By DR. BERNARDO M. VILLEGAS
The greatest economic asset of the Philippines is its young and growing population. With 50 per cent of the population less than 23 years of age, the Philippines is providing a solution to the problem of numerous countries in both East and West who are suffering from demographic suicide. The two major engines of growth of the economy from the supply side are the remittances from more than 10 million Overseas Filipino Workers and the BPO-IT sector that employs mostly young people. On the demand side, the large population of 107 million as of 2019 provides the huge domestic market that makes the economy less vulnerable to the ups and downs of global markets. When export potentials are low because of a slump in the world economy, our businesses sell to at least 80 million consumers who have the purchasing power to buy goods and services. This resilience of the Philippine economy was proved in both the East Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the Great Recession that started in 2008.
There is a downside, however, to this young and growing population. The Philippines has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the world. The solution will not be found in just equipping the young with more condoms and contraceptive pills. No matter how difficult the task is, the Filipino youth have to be properly educated about what St. John Paul II called the “Theology of the Body.” One such occasion for this education on sexuality will be on May 25, 2019, when thousands of young people, together with their teachers and parents, will have an opportunity to listen to world-renowned speaker Jason Evert who will talk about love that is real, authentic, true. Love with no filters. Mr. Evert will speak at a forum to be held at the PICC in three separate sessions, i.e. 9:00 to 12 a.m. for students; 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. for educators; and 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. for parents. He has spoken about Real Love to over one million people in six continents and has written more than ten books about it. He has appeared in Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC, answering tough questions about love asked mostly by young people.
To serve as an “appetizer” to the May 25, 2019, forum, let me summarize here an article he wrote for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) on “Sex and Sanctity,” a discussion of sex before marriage. To the question “what’s wrong with sex outside of marriage?”, Mr. Evert answers by quoting St. John Paul II in his Theology of the Body: “Not only are we capable of communicating through speech, we also express ourselves through our bodies. In the sexual act, one’s body is saying, ‘I give myself completely to you. I am all yours.’ It is proclaiming the wedding vows with one’s body. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: ‘In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion.’ Therefore, when a husband and wife become one flesh, they renew their wedding promises in the flesh. In marriage, the total gift of the person corresponds with the total gift of the body; one gift is not given without the other.”
(To be continued).