Fast facts about Filipino relationships

MANILA, Philippines - Has Filipino culture really changed through the years? Latest statistics showed that less Filipinos have been tying the knot while more of them have been ending their marriages.

Dr. Romulo Virola, secretary-general of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), said that in the year 2000, less than half of the country's population (45.7%) were married. Back in the 80s, he said 50.6% of Filipinos have exchanged "I do's."

In 2008, only 50.7% of women aged 15 to 49 were married, down from 54.4% in 1993.

"Has love become more expensive, or is it because Pinoy men of earlier generations had stronger appeal than this Piolo Pascual or Gerald Anderson?" Virola said in his column at the NSCB website.

"Whatever, for those who are looking to tie yourselves with a knot, you know your prospects have gone higher, provided of course, that you are willing to marry anyone who is unmarried," he added.

Separation, live-in relationships

On the other hand, the number of Filipinos who have ended their marriage has increased.

In the year 2000, one out of every 100 Filipinos was separated from his or her partner.

In 2008, about 3 out of every 100 Filipino women aged 15 to 49 were separated from their partners, higher than 2 per hundred in 1993.

"Does this point to the gradual disintegration of the Pinoy family as an institution? To think that family life is the most important source of happiness for many Pinoys. How sad," Virola lamented.

Aside from separations, Virola also noted a rise in common-law relationships through the years.

In 2008, 11 out of 100 Filipino women aged 15 to 49 years old were living in with their partners from only 5 out of 100 back in 1993.

"Sign of the times? But don't you think the old-fashioned pamamanhikan or kasalan sounds romantic?" Virola said.

First marriage, birth

From 1993 to 2008, more Filipino women have decided to marry later as their median age at first marriage has gone up by a year.

Virola said most urban women got married at age 23 (from 22), while majority of those situated in the rural areas tied the knot at 21 years old (from 20).

Likewise, the median age at first birth has gone slightly up. Most urban women gave birth at 24 years old in 2008 (from 23), while rural women had their first child at 22 years old (from 21).

"But this is still very young by Commission of Population standards, I am sure. On the average, women in the rural areas marry at least one year earlier than women in urban areas," he said.

Does love really kill?

Virola said love, among others, must be putting a lot of stress in the poor heart as heart disease remains the number one killer of men and women in the Philippines.

In 2005, he said heart disease has killed 77,060 Filipinos or 18.1% of all deaths due to lifestyle diseases (LD). Of the said number, 56.9% were male while 43.1% were female.

"For those who are loveless, for those who have no dates on Sunday (Valentine's day), do not despair. Next year can only be better," Virola said.

Other LDs that caused deaths in 2005 include stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Virola noted that all these have consistently risen from 46.4% of all mortalities in 1999 to 49.9% in 2005.

During the said year, more women (9,529) than men (8,912) died from diabetes, or a condition in which a person has a high blood sugar level.

"Really, ladies, beware of those chocolate gifts during Valentine's," Virola noted. Chocolates, among many others, are gifts usually given to women during Valentine's day. Report by Karen Flores,

Virola sourced the aforementioned statistics from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Census of Population and Housing; 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008 National Demographic and Health Surveys; and the Philippine Health Statistics of the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health. For more statistical data, log on to

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