Vincent and I met just before Christmas in 2021 at his kiosk in Quiapo, a bustling district in Manila in the Philippines. We got to know each other on Facebook. I went to his workplace one day and asked him to fix my mobile phone. We had an instant connection. I started seeing him as much as I could and introduced him to my family, including my two children from a previous relationship.
We moved in together and our love blossomed. I found out I was pregnant in March 2022. He continued working as a street vendor, selling cellphone cases and chargers, while I stayed at home looking after the children. Sales are unpredictable – sometimes they’re good, but often they’re not – so Vincent started to sell online, too. Times were tough; money became so difficult that we ate salt or soy sauce mixed with rice for our meals.
I gave birth on 15 November last year, the day the UN projected the world population to reach 8 billion. It was surreal. It was just past midnight and as soon as the baby was delivered, we were surrounded by people, and the press interviewed me straight away. The Philippines Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) chose our baby as their symbolic 8 billionth baby, and brought a banner, cake and toys. We decided to name her Vinice after Vincent’s nickname, Vin.
We were so happy that we were able to have baby Vinice without any complications, even if life has been difficult for us. We’ve endured a lot of hardship, so we’re very grateful for the gifts Popcom gave us.
Vincent hadn’t slept for a couple of nights leading up to the birth as he was so excited, so afterwards when they brought over a huge box with a cake in it, he was really confused and his mind was all over the place. The nurse explained that it was to mark Vinice being the 8 billionth baby, but he thought they were asking him to pay 8bn pesos (£120m) for the cake. He even thought that our baby might be inside the box – he was afraid to open it.
We were shocked and overwhelmed by the reception. A few other babies were chosen by health agencies across the world, but Vinice has captured the international media’s attention.
One of the biggest channels in the Philippines interviewed us, and we’ve been sponsored by a local diaper brand who sorted the hospital fees, organised a celebration for us and paid for the baby’s clothes and food. Since then, Vinice’s story has travelled across the globe and been reported in the biggest newspapers in the world: we still can’t believe all the attention she’s received.
We’ve done a lot of interviews since. The hospital knew about the media interest and kept our details private to make sure people wouldn’t flock to our house. We were really nervous every time there was a photoshoot or interview – we didn’t expect our baby to be so high profile. Our family are also surprised at how and why she was chosen to be the 8 billionth baby. They were so excited to meet her.
She’s doing OK, but is always hungry. Her room is covered in Hello Kitty decor as I’m a huge fan and it matches the rest of the house.
The strange thing is that when I went into labour, the first hospital we tried to go to didn’t let us in because it was full. We had to rush to another hospital in San Andres, which was getting ready to choose the 8 billionth person. Maybe it was destiny that this happened.
The experience seems like a dream for all of us and we’re positive about the future. We have surpassed the challenges brought about by the pandemic, and we’re truly blessed that she was born healthy and without any complications. I believe that this is the most special gift that we have received from God.
Maybe when Vinice grows up, the “8 billionth” title might become a big thing for her. There’s a chance her siblings might be a little jealous, but hopefully that won’t happen.
We hope that Vinice might be granted a scholarship from the government, and we’re so grateful for the financial assistance we’ve received so far. Whatever happens, we hope that she has a good education and is able to realise her aspirations: that’s more important than a symbolic title.
As told to Kyle MacNeill
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