'Bata, Bata, Pa'no Ka Lalaki?:' the Lowdown on Growth among Child Actors

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Cute, adorable, and more often than not "bibong-bibo"-what's not to love about child performers? They've been an indispensable segment of the entertainment industry. Admit it, you wish these darlings would never grow up.

But they do, and these kids have particular health dynamics different from those of adult performers. Some may argue that they should not be tossed into the grueling showbiz grind and instead, should be learning their A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s and playing games with Totoys and Nenes.

Nevertheless, the government provides protection for working children through Republic Act 9231, or the "Special protection of children against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination act," enacted in 2004. Nota bene: they are only allowed to work for a maximum of four hours a day (The strict enforcement of this guideline deserves a separate discussion, though).

We sat down with Dr. Felizardo Gatcheco, MD, MSc, a pediatric gastroenterologist and clinical epidemiologist, after the press launch of Ceelin Plus' newest campaign, "Kontra Sakit, Kontra Liit," on Nov. 6. He laid down the various consequences of working at such a young age in such a highly demanding industry.

Be wary of-

*Lack of sleep. Child stars then (and perhaps, even now) who worked up to the wee hours would naturally have irregular sleeping patterns. The pressures at work could impact their overall health, specifically their height, which could lead to growth stunting, Dr. Felizardo said.

"Sometimes para silang mga call center agents na instead of being awake at daytime, dun sila [sa oras na 'yun] natutulog," he added. …