Saturday, November 23, 2013

Diaries from the Field: A personal diary on three delays & “why no woman should die giving life”


Two days before Christmas morning in 2011, someone gave me a notebook with an inscription “no women should die giving life.” She said she wanted me to have that, along with a UNFPA bag and mug, as token for having traveled from Mindanao to attend my final interview for a job at UNFPA I was applying for. It was the beginning of another journey. After a year and 9 months, I was with some health service providers in the Province of Masbate crossing the clear sea waters of Masbate mainland to Ticao Island to conduct a Maternal Death Review cum Community Dissemination Forum.  Two women just recently died while giving birth in San Jacinto Municipality. In 2012, 22 women died while giving birth in the Province of Masbate. Although, the numbers are decreasing from 35 in 210 and 29 in 2011, these figures are still alarming contributing to the some 230 women for every 100,000 live births who die each year in the Philippines while giving birth.  These figures make MDG 5 the least likely MDG goal to be achieved by the Philippines in 2015. 

Delay in Accessing Health Care and the Road Network
The recent obvious development in the Island is the construction of kilometers of roads connecting the four fourth class municipalities of Batuan, Monreal, San Fernando and San Jacinto. I was with our Maternal Health Officer, Angel and five other health service providers from the Province. The more than an hour boat ride from Masbate City mainland continued with a 45 minutes land trip to reach the Municipality of San Jacinto. The almost two hours of journey lead us to discussions on the renowned politician who died of plane crashed in the middle of the sea we were traversing to the  issue of road development in Ticao Island. 

Debbie, the provincial family planning coordinator, shared that it will take them more than three hours to travel on an uncemented road from Batuan to San Jacinto before. But the new road network is allowing the population to access services, including health services, in 45 minutes.  However, some communities are still very difficult to reach due to distance of health facilities, poor roads in geographically isolated barangays, and availability of transportation. In 2012, I witnessed a Maternal Death Community Dessimination Forum in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat held a remote barangay with a very poor road network. The community was successful deciding to put up a “bayanihan” system of a involving the barangay officials by providing a “pre-paid” motorcycle that will bring the woman to the birthing clinic, blood donation from family members to assure blood transfusion in case of blood loss, and some homes nearer to the birthing clinic as halfway homes for pregnant women while waiting for the delivery period.

Delay in the Decision to Seek Care and a Personal Experience

The death of two women in Ticao is a result of delay in reaching care. Presumably, health service providers in the island have been providing “community-based” awareness campaign maternal health. I couldn’t imagine the daily sacrifice relayed by some midwives during the forum on traversing mountains and slippery slopes while conducting maternal health advocacy campaigns. However, Ticao Island, with four 4th municipalities, have very poor families which can may have resulted to low status of women in seeking health care and its financial implications. Furthermore, the maternal death may also happen as when the pregnant woman and her family have “poor understanding of complications and risk factors in pregnancy and of when medical interventions are needed.” In 2006, my sister died after giving birth to her second child due to pregnancy related complications. The physician said it is my sister’s incapacity to seek care which resulted to this tragic event in our family. She has a heart disease which the doctor already warned when she gave birth to her first child in 2002 (the child also died a month after). She was already advised to use family planning method to save her life but she didn’t. The women in Ticao, Lebak and my sister have one thing in common—their late decision to seek care due to lack of knowledge, financial incapacity and poor understanding if the risk of pregnancy. 

Delay in Receiving Adequate Health Care

As the Maternal Death Review cum Dissemination Forum in Ticao is heating, Dr. Angel quickly pointed out that the review process shall never be a fault-finding exercise but an avenue to discuss measures reduce maternal deaths in the future. San Jacinto has a total population of 27,974 (as of 2010) for its 17 barangays. As to number of midwives per 5,000 population, San Jacinto has enough. But, it is not the number of midwives that concerns adequacy in health care but the terrain and location of areas of assignments of the midwives. Many of the barangays in San Jacinto belongs to the “geographically isolated and disadvantage area or GIDA” which might lead to inadequate referral system in tracking high risk pregnancy and difficultly of health service providers to reach these GIDAs. As of 2012, it is worth mentioning that the Province of Masbate has already 18 of its 21 RHUs certified birthing clinics and MCP accredited.  Coupled with more support from UNFPA and other stakeholders on trainings and capacity development on maternal health and family planning, this development will eventually result to more motivated health service providers and increase their referral system for a delivery of birth by a skilled birth attendant.   

Hopes in the Future 

As I peeped from terrace of the Municipal Hall of San Jacinto, I saw the crystal water of the sea and it seems inviting me to take a deep. Surely, I think, more children will swim in that sea with their mothers with them. The MDR cum Community Dissemination Forum is only an awakening exercise for San Jacinto and the whole Province of Masbate to reflect on reducing maternal deaths.  As we travelled back to mainland Masbate late that afternoon, I am already starting to feel the breeze of the “ber months” (Filipinos’ concept of celebrating early Christmas starting from September to December) and for now, one of my wish list is to reduce maternal deaths and make that inscription in my notebook a reality, that, “no woman should die giving life.”

Masbate and UNFPA renew commitments to achieve universal access to SRH


Note: This is an old article written on August 2013. 

Taguig City--“This is not just something personal but a respond to the majority population of Province of Masbate who are asking for access to reproductive health services.” This was the acceptance message of Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete during the Partnership Meeting and Signing of 2013 Annual Work Plan between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Province of Masbate on 19 August 2013 in F1 Hotel, Taguig. “Our population needs this support,” the Governor added. 

Meanwhile, Ugochi Daniels, former Country Representative of UNFPA Philippines, noted the significant contribution of Masbate during the 6th Country Programme. Daniels recognized Masbate’s effort towards a 70% increase in the number of pregnant women completing antenatal visits as a reflection of the multi-sector support extended to the pregnant women including its Buntis Baby Bank micro-financing and 18 of its 21 Rural Health Units are already MCP- accredited and with BEmONC trained personnel as of 2012 and early 2013.

Working on the gains of the 6th Country Programme, the Province of Masbate is the 10th Province to have entered into partnership with UNFPA. UNFPA noted that more needs to be done to address current challenges and disparities especially between the 6th CP pilot municipalities and the province as a whole in the areas of facility based delivery, contraceptive prevalence rate, functionality of Women Crises Protection Units and Local Health Board, and addressing unmet need for modern family planning method to about 45,797 women of reproductive age (one of the highest in Bicol).

Under the Medium Package of Assistance, Masbate will be receiving support based on quality improvement, accreditation and compliance to standards needs of the Province. The 2013 Annual Work Plan for Masbate will focus on support 18 out of 21 BEmONC certified RHUs in providing long acting and permanent method of FP to women with unmet need in CCT/ NHTS areas, strengthen capacities of 74 Barangays (both CCT and non-CCT) in providing family planning services through integrating Family Planning Action Sessions, masterlisting of women with unmet need, and referral of clients towards becoming FP acceptors (as well as mobilizing CHTs/ WHTs). The plan will also ensure the implementation of a solid STI prevention and control program for high risk young people and male and female freelance sex workers.  It will also support the completion of ‘province-wide’ CBMS incorporating key data related to gender and sexual reproductive health needs of the population. Finally, it will strengthen the gender and development program of the Province through supporting the functionality of its Women Crises Protection Unit and review of its draft GAD Code towards enactment.

In closing Daniels said that, “By 2016, we hope to be able to ensure that we will make significant strides in ensuring that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person's potential is fulfilled.”

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Happy International Youth Day!

 After a half year of silence in blogging, I decided and take my laptop to new chapter, if not new wave, of blogging.

Today, August 12 is a significant day. Today is World Youth Day. It is significant to me because many of  youth issues  (as I am still a youth) are very close to me.

To name a few:

a. I started to volunteer for children's welfare at the age of 10;
b. My first community work was with adolescents at the age of 13;
c. My first volunteer work in peace work was at the age of 17.

I am a youth. I am strong. I am responsible.

And opps... I added the logo of my new organization and the link (if you click). I have been a youth advocate on adolescenthood, family planning and HIV/AIDS from 1996-2000 (and was still volunteering until 2004) and work for STI/HIV/AIDS in 2004-2006.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

I commit to have a focus blogging in 2012... meanwhile, I am on recess mode until January 20 and will resume immediately... hahahah... Just thinking on a focus theme on my blog.

Happy new year everyone.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Tales of Development: On Women and Maternal Care

Few days ago, I had a chance of meeting some individuals that worked with MDG 5: Improve Maternal Mortality Rates. Moreover, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every woman is treated with dignity and respect.

Later did I realize that sometime on 2006, my older sister, Nene, died of giving birth to her second child.  In 2002 she gave birth to a baby girl who died later after one month due to heart failure. Two scenarios! In 2002 it's the baby that died and in 2006 it's time of my sister.

I was saddened those times but of course without realizing it how many suffered the same at the fate across the country and around the world.

Miss Tonette gave me a notebook that scribbled: " NO WOMAN SHOULD DIE GIVING LIFE." More alarming is the following data:

a. Everyday, 11 Filipino women die from treatable complication of pregnancy;
b. Everyday, 4,950 Filipino babies are born;
c. Everyday, 30 million Filipinos struggle to survive on a dollar a day or less;
d. Everyday, 5,205 Filipino women get pregnant without intending to;
e. Everyday, 1,530 Filipino pregnant women go into induced abortion; and
f. Everyday, 5.2 million Filipino children are not in school.

But this issue is beyond statistics. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed: You all know that population issues are not about numbers--they are about people.When we speak of maternal mortality, we are not just talking about statistics, we are dealing about tragic deaths. And when we urge action, we are not trying to reduce population growth, we are trying to help individuals exercise their rights. 

The balance of peace and development, economic growth is always equated with a healthy population. It is through access to health and options can a true healthy population be achieved. With healthy population, economies are likely to positively work and peace and development goals prosper. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

On Peace and Development

2011 Mindanao Week of Peace Celebration 
(SOCSARGEN Celebrations) 

God bless to this year's youth volunteers to the 2011 MWOP.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Saravia re-invents vinegar development

The City of Koronadal's welcome arc along national high-way in South Cotabato directs travelers and tourists to the long stretch of kamote (sweet potato), pilit nga mais (glutinous corn), and now the halo-halo.... and of course the coconut vinegar.

Brgy. Saravia is famous to these products displayed and offered just beside the road. An offering to local travelers and frequent visitor and buyer of the place. But five-six years after the vinegar industry boomed in this rural barangay, we were alarmed of vendors selling adulterated vinegar from neighboring towns... a sort of market exploitation to the growing demand the industry has.... 

Aware that this has to stop, the Rural Micro Enteprise Promotion Programme (RuMEPP) of the Department of Trade and Industry and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in South Cotabato provided demand driven business development services to help the industry and its players (the tappers and local vendors) gain its market back... before finally loosing it. 

After series of interventions through the contracted consultant/ BDS provider (Kapayapaan Kapatid Council),  Saravia's Best, the brand of coco-vinegar from Brgy. Saravia was launched on November 7, 2011. No less than the Hon. Mayor Peter P. Miguel of Koronadal lead the launching in line with the Barangay's anniversary.


On Enterprise Development

Proudly South Cotabato Pasalubong Center opens

Micro-entrepreneurs (the smallest of the formal business sector) have now a place to promote and expose their products. Finally, the Proudly South Cotabato Pasalubong and MSME Center opens along Alunan, Avenue Koronadal City, 18 November 2011. 

Located in front of the Provincial Capitol Complex of South Cotabato, the Center will showcase local products from South Cotabato to include handicrafts, coffee and pineapple products, organic  vegetables, and other foods and native products.

But the space is not only a place to buy local products but a home of micro-entrepreneurs sharing lessons on product and service development at the community level. 

For the meantime, the center is also a venue for exposure of youth/ students/ volunteers who wanted to venture into marketing and managing a business. As of now, three student interns are being trained in managing product consolidation center. 

The Center is supported by the Rural Micro Enterprise Promotion Programme of DTI and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

PS: Important guests present during the opening were South Cotabato micro entrepreneurs, Edna Feliprada, President of UPPSCO, RD Gloria Tango of DOLE 12, Mayor Romulo Solivio of Surallah, Fr. Joy Pelino of Diocese of Marbel, Mike QuinoƱez of DSWD, and Mr. David of BIR.

The store is open from 08:00 AM-09:00 PM (Mondays-Saturdays)...

For more info, call DTI SC at (083) 228-2659, look for Waren. 


Why I blog?

Few years ago, I found an interesting comment about 'shouting-out'.... a platform of sharing concerns that you seldom can't in regular terms and work (but never destructive shout-outs).... and blogging was not an option given to me... so I have so find it my self. track.. blogging came ... and why?

a. to tell stories of good things happening in southern Mindanao;
b. to offer another way of understanding issues;
c. to celebrate victories of small steps done for the community;
d. to create a venue for questioning systems and "dialoguing" on it...

the above WHYs are very serious...

on the lighter side of it... at least to EXPRESS!!! way of looking for positive space to positively and constructively speaks about Mindanao...

later I found blogging to be way of promoting people's pride.... and in my current work on enterprise development... I found it also a venue of promoting their products... (and I thank some individuals from Palawan and Boracay that my blog became a venue for a partnership with a local producer I posted before)...


On Environmental Protection and Industry Development: Bamboo development in Region XII gains stakeholders support

With the theme of "The Wood of the Future is Grass--Bamboo," the 1st Regional Bamboo Forum hosted by the South Cotabato Bamboo Industry Development Council (SCBIDC) ushered for more collaborative efforts in assuring the development of the industry both for environmental protection and economic opportunities on November 23-24, 2011 at Koronadal City and Surallah, South Cotabato.

Building on the gains of the South Cotabato Bamboo Industry Forum on February 15-17, 2011, the regional gathering of more than 100 bamboo enthusiasts, advocates and concern government agencies bring into one table the most important and pressing concern in the development of the industry--production through nursery and plantation management.

Highlight of the forum is focused on plantation management and nursery production. Inputs on these were given by the Economic Research and Development Systems (ERDS) Team of Department of Environment Natural Resources (DENR) XII lead by Dr. Bighani Manipula.

Governor Arthur Y. Pingoy of South Cotabato said that the convergence of stakeholders is an important tool to comprehensively result to bigger impact. His issuance of EO 5 Series of 2011 creating the SCBIDC is a manifestation to the serious efforts of promoting bamboo.

Meanwhile, RD Socorro Ramos stressed NEDA's commitment of regional collaborative initiatives such as this effort. While the DepEd ushered for both supporting EO 879 requiring 20% of DepEd's chairs and desk be made of bamboo and also promoting bamboo in its environmental education campaign.

On its second day, November 23, 2011, the SCBIDC launched its model community nursery in Veterans, Surallah, South Cotabato. The community nursery will be adopted by DOLE Phils.

The forum is supported by Rural Micro Enterprise Promotion Programme (RuMEPP) of the Department of Trade and Industry and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Earlier on November 9, 2011, RuMEPP met with LGU Tampakan and SMI (Sagittarius Mines Inc.) on the proposed engineered bamboo development project for 2012. The LGU proposed project worth P 10 M hopes to ensure environment protection and economic opportunities for the communities of Tampakan.

PS: Special thanks to Jane, Fracel and the PEMO Family, DOLE Philippines, SMI, DOLE SC, DTI 12 (Son Manaois), RuMEPP Team/ Interns  (Waren, Jeryl, Abie, Venus, and Julianne), LGUs of Region 12.


Lagalag... No Permanent Address

Few days ago, I am again in the midst of explaining to new friends and colleagues in the development work my life's history... from where am I... etc etc... the usual kumustahan and sharing of life's stories and advocacies.

And I recalled....

I was born in General Santos City. ...studied primary, secondary and tertiary education in this "Wellspring of Winners" (I like this slogan very much.. I wanted to belong... in my dreams). ..had the chance to work on research, community development,  and administration also first in this city..

I transferred to Sarangani and brought with me my parents when I joined the Governor's Office team of peace and development workers for the province... (love so much the experience in peace work)... while replicating peace and development advocacy in GenSan through volunteer work...

Two years later, I moved to South Cotabato and find my specific peace work contribution through human security (economic development more specifically). I am now with rural enterprise development with the trade and industry department. And finally marry Roxan. I brought my parents with me... now they are residing in Polomolok....

I was born with no permanent address... my parents didn't own even a home lot in GenSan. Now, it's a challenge for me to find my own final place to live.... and devote my whole life to helping developing that place... Maybe its Koronadal... may be it's not.... Next year 2012, I have to decide....

The counting of decision starts now....

or else.. i will continue to be Lagalag.. No permanent address..


Saturday, November 5, 2011