BAGUIO CITY – Many powerful and compelling quotes depict about giving birth. One says, “A baby is a wishing well.” Another, states, “Birth is the epicenter of women’s power.”
Still, another avows, “Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing,” while yet another declares, “Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother!”
In Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), four infants are born every hour, or 105 babies born every day in the highlands, the Philippine Statistics Authority, Regional Statistical Services Office- Cordillera Administrative Region (PSA-RSSO-CAR) revealed last week.
That translates to 105 women every day, upon entry in medical facilities or at home, laboring anywhere from 14 to nineteen hours to urge out alive and kicking their fragile babies into this world.
If a baby will survive, and the mother won’t, it is a tragedy. If a mother will not survive giving birth and the baby survives, it is still a tragedy. If both do not survive, it is a double tragedy. Either way, such deaths will be treated coldly by statistics such as Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR).
Birth, indeed, for any Philippine family is a gift for Filipino humanity, preordained with hope of assurance and positive expectations.
For the fourth quarter of 2022, there were a total of 9,644 registered live births in CAR, an increase of 11.3 per cent as compared to the same period in 2021.
Live birth, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), “is a complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which after separation, breathes or shows any other evidence of life, such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached, each product of such a birth is considered live born.”
Such definition by WHO is carried by the Department of Health (DOH), the PSA as well as other nations, worldwide, and defines a universal data collection strategy on birth delivery.
Baguio City had the highest live births registered with 2,114 infants, followed by Tabuk City in Kalinga with 1,224.
Average birth per day by province/city was found by PSA-CAR as 23 for Baguio City; Kalinga, 18; Abra, 13; Benguet, 13; Ifugao, 13 and 12 for Mountain Province.
As to municipality, Bangued in Abra topped the most number of live births at 681; Luna in Apayao, 676; La Trinidad in Benguet, 651; Bauko in Mountain Province, 577; Lamut in Ifugao, 280; Bontoc in Mountain Province, 207; Alfonso Lista in Ifugao, 204 and 173 for Kiangan in Ifugao.
Abra had the fewest registered live births in CAR in the municipalities of Penarrubia, 5; Villaviciosa, 4; San Isidro, 4; San Quintin, 3 and 2 for Daguioman.
These 2022 “living bundles of joys” to their parents and kin have added to the total 8,569 babies born in 2021, PSA-CAR noted.
Of the bubbly live births coming into CAR’s world for 2022, male babies happen to dominate the female infants, PSA-CAR pointed out.
A total of 4,858 male infants were registered, contributing 50.3 percent to CAR’s total live births. On the other hand, female babies stood at 4,806. For the last quarter of 2022, the result was a sex ratio of 101 male babies per 100 female babies.
Baguio City registered most male babies at 1,073, Kalinga, 839; Abra, 636; Ifugao, 591; Apayao, 575; Mountain Province, 573 and, Benguet; 571 for 2022.
Female babies born 2022 were 1,041 in Baguio City; Kalinga, 823; Benguet, 656; Abra, 597; Mountain Province, 537; and Apayao, 525.
Breaking down the 2022 infant statistics, PSA-CAR defined that at an average of 23, Baguio City had the most live births per day, followed by Kalinga, with 18 live births/day; Abra, Benguet and Ifugao with 13 live births/day.
Among provinces, Kalinga had the highest occurrence of registered live births with 1,662; Abra, 1233; Benguet, 1,227; Ifugao, 1,218; Mountain Province, 1,110, and Apayao; 1,100.
Compared to the 2022 fourth quarter of the same quarter of 2021, all provinces reported an increase in the number of live births registered, the largest percentage being in Mountain Province with 26.7 per cent.
Benguet province reported a decline in registration of live births at 32.8 per cent, PSA-CAR said.
For the fourth quarter of 2021, registered live births in Abra was 1,075; Apayao, 1,005; Benguet, 1,630; Baguio City, 1, 576; Ifugao, 965; Kalinga, 1,504, and Mountain Province; 814.
Tracking by month, PSA-CAR found out 6 out of 25 registered births as of 2022 occurred in the month of November, meaning November had the highest registration of live births at 2,356, followed by the month of October at 2,115 and December at 1,852.
PSA-RSSO-CAR -CAR explained that data on births were obtained from the city and municipal Registrars in CAR that were submitted to their office.
Nationwide, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) found that on the average, 3,739 babies are born daily, corresponding to 156 infants born every hour, or approximately three babies born per minute. Surprisingly, more male babies are born than females.
On another front, Cordillera population, at present, stands at 1,797,660 with a population density of 91 and population growth rate at 0/91 per cent. Males still continue to dominate the CAR population. There are 105 males for every 100 females.
Among the provinces, Benguet holds the biggest population at 460,683; Abra, 250,985; Kalinga, 229,570; Ifugao, 207,498; Mountain province, 158,200 and Apayao, 124,366, according to PSA-RSSO-CAR.
Kalinga remains the fastest growing province with an annual Population Growth Rate (PGR) of 1.62 per cent from 2015 to 2020, Apayao with PGR of 0.9 per cent, Abra with PGR of 0.84 per cent, Benguet having PGR of 0.67 per cent, Mountain Province with PGR of 0.49 per cent and Ifugao with PGR of 0.48 per cent.
Baguio City posted a PGR of 1,25 percent. Excluding Baguio City and municipalities in the region, La Trinidad, in Benguet remains with the largest population with 137, 404 persons, followed by Tabuk City Kalinga with 121, 033 persons and Itogon in Benguet with 61,498 persons.
CAR remains as the least populated region in the Philippines, having 87.000 persons per square kilometer as of 2015 census.
Province-wide, there are still more males than females in all provinces, with the exception of Baguio City with a sex ratio of 97, the only area in the region with more women than men. Among provinces with male-dominated population, Ifugao had the least share of women with 48.0 per cent, followed by Mountain province with 48.1 percent or 75,860 in their population of 157,798 individuals. Apayao had the least number of women with 59, 716 out of its total population of 123, 937 persons
Looking across five-year age groups, PSA-RSSO-CAR observed that CAR’s regional sex ratios were above 100 from 0 to 59 year-old persons, but began slumping in the 60 to 64 years old at 97 males per 100 females.
Looking at MMR in CAR, the Department of Health (DOH-CAR) released a 2020 data that showed 64.74 deaths per thousand live births, a reflection that women die as result of complications during and following pregnancy and child birthing.
Most complications develop during pregnancy and are most treatable or preventable. Some complications exist even before pregnancy and are worsened during pregnancy, particularly when not managed as part of women’s health care.
On pregnancy’s lighter side, Filipino culture being superstitious despite this modern age, there remains pregnancy “pamahiin” among Filipino families and across regions and ethnicities.
Some of these pregnancy pamahiin you may have heard include: eating twin bananas will result to twin babies; if a pregnant woman’s tummy is pointed, chances she’ll give birth to a boy; if it’s round, it’s a girl; eating dark food will give a baby dark complexion; a pregnant woman should not cut her hair or swallow a raw egg to have easier time during delivery.
Then you may have heard about elders urging pregnant woman to “just keep on eating for she is eating for two;” a pregnant woman shouldn’t take a bath at night for its unsafe; or, about the, “Saan mo nga akangan ti masikog nu saan mo kayat mai-alis diyay sikog kenyam;”
There are also the sayings for the pregnant, “nga saan na kankanen ti nabate nga makan ta makaturturog tu a kanayon;” saan mo a let-letratu-en (take photograph) ti masikog;” “ti nalam-min a danum ket madi para iti masikog;” pregnant women shouldn’t dye their hair; if a pregnant wears necklace, the umbilical cord will wrap around the baby’s neck; do not pressure pregnant women for it will result in the baby looking weird.
Then there is what is often described as “paglilihi,” a pregnant woman having a fondness for things like food, animals, unusual things or even people. And there is this belief that if a pregnant woman has itchy abdomen, her baby will come out hairy or eating ginger will give an extra finger to a born baby.
Or, the saying that if a pregnant woman has dark underarms, it will mean a baby boy for her. Or putting salt and garlic besides the window to thwart evil. Elders also said, if a baby should become musically-inclined, the mother must listen to music. There is also this belief discouraging pregnant women from attending wakes or funerals.
A fair share of Filipino folks, unfortunately still believe in some of these myths, which thankfully, all of these have been debunked by pure science.