Six years ago, on July 27, 2014, the Philippine population reached 100 million, as six (6) babies born past midnight that day in state hospitals across one (1) city and five (5) provinces were singled out as the symbolic “100 millionth baby” for the 5 provinces (CAvite, LAguna, BAtangas, Rizal, and, QueZON) and 1 city (Batangas City) in Region IV-A CALABARZON.

The 6 original symbolic babies in the region are the following: (1) Cavite Province – Princess Victoria Arena P. Brutas (Dasmariñas City); (2) Laguna – Markee T. Morales (Cavinti, Laguna); (3) Batangas – Cyrus B. Rullan (Lipa City); (4) Batangas City – Vinz Miguel M. Pasia; (5) Rizal – King Iverson S. Trono (Antipolo City); (6) Quezon – Rheavel Aja E. Echemane (Infanta).   

Since CALABARZON is an in-migration region, four (4) other babies migrated to the region, namely:  (1)  Antipolo City – Chonalyn C. Sentino (originally the National Symbolic Baby of the Philippines who was from Manila);  (2)  Calamba City – Elisha Sade C. Villagonzalo (originally from Masbate);  (3)  Antipolo – JL G. Gernale (originally from Sorsogon);  (4)  Binangonan, Rizal – Jay Cris M. Reyes originally from Pangasinan.   

Celebrating the six (6) birthdays of that group of the now-young children, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) Region IV-A commemorated the said event on Monday, July 27, 2021, with population and health offices in the said local government units.  With the theme, “Bigyang Halaga ang Bawat Pinoy sa Pag-unlad, Ngayon at Bukas (Valuing Every Filipino’s Development, Today and Tomorrow),” the “Day of the 100 Millionth Baby” served as a measurement of the government and other organizations’ delivery of health and education services thereby empowering the identified 6 babies as well as all Filipinos in the region.

Along with its other partners, POPCOM IV-A through their Population Representatives (PopReps) continue to closely monitor the said children’s growth and development, which are indicators in determining the regional office’ capacity to respond to the evolving needs of the entire region’s population.  POPCOM IV-A identified emerging issues among Filipino families as inputs to the advancement of appropriate policies and programs.

In a statement, POPCOM IV-A Regional Director Angelito S. Obcena commented that “the births of those babies symbolize hope and also serve as a challenge for the government and communities to ensure their welfare because of the limited resources of our region.”

The said children’s lives reflect also the big responsibility of the Philippine society, particularly on parents, government agencies, civil society, academe as well as other stakeholders, to work together, make every birth of a child wanted, and ensure every Filipino child is able to live in a healthy, productive, and livable environment.  This is assuming that their health, education and other basic development needs are well-provided.

At the national level, POPCOM Undersecretary Juan Antonio A. Perez III believes that the celebration further strengthened the relevance of the Philippine Population and Development Program, or the PPDP, in pursuing national, regional and local development:  “The welfare of our people should be the common denominator in everything that the government does.  Every Filipino is valued, and no one should be left behind in terms of improvement in the quality of life.”

For POPCOM IV-A, this year’s celebration was also meaningful because of the coronavirus (COVID)-19 pandemic, given that children are identified as a vulnerable sector that may be affected by the disease.  POPCOM IV-A distributed relevant gifts for the 10 symbolic children to promote their health and education thereby promoting also this year’s theme. 

Likewise, the region released a  monitoring tool to its partner LGUs to assess the said children’s present state of health, nutrition and socioeconomic support system. These elements, according to Undersecretary Perez III, are supposed to be complemented by their respective family’s capacity to provide for their emotional, psychological and financial needs.