The Philippines population reached the 100 million mark after midnight on Sunday with the birth of Jennalyn Cabigayan at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila.
Weighing 6.1 pounds, the 4.5centimeter girl was one of a hundred babies recognized nationwide by the Department of Health (DOH) and Commission on Population (POPCOM) to symbolize the growing population that POPCOM believes presents both challenges and opportunities to the country.
Jennalyn is the first child of Dailin Cabigayan, 27, a former house help from Sampaloc, Manila. Dailin’s partner Clemente Sentino Jr., a 45yearold driver, has a daughter with his first wife. Their baby received an infant’s starter kit worth P5,000, a cake, new clothes, and a blanket.
POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez 3rd said all 100 babies will be given this support to give them a good start. They will also be monitored to ensure that they receive the required health services.
Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona said the babies will be part of a complete and expanded immunization program to protect them from measles, pneumonia and diarrhea. They will also be vaccinated against cervical cancer when they are big enough.
Health officials said they will monitor the baby’s growth and promised to visit Jennalyn every year on her birthday.
“This is both an opportunity and a challenge… an opportunity we should take advantage of and a challenge we recognize,” Perez said.
He noted that while a growing population means a larger workforce, it also means more dependents in a country where about 25 percent of people are living in poverty.
He said the Philippines had to find a way to bring services to the poorest families while also lowering the average number of children that fertile women will bear in their lifetimes.
“We’d like to push the fertility rate down to two children per (woman’s) lifetime,” from the current level of an average of three per woman, he said.
Malacañang on Sunday said the government will continue to uplift the lives of Filipinos.
Quoting the United Nations Population Fund, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the country’s 100 million population will present opportunities to invest in the future.
“The 100 millionth Filipino presents the opportunity for all partners and stakeholders to make the right investments in people now, so we can prepare the groundwork for thriving, sustainable cities, productive labor forces that fuel equitable growth, youth that contribute to the well-being of economies and societies and a generation of older people who are healthy and actively engaged in the social and economic affairs of their communities,” Coloma said.
This is why the government is boosting the budget allocation for education, health care, and social services, he added.
The Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world.
According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), three babies are born every minute.
Other countries with 100 million population or more include Mexico, 122.3 million; Japan, 127.1 million; Russian Federation,142.8 million; Bangladesh, 156.6 million; Nigeria, 173.6 million; and Pakistan,182.1 million.
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE