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    What’s the most offensive reaction you’ve received after telling someone you don’t want to become a mother? 

    Charlene: "You’ll change your mind." "Have a baby." "Having children or not is definitely not only your choice, it is also HIS (God)." "How about adoption?" "Who’s going to inherit my stuff?" "Having children is finding the connection you will never have with other people." "If you want to have a kid, you'll find a way. If you don't want to have a kid, you're always going to be coming up with excuses not to have one (expenses, time, etc.)." "Expenses is not the issue, it's the commitment." "Better make one before you get old, so that your children will grow up without the big age gap [between you]."

    Crisha: Upon finding out that I wasn't too keen on having kids of my own, my tita INSISTED I must have kids just because it was the right thing to do.

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    Ella: Being told that I will regret my decision when I reach my non-child bearing years.

    Grace: I’ve gotten used to people telling me that I will change my mind in the future. There’s also the usual "Sayang ang genes, pwedeng pag-artistahin" because I am married to a foreigner. They can be annoying but they’re easy to ignore. Although I hope our society can finally be in a place where this is a non-issue. One thing that made me angry and sad at the same time was when someone condescendingly told me that I will never know real love because I don’t have children. That one hurt a lot. I realize that a child’s love is special and different and I would never suggest otherwise, but it doesn’t mean that what my husband and I share is not real love.

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    Jacinda: I’d end up being alone, no man would want to be with me, or just the general "sayang."

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    Jenny: From two different people:

    "Ay bakitSayang naman!" As if my main role in life was to procreate.

    "Hindi complete ang buhay mo. Bakit ka pa mag-aasawa? Hindi totoong family ‘yan." From someone who considers himself a modern thinker. I know he means well though.

    Jillian: A pseudo-celebrity once told me, "Naku, bakla siguro asawa mo. Iiwanan ka niyan." I laughed it off to be professional, but in my head, he is..."the pus that infects the mucous...that cruds up the fungus...that feeds on the pond scum." THE NERVE. It was none of his business. Other things said to me by strangers, friends, and more pseudo-celebrities: “Maghahanap yan ng iba.” “Ano gagawin niyo pag tanda niyo?” “You are not a complete woman!”

    Vanessa: I don’t recall any offensive reaction directed to me, but the most annoying one is "May pera naman kayo bakit ayaw mo mag-anak?" and ultimately, "Who will take care of you when you grow old?" Come on people, having children is not like an investment that you keep and nurture 'til they mature just so you can expect them to take care of you.

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    My parents always remind me that they work hard, despite the fact that I have already graduated from college and am able to fend for myself, to ensure that they can cover for themselves as much as they can. This is something that I will always be grateful for because not all those who decide to have children have the same mindset. 

    Ysabel: Thankfully, the worst I’ve encountered was confusion. They just didn’t get why I didn’t want to have kids. At a certain point though, I’d just use money and travel as a cop out excuse when I’m not in the mood to explain. Though I’ve encountered someone once, who directed the insult at someone else, implying that this certain couple is shallow for wanting to spend their money on partying and whatnot rather than kids. I was pretty angered by it, especially since overpopulation is a real problem and really, being a parent doesn’t make you better than anyone. It just puts you in a different situation.

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    Why do you think Philippine society is so quick to judge women who proactively choose not to have children?

    Charlene: It is part of Filipino culture to have big families. Filipinos are used to having a lot of relatives around for company, through good and bad times. Filipinos are also mostly Roman Catholic, a religion that believes in "go forth and multiply" regardless of your financial and health capacity because having children is God’s gift. We went to a marriage seminar at a ministry as it was a requirement before getting married in the Church; the lectors were vehemently against birth control and family planning because this is against God’s will to "go forth and multiply." Catholic Filipinos believe if a woman decides to put her financial and health well-being first before having children, she is rejecting God’s gift. They only see women as baby makers and homemakers first, only sometimes as a human being with other needs besides reproduction.

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    Grace: I think the main reason is because our culture is so centered on family that it’s hard to wrap our minds around the idea of couples who choose not to build a family. We are so sociable that the thought of someone who does not actively want to surround themselves with even more family is strange. It’s kind of crazy because if you have kids, no one will question your decision. But the moment you say that you don’t have kids, people automatically think that there is something wrong. They ask "Why?" or "How come?" and seem to think that it warrants an explanation. I also think that our society puts mothers up on a high pedestal, which is not bad, but it also means putting unrealistic expectations on women who think that motherhood is the only thing that makes women important. Our worth as women is not supposed to be tied to our uterus.

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    Jacinda: The Philippines is so deeply misogynistic that I believe it stems from the majority not having access to resources that would at the very least open up their minds. Or if they do have the resources, they shut these ideas out because it goes against the culture. The Philippine media reinforces this mentality. Women here are portrayed as attachments to men, never as a single unit that can stand alone. We (women) are brought up to believe in creating a false sense of independence and identity but, in truth, what society expects of us is to fulfill roles that were chosen for us: to become a wife and mother.

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    Jenny: In the same way Filipinos generally judge people for being atheists, or wanting to live with significant others before marriage, or being with people of the same sex, or identifying as the gender you weren’t assigned to at birth—we tend to be averse to what we don’t consider the norm. We’re a very community-oriented society that does not celebrate individualism in the same way other societies do, but find strength in numbers. And when someone deviates from certain norms, there is a sense of superiority over the minorities, at least from how I interpret things.

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    Another theory is that they tie motherhood to a sense of accomplishment and meaning that they cannot wrap their heads around people who draw accomplishment and meaning from things other than motherhood. They impose their own beliefs on others, which I think is unnecessary, and borderline offensive. I do not believe they aim to offend though.

    Jillian: It's a matter of exposing yourself to more possibilities and realities. We've seen (and rewarded) the typical get-married-have-kids path so much that it's what we have convinced ourselves to WANT. And so people cannot comprehend why others would rather not be moms. Judging comes from not understanding—how can we embrace something we do not understand? This is why I want to publish a piece like this on Cosmo.ph—to open up readers' minds, and show them that it's okay to be any woman you want to be. 

    UP NEXT: Did you ever doubt your decision to be child-free 

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