Countdown to Gold

"POPCOM 50th Anniversary"

February 19, 2019


Press Release
YAFS 4 Book and Regional Further Studies Launch
March 23, 2017

The word “complicated” nowadays is associated with relationship status as popularized in Facebook.   Such word, however, can also describe the factors associated with the sexual behaviors of the young adults of this generation.  The various regional studies undertaken by the Commission on Population through the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and Demographic Research and Development Foundation (DRDF) using the data from the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study revealed that millennials engage in early sex for variety of reasons.  Access to internet and social media and new information technologies are among the most prominent factors that facilitates early sexual engagement among young people.

A communication campaign on the prevention of teen pregnancy was recognized for the second time by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) as one of the best communication programs in the country.

Dubbed as “U4U”, the campaign won five Gold Awards at the 52nd Anvil Awards. With initial funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), “U4U” has become the flagship project of the Commission on Population (POPCOM) under its Adolescent Health and Youth Development (AHYD) program.

Last year, U4U was named the Grand Anvil winner, the highest recognition conferred on any communication campaign. This year, U4U received awards for demonstrating excellence in the scale up of a program and the use of various communication tools.

Press Release
National Women's Month

The Commission on Population (POPCOM) continues the struggle to uphold the rights of Filipino women through the resounding campaign to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on family planning. 

This year’s Women’s Month celebration revolves around the theme, WE Make Change Work for Women, grounded on women empowerment and equality manifested in the strengthening of the Magna Carta of Women. 

The Magna Carta states that women should be given access to information and services, including Reproductive Health services. The June 2015 Supreme Court TRO prevented the Department of Health from distributing contraceptive implants, on grounds that these might cause abortion. At the same time, the Court also nullified the certification and re-certification process of the Food and Drug Administration due to alleged failure of the agency to follow due process.

“The impending absence of contraceptives, especially the cheaper ones, will affect maternal mortality in the country. When this happens, it will be a public health emergency,” POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez said.  

Press Release
Fulfill the Promise of the RPRH Law, Lift the TRO

Over 100,000 Pinoy Families sign up to Support RPRH Law

About one hundred thousand (118,865) Filipino families had signed up an online and offline petition that enjoins the Supreme Court (SC) to lift its temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act of 2012, it was learned from the Commission on Population (POPCOM).

Republic Act 10354 or the RPRH Law guarantees universal access to all methods of modern contraception, comprehensive sexuality education, and maternal and child care.

Nagsaya ang mamamayan nang ideklara ng Korte Suprema na naaayon sa Konstitusyon ang RPRH [The Filipino people rejoiced when the Supreme Court declared RPRH ‘constitutional’],” the petition reads in part.


Dahil sa TRO, naapektuhan ang mahigit 13.4 milyong kababaihan: binubuo ng 6.1-M gumagamit ng kotraseptibo at 7.3M nangangailangan ng family planning. [Because of the TRO, over 13.4 million Filipino women were affected.]

Press Release
March 6, 2017

Gift of health for the Filipino Women


IT WAS in 2015 when the SC issued a TRO to DOH and its partners to “temporarily” stop “procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising and promoting the hormonal contraceptive Implanon and Implanon NXT.” DOH stopped its implant services following the TRO, although progestin subdermal implant (PSI) is recognized by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as one of the safe and effective modern methods since November 2014.


In 2014, contraceptive implants were on the rise, preferred by many young Filipino women, so that by end-2015, over 100,000 had used implants. It is for this reason that DOH procured more than 500,000 units of Implanon NXT to massively offer the public with implant services – from the cities to the barrios. When the SC issued its TRO, all Implanon stocks were recalled, and they will be expiring in 2018.

Press Release
March 6, 2017

A public health emergency can be nipped in the bud

PHILIPPINE population may explode to 113,798,224 in 2022 from its current count at 104 million today (2017), according to the Commission on Population (POPCOM)’s estimates. Mothers dying during childbirth may also rise by an additional 1000 deaths a year during the next six years[i].  


These will be the first of the many adverse effects of derailing the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10354, or simply, RPRH Law) with a temporary restraining order (TRO) by the Supreme Court (SC), still hanging in the air.


The RPRH Law guarantees universal access to all methods of modern contraception, comprehensive sexuality education, and maternal and child care.


POPCOM is concerned that mothers, wives, young women and their children may get sick, worsen their impoverished plight, or die because free family planning services, under the National Family Planning (FP) Program being carried out by the Department of Health (DOH), under the Duterte administration, are not readily available to them.


Couples in public health centers are offered FP information and services by doctors and other healthcare providers – but they can choose freely – between the natural methods of family planning or go with the medically safe modern methods of family planning, like pills, injectables, condoms, intrauterine devices (IUDs), bilateral tubal ligation for women, or undergo vasectomy, for men. Young Filipino women were also found to prefer another safe and effective method: implants.


The contraceptive implant, which is a small rod about the size of a matchstick inserted under the skin in the upper arm, slowly releases progestogen hormone that can help prevent pregnancy. In The Philippines, contraceptive Implanon and Implanon NXT are at issue.


[i] Based on 2011 Family Health Survey, PSA

Today is International Women’s Day, a collective day of global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, but also a call to do much more to achieve parity.

Since the United Nations adopted March 8 as the annual day for women in 1975, it has chosen a theme for each year’s celebration. This year it is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” — weird bureaucratic shorthand for a call to transform the world of work where structural barriers continue to hinder women, and to accelerate moves to achieve the goal of gender equality by 2030.

Where do women stand today in the world of work? Apart from well-worn feminist concerns such as the wage gap, labor force participation, paid parental leave and violence against women, matters of social justice involving such issues as migrant rights, unpaid work and child protection are now considered as going hand in hand with women’s rights.

Getting a lot of attention in academe and development circles is the issue of unpaid work. Women bear a disproportionate burden–more than double the work of men–of unpaid work around the world–cooking, cleaning, taking care of children and the elderly and farm work. Women’s unpaid work fills in for lack of expenditures in public services and infrastructure. And yet, the value of unpaid work is not recognized in countries’ national accounts. It is thougt that unpaid care and domestic work make up of from 10 to 39 percent of GDP.More than this, the lack of social recognition of this valuable contribution of women leads to discrimination and low statusof women.

Where do Filipino women stand in relation to gender equality in the world of work?

Filipino women enjoy greater equality than those in other parts of Southeast Asia, ranking seventh in the world in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index, as measured in terms of gender equality, political empowerment, health and survival, economic participation and opportunity. It is ranked 17th worldwide and third in Asia in terms of political empowerment, a category that measures the gap between women and men at the highest level of political decision-making

Education and literacy levels of Filipino women have been higher for women than for men. Literacy rates have been consistently higher for girls than boys since 1989. The Commission on Higher Education reported 57.44 percent of female graduates (269,748) against 42.56 percent male graduates (199,906) in the academic year 2009-2010.

But this Filipino women’s edge in education and literacy over men is not reflected in the area of employment. Women still lag behind men in work force participation—despite a rise in the percentage of professionally licensed women in 2010 to 63.7 percent over men’s 36.3 percent. Men’s employment in 2012 is still significantly higher at 78.4 percent over women’s 50.4 percent.

What explains this astonishing gap between the genders in employment rates? Gender discrimination. According to the International Labor Organization (2013), labor market participation of women is lower than men because of “inadequate employment and decent work opportunities, domestic labor and care constraints and social norms.”

Echoing the unpaid work complaint elsewhere in the world, Filipino women are unable to pursue the same opportunities in the job market as the men because of cultural and social barriers. They are expected to do the bulk of domestic work, including child rearing and domestic chores, keeping them from the job market. Lack of child care facilities in the workplace hinders their opportunity to pursue higher-paying jobs.

Other factors have made it impossible for many Filipino women to combine family and work. These include high maternal and neonatal mortality rates and cultural and economic pressures that compel educated women to stay home and care for the family. Hence, women are condemned to spend more time in “unpaid work” like domestic tasks, stopping them from contracting paid employment. .

In 2011, 31 percent of working-age Filipino women were not in the labor force because of family duties, ILO said. Only three percent of men experienced the same.

In 2012, the Philippine Congress passed the RH Law that would have empowered women, allowing them control of their reproductive cycles so they could pursue an education, get better jobs and handle both family and work. The RH law’s implementation was delayed for two years because of court actions. In 2015, the Supreme Court, on a petition of anti-RH advocates, issued a TRO stopping the Department of Health from distributing a contraceptive implant that would prevent pregnancy for up to three years, on the mistaken notion that it would cause abortions. It also stopped the Food and Drug Administration from processing all pending applications for reproductive products and supplies. Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said this would mean more maternal deaths, teenage pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies. There is now a campaign to get the High Court to lift the TRO that is crippling the full implementation of a law that only aims to empower women and set them free.

On the eve of International Women’s Day, there was good news in the Philippines for what was once called the weaker sex: for the second time, a woman topped the graduating class of the Philippine Military Academy. Setting a record since the PMA began accepting female cadets in 1993, women also account for eight of the top 10 in this year’s graduating “Salaknib” class.

Gender equity is one area where the Philippines has ranked high globally. One issue that pulled down the country’s ranking in the past years was the lack of a law promoting reproductive health. The enactment of the RH law has hardly helped; opponents of the measure have found an ally in the Supreme Court in suspending its implementation indefinitely.

Full RH law implementation, however, is one of the priorities in the socioeconomic agenda of President Duterte, so perhaps millions of impoverished Filipino women may yet have what their more privileged counterparts have long enjoyed: the freedom to space childbirths and plan the size of their families, and access to reproductive health services – one of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Beyond the RH battle, impoverished Filipino women also need heightened awareness about the rights they enjoy under the law. The country has passed several tough laws protecting women from discrimination, harassment and domestic violence as well as promoting women’s welfare through livelihood programs and improved access to education, health and other basic services. But many women are unaware of those laws, and there are government officials who defy the law by refusing to assist battered women.

Despite such problems, Filipino women have much to celebrate today, International Women’s Day. Women in this country are in all sectors, becoming president, chief justice, lawmaker, CEO, fighter jet pilot.

The glass ceiling in the PMA is just one of the many that have been broken by Filipinas in the past years. The challenge is to make gender empowerment felt all the way down to the grassroots. Like economic growth, women power must become inclusive.

Women, democracy and our bodies
By Rina Jimenez-David


Sisters—perennials, millennials, or mere buds—are invited to take part in tomorrow’s observance of International Women’s Day.

In particular, there will be a forum on “Women and Democracy” to be held at the Little Theater, Miriam College on Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

A special guest at the forum is Vice President Leni Robredo, and she will be joined by Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Sen. Leila de Lima, the last perhaps digitally. The renowned and much-missed duo Inang Laya will lend their artistry to the event. A “public conversation” with all the women present and guests will then follow.

Why should Filipino women be talking of democracy? Well, now more than ever! There is no better time, no more urgent a topic than the threats to democracy presented in these days of EJKs, “tokhang” and creeping authoritarianism, as exemplified by the arrest and detention of De Lima.  If, with the exception of a few hardy champions, our legislators and officials choose to hide behind political expediency and cowardly accommodation, then Filipino women will have to take up the slack. After all, we have long been on the frontline of the battle to establish and then restore democracy on our shores, and I believe we will not shirk our duty and our mission this time around.

Celebrate International Women’s Day, tomorrow at Miriam College, and for the rest of Women’s Month in the streets, in our classrooms, in our homes. The fight continues and grows more urgent with each passing day.

Another “arena” in our battle for our rights and autonomy as women hews closer to home, in our own bodies, in fact, in each woman’s uterus, vagina, and, most important, mind and will.

Women’s groups, reproductive health advocates and even government bodies like the Department of Health and the Population Commission, have issued an urgent message directed at the Supreme Court to lift, as soon as possible, a temporary restraining order blocking the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law.

Acting on the petition of RH opponents, the Supreme Court in 2015 issued an order preventing the DOH from distributing contraceptive implants, on grounds that these might cause abortions (a fear that has been scientifically disproved).

At the same time, the tribunal also ordered the Food and Drug Administration to go through the entire cycle of certification for ALL family planning devices and supplies, including those that have long been in use but whose licenses will soon expire.

If the TRO lasts much longer, Filipino women will soon lose all access to most forms of contraception. What this means is that our access to life-saving forms of contraception will be curtailed. Already, we are seeing an uptick not just in the number of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, but also in maternal and infant deaths.

This is why the PopCom considers the situation created by the TRO on contraceptives as a looming “public health emergency.” This is because, unless conditions change drastically, the PopCom estimates that the number of mothers dying during childbirth “may also rise by an additional 1,000 deaths a year during the next six years.”

Some people, especially the self-righteous and narrow-minded, may not consider an additional 1,000 mothers dying every year a public health crisis. (Perhaps they’re the same folks who can accept with equanimity over 7,000 EJKs in less than a year?) But I certainly do!

In addition, the PopCom sees the total Philippine population rising to more than 113 million by 2022, from its current total of 104 million. The explosion in the number of new births can be traced in part to the lack of access of women—especially younger women—to contraception. Not only would mistimed pregnancy take a toll on the health of younger (and older) mothers, it would also have adverse effects on the health and chances of survival of newborns and of their surviving siblings as well.

The PopCom in a press release says the lifting of the TRO would be a “gift of health” to Filipino women. It would also be an acknowledgment of the inherent right of women (and men) to reproductive health and to choose the life they want for themselves.

The exact figures: 113,798,224 in 2022 from its current count of 104 million this year.

“These will be the first of the many adverse effects of derailing the full implementation of the RPRH law with a temporary restraining order (TRO) by the Supreme Court (SC) still hanging in the air,” the PopCom said.

This, it noted, is aside from the expected rise in the number of mothers dying during childbirth during the same period.

Current data indicate that the maternal mortality rate in the country is at 231 per 100,000 individuals.

Back in June 2015, the SC issued twin TROs, particularly against the distribution of progesterone subdermal implant (PSI) as well as prohibiting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from the re-registration of current contraceptive methods.

Supporters of the RH law have promptly pointed at the twin TROs as the main reason for the inability of the government to fully implement Republic Act No. 10354. – Gerard Naval

8 out of 10 voters want candidates to back family planning

Eight out of 10 registered voters believe that candidates in the May 9 elections should include family planning in their political agenda, while nine out of 10 voters, or 86 percent, said family planning services should get public funding, the latest Pulse Asia survey indicated.

The survey results were released on Tuesday during a press briefing by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), which sponsored the poll questions.

“The people have spoken. Candidates should prioritize family planning and ensure the full implementation of the reproductive health (RH) law,” PLCPD executive director Romeo Dongeto said of the survey conducted from Feb. 15 to 20, among 1,800 registered voters with biometrics across the country.

The survey had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percent. Majority of its respondents, or 83 percent, are Catholics, while the rest belong to other faiths.

Many of the voters who gave high importance to the candidates’ support for family planning were from the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) and Mindanao, and were working in the government.



Among the regions, CAR registered the highest percentage of voters who considered family planning “very important,” at 90 percent.

But voters in Ilocos province, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) believe otherwise, with 45 percent, 42 percent, 60 percent and 33 percent, respectively, giving “very high” importance to family planning, according to Pulse Asia research director Ana Maria Tabunda.

Tabunda described the results in Calabarzon as “surprising,” considering the region had the highest number of voters covered by the survey, at 14 percent.

She observed that “only one of three voters in the ARMM [considered] family planning very important, maybe because they have other important issues [in mind] like poverty, water and power supply.”

Public funding

The survey also revealed that 64 percent of Filipinos considered family planning “very important,” a figure 11 percentage points higher than in 2010, Tabunda said.

Nine out of 10 Filipino voters said family planning services must get public funding as well, with CAR, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), Northern Mindanao and Davao Region registering agreement among 60 percent of respondents.

The survey also revealed that at least 52 percent of Filipino voters agreed that youth ages 15 years and above should have access to family planning services in government facilities. The percentage of those who agreed was higher in Metro Manila and urban centers than in Mindanao and rural areas.

“This survey shows there is unanimity among Filipinos [who believe] that spacing between births, planning the family and limiting the number of children have an impact on fertility,” said Commission on Population Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez.

Strong message

Perez said that fertility in the country remains high, with the average Filipino woman having one child more than she wanted.

The high public preference for family planning and government funding for such should send a strong message to national and local politicians running in the May elections, added the official.

“National officials should make sure that there is provision for family planning, while local officials should make sure that services are actually provided. It’s a working relationship between the national and the local governments to get the work done,” Perez said.

The Department of Health’s funding for birth control commodities this year was slashed by P1 billion during the bicameral conference for the General Appropriations Act. To fill the gaps created by the budget cut, the health agency was compelled to realign a portion of its budget allocation and to tap international aid.

-Jocelyn R. Uy

GE Vscan Access ultrasound improves maternal health

BANNA, a fourth class municipality in the province of Ilocos Norte, is the first town to benefit from a small, lightweight and portable GE Vscan Access ultrasound device, which enables task-shifting to midwives for basic obstetric scanning as well as improves clinical decision making and pregnancy management.

This ultrasound device also mobilizes mothers to seek four or more antenatal care visits.

“Our goal is to work hand-in-hand with the government partners and private healthcare providers to build a sustainable healthcare system in developing regions globally,” said Ivan Arota, country manager for GE Healthcare Philippines.

As part of GE’s commitment to the United Nations, it has invested in its global research and development capabilities to develop essential technologies well suited for low-resource settings.

Vscan Access visually verifies what one hears and feels to help improve the physical exam and strengthen the patient’s clinical confidence. The device visualizes organ function and helps make quick and confident diagnoses. It also connects more deeply with the patient for better care.

“The portable ultrasound can easily assess pregnant women and immediately refer them to a higher facility if problems and abnormalities are seen,” said Remedios Peralta, municipal health officer of Banna.

The handheld and pocket-sized ultrasound features damage-and-dust-resistant design, battery operation with charging options, and bluetooth. Weighing less than 2 kilograms, it was made to move and built to last in tough environments.

Developed with primary care and end-user in mind, it also has software innovations such as pregnancy education, videos for patients and a reference library of scanned images to support novice users of ultrasound.

“We are happy to partner with GE to make our goal of improving the maternal health situation in our community possible,” said Carlito Abadilla II, municipal mayor of Banna.


-Edison Joseph G...

4Ps: Crossing-the-road health intervention works


ILOILO CITY. – Helping children cross the poverty divide works.

That’s the conclusion of a study on the impact on children in Iloilo and Antique of the government’s 4Ps or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

The study, funded by the Department of Health and the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council on Health Research and Development, looked at how the 4Ps have changed health care for children.

The 4Ps aim to fast-track a strategy to eradicate poverty and hunger through conditional cash grants to extremely poor households. Conditional because the cash out depends on families following prescriptions to improve children’s health, nutrition and education. The 4Ps target children from birth until 14 years old to provide them with education, ensure gender equality, reduce child mortality and improve child health.

Very poor families are given P500 a month for health and nutrition and P300 per month per child for education – or as much as P15,000 annually.

The conditions for families to continuously receive the money: their children 0-5 year old must receive regular health checkups and must be vaccinated. The 3-5 year olds must attend day care or preschool classes; 6-14 year olds must enroll in elementary or high school; and 6-14 year olds must receive de-worming pills twice a year. They must be in school at least 85 percent of the time.

There are prescribed subtractions from cash handouts depending on how families comply with the requirements.

The 4Ps started in 2009; the study was conducted three years later in pilot barangays of Iloilo City and five towns in Antique province. It covered beneficiaries whose number increased from 20,527 in 2009 to 173,669 by 2012.

In order for children’s health to get better, there must be an increasing demand for 4Ps services, says Dr. Renilyn P. Reyes of the Department of Health Western Visayas who led the study. On the supply side, the study focused on how to increase the demand through financial incentives.

Because and the number of families availing of 4Ps, the supply of services such as vaccinations and de-worming must be available. The study thus assessed child health through indicators such as immunization, de-worming and nutrition, the number of visits to health facilities when a child is sick, the frequency they were weighed and so on.

The study has policy implications, said Reyes. She conducted the study as a Training Scholar in Health Research with the Western Visayas Health Research and Development Consortium.

“The study suggests the need to continue the 4Ps,” said Dr. Ric Nadongayo, Provincial Health Officer of Antique, noting the interventions impact significantly at the local level.

One of the eye-openers: the study found that while 90 percent of children were fully immunized in 2008 the target of 95 percent coverage to limit the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases was not achieved by 2009-2011 – until now.

Another wake-up call: only 1.1 percent of those surveyed, regardless whether they are 4Ps beneficiaries or not, were satisfied with the quality of health care in general.

Among the findings: a survey of 2,427 households with 534 children 1-5 years old suggests that 4Ps families have more children than non-4Ps beneficiaries. While they had at least a high school education, most household members enrolled in the 4Ps were unemployed.


-Paul Icamina

Heart failure a growing threat to Filipinos

Did you know that heart failure (HF) or palyadong puso in the vernacular is a silent killer that has been creeping in our midst? This is largely brought about by an increase in the prevalence of risk factors, like high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and smoking.

As the name implies, heart failure is a serious medical condition that occurs when the heart does not pump enough blood to meet the oxygen demands of the body. Despite improvement in survival rates with current therapies, patients with HF have a poor prognosis. One in five people aged over 40 will develop HF in their lifetime, and patient numbers are increasing. Half of all patients will die within five years of being diagnosed with HF. HF is the most common cause of hospitalization in people aged over 65.


Signs and symptoms

When the heart does not work optimally, it may not pump enough blood to support your other organs and may cause you to retain fluids. This can cause shortness of breath with physical exertion or when lying down, persistent cough or wheezing, reduced ability to exercise and weakness. A lot of patients will complain that they are asthmatic when in fact they have heart failure. Other symptoms are sudden weight gain from fluid retention and swelling in the lower extremities and abdomen. Some patients also have rapid or irregular heartbeat, and increased frequency of urination at night. Consult your doctor promptly when you have these symptoms.

Over time, if not treated properly, HF leads to a cascade of changes, punctuated by acute episodes, that cause severe fatigue; breathlessness; damage particularly to the heart, kidneys and liver; and ultimately death.



Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of HF. It develops when fatty deposits (plaques) build up over time in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle—a process called atherosclerosis. The plaque buildup can narrow the arteries and cause reduced blood flow to the heart. If these plaques rupture, a heart attack occurs, causing a blood clot to form. The blood clot may block blood flow to an area of the heart muscle, weakening the heart’s pumping ability and often leaving permanent damage. If the damage is significant, it can lead to a weakened heart muscle leading to HF.

Another common cause of HF is hypertension. High-blood pressure causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood throughout the body. Over time, the heart muscle becomes thicker to compensate for the extra work it must perform. Eventually, the heart muscle may become either too stiff or too weak to effectively pump blood.

Less common causes of HF include faulty heart valves, damage to the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy due to certain diseases, alcohol and substance abuse), inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis, usually caused by a viral infection) and congenital heart defects.


Many Filipinos at risk

Although there are currently no definitive local statistics on the prevalence of HF, the latest National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHeS) conducted in 2013 show that many Filipinos have risk factors for HF. These include hypertension, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Dr. Carolyn Lam’s editorial published in the March 2015 issue of the online journal ESC Heart Failure, warned that HF is a growing problem in Southeast Asia fueled by a rapidly growing population with HF risk factors, particularly hypertension and diabetes. Citing the World Health Organization 2014 global status report, the editorial noted that the risk of prematurely dying from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the Philippines (28 percent) is more than double in the United Kingdom (12 percent). NCDs include cardiovascular diseases such as HF.

The Philippine Heart Association Council on Heart Failure, chaired by Dr. Paul Ferdinand Reganit, is currently doing the HF registry among participating hospitals.

Novartis is also supporting a research study that aims to determine HF prevalence in the Philippines and the economic burden the debilitating condition puts on patients and their families, particularly in terms of health-care expenditures, lost productivity, and impact on quality of life. Data generated by these studies can help enhance the medical treatment and health insurance coverage of Filipinos with HF.

This “Keep It Pumping” column is an initiative of the Philippine Heart Association which aims to promote and sustain HF understanding and advocacy to educate and empower patients, their caregivers and the public to improve health outcomes.

(Dr. Alex T. Junia is the president of the Philippine Heart Association.)


-Dr. Alex T. Junia MD

Press Release
Women's Month 

POPCOM Supports Women’s Month, Pushes for their Rights

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POPCOM upholds Women's Rights

Photo by Lourdes Nacionales

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In solidarity with the Philippine Commission on Women's Celebration at the Quirino Grandstand, March 16

Photo by Mark Emman Magas

The Commission on Population (POPCOM) joins the celebration of Women’s Month by promoting the different activities lined up for women this March, underlining the issues they are facing and stressing the programs of the agency that delivers their rights. 

“We’ve been supporting the rights of women since then because we believe that they are crucial in building empowered Filipino families,” POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III said. 

This year’s celebration revolves around the theme “Kapakanan ni Juana, Isama sa Agenda” (Include Women in the Agenda).  It aims to achieve three main goals: (1) close the gender gap in leadership and decision making in both public and private sector, (2) gather opinions of women from all walks of life by participating in a “crowdsourcing,” and (3) capacitate and prepare women and girls to reach their ambitions.

“We are now living in a modern society that liberates the women to take roles, to decide, and to dream,” Director Perez said.

The POPCOM Director encourages all women to participate in the said “crowdsourcing” led by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) lodged in their Facebook (FB) page. They can state their views on which women’s issues should be prioritized or addressed by the government within the next six (6) years. It will help the PCW in proposing policies related to gender equality, women’s empowerment, and the fulfillment of women’s human rights.

‘Womb in Resonance’—if only the womb could speak

Just outside our village, motorists and their riding companions would be swarmed by children selling sampaguita and other crudely threaded flower leis. Occasionally, one would see an adult man or woman seated on a makeshift bench at the street intersection to whom the children would go to from time to time to get their fresh supply of leis and to hand whatever “sales” they’ve gotten so far.

Sometimes, the children —who don’t look like they’re older than 10 years—would be carrying a baby each, probably their younger sibling, under the noontime heat. Somehow though, one wonders if the babies, who appear sedated, are really their siblings, or just an accessory to move the motorists and their passengers to slide down their windows and buy their sampaguita leis

Some passersby, filled with compassion, would hand the children several hundred-peso bills, which can very well represent a full day’s wage of an average worker so these children and the babies they’re carrying could go home already. The children would give a profuse expression of thanks and assure their benefactor that they would call it a day and go home.

But as soon as the Good Samaritan has crossed the intersection, the children would be back in the street, the arms of the infant or toddler wrapped around them, repeating their litany of heartrending lines to the next batch of motorists.

It’s truly sad that children, hardly in their preadolescence, are being used as a workforce by some parents. Having these children work instead of letting them go to school, so they could already help earn bread for their respective families, highlights the gravity of our population problem, and the urgent need for an effective and sustained family-planning program.


A wrong mind-set and several prevalent misconceptions about contraception by the very people who need to plan their families responsibly, impose a formidable barrier—among other things— to an effective implementation of the program.

Former Health Secretary Esperanza “Espie” Cabral recently shared with me a video documentary titled “Womb in Resonance.” The short film, produced by the advocacy group Joining Voices 2020, is a poignant narrative of  the challenges women have to hurdle in accessing rights-based family planning in the Philippines. It also underscores the misconceptions, misplaced cultural beliefs and practices, and unfounded fears of many of our women about conventionally used contraceptive methods.

The video may be viewed at this link:

Without realizing it, Filipino women are seemingly helpless victims, made more so by the resignation to the submissive role many of them assume in planning their families.

Minor role

The film focuses on Maritess, mother to a big brood, who laments quite too late that she didn’t plan her pregnancies. Looking back, perhaps trying to say she only had a minor role in her having multiple pregnancies, she said she would refrain from having sex, but if her husband insisted on having sex with her, she didn’t think she had any other choice but to give in.

“When a woman does not want it and the male insists, sometimes I cannot refuse anymore. He’s already doing it to me,” says Maritess in Filipino.

Maritess has been perennially bothered by her asthma and the bouts of acute asthmatic episodes became more frequent during her pregnancies. Since they didn’t have money to deliver their children in the hospital, she just tried to endure the pangs of labor and childbirth, compounded by asthmatic bouts, in their house assisted only by a midwife.

Intense suffering

Despite the usually intense suffering she experienced with every pregnancy and childbirth, she seemed to find solace in the thought that having many kids is also good so they can help to work and earn some money for the family. This mind-set explains the ambivalence that many of our countrymen have about limiting the number of their children.

“I wanted to undergo ligation, but they said I have asthma so I was scared to undergo the procedure,” says Maritess. “Whenever I see my grandchildren having nothing to eat, I feel so sorry but I can’t do anything. I told my daughter Cristina to undergo ligation. Her husband is also unemployed,” she adds.

The camera shifts to Cristina, who got pregnant at the age of 18 and now has two children. With her first baby, she went into labor for a whole day. If she were in a hospital, she would have been given medicines intravenously to enhance her uterine contractions and shorten labor, but they also did not have the money. “So, I just told the midwife that I will endure labor pains even if they are painful. I almost died,” says Cristina.

If only her womb could speak, it would have given Cristina a severe scolding.


Monthly mark for HIV cases goes north

WITH over 800 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reported last January, the Philippines has set a new record, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

Based on the latest HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines (HARP), a total of 804 new HIV cases were reported in the first month of 2016.

“It is the highest number of cases ever reported since 1984,” said the DOH report.

The figure resets the previous high of 772 that was recorded in June 2015.

The monthly report also indicated that the number of newly-diagnosed cases of HIV per day has increased to 27 from only 22 in previous months.

“The 804 is 50 percent higher compared to the same period last year, which was at 536,” said the DOH.

The report also pointed that, of the HIV cases in January, 94 developed into full-blown AIDS cases.

There were also a total of 64 deaths from HIV/AIDS in January 2016 alone.

Of the 804 new cases in January, a total of 771 cases (96 percent) of the new cases were acquired through sexual transmission, mostly from the men-having-sex-with-men (MSM) population, which accounted for 684 cases or 89 percent.

Homosexual contact was responsible for 431 cases; followed by bisexual contact with 253 cases; and 59 cases from heterosexual contact. 

Injecting drug use (IDU) accounted for the transmission of 33 new cases.

A total of 38 new cases among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been reported with all but one coming from sexual transmission. The other one came from IDU.

The regions with the highest number of reported cases for January 2016 were the National Capital Region (NCR) with 370 (46 percent) cases; Calabarzon with 130 (16 percent) cases; Central Visayas with 71 (9 percent) cases; Central Luzon with 60 (7 percent) cases; and Davao Region with 36 (4 percent) cases.

Since 1984, there are already 31,160 HIV cases recorded in the country, including 2,646 AIDS cases and 1,594 deaths.


- Gerard Naval

Press Release
Sixth State of the Philippine Population Report


 Precious and Precarious: The Life of Filipino Mothers

Maternal mortality has been one of the biggest challenges in the struggle to ensure quality health care for all.  No woman should die giving life yet many die not because they could not be saved, but because they did not get the optimum care they needed.

To continue the critical task of reducing maternal mortality, the Commission on Population launches the Sixth State of the Philippine Population Report (SPPR6) with emphasis on the precious and precarious lives of Filipino mothers.

In 2015, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) over Implanon and Implanon NXT, a form of subdermal contraceptive which can last for three years. Several prohibitions on the use of modern contraceptives were also seen in some provinces in country, with health service providers living in fear even when the RPRH Law is already the rule. Just when the implementing mechanism for service delivery and demand generation strategies have taken a significant stride, we are now faced with a significant budget cut for the procurement of commodities – an outright denial of women’s reproductive rights by leaving women with no options and means for family planning at all.  These placed a detrimental effect on the poorest women who rely heavily on health centers for contraceptives and contributed to the risk of maternal mortality in the country. A woman who is already undernourished may be pregnant for the fifth or sixth time. The baby and the mother are equally at risk of getting complications or worse, dying. There are women who were already advised by doctors that additional pregnancies would surely be precarious to their health but still can not avail family planning services. The consequences of the denial of government-funded RH and Family Planning services in 2016 will be at least an additional 110 maternal deaths that will accompany at least 50,000 unintended pregnancies.

Streetboys’ home faces closure

By Stella A. Estremera

A HOME for boys toughened on the streets but given a second chance on life might just have to lock its doors for good and send their children back to where they came from, if no help comes along.

Their story was made known to Sun.Star through an email appealing for help from its founder Lawrence Richmond Field of UK, from whom the initial fund for set up and operate it for the past 7-1/2 years came from. From Field’s contribution, what he described as his wordly asset value, of 200,000 Pounds (P20-million) used to purchase the property and build the facilities, The Field of Dreams Charity Foundation opened its doors on a 1.9-hectare land in Tugbok, Davao City October 2007.

It caters to boys because there was already an existing home for girls in the area run by some nuns.

It has so far made a difference in the lives of the 30 boys they cater to, that even Davao City Social Services and Development Office chief Malou Bermudo attests to.

“Mahirap kasi mag-alaga ng streetchildren, lalo na ng mga boys. Mga streetsmart na ang mga iyan. Pero makikita mo na maganda yung ginagawa nila, minsan nga hindi ko na makilala yung mga bata na ni-refer naming dahil ibang-iba na ang itsura nila, maayos na,” Bermudo said over the phone.

But funds are running out, made worse by the weakening of the British pound, now they barely have enough to continue operations for a year.
“There was always a shortfall in our budget,” Fields said. “My funds are just about exhausted.”

The weak British pound isn’t helping even. When they started, Fields said, there were P100 to a pound. Now, it’s P67 and going down still.
Among others, the FOD gets contributions from Field’s siblings abroad as well as the Bridge Community Church through Gary and Gloria Aube.

But running the home requires some P180,000 a month, of which around P2,000 each is spent for the boys aged 3-19.

As explained by its program coordinator Lalaine D. Cabaljog, the home is supposed to be just for children upto 18 years old, but when they have a child who is still in school then they still keep him in.

The center funds the education of the boys until after high school, where the boys are allowed to take a tech-voc course to ensure that they can make it in the real world once they leave the FOD.

The home has five dorm rooms with three bunk beds each, for six children in each room. Each room has a shower and toilet, a sink, and closets for the boys’ clothes.

It has a main kitchen, a dirty kitchen, a dining room, a day room for studying, and a game room. It also has an office, a guest room, and staff housing, and a large open area for outdoor activities including seesaws and a jungle gym, and basketball hoops.

A portion of the 1.9-hectare lot is an organic banana farm where the center earns a little income. There is also an area for gardening and a small piggery and chicken coop. But production is severely limited due to lack of water source.

To set up a water pump to maximize the livelihood potential of the home for the boys will require around P289,000, which again, the home does not have.

“We do have two good foreign donors who give substantial amounts to the cause, but we currently experience an annual financial shortfall of approximately P500,000,” Fields said in his letter of appeal. Used to be, he was funding the shortfall, but his personal funds now is running out and they might decide to just close the home if they cannot raise more money.

“It is heart breaking to think that our children could return from their pleasant lifestyle in the home to one on the streets or in a dysfunctional family,” he said.

Fields admitted that he knew it was difficult to run a child’s home, but he was hoping that government can somehow support such initiatives. This cannot be so in the Philippines as government can only partner with, but not give financial support to a non-government organization like the Field of Hope.

“Ang partnership is really more of a referral where we send children to specific NGO’s and CSO’s,” Bermudo said, “because government also does not have enough facilities for them.”

Most of the children referred to FOD are boys who no longer have parents or whose parents are deemed unable to take care of them, including parents jailed for drugs.

By coming out with their story, both Fields and Cabaljog are hoping that there will be those who will be willing to give donations to continue with what has been started.

“We had a dream-Please help us to prevent it from becoming a nightmare!” Fields wrote.

Field of Dreams is SEC-registered and also registered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Located in Biao Guianga in Tugbok, it can be contacted through: (082) 303-4264, Mobile No.: 0928-368-6367, and email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Study: Students frequent lodging houses for sex

By Lydia C. Pendon

A SURVEY conducted by Mass Communication students of the West Visayas State University among 100 taxi drivers in Iloilo City showed a high incidence of premarital sex among college and high school students, and even among elementary pupils.

A report on "Survival Sex in Iloilo City" by Professor Ma. Rosario Victoria de Guzman during a City Council committee hearing also showed the rampant survival sex for pay, especially during midterm and finals seasons.

The hearing was conducted by the City Council committee on women and family relations chaired by Councilor Dylee Zulueta Salazar, Task Force on Moral Recovery chaired by George Duron, City Health Office, and City Social Welfare and Development.

The committee is drafting an ordinance regulating the operation of lodging houses, motels, inns and other similar establishments in Iloilo City and providing mechanism therefore and other purposes.

Zulueta Salazar said the committee is gathering inputs to be incorporated in the proposed regulation ordinance.

Based on the survey, De Guzman said that 65 percent of those who frequent lodging houses are students of the same age level, 14 percent are of same age as their father, and 10 percent are of grandfather age.

Majority are students who frequent the places with age bracket of 12 to 24 years old, she said.

The survey report also showed that in one week, 63 taxi drivers brought the students to Katrina Lodge, 45 drivers to Anita, 44 to The Q, 43 to Sofia Lodge, 39 to Green Dragon Lodge, 31 to Queens Court, and eight to Moonlight Lodge.

Mostly wearing civilian clothes, the students or those going to the lodging houses have pick-up points in the vicinity of the University of Iloilo, Iloilo Doctors College, plazas, Arroyo St., Mabini St., Small Ville complex and the White House in Baluarte, Molo district.

The same survey showed that more than 50 taxi drivers brought an average of 31 customers every day to the lodging houses, 16 drivers brought 10-15 customers during weekends, and 18 drivers brought in more than 15 customers during special holidays.

De Guzman recommended that a regulation ordinance be enacted to regulate the operation of lodging houses and the like by not allowing the entry of 18 years old and below; an ordinance banning the proliferation of pornographic materials in the city like malls, R18 films, books and others; and an ordinance banning public display of affection (PDA) in public places such as plazas, parks and malls and transportation vehicles like public jeepneys.

Other recommendations include the strengthening of family ties, campaign among the youth for “I Am Strong, I Am Responsible” program of the University of Asia and the Pacific, campaign among the youth on "True Love Waits," engage in job and livelihood opportunities, and information campaign on survival sex.

Sex education pushed to combat HIV surge

AMID the continued surge in the number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the country, advocates are renewing calls for the adoption of appropriate sex education in schools.

In a recent media forum, people living with HIV (PLHIV) advocate Wanggo Gallaga said there is an immediate need for schools to include sex education modules in order to encourage those with risky sexual behaviors to practice safe sex.

"What we have to do is to educate people properly. It has to start earlier. When it comes to health, education is very shallow. Biology lang ang tinuturo sa schools e. We don’t talk about consequences of sex," said Gallaga.

Doing so, he said, will allow individuals to learn by themselves on how to practice safe sex and, therefore, avoid acquiring HIV.

"People still don't want to do it (safe sex). We can't force them. We are still a free country. So we have to educate them and make them want to practice it," said Gallaga.

It can be recalled that the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has already pointed at the low condom use in the country as one of the main reasons for the "fast and furious" rise in HIV cases.

UNAIDS data showed that less than 40 percent of men-having-sex-with men (MSMs) use condoms while only 65 percent of sex workers (SWs) practice safe sex.

Both are lower than the target 80 percent condom use among most-at-risk population.

Gallaga said sexuality education is mandatory not only because of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law but also due to the fact that many parents are not open to such conversations with their children.

"Some parents do not want to discuss this with their children. They don't get the necessary information for themselves, not just on HIV/AIDS, but also other sexually-transmitted illnesses (STIs)," said the son of multi-awarded filmmaker Peque Gallaga.

"There are those that are making it a morality issue, but it is a health issue," added Gallaga.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is one of the organizations that are strongly against sex education.

In a related development, the Department of Health (DOH) disclosed that 91 individuals had recently acquired HIV after engaging in transactional sex.

Based on the January 2015 Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry report, there were 50 (55 percent) cases where the individual paid for sex; 33 (36 percent) among those who accepted payment for sex; and eight (9 percent) among those that engaged in both.

Eighty-three (91 percent) of the 91 cases involved males while the remaining eight were females.

Since October 2012 when the DOH began the official evaluation of people engaged in transactional sex, there have already been 1,701 recorded cases of HIV.

Of this number, a total of 940 (55 percent) acquired HIV after paying for sex; 505 (30 percent) after accepting payment for sex; while 256 (15 percent) are engaged in both.

A total of 1,617 or 95 percent of the aggregate total of HIV cases among people who engage in transactional sex were found to be males, while the remaining 84 were females. (Sunnex).

Nonviolent disciplining of kids pushed

Child rights advocates called on senators to pass and strongly endorse a law that will institutionalize positive and nonviolent methods of disciplining children.

The Child Rights Network (CRN), Plan International Philippines (PIP), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLPCD), and Lihok Pilipinas Foundation led the call for the enactment of the Positive Discipline Bill.

Several Quezon City Council members led by Majority Floor Leader Jesus Manuel Suntay, Victor Ferrer Jr., Allan Benedict Reyes, Jaime Borres, Alexis Herrera, Ranulfo Ludovica, Onyx Crisologo, Dorothy Delarmente and Eufemio Lagumbay made similar calls in the wake of reports that corporal punishment is still practiced in some households in the city.

They all agreed that a more positive discipline approach yields encouraging and constructive results compared to the old ways of making the children toe the line through the imposition of harsh and violent punishments.

Positive discipline is a method to guiding children’s behavior without using any form of violence like spanking, pinching, humiliation, and verbal abuse.

It is about instilling values of non-violence, empathy, self-respect, human rights and respect for others, they said.

However, the legislative proposal runs smack against other bills that would also reduce the age of criminal responsibility, which some senators want to reduce to only 13, and pays little heed to problems of bullying and workplace abuse, particularly now that most fast food chains actually employ minors.

More Pinoys get HIV through paid sex

More Filipinos are being infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through paid sex.

Based on the Department of Health (DOH)’s Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry’s January 2015 report, 91 individuals recently acquired HIV after engaging in “transactional sex.”

The report indicated that 50 individuals or 55 percent of the new cases paid for sex, while 33 individuals or 36 percent accepted payment for sex. The remaining eight individuals or nine percent engaged in both.

Of the total number, 83 people or 91 percent of the cases were males and eight were females.

Since DOH began the official evaluation of people who engaged in transactional sex in 2012 up to present, there have been 1,701 recorded cases of HIV. About 55 percent acquired HIV after engaging in paid sex, while 30 percent accepted payment for sex. The remaining 15 percent both paid and accepted payment for sex.

A total of 1,617 or 95 percent of HIV cases among people who engage in transactional sex are males, while the remaining are females.

The United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) attributed low condom use as one of the main reasons for the “fast and furious” rise of HIV cases in the country.

For this reason, people living with HIV (PLHIV) renewed calls for the immediate adoption of sex education in schools to help combat the spread of HIV through safe sexual practices. It is only through proper sex education that people learn how to practice safe sex and avoid acquiring HIV.

“What we have to do is to educate people properly. It has to start earlier. When it comes to health, education is very shallow. We don’t talk about consequences of sex in schools,” PLHIV advocate and writer Wanggo Gallaga said.

Aeta lolas to install solar-powered lamps in villages

By: Pia Ranada

Dubbed 'solar lolas,' 4 Aeta grandmothers are back from India equipped with skills on installing solar-powered lanterns

'SOLAR LOLAS.' (From left to right) Evelyn Clemente, Magda Salvador, Cita Diaz and Sharon Flores are back from India to share their knowledge on using the sun to power lanterns. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

'SOLAR LOLAS.' (From left to right) Evelyn Clemente, Magda Salvador, Cita Diaz and Sharon Flores are back from India to share their knowledge on using the sun to power lanterns. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Fifty-year-old Aeta grandmother Evelyn Clemente never imagined she would one day learn how to install solar-powered lamps. But on Monday, March 16, she and 3 other Aeta women arrived in Manila from a 6-month training program in India.
"Ako ngayon hindi lang isang babae o isang lola o isang nanay. Isa na akong solar engineer. Kung ano po ang nagagawa ninyong mga lalaki, kaya kong gawin 'yan at hihigitan ko pa," she said proudly during a press briefing.
(Now I am not just a woman or a grandmother or a mother. I am a solar engineer. What men can do, I can do and do it better.)

Now, she can connect small solar panels with lanterns to light up Aeta villages. She knows how to fabricate, maintain, and repair them. (READ:Solar panels light up Yolanda houses)

The hardest part, she told Rappler, is inserting a tiny component called "resistance" into the circuit.
"You have to look at the color carefully because, if your eyes are blurry, you will make a mistake. The LED lamp will not light up," she explained in Filipino.
All this, she and her companions learned in Barefoot College, a school in Rajasthan, India, that empowers illiterate women to deliver solar power, clean water, education, livelihood development, and activism projects to rural communities.
The school is run by Indian Sanjit "Bunker" Roy who was named one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people in 2010.
The Aeta grandmothers, dubbed "solarlolas," were sent to the Barefoot College through the "Tanging Tanglaw" program – a joint effort of women empowerment group Diwata, the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA), and the Land Rover Club of the Philippines.
Clemente and another solar lola hail from Sitio Gala in Aningway village in Subic, Zambales – an Aeta resettlement village. The two others come from Gayaman Anupul in Bamban, Tarlac.
The most difficult thing about the training, said Clemente, is the language barrier. They were taught by Indian trainers and were "classmates" with other IP women from all over the world.
To get technical concepts across, the instructors would use sign language or would color code instructions. If that failed, they would resort to simple English words.
Thelolasgot up at 8 am every day and started class at 9 am. The work was intensive and "scary," said Clemente .
During one session, the circuit that Aeta grandmother Sharon Flores was working on exploded. But she was unfazed.
"Hindi ko inisip na agad ako umuwi. Ang inisip ko, inspirasyon ko ang aking pamilya at lahat ng komunidad para magawa ko ito," she said.
(I didn't think right away that I should just go home. I thought, my family and community are my inspiration to do this.)
Flores missed her 8 kids and 4 grandchildren terribly while she was away. She called them 3 times a month, worried that one of them might be sick without her to take care of them.
But it was for their sake she kept going. She hopes her new skills can help send them to school.
"The women in our village don't have jobs. They gave us a job," she said in Filipino, unable to keep her tears at bay.
Traveling to a different country and confronting a whole new culture and way of life was just as daunting.
For one thing, it was the first time any of them had stepped into a plane.
"We were shouting inside the airplane! We were holding on to each other. One of us even farted!" shared Flores.
Lighting up their villages
Now that the solarlolasare back in the Philippines, "It's time to get dirty," said PMSEA assistant treasurer Annie Dee.
The second part of the program aims to install solar panels in 200 households in the villages of the grandmothers. Who will do the installing? The solarlolas, of course.
Each pair of Aeta grandmothers will be installing solar panels in 100 households.
This part of the program will cost around P7 million ($157,000) per village, said Dee. The initial funding will be raised by Diwata, PMSEA and the Land Rover Club. (READ:How sustainable are solar power aid projects in the PH?)
With its partner companies being part of the mining industry, PMSEA hopes to get financial support from mining companies – several of which have operations in Tarlac and Zambales.
"For us, IP communities are an important stakeholder in mining activities so for us, anything that will help the community is a good one," she told Rappler.
But it won't be spoon-feeding. The communities themselves have to help make the program work.
"The idea is not just to install solar power but for them to have a sustainable program. They have to collect funds so that the solar engineers will be able to collect salary from their community," she said.
The idea is to give the solar panel equipment for free but for the community to collect a solar power fee. The fee will be used to pay the solarlolaswho will install, maintain and repair the panels and lanterns.
For this to fly, the fee must be less than what the community is currently paying for electricity. While some residents of the villages get their power from the National Power Corporation, many houses are still without electricity, said Clemente.
It won't be difficult to convince them of the benefits of solar-powered lighting, she added.
"It should lessen their expenses and during emergency like brown-outs or calamities, we have a lantern we can use," she said.
Portable and easy-to-install solar panels are also compatible with the nomadic lifestyle many Aetas still pursue.
But for Clemente, the program has already lit upherlife.
"Ang pinaka malaki yung natuto kami na gumawa ng solar lantern. Kung sakali, kung may pondo, gusto namin ma-improve yung aming natutunan doon at makapagturo sa ibang mga nanay."
(The biggest help was we learned how to make solar lanterns. If ever, if there are funds, we want to improve on what we learned and teach other mothers.) –




Women’s voices and ‘dignity kits’

By: Rina Jimenez-David

Men’s voices overwhelm in all the talk around conflict and peace in Mindanao—the passage (or nonpassage) of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), who is to blame for the Mamasapano incident, the trustworthiness of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, even the various arms available for use by both military and rebels (a subject that Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Vicente Sotto devoted many energetic minutes to during an exchange on the Senate floor).

But visit any devastated village, or an evacuation center, and you will find it overwhelmed by women and children, as well as the elderly—refugees from the fighting and vulnerable to disease, illness and hunger prevalent in these dense, crowded and squalid conditions.

Indeed, as a study conducted by the Asia Foundation states, “women and girls are disproportionately represented and affected in situations of conflict.” Amid the fighting, when any male is viewed as a rebel, spy or conspirator, men are often forced to stay home or hide deep in the forests, the same study finds. As one farmer remarked: they feel like they’re walking around “with a target on our backs.” So the task of looking for sources of food or income falls on the women, exacerbating their already onerous double burden.

And yet, with so much at stake, the voices of women and children are seldom heard, their sentiments unacknowledged. There seems little official interest in harvesting insights and observations from their experience so officials and policy-makers can adjust their policies and practices in relief and rehabilitation efforts, not to mention in the conduct of peacekeeping operations or the calibration of armed responses.

A partial explanation, as a Mindanao-based journalist informed me during a workshop on “peace journalism” conducted by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), is that culturally, among Moro communities, women themselves are loath to speak up and air their views. The “datu system,” still prevalent among many traditional villages, imposes strict cultural norms on the members, with only the village head or “datu” allowed to speak up and express communal sentiments.

* * *

But there is a way to get around such a system. Various groups, especially the academe, have convened women’s assemblies and gatherings of young women students, to share their experiences and come up with steps necessary to empower their community members.

Collective voices have a way of expressing the sentiments of women and girls without leaving any one woman or girl vulnerable to criticism or censure. A common voice also allows women in conflict-affected areas to embark on actions, confident that they have the mandate of their peers and neighbors.

The media, too, have a role to play in bringing the voices of women and girls to national attention. Reporters, for one, could consciously go beyond their traditional sources of military officials, government officials or spokespersons of combatant groups and seek out women and girls wherever they can be found—in villages, schools, evacuation centers, mosques. They, too have something important to say. And because they are seldom heard, what they have to say will still have a certain novelty factor, a unique point of view that will add to the common perspectives of traditional reportage.

* * *

Years of advocacy by women, women’s groups and relief organizations have also given rise to changes in relief operations, particularly in the contents of relief packs targeted for women and girls.

Now called “dignity kits,” these packs arose from the observations of women relief workers as well as interviews with women evacuees, that they had needs other than food, water or medicine that are just as crucial for sense of dignity and comfort even in times of emergency.

Reporters at the CMFR workshop reported women in evacuation centers sidling up to them and shyly whispering in their ears of their need for fresh underwear and even sanitary pads—items that most relief organizations overlook when they put together emergency packs, but still a necessity to women and girls.

A dignity kit, even in non-Muslim areas, also includes a malong, a tube of cloth that has proven its versatility, used as a “changing room,” a blanket, a hood, a towel, even a robe to be used while bathing.

In addition, other items in the dignity kits include soap and shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, a comb, a tabo or dipper, and maybe even deodorant. After all, looking presentable and being comfortable in one’s own skin is as much of a morale booster as a hot bowl of instant mami or lugaw.

* * *

One other concern is that of lactating mothers caught in a disaster or war. Relief agencies have made it a policy not to include infant formula in their relief goods, arguing that it is far better to encourage and assist mothers to breastfeed their babies rather than leave them dependent on infant formula, which could pose real health hazards in the rough conditions of evacuation centers: the lack of potable water, the need to boil bottles and nipples, the need to protect the nipples from flies and other insects.

And yet, say the mothers, given the tension and uncertainty they face, they most often lose their breast milk supply, and in the conditions of evacuation centers, the lack of privacy is enough to deter them from resuming or starting breastfeeding.

This is all of a piece with women’s concerns about safety and security in evacuation centers: unlit bathrooms and shower rooms, dark hallways and paths, the lack of privacy and protection.

It’s telling that such concerns remain unaddressed despite decades of disasters and conflict. What if women had a bigger and louder voice in planning and implementing?

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Philippine Star Interview with Executive Director Juan Antonio A. Perez III, MD, MPH

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos are living longer but in poor health as the country nears a “demographic transition” that leads to an aging population, the Commission on Population (PopCom) said yesterday.

PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III said older Filipinos are expected to account for 10 percent of the population by 2025, up from the current six to seven percent.

According to Perez, the life span of Filipinos is now longer at 67 for males and 72 for females due to modern technology. Their quality of life, however, did not improve.

Author: Anonymous (By Jocelyn Montemayor and Gerard Naval) 
Date :Mar. 25, 2014  

 PRESIDENT Aquino yesterday  launched the Department of Health and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) multi-sectoral advocacy campaign “Alaga ka para sa Maayos na Buhay” (ALAGA KA) which aims to provide 14.7 million indigent families greater access to primary health care.
Joining Aquino were Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Education Secretary Armin Luistro,
PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Alexander Padilla and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista.
The launch was held at the Quezon Memorial Circle.
Aquino  said the ALAGA KA program aims to educate and inform the public especially the indigent families that  health services is for everybody and not just for a selected few.
“Hinihimok natin silang (indigent families) sagarin ang pakinabang na bunsod ng pagkakataong ito. Kabilang sa maraming mga serbisyo ng programa ang pagkakaloob ng micronutrient supplements, maternal and neonatal care package, at family planning – bukod pa sa treatment package para sa TB, at sa libreng pagpapagamot sa mga pampublikong ospital. Malinaw sa mga serbisyong ito: naniniwala tayong ‘prevention is better than cure.’ Imbes na makuntento sa paglunas sa karamdaman, binibigyang kakayahan natin ang mga Pilipinong iwasan ang sakit at ang paglaganap nito,” the President said.
Padilla, chair of the ALAGA KA steering committee, said the program involves properly instructing indigents on how to avail of basic health services at the rural health units and health centers.
Meanwhile health groups and medical professionals expressed satisfaction at the Sin Tax Law or R.A. 10351 saying it has so far proven to be effective in deterring the public from smoking.
In a joint statement, 17 medical associations and health groups said they have seen an improvement in the smoking prevalence after the implementation of the Sin Tax Law.
“In the light of these indicators, we confidently uphold our assessment that the sin tax law is proving itself to be an effective smoking reduction measure,”  the statement said.
The groups cited the 2013 Youth Adult and Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS) conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Population Institute and Demographic Research & Development Foundation where smoking prevalence among 15 to 24 years old has dropped from 21.9 percent in 2002 to 19.7 percent in 2013.
The groups said one main factor in the drop in the number of youth smokers is the increase of cigarette prices after the implementation of R.A. 10351.
“With higher cigarette prices, long-addicted Filipino tobacco users are lessening their consumption, while would-be smokers, especially from the young and the poor, are increasingly discouraged from taking up smoking in the first place,” the groups said.
The signatories are Action for Economic Reforms, FCTC-Alliance of the Philippines, New Vois Association of the Philippines, University of the Philippines, Manila, WomanHealth Philippines (WomanHealth), and the Youth for Sin Tax Coalition.
The medical professional organizations are the Philippine Ambulatory Pediatrics Association, Philippine Cancer Society, Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Philippine College of General Internal Medicine, Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Heart Association, Philippine Neurological Association, Philippine Pediatric Society  Philippine Rheumatology Association, Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism, and the Philippine Society of Nephrology.

Source:Philippine Star
Author: Delon Porcalla
Date :Mar. 25, 2014  

 MANILA, Philippines - The government launched yesterday a comprehensive health program aimed at providing primary healthcare to 14.7 million indigent families.
President Aquino, along with officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Department of Health (DOH), led the launching of a multi-sectoral advocacy campaign dubbed “Alaga ka para
sa Maayos na Buhay” (Alaga Ka) at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.
In his speech, Aquino invited the attendees – some 2,000 poor families from different parts of Metro Manila – to partake of and utilize the benefits offered by Alaga Ka.
“It is the primary objective of the Alaga Ka program to open the eyes of our fellowmen, especially the 14.7 million indigent families, about the services being offered by our very own DOH and PhilHealth,” Aquino said.
The beneficiaries will receive micronutrient supplements, maternal and neonatal care package and family planning.
They will also get free treatment package for tuberculosis from government hospitals.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

“The services here are crystal clear: We firmly believe that prevention is better than cure. Instead of being content with curing the illness, we are giving Filipinos the capacity to prevent illnesses and stop it from spreading further,” Aquino said.
The President was joined by Health Secretary Enrique Ona, PhilHealth president and CEO Alexander Padilla, Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista.
Aquino said PhilHealth and other government agencies providing health services have been able to keep up with the demand for universal health care because of proper management of the government’s resources.
“Among the benefits that are included in this service are health-risk counseling and cancer screening, and the assurance that beneficiary-families will be able to consult and see a doctor every year,” he said.
He added that even the legislative branch pitched in and helped by passing the Sin Tax Reform and Responsible Parenthood laws that greatly helped in providing better and more expanded health services to the people.

 MANILA, Philippines - The country’s top business groups are pushing for the immediate implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, saying it is necessary for the country to achieve inclusive economic growth. “We maintain our position that this health measure, which underwent more than 14 years of thorough deliberation and was

definitively passed by both chambers of Congress, reflects the true will of the people and is an illustration that democracy prevails in our nation,” read a joint statement prepared by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. As what they had emphasized in 2010 and 2012 statements, the business groups said they were opposed to abortion and to any measure limiting free choice. “The RH Law successfully hurdles these concerns. In fact, we strongly believe that the law protects and enhances the people’s constitutionally-enshrined rights to life and good health, freedom of choice and a living wage and income,” the groups said. The measure’s constitutionality is being challenged before the Supreme Court. The business groups said they remain firm in their stand while waiting for the SC to finally resolve the matter. “The RH Law, therefore, is a complement to current and proposed initiatives to address long-standing challenges to the country’s development. As such, in our goal to attain sustainable and inclusive growth, the RH Law must be fully and properly implemented without delay,” the groups said. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 The groups said supporters of the RH Law should continue publicly pushing for the law’s immediate implementation. They also urged detractors of the measure to look deeper into its provisions to realize its benefits. The RH Law seeks to address issues concerning reproductive health, including providing information and access to all methods of family planning as well health care services. President Aquino signed the measure in December 2012. The SC however, issued a temporary restraining order on the measure as it deliberates on at least 15 petitions contesting the law’s constitutionality. The high court is expected to discuss the measure during its summer session in Baguio on April 8.

unlogoSource:United Nations
Date :Mar. 22, 2014   

 After two weeks of heated debate, liberal and conservative countries early Saturday approved a U.N. document to promote equality for women that reaffirms the sexual and reproductive rights of all women and endorses sex education for adolescents.
The 24-page final declaration approved by consensus early Saturday by the 45-member Commission on
the Status of Women expresses deep concern that overall progress toward the U.N. goal of gender equality and empowerment of women remains "slow and uneven"

tbSource:Manila Times
Date :Mar. 23, 2014   

 Today is World TB Day but there’s no reason to celebrate because of the grim figures.
Every day, 63 Filipinos die from tuberculosis. Over 700 people get TB daily but only 632 seek treatment. And not all of these patients finish their six﷓month treatment.Tuberculosis remains a major health problem despite government
efforts to curb the disease, according to the Department of Health. A patient with TB can infect 10 to 15 people a year. The usual victims are adults but children can also be affected. This is tragic considering that TB is preventable and curable.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said TB is the sixth leading cause of death and illness in the country, killing 28,000 yearly. In 2011, there were 260,000 cases.

 Keynote Speech by

Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH

Executive Director, Commission on Population

Delivered during the 5th National PHE Conference,  

Supreme Hotel, Baguio City,May 21, 2014


EDTo our respected former ED Tomas M. Osias, our former and current Regional Directors of POPCOM and staff, partners and stakeholders, implementers, fellow advocates in putting people in the center of development, guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Last year, we experienced a number of tragedies in different parts of the country brought about by natural calamities such as strong typhoons, floods, landslides, storm surges, that affected lives, properties, infrastructures and crops.   The family of Mariha Sigun, 41 yrs old, one of the affected families of the Typhoon Yolanda in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, lost their house  during the wrath of the strong rain and wind.  Mariha’s daughter said "Not having a toilet at home forced me to go to the bushes. It can be dangerous, especially after dark. It is more difficult for me when I have my period.” The many families in similar situation brought about not only by Yolanda but other natural calamities were forced to stay in evacuation centers where their normal lives are altered.    
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THIS STUDY on Parental Involvement in Adolescent Health and Development aims to describe Metro Manila and Bohol parents in terms of their knowledge, perceptions and attitude regarding parentadolescent relationship, their level of involvement in the different types of parent-child activities, and their perception of their role as parents in addressing health risks of their adolescent children. The study aims to provide a basis for crafting a better Parent Education Program on Adolescent Health and Development in the country.

             The study employed both qualitative and quantitative methods.  Nine focus group discussions (FGDs) with a total of 71 respondents were conducted in selected areas in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and Metro Manila.       FGD participants are parents with at least one child aged 10-19 at the time of the study.   A cross-sectional survey utilizing household and individual questionnaires was conducted to collect   city  and provincial evel   estimates   of   parenting   indicators   in Metro   Manila   and   Bohol, respectively. These two study areas were selected to represent both urban and rural environments. The survey had a representative sample of 1,618 parents (806 mothers and 812 fathers) with adolescent children aged 10-19.

Location Map

POPCOM Activities

Population Clock


Based on the 2015 Census of Population with a Total Population of 100,979,303 and 2010-2015 Population Growth Rate of 1.72 and calculation using Geometric Equation

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