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Lovers and Fathers

a very interesting article i found.... worth every second of your reading moments!

Posted 01:50am (Mla time) Feb 13, 2005
By Rina Jimenez-David
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A15 of the February 13, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

FILIPINOS are indeed great lovers. But as our birth rate shows, we can be deemed guilty of-as the saying goes-loving not wisely but too well.

I was a guest a few days ago in a taping of "Homeboy," a new show on ABS-CBN that tries to liven up the daytime TV scene with talk on matters both topical and exciting. And you couldn't get any more exciting than the topic up for discussion-teenage sex and young fatherhood.

The main guests in that episode were three young men-in their late teens and early 20s-who became fathers at fairly young ages: around 14 or 15, a time of life when, to quote the host of the show, Boy Abunda, "I was still playing piko in Samar." Joining the young men was Jigo Garcia who, in the late 1980s, was a fairly big teen star until he lost his innocence-or at least his innocence in the eyes of his young fans-when he got his girlfriend Jean Garcia pregnant.

Gasps were heard from the studio audience when the three first revealed how young they were when they became fathers. Two of them admitted their premature fatherhood was an accident, unplanned and at first unwanted. One insisted he and his partner had "planned" their parenthood, simply because they wanted the "experience." It soon became clear, though, that while he and his girlfriend had planned the sex part, the pregnancy and parenthood part was unforeseen.

This goes along with most surveys conducted over the years on adolescent sexual and reproductive health in the Philippines. A growing number of young people (but not yet the majority, it must be clear) are becoming sexually active at younger ages. But they're exploring their sexuality and satisfying their curiosity with little preparation or consciousness of the need for protection, it seems. And the actions of the older generation aren't helping them any.

* * *

MAYNARD, one of the three young fathers, mentioned that he and his partner were so dismayed by her pregnancy-especially because he had not yet finished his studies and held no job (he is still unemployed today)-that at first they attempted to abort the baby. This they did by having the young mother drink Cortal (a local brand of aspirin) with Sprite (a soda).

Aspirin and soda have no known abortifacient qualities, but the "recipe" is frequently mentioned-spread mainly through word-of-mouth-as a means of ending pregnancy. My guess is that the acidic combination can induce such violent stomach spasms that people surmise it cannot but end in an abortion (even if the fetus lodges in the uterus, not the stomach). Like many others, Maynard and his partner found the concoction did not work and thus decided "to accept the inevitable."

Maynard's story, I told the TV audience, simply illustrates the appalling lack of sex education in our schools and homes, with parents living in denial about their children's sexuality; and our schools and churches content with plying the young with moralistic admonitions on abstinence and dire predictions about pregnancy and STDs, if not burning in hell for all time.

With the adults around them so reluctant to provide information, where do young people go for sex education? Studies show that adolescents rely mostly on friends and the barkada for the "facts of life." The trouble is that these "facts" are often not factual, as the "Cortal and Sprite" recipe proves, while peer pressure can often drive young men and women into behaviors that are risky and harmful.

* * *

ANOTHER young father mentioned that one of the factors that pushed him to early sex was the desire to prove his friends wrong. "They were teasing me about being gay," explained the young man, who has a slight build and fine features. And so in the attempt to prove his manhood, he found himself a father in his early teens.

The other fathers traced the wrong turn their lives had taken to their home situations, including separated and absentee parents. "I was looking for someone who would listen to me and would always be on my side," confessed Maynard.

Unfortunately, in their search for emotional validation and belonging, the young men and their partners ended up not only derailing their dreams, but ensnaring others in the trap as well, including the truly innocent like their children.

The "batang ama" may now say it was "love" or "romance" that led them down the path of fatherhood. But their situation today is far from romantic, and when one's days and nights are spent worrying about where to find money to buy food, milk, diapers and other necessities, romance will fly out of the window, sooner than later.

* * *

THE TROUBLE with romance and adolescent sex, I said on the show, is that too many young people believe that it's "romantic" to become a "victim" of love-or lust-while condemning contraception as just too coldhearted, proving that one had planned or prepared for sex.

But why can't the situation be turned on its head? Why can't we promote the use of contraception and protection as in fact the most romantic thing lovers can do, proving that while you may be carried away by the magic of the moment, ensuring the welfare and future of your partner remains important?

Filipino men have a reputation, deserved or not, of being thoughtful and skillful lovers. And indeed, few men can hold their own against a Pinoy bent on romantic and sexual conquest. The true test of prowess, however, comes after the pursuit comes to an end. A good lover is a lover who plans and prepares for the future and looks after those he claims to love. Loving wisely is not that big a deal and need not get in the way of romance.

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