The country faces numerous social problems, from human trafficking to teen pregnancies. In this context, young people seek the guidance of the Church. Some programmes educate them in spirituality and their faith.
Manila (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church accompanies and guides young people in the realisation of their hopes and aspirations, two catholic youth leaders told AsiaNews.
Young people in the Philippines face many social problems and challenges, such human trafficking, teen pregnancy, drug and substance abuse, poverty, crime, lack of employment, and family disintegration.
People aged 15 and 24 make up 19.17 per cent of the total population. One of the main problems they face is the high rate of teen pregnancy, especially among the poor.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), two thirds of Filipinas who give birth before the age of 20 are part of the lower classes.
The growing incidence of pregnancies among teenagers has also resulted in a higher number of abortions.
According to the Population Institute of the University of the Philippines, more than 46 per cent of pregnant teenage women resort to abortion which is against Filipino law.
Even the emigration of ten million Filipinos (10 per cent of populations) comes with a social cost. Although their annual remittances exceed US$ 26 billion, they are forced to leave their children alone back home.
In this context, the new generation is anxiously looking for Church guidance in order to create for themselves a peaceful life for a better country.
Joshua Jean P. Jamolin, a 21-year-old Catholic, strongly believes that with faith in God and strong affiliation with the Church, the country’s youth can hope for a better, safer and more secure life for themselves and for the country.
“The government, civil society groups, and Churches are to accompany and embrace youth to improve their education coupled with solid human and spiritual values," Jamolin said.
"We need to hope for the better today,” he added. “Our parents and Church authorities, besides the government, are doing their best to help us. It all depends on how we take and accept these programmes and take advantage of them".
One of these programmes is National Youth Day (NYD) which began on 6 November and ended today. The Episcopal Commission on Youth of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines organised it in the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, in the south of the country.
‘The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name’ (Luke 1:49) was the theme of NYD, which included spiritual activities, Marian devotion, dialogue with laypeople, youth, Church leaders and government officials to inspire and enrich youth.
Jamolin was one of the 3,000 students who attended the gathering, one of 24 from the diocese of Cubao (near Manila). “I was inspired to share, learn and interact with youth from different parts of the country,” he said.
For Roy Bryan Sigga, 21, another young man attending the NYD, the mission of the Church in the Philippines is to help young people live a dignified life and experience Christian joy.
Sigga said that his country is confronted with various social issues, which are being addressed by the government, whilst the Catholic Church is educating young people through spiritual programmes.