World’s worst airport, world’s busiest maternity ward

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Something about this administration probably is encouraging more and more unflattering features on our country. A few weeks ago, we were told we had the worst airport in the world.

Now a British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) documentary, and reported at great, sickening length on print and in its cyber version by the United Kingdom’s second biggest newspaper, The Daily Mail, tells the world that we have the planet’s “busiest maternity ward, where women sleep five to a bed and 100 babies are born every day.”

And if you think the report commends Filipinos for their loyalty to Catholic contraception-is-a-sin dogma or to their reproductive power, read the whole Daily Mail article, which I reproduce in its entirety below.

Embarrassing to us Filipinos the article is, it sort of yells at our faces how utterly stupid, unjust, irrational, inhuman, and scandalous President Aquino’s pork-barrel system is, which he insists he will retain throughout his term.


He has given away P74 billion in pork barrel in the past three years to Congress, whose members at worst have pocketed the money or at best, dispersed to fund mini-projects such as thousands of so-called “multipurpose” buildings (mostly really basketball courts).

Why can’t he give just P1 billion or even P10 billion to set up free maternity hospitals (or a similar amount to rehabilitate the world’s worst airport) all over the country so we won’t be reading articles as the following?

The online Daily Mail article on “the busiest maternity ward in the world”. IMAGE CAPTURE

The online Daily Mail article on “the busiest maternity ward in the world”. IMAGE CAPTURE

Daily Mail article in full:

Rosalyn, already a mother of six children, is waiting to give birth. But she will not enjoy the privacy of her own delivery room, her husband Eduardo by her side.

Instead, Rosalyn will be one of the 300 new mothers crammed into the wards at the Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, which sees, on average, 60 new babies come into the world every single day.

Space at the maternity wing is at a premium, so Rosalyn and her new baby will share with other mothers, usually five to a bed but sometimes more, and she will give birth as part of a group of six when the time comes.

Here, Rosalyn and her husband Eduardo eke out a living on his daily salary of 380 pesos augmented by Rosalyn’s embroidery work which brings in around 280 pesos every few days.

‘Even if you have no work, you still have to pay the bills,’ explains Eduardo. ‘I have two jobs for my family’s sake. ‘I’ll do anything to earn more money for my family, odd jobs – even if it’s on a Sunday.’

Back at the hospital, Rosalyn is having her final check up with one of the nurses at the Dr Jose Fabella.

Watched by documentary filmmaker Anita Rani, Rosalyn discusses the blood donors she will need to bring to the birth with a brisk, efficient nurse.

The Philippines is chronically short of blood which makes bagged blood enormously expensive and out of reach for someone like Rosalyn.

But with a seventh baby on the way, hemorrhage is a real risk so she’s arranged for a friend to be at the hospital during the delivery along with Eduardo. ‘It would be better to have three donors,’ chides the midwife. ‘Because here in Fabella, three donors is the equivalent of the amount of blood that would be used for you.

‘We prepare for your delivery because we don’t know if you will bleed at the time of your delivery. Remember it’s your seventh pregnancy.’

Seven children is not unusual in the Philippines. In Tondo, families of 10 or even 12 are common, and as a result, at peak times, midwives at the Dr Jose Fabella can deliver as many as 100 babies within a 24-hour period.

‘Sometimes, during high season, 13 to 16 babies are in the delivery room at the same time,’ Arlene Matanguihan, a resident doctor, said.

‘It’s chaotic but an organized chaos. We can still manage – no baby drops out on the floor.’

Chief midwife Anna Prebus has delivered so many babies, she finds it impossible to remember how many she has brought into the world.

‘I’m sorry but I can’t remember [how many babies I’ve delivered],’ she tells Rani. ‘It’s so many! Maybe 200,000. I’ve been here since 1986, almost 28 years.’

One in five of central Manila’s mothers come here to deliver their babies, and midwives work day and night.

As a result, conditions in the hospital are grim, with queues of pregnant women waiting in the reception area and hundreds more squeezed into the tiled wards.

Those on the verge of giving birth are packed into a tiny labour room. ‘There are five in a bed, sometimes we have more,’ notes Prebus, who points to women being wheeled into the delivery room, at the very last minute, in groups of six or more.

But for Rosalyn, giving birth in front of five others is the least of her worries. Although the Dr Jose Fabella is a public hospital, operations have to be paid for.

As a result, she and Eduardo live in fear of complications and a hugely expensive caesarian section. I’m worried because it’s her [Rosalyn’s] due date,’ explains Eduardo as he waits nervously by his wife’s side.

‘I am also concerned with the child, whether it’s going to be a normal delivery or by caesarian. ‘If she doesn’t have a normal birth, we will be in financial trouble. The budget is our number one problem.’

‘I will force myself to give birth by normal delivery,’ adds Rosalyn. ‘I just want a normal delivery. I cannot accept a caesarian section. ‘I hope to have a problem-free delivery. That’s what I pray for – that we will be OK when I give birth.’

Luckily for Rosalyn, her birth is a smooth one.

‘There’s no screaming, there’s no babies crying, everyone is very controlled and composed,’ comments a watching Rani. ‘I don’t know what that says about Filipino women, something about their psyche… Just like that, another baby is born.’

When Rosalyn’s baby boy finally makes his appearance, the new mother is relieved, if apprehensive about his future. ‘If the child can finish his studies, I hope he won’t be like us where you need to work just to be able to eat,’ she says. ‘There should be a limit on the amount of children you have. That is why I am teaching them not to follow in my footsteps and have lots of babies.’

Wise words, but for Prebus and her busy team of midwives, the 24-hour round of births continues.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
www.rigobertotiglao.com and www.trigger.ph

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18 Comments

  1. perhaps we should sign up for medicins sans borders and get qualified midwives, ob-gyn surgeons and GPs to come over to help out in delivering our babies. we should be calling for aid from the first world before it is too late.

  2. At the age of 64, I came to the Philippines to retire. What a mistake that was. I have lived here for 2 years in Iloilo. Now we, my Filipina wife and I, are trying to leave to go back to California. I can’t take the Philippines one more day. It is THE MOST SCREWED UP COUNTRY I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. Garbage, pollution, infected water, brown-outs, corruption, poverty, over-crowding, over-population, traffic madness, chaos, filth, mosquitos, starving dogs, criminality, people spitting/pissing everywhere, half the population unemployed and living in shanties beside the road in filthy shacks. But every time I turn around there is some other fee, or permit, or certificate or exam that is required that I have to pay for and that was made up by some corrupt politician to make money off foreigners. It’s almost as if we are held captive here until the country can squeeze one last peso out of us. I am NEVER coming back. I truly hate the Philippines though not Filipinos. I am leaving and as far I care the Philippines can sink into its own filth and never be heard from again.

  3. I appreciate all the comments above and it is so disheartening that Filipinos remain poor and needy while most of their government officials, all the way down to the barangay level, don’t have a tad of care about their constituents who live in poverty. All these hypocrites care about is to enrich themselves shamelessly at the expense of the Filipino people. Truth is, until something is done to curb corruption within all levels of government, no serious foreign investments would be encouraged. Embarrassing!

  4. Eugene R Kobasic on

    Dustin what you described in your two comments goes on all over the world. The Philippino does not have a monopoly on stupidity. When you go back to your country where ever that might be, look around you and you’ll see many cases of stupidity. You, youself have probably done a few stupid things if you will admit it. I know I have done stupid things in my time. Its endemic in humans where ever they might live. You seem to be a bit of a racist and it would behoove you to search your own soul.

  5. Well Maria, what should we do today? I have no job because our society is so corrupt that no one wants to invest here, unlike Korea where outside investments have provided jobs for millions of Koreans, and I have no money for Tanduay….so let’s just lay in bed and screw all day.

    And that is why there are too many unwanted pregnancies! When you have nothing better to do….you screw.

  6. I suppose the Philippine Government wants foriegn aid to fix this instead of using the DAP or the PDAF pork barrel money

  7. I have previously commented on this site that until the poor are given opportunities to do productive work on a sustained basis over population will persist in this country for clearly unless the poor people in the slums have better things to do they will just copulate and this applies to both men and women.

  8. Rani should also visit the Quirino Labor hospital in Quezon City its the same banana. Dr Fabella hospital does not have a monopoly on this. I have seen it with my own eyes patienst lie crosswise in one bed to fit 5 to 6 patients. After delivery the patients are made to sit on a chair for a while and then discharged. and this is happening in all public hospitals. How pathetic and insensitive can this government be? Politicians and the well to do can take their wives overseas for breast lump checks
    or other minor complaints that can be catered by local Doctors. SHAME!!!

  9. one thing i forgot to mention a few years ago i went to the hospital in trece matires to give blood for a woman giving birth & i was going to give 2 pints as she couldnt get anyone to give some without paying them. But the said i was to old, i was 56 at the time& later i found out my age had nothing to do with it, it was because im a foreigner & they think foreigners blood is not as good as pinoys blood, now you tell me is the pinoy stupid or what. Ive never come across such stupidity on such a large scale anywhere in the world & i regret coming to this country. If i can get things sorted i will be moving back to my own civalised country.

  10. Ambassador Tiglao is absolutely correct about the misappropriated pork barrel spending for so called multipurpose buildings-basketball courts. Then I see epal saying priority project? Really?
    Where I live, there are many school buildings that need to be repaired. Inside the school buildings there are insufficient chairs and desks.
    There would be materials bought for construction. There are alot of out of work carpenters that could be given work. Some of that 74 Billion would have been useful.
    I have actually gone to the Jose Fabella Hospital and it is crowded. There are overworked doctors, midwives, and hospital workers. They do their best with limited equipment and materials.
    I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church. I support the Reproductive Health(RH) Law . The RH Law is not an abortion law, but avoid unwanted pregnancies. It’s better to stop pregnancy, then having an abortion.

    • Its about time something is really done to control our population. Catholic church maybe against abortion, but aren’t the child born to big and poor families suffer more and become a burden to our society? Look around you, almost every corner you turn have some rugby-sniffing group of kids hanging around, malnourished, unschooled, what will ever happen to them? Will the church take in these needy children as they are so against any form of birth control? With so many children being born every minute, can this country afford to feed, cloth and school them? can our fast depleting natural resources be able to provide for them? Its truly a sad state.

  11. ..this will happen because the government is callous to the plight of its citizen, the government has no concrete plan for its citizen such as low cost housing, maternal health and population education program. What we have are hoollabaloos of propaganda for such pseudo programs…..

  12. This kind of health care is despicable in a country where the people are so poor they cannot afford anything else. And in which the Catholic church intimidates women into having huge more and more babies. Filipinos should be ashamed instead of passive.

    • The good news is the new RH Law which is now on hiatus due to a Supreme court TRO. My point is these kind of problems should not happen anymore soon.

  13. Eugene R Kobasic on

    I couldn’t believe the article when I read it. In the USA the worst hospitals in the nation don’t approach those conditions. I’ve been to the Philippines and I’ve followed it fairly closely since the middle 60’s when I was stationed at Clark AB. Although there have been a few changes since then, it seems the average Philipino is still mired in poverty. It seems the government never changes. Almost every politician theat comes along is just interested in “lining his pockets” to the detriment of the Philippino population. I don’t like anarchy but it seems like the only way to change things is to have a mass uprising of the population and overthrow the government and hope the new crop of governing people will be at least half way honest. If you think about it the best governed countries in the world are the most prosperous.

    • Wow. That was too long ago. The population was not that high then and in case you missed it in the 80’s, we had a “People Power” revolution wherein the old government was toppled and the new powers changed the constitution but the politicians remain the same. The good news is that this current government has done something about it and in due time, situation should be better.