsh effects.

Land is so significant a resource that people have fought, killed or died for it. In present times, the progressive way of addressing overpopulation is by increased infrastructure through the construction of high-rise buildings and the conversion of agricultural land to residential and commercial spaces. But time will come when these modern solutions will no longer suffice.

Because the problem is really overpopulation, it is precisely this that we should address. I believe that the key lies in education. Education is the perfect tool through which people can learn the proper methods of family planning. More important, education directly increases access to economic opportunities, improves family income, enhances standards of living and eventually results in smaller average family size.

It is evident that those who are unable to avail themselves of good education are the ones who are impoverished. They are also the ones whose families are continuously growing to the extent that the family can no longer support its members. This results in a deeper case of poverty that would definitely be passed on to next generations. And the vicious cycle continues into a worst and horrifying case of overpopulation in our country.

We, who are more capable, must reach out to the poor because they are really the ones who need help. Reaching out means letting them know what they can do to help themselves, the so-called empowerment. This translates to giving them access to education and sustainable livelihood. Doing this will not only ease the problem of overpopulation in the country but will give the underprivileged a chance to improve or even rebuild their lives.

Now we can see that overpopulation, poor access to education and poverty are three interrelated phenomena that reinforce each other. The problem of overpopulation in the Philippines can only be solved when those two other factors are minimized, if not eliminated.

The good news is that we can help. We can expedite the solution to the problem when we open doors leading to the empowerment of the poor. In the true sense, we can become “Supermen” and “Superwomen” to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Let’s start reaching out, now!

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