I. Introduction

The Philippine government under President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has adopted a 25-year long term vision to end poverty in the country by 2040.  The “AmBisyon Natin 2040” (Our Ambition 2040) vision states that by 2040, the Philippines will be a prosperous, premdominantly middle-class society, where no one is poor.

AmBisyon Natin 2040 also envisions that after 25 years, Filipinos shall live ling and healthy lives, be smart and innovative, and shall live in a high-trust society.  Under the long-term plan, the Philippine government aims to triple real per capita income and eradicate hunger and poverty by 2040, or sooner.

The socio-economic agenda of the government are anchored on three pillars of “Malasakit”, or enhancing the social fabric; “Pagbabago”, or reducing inequality; and “Kaunlaran”, or increasing potential growth.

Within this development thrust population management is specifically recognized and considered as critical factor in facilitating the achievement of all the national goals.


II. Regional Population Issues


Eastern Visayas is located on the eastern edge of the Visayas island chain, facing the Pacific Ocean.  The islands of Samar, Leyte and Biliran are the main land masses that cover an area of 21,562.9 square kilometers (2.15 million hectares).

Officially know as Region VIII, Eastern Visayas has six provinces, 12 districts, 7 cities, 136 municipalities and 4,390 barangays. Tacloban City is the regions administrative center.

As of August 1, 2015, Region VIII has a total population of 4,440,150 (POPCEN 2015). The 2015 population of the region is gigher by 338, 828 compared with the population of 4.10 million in 2010, and by 829,795 compared with the population of 3.61 million in 2000.

Figure 1. Trends in Population Size and Population Growth Rate in Eastern Visayas, 1948-2015


It must be noted that the negative growth in 1970 could be attributed to the trend of people moving out of rural to urban areas in search of a better life. Insurgency in remote areas has also contributed to the movement of people out of the region.

The population of Region VIII has increased by 1.52 percent annually, on average, during the period 2010 to 2015. By comparison, the rate at which the region’s population grew during the period 2000 to 2010 was higher at 1.28 percent.

Table 1. Annual Population Growth Rate:

Region VIII-Eastern Visayas

(Based on the 2000, 2010 and 2015 Censuses)

Reference Period Annual Population Growth Rate (in percent)
2010-2015 1.52
2000-2010 1.28

Among thye six provinces comprising the region, Leyte (excluding Tacloban City) had the biggest population in 2015 with 1.73 million, followed by Samar with 780,000; Northern Samar with 632,000; Eastern Samar with 467,000; and Souther Leyte with 422,000. The island province of Biliran had the smallest population with 172,000. T acloban City, the only highly urbanized city in the region posted a population of 242,000.

The total population of Region VIII accounted for about 4.4 percent of the Philippine population of 100,981,437 in 2015.

Table 2. Population by Province/Highly Urbanized City: Region VIII-Eastern Visayas

(Based on the 2000, 2010, and 2015 Censuses)

Province/Highly Urbanized City Population (in thousands)
2000 2010 2015
Biliran 140 162 172
Eastern Samar 376 429 467
Leyte (exluding Tacloban City) 1,414 1,568 1,725
Tacloban City 179 221 242
Northern Samar 501 589 632
Samar 641 733 780
Southern Leyte 360 399 422

Leyte (excluding Tacloban City) was the fastest growing province in the region with an average annual population growth rate (PGR) of 1.83 percent during the period 2010 to 2015. It was followed by Eastern Samar (1.64 percent), Northern Samar (1.36 percent), Samar (1.19 percent), and Biliran (1.13 percent). Southern Leyte posted the lowest provincial PGR of 1.05 percent.


Table 3. Annual Population Growth Rate by Province/Highly Urbanized City:

Region VIII-Eastern Visayas

(Based on the 2000, 2010, and 2015 Censuses)

Province/Highly Urbanized City Population Growth Rate
2010-2015 2000-2010
Biliran 1.13 1.43
Eastern Samar 1.64 1.33
Leyte (excluding Tacloban City) 1.83 1.04
Tacloban City 1.73 2.16
Northern samar 1.36 1.64
Samar 1.19 1.35
Southern Leyte 1.05 1.03

Figure 2. Population Distribution by Age Group and Sex: Eastern Visayas, 2000-2010


Figure 2 depicts a narrowing population base, 0-4 age group since year 2000. However, the change in age structure is slow mainly due to high fertility among women in thye region. The narrowing population base resulted to increasing proportion of the working age population which provides a prospect for demographic dividend.



Fertility remains the most significant determinant of population growth. Data from the National Health and Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in 2013, Eastern Visayas has a total fertility rate (TFR) OF 3.8 children or almost 4 children. This means that ana Eastern Visayas women would be expected to have nearly four (4) children within her reproductive or childbearing years (i.e. 15-49 years)

The data also revealed that the level of total fertility rate in the region is at a downward trend, from 5.4 children in 1982 to 3.8 children in 2013. Based on the data, the fertility level of the region is higher compared to the National TFR at thyree (3) children. While the actual fertility level reflects a modest improvement from the 1980’s level (5.4 children), it remained at a constant level since 1995 until 2010 (4 or more children).

Achieving desired fertility is a significant aspect of reproductive rights. However, the actual fertility rate of women in the region indicates inability of women to achieve their desired fertility objectives.


 Figure 3. Trends in Fertility Rates: Eastern Visayas, 1982-2015


Table 4. Projected Total Fertility Rates (TFR), by Five-Calendar Year Intervals

Region VIII: 2010-2020

(Medium Fertility Assumption)

Period TFR
1995-2000 4.89
2000-2005 4.36
2005-2010 3.89
2010-2015 3.48
2015-2020 3.10

Given the decreasing trend in TFR in the region, the PSA projected that the TFR will fall to 3.1 children as early as 2015-2020. If the trend continues, replacement level of 2 children , which if the level of fertility required is achievable by 2040 to ensure that the population replaces itself in size in succeeding generations.


Table 5. Projected Total Fertility Rate by Province:

Eastern Visayas, 1995-2020

Province 1995-2000 2000-2005 2005-2010 2010-2015 2015-2020
Eastern Samar 4.85 4.32 3.86 3.44 3.07
Leyte (including Biliran) 4.64 4.14 3.69 3.3 2.94
Northern Samar 5.32 4.75 4.24 3.78 3.38
Southern Leyte 4.36 3.89 3.47 3.10 2.76
Samar 5.21 4.65 4.15 3.70 3.30

Low Contraceptive Access and Use

Family planning use in the region has increased from 2010 to 2015. The most preferred contraceptive in the region are pills and injectables. However, many areas in thye region, particularly the Geographically isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), still have restricted contraceptive access and choice.


Table 4. Current Use of Contraception by Method: Eastern Visayas, 2010, 2013, 2015


It is also worth noting that there is a high percentage of traditional users (24.8%) that need to shift to modern and safe methods of contraception to fully achieve the goal on zero unmeet need by 2022.

Based on the observations noted during RPFP couple’s classes, barriers to contraceptive use include:

  • Lack of accessible services, shortages of equipment, commodities, and personnel;
  • Lack of method choices appropriate to the situation of the women and her family;
  • Lack of knowledge about safety, effectiveness and availability of choices;
  • Poor client-provider interaction;
  • Lack of community or spousal support;
  • Misinformation and rumors;
  • Side-effects for some, and insufficient follow-up to promote method switching or ensure proper use and dosage;
  • Financial constraints


Adolescents’ sexual risks

Today, young people are reaching puberty at earlier ages and marrying later than in the past, and the premarital sexual relations appear to be increasing.

According to the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFSS4), nearly two in five youth have sexual experience. Region 8 youth engage in sex at young ages; the mean age at first sex is 18.0 years for males and 17.6 years for females. Two in 100 male youth and nearly 3 in 100 female youth had sex before age 15. Nearly one in fivemale youth and more than one in four female youth had sex before age 18.

YAFSS4 further revealed that about 3 in 4 youth in Eastern Visayas have never been married. But more youth are in a live-in arrangement (19%) than in formal union (4.5).


Increasing Adolescent Fertility

One critical emerging population issue is the increasing birth among adolescents. Based on PSA data, teenage mothers are getting younger aside from the fact that younger mothers are incresing, as reflected in the following tables bellow:


Tables 5, 6, 7 & 8. Number of Births by Teenage Pregnancy by Province: Eastern Visayas, 2011-2014









YAFSS4 revealed that 9.7 percent of females aged 15-19 are already mothers; 2.1 percent of females aged 15-19 were pregnant with their first child at the time of the survey interview; 11.8 percent of females aged 15-19 have begun childbearing.

The study also revealed that the proportion of women who have begun childbearing increase with age from 2.0 percent among those aged 16 to 31.8 percent among those aged 19.