Charter change is not “the threshold at which all other hopes begin.” Life is. Nor is an overhauled constitution the most telling indicator of advance — or setback. Life expectancy is.
Filipinos with the longest life spans are in La Union, says Philippine Human Development Report 2008/ 2009. “On average those born in 2006 in La Union are expected to live 74.6 years”, like Ecuadorians.
In contrast, Tawi-Tawi life expectancy is like that of Djibouti in Africa : 53.4 years. That’s two decades shorter than Bulacan’s 73.4. “Those expected to live the shortest” are in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao’s conflict-savaged provinces or Cordillera Administrative Region’s backwaters. Is this a twilight zone of shriveled hopes?
Filipino scientists cobble PHDRs within the Human Development Network. The first of these biennial studies came in 1990. UN Development Programme and New Zealand co-sponsored this latest edition.
PHDR and the global “Human Development Report” go beyond usual measuring tools, e.g. gross domestic product. They apply “human development indices”. HDIs factor in schooling, poverty, health –and life spans.
“Long lifers” also cluster in Ilocos Norte, Camarines Sur, Cebu, Batangas, Pampanga, Cagayan and Albay, Life expectancy, in these provinces, is in the 70’s – and climbing. This still lags behind an Icelander’s 81 years.
Truncated lives are in Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao and Mt. Province, and Agusan del Norte. Their life expectancies hover in the 60s, often below. They are where Pakistan and Eritea are wedged today. ““Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur are worst off “
“Differences in homes, clothing or even menus are galling enough”, the late National Scientist Dioscoro Umali wrote .”But denial of life itself and premature graves are an obscene injustice. These are death sentences. And they cut into the very depths of our common humanity. “
Nationwide, “Filipinos born in 2006 will live, on average, about eight years longer compared to those born in 1980,” PHDR notes. “Between 1980 and 2006, life expectancy improved by roughly three years for every decade.”
Fine Take a bow. But what underpinned the heartening advances. And what triggered those tragic setbacks?
Improved scientific analysis, for one. PHDR did further sophisticated work on mortality tables. These were first stitched together by San Carlos University’s Fr Wilhelm Fleiger, SVD and UP Population Institute’s Josefina Cabigon. The result provides clearer insights.
Cash for another. For every dollar our legislators pony up for health, Malaysians allocate two and Koreans five. This results in skewed survival rates.
For every 1,000 births here, 25 infants die. Thais have cut that to 18. In every 100,000 births, 230 Filipina mothers die. That toll resembles Cape Verde.
Camarines Sur, Leyte and Zamboanga del Norte “registered the biggest improvements.,” PHDR found. “More than 14 years were added to life expectancy.” Other gainers: Sorsogon, Surigao del Norte and, Zambales,. Palawan, even Pangasinan.
Some updated life expectancies : ( figures rounded ): Bohol and Iloilo, 71; Negros Occidental and Bukidnon, 70; Nueva Ecija and Tarlac, 69; North Cotabato and Ilocos Sur, 68; Negros Oriental, 67, Davao del Norte, Southern Leyte, Western Samar and Masbate, 66; Romblon, 65.
“He who knows who to use a writing brush,” the Chinese proverb says, “will never have to beg”. .So, look at the “no-read-no-write” data.
In Batanes, two percent are functionally illiterate..That bolts to 35 percent in Basilan – where teachers are often kidnapped. ..Roughly, the same level of deprivation prevails in Sarangani, Siquijor — and Uganda.
“For the country, as a whole, the proportion of high school graduates among adults, in 2006, was 55 percent, PHDR found. “(This is ) up nine percentage points from 1997, level.”
Four out of every five adults finish high school in Metro Manila.. “Benguet follows closely with seven in every nine adults.
Provinces cheek-by-jowl with the metropolis –, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna — have relatively high ratios,” the report adds. “ So do northern Luzon corridor provincdes, like: Bataan.
“Abra registered the greatest improvement ( 15 percent).in secondary schooling. Guimaras and Biliran followed closely by 13 percent surges. Maguindanao, Benguet, Apayao and Surigao del Norte chalked up nine percent increases.
“Water is life”. In Capiz, 48 out of every 100 drink from open, often contaminated, wells. The comparative figures are 37 in Palawan, down to 7 in Cavite.
PDHR computers crunch out overall rankings for human development. Benguet is topnotcher. The study also sets province ranking into an international context.
Metro Manilans are wedged between Lebanese and Peruvians, the comparison shows. Cebu matches the Palestinian territories. Topnotcher Benguet clones Armenia . “Davao del Sur, Abra and Bohol lie between Nicaragua and Uzbekistan.” Manguindanao compares to Ghana.
“The value of inter-country comparisons is redeemed only when people – seeing the gap between what is and what could be – begin to demand more of themselves and of those who purport to represent their interests.”
Yes, yes. But what if our so-called leaders set their thresholds at “cha-cha”?